Deux Semaines (Two Weeks) | By: Jeffrey Miska | | Category: Short Story - Reflections Bookmark and Share

Deux Semaines (Two Weeks)


Deux Semaines (Two Weeks)

Jay sat quietly watching the receptionist in the therapist’s office.   He occasionally glanced at her through the glass partition as she spoke on the phone.  The waiting room was almost empty, except for young woman seated against the opposite wall completely engrossed in her cell phone.

It was about then the side door to the room opened, and a thin man with glasses and light brown hair looked around the room.  The therapist introduced himself to his newest patient.  “Hi my name is Terrance Baynor, are you Jay?”

Jay stood up and shook his had with a pleasant smile, “Yup that’s me, nice to meet you.”

“Same here.“ he replied.  He held the door open for Jay, motioning for him to enter.  They both walked down a quiet carpeted hallway to his office and Jay could smell the scent French fries in the air, no doubt from someone’s fast food lunch.

Entering the therapist’s office, Jay glanced at the décor that was made up of unmemorable artwork and neutral colors.  “Have a seat Jay“ the therapist said, “Oh, by the way, although my business cards say Terrance, and that’s the way I introduced myself, I go by Terry.  For some reason, the medical center likes us to have our full name plastered on everything.  God knows why.”

“Terry it is then.” Jay said.  “As you can see, my name is a bit unalterable, so I’m afraid Jay is all you get.”

Terry smiled at the comment and sat down in his chair.  He looked Jay over for a moment and asked,  “So what brings you to see me on this perfect summer day?”

Jay replied, “Well, a lot really, but I guess I’m here because I need to talk to someone about the way I’ve been feeling lately.  It’s not good, and I can’t really talk to my usual groups of listeners.  I have a feeling it would impact them in a very bad way.”

Terry said, “Everything you need help with is listed on my job description so we‘re good to go.  What’s going on?”

Jay replied, “What’s going on.  Well right now, I feel great, but there are times I feel like I’m about to drown in grief and regret.  They seem to be happening more frequently and becoming harder for me to recover from.”

Terry replied, “That’s not easy to go through.  “You mentioned the word grief.  Why grief?  Did some one close to you die?” 

Jay chuckled, “That’s an interesting question.  The answer to it is a big yes and a confusing no.  I’m not trying to be cryptic, but I did have someone immensely close to me die, but we haven’t been close for a while now.”

Terry replied, “I’m sorry, it can be crippling to lose someone close to you.  Was this a family member?”

Jay said, “No, not family.  No, Naeva was the love of my life once upon a time.  I didn’t think it was possible to love someone as much as I loved that girl.”

Terry nodded his head, “I understand, have these feelings been getting in the way of daily activities like work, home, or sleeping?”

Jay thought for a moment, “I think I came today because I can see it going in that direction.  I’m more or less just keeping it hidden inside, but it’s eating me up and getting worse the more I try to push it away.”

Terry smiled, “This may sound like I’m giving you the textbook answer but I‘m being sincere when I say, nice job coming to see me.  Seriously, some people don’t even help themselves when they’re spiraling into deep depression.  You’re doing the best thing in the world by viewing this as a problem and doing something about it.”

Jay nodded and smiled.

“You said you keep things hidden inside.  If I asked you what those things are, could you describe them to me?”

Jay nodded, “Absolutely, in fact, it's those things trapped inside of me that are killing me.  That untold story of how I met Naeva, how we fell in love and how it got to be this horror I’m dealing with.  I feel like there isn’t anyone in the world who knows who Naeva was through my eyes, you know, no one.”

Terry said, “I think I understand.  You feel like there is some legacy to her memory within your experiences with her?”

Jay got wide eyed and grinned.  Snapping his fingers, he pointed at Terry and said, “Perfect!  You nailed it, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.  I feel like someone else needs to hear my story and really understand what kind of a loss this was when she died.”

Jay looked thoughtful for a moment and then glanced up at Terry with a confused expression, “That’s kind of weird isn’t it?  I mean it’s not like I’m telling the world about this.  Talking to you won’t preserve her memory any more than now, but for some reason, I gotta do this.”

Terry said, “Sometimes it’s about validating your memory of her.  Everyone has a story they want to tell.  Your not unusual to need this as part of the grieving process, and as far as how you want to tell your story, keep in mind that this is your session to say the things you want to say.  I’m here to listen and guide you, but if your story about Naeva is what you need tell, then by all means tell it.” 

Jay nodded and looked seemingly happy with what Terry had told him.  He said, “Wow, you caught me off guard with that.  I was waiting to be grilled with questions.  I’m warning you, it’s a long story, but you’ll be the only one who ever heard it”, and added, “or probably ever will.”

Terry picked up his notepad and looked at Jay giving him his full attention.  With a grin he said, “I’m all ears sir.  I could start you off with once upon a time, if you think it will help.”

Jay grinned and settled into his chair.  Thinking for a moment he said, “Alright, here goes.  This whole mess started a long time ago.  I mean like when I was in my twenties.  Naeva and I met near a little town called Saugatuck Michigan.  There’s a beach their hidden in these huge sand dunes.

That‘s also where my friends and I would hang during the summer.  It’s funny we chose to spend time there instead of the usual dune hot spots, because that beach was just about the least “cool” place for people our age to hang.

Saugatuck was known for its antique shops, artists and pricey souvenir stores and I would guess that the average age of the visitors there was probably, sixty years old. As for me an my friends, I don’t think any of us were over 23 back then.

At that age, people over sixty looked so old to me.  How things change.  Still having the old folks in the picture didn’t mean a rat’s ass to us, because we never hung out in town anyway.  Our summer days were spent on the beach.  God Damn, it was a beautiful beach.  Probably the prettiest beach I had ever seen and I‘ll say that until I die.

You know, I got to spend time in LA for a few weeks, and I’ll never forget the way they went on and on about how “totally awesome” Malibu was.  They would ask, “Dude!  When are you moving out here to stay?”

The weird thing was, I spent time up and down the California coast, but for all of its hype, it didn’t even come close to the sand dunes and shores of Lake Michigan.
In Cali, swimming in the salt water left me feeling sticky.  Why would you prefer water that you need to rinse off of you when you climb out of it?  The scenery was scrub brush hills, and grass.  They were dull compared to the pristine sand and green forests that covered the dunes back home.  No disrespect to my friends from the west, but I’m partial to the smell and feel fresh water and huge oak trees.  Anyway, I got sidetracked.

That summer when I met Naeva, we spent all day living in our summer skins on that beach.  It makes me laugh when I think of how carefree we were.  Some nights we’d build a campfire and fall asleep under the stars.  It was the best.

We used to rent a room at this amazingly cheap hotel that was way out of the main part of town.  The perfect thing about it was its location in relation to the beach.  If you climbed this huge sand dune that bordered the beach called Mount Baldy, there was a set of stairs through the forest on the far side, and it ended about 1000 ft. from the door to the hotel.  We all came in one car so how amazing is that?
Most people never wanted to make that exhausting climb every time they need  go to their hotel room, but we didn’t give a shit.  It was cheap and clean and the owner and his wife were really nice to us.  They treated us like we were their own kids sometimes.  Really good people, you know? 

The date I met Naeva, was July 7th.  I remember that because it was just after all of the 4th of July weekend tourists went back to Chicago or Grand Rapids, or where ever they were from.  My friends and I thought that it would be a good idea to go up there for that week because we figured the crowds were gone.  Apparently we were right, because the beaches were almost empty.  Another reason could have been because the surf was really high, and there were riptide warnings.  

That day, we spent our time swimming, playing volley ball, Frisbee, you know, the classic beach stuff.  God knows we were never hungry, cause we loaded up on tons food and soda.  Before we left, Holly’s Mom packed us some home made fried chicken that we inhaled for dinner our first night there.  Then we just started to hang.

My best friend Ron always seemed to have some alcoholic beverage wherever we went, and on this trip he brought the huge bottle of Southern Comfort.  We mixed it with Coke and ended up smoking some weed.  Angie was always our little “connection” for that.

You know it’s weird, but now that I talk about that day, it pretty much described my whole existence that summer.  When I look back on it cherishing all of those memories, it seems other worldly now, like a dream you know?  Back then it was just, well….life.”

Jay cleared his throat and said, “Hey Terry, have you got any water or coffee or something?  My throat is dry as hell.”

Terry replied, “Sure.” reaching into a mini fridge next to his desk.  “Bottled water OK?”
“Great.” Jay said, “Thanks.”  He took a sip from the bottle and placed it on the floor next to his feet.

“That’s better, now where was I?  Oh yeah, we were getting high.”  He laughed and repositioned himself in his chair.

“So there we were laughing and having a blast, and of course, Ron and his girlfriend Cori stared to get a bit amorous with one another.  That never bothered me really. Not when anyone did it, much less my best friends.

Angie however, would get completely pissed off when it happened.  I’ll admit that laying there in bathing suits and bikinis didn’t leave much to the imagination when they would start getting hot and heavy, but I have to give Angie credit, she was cool about the way she handled things.  It bugged her to have to watch it, but she wasn’t a bitch about it.  She just got up, and walked out into the surf, like she wanted to stretch her legs.  I always knew why she left.

With Angie in the water and the love birds working themselves to a frenzy, that left me, Holly and Billy Bob man.” Jay smiled saying his name again in an quiet cheer.  “Billy Bob Maaaaaaan!”  Jay chuckled.  “He was a trip to hang with.  The Billy Bob thing was a nickname obviously.  His real name was William Robert Mann. “Billy Bob Maaaann.”  If you saw the movie “Animal House”, Billy Bob would be an example of our Blutowski.”

Terry smiled and nodded.

Jay continued, “As would be expected from Billy, he asked if anyone wanted to smoke some more weed.  He asked that question a lot.  Not that anyone was against it just then, but it was about 8:00 PM, and the civilized people started to load onto the beach to watch the sunset.  Not the best situation for smoking pot.  As for me, my head was still spinning from smoking before.

I told them to go ahead without me and said I would meet them back there later. Ron and Cori decided to head back to the hotel room.  What a surprise, right?  The plan for Billy and Holly was to pull Angie out of the water and disappear into the Dunes to get very baked before they watched the sunset.  I would love to say how ridiculous and pointless that was, but it really was a blast.  I can assure you that I’ve never seen a sunset that beautiful since I stopped doing that sort of thing.

Terry, grinned, “I’ll decline to comment, although I’ve had my share of colorful college room mates over the years. Nuff said.”

Jay laughed  and said, “Nuff said.  Do you know that I’ve always wondered why that night, I chose not to go with them.  I guess if you believe in fate, that would have been definitive proof of it.

I remember that I was dying of thirst and had had to go to the bathroom, so we parted ways and I went to the beach house.  I drank a shit load of water which tasted amazing, probably because the sun had dried me out.  That and I’m sure the booze and weed helped with the dehydration.

