She’s Every Woman
Synopsis: Set in an alternate future. Landon tells a friend about his wife, Jamie. Written from the point of view of Landon’s friend in regular font and from Landon’s point of view in italics.
Disclaimers: As noted above, this story is set in an alternate timeline. Many elements of AWTR have been altered, as have the natures of the characters. Those who are dead-set in Landon as a rebel-turned-good and Jamie as the socially outcast daughter of a small-town minister are advised to proceed at your own risk.
A special thanks goes out to Jamie Sommers, whose writing inspired many parts of this story. Thank you Jamie!
She's so New York and then L.A.
And every town along the way
She's every place that I've never been
She's makin love on rainy nights
She's a stroll through Christmas lights
And she's everything I want to do again
I’ve known Landon Carter for a long time. Well – I should say that I’ve known of him. He was always the top dog at the law firm where we both worked. It was said that when it came to corporate law, no one could beat him. He went into chemical contamination law suits and just tore the opposition apart. Yeah. Landon Carter was that untouchable attorney. The best. Stoic, amoral, composed under pressure. Everything you needed to be a lawyer. That’s what I always thought of him anyways. I came into the firm about six years after him, and he had already made a name for himself. It was like everyone in the firm lived under his shadow. We all had to be just as cool and almost emotionless as Landon Carter. How wrong we all were!
Even though Landon and I had worked together for over ten years, I never found a reason to talk to him or get to know him until one night after work. We were both pulling our cars out of the parking facility and … well… let’s just say that I felt pretty bad for putting that kind of damage on his brand new Camaro. I instantly started apologizing to the man. I mean – this was Landon Carter! If he wanted to take me to court over this bump in the parking lot, he could probably strip me of my life savings.
“Hey, calm down Tom,” he said to me. Then he flashed a smile and clapped me on the shoulder. That was a total surprise to me. Landon Carter? Being friendly? I looked again to make sure I was dealing with the same person who walked through the office without so much as a grin, even when he won big cases. Yeah, it was the same guy.
He pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
“Yeah, Josh? One of my co-workers and I had a little collision in the parking lot. You think you can get us some service here? Alright, thanks. I owe ya.”
He tucked the phone back in his pocket and started looking his car over.
“Landon, I’m really sorry about this. I should really start leaving the office earlier.”
“Tom, like I said, no worries. I know some people who are really good. They can get this little scratch fixed up in no time.” Of course – what I had done to his car I wouldn’t exactly have called a scratch. He turned to take a look at my car.
“Hmmm, this doesn’t look too bad either. Why don’t you come in with me tomorrow morning to the shop? They can probably fix you up at a pretty low cost.”
I was standing there in shock. It took me a few seconds to realize that my jaw had probably dropped. This was not the Landon Carter who was notorious around the office for being so aloof. I guess his reputation was a little bit over-stated.
“Thanks,” I said when I finally gathered my thoughts. “I guess I should at least give them a shot. I’ve been getting horribly over-charged at all the other places. For now though, I should call myself a cab.”
“Do you need a ride?” he asked me. “I was gonna call my place and have another car sent out.”
“Sent out?” I asked him, curious.
“Yeah. One of the help can bring it out.”
“Help?” I was probably sounding pretty foolish to him at the time.
“Yeah,” he said with a knowing chuckle. “Look, I don’t mean to brag but you don’t win big lawsuits for this many years and walk away empty-handed. My clients treat me well – and so does this firm.”
I knew what he meant. The firm paid a pretty hefty salary, and it made sense that since he got (and won) all the big cases that came through Landon would have plenty of spending money.
“Well, if it’s not too much trouble… I really could use a ride.”
“No trouble at all. You live in that sub-division just a few miles south of my place right? You’re right on my way home anyways.”
With that decision made, Landon called back to his place and asked them to send another car out. It wasn’t as flashy as the Camaro, but a nice vehicle nonetheless – a red Dodge Durango.
The drive to my place was anything but silent. Landon, contrary to his reputation at work, had a great sense of humor. We traded stories of our escapades in college and law school, and the entire drive went by rather quickly. The only silences were when I told him about my fiancée Lana. I guessed that he didn’t do much dating. He was in the office an awful lot working on big cases. He dropped me off at my place and set a time to meet at the auto body shop the next day. He also gave me the card for the place, in case I needed to call them.
“You’ve got a company cell right?” he asked me. “Just in case we need to get in touch over this. I don’t see it being a problem though. You’re a good guy.”
