Wait Chapter Fifteen: A Fresh Start

“Now, please welcome Jeremy Taylor to the stand to give the valedictorian speech.” Jeremy got up from his seat on the stage and approached the podium. The crowd settled down as Jeremy began to talk. “First off, congratulations to the class of 2009,” he began. The crowd began cheering again. Jeremy motioned for them to quiet down. “I wasn't sure what I should talk about during the speech. But I decided to talk about life and the future.” Jeremy paused for a moment as he remembered the events of the past few weeks. They were still as fresh in his mind as they had been at the time...

Jeremy helped Mandy back to the beginning of the pier. She cried as she clung to him, trying to keep her balance. She heard Jeremy tell her uncles that he was going to take her back to his condo and have her spend the night there. He had already decided to skip church the next day to give Mandy some time to recover from the suicide attempt. Jeremy decided to avoid using the term 'suicide attempt' unless Mandy brought up the words. Jack and Chris took them to their apartment to let Mandy pack some things. They drove Jeremy and Mandy back to the condo, deciding that it was a better idea to talk to Mandy when Jeremy took her back to the apartment. Jeremy scooped Mandy into his arms as they rode the elevator up to the condo. He opened the door and held Mandy's hand as they walked inside. He sent Mandy to take a shower as he changed and set up the sleeping arrangements. He decided to let Mandy take his bed while he slept on the couch. Mandy came out of the bathroom wearing a baggy t-shirt Jeremy had let her borrow and a pair of black shorts. She walked over to him and he held her tight. He made sure she was asleep before he left his bedroom. He knew he wasn't going to sleep, so he decided to turn on the TV. But after watching an episode on a girl who committed suicide before her boyfriend could stop her, he got up and decided to check on Mandy again. He opened the door and saw Mandy in the same position he had left her in. He went over and sat on the other end of the bed. “I don't know why you would do that,” he began. “I don't know why you wouldn't try to talk to your uncles or me. I just don't get anything about this.” He turned around and looked at her sleeping figure. “I love you a lot. So much so that I am going to propose. Soon. I don't know what made you stop. You have no idea how glad I am that you stopped. I can't stand to lose you.” He laid down next to her, wrapping his arms around her stomach. “I love you so much.” He moved his body to match hers. “I love you.” He slowly drifted off to sleep.

