Fourteen. Fourteen was how old I was when I watched that car drive away.
Fourteen. Fourteen was how old I was when I watched that car drive away. I stood in the middle of the street with tears falling down my face, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the car I was watching would turn right around. I am Tabitha and I was the Jonas Brothers’ neighbor before they left New Jersey.
I am now nineteen infact today is my birthday. It has been five years since that day and I still remember it as if it was only yesterday.
The phone downstairs rang and I knew it was Joe. He always called me. “Hello?” I picked it up eagerly. “Hey Tab…can you come over right now?” his voice was a little sad. “Sure. Bye.” I hung up and ran to the house beside mine. There was a moving van in the driveway…
“What’s going on?” I asked. “I didn’t want to tell you before but, we’re moving.” he held his head down. “When?” I spoke in shock. “Today…” he sighed. “Joe you’re moving today and you didn’t even warn your own girlfriend!” tears began welling up in my eyes. “I’m sorry Tabitha, I really am. I didn’t want to hurt you…” he looked in my eyes. “Well you did!” I pulled my hand from his. “Tab, I’m sorry.” he tired hugging me but I pushed him away. “Sorry isn’t going to cut it this time Joe.” I began to cry. “A-Are you breaking up with me?” his eyes watered. “Yes…” I murmured. “B-But I-I love you…” a tear fell from his face.
I had wanted to tell him that I loved him too that day, but I didn’t. I cried every night for two years. Joe and I had been like peanut butter and jelly. We had liked each other since we were six and started going out when we were twelve. It was crazy but I still thought about them all the time.
Joe had tried calling me a few times but every time I just hung up on him. Something like that can’t be erased from the memory. I still wondered if I might have feelings for Joe, but I assured myself time and time again that there was no possible way I could STILL have feelings for him.
I stumbled downstairs, only to be met by my Mother’s excited face. “Happy Nineteenth Birthday Tabby!” she nearly yelled and hugged me. This actually surprised me because for the past year she had been bugging me about actually getting a real life. Even though today was my birthday, it was still just as depressing as every other day that I had to experience. “Mom, you know that I have to get to work.” I muttered as she let me go. “I know, I know. I just can’t wait to give you your present tonight,” her white teeth flashed. “Ok, well I’ll be home at four.” I grabbed my keys and walked out the door. My eyes caught the neighbor’s house; once again, the thought of the Jonases whipped through my head.
My car slid imperfectly into a parking spot outside of the ridiculous restaurant that I worked at. I noticed that Ryan was already there. Ryan was the same age as me and let me tell you he was crazy. I swear that he was just like a stalker; he would even smell me if I was standing in front of him! “Hi Tabby! Happy Birthday! I’m so excited that we get to spend time together on your very special day,” he said quickly as he opened the door for me. “Yea…” I mumbled under my breath. He was so annoying, and actually, he wouldn’t have been that bad if he wasn’t so creepy.
The whole entire was miserable. It was as if the customers had planned a secret mission to ruin my crappy birthday. My phone buzzed; it was a text from my best friend saying happy birthday. She was off in Europe in some fancy college. Part of me hated that she got that opportunity, and yet I was so happy for her. A quiet sigh escaped my lips; I knew that it wasn’t anyone’s fault that my life sucked…well, no one other than those stupid Jonas Brothers.
At last, the day ended. I cleaned the last table before walking over to the door. “Tabitha! Wait up, I have something for you!” I clenched my teeth when Ryan spoke. My mouth showed a forced smile as I turned around. “Hears a present.” he smiled widely. I took the bag in my hands and opened it. “It’s a signed Jonas Brothers poster. I heard you talking about them over the phone the other day. This was so hard to get, but I’d do anything for you.” he gave me a creepy stare. “Thanks.” I smiled and walked out to my car. I closed my car door as I muttered curses to myself. A tapping sound came from my feet as I found myself dying to look at the poster. I pulled out the large piece of paper from the bag. A single tear fell from my eyes and smudged the ink of Joe’s signature. “Damn it!” I muttered when I started to cry. I shoved the poster back into the bag and drove out of the parking lot.
Stupid Ryan. Stupid poster. Stupid Jonas Brothers. Stupid me! I hated them so much for the pain they caused me! Yet I missed them and wanted to feel Joe’s hand in mind. I felt myself wondering if he still kissed softly, if he still held hands a little too tight, if he still blushed when he tried to be romantic, and if his love still felt just as wonderful as it did when I was just a girl.
My breathing was uneven, and I was still crying. I pulled into the driveway and ran around to the backyard. You could say that when I was younger I was quite the builder. At the age of seven, I built a ladder onto the house so that I could just climb up to my room when I was outside playing. Granted, once I was older I used it for sneaking out at night or in this case getting in the house without being noticed.
