Jessie’s Girl

Matt laid there staring at me. His slim face had settled into the pillow, his messy hair draped about his face at just the right angle to make him look angelic and beddable. His eyes pierced through me much like an arrow would, his gaze all knowing, like he’d already figured out where we were heading. He gave me a secret dimpled smile that felt like it held the wonders of the universe if I was just willing to inch my face that much closer to his. But it would always be the eyes that held me to him. His grey blue eyes that hinted at possibilities that even I couldn’t deny.

God, he was beautiful. And I wanted him. So badly that my breath hitched in my throat and for a second I felt actual physical pain that shot up from my belly to high up in my chest. I found it difficult to breathe as he drew his head towards mine, only inches from kissing him, his hand caressing the sensitive skin of my waist.

I was on fire. In a way that was both gut-wrenching and heinous.

For a split second, the world stopped and in my mind, I could envision it – a dusty crossroads. Hot, dirt clogged air that constricted my chest, making me want to cough as I stared at the two different paths that diverged ahead of me: Jessie, in his old tattered jeans and tie dyed shirt with his easy smile and gentle eyes, his man’s physique towering even from this distance beckoning me to follow him, to walk those few simple steps to security and predictability.

And the boy who secretly owned my heart. He stood on the other side of the road in his white button down shirt and black jeans as the dust settled on him, a sad smile that held unspeakable promises that I wasn’t sure he could keep. Matt didn’t so much as crook a finger, but just stood and stared. I didn’t move – because we both knew that whatever this was, it wasn’t going to happen.

In the bed, I shut my eyes to break the spell and turned away from Matt, the alcohol still muddling my brain, his fingers slipping from my waist, his beautiful eyes gone. Jessie’s hand was warm and reassuring as I clamped down on my heart and made the decision that would stay with me for the next twenty years.

 

* * *

 

Being forty isn’t that bad. At least that’s what Jessie keeps telling me as he cups my ass and places a kiss on my forehead. We’ve been married sixteen years now.

“What do you want to do to celebrate tonight?” he asks. He’s cuddled me into a hug that causes me to break out into a smile. I’m trying to put on my make-up in our infinitely small bathroom and he’s going to make me late for work. Still, he kisses the side of my neck before giving me a cheeky grin in the mirror.

“I don’t know,” I reply, telling the truth. Applying another layer of mascara, I stop long enough to mull my mind over it. I mean it’s forty, it’s supposed to be big, right? Yet I hated birthdays. Why should this one be any different? “How about you decide? Surprise me.”

It is word speak more than anything else. Surprises have stopped for us a long time ago. We are settled, content, even without the children that we had hoped for. We are beyond that now and we are good. Better than good. We are happy.

“Well, maybe I’ll write you a song,” he says as his face gets that faraway look. I’ve seen it before. Wistfulness. Jessie hung his guitar strap up long ago and he’s poured all of his creativity into designing websites these days.

I turn in his arms and give him a squeeze before placing a full kiss on his lips. He’d written me many a love song in our early years. It’s still a sweet gesture though.

“As long as it comes with a side of food, I’ll be a happy girl.” I give him one more squeeze and head into the bedroom, looking for my shoes before I am truly late for work. Not that tissue slides care. Grabbing my lab coat, I do a mental inventory of anything that’s missing. Travel mug. ID Tag. Car keys.

Jessie sticks his head around the bathroom door. The mischievous grin on his face lingers and it’s enough to give me pause. There’s something that he’s not telling me, but I’m too rushed to think about it. There will be time when I get home from work. As long as my family isn’t lurking behind the back of our living room couch with balloons and noise makers when I get home, it’ll be enough.

I should’ve been so lucky. It would never be enough.

 

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