You sit in silence in the shadows
You don't complain or criticize
And while the world may see me as a fool
They're not looking through your eyes
No questions asked
When I need you
With a love that inspires
Me to be
Everything you deserve
Cause you're my
And I know it's not easy
To walk in your shoes
Day after day
You continue to amaze me
Now I sing this song of love
While others long to steal the spotlight
You work your magic quietly
Cause you're not in it for the glory
The love you give comes naturally
I may not have much
What I have
I give it to you
This song that I sing
Is my gift
And I swear that I mean every word
Cause you're my
Tina Arena - Unsung Hero
The knock on my dorm room startles me awake. In all honesty, I was already awake. Yet the fact that I have been dreading that sound is enough to make me wish I weren’t. I open the door, unknowing to the unbearable groan that erupts from my throat. Low and behold, it’s him. I knew he would come today, mainly because I made an invaluable promise to him I’m no longer willing to keep.
I hate when he calls me that. I’m not some piece of shitty pottery, so why the hell does everyone insist on calling me by it? My first name Joey is just fine. Shorter, simpler, and it requires much less effort.
“Witter,” I remark in return. At least his wits can be related to me referring to him by his last name.
“Can I come in?” he inquires.
No. That’s what I want to say. I can feel it dancing on the tip of my tongue, but for some reason I swallow it whole. I don’t want him to come in. Not that it makes any difference in these circumstances, but I still hate him. I’ll always hate him after our relationship found a garbage dump.
Relationship? That word still fizzles me. I don’t know what to call what we had anymore. It was more like some Dawson fairytale gone wrong. I wish I were on that I Love Lucy show. I could pretend to be in some happy romance where the only thing that ever went wrong was getting a pie in your pus. Or maybe one of those Disney movies would be amusing. The ones where everyone breaks into song and starts to dance with the dishes and brooms that suddenly come alive. Or maybe…
“You all packed and ready?” he interrupts my myriad thoughts.
“No.” My answer is blunt. Risqué seeing as we are supposed to be heading out of here in half an hour.
It all started when he invited me rather pleasurably on a getaway road trip to absolutely nowhere, back to the good old times when it didn’t matter where you went or whom you did it with. Well, old yes. Good? Working on it. I was having trouble dealing with the whole Dawson, Jen dilemma. Of course Pacey, using any excuse to get away from his world, decided he would invite me along for the ride. He had this hesitant worry that loomed in his eyes when he watched me dismiss the fact that Dawson and Jen did in fact mosey into each other’s arms pretty damn quick. I made my list of pros and cons, sketching them into my mind. The pros weighed out the cons, surprise surprise. And then he gave me the eyes and the lip. I invented those, but he decided to ignore the copyright. How was I supposed to resist? I graciously accepted seeing as I did indeed need a break from this overrated Worthington. It was even more than Worthington. It was everything. For him it was just some stupid adventure he assumed would mend our tormented friendship. More so lack of one. For me it was the chance to get out of this cage. I needed that. I needed to feel completely careless and at ease with something. Getting away from everything was the jackpot I needed to win after years of attempting.
“You’re not ready?” his voice squawked impishly.
“I don’t think I can go through with it.” I am vague, as per usual. He wouldn’t understand even if he did give a damn.
“Jo, we decided we were leaving this afternoon…”
“So? Sue me.”
“Somebody forgot to take her morning de-horning pills,” he growled at my snappy tongue. It was edgy and hypersensitive, flicking out at him like a cobra’s.
Why respond? Actions did after all speak louder than words. Surely he would get the scenic picture when he met the door in a face-to-face collision. I don’t feel guilty when I follow through with those thoughts and hear a sharp grunt from the other side. I almost can’t wait to have another friend scrawl me on their hate list. I much rather feel hated than thinking I’m loved.
“Jo…” his voice is muffled, laced with sensitivity, prolonged in sympathy. Damn him for that. I don’t want his pity bestowed upon me. I don’t need it. I’m not angry with anyone but myself. “Joey…” he repeats himself as if thoughtlessly speaking, knowing I intend to ignore him. “Open the door, Jo,” this time his tone swells with demand, yet a gentle demand in hopes to momentarily gain my attentions before my temper rises.
I don’t know why I’m opening the door again. I didn’t know why I did it the first time, never even mind the second time. My palm caresses the metallic knob in silence and my gaze is descended, yet I can’t really be sure because I am keeping myself so busied studying the fibers of the carpet I don’t even remember where I put it.
He doesn’t respond with words to me gaping the door open to him again. But he tips up my chin with his index finger. It is calloused from hard labour, yet his tenderness masks it easily. His affection causes a chain reaction in me to go off, giving me the confidence and stability to let my dark eyes rise to meet his.
He’s beautiful. I try not to be like some espionage, but I can’t resist a stare. His eyes everyone claims to be so blue, but when studied are more than that. They are depthless, an abyss of ultimate mystery. I’ve known him since I could tie my sneakers, and still I can’t know everything about him. When his insides burn at me with anger, he makes his rage silent by letting his eyes settle into a storm of the seas. And when he is blissful with me, his eyes will be bright, so bright I can see those seas reflecting off them. And when he means to tell me he loves me, but can’t muster each word in a corrected phrase, his eyes will be dimly lit, a current of passion and desire that was left unnoticed rushing for fame. Suddenly I miss him. No, I don’t.
After I realize he isn’t standing before me in the doorway any longer, my vigilance sidetracks to where he has refolded each article of clothing that had scattered my floor. I hadn’t had time to pick up the discarded material from earlier, when I lifelessly condemned them to the ground where they were unwanted. I tried packing; I willed I would. But I felt my gut become sickened with obsessive thoughts of everything that could make this trip cause consequences. My entire dorm room was now a mess of second thoughts.
“What are you doing?” I question his actions, though in the back of my mind I already know the answer. It just hasn’t registered yet.
“Packing,” his response is casual, accompanied by a shrug. He doesn’t even look up at me. He just silently performs the task, and as stubborn as I can be, he matches it with his own. I don’t feel like analyzing it any longer, so I give in.
“Ready?” he exhales the word, hitching my bag up on his right shoulder, causing his brawny frame to slightly hunch from the weight. He swings his own bag over his left shoulder, evening out his slouched appearance. I don’t know why he bothers asking. He’s the one who’s readied me for something I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for.
When in doubt, smile. I do. I pass him one of my secretive half smiles that could never really tell the whole story. It’s not a happy smile, and I know it. It’s one of those things I do. A trademark so to speak that makes everyone around me believe I’m okay, when I’m not.
“Should I…” I begin, uncertainty lingering in my depths.
“Leave a note? Call someone? Who?” he asks in a mocking tone that is close to offending me. The way his brows furrow indicates he is purposely accusing me of what he already knows.
