Lost in the Swaying Corn: Part 5
Emily looked over her shoulder towards the house and then back around to the fence. She couldn’t understand why she felt like she did, as though scared of seeing Jack.
The fence was quite high and there were trees in the way but perhaps she could vault over it before he got here.
She could make her escape along Church Way and then onto Hill Street and home. She didn’t think she could run long in the heat but she could get far enough away not to be caught and then afterwards…
What would she say to Lizzie and Mark? What would she say to Jack? She’d have to talk to him eventually. Not seeing him for three days had tangled her mind. It was just Jack. The same Jack she spoke to every day at school, the one she sat with for hours in trees, the one who changed her life that day by the edge of the woods.
Absence had built him up in her mind. She had changed him and the only way to see the real Jack, her Jack, was to wait here now for him to arrive. Then she would see he was just as he always was.
Could things really change so much in three days?
It felt like they had, and not for the good.
Emily took a long drag of her cigarette, closed her eyes and released into the still air. Her eyes tingled as the sun shone down upon her, her hair was getting warmer and yet she felt a little cold. A shiver snapped and her blood turned to ice for just a second.
She took another deep drag.
‘I’m getting a drink, you want one?’
Emily looked up a Liz, ‘Yeah. Just water please.’
‘You ok? You look like you saw a ghost,’
‘I’m fine, it’s just this heat.’
‘We need to get you a hat, your lil head’s gonna fry girl,’ Lizzie ran a hand over Emily’s head as she passed.
Emily didn’t dare turn around to watch her go just in case Jack was already in the kitchen or standing at the French window. What if he were watching her right now? He was, she was sure of it. She held her breath, not daring to move for what it could convey to him. He might see her worries, her mistrust of his feelings.
‘Hey Em! Come take a look at this!’
Her stomach lurched. This was it. Of course he was here and she would see him, it was unavoidable.
Why did she want to avoid it?
Was it because she really thought he might have found somebody else? Maybe she wouldn’t be able to see any love in his eyes when he looked at her. Something terrified her. It was the fear of loss which began to plague her over the weekend. It still hung over her and now she had to face it.
‘EM! COME ON!’
Having no choice she replied to the call and went to the kitchen.
Jack stood with a triumphant grin on his face and a red cooler box at his feet. Mark sat on the table behind him whilst Lizzie was on her knees rummaging through the box. It was filled with ice and cans of beer.
‘Is this guy a mind reader or what?’ she asked, tossing a cold can of beer to Emily. Her eyes, fixated on Jack, barely had time to register before her hands instinctively caught it.
It was so cold.
‘Let me take the bag out, it won’t last too long in there, we need to get it to the freezer.’ Jack pulled a clear bag full of ice from the cool box. He looked at Emily as he rose.
She smiled back.
She couldn’t help it. It was him, the same Jack she’d seen on Friday afternoon. Her stomach continued to lurch but she didn’t care, it was a good lurch and it made her want to laugh herself silly.
The cold can made her hands ache and she had to put it down.
‘Where’d you get this?’ Lizzie asked.
Jack didn’t say anything. He watched Emily as she poured herself a glass of water,
‘Ice?’ He held up the bag.
His hand delved into the bag and brought out three cubes. He threw the first under arm. It was too high and as Emily reached to catch it in the glass, water spilled out onto the floor.
‘Ok, again,’ he said as Emily squealed, attempting to dodge the tepid liquid.
‘Hang on. Ok, go.’
The second was softer and Emily met its arc with the glass. The ice made a tinkle as it hit the edge and then sent water splashing out. Emily couldn’t avoid that one. She gave Jack a look,
‘Don’t blame me, you said you wanted ice, ready?’
He threw it high and Emily caught it with her free hand.
‘That’s cheating!’ He accused,
‘Tough,’ she said, dropping the ice into the glass and taking a sip. She stared at him over the rim. She couldn’t take her eyes away. He stared straight back, still smiling.
‘Excuse me!’ Lizzie tossed an ice cube from the box up at Jack’s chest, ‘where’d you get all this?’
‘Pass me a beer,’ Mark said from the table. Lizzie passed one to Jack who passed it to Mark.
‘I got the ice from home, my cousin the beer for me. There’s not much, we’ll have to go again soon but they’ll do for a while.’
‘They certainly will,’ she said opening one, taking in the freeing hiss as though music to her ears.
Mark opened his and took a long swig. He pulled a face instantly.
He still wasn’t used to the taste of beer and it contorted his features as soon as it passed over his tongue. Lizzie pulled no such face. She’d been able to handle the taste of beer from her first swig. Spirits still caused her mouth to twitch and her eyes to squint, not that it stopped her, but with beer, as with cigarettes, Liz was a natural.
She taunted Mark and his juvenile attempts to drink and when he pulled a particularly sickly face she would enquire with a smile, ‘Enjoying that?’
Sometimes he would capitulate and with contempt say, ‘I hate the taste of beer.’
‘Don’t drink it then,’
‘What else is there to drink?’
‘Why don’t we get you a nice cup of tea? Maybe we could get biscuits too.’
Sarcasm, being the lowest form of wit, was also Lizzie’s favourite.
‘Not drinking?’ she asked Emily.
‘Not yet, I need more water first. Put this in the fridge with the rest, I’ll have one in a bit.’ She tossed the beer to Jack who was already stacking cans in the fridge.
‘Well I’m going outside to enjoy a cigarette with my beer. Thanks Jack.’ She stood and pecked him on the cheek before breezing past Emily and out into the garden.
Emily looked at Jack’s cheek and felt a pang of jealousy. He looked at her, embarrassed, and then continued to fill the fridge.
‘I’m going out too, might as well soak up the sun while we got it.’ Mark seemed better for his cold shower, more awake, ‘Coming Em?’
‘Yeah, coming.’ Her head dropped a little as she followed Mark outside and she could feel Jack watching her leave.
How could a small peck make her feel so rotten?
Lizzie had already resumed her position, feet up, fag in one hand and cold beer in the other. She blew smoke with glee as she absorbed the sun and all the energy it had to offer.
That kiss meant nothing to her. It meant the world to Emily who didn’t know whether to be sad or angry or to whom these feelings should be directed.
Was it Jack’s fault? Lizzie had been the one to kiss him and yet that was just Liz being Liz. She’d hugged and kissed all of them at one point or another, even Jack.
It never seemed to matter before, but today it did.
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