Why was I up on February fourteen staring at my digital alarm clock as the numbers ticked on and the dark outside got brighter? Well, the reason starts with a J and ends with a D. I refuse to think his name all the way through because I’m pretty sure that my eye balls would sweat again because I’m not the type of girl to cry over a guy.
The sun filtered into my room, shining a ray of sunlight on my pillow making my eyes dip to my hair cascading on the pillow and instantly tear up at the sight of my cherry red hair, reminding me instantly of memory that goes along with it.
One day it’s a person that is there everyday and you think you don’t give a crap if they leave you or not but then they do and you don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone.
I sigh as I turn over in my bed and moved away from the clock to stare at the other pillow in my bed. I wish he was here beside me. Me drinking in his axe scent, loving the way he glances at me and bits his lip as if I’m the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. I miss him.
I never thought I would ever think anything like that but I do.
Maybe I should start from the beginning like any other story would. It’s not a very interesting story but my best friend Sally would scold me if I ever utter the words around her because she loved this whole funky relationship we started since the beginning.
Right the beginning.
Well, It was December, after Christmas. Sally and I were in downtown Chicago, about forty minutes away from our home in Bay View. We were chatting among ourselves when a scruffy looking guy came up to us. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in days, he had on an hoodie and sporting black jeans, big boots and a shy smile as he scratched the back of his neck.
This is where I wish I could say his first words was something romantic like, “You’re so beautiful in this light!” or “I belong with you!” but as he opened his lips he said:
“Hey, got ketchup?”
Like he was on the milk advert and said, “Hey, got milk?”
At this time I didn’t give a flying flip if he said anything Romantic at all, flipping my golden locks over my shoulder, I pointed my French tipped nail to the case of ketchup, mustard and other various things. He sent me a shy smile as he reached over me to get the bottle of ketchup and I then got the wave of the axe he was wearing. Then I didn’t really find the smell too attractive and wrinkled my nose pulling away from him as if I smelled something sour.
He pulled back and smiled at us, brushing a hand through his locks of rich brown hair as he said, “My name is Jared,”
I just stared at him as I heard Sally giggle beside me obviously amused by this guy but I wasn’t. I rolled my eyes at him as I flipped my hair again, “And we care because...”
The guy, well, Jared I knew by then, smiled at us as he held up the ketchup, “I guessed we were at a first name basis since you let me have your ketcup,”
“Get lost,” I said irritably.
Jared smirked moving closer to me, I heard the scraping of my chair as I quickly moved back from him.
“I already am,” he said.
I sighed confused and annoyed, What did he mean that he got lost? he was still standing there, I had thought.
“In your eyes,” Jared said smiling.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head at him, maybe even a smile hinting my lips as he walked away with smile. Sally looked from him to me smiled, “He’s cute!”
I looked over at the guy again as he looked back at me then realized that he was very handsome, I was so focused on him not wearing anything name brand and his after shave that I didn’t even see that he, himself was very goodlooking.
I just refused this to Sally and we continued our meal without ketchup and returning to our previously interrupted conversation. As we were walking toward the door we saw saw Jared standing there in all his new found handsome glory. He watched Sally walk out first before he stepped in front of me when I tried to follow out after her. I looked at him curiously, obviously wondering why in the world was he blocking my way.
He looked up and I followed his lead and saw a mistletoe tapped around the bell to the door that chimed every time someone opened the door to the restaurant.
Aw, hell, I thought, just as his lips latched on to mine. For some reason, a thrill shot down my spine at being kissed by an perfect stranger. I wrapped my hands around his neck and pulled him closer to me, his rough stubble of his face scratching my face which was surprisingly a turn on. I felt his lips turn up in a smile as he slowly moved the pressure of his lips away from mine. I slowly fluttered my eyes back open to meet his and we kind of stayed there. Staring at each other.
I was a goner right then. I think of kind of knew it then because after that I fled that restaurant like the plague.
I was pretty sure I would never see him Again after that encounter . Boy was I wrong.
“Raven,” my mom says, snapping me from the day dream, I look up from the pillow to see my mother leaning in through the crack she made by opening the door. She smiles with pity in her eyes at her heartbroken daughter, she has no idea what I’m going through so how could she pity me? “Time for breakfast,”
I look away from her and my eyes go to my night stand where the time says that it’s nearing eleven am. I tell her as I snuggle into my mattress, “I’m not hungry,”
“Well, too bad,” my mom huffs. I hear her footsteps as she walks over and yanks back the covers making me gasp and glare up at her at the flooding of cold air of my body. I was only wearing short cotton shorts and an off the shoulder sweatshirt. She hooks her hands around her waist as she demands, “Raven Gwendolyn Hobbs, I will not allow you to wallow in pain about some college drop out! He is da-”
“Don’t you DARE! Mom, you don’t know him,” I yell at her, shocking myself and her, as her eyes large to the size of quarters. “Until you’ve talked to him more than five minutes and know where he’s come from and what’s he’s been through don’t you DARE speak so lowly of him! I will eat your stupid breakfast then I will come back to my room and you will NOT talk to me anymore until dinner,”
I stump out of the bed and go downstairs eating my food, all the while my parents and sister staring at me. They didn’t expect this from me. To be truthful neither did I. I never expected to fall for some guy that has my world all mushy and out of control.
