Walking back to the porch, it took a lot of effort to keep a neutral expression.
We’d agreed hours ago to keep it platonic, and I’d just broken that. Then again, his response was more than agreeably telling off the rule. First, we met up, and it was odd. When Jasper took the call, I tried not to let my thoughts overwhelm my sense of judgment, but when he took too long, I went to see. His transfer meant our relationship could further, and I didn’t know what to make of that.
Now, upon breaking the tension by intimacy, I was certain things would get better.
I spent the next hour searching the web and setting up things for the next few weeks. I wanted to spend at least one day with the lot of friends, and one with the family. Of course, I had tomorrow to be with Dad and all the meets to be with Percy, but what about Ed? while I was the middle of an article Jasper called through Skype.
I answered, sighing slightly. “Ah, hi.” I muttered.
He chuckled. “Hello.”
“Have you talked to your Mum yet?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I’ll be up when Dad comes, so I’ll do it then.”
“Jasper, that’s preposterous. On weekends, he works nights. His shift ends at six. I’d bet he’s not even gone yet.” I told him. Jasper’s father worked as a chef and bartender at a pub. It was well known, so he had a good pay. He liked it, as far as I knew.
Jasper sighed, scowling slightly. “Alright, I’ll go now. Call you when I’m back.”
Nodding, I waved. The line clicked dead and I was back to the article.
When he called again, I was read a book on the edge of my bed. Head snapping up, I shifted on the bed to answer.
“Hi, again.” He muttered.
I frowned. “Not good?”
He shrugged, “Dad wasn’t surprised. Mum thinks it’s a good opportunity.”
“So, both?” I said. “I mean, did it go more than an irritated sigh?”
Jasper chuckled. “Of course, it’s just that he thinks I’m rushing it. I assured him, it was solely my boss. Though I do think he’d like I did some research, and I thinks the place is cool. Plus, it’s super close to the Military base.”
I sighed. “That’s only a bonus, not an incentive. But, I see your point.” I said, as he gave me a link to the information. He was being transferred to Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse.
It was a place with huge grounds and interesting history. They were still doing research on the grounds and the geographic significance, and it would be one of the many things Jasper would do there.
We spent the next two hours talking and researching. Jasper was busy trying to find a cheap flat, and I was distracting myself from the possibilities of the future. I worried about Jasper and I, how things would turn out. Of course, I knew I was outdoing myself in dramatic worries, so I focused on the Internet and house hunting.
When we hung up, I went back to my book. I fell asleep at three.
I woke at ten, blinking rapidly. The sun shone brightly, disorienting me as shuffled about in my room.
Downstairs, Angie cooked. Two eggs we set in a plate with fried sausage and ketchup. She was turning two more eggs when I entered the kitchen.
“Hi, Dad.” She said, facing me when she finished.
I smiled, “Morning, Angie.” She grinned. “Sleep well?”
Angie shrugged. “Alright.” When I went to sit, she pointed at the dish. “That plate is for you.”
“Thank you.” I muttered. I ate as she finished off. She set the pan in the sink and sat.
We ate silently. The eggs were good, as always. Angie had started cooking at young age, so the dishes she now made were always tasty.
“What’s the plan today, Dad?” She wondered.
I shrugged, “Depends. The weather is supposed to be good. I say we do whatever in here for a while, and catch a movie at the theatre. Maybe we can go for a bike ride, as well.”
Angie nodded, “Sounds good to me.”
After I was ready to go, I waited by surfing the web on the couch. It took Dad half an hour more to be ready. We sat, reading for a while before Dad turned on the TV. There wasn’t anything on. Dad sighed and turned on his computer. He set up a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, smiling slightly at my sudden enthusiasm.
Roughly an hour later, we sat in the car, Dad’s favorite band on the stereo.
At the theatre, Dad bought tickets. After the movie, we went home to cook. We set up a simple diner, cooking together in the kitchen. We watched TV while eating, the clatter of dishes filling the room at every muted set of adverts.
I spent the next day alone. I read and played video games until a couple hours before dinner. Then, I settled for inviting Orlando over. We played board games for the first two hours, and Dad got home. I helped him cook a bit before Percy came. She’d been working all day as well. She caught up with Orlando while I helped Dad.
Percy had been working extensively since grade ten, saving up for when she moved out of the house. She’d worked most of the week and all week during school breaks. Her hours were good, and she got a decent pay. She also worked for an online company, working at home when she wasn’t out for her other jobs. She still worked for the online business and three days a week during her first few years of Uni. It was only when she was more confident she could balance school and work that she added hours and work days to get more experience and save up.
