Chapter 12: ChangesA Chapter by Sarah J Dhue
"There is nothing permanent except change." -Heraclitus
Grace answered the door and saw David standing outside.
"How's your uncle?" he asked awkwardly.
"He's doing good," she smiled momentarily, "They think I'll be able to take him home tonight."
"That's good," he scratched his head and looked at a spot on the ceiling. Grace crossed her arms and leaned in the doorframe. David shifted uncomfortably.
"So, uh, yeah," he cleared his throat, "That's good to hear, guess I'll see you later," he voice trailed over toward the end and he gritted his teeth, avoiding her gaze.
"Yeah... bye," she slowly backed into the apartment and closed the door.
He hesitated for a moment outside the door and then walked down the stairs. He was hungry and decided he'd walk around until he saw something that sounded good. He was crossing an intersection when he bumped into someone.
"Sorry," she said.
He looked up and his voice caught in his throat and he felt a chill run down his spine. She was too familiar. It couldn't be... he followed her, trying not to look stupid with his mouth hanging open and frowning, trying to place where he'd seen her. He long black hair, pale skin, blue almost violet eyes.
"Kelsey?" he asked, hoping he wasn't talking to a stranger.
She looked up at him and time froze. He felt a tight knot form as she smiled in recognition, "David? Is that you?"
"Yeah," he smiled and nodded, relieved it was her. Kelsey Baumer, the girl he'd fallen for back in middle school. She'd had a high school boyfriend when they were in seventh grade, but David didn't give up on her till his junior year. And here she was, years later, talking to him like they'd just come back from summer vacation.
"Well, it was good seeing you," she turned to walk away.
"Wait," he feel himself stumbling over his words, struggling to make them come out right; it was almost as bad as it'd been in middle school, "Do you wanna go get some coffee... with me?"
She stopped, considering him.
"There's this place with amazing coffee on
"Sure," she nodded, smiling at him. If anything could've brought him back to reality, it was that smile. As they began walking down the street side by side, David couldn't believe how nervous he was.
When they arrived at the café, David held the door for her. He thought he may have heard her say 'thank you', but he was so nervous he didn't know. This time they sat at the counter, a first for David.
"Two coffees," he said to the girl behind the counter.
"Cream and sugar?"
He turned to Kelsey, "No, I take it black"
"Me too," he said. When the waitress left to make their coffee, he turned to Kelsey, "Don't girls like sweet stuff?"
"Well, yeah," she giggled, "But not in my coffee," she rested her hand on his and he felt his whole body tense up. He was cold all over, yet he could feel sweat on the back of his neck.
"I've been pretty good," he cleared his throat; his voice had been freakishly high, "Been going to school to be an architect. I came here because of-" he paused, thinking of what to say, "-some complications with my brother."
"Oh, I remember him. You're twins right?" the waitress set their coffee in front of them.
"Yeah," he said, testing the mug. It was too hot to drink.
"You two were never very friendly with other back in school."
"Times change," he said; he wished he wasn't so tense, but every time she spoke, he grew tenser.
"Yeah, they do," she leaned toward him, "Like all those older guys. They weren't really worth the time," he could feel her breathing by his ear, "I like guys my age."
He nearly fell off his stool. Was she really coming onto him? Here? Now?
He took a swig of his coffee, "It's really good," he stammered, "You should try it."
She took a very slow sip, "Mmmm."
Time flew after that because suddenly Kelsey was standing up, "See ya later."
He say there a moment, staring into his now cold coffee. Then he started to get up when he saw something scrawled on a napkin next to his mug. It read: Call me 212-496-7183. He stared at it a moment, wide-eyed. He'd just done the impossible; he'd just gone on a date with his junior high goddess and gotten her phone number.
"How was work?" David asked as Jack came through the door.
"Good," he seemed surprised by the question.
"You know where I was last night?"
"Grace's uncle had a heart attack, right outside," he looked towards the door; his voice was distant and emotionless.
"That's... bad?" Did he die?"
"No... I went to the hospital with Grace and they said he'd be okay."
"That's good..." Jack looked very confused.
"Yeah... the thing is, when I confronted her, she said she was taking off because of her uncle's heart. And I told her she was lying. But last night... I know she wasn't lying. I know she wasn't. The look in her eyes when he was spazzing on the ground... she wasn't lying. But I don't know how to fix it; I don't even know if I can fix it."
