You See Through Me
I woke up at six, went to see the horses then got in the car to go pick up my father. On my way out of the driveway I saw Luca in his car.
He slowed down and rolled down his window, “I got a welcome home sign; I’m going to put it up.”
“That’s a great idea, he will love it. I will be home in about an hour. The house door is open if you guys need anything.”
“We’ll be waiting.”
My father was ready to go the moment I arrived. I went to talk to the nurse before we left. She gave me instructions for my father and his medication and pain killers. He was also going to be a strict diet for a couple weeks.
In the car I could tell my father was in pain, “Does it hurt dad?”
“A little bit,” he admitted, “but they said it’s normal. I will feel it for a couple weeks. I can take it.”
“I know you can, so you are going to have to take it easy for a while. Don’t go thinking you are going to be out in the barns or in town.”
“I know, I will, I want to get better.”
As we pulled up to the ranch, a welcome home banner was up across the balcony and Luca, Mary and Jesse stood beneath it. As I helped my dad get out of the car they all came to greet him. Shortly after I took him inside and let him rest on the couch while I went to go help out in the barn.
“So are you in a better mood today?” Jesse asked as he came into my office and took a seat.
“Not really,” I said, “So if you need something get on with it and leave me alone.”
“Did I do something to you?”
I sighed, “No, sorry. I’ve just had a lot on my mind.”
“Stuff,” I said, “I apologize for my behaviour.”
“You don’t need to apologize but an explanation would be nice.”
“Is there something you want to talk about?” I asked.
“There is someone in the barn wanting to see you, says he’s a friend of yours.”
“A friend of mine?” I asked getting up, “Are you sure?”
“That’s what he said,” Jesse said following me.
As I walked into the barn, Eric rushed over and gave me a hug. The only reason I allowed it was because I was in utter shock.
When he pulled away he was the first to speak, “I heard about your dad. How is he doing?”
Jesse walked behind Eric and went into Snowflake’s stall with a curry comb.
“He is okay, he came home today.”
I forgot how good looking Eric was and that made me almost forgot what he did to me, “What are you doing here?”
“I miss you,” he said.
“No you don’t, you are just lonely.”
“No, I am serious. I miss you and I came here to apologize to you.”
“Yes, I shouldn’t have…”
“You shouldn’t have what?”
“I shouldn’t have done what I did,” he said.
“Damn right you shouldn’t have,” I said catching Jesse’s eyes and suddenly felt nervous.
“Can we maybe go back and try this again?”
“Like what I wanted two months ago? No, it’s too late now.”
“Why? Have you moved on?”
“Yes I have moved on, you were a mistake Eric.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“We had a lot of good times Eric, but that’s where it ends. You never supported me in what I do here and you made it quite clear that you think what I do here is stupid.”
“I made a mistake.”
“Yeah you did, now deal with it.”
“You seem different, are you seeing someone?”
“It’s none of your business if I am but no I am not. I have no time to and I don’t want to, I am perfectly happy single.”
“Fine,” he said, “But if you change your mind…”
“I won’t,” I interrupted.
“I guess I will see you around.”
I watched as he walked out of the barn. I let out my breath as I turned to find Jesse by my side.
“Don’t start,” I said walking back into my office.
“So Jen has a love life.”
“No, Jen had a love life.”
“What’s the story? That seemed intense.”
“No story, I just wasn’t into it.”
He laughed, “You dated him for a year before you realized you weren’t into him.”
I stood up getting angry, “It is really none of your business.”
“What is up with you? I guess the honeymoon is already over,” he commented.
At first I was confused but then I caught on, I only rolled my eyes.
Jesse stood in front of me, “Maybe I know why it didn’t work out.”
“He didn’t have nice eyes like mine,” he winked.
I pushed him out of my way as I spoke under my breath, “You wish.”
He followed me, “Hey now, you told me you liked my eyes.”
“I was delusional and extremely tired,” I lied.
“Really? Because you seemed pretty present to me,” he stood in front of me again.
“Okay so what? So what if you have nice eyes, I never knew it was a sin to tell someone they have nice eyes.”
“It’s not, so why were you just trying to deny it?”
I tried not to smile, “I didn’t want it to go to your head.”
He nodded, “Now that we got that settled, why don’t you tell me what happened with lover boy?”
“It is none of your business.”
“Oh come on, after everything you don’t trust me?”
“It is not about trust,” I said, “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
“Clearly lover boy was sorry,” he said, “I sure would hate to be on your bad side.”
“Then you better watch it because you are almost there,” I winked as I walked out of the barn, “You’re right on the border line.”
“I think you should give the poor guy another chance.”
“He’s had his chances,” I admitted, “Too many.”
