Slowly he walked towards the bed, looking down at the packed things in her suitcase. The clothes weren’t that expensive but when he thought of all the things she could buy now once she left there was a bitter sting lingering behind the words inside of him. It wasn’t fair to think that way. He had gotten something out of it, not anything strictly personal but he had still attained something and that was also something that he knew should upset him. None of this was real, it was time to open his eyes to understanding all of the feelings that were coursing through him.
His hand reached out, skimming the edges of the case with his fingertips before quickly retracting his hand and trying not to startle her with any immense show of emotions. That would only look ridiculous after the cold attitude, after the climbing into bed with her expecting something that he had no right to take. He had to keep it all to himself, had to make himself know that revealing the emotions that one were feeling only further terminated the strong facade that he had worked so long on. That made him entirely weak, didn’t it?
She was steadily watching him, words lingering on her lips as she tried so hard to find the right ones to let out. There was a meaning behind the stark and sorrowed look whispering across her features, he knew that there was but what could he tell her to make it go away? Why was she upset when she had an entire world waiting for her outside of this vacation home, away from him? She had a husband who could love her and a daughter that clung to her sweetly. She would have her Christmas with them, relishing in the gentle feeling that Winter always brought all the while carrying the money she had been paid so that she might trick him into feeling something that had never and would never be real.
He tried to steel himself against the assault that her look sent to him. That vicious and cold attack that he wouldn’t let near his heart. What did she want? Forgiveness? For him to admit over and over again that somewhere in his naive and ignorant mind he had found himself falling for the image she was allowing him to see? That he understood she wasn’t the real Essie that her family saw but that she had invented one up so that he might hang on every word that came from her lips and rendered him the ridiculous fool that he truly was?
If that’s what she wanted there was no way he was going to offer it. If she was going to shatter him apart in a million pieces she certainly wasn’t going to take with her any fragments that were left over. Bleeding and lost. She couldn’t claim ownership over those, he would never allow them in her possession. He had gotten his heart, his entire soul trampled on far too many times for him to so willingly surrender his amount of strength and leave him again a sniveling boy hiding behind the man he tried to be and the person he had felt himself slowly become. He wasn’t proud of it, wasn’t enamored by the dream of a person he could have been because that someone was never going to be who he was, not now and not ever.
"Looks like you’re all packed up." Jared stated, finally lifting his eyes to hers as he swallowed down harshly once his nerves began to run through him. He was anticipating the words she would tell him that this hadn’t been real anyways, that no matter what he hadn’t left any sort of impression because none of it had been true. It was all just the money, always just the money. Which reminded him that he would have to draw up that check for her before she left. The last of what he owed her. She couldn’t leave without that then what would all this mean if she didn’t get the last of it? "Hope you have a good ride home…You call someone?"
She turned away from him and started folding a shirt into the suitcase, a new square that seemed to be the last article of clothing that she had brought with her. Her hand smoothed over the thin material before she pulled back and shut the suitcase, slowly zipping it so that he couldn’t see the way that her hands were shaky and trembling. Did he notice the tears glistening in her eyes? Did he understand the way she felt and was inwardly struggling with herself to get past this burden? He couldn’t know, she didn’t want him to- that would make this all the more harder, wouldn’t it?
"What do you want me to say?" She questioned, brows knitting together as her hands clasped together to stop their shaking. It was almost like she couldn’t prevent the way a plea filled her gaze, her lips pressed together to prevent something from falling from her, something apologetic and promising about a possible path carved out just for the two of them. That could be possible, couldn’t it? Through everything? But just as the thought entered her mind so did the thought of her daughter, the last she had seen her, resting in her father’s lap as they both waved bye to her. And with that thought she knew that it wasn’t at all possible. "I don’t know what it is you’re expecting from me Jared. I did what you asked, maybe not for as long, but I still did it." Her words forced out a trembling amount of venom that sounded more contrived than anything. She hadn’t known that she was so good at shielding her own emotions but here she was mastering it.
