This is part three. 🙂
I pushed the door open further and it creaked. James turned around. “Hey…” He said awkwardly, setting the guitar down. He looked tired. His wet hair was crazily pointing in all directions and he was stilling wearing the clothes he had been wearing the night before.
“We have a front door you know,” I said, not moving an inch.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to have to explain myself to your grandma,” He said, rubbing his hands over his face.
“Yeah, I get it.” I moved forward and grabbed an old towel from one of the boxes. I handed it to James, who dried himself off as best as he could with the tiny, hole-ridden thing.
I stood by the western window. I didn’t know what to say to him, my best friend, who seemed to be so changed. He really did look tormented. I couldn’t stand to see him like that. I had to ask… “James, what is it?” He looked me with his strange eyes, testing me, asking me whether I really cared. I scowled back at him and a sharp poison filled me. “Don’t you dare look at me like that James. Just trust me, someone you’ve been friends with for ten years.”
His eyes softened for the first time since I’d been back. He slid onto the window seat by the northern window and let his unreadable face slide into despair. “I don’t know how to say it.”
I stayed silent.
“I do trust you, but I know what you’ll say…” He let his head rest into his hands. “I want to run away.” For a second I thought I had heard him wrong, but then he repeated, “I want to leave everything behind and just run, Jules.”
“I’ve been planning it since Sunday and I have every little detail figured out. I’ll be fine Jules, trust me.”
“Yeah, like you trusted me!” I snapped, “There’s no way I’m going to let you do that.” My patience with him was gone, “I can’t believe you even considered this!” I knew his reasons perfectly well, but none of them justified running away and being completely stupid.
His eyebrows drew together for a millisecond, before he resumed his blank expression. “Maybe if you listened to my explanation then you would understand…”
“No,” I shook my head and crossed my arms, “No, because I know exactly why you’re running away.”
“Then please, tell me,” He said, standing and crossing his arms smugly.
I scowled even more fiercely, “It’s what you’ve been saying for months. You’re bored of your life.”
“I never said…”
“You know you might as well have.” I snapped, “You’re bored of everything here. You want bigger and better,” I choked a little on my words, “I know you want to travel the world, but can’t that wait until you’re older?”
He stared at me like I had no idea what I was talking about, “My mom is gone.”
I felt the wind being knocked out of me. I glanced at James’ face and then away again. He looked like he just realized what he’d said, and what I’d said… What had I done?
“My mom is gone. She just… left.” He said, he looked as dumbfounded as I felt, and hurt and sad and scared. “I woke up one morning last week and she was gone. She left a note.” He stuck his hand into his pocket, took out a piece of paper and stretched out his arm. I walked over to him and took it. It read:
I know that you think I’ve failed you. That I’ll never be a good mom. I know you wish I were someone else… so I left. I could never be a good mom to you James. I’ve always known that you could take better care of yourself than I could. You always took care of me. I don’t want you to have to take care of me anymore. I’m a burden you should have never had to worry about.
I’ll see you again one day. Take care of yourself.
I love you,
“I’ve been living by myself for a week,” He said, “And once someone realizes that she left I’ll be sent away…” He broke off, leaned against the wall and slid down it onto the floor. “I don’t know where I’ll go, or who I’ll be with. I can’t do that. I have to run away.”
Knowing that there was nothing more to say at the moment, I sat beside him and laid my head on his shoulder. I stared ahead at the clock on the wall ticking past the minutes, listened to James’ breath grow regular again, and watched dust slowing swim through the air. Everything I had just heard ran through my head. My sadness and anger at James’ mom turned to anger at myself for being stupid and selfish. “I’m… sorry.”
James squeezed my hand in his. “We’ve both been wrong before, and we’ll both be wrong again.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I know I can’t run away,” He said, hands shaking, but his voice remained steady. It had a new confidence, “But what can I do?”
I squeezed James’ hand tightly. “Step one, tell everyone that your mom left.” He groaned, “Step two, see what happens next.”
“Jules, I don’t think we’ll…I’ll probably be leaving town.”
“I’m not finished. Step three, never let go of my hand.”
Streak: 7 days