Of Summer Vacations and Staring Contests
Jimmy Mance tackles you from behind and you're falling. Falling, falling, falling, until the rocky ground finally greets you. It's sharp in your side and the soggy sand dampens your sweater.
It's all simply painless.
You haven't felt pain in a very, very long time.
"Jimmy? Jimmy? Jimmy!" Abby's frantic and if you close your eyes and tighten your fists you can kid yourself into hearing 'Henry? Henry? Henry!", but that's all it is- kidding yourself. You unclench your fists and open your eyes.
You don't have to kid yourself anymore. Abby's yours. Finally, after all this time. After all your hard work the one thing you wanted more in this entire world is yours. The only thing standing between you two is Jimmy Mance, the old flame. You don't worry. You'll just have to scrap that plan of a long, drawn out death. Even if it's what Jimmy deserves, what you deserve, but Abby needs it to be quick. And you can push aside your own desires for hers. You look at the bright side, the sooner Jimmy is dead the sooner you and Abby can begin your lives. The sooner you can make her really love you.
You push yourself to a standing position and see her hovering over Jimmy, her hands fluttering across him checking for any visual injury. It doesn't hurt you. It just pisses you off. After everything you've done for her she's still concerned about the damn fisherman. The one she claims to "love". Bullshit. She left him. That's not love.
You? Henry? You love her. You've done so much for her. You've waited for her since you were knee high and she was the fierce hero that always made you feel special. You've loved her for as long as you can remember. You've killed for her. Killed everyone you've ever known, everyone you ever cared about. All for her.
You walk towards the pair, the pair that make your stomach churn. You can hear Abby talking and you clearly hear the fear in her voice. Your stomach eases and your anger slips away. Shame fills your gut and you want to hit yourself.
She's just afraid.
Relief isn't even the word to cover the emotion you feel. It's far to small. People do crazy things when they're scared. She's just afraid of your love. It's so much. She's never felt anything like that before and again you want to hit yourself. You came on way to strong. You should have eased all the information to her instead of choking her with it. You're tactless and the shame grows. You approach her steadily, slowly, extending your arms just a bit, getting ready to hold her . . . -
The boarding knife goes right through you as if she missed, but you choke and you know she didn't. You stare at her and on instinct (falling into old patterns) you memorize her face. Every freckle, every laugh line, the curve of her nose, the curve of her eyelashes and her eyes . . . the eyes that you share. The eyes that link you together.
. . .
"Your mom's really nice," you say to your best friend as you munch on your peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie. Then and there you decide that Sarah Mills is a way better cook than your mom could ever hope to be.
"Yeah," Abby agrees, gulping down some milk. "Your mom's nice too, though."
You lean down and skim your hand across the water, relishing in the feel of the cold. There's only a few weeks more before you have to return home. You don't want to go. You don't ever want to go.
"What's wrong?" Abby asks.
"I don't want to go home yet." She gives you a sad smile.
"I don't want you to go home either."
You jump to your converse covered feet and shoot Abby the brightest smile you can muster.
"Last one to the marina is a rotten fish!"
Abby squeals and chases after you.
You let her win.
. . .
You stumble and once again the rocks greet you. They bite through your wet jeans and knick at your skin.
. . .
"Come on Dunn," Michael Ward taunts. "Get up." He pushes you with his right foot, but you ignore it the best you can. You get up onto your feet and walk in the opposite direction. Your mother would be furious if you got into a fight your very first week back on the island.
You're pushed from behind. Again. You fall. Again. There's something in you that hisses. It's annoyed and angry. Not at Shane Pierce or Michael Ward. Oh no, it's angry- furious even, at you. For lying there and letting them touch you and talk to you like you're beneath them. Shane kicks dirt at you and the hissing turns into a roar.
You curl your hands into fists, crumpling dirt and old grass into your hands. You can't possibly take them both on, can you? You try to stand up, but Michael pushes you back down and then it doesn't matter. In all of your thirteen years of living you've never been so blinded with anger and it doesn't matter if they both beat you up. Just as long as you get in a few swipes.
"What do you think you're doing?" An outraged voice sounds from behind you. You don't have to turn to know it's her. "You two are so pathetic," she spits out. "Ganging up on him and why? Because you're bored?"
"No one asked you Abby," Michael Ward tells her. Then and there you decided that you don't like the way he says her name. Like it's poison, like it's gross. It's anything but.
"I don't really care," she replies, placing her hands on her hips and taking a stand in front of you. "Henry could kick the living crap out of the both of you, but he won't. He's a nice person. Something you two couldn't comprehend to save your lives. So go on! Go away! If I see you near him again, I'll tell my dad."
"Ooooh," Shane mocks her. "So scary."