Jack just stared at him, bewildered.
"It's over," David said quietly, looking blankly at the floor.
"Look," Jack sat down next to him, "You did and said what you thought was right, at the time. You were just-" he paused, thinking of the best way to word what he wanted to say, "-you were just looking out for me. I would've done the same for you, hell, I already did. Maybe everything we thought was wrong, but that's in the past, we can't change it. But it's not over until you say it is."
"You're a little late for that, aren't you?" David glanced up at Jack for the first time since he'd come through the door.
Jack slowly stood and went into his room. Once the door was closed, a solitary tear slid down David's cheek.
"Son, are you awake?" Jeff whispered through his child's bedroom door.
"Yeah," Jack replied.
"I need to talk to you... can you come downstairs? I don't wanna wake the others." He heard the bedsprings creak and soon his son appeared at the door. They walked downstairs and sat at the dining room table, kiddy-cornered from each other.
"Jack..." Jeff took a deep breath, "What you did today was mean and wrong," Jack sighed and rolled his eyes, "And I don't just mean today. The name calling and the teasing is pushing him away and bringing out anger and hatred that shouldn't be there. There's going to be a time when your brother is all you have. You'll go through rough times and he'll go through rough times and you'll need someone to talk to. To make you feel better."
"But Dad, that's what you're here for."
"Yes... but I won't always be here."
"Don't say that!" the thought of life without his was father was impossible for Jack's thirteen-year-old mind to fathom.
Jeff sat there a moment, thinking.
"You're mad, aren't you?"
"I was. Now, I just want you to think about what you did. What David did wasn't right either, but he wouldn't have retaliated if you hadn't been picking on him. I want you to treat him like your brother."
"Why isn't he normal?"
"What is normal? Everyone is different, Jack. Even I'm not normal," he smiled.
"Sure you are."
"You're not normal either. Everyone is special, Jack, if we weren't, if we were all 'normal', things would be pretty boring."
Jack was silent.
"Now, go back to bed," Jack stood and started to leave, "And Jack."
He stopped and looked back.
"Don't give David any more black eyes; your mother nearly had a heart attack."
David stared at the napkin he had clutched in his hand. He wanted to call her, but another part of him didn't want to. He slowly began to type the number into his phone; he wanted to make sure he got every numeral right. He put the phone is his ear. It rang once. Twice. Three times.
"Hey, it's Kelsey. Sorry I can't answer right, probably busy. Leave me your name and number and I'll call you back, kay."
There was a beep. David stood there for a moment, "Hey, Kels... it's David. Just callin', I guess... bye."
He hung up. And about two seconds later his phone rang. He quickly answered it, "Hello?"
"Hey, sorry I didn't pick up, I don't answer numbers I don't know. So, what's up?"
"Nothing," his voice felt like it was stuck in his throat, "Well, at least not right now. You wanna do something?..."
"Oh, I dunno, what do you have in mind?"
"No idea; I was gonna ask you what you'd want to do."
"Hm," there was a long silence, "There is this amazing deli, wanna go?"
She gave him the address, "Meet me there?"
David walked into the apartment. The date had been okay. The deli had turned out to be Grace's uncle's deli. Kelsey had kissed him; actually, it was more like a one-sided conversation, only with tongues. And no words.
He'd been tense and nervous nearly the whole time. He missed how natural things had been before... how natural things had been with Grace.
And it was then that he truly knew why he felt empty inside. It wasn't because Grace could be involved in Jack's attempted murder. It wasn't because he'd left her or that she'd said she hated him. It wasn't because of the confrontation or the fact that he couldn't fix it. It was because he missed how natural, how normal, things had been with her. There hadn't been awkward silences and constant tension. Things had flowed, almost like it was meant to be...
He shook his head. No. It was over. They'd tried to fix things once and things had just gotten worse. It was better this way. But then again, what had caused him to on her door and ask about her uncle? He still had to care... didn't he? Yes, he knew he cared. And that was why it was hurting him so bad to say it was over.
He sat around a few hours and then called Kelsey. She didn't pick up. He left a brief message. This time, she didn't call back a few seconds later.
There was nothing to do in the apartment besides watch TV; Jack seemed to always be gone. Then a thought occurred to him. He'd brought his laptop, but he hadn't touched it since he'd arrived. That seemed like a long time ago.
