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Reigning (profile) wrote,
on 11-3-2003 at 4:53pm
Music: Radiohead - Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
:::::1:::::


Jackie sat at her table eating dinner. She was a great cook, adding all of the right spices, and the perfect amount of salt and sugars to every meal she prepared, making each bite supremely heavenly. She was the head cook at the restaurant she owned. "Cherir l'âme", it was called, meaning, "Cherish the Soul."
Jackie pulled a red hair tie off of her wrist and put her black hair into a loose bun on her head. She put the few straggling hairs behind her ear and continued eating her dinner.
The apartment was quiet except for the occasional clink of her fork on the plate. Sometimes she would slide her teeth across the fork as it left her mouth, just to break the silence. She lived alone and had no boyfriend or pets. She was fairly private, but still friendly. The occasional friend would drop by, but she was mostly beside herself in everything she did.
Jackie had that exotic beauty, with a dark complexion and a tough essence. She wore dark tones of green, blue and maroon, which accented her deep, beaming green eyes. She was as beautiful as the sight of the moon being reflected by an ocean, lost in its own wave of stars. It was a wonder she was alone.
After she took her last bite, she wiped the corners of her mouth with her index finger and put her fork on the plate. She picked up the plate, walked to the sink and washed it until it was completely spotless. She stood for a few minutes, rescrubbing the plate, though it wasn't necessary. She knew she couldn't wash the plate forever, but she didn't know what else to occupy her time with. Eventually she dried it and placed it in a cupboard. Leaning on the counter, she sighed and looked over her dim apartment. Everything was so still and clean, almost like a new house you can walk through, where everything is placed perfectly to make it look nice.
She took a long stare at the clock above her kitchen sink. It was dark blue and white. She watched the plastic hands tick off each second. It was only 7:26pm. She watched it until 7:27 went by, then leisurely made her way to the living room. Plopping down into a large black recliner, she grabbed the remote and switched on her small 11" T.V. It wasn't long before her boredom overtook her and she turned it off. She then went to her bedroom. She slipped off her pants and threw off her shirt into a pile on the floor. Apathetically, she climbed into her bed, turned off her table lamp, and lay in the light that sundown shone through her window. This was a typical evening for Jackie.

:::::2:::::


6:30 in the morning, her alarm clock penetrated its continuous buzz through the night's silence. A long groan, then she hit the button to switch it off. It didn't take her long to get ready. She slipped on her black pants and white shirt for work, then tied her hair up into a ponytail, lying lazily on the back of her head. After eating a breakfast bar and brushing her teeth, she was ready to go by 7. She climbed into her black BMW and took her time as she drove to work.
Arriving at Cherir l'âme, Jackie parked, then got out and unlocked the restaurant door. When she stepped inside, everything was still. The room was dark and empty.
She stood for a moment, letting its serene calmness sink in, before she went through the building turning on lights and appliances.
During this morning routine, Jackie noticed something unusual. There was a large crack in the window on the back door. The crack led to a medium sized hole in the bottom right corner of the window.
"Some kids were playing baseball probably," Jackie thought. She looked around the floor but found no sign of a ball. She shrugged it off and decided to find some tape for a temporary fix of the hole.
As she turned from the door, she heard footsteps and two arms wrapped around her waist. She gasped and turned to see who owned these arms. She faced a man she didn't know. She started to scream, and he pushed her hard against the wall, knocking the air out of her. She went to hit him, but he held her arms firmly against her sides. She stared at the intruder. His hair was matted down by grease, and it shaped to his head. His eyes were sunken in and darkly circled as if he were very sleep deprived. The smell of alcohol, cigars and piss came off this man so heavily that Jackie had to hold her breath. Then he grinned at her. Jackie flinched as his deeply yellowed teeth and rank breath was revealed.
"You sure are pretty," the man said in a low, husky voice which made Jackie feel like a millipede had crawled under her skin and was scurrying around the back of her neck.
She tried to scream again, but he covered her mouth with his filthy hand and pushed her close to his body, so she couldn't move. Jackie kicked anything she could and continued screaming, but his deadlock grip prevented her from moving much further than 2 inches from where she was and all of her yells were muffled. The man picked Jackie up and walked out the backdoor. Jackie watched her surroundings. They were soon in an alley that Jackie didn't recognize; it was still fairly dark out. Finally the man dropped her on the ground, but pushed her body down before she had time to get very far up or escape. He sat on her and put her hands under his knees keeping her from struggling. She tried screaming again and he hit her. She felt warm blood flow down her chin from her lip and she began to cry.
She then felt his cold dirty hand touch her bare stomach and she retracted her gut. He then grasped the bottom of her shirt and ripped it down the middle. He did the same to her bra until her breasts were exposed. Jackie screeched out tears and the man hit her with an incredible blow to her forehead. She felt a cut open and blood and tears flowed down her cheeks.
The man undid her pants, and then she heard the zipper. Jackie closed her eyes tightly. If she survived, she didn't want to have visual memories of this horrible event.
Suddenly she felt his weight lift off of her. She heard him say "who-" but was cut off short by a thud, and she heard his body fall to the ground. She slowly opened her eyes. Another man stood next to her. She watched his dark profile as he bent near the potential rapist, who was lying motionless. The new stranger then looked up at Jackie and she grabbed her shirt and covered herself. She shivered in the early fall air. He walked toward her, taking off his jacket and handed it to her. As he got closer, his features became more apparent. His hair looked a deep black and he had large eyes. She also noticed he held a heavy metal pipe in his hand, which she assumed he had used to hit the other man.
"It's okay now," he said softly and helped her stand up. She wiped her eyes on his jacket, and then wrapped it around herself. She stood for a moment, and then looked up at him. Her eyes welled up with tears again and she cried into his chest. He held her tight, making sure to watch the inactive man on the ground.

