A story about spring break
| Breaking Into Spring
Opening one eye, Jen rolled over. Ugh, she was so tired. Suddenly, blood surged. Hey, she didn't have to go to school today. It was the first day of spring break. Wow, she was energized now. Both green eyes were wide open. A slow grin spread across her freckled face. Spring break. It was about time. Jen couldn't wait to shower and get out of the house. It had been a long, cold winter. She longed to run, jump or do anything but sit in this house rotting. Sometimes, that's what she felt was happening. School was long, boring, and trying her patience.
Jen was a good student, but she shrugged, her eyes showed the apprehension she felt. The pace she had set for herself this year was grueling. Slowly, she backed away from her reflection.
"Jen," her mother's voice floated up the stairs.
"Yeah, mom?" Jen leaned over the railing, blond hair hanging in wet strands on her arm. Annie Bowler, appeared in the kitchen doorway. Wiping her hands on the towel she carried, Annie struggled with news she had to break to Jen.
"I.. a.. Jen come down for a minute will you." Annie, pushed a wisp of short brown hair behind her ear. How was she supposed to break this news to Jen. The two of them had become so close. It had been a year since Jen's father had left them. Annie leaned against the sink facing her daughter as she entered the sunny kitchen. Jen's long blond hair hung in wet strands. A fluffy yellow towel was being used to rub the hair dry. Her face was buried in the towel as she wrapped her hair, fastening it turban style.
Taking a deep breath, Annie blurted out the news. Her shoulder's were hunched. It was as though Annie could use her own body to block the pain she was about to inflict on her daughter. "Denny called. There's been an accident. Jeff has been killed."
A low moan escaped Jen's lips. Her face suddenly went white. Her wide green eyes took on a haunted look as they filled with tears. Annie rushed to Jen's side taking her daughter in her arms.
Leading Jen into the living room, Annie helped her sit on the sofa. Sobbing openly now, Jen mumbled against her mother's shoulder. "Mom, what...what happened." Her grip on her mom shoulder strengthened until Annie's muscles ached in response.
"He was driving home from work this morning. He took the turn at the top of the freeway too wide and..." she stumbled over the words. "He didn't make the turn. I am so sorry Jen." Annie's shirt was wet where Jen had sobbed out her grief as she heard about the death of her best friend. They sat close together, Jen's head against her mother. With her arms wrapped around her daughter, Annie felt tears suddenly well up and spill onto Jen's hair.
Sometimes, life was so unfair. This was a day that marked the start of fun and relaxation for high school kids. Kids all over the country. This spring day should not be filled with the black somber thoughts of death.
"Mom, I want to go up stairs. I need to be alone." Annie gave her daughter a small squeeze as she let her go. Sixteen was so young to face the death of your best friend. Her brown hair swept against her neck as she shook her head in disbelief. Sixteen and dead. Annie believed in a life after this one. She felt someday they would see Jeff again. A heartfelt escape of slow breath was the only sound she could make. Jeff, dead at such a young age. Her blue eyes closed as a tear escaped the corner of her eye. Her hand ran across her face, wiping at the excess moisture. She sank back into the overstuffed blue couch. What a way for Jen's sixteenth spring to begin. Spring was supposed to be a time of new beginnings.
Prostrate, her full length lay diagonally across her bed. Jen hid her face in the softness of a stuffed turtle. Tears ran in rivulets down her cheek. A picture of Jeff with his jet black hair and laughing brown eyes lay behind her puffy lids. A low painful sound escaped her dry lips. She ran her tongue over the dry surface.
"Jen" the sound of her name made her sit up straight. Who had called her name? It has sounded like Jeff's voice but..Jeff was gone. "Jen" there is was again. A shiver ran up her spine. Wide-eyed, Jen slowly turned her head. A shock went through her from head to toe. Heart beating, breast heaving in terror, Jen saw him. Jeff was dressed like he often was at his job as an all night cashier at a local grocery store. Jeans and a clean button down shirt still looked good on him. A clean shirt! He was dead, where was the blood, the blood he had to have been covered in. Heart pounded wildly now, Jen felt a little weak.
"Jeff," the sound stuttered out of her mouth. A shaky hand ran over her eyes as if to hide from what they saw. "I...I don't understand. What..How.." What was she supposed to say. How could she possibly be talking to Jeff. He was gone. Gone forever. It was impossible. But Jeff looked the same as ever. His tanned face was ruggedly handsome, his dimple was still there. In her opinion, Jeff looked slightly like a young Cary Grant.
"I have no idea why I am still here...Jen I..." Jeff wasn't sure what was going on either. He wasn't supposed to be dead. He was only 16. Crazy, thought Jeff but he knew it was true. "Jen, I'm not sure why I am still here but I did want to tell you good-bye. It's funny you know, but I had been thinking for a while if something were to happen to me the least I would want is to say good-bye. We've been friends for a long, long time. I want to thank you for being such a good friend. For standing by me when my mom died a couple of years ago. It's been hard for Deana and me to face not having a mom. Dad is gonna miss me. It is so hard for me to think of Deana without me. It'll just be her and Dad now."
Jen felt a sob well up in her throat. Jeff was here but for how long. "I want you to know that I will miss you Jeff. You don't know how terribly but I'll be there for Deana and your dad. I promise Jeff." As soon as the words left her lips something strange started to happen. Jeff was starting to look funny.
"Jeff! Jeff!" Jen voice strangled on the words. But it was true. Right before her eyes he was fading and she reached out for him. Her finger tips grabbed a piece of cotton then suddenly nothing was there. Jen's fingers closed against each other. Resting her head against the crook of her elbow, Jen felt a warmth through the back of her shirt. It was though Jeff had put his hand against her back. She turned but could see nothing. Then the atmosphere in the room changed. Jeff really was gone.
Quietly rising from the bed, she lifted her cell phone to her ear. Punching, the numbers Jen's teeth bit down on her stinging lips. "Hello" a warmth spread through Jen as she thought of Jeff's last words.
"Mr. Duggan? It's Jen, Jeff's friend. I was wondering if I could come over." Looking out her window, Jen saw a bird, a red bird hopping around on a branch, then she heard a tune. Hearing a sweet note from outside, peace settled in her breast. Lead which had encompassed her heart was slowly unwrapping itself. She could be a friend to Deana and Mr. Duggan. Knowing she could never take Jeff's place, Jen knew something else. Sometimes a friend was better than anything. She knew that better than anything today. Today, as she heard the notes of a bird breaking into spring.