Well damn. The past again.
"You always were an early riser," Benjamin says, putting on his clothes. "I was about to wake you."
I stretch. "What time does he have to be to school?"
"9. A few hours. He's slow getting ready, and he fights to get out of it, so I would start at 7."
"When are you come home?" I ask.
He smiles. "Around dinner. Should I pick anything up?"
I shake my head. "I'm cooking for Harrison. It won't take much to make you an extra plate."
"I don't remember you being able to cook?"
I turn around, sighing. "That was before I was a fugitive."
• • •
He doesn't come home for dinner. It's fine. It's not that I care.
"Dad's late,"Harrison remarks as I put him to bed.
"I'm sure he had to work late," I explain.
I leave the room, pouring myself a glass of wine, watching criminal minds.
He comes in, early. His eyes meet mine. He smiles.
I shrug. "Work?"
"Actually, the boys came into town."
I pause. "Boys," I look down at my wine.
"You remember them? Tom, Chad—"
I scoff. "I see."
He paused. "What? What's with that? You're not mad them at you? It's been years."
I chuckle at the pure irony. "Of course not, Benjamin."
He sighs, his smile falling. "Then what's that expression?"
"I find it interesting. You're the same as you were."
"Me keeping in touch with old friends means I haven't changed, Jessica?"
I can't stop laughing. It's so funny because...I almost...I don't know. I was getting used to thinking he was a little different.
"Oh, don't mind me, Benjamin. It's not like we're engaged anymore. You don't owe me an explanation."
"There goes my good mood," he sighs. "What do you have against them?"
"Nothing. Even if I did, it doesn't matter now."
He rolls his eyes. "Right. Well, good night."
I raise my glass. His phone rings. He looks at it. Then at me. He answers it.
"I just left you guys. Well," he looks at me, his jaw clenching.
I can't stop laughing. It's...it's hilarious!
"I'm on my way," he hangs up.
I smirk. "Have fun," I grin.
"Why are you doing this? Why does it bother you?"
"I'm smiling. That means I'm happy. I'm not bothered."
"No, every time I hang out with them, or talk to them or about them you tense up."
I shrug. "Have fun. They've come calling. So I'll know you'll go. Don't keep them waiting."
"Go! Go! They're waiting. You never keep them waiting," I chuckle.
He just looks at me. "You've always hated them. Why?"
I shrug. "Benjamin, if you keep them waiting any longer they'll leave without you."
"Tell me why?"
It's funny. I find this so amusing.
"You know what's so funny to me, Benjamin? You could've come back here for dinner. Harrison misses you. But you have to go where your buddies go. Another party with the same jerks that you already know."
"It's not like...it's not like I see them all the time."
"Don't explain to me, Benjamin. But Harrison tells me that you leave all the time. Miss dinner. To hang with his uncles. So you neglect him like you did me? Interesting,"
"Neglect? I know for a fact you didn't say that to me?" He narrows his eyes.
I stand, smirking. "Your friends. They're more important than anything. You drop everything when they call. You dropped me. Like a bad fucking habit."
"It nothing to do with them,"
"It had everything to do with them! They said you should see other girls, so you did. They said I should have sex with you, so you pressured me to. And while I was in pain, they called. And you left me."
"Pain? Look. I know your dad yelled a lot. And I know that's not right but—"
I smile. "You think...that fear comes from yelling?"
He looked away. "I—"
"When you have a choice to be somewhere with them. Or be with me. Or your son. Guess who you choose?"
He swallowed. "I was always with you. I helped you as best I could."
"I begged you," I chuckled. "Not to leave that night. I begged. And you left. Because they called."
"Jessica, lets talk about this later."
"Right. Because the people you really care about want you now."
"Of course I care about you. Of course I care about our son!"
"You know why I kept clinging to you? Because...when I did. My father didn't hit me as much. I begged you. Let me at least come along."
He looks up at me. "He...what?"
I laugh, but my eyes sting. "All I wanted was to be near you. But they didn't like me. Because you're weren't a dick when I was around."
"All I wanted...was to be near you, Benjamin. But they told you I was too clingy. And you abandoned me. And never looked back."
"Your father hit you?"
I laugh louder. "I thought it would be me and you. No matter what? I thought...I thought you could save me. That you would love me, and I would feel better. But as soon as they got around, I was trash to you. And it's funny cause, it hadn't even changed."
"Of course," he huffed. "Of course, It's changed."
"Then stay here. Call them and tell them you won't come out tonight. Chose us then."
He looks down. "They won't be here long. They're going back to the UK tomorrow morning, Honey."
I look over his face, and then look down. I sit down calmly, starting the show again. I pour myself another glass.
"Honey—I'll be right back."
I say nothing.
He walks out. Making the same choice he always has. That he always will.
And I just smile.