“I don’t know. Audrey? She is my roommate after all. If she shows up to a vacant dorm room, she may think she walked into some screening of ‘Bloody Murder Of Your Roommate’.” I almost chuckle at the thought, though it doesn’t even seem funny to my own senses. I know I’ve lied to him, right through my teeth. Luckily my teeth are placed so close together. They don’t allow too many slips.
“No. This is an adventure for us, Jo. Say a turning point, a new experience we both desperately crave though we may not know it yet. Trust me and we’ll get the job done. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. It’s just us and the road.” He rhymes it off so nonchalantly; I could almost believe his cogent nature. But I also know that he realizes I lied. The person I really meant to inform about our little sail across the gravel was a certain Dawson Leery.
Stupid or not, it was just my thoughts. It makes perfect sense to me to let him know my plans. I mean, we are supposed to be, best friends. I keep saying it over and over, trying to make sense of it, trying to make the falsehood seem like a reality. Saying we weren’t best friends would be an understatement. Saying we were? That would be an overstatement. So the happy medium for me is to say it to myself, pretend its true, and ignore the dissolved hope it gives me.
“C’mon, number two,” he summons me, as if on some unclassified mission.
“Pace, how long are we going to be on this trip for?” I mention, flicking my refined jacket from the hook in the doorway.
“As long as it takes,” he concludes, not really specifically answering my question. But he is fixative on his point, so I am admissible to him when he dodges the question without anything but a devious grin that overwhelms me with insecurities. Here we go.
The road could pass as never-ending. It’s just some twisted path that is flocked with death. Nothing seems alive here. It’s so morose, it almost seems obscure to me. I feel laden with exhaustion, depletion, and somewhere in there I’m sure I feel dead like this ambiance.
The metal tires chew the gravel beneath us nefariously, sending pebbles ricocheting off the window I’m resting my fevered forehead against. The melody of crackles it produces is the only thing that keeps me awake. I can feel my lids becoming heavy, and I can only see small ribbons of dim light through the pattern of my eyelashes. I struggle to lift my lids. They feel as if their blood vessels are filled with sand, weighing them down despite any strength I fight them with. I manage to lift them from curtaining my view, just in time to see a clumped mass of birds take off as soon as they catch on to the presence of our passing vehicle. Gradually as they rise, they span out over the expanse of the upper world they have claimed.
“You tired?” His voice is only a buzz.
“What?” I lift my heavy head from its resting position, staring over at him. But his gaze is plastered to the windshield it floats through, his hands relaxed over the wheel that trembles with every patch in the road we hit.
“I said are you tired?” he repeats for my convenience.
“Where are we?” His question is forgotten as soon as I realize we are in the middle of rolling plains. Barbed wire fencing outlines the roads, cattle contained within its holds. The clouds are gray with sorrow for these country lands have been touched by rain.
“I don’t know,” he murmurs, matter-of-factly.
“You didn’t bring a map?” I suddenly grow angry at the fact of being lost. Yet, even if he knew where we were, I presumably wouldn’t recognize whatever nametag it had. But for some reason it still matters to me.
“No. Why would I? Pretend we’re Thelma and Louise.”
As if that would make it better. I scowl irritably at him, crossing my bare appendages across my chest. I take notice of the goose bumps that have taken advantage of my chilled state.
“So typical of you,” I add in, my gaze shifting to stare at the side view mirrors. I watch the road behind us disappear into thin air, as if the skies and the earth below ate it whole.
“Did I ever mention how big your bite is when you’re stuck in one of your sour moods?” his voice is so calm, tentative with patience.
I know he is angry with me now. I expected him to be. Maybe I wanted him to be. I easily feed my own anger with his, and for some reason that releases me and bathes me in relaxation. He’s always been the only one with the talent to flatter me like that, mainly because he’s the only one who will put up with me in the first place when I’m like this.
“Oh, I apologize. You just have this way of reviving it.” My practiced insults are those of a barbarian, and the fact that I realize that and it doesn’t affect me makes me wonder who I really am.
“What would you do if there was a revolution where all men and women got along as wonderfully as we do, Josephine?” He smirks haughtily to himself, his features crinkling into an appearance intended to break the tension. The tail end of his statement, daring to call me by my full name Josephine only heightened it.
“A revolution of Pacey’s? Seeing as they would only be known as oversexed hogs that drive embarrassing devices for transportation, I would have to say I would be revolted to hold up the Joey’s. We’d all parish.”
“We’d all dance on your graves.”
We’ve been driving for so long now, I don’t know where the roads begin and end. We haven’t stopped all day and wherever we are, as fateful as it could be, I’ve reached the nonperishable point of not caring.
He thinks I’m asleep. The skies are black now, just as they were before, but they are rich with stars, which indicates night must have fallen. I’m everything but comfortable, and no matter how much I contort, my limbs are frail with cramps. But I am too drowned in tiredness to pay heed.
He touched me. I felt his hand brush against mine, and now he has laid it against mine almost protectively. But I feel as if it’s a barrier, one I can’t free myself from. He’s so warm, so heavenly scented from afar I don’t care to remove his featherweight burden. I have the urge to push it away. The urge is a strong one that I should find irresistible. But when he touches me, it stings unbearably. I welt with the fear of falling in love with him again and I am fearsome of the fact that I know I already have. I can’t defend my emotions any longer, for it is a fatal battle I can’t win. I wish I had an impulsive change of mind not to love him, but I can’t be that simple. I don’t know how.
The distracting hum of the vehicle has ceased, and I realize so have we. He’s pulled over on the side of the road. I feel his thumb stroke the nub of my earlobe. My insides are jolted with a dizziness that refuses to subside. He touches me as if I were a breakable china doll. If only he knew I was awake. I am paralyzed. I can’t tell him to stop, or open my eyes to him. I feel as if I have been weighted down to this car seat, the seatbelt suffocating me as it clings to my aching body.
The door clicks as he opens it, signaling my senses to become acumen once more. I open my eyes to see he has left the dangling metallic keys in the ignition, and they join in chorus as they clink together with the rhythmic beeps caused by him leaving his door open. He begins to tread towards the forestry nearby. I try to find the strength to free myself from the seatbelt, though I do it in a disoriented manner. I become resentful to my dark strands as they hang limply in front of my vision, shielding me from the task I’m trying to complete. The seatbelt won’t budge. I persist, pulling at it with a force that feels downsized. But then I sharply jolt my head to see him opening my door, and he pleasantly reaches over my lap to undo the buckle without an ounce of struggle. His blue spheres are almost translucent as they mingle momentarily with mine. He doesn’t force a superior grin at me after defeating my attempts, which strikes me by surprise. He doesn’t seem to care. He just turns his back on me and advances in the cardinal he was originally heading for.
“Pace, where are you going?” my voice comes out almost uneasily, in a begging fashion that I pray tell I noticed more than he.
“To take a leak. Would you like to join me?”
I know he’s joking. He’s insulting me with his intelligence, knowing that I dropped my guard long enough for him to put his up. I sigh my anger, before easing out of the seat I have been bind to all day. I almost collapse, my knees buckling to resist my weight as I grab onto the side of the car for stability.
