We’re here again. I have the overwhelming feeling of deja vu. It’s just like last Saturday. Jack and me sitting on Gram’s front porch waiting for Pacey and Joey. Just like last Saturday morning....except that it’s different.
It’s Jack, me and George waiting. It’s the middle of the afternoon too. And now it’s Joey heading up to Gram’s porch by herself...huddled in her new blue sweater and well, it looks like underneath she’s wearing one of Pacey’s long sleeved undershirts. The cream colored sleeves are pulled over her hands, held in her clenched fists. She’s biting her lip and appears to be searching for something in the sky. The way she’s looking, so intently, causes the three of us to turn our eyes skyward. What the hell? Are we taking up birdwatching? We look back at Joey, scuffing her way up to the porch slowly. I look sideways at Jack, who gives me a shrug. George appears to be willing Joey to move. ‘Cause she’s not really. She’s just sort of kicking dirt and turning in little circles.
I hear a little cough from behind me and turning I see Grams behind the screen door. She smiles gently, pulls an imaginary stray hair back into her bun, and calls out to Joey, “Josephine, how are you today?”
Joey looks up, startled. She opens her mouth to respond and comes up short. Grams opens the screen door and holds out a hand. And Jack, George, and I dart our eyes back and forth like spectators at a tennis match. Joey’s face crumples and she wipes her eyes against Pacey’s sleeve. She runs past us and into the waiting arms of Grams, who pats her hair softly, guiding her into the house. The screen door closes behind them with a tap. I get up and head inside to find out what’s going on. George and Jack seem to accept their position on the porch and sort of bang shoulders as I close the door once more.
“Your sweater is lovely, Josephine.” Grams is sitting with Joey on our couch, brushing hair out her face and speaking in calming tones. The way you speak to a child. Which Joey looks like; her face clear of makeup, lower lip trembling.
“Thank you Mrs. Ryan,” Joey whispers as I sit down on a chair opposite the two of them. I realize I’m totally expendable in this situation, but I can’t help feeling I need to be there. Like for halftime. When Grams needs a substitution. “Hey Jen.”
Well, see...she talked to me. I am important. Okay not, but at least I’m acknowledged. “Hey Joey.” I flash her a wide smile, she returns with a watery grin.
“I can’t help wondering where your other half is Josephine? Has that boy been dawdling?” Grams gets right to the point. And Joey leans into her chest, crying harder. “Josephine? Shhh, dear, it’s alright, shhhh, let it out.” Grams rests her chin against Joey’s head. “Tell me Dear.”
“He’s late...so I, I came over here to....I was hoping he was here.” The answer comes out small. So small. But I don’t see the problem. So what? Pacey was late? That’s all? Which I make the mistake of voicing. That causes Joey’s shoulders to shudder with sobs and I receive a sharp look from Grams. “He’s always early.”
“Has something happened Dear? Was their a disagreement?” Grams prods for answers quietly and takes Joey’s shaking head as a “no.” “Something else then?”
Joey pulls her head up and stares up into Grams’ warm face. She looks over at me helplessly. Then back at Grams. “We...we....we...” Oh please, Jo, you sound like three little pigs. Spit it out. “We made love last week.” And the crickets chirp as Grams’ expression goes stony and appraising. Joey looks down. I’m a little ticked she didn’t tell me earlier. The girl can keep her mouth shut, can’t she? Grams is going to eviscerate her.
“Were you safe Sweetheart?” The words are set out in the room as more of a statement than a question. Of course they were. Pacey is a good guy. Grams knows it too. Still Joey nods her head firmly in answer. “Then what’s wrong?” I look at the elegant woman next to Joey and wonder when the aliens came and abducted my grandmother. Where’s the “sex is sin” speech? Recriminations? Lectures?
“What?” Joey apparently expected better from Grams too.
Grams blows out an exasperated sigh and shakes her head. “Why are you so upset? Because Pacey is late picking you up?” She laughes at Joey and me, our mouths open, stunned into silence.
“I’m not upset about...it was amazing. But I-I, Pacey hasn’t...he and I haven’t...”
“Had a repeat performance,” I supply helpfully. Gotta be helpful when I can.
