Jay had witnessed the argument between Christopher and myself, so when I showed up at his doorstep his surprise was short lived. He lent me a sympathetic ear, nodding occasionally, as I complained about Christina.
“You’ll work it out. You two always do.” While Jay’s words were true, they weren’t exactly what I wanted to hear right now. I wanted someone to stew in mutual dislike with me, but Jay had always been fond of Christina even though Christina had never liked Jay.
“I wouldn’t be so sure. She was really upset.”
“Then apologize.” Jay’s solution was met with a shrug of his shoulders as he stood, heading into the kitchen.
“I don’t think I’m in the wrong here!”
“Maybe, but it does sound like you are keeping things from her. Here.” Jay handed me a drink as he sat down next to me on the couch. The liquid inside was dull red, and I scrunched my nose up at the bitter smell.
“What is this?”
“Vodka and Cranberry. I assumed you’d prefer that over one of these.” He lifted his fists, each hand clutching an opened beer bottle.
“You’d be right.” It was as bitter as it smelt, burning my throat on its way down. I relaxed into the cushions as Jay turned on a sitcom I had seen once or twice before. Right now, forgetting my problems for an evening with an old friend seemed nice
“So, what are you going to do with the house?”
The question came during a commercial break; when the atmosphere wasn’t filled with witty one-liners and corny prerecorded laughter. Still, I was unprepared for the sudden change in mood, “I don’t know.”
“You said you were afraid of it, right? I know you aren’t staying there… so, what’s the plan?”
“I don’t know. I guess I should move back in… considering everything that happened yesterday.” I murmured as I finished my cocktail. Even though Carson had been caught it still felt wrong to even think about living on that property again.
“You could sell it, you know? Buy your own land with the money. Start over.” Jay collected the bottles and empty glass before he headed into the kitchen.
“I couldn’t do that.”
“Why not?” He reappeared with more refreshments in hand.
I took a long drink as I mulled over his question. The only image that building conjured was of lifeless bodies strewn carelessly across wooden floors, and hollow eyes staring endlessly. However, that same building was also my home. I had grown up there; had so many memories there and all of those memories seemed infinitely more important now that I knew they were the only ones I would ever have of my parents. Selling it felt akin to throwing those memories away. “I just can’t. Plus, my farm is on that land now.”
“Couldn’t you just divide the land – sell only the part that the house sits on?”
I put my glass down heavy-handed at the question. The waters of anxiety began to creep above my nose, drowning me, and I could feel my patience slipping beneath the waves. “Can we not?”
“Sorry. Sorry, it’s just…. you deserve to be happy and you don’t seem -”
“Happy? Are you blind? Do you not recall last night? What I told you less than an hour ago? My parents are dead and what, you think selling their house is going to make that better?” I laughed the sound as bitter as the liquid on my tongue. “Just stop! Nothing can bring them back. Nothing! Not Carson going to jail, not Christina forgiving me, and certainly not selling some godforsaken house!” I found myself on my feet and Jay followed suit, his hands catching my flailing arms.
Clasping my hands in his own he frowned, “I’m sorry. Can we just list this under reasons I’m an idiot?” Whenever we fought, lifetimes ago it felt like, Jay would always resolve the issue with that phrase.
Just like that, the waves receded and I could breath again, “I’ll file it away for another day.” I responded in kind, reclaiming my hands, “but I need a shot.”
Jay snorted, but obliged, bringing shot glasses and the whole bottle of cheap vodka into the kitchen. We clinked glasses, no toast to be heard, until the edges of my vision became unfocused, ceiling spinning precariously, and my tongue became too thick for my mouth.
When I woke up the next morning, the ceiling wasn’t spinning but my tongue still felt much too thick for my mouth. My body’s intense desire for water won over the piercing jolts opening my eyes produced. I stumbled into the kitchen, eyes half-lidded, rummaging through cupboards filled with dishes and sippy cups until I found a clean glass. Jay walked in, freshly bathed and dressed in uniform, as I was gulping down my second glass.
“There you are.” While the previous night’s escapades had me beaten and bruised, Jay looked refreshed. Just how often did he drink?
“Here I am.” I croaked.
Jay laughed, reaching into to a cupboard on my left and handing me a bottle of headache medicine, “You look like you need these.” He teased.
I rolled my eyes, but I popped the cap off and took two of the white pills anyways, “Hey, when you’re at the station will you ask if I can talk to Carson?”
Jay hesitated, but nodded, “Sure thing, but the answer is going to be no. I’m sure there’s someone who could help you, but I don’t know much about that half of the justice system.” He admitted with a shrug.
“Will you come with me to the library? After you get off, I mean.” My words were clumsy, and I was embarrassed at the desperation that colored my voice. I had been independent my whole life. It was strange to feel lost by myself, perhaps for the first time in my life, but I was acutely aware of the fact that I did not want to do this on my own. I was also acutely aware of the fact that I had no one else to turn to at the moment.
“Sure. I’ll call you when I get off. Pick you up.” Jay headed towards the front door, only pausing to call over his shoulder, “Make yourself at home while I’m gone.”
a/n: Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I had a lot going on for a while and my laptop stopped working. Unfortunately, my laptop is where I do most of my writing as I find writing at my desktop… stuffy and distracting. Anyways, I got my new laptop on Thursday and managed to wrap up a lot of other things that were distracting me as well, so I should be back to once a week updates!