“Sore?” He smiles effortlessly.
I can’t smile in return, but I exchange a glance with him, which is all I can say to prove I’ve given in. I don’t feel like arguing. I’m sick with depression.
“Joey, what will I ever do with you?” he questions himself more than me, before hesitantly proceeding towards me. He’s forgiven me for being a rogue this entire day. How he survived it even I don’t know.
He doesn’t call me Potter as if I’m some mutual acquaintance, Jo as if I’m some well-aged friend, or Josephine as if I’m a sinister enemy he feels obligated to refer to by full name. Joey. I love it when he says my name. It rolls off his tongue almost traditionally, like he never forgot it. Like he still loves me. His tone always lowers to a fainter degree when he voices it, as if to be careful not to awake me from my own world.
“I have to go to the bathroom, too,” I mention quietly, his close proximity fortunately allowing him to hear me.
“You go ahead behind those bushes then.” He gestures to the forest, sniffling mildly as he in habit scratches his scalp. He doesn’t seem concerned in the least about his arrangements, yet I feel my brows quirk inquisitively.
“And where do you plan to go? Surely not with me.”
“No. On the other side of the road.” His lips elapse into a hindered grin. I study him in utter silence before erupting into a brief laugh.
“Okay, but no peeking,” I warn him waggishly, crouching down to tug my pant bottoms over my shoes simply to occupy myself.
“Would I ever? If anyone is likely to play hide and seek, it’s you Ms. Peeker,” he jokes, lazy with his words as his arms fling out to feign innocence.
“Guilty as charged,” I respond with a quick roll of my eyes, so quick I barely notice I did it. It’s an automatic response to almost everything that comes off his tongue.
“I knew it! You would know about my baby Witter and his grandeur performances.” He wiggles his brows at me suggestively.
“Of course. He can sing, but he can’t dance.” I quirk a devious smirk, and he seems almost shocked by my quick response. It seems alien to be talking about our past physical intimacy so dully, so pointedly and bluntly as if it were nothing but a date in our books.
“Well, well. Maybe we should stop before we get on the size discussion.” His facial expression is so placid, frowning with an almost famous humiliation and defeat as he tries to seal his own can of laughter.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Better to keep it for another day. I didn’t bring my magnifying glass.” I laugh as I have obtruded his intended victory. To beat a Witter puts you in the hall of fame. But, only on rare occasions has he beaten me. He knows he can beat me perfectly well, as do I. But he doesn’t know how to do it without being gentle, so he holds back; keeping the silent fear that something he would say might turn into regret.
He shakes his head in defeat, a subtle smile intertwined on his lips. He wants me to see him smile; yet he doesn’t really care for me to understand it.
“Lucky for you, there’s an assortment of leaves you have to choose from, all cottony soft.” He smirked as his gaze followed mine to the forest.
“Yeah, lucky me. I thought I came with you for an adventurous road trip, not to be a girl scout.”
“Hey, feel free to use the rule of the thumb and try to hitch a ride with some insane truck driver waiting for young prey. I hear they are always on a lookout for complainers like you. They’re always polite at first, offering a ride before they make you their victim. You don’t even know it until they start cutting into your…”
“I’m going!” I cut in before he has a chance to form gruesome imagery in my head. He flanks me off the road, forcing me to maneuver through the ditch off balance. I can sense his laughter as I nearly topple through the sloppy bedding, until I reach the edge of the forest. He waves me off before I disappear into the abyss of scattered timbers.
It’s eerie, murky like a swamp. The quiet sloshing of my shoes through the debris and mud seems to echo through here soundlessly. I feel as if I’m in a house of mirrors, the creatures of the night playing tricks on me as I spot my reflection in the haze of each puddle I avoid. I curse at myself as I walk into a slick web created by an invisible spider. I fidget recklessly to free myself from its capture, but the surrounding branches rake at me like fingertips. They are scabrous, causing my flesh to sour in pain. My blood is fueling with scurrilous nightmares. Everything around me is shadow; dark obscene shadow I can’t relate to. Before I have the time to catch my breath, a shadow that is darker than the rest, and very much alive scrutinizes me. It scampers towards me and the fuel in my blood ignites with an uncanny scream.
I realize I have hurdled myself against a nearby tree, fused against it. Now it is my savior, and I clasp to it greedily, squeezing my lids shut so tightly that a colourful static rushes through the only blackness I can see. I’m sickened with fear.
Only moments had passed before I heard his quick steps grow louder, yet they had the same, unchanged steady beat. I’m sure he called out words to me, but I was too shot with illusions of the night to listen to what they said until I felt his warmth embrace me. I turned suddenly, suddenly enough that my surroundings were merely a blur as I buried myself against him.
He cooed to me in comfort, cradling me against him. My forehead was icy from the loss of blood to my brain, but it was soothed by the hotness in his cheeks. I felt him blink away his surprise at what had occurred until I had settled.
“Jo?” He wasn’t aware if my senses were existent.
“Sorry.” I didn’t know how else to explain my behaviour, my face bunched with uneasiness as I pushed myself away from him. He staggered backwards a half step before eyeing my fear with ordinance.
“Sorry for what, is what I would like to know.” He fidgeted blankly with the zipper of his pants, teasing it up once again. I almost smiled at the fact I had disturbed his washroom break, finding it in the simplest fashion amusing.
Yet now, when he brought me back to my right mind, I saw the petite, dark figure that had alarmed me. My gaze studied it hardly from over his shoulder. It was clustered with fur, gray hued, with dainty claws that snugly held to a fallen berry that was rosy and flamboyant against his dark hands. He sat idly in the softness of decaying leaves.
“That,” I whispered, the raccoon masked with confusion and innocence at the guilty finger being thrust at him.
Pacey raised a single brow, ever so slowly swiveling to follow my directing finger. He turned with such careful ease; I perceive he was expecting a giant looming behind him. When faced with the blinking raccoon, he snorted with distinct laughter. I cringed with embarrassment.
“Joey, if you’re scared of a helpless raccoon, I don’t think any kind of scout lessons would’ve helped you.” He sighed with regained composition, smirking at me as if the snickers he upheld were overwhelming. I loathe him.
“I don’t think being a permanent patient in a mental ward would’ve helped you, either,” I mustered with growing agitation, forcing my gaze away from his laughing eyes that drove me crazy with their craziness. The plump creature eagerly tucked the red berry within the folds of his mouth somewhere, before scampering off unnoticed.
“Probably wouldn’t. Those straight jackets and white walls would make me die of insanity before I was cured.” He was still smiling. Damn him.
“Oh, no. Now wouldn’t that be a terrible loss. What would we ever tell your family?” I had the talent of sarcasm, yet it only came in use when being in his company.
“Time for them to celebrate.”
His words struck a chord in me, and I watched as his features reflected my own when they grew solemn. His eyes were unreadable in the dark, but I tried to distinguish whether they were laughing or crying. Laughing would be saner for him.
