It literally rang for less than three seconds before the sound ceased, someone answered and their voice was streaming through the phone and into my ear. They almost sounded frantic. There was a certain urgency in their voice. No doubt they had quickly picked up the call with a decent sense of rush.
“Hello!” Shea emphatically said into the phone.
“Uh, hey. What’s up?” I responded.
“Oh, well nothing much. Just went food shopping, so making some dinner,” she answered. “Well duh, you know I went grocery shopping, you helped me pick them up off of the ground”.
“Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” I replied.
“So, what do I owe the unexpected pleasure of this phone call?” she asked. She spoke as if she was trying to remain calm. Attempting to treat this conversation like any other we have had in the past. I was sure she didn’t want to go off on a tangent and risk me hanging up again. I couldn’t blame her; I did have a history of hanging up on females lately.
“Well, to be very truthful, you were on my mind,” I answered. “Especially after literally bumping into each other earlier.”
“Yeah I would have to say that it’s the same here. Actually you’ve been on my mind for a long while now,” she said but stopped abruptly. “Sorry, didn’t mean to start anything”.
“No, it’s ok. It really is,” I tried to reassure her. “As a matter of fact, I wanted to apologize to you for how I treated you. I was angry and upset and just frustrated. I didn’t want to hear anything you had to say but I realize I came off a little disrespectful to you and that was wrong”.
“Oh well, it’s ok. You really had every right,” she began. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. I’m sure I would have acted the same way. Probably would have been way worse coming from me”.
“Yeah, I can imagine,” I agreed.
“Sooo, did you call to apologize…or is it possible for us to maybe talk?” she slowly asked.
“It’s ok, I would like for us to talk. Maybe get to the bottom of all this drama,” I replied.
“Good, because there is so much that I want to tell you, that I have wanted to tell you,” she started. Her voice began to quiver a little like she was fighting back tears. I didn’t know that all of this was affecting her so much. Honestly, I didn’t know which part was affecting her the most. What she did or how I treated her afterwards? A part of me was afraid to find out while another part couldn’t wait.
“Ok, well I’m all ears, take your time and go ahead,” I calmly told her.
“I don’t even know where to start really,” she admitted.
“Try the beginning,” I suggested.
“Yeah, best place to start I suppose. Well here goes…,” she said and she began her explanation of what happened. “The night that you were supposed to meet my parents, I chose to head over to their house before coming to get you just to make sure some things were in order”. She paused for a second.
“What kind of ‘things’?” I asked her.
“You know, like being sure the house was clean, check what my mother was making for dinner but mainly to have another little chat with my dad about behaving himself. Their house is on the way to yours, so I figured I’d just stop and check in on them. I wanted everything to be perfect. I know you probably felt like the evening was all about you meeting my parents approval but I knew you already would. I saw it more as trying to impress you. I wanted you to feel very comfortable around them”.
“Sounds like sort of like a role reversal but I can understand that. I would have done the same thing. But that’s more because usually it’s the guy trying so desperately to impress the girl,” I told her.
“Yeah this is true. But I honestly never felt as strongly for anyone as I do for you so I wanted to put forth the extra effort,” she explained. “Anyway, I was feeling super excited as I walked inside the house only to hear voices coming from the living room. At first I thought maybe my cousin was there talking with my dad because I heard a different male’s voice. But I discovered that I was wrong when I entered the room. Xander was there with both of my parents. The three of them were sitting on the couch together and having what seemed to be a pretty serious talk. I could tell because the looks on their faces were all sad and my mother was crying”.
“Really, she was crying?” I asked. I only chose to ask a question to force myself to continue to take an interest in Shea’s story. The sound of his name made my chest ache again. I began to feel a rush of anger and red shoot through my body. Even though I knew I probably couldn’t take him, I felt like I could still do some major damage at that specific moment. I tried to calm myself down so I could hear what else Shea had to say.
“Yeah, she really was,” she answered. “This initially caused me to have a very confused look on my face. They all turned towards me and just stared. I began to feel like I had done something wrong. Xander said ‘hi’ to me and I immediately asked him what he was doing there. Before he could even answer, my mother jumped in and told me that his aunt that was sick had passed away. She had died that same morning. After hearing that, all of the excitement and happiness that I had from before just disappeared. She had treated me like a daughter for so long so hearing this nearly crippled me. It was almost as if someone had told me that my real mother had died. I didn’t know how to react; I couldn’t stay mad at Xander for showing up at my parent’s house without telling me. I couldn’t do anything. I just sat like the rest of them and started to cry”.
