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The Poems - part seven

Cleaning

I arrive at his apartment complex. I park the car and turn off the engine. I look at myself in the mirror. My face is red, my eyes are swollen, and I’m soaking wet. I look bad, really bad. I walk to the door, and I let the rain pour on me. I really can’t look any worse. I knock, and Jack opens the door. It’s strange, because he isn’t in day wear, but he’s ready to go to bed. He is wearing a white undershirt with blue plaid pajama pants. I would have never thought he was as muscular as he is. This is also the first time I’ve seen him without glasses. It’s different, but he looks good without them on too.
“Come in”, he said, concerned for my well-being.
I don’t say anything. As much as I would thoroughly enjoy being with him, under the circumstances, I don’t and can’t think of anything besides my mother.
“Let me get you a towel or something.” He leaves and comes back with a robe. I put it on and sit down on the couch with him. I still say nothing. I want so badly to cry, but I don’t want to look weak or like a child.
“I know, I look like crap.”
“That’s not true.”
I glare at him.
“You look human.” He softly smiles and takes my hand. “What would you like me to do? Do you want some tea or some food?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Do you want to get out of your wet clothes?”
“I don’t have anything to change into.”
“I have some things that might fit you.”
“Okay”, I say with no emotion or inflection.
“Why don’t you take a shower and clean yourself up? While you are doing that, I’ll find you something to wear to bed. How does that sound?”
The corners on my mouth rise. “Okay.”
“I’ll get the water running for you.” I leave his robe on the couch. I go into the bathroom and he starts the shower.
“Sorry, but my soap is masculine scented.”
“It’s fine.” I can tell he’s trying to make me comfortable and make me laugh, but I just can’t. Again, any other time I would have thoroughly enjoyed having the pure scent of Jack Priston in my hands, but I just can’t.
I close the door, undress, and hop into the shower. I let the water run and beat against my skin while I sit there with my eyes closed and my legs held close to me. I feel like the rain is cleansing my soul and letting all the impurities in my life leave my body and slide down the drain. I let all of the worries and troubles slip away. And for 10 minutes, I was calmed. There was no argument. There were no tears. Just peace.
There was a knock on the door; it was Jack. “I’m bringing in some clothes and a towel for you.”
I say okay. He puts the toilet seat down and places them on top of it. He leaves and closes the door. I get out of the shower, dry off and dress in an old college sweatshirt, another pair of plaid bottoms and a white t-shirt. I dry my hair with a towel and then take a hair tie from my jean pocket and put it into a pony tail.
I come out of the bathroom and Jack is in the kitchen making tea for us to have. “What do you want me to do with my wet clothes and towel?”
“I’ll take care of it later.” He smiles.
I walk into the living room and sit on the couch. I hold my legs close to me. Jack brings the tea into the living room and hands me a cup.
“I’ve found that sometimes just drinking a little bit of tea and just sitting down comfortably can put me in a better place.”
I take a few sips. “I’m sorry I haven’t been very appreciative, but I am truly thankful for all of this.” I half-heartedly smile.
“I don’t mind.” He sits next to me on the couch. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Yes and no. Part of me wants to spill my guts to you, but the other part wants me to grow up and just take it like a man and be strong.”
“You don’t have to act strong just because I’m around. It’s tough to be vulnerable with people, so I understand if you don’t want to say anything.”
I pause. My mouth becomes dry, but I have to get it out. “I try so hard to seek her approval, and no matter what I do, she doesn’t care. I could be a genius and it wouldn’t matter to her, but what sets her off is that I told someone that she’s a horrible mother.”
I start to tear up. Jack put his hand on my arm and rubs it while I continue to talk.
“All my life I just wanted her to notice me, but now that she does, it wasn’t worth it; the years of emotional abuse and the discomfort. I don’t know why I put up with her as long as I did.” I pause. “Jack, what am I going to do!? I have nothing. I have no money, no home, no anything! I could barely survive before, but now…” I start to cry. I put the tea cup down and wipe my face.
“Come here.” I move closer to Jack, and he holds me. I cry and sob into his shoulder. “Just let it out.”
“I’m so angry at myself for even letting her get me this upset. She should mean nothing to me, but she does. As screwed up of a relationship I have with her and how crappy of a mother she was, she is still my mom. She’s right, I can’t change that.”