The covers on my bed were inviting when I flung myself onto them in a crying fit. After a while, I realized that my mom had called my phone a few times. Knowing her, she was probably worried that I had run away. I let my lungs fill with air and my head calm down. My door creaked a little as I walked out and snuck into the bathroom to clean myself up a little bit before I went downstairs to my mom. “Ugh.” I muttered to myself. Honestly, how pathetic was I? I dated some guy when I was just a kid and I’m still torn up about it. Pathetic…simply pathetic…
The sounds of my feet going down the stairs made an echo sound. “Honey?” my mom appeared at the bottom of the stairs. “Yea Mom?” I asked innocently. “I didn’t see you come in! I thought that something had happened to you!” she hugged me a little too tight. “No Mom, I just climbed up the back way.” I fought to breathe. “Oh…well alright.” she paused and looked at me. “Come on! It’s your birthday!” she grinned and pulled me into the kitchen. On the table sat a cake that she had obviously ordered. “You didn’t have to do this Mom.” I spoke, but smiled to make sure that she didn’t see how rough my day had been. “Well, it is your nineteenth one! Your last year of being a teen!” she hugged me once again.
Mom fixed me a plate of cake and I ate it even though I wasn’t hungry the least bit. “I have some presents for you,” she giggled. “Seriously Mom, you shouldn’t have done any of this.” I was beginning to be almost excited. “I had to though! So come on!” I watched as she walked into the living room excitedly, so I followed her. Automatically my eyebrows furrowed when I seen one large box. “Now now! You have to open that one last!” Mom scolded me when I walked over to it. “Alright.” I sighed. She handed me a small box and I opened it. “Oh my gosh!” my jaw dropped when I seen the beautiful necklace in the box. “Now that one came in the mail, so I’m not sure who got it for you.” I was confused. “So there was no return address or anything?” I looked up at her. “Yeah, it was just here.” she shrugged. To be frank, I didn’t care! This thing was beautiful!
There was two more presents before I have to open the big one. Mom had gotten me a shirt (which was a weird one) and a pair of high heels (which I would never wear). Even though they weren’t great gifts, I still thanked her and let her take pictures of me smiling with them. “Ok, this is your last gift.” she grabbed my shoulder. “You may want to take a breath or something,” she warned me. What could it be, I mean honestly. For her comfort, I took in a breath.
It took me a few seconds to get off the paper. “Why did you wrap it?” I asked her. The moment that came next, I was completely and utterly not prepared for. Tears pricked my eyes when none other than Joe Jonas himself came out of the box. “Hey Tabs!” he grinned at me once he was out of the box. Then the tears came again. “You brought me him! Of all things him!” I screamed at my mom and then turned to Joe. “Let me get this clear if you didn’t already know: I HATE YOU!” I yelled and then ran up to my room.
“UHH!” I through a pillow at the door. Why him! How could she do this to me! “Honey please come out.” I heard my mom at the door. “No! Not if he’s here!” I nearly growled. This time my bed didn’t seem quite as inviting. I heard a couple voices outside the door and then I seen some papers getting shoved under the door. My curiosity got the best of me so I had to go pick them up.
They were letters…in Joe’s handwriting…and there was a few of them…
I know that you don’t want to forgive me, but I love you so much! I keep trying to call you, but you hang up so I’m writing you. Every part of me hopes that you will read it and write back, but I know you won’t. God Tabs, I love you more than anything…and I’m so sorry…Please forgive me.
There was a second one and it seemed a little newer than the first one.
I love you. My brothers have told me to give up, but I can’t. You have no idea how badly I miss you. Every night I pray, but every night since I left I pray for you. God must be pretty sick and tired of hearing about you, but I won’t stop…not until you’re back in my arms.
Your Mom told me that she tried getting you to call me, but you wouldn’t. I know that you probably hate me but I really hope that you can forgive me. I love you Tab I love you…
The last letter that was under the door was a little longer and obviously a newer one. You could tell by his handwriting that the first letter was more when he first left, and that the last one couldn’t have been that old.
Today was one of my bad days. I’ve started counting the bad days. (Just so you know my bad days are the days that I think about you more than usual). I seen a girl today that looked like you and I ran up to her. Apparently, it wasn’t you, and I ended up being ambushed by people. Nick and Kevin weren’t very happy about that.
I’m sure that you’ve moved on, but I haven’t. It almost makes me sick writing this letter to you. You are so beautiful and I really hope that you remember when you were over at my house while the guys and I were writing Hello Beautiful? I remember. I never told you that that song was for you. We wrote it the night that I found out that we were going to have to leave…
There’s not really enough words to tell you how much I miss and love you, but I keep trying to get them all out. Mom asked me what I was writing last night when I was writing a different letter. I haven’t told any of them about the letters, just the phone calls. Its not that I don’t think that they would support me, but I also know that eventually they would tell me to stop and I won’t ever stop loving you. You know what’s even worse is that I haven’t sent a single letter and I’ve written one every night. I keep them in my suitcase right beside the picture I have of you. You were only fourteen in the picture, but it’s all I have…you are all I have.