"I'm serious Shane! Your dad wouldn't be to happy if the Sheriff had to bring you home one day, would he?"
Shane pales and glares at her, but his Abby doesn't falter. If anything, she stands up taller and glares right back.
"I didn't stutter. Go away!"
They do, with glances back at the pair, but you don't care. You just stare at your savior. It's then that you realize that Abby Mills is not only the nicest, most fearless person you've ever met, but she's beautiful.
"You okay?" She asks before letting her arms leave their angry stance and fall gracefully to her side. Her glare disappears and is replaced with a soft smile. You wish Abby would smile all the time.
"Yeah," you reply. You're better than fine. She extends her hand to you and you take it.
"Come eat at my house tonight?" She asks. "We're having pot roast and homemade biscuits."
You nod. There isn't anywhere else you'd rather be.
. . .
Breathing, which is something you've always found easy, is becoming harder. A chore. Your visions still alright, though. Abby's eyes are still a deep chocolate brown and they're looking right at you. Right into you. You blink and savor it.
. . .
She's holding your hands, forcing your gaze onto hers in the name of her silly staring contest, but it makes her happy so you do it. There's nothing else to do, but stare at her face. So that's exactly what you do. You count the three freckles on her nose. They're barely visible, but they're there. You notice the way her lips are slightly parted. You realize that you and Abby share the exact same eye color. That's not uncommon though, so you don't dwell on it. After all, most of the population have brown eyes. You continue on.
The shape of her eyes are almost exactly like yours, except hers have more of an almond shape to them. You notice that her eyes are beginning to water and you realize she's determined to win. Determined to out stare you. You don't think it's possible. You could stare at her all day long and not get bored. You don't think Abby could do the same.
You know she couldn't.
So you blink.
She grins and pushes your shoulder lightly.
"Sucker!" She yells in triumph before hopping off her patio and slinging her front door open. "You thirsty?"
. . .
You're going to die.
You've killed enough people, watched enough people die that you know the inevitable is coming.
. . .
You've flown all the way out to L.A. even though planes make you feel queasy. You remind yourself that you haven't seen Abby in over a year and you know it's worth it.
Soon, you won't have to be so far away from her. Soon, Abby will come home. Soon, there won't be anyone else to stand in your way. Your dad will help you make sure of that.
You feel regret when you think of your father, because you know what you have to do. Once everyone else is gone you have to get rid of him, too. If you don't he'll hurt Abby and that's something you can't tolerate. So, he goes.
Your cab comes to a stop and you tip your driver. You can see the light in her apartment is on and you can't help but smile. That's all you seem to be doing lately- smiling.
You and your suitcase make it up to her door three minutes later. You want to knock and see her already, but you're . . . nervous. You have . . . butterflies. It's so ridiculous that you almost laugh, but you don't. Instead you knock and while you wait you ponder how funny it is that Trish doesn't make you feel this way. That she's never made you feel this way.
It's just more proof for you really.
She answers the door with a smile and throws her arms around your neck. You can't help but cling to her and breathe her in. She smells of vanilla and cucumber melon and home. You hold on, maybe a little to long, but you cover with, "God! I haven't seen you in so long!"
"I know! I'm so happy you're here! I wish you would have told me you were getting here today, though. I would have came to pick you up." She closes the door behind you and hugs you again. You don't mind. It's where she belongs.
"Well, I've gotta be honest," you tell her. "I'm here for partially selfish reasons."
She looks at you with a wary grin.
"I wanted to celebrate with my very best friend because the other day I asked Trish to marry me and she said 'yes'!" Her mouth drops open and once again she's in your arms telling you how happy she is for the both of you and how she always knew that you and Trish would end up together.
It doesn't matter that Abby's joy is genuine. That she really wants you to marry Trish. One day, Abby will love you, will want you, the way you love and want her. For now you just have to be satisfied with this. And you can do that.
Because you have plans. Big plans.
. . .
There's so much you want to say. So much you need to say. You want to explain the inside of your heart, your soul to her. You want to start over, you wish you could go back and change things. You wish you had killed your dad away from Abby so that she wouldn't have pieced it all together. You wish you had killed Jimmy sooner, because then you wouldn't even be in this mess. You wish you had had the courage to tell Abby how you felt a decade ago. You wish your ending was a happy one.
"I love you," you tell her, because you do. More than anything you love Abby Mills.
She looks at you and the boarding knife in your gut with complete and utter shock written all over her face. You hope she doesn't blame herself, because you don't. You forced her hand really.
You fall to the side and your eyes slip shut with the comfort that she'll never forget you. It doesn't even matter if she and Jimmy end up together. If they get married or even have babies. You'll never be far from her mind.
Not only has she murdered you, but you loved her. And once upon a time when it was just summer vacations and staring contests, she loved you too.