“Wow, I’m very sorry to hear that that happened,” I said. “I remember you telling me how much she meant to you”.
“Yeah, it was pretty bad. I’m still not completely over it really,” She confessed. “Just taking it day by day”.
“That’s the only way you can take it,” I told her. “But you’re handling it pretty well”.
“I would say thank you but you probably won’t feel the same way after I finish my story,’ she said.
“Ok, try me,”
“Well after I started crying, Xander came over to console me. I really wasn’t thinking anything about it as my mind and emotions were pre-occupied. Actually, now thinking back, I would have obviously preferred for you to be one consoling me. I got up to walk away and he followed me. He walked out of the house behind me, first saying good-bye to my parents, and then continuing to follow me. I made it out to my car and tried to get in. I wanted to see you, so I figured I would drive to your place and just be with you before going back to my parent’s house. As I opened the door, he pushed it closed. I kind of looked up at him and tried to open it again. But he prevented me from opening it all the way once more”.
“I asked him what he was doing and he said that I shouldn’t be driving in the state that I was in. I told him I was fine but of course he didn’t let it go. He offered to drive me home in my car but I told him that I wasn’t going home. He got this sad/disappointed look in his eyes and just went quiet. I suppose he knew just where I was headed. Of course he didn’t like that”.
“He then said that he knew he was asking a lot but that he really didn’t want to be alone right then. I tried to tell him that I already had plans for the evening and his sad look turned into an angry one. He practically reprimanded me and accused me of putting myself before anyone else. He said that he hadn’t bothered me or asked me for much the last couple of months that his aunt was sick and in the hospital and all he is seeking right now is some company. Usually I would have told him where he could go and been done with it. But I hadn’t gone to visit her while she was in the hospital as much as I really wanted to.”
“I didn’t tell you this because I didn’t want you to worry but I went to see her a couple of times while she was still alive. I kept my stays short and sparingly because I didn’t want to run into Xander but I had to see her, so I took my chances”.
“Oh, well I wouldn’t have worried or even gotten upset over something like that,” I explained.
“I kind of figured that you wouldn’t but I suppose it was my own paranoia about possibly running into Xander and then having to deal with that,” she said. “I should have just told you, it wasn’t even a big deal. I was just being dumb I guess”.
“I don’t think you’re dumb. You felt a certain way about it and that’s completely ok, I get it,” I told her.
“You being so damn understanding is not exactly helping my guilt here,” she joked.
“Well, you know me,” I said back.
“I do, I do know you, and I appreciate it,” she replied.
“Although I had a feeling that he might be using the situation to gain sympathy, I still felt bad. Not about him really but because I hadn’t taken the time to spend more time with her. He asked me if I could drive him home because he had gotten a ride over to my parent’s house. I reluctantly said yes and took him home. When we got there, he told me that he had something inside that he wanted to show me. Repeating this story back out loud makes me wonder how I could have made so many stupid decisions”.
“I went inside with him and he instantly started to cry. He told me that his aunt had always wanted the two of us to wind up together. He said that she loved me a whole lot and that so did he. He took out a photo album the he said he had made of his family and put pictures of me in it. As I was looking through the pages, I came to this one part where it was like a collage of his aunt & I. I had forgotten just how many pictures we had taken together. I don’t know, I guess tons of memories started coming back to me and I began to cry again. After only a couple seconds, I was sobbing. Suddenly I heard my name and he was standing next to me with a small box. He opened it and there was a ring inside”.
“Um, wow,” I interrupted.
“Yes, wow is right,” she agreed. “I don’t know what really happened at that point but all I remember is next he asked me to marry him and then he kissed me. And kept kissing me and I kept kissing him back. Before I even really realized it, well, you can kind of guess what came next”.
I felt the red anger bubbling inside of me once more, a little more subdued this time because I was getting better at controlling it but it was still very much there. I felt like throwing my phone across the room again. But it didn’t really work out in my favor the last time I had done that. I just laid there with the phone resting on my ear, not saying anything. Just thinking, mental wheels turning, imagining, picturing…his hands all over her perfect body. A body that should have only one set of hands besides Shea’s all over it; mine.
