I wake up and hour early so Julius can take me to my dorm. When he drops me off, I run to my dorm and take a quick shower. I throw on a hoodie and black skinny jeans with my boots. When I get to class almost everyone is there. I take my seat next to Mya and she asks me if I and Julius are okay. I nod and smile.
Mya and I are the first to finish our finals so we go to the cafe to eat. We don’t talk, we just sit and study for our next class. I am so ready for this semester to be over. I needed to go to my dorm and pack since I was driving back home tonight to avoid traffic.
I take my math final without a hitch. I know I am going to come out with A’s so now I can focus on Christmas break. I go to my dorm and start tossing things into my duffle bag. Once all my bags are pack, Mya comes just in time to help me take them to my car.
“Thanks so much. It would have been hell trying to get these down the stairs”
She shrugs “No problem. I’m going to miss you. I don’t even know what to expect when I get home. You know how my parents are”
“Everything will be fine. You’ll get great guilt gifts” I laugh
“Yea, you’re right” She gives me a hug and goes back into the building. I get in the car and go to Julius’ apartment to get Beanie. I open the door and scoop her up. On a piece of paper, I leave a note for Julius
Came to get Beanie before heading home, See you when I get back. I love you
Before hitting the highway, I stop and get my car checked. I fill up the gas tank and buy a few snacks. I’m not really in the mood to go home, but I miss my parents a little. Well, I miss my dad.
Around 7pm I get on the highway to head home. During the drive I jam out Tegan and Sara. Beanie howls at the music and it cracks me up. As I’m driving down the highway, I see something out of the corner of my eye. A baby deer runs out in the road and I slam on breaks. In that moment I remember something my dad always said “Whatever happens, keep your hands on the wheel”
I grip the wheel tight to avoid running off the road. Beanie rolls off the front seat, but lands in my jacket. When I come to a halt, the baby deer looks into my window and walks off. I sit in the road and catch my breath. I’m near tears so I pull onto the side of the road and call Julius.
“Hey babe, I got your note”
“Julius” My voice cracks as a lump in my throat build. My eyes begin to water
“A....A deer ran out....it ran out in front of my car” I feel my chest tightens and I’m sure I’m about to have a panic attack.
“Are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay?” His voice sounds full of worry like he wants to grab his keys and come find me.
“I’m fine.....it just scared me.....and Beanie” I look down and Beanie is in my jacket looking up at me. With my shaking hand I reach down and scoop her up pulling her to my chest. She whines into the phone. “Aww Beanie...” Julius whispers.
“Just calm down Krystal, it’s okay, you’re okay” He sounds firmer trying to calm me. I should have driven more carefully. I knew deer would be out more than usual since it’s the winter time.
I catch my breath and Beanie falls asleep in my lap. “Okay. I’m okay”
“Good. I don’t want you to drive if you are still shaken”
“No. I’m okay. I swear. It just spooked me, that’s all” I take a deep breath.
“Okay, be careful. Call me as soon as you get home” He orders “I love you Krystal”
I smile “I love you too”
I hang up and place Beanie back in the passenger seat. I put the car in drive and head home. I am anxious the rest of the drive until I see my town population sigh. “Finally”
I pull into my parent’s drive way and honk. I text Julius letting him know I made it home before I get out of the car.
“Oh Krystal! I’m so happy you’re home!” My mom runs up to me and hugs me tight. “Hi Mom” When she lets me out of her death grip I reach into the car and grab Beanie.
“Oh honey, what is that thing?” she frowns
“This thing is Beanie.” My mom reaches out and Beanie licks her hand. For a moment my mom smiles then it falls “Just don’t let it make a mess in the house”
My dad come out and I run to me. “Dad!” He lifts me up and spins me “Hey sweetie. I see we have an extra guest” He grabs Beanie and holds her up. Beanie barks the smallest bark and my dad chuckles. “She has some fight in her”
I get my bags from the car and we head inside. I have always loved my parent’s house during the Christmas holidays. My mom always went overboard with lights and decorations, but that is the one thing I really love about her. The house smells like cinnamon and pine cones. There are lights going up the stairs and around the living room. “Awe mom it’s beautiful in here”
My comment stuns her for a moment “Th...Thank you sweetie. I’m really glad you like it” I realize that it must be rare that I say something this nice to her so I walk up to her and hug her tight “I love you mama.”
I can tell she is getting teary eyed by her voice “I love you too, angel” She hasn’t called me that since high school.
Right then, I plan to spend more time with her now. I won’t complain when she wakes me up early to go shopping or asks me to come help her cook. I want out relationship to be better than before. She used to be my favorite person when I was little and I want to get back to that. I know she only hounds me because she wants the best for me, but I’m going to convince her that sometimes I want her to just be my mom, not a teacher.
During the break, I spend equal time with each of my parents. I play chess with my dad and sew with my mom. Being home for this period of time is so comforting. I don’t have to worry about school or work. I can just relax. I talk to Julius every night and text him during the day. He says he is having a good time with his family and that makes me happy. I text Jacob and he tells me he is spending time with his cousins at their cabin in the woods, hunting and such. Even Mya is having a great time with her parents.