Mandy woke up the next morning and rolled onto her back. A sudden migraine hit her. “Not again,” she moaned, covering her face with her hand. Then she caught a whiff of something smelly. Mandy sniffed her hand again. “Salt water?” she asked out loud. Just then, Jeremy walked through the door. “I see you're finally awake,” he told her as he sat down on the edge of the bed. “How are you feeling?” Mandy looked up at him. “Fine,” she said. “But I have a few questions. One, where am I? Two, why are you here? Three, why do I smell like salt water?” Jeremy took her hand. “First, you're at my condo. Second, it's my condo, so I should be here. Third...” Jeremy paused, not sure he should mention anything. “Third what?” Mandy asked. Jeremy looked into her eyes. “Third... You were down on the Old Miller shipping pier last night. Standing dangerously close to the edge, I might add,” he told her. Mandy became slightly confused. “What was I doing at the pier that late at night?” she asked Jeremy, not remembering what had happened. Jeremy just squeezed her hand. Then the memories flooded her mind. Her face became scared as she said, “I tried to commit suicide by jumping off the end of the pier.” Mandy started to panic and hyperventilate. “What? Why? How?” she asked. Her hyperventilating became so intense that Jeremy had to hold her to calm her down. “You were upset when you learned about your father's death. Your emotions pushed you over the edge and you couldn't take it anymore. You were going to jump off the end of the pier. But I have one question for you.” Mandy looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. “What?” Jeremy looked at her. “Why didn't you jump?” he asked her. “You just collapsed at the end of the pier.” Mandy wiped away the tears. “I had a vision,” she started. “I saw my parents holding me after my birth, the first time I met you, my trip to the hospital, the basketball game, the Valentine's dance, dancing with my parents, the trip to the jewelry store when I found my mother's locket, and the lake earlier that morning. Then I saw you proposing to me by the lake in the park as the sun set. I was crying and saying yes a million times. Then I remembered the words my father said to me when I was practicing for the dance. He told me, 'It isn't your time yet.' Then I realized what I could be throwing away and just collapsed from the pain.” She looked into Jeremy's eyes. “I am so sorry for everything,” she told him. “I don't know what I was thinking.” Jeremy kissed her forehead and looked deep into her eyes. “Don't worry about it. You were in pain. I'm just glad I still have you. Otherwise, we would both smell like salt water.” Mandy laughed. “Yeah,” she said, smiling for the first time since dinner yesterday. “What time is it?” she asked him. “It's 9:30 in the morning,” he told her, looking at his alarm clock. “Oh no. We missed church,” Mandy said. “I am so sorry about all of this.” Jeremy shook his head. “Don't be,” he said. He got up and helped Mandy out of bed. “Wait,” she said, stopping him as she looked around. “I am in your room. If I slept here last night, where did you sleep?” “I didn't exactly sleep,” he told her as he led her out to the family room. “I watched TV for a while. The I got up and went to check on you. I told you how glad I was that you were okay. Then I curled up next to you and fell asleep for a while. Is it okay that I did that?” Mandy smiled as she sat down on the couch. “Yeah, it was perfectly fine, since you only wanted to comfort me.” Jeremy smiled. “That's good, because I was pretty sure you might kill me when you found out.” Mandy playfully slapped him on the arm. “When we get married, you'll be doing that all the time. I think I could care less. Especially given that fact that you were concerned about me after my suicide attempt.” Jeremy stopped for a moment. “Wait. You want to get married?” he asked, hoping that she didn't know about his plan to propose. Mandy smiled at him as he sat down next to her. “Yeah,” she replied. “At the end of my suicide note, I said that I would have married you in a heartbeat. I would have. I know I would have.” Jeremy smiled. “I guess we should start planning for the future now then,” he told her. “Yeah. I think we should. At least as soon as you propose to me. Whenever that is,” she told him. Jeremy got down on one knee and looked deep in her eyes. “By the way...” he began. Mandy gained a look of surprise on her face. Was he actually proposing to her right now? “Happy 17th birthday, Mandy Taylor Watson.” He slid Mandy's ring back on her left ring finger. Mandy's face lighted up. “Oh my gosh. I almost died the day before my 17th birthday. I totally forgot about that.” She started laughing. “I must have been really out of it then.” Jeremy laughed too. “I'm going to make waffles, eggs, and toast for breakfast. That okay with you?” he asked. Mandy nodded. “Yeah. But what about my uncles?” “They told me they would talk to you when you got back to their apartment. I think they wanted to give you some space,” he told her as they got up. “I want to see them soon,” she told him. “You will. Just as soon as we finish breakfast and you take a shower,” he replied. “Fine. But how about we make breakfast first and then we both get ready?” Mandy asked him. “Okay, fine,” he replied. “Just I'm going to be doing the cooking. You will just sit and eat.” Jeremy cooked breakfast while he talked to Mandy. She told him that she was fine now and that she knew the depression was gone. “I think not knowing just hurt me worse,” she told him as they ate. “After all, the truth can set you free.” Jeremy nodded. “Indeed it did,” he agreed. They cleared the dishes and got ready. Mandy gathered up her things and they left for her uncles' apartment.

Mandy unlocked the door and stepped into the warmth of her home. “My uncles must still be at church,” she said as she walked into the living room. “I guess I will just wait for them to get back.” Jeremy nodded. “Do you want me to stay with you?” he asked. “Yeah. I'm going to need someone to make me talk to them without choking on my tears,” she told him. Mandy put all of her things away and sat next to Jeremy on the couch, awaiting the arrival of Jack and Chris.

