((I might be a bit late for the challenge? Oh well! I got really inspired to write this and didn’t stop until it was done, even though the)) ((ending is not that great… Please give me feedback! Link to the challenge))
This isn’t what she expected. In fact, it was the last thing she expected. Jenna was suddenly thrust back into her own thoughts as she remembered what lead up to this moment…
At 7, her parents would yell and scream. She didn’t know why. She didn’t want to know why. She wouldn’t be able to take the confirmation that she was the trigger to their yelling. What else was she to think? The only other time she has heard them yell is she made a really big mistake. She would hide in her room while the crescendo of Mom and Dad’s voices tried to stab their way into her mind. Gradually, the voices began to get quiet. The voices still echoed around the rest of the house, but for that moment, her room was a haven away from the noise. That was the first time she could remember seeing her visitor. He climbed through the window and stood up in the middle of the room as if he’d been there the whole time. Jenna’s mother warned her about “stranger danger,” but she felt instantly at ease with the strange man. He was dressed strangely, with a black tee shirt that hung off of him slightly and polka dotted pants. He looked like a clown. Jenna loved clowns! “That was really loud!” he complained, turning to look at her. “Is that better now?” He asked with a small smile. She didn’t really understand what he was talking about. “Who are you?” she asked back. His smile suddenly erupted into a full out grin. “My name is Alex Collins, but you can call me Alex!” He said, looking around her room. He made his way over to a shelf of hers that held the glass rocking horse that her grandma gave her. Alex picked it up and looked at it closely, but it slipped from his grip and fell first on his face, then on the ground. Jenna jumped up and ran forward to the mess of glass. That was the last thing her grandma gave to her before she died! She didn’t realize she was hitting Alex until he grabbed her tiny wrists. Though tears clouded her vision, she could still see the guilty look on his face. “I can fix it,” he said quietly in an attempt to calm her down. Before she could really process what just happened, He had scooped up all of the shards and was out the window at the same moment that her parents thrust open the door.
Jenna never could explain to her parents what happened with Alex. part of her mind just wouldn’t let her snitch on him. The day after Alex’s visit, the horse was sitting proudly on her shelf, perfect as the day her grandma bought it. Alex visited every time her parents were fighting and they played games to take her mind off of the screaming.
At 10, Jenna’s parents couldn’t stand the sight of each other any more. Her dad left, but the day that he left was also the day that he died in a car crash. She stood in the graveyard at the place where her dad would now rest forever. Even though she was surrounded by people who shared a common love for him, she felt like the most lonely person on Earth. Throughout the funeral, she received many hugs and pats and whispers in her ear telling her that everything will be okay. She knew that nothing would be okay. Jenna stood and watched the grass sway around where her father lay. She stood there for eternity before another pair of arms wrapped around her and a weight fell on her shoulder. “It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to want him back, it’s okay to be mad, it’s okay to cry,” The voice whispered in her ear, “Most of all, it’s okay to feel.” Where the hands earlier had been pushy, The hands that are wrapped around her let her have the freedom to stand in the same spot until her legs got tired. The only time the hands pushed or pulled was to help her sit on someone’s lap. Looking down confirmed who she thought the voice belonged to. “Alex,” she started with a quiver in her voice, “Is he going to heaven?” Alex only nodded.
He stayed with her in silence until eternity came and passed with only a nod in their direction. Several times, Jenna turned to Alex and cried into his ever present black shirt. After a long time, Jenna decided to go find her mom to leave. Alex waved at her with a smile as she turned her back on him. He visited her every day that she was feeling lonely without her dad. She still hasn’t told her mom about Alex’s frequent visits.
At 13, Jenna was bullied. It started with a note in her locker telling her that she was stupid and insane. The notes turned into face-to-face confrontations. Jenna had no clue why it was happening. Jenna’s tormentors made sure she knew what they thought of her. She started to believe what they said about her. She came home from school one day, lied to her mom about her day, and went to her room. She wanted to cry. She doesn’t want to feel so alone. The familiar feeling of Alex’s arms wrapped themselves around her and pulled her close to him. She let everything out. She told him about the way the other girls look and talk to her. She told him about how she wanted it all to end. Alex gave her a smile and said, “If you leave, we can’t play anymore!” Jenna’s thoughts stopped. She didn’t want to leave Alex alone. She didn’t feel so alone anymore, now that Alex was here for her. She smiled at him and pulled out their favorite board game.
He visited every day that she was brimming with self-loathing. He would always do something silly to make her smile. One time, after Jenna told him that he looked like a clown, Alex painted his face like one to cheer her up. She couldn’t even try to stop her laughter after one look at that paint. She told her mom that she would have a friend over occasionally, but never said anything other than that about Alex.
At 16, Jenna was starting high school. She had a boyfriend, and everything was going well. Every time she tried to introduce her boyfriend to him, Alex wouldn’t show up. She was always saddened and sat near the window until Adam, her boyfriend, would coax her out of her corner. Her happiness came to a crashing stop the day that Adam broke up with her. He claimed that she was having an affair, when in reality, he was the one who had two more girls saved in his back pocket. That was the only night that she told Alex to go away. He looked like a kicked puppy with only one leg inside her window. He wouldn’t budge from shock, and she had to yell at him. With a sad frown on his face, he took his leg out of her room and left.
He visited, but only looked inside her closed window sadly. He would knock and try to get her attention, but she ignored his efforts. Her guilt and self-loathing reached a new high by the time she flung open the window and pulled him inside. She felt terrible for lashing out at him, and apologized multiple times before he quieted her with a laugh. He told her that he could understand why she did it and that she was forgiven. Jenna almost told her mom to
At 19, Alex shared a secret with Jenna that changed everything. He visited her as usual, but told her that he had something to show her. The nervousness in his voice put her on edge. Through all of the years that she has had Alex with her, she had never heard him sound nervous. She nodded, and he led her out of the window. To assure her, Alex told Jenna that she would finally be able to see where he lived. She followed after his smile.
They made their way through the very graveyard that her father was buried in 9 years ago. She made him stop as she laid a flower that she picked on top of his grave. Alex was silent during this. Jenna stood back up and offered her hand with a smile, saying, “Lead the way!”
The farther back into the graveyard they went, the more worn out the headstones looked. She looked around and saw one from the 1900s, then one from 1893. “It must be spooky living near all of these old graves,” she said as they kept moving further into the graveyard. “Yeah,” he started after giving her hand a squeeze, “Sometimes, I think ghosts take my stuff!” They started slowing down at a stone from 1869. After they reached last stones, they stopped. Alex was stared straight ahead for a while before taking a piece of paper out of his pocket along with a crayon. He gave them to her and told her to use them on the stone ahead of them. He never once looked straight at the stone. As she knelt down, she realized just how worn out the stone was. She pressed the paper to it and rubbed the crayon over it starting from the bottom. It read:
In loving memory of
January 3, 1843
August 8, 1850
This isn’t what she expected. In fact, it was the last thing she expected. She slowly looked up to Alex in disbelief. He smiled down at her and said, “Your dad wants you to know that he’s proud of you.”