She was standing me up, I knew that I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up but I had spent the last hour sitting at a table in Bryant Park waiting for a red-headed stranger to approach me but no one remotely close to that were in sight.
The wait had given me time to look at all aspects of Violet’s profile. She’s 22 and an aspiring journalist. Her profile was filled with selfies and the ultimate basic girl photo with two large number balloons behind her as she celebrated her twenty second birthday a few months ago. The photo was titled like every other girl’s, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22.”
Of course that Taylor Swift quote would be still going around after all of these years. One thing that all young girls had in common, their desperate need to get acceptance on social media and post never ending selfies that had been filtered ten times over. Jade was never looking for anyone’s approval, she rarely posted on social media and she was shy. That’s why I loved her, she was never like any of the other girls that I’ve met.
Don’t get me wrong, based on the photos I’ve seen Violet is pretty. But Jade, she was beautiful. Stunning. I know that I’m bias but it wasn’t the beauty on the inside, it was every part of her on the inside that I found the most attractive.
As I put my phone down my eyes instantly fell on a slender girl with burning red hair across the street and waiting for the crosswalk. It was her. I was one hundred percent sure that the girl across the street was in fact Violet and I had the opportunity to take in her appearance. Instantly, I knew she was different than Jade. She dressed to show her body while Jade was far more modest. Violet’s hair was down and loosely curled but it screamed confidence. Even the colors she wore reminded me that she’s a completely different person, she was wearing a black leather jacket over a dark red tank top and matching black skinny jeans.
Aside from the red hair, she was nothing like Jade. I had to remind myself of that. Her eyes met mine and she greeted me with a smile as she walked towards the table I was currently occupying.
“Thomas?” She asked, seeming genuinely happy to see me.
My mouth opened, suddenly feeling like there were no words in my body to use. I was suddenly nervous now that Violet was standing in front of me and I could fuck this entire thing up in an instant, “And you’re Violet.”
“I am,” She smiled and sat in the chair across from me, “Thank you for meeting me. It feels surreal to get to see you considering you... I don’t know how to say it, but you... were there.”
I suddenly got flashes in my mind. Hearing Jade scream as the car flipped, leaning above her and begging her to keep her eyes open. I was there. I watched her die and I couldn’t do anything about it. She needed me, she had looked directly at me and screamed my name in panic once the breaks stopped working, but I could do nothing at all.
“I’m sorry,” I heard Violet say and when I looked at her she seemed concerned, “I didn’t mean to bring it up to hurt you. I’ve just wondered.”
“It’s fine, I just don’t talk about it often.”
Violet tucked her hair behind her ear and looked down at the table before responding quietly, “I don’t talk about her often either. There’s this guilt that follows me around and I feel this need to do something to make myself feel better but that only makes me feel like an even worse person.”
“Try being the one who killed her,” I muttered under my breath before leaning back and shaking my head, “My mom says that it’s survivors guilt but I would have easily taken her place. If you have some kind of resentment towards me for being a part of Jade’s death, I get that. I don’t blame you, Violet. I resent myself every single day.”
Violet stared at me, her lack of words at the time made me antsy but she finally pursed her lips together and shook her head, “No. Of course not... If anything I’m grateful that she had you. I’ve seen her Instagram posts, she seemed really happy with you.”
Jade’s Instagram. Her last post was the day of the car accident, a photo I took of us. She was wearing her favorite sweater and her arms were wrapped around my shoulders, a big smile planted on her face while my face wore a questioning look. She never had selfies, only photos of scenery or a photo of her with someone. Never by herself.
“So you have your own company?” Violet asked me after I failed to respond to her last comment, “I noticed on your Facebook that you were designing the new building they’re building in Queens.”
“Oh, yeah.” I nodded, this was something much easier for me to talk about. Not the pain that I had went through four years ago, but the life I’ve been attempting to rebuild, “My brother, Mason, and I own the company. It’s something we thought about when we were living in North Carolina but there’s no better place to start a business than the big apple, right?”
“That’s true,” She agreed with a hint of a smile playing at her lips, “I’ve always dreamed of living here, living in a small town my whole life made me thrive for something bigger. So as soon as I could afford to move here, I did. Of course living in a closet isn’t ideal but what’s outside is what makes it worth my while.”
The feeling I got while speaking to Violet was nothing short of amazing. I felt happy to have a new connection to Jade and in the corner of my eye when I caught a glimpse of her red hair I forgot that I was with Violet and not Jade.
A part of me wanted to keep my head down on only acknowledge, the red hair I caught a glimpse of but I couldn’t escape the reality that I wasn’t here with Jade no matter how hard I tried to.