I just hung out behind the building in the shade, since the sun felt brutal to me after being cooked in it all day long.  I stayed there for quite a while and I remember how the evening sun on the trees looked beautiful.  I finally just decided to walk back to the beach.

The sun was now pretty low in the sky, and as I got closer to our umbrellas and towels, I could see that Angie was still standing in the surf watching the sunset.  She was in shallower water than before so I yelled her name a couple of times trying to get her attention, but she didn’t hear me.  That’s not surprising though, cause the surf can be pretty loud when you’re standing in it.  I figured I’d just walk out to her.
As I got closer I yelled her name again, yet still, she didn’t turn around and I was starting to think that she was really upset about something, or pissed off, but I couldn’t see shit because she was standing right in the sun’s reflection.  As I got closer I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “Hey, are you OK?”

In that instant, I felt like a total idiot, because as she turned and looked at me, I could finally see that this girl is not Angie.  She must have seen the look of shock on my face, and all I could say was “I’m so sorry, the sun was blinding me.  I thought you were one of my friends.”

I was expecting the usual, response of, “No problem, It’s OK.” but instead, she looked at me for a moment, gave me this lovely smile and said, “Well, I am friendly, so there’s always the chance you found the right person.”

I was speechless.  I mean, can you believe a person having the presence of mind to say something so clever 5 seconds after a stranger grabs their shoulder?”

Terry smiled and remarked, “I have to say, that is unusual human behavior.  I take it that was…Naeva?  Did I say her name right?”

Jay nodded, “Yes, that was Naeva…and you got the name perfect, just like her.”
Jay took another drink from the water bottle and continued, “Well after I got over the shock of what she said to me, I smiled and said, “Will you give it a try?” 

She looked confused now and asked me, “Give what a try?”

Apparently I had a burst of cleverness as well and said, “We could try being friends, It just so happens that I too, am very friendly.  My name is Jay.”

Believe it not, I think she was just as surprised by my response to her and she smiled again and said, “My name is Naeva.”  As she spoke, I not only noticed her very unique name, but I could hear an accent of some sort.

I asked where she was from, and she said that she lived in New Brunswick in a town called St. John.  Other than somewhere in Canada,  I wasn‘t sure where that was but looking at her I wasn‘t thinking about geography classes.

Jay chuckled,  “Hey, you know what always freaked me out?  That whole interaction with her.  It was so strange.”

Terry tried to clarify. “Strange because it was such a chance meeting?”

Jay replied, “Well, yes that’s part of it, but what I meant was how comfortable I was just talking to her.  Trust me, I am not a talented guy out of the gate with pretty girls, and Naeva was beautiful.  I saw her that way from day one, even before I fell in love with her.

She had these dark eyes, chestnut colored hair and a smile that melted me.  I would have been content just to look into her eyes, but she had a beautiful body too.  In fact, her body was why I thought she was Angie when she was silhouetted in the sun.  When I saw the way she looked at me, I had the feeling Naeva liked me right away.  She gave me one of those up and down looks that girls do when they’re trying to be discrete, but if you have half a brain, you know they’re checkin’ you out.

I asked her if she was staying in Saugatuck for a while and she said that she was on some trip with her sister.  Her sister was a biology major and was on a dune ecosystem field study thing for her masters degree.  Naeva just tagged along for company and to have fun for the summer.  The cool thing was, she told me she was staying for a couple of weeks.

I asked if she wanted to hang with me and my friends later and told her where we’d be.  I also I said it would be pretty late at night because we had to wait to build campfires.  We learned along time ago to move down the beach and start fires late so the park cops wouldn’t catch us.

I wasn’t expecting her to say yes, I mean I just met her can you imagine?.  “Hey meet me late at night in the dark, alone on the beach?”  I’m thinking nice job Jay! The thing is, she said yes.  It freaked me out and I figured that my luck was going so well, I didn’t want to risk being stupid or something by blabbering.  I just said,  "That's cool, see ya later then. "  and told her I was heading back back to find my friends.

She gave me that gorgeous smile of hers, and nodded with this little tilt of her head.  I started to walk back to the beach.  As I got about 20 feet away from her, she calls my name and says, “Jay?  See, you did find the right person after all.”

Terry smiled and remarked, “She sounds like she was a real charmer?”

Jay looked almost sad when he said that and replied, “She was, but….well, yes, she was a charmer.”

Terry waited for a moment giving Jay an opportunity elaborate on his thought but he sat in silence.  Terry asked, “Will you explain that to me?  What did you mean by saying “She was, but…” 

Jay appeared as though he was trying to figure out a good way to answer the question and replied, “She was a charmer, but not because she was trying to charm people you know?  It wasn’t contrived or rehearsed.  That was just her.

I know you weren’t implying that, it’s just, if you didn’t really know her you might think….” He leaned back in the chair again and chuckled, “How about I just keep talking, and you figure it all out?  Sound like a plan?”

Terry nodded saying, “That’s what I do.”

“Fair enough.” Jay replied. “So, I ended up finding all my friends again, and told them about my random encounter with Naeva.  I took one look in there eyes and scanned the vacant expressions on their faces and realized they were wasted off their ass and I mean toasted!  Plus, I didn’t exactly get the most coherent responses after I told them  my news other than. “Really, That’s cool! Awesome!” 

They tried there best to add me to the party again, but knowing that Naeva would be coming, I ignored their plea get high and just stuck to a few shots of liquid courage instead.

The night went on like any other, and we built a warm fire from all of the driftwood on the beach.  Man, it was a gorgeous summer night, but the weirdest thing happened.  Angie was acting really cuddly toward me.  I didn’t know if she had too much to drink, or if the stars were lining up or something, but she was clingy and loving.  I was playing guitar and singing a song I wrote back in high school.  It wasn‘t the first time they heard it, but all of a sudden, Angie started leaning on my shoulder with her arm around me, rocking and singing along and nuzzling me.  It freaked the shit out of me.

Don’t get me wrong, Angie was a sweet girl and very pretty, but she was going with this very big Marine.  All I could think of was this dude going Steven Segal on my ass when we got home.  Besides Angie and I were friends, I mean that’s it, and to be honest I was cool with that.  Angie was fun to hang with, but just not my type.  She was really quick to get pissed off at things you know?  Her Dad was a royal asshole to her growing up, I’m sure that didn’t help.

Anyway, it got to be about midnight, and I started to wonder if Naeva would show up.  I was reminded at that point, that I did say we wouldn’t start the party until later, and stupidly, duh, I didn’t give her a time to show up.  I figured I’d just wait it out, but when it got to about 2:30 in the morning, I gave up hope and got high.  As it turned out, she never did show up that night.

I was sitting there thinking, C’est la vie, what the hell, no big deal, right?  Still, the last comment she made to me about finding the right person, well, I really thought she would be there.

It got so late, that one by one we all dropped dead where we sat, and the three of us slept on the beach that night.  We just rolled up in our beach blankets and fell asleep. 

In the morning, I woke up with the sunrise which only gave me about four hours of sleep.  Although that sounds crazy, it wasn’t that weird, because I usually only need about five or six hours anyway.  With the booze and the weed however, I was surprised I was up at all.  More proof of fate existing I suppose.   I pulled the soap and my toothbrush from my bag, and cleaned up in the lake.  Talk about waking up, damn it’s 65 degree water.  I was definitely awake!

I knew that the rest of them wouldn’t be up for hours so I messed around looking for cool beach stones that were kicked up by all of that surf the previous day.  We were a good quarter mile from the public beach and I started to walk back that direction.  I thought I would be “awesome“, and make the climb back to the hotel so I could get the car.  I was going to fill it with food and drive back to restock our supply for the day.  As I was getting closer, I saw a girl walking along the beach looking for beach stones, and from a distance, she looked a lot like Angie.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was Naeva again.

This time, when she saw me coming, I think she was more surprised than when I walked up behind her the first time.  She waved and walked toward me.  I yelled, “Someone’s up early”, and wished her a good morning.  Before I could even start talking, she said. “I’m so sorry I didn’t make it last night.  I was up late with my sister and I guess the drive here yesterday made me sleepier than I thought I’d be.”

She seemed so uncomfortable talking to me this time.  I felt bad for her because I know what it’s like to run into someone after you blow them off.  The thing is, its not like I was mad at her or upset.  I said, “Naeva, it’s OK.  You don’t need to explain.”

Then I surprised myself yet again and asked, “We could have breakfast together. Did you want to have some breakfast with me?  Unfortunately, you’ll have to climb the dunes to get to the food or wait for me to drive it back.” 

She thought for a moment and said, “Sure we can have breakfast, but you don’t have to climb.” and she walks over to her beach bag and pulls out some granola bars and coffee in a thermos.  Hot freaking coffee, can you believe it? What a girl. 
As we sat in the sand sipping coffee, I could feel the life coming back into me.

Naeva had her back turned toward the beach house and I was more or less facing her. Who do I see, but Ron and Cori returning from their evening of debauchery.

Ron yelled out, “What up chickens!  Hey Angie, where’s B-Bob and Holly?  Alcohol poisoning?”  As he said that I laughed knowing that they, like me, thought Naeva was Angie.  I told her I didn’t feel quite as stupid now and she turned to look back at them.  It wasn’t long before Ron could see it wasn’t Angie and said, “Oh, hello.  Sorry about that.  Man, I go away for 8 hours and I don’t’ know anyone.”  Naeva stood up and introduced herself and they made some small talk for a while.  Shortly after that Ron and Cori, politely said their farewells and hobbled off to find the rest of our little group.

As they were walking away from us, they were holding hands and moving like they were one person.  They were moving down the beach slowly, caressing one another, kissing and looking into each other’s eyes like they were hypnotized.  At one point Cori fixed Ron’s hair and kissed him on his cheek.  Naeva watched them in silence and then smiled and said, “They’re so in love.” 

It took me off guard hearing someone speak so intimately about someone they just met, yet I admired her for how self assured it made her seem.  I said, “That they are. Sometimes I think they’re the definition of being in love.”  After I paused for a moment, I said something so honest and personal about myself  I couldn't believe  I said it.  I said, “I’m envious of them.”

When Naeva heard me say that, she gave me the strangest look, almost as if I’d said something wrong, and then she played with the sand in front of her.  I didn’t know what to say at that moment, but as luck would have it, I didn’t have to worry, because she started to tell me what was on her mind.  She said, “I have a confession to make to you.”

I joked, “Well we just met one another, how bad could it be?”  I expected her to smile but she stayed serious and said, “I wasn’t going to say anything, but hearing you say that you’re envious of being in love confuses me.”

I must have looked lost because let’s face it, I was.  She started to nervously play with the sand in front of her again and said, “My confession is about last night.  I did show up last night, and saw you with your friends.”

I said, “You did?  Oh, man let me guess.  We were all so over the top wasted,  we were a bit too much right?” 

She looked at me puzzled and replied, “Oh no, no not at all.  You all looked like you were just having a great time, that’s all.  I wanted to join you. Really.”