:::::3:::::


Two hours later, after being questioned countless times, Jackie stood leaning against a police car with a thin brown blanket wrapped around her. She stared blankly at the cracked cement below her, ignoring the itch the blanket gave her. She didn't look up until the man who had saved her approached. At first he opened his mouth, rejected whatever it was he was going to say, and just leaned against the car next to her. He winced as a red light from a police car's flashers ran over his face. He moved over about a foot, to get out of its aim. A moment later he said, "Look, uh," he rubbed the back of his neck and looked down. "Do... do you want to maybe get something to eat? It doesn't have to be tonight, because I'm sure you want to get home and rest, but, sometime maybe?" He looked up at her. Jackie looked him in those large eyes. They were a light blue sky, which she got lost in for a moment, almost forgetting to answer. She finally said, "Oh, sure. That's fine, but yeah... not tonight."
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "I haven’t even told you my name. It's Aaron, Aaron Jenison," and he held out his hand, almost enthusiastically. Jackie put out hers and they shook hands.
"I'm Jackie," she said, "just... Jackie. I've never cared for my last name." Aaron smiled at her. Just then a policeman walked up to them.
"Ah, Hello once again miss," he said to Jackie, "and sir," and turned to Aaron. "You two can go home now. I apologize for having to keep you here so long."
"Thank you, Officer," Aaron said.
"And thank you for calling us. This guy's been on the loose for some time. You're quite the hero." Aaron let out a small laugh.
"Well, goodnight kids. And hey," he looked at Jackie and put his hand on her shoulder, "you should feel very lucky that this man came around when he did." He smiled a strangely crooked smile and departed.
"Do you need a ride home?" Aaron asked.
"No," Jackie replied, "I have a car at the restaurant."
"Is there anything I can do?" Aaron said, looking sincerely concerned. Jackie smiled at him for this and felt grateful for his care.
"No, no, I'm a big girl." Aaron's worried face faded into another smile.
"All right," he said and moved closer to give her a hug. Jackie was surprised at first, but leaned in to receive the hug. They parted and Jackie looked him in the eyes again.
"Thank you," she said gratefully, "thank you so much." The two then exchanged phone numbers and made their way to their cars.
Jackie drove silently home. Her mind was a blur and nothing made much sense to think about. When she got home, she didn't remember parking, or coming inside, or even undressing to go back to bed. However, she did remember throwing her clothes in the trash. She decided she'd buy new clothes for work, because she knew she couldn't wear those ever again and feel the same.
Jackie slipped under the covers of her bed and fell asleep almost immediately. She dreamt of nothing.

:::::4:::::


