He was wearing her pajamas. And sleeping on her floor. Unaware of his own state of being. Drool covering his cheek. Conked out with his face pressed in to the edge of a notebook. An acoustic guitar balanced against his hip threatened to topple over at any second. He was exhausted so it’s no surprise he fell asleep here, like this. That he was wearing pink pull-string pajama bottoms shouldn’t be surprising either. That’s Jared. Secure in who he is, and simply uncomfortable earlier in his black jeans. They’re called boyfriend style pjs anyway. And he’s officially the boyfriend now.
She was wearing a black YSL pantsuit. Her hair pulled back in a high and tight pony tail. A gesture of respect shown by wearing the color of mourning. Even her high heels were black. The only color, her nails. Hot pink. She didn’t have time to change it out before the service and didn’t notice how offensive the color was until she was sitting in a velvet chair holding Matty’s hand inside hers. She gnawed on the paint all night after that. Trying to peel away the happy color and replace it with the suitable color of a nude nail. To no avail. For once the paint wouldn’t chip. Gel polish. Fancy. Inappropriate. Fun. Left over from the long weekend. Their vacation. The one that just ended this morning when she finally checked her voice mail and heard what happened the Thursday they left town.
Death. What a way to end the perfect weekend. Tragedy. So young. All their memories erased and replaced with death. The finality of it all. The surprise. She couldn’t catch her breath still. She’d only just heard. Thank god she did. It would have been worse if she missed the wake. Unforgivable perhaps. She was thankful for that small miracle. Thankful she could say goodbye.
“Baby?” JoLynn said as she bent over Jared. She tossed her purse on the bed with a thud. “I’m home.” she whispered.
Jared didn’t stir. No signs of life at all. JoLynn put her hand on his cheek. Felt the warmth of a man in a deep slumber and she left him there. Sleep like that is a rarity so she let him be and retreated to her closet where she kicked off her heels and peeled off her suit before sitting down on the ottoman in her stockings, bra and panties.
It was then, as she undid the clasp on her watch and right there on a cushioned seat in the closet, that the gravity of tonight and the reality of everafter hit her. And she sobbed in to her hands. Hard like a child. The watch fell to the floor and she paid it no attention. Waves of pure grief poured out of her. Private grief. She kicked the closet door closed with her stockinged foot. And curled up in a ball on the bench. Where she cried until she couldn’t see straight. Cried until her head ached. Cried until she was able to breathe again.
JoLynn washed her face in the sink. Pulled her hair out of the pony tail and shook it out. She brushed her hair for twenty minutes. Thought about every day she had with Grady. Every laugh. Every tear. Graduation. Prom. Third grade. She smiled more than teared as she tore the knots inside her curls loose. Grady. 34 years of Grady. How could she possibly do the 35th without him?
JoLynn placed the brush back in it’s spot in her vanity drawer and shut off the bathroom light. Grady. She grabbed the top to the PJ set Jared was wearing from her dresser drawer, slipped it on and kneeled by him at the foot of her own bed. She whispered in his ear again.
“Baby?” her hand softly shook his shoulder. “I’m home.” she whispered. And this time he heard her and rolled over towards her voice. His arms reached out to her before his eyes opened. She crawled inside his embrace. Draped her leg over his thigh and fell asleep right there next to him. On her bedroom floor.
And they slept like two babies. Two peas in the same pod. And he dreamt of colorful music notes. Arranged in rainbow colored clouds. And she dreamt of train tracks and high rises and bottles of pills and shotguns and nooses and tragedy. And Grady.