Part III – TWO YEARS LATER (2006)
It was my last week before I was scheduled to take a break. I had just graduated, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in BC. I was getting good money and I liked my part time job, but I knew my family might be uneasy about it. I had contacted the military offices about moving me to a base.
Mercury was staying in BC, but possibly transferring to a base, having nearly finished schooling.
I didn’t know whether I was ready for the transfer, or how things would be at boot camp..
Jasper had said that knowing me, the family might prefer the base in Barrie, but he knew I liked BC, so he didn’t know which to say. He suggested I wait until the break was over.
In the grounds, I was often alone, studying and thinking on my made bed.
On the day that I left, I packed my belongings and wondered what to wear.
I wore my cleanest clothes, less baggy as well.
On the train, I busied myself, reading and sleeping. But mostly reading.
I took the tram back home, knowing Dad would be at work.
People looked at me, as I stood stiffly, holding the rail but never sitting down.
Back home, Percy was surprised to see me.
She smiled widely as she noticed me. We greeted each other happily and I went to put my things back.
In my room, it was still the same. Except, it hadn’t been dusted or cleaned in a while. Dad had stripped the sheets, so the mattress lay, uncovered.
I was minding my own business in my room, when the door unlocked. It was an obnoxious lock I hated it, but this was one of its quirks.
I looked out in the hall and only saw a duffel bag. I frowned, going out. In the kitchen, I recognized a tall figure with short hair. I frowned and noted her posture. “Evan?”
She turned and frowned. “Hello, Percy.” She swallowed and glanced at me hesitantly. Evan and I had never been physical, but for this one time, we advanced quickly for a short hug. It only lasted seconds.
Her hands clapped awkwardly on my back and I snickered. “You know that that’s kind of ruining it, yeah?” I said in French.
She smirked, shrugging slightly as she looked away. “Are you home alone?” I nodded, and she drummed her fingers along the table silently.
Evan and I had never spoken anything other than French. Well, asides from when it got awkward because of the stares, or if we’d been with a large mass of friends. Though even then, we’d still slip up.
Eventually, she awkwardly exited toward her room.
I was happy she was staying for a while. She would need to get used to us, and same us for her, but it would be great.
I spent most of the time that night in my room. I went out to check if Dad had gotten home yet, but no such luck. I made myself something small to eat and retreated to my room.
When he did get home, it was seven. I never remembered him coming home that late but I supposed it made sense, seeing as Percy would be studying and such, meaning he could manage a couple more hours.
He greeted me cheerily, with a large hug and a sigh. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. A bit tired from the ride, but good.” I said. “How’s work? Taking extra hours?”
He shrugged. “Good. Work is there. Yeah, keeps me a bit more busy, less homework.” Dad said.
We wind up sitting on the couch, watching TV for the next two hours, before I got tired and went back to my room. Jasper contacted me saying we should meet up. Eventually, we settled for the library at twelve-thirty.
I woke in the morning feeling off. It was early, as per habit. I fixed up my room with precision and stayed on the couch. There, I read for awhile before going to have a small breakfast.
Back in my room, I checked my drawers for possible clothes to wear. I didn’t know what would still fit me, so it took some effort. Normally, I’d just peek and get items that’s fit well together.
I took a short cold shower before setting into blue cargo pants and a plaid button down. I had time to spare, but didn’t waste it, instead I automatically left.
I took the tram to the nearest station and rode up to the library. Of course, I was stiff and uncomfortable, being used to the the spacious, loneliness of the outskirts in Victoria.
At the library, I was early. I took the time to look around for books. Eventually, I settled in a secluded corner to read, surrounded by large shelves full of mystery novels. I had a pile of five books, incase I suddenly didn’t see the point in the one I had picked up to read first.
I was broken from my intense reading by shuffling sounds coming from my left. I glanced, looking intently. My gaze was met by none other than Jasper. He walked toward me, smiling slightly. I smirked, getting up.
In a quick motion, my arms were around his waist in a hug. He chuckled softly and wrapped his arms around me. I ignored the analytical part of my mind informing me that this was my first real hug when it came to Jasper. I noted that I should not mess this up, seeing as I was clumsy and always managed to make hugs awkward by stepping on people’s feet.
I’m not sure how much time passed, but I felt my face heat up. Flustered, I smiled and licked my lips reassuringly, whether to myself or to Jasper, I didn’t know.
We sat, and I set my books aside. “It’s been far too long,” Jasper muttered.
I nodded. We hadn’t Skyped each other because of Jasper’s finals, and we hadn’t spoke at all even a couple weeks before that. I hadn’t physically seen him in over a year, either. “What’ve you been up to?” I wondered.
“Not much. After my finals ended, I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I stayed home and went on the interwebs and read for hours on end.”
“Shitty sleep pattern?” I predicted.
He smirked and nodded. “What about you?”
I shrugged, “I had a bit of work to do. Though, I also had to help out and stuff. They’ve been trying to figure out when to get me to Quebec for the monthly training, and whether to move me to a base, possibly more Ontario Local. I’m not sure yet.”
“That’s cool. Well, I’ve got myself a job.” He muttered happily.
“Really! Wow, that’s great.”