“For a moment there I felt sorry for you,” my words slipped from my mouth without thought, realizing the way they had oriented themselves was not reassuring.
“Oh, really?” He beamed at me with matched sarcasm, parting his lips in awe.
“Never mind. Its passed,” I snarled my cover-up, following his lead out of the forest.
I couldn’t distinguish whether we were both condemned to silence because of each other or ourselves. Either way, the silence was excruciating. I didn’t have the knowledge to bear it, but his lack of it made me. If I dared utter words to him, I would’ve spit them. Spit them at his beautiful face, which I did my best not to recognize.
I’m here. I’m here again. I’m in this damned car again. He won’t talk to me, and even if I do he won’t listen. So we’re back to square one. Silence. If it was possible for silence to get louder, it was.
I tightened my thighs, pursing my lips in agony to try and hold the sensation of going to the bathroom. I hadn’t found the chance to drop my pants between the parts where I was fighting off branches to the parts where I was hugging them. Wasn’t that an ironic set of actions?
He slid into the driver’s seat and took observation on me with a rough expression. I didn’t care. I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy memorizing all the states and capitals in my head to take my mind off the pain in my bladder.
“Your door’s not shut,” he confirmed, his hands limply resting at his sides. I hadn’t even noticed the incessant beeping of the vehicle from my gaping door until he had mentioned it. I don’t know how I stared at him; I just know that I did. I was urgently biting my lower lip, and it had grown swollen and numb with the death of its circulation.
“Is this what you call hypertension?” He blinked cautiously at my disheveled appearance.
“I still have to go.” Though in my mind my statement sounded firm, it came out in a childish whimper that he reacted to by softening.
“God, why didn’t you say so before?”
“Because you were mad.”
“I wasn’t mad,” he argued.
“Yes you were,” I persisted enough that the argument was rendered forsaken.
“You’re still sitting here.”
He eyed me with inconclusive optics, studying me as if I were some inhumane organism deemed human. I seared my lids shut, thankful for the dark strands that cascaded around my face to veil my insecurity. I couldn’t even go into a forest at night without a guide? I was pathetic.
I felt his sigh roam the flesh of my neck as he reached for the dashboard, revealing a vibrant red bandana that was oblivious in meaning. Before I had chance to respond to his antics, he had gotten out of the car and walked around to my side where he extended his hand out to me.
His hands. His hands were everything. They weren’t just attached to his wrists; they were attached to his soul. His hands wept when he did, danced when he did, loved when he did. So rough on exterior, yet tender and delicate like silk floating across warm flesh, milky and tempted for. His fingertips were like ribbons, laced with sensitivity and passionate delay until I would zone out to only their feeling. They had the feeling of Braille being painted across my body. Sirens couldn’t have brought me out of that zone.
“What are you doing?” I sound stupid, as dumfounded as his gaze.
“You don’t want me peeking while you piddle and I can’t very well walk without a guide, now can I? And what if you were to meet up with a six-foot squirrel that has razor sharp teeth and claws this time? We wouldn’t want him to maul you to death, now would we? An unknown source tells me that you wouldn’t be able to rightfully defend yourself while your pants are around your ankles.” He smiles in reassurance to me, basking me in sensations I have sought for all my life. Relieving sensations. Comfort sensations. All have the same effect of blissful ecstasy.
He doesn’t mind that I am scared to go without him. He is willing to be blind for me, knotting the bandanna around his luminous orbs until he stands without his senses. His hand is not forceful to take mine. It never was. It just lingers near enough that I can feel the warmth it exaggerates, until mine is eventually magnetized.
“Remember not to drag us into poison ivy.” He grins animatedly.
I remember the burning flood that coursed through my body as his hand held mine. I felt drunk, in a state of serendipity. How to guide him when I myself was blind fazed me. I was dizzy, my senses having faded if not lost into a state of oblivion. He didn’t see me smile; truly smile, but I tried. I tried so damned hard I felt the pressure on my mouth it exerted. I was certain I could make it the whole way, but in some futile depression I felt my lips become adverse, only willing to settle midway into my façade of a smile. He couldn’t rebuke that half smile when it lied to the same cloth that lied to his eyes. And for that I feel like a puppet, imprisoned by strings that force my own actions against my own will and my own emotions. I wonder when I get to be human again.
I can’t believe I’m squatting here, baring all while he is only a few feet away with only a bandana blocking his view. He seems closer when he’s singing. He is the very definition of perpetual happiness, his voice tilting off key as he chants. His masculine voice tries to romance with the higher tones he knows he can’t reach, causing a disturbing jumble of unusual harmonies. For some reason though, his perseverance to leave his jinxed voice unconcealed to me only proves that he is fearless of being judged. I imagine him always like this, some gruff strength and knowledge of who and what he is, where he belongs and whom he belongs with. I am jealous of his intelligence, his knowledge of life and himself. I know nothing of his education, and I won’t let him be my teacher.
“Why on earth are you singing, Pace?” I interrupt him as he is forced to squeak his last note to cease it.
“Singing. You wouldn’t want me to hear those embarrassing drip drops of yours, now would you?”
He is so simple that he confuses me. Everything he does is so simple, so casual. Every word he speaks he expects me to understand as plain as day, and I should. But I find him baffling. He twists my mind into knots that cause me to dig for any evidence of meaning I can find to explain him. He makes me feel so incompletely stupid, so opened and defenseless before his scrutiny.
“I see you blushing through this bandanna, Ms. Josephine,” he sings the phrase in amusement to my sudden silence, swiveling to where he senses I am to smile at me. If only he realized he was smiling at the tree that is beside me.
“Now that you’ve cleared out the forest of all living organisms, and awakened the dead ones with your shameful singing, I’d say we should get out of here before they deal out cruel and unusual punishment,” I tease him naturally, tugging my wrinkled pants back to sit on my waist as I brush myself off.
“I can take this off now since you’re done then, right?”
“I suppose. Though I would much rather see you fall flat faced in the ditch on our way back when you can’t see where you’re going,” I waggishly joke, though when I say the words they amount to something sour from their exhaustion of becoming a chore.
He chuckles throatily; pointedly making it known it is sarcastic and unaffected laughter. I observe him gently ease the blinder from his eyes, his eyelids opening to conquer their seared shut state. When his blue voids are no longer held secret to me, and they land on me comfortably, I feel trapped in some artistic painting. I am centered in a different dimension where splashes of oiled colours coat me into a magical crypt he sends me crashing into. This is his creation. I feel dark in the center of it, but his eyes paint light around me so that warmth and brightness clothes me with lustful agony.
“Don’t fall,” he murmurs as he takes the lead up the soaking ditch.
I already have.
Why am I not surprised I’m trapped in this car again? It is moments like these I wish I hadn’t led such a sheltered life. I don’t know how I managed it. I was framed into a family photo that forced me into this grueling existence where I was exposed to everything and anything.