The next morning Jackie woke up with a terrible headache. She sat up and put her hands on her forehead. It felt like something was pressing in on her temples. She sat on the edge of her bed for a few minutes, just hoping the pain would stop. She glanced over at the luminous red numbers on her alarm clock and saw it was 1 am. She had slept over 12 hours. Eventually she rose and went to the medicine cabinet in her bathroom. She pulled out some aspirin and took two pills. She leaned on the counter in front of the cabinet and looked at herself in the mirror. She studied the cuts on her forehead and lip. One ran from the middle of her right eyebrow to about a centimeter away from her hairline. The lip cut was small. She turned the sink on and filled her hands with water. She splashed her face and rubbed at the cuts, washing away the dried blood. She grabbed the blue hand towel that was hanging on a rack next to the mirror, and wiped her face with it. She looked up in the mirror again. The cuts looked much more trivial then they had felt.
Jackie set the towel down on the counter, not bothering to hang it back up. She walked over to the shower and turned on the hot water. Steam rose from the bottom of the tub as it filled and the mirror fogged up. She undressed and stepped inside. She flinched when she first felt the water, but continued to go in. The water came from the spout above Jackie's head and she basked in it. She repeatedly scrubbed at her stomach where the man had touched.
When she finally got out, her body was blotched with red spots from the heat of the water. Steam rose from her stomach, shoulders and legs. She grabbed a towel from the cabinet under the counter. It was blue to match the hand towel. She wrapped the towel around herself and went to her bedroom.
Jackie was dressed by 2:30. She sat at the foot of her bed and stared at the white carpet, which was throughout her entire apartment. She could feel that the shoulders and back of her shirt were damp from her hair. Jackie had neglected to dry it. She really didn't care. The events that happened not even 24 hours ago were still fresh in her mind. She let out a grunt of frustration and went to the living room. She sat in the same black recliner that she always did, and switched on the TV. She leaned her head on her shoulder and flipped through the channels. There were some Spanish soap operas, re-runs, and infomercials. She settled on one of the few English soaps she came across.
Around 6:30, Jackie decided to take a break and make breakfast. She turned off the TV, grateful to have something else to do, and walked to the kitchen. Just as she was reaching to open a cabinet, the phone rang. She walked over to the wall where the phone hung and picked it up.
"Hello?" she said into the receiver.
"Hey... this is Aaron," said the voice at the other end.
"Oh, hey Aaron," Jackie said, feeling a bit happier.
"I knew you'd be up. I thought you might want to take advantage of that invitation to go get something to eat," Aaron said.
"Sure, sure... that'd be great."
"Let's meet at that cafe on the corner of 5th street. See you there in an hour?"
"Yeah, see you there," and she hung up. Jackie grinned slightly and went to her bedroom.
An hour later, Jackie was standing in front of the cafe, wearing different clothes and bearing the usual lazy ponytail. She stood patiently, but didn't have to wait long. Aaron came strolling down the sidewalk a minute later. He smiled widely at her.
"Hey!" he said when he reached her. Jackie smiled softly at him. "I was thinking we'd go to that new restaurant. I heard they have good breakfast there and it's only a few shops down."
"That's fine with me," Jackie said.
They walked to the restaurant in an awkward silence. After they were both settled in a booth and done ordering, they started talking a bit more comfortably.
"So what is it you do at Cherir l'âme? Are you a waitress?" Aaron asked.
"Heh," Jackie answered, "no, I own it. I cook."
"Oh!" Aaron laughed, "I love that dish... ah... Fondue Savoy... Savoy... Savoy-something."
"Fondue Savoyarde. Yep, I make that," Jackie said proudly.
"How many cooks are there?"
"Usually around 7, but it can get up to 10 on busy days."
"Oh, wow. And you all get along?"
"Yeah, we're a lot like family, but," Jackie laughed a little, "they always complain because I like to listen to The Beatles while I cook. They hate The Beatles."
"No way! The Beatles are gods!"
"I totally agree! They just don't know good music, I guess."
"Say, what's your favorite song by them?"
"I'd have to say... Let It Be."
"Ha! Mine too. It's a great song."
"It is. Have you ever heard-?"
"Hey Hun," a woman said as she walked up to their table, cutting Jackie off. She was the stereotype of how the perfect girl would look. Her hair was a little longer than shoulder-length. It was blonde and wavy and poured over her shoulders. Her eyes were a brilliant blue and went great with her flashy smile, which showed all of her gleaming white teeth behind those luscious red lips. Her legs were long and slim. She was skinny, fit and perfectly tan. Jackie felt a tinge of jealousy.
"Oh Jackie, I forgot to mention that my girlfriend Marissa was meeting up with us and that she'd be a little late."
Marissa let out a tiny snort of a laugh. "Nice to know I'm thought about," she remarked and held her hand out to Jackie. "Nice to meet you Jackie," her voice was smooth and seductive.
Jackie took her hand and shook it. "You too," she said.
Aaron slid to the inside of the booth for Marissa to sit next to him. She sat down and said, "thank you, Hun."
Aaron smiled at her with admiration nearly dripping from his eyes. "We ordered without you," he said, "sorry...”
"It's okay, I already had breakfast anyway. You really should get a palm pilot like I told you, so you won’t forget things so much." She giggled and leaned towards Jackie, "he never listens to me." She said it with pure giddiness. Her happiness was almost contagious and Jackie couldn't help but grin at her.
Their waiter then arrived and gave them their food. Jackie ate silently, listening to Marissa talk. Talking seemed to be very easy for Marissa, considering she didn't stop for breath much. Jackie highly enjoyed it though. Marissa was entertaining and made Jackie feel much happier than she had been. Aaron made a comment now and then, but he seemed to enjoy Marissa's ramblings just as much as Jackie did and let her just go on her own. Finally Marissa took a break.
"Oh wow, I'm so sorry!" she said sincerely, "I've been talking all this time! Why didn't you guys stop me? Hah, how rude of me! That's quite enough about me, tell me about you Jackie; how have you been?" She looked Jackie in the eye and looked truly concerned. Jackie smiled for what felt like the hundredth time since Marissa arrived.
"Don't worry about me, I'm fine. I've nearly forgotten about what happened yesterday," she said, not being completely truthful. She hadn't forgotten it one bit, but Marissa had kept her mind off it well.
After Aaron and Marissa had finished their meals, paid, and talked for a bit longer, Marissa declared she had to go.
"I have to work at noon so I need to get ready, but I'd love to stay," she said as the three walked out of the restaurant. Marissa turned to face Jackie and took Jackie's hand. "I want you to call me if you ever want someone to talk to or just to hang out with, all right? This is my number." She grabbed a pen and scrap of paper out of her purse, then scrawled a phone number onto it. She handed it to Jackie and Jackie stuffed it into her pocket.
"Thanks," Jackie said. Marissa hugged her. Jackie was taken aback, just as she had been for Aaron's hug, but returned it.
"Goodbye, Jackie," Aaron said.
"Goodbye, Aaron," Jackie answered back. "Thank you for this, thank you for everything." She turned and walked down the sidewalk, back towards her apartment.

