Pamela had known better than to trust my cries while denying that something was the matter. She had all but stopped short of slapping me back to reality from my drowned world of tears. She had found me half-destroyed by her leather couch alone.
She especially enjoyed emphasizing how alone I was.
Except for the crumbs and empty pop can, the idea that Tommy had even recently been there would have normally appeared illogical given how instead of a boy causing so much damage, from the looks of me, you would think a tornado would have crossed by and ripped my heart to shreds within this sad encasement of a human body.
I had pushed Pamela off of me when she had tried to ask me where Tommy had gone and why I had been so upset when she had found me. I barely paid notice to her silent yelp as I ran to the door and pushed my way out into the cold afternoon.
It had started to snow softly and the cold wind had picked up its urgency. Tommy's car had been gone by then and I contemplated going to see Mike, but I couldn't. I couldn't handle having him see me like this. I knew that I had a lot to say to him, but I couldn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was disgusted with myself and the thought of him feeling the same hurt far worse than I thought was feasibly possible. So I just ran, with my mother's cries behind me, each step I took separated me from my shameful past, my weaknesses; from my childhood.
I hadn't been wearing a coat and the below-freezing temperature felt welcomed on my overheated skin, which was ironic given my current mental and emotional state. I was like a nuclear bomb: waiting to explode and take everything with me. I wasn't safe for anyone to see or feel.
I found myself in the small forest near the high school and I slowed to a walk. My lungs burned—but it wasn't for air to breathe, it was for the need to live. I wasn't willing anymore. I couldn't do it, I had lost too much and I was beyond repair.
That was when I somehow stood on the edge of the large cliff that overlooked the only greenery left in the area. It was a deep plummet that would put Hell to shame.
I held onto the branch of a tree beside me and contemplated everything. It's funny what you think about before you kill yourself. I thought about when my father had stared at me with blood clouding my vision or when he was set on a stretcher, lifeless, in a different ambulance than mine—his lead to the land of the dead, mine was unfortunately taken to the land of the living. I thought about the little ant that had curiously snacked on my crumbs outside of my aunt's house when I had been seven and how she had stepped on it unbeknownst to her, the poor thing had been only looking for sustenance to live. What had my father been doing that justified being stepped on by a drunk driver?
I stepped closer to the ledge and heard a twig behind me snap. I woke up from my trance with a twitch that resulted in me almost losing my footing. I turned around ready to face any questioning visitor and instead was met with a gray-eyed deer. She was beautiful. Her body was sprinkled with soft, delicate snow and her eyes were unblinking and curious. What are you doing there? She seemed to ask, cocking her head to the side.
I was in awe and found myself stepping away from the edge, closing in on my savior. She let me pet her, quietly becoming a sort of guardian angel. I cried then, I remember, and she had not run off, instead she had still stood there watching me, still asking, what are you doing there?
I had returned to Pamela's house shortly after, defeated. We agreed that I needed time away. She had called my aunt, sobbing no doubt, that Toronto perhaps wasn't the best place for me. I was gone by the next afternoon.
I couldn't see him. I couldn't apologize and say goodbye. I loved him too much for that; he didn't deserve to see me at my worst.
"But that wasn't your decision to make." Mike says to me now. His eyes are searching, trying to read what my silence means. "You don't know... you have no idea what I thought Jenna, I..."
I silence him with a kiss to the lips and rest myself gently back on his chest. After we had talked in the restaurant of our last decade apart we had returned to his penthouse in a prominent condo building in Toronto, which I had commented was surprising seeing as how the last time I remembered, he had wanted nothing but to play soccer, to which he responded with a happy whisper that nothing in his teenage life had dragged on into his adult life, that is, except for the memory of me.
I had told him of the private girls' school that I had attended for the remainder of the year and the University that I had gone to for years to become a teacher. I told him of my tenth graders and how a recent project had reminded me of him. He then asked me what project would that be? The best athlete you can think of project? To which I had laughed and had shyly told him that the project was asking my students to write about a situation that they wish they could have changed. That silenced him.
"If I could go back," he had said, holding my gaze while I sat on the island that separated his kitchen from his dining room. "I would have never let you leave, I would have gone in with you."
I started crying then as I struggled to make sense of what I was trying to say, "I tried calling, I tried emailing. But I thought you would hate me for leaving, I thought..." I broke off at a particularly loud hiccup, "that you had forgotten about me."
He had stopped what he had been doing (preparing us some champagne glasses) and had stared longingly into what I could have believed was my soul. He always could do that, even when he had barely known me. "Never."
This word was so simple, so excruciatingly simple. So why did it have so many complicated effects on my heart?
"Tommy," I continued, wincing at my own mention of his name, "and I, back when I lived with my father had loved each other intensely." I looked up him and realized that he was listening intently, though his back was to me. "He had taken a turn for the worse when he had gotten his scholarship, always drinking and cheating--it was unbearable."
"Why did you stay with him?" Michael wanted to know, his hatred for Tommy had been no surprise to me.
"Because," I gulped down my words and sat ready for the scathing words that would come, "I was pregnant with his child, which I lost during the accident my father and I were in."
Silence had filled the kitchen and I thought that it would soon become impenetrable, but, "Is that what you wanted to tell me the night that he showed up at Pamela's house?"
"Yes," I whispered, "Yes, I wanted you to know. But I was," I crunch up my dress in my hand as it lies about me on the marble counter, "I was scared that you would hate me. Or think less of me."
Michael had done a fascinating thing right then. He had put down the champagne bottle and had turned around to face me, but instead of the contorted face of anger that I imagined, I saw that he was serene. "And that is all the secrets of your life Jenna?"
I was almost mute, I don't know how I managed my voice, "Yes."
With powerful hands that I had always known he had, he had picked me up and, forgetting the glasses, had carried me to his bedroom, king sized bed coming into view.
He had been curious I could tell, of what I was like. Of the scars that will forever mark my body and serve as reminders of the day, ten years ago, that I lost my father, lost my unborn baby, and myself.
His lips had explored me and I in turn had been no innocent bystander, I was curious to see what had been of him in the last decade when we were apart. The heat of the summer didn't bother us as we blended into one, promising never to separate. The cries that escaped my mouth were merely outward cries of the pleasure that was ripping me from the inside. This was all I had ever wanted, happiness and Michael freely offered my every desire with all of his heart and soul.
Now we lay in each other's arms, unaware of time or the outside world. I am telling him more of myself and he in turn is sharing his adventures during his, direct quote from him, "Jenna-less days".
I rise up again to kiss him and let him trace his rough fingers along the scar on my cheek that has seen all when I see it. The picture of us that I have framed on my bedroom wall. I appear shy, but am still smiling.
"You know," I say as I grab the picture in my hand, "you are one hell of a miracle worker."
"Aren't I?" He says as he pulls me in for another kiss.