Day 6 — Something New Part Four
I looked over at her and she was serious; I could tell she was thinking about something. I started wondering what was on her mind, whether it was something good or something bad. An old memory or a new memory, an old feeling or a new feeling, I couldn’t possibly think of anything. I was about to dismiss it as maybe I was just over—thinking, but then she turned her head and was looking straight into my eyes. She asked, “Do you ever just feel . . . lost?” Her tone changed. I could see the pain and sorrow in her eyes — it was the same sadness I see when I look in the mirror. All this time it was hidden behind her smile and concealed through her so called happiness –— and even if she still tried to place on the perfect act, I saw right through it. I never knew there could be more to her; it never crossed my mind –— not even for a second — that maybe she was just in as much pain as I was. I realized we all had our struggles, and she was no different, I just didn’t know what her struggle was.
“I’m not sure, what do you mean?” My tone was monotonous. I already knew what she meant — I didn’t feel lost –— I was lost –— but that didn’t matter to me; I wanted her to elaborate, that maybe I could figure out why she felt lost. It’s easy to answer what or who or any other question, but when it came to why, it was different – it needed an answer. It’s the type of question that leaves us lying on the floor, dying, if left unanswered. It was the water that drowned you as you sank in the ocean of curiosity, or the darkness that devoured you as you fell into the pit of wondering. Why — it was the question that killed.
“I don’t know,” she turned her head back to the sky. “I don’t know.” She was silent and for a moment the silence was deafening.
That wasn’t good enough for me; her answer was fuel to the flames. I was still looking at her, “Are you okay?” I asked.
She didn’t answer. I turned my head back to the sky. I forgot about the pain on my ankle, the ice had numbed it. Jennifer got up and I looked at her, she smiled, “Time to go, dork!” Her tone changed, she was happy again. One moment, she was completely gloomy, the next, cheerful. There was definitely more to her than meets the eye, I had to figure out what it was.
I sat up. “Uhh, little help please?” I nodded towards my ankle.
“Oh yeah! I forgot about that, poor wittle Callum got a booboo on his wittle foot.” She was mimicking the voice of a child. She started laughing again.
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself, over there. I guess I’ll just crawl home,” I replied.
“You mean crawl to the diner! We’re still gonna grab something to eat, you know!” she started, “or is poor wittle Callum too sad because he hurt his wittle foot?”
“Real funny, now please help me up?” I pouted my lips thinking it would help.
“I thought you’re gonna crawl, dork?” She really did enjoy teasing me. “Just playing with ya, here,” she extended her arm, her hand open. I grabbed it and got up, my weight was completely on my left foot.
“Just wondering, but now that I’m up, how am I gonna go to the diner?” I asked her.
“I didn’t exactly think that part through yet, you’re the dork, I thought you would figure it out,” she answered.
I tried to walk, but had no choice but to limp.
“Stop here dork, I’ll ask Gretchen for help. You’re gonna end up eating brekky in the diner if you keep up your pace.”
She went inside. It took longer than the first time, but when she came back, she was holding crutches. Tiny crutches.
“I guess it’s your lucky day dork! I mean, aside from getting injured from the swing, at least you have crutches!” She said in a sarcastic tone. She was holding up the crutches like it was a prize.
“Oh jolly, I really am lucky,” I was slightly sarcastic as well. But I did mean it. It was by far one of the best days of my life, the others being the past few days. If injuries meant I ended up spending time with Jennifer then I wouldn’t mind being in a coma for life. She handed me the crutches, they were tiny, almost half my size, and I had to bend down to use them.
“Sorry, they were the only ones they had,” She was sincere.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to say sorry,” I smiled; I didn’t want her to feel bad. It was already dark, but not too dark. It was half past 6; time really did fly when I was with her. I started walking with the crutches, I looked awkward but it was quicker than limping. She was standing there, watching, “well what are you waiting for? Let’s go” I said, still smiling.
She started laughing, “You’re going the wrong way, dork!”
I blushed again, but good thing it wasn’t clear, “I knew that,” I responded.
“Sure you did,” she said in a prolonged tone. “Come on, dork! I’m kinda hungry already.”
We first went to the kids to say bye, they all told me they wanted to see me again, but I didn’t want to make promises so I told them plausibly. We went to Susan and Alma and said bye, it turns out they were the ones taking care of the kids; they were close friends of Gretchen so that’s why she’d occasionally help out. We asked where Gretchen was but they told us she already went ahead to the diner. So we left and started walking towards the diner. I asked her how come the kids knew her so well, she told me she visited a lot and would play with them. She would try to go every day but usually ended up busy. We made it to the diner and I opened the door for her despite my disability.
“Ladies first,” I smiled. She just looked at me, her face straight again. I was confused, she didn’t enter the diner.
“I… I have to go.” She left right away, in a hurry.
“Oh. Uhh” I sensed her misery again, she was still trying to hide it, but I felt it in her tone. What could possibly be wrong, I wondered.
I entered the diner and saw Gretchen. She was putting on her coat, “Hey Callum, sorry but we’re closing early tonight,” she said to me. I still walked towards the counter where I always sat; I was more focused on what was wrong with Jennifer. My body was present, my brain too, but my mind was lost in the maze of Jennifer. “Callum?” she said again.
“Huh?” I was dazed.
“We’re closing early, sweetie,” she gave a smile.
“Oh, uhh, sorry,” I said, monotonous again. It was all I said, and I just left; I didn’t want to start a conversation or anything.
I got home and I was too tired to cook, or at least too dazed to function so I just ate cheerios. I went up to the rooftop and laid down, it was a clear night sky –— you could see all the stars shining. Lost. . . we’re all lost.