::::5:::::


Jackie walked into her restaurant. All of the doors were open and there was no glass in any of the windows. It was completely empty. Two arms wrapped around her waist; the same arms from the morning before. Jackie tried to scream but nothing came out. The hands groped at her clothing, ripping them. As they fell off her body, the hands released her. She looked down at her naked self and the heap of clothes by her feet. Turning around to escape, she saw that the door was no longer there. She looked back and the man stood in front of her. She was terrified. He reached out to touch her, when Jackie saw the red point of a blade appear in the middle of his chest. He swayed for a moment, then fell face-forward toward Jackie. She jumped out of the way, and saw the sword sticking out of his back. Aaron stood behind him, clearly the one responsible. Jackie felt utterly relieved. She looked down at the dead man, and saw that his blood was spreading quickly on the floor around him. It also ran over him; over his legs, his back, and finally his head. He was consumed in his own blood. The floor began to flood with it. It ran along the tiles, coming closer to Jackie. She knew she must not let it touch her. She looked at Aaron. He floated peacefully over the river of blood. She looked at him desperately, and reached to him. He reached back, but was too far away. Tears streamed down her face and she screamed to him. The blood formed at her feet and crept up her legs. Soon it was up to her waist. Then her shoulders and neck were covered. Suddenly Marissa appeared floating next to Aaron. She smiled softly at Jackie and whispered, "Goodbye, Hun." The blood flowed over Jackie's face. She could feel the raw bitter sweetness of it in her mouth. She felt it slide down the back of her throat and into her lungs. She tried to take one last breath but-
Jackie woke up with a start. Her heart was beating rapidly and she was freezing. She wrapped the blankets close around her. She wiped cold sweat off her forehead and the back of her neck. She sat deep in thought at the chilling dream she had just had. "Did it mean anything?" she wondered aloud. She stared across the room, thinking. After a moment she slid out of bed and walked to the pile of clothes on her floor, which she hadn't put in the hamper yet. She rummaged through the pockets of her pants and took out Marissa's phone number. She examined it, which she hadn't done before, and found that Marissa had written "Marissa's Number," under the phone number. The dot on the I was a small heart, and the most perfectly drawn heart Jackie had ever seen.
She walked over to the end table next to her bed, where a gray phone was placed. She picked up the receiver and sat on the edge of the bed. She dialed slowly. After the last number was pushed, she heard a pause, then the first ring.
"Hello?" Jackie heard after the second ring.
"H..hi," she stammered. "Is this Marissa? It's Jackie."
"Jackie!" Marissa exclaimed with pure joy. "Yes, it's Marissa. What's up?"
Jackie recounted her dream. Marissa listened intently and didn't speak until Jackie had finished.
"That is interesting," she said thoughtfully.
"Ya know what," Jackie said. "I'm sorry I bothered you with this. I realize now how childish it was of me to get worked up."
"Oh no! It's fine, it's fine," Marissa reassured.
Jackie smiled. "Do you want to maybe meet up sometime and talk? We could get to know each other more."
"Of course, that sounds wonderful," Marissa replied sweetly.
After the plans were made, Jackie hung up the phone.
The two women met at a small vintage clothing and furniture shop. Marissa was looking at a worn out black hat when Jackie walked in.
"My great grandmother had a hat just like this," Marissa said, holding the hat out for Jackie to see. She turned the hat around to see all of it. Marissa looked on the inside, and after a moment her eyes got wide. "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed. "Look, look, look!" She showed Jackie the inside tag of the hat. It read, 'Marylin Sarns.'
"That's my grandma," she said, overjoyed. "This was her hat!"
"That's so cool!" Jackie said, smiling at Marissa.
"Wow.. gosh.. that's just, uncanny. I have to buy this." She placed the aged hat on her head and struck a pose. "What do you think?"
Jackie giggled and said, "just your color."
Marissa gasped, then walked over to a long red robe hanging up on a rack. "You should try this on." She picked it up and brought it over to Jackie. Jackie gave her a questioning look. "C'monn, it'll be fun," Marissa urged. She put the robe in Jackie's hands. After a hesitation, Jackie slipped her arms through, and pulled it over her shoulders. She turned to face an old body mirror and wrapped the robe close around her body. She looked at herself from different angles and smiled, satisfied with what she saw.
Marissa walked up to her bearing an armful of different clothes. She piled half of them into Jackie's arms. "Let's get started!" she said. Jackie's smile grew wider and she laughed. At that moment, she forgot about her dream.
They spent the rest of the morning giggling like two little girls, trying on their mother's clothing. Around 11:00, Marissa's cell phone rang.
"Hello?" she answered. Jackie stood next to her, wearing a particularly large dress, with black rose print around the waist. She listened to Marissa's side of the conversation.
"Oh?... that's fine, don't worry about it... No no, it's no problem, I'm sure she'll understand... Okay... Love you too, bye." Marissa flipped her cell phone closed and turned to Jackie. "I'm sorry Jackie, this has been so much fun, but I need to be going. Aaron needs some help with the apartment, you know how men can be when it comes to that sort of thing," Marissa winked as she said this.
"Oh, oh yeah, it's fine. It was fun. Thanks for meeting me here Marissa," Jackie replied.
"It was a pleasure," Marissa said, and leaned in to hug Jackie. They put the scattered clothes back where they belonged, and parted ways.
As Jackie walked home, she felt a touch of sadness. She didn't know quite how to explain it, but it felt almost like something was being taken from her, and she must not let it happen. She walked silently home, thinking this over.

