Mrs. Jessica Campbell sat in her plane, her mind; a rollercoaster. Jewel seemed to consume and penetrate every edge of her mind and no matter how much she tried to dispel her from her thoughts, she couldn’t help but feel that her daughter was in danger. It did not help that as she brought her to the airport her daughter had looked sad and gloomy.
They had not talked. Not since Jack had passed on close to five years ago. She could not help but feel that Jewel blamed her for the death of her father and the gloom that lurked at home and in their hearts after that. She had been so absorbed by the sudden loss that she did nothing but cry. She could not shake off that last time she had been home. For the first time she had fought with Jack. He had wanted her to spend more time with her family while she had insisted that she would- right after her big project in Iran. He told her that between work and her family she would choose her work and she had vehemently refused. She only needed time to finish this last project (and maybe three more after that) then she would get a job near home in a local media house. She had argued that being a news anchor is no easy job and was very competitive and she could not just leave when things were looking up for her. She even pointed out that this might get her a Pulitzer.
He had sighed and said his last words to her. “Every minute with those you love matters. Money is not a problem- I can easily provide. You just want to prove to everyone you’re the best yet you don’t believe it yourself. Your ego will ruin you Jessica and I may not be there to help you up. ‘What God put together your work has laid asunder. I love you and I always will but the choice is yours Jessica your work or Jewel and I. The house or the plane: Decide.” He had turned and left her, never once looking back.
Left alone in the huge living room, Jessica had held her knees and cried, somehow expecting him to come back and say it was alright.
He had not.
She pondered on all the effort she had inputted into her work from when she was a mere girl working at the students magazine till when she landed a job in CNN, she smiled at the thought of Jack, how they had met and fallen in love, the concerts, the road trips, and how he had stayed up with her as she edited her stories, constantly reminding her that she would make it, she would achieve all her daddy had wanted her to and even more. She just needed to keep on pushing. She remembered the wedding, giving birth to Jewel and all the joys of watching her grow up, she remembered going back to work and feeling like she had lost tonnes and tonnes of precious time.
She glanced at the clock.
She had known that the choice she would make would change everything. With her plane leaving in an hour, she had just sat there and cried.
She looked at the clock, thirty minutes.
She remembered grabbing her keys and jolting out of the room whispering she’d be back. She had pulled out of the garage and had driven so fast never once looking back. If she had, she would have seen Jack at the door, tears running down his cheek.
He had lost his wife.
The pain that had jolted her the day she had received the news shot through her again. The flooding tears that had fallen once were now silent tears. It had been only two weeks after their fight. He had known he would go soon. That’s why he had begged her. The guilt she had felt then came back. This time more intense than she had ever thought possible. She could not shake off the look Jewel had given her the day she had gone home. Her little eyes had been red and swollen. “Mama where were you?” she had asked. “They buried papa yesterday. He went two weeks ago. He lives in heaven now. Told me to tell you he loved you. Where were you Ma?” she had tried to reach her, wanted to explain that there had been an air strike. That no planes were allowed in or out, that she had tried what she could and that she had loved him- them so much but Jewel had turned and had gone to her room.
The pain she had felt then was something she would not wish on her worst enemy. They had not talked since then. Whenever she tried to start a conversation she would look at Jewel’s eyes and see that same look. The look that reminded her of how she was unworthy, of how unqualified she was as a mother, as a wife, as a woman. She had not even attended her own husband’s funeral. She had gone to his burial site and the fresh soil just gnawed at her soul. All the traditions about how a body cannot be kept without burial for more than eight days screamed at her, the conversations with the priests, his friends as she tried to push the date farther and farther. She felt like they all judged her, she remembered how they had finally agreed on a date and she had had her flights ready in due time. Then the damned airport had announced the air strike. She had struggled to explain that her husband was dead, she had to go bury him, they all thought she was mad or insane or both. She remembered when a response finally came in and she found that she had been too late.
Two days late. and
She had rented a motel instead of going home to just cry. How could she explain that to her daughter? To her family? To his family? To the world? She tried explaining to the Jack crying over his grave and thought of how dumb she must sound talking to an epitaph.
In the end, she had stopped trying and decided to thrust herself fully into her work. It made her forget. Forget just what a bad mother and wife she felt she was. She missed those days when it had been just the three of them. The days she had ruined. Jewel had been just a little girl then and now she was becoming a woman. She had missed the best of her life working. The two or three weeks she used to go home were heaven. They would enjoy so much together. A real family. If only she could turn back time……
She was not at peace. All she could think of was her daughter been hurt, heartbroken, crushed all sorts of evil things crossed through her mind. Twice she had thought of ordering that they turn the plane. But then what? How could she warn her? She wished she had talked to her about men and how to sieve them. She wished that she had taught her how to read people and how to select proper friends and those sorts of things. She shuddered at the thought of her daughter drugged. She had not told her what to do in a party or anything of that sort. Then it hit her like a bolt-she had not even taught her how to use sanitary pads! She felt so ashamed of herself. All the same she called her sister Catherine; she’d know what to do. Maybe Jewel could go stay with her for some time.
She called Jewel, she didn’t pick.
She had tried.