I knew what I wanted to do what might be called early; I saved up for the future flat search and to investments. I started working with kids at a young age, and I got my first job in grade nine. I worked at a local bike shop. I worked often, getting good money.
The next year, I continued at the shop, but also worked at a theatre. The years during high school, I saved up a lot of money. I worked full days six days a week on every summer, and kept a babysitting position for a couple hours on the day I was free.
Now, Percy had a permanent career job as a chemist. She worked in a lab, researching chemicals and creating compounds. She’d found the job after only two months’ searching. She still worked online, and at a local bookshop on weekends. She planned to move out as soon as she found a decent flat. We hadn’t really spoken, so I wasn’t sure what she’d decided.
She was telling Orlando how she’d presumably need a flatmate, and how she’s originally planned to ask her boyfriend, a couple months ago. That didn’t turn out well, I’d guessed. They’d apparently broken up because she was confident in taking the next step; a flat or something of the sort. He’d declined, and implied a break up.
Dad wasn’t paying attention, running about from the kitchen to the backyard for the grilling he’d been busy with. I’d assured him I was good with the kitchen, but he’d always come and check for himself.
We wind up eating under an hour later. Orlando, it turned out, had been offered a few jobs while we went on with his studies. He’d declined, determined to get his degree.
Now, he was looking around, trying to find a job in the video game designing industry. He said it shouldn’t take too long because of the increasing demand in workers. Apparently, he was quite close and he had an interview coming up within the week. Dad was surprised by this. He told us about how he hadn’t spent that much time either, but the interviews had been limited.
When Orlando left, Percy went to drop him off at the station. I went back upstairs, connecting to Black Ops. Jasper was online. We played together for two hours before switching to playing TF2. I wasn’t as good at Team Fortress, but I had fun by any case.
Once we finished with the video games, I proceeded to calling her on Skype.
“Hi.” I said, busying myself with Internet comics and some flat researching.
She waved. “Hey.” Typing on her end was disrupted, “How goes the flat hunt?”
“Alright. I’ve found a couple. I’m still not sure whether I should be a two bedroom or not.” I replied.
“Decisions. Well, you can always make a list.” She said.
I laughed. “I did. In favour of a two bedroom,
“It’s larger, not that that matters much.
“I’ve got a potential flatmate.
“It’d be good for not moving out later on.” I muttered.
Angie raised an eyebrow. “We never spoke on sharing a flat.”
I smiled. “Yeah, but I figured. Since you’re going to be at a base, with the job rather than the schooling to do.”
Angie nodded, “Logical. I’ll help you look, then. But, no worries, I’m not picky.”
“I know. Alright, here are the ones I’ve got.” I said. “There’s one in Hillside, listed for 1150 a month.” As I spoke I gave her a link to the website. “There’s another in Colwood listed for 1100 a month. Oh, and,” I searched it up, having just found it, “One on Royal Roads, listed at 1150.”
She laughed. “That’s fifteen minutes’ walk to the base!” she frowned, looking focused for a second. “Wait, these are all in the opposite direction from the museum.” She said, glancing my way.
“I’m aware. But there’s something called transit.” I said, raising an eyebrow teasingly.
Angie sighed, nodding. “Yeah, yeah. You’re so cocky sometimes.” She said with a grin.
Eventually, we settled for the one on Royal Roads. Angie had made me promise that I wasn’t rooting for it under her convenience. She seemed happy, and I was glad.
We hung up several hours later. We spoke about many things, but mostly how much we’d changed and how much it would still change. By this logic, Angie had figured things would always change, but that this one was both exciting and quite scary.
With that, I decided not to over think the fact that we’d only really been together for two days. Then again, when we were in high school, those years back, we’d said something along the lines of sharing a flat, and though it had assured that we were four people rather than two, I was fine with this. In those years, Angie, Percy and I had said we wanted a flat together, possibly with Orlando.
Now, as Angie had said, Percy and Orlando most likely had plans of sharing a flat as well, only here in Toronto. She’d said they had gotten along more that well when he was over. They seemed to have up unspoken feelings, but Angie was keen on not interfering. She said they’d possibly get to it while looking for a flat.
As far as Percy And I had been concerned, we’d hung out twice a month since Angie departure four years ago. Sometimes, given the finals, we’d only see each other once a month. She’d gotten along fine without Angie. I think they were both at least a little relieved not to be in the same household for all that time. When they were much younger they shared a room. The other had been their father’s office of sorts.
When they turned ten, he settled for a change and the office became Angie’s room. She hadn’t made much of a fuss about it, but there was this one week where they didn’t get along at all, so Angie settled on the couch every night, as a habit of not wanting to be in the same room as Percy. When their father had enough, he agreed to make the office into a bedroom for her sake. She’d told him she was fine with the couch, in all honesty, but he’d refused.