:::::6:::::


Over the next month, Jackie called Marissa more and more. She was eventually calling her every day to meet somewhere. Marissa didn't mind Jackie's company, so she usually agreed, but it was taking a great amount of her time away from her. Aside from work and times with Jackie, she rarely got to see Aaron anymore.
Jackie liked being with Marissa for so much time. That uneasy feeling that she was losing something went away the more she was with her.
This morning was much like every other; Jackie picked up her gray phone and dialed Marissa's number. However this time no one picked up. Jackie hung up and called again, with the same result. She looked down at the alarm clock on her end table. It was 10:30 in the morning. She decided to quit trying for the time being and walked to the kitchen to begin preparing breakfast for herself.

. . . . .


Aaron liked to sleep in late, but this morning he had gotten up at 9:30, just for the arrangements he and Marissa had established the night before. They hadn't seen each other much in the last month, so they decided to plan a nice day for the both of them. He was supposed to meet her at her apartment at 11. He looked up at the brown clock hanging above his doorway. It was 10:32. He walked to the bathroom and smiled at his reflection in the mirror. He looked at his hair and clothes and made sure everything looked perfect. He loved Marissa and wanted to look his best for her.
Deciding to leave early, he got in his car and drove toward Marissa's apartment, arriving there around 10:45. He parked his car and slowly walked up the wooden stairs to her apartment on the second floor. The third door he came to, which had a black metal 64 hanging on the front, was hers. He knocked a few times, but she never came to the door. After waiting nearly 6 minutes, he pulled out the key she had given him once, and let himself inside.
"Marissa?" he called as he shut the door behind him. He walked further inside, down a small hallway, which opened up into a living room. "Marissa?" he called again. His curiosity grew. After standing in the living room feeling bewildered, he walked into the kitchen. There was a small counter separating the kitchen from the living room. There was a sink built into it, and it was overflowing with water. He walked up to it and turned off the faucet. As soon as Aaron saw past it, he yelled out Marissa's name in a panic-stricken tone and ran to her side. There Marissa lay, in a puddle of blood around her head and shattered glass and water scattered on the floor. Aaron touched her arm, then quickly withdrew his hand, for it was a bitter cold. "Oh my god," he whispered as his face grew hot. Tears started streaming down his face. "Marissa!" he yelled, "no, no, God please, no." He stared at her expressionless face. Her eyes stared blankly back at him. Soon her face blurred and he couldn't see clearly from the tears welling up in his eyes. He quickly stood up and ran outside of the apartment. He sat down on the bottom stair and sobbed into his knees. He whispered, "oh my god" over and over.
After a good 35 minutes, he stared down at his knees. His pants were wet from the many tears he had spilled, and was still spilling. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his cell phone. After dialing 911, he sat in misery on that last stair step, waiting for the ambulance.

. . . . .


