Jessie's tear-filled eyes stared pleadingly at Dr. Rosenfeld. This was her seventh session in the last four weeks. Since Jessie had gone back to school, her emotional state had become much more fragile, so her parents insisted she saw Dr. Rosenfeld on a more regular basis. Dr. Rosenfeld watched Jessie as he reached out and handed her a box of tissues.
"It will get getter, Jessie. It's just going to take time."
"How do you know it'll get better?"
"Because it has to. You've made too much progress to be derailed by this."
Jessie didn't respond. She sniffled and brought a piece of tissue up to dry her eyes. Dr. Rosenfeld continued.
"Isn't your step-sister's graduation on Saturday? Maybe you should go. It might be good for you," he suggested.
Jessie looked at him as if he had just twisted a nine-inch blade into her chest. "It would have been Katie's graduation, too. How could that possibly be good for me?"
Dr. Rosenfeld nodded. "Okay. Not the best idea, I'll give you that. But Jessie, you need to do something. Anything. Make an effort to try to get this off your mind. Even if it's just for five minutes. I know you loved Katie—"
"LOVE her. I love Katie. She may be gone, but my feelings for her haven't changed."
"Okay. I know how much you love Katie. But keeping this inside you, not attempting to let it go, eventually it's going to take a toll on you."
Jessie sat there, nervously wadding up the tissue in her hands. She managed to control her crying for the time being. She tried to compose herself so her words were coherent enough. "But…how can I? How could I possibly let this go?"
"I told you, it's not going to be easy. But just do one thing. One thing every day as an attempt to get some closure on this. I'm not telling you to forget her, because I know you never could. And you never should. But you have to learn to move on in a healthy way," said Dr. Rosenfeld.
"I can't." Jessie shook her head. "I can't move on. I've tried. I really have." Jessie could feel the tears start to form once again. She tried to fight them as she continued pleading her case. "But I can't escape her. I go to school, and she's there. In the halls, in the cafeteria. I go home, and she's there too. In my room. I can see her so clearly just standing there, looking back at me. I can't even hold my baby sister without thinking of Katie. No matter what I do or where I go, she's there. She's everywhere. She's all over me. And I don't know how to make it stop."
Dr. Rosenfeld took in Jessie's words and leaned in closer to her. "I know. And it's going to be that way for a while. Because you're not letting yourself let go. You're afraid if you do, you may lose the memory of Katie, but I promise you that won't happen. So I want you to do something, Jessie. I want you to go somewhere. Pick a special place that reminds you of Katie. A place that meant something to the both of you. I want you to return to that place and just take it in. Take in all the memories you two made while at that place. And I want you to say goodbye to her. Allow yourself to cry if you need to. Allow yourself to laugh. Allow yourself to feel her presence. But most importantly, allow yourself to get some closure with her." He leaned back in his chair. "Do you think you can do that for me?"
Jessie thought for a moment, then nodded. "I guess."
"Okay. That's all I ask. Just try it."
Jessie sniffled once more and nodded again. "Okay. I'll try it."
Jessie took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment and tried to get her heart to stop pounding. She opened her eyes and began climbing up the stone wall. She grunted as she pulled herself up to the top of the wall. When she jumped down onto the other side, she almost lost her balance as she landed. She steadied her footing and stood up straight. She looked out in front of her and saw the palatial pool in front of her. The one that she and Katie had broken the law to go swimming in on more than one occasion. She looked around to make sure no one was there. It was around one a.m. so she knew the Grayson's were most likely asleep by this point. She cautiously walked over to the edge of the pool and stood there, recalling all the memories she and Katie had made here. She could picture everything very clearly. She could see them over by the steps, when they first decided to make their relationship official. She could see them floating together in the deep end, sharing that amazing kiss. She could hear the two of them treading water, trying to stay awake, not wanting that night to end.
Black and White
Jessie: "There's this Billie Holiday song… "Easy To Remember." When Katie first played it for me, I fell in love with it. It was so haunting…and beautiful. Like Katie."
Jessie allowed her mind to be flooded with those memories of Katie. She did just as Dr. Rosenfeld said and didn't fight the tears that started streaming down her face. She took a deep breath, hesitated for only a split second, then jumped into the pool with little regard for the fact that she was still wearing her clothes and even her shoes.
Black and White
Jessie: "I've been thinking about that song a lot lately." Jessie begins to sing.
"Your sweet expression, the smile you gave me,
The way you looked when we met.
It's easy to remember, but so hard to forget."
Jessie opened her eyes under the water and continued holding her breath. She stayed under for a few moments, contemplating never coming up for air. She thought about just staying there and maybe she would soon join Katie, but she knew it wasn't right. That wasn't the right way. And it was definitely not something Katie would have wanted for Jessie. She swam to the surface and caught her breath.
Black and White
Jessie continues singing: "I hear you whisper, I'll always love you,
I know it's over and yet,
It's easy to remember, but so hard to forget."
Jessie ran her fingers through her wet hair, trying to keep it out of her face. She could taste her salty tears mixed with the fresh water, cleansing her face and skin, as she let the tears continue to fall.
