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His Fallen Butterfly
Her fingers released the phone as if it were made of molten metal. The motion, so quick, caught him off guard. He impulsively reached to try to protect the phone from certain doom, but to no avail. It hit the floor with a deafening pang as she quickly followed suit, collapsing onto her knees, sobbing.
The scene around him blurred. Suddenly there were too many people in the hall, crowding around Jenna, asking what had happened. But she wasn’t going to say anything. Stupid people! Didn’t they know when to leave people be!
He knelt down to try to catch her face in his hands, going against his better judgment.
“Jenna, Jenna,” he coaxed, but the only response he got was another heave as her bellows got progressively more heart-breaking.
People were starting to crowd around them now. Jenna’s head rested against the wall as she continued to bury her face in her hands. He wasn’t sure if her tantrum was reaching a climax, but he wasn’t planning on rushing her. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, settle down. He couldn’t, wouldn’t, leave her side.
Soon the excruciating wailing became a heavy sob as Jenna ran out of tears. Her breathing became harsh, but her face… oh, her face killed him. Her eyes refused to open, trying to ward off reality. Her face was contorted into a mass of emotion, never staying still, only moving as her memories flooded her mind, as she tried not to focus on her reality.
“Ben,” she sobbed, calling out his name. “It’s not… I’m just…” Her words weren’t coming out coherently, but he was content that she was finally trying to speak.
“What, Baby?” He asked, attempting to stroke her cheek. She cringed from his touch though, and he put his hand down onto the floor.
“No, no, no…” She repeated. To the passers-by, she was acting like a child. But to Ben, she was a butterfly who just learned she could not fly.
“Jenna.” His voice was soft, but pleading. Her pain was causing him pain, but in that moment, he was the most un-selfish being on the planet. All he wanted was for her to be okay. For her pain to no longer exist. But he knew that wasn’t going to happen.
There was no one in the world he loved more than Jenna, and here she was, with insatiable pain that Ben could do nothing about. The one time he wanted to help was the one time he couldn’t.
Ben wasn’t a completely selfish guy. He knew when to give back, and when people needed help, he would help them. But always from habit, almost unwillingly. He had grown up knowing to feel guilty when people had less than him, when people were “needy”. Never before had he needed to give of himself. Never before had he wanted to.
Suddenly she stopped crying. Her face was redder than he had ever seen before, her puffy eyes wide with wonder and misery. The grimace on her face took him aback, but he was undeterred. He knew it was his job to try to ease her pain.
“Baby, what happened?” He pleaded this time, praying, almost begging that she would tell him.
She focused her eyes on his and said in a voice clearer than she thought possible, “My… my parents are getting a… a… a divorce.” Her eyes started welling up again.
“Jenna.” His voice was soft. He held out his hand for her. But instead of taking it, she fell into his body and forced him to hold her. Not that he minded, of course.
Her dark hair was soft against his cheek as he stroked it absent-mindedly. Her body was convulsing sporadically, and he struggled to keep her still.
“What’s going on out here?” A teacher yelled at them. Ben let Jenna go and tried to lift her up. Her weight was almost dead weight as she refused to move.
“Ya’ll need to go to class.” The nosy teacher told them, clearly aware of Jenna’s current state. Ben smiled his half smile at the teacher, just trying to get her to go away. “Ok, Mrs. We’ll go. Everything’s okay.” Ben knew exactly what to do to get people off his case. Just flash those cheeky dimples, and people are instantly charmed. Everyone, that is, but Jenna. For the longest time, Jenna wasn’t fazed by Ben’s smile, which irritated him… but intrigued him even more that there was someone who wasn’t charmed by it.
Now he’s here, in the middle of an almost empty hallway trying to convince both this interesting girl and this nosy teacher that everything’s going to be okay.
The teacher went back into her room, clearly deciding that she would leave these kids for someone else to deal with.
He bent back down to eye-level with Jenna. “Honey…” He said cautiously. “Are you… are you going to be okay?” He didn’t know how to deal with this, or even what to say. His parents were happily married, and couldn’t even fathom the idea of them getting divorced.
“They never even said anything.” She whispered. “I mean, they were fighting more and more, but they never even hinted at it.”
“Who told you?”
“Charlie. He just called.” So her older brother had to tell her. Her older brother in college. The older brother who had no idea what a seventeen-year-old girl in high school would feel.
Suddenly, emotions of anger and rage flashed inside Ben. It took every ounce of self-control he could muster not to break into a fit of rage. How dare they not tell her? How dare Charlie think he has the authority to?
“Ben,” Jenna said softly after analyzing his face. She knew exactly what he was thinking. “Don’t be upset. He did the right thing. I had to find out eventually.” Her eyes were sad.
“But in the middle of the day? At school?” Ben was still in angry disbelief.
Jenna sighed. “I don’t know.” She had cried out all her tears and was now just in shock. There was no emotion in her whatsoever. She just wanted… well; she didn’t know what she wanted.
She glanced down the hall. “We had better go. I’m already late to math, and you really… you didn’t have to stay, Ben. You’ve already been late to history too many times.”
He knew perfectly well what the consequences were when he decided to stay and comfort the love of his life; Saturday school for too many absences. But for her, he would pay any price. And it was almost too easy to pay this one.
He scoffed and took her hand. “Babe, you know I don’t care. I would do anything to make you happy.”
She smiled a half smile and stood up. There was nothing left to do but deal with it. For now.
“Jenna,” Ben was hesitant as she followed her down the hall, walking her to her math class. “I know this is probably a stupid question, but are you going to be okay?”
She stopped and took his hand. “I’ll be okay.” She hesitated before going on. “But not all day. Will you stay with me?”
“Forever and ever,” he promised.