“So it was lover boy’s fault?”
“Stop calling him that,” I said frustrated.
“Okay okay, I give up. I will see you later; I’ll be in the barn if you need me.”
After dinner I cleared the table and helped my dad walk up the stairs. He was tired and wanted to go to bed early.
“I am just going to go out and check on the horses, I will be back to check on you soon.”
“Okay, don’t stay out too late.”
As I put on my work boots and made my way out into the barn I entered Snowflakes stall.
“Hey there,” I said, “Look what I brought you.”
I fed him a carrot slowly as I leaned against his body, “Mom always told me the secret to winning a horse’s heart is to feed it a carrot. Was she right boy?”
He snorted lightly making me giggle, “I think she was right.”
A little while later I left his stall to checked on the other horses before closing the barn doors. I walked towards the training ring as I began to think about my father, in his bed sleeping. I was thankful that he was okay, that it wasn’t more serious.
I pulled myself up to sit on the gate as I watched the empty ring in the darkness. I couldn’t help but shed a tear. It was all confusing to me and I didn’t even know I was crying until I felt the tears fall down my cheek. It was all too much.
I thought about Eric, I thought about his apology. The truth was sometimes I got lonely, I missed having someone to hold me when I was sad. I just wish Eric was different, I wish he knew when I needed him. I wish he didn’t need me to tell him I was upset or filled with sadness. He never knew the real me because I was too afraid to show him who I really was.
The first few months were great but after that we argued almost every week because he didn’t understand that I was busy and when I wasn’t I was exhausted. He didn’t want to come over and relax, he wanted to go out. He told me it was because he wanted to show me off.
When we were together I felt special, I felt like someone cared, most of the time. Other times I felt like I didn’t exist. I thought about the days after my accident, he didn’t tell me things were going to be okay. He told me I should stop riding and get a real job. He told me I should finish school and get a degree. He told me I could never be happy on a ranch. That’s when I realized he didn’t understand me at all.
I began to think about all the medals I won from jumping, I closed my eyes as I could imagine myself jumping at one show after another. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing from my eyes.
“I need you mom,” I said running my hand through my hair, “Why did you have to die?”
“Jen?” a voice called out from behind, scaring me and causing me to lose my balance and fall off the gate.
“Jesse?” I asked recognizing the voice.
As he came closer I could see his silhouette, “Sorry if I scared you.”
My voice was all groggy as I turned around so he couldn’t see the tears falling down, “What are you doing here?”
“You didn’t seem yourself today,” he said, “and I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
Slowly I climbed back on the gate, “I’m fine.”
I tried not to think too much about it, about the fact that he could tell there was something wrong when I thought I was doing such a good job to hide it.
“I heard you,” he said climbing up on the gate, “You don’t have to pretend in front of me.”
“That everything is okay,” he said, “I know it’s not.”
I but my lip, “Jesse, you didn’t need to come all the way here to check up on me.”
“I know I didn’t have to but I wanted to. That’s what friends do right?”
“No,” I raised my voice, “Friends call and ask how everything is going.”
“I’ll leave if you want me to,” he said.
“I want you to leave,” I said wondering if he would actually go.
“Okay then,” he said climbing down the gate, “I will go; I was only trying to be here for you.”
“Why?” I asked, “Why couldn’t you stop thinking of me?”
“I don’t know,” he said facing me again, “Maybe because I could see that there is something bothering you, something upsetting you.”
I climbed down the gate, “Tell me about relationships you have had.”
“What sort of relationship?”
“Girlfriend,” I asked, “Maybe Jessica?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Why don’t you ever want to talk about your life?” I asked.
“I’ve answered all your questions; I just wanted to know why my dating has anything to do with you and what you are going through?”
“It doesn’t have to do with me.”
“My last girlfriend was two years ago, her name was Teresa. We dated for about nine months.”
“Why did it end?”
“I wanted to travel; she didn’t want to come with me.”
“How intimate were you guys?” I bluntly asked.
“Excuse me?” he asked.
“You heard me.”
“Um, pretty intimate I guess.”
“So what? Did you like plan the night in your head before you guys actually got together or did it just happen?”
“Are you referring to sex?” he clarified.
“Well we didn’t have sex and I am beginning to regret answering your questions.”
“You said fairly intimate,” I said.
“Yeah, but not that intimate.”
“I didn’t want to.”
“Are you serious?”
“So it wasn’t that she didn’t want to and you did?”
“No, we both didn’t want to.”
“So you dated for nine months, when you were twenty four and you didn’t have sex with her?”
“That is correct. I don’t do that sort of thing, I couldn’t and call myself a Christian.”
I began walking away from him shedding another tear.