Now completely confused I asked, “Well why did you change your mind?”

She seemed so uncomfortable again trying to tell me.  In fact, the tension in the air was so thick,  I wanted to help her out, although I didn’t know how.  It was then she just came out with it.”

She said, “I got there about 11:30.  The fire and the laughing made you easy to find. When I got closer, I heard this beautiful music, and then I saw it was you playing a guitar and singing a love song.

I could see that your girlfriend was sitting next to you and you looked so happy together.  I felt a bit foolish, because when we spoke earlier, I thought you were asking me to, join you.  You clearly meant you wanted me to join your group.  I misunderstood, do you know what I mean?  I felt a bit, um, stupid.”

When I heard her say that, I didn’t know whether to cry or scream.  I just started rambling and telling her that Angie wasn’t my girlfriend and how in all the years I’ve known her she’s never done anything like that.

I just knew by her face that she was being nice, but there was no way she believed me.  Realizing I must have sounded completely lame trying to make excuses, I just stopped in mid sentence.  Then the I did something that was so out of character for me.  I took hold of her hand.  It must have shocked the hell out of her, because she looked right in my eyes and didn’t even question it.  She just let it happen.

I said, “Naeva, I don’t know how you felt when we met last night during the sunset.  I only know how I felt, and I just knew I wanted to see you again and spend time with you.  You weren’t wrong about that.  I asked you to come last night because I wanted you there with me, not my friends and Angie is just one of my close friends.  I wanted to be with you because, well, I thought you were very…..well, you just made me feel happy.”

As soon as I stopped talking, I just dropped my head and looked down at the sand feeling absolutely mortified.  My brain screamed, “What the fuck did you just say?” but as I was about to run into the lake and drown myself, she took hold of my hand with both of hers.

Then, she looked at the with the warmest most radiant face I’d ever seen and said, “Are you going to have another fire tonight?”  I just nodded.  She started to move onto her knees looking like she was going to stand up, but to my surprise, she put her hands on both sides of my face, and kissed me just to the left of my mouth.  She whispered in my ear, “I’ll be there tonight.  I promise.”

As she rose to her feet, she told me “I have to go now.” and she grabbed her towel and ran back toward her car.  It was then I noticed her bag and coffee thermos were still sitting beside me, and I yelled,  “What about your bag?”

She said, “Give them to me later!  See, now you know I have to come back.”

I watched her jog back toward her car, and disappeared beyond the beach house.  Without a doubt, I felt so happy at that moment.  I couldn’t believe she kissed me.  Hell what am I saying?  I couldn’t believe I had the courage to open up to her like I did.  It just happened.  I was on top of the world at that moment and I sat there by myself for quite a while.  I just wanted to enjoy that moment, you know?  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share it with anyone.  It seemed like it belonged to me. 

Jay snapped his fingers and looked up, “Terry, you know, now that I’m remembering how Naeva and I met, it reminds me of a question I’ve always had in my mind.”

“What’s that?” Terry replied.

Jay said, ”I could never understand back then how Naeva and I seemed to click from the first time we met you know?  I always wondered if that was normal for people who just met like we did.”

Terry placed his note pad down on the desk beside him and said, “First of all, I want to make it clear that like to avoid the word normal.  I’ve found, that when it comes to human behavior, normal is about perspective.  What’s normal to one person is abnormal for another in almost every case, so the only question is, what’s normal for you?  Are you someone who likes to express intimacy quickly with people you meet?”

Jay thought for a moment and said, “That’s a good question.  I guess I always try to make it go that way.  I mean I hate all of that formal bullshit small talk that people do when they first meet.  “Nice weather we’re having."  Jesus, it’s fake, it’s tedious and frankly it’s just dull.  We’re all people you know?”  He chuckled and remarked, “So much for me becoming a politician.  Still, as much as I try to avoid all of that formal ceremony, people don’t like to open up too quickly.  They like the superficial bullshit, don‘t ask my why.  I think it for them it's safe, know what I mean?”

Terry said, “So not only is this behavior normal for you, but you aspire to bring it out in others.  You’re just unsuccessful because of their anxiety and comfort level when meeting new people.  Does that sound right?”

Jay nodded, “Sounds like your dead on.  Damn you’re good.”

Terry asked, “What about Naeva?  Do you think she had a lot of those similar traits when meeting new people?”

Jay replied, “I would definitely say that’s true.  I mean I understand why we clicked, but the way we brought one another out of our shell was…I guess the only way I can describe it is overwhelming.  It was like tearing open a bag full of water, like an emotional flood between the two of us from day one.  She told me later that she was on the same emotional ride I was.  She never spontaneously kissed anyone she just met like she did that morning.  That was one of the reasons she left so quickly. She was embarrassed she did it.”

Terry nodded, “I can see that from what you‘re telling me, this was unique.  Finding someone who can elevate your emotions like that can be very moving in a person’s life.  Jay, I want you to continue with your story but before you do, I’d like you to do something for me.

“What’s that?” he said.

“For a moment, I want you to describe the type of person Naeva was without using experiences or examples.  In other words, she was pretty, she was kind, she was happy.  Do you know what I mean?

“Not exactly” Jay said

“Terry said, “I’ve observed that you have style of speaking that uses stories and metaphors to explain things.  I personally do the same thing so believe me when I say that I’m getting a perfect image of your relationship with Naeva.  What I’m going for is just how you view her without worrying about whether I have the same vision.  Am I being any clearer now?”

“Crystal clear, I get it.” Jay sat back in his chair and smiled, taking in a deep breath.  “Ok then, no metaphors or stories.” He replied, “Naeva was unique I..uh.”  He chuckled and said, “This is gonna be a bitch, you know that?  I’ve never had to describe her to anyone let alone like this.”

He paused and said, “Alright, I think I got it.  Imagine someone very intelligent with a clear understanding and philosophy of people.  She was balanced always.  She was very curious of everything in life and everyone liked her because she was just an all around good person.  She was so happy all the time, passionate, loving…she um…uh.

Jay felt his eyes fill with tears and an upwelling of emotion began to take hold of him.  He quickly sat up, cleared his throat trying to hold back the sadness and succeeded rather quickly.  Then he drank some water and worked up a half smile.

Looking at Terry he said, “How did I do boss?” 

Terry replied, “You did great.  I’m also sorry I made you go through that exercise, but it gave me a clear picture of how much you were romanticizing her memory and how much of it were solid traits.  Don’t worry I won’t make you do that again.”

Jay nodded, “That’s good to hear.  I was going to say it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye but I have to think about that.”

Terry said, “I know, don’t worry, this will all get easier with time. Grieving is a process, not a way of life."

Jay shrugged, “Really, I’m fine.  Those emotional outbursts are what I’m trying to put an end to.  At least you got to see one firsthand now.  You know they say time heals all wounds.  What they don‘t tell you is how much scar tissue you end up with.”

Terry chuckled, “I like that, I may steal it.  So, going back to the story about Naeva and how you met.  I take it she showed up that night by the campfire?”

Jay now settled back into the chair immediately feeling more at ease. “Yes she did, and what a night that was.”

“Please, continue.” Terry said.

“The strangest thing that you can imagine happened that night, hours before Naeva even got there.  We all did the usual daytime beach stuff, only there was a lot more sleeping instead of swimming.  Apparently a few of us, like B-Bob and Angie, went overboard celebrating our first night out.  They both looked like they were about to either puke or cry.  Instead they just whined.

We made some hot dogs for dinner and that made them feel better.  We also started the party from the beginning again which is also a good way to put the hangover it behind you.

Well about 9:00 o’clock, the sun was mostly set, and we moved down the beach to our little spot from the night before.  I got the fire started and Angie comes over and sits by me and says, “So Jay, is your little French girl going to take time out of her busy schedule, and actually show up tonight?”

She said it in a kind of smartass way, which I thought was weird, but I knew she couldn’t resist teasing me about certain things.  She did that a lot actually.  It was kind of her thing.

I just gave it right back to her telling her that she wasn’t French, she was Canadian and she’d be there.  Expecting another verbal jab, she surprised me by saying nothing, and it was right about then Ron became aware of the fact that we were almost out of liquor.  It was funny because he held up the bottle that had hardly anything left in it and goes, “What the fuck B-bob!  This was a half gallon of 100 proof booze.  Did you use it to start the fire or what?”  Billy Bob points at Angie who remarked, “OK, sure it was all me, the whole half gallon!”

Ron starts cracking up and said, “Dude, that means four of you drank a half gallon of SoCo?  Holy shit!”  I just laughed, but Angie said, “Fine, I confess, I can’t even blame it on Jay and Holly.  This was mostly me and Billy.  C’mon dork, we’re going on a liquor run.  I’ll drive, you pay.”

So they left and the rest of us collected more firewood.  We made a huge pile which wasn’t tough since it was everywhere, especially after the high surf the previous day.  As we sat back down, I started to feel antsy and looked at the time.  It was only about 9:30.

Holly smiled and asked, “So Jay Jay, What time is she coming?”  I replied, “Are you going to start with me too?  Christ, I met a girl, she’s pretty.  I’m a man.  What’s odd about this?”

Ron gave me shit as usual and said, “He’s a man alright.  I knew him before the operation.  How’s the hormone replacement therapy going?”  Naturally I told him to shut the fuck up and laughed.”  The usual exchange between best friends, you know.

Anyway, I said, “Really Holly,  what’s with you giving me a hard time about inviting Naeva?”

She replied, “I wasn’t giving you a hard time, Angie was giving you a hard time.  I just asked what time she’s coming?”

Then Cori who didn’t say a word up until then mumbled, “Why don’t you ask Angie why she‘s giving you a hard time?” to which Holly smirked and giggled a bit.
Ron asks, “Wait what? What’s the joke?”

Cori says, “You guys really don’t know do you?”

I spoke up saying, “I know.  It’s Angie, and that’s what Angie does.  She gives me a hard time.”  All of a sudden, Holly looks at Cori and they both start laughing their asses off.  

In a surprised but sarcastic tone, Holly says, “My God, neither one of you know why Angie doesn’t want this girl to join our group do you, are you serious?  C’mon Jay, even after last night?”

I asked, “Why, what happened last night?”  Ron yells out, “I wasn’t even here last night?”

Holly shook her in disbelief.  She turned back to Cori saying, “Oh my god, men are just stupid.  All men, it’s a disease.  They’re stupid and blind like mole children!”

I thought that was a little harsh and said, “C’mon Holly, friends should honest with one another.  Don’t worry about offending us, just tell us what you really think.”  Ron now getting irritated said,  “What the fuck happened last night?” 

Holly moved closer to me and started to speak to me like I was five years old.  “Jay, you joined us after dark last night and said you met this beautiful girl accidentally, because you thought she was Angie.  Later that night, you’re doing your musical guitar sex, love song thing and she’s melting all over you like butter on an English muffin.  Now, she’s pissed you invited this girl to join you tonight.  Please tell me you can figure this out.” 