He pulled it out and turned it on. Once he logged into his account, he decided the first thing he should do was check his email.
When his inbox appeared, it was full of unread messages. The subjects were all pretty similar: "You okay?" "Where are you?" "... David?" They were mostly from classmates and teachers. He'd forgotten those days... the days of classes and deadlines ad going to get coffee with the guys so you didn't fall asleep studying. That life seemed so simple now, so safe...
He typed one email he would send to everyone. He was gone because of family issues and it was very important and he had to be there. He didn't know how long it would take, but he'd come back when he could.
He didn't know if he'd actually be going back; he would probably just go to get his stuff and then come back to NYC.
"Hey bro," Jack said, coming through the door and waving gingerly.
"Hey," he looked at the laptop for a moment longer and then turned it off.
Jack went into the kitchen and opened a beer.
"Do you remember Kelsey Baumer?" David asked.
"Yeah," Jack said slowly, squinting in thought, "She was the one who had all the older boyfriends right?"
"Um, yeah," he shifted uncomfortably.
"Oh yeah!" Jack snapped his fingers, "I remember now. You liked her, but you had no chance, considering you were in the same grade as her."
"I went on a date with her today."
"What?... I didn't even know she lived in New York."
"Neither did I until I ran into her the other day."
"So, how was it?" Jack asked.
"Okay, I guess. I'm always tense around her."
"Oh. I'm pretty much past the tense stage. I'm really comfortable around everyone I date... not that I really date around anymore."
"Yeah... I miss the way things used to be."
"Used to be?"
"You know. Just think for a minute," David stood and went into the bathroom.
Jack sat there a moment longer, then set down his beer, dialed his phone, and went into his room.
"He's hurting," Jack looked down and shook his head, "And there's not a damn thing I can do about it."
"But you're trying to help?" Red asked, taking his hand.
"Well yeah. I'm trying hard; maybe too hard."
"He knows you care," Red leaned against him.
"Maybe," he sighed, "Everyone is always telling me how I'm like dad. I look like him, I sometimes act like him... but I'm nothing like him. He... I dunno," he chuckled and shook his head, smiling sadly, "He had a way of making everything seem better. You'd have the worst day or something bad would happen to you and he'd make it not seem so bad. I just can't do that."
"You're not a dad."
"I'd be a bad one."
"No, you wouldn't."
There was a silence between them.
"It's been two and half months," she said, biting her lower lip.
"Two and a half months since what?"
"Since we... you know."
"That wasn't that long ago."
Tears were forming in her eyes. She crossed her arms.
"What's wrong?" he asked, putting his arm around her shoulders and guided her to a nearby bench.
She took a deep breath, "Jack... I think I may be pregnant."
"What?" he was shocked. He felt a chill run down his spine, yet it felt like there were burning coals in his stomach.
"It'd been about a month since my last... 'time' when we... and I haven't had 'one' since."
"... are you sure you aren't just late?"
"Jack, I haven't been late since I started," she hesitated, "I, uh, took three tests at home. Two showed up negative, but the third..."
"Have you seen a doctor yet?"
"Not yet. I kinda wanted to talk to you before I did."
"Red," he said seriously, staring deep into her eyes and slowly shaking his head, "I'm not ready for this."
"I know you'll be a good father."
He stared off into space for what seemed like hours before he turned to her, "Do you want me to go with you to see the doctor?"
"Yes... if you want to."
"Would you want to go by yourself?"
They sat there a moment in awkward silence. Jack slowly wrapped his arms around her and she leaned into him, burying her face in his shoulder. Her shoulders began to heave and he knew she was crying.
"It'll be okay, you know," he said, trying to comfort her and convince himself.
"I think I'm happy," she sniffed, "I'm just scared. This is all new for me. And you. I was so scared to tell you... but I know you'll be a good father. You're like Jeff. You just don't have those 'father instincts' yet."
"I hope so," he paused, "If it's anything like me, we're doomed."
She laughed and started to wipe her face, but started crying again. He pulled his arm up in his sleeve and began to wipe away her tears with his concealed hand. She smiled at him and he smiled back.
© 2010 Sarah J Dhue
Added on May 29, 2010
Last Updated on May 29, 2010
Sarah J Dhue
In the author's lair, IL
AboutI am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My favorite genres are horror/suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, action thrillers, and comedy. My .. more..