Jessie's Child

She was in hospital for six weeks, slowly recovering from a head injury, broken ribs and internal injuries, but this was not just a recovery.  As all the family rallied around willing her back to health, she pulled herself back from the brink.

 

She would go home and put it all behind her.  She told them that she remembered nothing of what had happened, how could she admit what a fool she had been, but she remembered every detail, and if John showed his face again, she would tell, and then she would be telling the police.

 

Nathan had been distant with her.  She needed to get home, put back the weight she had lost, get the shine back into her hair and the pallid look from her face.  Then it would be OK, she would be his Jessie again, and she would go to live with him in God dammed Savanna, it that was what he wanted.

 

Nathan did not want Jessie to move to Savanna, and continually made lame excuses for her to stay in Florida with her parents. In fact, secretly he did not want her at all.

 

She had always been his girl, his friend and soul mate.  They had grown up together, fallen in love together, lost their virginity together, but something had happened to change his feelings.  It had begun with that strange incident in Texas, her refusal to discuss Old Green Coat had come between them, but now this, this he could not handle.  The thought of another man raping her, mauling her, defiling her, sickened him, but he was too ashamed to say so.

 

At first, he came back dutifully every weekend, and could see how hard she tried, fixing her hair, dressing to please him, but he could not bear to touch her. In bed he turned away from her and pretended to sleep as he listened to her sighs.

 

As the weeks went by, his excuses increased and he came back less and less, ignoring his father’s advice, and spending his weekends immersed in whiskey and take-aways. Jessie’s heart was broken by his behaviour, but she said nothing, blaming herself, until one day, quite by accident she found out about Patrick.

 

She was looking in her mother’s sewing box for a needle and thread and found his letter to Annie, folded and lying beneath the spools of thread.  She dropped the box with its contents rolling around the floor and ran to her mother.

 

 “He was Patrick!  John was Patrick!  Mom, why didn’t you say something, you must have known?  He did this to me, and it was all to get at you!”

 

Annie tried to be calm as the entire story tumbled from her daughter, and was sickened to her soul to realise that Jessie was right.  Why hadn’t she said more?  How could she have let this happen?  She reached out to comfort Jessie, but she pulled away angrily, knocking a vase from the table.  A little glass vase from Cape Cod that she had cherished for so long.

Jessie stood with the shards of glass at her feet, shining against the white marble floor, so beautiful, but irreparably broken, just like her life, and she cried for the first time since the incident.

 

On hearing the story, Nathan stayed away, throwing himself into his work, ignoring calls even from his parents and Jessie changed, now with a worrying coldness about her, drifting away from everyone and becoming fiercely independent, spending much of her time alone in her apartment.

 

She could not kill it, what if it was Nathan’s?  No one knew, she had forbidden the doctors to tell anyone.  Now she had a mission, it would probably kill her but she did not care, she and whatever it was inside her, would go together.

 

Jessie took her rucksack with a change of clothes and a raincoat, her passport and her driving licence.  She left, saying very little, for the real Jessie had left them three months ago, when it first happened.

 

She had not been idle, alone in her apartment for hours, she had it planned well and everything was arranged. She withdrew all the money from her bank account, including five hundred in euros, then headed for the dealers who had arranged to buy her car for cash.  She was making sure that there would be no trail for anyone to follow when she left.

 

No one would find her or stop her now, she thought as she boarded a bus from the car dealers’ showroom to Miami International Airport, where her ticket was waiting at the Aer Lingus desk.

She had found his real mother’s address in Ireland and she was going to seek him out, that Irish bastard that had ruined her life, and she was going to kill him.