Ron sat up straight said, “Wait, Angie melted on Jay last night?  Are you saying that Angie suddenly has a crush on Jay?”

Holly turned to Cori and said, “Oh God, it’s like watching someone try to make fire for the first time!  Amazing job Ron, you don’t miss a thing.”

All I could do was sit there in disbelief.  I said, “But wait, she’s dating that Marine guy with the weird name?  What is it?  Barnabus or Bernhard something really exotic…” Holly rolled her eyes and blurted out,  “His name is Ben.  Ben you dork!”

Ron starts to laugh and says, “Wow! Jay you were right, that name is exotic!  How do you say that again?  B…Beh…Ben was it?“

I took the twig that was fiddling with in my hand and whipped it at his head.  Then I remembered what had happened with Angie the night before and said,  “Damn it, did you know the reason that Naeva didn’t join us last night was because she saw Angie hanging all over me?”  Holly replied in a patronizing tone, “Really?  You don’t say, it was almost like she planned it that way.”

Now the whole thing started to make sense, and yes, I did feel stupid being too blind to fit it all together.  Worse yet, Angie would be back soon, and I didn’t know what to say to her.  I knew if I said nothing, she might try to sabotage the night with Naeva, and if I did bring it up, the whole thing could just crash and burn.

Finally I said “What the fuck!  Where was all this attention two years ago when I wanted to go out with her?  Now she decides she wants to give me a go.  Well this just sucks because it's a little late now.”

No one said a word.  I just shook my head and said, “I need to talk to her right now when she gets back.”

Holly sincerely looked surprised by my reaction and said,  “OK Jay, you impressed me.  Telling her how you feel is the right thing to do.  That actually makes a lot of sense.  I take it back, you aren’t a mole child. What are you going to say to her?”

I sat for a moment considering my situation.  Seriously, I had no idea what to tell her and  just felt pissed off at this point.  There was a time I would have jumped at the chance to date Angie, but that was a long time ago.  Things change, you know?

Everyone got a bit quiet right about then, and I decided to say something that I didn’t even plan on bringing up.  I said, “I need to say something that may seem off topic and a bit strange right now.”

Ron remarks, “Your gay?  That’s not strange, we totally knew.”  Cori punched his arm and Holly yelled, “OK I’ll say it this time, Ron shut the fuck up!  So what were you saying?”

I said, “I know I just met this girl, and this is the part that seems strange but, we kind of clicked you know?  I just want you guys to help this evening go well.”

Holly giggled and said sarcastically, “Oh no!  That means I can’t take off my bathing suit and climb on your shoulders like usual?  No heroine or Meth or group sex either? What ever can we do tonight Jay Jay?”

I just laughed and said, “Holly, I ’m not saying that you guys are embarrassing or should act differently, I’m just saying that I really like this girl.  I mean I "really" like her.” 

When I said that, I think Holly heard the passion in my voice and it surprised her.

She smiled warmly and nodded saying, “I’m just messing around, I get it.”  Then I looked over at Ron who was laying with his head on Cori’s lap playing  with the fingers on her hand.  Cori nodded at me with a smile and Ron looked  like he knew exactly what I meant and said, “No worries. I got you covered.”

Another 20 minutes passed, and we could see Angie and B-Bob coming back with of all things, whiskey and tequila.  Let me tell you, I didn’t waste any time having a few shots of that whiskey to build up the courage to talk to Angie.  I waited until she got up to get some ice from the cooler, and I got up with her.  Then I said, “Come with me, we have to talk.” and I yelled out to the rest of them that we were taking bathroom break.

All we did was walk closer to the tree line by the dunes.  It was pitch black by then. As I stopped her she said, “This is worrying me, what’s wrong?  You’ve never done anything like this before.”  I just took a deep breath and started talking, “I wanted to tell you something very important, and I just want you to listen to me for a minute OK?”

“OK” she said.

“Do you remember when we first met during that crazy party at Cori’s house two years ago?” She nodded.

“Well, back then, I had a killer crush on you, you knew that right?”  She nodded, smiled and pulled her hair to one side looking a bit nervous.

"You were dating that one guy who moved to Milwaukee.  I remember how he was a complete dick to you all the time.  I thought that maybe I’d have a chance with you if he wasn’t around, but then when you started dating someone else and dumped him, I pretty much knew that we would stay friends you know?”

She started to speak, but I interrupted her, “Please, just listen for now OK?”  She rolled her eyes and snapped, “OK, fine.”

“My point in all of this is; I really got used to us being friends.  I have a hell of a great time with you, and I’m happy that’s the way things turned out.  Just you and me as really good friends.  I just wanted you to know that, is that cool?” 

She looked sad for a moment, and seemed a bit surprised I was that direct with her. Then she shook her head and replied, “I suppose it’s fair right?  I mean, the way you wanted more from me back then and not getting it, and now, well…it’s fair.”

I felt so bad at that moment and said, “I’m really sorry Angie.  The last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt you, I….” I stopped talking because she put her arms around me and kissed my cheek, and then just held me for a while.  As I hugged her back, she whispered in my ear, “I know your sorry and you would never hurt me.  It’s because you’re such a sweetheart, and it just took me too long to figure it out.” 

I held her for a while and she finally let me go.  I could see that she wiped some tears from her eyes and then she seemed to shake it off.  She said, “So, buddy.  How about we get back to the other outcasts?  I smiled, took hold of her hand and we walked back to join our friends.

When we arrived back at the fire, it reminded me of a movie scene where strangers walk into a small town bar and the music stops, and everyone turns to look at who came in.  I gotta hand it to Angie, she was smooth.  She looked up at me with a confused look and then back at everyone.  In a really convincing tone she said, “OK what the hell?  Is there some reason all of you are staring at us, it‘s creepin’ me out.”

She did such a great job at pulling it off, I’m sure that everyone thought I chickened out from talking to her.  Surprisingly, things went right back to normal, business as usual.

I would say about an hour passed and I was starting to get a little anxious.  I think it was about eleven-ish when Holly looked down the beach and says, “Hey Jay Jay, I think she’s on her way.”

Everyone turned around to see the light from a flashlight moving on the beach and coming this way.  I looked back to see my friends frozen in a catatonic stare as she got closer.  I said, “Seriously?  You look like you’re at a wake viewing the body.  Way to make her feel welcome.”

Angie popped up from the log she was sitting on and said, “Shit, where’s the weed?  I’m betting that’s her, but if it’s a cop, I don’t feel like being in the local paper for marijuana possession.”  Billy Bob handed it to her and Angie buried the plastic bag full of weed under her feet like she was hiding body parts in a shallow grave.

Billy starts to laugh and says, “I could see the article in the local paper.  "Six Chicago area young adults are arrested for possession of a controlled substance. When interviewed by the arresting officer, Jay had this to say. “Dude!  We totally thought you were this hot girl.  This is harsh!”  As you can imagine, his comment cracked everyone up.

I looked back over my shoulder, and decided that Naeva was close enough for me to go and meet her, so I got up and walked in her direction.  It was pitch black that night because the clouds were covering the moon.  The night before it was really bright.  As I got closer, I yelled out, “Naeva, is that you?” and she answered, “Hi Jay!” in this happy melodic sort of greeting.

I started to think, “Should I just say hi?  Hold her hand?  I wasn’t sure what I should do.  It was quickly decided, when she jogged over to me and threw her arms around me.  Believe me I was happy to do the same.  She felt wonderful.

As I held her, my face was against the nape of her neck and her soft hair that smelled like her perfume.  She also felt so soft to the touch, and I said exactly what was in my heart. “I’m really happy you came.”  Then I jokingly said, “I’m just wondering though, how you knew where to find us?  It’s like you’ve been here before.”

She smirked and gave me a little glare, “I have no idea what your talking about.  How could I know where to find you?  In fact I was just out for a walk with my flashlight looking for a beach bag I lost earlier today.  I think someone stole it.”  I replied, “You won’t believe it!  I found it.”  Then I took her hand we walked back.  

Yet again, my best friend pulled out the stops for me by pouring shots for everyone while we were gone.  It really lightened the mood and when we walked up I introduced her to the group.  After the usual hellos, Ron said, “Naeva, we were just about to do some shots.  You have your choice of Tequila or Canadian Mist, would you care to join us?”

She walked right in the middle of the circle and said, “Canadian Mist is one of my favorite things.”  Then in her little accent said, “I also love dark beer,  Buffalo wings and blueberry Pop Tarts.”

I think she endeared herself to everyone at that moment, at least to Ron who said, “You like whiskey, beer, wings and Pop Tarts?”  He looks at me and says, “Dude where did you find this girl?  She’s awesome!  Naeva, you are going to fit in here just fine.”

After the shots, we sat down together and just got to know one another.  Naeva explained in more detail about where she lived and what it was like living there. 
She seemed comfortable talking to everyone and came across as really sincere, you know?  She wasn’t worried about what anyone would think when she spoke.  She was such an honest happy person, you couldn’t help but to like her.

Angie stayed pretty quiet through all of this which was OK by me.  After the conversation slowed down, she dug in the sand by her feet and pulled out the bag of weed.  Tossing it to Billy again she said, “Naeva, are you cool with this?”  I sat there holding my breath wondering how this was going to fly.

Naeva said, “That depends.”

“On what?” Angie replies.

Naeva said, “On whether you are inviting me to join you.  In that case, I’m cool with it.”

Billy Bob, throws his arms out toward Naeva and looks at Ron.  “Ron, you nailed it man.  She’s gonna fit in great!”  We were all laughing at that comment, even Angie. Still, I couldn’t quite figure what was happening in Angie's head.  It was like having a pretty time bomb in a bathing suit next to me all night.

Still, as the night went on, we really had a blast.  Angie wasn’t being overly friendly, but she wasn’t being bitchy either which was cool.  The thing that turned the tide to the positive was when Naeva did her little girl thing.

Terry interjected with a smile, “Little girl thing?  What does that mean?”

Jay put his hands behind his head and leaned back on the chair.  He grinned from ear to ear and then said, “Believe it or not, this was a trait that Naeva had that I couldn’t figure out how to describe without metaphors, so I left it out.

Sometimes, she would get swept away by these impulsive desires, and they would be expressed with such enthusiasm and joy, it reminded me of a little girl.  You know what I mean?”

Terry nodded, “I think I get it.  What did she do?”

“Well, that night, it was getting late and she suddenly sat up straight and announced, “I’m going to build a sand castle.  Anyone is welcome to join me, but if not, that’s fine.  I’m building it anyway.”

She had no idea that Angie’s passion at the beach was to build the most complex sand castles conceived by man and Angie freaked.  “Oh my god you like to build sand castles?  Me too!” she says.  That was all it took.

They both dropped down on their knees and started feverishly digging about ten feet away from where were sitting.  I gotta say, I became a lot more relaxed at that point.  Looking back, I think that was the moment that Naeva really fit it.  After that it felt so normal having her with us.  It was like she’d been in our group all summer long.

