Rated: P/G 13
Synopsis: Landon and Jamie have had their first date now they must face their friends, their family and their own fears. Written from Landon’s POV by Brian (in bold print) and Jamie’s POV by Jamie (in italics).
Chapter 10: I’ll Be There
I didn’t hear from Jamie all of Saturday, and that made me nervous. ‘Did her father give her my message?’ I wondered. I knew he didn’t like me, but I figured he’d at least tell her. ‘Maybe he told her, and…’ I stopped right there. The very thought was too much for me. I didn’t want to call her though, if there was something she was dealing with I didn’t want to barge in. When I had gotten home on Saturday, my mom told me that Sally called for some reason.
‘Great, just what I needed,’ I thought as I dialed the phone to call her back.
“Hey Sally, it’s Landon… you, uh, called?”
“Yeah I called Landon, but I guess you were out shopping! You’re so heartless.” *CLICK*
‘What was that all about?’ I wondered. ‘I didn’t realize it was heartless to miss a phone call.’ Then I realized that Jamie had probably talked to her about Friday night before I got the flowers delivered. For a minute I pondered picking up the phone and explaining to Sally, but I figured Jamie would do it once she decided what she wanted to do about, well, us.
The next morning my mom almost had to force me to go to church. I was still afraid to talk to Jamie, mainly because I didn’t want to hear her say something like “Landon, I just can’t have a relationship right now.” But my mom wouldn’t let me off the hook.
“Landon, she’s probably just as scared as you are right now. And you know she’ll still be there. If you really love her, you have to show her you won’t leave – not just tell her.”
My mom always understood these things really well. I couldn’t argue with her, so I put on the best clothes I could find in my closet.
When we got to church, I had already decided that I was going to talk to Jamie as soon as I could. We didn’t arrive late, but everyone from the community was already starting to show up. I looked around, frantically trying to find Jamie. I finally saw her, standing up near the altar with her father. She was wearing her choir robe and it looked like they were doing something with the choir. I tried to make my way up front, but I kept running into community members trying to greet me.
“Hello Landon, beautiful day isn’t it?”
“Yes Principal Kelly. Ummm… could you excuse me a minute?”
“Oh hi Landon, good to see you.”
“Hey Mrs. Johnson. It’s good to see you too.”
“Landon, how are you?”
“I’m alright Mr. Fordman. I’m kind of in a hurry though…”
“Good morning young man.”
“Good morning ma’am, excuse me please…”
It went on and on. ‘Come on people, I know it’s considered a good thing to be polite… but can you cut a guy some slack?? I just want to get up front…”
By the time I got almost to the front, Jamie had sat down with the choir and it looked like Reverend Sullivan was going to start. I moved as quickly as I could into the nearest pew, and when I looked up I was sitting right next to Belinda.
“Hey Belinda.” I said quickly and somewhat curtly.
She looked at me really funny, and then said slowly “Hi, … Landon.”
There was a brief moment of tension, but then my mom sat down next to me and everything kind of settled down.
“There you are Landon, I thought I had lost you in the crowd. Oh good morning Belinda.”
“Good morning Mrs. Carter.”
It was then that Reverend Sullivan decided to start the service. He stepped up to the podium, but he looked tired and beaten.
“Good morning everyone.”
“Good morning,” the crowd responded as usual.
“Before we start today’s service, Jamie and I have… well, we have an… announcement to make.” He looked over at Jamie before continuing. “Some of you have probably already heard it around town. Some are probably wondering if it’s true.”
His eyes began to fill with tears, and he didn’t need to say any more for me to know what was coming next.
My eyes kept scanning the crowd, looking for him, hoping that he would show up, knowing that he would. I could feel his presence the minute he entered the building, but I couldn’t get to him, it was too close to the start of the service for me to leave the choir area, so I just figured we’d talk to each other afterwards.
Daddy and I decided it was time to tell the parishioners so he was going to be making an announcement today. I decided to tell the other members of the choir this morning during our run through. It wasn’t easy, but…it had to be done.
I began preparing for our morning worship when I saw him forcing his way through the crowd. ‘He’s coming to you Jamie,’ or so I thought, but when he got to the front my worst fears came true. He sat with Belinda. ‘No,’ I thought, ‘this cannot be happening. He doesn’t want to be with her. I know he doesn’t. He loves me.’ I began to think back on our relationship, looking for any signs that he might have been using me to make her jealous. ‘Don’t be ridiculous Jamie. If that was want he wanted to do, he wouldn’t have told you he loved you and he definitely wouldn’t have punched Dean in the face.’ But there was only one way to find out for sure. We needed to talk.
