In the Depths of Grief

February 9, 2009
By Kenan Dannenberg SILVER, Olathe, Kansas
Kenan Dannenberg SILVER, Olathe, Kansas
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

There they were, just the two of them sitting by the pool. Jack and Chelsea, the two had barely known each other but felt as though they grew up together. They could finish each other's sentences and knew exactly when to say the perfect punch line. The two were friends for a little over two weeks but they brought out the best in each other. Jack, a man of medium height and build, could barely say he was sixteen. Chelsea, a year older, maintained a five, two height, and had to stand on the tips of her toes to kiss Jack. The two made each other smile when their friend was feeling down and knew just what to say and when exactly to say it. Jack stood up and walked to edge of the pool. 'Come here a sec.' He motioned next to him while asking Chelsea to join him. She got up and strode over next to him, she was about to open her mouth and speak, when Jack swooped down and hoisted her into the air.

'What are you doing? Are you insane!?' She screamed hysterically while uncontrolled bursts of laughter ran out of her mouth.

'I love you.' Jack shot back with a smirk on his face. Chelsea fell silent and grin stretched from cheek to cheek across her face.

'I love you too.'

'Don't say it unless you mean it.'

'I do.' She smiled as she leaned in and kissed him. The two felt as though the world had stopped and they were the only things that mattered. Jack had never been happier in his life and felt as though the ground was grasped out from underneath him. Jack then realized the feeling was more realistic as he began to stubble backwards and fall into the pool, the girl of his dreams wrapped in his arms. The two fell in love.

Jack woke to the sound of the alarm going off next to him on his nightstand. The loud screeching electronic rings scratching at his subconscious. He quickly realized he was dreaming, the wonderful memories of the night's hallucinations were over in an instant. Jack's wonderful dream was a fleeting image, he wished that he could sleep forever just so his dreams would last. A year later Jack still went through the same old song and dance, he got up in the morning dreading the day and went to school. Jack would drive his piece of crap truck to the farthest spot from the school and walk to his first hour class with Chelsea. He wasn't particularly happy with the class mainly because his girlfriend was in it. The two would sit in opposite sides of the room, she claimed it was because she needed to stay focused on her school work. Jack knew she was lying because she would always sit next to her best friend and flirt.

Jack couldn't stand it much longer, Chelsea would sit in his lap and grab all over him, all the while right in front of Jack. That's all he had to look forward to in his love life anymore, year old memories that came back to haunt him, and a flirtatious girlfriend. Chelsea kept breaking his heart and he never said anything about it. Jack didn't know how much more he could take. You can only crack so many times before you break and are left to pick up the shattered pieces.

The teacher started the class with a lab, 'Alright now each of you find a partner and get to work.'

To Jack's surprise Chelsea was just sitting there alone and so he walked up to her, 'You wanna work with me?' he said with a small smirk on his face.

'I would but Josh and I are partners.'

'Shocker.' Jack remarked as he turned to leave.

'Excuse me?' she questioned slightly annoyed.

'Nothing, have fun with Josh.'

Jack went and worked by himself and finished early. Josh was still all over Chelsea and she was laughing. He never saw her that happy before. Maybe he should just let Josh take over, but something was scratching at the back of his mind. He thought that if she did leave him she would end up getting hurt by Josh. He went through the rest of the day depressed as usual and when school was let out he drove home and locked himself up in his room. Jack was tired of it. All the emptiness, all the lies, and all the pain. He kept living his life the best he could. Jack would still talk with friends and go to parties, as long as she wasn't there. As a matter of fact he tried to avoid her all together. Jack got a text from his friend Nikki, 'wanna go to a party?' it read.

Jack thought about it for a little while and debated the possible outcomes, 'sure.' He sent the text and waited for a reply, all the while regretting what he did. Soon enough he received a response.

'Okay cool meet at my house at seven.'

'Alright I'll be there.' He sent his message then headed to his room. Jack locked the door behind him and took off his shirt. He turned on the shower to a hot boil and stripped down. That was the one place he was alone to think, his shower consumed, ate, and evaporated his troubles away. He would drown in his thoughts, about friends, his classes and most of all, his girlfriend. How could someone pretend to love somebody? Jack was fed up of all her crap. He was tired of her lies, her moods, and her shallowness. He put up with these things for great reasons, well, maybe not Jack thought. Why did he put up with everything, why was he so nice and accepting when she was cruel and heartless? Jack didn't know, he was sure there was a reason, he just couldn't think of it.