I wasn’t in the mood for castle building.  Face it, I was not only wasted, but the night was hot and humid.  Usually there’s a nice breeze on the beach at night, but that night was not one of them.  It was dead calm.

I decided that a swim would be perfect, and Billy and Ron came with me.  Before I jumped in, I snagged a bar of soap and thought a quick clean up was a good idea as well.  I mean, there was Naeva smelling like heaven, and then there was me, sticky with a days worth of beach sweat and sun screen.  Nasty!

So I cleaned up a bit and looked around at the whole scene for the first time.  There we all were, the girls making sand castles, and the guys cooling off in the water.  Billy was floating on his back and thrashing around like an otter, and Ron and I were just waste deep with our drinks in hand chillin'.

It was then Ron asked me, “So did you say something to Angie or did you choke and crawl back like a little bitch?”  I said, “I didn‘t choke!  I just told her I was happy with us as just friends.  It went OK, I guess.  I'm kind freaked out it went as well as it did, but hey, at least it's done." 

He shook his head looking at the beach and said, “Too bad.”

His comment shocked me and said, “What the fuck?  Why would you say that?” He says, “Dude, seriously, just look at that”, pointing toward the beach.  He was pointing at Angie and Naeva.  They were both on their hands and knees, side by side with their cute little tanned asses illuminated quite well by the our fire.  They looked like mirror images side by side, and their bikini bottoms were riding up a bit, showing what we used to refer to as “the best of what god had given them”.

Ron said, “The way I see it, this moment was probably the closest you will ever get in your short pathetic life to a threesome and you fucking trashed it. Grats bro.”
Christ, I just about fell down laughing.  I knew he wasn’t serious, but it was funny as hell.  Then he said, “Dude serously though, she‘s really nice.  She’s hot too, even her name is hot.  N-eye-ay-va!  That’s sweeeet!”

I just chuckled.  Then he looked at me with a serious expression and clicked his plastic cup to mine. “Really,” he said. “This is good to see.  I like her a lot.”

I just said, “Don't like her too much now.  I’ll go alpha-male on your ass if you try to move in on this one.” He was taking a drink, and as I said that, he ended up choking a bit from laughing.  He just shook his head and looked in the direction of Cori.  She was walking to the waters edge to fill some cups, and take water back for use on the sand castle. 

It was then that he went beyond the usual superficial comedy of our conversations and said, “You’re safe there, I would never do that to by best friend , but regardless, my days of looking are gone.  Game over man.  That’s the only girl I need right there.”

I knew he was bring serious, but I still wanted to give him some shit about it.  I said, “Yah, but have you ever figured out what Cori see’s in you?  I mean, look at you?  Now look at me.  See what I‘m say‘n?”

He smiled saying, “Oh completely.  Sure I know, your every girls dream.  Oh wait no….I mean nightmare.  Seriously though, I am hooked on that girl.  Until you meet that person you just don’t get it.”

I nodded and then said, “Well you suck then because, as of now, I don’t get it.”
He replied, “Well not yet.”  Then leans over and starts messing with me again and says, “Are you sad?  Do you need a hug?” That's when the splash fight ensued.”

Terry laughed and said, “Those sound like good times.  Ron was obviously a riot to have as a friend.  Let me ask you a question.  How long have you known Ron?”

Jay replied, “Ron?  Wow, we knew each other since fourth grade although we really didn’t hang out until my last two years of high school.  He was probably my worst influence and my biggest blessing all at the same time."  Jay looked down and paused for a moment.

“I’ll save you the awkwardness that happens when people ask the next question of “Where is he now?”.  Unfortunately he died five years ago.  Lung Cancer.”

Terry shook his head, “I’m sorry.  Some people get the unfortunate experience of dealing with death in their lives more than others.  It sounds like you’re no stranger to it.  That’s not easy.”

Jay nodded, “Hey, the guy had a full life and did what he wanted to do.  I wish he lived longer but he had a blast on this earth in the time he had.  We both did.  What better wish can you have for a good friend?”

Terry said, “It sounds like he was a good guy, and I didn’t mean to take you away from your story.  Did you want to keep going?  We're almost out of time for today’s session”

Jay looked at the clock on the wall. “Holy shit.  I’ve been talking for an hour?  No we can wrap it up now, but I definitely want to continue this.  The next part is when it starts to get good”, he smiled, “at least from my perspective.”

Terry said, “It’s already a good story, it’s brining back memories of when I was that young.  Did you make an appointment for next week or should we set that up now?” Jay replied, "No, were good.  I think it's the same day and time."

Terry said, “I’m not giving you any homework this week.  I’ll wait until you finish telling me about Naeva,  In the interim, just remember where you left off and call me if things get bad, OK?”

Jay stood up and Terry walked him to a door in the hallway.  “Ok Terry, thanks.  See you next week.”

The following week Jay sat in the same waiting room feeling much more relaxed than last time.  Terry entered, they greeted each other and went to his office.
Terry asked, “So how was your week?”

Jay replied, “About the same, but I haven’t been feeling quite as bad.  I do think talking about this is helping.”

Terry nodded, “Good, and since we have a clear picture of what we’re talking about today, did you want to continue the story where we left off?”

“Absolutely, Jay replied.  “I even kept a mental note of where I left off.  I believe I was in the lake with a drink in my hand having a splash fight with my best friend.  Too bad it's only a story right?"”

Terry smiled, "If only life was that easy."  Then he picked up his note pad.  "Alright then, we're good to go.”

Jay took a sip of water, “I brought my own this week.” he said holding up his water bottle, and settled into his chair.

"So, anyway, the splash fight wound up quickly if I remember it right.  I think it was because neither one of us wanted to ruin a good whiskey and coke.

As I was standing there, this feeling comes over me.  I don’t know if it was what due to Ron talking about being in love with Cori, or looking at Naeva dig in the sand like a little girl."

Jay grinned, “Well I say little girl, but I’m talking about her carefree spirit.  The rest of what I saw that night gave a different view, if you know what I mean.

I just knew I wanted to be with her. That was also when Ron started to laugh and focused my attention on Billy Bob Man.  He was still floating on his back, but had washed ashore like a hunk of drift wood.  I decided then, I was in the water long enough, and motioned I was heading back.  At least I accomplished my goal of feeling cooler and smelling a hell of a lot cleaner.

I dried off, walked over to the girls and got down on my knees next to Naeva.  She looked so focused on what she was doing but as I knelt down, she looked up at me with a excited little smile.

I had to fight back the urge to laugh, because she looked a lot different than the groomed, perfumed girl I met on the beach earlier.  She was a bit sweaty and completely covered in sand.  Her hair was wet at the ends from hanging down into the giant hole they’d excavated, and I’m sure she must have tried to pull her hair back with her sandy hands because there was sand all over her face and neck. With that cute little grin she said, “I love digging in the sand.  It feels so cool and soft on my hands.”

Half laughing I said, “Yah, I can see that.”  She had an expression on her face that transfixed me.  You could almost see that fire that burned inside of her you know?
It was then I took a good look at the castle that she and the girls had constructed.  It was pretty impressive.  I mean for only using plastic cups and their hands for tools the fucking thing rocked.

I called Ron over and said, “Dude, check this out!  Circle Beach Fortress!”  Circle Beach was the name of the beach if you didn’t guess by now, anyway, Naeva stopped digging and asked, “Do you really like it, are you making fun of us?”

I said, “No!  I’m being serious.  I was expecting the usual mound of sand with a flag stuck in the top of it.  This is a freaking medieval war machine.  You got the deep moats with the spikes, elevated construction, access to the sea, rounded towers.  It’s actually pretty amazing.”

Naeva stopped digging and sat up, flipping her hair out of her eyes.  She didn’t notice, but I actually got a face full of sand when she did it, and it made me laugh. What I didn’t know, was how amazed she was by the way I described the castle.

She looks at me with this almost dazed expression and started speaking in an excited voice,  "How do you know so much about castles?  You must know a lot to notice those things!  I know everything about them, I love castles!

Now realizing that this design was planned, I was pretty amazed.  I said,  “I have a huge library of books on warfare and ancient history.  I read that stuff all the time. So this castle, and the double walls and everything, this was no accident?  All of you really did make a Medieval Castle?”

I looked up to see Holly pointing at Naeva and Angie, and she blurted out. " Let‘s get this straight.  These two made a Medieval Castle!  The Canadian architect and her master builder with the whip, Pharaoh Angie!  Cori and I were just hired on to serve as unpaid laborers.  Sorry girls, I’m done.  I need a swim.”  She got up as well as Cori.  Ron took Cori’s hand and they walked down to the water together.

Angie looked at the castle and then at Naeva giving her a girly high five.  Angie says, “Damn, we're good!”  Naeva looking very pleased with it as well replies “That idea you had using the flat rocks between the walls to keep it standing was a good idea.  That worked perfectly.”

Angie remarked, “This Medieval thing was your idea remember, and I love it.  Do you know about other kinds of we could try this week?"

Naeva replied, “Tons of them."

Angie nodded, “We need to try different ones while you’re still hanging around here.  You are still hanging with us right?”

Naeva nodded, “Absolutely, you're all a riot to hang with.  Then she smiled at Angie ans said, "That’s a nice invitation.  Thanks Angie.”

Angie replies, “No really, this was a blast.”  She stood up and stretched her legs. “Man, I gotta de-sand myself” pulling on her bikini bottom.  I’m hav’n an issue...if you know what I mean.  I’ll be back.” 

I just sat astonished yet again.  I had visions of this night being a disaster with Angie in the middle of it.  Now, things were going so well it seemed unbelievable.  This shit doesn’t happen in real life, you know?

Terry nodded, “No, not always, but as odd as it was, it proves something to me in my profession.  I’ve observed human interactions for so long, I’ve learned never to guess which way things are sure to go, or how people will react.  I take it that was the turning point for Angie’s acceptance of things?”

Jay nodded, “Definitely.  I think that after that, I also realized something about Angie.  Seeing her move past the whole romance issue so quickly, it made me think.  I wondered if her coming on to me, was more because I was interested in someone else.

I think I was her safety net, you know what I mean?  The emergency parachute if she needed me.  I don’t think she was thinking that consciously because we were really were good friends, but to her, I was also the “guy who had the crush on her and always would” sort of thing?”

Then when that went away, I think she started to wonder, “What if I‘ve been ignoring the fact that I like him? We were really close and we get along well?”

Jay grinned and asked, “What do you think of my professional evaluation Terry?”

Terry replied, “I’ve never met Angie, but from what you’ve told me, I think you may be on to something.  It makes sense.”

Jay nodded, “Well that night, I was just glad it worked out.

After Angie left, Naeva said she was heading to the water too, but before she did, she looked at me with these very inquisitive eyes and said, “I never met anyone who knew anything about castles. How is it that you, I mean, I never imagined you would.”