Jack and Chris walked to their apartment door. “Mandy must hate us,” Jack said as they reached the door. Chris pulled out his keys and sighed. “Let's hope she'll forgive us soon,” he replied. Chris unlocked the door and both men stepped inside. No sooner had they stepped in did Mandy get up from the couch and turned to face them. The tears were already pouring down her face as she walked toward them. Jack shut and locked the door. Mandy ran into her uncles' arms and just cried. Her uncles began to cry too. Jeremy was even crying as he got up to stand behind Mandy. Her uncles let go of her after a few moments. “We are so sorry, Mandy,” Jack began. “We never intended to hurt you by telling you the truth.” Chris nodded. “We just wanted to tell you that it was all an accident. Your father wanted to know you would always be taken care of.” Mandy shook her head. “You shouldn't apologize for anything,” she told them, holding back the tears. “It was an accident. Plus, you're right. My dad did want to know I would always be taken care of. I know he was right. I'm sorry about everything. I have forgiven you for not telling me. But I'm glad you did. The truth finally set me free. I also gained closure about the loss of my parents because you told me the truth. I should really be saying thank you.” Everyone, including Jeremy, went in for a hug. Mandy finally felt at peace with her life. After everyone let go, Mandy told about the plans for the rest of the day. “I want to go to dinner with you both, Jeremy, Alex, and Jake today. Since, thanks to Jeremy, I remembered that today's my 17th birthday.” Chris and Jack both smiled. “Our little niece is growing up,” Chris said, wiping away an invisible tear. Mandy fake-slapped his arm. “Of course, I'm growing up,” she said. “I better call Alex and Jake and explain this whole situation to them. They are my best friends, after all.” Mandy left to her room to call them both. Jeremy turned to Chris and Jack. “She wants to get married, but I don't think she knows that I plan on proposing yet,” he told them. “Now that she's okay, my plan is in motion. It's going to happen soon.” “That's a relief, since I think we were beginning to get worried that you got cold feet or something,” Chris said. Mandy came out of the bedroom. “Well, that went well,” she told the group. “What happened?” Jeremy asked. “I called Alex and she was with Jake. I told her what had happened and she flipped out. I told that I was okay and not to worry. It took some convincing from Jake and I, but she eventually calmed down. I told her and Jake about dinner and they said that they would meet us here at 6.” Everyone nodded. “What are your plans for the rest of the day?” Jack asked her. “Just relax, I guess,” she told him. “That, and to begin designing my wedding dress.” Everyone became panicked. “What?” she asked. “I want to get a head start on the design for my dress. Whenever that is going to happen. Is it such a bad thing to do so?” Everyone laughed. “Most definitely not,” her uncles told her. Mandy decided to take a walk with Jeremy. She had no idea about the proposal. They went to the lake and talked for a while. Then they went back to the apartment and out to dinner. Alex had to be convinced all over again that Mandy was really alright. They talked over dinner at the Mediterranean House, which Mandy had selected to go to. Everyone, except her uncles, went back to Mandy's place to watch The Incredibles. Jake, Alex, and Jeremy eventually left. When Jeremy reached his condo, he looked out over the water again. “This place will soon be ours,” he thought to himself. He went into his room and found the shirt he let Mandy borrow laying folded on top of his pillow. He picked it up and decided to give it to her as her present. He drove back to her apartment, gave it to her, and returned home. He couldn't wait for the day...