Jack turned off the shower and wrapped a towel around him while stepping out. He put on some clothes that were slightly nicer than his normal wardrobe and fixed his hair. After doing a small inspection of himself, and determining he looked okay, he walked to his truck. Jack turned the car on and backed out of the driveway almost crashing into the basketball post on the pavement thinking of Chelsea. He shrugged it off and continued to Nikki's house. Jack needed to stop thinking of Chelsea and a party without her would be just the thing.

Jack rang the doorbell and waited for someone to answer. He heard footsteps on the inside and the door unlock. An attractive sixteen-year-old girl replaced his previous view of the door. Her red hair was pulled back and she had on a short, revealing dress 'Hey Jack, what's up?' Nikki asked while embracing Jack.

'Just living.' Jack replied rather cynically.

'That's uh, cool. Hey, guess what, I got a surprise for you!'

'A drink?' he asked with a smirk on his face.

'No silly, Chelsea's here!'

Jack was definitely shocked. He was lost for words so with a forced smile he sarcastically said, 'Yay.'

'Come on I didn't tell her you were coming!' Nikki said while tugging Jack's arm.

'You didn't? Well, I better go then.' Jack said and turned the other way.

'Ha ha, you're a very funny man! Come on.' Jack followed her down to the basement very hesitantly. Jack and Nikki walked in rather unnoticed, until she yelled, 'Guess who's here everybody? Jack came!'

'Jack! You made it!' a friendly face came up and gave Jack a high five. It was his friend Kyle. Kyle was about an inch shorter and a year older than Jack. He had short spiked blonde hair. They had almost the exact same personality; maybe that's why they got along so well.

'Hey, yeah I'm kinda regretting it.' Jack said lazily. He looked around and saw Josh with Chelsea in his lap laughing in a corner. 'What's he doing here?' Jack asked Kyle while hiding his face hoping they hadn't noticed.

'Who Josh? Chelsea said she'd only come if could too. Why?'

'I'll see ya later.' Jack said as he walked back to the stairs.

'Whoa, whoa, whoa, where do you think you're going?' Kyle grabbed his friends arm and spun him back around.

'I don't think I'll have any fun.'

'Well if worst comes to worst you sit in the corner wallowing in self pity.' Kyle said with a huge smile on his face.

'You know what, I'll take you up on that.' And so he did, Jack sat in the corner and thought to himself. The party was a blur as events passed by. Still Chelsea even saw Jack and she didn't speak to anyone but Josh. Finally she walked up to Jack and sat down next to him.


Jack looked up at her then responded, 'Hey.'

'Why aren't you enjoying the party?'

'Who says I'm not?' Jack joked a little but showed no smile of any sort.

'I do.'

He looked up at her, 'You'd be correct.'

She smiled but he remained expressionless. 'Why aren't you having fun?'

'The party's not fun, hard to have fun at a party when it's not a fun party.'

'So what do you wanna do?'

'I don't care, why are you over here? I'm not very interesting, why don't you hang out with Josh?' Jack inquired.

'Cause I've been hanging out with him all night,' she said while sitting on Jack's lap, 'and I wanna be with you.' She smiled and kissed him. 'Come on is that all the better you can do?' she smiled and kissed him again.

'The party just got better.' Jack smiled and kissed her again holding it. They started making out when Josh came over and began tickling Chelsea.

'Oh my god!' she started screaming with laughter, 'keep your hands to yourself!' she got up and chased him around for a little while before she sat down back on Jack's lap, 'hey sweetie!' she leaned in to kiss him again but he turned his cheek. 'What's the matter?'

'Nothing I'm just paranoid.' Jack started to go back to his cynical self. 'Do you know where Kyle is?'

'Are you retarded? He's not my friend how should I know where he is?' Chelsea snapped back.

'You're right what was I thinking?' Jack said depressed, and turned the other way. Jack lost it.