It was then that I felt the hand of Mrs. Clemens on my leg. I looked at her tear filled eyes, then listened as my father spoke.
“It’s hard for me to say this, but…we’ve had some bad news. A few years ago Jamie was diagnosed with leukemia,” you could hear the crowd’s gasp. I watched Landon’s reaction, his mother was crying and he was just staring at me. Just…staring. I wanted to run into his arms at that very moment, ‘just hold me Landon. Please. Just hold me,’ but that wouldn’t happen.
By the clock, the service didn’t last any longer than it did on any other Sunday, but it felt like it did. Afterwards everyone seemed to be crowding around me, everyone but Landon. He just stood with his back against the wall, not moving, but still staring. Eventually I saw his mom say something to him. They looked at me as though I was the topic of their conversation, he nodded and then they left.
“It’s hard for me to say this,” the Reverend continued, “but we’ve had some bad news. A few years ago Jamie was diagnosed with leukemia.”
The entire congregation gasped out loud, and my mom just started crying. I heard shuffling next to me, and when I looked up I saw Belinda nearly running toward the doors at the back of the church. People all around us were murmuring in disbelief, some crying, others praying. All I could do was stare at Jamie. ‘Can she possibly know what I’m thinking right now?’ I wondered to myself. ‘I love you Jamie. I love you with all my heart. I’m here for you, and I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving,’ I started saying over and over again in my head, hoping that she would hear it somehow.
The rest of the service proceeded like it did any Sunday, but it just wasn’t the same. After the service was over everyone crowded around Jamie. I couldn’t get to her, so I stood there against the back wall waiting for the crowd to go away. They didn’t show any sign of letting up though. Eventually my mom came over to me.
“Landon, are you alright?”
“Yeah mom, I’m just waiting to talk to Jamie.”
She looked over at Jamie and then at the huge circle of people surrounding her.
“Landon, I don’t think you’re going to get to her for awhile… I understand that you want to talk to her, but why don’t we leave and you can get in touch with her later today when things aren’t as hectic? Besides… she looks a little bit overwhelmed herself.”
I looked back at Jamie, and as much as I didn’t want to do it I realized that it would be better to leave. People just kept crowding her, and she hadn’t even gotten two steps from the front of the church.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right mom.” I hated to leave things unspoken between Jamie and me, but I hoped I wouldn’t have to go too much longer that way.
About an hour after we got home, I picked up the phone and dialed Jamie’s number. I figured that an hour would have been long enough for all the churchgoers to head home.
“Hello?” Her father picked up on the other end.
“Hi Reverend, this is Landon. I was wondering if Jamie was there.”
“No Landon, she’s not. She said she was going out somewhere. I… I’ll let her know you called.”
“Thanks Reverend.” My heart sank when he told me she wasn’t home. Would I ever get to tell her what I wanted to say? Depressed, I grabbed a can of soda and went outside to work on my car. I couldn’t really think of anything else to do.
I changed my clothes and walked around my kitchen for a while opening and closing the refrigerator door absently looking for something to fill the emptiness I had in my stomach. ‘You can’t fill this void with food Jamie. You know what you need to do.’ Once my decision had been made there was no stopping me.
“Daddy,” I called out. “I’m going out.” I grabbed my keys, threw on the sweater Landon gave me and headed for his house. It was the first time in my life I ever speeded. ‘You’ve had a lot of firsts since being with Landon,’ I thought, ‘and hopefully…I’ll have a lot of lasts too.’
I parked away from his house expecting him to be inside with his mother, but he wasn’t, he was standing at his car with the hood up. I got out of my car and closed the door softly so as not to disturb him and watched him do his busy work. I slowly made my way closer and closer to him until I was standing just a few feet away. He couldn’t see me until he closed the hood of his car.
“I'm…” I began speaking
before I could talk myself out of it. “I'm so sorry. I really should've told
”No. I made you do to many things… I kept you out too late…”
“No,” I cut him off. Not wanting him to feel guilty for my health I said, “No, no. If anything, you kept me healthy longer.” I knew it was true. He was the reason I was still alive. We were quiet for a little while.
Landon looked like he was thinking really seriously about something . “Are you scared?”
