X Marks the Spot Chapter 3: Not the Same Anymore

February 16, 2011
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Oh no, I’ve the got the wrong house. Jo doesn’t live here anymore. This lady in front of me probably doesn’t even know who Jo is. In fact, this lady glared at me. She was roughly eighty years old and had a ferocity about her that could rival my own. My heart fell at the thought that she probably couldn’t tell me where my friend lived.

“Jo lives here. Who wants to know?” the old woman asked.

For once, I was happy to be wrong. Still, something felt off. Jo lived here but no one lived with her three years ago. I was cautious when I answered.

“I’m an old friend of hers. May I see…?”

“No, you may not see her.”

“But I just want…”

“I said no. I don’t know the likes of you. No one may see Jo. Go away and don’t return.”

The woman started to shut the door on me. I couldn’t have come all this way and not see my friend. My foot shot out and caught the door before it closed. A fierce glare was thrown at me. I wasn’t going to give in to these intimidations.

“Please, all I want is to let her know that I’ve come back. I won’t be long,” I pleaded.

My foot was an anchor against the door and the woman knew it. She reluctantly opened the door and beckoned me inside the house. As I stepped in, I could sense that she didn’t trust me in the slightest.

“Before I let you see her, I need to know who you are.”

“My name is DJ Lennox. Like I said, I’m an old friend of Jo’s. A promise was exchanged between us three years ago.”

I waited patiently for the woman to let me see my friend. She glared at me long and hard. My eyes locked into her eyes. The woman gasped slightly when she saw the honesty and devotion in my eyes.

“You may see her but only for a few minutes. Her room is upstairs. It’s the first door on the right.”

I thanked her and started upstairs to Jo’s room. Each step creaked and groaned as I stepped on them. The inside if this house looked the same as I remembered. It was warm with bright colors but cool with opposing dark colors on the walls. I reached Jo’s room faster than I thought. My hand gently knocked on the door. I was surprised when no one answered. I turned the handle to open the door. A cool breeze blew against my face as I looked inside the room. When I looked inside, I froze at what met my eyes.

Jo was lying very still on her bed. She was very pale and very thin. A cold cloth was put upon her forehead. I couldn’t find the will to move.

This couldn’t be happening. Jo was very ill. My friend, who had a lively spark about her, now lies in bed with death very close to her body. Jo, who I know would’ve greeted me with a hug, now stays still from her sickness. Time had seemed to freeze as I watched my dear friend draw in shallow breaths. As if she sensed someone in the room, Jo opened her eyes and looked around until she found me. Through her sickness, she smiled weakly at me.

“Hey, you’re here. You came back,” Jo whispered.

“Of course I came back. I made you a promise,” I replied just as quietly.

Jo smiled when I finished. She held out her arms to me. I made myself move until I was beside her. I gently hugged her as her body seemed liked china. Her arms weakly squeezed me in response. It was very difficult not to cry as I held her.

“DJ, please don’t be sad. I’ll get better.”

“Oh, Jo, I hate to see you like this. I’m so sorry.”

I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer. They fell freely as I gently held my friend. I felt her hands weakly rub my back. I felt so ashamed. Jo, who was severely ill, was comforting me. I should be comforting her. After a few minutes, I gathered myself together.

“Go back to sleep. You need your rest.”

“Please don’t leave. I want to talk some more.”

“You need your rest, Jo. I’m not leaving Port Greenwood for awhile. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

I stayed with Jo until she fell asleep. As I closed her door, I realized that I needed some answers. The old woman downstairs would be the candidate for knowing what happened to Jo. I made my way downstairs and looked for the woman. She was in the kitchen cooking some soup I believe. When she heard me approaching, she glared at me once more.

“You had your time with Jo. Leave this house and don’t return.”

“With all due respect, I’m not leaving until I get some answers. Who are you and how did Jo become so ill?”

“My name is Mrs. Trudging. I am Jo’s nurse. Six months ago a terrible disease struck the people of this town. Doctors were able to cure most but some were not so fortunate. Jo’s body never accepted the treatments.”

After she told me what had happened, she told me to leave once more. Something bothered me. This couldn’t be the only time that I would see me friend. I tried to reason with this stubborn nurse.

“Mrs. Trudging, I’m not going to be here much longer. I would greatly appreciate it if you would allow me to see Jo while I remain at Port Greenwood.”

Mrs. Trudging agreed after a few minutes. I would’ve leapt for joy if the situation wasn’t so serious. As I walked out of the house, my crew came to mind. They needed to know about Jo’s illness. With a heavy sigh, I started looking for them.

My crew was found sooner than I would’ve liked. The four of them were sitting outside a small café. As I grew closer, I noticed that two chairs were empty. With a great sadness, I realized that they wanted me to bring Jo. Once I was in their line of sight, Tony was the first to notice me. His face fell as he saw I was alone.

“DJ, where’s Jo? Why isn’t she with you?”

“I’m afraid that I’m the bearer of bad news. Jo is severely ill. She won’t be joining our crew for some time. As long as we remain here, I expect all of you to keep quiet about being pirates. Do I make myself clear?”

None of my crew argued with me. They knew that no one, on Port Greenwood, besides Jo must know that we’re pirates. As we headed back to the ship a feeling fell upon me. Things were not the same anymore. Today was the start of a challenge far more difficult than any we’ve faced before at sea. Today we would keep our identities a secret from anybody in this town. Our stay in Port Greenwood would be difficult one, since we’ve never stayed in one port for more than three days. Our stay in Port Greenwood would remain until Jo is better.

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