new york (short story)

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  • Published: 25 Feb 2018
  • Updated: 25 Feb 2018
  • Status: Complete
Rain lives in Manhattan, New York where she used to share a house with her boyfriend Everett until he died unexpectedly. Since then Rain had to learn how to fend for herself. Through her grieving she decides to pick up on a habit that may bring her back to her loved one, until she meets Jagger- an ocean green eyed boy with dark blonde hair and a heart of gold. Rain is now torn between letting her dead ex-boyfriend go and being with a boy who is promising to love her forever. (This story was written for the Valentines day competition)


1. one

Burning is what I feel. A comforting feeling that sits in my lungs as I breathe in the rolled piece of paper filled with tobacco. My head begins to spin – a familiar side effect I have come to love.


It's a warm sunny day in New York; the wind is blowing lightly creating the perfect breeze. I sit on the steps to my home and watch the people stroll down the area. This is my favourite part of the day. I take a drag from my cigarette embracing the warm feeling it is providing me. I live alone in New York only recently though since my ex-boyfriend Everett died a couple years ago. Since then my days had become duller and sitting on the steps of my home watching people had become the only part of my day that I looked forward to. I watched the happy couples walk hand in hand sharing laughs together. I watched them and pictured myself holding hands with Everett as we laughed about our own private jokes.


We used to do that type of stuff. We used to walk around the city together holding hands. We used to talk endlessly all day long about god knows what. We used to do that type of stuff until he died. Until one day where he decided to run out and grab me my favourite sandwich from my favourite café when a car swerved and drove onto the sidewalk running right into him. I was not there to see, but I was told he was pressed against the shattered windshield barely breathing with my sandwich still in his hand. Damn him. Damn him for leaving me that afternoon after I passed out on our couch. He left me and didn't even say goodbye to me.


I remember running to the hospital- literally running on my own two feet because I had no cash on me for a cab all I had on were his sweatpants, his shirt, and my keys. I sat by his bed for the duration of the day clutching his hand in mine listening to the steady pace of the ventilator breathing for him.


But he's still breathing so it's gotta count for something, I thought to myself. But I have seen enough episodes of Grey's Anatomy to know that- no he is not coming back. I remember them unplugging him and turning off the beeping sound so I wouldn't be able to hear when he crossed over. They do not know though that I felt it. I felt him leave me alone in that damn chair next to his bed. I felt the warmth slowly diminish from his hand as I held onto it begging for him to return to me. I felt his soul gracefully leave his body and me. Since then I had spent my days in a large grey bubble. I have felt sadness like never before and I have picked up on habits that I never thought I would have picked up on. I began smoking about a year after he died. I spent the first 10 months in my house; I never left. A couple months later and I stopped caring. I decided that I would do whatever I felt like and nobody would stop me. I remember then walking into the convenience store and asking the man behind the counter for cigarettes.


"Which one?" He asked running his hand over his stubble. His fingers appeared to be grey and he looked and smelled as if he hadn't showered in months.


I looked at him confused. "Um, I'm not sure. Which is the best seller?" I asked and mentally slapped myself. What kind of question is that?


The man looked at me his patience was wearing thin. "I don't know they're all fine." My heart began to quicken, as I suddenly felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge on cigarettes. Thankfully before I ran out of the store a dark blonde man about my age came up from behind me.


"She'll take Lucky Strike." He said and the man behind the counter reached into the racks on the wall and pulled out a white box with a red label. I turned around and thanked the man for saving me from further embarrassment and he flashed me a smile before saying, "Don't worry about it."


He then placed two $20 bills on the table and said, "Add in another one for me plus a lighter."


"Oh um that's okay you don't have to," I spoke nervously. I didn't need random strangers paying for my stuff even though it was very generous.


"Don't worry, I don't mind." He said and smiled. Before I had a chance to protest against it the cashier handed him back his change and slid the two cigarette packets and the deep blue lighter over. I exited the store with the man and he handed me the pack.


"You're going to need this." He said and put the lighter on top of it.


"How did you know I don't have one?" I asked confused.


