Begin Again

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Thirty: Human

Jenna’s legs are stretched across my lap when my eyes open to the sound of the pilot making the announcement that we will be landing in North Carolina in a few minutes. I rest my hand on her leg below her knee as I yawn and take a look out the airplane window. Right now, it’s still only clouds but I can see my home peeking through.

“I haven’t been home in years,” Jenna comments, getting my attention, “I had a falling out with my mom after graduation and... things just never went back to normal. After Mason and I moved to New York, that was it. I never stepped foot back here.”

“Yeah, I feel ya,” I agree, looking in her direction with my head leaned back against the head rest, “My relationship with my dad was always rough, but the real kicker was losing Jade. I never wanted to come back after that. I stayed for a while but once I left... That was it.”

Jenna gives me a sympathetic smile and nods her head in an understanding way, “I get that. But a big part of the person you are now is Jade. Honestly, Thomas, if you hadn’t met her I have no idea where you would be... You would probably be sleeping around with every girl who walked by you, not caring about the future, and hating the world.”

I shrug, “Well, I still hate the world on most days.”

“Shut up, you’re much more human now than you were before.”

She’s right about that, I was a careless prick before Jade and even after her I managed to keep some of the humanity she taught me. My life is still better than it was before her, significantly better.

Jenna moves her legs and pulls her dark hair into a messy ponytail. I yawn, stretching my arms and adjusting my body to buckle my seatbelt.

My dad was sitting closer to the front of the plane while Jenna and I managed to get seats next to each other. It was a quick flight but I had barely gotten any sleep last night, so I took the time to catch up on what I’ve missed.

“I’m surprised Violet didn’t come with you,” Jenna says.

The last thing I want is to talk about Violet and how she broke my heart, but Jenna is going to find out sooner or later anyway, “Long story short; you were right about her and that’s the end of it.”

“I’m confused, what was I right about?” She seems genuinely concerned and as much as I want to tell her to drop the conversation and shut up, I can’t.

I close my eyes and groan as I lean my head back, “Jenna, come on. Don’t do this to me.”

“You mean show interest in your life? Too bad, it’s happening. We have talked so much about me and Mason lately, so it’s your turn.” She pats my knee and gives me a smile, “Vent to me.”

I open one eye, glancing at her to see if she seemed like she would drop it, but I can tell she has zero intentions on doing so. Turning to look at her completely, I give her my full attention, “She lied. About everything. She isn’t related to Jade, never heard of her before until there was some stupid article about the grieving rich guy in New York. So her and her boyfriend - yes, you heard that correctly. Boyfriend. They plotted to get money from me for some fake foundation in Jade’s name.”

“Oh my--”

“And the worst part is that they did,” I roll my eyes as the familiar sense of anger comes over me, “Over fifteen thousand dollars, I just passed it to her because I trusted her. I believed her because... Because...”

“Because you thought she was the same as Jade. The same kind of person.”

“Yeah...” My voice is soft as Jenna says exactly what I’m feeling. She gets me and I don’t even need to explain myself to her. Although she had warned me various times about Violet, she isn’t judging or saying I told you so.

“You can’t seriously blame yourself for this, Thomas. Someone used a loss in your life to manipulate you...” There’s a slight feeling of turbulence as the plane starts to descend, “She used a weak point in your life to her advantage and that’s unfair.”

I shrug, “I don’t like being weak.”

“You’re human.”

She’s right, all humans have a weak point but that doesn’t make it any easier for me to accept. I never want to be vulnerable for anyone. I’ve always shown myself as a strong guy who isn’t phased by anyone or anything, now Violet is proving me to be a liar and pulling out every ounce of weakness within me.

***

“Hey, mom. It’s me... your daughter. I’m in town and was going to visit you and dad,” Jenna’s voice trails on as we enter my dad’s house. She’s leaving a message for her mother who’s clearly not answering her calls.

I set both mine and Jenna’s suitcases down near the front door and we aren’t in the house for even a second before Mila is running towards me.

“Tommy!” She stops suddenly and glances behind me where Jenna is on the phone, “Why is Jenna here?”

“Because I invited her,” I answer.

Another girl around Mila’s age enters the room and stands behind Mila grinning. Mila giggles and looks at me again, “This is my friend Alice. She thinks you’re cute.”

“Mila!” The kid, Alice, squeals in embarrassment.

“What?” Mila asks her, “It’s true, isn’t it?”

Jenna and I give each other a grin before I clear my throat, “Any luck, Jen?”

“Uh, no... Maybe they’re running errands or something.”

It’s clear that she’s only making an excuse for her parents but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear. She’s disappointed and I can see it in her eyes.

At one point, Jenna had been the light of her parent’s lives. Especially her dad, and to an extent I’m sure her dad still sees her as his entire world but after the falling out with her mom, things changed.

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.”

“Jenna, honey. You can stay here,” Allison says as she comes from the kitchen. Without giving me a chance to react to her presence, she hugs me, “It’s good to see you, Thomas.”

I stand straight, keeping my hands to the side while she hugs me, keeping in the bitter words I want to say and muttering under my breath instead, “You as well.”

When she lets go, she turns to Jenna and hugs her, “It’s good to see you too, Jenna. I wasn’t expecting you so it’ll take me a few minutes, but I’ll get Mason’s old room together for you to stay in.”

“Thanks, Allison. I appreciate that.”

When Allison walks away she calls for Mila to follow so she can help prepare the room. Alice follows them and my dad walks through the front door, closing it behind him.

“I’m going to order some pizza, what kind do you like, Jenna?”

“Oh, just cheese and pineapple,” She answers my dad.

I nearly gag at her words, “Pineapple doesn’t belong on Pizza.”

“If it doesn’t belong on pizza then it wouldn’t be an option, would it?” She arches an eyebrow and grabs the handle of her suitcase, “I’m going to head upstairs. The flight was short but I’m exhausted and in desperate need of a shower.”

As she walks towards the stairs, I take her bag from her, “I’ll bring this up for you.”

Jenna smiles and follows behind me. I stop in front of the door across from mine where Mason’s room had always been, I remember hating having his room so close to mine for most of our lives but now it wouldn’t be half as bad.

Allison is gathering extra pillows and blankets from the hallway closet and I motion towards my room, “You can put your bag in there for now if you want to hurry into the shower. She had time to prepare my room, at least.”

“Yeah, okay.”

She drags her suitcase into my bedroom and sits on the floor, unzipping and pulling it open. All I see is a bunch of unnecessary items that prove just how women pack their bags - overkill. She digs through her clothes until she finds what she’s looking for and when I sit on my bed, she stands up and turns towards me.

Jenna’s lips are pursed together, “I forgot towels.”

“Jenna, we have towels. Grab some from the cabinet in the bathroom.”

“Yes, but I never forget things. I have a strict ‘what to pack’ list,” She tells me before sticking out her tongue and walking out of my room. I chuckle to myself and lay back on the bed, looking up at the ceiling.

My phone vibrates in my pocket and when I pull it out I see Violet’s photo on the incoming call log. I ignore her call, selecting the text option and writing her a message.

You need to stop calling me. Stop texting me. Stop trying to communicate with me in every way. Nothing you say could change my opinion on this. We’re done. You ruined any chance we had of being together when you lied to me since day one.

When I send the text I can only hope that she will leave me alone. It’s hard enough letting go of something I had been so positive about, but being reminded of it constantly only makes the feelings worse.

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