Reads: 329

“Calm down, Ashley. Listen. Calm Down.” She rummages through the drawers. Grabs randomly at pants, shirts. A handful of bras and underwear. She throws it all onto the bed.

Marvin stares at her from the hall. He senses tension in the air.

“He's gone, Jess. My god, he's really...”

“Listen, Ashley, I'm coming home, okay?”

“I... what?”

“I'm going to come see you. You shouldn't be alone.” She gropes in the closet for a luggage bag. Unzips it and starts tossing in the clothes.

“You mean it?” Ashley's sobbing is stifled by her surprise.

“Of course I mean it, I'll be there by-”

“You're fucking kidding me, right?”

Jess holds her breath. “Ashley, what do you mean?”

“What the fuck do you think I mean, Jess? What about your big fucking conference, huh?”

“Ashley, I-”

“Your big fucking conference that you couldn't miss? The reason you said you couldn't come to the wedding?”

Jess doesn't know what to say.

“So what, you can get away for a funeral but my fucking wedding was too much to ask?”

“Ashley-”

“Don't fucking 'Ashley' me. Why do you even care? It's not like you ever gave a shit about him. Do you even give a shit about me, Jess?”

“Of course I do, I-”

“You fucking bitch! If I didn't call you I'd never hear from you again. You just don't care, do you? You don't care about anybody but yourself. That much hasn't changed has it?”

“Ashley, please. I want to help. Kev-”

“Don't you fucking say his name!” Ashley's screaming. Her voice is cracking with rage. “You know what? I don't care. Come, don't come. Fuck you, I couldn't care less.”

“I'm going to be there, Ashley. I-”

Ashley hangs up. The line's dead.

In the living room the national news is still playing, now providing details of the victims' identity. The reporter's voice echoes in through the hall, declaring “... and officer Kevin Porter, who was just days from retiring to his hometown in Small's Cove, Newfoundland.”

It's too much. Jess runs out and turns it off. Throws the remote at it and succeeds in denting the LCD screen. Sits on the floor, shaking. She's pissed at Ashley, but that's not the worst part. She's right about me. Do I really care?

The half-packed bag, the promises she spewed out – she starts to realize now that she hadn't meant any of it. She would have made some excuse. She would have sent a card instead. A fucking card? Come on, Jess. She really doesn't care about Kevin. Always thought he was a creep, dating Ashley even though she was nearly fifteen years younger than he was. There is no conference, of course. There never has been any reason not to go to the wedding.

“What do I do, Marvin?”

Marvin trots over. Looks at her.

“I really am a bitch, aren't I?”

He whines and licks her hand.

Jess gets up and get him a treat. She walks over to the window and looks out at the birds. Cloudy morning. Dark, like her mood. Like the news.

“Christ.”

She marches into the bedroom. Throws more clothes into the bag. Toothbrush. Chargers. Her laptop. Books. Hesitantly, she opens the old cardboard box from Al and takes out a bunch of cracked CD cases. She packs them too.

Hours later she's at the landing strip arguing with Jon about her short notice. He's pissed and manages to haggle her flight up to three fifty for inconvenience, but agrees to get her to Cartwright before dark. Says he even knows somebody who's selling a truck in town that should get her to the ferry. Jess decides that, despite his cheapness, Jon isn't half the fucker she always thought he was.

At four the engine roars and the little Cessna takes to the air. Marvin whines and pisses a little, but calms down when she rubs his head. She's flying higher and the people below shrink into obscurity. The little craft shakes a bit, and Jon turns them south.

Two days. Two days and I'm home.

It's been five years since she's been there.


Submitted: December 06, 2015

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.

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