Their rooms were quite different. When they’d shared it, they had two separate beds. Angie had a top bunk bed and Percy had a separate single bed underneath. They’d agreed not to get a bunk bed because their father had seen the chance of separating them.
When Angie moved into the office, her bed went in the corner, much like it had in the old room. Under the bed, she had a beanbag and a few shelves for books. There were shelves all over and a storage compact for papers and clothes.
The floors were often covered in stacks of paper and books. She claimed it was organized, but it didn’t seem like it. Upon knowing we’d share a room, she assured me she’d keep the cluttering to a low amount.
I woke the next day, and it was early enough that Dad was still at home. I packed his lunch, getting breakfast ready afterward. He checked his laptop, sitting across the table.
I glanced at him. “So, Dad, I just wanted to update you on my job. I dunno if you care much. I’m getting transferred to a base. I’m getting a flat, as well.”
He smiled. “I’d assumed so.” Frowning, he glance my way. “What’s the flat like? Any roommates?”
“It’s good. Unfurnished, though. It’s in the second storey, pretty low price for a two-bedroom. Yeah, one flatmate.” He nodded. “I know you’re curious. Jasper is the guy.”
“Oh. Interesting.” He said blankly. I snorted.
He left shortly afterward, and I was alone. Percy had left earlier, wanting to get more done at the lab.
I called Jasper a couple hours later. We settled for later in the afternoon.
I spent a couple hours at home on the Internet, and went to the library. I was close to a cemetery, so after staying at the library for a while, I walked over. I’d always enjoyed cemeteries, even when I was younger.
Graveyards aren’t popular, so I’d usually gone alone. When I was in high school, one of our friends shared my fascination for cemeteries. We’d go together and spend the afternoon.
I liked how peaceful and silent they were. Often, it was empty, allowing me to roam the grounds. I liked to imagine the fallen. People die twice. Once, when they are buried, but again when their memory fades off, forgotten. The headstones are there to remind us, and that had always seemed so symbolic to me.
I spent two hours, walking the grounds and sitting around. I climbed a couple trees to look into the distance and stay in the shade for a while.
As I sat, reading in a more private section with more bland headstones, I heard rustling nearby.
After finishing my page, I looked up. I saw Jasper, eyeing me a few headstones away.
I frowned as he got closer. “I thought you’d never look up.” He muttered, a couple feet away.
“I wasn’t sure whether you were a random pedestrian or not. And I had to finish my new page, once I decided you not might be.” I explained, smiling slightly.
Jasper grinned and I patted the ground beside me. Nodding, he sat. I could feel my twisted gut, wrenching as he got closer. I wondered how he knew, what he was doing here. “I wasn’t sure where you’d be.” He said, as if knowing what I’d say. “I remember you telling me you were going to the library. I got your text half an hour later, so I still wasn’t sure.
“I didn’t know whether you’d left.” He looked at me. Taking my hand, he went on, “I tried to think as you would, what would you do? It didn’t take me much time to realize you were probably at a graveyard. I wasn’t sure which.” He chuckled. “But then, I remembered you looking up and smiling widely when we passed by this one while on the tube. I remembered how your eyes lit up, with fondness and wonder whenever we came nearby.”
“And how did you find me in this section?” I whispered.
He smiled. “I knew you’d like some place in the maze of headstones, away from the gravel. Maybe some place with trees. I checked in the trees, wondering if I could see you in the distance. I didn’t.”
I chuckled, looking down. Before I could say anything, though he sighed. “I know why you like cemeteries. I figured it out on the way here. It’s quite simple, really. You find it reassuring. It’s very peaceful and quiet, but it’s also quite mysterious and lonely. It’s bittersweet. You like to imagine the people who are buried, to picture them in life, to imagine a death; tragic or not. You like the mysterious history and all the probabilities that life has. But, also how death has steps, how people go from human to matter. How they’re forgotten as time passes. You find all those ideas intriguing, especially when put together so well. And as it happens, that’s exactly what graveyards are for, in a sense.”
“Didn’t you hear? Life’s a game we’re meant to lose.” I said, smiling widely.
Jasper snickered. “Good one.”
I sighed, “In all seriousness, um.” I swore, sighing, I closed my eyes as to try to focus in between stuttering.