I took a sip of my coffee and cleared my throat to regain any reality that I could, “So a closet, huh? What you pay for in New York isn’t cheap. Are you right in Manhattan or on the outskirts?”
“Brooklyn,” Violet answered me.
I haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn but I worked near the Brooklyn bridge which was closer to her than meeting at Bryant Park was, “I work in the financial district, if you had told me you were in Brooklyn we could have met somewhere closer to you.”
“I was in the area so it’s totally fine,” She told me before standing up and looking down at me, “I hate to cut this short but I have this thing with my friends later that I need to get ready for. It was really good meeting you, Thomas.”
“Wait!” I didn’t want her to leave, I finally felt normal for once. It was the first time in so long and I wanted to hold onto that. I stood from the chair and passed her my phone, “If you’re okay with it, I’d like to see you again. Maybe then we can talk more about Jade, I just need to get used to having that conversation again.”
Violet held onto my phone and paused for a moment, when she looked back at me she had a sympathetic smile on her face, “Maybe that isn’t a good idea. You seem like you’re still dealing with things and the last thing I want to do is push you into discussing something that pains you. I know this because talking about her hurts me too.”
I shook my head, “No, it doesn’t. I mean, yeah, it hurts but that’s normal, right?” She didn’t want to see me again, it may have made me seem desperate but I really felt like I needed this girl in my life. I’ve never been one to follow my gut but I had become a different person after Jade, “We don’t need to talk about her until we’re both ready. Maybe we get to know each other first, does that seem okay?”
She tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips into a small smile, “That sounds like a good idea.”
She nodded her head and I felt a sense of relief settle in me. Violet didn’t necessarily need to be a temporary person in my life, if we actually got to know each other then we could for a friendship aside from Jade’s memory - then I could have a piece of Jade in my life again.
“No way,” Mason said as he stood across from the desk with his arms folded over his chest, “I’ve bit my tongue until now but this girl isn’t Jade, Tommy. You’re only wanting to get to know her because you’re convincing yourself that in some way it’ll be like having Jade back in your life and that isn’t going to happen.”
I tapped my pen on my desk and reluctantly looked up at Mason with a slight glare setting on my face, “I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
Mason only shook his head, “This is far from healthy.”
“I don’t fucking care, Mase. You don’t get it, okay? For the past four years I’ve been living my life like a zombie and just meeting Violet today pulled me out of this slump I’ve been in.”
“Because she’s Jade’s cousin!” Mason raised his voice, clearly becoming irritated with me but I could care less. My little brother was the last person in this world that could ever intimidate me, “She isn’t Jade and this obsession you have with her isn’t good for you.”
I stood up and shoved my chair back against the wall, directing my cold gaze at Mason, “Fuck off. This isn’t an obsession, it’s okay for me to have other people in my life other than you and Jenna.”
“I guess that’s true, maybe you wouldn’t have kissed her if you had other girls to toy around,” Mason snapped at me.
“I told you that it was a mistake. I was really drunk, Mason.” I repeated myself again, attempting to explain the situation as best I could but blaming the alcohol was never a valid excuse in my book, “And what do you mean by toying around, huh? I have no interest in Jenna, you know that. We’ve been friends for years.”
I watched as Mason shrugged a shoulder in response to me, his tone becoming quieter, “But you had always made her feel like you could have been something more. You know that, Tommy. Don’t bullshit. Before Jade you messed with Jenna’s feelings and any other girl you fucked around with.”
“Why are you even bring up this? I haven’t slept with Jenna in nearly six years,” I argued with him, knowing well that this argument was getting blown out of proportion but being too far into it to stop now, “Oh, I know why. Because you’re insecure about your relationship.”
A chuckle escaped Mason’s lips, “I have nothing to be insecure about. Jenna and I are in a good place, it might surprise you but someone other than you could make her happy.”
And then I fucked up. My big mouth got the best of me and I took it a step too far, “You just know that if I told Jenna that I wanted her, she would dump your ass for me any day.”
There are certain things that people say that cannot be forgiven or even explained. Nothing I said could ever fix what I just said to Mason and considering we have been in a good place for so long now, what I said could have just damaged it forever.
I never meant it. Jenna would never leave Mason, it was obvious how much she loved him and at the same time I would never want Jenna like that. As I always used to, I let my anger get the best of me and I lashed out at the wrong people. The medication I had been taking for depression had kept me from the outbursts and my horrible temper but since I’ve been lacking taking them they weren’t working the same.
Words hurt people, even though Mason knows that I’m not in a good place in my life currently there were some things that he couldn’t be okay with me saying or doing. Instead of throwing a punch like most people would do, Mason kept his pride in hand and walked out of my office without a word, ignoring my attempts to call his name.
I could have potentially just lost one of the few people I had left.