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Bessie arrived at the hospital not long after Pacey called her. She must have broken the speed limit the whole way. Her expression when she got out of the car was a mixture of grief for Jack and concern for me, and she hugged me close and told me how sorry she was. The words were hollow and did not comfort me. But then I suppose nothing would have at that moment. I wasn't ready to feel grief, or mourn Jack properly. I guess the news hadn't sunk in, or I wasn't ready to accept the truth. I just wanted to go home, away from the hospital.
My sister hugged Dawson and then Pacey. She held onto him a little longer, in recognition that he had returned. That was something else that was hard to believe. He was explaining to her how he had hitchhiked from Logan Airport after seeing a news report. So that was how he had found out. I hadn't even stopped to consider that yet.
As they were talking, Gale Leery arrived and there were more hugs and words of sorrow. By now I was so desperate to escape that I got into the car while they were still in the middle of consoling each other. Gale took Dawson by the arm then, and they got into their car and drove away. I could hear Bessie and Pacey talking but I didn't bother to try and decipher what they were saying. I guess I wasn't surprised when Pacey threw his bag into the back and got into the passenger side of the truck, forcing me to sit in between them as Bessie took her place behind the wheel. I thought maybe we would drop him off at his parent's house or Doug's, but we drove straight back to the B&B.
I wasn't sure how I felt about that. For all that I was glad he had returned, I wanted to be alone and Pacey shadowed my every move as we made our way inside the house. I knew then I was not going to get a moment to myself as long as he was there, worrying about me, doting over me, reassuring himself that I was all right. Okay, it was sweet and I maybe I should have been thankful instead of annoyed, but that was how I felt. When Bessie told Bodie that she had asked Pacey to stay, I threw her an angry glare from across the room. She could have at least asked me if I wanted my ex-boyfriend - the guy who just a couple of weeks ago had broken my heart and humiliated me in front of the senior class - to stay at my house just because his had been re-rented.
As soon I felt the anger though, it was immediately replaced by guilt. I didn't know what I was thinking or feeling. None of it seemed real. I told myself I wasn't being rational. I should be thankful that Pacey had been so worried about me that he had hightailed it back to Capeside. In any other circumstances I would have been more in love than him than I already was. I would have acknowledged him for the caring person he was and been grateful that I was the reason he had not gone on to Miami.
Thinking about it now though, I had every right to be annoyed at him. He had left without saying a proper goodbye. He had abandoned me and hurt me more than I ever thought possible. He had come back because of the shooting, not because he had changed his mind and decided he couldn't spend the summer without me, or that he was coming to Worthington after all, just like we'd planned.
But the shooting had happened. Jack had been killed. And Pacey was back because he had been scared I'd been hurt. You can see now why I felt guilty that I had been angry at Bessie's invitation. I was only thinking about myself. Funny thing is, I know Bessie was only thinking about me too. She knew I still loved Pacey, and I guess she figured having him around was the best thing she could do for me. This was the woman who refused to let him stay over when we were dating. She knew we were sleeping together, she even acquiesced and allowed me to spend the night at Pacey's. But bringing him into our house was another matter entirely.
Not surprisingly, Bessie made up a spare room for him. I guess even the death of one of our close friends wasn't even to allow her to entertain the notion that her little sister might like to share a room with her boyfriend. I mean, ex-boyfriend. Whatever.
Neither of us felt like eating anything. Pacey called his parents to let them know he was back in town and to find out about Doug. There had been no answer at his brother's house. Pacey's mother explained that both Doug and their father were still at the police station, filling in paper work. She didn't expect them home until the next morning. Pacey reassured her that he would check on Doug then.
He called Miami after that, and told Professor Kubelik that he wasn't coming. I couldn't really tell what the Professor said from Pacey's monosyllabic responses, but apparently he understood why Pacey had to stay in Capeside. And just like that, he lost his summer in the Caribbean. Pacey was quiet after that, but I sensed it had nothing to do with losing his job. I knew as well as he did that he couldn't leave now. Jack's death had changed everything.
Bessie was able to fill us in on what else had happened that day. She explained that there had been two other deaths and several more injuries to students and people in the crowd. I didn't know the other two people who had been killed. I mean, I knew them, but I didn't really know them. The same with him the shooter.
It hadn't been confirmed, but everyone knew. Cooper Graham. He was a loner. I don't think he had any friends our age. He hung out with a group students at the community college. He seemed normal enough though, he just liked to keep to himself. He wasn't a poster boy for violence or overtly antisocial behavior. He still talked to people in class and seemed to do pretty well at school. I couldn't begin to imagine what had gone through his head as he opened fire on us. What had possessed him to do it? That was another one for the too hard basket. I excused myself and sought sanctuary in my bedroom. I couldn't listen to any more of their conversation.
A short time later there a knock at my door. It was Bessie. She was worried about me, and for a brief moment I was overwhelmed with love for my big sister who was always looking out for me.
"Hot chocolate with four marshmallows, just how you like it," she said, resting a mug on my bedside table. I sat up on my bed and managed a grim smile.
"I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better, Joey. But I don't know what it is," she said with feeling.
"I wish I could tell you what to say to make me feel better," I replied flatly. "But I don't know either."
"That's probably because there isn't anything. We just need to do our best and look after each other."
"Is that why you asked Pacey to stay?"
Bessie nodded. "I know you aren't officially together anymore, but I also know that you still love him and he obviously still loves you. He wouldn't have come back if he didn't."
I didn't reply, a painful lump had risen in my throat. Not even that knowledge made me feel better, or even hearing someone say what I already knew in my heart.
"I'll leave you alone," Bessie said now. She knew me well enough to know that's what I wanted. "But if you need anything, I'm just downstairs."
I nodded, still unable to speak. She kissed my forehead,
something she hadn't done since I was little, and then left the room.
I felt a sudden void and almost called her back, but then I changed my
mind. I lay back down and pulled a blanket over me, even though the night
was warm. I was shivering, but the thought of the sweet hot chocolate
turned my stomach. I just lay there and shut my eyes, praying for sleep
to take me so this black day would finally end.
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