The first time I ever saw him. I come back to that moment often, so often recently that I can barely think about anything else. It’s daunting.
The huge smile that was spread across his stubbled face, beaming like the brightest headlights caught my attention and I couldn’t look away. He’d been laughing at something said by the guy next to him, I hadn’t even known what it was that was said but I found myself smiling just the same.
“What are you smiling about Lucy?” Mara asked, craning her head around to find out.
“Who is that?” I asked, hoping she could give me some insight on the glorious smile.
“Who, oh, Jack? Dark brown hair?” she asked, her eyes finally landing on the same sight,
“Yep…” I couldn’t even tear my eyes away to answer her.
“Jack Carba. Senior at Baldwin, Lucy, you’ve seen him before…” she stated.
“When? I feel like I would remember him.” I answered, finally looking away.
“Last year, when we were at Joseph’s house, he was there with Liz. They broke up three weeks ago you know…” she injects the gossip, piquing my interest further.
“Oh yeah, his hair was longer then, or something but I can see it now. Wonder what he’s doing here?” I ask before realizing that it actually came out of my mouth.
“That’s Jonah with him, maybe they’re friends? Who knows Lucy…” she says.
“Come on, we should go say hi to Jonah…” Dani says pulling at my wrist.
“I don’t’ even really know Jonah, we never talk,” I try, but fail.
I trailed behind my friends as they approached Jonah and Jack, wishing I wasn’t so much of a wuss. I never did anything to stand out back then, in fact, I did a lot to not be noticed. It worked for the most part when I wanted it to but when those two were around it seemed to backfire more times than I liked. Mara was a tiny little thing with a blonde pixie cut and wide set blue eyes, while Dani was a tall brown haired model type, they couldn’t have been more opposite. I, on the other hand had always considered myself plain, average height, nothing spectacular about me which made it easy to blend into the background when they were around. I saw Jonah’s eyes light up as Dani approached him, “Hey D,” he said with a nod.
“Hi Jonah, who’s your friend?” she asked.
Before Jonah was even able to spit out his name Jack stood and bypassed my friends, “Hi, I’m Jack,” he said, with another grand smile, offering me his hand.
“Lucy…” I managed to squeak out through my shock.
“Nice to meet you Luce…” he said with a wink.
Still, in a state of complete and utter disbelief at his attention to me, I stood there watching my friends interactions with Jack and Jonah silent. It was the first time that had ever happened, usually, I’d be introduced and forgotten about. Not with Jack, he made it a point to engage me in the conversation the rest of the night. By the time we were getting ready to head home I can remember wondering if I’d ever see him again.
I didn’t know it at the time but Jack would end up becoming my everything, until one day when he wasn’t.
Ten years has passed since that first time we talked and it’s funny to think that I haven’t spoken to him in almost two years. You go from talking to someone everyday and then nothing. No communication at all, no letters nothing. As easy as it was for me to walk away that day two years ago, it ripped my soul from my body. Every hope and dream I had came crashing down as I walked slowly from our bedroom. I never looked back. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think about him every day, every single torturous day. These have been two of the longest years of my life. Tomorrow would have been our seventh wedding anniversary, I wonder for a moment if he thinks about it too? Does June 26th hold the same immensity for him as it does me? More than likely not, I scoff.
“Lucy, your sister is here…” Brittany says poking her head into my office, interrupting my pity party.
“Thanks, Brit, send her in,” I reply, trying to shake off the memories and compose myself.
I work really hard to pull the happy from somewhere deep down as she comes into my office in a whirlwind of colors. Her perfectly coiffed do is somehow unaffected by the tornado of an entrance she makes before plopping herself down in front of my desk. I watch her, the glow of her face is stunning and I think about how fifteen years ago she was just a little snot following me around with her missing teeth and self-haircut, not this beautiful creature. I chuckle at the thought and it finally gets her attention.
“What?” she asks.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about that time when I was thirteen and you had cut your own hair… now look at you. Not a hair out of place,” I say with a smidgen of pride.
“Oh god, don’t remind me about that, please that was horrible and you just never want to let me forget about it…” she cringes.
“Isn’t that what big sisters are for?” I joke, “What brings you around here today, Lacey?”
“I have something I want to ask you…” she says softly looking a little frightened.