In Capeside whenever the name Joey Potter danced across my lips, in awe, everyone would tell me my life story as if they knew it better than me, the very one who lived it. They would say ‘So you’re that virgin who lives on the other side of the creek with a father in prison, a dead mother, and a sister who is too young to be taking care of you never mind her biracial daughter.’ Capeside was a curse for history. Everything about you immediately inducted itself into the rightful gossip of everyone around you. It was sickening, like some reproducing depression. You could never live your life out once. Nobody would let you. The hellish memories found a way of marinating themselves in your head.
When I was in Capeside I often romanticized with the idea of having the freedom of being able to face a stranger, hold out my hand, and introduce myself as Joey Potter without them doing anything but smiling and introducing themselves. And now that dream has forced me into the reality of Boston. Boston has exposed me to such freedom, but there’s almost too much of it. Nobody knows a single ineffable moment I’ve faced in my life. But with such freedom without knowledge, nobody cares either. The city is too grand for an acquaintance to actually stock your name away in their hold memory. They are not palpable to others unless you have managed a close relationship with them. And for me, that is the most difficult thing to achieve.
The closest relationship I’ve ever managed to survive was Dawson’s. Inseparable soul mates he called us. He said he loved me. He said I was his best friend and always would be. He promised me a safe world, and this I know is why I am so sheltered. After everything I was exposed to I forced my world to shadow me in the dark of all my surroundings. Dawson formed this security bond; a comfort zone that was indestructible. He even stood guard on it, not letting anyone in without torment…and not letting me out. But now without him even knowing about it, he’s left me in that shadowed corner with no evidence he’s coming back.
As easily as he told me he couldn’t be in the fantasyland where he and I were together after the pain of his father’s death, he threw himself in to the indulgent lust of being with Jen. I have nothing against her except jealousy. Every moment I sit back and wonder how she could’ve achieved such greatness. She chose not to live a sheltered life, one without morals or concepts. She lived off her gut instincts, and her gut instinct usually sidetracked her into dangerous territories. She had committed more crimes than I could’ve ever even processed. And now as she was making significant changes in her life, she got the reward of having Dawson Leery at her side. Not only in friendship now, but love. I never knew that I, having lived through the ‘good’ image, could’ve had results with such bad consequences. I’ve lost the best thing I’ve ever had.
I know he loves her. And the selfish snap of my fingers won’t help any witchcraft to make that love sparse. As much as I squeeze my eyes shut and try to make it flash into a victorious nightmare, it won’t. Its settled in my scorning heart.
“Do you want to talk about it?” His voice gradually eases me back into the vicious reality of my thoughts. He must’ve smelt the fuel of my mind’s wheels growing stronger.
He’s staring straight ahead on the road, and I realize that we aren’t sitting at the corner of that ditch anymore. The slick motion of the car has started again. I am utterly silent with confusion in myself. I know he won’t force his gaze on me when he asks me of the most personal hideaways of my mind and of my heart. He knows better not to put that additional demand on me.
“No,” I answer him with a tone that proves there is no more cause for discussion. I can’t truly construe my emotions, so I dare not bother.
I am in awe at the reverence he holds for me. He doesn’t question or argue my bluntness or the refusal to see his question through. He doesn’t remark or even smile at the stubbornness I admit I have. As if he hadn’t asked the question in the first place, he resumes his driving while I watch the yellow lines captured on the asphalt. The steadier my gaze is upon them, the unsteadier they force it. Their separated layout begins to blend and form a single stroke of brightness, as if I were in a mirage.
I’m not sure if I’m in the mid state of sleeping, but I am so numbed from this jaded trip I can’t truly decipher. I know I said I didn’t want to talk about Dawson and Jen. But I do not know why questions are unknowingly slipping from my parted lips. I wish I could trap them back in, but for some reason I have no control over my instincts. I hope he’s not listening.
“Do you think he’s forgotten about me?” My thoughts have deceived me, and are spoken instead of merely thought.
“No.” He hasn’t changed his position or his glance since I can remember. He’s a replica of a statue, stilled and trapped into a plastered existence; an unmovable one that he almost doesn’t mind. He’s so lost in that frame of mind he doesn’t even seem to be alive. He knows I speak of Dawson without even asking, as if he’s journeyed into my mind and bewitched me. He’s stolen my own thoughts before even I have time to process them.
“Do you think he’s using Jen? I mean they didn’t give this much time…”
“No,” he repeats in a copycat tone, and I wonder if a monotone computer program has replaced him.
“Why, do you think she’s using him?” I counter, studying him in deep concentration while he seems to hold not an ounce of it.
“Do you just keep saying no because you’re not listening to me?”
“Is no all that you can say?” my voice inclines with agitation.
“No,” he responds unaffected.
“Pacey!” I can feel a hiss slinking through my throat, turning to face him sharply.
“Yes?” He’s broken his standard positioning, actually finding enough momentum to cast his obscene gaze upon me. I am completely bewildered, and tension has knotted my muscles so I just sit in awe at his powerless conversation. His eyes seem to sigh at me, and I feel transparent in their penetrating stare. “I’ll tell you what I think, Potter. I think that you’re wowing everyone with your Oscar winning display that shows you’re just fine with Dawson and Jen cuddling up, when really you’re not. He’s hurt you a hell of a lot this past while and now without warning he’s pulled a Dawson reality moment on you with this new relationship of his. Jen is your close friend, and Dawson your best. I think you have every right to be jealous and cynical about this. So go ahead, let loose. Put on the horns; grab the pitchfork and scream at the top of your lungs. I truly couldn’t care less. I’ve got my Pink Floyd to listen to.” He grinned deviously, adjusting the volume on the stereo until the entire vehicle hummed and began to tremor with deafening beats.
“Pacey!” I shrieked, my open palms having mutated into clenched fists of sinister anger. He smiled to himself, blissfully resuming the drive that had taken a turn from silent to fortissimo. “Pacey! Shut that the hell off! Pacey! If you don’t talk the smart out of your ass, I can guarantee when we return to Boston, not even you will recognize your face after I’m finished with it. Shut it the…”
“That’s my girl,” he interrupts me ever so serenely, its almost alien. The music is delayed as he pauses it. The silence seems overwhelmingly unusual now, as if it was unfamiliar in an uncalled for sense.
“What, pray tell, was the meaning of that? Please don’t tell me that’s how you flatter all the girls, because if it is, I should make the suggestion of flowers and candy.” He has left me breathless with the fatigue of my yelling. My throat feels like a rasp while I swallow my own saliva painfully.
“I told you that it would feel better to let loose,” he mentions carelessly.
“Where did you get your appeal? Honestly?” I can’t believe the way he challenges me, as if I were some skillful game he pursued with intricate pleasure.
“From you, Josephine. Where else would I learn to be such a full-fledged, heartless, anti-social bastard? I was taught by the best; oh wise one.”
“I hope you die of the black plague,” I seethe in revolt.