“Thanks Landon. Thanks for the ride too. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Things went pretty well at the auto repair shop. The estimate they gave me was low by all comparisons, and I was very pleased with the place. After work Landon asked me to stop off at his place for something to drink. His home was pretty big – not a castle, but definitely larger than any house in my subdivision. I hung up my suit and waited in his living room while he got us some sodas. I didn’t drink alcohol, and neither did Landon apparently. I looked around the room. Most of the walls were decorated with art, replicas of famous paintings, and the likes. On the mantle of his fireplace, though, I noticed several framed photos. Some were of Landon, others were of a young woman. She looked to be somewhere between 18 and 21 years old. The rest of the pictures were of her and Landon together.
“Is this a cousin, Landon?” I asked him when he came back with two Cokes in hand.
His smile faded, and I could tell I had hit a bad cord.
“Oh I’m sorry, you don’t have to talk…”
“No no, I’d like to talk about her. And no, she isn’t family. She was my wife.”
We sat down in the armchairs that were in the room and Landon began his tale.
Her name was Jamie. I first met her in high school, in Beaufort, North Carolina. I was a bit of a small-town boy – I had lived in Beaufort all my life. Jamie, on the other hand, had been all around the nation. She’d lived from coast to coast, from California to New York and plenty of places in between.
This is going to sound kind of corny, but we first met each other because of this sort of writing club at school. She loved to write. Stories – good ones too. I went to a club meeting once toward the end of our senior year because I had this idea and I felt like writing about it. I didn’t write often, but when I got ideas I usually put them down in paper. Jamie… I guess she really liked the story I wrote. One day as I was walking along campus she caught up to me to tell me just how much she liked it.
“Landon!” she had called to me as I was walking. I waited for her to catch up. “I just wanted to tell you that I loved your story that you wrote. I was very touched by it.”
I wasn’t a guy who would blow people off, so I thanked her. We turned out to be walking the same direction, so we walked and talked awhile. I guess that’s when we really became friends. We’d say hi to each other whenever we saw each other after that, and I would walk with her to classes that we had in the same area.
Now there’s something you have to understand about Jamie. There was this guy in her life… they really cared a lot about each other. And I mean a lot. Everyone at school was convinced they were going to get married. But she lost him at the start of our senior year. She took it really hard. Most of the guys pretty much considered her off-limits after that, either because they felt bad or because they were friends with her man.
I guess that’s why I didn’t start pursuing her sooner. I mean – she was great! We had so much in common: we listened to the same music, liked a lot of the same movies, and we even said the same things at the same time. We were both fairly religious; we went to church regularly and believed in what God and the Bible had to offer. She sang too – she sang beautifully. We became really good friends – best friends even. She was just the greatest person to be around. She made things a lot of fun – her personality was lively and unpredictable. We always laughed about the way she could be talking to one of her friends, being her sweet and gentle self, and then turn around and get really tough when someone got her angry. She could be like fire and ice sometimes… cool and soothing on the one hand, fiery and active on the other. She’d always apologize for losing her cool around her friends though. You could always count on her to ask for forgiveness after going on a tirade.
I finally realized I was in love with her a few months after we had started talking. I wasn’t sure how to tell her though – I was worried she would be hurt because of what she had lost. It just came out one day though. I had driven her home from school and before she got out of the car, I told her “I love you Jamie.” She looked back at me, and I quickly tried to cover up what I had just said. “Not in that way… but I do love you.” She smiled and said to me “I love you too. You’re a great friend. Thanks for not being afraid to tell me.”
As I watched her walk up to her front door, I wasn’t sure if I was happy or sad. Maybe a little of both. I wanted so badly to tell her how I really felt – that I was in love with her. But I knew I couldn’t do that to her. I convinced myself that I really did just love her as a friend, and I went on my merry way.
A few weeks later, I slipped up again. And this time there was no way to cover my tracks. We were at her house, doing some homework. We had taken a break and were sitting on the couch when I told her. “Jamie, I think I’ve fallen for you a little bit.”
I could see the surprise on her face as she took in what I told her. “Been there. Done that,” was what she replied at first. Then, after a pause, “I think I fell a little too.”
I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I leaned forward and kissed her forehead. Then the tip of her nose. And finally, I brushed my lips against hers. I felt her lean forward and brush back. Chills shot up my spine. I looked deep into her eyes and then at her lovely face. That’s when I finally admitted it to myself: I was in love with Jamie Sullivan.
When we first went back to school as boyfriend and girlfriend people gave us some pretty surprised looks. I guess they hadn’t really expected Jamie to find someone else – not while she was in high school anyways. They took it pretty well though. I think there were a few guys around campus who had a crush on her and they probably kicked themselves for not making a move too, but that’s it. We went to the Prom together, and we had a blast.