Jackie sat in her recliner eating the remains of a cheese omelet when she received a call. She dragged herself out of the chair and set her plate on the kitchen table as she made her way to the phone.
"Hello?" she answered.
"Jackie.." a man said, "you, you have to come." His voice was distressed and cracked a few times.
"Aaron?" Jackie asked, "Aaron, what's wrong?"
"It's, it's terrible. You have to come to Marissa's apartment," Aaron said.
"Why?" Jackie asked with urgency, "Is she all right? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine," he sobbed into the phone, "but Marissa.. oh God.. Marissa's dead, Jackie! She's dead!" It was silent for a moment.
"No.." Jackie said quietly, "no, no way, that's not true, you're not serious!"
"I am!" he cried out. Jackie started to breathe in and out quickly, as she seemed to come to reality.
"Oh my god," she said as she started to cry. "What, what happened? It can't.. be true. What happened?"
"They don't know yet," Aaron said, referring to the police, "please, just come, I need somebody. I need something. I don't know, just come."
"Ok," Jackie whispered, "Give me a few minutes," and she hung up. She leaned against the wall for a few moments, staring off into nowhere. Her mind was blank. She stayed silent and unmoving for a long while, or perhaps it only felt like a long time. Finally she slipped her shoes on and climbed into her car. She made her way toward Marissa's apartment, with the tears she had cried on the phone still on her face, and she remained silent.
When she finally pulled into the apartment complex parking lot, there were 3 cop cars parked outside Marissa's apartment. Jackie parked and ran over to them. She soon saw Aaron and he ran up to her. His face was red and blotched. He grabbed her and hugged her tightly. She hugged him back and they both cried.
"I'm so glad you're here," Aaron said.
"Where is she?" Jackie asked.
"The ambulance came. They already took her away. She was pronounced dead on the scene." He sniffed and pulled away from Jackie. He wiped his face with his hand and looked up at her. "I don't know what I'm going to do." He let out a strained sob and looked at the ground. Jackie wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close to her. She could feel his tears soiling her shirt as he wept into her chest.

:::::7:::::