“Only if I get it from you, my pretty, and your little dog too.”
“I don’t have a dog,” I argue with a discreet scowl.
“You wouldn’t need one. You do enough scaring off on your own.” His eyes widen with impeccable insult.
“Why do you have to be so ornery?” I come to the realization I should be inquiring this to my own reflection.
“Why do you have to be so bullheaded?”
“Just drive, Pacey, before I insure you become road kill.”
“Was that a threat or a promise?”
“Neither. If it were a threat, I wouldn’t be able to wear this adorably sarcastic grin while I say it. And if it were a promise, well then, I wouldn’t be able to switch my mind to torture.”
“Smart thinking, although I do prefer quick and painless. Do I get any last requests?”
“Sure. That was it.” I am blunt with unbecoming mockery.
Our venturous insults are issued back and forth, ricocheting off one another’s tongues in an eminent pinball game until the vehicle awakens us with a startled groan. Our initial velocity has lowered considerably within a few moments and I don’t even have to look at his uncertainty to realize my own. Within moments we have ceased completely, and we come to a painfully slow halt in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere to be precise.
“Pacey?” I don’t even look at him as we both sit in silence, staring out the windshield with dumbfounded glares.
“Slight problem,” he squeaks, and I don’t need to be informed that he is scared of my wrath.
“No. There is no problem. Tell me there is no problem.”
“Okay. There is no problem,” he obediently replies while portraying innocence.
“Pacey…” my growl fades off, and I feel my own eyes grow cold.
“Easy, Ice Queen. We’re just out of gas. There’s probably a gas station somewhere up the road.”
“Oh, really?” I respond as my fury only heightens. Insanity is one of my options. Or death. I think I’d rather work with death.
“Yeah. Probably a couple miles or so.” I note that his lower lip is flushed of colour as he penalizes it with his enamels.
“I guarantee you are about to be castrated! Are you an idiot? I can’t believe you were this stupid! How could…”
“Whoops. My hand slipped,” he conveniently remarks as he interrupts my shrill squealing, tapping the play button on the stereo until the wretched music damns my own voice. I try my best to scream overtop of it. He fights my questing fingers from the volume knob with soothing amusement. So I settle to savagely thumping at his chest between his bemused chuckles, contorting about in the vehicle with each swing as I mutter curses beneath my breath. I hope he dies of laughter.
Damn him. I’ve counted each exhausted trip I’ve made on the gravel crunching below me. Each one counts for a blister. I hope he’s got the balm, because if he doesn’t I’ll insure him a permanent vacation in hell.
“How much longer?” I could whine, but I find the intimidating growl I produce in my voice has a much better result.
“It’s just up ahead, Louise.” He grins wickedly back at me; his strides lengthy and persistent with ease while mine seem to limp in fatigue.
“Shut up, Thelma.”
“Or what?” he mimics an overly feminine voice to play along in character, batting his lashes back at me in enjoyment.
“Have you noticed that your humour has become a psychosis?” I feel my tone on the verge of a yelp, yet it dries in my throat to a raspy mutter.
“Have you noticed that I take all your insults as flattery, Ms. Potter?”
“You’re like some damned bad habit. I can never get rid of you.” I pause, crouching over the pit of sand below me to rest momentarily.
“Too bad you’re at a lack for good ones, otherwise I’d take that as a compliment.” He swivels with a floppy smirk, peering at me from his up ahead stationing.
The early winter atmosphere has grown so cold now though there hasn’t been any snow. Every time I inhale a breath I expect it to be comforting, but instead it stuns my heated and overworked insides with a shot of icy oxygen. My chest feels so compressed I can’t stand to bear the swelling ache any longer.
“Pace, remind me never again to accept any of your bon voyage offers.” I frown unmistakably at him.
“Potter, you should watch that frown you’re sporting. They’re out of fashion nowadays. I hear smiles have the better design.” He smiles warmly to me while he advances with sloppy strides, gingerly eloping his fingertips with mine as he leads me forward again on the road.
I can’t tell if the way he speaks his words is as sincere as the meaning behind it. He’s some funhouse clown I can’t peel the polka dot dress off of. I wish I could encode my true gratitude for his friendship, but its been buried too deep in my hate for everything that has been going on around me with him; with Dawson. He must feel so used and discarded when he continuously takes the blame by being the culprit for everything that’s gone wrong in my life. Everything has always been made out to be his fault. He’s always been here in the loitered shadows of my life, yet he only comes out of the darkness when I need him. He has sacrificed everything of true matter…for me. Why? Is he some fool? Have I ever appreciated him the way he has desired me to? I wouldn’t know. But I know that it is seldom I believe I have. I am so callow with giving him what I want to because I’ve never taken the time to try harder. Everything has stopped making sense to me. Everything.
If the skies could part with song, they probably would. As slow as time seemed to pass, we’ve miraculously made it to the gas station he described to be so near. I think he was being a bit on the modest side.
“Here we are, Potter. Start singing kumba-yah.” He chuckles at my agitation. He lets go of my hand unnoticeably, and the moist sweat from the intense heat of our contact is now enveloped by the chilly winds instead. I can actually see the gas station as more than a puny dot. Fancy that. I guess we are really here.
“This is it?” I inquire, looking for his confirmation. This place wouldn’t even seem to be in business. I can hear the nearby ricocheting sounds of its advertising sign arguing with me, but it is completely vacant, thrust into a deserted wasteland. Garbage dances across the sandy turf while wistful breezes flick through the silenced ambiance.
“Yeah. Remember we’re in the country now. Not prestigious enough for you?” He smiles weakly, seeming at a loss for confidence himself.
“I prefer something alive.”
“Don’t worry. There’s a guy over there. This will all be cleared up.”
My vigilance follows his gesture to a scrawny male that rests against the cement by the gas pumps. I can’t make out anything about him until we draw closer. He is clad in a plain uniform with the classification of ‘Larry’ embroidered on it, though the lettering is loose and barely comprehendible. His clothing looks as if he was mauled by a cat, sagging and torn. He is soaked in the acrid stench of gasoline and dark stains cloud his entire body. A floppy baseball cap covers his features while his head is tilted towards the ground. I exchange glances with Pacey, yet he doesn’t seem in the least bit appalled.
“Excuse me, Larry.” He cleared his throat, coughing into his fist as we both scrutinized the lifeless man from above. No response.
“Maybe he’s dead like every other thing on this road.” I glare without acknowledgement.
“Or maybe he’s just sleeping,” Pacey mentions in argument.
“Fine, then. The rooster’s crowing,” I snarl, kicking the limp being from above with a strength I have improved from my practice on ‘Pacey The Grandeur Punching Bag’.
The male stirred to my surprise, quickly causing me to lurch away with a guilty fear. His masculine features inclined and became visible, garnished with mature stubble. His dark gaze faltered up to ours with something I could distinguish as anger. The cigarette that remained lifelessly clamped between his chaffed lips had become a stub of ash while he had been drunk with sleep.
