Wedding preparations are in full swing now with only two months to go, our anniversary came and went. Two days after JJ came and we watched the game before Lacey had him running errands again. He should be used to that by now, she’s been going full steam ahead since he proposed. Our wedding was nothing like theirs is going to be, it was small with our families and some friends but it was the best wedding. We were so happy then to just be together. I told her we could wait a while if she wanted something bigger but she didn’t want to wait and secretly neither did I, I just wanted her to have everything just the way she wanted it.
“I don’t need some over the top, mass produced, cookie cutter wedding Jack,” she said for the hundredth time when I brought it up.
“I just want you to have it exactly how you want it, is all I’m saying Luce,” I said.
“You, me, family, friends, and a party! That is all I want,” she said pulling me closer.
Logan stopped by the house yesterday without warning like he does sometimes. It always takes me back to tossing the football around with him when he was just a kid, hell he’s still just a kid in my eyes but he’s twenty-one now and it scares me. I’m getting older, I was supposed to be getting older with her. He’s really the only one who talks about her unfiltered, well the only one I let talk about her that way. I love Lacey, but Logan is so much more like Luce. They have the same type of humor, the same outlook on life. It’s always been that way. For some reason I’ll probably never know, he doesn’t make it hurt as much, it isn’t as hard as it is hanging with him as it is with Lacey.
We play a few hours on the Xbox and then I make some dinner. It’s never about what we do, I think he knows I just need some company. Over dinner of burgers and fries, he talks about how badly JJ’s mom spoke to her and it makes my skin crawl. I wonder why she’s never told anyone what I did, or rather didn’t do, she just thought I did it. Why should she suffer for me pushing her away, I think as I try to tamp down the anger flowing through me at his descriptions. When we finish I ask him if he wants to see something, and of course, he says yes, probably thinking that it’s some new gadget. He’s a little surprised though when I take him into the office, well, more of a home gym.
“What you gonna show me that you can finally bench more than your weight again?” he jokes.
“Nah, been able to do that for a long time now. Before I show you, you have to promise not to tell anyone, no one, do you agree?” I ask him, seriously.
“Yep…” he says, with a smirk.
“I mean it, no one, especially not Lacey. It’s a surprise…” I say, thinking about how this could all go wrong.
“Okay, I swear,” he finally says, seeing the serious look on my face.
“Okay then,” I say with a grin.
He sits stunned at what is happening before his eyes, his hand covering his mouth in shock. I wait a few minutes before I really show him what I’m made of. Finally, as the show comes to an end he stands and claps, his eyes looking a little damp.
“You need a kleenex?” I tease.
“How long has this… when did you…” he starts and stops a few times before he just gives up completely.
“It will never be like it was, bub, but it’s something right?” I say, not willing to go through the gory details with him.
“You’re going to tell Luce right? I mean she has to know…” he says still stunned.
“No. And neither are you. I’ve been working myself up to do this for JJ. He knows a little bit of it, but mostly it’s for him and Lacey. He doesn’t know the extent of it. Please keep this quiet bub?” I say, more asking than telling.
“I won’t, but really this is freaking incredible Jack,” he says giving me one of those awkward guy hugs.
“I’m gonna get to dance with her you know,” I let slip out before I can stop it.
“You are such a bold faced liar, Jack, you didn’t do this for them, you did this for her and you know it…” he says.
He knows me well. He’s the only person besides JJ that even knows I set up the affair to push his sister away from me. We’ve talked at length about it, and in his young mind, he has never really been able to see it from my point of view. He wasn’t there to see the hurt on her face or to feel the dreams slipping through my grasp. Back in the beginning, right after the accident, things were bleak, there were no clear answers to any question we asked and no timeline. Now though, after all the hard work, and time I’ve been able to devote to this there is real progress. Part of me did this for her, even knowing that she’d probably never forgive me.
“Jack, you can’t say you didn’t do this for her…” he says after a few minutes of no response from me.