'I'm sorry, I didn't mean it.' Chelsea said rather unconvincingly.

'So when you say something you don't mean it?' Jack asked rhetorically.

'What's that supposed to mean?'

'Tell me something, when you say you love me do you not mean that too?' Jack snapped at her.

'You know I mean that.' Chelsea said defending herself.

'No, I don't.' Jack said as if all of his love in the world was shriveled up and dark. He picked her up and put her in the chair then he turned and left.

'Where are you going?' Chelsea said with a guilty tone in her voice.

'To hell, maybe I'll see you there!' Jack yelled back as he went up the stairs. He slammed the door behind him and ran to his car and left. Chelsea was left in the basement and tears began falling from her face. Nikki came up to her and asked, 'What's with Jack?'

'He thinks I don't care about him.'

'Is that true?'

'No, maybe.' She said, the tears coming down more steadily.

'Do you show it?'

'I try.'

'Well Jack's not usually like this, he has a reason for it. Maybe to him you don't care enough.' Nikki tried reasoning.

'I don't know why he would think that.'

'Now you're just lying to yourself.' Nikki stated and paused, 'You know everyone notices it, how you're always all over Josh and Jack just keeps to himself.'

'It's not my fault. He should be more accepting of how I am with my friends.'

'Jack's not the jealous type and no guy wants to see his girlfriend flirting with someone else. The only reason he's put up with for so long is because he loves you enough to put your happiness before his own.' Nikki explained.

Jack was furious, at everything, even himself. It was odd but Jack finally figured out why he put up with Chelsea, it was because he loved her. Now that he no longer does it's absence was what triggered his reasoning. Now that he no longer loves her he no longer needs to care about her and put up with her, Jack thought. As he drove on and cooled down he realized he was getting mad at the wrong person. When he was yelling at Chelsea he should have been yelling at Josh. Josh. How Jack despised that kid. Josh knew how much Jack cared for Chelsea, and he knew that what he was doing with Chelsea made Jack upset, but he continued being an ass.

Jack contemplated turning around just to kick the shit out of Josh but he reasoned that he would end up regretting it one way or another. And so he kept driving, past his house, and into the next part of town. Jack stopped and sat there thinking in his car. About how badly he treated Chelsea and how many ways he could hurt Josh, but in the end he just grew tired and drove home.

Jack walked into the kitchen and grabbed an apple from the fridge. He closed the door and noticed a post-it note on the handle, it read, 'Went to a party, be back late, pizza's in the fridge.' It was a note from his parents, he ripped it off and threw it away. Jack finished the apple and walked up to his room and lay down in bed. After non-stop thoughts streaming through his head, he decided to stare at the clock. 11:42 p.m. Jack was slipping away sleep was enveloping him. Just before he fell to his subconscious his phone started ringing. The caller ID said it was Chelsea. He answered, 'Hello?'

'I'm sorry did I wake you?' she said trying to stay calm. Jack could tell she was upset, he knew her so well he could hear her thoughts on the phone. He could hear Chelsea smile.

'No I was just uh, sleeping.' Jack said in a soft voice.

'Sorry,' she paused for a while, 'I just needed to talk to you.'

'Well, what did you wanna talk about?' Jack shifted in his chilling bed.

'I just wanted to say I was sorry.' She stopped and there was awkward silence for a long while.

Finally Jack spoke up, 'It's not your fault,' he paused, 'like I said I guess I'm just paranoid.'

'Yeah well I'm not helping.' She said trying to take some of the blame.

'Look we can go back and forth but I'm really tired and it's all my fault and I'm sorry.'

She paused then spoke, 'Alright I'll let you get back to sleep, I love you.' She regretted ending with that.

'Goodnight.' Then he hung up, and went to sleep.

Jack woke from another old dream, immediately he forgot most of it. He saw the sun wasn't quite up in the sky yet so he looked at his clock, 5:57 a.m. He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. After three minutes of rustling around and too many thoughts he got up and proceeded down stairs. He walked into the southern style kitchen and sat down at the glass table. His mom was making something over the stove, and the smell stimulated Jack's mind. Curious as to why he'd seen his mom so early he gave up trying to figure it out and just asked, 'Where's Dad?