I reached up and removed a wet lock of hair that was stuck on her chin and said, “I never saw anyone build a historically accurate model out of sand.”  Then I paused and said, “I’ve also never met anyone who I…”

I stopped talking for a second.  It was for only a moment, but in that short time, I was trying to figure out what my next words should be.  I had every intention of just letting it all go, you know.  I was going to tell her that I never met anyone who I liked so much from the first moment I met her. I wanted to tell her how special I thought she was.  This time though, I totally choked.  I just said, “never met anyone who um did such a detailed job at it.”

I just cringed.  Really Jay?, I thought, “Duh, I like your sand castle.”  Jesus Christ talk about your failed moments in life.  I felt like all I needed was a pair of glasses with tape on them and some mouth breathing.

She just smiled and said, “The liked that Whiskey and Coke you made me.  Would you make me another one while I get all of this sand off of me.”  I said yes, of course, and she ran down to the water.

As I was getting some ice and pouring her drink, I started to feel more and more pissed off at myself for not just coming out with what I wanted to say.  My last act of desperation was to slam numerous shots of whiskey from the bottle for courage.
Then I waded out into the water with everyone else.

The water felt really cool and refreshing again and I saw Naeva pop up from under the surface close to Holly and Angie.  As I walked up with her drink in my hand she said, “Awww, I didn’t mean you had to bring it to me.  You’re a sweetheart!”

Angie looked at me, nodded and rolled her eyes.  Remembering our conversation just hours ago, that was a bit awkward, but just then my head started to spin, and I began to feel the consequence of my whiskey rage shots on the beach. 

I was happy see that the alcohol had the desired effect on me, and I took hold of Naeva’s hand.  She was surprised but looked happy that I did.  Then I asked her,  “Will you walk with me on the beach for a while?”

I could see Holly and Angie give each other one of their looks.  Naeva just smiled and nodded.  She turned to Angie and said, “We’ll be back.”

Naeva and I waded back to shore, dried off and began to move further down the beach.  She was very quiet at first, which worried me a bit having never seen that side of her until then.  Then she looked up at the sky and said, “Look.  Look how beautiful it is.”  I tilted my head back and saw the moon breaking through the clouds.  The clouds were glowing a pretty blue grey color and floating along peacefully.

We both stopped walking for a moment, and just looked up, admiring the night sky. 

That’s when I finally summoned the courage to say what was on my mind.  I moved in front of her so we were face to face and I said, “When I told you how much I loved your sand castle, I meant that, but I wanted to say so much more.  I just wasn‘t sure if I should.”

I looked into her dark eyes that were staring up into mine, and the dim light and reflection of the moon made them look black and infinite.  I had no trouble telling her my feelings when I felt like I did at that moment, and I said, “I’m still not sure I should be saying this but I am anyway.  Since I met you, and I know that just happened yesterday, which is strange in itself, I feel so different.  I don’t feel like myself.”

I realized how horrible that sounded and shook my head, “No, that’s not how I wanted to say this.” 

I took a deep breath, “I don’t feel like myself, but in a good way, you know?   I don’t usually feel comfortable saying things like this to someone I just met.  In fact I never have.  I know that sounds like I'm giving you a line, but I'm telling the truth.  I never felt this comfortable with someone so quickly.  Not the way I‘ve been with you.” 

I rolled my eyes and smirked and said, “You’re probably listening to me thinking that I’m doing a poor job of looking comfortable, the way I‘m floundering through my words.”

She looked almost upset as I said those words and replied, “I don’t think you’ve done anything since the moment I’ve met you that hasn’t been perfect.
This morning at breakfast, I told you I got scared because of last night.  I mean we did just meet and I really don’t know you.  THen, when I saw you with Angie last night, I thought you were just one of those guys who are, well…you know.” 

“Douche bags?” I replied.  She let out a giggle.

Then she smiled warmly at me and continued to speak,  "You described those type of men very well, and yes I didn't really know for sure.  After tonight though, I know that’s not you.”  She giggled, “God not at all!  How wrong I was even thinking that?  I've been having such a wonderful time with you tonight.”

Then she looked in my eyes again and said, “I still am.”

It was those words that caused all of the inhibition to leave me.  I said, “I’m so attracted to you, I feel afraid saying it.  It seems like I find out out something else about you every minute, ablut who you are, or how you think, and I keep waiting to be disappointed.  I keep telling myself that I’m getting carried away thinking the way I’m thinking, but I keep coming up with the same opinion of you, and it seems unbelievable.

I began to stroke her hair and just whispered the words, “To me your just, perfect.”

We moved toward one one another and locked into a kiss and an embrace that felt astonishing.  I have never been able to explain why it felt the way it did.  It felt like we’d been in love for a long time, and had been reunited after months apart. Hell, all I knew is that I felt like I was in heaven and I wanted it to last forever. 

It took a while, but we finally pulled ourselves apart and could see that we were both breathing more rapidly.  Then we just stood looking at one another’s faces with a sort of bewilderment.  It was then, she said three words to me that I’ll never forget.  

She said, “Who are you?”

Terry chuckled and smiled at Jay saying,  “I would have bet money that you were going to say the three words were I love you.  Why did she ask, “Who are you?”

Jay smiled and looked completely happy when Terry asked him that question.  Then he said, “That night, I had no idea what she meant and was too nervous to ask her.  I didn’t find out until much later what that meant.  Don’t’ worry, I’ll tell you when it makes more sense."

Terry smiled and nodded his head, “That’s fine, I like a good suspenseful story, but I don’t want you to forget to tell me so if I ask you again, just tell me it’s still pending OK?”  He then made some written notes on Jay’s therapy log.

Jay replied with complete confidence, “Trust me.  I won’t forget.  I couldn‘t forget.
After that kiss, it changed everything.  There was no more wondering if she really liked me or fears of me trying to deceive her.  It was a kiss that put everything in overdrive.

That night you would think that after that, we would have continued to escalate things and run headlong to the finish line right?  Well we didn’t.  In fact, I was so overwhelmed by the feeling she gave me I didn’t know where to go.  She acted much the same way that first night, although I couldn’t be sure it was for the same reason.

The big change that happened was how we acted toward one another.  We became a couple after that, spending every moment of every day together.  To be honest, I can’t even tell you what my friends said, or if they cared.  I forgot they were there and I was deaf dumb and blind to everything and everyone with the exception of my beautiful Naeva.

As you can imagine, we graduated from hugging and kissing and things went out of our control like throwing gasoline on an inferno.

Terry asked, “You mean you were having sex?”

Jay said, “Everything but the obvious kind.  She never had intercourse with anyone and said she wanted to wait.  Not to be crude, but to me that made no difference. That was like being at a buffet and being told one of the items are not available, you know?  All you have to choose from are 100 other delicacies in front of you.  My god,  I was so in love, I was happy just to hold her and lay my head on her as she fell asleep, and then listen to her heart beat and her breathing.  Make no mistake, that was “not” the limit of our activities.  She was not a girl who had inhibitions and nor did I.

Jay stopped for a minute and looked as though he was  remembering something very moving and asked, “Terry, have you ever been intimate with someone that you loved so much, sex was almost a spiritual experience?”

Terry started to laugh, “Was that a rhetorical question or do you really need an answer?”

Jay replied, “I need an answer.”

Terry said, “Yes, I have.”

Jay sat quietly and smiled for a moment, and then said, “Then you’re a lucky man.  Let me correct that. " We" are lucky men.  Being with her, pleasing her, holding her and remembering how she smelled and how she tas.….I remember it now like..”

Jay stopped talking again because he was about to get emotional.  He then took a deep breath and continued, “The most amazing experiences of my life were spent in her arms.  Did you know that when we finally did have sex, I mean intercourse, it was incredible!”

Terry asked, “You mean because you were so in love?”

Jay smiled and sat back in the chair, “You would think that would be the extent of it but is wasn’t.  It’s funny because when Naeva told me she wanted to wait for that to happen, she said she wanted it to be a special moment with the person she loved.  I never questioned her on what that meant, and I never pressured her either.  I just figured that when it happened it would happen.

Well, one day during our second week together, we were sitting on top of this sand dune just admiring the scenery and feeding corn chips to some gulls.  In the distance, we could hear a rumble from this thunderstorm approaching from over the lake. Storms like that are really exhilarating because there’s nothing to stop the sound of the thunder moving over the water.  It almost sounds like it growls as it approaches.  It’s really fun to watch and a bit frightening.

It was a really hot day so we were sitting in the shade of this tree half buried by the shifting sand.  Although we were in the shade, it was still hot, but there was a breeze and we started to kiss one another.  I don’t know if you were ever in the dunes, but it’s not like you run across a lot of people if you find the right place to hang.  As long as you stay away from the trails, you can pretty much count on being alone.

We moved to a place where we were hidden on the far side of one of the dunes, and shrouded by a canopy of big oak trees that grew down in the valley.  I kind of made you feel like you were up in the treetops.  I remember we were just kissing and moving onto a long list of intimate activities that I'll leave to the imagination.

The storm was getting close now, and it was kicking up a cool wind that felt great. The trees started to move and sway and the whole adrenaline rush made us all the more tense and passionate.  None of this was planned, and I think that’s why the whole set of events worked out the way it did.  Looking back at the moment, the thought of two people naked sitting under tree tops on a 100 foot sand dune during a lightning storm was not the best place to be.  Would I do it again?  You bet your ass I would!

Well, the heavens opened up and it started to pour.  The rain was cold but the combination of all of the sensory overload just made it seem wonderfully intense. Cold rain cascading off of our bodies, trees heaving and roaring in the wind. Thunder was crashing and she looked at me with those dark eyes burning like fire and, well….she “invited me in“, so to speak.

Terry smiled and chuckled a bit, “I have to say, that sounds like it was an amazing thing to experience.”

Jay grinned ear to ear and said, “At some point, a bolt lightning must have hit a tree so close, that the flash of the lightning and the thunder were almost simultaneous. But did we stop?  Hell no!  It was hands down, the most extreme experience I‘ve ever had in my entire life.  How can you top that?”

Terry was beginning to laugh and said, “Wow, I've heard many first time stories, but they usually involve rose petals on the bed or Champaign and strawberries.  This, I have to say, is the most unique one yet.  It also proves to me that what I’ve heard of human sex drive is true. “Human beings will risk death for sex.”

“I know right?” Jay replied and he laughed.  “The thing is Terry, those are the types of experiences I seemed to have all the time with Naeva.  They were overwhelming."

Jay sat back and drank some water, with a glow on his face.  He settled in the chair again and continued.

"The only contrast to how good that felt came afterward.  As wonderful as that was, we realized unfortunately, we were cold and wet.  Our bathing suits had actually washed down the slope of the dune a bit so that wasn’t fun.  It was also still raining and it didn't seem like it was stopping anytime soon, so we ended up retrieving our bathing suits and going back to the hotel room for dry clothes.  Afterward we just laid on the bed and passed out, taking a long nap together.