So, after that kiss in Chicago, Sally drove back to Bay View leaving Jared and that kiss behind in the rearview mirror of my little red Toyota, well at least that was what I thought. I ended up seeing the bastard again. One night I started my period and I found out that I was low on pads, actually none what so ever. So I went to the drug store to buy some as any other woman in need would. It was then where I was stumped on which ones to buy, I was busy choosing between heavy duty or regular when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I looked around to see the guy who I thought I would never see again smiling at me brightly as he says, “Excuse me,”
Shocked I moved back and watch him as he reaches around me and grabs up a pack of condoms before moving back and saying, “Don’t I know you?”
I was about to answer but then his eyes went down to my lips and he waved his hand smirking, “Nope. I know those lips anywhere. December 27, 6:15, we shared a kiss under the mistletoe at Ricky’s Hamburgers.”
I blinked at him, completely caught off guard, “You know the time and date?”
Jared rubbed his neck, I noted the peck tattoo on his forearm as he did so. He replied with my question with, “Well, I’m kind of like that. I remember just about everything. Like today is January 2, 5:23. I will probably remember it for the rest of my life. I have excellent memory, got it from my dad. He has photographic memory which is kind of cool, he remembers everything he sees.”
I nodded slowly all while deciding to just get both pads and get the heck away from the guy who was telling his life story to me like we were buds. He smirks as he looks down at the pads, “Mother nature has made her visit, eh?”
I roll my eyes and shoot back, “No one has visited you, eh? Why the condoms? I don’t think you can impregnate your hand,”
Jared laughed at this, he genuinely laughed as his head fell back and his deep laughter boomed. I actually smiled at the sound of it. It sounded so happy and full of life.
“My sex is sadly lacking actually. Which is why I’m going to buy these condoms, dump them all in the fruit jar where my brothers would never look then put the box in my dresser acting as if they were all used up and I’m some sort of player,” Jared said genuinely, it was then that I noticed that he grabbed the jumbo sized one, also it was then that I noticed that an old lady was giving him looks at this as she drove her cart by slowly.
“What are you doing here in Bay View, Jared?” I asked, hiding the pads behind my back despite the fact that I knew he already seen them.
“I live here,” Jared smirked. “Well not here in Bay View but the next town over, the drug store in Thompson Township was closed,”
I nodded slowly, tucking my pale blonde hair behind my ear and sent him an awkward smile before tailing it out the aisle but he was right on my butt walking behind me. “So why are you here?”
“Well, I actually live here, as in Bay View kind of here,” I replied shortly, moving to the left then right to the cash register. When I finally get there and get everything paid I rush out. Once I was throwing my bag into the passenger side and about to get in someone yelled, “Let me buy you coffee!”
I turned around to see Jared jogging up to me, his brown hair bouncing and having the most serious look on his face since I’ve met him.
“Look, I don’t know y-”
“You probably don’t care but when we kissed...I... I felt something. Did you know I was sad when you just left and I thought I would never see you again? I was just getting over you. I mean, it’s stupid right? Being hooked on a girl who doesn’t like or know you even! but I’m not the type of guy to be normal and smart. So, when I saw you I was beyond shocked. My brothers said I will never see you again but look, here you are, beautiful as ever.”
I blinked at him as confusingly said, “Thank you?”
I studied him hard. Harder than I’ve ever looked at a person before. Then everything seemed to click as his lips turned up into a smile at me. I was tired of being Ms. Perfect. And saying yes to Jared was definitely taking a step on the wild side.
“You don’t even know my name,” I teased, already have made my decision but he didn’t know that.
He smirked and strolled up to me, he grabbed on my hand and shook it, “Hi, I’m Jared, you are?”
“Raven,” I returned formally. “Raven Hobbs,”
He nodded, “Pleasure to meet you. How about we skip the coffee and hop onto bed, you look tired,”
“In your dreams lover boy. Nothing like Lola’s Coffee to wake a person up, eh?”
He laughed and closed the door shut behind me and grabbed up my hand, walking with me to my favorite coffee spot. We laughed and talked all night long, he then became my friend instead of some strange person who I kissed.
