…And Then…He Kissed Me
By: Jamie Sommers
Rated: PG 13
Synopsis: Jamie Sullivan has just been hurt in her efforts to help Landon with the school play. Landon Carter has been doing everything in his power to change her mind. Will he?
Chapter 6: Gifts Of The Heart
His presence was everywhere to me and I didn’t want him there. He was on my mind constantly. ‘Go away Landon! Just go away.’ As I bent down to look through my telescope I could smell remnants of his distinctive scent floating through the air as though he were just there. ‘Landon why is this happening to me? You’re not in love with me. You don’t even like me. Yet somehow I can’t help but wonder…’ I looked at the Milky Way and remembered the first night we were together in the cemetery, the night before it all went downhill. ‘We were really making a connection that night. Why did you throw it away Landon? But Jamie, he’s tried to get it back. I know…don’t remind me.’ It was tough coming to the realization that the only reason Landon and I weren’t talking anymore was because of me. It was my choice. Something inside of me wanted to punish him for the way he treated me. ‘Maybe Miss. Garber was right. Maybe you hurt him intentionally tonight when you brought up his father.’ I made a decision, ‘Tomorrow…if you talk to me tomorrow in church I won’t walk away. I’ll try to listen and I’ll try not to let this bother me anymore.’
I watched him take his seat in his regular pew out of the corner of my eye. He was staring at me. ‘Don’t look at him. Don’t look Jamie.’ I was doing really well until I started singing and then…it was like there was some kind of hidden message in my song this morning. I had rehearsed twice this week with the choir, but the words never really hit me until I glanced down at Landon and saw the look on his face. He was taking measurement of his life. I could see it on his face.
My father began his sermon and I watched Landon lift his eyes to the ceiling as though saying a silent prayer. He moved his lips every now in a private conversation and continued to look upwards. ‘Are you talking to God Landon?’ I wondered. His eyes met mine and he smiled. I shook my head trying to pull myself out of this dream state I was in. ‘Stop it Jamie. Don’t make him think that you want to apologize to him. You don’t. You don’t feel bad about the way you’ve been treating him. Yes…you do.’ I looked back over to him intending on giving him a reassuring smile, but he was busy smiling at someone else. Belinda. ‘You should’ve known Jamie. It’s still the same old Landon. So much for changing.’
My morning appointment with the doctor went well but I got to school later than I had expected. I was supposed to go to gym, but I had decided to go to my other classes first to pick up the work that I had missed that morning. I was getting ready to walk out onto the field when I saw Landon walking away. ‘Wonder what he’s doing here? Probably looking for Belinda,’ I reminded myself.
As I sat at the lunch table reading To Kill A Mockingbird, he came up and just sat down like he was supposed to be there. I wanted to say, ‘what’s wrong? Belinda busy?’ But instead I said, “People can see...”
“And that would ruin your reputation how?” he countered. “What’s that?” He made a gesture with his chin towards my book.
As much as I promised myself that I would try not to let him get to me, the vision of him smiling at Belinda just festered within me, so I did what every typical teenage girl should do when that happens, I ignored him. I lifted up my book in order to let him read the title as if saying, ‘I’m not putting this down so you might as well leave.’ and then completely contradicted myself by speaking to him. “I’m reading all the books on Mr. Rothman’s list of contemporary American authors.”
“And how many books are there?”
“A hundred, but then there’s his British list and his European list.”
“So is this all on your list? To read all these books?”
I sipped the remnants of my juice box ensuing a slurping noise, ‘I’m ignoring you Landon. Go away.’
“Jamie…I’m trying here okay. Maybe…maybe I miss spending time with you. Maybe you inspire me.”
‘Inspire you? To do what? Make Belinda jealous?’ “Sounds like bull!”
“All of it.”
“Well it’s not.”
“Prove it.” My reaction surprised me just as much as it surprised him. ‘I can’t believe this. He is just like he used to be. I was so sure he had changed. No Jamie…you hoped. Well I was so wrong. He’s just as much of a…Why are you following me?? What don’t you understand here Landon?’
“Jamie!! Jamie!!” He called out as he ran down the stairs catching up to me.
“You don’t know the first thing about being someone’s friend!” I yelled over my shoulder.
“I don’t wanna just be your friend!”
“You don’t know what you want.” I kept walking towards my car. ‘I can’t deal with this right now. I just can’t…’
“Neither do you. Maybe you’re just too scared that someone’ll wanna be with you.”
That did it. He stopped me dead in my tracks with that comment. I turned to face him and said, “And why would that scare me?”
“Because then you wouldn’t be able to hide behind your books or…uh..uh..uh…your frickin’ telescope or your faith.”
‘You think you know me so well don’t you Landon??’ I thought as I turned to head to my car.
“No. No,” he put his hand on my shoulder to stop me from leaving. “You know the real reason why you’re scared?” His face was just inches from mine. He was breathing like a steam engine – in little puffs. “Because you wanna be with me too.”
