“Hi Mum, I can’t talk right now. Sorry, I—” he pushes the ‘loudspeaker’ button and drops his phone on to the armrest of the car seat.
“I know about what happened, Jamie. Your sister told me she bumped into Sam today.” She clutches the phone so tightly to her ear that her hands began to slip with sweat.
“She spoke to Sam?”
“Listen, Jamie, there’s something I need to tell you. I know I should have told you this before—”
“Told me what? When?” he turns to the phone, but doesn’t pick it up.
“I saw Sam with Stewart in a coffee shop a few weeks ago.”
“Jamie. Listen, I’m really sorry.I understand if you don’t want to talk to me.”
“No, you don’t understand!” the words tear “How could you not tell me? You just let me carry on, thinking that she loved me. For weeks!”
“I know. It hurt me too much to tell you. But I should have found a way.”
“But you didn’t.” A muscle throbs in his jaw.
The words stifle the air between them; two mouths twisted with hurt in two different cities.
“You don’t love her still, do you?”
He hesitates, “Well how can I, mum? After what she did…”
“You know, I didn’t know if you’d even believe me if I had told you.”
Her voice is quiet but presses on with growing strength as her mouth spills words of attempted comfort:
“I was in the loft earlier and you’d never guess what I found,” she pauses her false cheeriness, hoping for his reply. When there is no sound but distant traffic coming through the receiver she continues, stepping p the cheeriness to the next notch. Only, as her her cheeriness accelerates, so does her obvious desperation.
“Your old notebooks. Do you remember all those stories you wrote? And all the cartoons!”
“Mum, I lied.”
Her whole body drops. In those three words she hears the way his face is screwed up to hold back tears. Her arms sag, useless, unable to wrap themselves around him. Unable to catch the tears on her fingertips until they’ve gone.
“I still love her.”
“Oh, Jamie” she whispers.
A small series of sounds, like the whimpering of an animal in pain, are released from Jamie’s lips. Her face is taut, this time to prevent her own tears.
“Does she know?”
“She wants to be with Stewart.”
“Where are you, honey?”
He isn’t listening. His eyes are fixed in a glazed stare.
“Jamie? Where are you?”
He holds the stare.
“I’m in my car. I can see her from here. She’s still wearing the necklace I bought her last Christmas.God, she’s so beautiful”
“No, Jamie, don’t! Don’t do this…please don’t do this to yourself.”
“Wait. I’m on my way”