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With every step he climbed of the rickety stairs, thoughts raced through his mind about her. He wished for her not to be sitting in the apartment, he wished for her to be anywhere but there, he wished that he didn’t have to be here. When he looked up the stairwell to the seven different floors, a quick thought about what could be happening in the small apartment and how sick she could be washed over him and he propelled forward and ran to the door in urgency. When he finally reached number 44, he was out of breath and he could feel his heart beating like a drum. He had chased for Jenny before, but never like this. He knew that he had to be gentle with the whole situation and he tried to calm himself before he raised his red knuckles to the door and knocked three times with a demanding echo. He ran his fingers through his brown hair and waited for someone to answer. When the gold door knob twisted and the door opened, she was standing with her hand on the door and a confused look on her face. He expected the look on his to be worse because to his horror she was standing there in the little apartment.
His arms dropped limply to his sides, a mixture of disappointment and shock ran over his face when he saw her, and everything that he had hoped for not to happen over the last month was revealed at that moment. Only the left side of her body was visible when she cracked the door open, but it was clear to his eyes what she had been doing. The thin teal shirt that hung on her shoulders like a king sized bed sheet had fit her when he saw her last and now it seemed she was drowning in it. Her cheek bones were definite the bags under her eyes were deep. Her legs where as thin and white as a little girl but Jenny was not a little girl, she was twenty two years old and it was about time she started acting like it. The sight of her made his stomach lurch and churn in ways he hated; he hated the feeling he had for her now. He couldn’t understand how he still cared enough to find her but he couldn’t stop looking for her.
She turned on her heel and tried to close the door, but he had stopped it with his foot, intending to stop her too. He came into the apartment uninvited and started to ask her all the questions that could roll of his tongue quick enough. He tried to remember that she would run if he was rude, but it seemed to late because she was headed toward the table to retrieve he belongings and make a run for it like she had so many times before.
Agitated by the sight of him, she bickers back, “I don't know why you care so much! Just stay out of it!" and she grabbed her things of the scratched wooden table. She stored everything in her black bag that she took everywhere. The bag bulged where her clothes and makeup bags fought over space; her life was in it.
"I just don't understand why you are always moving from place to place. Why are you doing this to yourself?" He quickly followed after when she headed for the door. He paid no attention to the man in plaid pajamas sitting on the couch by the door that seemed like he was far away in his own world. "Will you just hold on for a second? Jenny, stop!' He stopped the door from swinging close behind her and chased after her. He grabbed her arm with the bag and swung her around so she would listen. "I just want you to be making the right choices," he pleaded. He could feel her blood pumping through her veins when she looked at him. He wasn't surprised that he could wrap his whole hand around her arm. She had lost even more weight since the last time he saw her. He felt ashamed like he had just hit a puppy and dropped his arm. The way her shirt hung on her frail shoulders saddened him and when she started to speak he felt even worse.
"And what choices would that be? You can't be telling me what to do and tracking me down to my friend’s house! Do you know how embarrassing that is?" she said with frustration as her eyebrows tensed. Her bag slid off her small shoulders like the way he remembered. It wasn't a very good bag, it had a few holes, and she had sewn the straps multiple times. It had a coffee stain on the inside from when they were driving in the car and a bump in the road had spilled her cup all over her lap and bag. He insisted on her getting a new bag, he even offered to buy her one, but she was always too proud to accept help and too stubborn to leave the old thing. She started again, "I've been fine without you! i don't need you to tell me who to see, where to go, or what to do! I thought you made it pretty clear that you didn't want to deal with me, so what are you doing here?"
"I'm here because I don't want you hanging around with losers like that vegetable on the couch! Is that what you have been doing the last month? Rotting on that guys couch getting high so you can what? Avoid reality? Jenny, you're not helping yourself out. You can't live like this!" He said with exhaustion and when he back up to her, he prayed for some of it to sink in.
He cared for Jenny. They have been best friends for a long time. They even dated once in high school but it ended when he stopped partying and started focusing on making a living while Jenny just kept rolling. He dealt with her depression and drunken nights long enough, and when their conversation a month ago ended with her grabbing her bag and walking out the door, her wasn't sure if it was the end of them. He couldn't stand how she always relied on him. He was always there to take care of her when she would come home late. He would get her into her pajamas and lay her down to bed with water on the bedside. He wondered if someone was fetching her water at four in the morning when she would wake up dry mouthed or if it was already there.
He pushed that thought away quickly; it was still too soon for him to think of them as a couple. He had been trying to move on for the past month, but he couldn’t take it when he heard her name mentioned at a local liquor store. A man was talking about a skinny blonde that would come in and get a bottle or two and leave with this short, jumpy guy Joey. He knew Joey from high school and he hated him. Joey’s and found Jenny and Joey sitting at the beaten table with lines set up and a night planned ahead with nothing to do.
"Jenny," he said much softer and he looked at her with his dark brown eyes and he leaned in towards her, "I want you to do something with your life. You have so much potential and I don't know if you are just waiting until you hit rock bottom or until something falls into your lap! Your rock bottom could be death jenny, with the rate you’re going! You look like you've lost at least another twenty pounds."
With that she turned on her heel and started walking down the stairs. She didn’t know where she was going, but she didn't want to be around him anymore. She hit the bottom floor and proceeded out the door into the warm summer air and started walking. She knew that he was following her because she knew Sam, he was the most reliable person she knew with the biggest heart. She decided to yell over her shoulder to him "I don't want to be lectured on how to live my life. You don't think I do anything right anyways, even when I try. So I’m not going to try and please you. So leave me alone". She wanted to help save him some time and effort. She wasn't going to change. She hated that she couldn't and she tried to stop. But every time the opportunity arose, she was quick to jump. She viewed herself as free spirited like her father. Her father was the one to leave her and her siblings when they were still in elementary school. She viewed her mother as the fool; she was a fool for not leaving them to, for not putting them up for adoption, for not accepting help. She always had to do things on her own and she blamed her mother because she assumes that's where she got her hardheaded from.
"Jenny, why don't you come home with me for the night?" He had stopped walking and his silhouette was illuminated by the yellowed street light. He stood still like a hunting animal; afraid to scare it’s pray off. When she looked at him, she saw the same boy she fell in love with in high school. He always melted her heart and body and he felt like home, or as close to it as she could get. She slowed to a stop and turned around when he asked her to come back home. When he saw him she had to close her eyes and breathe. He was warm to her, safe. She missed him and she hadn't been able to stop thinking about him. She wanted to climb back into his arms; she wanted him to be there for her. But she didn't want him to have to take care of her. She wanted to change, she wanted to start working at becoming sober and starting her life.
She sauntered over to him with her tail between her legs. She slid her bag off her shoulder onto the ground and wrapped her arms around him. She started by saying how she wants to change, and how she missed him, and how sorry she was. She cried about the last month as she realized how wrong she had been. He stood with his arms around her and listened to her ramble. They stood in the yellow haze from the street light for a long time while she cried until she was ready to let go.