“Maybe… Bub, you know as well as I do that she will never, and I mean never give me another chance. But if this means I can hold her in my arms for just one more second it was worth it. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I would have done things differently, not one but I didn’t. I have to live with that idiotic mistake for the rest of my life. At this point Logan, I wouldn’t care how bad it was I would never have done that to her. Back then though, I couldn’t see that. I was too broken to trust that she would stay,” I say honestly.
“Then why not tell her, see if it changes anything. You don’t see her Jack, you hear bits and pieces I’m sure, but you don’t see the light that has been ripped from her. The two of you were meant to be, and it shows on both of you. You guys pretend to be fine, but you aren’t, she isn’t. No amount of time will change that. The only thing that will change that is if you two get back together,” he says animatedly, reminding me of her.
“It’s too late Logan,” I shoot at him.
We’ve had this conversation or a version of it before and it always ends the same, he gets mad at me, stays away for a while then when he cools off he’ll come over unannounced like nothing’s happened. It’s his youth and each time despite the way it tears at me, I let him come back.
“I could kill you, you know,” Logan says seething.
“I know…” I respond flatly.
“I can’t believe you did that to her, Jack,” he yells, his voice bouncing off the almost empty bedroom.
“I know…” I say.
“Defend yourself asshole, tell me why you did it? What were you thinking? Did you think she was going to leave you? What?” he continues screaming.
“I don’t know, Logan, but I know that I need to keep packing so either you do what you came here to do or you leave,” I answer.
“I came here to beat the shit out of you, she’s holed up in her childhood bedroom right now crying her eyes out and all you can think about is yourself,” he says a little calmer, but still clenching and unclenching his fists.
“Yep, that’s it right there, bub,” I say, almost challenging him to come at me.
“You didn’t do it, did you?” he says stepping closer to me.
“No I did it, I succeeded in getting my wife to leave me…” I say honestly, something in me just can’t lie to him.
“You didn’t cheat on her, you wouldn’t be able to do that Jack, it’s not in your nature,” he says, wiser than he knows at almost 19.
I’m shocked she told him, she hasn’t told anyone else to my knowledge, “She, she told you?”
“Only me…” he says, stepping back, running a hand through his long hair.
“Why hasn’t she told anyone else?” I ask.
“How the fuck do I know,” he says plopping down on our bed.
“She should tell people I mean, they are going to think she’s the bad guy here if she doesn’t,” I say before being able to close the filter.
It took him almost three months after that first conversation but it’s been quicker and quicker every time. When I’m jolted from that memory I’m actually shocked he’s still here. He’s looking at me funny though, “What?”
“You’ve considered this,” he says softly.
“Considered what?” I ask, not following his line of thought.
“You’ve thought about trying to get her back, I mean really thought about it,” he says expectantly.
“Doesn’t mean I’m going to try. I think about that all the time kid, all the time. What it would be like, having her a physical part of my life again, not just the memories…” I say surprising myself at how easily he gets me to bear my soul.
“What do you have to lose here Jack,” he asks.
“More than you know, bub,” I say, letting my head fall into my hands.
It is in this moment that I realize he doesn’t see me differently, I’m the same old Jack to him. It’s taken almost two years for me to see it and I wonder if he’s seen me this the whole time. Mostly I’m used to JJ and Lacey catering to me, making sure that everything lines up perfectly, my parents do it too, the people I work with, everyone. This kid though, he doesn’t do that, hasn’t ever done it and I never noticed until now. She would have been the same. She wouldn’t have ever deliberately treated me any different and that thought, as late in the game as it comes to me, tears me apart more than I’d ever have imagined.
“You need a kleenex?” he says smartly.
“Shut up…” I say.
He doesn’t leave this time. We end up in the garage until it’s dark outside and the summer air is blowing around us. When I can’t take the hard floor anymore he rummages around putting some tools away before he turns to go, “I’m glad you showed me, Jack.” Then he is gone. I never thought it would be a twenty-one-year-old kid to put me in my place but he sure as hell did. As I let the shower run over me, hot enough to steam up the bathroom I can’t help but feel a little tug of hope in my heart.