Guilt had been eating Jess away for days. He stole from Lorelai’s emergency fund. He used the money to buy test answers. He was a worthless piece of shit who couldn’t live up to expectations and was a drain on society. He was in too deep now, though. Friday morning he showed up to class and and carefully filled int he memorized test answers for the multiple choice portion of the test. He felt so guilty, though, that he purposefully got more than a handful wrong. He quickly got to the essay portion. There was no specfic answers for that portion, but Jess had known exactly what Medina was going to ask, and he had carefully prepared his essay answers last night. Still, as he wrote today his sentences felt sloppy and meander-y.
By lunch time the guilt had taken such a toll on Jess that he threw up on the boy’s bathroom instead of eating lunch. He was sent home early, picked up by Lorelai.
When Jess got in the Jeep she rubbed his back and Jess didn’t even swat her hand away.
“You too sick to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s tonight?”
“You sound hopeful,” Jess said. “Who hopes that their kid can get sick so they can get out of an event?” He was still taking his anger out on her. It help alleviate the crushing guilt, but it wasn’t fair and eventually, after he calmed down, it only made him feel guiltier.
“Because you love going over their house so much, right?” Lorelai started the Jeep. The ride back to Stars Hollow was silent. When they reached their home Lorelai checked Jess’s temperature with her hand. “Get some rest, okay? I’ll be back before dinner and we’ll decide then.” She left him alone and went back to work.
Jess changed into some sweats and got into bed, but his mind was working too fast to sleep. Lorelai was going to find out what he did and she was going to hate him. His grandparents would hate him too. Eventually he drifted off into some kind of nightmare. When he woke he couldn’t remember what it was about, but judging by his soaking wet pillow it was bad enough to make him seat bullets.
He couldn’t stay here all day and just panic about what was going to happen. He needed to get out.
Jess jumped out of bed and put on some clean clothes. School was out by now, so Jess decided to go by Dave’s. As Jess walked to Dave’s house he lit up a cigarette, letting the nicotine calm him down. He felt like he hadn’t seen Dave in forever. Not since that fight on the street. The day he told Dave he was leaving school. Jess had been an awful friend to Dave. He made his way onto Plum Street and knocked.
Mrs. Rygalski answered. “Jess,” she said with a pleasant smile. Most likely it was forced. The smell of cigarettes was reeking off of him and there was no way she approved. She didn’t approve of much of the things he did. She wasn’t exactly a big fan of their friendship. “What a nice n surprise. You haven’t been around much lately.”
“Dave around?” Jess asked. He shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Dave!” Mrs. Rygalski called.
There was a pitter-patter on the stairs and then Dave appeared in the door frame. “Oh?” Dave said with raised eyebrows. Jess shoved his hand in his pockets.
“You wanna hang?” He felt like a little kid.
Dave turned to his mother. They seemed to have some sort of silent communication. “Be back for dinner,” she said. “Jess, would you like to join us?”
Jess shook his head.
Dave stepped out on the porch and closed the door behind him. “Where have you been lately?”
“Busy? That’s all I get?” Dave asked. “You ditch me for two weeks and all I get is busy.”
Dave turned to the door. “I’m going back in.”
“Come on, man.”
Dave turned back around. He waited. “Well?”
Jess shrugged again.
“Come on. You have to explain yourself better than that. We’ve been friends since for years. And as soon as you go to a new school you ditch me. For weeks. You leave me in this town, alone. And because of your loner behavior and inability to keep any other friends I’m now left all alone. It’s not fair. I’m not going to sit around and wait like some sad puppy and hope you want to be my friend again.”
While it was clear he was disgusted with Jess Dave never once raised his voice. That was just the kind of guy Dave was. Always nice. Always pleasant. Always agreeable. Basically the opposite of Jess.
“Things have been hard,” Jess said.
“That’s life. It’s hard for everyone. But we don’t mope around and blame it on everyone else. We act like human beings.”
There was a long silence as Dave ended his rant. “I’m going back inside. If you still want to be my friend you can try again tomorrow.” He opened the door and closed it behind him.
Jess was left on the porch, alone with his thoughts. His terrible thoughts that devoured his mind. He took his hands out of his pockets as he walked off the porch and away from the house. Jess breathed in and out. His hands were twitching. He needed another cigarette. He just had one but he was already craving another. His addiction was getting worse. He could tell. He opened his pack up and took one up, bringing it to his lip. There were only a couple left now. He took a lighter out of his pocket and lit it. He breathed in. As the nicotine filled his lungs he could finally relax. If only just a little.