by Bly Jette
Where it all begins...
Sally sat towards the back of the room. She had been coming here for so long, she saw so many new faces but she always looked for that one... She knew he'd never show up again and she sighed in relief.
Group counseling had helped her a lot through the years, but it had also been her demise. Though she had been coming to this certain group for a while, she had never truly given her story.Tonight though, it would change. She had requested last week to be the speaker of the group tonight. The counselor was thrilled to say the least.
"Oh Sally, I'm so happy that your finally going to share with us. I know you have been through so much" Awkward hugs had been exchanged. Sally wasn't big on physical contact.
As the normal faces began to fill the room, Sally smiled politely and waved to a few people she had grown close to. Tonight was her night to own her story and her heart was pounding.
"As most of you know, Sally has asked to speak tonight. After introductions, we will give her the floor."
Sally's palms grew sweaty and she thought she was going to pass out.
"Anxiety?" One girls whispered, Sally nodded. "You got this hon." She smiled sweetly. Finally her nerves began to calm.
It was her go, she stood up and walked to the front of the room. All eyes were on her.
"Thank you all for coming to listen to me tonight..." She took a deep breath to steady her nerves and unfolded her notes. "I've been on a hell of a journey with you guys and tonight, I want to share with you what you've helped me with".
It was just her and her three children. She was in the midst of a brutal divorce but luckily, no custody battle. The ex husband had decided to give up parental rights and she and the kids had thirty days to move. That's when she started attending group counseling.
She was going to one that was at night, and sadly she could no longer attend. Sally panicked at what she was going to do but knew it had to be done.
"Tonight's my last night here, I won't be able to come anymore."
"What? Why?" Jack asked. She hadn't known him long and only in group.
"My kids will be at home alone." She said with a pout.
"Hang after the meeting a bit, I think I could help you." He smiled and something stirred inside of Sally. She rolled her eyes in her head, smiling a little.
After group was over, Sally hung out outside, smoking in the dark except a small sliver of light coming out of the door window.
"Smoking is bad for you" Jack smiled as he lit a cigarette.
"Same goes for you."
Jack laughed a little and handed Sally a small piece of paper.
"It's another group I go to, a little smaller and we meet in the late afternoon."
"Oh ok, that's great."
"Maybe I'll see you there"
"Yeah, I'll try to make it"
"Also, my phone number, text me anytime if you need someone to talk to."
"Thank you" There was that stirring feeling again. She walked to her car and jotted down her number. "Same goes for you." He smiled and leaned in for a hug.
Sally embraced him back, for the first time in a long time it felt amazing to be touched. She stumbled out of the embrace awkwardly.
"I should go." She smiled slightly and climbed into her car. Something was different about Jack and it scared the hell out of her.
After a week had passed, Sally was unsure if she should go to the group. But there she was, sitting in the living room with her soon to be ex husband and he was bitching as usual. Soon she would be gone and wouldn't have to deal with him on a daily basis. The thought motivated her.
"Where are you going now?"
"Group, I'll be back before the kids get home." Sally grabbed her keys and left.
Jack was standing outside, smoking and talking to another guy when Sally pulled in. She hated going to new places, her palms were sweaty and even though she was here, she wasn't sure that she wanted to be anymore.
She sat in the car for a little while, to steady her nerves when Jack knocked on the window. Sally jumped a little but rolled down the window.
"Glad to see you could make it" Jack smiled, this time it reached his eyes, and the way the sunshine hit them... Sally's heart began pounding against her chest, his eyes were the perfect mix of chocolate with hints of amber and jade. She smiled back, unable to say anything else. He stepped back, motioning for her to get out of the car. Everything inside of her was shaking and only part of it was because she was nervous.
"I decided last minute" she said meekly.
"You ok?" his eyes searched hers, Sally felt like he could see everything she had ever hidden.
"No" with a weak laugh she closed the door and ran an unsteady hand through her raven hair.
"Take a deep breath honey", his voice thick with concern "you don't even have to talk, not if you don't want to. If you do, just start with the basics... like your digasnoisis, until you're comfortable." He grabbed her hand, for Sally it was all over. This man who she really barely even knew, had shown her more compassion in two weeks than she had gotten in years from her husband.
"Ok" she nodded, his grip tightened on her hand.
"Come on, let's doing this together."
Sally said the bare minumin, told them she was bipolar with severe anxiety going through a divorce and becoming a single mom. Jack sat next to her, he moved his chair so close that it should have been uncomfortable but it wasn't, actually she wanted him closer.
After it was over, Sally felt better... Everyone was very nice. The man Jack had been talking to is Tom, the founder of the group and one of Jack's best friends. There were a few others that she met, but she couldn't remember their names. Honestly, all she was focused on was Jack, he hadn't taken his eyes off of her since she arrived.
"Do you have time to go grab a coffee?" Jack asked walking out the door with Sally. She glanced at her phone, she had about an hour before she had to be home. Her heart was racing, she didn't know what to say or do.
"Yeah, I think so..." she smiled a little.
"I like when you do that." he chuckled.
"Smile... It lights your face up. Very beautiful."
Sally figured a normal response would be a deep blush, but instead she looked at him confused. It had been years since someone told her she was beautiful and sounded like he meant it.
"Let's skip the coffee, come to the beach." He smiled and they headed to the beach. Half a mile down the road there was city beach, benches, swingsets, with the veiw that made heads spin. Waves crashing against large rocks, the lighthouse a short distance away. This was Sally's place to go when life got hard, well her second place. The first was closer to home.
"So, tell me about your tattoos" Jack smirked.
"Oh." Sally smiled, "I have quite a few"