“Hello, Larry. And how are you on this fine day?” Pacey smiled in a friendly demeanor, dismissing the effect my kicking and insulting may have had. The opposing male’s response elapsed in a thick and heavy cloud puffed from the cigarette that remained dryly clinging to his lower lip.
“What do you damned kids want?” was the hoarse and lazy response the gruff male snarled.
“Well…we were just admiring this beautiful plot of land you got here, and this absolutely superb gas station you’ve conjured up, and we’re hoping that you might have a can of gas in your midst. You see…” Pacey trailed, attempting to work his flattery on the male and win him over with his brunt charm.
“You bloody people only want money. Get the hell out of here. Damn you punk teenagers, all listening to that rap shit. Shit that’s what it is. Puts evil thoughts in your minds. You just want to bloody well kill the world. Damn you punks.” The hoarse male dismissed us with a wave of his hand, not allowing Pacey to finish his explanation. The cigarette that was now transformed into a mere stub lazily kept hold to his lips.
I pondered this critique. The reason we had music and other forms of art publicizing such ‘evil thoughts’ could only hold society to blame. Mongrels such as the one before me are disgraces, and very well through evidence of his speech and round about rudeness, just as much to blame for our generation’s forms of expression. A whippersnapper was the word for him. He had brought it upon himself all the same. Yet as I look down upon him now, in his drunken state of depression, I can’t help but hold sympathy that is false to my judgments.
I rest my hand lightly upon Pacey’s arm, enduring a penetrating gaze with him simply to send my thoughts through to him. There is no way we’re going to get a can of gas out of this beast. But no matter what I say or do, Pacey will see to it that his determination prevails. He has always been talented with persistence, uncaring how much he makes you agonize over how annoying he is.
“No, Larry. You see, we ran out of gas and we’re way, way down that road. I need to get this lady home by the end of this weekend. I can’t do that unless you sell me a can of gas. So, if you would be so kind as to forget our stereotypical status and hold out on that cynical drive of yours, I’m willing to pay you for a can of gas. That’s it. Just a can of gas, if you will,” he sighed his firm words.
“Punks you all are. Wearing those damned chains and putting bloody holes in your ears. And then you paint tattoos all over your body all to bloody hell. Failures you’re all going to be. Damn bloody failures is what you all are,” the man responded huskily, his tone varying so much it was as if he was speaking to himself. Reciting past lectures of his family and friends perhaps. But his words I noticed strangled Pacey. He had held a defiant stare that was crossed with passion and anger, completely capsized.
“Come on, Jo,” he spit the words, not waiting for my lead or follow. He simply advanced with preying strides to the small shop across from the gas pumps, which was used to calculate costs and pay for the gas I presumed if it was anything like a normal gas station.
“Pacey! What do you think you’re doing?” I screamed at his ignorance, treading after him with lengthy strides in an attempt to catch up.
“Getting us a can of gas, that’s what I’m doing.” He didn’t even seem to speak to me, just speak to the empty air ahead of him that he barged through ineffectually.
“What?” I murmured as he disappeared within the small shed-like building where a dusty cash register remained. He was crouched behind the counter, eagerly looking through the cabinets and shelves. I spotted a rubber ducky seated on the dust-clothed counter with one of its eyes punctured. I had to smile at the ironic sense of it.
“You know, on a normal day that would look weird,” I mentioned in boredom while he was busy locating the needed item. At last he discovered a small stock of gas cans beneath the counter and tossed one over to me.
“Would you like a receipt with that?” his voice rung like a dainty bell, grinning as he stood and swung over the counter heroically rather than walk around it. I gazed down upon the gas can I now held, blinking up at his smiling features. He was well into the phases of satisfaction in himself, and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at his haughty behaviour.
“Can we go now?” I formed a majestic whine.
“Once I pay dearest Larry with merriment.” His brows wiggled as he exited ahead of me back towards the loneliness of the ambiance and the fickle elder man who had not moved since we left.
“Oh, how meritorious of you.” I mistakenly slip with the sarcastic insult.
“Hey, only yours truly could provide such an adventure. So keep your violin playing down to a minimum before you make me go deaf.”
I had a growl readied in the back of my throat, but as soon as we advanced upon the intimidating hall of fame asshole, it got stuck.
“Thank you for your splendid service, Larry. I have even enclosed a generous tip. Good day.” Pacey smirked casually as his hand disappeared into the confines of his pant pocket, taking out a crumpled bill as it was tossed pointedly upon Larry’s lap.
“You didn’t actually give him a tip, did you?” I whispered unbelievingly, noting that Larry seemed to have passed out. The gas fumes must have gotten to him.
“Not unless you call a penny a tip. That should be enough to buy him a kick in the ass.” He chuckled rebelliously, easing his arm around my shoulder as he escorted me in the direction of the road.
“So what do we do now?”
“We walk back to the car,” he states matter-of-factly.
“What?” I can feel my eyes loosen from their sockets.
“Well, unless you’re Mary Poppins and you have some magical umbrellas we can float away on, the last time I checked God seemed to have forgot to include turbo wings in the human model.”
I am at a loss for cursed words, cat-like hisses, or evil eyes. I have reached his level of mental instability. Call me insane.
“You are so lucky I don’t have a rifle with me,” my tone is so throaty I’m sure he’ll recognize it as a snarl.
“No. I’m lucky you wouldn’t know how to load it,” he teases me with a casual sense that only ignites my tempers even more.
Walking back seems worse than when we were walking away. Now the car seems ungraspable and after being stuck in it for two days straight, I don’t know why I’m so eager to see it in the first place. But anything would be a more faithful delight than walking miles in the middle of a country road with him.
“How much longer?” I recognize the sourness in my voice, and it doesn’t even startle him because it is too familiar. He wanders on aimlessly, seeming cast out in some alternate world where he has managed to block out my unavoidable presence.
“Ten minutes,” he responds in a sighing tone.
“That’s what you said ten minutes ago! I knew I shouldn’t have come. I knew this was a bad idea.” I caution him with my honesty, strolling onwards behind him with impure anger. He tosses his head back in a sinister chuckle before wheeling and advancing on me with hunting eyes.
“You know what Joey?” he seems to summon me.
“What?” I hiss in response, stopping myself short in my stride to stand at an erect halt. I have an airy appearance I suppose. I cross my arms over my chest as a defense so he doesn’t get too close. Any contact with him could cause me to weaken my barrier, which is too risky if he manages to get in. I won’t let him close. He can’t be.
“You…you…” he trails with the harsh exposure of how unbelievably ruined this trip has become, wagging his finger at me in complete disbelief. I don’t care that he doesn’t believe I don’t want to be here. I don’t.
“What?” I lean forward with a harsh glare, as we stand uptight, facing one another too close to truly yell.
“Josephine Potter, Josephine Potter…” he trails to himself, shaking his head violently as he turns himself away from me to spare both of us the unwanted confrontation.