“Ah!” Jackie cried out as the knife she was using to cut up a tomato sliced open the side of her thumb. She quickly stuck her thumb in her mouth, then walked over to the kitchen sink. She turned on the faucet and ran the water over her cut. After a minute, she dried her hand, then wrapped a band-aid, which she found in a junk drawer, around her thumb. As she did so, she clenched her teeth and breathed in from the little sting of pain she received. When she finished, she returned to the tomato and pushed the cut up pieces into her hand, which she held at the edge of the counter. She then dropped them into a pot setting on the stove. The pot was white with black lines creeping up from the bottom, from the flames. She stirred the contents of the pot a few times, set a cover on it, then walked into the living room. Aaron sat on her love seat, staring at the television screen. The TV was turned on, but he had set it to mute. He watched the silent sitcom blankly, and Jackie doubted he was actually paying it any attention. After the two had spent hours at Marissa’s former apartment, Jackie invited him to spend the night at her place so he wouldn’t have to be alone. He had agreed and stayed up all night with Jackie, crying to her. She consoled him until he fell asleep in her lap, late into the night. Now it was noon the next day, and Jackie was fixing breakfast.
“Aaron?” Jackie asked softly. He didn’t answer for a few moments, then replied.
“Hm?” he said, not moving or looking from the screen.
“Do you like chili?” she asked, “That’s what I’m making.” He grunted then said, “sure.” Jackie nodded and proceeded back to the pot of cooking chili. When it was finished, and some was poured into a bowl, she walked out to the living room and sat next to Aaron. “Here,” she said and pushed it toward him a little. He looked down at it, then grabbed for the spoon. He stuck some in his mouth, but before he got the whole helping inside, he stopped quickly. He swallowed what got in his mouth then whispered, “too hot.”
“Oh,” Jackie said. “Here, we’ll just let it cool off for a while, then you can eat it,” and she set it on the small wooden coffee table in front of them. She leaned back on the love seat and sat close to Aaron. He sighed and set his head on her shoulder. A tear ran down his left cheek, unnoticed. Jackie wrapped her arms around him as she had done just hours ago, and held him tightly. He didn’t cry this time, but even in the silence, his sadness was ubiquitous. Jackie hadn’t cried since consoling Aaron at Marissa’s apartment. She figured it was because she was too busy trying to help Aaron, to think about it, and crying wouldn’t do any good.
Jackie began to sing the lyrics to a Coldplay song. “From the moment I wake, to the moment I sleep I'll be there by your side; just you try and stop me.” She sang it slow and in a whisper. Aaron lifted his head and looked up at her. She looked back, staring into his mournful eyes. After he desperately searched her eyes for an answer to his pain, he put his head back down, this time snuggling up closer to her neck. Time passed quickly and neither kept track. Jackie had called the restaurant and told them she couldn’t come in for a few days, and Aaron had done the same to the music store he worked at. After what felt like hours and probably were, Aaron and Jackie still sat on the love seat. Aaron finally roused himself out of his slump and stood up.
“I think I’m going to go. I think.. I think I just need to be alone for a while,” he said, watching Jackie, then paused. He continued, “Thank you so much, Jackie. You’ve been.. more than I could’ve asked for. I know I’m not done grieving yet, so, I’m sure I’ll be right back here later, crying into your shoulder.” He gave a weak laugh, then hugged Jackie tightly.
“You’re always welcome here. Please, come back if you need to. Because I know that you being here has helped me a lot also,” she said as she stood up. Aaron smiled faintly, and turned to his shoes lying next to the doorway. He slipped them on, gave Jackie one more hug, and left her apartment.
Jackie sat back down on the loveseat with one leg under her body. She sighed and sat for several minutes, looking around her apartment. The bowl of chili was still sitting, neglected, on the table.
It wasn’t until the next day around 6:00pm that Jackie heard or saw from Aaron again. She was sitting at her kitchen table going through some mail, when he knocked on the door. She answered and hugged him as soon as he walked in. He hugged back, squeezing her softly.
“How are you doing?” she asked with concern.
“Well.. you know.. fine, I guess,” he mumbled. “I got lonely again.”
“C’mon, let’s go in the in the living room. We can sit more comfortably and talk there,” she said. He smiled gratefully and followed her out of the kitchen. She sat down and he sat next to her. She put her hand on his back.
“They don’t think it was murder or anything like that, just, an accident. They say she was washing dishes when it happened and she must’ve gotten some water on the floor. Too much water on the floor.. And she slipped. She fell pretty hard, dropping a plate, and banging her head on the ground. The plate had to’ve fallen first because she had some in the back of her scalp, thus why she was bleeding. They think she might’ve dropped it and when she bent over to pick it up, slipped, and fell so hard that she was knocked unconscious. It was a big piece of glass she hit.. and.. she bled to death.” His voice had a bitter finality to it that Jackie didn’t like. When he continued, his tone had changed. “It’s just.. I can’t believe all of this. This hurts so bad; like someone’s taking a knife and they just keep pushing it further into my heart.” He sounded choked up, and paused for a moment. “This pain is so real, so physical.” Jackie listened intently and nodded.
“Things will get better, Aaron, don’t worry. I know this is hard, but you have to look forward to the future,” she assured.
“That’s what I’m afraid of. Marissa was my future. I don’t know where to go from here..”
“Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe there’s someone else.”
“But I don’t want anyone else. I loved Marissa so deeply.. Could I ever find a love like that again?” He looked at Marissa’s eyes eagerly. His eyes bore into hers, but she moved her face closer to his, unintimidated.
“How do you know if you don’t try?” she asked.
“I’m afraid,” he whispered. “Afraid that I won’t find anything.”
“I’ll help you,” she whispered back. Aaron moved his face slightly closer to Jackie’s.
“What if I find it and lose it again?” he asked, continuing to talk quietly.
“It’s a chance you’ll have to take.” The two sat, very few inches from each other in a silence.
“Jackie..”
“I’m here.” Her face moved closer.
“Don’t leave.” Closer.
“I won’t.” Their lips met and the kiss was soft. Aaron let out a small, almost inaudible, sigh of desire. He placed his hand on her cheek and kissed her again, only longer. Then he did a third time, much deeper this time, and Jackie kissed back hungrily. She leaned back, leading him with her, until she lay flat on the little couch, with him on top of her, kissing her. She put her hand on his waist, rubbing it a bit. Then she slipped her hand under his shirt, feeling his back and the slight curve of his side. Her hand glided gently across his skin, higher towards his neck, taking the bottom of his shirt with it. Once it lay up near his shoulders, he threw it off. She wrapped her arms around his bare back and brought him closer to her body. His kissing was deep and lustful. Then, his kissing slowed, and he pulled away. He looked down at Jackie, then got up. He stood in front of the tete-a-tete and rubbed his face.