It had only been a second, but Jeremy knew what he had to say. “Life is a mysterious thing,” he started. “You don't know what is going to happen. Or even if something is going to happen. You can't control every aspect of life. You just have to sit back sometimes and let what's going to happen... Well, happen. Even if that thing is bad. But that doesn't mean that you should just throw away your life because you can't control some things.” Jeremy felt someone come up next to him and slip their hand into his. He looked at Mandy, who was a sight to behold. He smiled as his girlfriend and fellow valedictorian began to speak. “They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. But sometimes the lemonade is too sweet or too bitter. Some unexpected ingredient got into the mix and everything got ruined. But just because the lemonade isn't perfect, which it may never well be, doesn't mean you should just toss out the whole pitcher. Life is important, even if you think your life isn't. What if you died today? Would you want everyone to grieve or to celebrate the life that is lost? People care about you more than you could ever know. Don't just throw away the life you had,” she spoke to the crowd. Jeremy nodded in agreement. “You may not be able to fix your past,” he continued. “But you can control parts of your future.” “You need to figure out what is best for you and follow your heart,” Mandy said. “Jeremy is right. You can't change the past. But you can change your future. Live life to the fullest and live like you're dying. Take what you can get, as long as it doesn't cause you or anyone else harm. Life is a one time deal. The last thing I will say to you is the future is full of surprises. Embrace them. Thank you.” Mandy and Jeremy both bowed. Jeremy looked over at Mandy and took a deep breath in. It was truly now or never. He grabbed the microphone out of the stand on the podium and moved Mandy a short distance away. “Speaking of the future is full of surprises...” he told the crowd. He took Mandy's left hand in his. “Mandy,” he began. “We have spent the last two years together. We stuck with each other through the highs and the lows. We walked through the tunnel to the light at the end. I have experienced more happiness when I have been with you than before we were together. You are my light. We may have only spent the last two years together. Not to mention it has only been two years. But I want us to spend the rest of our lives together. I want you to be my princess. Forever.” Mandy became slightly confused. What was Jeremy saying? Her question was soon answered as Jeremy knelt down on one knee. She began to cry and covered her mouth with her other hand. “I know this isn't by the lake in the park at sunset. But it is the perfect time to do this.” Jeremy placed the microphone down on his knee and pulled a small blue velvet box out of his jacket under his gown. He opened the box and picked up the box and the microphone. “Mandy Taylor Watson, will you marry me?” The crowd and Mandy all gasped. The tears were now blurring Mandy's vision. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes!” The crowd cheered as Jeremy slid the engagement ring onto Mandy's finger. She gasped again when she realized that was the ring she had picked out at the jewelry store. Jeremy got up and Mandy threw her arms around him. He picked her up and spun her around. He set Mandy down. “You were right about that,” she laughed. They walked back over to the podium. “You all may now move the tassels to the other side of your cap,” they told their classmates. Everyone, including the newly engaged valedictorians, who were holding hands, moved their tassels. “Congratulations to the Rock Skies High School Class of 2009!” Every student took off their caps and tossed them into the air. Then Mandy did the one thing Jeremy never expected her to do. She kissed him as the caps fell back down to Earth. Jeremy pulled away. Mandy smiled. “It was my rule to break, not yours,” she told a very surprised Jeremy. They kissed again, which brought cheers from their classmates. They held up their hands and walked off the stage to join Alex and Jake, who were both waiting at the end of the stage. Mandy and Alex ran into the other's arms, jumping up and down and screaming. Jake congratulated Jeremy and Mandy. “I never thought I would see the day,” Alex told the pair as everyone filed out towards the lobby of the stadium. Mandy squeezed Jeremy's hand. “That makes two of us,” she replied. The group made their way to the lobby, where they first met up with Alex and Jake's parents, who gave their congratulations to the newly engaged couple. Mandy and Jeremy found her uncles and his parents standing by the stairs. Mandy ran into Chris's arms as he twirled her around. Jack picked her up too. Everyone gave their blessings to Mandy's and Jeremy's engagement. Many pictures were taken before the couple decided to go change for the Graduation Party. They appeared from the bathrooms and walked back to their families. Both gave their things to their families and headed off to the buses. All along the way, their classmates congratulated them on the engagement. They boarded the buses and had the night of their lives. It was true. Things would get better if you could just.......






Wait.





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