It had been a week. A long, miserable week. Jonah had stopped eating outside. He stopped taking walks at night. He took a different route in the morning. There was no possible way for me to see him. No possible opportunity for me to explain the misunderstanding. There was no way.
“Destiny, can you please just listen to me for once?” my mom asked me, her voice stressed.
I glanced up at her. “Mom, what’s going on?”
“What are you talking about?”
“With you. What’s going on with you?”
“You’re a lot more stressed than you used to be.”
She sighed. “Destiny. Just put away your clothes and finished washing the dishes. I’ve had a long day. I’m going to bed.” She kissed the tip of my head and slowly walked up the stairs.
I stared at the place where she used to be and sighed.
“Dessy! Come down here and wash the dishes for your mother!”
I walked down the stairs and gave my dad a look. “Can I do it later?”
He just laughed. “Go on, Dessy. You know your mother hates to wash dishes.”
“So do I!” I said, smiling.
“Well, you’re young and able, so you wash them.”
“I’m fourteen, Dad! I’m getting on up there!” I said jokingly.
He came over to me and pulled me into a hug. “Forty trumps fourteen. You wash.”
I groaned, still smiling. “You’re mean, Daddy.”
“But you love me anyway, don’t you?”
I sighed and got to washing the dishes. Tears blurred my vision. Life was so unfair. Why did my dad have to die? Why did Jonah have to completely come up with assumptions and then ignore me when I tried to explain?
I scrubbed a plate with the sponge and rinsed it off. I was tired. I was lacking sleep. I was lonely. I didn’t want this to continue. I couldn’t keep living like this.
When you feel like you’re alone in the world, it makes everything, even the happy things, seem bleaker. It’s like your emotions are connected to a vacuum, and it’s constantly on. People don’t understand that when you’re alone, you get used to it. Being in the presence of people doesn’t mean that you’re not alone. You can be in a room of people and be lonelier than ever. People don’t understand that loneliness isn’t conditional. It’s almost a way of life. You do things differently when you’re lonely. You do everything that you want to do, but how fun is that when you have no one to share it with? While you’re lonely, you build walls. You become guarded. It takes time to let people into your world. And when you do, that’s when you’re not lonely anymore. But it’s seldom that you find a person willing and patient enough to wait for your walls to collapse and crumble. A lot of people are lonely for their whole lives. It’s all they know.
I don’t want to be like that again. After my dad died I was lonely. Then Jonah came along. Now he’s gone again. It’s almost worse when you let someone in, and they hurt you. Because the next time, it’ll be harder to let someone in. Maybe one day I would stop being afraid of people hurting me. Or, actually, it wasn’t even that. I was afraid that I would allow someone to get close to me and I would actually start caring about them. Because when you loose someone that you’re close with, you sink into depression. Or at least that’s what happened in my case. I was still in that depression.
But Jonah had been able to ease it.
For a little while, anyway.
I stacked the last dish and walked towards the door. It was almost midnight. Today was Sunday. I really didn’t want to go to school tomorrow.
Mom had been at work all day and come home at eleven thirty. I didn’t understand why she had stayed that late, but it wasn’t like she would ever tell me.
I stepped outside and saw a flash of a Honda driving by quickly.
Before I knew what I was doing, I sprinted after it. I saw the end of it as it turned right. Breathing in through my nose, I pushed myself to go faster. The pavement blurred beneath me and I felt an overwhelming surge of energy and adrenaline. I turned right and again only saw just the end of it as it then turned left. My heartbeat quickened as my muscles strained. I focused my gaze on the car. Pumping my arms, I tried to keep up with it. The only sound I heard was the quickening thumps of my feet hitting the asphalt. I reached the end of the street just as the car pulled into a driveway. I stopped, breathing hard, and watched. The house that the car had stopped at was massive.
The car door opened and Jonah got out. He walked up to the house and went inside.
I stood at the street corner, trying to control my breathing. There was one word going through my head.
Jonah. Jonah. Jonah.
Should I go up to the door? Knock on it? Forget him and turn away?
I sighed and turned around. I couldn’t go up to his house. I knew nothing about him, really. Why did I even care about him so much? He was nothing to me.
Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.
I heard a door slam and spun back around. Jonah got back in his car and backed out of the drive way. I stood, frozen in place. He drove my way, and when he stopped at the stop sign at the corner, he noticed me. Our gazes locked.
I could only imagine what he saw.
A girl he used to know. A girl that he thought had betrayed him and snooped through his personal belongings. Her black hair was crazy, uncontrollably curly. Her freakishly green eyes were wide and her face was flushed. She stood there woodenly, arms at her side, tiny hands curled into fists. She was wearing his sweatshirt that was too big on her. It hung on her like a blanket. Her bare feet poked out from beneath her pajama pants.
I probably looked crazy.
He idled at the stop sign, not moving forward.
This was my chance.
I had to do something.
I took a step forward and opened my mouth to speak.
He floored the gas and sped off. All I could do was snap my head around and watch him leave me.
I sighed, feeling the tears well up. I blinked them back and refused to sink to that level again. It was simple, really. I would wait for him.
So, I sat down on the curb, and waited.
It had been two hours, and I was almost asleep. I was leaning up against the stop sign, my eyes closed. The minutes stretched into hours as I awaited Jonah’s return. I breathed in the night and forced my eyes open. I couldn’t fall asleep here, looking like a hobo. I curled my toes and glanced up at the sky. It was really pretty out tonight. There were so many stars in the sky. I unconsciously chewed on the side of my thumb, studying the sky. I tilted my head and lowered my gaze down to Jonah’s house.
It was so big. I wondered what his parents were like. Did he have any siblings?
I got up without thinking. My legs seemed to have a mind of their own as they carried me closer and closer to Jonah’s house. I didn’t have to care about him. I could turn away right now and I would never have to talk to him again. It would be over. That would be the end of it.
But there was something about what I had with Jonah, no matter how short, that was different. I used to have friends, before my dad died. None of them had been like this, though.
Before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of Jonah’s driveway, staring up at his house. What was it about him? Why was I so drawn to him? Maybe it was because he was the closest thing I’d had to a friend since Dad died.
I sensed the headlights on my back before I fully registered what was happening. Whirling around, I was blinded by the headlights. I covered my eyes with my hand and waited for him to take the keys out. I heard him get out of the car, but the lights didn’t turn off.
I took a deep breath and lowered my hand. I couldn’t see anything. Trying to move out of the light, I walked over to the other side of the hood. I looked over at Jonah, standing on the opposite side of the car, staring at me.
When our eyes met, my breath caught. “Jonah.”