I forget how to speak. This can’t be happening, he can’t be here. After all those years of searching, he just turns up now and expects to walk back into my life? Don’t I deserve an explanation? A reason?
“Don’t hey me.”
“What’s with the attitude? I thought you’d be thrilled to see me!” Five years ago he would have been right. Five years ago I would have given anything to see his handsome brown eyes again, or the way his dark hair fell just into his left eye. Hearing his voice one more time was all I had preyed for, five years ago. The chance to say goodbye. The opportunity to demand a reason.
He asks me now what my attitude was for? Where should I even start?
“Fuck you, Jake! How dare you just walk in after everything you’ve put me through? What’s with my attitude? Fuck! You!”
He grabs my wrist, and pulls me into his arms. The past seven years don’t seem to have done him any favours. Wherever he’s been, he’s stayed fit but he’s not as strong as he used to be and I manage to wriggle myself out of his prison.
“Whoa, what’s the matter with you, Janey? I kinda expected a warm welcome after all these years!” How dare he sound hurt! What gave him that right?
“A warm welcome? Are you nuts? We thought you were dead, Jake! I had to arrange a funeral without knowing if I was doing the right thing! We gave up searching for you, because we thought you were gone! We held a damn funeral, Jake, without your fucking body! And you just turn up at my house, asking me what my problem is?” Tears sting my eyes and blind me. Just to be save, to stop him from pulling me into his arms again, I take a few steps back. If he wants to follow me he doesn’t, but I know he’s watching me.
“I’m sorry, baby. I meant to call, I really did, but-”
“You meant to call? you disappeared, the best search teams couldn’t find you, and you meant to call? Screw you, Jake!”
He sighs. He always does when he’s desperate for me to believe him, and I be damned but a too-large part of me actually does.
“I’m really sorry. You have no idea what it’s been like. I’ve sent you letters and post cards to let you know I was all right. Didn’t you get any of that?”
Hurting deeper than I did the day we buried his empty coffin, I shake my head.
“What are you talking about?”
This time when he pulls me into his embrace I allow it. I need the comfort as much now as I did five years ago, only this time he’s here to give it.
“I’ve sent you so many messages. Are you saying you got none of them? I even sent a few friends, people I trusted, to come see you. Did Blake not show up? Or Jim? I even sent Gabriella to let you know I was save.”
My heart pounding from fear more than anything I shake my head again. I knew these people, years ago. They were relibable, good people. Why didn’t they come to me?
“Shit. That’s not good. I haven’t seen them since I sent them after you. Gabriella was the only one who let me know why she wouldn’t come back. She said she was going back to her kids, in China.”
I nestle myself into his chest, too scared to consider the implications.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I’m so sorry. Of course I’m happy to see you. It’s just a big shock, is all.” He nods, and I hold onto him like the ground would swallow me whole if I didn’t.
I jump when someone knocks at the door.
“No one knows I’m here, right?”
“How would they?” I ask, sounding more venomous than I meant to. “I didn’t even know you were coming.”
“Shit. Hide. I think they’ve found me.”
I shake my head. Whatever happened seven years ago, it wasn’t going to happen again. I was not going to lose him a second time.
All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.
For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.