Her best childhood friend is lifetimes away buried under a pile of journey albums, Cherry Coke cans, and abandoned roller skates. Jenna is sure small droplets of deceit have hardened on that laminate flooring, sticky and due for a good scraping. Jenna dangles the BFF locket over the box of memories her mother brought over yesterday. She was down-sizing.
“How many things can we hold onto,” she’d said. “I thought you might want these.”
Along with the locket were stacks of notes, a Fruit Stripes gum wrapper chain, frayed friendship bracelets and high school photos signed on the back. Best Friends Forever. Jenna snorts. Heather’s photo, her highlighted hair feathered cascades below her shoulders to the graduation cap she held in her hands and beneath that, a photo of Jenna and Jeremy Privett at prom, his green eyes sparkling. His arm around Jenna’s waist, paper stars drop from the ceiling and after prom on the football field…
Jenna releases the photos and locket into the trash can and head to Home Depot. She is standing in the Clearance aisle talking with Janine from the office whom she just ran into when she locks eyes on Jeremy Privett and the world stops spinning causing her to lose contact with earth nearly falling into those green meadow eyes. Janine is talking about perennials as Jeremy Privett passes by taking with him- what, disappointment and regret most likely.
Janine is still talking perennials.
“Thanks, Janine. I do need perennials;” Jenna patted Janine’s hand and shot off for the gardening section. In the gardening center toe sky opened up. The ceiling evaporated and sun shone down. She’d need new gloves, sturdy ones and a trowel. She passed the fertilizer around the corner at the top of the aisle there was mulch and Jeremy Privett. Jenna dropped her eyes to avoid turning to stone. Jeremy seemed preoccupied with the vital decision of mulch-something he should know a lot about being such a load himself. Jenna crept along the rows of lobelia and selected a hefty shrub large enough to hid behind and headed toward the register. In the parking lot, she peered through the shrubbery, located her pick-up, dropped the tailgate and unloaded the lobelia and her purchases with a thud.
“Jenna, girl! I didn’t notice you behind that plant;” Jeremy is smack-dab in front of her, his damn green eyes pulling her in. Jenna shrinks but apparently doesn’t disappear because Jeremy keeps talking.
“How long’s it been?”
Images flash through Jenna’s mind of her best friend and Jeremy all tangled up in the cornfield when Jenna stumbled upon them at the field party senior year.
Jeremy is leaning against a beat up blue Ford Ranger, his arm on the tailgate, hops leaning against the tail lights and Heather is right in front of him, then her hand is on his cheek then both arms around his neck and their faces collide, limbs all tangled up and Jenna felt the world topple over as she watched them while the corn stalks are spinning around her and she can’t find her breath and that tightening nauseous feeling she had for weeks squeezes and tightens, flips and before she knows it she’s puking.
She’s trying to focus on this moment in time when Jeremy asked her a question about ‘how long’s it been.’ It’s been about as long as ten crucifixions, about as long as ten stints in purgatory, about as long as ten drowning. That’s how long.
“About ten years, Jeremy,” Jenna threw the tail gate up.
“Huh. Surprising we didn’t’ run across one another until now;” Jeremy rested his arm on her truck and leaned his hip against the tail lights.
Jenna felt surprisingly warm.
“Of course, I did move out east for a bit, the beach – ya know.”
“Yes, I’m aware of the direction of the beach;” Jenna inches toward the opposite side of the truck establishing a barrier, “I just didn’t know you’d moved out there.”
“Woman trouble, her name was Victoria, anyway I just needed a change. You never needed to get away from something?”
“No, not that I recall;” Jenna notices Jeremy’s eyes have flecks of amber that sparkle in the sunlight in a field of green. Jenna digs her toes into the concrete through her work boots to keep herself from being pulled into Jeremy’s soul.
“Yeah;” Jeremy must be talking about fishing. Jenna has no idea what she just agreed with as Jeremy turns and struts to his Ford Ranger, a Salt Life decal on the rear window is peeling off.
Jenna pushes the shovel into the earth in a perfect spot with the right amount of light next to the begonias. Her shovel pierces the earth again, the sole of her boot guiding the shovel deeper. She lifts the shovel and heaves the dirt into the wheelbarrow, repeats again and again. Her arms and legs get that jelly-feeling and she lifts the lobelia into the ground, makes the roots comfortable and pushes dirt in to fill the space, then pats the surface with the back side of the trowel. She wipes her brow with the edge of her T-shirt as a blue Ford Ranger pulls into her driveway and Jenna feels her face redden, her breath quicken as she looks for a place to run.
“Hey, Jenna, glad I caught you home;” Jeremy struts across the lawn.
“Jeremy?” Jenna digs the shovel into the earth with her boot. There goes his arm propped on her pick up again, his hip rests against the tail lights.
“I was just riding around, thought I’d stop by.”
Jenna props herself against the shovel, grips the handle.
“Hey, did you ever get your degree? What was it in? Gardening?” Jeremy crossed on ankle in front of the other.
“Horticulture. And no, I never finished. I got a job answering phones.”
“Oh, too bad. I know you always dug that shit.”
Jenna grips the shovel and smirks, “What do you want, Jeremy?”
“Oh, I have someone with me that I want you to say ‘Hi’ to. Come here, Heather.”
Jenna feels her knees want to buckle. Jeremy opens the door of his truck and out slides a blonde-haired girl about 8 years old. Jenna forces her lips into a smile, kneels down and waves. She is beautiful with green eyes like meadows.
“Mom?” Jenna’s son, Sean steps out the door barely looking up from his Game Boy.
Jeremy takes a step back.
“Jeremy, this is Sean.”
“Hey, Sean. How old are you?”
“I’m ten next Saturday.”
Sean blinks the sun out of his eyes, amber flecks dance on a field of green.