I was going away to the University of North Carolina after high school. Jamie had gotten accepted into a private performing arts college on a scholarship. I told you she sang beautifully. We made plans to keep in touch – phone cards, long-distance calling plans, the works. Her parents were very supportive of our relationship and they even offered to pay for some of the phone bills. They were great people and they loved Jamie.
Jamie and I also talked about our hopes and dreams a lot. I knew two things for sure at the end of my senior year in high school: I wanted to be a lawyer, and I wanted Jamie to be a part of my life no matter what. She just wanted to be famous. I had no doubts that she would be, with her voice and her talents. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and she promised me that she would support me always.
We were devastated that fall when we found out about her cancer. It was leukemia, but for whatever reasons it didn’t respond to the conventional treatments that were available. I just couldn’t believe it. Why Jamie? Why the woman I was so in love with? We shed a lot of tears over it… I said a lot of prayers. In public, though, Jamie tried to be so strong. She kept going to school, kept singing like it was nothing.
I’ll never forget the Christmas we spent together. We went Christmas shopping, went to all sorts of holiday activities, and we enjoyed ourselves. Walking back on Christmas Eve from a special church service, we stopped to look at the streets all lit up with Christmas lights and decorations. It was all so beautiful, so tranquil. We kissed there on the street, and not just a little brush of the lips. We kissed like we meant it, pouring our hearts and souls into that kiss. We didn’t care that we were in public and that people around us could see. It was Christmas, and we were in love. For those few brief moments, it felt like all the world was perfect… like nothing was wrong in our lives. I’ll remember the feeling forever.
Jamie had to withdraw from college early in the spring. I know she would’ve liked nothing more than to stick it out for the year, but it just wasn’t possible anymore for her. I visited her whenever I could, on weekends and during my school vacations. Her doctors had her on all sorts of medications by then, but they couldn’t really say how much longer she had.
I proposed to her not long after she stopped attending school. It hadn’t been much of a question for me at all – I had decided, before we found out about the leukemia, that I would ask her to marry me. It didn’t make any difference to me that she was sick. I still loved her just as much and in my heart I could find no reason not to ask her. Her parents had been pretty concerned about my decision. They were just looking out for Jamie and me. They didn’t want her saying yes to me because it was her last chance, and they didn’t want me getting into something that would cause me pain later on. Her dad… he even had this one-on-one talk with me when he found out. He was pretty shaken up by the whole thing, and I couldn’t say I blamed him. He had gotten some pretty big shocks in the year – first Jamie’s leukemia, and then this marriage proposal. He probably thought I was crazy to be asking her to marry me. But Jamie and I eventually convinced them that this was what we wanted to do.
We were married that summer, after I had gotten out of school. Our wedding was perfect. Her parents and some of my closer friends went through a lot to make sure the day was one we would never forget. Jamie was absolutely gorgeous walking down the aisle in her wedding dress. We swore that day, in front of God and everyone else, that we would honor and cherish each other for all the days of our lives. And I have every intention of living up to that vow.
“When did she…” I began.
“Die?” I was somewhat taken by his frankness. “It’s okay to say it, Tom,” Landon told me. “Jamie passed on the winter of my sophomore year in college. After Christmas. I took her out to see the Christmas lights on the streets of Beaufort once more before it happened. I had a lot of trouble with it the first few years after she was gone. Just saying her name would bring tears to my eyes. But it’s gotten easier over time. It doesn’t mean I love her any less though.”
“I still talk to her, you know,” he continued. “She asked me once who I would talk to about her after she was gone. I had lost touch with a lot of my friends from high school who had known her, and I wasn’t all that close to the ones I had in college. The place was just too huge for those kinds of personal relationships. Eventually, I decided that I would talk to her and God.”
“Do you have any regrets, Landon?” I asked him.
“Regrets? I can’t say that I did. Jamie was the best thing to happen to my life. So many times in the years since, when I’ve had difficulties, I’ve turned to her. I know it sounds strange to some, but she has always been here with me. I can almost hear her voice scolding me when I’ve made mistakes, encouraging me when I’ve been down. She got me through school and into the real world.”
There was silence in the room for awhile, as if Landon wanted to say something more but wasn’t sure how to do so.
“I still see her every night, Tom. We’re together in my dreams. And as long as I have those, I know I’ll be alright. I will see her again someday… and then we’ll be together forever. I know it. Jamie… she’s everything to me. Every city I pass through, be it LA or New York, has something about it that is characteristically Jamie. Whenever I walk down the streets of Beaufort during the holidays and see the Christmas lights strung up, I remember her and the special moments we had. Jamie, she’s every woman I’ve ever known.”