I woke up from that nap to the most wonderful thing in the world.  Naeva kissed me on my lips and when I opened my eyes, I saw her face looking down at me.  She looked radiant and she seemed to be studying everything about me.  She looked in my eyes, played with my hair and she traced my mouth with her fingertips.  She said, “I love you so much, it scares me sometimes.”

I just caressed her face telling her I loved her too.  Then she said the same three words she’d said at the beach the night we first kissed and asked,  “Who are you?”

That time, I had the courage to ask her what that meant, although I really believed I somehow knew already.  Still, I sat up a bit and asked, “What does that mean when you ask me that?  You know who I am.”

She nodded her head and said, “That’s true, I know all about you, but that’s not what I mean.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

She said, “You know how we both felt when we met?  We couldn’t believe how comfortable we felt talking to one another, we fit so perfectly, remember?

“Of course, we still do” I said.

She said, “I just don't understand how , or who...What I mean is, when I ask "Who are you ?" I just don't know how you could be here and why..." "Then she huffed in frustration, obviously upset that she wasn't able to put her thoughts into words.  She grumbled, "Mon Dieu!  Why can't I explain this?  You think I’m crazy, don't you?.”

I replied, “How surprised would you be if I guessed what you meant?"

She answered, “How could you?  There's no way.”

I just said, “I think you ask me that because you can’t believe that two human beings can love each other as deeply as we do.  I think that when you ask me “Who are you?” you really hope that I can tell you the reason someone like me exists, and how this could be possible.”

She stared at me with her jaw slightly dropped as though she was in shock.  Then she asked me, “How could you know that?”

I replied, “Because it’s the same for me, I wonder who you are all the time.”

Jay moved forward in his chair and rested his hand on his chin.  He dropped his head down, and sat with a look on his face that seemed distant and removed from the moment.

Terry sat waiting quietly and Jay finally continued.

“She asked me that after our fist kiss.  Think about it.  Those questions about why we just fit together were already questions in her head too, even then.  Can you believe it?  I mean we just met one another and none of it made any sense to me.”

Terry remarked, “That’s an amazing bond to have with someone.”

Jay nodded and said, “I just realized that I jumped in the story a bit.  Making love to her happened my second week with Naeva, but there was something that happened earlier I wanted to mention.

Me and my friends were only supposed to stay one week.  Well when the end of the week came, I was already in love with her and I had no intention of going anywhere.  I was ready to sleep on the beach every night if I had to.  As it turned out, Ron gave me the rest of the cash I would need to keep the hotel room up until Naeva was suppose to go back home with her sister.  He was a good friend.”

Jay paused, “Well we both were good friends to one another.  Hell, I would have done the same for him in a second no questions asked.

Anyway, that second week was absolute perfection because it was just me and Naeva day and night.

That was also when we began to find out who the other really was, you know?  It seemed like we were making love pretty much every hour.  We talked about our families and things we did when we were younger.  We discussed religion, opinions on life and just about everything.  Did I mention we had sex a lot?”  Jay laughed.

"After two weeks of heaven on earth, I can tell you that when that week ended, we both felt like our lives were over.”  Jay froze in his chair and then shook his head.  He looked up at Terry and tears began to fill his eyes.  He dropped his head into his hands and actually cried rather hard for a short time.

Terry pointed out that there was a box of Kleenex on the table next to him which Jay used to blows his nose and dry his eyes.  He took a deep breath and said, “I can’t believe that my brain just described our parting like that.  What a rhetorical slash to the throat that was.”

Terry asked, “What do you mean?”

Jay replied, “I said, when we had to go back to our homes after those two weeks ended, we both felt like our lives were over.  In Naeva’s case, that’s really what happened.”

Terry looked at Jay with an inquisitive squint.  “You mean you never saw one another after that day.  She died 20 years ago?”

Jay nodded his head and said, “That’s right.”

Terry stopped to think for a moment. “Bare with me, I think I may have missed something, and if so I’m sorry, but I was under the impression from what you told me earlier that she’d died more recently.

When I reviewed the profile questionnaire you filled out before your first visit, I saw that you were married with children.  I’ve been assuming that Naeva was your spouse.  Have I got this completely wrong?”

Jay sat there for a moment completely dumbfounded by what Terry had just said, but shortly after that he began to smile.  Suddenly he broke out into laughter.  

Terry smiled back at him and said, “I’m happy that you’re laughing instead of how you felt a few moments ago, but I’m not sure what happened.  Fill me in.”

Jay dropped his head down, snickering a bit and then said, “I’ll tell you what happened.  I’m a dumb ass Terry, that‘s what happened.  I got so caught up telling you my story. I completely forgot a gigantic part of the present day situation.”

Terry sat back in his chair appearing to be relieved and said, “Good.  Glad to hear that because right now, I’m thinking that you’ve been married, and still grieving for Naeva over the past 20 years.”

Jay chuckled again, “Oh my god.  No, I haven’t been grieving for 20 years.  This was recent information.  Jesus, I’m sorry Terry.”

Terry said, “No need to be sorry, this is starting to make a little more sense to me now but I’m still not getting how the whole timeline fits together.”

Jay replied, “I know, how could you?  Let me just add the part of this whole thing that will bring it together.”

Terry put down his note pad and pencil on the desk in an exaggerated way.  He straightened his shirt and sat back in his chair as if he was getting ready to be there a while and said, “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.  Continue.”

Jay chuckled, “I still can’t believe I didn’t clarify all of this.  You see, when Naeva went back home, everything was perfect.  We would write letters and we would call one another all the time.  I just about went broke reimbursing my parents for the long distance bill, but I didn’t give a damn.  We still talked anyway.  We also planned the next time we were going to get together.  We had planned a trip to Florida during spring break.

Sometime in October of that year, it was a Friday night.  We talked on the phone as usual and she told me that she might not be able to call me for a while since she was going on a trip with her sister up north or something, I can’t remember exactly.

I said, I love you, I hung up the phone, and I never heard her voice again.”

Terry looked at Jay sadly, “What happened?”

Jay gave a sarcastic chuckle and became visibly frustrated.  “I never knew what happened Terry.  I just never heard from her again.  Can you believe what a fucking cruel joke life pulled on me.  I never fucking knew!”

God I tried!  I tried so hard, not that God helped, that’s a joke.  I prayed, I pleaded with that fantasy in the sky for any mercy on me, but the answer was no!  Ask me why I don’t number among the happy faithful in this cursed world.”

Jay calmed himself down a bit and asked, “How old are you Terry”

Terry replied, “I’m 32.”

Jay nodded, “Alright, then you remember a world without cell phones, computers and social networks.  Well that’s the world where I met Naeva.  I had none of that shit back then to help me find her either!  It wasn’t like now when you could pop in a Google search for Naeva Reese and get 100 hits.  The weirdest  thing was,  I couldn’t even get anyone in her family by phone or mail.  The letters were all marked return to sender.  I couldn’t reach her Mother, her sister, no one!  They all knew who I was, it made no sense to me.

I even tried to call the local Police in St. John.  Just try to imagine how far I got with that!  Can you imagine me calling a foreign country and asking for information on some girl I met over the summer.  It’s not like she was my family or my wife.  Christ I wasn’t even a Canadian citizen.  All they would tell me is that there were no missing person reports filed on her and have a good”

You also have to consider that by now, all my friends and family were looking at me like I was pathetic.  I would hear things like, “Jay, maybe she just decided to move on and didn’t have the courage to tell you?”  That would fucking infuriate me.  I wasn’t rude to them, because I knew they were trying to help, but I just couldn’t believe how she could ever do that.  Not my Naeva.  Never!.”

Terry said, “That sounds absolutely horrible.  You must have felt completely isolated from everyone and everything.”

Jay nodded, “That’s for sure.  I felt alone, emotionally destroyed and the worst part was being helpless to do anything about it.

I must have tried different things for almost 2 months and it was coming up on Christmas.  Then one day, I did my desperate evening phone call to her number to find that it had been disconnected.  That was it.  That was a turning point.  

The only thing left for me to do was to travel to New Brunswick and try to find her. Actually go to her house.  If it was that first month, I probably would have done it, but now I was starting to have doubts myself.  I started to imagine how horrible it would be if I traveld to St. John, and showed up at her door.  Then I'd have to endure the whole awkward moment of finding her, only to be told she really just changed her mind about me.  How pathetic would that be? 

I kept hearing everyone around me say that I was just a victim, and she dumped you, give it up. They would say, "You only knew her for two weeks, are you serious?  She‘s moved on Jay, time for you to do the same.."  Again and again I’d hear it like a mantra in my head.  My friends didn’t even want to be with me the way I was acting, not that I blame them.  I was a fucking mess.

All I knew, was that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  It was destroying me.  So I stopped just like that.

I gave up and I tried to get used to the fact that she’d just found someone else.  You would think I would have hated her or something but I was really just numb.  I found a way to just switch it off in my brain, and I stopped feeling anything when I thought of her.  I got to be an expert at never thinking of her at all.  She became like a short wonderful dream, and then a long horrible nightmare.

Terry looked at Jay sincerely sad for what he’d gone through and said, “I wish I could have been there for you then.  It sounds like you really needed some support, but unfortunately, all I can try to do is get you through what’s happening now.  Did you did say that you found out she passed away just recently.  When was that?”
Jay replied, “About 6 months ago.”

Terry nodded, “That is pretty recent.  How did you find out?”

Jay drank some water and ran his hands trough his hair.  He said, “It was of all things, a Friday night.  My wife fell asleep early and I was on facebook just posting some bullshit.  I’ve reconnected with many of my old of my old friends from years ago.  Billy Bob and Angie are on the list.  Apparently Holly is not a technology advocate like me and the rest of us, so I couldn’t find her although Angie sees her once and a while.

That night I was kind of bored, and as I looked at the list of old friends, I started to wonder.  Is there a chance she’s actually out there?  I went to search and typed in Naeva Reese and I was surprised because I actually got some hits, but they were all really young girls and obviously not her.

As I was looking through the list of names, I saw the name Tristan Reese in St John, New Brunswick.  I remembered that her younger brother’s name was Tristan.  It’s not a common name where I grew up, so I guess that’s why I remembered it.

When I looked at his picture, he was about the right age so I thought, why not?  Just for the hell it I messaged him and asked if he was related to Naeva Reese and if not please disregard.  Honestly Terry, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell it was him, or that he would even respond.

Terry remarked with a serious expression, “I take it he did?”

Jay nodded back, “Oh yah, did he ever.  What really freaked me out was how fast it happened.  He answered in under three minutes, saying that he was her younger brother and asked who I was.  When I told him that she was my girlfriend for a little while, and in what year, I got an immediate friend acceptance and we were on chat together.

I just came straight out with it and asked him what happened to her, and he gave me an answer just as directly.  He said that she'd died that year in plane crash along with her sister and father.”

Jay stopped talking and sat silently trying to hold back the urge to become emotional.  He stared at a single spot on the carpet in front of him and soon, he regained his ability to continue.