'He had to go to the hospital early. Would you like something to eat?' she said grinning. Jack's mom was a relatively young woman. She was never in a foul mood; ironically Jack neither looked nor acted like his mother in anyway. When together you couldn't even tell they were related, her lengthy blonde hair shimmered and was always styled, while Jack's black hair sat in a mangy mess on his head. She was vertically challenged and Jack easily cleared the top of her head.

Jack shook his head, 'Why are you up so early?'

'Couldn't sleep,' she said while yawning.

'That makes two of us,' Jack looked at his phone, there was a text from last night. It was Kyle, 'Wanna go to the mall?'

'Can I go to the mall?' he asked after reading the text.

'Sure, just don't spend too much,' his mom, said with a smile on her face, 'what time will you be back?'

'I don't know, eight tonight.'

'Okay, make sure you get something to eat while you're there.'

Jack climbed back up the stairs and into his room. He paused in the doorway and looked around the sterile, barren bedroom. It lacked character. In the corner was a wooden desk with a new computer on it, a nightstand in the other corner. On the opposite side a small bed was positioned in the middle of the wall. Jack flung himself back under the warm sheets and let his mind surrender back into a dreamland.

Jack was walking through the crowded halls of the mall, so many people going, well to him, nowhere. He walked up to a bench and fell into the cushion. He got a text from Chelsea, 'On my way,' it read.

He replied, 'Let me know when you get here.' Jack sent it and waited. He sat and watched the people walk by, he would guess why they were here and where they were going. Often times he would guess correct and feel somewhat wiser than the previous second. He sat and thought, and sat some more, before he looked at his phone. She was late, almost an hour so. Jack also wondered where is friend Kyle was, he was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago. He sent a text to Kyle and Chelsea asking, 'Where are you?' Jack then waited for a response, first from Chelsea, 'sorry I just got here I'll meet you at the food court.'

He sent a text saying he'd be there, then got a message from Kyle saying, 'didn't Chelsea tell you, we've been here with Josh for 30 minutes.'

'Bitch.' Jack mumbled under his breath. He got up and strode with his jacket propped up, to the food court. Jack bought a soda and barely sat down before Chelsea, Nikki, Josh, and Kyle walked up all but Kyle laughing. Jack stood back up and walked towards them. 'Hey, how's it going?' he asked Chelsea.

'Hey cutie,' she hugged him and gave him a kiss, 'sorry I'm late.'

'Where were you?' Jack asked keeping his arms around her and his smile on.

'I got caught in traffic on my way to get Josh.' She explained.

Jack shrugged, 'okay.'

'What you don't believe me?' she teased.

'Now I never said that,' he said while smiling, 'I don't care, I'm just glad you came.' He kissed her. Jack knew she was lying but he still took it, just like he took everything else. He couldn't explain it. He just, thought, that she could change. He thought that he could change her and the way she acted, he thought if she really loved him she would change.

'So, what do you wanna do?' she smiled thinking she had Jack tricked and just continued on her merry way.

'What makes you happy?' Jack asked with a smirk across his face.

'You.' She kissed him.

'So you wanna do me?' Jack teased and laughed.

She hit him on the shoulder laughing, 'shut up!'

'I love you.'

'I love you too.'

They walked down the hall and for the first time in a long while Jack was glad he wasn't dreaming. The rest of the evening was filled with shopping and changing rooms, and hugs and kisses. Jack finally saw change.

'So what do you think of this?' Chelsea asked while holding up a pair of jeans, 'do you think they'd make me look fat?' she questioned Jack.

'Probably not, no.' Jack said as if he knew what he was talking about.

'Probably? What's that supposed to mean?' Chelsea became annoyed.

'It means no you wouldn't look fat in that or anything else.' Jack said trying to fix his mistake.

'You're lying. It's a simple question how could you lie about it?' she said, aggravated.

'Like you never do.' Jack said in an aggressive tone.

'What are you talking about?'

'Today while I was waiting for you I got a text from Kyle,' Jack yelled as he pulled out his phone and searched for the message, 'you spent an hour with Josh, of who you never told me was coming. Not only that but you are always flirting with him.'