“What’s your problem, Pacey?” I continue the argument, despite how he managed to subdue it. He swivels to face me again, anger and tension creasing his usually soft characteristics, his blue voids now holding the tremor of fierceness.
“You are, Joey! This entire trip all you’ve done is complained and complained! If I could’ve given you a limo, scenic views, damn pelican birds and seventy-seven trombones, would it have mattered? I would’ve if I could. I’m sorry I’m such a big disappointment to you. Seems I always manage to deprive your high standards,” his voice was husky with a temper I drove to erupt, but I’m not so sorry.
“Well, you don’t seem like such a happy camper yourself. So what was the point of this trip, Pacey? Honestly! You dragged me out in the middle of nowhere for two days of driving for what? For what?” I seethe, breathing my words out hatefully. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but I don’t know what else to be. He grabs my shoulders forcefully, making sure that his gaze is relentless no matter how much I struggle to relieve myself from it.
“You know what it was, Joey? I’ll tell you what it was. As pointless as you might have seen this trip, there was one objective I was hoping to meet. You know what that was? It was only to earn a smile out of you, no matter how small or brief. That’s all I wanted. I know destiny hasn’t given you a whole lot of luck with Dawson this year like you were hoping. But I thought if I could achieve a smile, and not one of those fake ones you always wear around, but a true smile…I figured that was half the battle. Seeing you smile would give me reason enough to.” He spoke with such sincerity that it could’ve shot me into hysteria. I feel paralyzed in his grip, my lips parted as if I had just stumbled along a mortuary.
“This isn’t about Dawson…” I manage to muster, though my insides feel peeled and exposed to his analyzing.
“Isn’t it? What’s new, Potter?” He tackles me with games of dodging bullets, ones that I have tired of now.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I try to grip my emotions before they barricade themselves into a tunnel I can’t let them past. He responds with bitter laughter, full of sweet sarcasm that is superior to even my own.
“What is it always about, Potter? It means Dawson, that’s what it means. Christ, I don’t know what to do anymore. You two are slaves to this predetermined future you’ve mapped out, written in the stars. Well let me tell you something, Jo. Stars come and go and they change. Some grow brighter and some die. He’s moved on! He’s not coming back for you, not now, not here. You have so much…and people who love you and support you through it all. He is moving on in his life while you’re still stuck in the soul mate fantasy he created. The one you once upon a time didn’t want to live. What’s changed?” he informs me quizzically before turning and paying little heed to my ill-mannered grumbles directed at him. He’s shot me. I’m surely wounded. I have no choice but to follow. He’s got me chained to his collar, and the leash is slowly growing shorter and shorter until it strangles me and I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.
“Pacey!” I can’t believe I’m calling after him. A revolting sickness looms in my stomach from my own words.
“Listen, Potter. I’m a man who can’t relate to the Energizer Bunny when it comes to arguing with you. All I’ve done is wowed you with my stupidity on this road trip. I was stupid to think that just maybe we could be friends again. I was stupid to think I could still make you smile the way I used to. And I was stupid to think I could make all your troubles go away enough for you to be happy for a couple days. So let’s just leave it at that before we kill each other spontaneously and induct ourselves into Unsolved Mysteries when nobody can find our mutilated bodies out here,” his voice had grown soft and forgiving towards me for no apparent reason. He’s giving up on me. Or maybe he already has.
I bet you’ll never guess where I am.
This car is just some shriveling reminder of myself. Going nowhere, getting nowhere, being nothing. I don’t know how I can feel so empty-handed when I have been dealt out the best suit of cards since I can remember. I don’t have regrets. I don’t have guilt. I don’t even have happiness. I just have this cold sense of meaningless that inhabits me. It’s not loss or emptiness. It’s just this feeling that’s settled in me for no apparent reason, only of that to make me feel completely unaware of how lost I really am. I want to emigrate from here. I just want to leave. Where is he?
“She’s all full now, “ he says, “Ready to go.” His hand slaps the roof with a heavy echo, easing into the driver’s seat without anything but a grunt as he coaxes the ignition into working.
I would say something. Okay perhaps. Even great. But it feels too unbearably uncomfortable after walking the whole way back after yet another one of our World War episodes. It was as if we had glass beneath our feet, planning each step along the road so we wouldn’t shatter the silence. There was no other choice than to tiptoe through the burden.
“Green light or red light?” his voice rumbled, shaking me from my baffling pondering.
“What?” I face him now, my features feeling drowned of life.
“We can go…or we could wait until you tell me what’s brewing in that head of yours. Too much thinking, Josephine, causes brainstorms.” His blue voids were hazed over in a mood I couldn’t decipher. It irritated me that I couldn’t prove him to be sincere or torturing. A solemn wave jarred his features in quiet at my serious stare. Without any further delay mingling in his gaze, I found myself studying the dashboard.
“Pacey, I do believe you’re insane,” I managed a hoarse whisper.
“I think we’ve already established that. I would after all have to be pretty crazy about you to last two grueling days in your complimentary company.” He’s been eating far too many Smarties for his own good again.
Gradually I force my thick gaze to leave the dashboard and find his watching me. My lower lip is firm with the intendance to still wear my anger. He’s within strangling range. I could go for the kill.
“Pacey, tell me something,” I begin quietly. “Am I right when I say you brought me into the middle of some countryside you can’t even verify the name of, put me through quite a few humiliating experiences I rather not elaborate on, and gave me one hell of a migraine just to get a smile out of me?” I felt the pressure on my forehead as my eyebrows rose in disbelieving question. All he did was stare, seeming locked into a solidness that had the effect of death on him, though he was a blur with life.
“Yes.” His response was hoarsely whispered, guilt searing his lids shut momentarily.
He expects rage. He expects what I’ve always given him. But this time all I can manage is the best thing. It’s what I’ve been meaning to say every waking moment I’ve been in his presence the last two days, yet I didn’t find the strength or will power to admit such brutal honesty.
“Thank you.” It’s all the sincerity I can fulfill. The silence prolongs, giving in to his astonishment.
“Your welcome.” I notice his blue eyes widen desperately in awe, before his throat quakes in a never-ending swallow he had been holding back on.
“Is that all you’re going to say?” I sound surprised at his casual acceptance, having expected a witty remark.
“Well…I should say it’s about time, Potter.” He shakes his head in reprimand for my belated gratitude.
“I figured such.” And then I did it. I smiled. It was a true and envious smile. It was forced not in obligation, but was free to be expressed at my own source of happiness. And when I thought the moment was at its peak, he smiled so beautifully it sent my stomach into an unexpected tangle.
“There’s that smile I was looking for. You wear it well, Joey.”
The car hummed its awakening while I sat as if in a motionless picture. We were going back to Boston at last. It was as if as pointless as this trip had been, it had achieved something. No matter how little or brief, I was happy. I can’t say it was worth it. But I know what I can say. I think I kind of love him.