Sometime I get angry with myself for crying, but I can’t make the tears stop. Kevin caught me crying the other day and luckily, he didn’t tell anyone. I hate crying; I don’t see how you girls can do it so much! Even though I hate it, I seem to become quite the crybaby…when no one’s there of course.
I’m so tired and I really need to sleep…I actually hear someone coming and I think that it’s dad telling me to turn off my bunk light. I’m still sorry…so sorry…beyond sorry! I Love You.
Joe’s breathing was audible through my door. These letters made me cry even harder. My hand ached to open the door, just let him back in…hold him…kiss him. No! I can’t! Yes…I can…
Against my head’s will I opened the door. “Hi.” Joe murmured. “Why are you here?” I asked harshly. “I finally got a chance to come back here and see you.” he took a step closer. I took a step aside and let him in my room. “Why? Why now? Why didn’t you make this much of an effort then? Huh?” I demanded. “I-I couldn’t! It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell you I was leaving, but I didn’t want to hurt you!” his face was sad. “Yea, well you made it worse! And what about all those girlfriends in Hollywood you have? What about them?” I was furious and he was going to get all of it. “Those were just flings and they were more for show than anything else!” he admitted. “Was I just for show? Just another thing to make you sound a little more grounded in interviews!” I huffed. “Yea, that’s right. I watch TV! I’ve seen you mention me before, maybe not with my name, but I know it was me you were always talking about!” I stared at him, my eyes full of anger.
He paused. “You were never for show…” he got softer. “Then what was I? Wait, no I know, I was just a little fling when you were a kid! I know we were kids, but you must’ve known that there was something there!” I screamed as I cried. “Tabitha! I love you! Can’t you see that! Didn’t you read the letters! I wrote more than 200 of those! Probably more than 300!” he got louder again. “Why didn’t you send them?” I was so hurt and mad. “Because you wouldn’t have replied! And don’t say that you would’ve!” he caught me in my own trap. I tried thinking of something to say but I couldn’t…this time I didn’t have an excuse.
Joe took two steps towards me. “Tab, I’ve always loved you and I still love you. Everyday I have to deal with the fact that you don’t love me back. Isn’t that punishment enough?” he put his head down, but I could hear the tears in his voice; the way it trembled. My whole entire body felt like it had been hit by a huge tidal wave. I knew that I still loved Joe--deep inside I knew…It was just the whole admitting to it thing that I was despising. There was nothing in me that wanted to admit that I loved him, except my heart, which by this time was just about pounding out of my chest.
“Y-you don’t think that I have to suffer too?” I stammered out. “How can you suffer? You’re the one who wanted to end us!” he looked at me shocked. “So? You were the one who made me want to leave!” I threw back at him. “Honestly, I don’t even think you understand how I’ve suffered.” he shook his head. “You don’t think so huh?” I was infuriated. “I have to look at your pictures everyday and listen to you on the TV and radio all the time! I’m the one who has to walk outside and look at your old house everyday! So maybe you’re the one who doesn’t know how much I have to suffer!” I pushed him.
Both of us were breathing hard and looking each other straight in the eyes. “Damn it Tab!” he grabbed me and pulled me into a kiss. At first, I tried pulling away, but then I realized how badly I had wanted to kiss him for so long. This kiss was so different; it was full of anger, love, happiness, and sadness all at the same time. I found myself kissing him back unintentionally.
Air was pushed out of my lungs as he roughly pushed me against the wall. “I hate you.” I whispered harshly. “No you don’t.” he shook his head and kissed me once again. I turned my head. “Tabby, don’t tease.” he whined. “Let go of me.” Suddenly the hate that I had felt for him came back. “I’m never going to let you again, never ever again.” his eyes caught mine once more. “Yes you will. Once you leave I’ll just be heartbroken again.” my head hung down. “Then come with me. Tabitha, I need you.” his fingers intertwined with mine as they were against the wall. “What if I don’t love you Joe?” my cruel voice came back. “If you didn’t love me then you wouldn’t have opened your door.” his face softened. All my anger seemed to fade and I felt tears falling. “Oh Joe!” I relaxed into him and let my arms wrap around his neck. He squeezed me back tightly.
My head began spinning as I took in how he smelt. There was a strange feeling that just his smell gave me. It was as if he smelt the same way he used to and yet different. “Shh…” Joe whispered as he ran his hand up and down my back. “Take me.” I sputtered out. “What?” he pulled away. “Take me with you. Save me from this pain.” my body felt weak. He looked in my eyes and it was like some connection had been made. “I tried to save you earlier, I tried.” he touched his forehead to mine. “I know.” I murmured. Our lips locked softly.
“I love you.” he spoke as we pulled away. For the first time since the day Joe left, I looked inside my heart, I admitted to myself, and I admitted to Joe. “I love you too.” the words felt so right. A smile crossed his face. The words echoed in my head. I love you. I love you. I love you… Everything was going to be ok now. No more suffering. Just one more time the words echoed. I love you…