Monday, November 8, 2010

AJ Silent Voice Week 25: For You, I'll Try

AJ Silent Voice

Picture 1

Picture 2

AJ Silent Voice’s Choice: Picture 1

For You, I’ll try

Sara’s week was a countdown to her day off on Thursday. She needed to take a long trip to Edmonds to visit the guys at Magic Photo and pick up her baby. Despite pulling out all the tricks in her book, her Canon DSLR was still refusing to auto focus. She’d cursed and removed the battery, cursed again when it did nothing, then finally disassembled it and placed it in her camera bag. Removing the battery was the extent of her camera fixing abilities. Dan at the photo shop teased her all the time and reminded her that removing the battery would do nothing. Her standard answer was the middle finger.

“Well, it does something for me. Can you fix it?” she’d asked. He’d laughed and told her to let him keep it a week. She’d scoffed. “You know you’re the only one I’d let keep my baby for that long, right, Dan?”

“I hear ya, Sara. I’m honored. I’d be even more honored if you’d take me up on that offer to buy you dinner. My mom hears all about you and she’s dying to meet you.” His face had flushed and he stared at the ground.

Dan was a geeky guy, kinda plump, but really nice. Sara had shaken her head and gathered her things. “You’re too good for me, Dan. You need to hold out for an honest girl. Plus, you know what they say about long distance relationships.”

He’d just grinned and looked back up at her. Giving her a cheesy wink and the yellow copy of her repair receipt, he’d finally let her out the door.

When she arrived to pick it up, she was thankful to see Dan wasn’t working. It had nothing to do with the fact that she had to turn him down every time she came, she really appreciated the sentiment, but today she wasn’t in the best mood. God forbid she take her bitchiness out on someone as sweet as Dan.

Jake had told her he loved her.

Now, in Sara’s mind, normal people had positive reactions to the words “I love you.” But sadly, Sara didn’t consider herself normal. Nine years is a long time to be alone. Sure, she’d spent some of those years with people, but not people who cared about her. She was just his sister’s kid who lived with them. Family dinners made her feel invisible, and asking for something she needed left her feeling guilty. They fed her, clothed her, and gave her a roof over her head, but that was about all they did.

There were nights that Sara cried herself to sleep, silently sending up prayers to her mother to come back and get her. She was a child then, and those prayers made sense. But now, she knew there was nothing to pray to and no one to listen. Most of all, no one was going to come back for her. Sara didn’t know if she knew what love was anymore or how to do it.

“Thanks, Gary,” Sara said as she left. “Tell Dan I missed him!”

She heard Gary laugh as she left, knowing full well Dan would be upset that she came to town and he didn’t get to ask her out for the hundredth time. As she walked along the busy streets back to the ferry, she noticed the people on the streets. A mother with two young children was exasperated trying to keep them from running into every shop. A business like man sat on the bench waiting for the bus. His coffee was hot and Sara could see the steam rising from the cup. He never took his nose out of the paper.

Someone bumped her shoulder and she snapped her head up, ready to unload. “Hey! What the...”

“I’m so sorry, miss. Please excuse me,” he said politely. His face was beautiful and pale, and his eyes were a deep golden brown. They seemed out of place, though. He was young and lean, not at all what she thought he’d be judging by his voice. He turned quickly and kept going on his way, not giving her a backwards glance.

She sighed. “Invisible.”

She whispered the word longingly, as if it were the most comforting word she knew.

She showed the portsman her ferry pass and made her way to her usual seat on the deck. It was still early in the evening, so it wasn’t quite crowded yet. She took her seat quietly and pulled her camera out of the bag, smoothing her fingers over the familiar shape she was glad to have back in her hands. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Dan, she just felt like a limb was missing without her camera. Clicking the 50mm lens into place, she fired it up and aimed for the mountain ridges in the distance. She partially pressed the button down and the camera auto-zoomed perfectly. Satisfied, she took it apart and placed it back into the bag. She hooked her arm through the strap of the bag and through her purse strap, and closed her eyes.

The sun was warm on her face, so when the tears started to fall, they felt cold on her skin. The breeze picked up as the ferry made its way to Kingston. She couldn’t say she didn’t have feelings for Jake. He made her feel safe and cared for; there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t tell her how amazing or beautiful she was. She stopped arguing with him long ago, but she still didn’t believe it. The tightrope she walked was tedious and consuming sometimes. She didn’t trust anyone, never let anyone near her, but Jake always seemed to fly under the radar.

His personality disarmed her. For a long time, she looked for a flaw, a bad habit or an annoying character trait, but she found nothing. She’d pick fights just to see if he’d say hurtful things; he didn’t. She’d pull away when he got too close, and she waited for the day he’d give up on her; he didn’t. She’d even told him flat out that she hated him once. The look in his eyes when those words left her mouth haunted her still. It was if his whole world had ended. The only thing he said was, “You don’t mean that.” And she didn’t.

Sara stood up and walked to the edge of the railing. She inhaled deeply, smelling the salt on the air and the green on the trees. Wiping her eyes with her sleeve, she steadied herself and said the words.

“I love you too, Jake.” They felt good on her lips, just like his kiss, but stronger and more alive.

But loving someone gave them power to hurt you, and Sara didn’t know if she could take that risk.

The ferry docked and the whistle blew. Sara grabbed her things and headed off the boat. The wind was blowing a bit harder this close to the water, so she popped her hood over her head, stuffed her hands in her pockets, and started to walk towards the parking lot. Her coworker, Marge, had family in Port Townsend and offered to give her a ride back to Forks. As she pulled out her cell phone to text Marge, she heard her name being shouted repeatedly.

Looking around, she finally caught sight of two tanned arms flailing above the crowd. Her heart melted as the crowd parted enough for Sara to see Jake bounding towards her. He had the goofiest grin on his face, and his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth like a dog. When he was finally in front of her, she had to look up to see his face.

“Hey,” he said. He ran his hand through his short hair and huffed out a relieved breath.

“What are you doing here?”

Jake had been waiting for hours, scouring every ferry goer from every ferry, looking for Sara. He knew she wouldn’t run...would she? She couldn’t. There were a few things in life he was certain about, and one of them was that Sara Maddison loved him. She may not know it, but she did. He also knew he’d blown it when he told her so.

“I...uh...I went by your place and you weren’t there, so I stopped in at the store and they said you had the day off and Marge was taking you to the ferry.”

“And?” Jake hated that cold tone in her voice, especially directed at him, but he took comfort because her eyes held a different story. So, he’d have to work through this. No big deal. She was worth it.

“And I wanted to see if you needed a lift home.” He emphasized the word “home,” hoping that she’d understand. When she didn’t respond, he tried again. “Alright, you wanna know the truth? I thought you’d left, Sara. I thought you’d left me. I didn’t know what to do, so I came looking for you.”

She started to respond, but he cut her off. “If you weren’t on the last ferry, I was going to sleep in my car and take the next ferry out in the morning. Then I was going to find you. I don’t know how the hell I was going to do it, but I was.”

“Jake...” Sara’s face looked pained and, stepping close to him, she reached out and touched his face. She wiped the tears from his cheek and he leaned into her hand.

“You scared the shit out of me, Sara. You were so mad last night. I...I didn’t know what to do. Please tell me you’ll never leave me. I..I couldn’t stand it.”

She didn’t know what to say, so she buried herself in his arms. He held onto her tightly, almost too tight, but she let him. She couldn’t say the words he needed to hear right now, but she’d try.

For him, she’d try.