“Yes, go on, I do have work you know,” I say, I love my little sister but I also know when she’s trying to put off confrontation.
“Didn’t you go on a date last week?” she asks, avoiding the real question and not meeting my stare.
“Lace, listen, you better just spit it out because the longer you keep it from me the worse it will be, you know that…” I try.
“Ok. Well, the wedding party is picked… I want you to… will you…” she stammers irritating me further.
“Spit it out, kiddo,” I say a little less harshly.
“Be my maid of honor?” she says and I swear she tightens every muscle waiting for what’s going to come out of my mouth next.
“No,” I say without hesitation.
“Lucy…please?” she meekly tries again.
“Absolutely not. I’ve given you the reasons why and I don’t expect anyone to lose out here but you need to pick someone else,” I reiterate with a little more force.
“I don’t want anyone else to be that person for me, you’re making me lose out here, don’t you see that?” she says gaining some bit of courage throwing my statement back at me.
I don’t say anything for a good few minutes as I think about how much it will kill me to do this for her. Don’t get me wrong there is a huge part of me that wants to do this for her, wants to be this great sister for her but the bigger part of me that dies a little every time she mentions him before she can censor herself just can’t do it.
“Do you know how much this means to me, to Jonah?” she asks softly.
“I do…” I answer honestly.
“Then why can’t you do this. It’s one day Lucy. Like twelve hours. And out of those twelve hours, you’ll have to be near him as little as possible I promise you that, I will keep you apart as much as I can…” she says hopefully.
She knows why this is so hard, I have to remind myself that she knows. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want what she wants, though. I just don’t know if I can make it through the twelve hours. I wonder briefly if he’s agreed already.
“I’ll do it but I reserve the right to leave early if I can’t make it through, understood?” I comply, sending her face into a brilliant smile and I swear a tear is gonna spring from her eye.
“I’ll never ask you for another thing, ever. Thank you, Lucy,” she says swiping one perfectly manicured finger at her eye.
“You better tell Jonah, no funny business. I mean it, Lacey, I will disappear so fast your head will spin. I will do what’s expected and nothing more,” I say choking on the words as I say them thinking about just what I agreed to.
“I know. I won’t let him try anything I promise,” she says still beaming.
I instantly regret saying yes and it’s all I’ve been able to think about since Lacey nearly floated out of my office on cloud nine. I turn the key in the door and flip on some lights as I flop the mail down on the kitchen table as I walk through to start the coffee pot. It’s been another long day, it seems that the later I stay at the office the less I have to sit in this house alone. It’s not my house, sure I’ve got my name on the deed and it’s filled with my belongings but my house sits thirty miles from here with a happy little family in it. Waiting for the coffee to brew I kick off my shoes and change into some stretchy leggings and oversized t-shirt, my mind wandering to those perfect shiplap walls that we painted white. The soft yellow of the kitchen and the deep burgundy of our bedroom strangle me as I mentally walk through it. I still own that house. I couldn’t live there, hell I walked away from there but I couldn’t bear to let it go.
The coffee aroma wafts into my bedroom and pops those thoughts from my head. I’m thankful for the distraction as I flick on the TV. Staring blankly at the screen it takes me a minute to realize my phone is ringing. Holding it up to look at the display I see Jonah’s face staring back at me.
“Thank you!” he nearly screams at me.
“I’m hoping she told you my stipulations?” I say.
“She did. Please don’t worry Lucy,” he assures me.
“That’s an impossible request and you know it Jonah. After all these years I’d think you knew me better than to ask me not to worry…” I offer him
“I can’t imagine the happiest day of my life without the two of you there Luce…Lucy. I just can’t,” he says nearly calling me by his nickname.
“It’s the only reason I agreed to this. You and Lacey. If it was anyone else…” I remind him.
“It means everything to the both of us,” he says before hanging up.
With my heart pounding I wake up, beads of sweat on my forehead, for a second I don’t know where I am until the room comes into focus. The lavender walls feel like they are closing in on me, swallowing me up. The red glowing numbers tell me it’s 3:05 am and I know I’ll never find peace tonight so I get up catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror I cringe. It hits me then, what exactly woke me up. I dreamt about the phone call that changed it all…