Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
AN: This will be part 2 of 3
It snowed that night. When I woke up, it was nearly to the windows. The thermometer outside said that it was ten degrees. I sighed, over it already, even though this was only the beginning of the long winter. Father wasn’t awake yet. I had to be at school by 8, and he never showed up at the hotel until 10. As I poured myself a quick bowl of cereal, I could feel my nerves for that afternoon grow.
My shift at the motel seemed to move at a glacial pace. Father sensed my nervousness and asked me what the matter was. I finally told him. He was hesitant, as I suspected, but I told him I really had feelings for Jay. He told me that he was reluctantly all right with it, but to be careful, and if Jay hurt me he would personally murder him. I’ve thought about that comment a lot in the years since.
He showed up in the lobby at six on the dot. Father gave him a look as we walked out. Jay didn’t have car, and it was about a mile’s walk into town. Normally I didn’t have a problem walking, but it was so cold. Jay offered his jacket. I declined because that would have left him without a jacket, but he insisted, draping it over my shoulders. I was buried in it, and looked ridiculous, but it was ungodly warm.
“What would you like to do, Sarah?” He asked me.
“Go somewhere with heat.”
He laughed. “I’d actually thought of laying in the snow.”
This made me laugh. He smiled. Not even Marty looked at me the way he did. We ended up at a diner, where he inexplicably ordered a milkshake. I chose not to question it.
We got along very well, and could have talked four hours. I told him about how I hated Gary, how I thought my mother deserved better but she would never leave him because she was afraid to be alone. The whole time he looked at me as if I was the most beautiful woman in the world, something I was overtly conscious of. I was so taken by him showing so much interest in me that that I never thought to ask him about his past. Not that he would have been open or honest with me. But I found out later that a mere week before we’d met, he’d been released from a three year stint at a juvenile detention center for holding up a filling station, that he couldn’t go back to his family because they wanted nothing to do with him. That he was really and truly on his own.
But I wasn’t thinking of any of that then. “Where have you been all my life?” He suddenly asked me.
I became bright red, unsure of how to respond. “Right here.”
“You’re so beautiful.”
I continued to blush.
“You look like Joan Fontaine.”
I blushed even more.
“What’s the matter?”
I couldn’t form coherent words. “Which is it?” I finally managed. “Joan Fontaine or Veronica Lake?”
“Which would you prefer?”
“Either will do.”
There was a natural lull in the conversation, and our eyes drifted to the theater across the street. High Noon, the new Gary Cooper film, was playing. There was a showing at 8 o’clock. It was seven-thirty.
“Want to go?” He asked.
I nodded. Father had not given me a time to be home. Besides, he would still be at the motel until at least ten. He paid for our meal and as we exited the diner, he took my hand.
We entered the movie, and he continued to hold my hand throughout. I sat there, lost in it but also in him. How just two nights ago I’d thought that perhaps I would never get married. Everyone had always made being a spinster out to be a bad thing, but it seemed alright to me. Marriage never seemed to cause anyone anything but trouble. And yet, as we sat there, how I knew that he would always be a part of my life somehow.
After it finished, Jay smiled at me as we stood up, making sure that I had everything. He then asked if I wanted to do anything else, but it was almost ten and I told him that I needed to go home, and he agreed to walk with me.
It was only a short few blocks but it felt much longer in the cold. He tried to maintain conversation, but I was too focused on not freezing to death. He tried to give me his jacket again insisted that I would be fine. I didn’t want him freeze to death either. About halfway through the walk he extended his hand and took mine. It was then that I first registered that he had no gloves. It was ten degrees, probably even colder by now, and he had no gloves. Still, I didn’t say anything. It was nice, being in his presence, and I didn’t want it to end.
We got to my house and I saw Father’s car parked in the driveway and the lights on. He was home. I sighed, thinking of whatever mood I was going to be greeted with when I walked inside.
Jay and I hesitated for a moment. Then, he looked deep into my eyes and said, “I had a really nice time tonight.”
“So did I.”
He kissed me then. I thought it was the kind of kiss that only happened in the movies. As we pulled away, he smiled. “May I see you again?”
He smiled even wider now. “I’m at the motel until tomorrow. But I’m going to figure it out.”
“Okay,” I said.
He waved goodbye to me as I walked with a skip to my front door.
Inside, Father was reading a newspaper in his pajamas as he listened to the radio. He looked up when he heard me enter. “Hello,” he said flatly.
“Hello,” I responded.
“How was your date?”
“Good.” He said nothing further, and I went into my room. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. He wasn’t exactly interested, but he was not opposed either. Maybe Mother had talked to him. Still, I was tired, and I knew I was going to sleep well.
I spent the whole next day at school thinking about Jay, about how he said he had to figure out his living situation but that we would see each other again, but how we hadn’t made an actual plan. What if he’d changed his mind?
At the end of the day, I started walking home without an answer. I heard someone come up beside me and looked to see Marty. I was repulsed to think that I ever once been attracted to him. He seemed so boyish, so immature with his untucked shirt and hair over his eyes ten years before the Beatles would make it fashionable. “Hello, Marty,” I said. “Did Sylvia leave you?”
It had been a joke, but his frozen response told me that it was true. I couldn’t believe this. He quickly deflected. “How are you?”
“How’s your father?”
“He’s fine.” He wasn’t getting the message to get lost. By then, we’d reached the sidewalk, and before I could say anything, a car pulled up to the curb. I noticed roses in the passenger seat before I noticed Jay. How he’d managed to acquire a car I had no idea, but I didn’t question it.
He unrolled the window. “Hello,” he said, completely ignoring Marty.
I did too as I got in the car, kissing him as I did. I watched Marty’s stunned reaction as we drove away.
“Who was that guy you were talking to?” Jay asked.
“My ex-boyfriend,” I responded. “He left me for another girl.”
“I’m sorry. You deserve more than that.” He then gestured to the roses. “Those are for you.”
“Thank you,” I said. After we drove for a minute, I asked, “So, where exactly are we going?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Father will be expecting me at the motel,” I said.
“I talked to him already,” Jay said. “He doesn’t mind us going out.”
“How’d you get the car?” I asked.
He hesitated. He wasn’t yet the proficient pathological liar he’d turn out be. “Another guest was selling it. Gave me a good deal.” I accepted this explanation.
“I’d love something to eat. You know, there’s a diner about ten miles up. We used to go more often when I was young. It’s a beautiful drive.”
“Tell me where to go.”