That’s that and I’m back to square 1.
Back to sitting around and waiting.
Jay leaned back against the nearest store front as a talkative crowd of Japanese high schoolers paraded through with a whole lot of teen attitude.
It’s my fault, though.
I chickened out.
I chickened out so bad.
I should talk to Robin.
I need to talk to Robin.
He went into his Recent Calls menu.
Unlisted Number sat at the very top of the list. It was marked with the current date. The time was just a few minutes ago.
Because seriously? Who else would that be?
He highlighted it and pressed Call.
He put the phone to his ear.
An error sound effect played, followed by a automated “Like, ohmigosh! Like, ugh! What are you like thinking? This is so bogus! Like, this is like an unlisted number? Like helllllooo? Like how am I supposed to reach them when they’re like unlisted? Ohmigosh! Like, I am so through with this message. Like, I’m out. I am like sooooooooooo out. Bye!”
Jay sighed and ended the call.
I’m back to waiting.
“I’m waiting, Tessa. Waiting for you to open your eyes. Waiting to see you smile. At me. At Raven.”
Jeff held her hand.
And he saw her.
And he heard her voice.
“Jeff. I’ll get better. You’ll see.” Laura opened her eyes and smiled.
It was a brave smile.
It was a tired smile.
“When I get better, I want to try again. The doctors say that these treatments are…” Her smile faltered. “They said.”
She blinked and, despite the bravery of her smile, her tears still fell. “It isn’t likely I’ll ever get pregnant again. That’s what they told me.”
More tears fell. “They said it would be almost impossible for my body to…I…”
“It’s all right.” He hugged her. Her and all of the lines attached to her. “Even if we can’t…It doesn’t matter.” He carefully kissed her head and tried not to remember how lush her hair used to be. “I have you. You have me. We have Tessa. And that’s okay. That’s fine. It’s perfect. Laura, we are perfect. As long as we can hold on to each other…”
She didn’t try to finish his thought for him as she used to. She simply closed her eyes and held on to him with all of her thinned muscle strength.
And, in that moment, he found no need for words. All that he needed was to exist in that moment with her.
In a moment mixed with sorrow and love and restrained hope.
And the soft beeping of hospital machines.
Raven didn’t feel like waiting for the elevator.
He ran all the way up the stairs and all the way to Missy’s room.
He stopped in the doorway.
Jeff was at Missy’s bedside.
And he was singing to her:
“When the visions around you,
Bring tears to your eyes
And all that surrounds you
Are secrets and lies.
I’ll be your strength.
I’ll give you hope.
Keeping your faith when it’s gone.
The one you should call
Was standing here all alone.”
I do not know this song.
It speaks to me.
It speaks to my heart in words I wish I could tell her.
And I would tell her.
Raven stayed in the doorway, unwilling to interrupt her father’s performance.
I wish you were here by my side.
I wish you were here, touching me. Teasing me. Flirting with me.
He bowed his head and replayed all of the moments that led her to burn down The Institute.
So many small minute moments. What could I have done differently? If I had killed Antioch instead of changing him…If I had found a way to kill him after he had tried to change her…Would that have changed anything?
Would she still have run off on me?
Would she still have set The Institute on fire?
Would she have simply left me?
What could I have done differently?
If I had held on to her…
If I had just run a little faster…
All I had to do was run faster. I could have caught up to her. I simply had to try harder.
And I did not.
It’s my fault.
Missy. If you can hear me, I am sorry.
Please hear me.