He grinned. “Yeah, I work in the lab and research parts of the museum. It’s very intriguing. I like it.” He said, biting his lip slightly. He studied archeology, biology and history in Uni, and had recently gotten his Masters for it.
“That’s good. You’re happy. Have you got a flat?” I wondered.
He shook his head. “I’m not sure I want to stay in Toronto. They said they may transfer me, but it was vague and blunt. No final decisions. I was looking, but I may move out of Ontario, so no point.”
“Oh, interesting. Yeah, they said the same with me. They haven’t decided much.” I muttered. “D’you reckon staying will be good, or the opposite?” I wondered.
“I can surely say somewhere else would be great, but I’m fine with staying in Toronto.”
He nodded, and we stood once more in order for him to get some books. After a good ten minutes, he nodded his okay and we sat down.
We spent the next two hours reading, side by side. I’d finished one of the books, reading a second for then. It was taking me more time because Jasper kept interrupting me to look at a book of graphs and tables he had picked out. He went on to laugh or chuckle whenever he found something funny, followed by tapping my leg twice with the book.
I met Angie at the library. I was nervous, I hadn’t talked to, much less seen Angie in a while. I’d been busy with finals and getting a job. Now that I had one, and she was on break, we had to meet up. I knew she would have changed again.
Angie was happy and confident. I knew for a fact that she was conflicted, her choices getting in the way of happiness. I would try, I thought to myself, to affect her opinion in the least biased way possible.
I, myself, had been conflicted with staying or moving within the last couple months. They had told me nothing was final, but I would have to make the choice at some point.
At the library, I searched in isolated corners. It was on the second corner that I found her, at the end, a pile of books at her side.
Her head snapped up at the noise, presumably, my footsteps. She smiled widely and stood, quickly rushing up to hug me. My arms adjusted at the right moment, because this was the most intimate we’d ever gotten. It was more genuine, and tender.
She sat back down slightly flustered, grinning. We spoke for awhile before getting up. I found a few books. Most were novels, but I did find some list books and biographies as well.
We read and I couldn’t help but enjoy her company and enthusiasm toward reading. Of course, she’s been much more passionate about books, reading much more often and much quicker than I did. I’d only started enjoying books a couple years after I met her.
After leaving the library, three new books in Angie’s bag, we walked around. We spoke of the past few years, covering topics we had barely talked about in our time on screen. Eventually, we looked for shops. I took her to a bistro, where she had an sandwich. I ate a burger. Having been at the place before, I knew they’d be tender and well cooked.
We spent two more hours together afterward. We went to the park, where we climbed trees and nearby kids grounds.
Afterward, we walked to my place, where she greeted my mother with joy. I could see the nerves building and quickly ushered her inside. We played COD for the next hour.
I offered to take her home. She seemed reluctant, but I assured her it was no inconvenience. She agreed then and we left.
In the car, the radio played soft classical music. This was music we could both agree on. She was silent for awhile before she muttered, “I missed you.”
I had never been forward, much less intimate, and neither had she, but I could tell she meant it with a great severity. I nodded and placed and hand on her knee, brushing my thumb back and forth for a while. Eventually, after twitching slightly in her seat, she placed a hand on my shoulder.
As the ride continued, I ignored the laws and the temptations to use both hands and kept driving. Her hand hadn’t left my shoulder, and mine her knee.
As Angie looked out the window, I couldn’t help but catch her glance and smile. She grinned, humming softly to the song that played. It was barely audible, but she was still quite in tune.
When I parked a few doors down, I felt her hand squeeze my shoulder slightly, and impulsively returned the favour. When I finished, I tapped twice, sighing. I got out of the car, opening her door. Not only was it traditionally polite, it allowed a proper send off.
She smiled as she lifted herself out and stood on her sidewalk. Knowing I wasn’t done, she waited.
I sighed and wrapped my arms around her, allowing some room between the both of us. After a few seconds, I pulled away, gazing at her. She and I were almost the same height, but I managed to grow taller, by roughly two inches.
I smiled reassuringly before kissing her lightly on the forehead.
Sighing, I rubbed her arm softly before walking to my side of the car. I nodded when she grinned, walking slowly toward the house. As I drove off, I noted that she’d watched from the porch.
After my long day with Jasper, I could help but wonder about a lot of things. We had walked around, gone to bistro, gone to the park, and played video games. And then he offered to drive me home. That’s when it sort of got intimate. That’s what I wondered about. Was that good? Was that now an avoidable subject, awkward and unwanted?
Right on cue, I received a text, “Don’t over think today. I’ll see you soon,” he’d said.
I laughed. God, the man knew me.
Well, I supposed that makes sense, when you’re still in touch with him after slightly more than a decade. Even so, the stubborn part of my brain said, I had been gone for nearly half a decade.
I lay in bed, unable to sleep, then. It had been an hour since I’d settled to the dark, humid state of the room, attempting to get some sleep. I wondered about the intimacy. It had grown over the hours, more genuine than ever. Together, we’d just crossed of a bunch of firsts on the list of our intimacy, and god, that sounded wrong.
Wasn’t I supposed to be a rational, grown woman? Wasn’t I supposed to know not to feel insecure?