"I can tell you don't smoke. Smokers have their own preferred brand, and you don't seem to know any." He laughed loudly and I joined him. It felt nice to actually laugh for the first time in months.


"Well thank you so much. I really appreciate it that was very kind." I said laughing at the circumstances. I began to walk away when he asked me if I would like to sit down and try my first with him. I almost said no but then I thought why the hell not? I got in his black Range Rover and rolled down the window. I cautiously eyed the man as he pulled out a stick and placed it between his lips. He stroked the wheel on his lighter and ignited the flame before he placed it at the tip of his cigarette. I did the same following what I just watched to avoid looking even more stupid. I took a drag and before I realized what I was doing my lungs tightened and began to reject the smoke as I coughed loudly. Fuck that hurt. The blonde man laughed at me and I joined him after I caught my breath.


"That hurt," I stated and then began to laugh again. As I took more drags of the cigarette the burn slowly faded and my body relaxed. I started to think about what Everett would say if he knew I was smoking a cigarette in some random guys car and then I pushed it away. I couldn't think about him or I'd start to cry.


"So, I still haven't gotten your name." He said whilst blowing out the dense smoke.


"Rain," I said, shifting my gaze to meet his eyes. They were a mixture of green and blue and I swore for a second I forgot what I was doing. He had the type of ocean eyes that I could get lost in every damn time I looked into them. My heart began to sink further into my chest and I started to feel guilty for being alone with this guy who was incredibly beautiful. That doesn't help with the guilt either, I thought to myself. I moved my focus to his hair; it was a soft dark blonde shade with a lustrous natural flow pushed above his head. A loose strand fell onto his forehead when he slowly nodded.


"Like precipitation?" He asked and I nodded. "Cute I like it, it's unique. I'm Jagger."


"Like Mick Jagger?" I asked and he chuckled softly. The sound filled the car and soothed my ears and suddenly I found myself thinking of ways to make him laugh again.


"Pretty much, my folks loved the Rolling Stones. My lullaby used to be Wild Horses." He smirked and it was my turn to laugh. The corners of his rose coloured lips turned up and the urge to lean over and kiss him was growing. What the hell is wrong with me? I just met this guy and I already want to kiss him.


"So, tell me about yourself Rain."


"What do you want to know?" I asked not knowing where to start. Do I tell him about Everett? Did he even want to know? Should I confide in a random stranger who I knew nothing about except for the fact that his parents liked the Stones?


"Tell me the important stuff. The things that you wouldn't tell most people you just met. Go deep." He smirked and I blurted out the words I didn't expect to say.


"My boyfriend died a year ago." I rushed and the air in the car slowly started to vanish even though the windows were wide open.


"Sorry," I added before I turned my head away from his. "That was a little too much."


"No, I asked- I'm sorry to hear that though. Do you want to talk about it?" The sincerity in his voice brought all of the air back into the car and warmed my heart.


"I do actually." Nobody ever asked me to talk about what happened. They all just said ‘don't worry you don't have to talk about it I know its hard' but really I wanted- no needed to talk about it to somebody before I went crazy and who better than a stranger right?


"He um- he was walking home from a café and a car drove into him on the sidewalk. It was my fault though I wanted the sandwich. I had no clue he was going and he left and never came back." I said and the memories almost brought tears to my eyes for the thousandth time. Jagger looked at me with sympathy in his eyes. I took a drag from my cigarette and flicked the ashes out of the window.


"He died on the scene?" Jagger asked quietly, his voice was almost a whisper. I shook my head and tossed the finished cigarette out the window. It landed on the sidewalk and I watched as the orange ball of fire slowly turned to grey.


"He was in the hospital, I had to be the one to decide if they should unplug him."


"Wow," he sighed. "Where was his family?"


"Dead," I stated flatly. The mood had completely shifted and I could feel the tension growing. Suddenly my need to talk about what happened was gone and I found myself wanting to hear him laugh again. I felt guilty for feeling this way, but I was tired of missing him every day. It had been a year when would my life finally be normal again? When would I stop feeling guilty for looking at somebody else? When was it my turn to be happy again? I was sick of feeling like this- I was sick of being alone all the time.