'I am not!' she protested.

'Yes Chelsea, you are. Every damn day I dread coming to school just because of it, I love, but clearly you don't love me.'

'You're right,' she said crying, 'I don't'

Jack walked back down the hallway of the mall, a single tear running down his face. His heart was shattered and he decided to take it out on the world. Jack swore never to love someone again.

Lindsay was once again with Brad, and once again he was hurting her. Everything he did just made it worse. Brad was supposed to be on a date with her, but he invited one of his friends. Claire. She was the devil. She would complain about Lindsay being around right in front of her. Brad would just laugh and then say that she was only joking. But Lindsay decided to put up with it, like she always did. The two, now three walked into the theater and sat near the back. Lindsay sat next to Brad on one side and on the other side of Brad sat the man-stealing bitch, Claire.

Lindsay sat thinking of Brad instead of the movie and how she could get rid of Claire. She had it, an idea. Lindsay got up and left.

'Where are you going?' Brad asked.

'I don't feel good, I'll be outside.' Lindsay claimed and walked outside. She thought it was a brilliant plan right up until the moment she walked past the concession stand. Wait, Brad, and Claire, alone. Shit. Lindsay strode back to the theatre and as she turned the corner saw Brad, and Claire, kissing. Lindsay was furious, but she held it in and walked back out the theatre, crying. She was going to leave but had a better plan she sat and waited in the lobby. Lindsay had never wanted to actually kill someone, but this time she came rather close. She was waiting for him to come out, wondering what he would do. Did he see her, did he feel guilty, would he lie his way out of something, again. Lindsay went through the extremes for the situation and every one ended in her dumping him. She made up her mind, that's what she was going to do.

Brad had come out of the movie with his arm around Claire and walked towards Lindsay. He saw her sitting there and coughed while putting his arm down, 'Hey I-,' Lindsay slapped him turned around and left.

Jack had agreed to stay in touch with Chelsea and she was glad she didn't lose a friend in the process. Jack was left with nothing more than faint memories of a wonderful past. Chelsea was the only thing in the world that could make him happy, and he set his mind to change that. He still questioned whether they made the right decision and regretted treating her terribly. He only wanted her to be happy, and sometimes to make others happy you have hurt yourself in the process.

He still went through his normal routine, only with a slightly more cynical outlook on life. Jack still got up at the crack of dawn and drove to school, he would occasionally stop for coffee. Something, however, was different. Jack didn't think he had a reason to keep doing the things he did, Jack thought he no longer served a purpose. Jack ceased being himself all together, he didn't smile, or laugh at jokes. He left soccer and dropped drum lessons. He started breaking away from the world, he cut himself off from everything he held so dear. Over the past few weeks he battled depression fighting each new day tired and glum. Jack didn't want to be a burden to anyone anymore, having contemplated suicide he didn't know how much farther he could fall.

He would come home late, his thoughts and emotions in disarray. Jack would lock himself up in his room not eating or sleeping. When he did sleep it was brief and interrupted. He'd sit and listen to his iPod, some songs causing him to cry others to yell and storm about. His heart was broken, and he was a mess. But just as the darkness of night starts to fall and engulf the Earth, the sunrise gives people something to look forward to, hope.

On his way home one day, Jack entered a coffee shop just up the street from his high school. The Daily Dose had become his home away from home, it was the only place he could sit, ponder, and enjoy a large cup of warm, fresh roasted coffee. A regular to the place Jack knew just about everyone who came into the joint. That's why after giving his order and name was somewhat surprised when he heard the name of the person behind him. 'Lindsay,' the voice replied to the man working behind the counter. The name belonged to a beautiful teenage girl. Her blonde hair reached halfway down her back, and her gray blue eyes had a feeling of emptiness Jack seemed to find hope in. Jack recognized the name immediately as an old friend from three years ago. He dismissed the thought that it was she. But something about the way she looked kept pestering him to ask if it was the Lindsay he thought it was.

Her features made Jack's subconscious bring back old memories of the two together just talking about they're problems. Jack sat down at a table near the front window too scared to walk up and talk to her. The two had dated briefly before she moved and changed schools, he stayed in touch with her for about a year afterwards, but they eventually grew apart.

