Run Away With Me
I hear a voice behind me.
‘Need some help with that?’
I spin around.
It takes a couple of seconds for my brain to confirm that it’s actually him. That it’s actually Jake McCallister standing in front of me and not a hallucination. My heart does this fierce smash and rebound against my ribs as though it’s been violently woken from hibernation. I draw in a breath so big it feels like my lungs might explode, as if all that air is filling a vacuum and I’ll never be able to let it out again.
I hate this feeling. Hate the way the adrenaline floods my blood stream and tears sting my eyes. Hate the way my body reacts in a thousand contradictory ways at the sight of him, as though someone has plugged me into a wrong socket and fried all my synapses.
I have an impulse to throw myself at him but I’m not sure if it’s because I want to hug him or beat the living crap out of him. I drop the kayak, my hands fisting automatically at my sides.
I watch the smile on his lips fade when he notices the set of my jaw. His expression had started off wary but now I see him swallow and press his lips together, something he always does when he’s nervous.
I take note of that and at the same time notice a dozen other tiny, insignificant, monumental details about this new old Jake. I see the faded white scar on his chin—the one I gave him and the new scar cutting across his eyebrow. Then there’s his height – we were always the same height but now he’s tall. . . much taller than me. His dark brown hair is the same, though – unruly, untamed, falling in his eyes. He’s looking at me with the same mix of uncertainty that he looked at me the very last time I saw him.
I glance away, down at the sand. My whole body is shaking and I can’t seem to get it under control.
‘Em?’ I hear him say.
My head flies up before I can stop it. No one calls me that any more. His voice is deeper, mellower. The inflection though when he says my name is still just the same… and instantly something inside me starts coming undone. Jake always used to say my name like it belonged to him, and only him.