Jared and my relationship was...odd. Although I was tired of being perfect my friends and family weren't so I didn’t ever introduce them to him nor did he to his family or friends, actually the subject was kind of taboo. Well, he hung around Sally as well as me but Sally had already met him in Chicago so I didn’t see it as any big deal, also Sally was more of an sister to me than my younger fifteen year old sister so of course she knew even if she weren’t in Chicago that afternoon.
I remember one day when Jared wanted our relationship turned into a real one, we were at a coffee shop. I’ve never been to his apartment before and he surely wasn’t coming to my house where my whole family lived.
While we were waiting for a mochas he reached across the table’s surface and grabbed up my hand.
We were silent for a moment, me watching his large hand play with mine, his finger skimming over the cherry red nail polish that I always wore. He looked up to with a smile playing on his handsome face, since the last time I saw him he cleaned up, his rough stubble was gone, his unruly hair toned down to just messy and trimmed. He looked devilishly handsome. I still wouldn’t show him to the parents though, I don’t know why, I guess I had some underlying fear of my parents rejecting him and forbidding him to see me again. And even if I didn’t know then I know now that as he looked up at me and played with my hands....I was falling for him already.
“Will you come back to my apartment with me?”
“Why would I do that?” I returned instantly.
He smiled and continued to play with my fingers without no other words until minutes later after the waitress dropped off our mochas he said, “Let’s play truth or dare,”
I shrugged. He looked down at his watch briefly.
“I go first. I dare you to be my girlfriend,”
I looked up from my mocha, completely thrown off by this man, I looked into his brown eyes and I smiled, “I don’t ever turn down a dare,”
“Well then, as my girlfriend, will you come back to my apartment with me? Not for sex, but to cuddle with me. Cuddle with me until we both fall asleep. I just want your body next to mine and your beautiful eyes to be the first thing I see when I wake up,”
So that’s what we did. We cuddled on his bed as we watched movies, laughing and talking with the messy damaged Jared by my side. Later, something happened that I wish I didn’t do, but at the time it seemed like the best way. He was spooning me from behind, his lips skimming the place right behind my ear.
“Jared?” I asked.
“Hmmm?” he breathed out.
“We can’t...we can’t let anyone know we are together alright?” I told him.
I felt him stiffen.
“Until you’re ready right?”
I paused. then lied, “Yeah,”
Jared knew I was lying I could tell because he tensed even more.
“You just can’t be with a person like me, huh?”
“Let’s just cuddle,” I said to him.
He was silent, non moving for a moment and I thought he was going to kick me out, but instead he sighed and cuddled up to me again, kissing on my neck as we both fell asleep.
That was the first night I’ve spent with him, but most definitely not the last. I became Jared’s teacher as I was a clean, organized person while Jared was really lacking on that part.
Jared scratched his head, his eyes turning from me to the washer machine, I rolled my eyes at him and started again, “What’s so freaking hard about this, Jared? Regular non whites has cold water and whites has hot water,”
“Right,” Jared said, pushing the correct buttons on the fancy washer machine in the basement of his apartment. I sighed when I saw him push the wrong button then decided to take over, moving in front of him and pushing cold and regular wash. I smiled when I felt his arms snake around my waist and head fall onto my shoulder. I leaned my head back, he moved forward and pecked my lips. He then played with my hair, “You know what?”
I moved around in his arms so that I was facing him as I asked, “What is that, Jared?”
He pushed back my hair as he said, “I think you would look really hot with red hair,”
I giggled, smiling at him and nodded my head.
So what we did as Jared’s clothes spun in his wash, we ran across the street to the drug store and bought two packs of cherry red dye.
I look away from the mirror on my left wall, moving my eyes away from staring at the reflection of my cherry red hair. Peering into my room this time is Sally, I give her a weak smile and she returns me one of her own.
She flips her long brown hair into a ponytail as she walks to my bed and takes a seat. She rubs my leg which is closest to where she is, as she crosses her legs which is bare as she’s in her running shorts, “Hey, babe. Did he call?”
I slowly shake my head, my eyes drifting from her back to the mirror as I watch myself. I don’t look too good, my hair is frizzy and greasy from not showering, I’m thinner from barely eating, only stuffing my face for a few minutes to impress my mom.
“I seriously don’t know why you even come over here.” I say, picking up a piece of lent from the cover on my body.
She looks at me sadly, “You’re like my sister. Of course I’m here for you! Anyway, I live next door for pete’s sake! I was just going to for my morning jog so I’ll be back later.”
I watch as she rises from the bed and waves her slender fingers as me before walking out of my room and closing the door shut behind her. My eyes return to the red hair.