‘No. No I don’t. I can’t.’ I turned and went to my car as quickly as I could. ‘This is not happening! I do not need this!’ I couldn’t face him in my afternoon classes. I couldn’t bear to see him right now. I just had to get as far away from him as possible.
I drove home and went straight to my room allowing thoughts and images of him to parade through my mind. I pictured him just the few short weeks ago looking so forlorn, having been sentenced to custodial duties as penance for his crime the night that Clay was injured. I thought of the many times we had talked and laughed when he would come over to my house to run lines together. The night in the cemetery when he gave up being with his friends to learn about Cassiopeia. The day after when he hurt me. Until finally my thoughts settled on the kiss. I could never forget the feeling of his lips pressed up against mine, even if it was only for the briefest second…it still took my breath away.
I lied back against my mattress and buried my face in my pillow letting the tears out. All the frustrations of these past few weeks were finally being washed away.
I was awoken, a few hours later, by the pounding on my front door. My first thought was, ‘please God, don’t let it be Landon.’ When I answered it and saw Miss. Garber standing on my porch, my second thought was, ‘Why Lord couldn’t it have been Landon?’
“Hi Miss. Garber. Is everything all right?” She had a look of concern written across her face.
“Actually that’s why I’m here. To find out if you’re doing all right. I was a bit worried about you.”
“Me? Why? I’m fine.” I honestly had no clue why she would be worried about me. My health was doing just fine.
“Landon came by the drama class today looking for you. He said that he really needed to talk to you.”
“Oh,” this was a surprise. He was actually looking for me. ‘Well…here I am Carter.’
“He said that the two of you had gotten into a little spat.”
“Hmmm…” I just looked away. ‘A little spat? That’s what he calls a little spat?’
“Jamie? Do you mind if I come in?”
“Oh, sure,” I gestured for her to come into the living room. “Come on in. Would you like a beverage?”
“No thank you. I’m fine.”
“Okay.” I sat on the edge of the sofa wondering what it was that was so important, that a teacher was making a house call. “Miss. Garber, what did you want to talk about?”
She took a deep breath and let it out in a rush of air. “Do you love Landon?”
“What?? No,” I shook my head emphatically denying any ounce of emotions that I might have had for Landon Carter. “No…no…definitely not. No way. I don’t love him. I don’t. Don’t.”
“Well you seem awfully sure of that.”
My chin jutted forward and I said, “I am,” with an overly stated amount of gusto.
“Mmmmm hmmmm. Do you know that he’s crazy about you?”
“Miss. Garber…” I began denying it. Began shaking my head and saying no, he doesn’t, but she put her hand on my leg and started talking to me in a hushed tone that captured my attention.
“I remember the first time I saw James. He was so handsome. So sure of himself. He was the typical captain of the football team, always dating the head cheerleader kind of guy. You know the type?” Her rhetorical question hung in the air between us. “But…one day,” she smiled a soft and delicate smile. “We got assigned to be partners in a science project. I can’t even remember what it was we were supposed to do anymore. Anyway…we had to spend quite a bit of time together after school on it and during that time we got to know one another pretty well. We became friends. Which really surprised me considering I was nowhere in his league. You see Jamie; I was sort of a wallflower in high school. Yet we still found ourselves becoming friends. We didn’t have lunch together or talk during the school day, it was an unspoken understanding that he had his friends and I had mine, but after school…during our ‘study time’ we would just talk and talk. We kept putting off our project until the last minute. Both of us knew that once it was done there would be no reason for us to spend time together. No reason at all except…” she lifted her teary eyes to mine and said, “…we fell in love. We both knew it, but neither one of us admitted it. I couldn’t stand to think of my life without him. He just made me feel so special, so beautiful. When we turned in our project I was hoping he would say something to me. Ask me out or even to study, anything. I just wanted to spend time with him, but he didn’t. He went back to his life and I went back to mine. We’d see each other in the hallway and glance as the other walked by, both of us wanted to stop and say hi, how are you? I miss you. But neither one of us had the guts. It was when we got our grades back for our project that we started socializing. Not in a boyfriend/girlfriend sort of way, but just as friends. We would stop and say hi to each other from time to time and he would give me a ride home every now and then. We were leading up to something more and I knew it. Deep in my heart I knew it. Then one afternoon I was walking through the hallway and he stopped me. I was beaming. Just looking at him gave me goose bumps. He leaned down and sort of whispered, ‘can we go somewhere and talk for a minute? I wanted to ask you something?’ Well, as you can imagine I was more than willing to go with him wherever he wanted me to. We walked around the campus and sat on the bleachers and he said to me, ‘There’s this girl I like and I wanted to ask her out, but I don’t know if she’ll go with me. So I was wondering…could you give me a hand? Maybe tell me a few things that girls like so I can impress her a bit first.’ My only advice was to him was to be yourself. Just be yourself and I know she’ll fall for you. The next day at school my friend Stanica came running up to me and said, he’s going to the prom with Nicole. I was lost. I had no idea what she was talking about. She couldn’t have been talking about James. There was no way. Not after what we had shared the day before. But she was in fact talking about him. James had asked Nicole to go to the prom…or so I thought. I stopped speaking to him immediately. I didn’t say two words to him in the hallway or anything. Whenever he would talk to me in class I would just ignore him or say something short and clipped. He had hurt me and I wanted him to know it. The day before prom we were both in the nurse’s office and he looked at me and smiled. I always melted when he smiled at me that way. He asked me who I was going to the prom with and I said that I wasn’t going. He wanted to know why not and I just shook my head. ‘No reason,’ I said. I couldn’t let him know that I had been waiting for him to ask me. He looked down at his feet and then over to me and Jamie…I felt the whole world stop for just one moment. I could feel every bit of love and emotion from his look. He leaned over and placed a kiss on my cheek and said that he was really sorry that he had said yes to Nicole when she asked him to the prom because he wanted to ask me to go, but he didn’t think I would say yes. You see he had tried to talk to me about it the day Nicole asked him, but I had already made up my mind to be angry with him and I never gave him a chance. Had I, he would’ve asked me instead of saying yes to Nicole,” She smiled a soft smile and ran her hand behind her ear tucking in a few loose strands. “He drove me home that afternoon and told me he’d see me again tomorrow, but…” I saw her swallow the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat as her eyes filled with tears. “…there was a car accident and…he didn’t make it,” she whispered hoarsely.