“Wait, you can’t just walk away from me after that,” he pulled me around, “Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted, “I have no idea what is wrong with me. Maybe I am happy that my dad is okay or maybe I am angry that Eric thinks he could just come here and want me back when he tried to have sex with me in the back seat of his car knowing that I didn’t want to,” I covered my mouth regretting what I just said.
“So you guys did or didn’t?”
“We didn’t,” I said closing my eyes, “I don’t know how we didn’t. I kept telling him to stop but he wouldn’t let me go. I was scared; I never saw that side of him. He was drunk so I blame the alcohol but I know he wanted it without the alcohol. He stopped when he realized I was crying. I walked home that night. He apologized a million times the day after but I just couldn’t see past what happened. I couldn’t forgive him.”
“That’s understandable. I’m sorry I told you to give him another chance. I didn’t know what happened.”
“Now you do. I never told anyone that Jesse.”
“Sara?” he asked.
“No, nobody knows.”
“You shouldn’t have had that bottled up inside all this time; you need someone you can talk to.”
“I do, I tell Sara everything, except for that. I was embarrassed.”
“Because you saw through me, through my smile.”
With that he grabbed my hand and pulled me into his arms, “I am sorry that happened to you. I am not sorry you told me.”
I buried my head in his neck and held him tight, “I was ashamed.”
He pulled away, “You have nothing to be ashamed about. You are amazing and he’s an idiot for not realizing it.”
“You want to know something else?”
He nodded, “I want to know everything about you Jen.”
“When I saw Eric, I didn’t remember what he did; I remembered the good times we had. It was only after thinking about the good things that I started to remember how it ended. I forgive him, everyone makes mistakes.”
“You forgive him?” he asked as if not believing my words, “Why?”
“Everyone needs to be forgiven, God knows how many times I screw up but God forgives me and His love is never ending so I forgive him. I am not mad at him even though it seemed that way; I just want him to know that we can’t be together again.”
“If you forgive him why can’t you?” he asked.
“I don’t love him and he doesn’t love me no matter what he says. He never understood me.”
“You continue to amaze me,” he smiled, “I am glad I know you.”
I nodded, “I am glad too.”
“You can talk to me about anything okay? Any time.”
“Thanks,” I said as I gave his hand a squeeze.
Jesse grabbed my hand as he walked me up the porch, “You should go in.”
I nodded, “I don’t know how you knew I needed someone but I am glad you did.”
“Are you going to be okay?”
I nodded, “Yeah.”
“Okay then, good night Jen,” he kissed me on the cheek sending butterflies down my spine.
Once I got inside I locked the door and watched Jesse’s car drive off though the window. I let out my breath as I headed up to check on my dad. My dad was sleeping so I shut the light near his bed off and headed to my room.
I lay on my bed without changing and thought about Jesse. He continued to amaze me, the way he knew I needed a friend to talk to. I was also surprised that I told him what happened with Eric. I smiled as I remembered him telling me that he didn’t sleep with his girlfriend, even though that didn’t matter.
I took out my Bible and began to read a few chapters before putting it away.
“I think you would like him mom,” I whispered, “But I don’t know what is going to happen, we’re just friends.”
Once I stopped thinking of Jesse I couldn’t help but feel depressed, I knew why I just didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t tell Jesse because I didn’t want to accept it just yet.
The fact was that with my dad needing to recover and making me realize that I could have lost him, I needed to be respectful of my father’s wishes, even if it went against what I wanted.
“Dad doesn’t want me to train mom,” I said, “I’ve been hiding it from him but I can’t do that anymore.”
I swallowed hard trying not to cry. I would have to give up training again. I wouldn’t put myself at risk against my father’s will.
I needed to believe that he knew what was best. I needed to believe that training wasn’t what I was meant to do.
“Help me mom, give me the strength to move on and forget about training. Help me to be happy so dad won’t see I am not.”
A little while later I shut my own light and went to bed.
The next couple days went by slowly. No one noticed I wasn’t training. I went with Mary to try my brides maid’s dress which was orange and helped her with sending out her wedding invitations.
I finally gave Jesse a horseback riding lesson, just the basics; we ended when we got to jogging. I told him that the next lesson I would have him cantering.
Things seemed to be back to normal but I felt anything but normal. Jesse began to ask questions but I ignored them. He finally let it go and didn’t ask me how I was feeling anymore. I didn’t blame him; there was only so much he could do.
I didn’t want to burden him with all my problems, I was sure he had his own problems which I often wondered about. Here I was always telling him about myself but I felt like I had to beg information out of him. Yet that wasn’t true because I knew a lot about him, I knew about his family, his girlfriend, his travelling. What else was I supposed to know?