Suffers from survivor's guilt. A lifetime of pain? Will she find love?
| Chapter 1: South Carolina
Returning home after a long time away can be hard. Especially when there is someone that feels that you abandoned them. My brother felt that way after I left. He always believed that family doesn't leave family. (He's right you know). After I left, I had no one and I got into a bit of trouble. While traveling I tended to stay away from big cities because there are too many people that ask too many questions. My parents both died in the car I was driving. People say that it is survivor's guilt but I'm not so sure. The semi in front of us jack-knifed on some black ice and my parents were both on the passenger side of the car. We slid underneath the truck and both of my parents died. Before I left, I kept going to the psychologist and every time the verdict was the same.
I'm working up to going home. Baby steps, right? I'm what people call a state hopper or a wayward soul. Ever since I left, I've been traveling state to state. You would think that it would get lonely after a while but, it really isn't that bad. I've been to every continental state in the U.S. Ever since we were little my brother and I's dream was to go to Hawaii and surf the waves. That's why I haven't gone there yet, though I've thought about going to Alaska. Nome always seemed nice in the summer. I'm almost home now. I started in Maine and started down the east coast. I'm in South Carolina now and headed to Tampa Bay. To my brother. Good luck to me, I guess.
While I was in Texas, there was someone that I was talking to about things "hypothetically" and she gave me some really good advice: "Your family might not want to talk to you now but, the more you are around them the more they would want to forgive you." I've taken their advice to heart and I'm going back to Luke.
When we were kids, we would make up funny little nicknames for each other. He would always call me Jackie (short for Jaqualine) and I would call him Lou (short for Luke). Our mom would always get really mad at us for sleeping through our alarms for school and would have a blow horn on stand - by just to wake us up. Dad didn't come into the picture until after Mom and Dad had married again for the second time. Before they had gotten divorced Luke and I were conceived, then there was a fight between them, and they were divorced before they knew Mom was pregnant. They started going out again when we were three years old and remarried when we were five.
Mom always ran a tight ship, there were rules for everything. Curfew was at 10:00 every night and if you broke curfew by only a few minutes, you were okay, but if you came back hours later... Grounding of a lifetime on your hands. Dishes swapped every other night, as did taking out the trash. My brother and I were good kids mostly. I tried to sneak back in the house after curfew once and sure enough there stood my mom with that air horn waiting on me to come home. Three months' time on my record. Wasn't fun.
"You aren't from here, are you?" said someone pulling me out of my stupor.
"No." I said simply.
"Where ya from if you don't me askin'?" The stranger asked with a heavy country accent.
"Another land." I replied.
"I'm Johnathan, how do ya do?" He asked, chuckling, and sticking out his hand, not taking the hint.
Rolling my eyes, "Jaqualine, I'm doing fine." I shook his hand for as short a possible without being rude.
"What brings you to this part of town?" He asks pleasantly, thumbs in his pockets.
"Just traveling through." I said noticing his badge and gun on his hip. "Officer, huh?"
"Oh, yeah. Just appointed deputy, actually. The sheriff might be retiring at the end of the year, so he wanted me as deputy." Johnathan explained. "Where are you traveling to?"
"Florida, I'm on the way back down to see some family. It's been a few years. I figured it was time to go home."
"A wanderer, then?" sees me nod, "No one is a wanderer by accident, what made you leave?"
"Another conversation for another time, sorry. Been here long?" I asked, avoiding his question, hoping he didn't notice. A crackling static came through an invisible radio interrupted him before he could speak.
"Deputy Jones, copy?"
"Yeah, I copy, over?" he says exasperatedly.
"We need you back at the station, over."
"Copy that," Turning to me, "See you then, Jackie?"
"Yeah, see you later if I haven't left yet."
"Okie dokie then," He says with a wry smile, "Have a good afternoon."
"You too." I say to the back of his head, thinking about how he seemed so confident talking to me while I am so awkward. Johnathan is tall, I think to myself shaking off another thought that began to form. I really don't want to gain feelings for anyone on my way back. I need to get back to my brother. I should stay a week, maybe. I head back to the B&B thinking of excuses about why I am staying a week in case I run into the deputy again.
When I was a freshman in high school, there was a guy I liked named Jonathan. We went to homecoming together that year. It was fun. Come to think of it, the deputy looked a lot like him. Imagine the odds that that man is the boy I went to the dance with way back when. I might have to ask him what his last name is and see if it really is Johnathan Leggio.
Back in the B&B room I strip from my jacket and sit at the end of the bed, lost in thought. There is a knock at my door, must be the owner asking for the rent money from yesterday. I walk over to open the door with the rent money in hand but, it isn't the B&B owner, it's Johnathan.
"How did you know I am staying here?" I ask perplexed.
"You dropped this," Holding out the B&B pamphlet, "I thought I would bring it back, since I'm deputy and all. Mrs. Leziah showed me to your room. I hope you don't mind."
The matter of his last name weighing on my mind, "You can come in if you'd like?" Stupid move, "I was thinking that you look like someone I used to know back in Tampa. Your last name wouldn't happen to be Leggio, would it?"
"Your last name- what?" He asked, "Yeah, I'm Johnathan Leggio. Jackie?" A smile spreading across his face. "Jackie Richards?"
"Well, I'll be damned, it's really you?"
"The one and only." Smile spreading even wider. "Well, how's Luke?"
"I don't rightfully know to be honest. I haven't seen him in like three years." I reply, "I haven't been home in a while. Like you said earlier, wandering spirit."
"Why not? What about your parents?"
"Dead. Car accident. Semi-truck jack-knifed on some black ice. A few miles south of here actually. I was driving." I added tearily.
"Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that." Smile fading, "What if I came back with you? To Tampa, I mean? I'm due for a visit with my Ma anyway."
"In what? Your cruiser? Nah I'm good." Unsure about the idea of sitting in a cop car for six-plus hours.
"I have a motorcycle. We could ride back on that. I have a side car attachment for it if you don't want to ride on the bike itself." Smirking now. "I have a Harley-Davidson XR750."
"I'm cool with that. No sidecar though that just looks stupid. Are you able to leave in a week?" I ask quickly as to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
After a while, Johnathan left because he was called back to the station, and I was left to my own devices. I just got myself into something... We worked out all the kinks for the ride back down to Tampa. Since we are already past South of The Border, we are going to visit Myrtle Beach before we get into Georgia. When we get to Georgia we want to go to Helen (a small town in northern Georgia) and see an old gold mine there right next to the Chattahoochee river. Then we are going to go to Wild adventures in Valdosta, Georgia. In Florida, we are thinking about going to St. Augustine. Then to Tampa we go.