Joey blushes vermilion and offers a “Right.”
“Why not Josephine?” Again Grams makes my jaw drop. Where is my Bible Beater when I need her?
“He hasn’t made a move. He hasn’t said....anything. He won’t....say anything.” A few more tears streaked Joey’s damp cheek. “Maybe I blew it.” She did what? Spit or swallow? I look at Grams and she gives me a semi-serious glare and bites her lip. You were thinking it too Grams, I think, laughing inwardly. “I must not have been good enough. And all week....I’ve just felt so guilty. I think he’s standing me up today. He’s mad. I’ve been mean this week, but I don’t want to look in his eyes and see the disappointment. And I did something else yesterday. Pacey’s going to hate me.” She whispered that last part, cringing on the word “hate.”
Grams asks the obvious question, “Why would Pacey hate you?”
“I spoke to Dawson yesterday,” comes the muffled response. She’s holding Pacey’s sleeve up to her face, I thinks she’s smelling it. Oh eww. And aww.
“And?” Grams is gonna lose her patience soon. She’s bubbling like a volcano now.
“He asked me...he asked if Pacey and I were together.” Twit. Why would he ask that? Stupid ex-soulmate. I shake my head in disgust and snort, which earns me a harsh glare from Grams.
“Go on Josephine...what did you say?”
Joey bites down on her lip hard. “I told him it wasn’t his business. But he asked again, said he thought he had a right to know. I told him he didn’t want to know.”
“And?” My token question from the peanut gallery.
“He got mad and I told him I’d answer him soon enough...just wait,” she says, her voice petulant and vengeful. Grams smothers a smile. “I spent all last night painting.”
“Painting?” And now I’m taking control of the interrogation. Aw yeah.
“I spent some Christmas money yesterday. I leased my wall again. I bought some paint and stayed up all night....Pacey’s gonna kill me.” She shudders again and wipes her eyes, for the first time I notice some blue paint on the edge of her sleeve, some pink on her jeans.
“What did you paint Joey?” I can’t figure what she could have done to make Pacey dump her.
“I painted...I painted Pacey.” Well that doesn’t sound so bad, but Joey’s eyes are wide and scared with remembrance. Grams pats her head comfortingly. Joey seems to get the strength to keep going from the touch. “I painted Pacey...naked. Naked in bed. I,” she smiles gently, “I watched him all morning, I woke up early just to stare at him. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way he looked. So....Pacey.” She smiles again. “So when Dawson insisted on knowing. I cut my last classes to go rent that wall again. I bought the paints and spent all afternoon sketching. I waited til dark and painted all night. I was still there this morning, putting on the finishing touches.” She blushes and I’ve got a pretty good idea where the finishing touches were. “I painted a big red ‘Yes’ underneath his feet. I stayed for a little bit, hoping to catch Dawson walking past. I wanted to see his head explode. I wanted to watch him throw himself into the creek. But Pacey...he’s gonna be mad.” She lets out a sob and throws herself back into Grams waiting arms.
“He won’t be mad Joey,” I look at Grams and silently beg for guidance, she shrugs her shoulders and raises her eyebrows blankly. Darn it. “Maybe...maybe he hasn’t said anything because he was waiting for you to say something.”
“I painted him naked on a wall in the center of town. He’ll be mad. And he obviously had better than me...or he would’ve said,” Joey finishes with a defeated whisper.
“Josephine,” Grams begins, clearing her throat, “What you and Pacey have....is rare at such a young age. You’ve both waited. And I’m sure everything was fine. Sometimes speaking is not required. Actions are louder than words, and in this case....paint, paint is stronger than words.” She smothers a laugh. “You painted your heart, and I’m sure your boyfriend was late because he’s just as scared as you are. And when he passes by that wall to get here...he’ll....he’ll be happy you love him so and....and he’ll have something to say when he gets here. Pacey Witter loves you. And it’ll all work out just fine. You’ll see.” Grams holds Joey tighter and now I know why Joey came in when Grams called to her. Joey needs a mom. I clear the hitch in my throat and thank the god I never believed in that I have my Grams. One thing Grams said is definitely true...when Pacey Witter sees that wall, he’ll say something.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21