The more I talked to Jagger about Everett the guiltier I felt. I'm not sure what drove me to bring up the subject in the first place; maybe it was attention and sympathy I would get from Jagger. Maybe it was the need to mention that I was not always alone. Maybe it was so he knew I was smoking because of the pain I was feeling from my loss. Though Jagger gave me the response I was looking for I was still not satisfied. I felt like it wasn't fair to be talking about Everett to somebody random. Jagger doesn't know Everett he just knew how he died. He didn't know Everett the way I did. He didn't know how Everett only liked his coffee black with one sugar or how he liked to have the shower burning hot so that the bathroom steamed like a sauna or how he liked to have everything sorted in a certain way. He didn't know how to make Everett laugh the way I did, or how to calm him down when he was angry and the worst part is that he will never understand him the way I did; nobody will.


I think Jagger could see that I was uncomfortable so he offered to drive me home. I almost offered him inside but I didn't want him to see the closet full of clothes I still had or the shoes at the door that I hadn't moved since that day. I stepped out of the car and thanked Jagger for the cigarettes and for listening to me when nobody else would. When I got inside my house I sat down against the door and cried for two hours straight.


The next morning I woke up to the sound of my phone vibrating. When I checked the caller ID it read Jagger. I had forgotten that I gave him my number after he was persistent in making sure I was okay later. I touched the green circle in the corner and pressed the phone to my ear.


"Rain?" He asked his voice groggy like he had just woken up also.


"Yeah?" I rolled over in my bed onto Everett's side.


"Let me take you somewhere." He stated, but it came out more as a question than a demand. I began to laugh.


"Seriously Rain let me. I want to see you again." His words tugged at my heart until I looked over and saw Everett's jacket hanging in my closet. The guilt began to creep in and suddenly I was thinking of ways to get out of this.


"I'll be at your house in an hour." He said taking my silence as a yes and hung up. I began to panic. What the hell do I do now? My heartbeat began to quicken and I found myself wishing I hadn't answered his call. I knew what was coming next so I tried my best to subdue the anxiety until it was about ten minutes before Jagger was coming. I could feel myself getting closer to a panic attack with every minute that passed by and I didn't want to face it. I could feel my hands shaking as I ran them through my hair. I could feel my breath being pulled out of my chest until I was dry heaving for air. My anxiety crashed into me like a tidal wave and within seconds I felt the hot tears running down my face. I can't do this. I cant do this to Everett it's not fair to him. I repeated over and over in my head. He died trying to please me and I repay him by going out with some guy I just met? Who the hell does that?


I got a text from Jagger saying he was here and when I walked out the door he was standing there in a simple long trench coat with his hands shoved in his pockets. When his eyes met mine he rushed towards me and placed his warm hands on the sides of my face.


"What happened?" He asked, and I mentally cursed my concealer for not doing what it claimed to do. I shook my head slightly as he ran his thumb over my cheek.


"If you don't want to do this I totally understand I just felt like yesterday I had such a good time with you and that I just wanted to see you again. I understand if you want me to leave don't feel bad for telling me if you do." He said, but then I realized that I did want to be around him I was just scared of how this will make Everett feel.


"It's not that," I said. "I am just scared and I don't want to replace Everett he was really important to me. It's just hard to try and move on."


"Rain," he began. "I promise you I'm not trying to replace him; I never would. I want to be there for you. I want to know about him and I want you to tell me how special he was to you. I want you to tell me everything he did for you. I want to welcome his memory not replace him. I could never think of trying to do something like that because I know that I will never be able to. Please give me a chance Rain, you won't be sorry I just want to show you that I am here for you in whatever way you need or want." His hair dropped down onto his forehead and I desperately wanted to reach over and push it back up, but I decided against it. My heart was aching from the words he had just spoken to me and I didn't know what to do or say next. Instead, I nodded my head and said ‘okay'.


Since that day I have been seeing Jagger. I gave him the chance he wanted and he helped me with Everett. He didn't help me move on since I never would be able to; instead, he helped me accept that this happened to me. Like he told me that day he didn't replace Everett but welcomed his memory.


I take one last drag from my cigarette and then toss it into a wet puddle below just as Jagger pulls up at my house. I get inside his car and greet him with a kiss.


