I glanced over at Jonah when he pulled up in front of a restaurant.
“Why are we here?” I asked curiously.
“You did say that you haven’t eaten breakfast, did you not?”
“I mean, yeah, but that doesn’t mean you have to take me out to eat.”
“Ah, we’re not eating. We’re dining.”
I gave him a look. “What if I told you that I’m not hungry?”
“Well, then you can watch me eat. We’re here. I’m hungry. So, I’m going to eat.”
“Humph. Fine. Let’s eat.”
“I recommend the plain pancakes.”
“Yeah, they’re amazing, trust me.”
“Have you been here before?”
“Yeah, I did a bit of exploring one day and found it. It’s really good.”
“Okay, okay, whatever you say,” I said, getting out of the car. He got out and walked over to the door, holding it open for me. “Thank you,” I said.
He simply nodded at me. I stepped inside, and he followed me in. There was a young waitress standing at the front, looking about twenty. She smiled brightly when she saw Jonah, making me wonder just how many times he had come here.
“Hey, Jonah!” she said, grinning.
She turned to look at me, still smiling. “Hi there! My name’s Laura and I’ll be your waitress today.”
“Hi,” I said weakly. Her loud voice was hurting my ears a little. We followed her as she showed us to our booth. I sat down across from Jonah, and stared out the window. The little restaurant, or was it a diner? Anyways, it seemed really cozy. Why hadn’t I ever known about this place?
“So, Jonah, how’ve you been?” Laura asked, looking down at him. He glanced up at her and seemed to actually think about the question.
“I’ve been okay, actually.”
“That’s good. Tell your mom I said hey,” she said.
How did she know his mom? Maybe she was younger than she looked. Were they really good friends or something? I shrugged away my thoughts. It didn’t matter, anyways, it’s not like I owned Jonah. He could have as many friends or girlfriends as he wanted. It made no difference to me.
“I will,” he said, glancing over at me.
“I’m really happy you moved down here. I missed seeing you,” she said.
I blocked their conversation out of my head and continued looking out the window. I heard Jonah’s deep, soothing voice saying something back to her, but I wasn’t listening. My dad had taken me out to restaurants all the time. We would go off on Saturday mornings or afternoons and search for new places that we had never seen before. If we found a restaurant that we especially liked, we would go back occasionally. I missed our treks across the city, hunting for an unexpected gem of a place to eat. It was amazing, some of the places that we discovered. My favorites were the small places that weren’t very known. The people were always nice, and the food even better. I hadn’t tried anything like that for so long. Dad and I would’ve loved a place like this. It was cute, set back away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
“Destiny?” I heard Jonah ask. His voice sounded like it was coming out of a cave. It was far away and seemed to echo. “Destiny?” It sounded closer now.
And suddenly reality came rushing in. I jumped—literally, jumped—straight up in the booth, knocking over the glass of water that was resting on the table in front of me. I dazedly stared as the water leaked out of the glass and onto the table. I snapped out of it, however, when I felt it dripping onto my lap. I noticed a lot of things at once. Jonah was staring at me. Laura was staring at me from across the room. Tears were prickling my eyes.
It was suddenly all too much. The lights were too bright. The soft music that was playing in the background was suddenly too loud. The people who were looking at me like I was crazy were making me antsy. I needed to get out of here now.
I slid out of the booth and ran across the small diner, pushing the door open and sprinting outside. The cold air surrounded me, and I welcomed it. People weren’t supposed to become like this. People weren’t supposed to go crazy when someone died, right? Why was I like this? I ran past Jonah’s car, across the parking lot, to a small bench that was randomly thrown out in the middle of a little patch of grass to the right of the diner. I collapsed onto it, pulling my knees up to my chin and wrapping my arms around them. Pressing my eyes to my knees, I tried to just breathe. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out.
My breath was ragged, but I tried to control it.
Why had he come out here? Why had he followed me? I opened my mouth to ask him, but all that came out was another ragged breath.
I felt his arm come around my shoulders, and I froze. What was he doing? He seemed to sense my shock, but instead of taking his hand away, he pulled me closer to him. I gave in, releasing my legs and gripping his shirt. Letting my head fall onto his chest, I tried to control my breathing again. I was loosing it.
“What’s wrong, Destiny?” Jonah whispered into my ear.
“I c-can’t…” I choked out.
“I m-miss him.”
I nodded, not able to speak. And just like that, the tears were released. I was blinded by them, as they flooded my eyes. I turned my face into his chest and let them go. I hadn’t really allowed my self to cry. Really cry. I felt like I needed to. Jonah’s arms tightened around me as I continued to sob into him.
Eventually, my sobs quieted and the tears stopped coming so strongly. I didn’t pull away, though, not even when I had stopped calling altogether and my cheeks were completely dry. He didn’t release me, and I didn’t want him to.
“When did he die?” he asked quietly.
“How did it happen?”
“Where were you when it happened?”
His arms tightened around me. I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t want him to feel bad for me. I didn’t want him to get ‘the look’. It’s the look that people usually got after they found out that my dad had died. It was like, they were afraid to talk around me because they thought I would burst into tears. They stopped talking about their dads because they were afraid that I would get offended. I didn’t want Jonah to become like that.
Instead of saying anything at all, he remained silent. He didn’t try to comfort me by telling me things like, “It’ll be okay.” He let his silence speak for itself. He was here if I needed to talk. He would listen.
I pulled away from him, and he let me. I wanted to look at him. I wanted to see if his face was sympathetic or if it was the same as before.
I was surprised when I saw that it was neither. Instead of its usual hard, bored look, his face simply looked gentle. He wasn’t giving me sympathy. He was simply being here for me.
And it was exactly what I needed.