Took my chances on a big jet plane,We're standing on the beach in the dark. I'm going for composure but the best I can come up with is emotional turbulence. He's uncomfortable, clearly and I'm not sure of the reason until he tells me he doesn't like goodbyes. He was happy here. Well, up until late last night when Lochlan ran low on mettle and shoved him into the fridge door. Now there is a Jake-memory-dent in the metal but I'm telling you this boy can hold his own, shoving right back and refusing to take it any further. Mercifully it didn't ruin his perception of his time here. He's not a leader though, he is a follower and he and Keith are heading south to warmer shores for the spring, to reconnect with Stephan (Steven? I never did find out for sure) and some others that Sam knows because that is what they do. I knew for a couple weeks but I hate change. You know me.
never let them tell you that they're all the same.
The sea was red and the sky was grey,
wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today
I really like Jake because he talks nonstop and now I sort of know how everyone feels about me when I talk a lot but there are days that I won't talk at all anymore and I can't help that but Jake listened to the story of who we are and decided he liked it here and he never wanted to be any trouble but there were days when he was nothing but, and he scared me to pieces when he turned grey that one time and then we found out he was a diabetic and that's okay, I can do this, I learned how to give needles to my best friend when I was seven and I still carry fruit in my bag for her even though she died when I was twenty-eight and really Jake just needs to take the time for himself first and not ignore his health and then he can help others.
He helped to build four houses in the time he was here. That is something he can be proud of and he goes where he is needed to pitch in and they are noble men, less prone to the bullshit of excess and history and jealousy that my boys are cemented in. I can only hope that they leave some of that behind. Keith and Lochlan are friends for life I believe. Same with me and Jake. I reminded him to come back and see me and he said he'd be crazy if he didn't. He threw stones into the water and said he would miss everything about this place and us and that I was lucky and he hoped things would be better soon. Half of me wants to ask him if this is Caleb's fault because Caleb didn't like Jake at all and Caleb tends to make people go away but I refuse to let my paranoia win, for the moment.
Lochlan at least had the guts to face Jake this morning and they shook hands and thumped backs and wished each other well. There are no grudges and no resentment, only bravery and adventure and humble hopes that he finds whatever he is looking for and a reflected wish back for Lochlan because all he demonstrated in their time here is that he is one conflicted, miserable individual. It isn't fair, and they know that, but it's simply what they saw. Perhaps if they had made it to the end of a year they would have seen the glorious summer-boy who blooms in the heat and seems to shed his weight like a heavy coat when the nights are warm. Perhaps another time, indeed. And Lochlan turned down Jake's attempts to repay him for the steel-toed boots Lochlan bought for him after discovering he was on building sites without them. Jake doesn't have a dime and didn't want one either but safety is paramount. So I don't think there's anything but concern between them. Really I don't.
Now it is down to this, we've wrapped up the post-mortem on the boys and really though Jake and Ben got along very well (JESUS do you know how hard it is to write in past-tense? I don't do this well, I'm sorry), Ben was pretty much absent because he's in demand and busy working, working all the time and so it was almost a treat when they could spend time together and so I was left in charge of Jake because when he wasn't on site he was here hanging out with me, talking my ears off and I didn't mind so much because I think I only heard about a quarter of what he said.
Jake knows I'm not good at goodbyes either. He knows I'll probably spend the rest of the day locked in the library and he knows Lochlan is conflicted but harmless and he knows we'll work with the collective and shift it and change it and that he is welcome if he ever comes back. I throw myself into his arms for a long hug and he says he will come back, it's a promise.
I'm not so good with promises. I am suspicious but hopeful nonetheless. It is hard to let go. He doesn't for a few more minutes and I am grateful.
Dalton and Duncan are waiting for us on the path with the big flashlight. We head back up to the house in single file and I wrap my sweater around my ribs tightly against the wind. The roar of the waves precludes conversation up here. I am still coughing, still miserable and Duncan takes my hand, pulling me safely over the slippery places where the spray has frozen on the rocks and it's easy enough to emerge at the top of the hill in relative safety and be able to excuse the tears as rain. Oh yes it is.