“I’m sooooo sorry Miss. Garber. So sorry.”
“It’s all right Jamie. It was a long time ago, but I do miss him,” she took my hands and held them tightly. “Jamie, I wasted so much time by not giving him a chance. If I had only put my foolish pride behind me James and I could’ve shared some wonderful moments together. Now all I have are memories of what could’ve been. You of all people should know that life is too short to waste it.”
I looked at her and felt a feeling of remorse surge through
me. ‘What did I do? I’ve treated Landon so badly these past few
weeks. So badly. How will I ever get him to forgive me?’
“What should I do? I mean…”
“Nothing. You don’t have to do anything but give him a chance. Jamie you have feelings for him and he for you. Enjoy them. Enjoy each other.” She patted her hands down on her legs and said, “Well…I’ve got to be going.” She turned to me on the porch and asked, “Will I see you tomorrow in school?”
“Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I smiled as I made my silent vow, ‘No more running from my feelings for him. No more hiding from his feelings for me. I’m sorry Landon. Sorry for the way I’ve been treating you. We’ll be better tomorrow. I promise.’
As I walked across the campus towards the school I saw him sitting in his customary spot on the bench with the rest of his friends. I didn’t go out of my way to say hi to him, I wasn’t about to set myself up for disappointment again, but he did say hi to me. It wasn’t much but it was enough to get his friends to give him that…look. I could hear Dean saying something offhanded to him as I walked away and then lifted my lips in a grin as I heard Landon’s ‘knock it off Dean,’ in response.
‘Well today was interesting. Yeah…interesting is a good word,’ I thought to myself as I tried to read the same paragraph over and over again. ‘He actually spoke to me while he was with his friends and he waved to me at lunchtime. Things are actually looking up here Jamie.’ I thought of how handsome he was today, his crooked grin that would turn my stomach into quaking jelly, the sound of his laugh that caused goose bumps on my arms. The way he walked, the sound of his voice, the way his lips moved when he said certain words, the flirtatious twinkle he always seemed to have in his eyes, his cologne, his…
“You.” ‘I was just thinking about you.’
He held out a shopping bag towards me and I asked, “What is it?”
“I got you something.”
He held out the bag again and this time I took it and said, “Thank you.” I could feel myself start to smile.
“Well…I’ll see ya at school.”
I knew he wasn’t saying that as a casual gesture, it was his way of asking if things were all right between us. I nodded my head and said, “ ‘kay.”
As I opened up the bag to see what was inside--my pulse was pounding in anticipation--my father came out on the porch. I wasn’t really listening to his and Landon’s conversation; I was too enamored with my gift. It was beautiful, soft to the touch and…well it made me giggle just imagining him buying it for me. ‘He actually bought me something. Oh Landon…I guess you’re forgiven.’
“Jamie,” my father sat next to me with a look of major concern on his face. “Boys like that,” he pointed out towards the area in which Landon had just left, “they have…they have expectations.”
I really wasn’t sure what it was my father was so distraught about. He began to lecture me as though I had done something wrong.
“You know the rules around here are not going to change.”
I could hear his unfinished thoughts in my head. ‘The rules around here are not gonna change because you’re dying.’
“You know you might not care what I say or think, but you should care about God’s opinion.”
‘God’s opinion?’ “I think he wants me to be happy.” In fact I was sure of it. As I smiled I could see the fear in my father’s eyes. ‘Come on dad, it’s not like I’m gonna run off and marry the guy.’ I tried to help relieve a little of his worries. “Dad, it’s just a sweater. I’m gonna go make us some dinner, okay?” I leaned over to give him a peck on the cheek. ‘Don’t worry daddy. I know what I’m doing.’