The fan whisks by just enough to produce a lukewarm breeze. The silk, gold colored comforter drapes over my back muscles. A bug buzzes around like he’s in control. Jessica’s eyes are ajar. She has a wrinkle on her neck left over from her baby years. But, when she lifts her eyebrows, it does not even produce one single wrinkle on her forehead.
She says to me, “You have an eye-booger”. I say,” Get it!” She says, “No, it’s yellow—you get it!” I chuckle a little. She loves to make fun of me. Then, she turns to me, in my banana American Eagle boxers, and says, “You have blotched skin.” Sarcastically, I say, “Probably because I’m mixed.”
It’s Halloween and it’s Jessica’s mom’s birthday. Her mom calls. Jessica says, “Happy birthday, mama! I luvvvv you!” Jessica’s mom whispers something back to Jessica and silence follows.
Suddenly, Jessica tears at her skin. She says, “My nana just had a heart attack.” I try to comfort her with a hug but she shrugs it away. Her body is still. She doesn’t cry or frown; she just looks straight, like she’s looking past the wall, picturing something.
Ignoring me, she grabs her pocket book, speeds walks out my room, and out my apartment. I chase her.
“Baby…are you ok?” I say. Not responding, she goes past me. I stop. I think, “Maybe I should let her be alone? Yes, she needs alone time to reflect. No, forget that.” My feet carry me down the stairs to the parking lot. Jessica’s back is leaned on her silver Volkswagen Jetta. Slightly teary eyed, her mascara drips. She budges and lets me hold her tight. Her body is tense. She says nothing. Letting go of my grip slightly, I flick a tear off her eye. She squints.
In a soft voice, pausing between sentences, I say, “Baby…I know that you love your nana. She’s gonna be ok, though. You gotta know that. Plus, she’s getting older and…” I hold my tongue. She makes an effort to smile and says, “I know…I know.”
I say, “Baby, come on, let’s go inside.” Holding my hand, she follows me up the stairs as we go back into my apartment to my room to my bed. Then, I grab Jessica’s Temperpedic pillow and give it to her. She sleeps with it and my couch blanket; my blanket is so short it barely reaches past her knees.
Suddenly, light sheds in with the crevice under the door. Jessica’s eyes flicker like a butterfly flapping its wings. She wakes up and sighs.
She asks me for some water. Her words are tremulous. I come back with the water and she doesn’t say thank you. She just stares into my eyes for a few seconds. Then she wraps her hands around my waist and peck-kisses me. She says, “I love you.” My dimples protrude. I say, “I love you more”, as if I had said it a million times but deeply mean it.
Jessica was silent but she roared inside. She needed a hug, and I was there. She needed someone to say the words, “Everything’s going to be ok”, and I was there. She needed to see the glow and someone’s eyes disappear, and I was there. She needed and I gave. Bad news greets us all and sometimes we all become “Jessica”.