I’m extremely happy that everyone is having a good time with their loved ones. A part of me can’t wait to see them. On Christmas I wake up early just as I used to when I was little. After waking my parents, I rush downstairs and see presents under the tree. I sit on the floor Indian style and wait for my parents to come down. When they shuffle down the stairs and sit on the couch, my mom passes me my first gift. When I open it, it’s a small Diamond necklace. I hold it up in awe and jump into my parent’s arms. They had never given me anything so beautiful before and I am beyond grateful. I open the rest of my gifts and there are even a few gifts for Beanie who is too busy playing with wrapping paper. During Christmas dinner, a few of my cousins and my aunt come. I never really got along with my cousins because when I was little they would tease me constantly. I don’t really think they like me that much either.
I am relieved when they leave and I help my mom clean up. I still haven’t mentioned anything about Julius because I know my mom wouldn’t understand the situation. Whenever she asks about guys I just tell her that I’ve been a few dates but nothing serious. “Honey, I think you need a good guy in your life. You’re a junior, it’s time for something a little serious”
I look at her in disbelief “What about my school work?”
“Awe sweetie, I know you’re doing great in school. I have no doubt in my mind about that. I just always wanted to make sure you understood the importance of your education. I finally realized that maybe I was coming on too strong.”
I smile “It’s okay, mom”
As a whole, Christmas break goes without a hitch. On New Year’s, we go downtown to watch the fireworks. I realize that this is the best Christmas I’ve had in a long time. I’m glad my mom and I are getting along better.
When I get back to school, I feel a little brand new. I have a lot of my home problems off my shoulder and I can enjoy this semester. I unpack and hang up everything before texting Julius. He doesn’t return my text so I assume he is busy. Mya called me earlier letting me know she won’t be back till late tonight. I go to the store to get some food to restock my mini fridge and chill for the rest of the day. I felt overly hopeful of everything and I can’t wait for classes to start. I was especially happy that I only have 1 classes this semester. It really pays to take classes during the summer.
The next day I still haven’t heard from Julius, but I just figure he is busy with a new room of students. I go to my class and get a feel for the teacher. She is old and boring. I almost fell asleep twice as she talked, but overall she doesn’t give much work and the work she does get is easy. I can do homework at least two or three weeks in advance. After class I head to the cafe to meet Mya, but half way to my destination, I see her walking towards me. “Hey Mya”
She looks off “Hi, umm you need to go see Julius in his class, now. Something is wrong”
My heart beat speeds as panic takes over. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, but someone said he got a phone call during class then he just flipped out and told his class to leave. Go see him now”
I nod and turn around to head back to the building. I walk fast hoping it’s nothing too bad but deep down I know it is. I get to his class and I see papers thrown everywhere. I open the door and call his name, but all I hear is a whimper coming from the file closet I go in and Julius is sitting on the floor against the wall with his head in his hands crying furiously. I kneel down in front of him and rub his head “Tell me what’s wrong”
He shakes his head.
“Please, what’s wrong? Tell me”
His head lifts and his face is beet red. His face is soaked in tears and his breathing is shallow, “It’s Jacob”
My heart falls and I know it’s terrible “What happened?” Julius leans his head back and continues to cry hard. My eyes water just looking at him. I try to hold my tears back, but a few escape.” Julius, what happened?”
Through the tears he manages to get out the words that I didn’t expect to hear “He’s dead. He got shot by accident when he was hunting yesterday”
“What?” I shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t want to hear those words. I wanted him to take it back. I wanted this to just be some nightmare. I want to wake up and everything to okay. Tears pour from my eyes and I pull Julius to me. He sobs into my shirt as he clenches my jacket tightly. I have to be strong for him. I rub his head and whisper through my tears that it’s going to be okay. I don’t believe myself, but I have to get Julius through this. I silently cry as Julius loudly pours out his hurt. I don’t want him to worry about me. I realize that I have to pull myself together for him. I wipe my tears and stop crying. On the inside I’m torn apart, but on the outside I’m comforting Julius. Jacob was his best friend in the whole word no matter their differences and in the short time I’ve known Jacob, I saw how great he was. I wish I could have known him longer.
I take a deep breath and tell Julius that I’m going to take him home. He nods still in tears and we stand. I take his hand and lead him to his car. I’m relieved that everyone is in class so no one sees.
Julius cries the whole drive and it rips me apart on the inside, I just can’t show it on the outside. When we get to his apartment, he gets in bed and I go into the kitchen to make him some Chamomile tea to calm him. From the kitchen I hear his cries. With the hot tea in hand I go into the room and sit it on the night stand. I brush his hair back with my hands “Julius you have to stop crying or you’ll make yourself sick. Drink some tea and relax.”
He sits up and I wipe his tear. He drinks most of it and I can tell it’s working. He lays back down and his cries lighten as he gets sleepy. I rub his head till I hear his soft snoring. I take his shoes off and put the covers over him. When I close the door, I go into the hall bathroom and close that door. I take a seat on the side of the tub and realize that my hands are shaking. I feel my emotions building up to a boil ready to spill over. Jacob is dead. I can’t call him and he can’t comfort me right now.
Instead of crying, I just sit there. I pull myself together so I can be there for Julius. He deserves to cry more than I do. As much as I want to break down, I can’t. All that goes through my mind his Jacob
Jacob is gone.