Liz walked up the stairs to Jewlz’s room as slowly and elegantly as her racing heart could let her. Behind her was Michael who she hoped was watching. She had watched him watch the cousin yesterday with so much pride in his eyes and saw the way Nick looked at Jewel and she wanted that but she was also quite excited to see Jewlz. There was so much to tell her, so much to hear, starting with where had she spent her night. It was unlike her to spend the night away from home.
She found her seated on the bed comfortably, her mind looking occupied, with phone in hand. She looked calm and peaceful.
“You! Where were you the whole night?”
Jewel looked up and Liz read no emotion from her. Okay she was too calm. She knew this look and she hated it. It was what she always pulled when she was being strong for everyone but herself.
A slight brow lift and the tiniest of twitches adorned her face for a millisecond and Liz knew in that instant that something had gone terribly wrong the previous night.
“Oh you know, with Nick and all, it was beautiful.” She said as she tried to get a smile to her countenance.
Liz wondered. Jewel never lied to her so what was making her start now.
“Come on, Jewlz, you can do better than that. Details?”
She listened as Jewlz took her through the date, the car ride, the dinner, the dance and for all of her could not make out why she was as sullen as she was. Yet, as the story continued, she could feel her best friend’s heart breaking. There was no excitement in her voice, no emotions, she might have well been reading the newspaper or recounting the weather update of the past few days.
The Jewel mentioned that he had kissed her and Liz heard her voice crack, she rushed over and hugged her. She concluded what was troubling her friend and she knew why it plagued her as much. She didn’t want to know what had happened afterwards. She could not bear to see her heart break any further. She just held her and let her relax arms, whispering to her that it’s fine, she does not have to. She felt Jewel tremble beneath her arms and she felt her heart break as well. She felt like her best friend’s heart was breaking and not for the first time. This, however, was the first time it had been done by her own actions and helped by a man.
Liz felt her heart break as well. She knew how much Jewel protected her purity, how much it defined her and how much she believed in it. She was not much of a church goer and most Sundays would find them in picnics or she would just be somewhere but she believed in purity and marriage. Liz who frequented church had long since lost hers, in the back of a car to a high school football player whom she had felt was everything at the time. Looking back, she felt so foolish and did her best to not remember that time. She liked that most of the girls her age had done the same. It made her feel like she was not such a bad person and gave her a false sense of belonging. But never Jewel, she always said that she did not judge them but felt that it was not her path.
Liz had started believing in her cause. She felt like Jewel’s purity was hers to protect, like it was both their burden that if one of them made it, it made the difference. She felt like both their hearts and dreams had been taken away. And together they sat in that warm embrace until they heard Michael call out. She thought to tell her about her day with Michael but figured that it was neither the time nor the season. She would tell her some days to come. They both straightened themselves and went downstairs, smiling as they held hands. Some things were to be kept just to friends.
“Where were you little one?” Michael asked, contented just to see her walking around and smiling. She seemed happy and somewhat tired.
“Went to the Le grand then he took me to some club, I didn’t know dancing was so tiring.” She lied. “Liz tells me the two of you were so worried. I’m sorry to have caused such great alarm.” Michael smiled. Jewel even at an age where everyone was rebellious and showing the world that they were now legally adults was still as respectful as ever.
“Next time call okay?”
It was time to watch mama on the News. It was late in the evening and they were munching through their take out as they all hurdled up around the Tele. Jewel enjoyed such times, seeing her mum in her element. Her mum looked like she was born and bred to be a journalist and one of the best at that. When she was around, she would anchor from time to time but her joy and what made her renowned was her gift in reporting disaster news, there was a way she conveyed the news that just seemed to ice the heart.
Mum’s news were normally aired within the first fifteen minutes, today however, they were way into almost the end of the news and still nothing. They waited patiently, happily chatting through the rest of the news. Michael suggested that they must still be doing the final edits and would come in the next news time show, two hours later, that seemed to make sense and Jewel relaxed. They all decided to wind down with Netflix as they waited for the 9 O’clock Prime time news.
“In other News today, a man and woman were found shot dead today at a local resident here in town. The man who has since been identified as Nicholas Simmel was the late son of renowned business man and hotel investor Mr. Jackson Simmel, the owner of the Le Grande chain of hotels.
The cause of the homicide seemed to be a nasty love triangle. The perpetrator identified as Alice was found crying at the scene of the crime and has since been taken into custody.
We do wish to pass our condolences to the family of the bereaved. In a sad moment of reflection we all stop to ponder what has love come to nowadays?”
Jewel hadn’t been paying attention to the TV, she never really did, it was only until somewhere between laughter of a cheesy joke Michael had said when she heard Nick’s name that she took notice.
She had turned her head to the most ghastly sight she had ever seen, rather she had seen in a while. The screen was bloody, Nick’s blood. Her Nick’s blood, her perfect not so perfect gentleman, the Nick who had broken her heart after giving her so much hope…She hadn’t even healed from the blow, Nick, Nick was dead! How? Why?
Why was the world such a cruel place? The Nick whom she loved was dead, she felt guilty for feeling pain, anguish even after all he’d done to her!
Then it hit her, She had wished him dead, she’d wished them both dead!
“Oh Lord what have I done?” I didn’t mean for them to die! (if she hadn’t been so bereaved, she’d have laughed at her own irony)
Why would Alice kill him? What had happened? They looked so happy together, she thought, raw bitter bile rising up her stomach as she recalled. It had not even been 24 hours. What could have happened to change so much in 24hours? Had Nick been so lustful? How many times had he lied to her? About valuing purity? About wanting no one but her? About loving her? How many times had she lied to Alice? My good Lord was I what…the fourth woman? Fifth? And now on top of that you make me mourn for you? How selfish could you be Nick? Even in death?? You were meant to PAY! Here! While on this end of eternity! How could you? How could you die in the arms of another woman at the hands of the other woman who you left me for?
She felt her heart cripple, it felt like it was tightening into a ball, a huge heavy tonne of stone and she could not breathe, couldn’t feel, couldn’t hear, and could not see, she just was. There was only one thing ringing in her head, “Nick was dead!”
She rose quietly from the seat, almost zombie like and walked slowly to her room, manoeuvring through the stairs like they weren’t there at all. There were no shuffled feet, no dragged posture, just a silent calm walk to the bedroom.
Curling up into a ball, she brought her phone close to her, texted her mum and just slept. There was no better remedy; other than just lying on her mother’s lap or how she used to on her father’s lap. She smiled. She thought of such moments and let her tired mind sleep. This day had been too much, too too much.