“WOW!” Jared exclaimed. “You look like a new person!”
Jared looks from me to his watch and grinned. I narrowed my eyes at this action, “Jared, why are you always looking at that darn watch of yours?”
Jared smiles at me as he says, “Remember about my memory? Well, when something good happens I want to remember when exactly it happens.”
“You are always looking at your watch,” I noted, looking into the mirror at my new hair and smiled. My parents are so going to flip, I had thought with a smile. I did look like a new person though.
Jared smiled at me through the mirror, “I always look at my watch around you because you are the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me and I want to record every second of it,”
That might have sounded creepy or stalker-like to some else but it sounded completely romantic to me.
Our relationship then bloomed, I was practically over his house every night, my parent’s thinking that I was at Sally’s. So that’s why when my fifteen year old sister got hurt at a track meet they came looking for me.
It was a regular night. Jared and I were bickering as always.
“What’s so hard?! You shoot the fucking zombies!” Jared yelled, bumping his shoulder into my mine as I pounded on the game controller.
“I AM shooting the fucking ugly zombies!”
“No, Baby,” Jared chuckled. “You are kicking them. The right button is B,”
I glanced down at the buttons then pushed the B, the Zombies then started to go down one by one. I smiled at him and smacked his hand with mine. He smirked and pressed his lips to mine, what meant to be a quick kiss got me hooked and wanting more, as he tried to pull away I moved closer, wrapping my hands around his neck and playing with the ends of his hair.
The door got banged on making us jump.
He smiled pulling back and a bit flustered, he was moving to get up but I told him I would get it and he happily returned to his game. I moved up and skipped to the door, in a good mood again from the kiss, as I opened the door I was more than shocked to see my upset looking parents standing there.
I can’t really tell you what happened after that, all I remember is everything going so fast. My dad’s yelling, Jared’s yelling, my dad’s hand on my arm that got a bruised that night. Then I was in the backseat of my dad’s car, crying my eyes out. That night I had called him, sniffling and crying as I said, “I’m so sorry, Jared,”
“No…it’s fine.” His cold, unfamiliar tone replied. “All things come to a end sometime. Tell me, Raven….when were you planning on telling them about me?”
I opened my mouth but his voice returned in my ear too quickly, “You weren’t were you? I knew you weren’t. Am I not good enough? Don’t answer that, it doesn’t matter anymore.”
I heard a click. And that was then end of the phone call. That was the end of Jared. The end of us. The last time I heard his voice.
Now, three weeks later I can barely function without him. I didn’t realize how much he even meant to me.
Later on, I’m watching TV as my mother comes in and says, “We’re going for a walk. Now, Raven,”
I know that tone, if I don’t move she will give me her full wrath. I sigh and get up from bed. Dragging myself to my closet and pulling on a pair of leggings, a oversized shirt and a black fleece jacket. We walk around the neighborhood in silence.
“Raven? Why are you so sad? Is it because of that boy?” My mom asks, waving at another women who is power walking as her dog trotted ahead of her.
“Yes, that boy has a name, Mom,” I say back.
“Okay then, Jayden,”
“No…Jared,” but I’m not correcting her, across the street, fixing his beanie with a face full of hair is Jared. My heart starts to race. He looks rough but I don’t care. It’s Jared. It’s him.
Before I could even think my legs start up, moving towards him, yearning him.
He looks up and looks utterly shocked to see my face. He slowly looks down at his chunky watch then back up at me. We just stare at each other for a few minutes.
“You know,” I start, “I had this whole speech I would say to you when I saw you but that’s completely gon-”
I’m cut off my Jared moving quickly and grabbing my hips, pulling me to him and kissing me. I moan at the feel of his lips against mine. I reach up and feel his hair in my fingers, soft and thick as I remembered. I missed him. So much. I forgot how good it felt to have his big warm arms around me.
I pull back and smile at him, “You didn’t even let me tell you my romantic speech,”
“We can save that for later. We only live once, Raven. I was just on the way to your house to tell you that I love you,”
I smile, “Really,”
Jared rolls his eyes, “Yes, really,”
“Then say it to the world,” I smirk, looping my arms around his neck.
“I love you,” he says seriously.
“I said to the world,” I roll my eyes.
“You are my world.”
I see him starting to pull away but I could see the slender watch on my wrist so I stop him with, “February 14th, 2:45. Already one step ahead of you,”
His smile is so wide as he leans forward and pecks my slips, I slip his beanie off his head and place it on my head. He leans back and rolls his eyes before he pulls me up, me wrapping my legs around his waist.
We don’t care that my mother is calling for me or that a kid in the park to the left calls, “Eww!”. All we care about is Raven and Jared, and that’s how this story should have started.