"There are still days left." He said, tip of his boot kicking at the floor board beneath him. His hair fell and casted a shadow along his face. He would prefer if she didn’t see the way her response now was affecting him. He didn’t want her to see through to the core of his hurt, that part of him that felt kicked about and scattered. Ever since Marissa he had felt a void hollow out inside of him and sometimes with the feel of it he couldn’t bring himself to even breathe. That was the consequence of weakness, wasn’t it? That deep consequence that so many people suffered through? He had given himself over to her and the feeling had erupted inside of him despite the situation that they had grown in, he had been blind. He knew that he had lost himself in her. The fault was all his.
A sigh escaped her. She knew that there were still days left. Those days had been meant for her to embed herself into his heart and then things could pave out differently. As wrong as that was, as unfair as that was to her family. She felt inside like she needed him, like every part of her was entwined with him and she wasn’t even sure when it had started. Perhaps on that first night when she had felt him love her, when he had made love to her, when he had given himself over to her. This was completion. She knew that it was and everything always came too late.
Lifting her hand she pushed back her hair, sniffing down the emotions that were threatening to shatter her exterior. She was so tired, her insides were worn out and completely exhausted. She wanted him to demand her to stay, to look into her eyes and tell her that he knew what it was they had and it could never be found again. But he knew that he wouldn’t. Perhaps something of what he had for her was real but Marissa was here and Essie had just become a reflection of his past. The past was never good to linger in. He needed to break away, she understood that.
"Then don’t pay me the rest. What I have is enough." She softly said, her voice calmly steeled as she stared into his eyes, those glistening blue eyes that bore every reflection of beauty that she had ever witnessed. He was the single most enigmatic and yet simply captivating person she had ever met. He had enraptured her and yet now he could only remain as a single scar on the barriers that she had up around her. She wasn’t going to allow him to know any of that, that would make all of this much harder than it needed to be.
Jared nodded and looked up at her, movement shifting the length of his hair off of his shoulders as he held her eyes. He knew that she could see the emotions there, written in the glisten of his eyes, in the knit of his brows, the press of his lips and he hoped that inside she wasn’t going to remember him at this moment, weakened and battered by her dismissal. Wasn’t he supposed to fight for her? Fight to have her stay where she was? How could one fight for what was never theirs?
"Fine…" He whispered, lifting his hand and tapping the top of the suitcase as a damaged scoff pushed past his lips. He had just possibly upset Shannon and now he was losing her. When were things going to push forward without shattering? When was he going to be able to survive without the ever present ache that suddenly seemed permanent? Or maybe that sort of living just wasn’t meant for him? There were people out there like that, weren’t they? Belonging to their art and the way that they sought to make something out of nothing? That was the life for him and Jared wasn’t sure how long it would take for him to accept that. "Need help carrying all this out?"
Essie thought about it, the thought of being next to him one more time. The brush of his shoulder against hers as they walked side by side, the sound of his footsteps and the warm presence of his breathing. She could experience it one more time before she shattered the illusion and allowed it to fall away. Essie was determined not to run him as much as she had managed to ruin herself. “I’ve got it.”
He nodded, hand pushing back through the length of his hair. Things were getting heavy inside and he just wanted to get away, be by himself. “Bye then.” He muttered as he reluctantly turned away from him, moving towards the door with the lingering sorrow corrupting any sort of plans he had tried to make for this weekend. What would he tell his mom? What would she think of him now with another life ruining moment being thrown at him? She would always love him, he knew that and perhaps she was the only one.
She watched him walk off as she lifted the handle of the suitcase and headed towards him, letting it stand on its wings as she adjusted her bag on her shoulder. Her hand reached out, causing a burning hole to seep through beneath Jared’s skin as he swallowed down and slowly turned to face her. She stared up at him, wondering how to harden him against the thought of her. She never wanted to leave anyone in the state that he was in when he had first met her. She lifted herself up to meet his lips, deeply kissing him as her eyes closed. She felt his hands settle on her waist and could feel the race of his heart when she pressed herself to him but quickly she pulled away, careful not to be pulled in. Her teeth caught his bottom lip before she stepped back from him, a changed expression on her face- a false and feigned one.
"It never meant anything." She whispered before taking hold of the suitcases handle and dragging it behind her out the door.