Jack’s cell phone flew across his cramped living room and slammed against the wall; exploding in a myriad of shards and fragments that cascaded onto his bare floor.
Jack looked at the mess. Temper and anger were so unlike him. He could not remember the last time his emotional state rose above the level of ‘oh well’. Yes he could…
It was the last time he heard from Jill.
And now ten years later, an eternity in Jack years, she was back.
Jack. Long time, long time. See you tomorrow. LOL J.
Her text cut like a knife cut through his heart. He’d kill her…If he didn’t still love her.
They had been quite young and distant. But they bonded in their spirited defense of the dumb barbs that fell upon them.
Jack and Jill went up a hill/To fetch a pail of water./ Jack fell down and broke his crown./ And Jill came tumbling after./
How they hated that goddamned nursery rhyme.
But what they discovered was that they actually liked each other. They read obscure books. They adored music that seemed to make sense to nobody but them. They could spent an eternity wandering the halls of an art museum and then talk about it all night long.
It seemed quite natural that when Jack and Jill were of an age that sex, or rather the mystery and prospects of sex, became important, they could logically agree that each should be the other’s first. It was awkward. They giggled like little children as they attempted to master the missionary position. It was over quickly and they marveled at how they had solved the mystery and, most importantly, what it meant for them.
They knew that nothing had changed between them. They would still remain friends and go off into the sunset, spiritually and emotionally, hand in hand.
A year later they were no longer friends.
Issues personal and material, ambitions and drives that were very adult, the pull of outside forces and the reality of thoughts and attitudes that were taking them away from each other and down different life paths, drove a wedge between them. They would always have the sex moment. But it was a moment caught in time that would fall by the wayside as they pursued a much deeper mystery. Life.
They had gone on to a level of success and failure. They had been happy in other relationships that eventually turned distant and doomed. They were now well into adulthood and approaching middle age.
It was ten years later. And Jill was about to walk back into Jack’s life.
The knock on his door was faint. The follow up even more so. Jack approached with caution. Would he be disappointed at how the years had worn on Jill? Would she put on that perky, happy smile in the face of how he now looked? And would she mean it?
Jack opened the door uneasily. Jill stood shaking in the doorway, a forced and painful smile on her face. Skin the color of off white. Hair long, tangled and gone to alabaster. She was painfully thin. She shuffled uneasily into his apartment and moved with obvious discomfort as she reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Jill was a dead person walking. And she looked exactly like him.
They sat together on Jack’s sofa. Small talk about books and art inevitably gave way to heartfelt confession. Jill had been reckless in her life. Too many men, too little commitment. And just south of her 40′s she was now very sick.
Jack brushed away a tear that had creased Jill’s cheek. A cheek that felt cold to the touch. He stammered out that his path had been similar. Promiscuity and alternative lifestyles. And now he was sick as well.
They hugged as tightly as their disintegrating bodies would allow. And laughed at the irony of that damned nursery rhyme that had brought them together and was now their reality.
It was quite natural and logical that they should live together and make the most of the time they had left. Jill would move in the next day. They looked at each other with a sense of longing and a flicker of desire. They smiled.
Jack and Jill made love that night. It was awkward and, now, a bit painful.
Just like it had been the first time.
Marc Shapiro is a published book author, comic writer and journalist. He does this for a living. Don’t tell the authorities.
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