29th Day Bonus: Reentry (Part 3)

Jason turned slightly as he heard movement from the back of the house. There was Katherine, staring at him from the other end of the hallway. She seemed frozen in time; wispy black hair and sometimes-too-skinny frame. Only the line around her eyes seemed new.

Then she took off running.

.

Jason struggled to focus on the proposal being presented. He struggled to focus on something, anything, other than the presenter. What sardonic twist of fate had the adjoining group on this new venture being led by the very man whom he’d left the country to avoid having to face? Was this some sort of test to see if he’d gotten over those old feelings? Was God just snickering in the background at this turn of events?

The presentation ended with applause, startling Jason out of his reverie. He quickly caught up with what he hoped were natural movements as he prepared to leave.

“Jason? Jason Shaw?” Oh God. Jimmy stood right behind him. Jason turned around nervously.

“Yeah –– hey Jimmy. It’s been a long time. I wasn’t sure you’d recognize me.”

“Well, I usually don’t forget a face, especially of Kate’s friends. It’s good to see you in town; looks like will be working together on this project.” Jimmy’s smile was genuine. Jason prepared to relax, until the next words came out of Jimmy’s mouth.

“Say, you aren’t headed back to your office right away, are you? If not, I do have a question I’d like to ask you.”

.

He barely had time to stretch out his arms. She hit him full-force, knocking the breath from his lungs and his feet back a few steps as she wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight. He hugged her back just as tightly. After all the pain and anger, their friendship remained. His heart flooded with relief.

All he could do was smile as he heard, muffled inside their embrace, the first words from his former best friend in over two years:

“Just so you know, you are never allowed to leave home again.”

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29th Day Bonus: Reentry (Part 2)

“I’m just heating the coals for the grill out back. How do you like your burger; still alive, or indistinguishable from the charcoal?” The question caught Jason off guard, but Jimmy just grinned at him.

“If you can get it somewhere between those two options, that would good,” Jason grinned back. ┬áJimmy’s unaffected personnality was much more pleasant than he remembered. Or maybe it was his own that had mellowed.

.

So how about it, Shaw? Are you ready for the next step in your journey?” Mr. O’Dare stared at Jason intently from across the table. He’d offered Jason a major promotion within the company, heading the joint venture with a company back in the States. It was a big step, professionally and personally. He had not been to the states since he’d run away from home two years ago. O’Dare knew that. He had taken Jason in when all else had failed. And now he was giving him another fresh start. What could he possibly say to that?

Yes sir, Mr. O’Dare. I think I am.”

.

“I’m not sure where Kate’s wandered off to; I think she’s digging something out of bedroom closet. Let me see if I can find her.” Jimmy turned down the hall; Jason didn’t move from his spot in the hallway. He could see the living room immediately to his right, and the kitchen ahead on his left. But he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to enter any further into this home than where he currently stood.

29th Day Bonus: Reentry (Part 1)

“Hey man, thanks for coming. Did you find the place okay?” Jimmy swung the door of his home open and Jason stepped inside.

“Yeah, it was easy to find. Nice place you’ve got here.”

“Thanks. Clearly, Kate’s a master decorator,” Jimmy chuckled. “Construction design I’ve got, but interior design is not my idea of a good time.”

Jason smiled as a looked around. Jimmy’s construction expertise was obvious, but Katherine’s touches were everywhere inside. It reminded him of home.

.

“Jason, I don’t understand why you’ve been avoiding me lately, but you’ve been my best friend practically my whole life. I can’t imagine sharing this day with all my friends and family, and you not being there. Please come.” Katherine gave him one last long look, which he did not return, and shut the door.

Please come. Oh, sure. Come join in a massive celebration of a happy couple’s union. Come watch the love of your life, the only girl you ever dreamed of marrying, start her forever with someone else.

And as much as Jason couldn’t bear facing Katherine’s wedding, he also couldn’t bear the thought of crashing her blissful state with his mounting depression. His family was busy helping hers with last minute wedding details; if he left now, no one would even notice until it was too late to bother trying to force him to come back. He could avoid having to explain himself and his God-forsaken feelings to his family and friends — and the one person who could do anything about it.

Get out now. The resolution filled his mind thoroughly, providing a sort of grim calm. The decision was made, and he had no time to waste before anyone else came home. He began to pack.

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