I answered him in as easy going of a manner that I could, “To death…” he rolled his eyes to the side and shook his head a bit, ‘Oh, Landon…’ I thought, ‘please don’t do this to yourself.’ I made my way to him and said, “Lighten up,” as though the thought of the person you love dying should be an easy thing to take.
“It’s not funny.”
At that moment I realized the depth of his love for me and I thought about his question. Was I afraid of dying? No. No I wasn’t, but I was petrified of something else. “I’m scared of not being with you.” I could feel my tears start to fill my eyes and I so wanted to be strong here, but I couldn’t.
He put his hands on either side of my face and looked into my eyes saying, “Oh baby, that’ll never happen. I’m here.” We held onto one another for a minute then he pulled back to look into my eyes again, but I couldn’t face him. I couldn’t seem to raise my head. “Jamie?” I looked to the side, towards heaven, at this car…anywhere but his face. “Baby?” He pleaded with me to look at him and lifted my face to his, running his thumbs across my cheeks to wipe away my tears. “I would never leave you. EVER!” His voice was so soft and sure. “You’re everything to me…everything. I love you.” He leaned in and kissed me whispering against my lips over and over, “I love you. I love you.”
My hands lifted to his bent elbows as our opened mouths brushed—breathing each other in. “I love you, Landon. I love you.” Our kiss became frenzied. Our tongues met each other’s in apology and forgiveness. All of our fears were washed away and as quickly as the kiss grew, it quieted down. He began to kiss my tear-streaked cheeks—his hands never leaving my face—then he kissed my closed eyelids as I berated myself for thinking the worst of him, for thinking that he would’ve deserted me when I needed him most. This man, this wonderful man love me with every ounce of his soul. I, Jamie Sullivan, at the age of 18 found what most people lived their whole lives without. I found out the meaning of life: True love.
Landon and I may not have as long of a time to spend together as most people do in this world, but I’d rather have one day with him, than an eternity without him.
“I love you, Landon.”
Our foreheads were pressed up against each other’s and we held hands. “I love you too, Jamie.”
It was the first time in days that I smiled and it felt so good.
I shut the hood of my car and there she was. I hadn’t expected to see her, and I just blanked on what to tell her. I also hadn’t expected it to be so painful to see her, knowing that I probably wouldn’t see her much longer.
“I’m… I’m so sorry,” she began to say. “I should’ve told you sooner.”
“No, I made you do too many things… I kept you out too late…”
“No,” she stopped me in mid-sentence. “No, no. If anything you’ve kept me healthy longer.” It was a painful reminder of how little time she really had. It hurt me just to hear it.
I didn’t know what to say for a while. “Are you scared?” I finally asked her. I was more afraid than I could ever recall being in my life. But Jamie, she was always the strong one. With all her faith and optimism… was she scared too?
“To death,” she said.
‘What am I going to do now?’ I wondered. The strongest, most steadfast person I had ever known in my life was as scared as I was. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it without her strength.
“Lighten up,” she said as she walked over to me. Had she been trying to make a joke all along? Any other time I would have laughed… but I couldn’t. Not at something like this.
“It’s not funny,” I said. And it wasn’t. I was losing the woman I loved.
She looked at me for a few moments, and then she said, “I’m afraid of not being with you.”
When I realized that was her biggest fear, I knew that she loved me as much as I loved her. I also knew she needed to hear me say what I had been trying to say to her since Saturday.
“Oh baby, that’ll never happen,” I told her, pulling her close to me. “I’m here.”
We stood there in each other’s arms for a while, and then I pulled back. I hadn’t told her everything I wanted to just yet.
“Jamie?” I tried to look into her eyes, those beautiful eyes… but she wouldn’t face me. “Baby?” I caressed her cheeks with my thumbs, pleading with her to hear me out. “I would never leave you. EVER. You’re everything to me… everything. I love you.” I kissed her, and as our lips met I kept whispering to her, “I love you. I love you.” I wanted to understand that as long as she was here on earth, she would never be alone.
Her mouth opened against mine and she replied “I love you too Landon. I love you.” Our opened lips pressed against each other passionately, and for the first time in our relationship we let our kiss continue along its own course. Our tongues met and mingled as we held on to each other, letting all the remaining apologies flow from one soul to another. The kiss slowed down, and we stood with our foreheads pressed against each other.
“I love you, Landon.” The words brought joy into my heart; just like they had the first time she said them to me.
“I love you too, Jamie.”
In the midst of all the sadness and anger, I finally had hope again. I had Jamie.