Terry said, “My god Jay, that’s extremely tragic, it’s no wonder you’re being hurt so much by this.  You don’t need to hold back emotions here.”

Jay looked up at him.  He took a deep breath and said, “I know I don’t have to, but I want to.  I have more to say and I can’t do it if I’m sniveling.

Anyway, as you can imagine, it felt like someone had unloaded a shotgun into my chest.  I remember sitting there for a moment in shock rereading what he’d posted to see if I’d somehow misread it.  Finally, I told him I had no idea that had happened and said how sorry I was.  If he only knew how sorry.  It was like tearing open an old wound.

Tristan replied with the usual gratitude and socially acceptable exchange of words, but then said something that just destroyed me.  He told me that he remembered me.

He said he remembered me, because Naeva spent that whole summer on the phone with me until she left on the trip.  Apparently she hated talking on the phone, which I never knew about her, but he remembered how her mother would yell at her for talking to that American boy for so long that no one else could use the phone.  He finished with the words, “She was completely love sick for you.”  Jay looked up at Terry who appeared very sad and had stopped making any notes.

Jay added, “Remember how the first bit of news felt like a shotgun to my chest? Well you guessed it, Reload, aim and fire. Boom!”  Tristan must have thought I dropped dead because I couldn’t even respond to him.  I finally typed “Sorry gtg” and I was done."

Terry was actually drawn to silence not knowing what to say.  Finally he replied, “ I would like to tell you that I know what that must havefelt like, but I don’t think I could.  I can’t even imagine it.”

Jay said, “That’s a good thing not to be able to imagine, believe me.  That night I just put on my coat, and walked out the door of my house and into the dark.  I walked to a big park nearby and when I got to the middle of a huge field, I just dropped to my knees and completely fell apart.  I didn’t even know what falling apart felt like before that moment.  In case you're wondering, it sucked!”

For hours I just wandered around outside.  The fact it was February, limited how much time I could really stay outside without freezing to death.  I ended up going home and sat in a dark living room staring out the window until the sun came up. There was no way I could sleep.

As you can imagine, I had a hard time trying to act like things were fine when I was around my family or at work.  It’s not like I could share this with my wife and she obviously noticed I was miserable.  If she brought it up, I would blame it on work or the cold dark winter days.

Terry asked, “Do you think you’re dealing with it any better now then you were back then?

Jay replied, “Well, I don’t know if it’s better, but it’s different.  I mean I hide it better. Back when I first found out about it, I was profoundly sad.  Now I’m just pissed off. Really pissed off.”

Terry asked, “Not that I blame you, and I could probably guess your answer, but I want to hear it from you.  Why are you pissed off?”

Jay replied, “I’m pissed because I never knew what happened Terry."  Jay began to raise his voice and became more animated. “I’m pissed because I spent the last 20 years of my life dismissing my memory of her, all because I thought she never loved me.

I thought I was a love blind stupid little boy who fell for the girl who was too good for him and got taught a lesson.  I loved her so much!  My god I loved her, I loved her!  I fucking loved - that - girl!”

Jay beat his fist against the chair with every accented word.  There was the sound of a crack in wooden arm of the chair and Jay said, “Shit, sorry.” wiggling it to see it was loose.”

Terry remarked, “Hell with the chair Jay, keep going.”

Jay released his jaw from being clenched as tightly as it was and said, “I had to wait most of my life living with shame and pain, to find out that she loved me just as much as I loved her to the day she died.  After thinking about it, I realized that she died that weekend after I last talked to her.  It all began to make sense to me.  That's all I ever wanted it to do was to make sense or to know the truth!

I ended up talking to Tristan again a few days later.  Evidently Naeva, their sister and father were in a small plane that crashed on take off into the trees.  It happened in northern Canada near Hudson Bay.  I even found the story about it now that the internet is around.

I also found out that Tristan’s a good guy, with a tragic past.  I more or less told him what I’m going through, and  it helped a little, but he was so young back then.  I just didn't feel right talking to him about my issues.  I just feel bad for him.  

I guess his Mom and him moved from their house after that happened and they never went back.  I mean now it all makes sense, but I can’t get over how cheated I feel you know?

Twenty years.  It took that long to find out that I wasn’t wrong.  I was right about everything.  I wasn’t wrong about her!

You know it's still hard for me to say that with conviction.  I was not wrong about her, she really did love me with all of her heart, just like I always thought.  There's part of me now, that feels guilty for not having enough faith in her, as if it even matters now. I guess you can see why I'm a train wreck some of the time.”

Terry nodded his head and said, “I get the fact you feel cheated, believe me I do, but isn’t it nice to know that you were right about her.  I would think it would validate what you two had as something to be cherished instead suppressing it.”

Jay grinned and said, “Touché, Misour therapist, well played.  You do have a point, and yes, I am happy about being right.  My anger comes more when I think about the amount of time I had to live with not knowing it, and all of the other things that go with it.”

Terry nodded, “That I fully understand. Those other things that you mentioned.  What are they?”

Jay sat back in the chair again.  He thought for a moment, “Hmmm.  That is a good question.  What am I battling with?  I would have to say that’s hard to answer.  It‘s a lot of little shit that all snowballs in to something big.”

Terry asked, “Well, then ask yourself, “What drives me to the emotional outbursts? What things are going round and round in my brain?  Some people would call these thoughts, their demons.”

Jay grinned, “Oh not my demons, not them, I like those guys.”

He chuckled and then replied seriously, “I’m avoiding the question.  I know what you mean.  I would have to say that my biggest problem now is “what if”?  What if she didn’t die?  What if I never looked for her name in cyberspace and lived my whole life not knowing?  What if I’d known back then, what really happened to her. Would I have been a different person?  There's a huge possibility that I would have been a completely different man than I am now and made completely different decisions.

Terry asked, “How so?”

Jay replied, “I can tell without a doubt, that I became a changed person after that happened to me.  People noticed it.  I became more distrustful of women I dated. My self esteem was shot to hell so I didn’t take the same chances when meeting people.  Now tell me that I acted the same way.”

Then Jay smiled and said,  “You do realize that I’m telling you the way I feel at my worst right.  This is not the way I go through my day.”

Terry said, “I’m used to that, and yes I understand.  Let me ask you, a question.  Do you have a belief that your life would have turned out perfect if Naeva would have lived?”

Jay smiled and thought for a moment. “So would I have lived happily ever after.  I would be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind, after all you never really know, but I’m pretty sure I have a handle on the reality of that question.

Face it, I’m a little too ripe to be lost in fantasy at my age.  I’m aware of the fact that my memory of Naeva was of being “in love”.  You know dizzy, dancing euphoria, happy.  It’s almost its own brand of mental illness.  I always said, if you could package a chemical that would make a person feel like that, everyone in the world would be an addict.”

Terry smiled and said, “They’re called endorphins.” 

Jay leaned forward and jokingly whispered, “Bro, you got any of that shit?  Hook me up.” to which Terry laughed.  Then Terry looked at Jay seriously and said, “I’m glad you really do have a rational view of this.  What you just said shows me that.”

Jay nodded and remarked, “I know what it is to be in love.  I felt much the same way about my wife when we first met.  That may be a little hard to remember now, things being what they are.  Things have been a bit tough lately, and the current state of marital problems don‘t help me with the “what if” question, that’s for damn sure.  If anything, it fuels the fantasy and remorse even more.

Yet looking back, my wife and I made a wonderful life together, I love her and we had fun making a life together.  I lived my dreams, love my kids and I am who I am.”

Terry said, “That’s great.  You really do possess a rational acceptance of the events that make up a rewarding life.  Not everyone can do that.  You’re also talking a lot differently than the guy who did a Bruce Lee on the arm of my chair a little while back.”

Jay smirked, “Well as I said, you’re seeing me at my worst.  God knows it feels good actually talking about it.  I just have to find a way to stop being hit by these moments of sadness and anger.  That’s hard to deal with.”

Terry nodded, “That it is.  That is one of the biggest problems with grief.  No one likes it, it’s terrible, but it’s a process and you need to go through or it doesn’t end.  I’m also sorry to say my friend, that you can’t rush through it either.

What I would like you to do is keep track of the moments when the demons come. You can put it on paper, or your phone, whatever.  Just make a journal, and bring it with you next time so we can talk about it, OK?”

Jay nodded, “Sure.  That seems easy enough.”

Then Jay pulled his phone from his pocket and started playing with it.  He said, “I know, we’re out of time and I don’t want to back you up with patients, but I need to show you one thing more.”

Terry said, "Of course, what is it?"

Jay replied, “I told you that I needed to tell the story and want to thank you  for being an outstanding audience, but it wouldn’t be complete unless I showed you a picture.”

Jay smiled as he looked down at his phone said, “I scanned this picture into my phone a few months back.  It was a taken of Naeva during our second week together.  I actually took it two days before she had to go home.  It was getting close to sunset, and I told her I wanted to have a photograph of her to keep with me, so when I looked at it, it reminded me of being with her.

She posed and smiled for a bunch of pictures, and when I had them developed, they all looked beautiful to me, but there was one picture that I took that stood out. It was the only picture I kept of her.  I just couldn't let it go.

That night we took the pictures, I said to her, “Do me a favor.  When I say go, I want you to think of how much you love me and give me you warmest smile.”  She agreed and I said “Ok, go.”

This is that picture.”

Jay turned his phone so Terry could see the picture on the screen.  He said, "I thought it fitting to name the picture "Who are you?"

Terry smiled at the comment and looked at the screen.  As he did, Jay saw Terry’s face go from the usual polite expression to an intense stare followed by a peaceful calm.

“May I”  Terry asked reaching for Jay's phone.  He examined the picture closely for a while, and handed the phone back to Jay saying, “They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  This one leaves me speechless.  I really mean that.  You know that as tragic as things may seem to be, you were given a gift that some people only dream of.  Remember that now that you’re remembering her.  I’ll see you in a week ok?

Jay put his phone back in his pocket and with a smile he politely said, “In a week then, see you Terry."

Jay left the office and walked out into the warm summer day still holding the phone in his hand.  As he sat down in his car, he opened his window and pulled up the image of Naeva still displayed on the screen.  He spoke quietly under his breath and whispered, "I just wish you could speak to me just one more time.  I wonder what you would say."

The familiar buzz of an incoming text startled him from the trance he was in.  As he pulled it up, he saw it was from his wife.  As he looked at the screen, he smiled when he saw three words that read, "Where are you?"

A feeling of peace came over him and he laughed, looking up at the blue sky from his car window.  Thinking of Naeva he said,  "I shouldn't be surprised, that's the same question I would ask you."  

Then he replied to his wife with a happiness that had been absent for so long.  With an endearing smile and a feeling of completion in his life, he replied,  "I'm coming home now.  I love you."
Published by: Jewimi Books and Publishers

Content copyright 2011-2012. Jeffrey Miska. All rights reserved.


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