"How was your day?" He asks as we begin to drive past the infamous café.


"Good I didn't do much just the usual. Where are we going?" I ask. Earlier he told me he is taking me somewhere special and I am way too eager to wait and see.


"Not telling you. Just relax we'll be there soon." But I couldn't relax I was way too excited.


After what felt like hours of waiting in light traffic Jagger pulls into the parking lot of some empty warehouse. This is definitely not what I was expecting. It is completely empty of cars and people. There are no buildings around just warehouses completely closed.


"Um, where are we?" I ask Jagger as he shifts the gear into park and shuts off the car.


"You'll see babe don't worry." He says before taking my hand in his and lightly brushing his soft lips against it. We climb out of the car and Jagger reaches for a duffle bag in the back seat. I don't bother to ask him what is in it because I know he will only tell me what he said a couple minutes ago. He grabs my hand and leads me towards a hill telling me to follow him up. Once we reach the top of the hill- completely out of breath, he unzips the bag and pulls out a blanket for us to sit on. So we're having a picnic I think to myself. He pulls out a bottle of rosé wine- my favourite- and pours us both a glass in a small plastic cup. Just as I am about to say something he cuts me off.


"I know this is weird and may just look like some random hill but I wanted to bring you here because this is where I used to come every day after my mum died." He had mentioned to me once about his mom and how she died but he never wanted to go further into detail so I am pretty shocked that he is mentioning her to me now.


"Really?" I ask.


"Yeah. She used to bring me here as a child and she would read to me all of her favourite works of literature. I remember her reading me Bronte and Hemmingway. I remember her crying as she read aloud A Farewell to Arms. Those were the best weekends." He says, smiling at the sweet memory. "Anyways, I've been going over this in my head for weeks and I still don't know how to phrase it but I'm just going to go for it."


He takes a large gulp of his wine and I giggle. "I know it has only been a little over a year since we started seeing each other, but Rain it has honestly been the best year of my life. I was struggling with myself for so long until I found you and then suddenly everything cleared up. I am not very good at putting my thoughts into words, but I am trying my best so bear with me. I just want to tell you that you mean the world to me and I know you are scared of commitment after what happened with Everett and I totally understand and respect that so I am not asking for commitment right now. Only when you are ready we can discuss that but I just want to tell you that I am not leaving anytime soon."


He pulls out a small box from the duffle bag and my heart tightens in my chest. When he opens the lid a beautiful sapphire gem stares me in the eyes. I feel tears pool in my eyes but when I try to blink them away they escape running down my cheeks. Jagger puts the box down and swipes his thumbs across my face to wipe away my tears. He rests his hands on the sides of my face and my heart warms at his gesture.


"Baby, I just want to say that I am not leaving and this isn't some type of marriage proposal but this is me showing you- no promising you that I will never leave your side no matter what. This is me promising my love to you for as long as you will accept it. This is me showing you that you are my world and that I would love to spend every second of every day with you. I don't want you to get overwhelmed but I want you to know how much I love you and how fucking unbelievably special you are to me."  He says, removing his hand from my face to wipe away his own tears. He pulls the ring out of the box.


"Rain my love, do you accept my promise?" He asks and I nod smiling down at the beautiful piece of jewelry that he is sliding onto my middle finger. I sit there speechless for a moment until he says my name breaking the silence.


"I don't know what to say. I love you so much, Jagger." I respond through my sobs.


He doesn't say anything back, he just smiles and leans in pressing his soft full lips to mine. Even after our hundredth kiss it still feels like the first every single time.


Jagger has changed my life for the better. Before him, I was a lost soul grieving her dead ex-boyfriend looking for him in everything. I was completely broken until he came around and lifted me off of my toes. He reminded me how to breathe again and since then I have learned how to love somebody again. He helped me grieve and he was there when I cried over the loss of Everett. He didn't say anything about it he just sat there and held me. He doesn't compare himself to Everett instead he fulfills the memory of him. He is a gift from God that I will gladly keep for as long as I may have him.


I love him to the ends of the earth and I know that he loves me the same. And that right there is all I could ever ask for.


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