Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Stop on Jaycee's Journey

And this is what came of all the hoping Jaycee did as a child.


Later, while they unpacked, Jaycee said, “Hey, you never gave me that hint about my Christmas present. Spill it, you welsher.”

Bud took a wrapped package a little larger than a shoe box from his bag and held it in front of her. “It’s something you’ll like.”

“That’s not a hint, Bud. Let me hold it.” She reached for it, but he shook his head.

“Not unless you let me see mine.”

“Okay, then forget it. When are we gonna open them anyway?”

“Christmas Eve I guess. Hey, you wanna get a tree?”

She shrugged. “You should probably save your money now that your dad disowned you and you’re poor.”

“We can wait until Christmas Eve when they cut the prices. Would you care if we had to settle for a Charlie Brown tree?”

“No,” she said with a scornful laugh. “It’s not like I’m used to having one at all.” When she saw the expression on his face, she wished she hadn’t said it. “Don’t look at me like that, Bud. It’s not a big deal.”

“C’mere, Firecracker.”

She rolled her eyes. “Do you always have to be such a sap, Bud?”

“We’ll get the tree today so we can get a nice one,” he said as he hugged her. “Then we’ll go buy some decorations—-lights and everything.”

She looked up at him. “Okay, if it means that much to you. I’ve even got some stuff we can use, but I’m not gonna tell you about it unless you promise not to get all weepy on me.”

“I can be tough.”

“Yeah, right,” she said as they sat on the bed. “You know how kids always make decorations at school to take home and put on their tree? Well, I’d hang mine in my bedroom window and make up stupid stories in my head about how I was a prisoner of war or I’d been kidnapped or some shit like that, and I’d pretend I made the decorations from stuff I sneaked from my captors.” She paused and shook her head with an embarrassed laugh. “I know it was dumb, but I kept them for some reason. They’re in a shoe box in my closet at the dorm.” She looked up at Bud. “Oh, Jesus. Is that what you call tough?”

“Shut up and let me hug you. And don’t give me any lip.” He pulled her roughly into his arms. “How’s that?”

They bought a six-foot Frasier fir and put it up Sunday night. When they went shopping for decorations, Jaycee couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement of the Christmas rush she’d never been a part of before. Since Bud was so hell-bent on making up for all the Christmases she’d missed, the least she could do was enjoy this one. They bought lights and tinsel and a star for the top, and when Jaycee hung the childish decorations made from construction paper and glitter alongside the beautiful glass ornaments they’d bought, she decided they went together as perfectly as she went with Bud.

When they were done decorating the tree, they made love on the floor in the glow of the lights. Afterward, Jaycee lay watching them twinkle as Bud slept beside her, his arms around her and his breath warm on her neck. She tried to remember ever feeling so happy, and that’s when the first rumblings of terror struck, because the last time she’d felt that way had been the day she’d lost Cole.

She turned and clung to Bud in a panic, and his arms tightened around her.

“Where you going?” he murmured.

“Nowhere, Bud. I’m staying right here with you.”

He smiled without opening his eyes. “Good. Don’t ever leave me, Jaycee.”

She pressed her face against his neck and inhaled the scent she’d come to associate with him, a combination of soap and sex. She told herself her happiness didn’t have to end this time, because Bud needed her as much as she needed him. They would hold on to each other and keep the bad things away.

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~Stay true to yourself, and your dreams will come true.

1 comment:

  1. Aha! A happy ending. I loved this one, Joyce. The part about her little handmade ornaments was delightful. We had a tree like that for many years. When I moved I turned them all over to Raquel, who still hangs them on her tree. Great job!