Still curious as to if this woman was the one he knew so long ago, Jack stood and proceeded to her. Her stance always made him smile, it was as if she was overly fatigued but still ready to pounce. He stopped in mid-stride and continued no further, he was still too shy and reclusive to talk to her. Jack turned around, his back facing her and headed toward the door, defeated and depressed.

The next day Jack came back to the Daily Dose and ordered the usual. After paying the cashier and walking to a soft couch by the front door, he sat and read a book. The door chimed with a high pitch 'ding,' as another customer walked in. It was the same girl, the one from the day before. Again she gave her name as Lindsay, and again Jack wondered who this woman was. Jack gathered the courage to stand up and walk to her a second time, but just as before he lost all confidence and walked back, troubled and gloomy.

'Jack?' a familiar voice called to Jack as he was leaving. He spun around immediately, his hopes restored. 'Jack Walker, I thought I recognized you.'

'Lindsay? Lindsay Brookes, is that you?' Jack inquired rather nonchalantly.

She walked up and embraced him for several seconds, almost spilling her coffee doing so, 'How have you been?'

Jack decided to lie and not bring her down with a depressing love story, 'I'm great, how are you?'

'I've just been busy working,' she said with a smile as wide as Texas on her face. The two shared a moment of awkward silence, neither knowing what to say.

'You wanna get a cup of coffee and catch up sometime?' Jack asked blurting out the first thing that came to his mind.

'Uh, well I already got a cup, but yeah sure, no time like the present, if you're not too busy?' Lindsay responded with the smile still there.

'Uh, yeah no, no I'm not too busy.' He sort of motioned to a table and pulled up a chair sitting down across from her 'So what have you been up to lately?' He asked with all of his attention focused on her. She started going on about school and relationships, he added a small joke or jest here and there, with some meaningful comments thrown in between. And as he listened to his old friend all the memories from great times started to come back, taking the places of the pain he had endured. The two sat and talked the whole night, conversing about old classes and nights on the phone together. 'How's old what's his face doing?' Jack asked.

'Brad? Yeah, we uh, yeah we broke up.' She said rather hesitantly

'I'm sorry, I didn't know. What happened?'

She paused, 'He just, I don't know, he just didn't love me anymore. You know he kept ditching me for his friends, and was always, always all over this one girl,' she started to cry. 'He just kept breaking my heart. I tried to do the right thing and talk to him and try and fix it, but he would always say he was just feeling depressed and was sorry about being bummed out all the time. Of course after trying to say he was to sad to talk to me he'd go laugh and flirt with that same damn girl.' She tried to hold back the tears but couldn't any longer. She bawled into Jack's shirt as he tried to comfort her.

'Hey don't cry, he's just a jerk, you can't help it, and you know what, he doesn't deserve you,' he said trying to calm her down, 'It's alright, hey listen, if you ever need anything you just call me. Day or night I'm here okay?'

Sniffling and slightly more relaxed she replied, 'Okay.' She looked up at him and smiled. Jack started to laugh and she joined in, they didn't have a reason but the two just felt like right then was a good time to laugh.

'You look tired,' Jack, stated, 'come on I'll drive you home.'

'Okay.' She said again. The two got up to leave and headed home. Jack pulled up to her house and parked the car.

'Hey, remember if you ever need anything my phone is always on so don't hesitate to call.' Jack smiled.

She smiled back, 'I might have to take you up on that.' She walked inside and Jack returned home.

He parked his car and walked up to the kitchen glancing at the clock on the oven, 1:07 a.m. beamed the luminescent blue lights. Jack climbed up the dark stairway and thinking there was one more step at the top he rose his foot. He dropped his foot and felt as though he stumbled into a free fall. It was a stimulating split second but one none the less. Jack walked to his room and closed the door. He took his jeans off and crawled into bed. The cool darkness of sleep just about over took him when he heard a ding, then another one. His phone was going off, sluggishly he grabbed it and answered, 'Hello?' there was a pause, and 'Hello' he asked again.

A voice responded, 'Hey, wanna talk?'

He paused, 'Sure,' then smiled.

Jack realized something that night, he realized that love could still be found in the darkest depths of grief.

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