“I’m sorry Jackie, I just can’t do this,” he said. Jackie sat up, then rose and stood next to him.
“Why not?” she asked.
“It wouldn’t be right. It couldn’t be,” he answered.
“But it can, Aaron. Don’t you see? This is right. There’s nothing I’m so sure of,” Jackie said. Aaron sighed.
“No, Jackie. You truly are wonderful, and I would love to do this, but we can’t, and you know why.”
“No, I don’t. Please, explain,” she replied, harsher than she meant to.
He looked at her skeptically. “Marissa.” Jackie closed her eyes and her shoulders relaxed.
“Of course. Marissa.” She opened her eyes again and shook her head. She was plainly unhappy and didn’t hide it. “Sure Marissa was nice and everything, but do you ever stop talking about her?”
“What?” Aaron said.
“I thought all that time apart when she was with me might’ve made you get over her. But then I knew you two were going out that night, Marissa’s not the best secret keeper ya know, and I had to do something about it. She’s gone now. Just accept it, Aaron, and move on,” Jackie said coolly and slightly annoyed. Aaron stared at her in disbelief.
“Are you saying you were with her so much just to keep her away from me?” he asked.
“Yes. I couldn’t have her making you fall in love and taking you from me. But obviously I failed at that.”
“Oh my god..” he said quietly. “You, you killed her. How could you kill her? You loved her..” His eyes were moving in quick motions back and forth as this realization dawned on him. Jackie yawned.
“Yeah.. But it was her greatness that was going to ruin everything for me. Don’t get me wrong, she was tons of fun, but I couldn’t have the kind of person around if I wanted any chance with you.” Jackie looked at him admirably. She stood up and moved closer to him. He looked at her strangely and stepped away.
“Don’t touch me,” he said.
“C’mon baby, don’t do that,” she said. He stepped away again. “I can show you that I’m better than Marissa ever was. I just knew if she was around, you’d never have the chance to see that.”
“I can’t be with you! You.. you killed Marissa. Christ. You’re insane!” His eyes were wide and his face was screwed up with disbelief and hysteria.
Jackie’s expression turned into disapproval. “Aaron, Aaron, Aaron. You are making one mistake you’ll regret. I could’ve showed you a love that you’d never believe, but no, you turned it down.” She sighed and left the room. Aaron stood still in shock and confusion, but before he could move, Jackie walked back in. She stopped about 5 feet from him and stared. He stared back in curiosity and unease. A tear ran down her left cheek, then another down her right. She suddenly grabbed a knife from her pocket and ran towards him.
“Holy shit!” he yelled, and tried to hold her before she got him, but was only quick enough to throw off her aim. He was pushed against the wall and the knife went sleekly into his arm. “Ahhh!” he yelled in pain, and she grabbed a knife from her other pocket, stabbing it into his stomach. He crumbled to the floor and she pulled the knife out of his arm and held it by his neck.
“Don’t fight, it’ll only make it worse,” she said softly, moving the knife across his neck. She cut about an inch when he pushed her off with his good arm. She sat back on the floor and made a frustrated grunt. One knife was still in her hand, but the other was in the side of his stomach. He pulled the small, but extremely sharp steel knife out with a painful yelp and stood up. He held the knife out in front of him.
“Give me the knife, Jackie,” he demanded. She snorted a laugh, then threw the knife straight into his leg. He yelled out and fell to the floor again, dropping the knife in his hand. He pulled the new knife out of his leg and reached for the one he dropped. Jackie ran over and stepped on his hand before he could get to it. She stepped hard and didn’t get off until she had picked up the knife. Then, as soon as she picked it up, she spun around and stabbed it into his upper chest, near his shoulder. She giggled.
“You certainly are slow,” she said.
Aaron lay in agonizing pain as blood soaked through his clothes and onto the floor from his 3 cuts. Jackie walked toward him and bent down to take the knife from his shoulder, but he grabbed her wrist. He then pushed her away as hard as he could and stood up. He pulled out the other knife and now held one in each hand.
“Jackie,” he let out a groan of pain. “I have both of the knives now. This is over. You need help. I’ll get you help.” She sat on the floor, feet away from him and the kitchen. She glared up at him, then stood up slowly. He watched her carefully, but she suddenly ran into the kitchen. He followed and she stood against a counter watching him. She stared at the knives in his hands.
“Please don’t hurt me, Aaron..” she said frightened. “I.. I’m sorry.” She then looked down in an ashamed way.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, taking a few steps forward. He limped and his body ached. Blood was dripping across the floor. “I’ll get you help.”
Jackie put a hand behind her back.. She was looking at him again, but her face was slightly down. Her long dark hair fell over one eye. “Okay, Aaron,” she said. “You can get me help, if you do something else for me.” She continued to look at him with her face down enough so she was looking up to see him.
“And what’s that, Jackie?”
“Kiss me.” She walked up to him.
“Um, we’ll see.. after you get the help, okay?” he said. Jackie smiled sweetly for a moment, then her eyes squinted in anger and she shoved a steak knife into his chest. He gasped and his eyes looked up at her hopelessly. He looked past her and saw the knife rack on the counter, where she had been standing. He fell back on the refrigerator, and slid down it to the ground. The knives in his hands fell, clanking on the tiled kitchen floor. He gasped in short intakes of breath, then everything felt numb. He looked down at himself in a gruesome mess of blood. The vision soon became blotched with black, until he could no longer see.
Jackie stood over him, smiling sadly, watching the life flow from his eyes. She sighed and stared at the body on her kitchen floor. She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Why do they always make me do this?” She then grabbed one of his hands, and dragged him into her bedroom. She opened her closet, then shoved him inside. “I’ll bury you where I buried the others tomorrow. I have a mighty mess to clean up now.”
She then went into her bathroom and took a shower. When she got out, she looked around at the blood smeared throughout her apartment. “I think I’m going to go out instead,” she proclaimed aloud. “I can clean this up later.” And with that, she dressed and went to a near-by café. She sat alone sipping some cappuccino and she was peacefully in thought.
“Can I sit here?” a voice said, disturbing her. She looked up and man about 6 feet tall with short, brown hair stood in front of her. He was muscular and dressed sophistically.
“Of course,” she said, smiling. He smiled back and sat down.
“My girlfriend’s coming soon, she just tends to be late and I would really like someone to talk to instead of sitting alone and bored,” he said.
“Oh..” Jackie replied, her smile failing, then reappearing again. “Sure, she can sit here too! I’d love to meet her and get to know you two.” He clapped his hands.
“Great!” he exclaimed.
Jackie sat staring back at him. She sipped her cappuccino, using it to hide a terribly malicious smile.
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