I look up at Jack and his eyes are still filled with concern. “You are always welcome here. You can stay here for as long as you need to. As for money, you work, and so do I, so we’ll figure something out. As for your possessions, you can get them anytime you want to.” He puts his hand under my chin and holds my face. “Things are going to be okay.” He shoots me a small smile.
“I have to pick up my things tomorrow. And be out of her house by Sunday night.”
“We can do that.”
“How can you be so sure that everything is going to be fine?”
“Because when one door closes another one opens.”
I pause. I wasn’t satisfied with his optimism, but I didn’t want to fight it. I change the subject. “Thank you for doing this. All of it. But I don’t want to be an imposition on you. I can’t stay with you, for one thing, you could lose your job, and I refuse to let you pay for me to eat and go out. You aren’t my parents, you’re my teacher. I can’t let you do that, because that is asking for too much.”
“Okay. If you want that, you can have that. I will help you out if you want it, but if you don’t, I understand.” He smiles again. My eyes are finally dry, and I hug him. I just want something to grasp onto and never let go. He holds me tightly, and then kisses my forehead. He whispers, “I’m here for you if you ever need me.”
I feel his warmth, his arms wrapped around me, and I squeeze him tightly. I feel that if I don’t let him go, I will always be safe and he can shield me from the pain of the world. My forehead still feels the impression from the kiss.
It finally hits me. This is what love is: being able to spend the whole day together and not get tired of each other, being able to be open and vulnerable with each other, and having each other to use for comfort when something goes wrong. We care for each other deeply. He loves me, and that’s why he is so willing to help me. In the same sense, I love him, so I keep him company after school and at his father’s house.
I look up at him. His eyes tell me he is at peace. Maybe this is the exact push we needed to go over the edge. Something compels us to move together, closer. His eyes, in the chaos, they bring me tranquility; they draw me in. Jack’s nose touches mine, and he slightly tilts his head. He kisses me. Then again, softly and tenderly his lips touch mine. For the third time, he kisses me, and I feel his hand touch my skin. He leaves it on the small of my back, while his other hand migrates to my hip. He lightly strokes my skin with his fingertips. We kiss again, and I take my hand and place it on his neck. I work my way up, running my fingers through his hair slowly. We kiss for the last time and he pulls away. He sweetly kisses my forehead then pulls me in for a hug.
My mind is racing. There it so much I want to say, and so many questions I want to ask him, but I shouldn’t. I know he’s feeling the same way. I wanted that kiss and so did he. It was a perfect moment, so tender and loving. Isn’t this what I always wanted? Yes, and for that moment, the rest of the world was gone. I didn’t have a psycho mother with crazy-weirdo boyfriends. I was sitting on a couch, early into Sunday morning with the first person I could honestly say they loved me. That was enough.
After much silent cuddling, “It’s getting late, and I should probably let you sleep. You must be very tired.”
“Okay.” I smile.
“Hey, that’s the first smile of the night!”
“I’m feeling much better now.”
“Well, let me get my bed ready for you.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t take your bed from you!”
“I insist.”
“I’m perfectly fine on the couch.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Okay then. Let’s get you some sheets.” We get up and he takes my hand. He directs me to his room. This is the first time I’ve seen his room. It is somewhat how I expected it to look. It’s very plain: light blue walls, a window on the far wall with dark blue curtains. He has a full bed with a navy comforter, white and blue flannel sheets and a plush blanket. His bed was neatly made, and he had 2 pillows softly lying on top of it. His bed is between his window and his closet. At the end of his bed are two dressers with a TV and other entertainment electronics on top of it.
He leads me to his closet. He reaches to the top shelf and hands me sheets and blankets. He grabs the pillow on his bed that doesn’t touch his head. We walk into the living room. He puts the pillow down, takes the sheets and lays them on the couch, and then does the same with the blanket.
“Make yourself comfortable.”
I lay down. “What about my clothes? Do you want me to put them somewhere?”
He sits down at the end of the couch. “I’ll hang them up and let them dry in the bathroom, then we can take them to the Laundromat and wash them at some later time.” He smiles.
“Okay.” He rubs my leg.
“Well, goodnight Rachel.”
“Goodnight Jack. Sweet dreams.”
“You too.” He shoots me a smirk.





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