Previously: Sarah Jane arrives in LA, eager for a new start. She finds a paper in her bag with Jesse’s phone number and wonders if her future is to be found in her past.
THE BANDBOX HAT
An hour later I sat on the queen-size bed in my room-for-one-for-one-night-please and stared at my phone. I had three missed calls from Anna, two from Nathan, one from Jake and four from blocked numbers. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who those might be.
I’d left a letter, I thought, resentment at their intrusion into my new life after only a few hours pecking at the base of my neck. The more rational part of my brain scolded that a scribbled Bye on Anna’s message chalk board by the phone could hardly be called a note much less a letter.
I keyed in a text to Nathan. I’m fine. Just needed to get away for a bit. Will keep in touch. I pressed Send, then resumed my staring. I mean my thinking.
To call Jesse or not to call. To try and find Rachael or not. To look for a job … That was the thought that gave me pause. Was this trip simply a one-time instance of Sarah Jane standing up for herself and would I go running back to Rosedale and my safe life? If I did, I’d never be able to resist Anna’s inexorable will again. That alone resolved my inner steel.
I may end up back at the farm, in my garage apartment, but it would be because I wanted to and I freely chose that life. I couldn’t let anyone else dictate to me anymore what I should do.
So I was staying. Then back to questions one and two. Call Jesse? Find Rachael?
My phone buzzed, making me jump. A return text from Nathan. No worries. Love you.
I smiled. Nathan was my favorite brother for a reason.
Okay, time to do something, even if it was wrong.
I threw on my workout clothes and headed for the gym.
Thirty minutes later I returned to my room and this time I only had two missed calls on my phone.
One from Anna and one from an unfamiliar number. I also had a voice mail.
May as well get it over with. I pressed the buttons and listened as a familiar voice ignited a storm of emotions.
“Sarah Jane, it’s Jesse. I was sorry to hear about your dad. Rachael is really upset, too. She said she was going up for the funeral. I probably should have called to tell you, but … well, it’s not like we’re friends anymore. You made that clear. So … anyway, I’m sorry about your dad. Bye.”
I deleted the message but I couldn’t delete his voice or the feelings surging through me.
It had been Rachael at the church this afternoon. I could have seen my sister, hugged her, but I’d raced away, too upset and too selfish to think clearly.
No, that wasn’t true. Everyone grieves differently and if Rachael’s grief drove her back to her family and Anna’s drove her to unmerciful bossing, was it so wrong that mine drove me to solitude at any cost? It didn’t mean that I loved Dad or the rest of the family any less. Did it?
I plucked at a loose thread on the bedspread. I’d heard horror stories about how filthy hotel linens, especially bed coverings are. And the carpets.
I pulled off my shoes and socks and walked to the bathroom for a shower. I rubbed my bare feet on the carpet. Defiance was a new emotion for me.
I liked it.