I could see him smelling her hair, running his lips down her neck. His fingers firmly grasping her round butt. I could also see her. Her hands running back and forth across his chest. Her thighs sliding around his waist. Her arms wrapped securely around his neck pushing his face deeper and deeper into her. I needed to look away and stop myself from thinking about this but for some crazy reason, I couldn’t. I wondered, if at the time, her mind contained any slither of a thought about me. If it had, why hadn’t she stopped it? Why did she let it continue until it was over? Didn’t I mean enough to her to prevent someone from hurting me? Good question, but no answer for it.
“Patrick? Patrick?” I could hear her calling as I snapped back to reality.
“Yeah, yeah I’m here. Sorry,” I answered her.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied.
“Are you sure?” she asked again.
I took a very deep but very quiet breath and then replied to her. “Yes, I’m positive, I’m ok”. She then continued on with her story.
“By the time it was all over, it was very late and I dreaded calling you but it was only the right thing to do,” she explained.
“What about your answer?” I asked.
“What, what answer?”
“To his marriage proposal,” I said. There was a long silence and when she finally spoke, I realized that I was looking for a different answer than she had.
“Well, to be honest, I didn’t give him one,” she answered.
“Why not? Do you not know if you want to marry him or not?” I asked.
“I don’t, I do not wish to marry him but after everything went down, I got my stuff and rushed out of there,” she said. “So I didn’t get a chance to tell him that then and there. I was frantic, still upset, very disappointed in myself and terrified about how you would react. I kept telling myself on the way home that I hoped you wouldn’t be too upset. But I knew that wouldn’t have been possible. Because if it was me, I would be furious. So I don’t blame you at all for reacting the way that you did, I completely deserved it and more actually.”
“I don’t know, I don’t think I would say that you deserved more,” I chimed in. I wanted to say ‘yeah, you’re damn right you deserved more, a lot more’, but I remember the person that I turned into when Jenalee broke my heart and I didn’t want to be that person again. Plus the type of evening that I had just had with her wasn’t any better. Although I didn’t consider Shea and I together, it was still wrong and feelings will probably wind up getting hurt over it. Just hoped it wouldn’t be too bad.
“So what now?” I asked her. “Have you heard from him at all? Anything?”
“Well in the last two weeks, he refuses to leave me alone. He has called or texted me almost every day since then,” she said. “I have told him that night was a mistake and shouldn’t have happened. I also told him that I couldn’t accept his ring because I wasn’t going to marry him. But of course he doesn’t believe me. He says what happened is proof that I still love him and that we should be together. It’s worse now than it ever was.”
“I could imagine,” I told her. “He’s really not going to give up so easy this time around.”
“I know, I was afraid of that and it’s all my fault!” she confessed. I could hear her voice stammer again this time; it was followed by her all out crying. She tried to apologize for it but it was hard to understand her over her cries. She sniffled into the phone and I felt bad, very bad. True it was her own fault but it had been a result of her being taken advantage of while in a vulnerable state. Maybe they were both vulnerable but I still disliked that guy with a vengeance.
Hearing her cry again, I wanted to rush over to her place and console her. Protect her from her own emotions. Yes, she had made a mistake that had gigantic consequences but still, it was after all, a mistake. Would I be able to forgive her for this mistake? Was I only feeling this way for her again because I had made my own mistake? Did I feel bad because I was only trying to help myself with my own guilt? I don’t know.
But I did want so much to scoop her up in my embrace and hold her until the memories of all the bad things that had ever happened to her faded away. I think it was then that my denial from before finally had some concrete opposition. My feelings that I wished didn’t exist had been made conclusive by what I was feeling just then. The thoughts of everything else, the death, the “mistakes” with Xander and Jenalee, they no longer mattered. I knew without a shadow of a doubt what had happened.
Even saying it in my head made my heart skip a little. I honestly didn’t believe that I was capable of something like that again. I suppose that sometimes it takes something bad to happen for you realize something good. Weird and often downright stupid, I know, but that’s how it was. At least that’s how this situation had gone. She was still crying a little and trying hard to hold back her sniffles. She was still breathing kind of hard but it was slowly beginning to return to normal. As she began to get quieter and quieter, I called her name; “Shea”. No response, she probably still couldn’t hear me over her breathing.
“Yeah. I’m sorry Patrick, it’s just so hard to deal with all of this,” she began. “I know you are dealing with worse so I am in no place to complain right now.”
“Shea”, I called once more. “Listen to me”
“I Love You”
To be continued…