“I’m here because I wanted to spent time with you. I wanted to see whether graveyards were honestly intriguing. I wanted to explain things to you.” He said. “I wanted to keep you company.” I opened my mouth, but he cut me off again. “I went in early. The manager dismissed me earlier, noting my fidgeting as a distraction for what was actually on my mind.” He fiddled with my hand. “I kept thinking about how much I care about you. How much pain and stress and loneliness you’ve been through. I wanted, I want you to be happy. I couldn’t bare to think of you that way again.” He kissed my temple. “You don’t know how little self-control I had when you broke down in 2002. It pained me so much to see you that way. To hear you through the phone, with the smallest amount of rope left.” He leaned closer, fiddling with my shirt hem. “It took me so long to realize it was so much more than fondness. Even then, I denied it. You were in a different province, probably staying there. Every time we would plan to Skype, I could barely think about anything else that day. I was so nervous and so relieved and so confused, but I knew I’d talk to you and that made me feel better. Whenever we saw each other in person, I could barely contain myself.” He whispered. The lump in my roast grew more pronounced, then. I waited for him to finish. “I missed you so much. I always thought about you. I worried that you weren’t happy. I wondered how stressed out you became. It took so much effort to not think about the worst scenarios. I would picture you curled up in a ball, tears shining off your face, shaking uncontrollably as you tried to calm down. I knew you had a method to contain yourself, but I was never sure whether you’d use it often. I hoped with everything, you wouldn’t try to shake it off and ignore it until it got terribly uncontrolled.” I could feel my chin shaking, my vision blurred by tears threatening to come. “It helped so much when I saw your face, often at least slightly happy. I couldn’t trust myself to keep it in, especially not if I received a message indicating a panic attack, or a breakdown. I spent the days on your worst weeks hoping not receive a Skype call and see you in tears, curled up in blanket as you shook, stuttering when you tried to speak to me.”
I swallowed, blinking. A tear shed, unbidden. “I’m sorry.” I whispered, almost inaudibly.
Jasper looked my way, and his eyes grew wide. “Oh god, Angie. Sorry. I shouldn’t have. I’m so sorry.” He whispered, kissing me where the tears had fallen.
“No, no, I needed that.” I said, shaking my head. “I worry about myself a lot as well. I never knew whether I was happy or not. I just hoped the pit in my stomach never got huge, worsening my state. I always thought about you when it happened. Whether you’d be bothered if I talked to you. Whether it would worry you sick, like I worried when you warned me of a dilemma. I hated myself for being insufferably uncontrolled, sometimes I still do. All I wanted was to be at least slightly happier. I wonder how long the feeling would last. The way you described me is so accurate, I don’t even know how you could picture that. I always hoped you never saw me the way I see myself. But, I suppose you can guess. That sort of counts, in a way. I hoped it wouldn’t turn you away. God, how I worried about that. It took so many distractions.
“Thinking of you, of how happy you were, of how well you were doing with your studies helped. I never thought you’d be miserable, not after seeing how passionate you were about it. I envied that, the certainty. I knew I’d never be able to think that of my job. Not when so many people disapproved. I missed you so much, and everytime I heard your voice, or saw your emails, I was always instantly happy. Worried and missing you, but happy.”
Jasper gazed at me as I spoke. My voice was low, a soft murmur as I tried to control the shakiness in my voice. I glanced at the ground, fiddling with my laces as I spoke. I could feel his gaze on me and it worried me a bit, but I couldn’t look up. Eventually, he placed a finger under my chin, guiding my face toward his. His lips quirked up slightly as our eyes met. His hand moved to my neck, thumb tracing my jaw. I watched him, breath evening as I controlled myself. When my heartbeat steadied and I sighed, I smiled. He chuckled, biting his lip. Our eyes met again briefly. His eyes unmistakably flicked to my lips. I snickered, closing the distance after a moment.
I laughed quietly, head lowering to rest my forehead against his shoulder. He chuckled, hand rubbing my back.
Afterward, he suggested we take a stroll. We walked hand in hand around the field. It was beautiful.
We walked some more, and went to his house. There, we went to his room. We watched TV for a bit. During the commercials to the next TV show, Jasper muted it, smiling. I frowned. I wasn’t sure whether to say anything but before I could think anything through, we were kissing again.
I called Dad, telling him I’d been offered a diner at Jasper’s. He said it was fine.
Diner was mostly silent, but we did talk about work a bit. Lydia wanted to know how things were. I told her about my departure and she seemed impressed.
Back in Jasper’s room, we played PS3. Jasper drove me home roughly an hour later. We held hands, and it felt much more natural. Jasper came to my side again. We kissed, my back pressed against the door. I hugged him, and he kissed my temple. I turned to leave, but at the steps, I turned around. “Oh, and Jasper?” I called. He raised an eyebrow. I ran back down, threading my figured through his. “I am happy.” I squeezed his fingers, and he returned the favor. I didn’t need to expand.
When I shut the door to my room, I received a text. [And that makes me happy.]