Her hug awakened my senses; they were dead a moment ago. She was still shaking softly; not really crying anymore, but she was still sniffling. I hugged her back. Stepping up to the plate, I patted her on the back and stroked her hair trying to calm her. She stiffened suddenly to the touch, but then slowly relaxed again in my embraced. ‘Good. I didn’t just screw this up.‘ “Jenny, I need you to talk to me.”
She sighed and pulled back looking me in the eyes, “Okay, but can we get in,” gesturing to the jeep, “I’m freezing.”
“Sure.” I pulled away from her and unlocked the jeep. She ran around to the passenger door and clambers inside. ‘That was cute. Focus George.’ I open the back door, throw my bag in, and then climb into the driver seat. I turn the jeep on and turn the heat all the way up; because, even though we were in the car she still looked cold. “Don’t worry about the heat, Coach killed me today and the heat feels good.”
“Sweet, not about the dying,” she said with a soft giggle, “but don’t mind if I do.” She put her arms up to the vents, letting the heat travel down the long sleeves of my sweat shirt. Her body began to relax. She must have soaked up enough warmth because she leaned back in the seat. A sad look slowly creeping back onto her face.
“Do I need to get you home?” Why do I keep saying things that makes it seem like I want her gone. ‘Idiot!‘
“No. I told my mom I was with you, and that you would bring me home. She said to take our time. She understood that I might need to vent to someone who was there,” Jenny said, and as she spoke her emotions ranged from frantic, to anger, and ending on sadness.
“Okay. So vent if you want, but can we go get some food. I’m on empty,” as I talked I texted my dad letting him know the situation. I got a reply.
‘Thanks for the heads up. Give my girl a hug from me. I’ll let your mother know. Don’t be out too late, but I understand.’ Dad totally understood me.
“Totally, and I might have you buy me something too,” Jenny answered.
“No problem,” I say as we take off to the Wendy’s near by.
We just decided to eat in the car; then we could talk after we finished. I turned to look at her. There was warmth in her cheeks again and a smile on her face. This is the Jenny I love. I think she could feel my stare because she stilled and side glanced me.
“What?” She said caught a little off guard.
“Nothing. Just watching my…ah… Jenny become Jenny again.” That was close I almost said ‘my girl‘. That would have been awkward.
She just smiled in reply and continued to eat her frosty.
She sighed and turned to me. There was something new in her eyes; it seemed like guilt or an apology. “George…I…”
So I’ve got my answer. Her ‘okay‘ was just to stop John from continuing. Thankfully she cut me off right now, and not after I spilled my heart out. This, I think, is the best kind of rejection; where it’s not said but both people know. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s just move on,” I don’t know if I really believed my words but why add to the hurt.
“George, I’m sorry. I just don’t understand…” She said as she fumbled over the words.
“No problem. But really let’s just drop it. What did you want to vent to me about?” Switching topics, to end this conversation as quickly and as smoothly as possible; I was a little annoyed, but I tried to keep my cool.
“Oh. Okay. I just wanted to say thanks for helping me avoid John today. The girls know about what happen, well most of it,” she said implying she didn’t tell them about my confession.
‘Good. I don’t need any more embarrassment.’ I let her continue.
“Brit is understanding. She has decided to stick around me. But now with the stupid rumors I don’t know if I’m going to stay at this school,” she said hesitantly.
That last part brought me back from my wandering mind. ‘She might leave.’ Yeah I was rejected but I wasn’t going to stop being her friend. ‘She might leave.’
She continued, “I don’t know what my plans are. My mom said I could always go and study at a school in Belgium; we have family there. It sounds amazing, but I don’t know that would be running away. Or maybe I should just face it.”
I didn’t really know how I was feeling with this news. I always just assumed Jenny would be here. I am also planning on leaving; so, it shouldn’t be to strange that she wants to move on with her life too. I strangely don’t have that need to stop her anymore. That is, if she is just running away sure I’ll say something, but I’m not sad or mad about her leaving. Probably the rejection is already making its way to my brain, not just my heart.
“It’s your decision. However, I will say, if your are leaving just to run; that is never a good idea. First stop and think, about whether its something you really want to do or not,” I say giving my two cents. “If you start running you, will always be running.”
“True George. Thanks. That’s why I like talking to you. You always make me think twice,” she said smiling in my direction.
That melting smile is now is a painful smile, and eventually that smile will just be a plain smile. I didn’t know rejection would feel like this; again nothing like the movies. “Well, let’s get you home. I’m exhausted and I still need to do my mountain of homework.”
“Oh. Sure. No problem,” Jenny said a little surprised.
We drove in silence until I pulled up her driveway. She hopped out and came to my window, “Thanks for the talk and the ride. See you tomorrow,” she said as she was waving goodbye, and then she was stepping in her front door.
“See ya, Jenny,” those words burned as they came out of my mouth because I knew that tomorrow would be different.