Black and White
Jessie is off in her own world as she continues singing:
"So I must dream to have your hand caress me,
Fingers press me tight,
I'd rather dream than have that lonely feeling
Stealing through the night."
Jessie was slowly beginning to feel a weight lifted off of her. As if the water offered some sort of purified renewal. Her heart, though, was still breaking. And she could smell Katie on her skin, taste her on her tongue, feel her in her arms.
Black and White:
Jessie can feel herself breaking down, and her voice faintly cracks as she tries to finish the song:
"Each little moment is clear before me
And though it brings me regret,
It's easy to remember, but so hard to forget."
Jessie looks at the camera, her eyes coated with tears. It's obvious she is thinking solely of Katie.
Jessie stayed there in the pool, treading water, moving her arms to stay afloat. She didn't care if she got caught. That didn't seem to matter anymore. She was here for Katie. She came to remember her and to honor her. She came to say goodbye to her. She could feel Katie's embrace. For one moment, she felt Katie's arms around her and she was whole again. She felt free, at peace. For one moment, she felt like everything would be okay. But she knew she would always love Katie and would always miss her. She knew no matter where she went or how much time had passed, Katie would always be a part of her. She would feel Katie's presence with her always. Jessie looked up towards the night sky, closed her eyes, and cried.
Jessie sat in a daze, lazily marking up the notebook paper in front of her. Normally, she'd be paying attention, but for some reason, her thoughts traveled elsewhere today. She stopped drawing on her paper and put her head in her hand, staring out the window. She tried to keep her focus on what her professor was spouting out in the front of the lecture hall, but it was near the end of class and Jessie's attention span had left the building ten minutes ago. Jessie's half-hearted attempt to pretend like she cared what the professor was saying, caught the attention of a fellow classmate sitting one row back and two seats to the right of her. She took notice of Jessie the second time Jessie had involuntarily dozed off. She couldn't help but smile at the blonde's determination to make it through the class, trying to stay awake.
She started chuckling when she noticed Jessie's eyes getting heavier as she was starting to doze off again. So, to save Jessie from any embarrassment, she pulled the eraser off her pencil and pelted it at Jessie, startling Jessie into a fully awakened state. Jessie looked back to see who kept her from falling asleep. When her eyes found her thoughtful classmate, she smiled in appreciation, then looked back at the professor, who was finishing up his lecture.
Once the class was finally over, Jessie grabbed her stuff and headed out the door as fast as she could. She was thankful this was her last class of the day. She stepped out of the building and onto the campus of Columbia University. She was halfway through the first semester of her sophomore year and slowly getting used to her surroundings. Her freshman year was somewhat of a blur and it seemed to fly by, but now she was starting to take the time to let everything sink in. Initially, she hadn't planned on going to Columbia. She really didn't know where she was going to go, but she knew she needed to get away. Far away. It was just easier this way. Her senior year of high school had still been extremely hard on her. So when Columbia offered her a scholarship, she knew she couldn't refuse. She had finally settled on majoring in English after wandering around confused and unsure last year. She kept in constant contact with her family, who were always checking in on her. And she made it a point to call Grace, who was across the country at Berkley, at least once a week. She would also get phone calls in the middle of the night from Eli, who would fill her in every so often on his new job as a counselor at Upton Sinclair High School. She definitely missed her family, but was glad to be able to experience a new life in a new location. Of course she still thought of Katie. She thought of her all the time, but it grew to be a little easier with each passing day.
Jessie continued her trek across campus. She loved cutting across the grassy area, especially on a sunny day like today. She was still in somewhat of a daze when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
"So, are you okay? You passed out a couple times in class."
Jessie turned around and was face to face with the girl that was kind enough to keep her awake in class.
"Oh, yeah. I'm fine. It's just the way that guys talks can sometimes be a little—"
Jessie smiled. "Yeah. A little boring." Jessie watched as the other girl looked around and shifted her feet. She vaguely remembered seeing her on campus before, though she'd be easy to miss with her thin 5'6" frame and her long brunette hair. Jessie had never really bothered looking behind her in class, so she was unaware until now that they were in the same class.
The girl looked back at Jessie and observed the silver locket around Jessie's neck. She reached out to touch it. "That's beautiful."
"May I?" asked the girl, referring to whether or not she could open it.
"Where did you get it?" she asked, as she studied the pictures of Jessie and Katie inside of it.
"My girlfriend." Jessie looked down, unsure of how this girl would react to her answer. But the other girl was completely unfazed. She just smiled at Jessie and turned the locket over to look at the back of it.
"Does she have a name? Is she the K or the B?"
"She's the K. Katie," replied Jessie.
The brunette girl smiled. "She must really care about you a lot to give you such a beautiful locket."
Jessie nodded, sadly. "Yeah. She…uh…she did. Care about me a lot."
The girl looked at Jessie, inquisitively.
Jessie continued. "She…uh….she died. A couple years ago." Jessie had no idea why she was even sharing this information with a complete stranger. But there was something about this girl that told Jessie she could trust her, even though she didn't even know her.
The other girl appeared visibly upset. "I…I'm so sorry." Immediately, she felt horrible for unintentionally bringing it up.
Jessie shook her head. "It's okay. Really. You didn't know."
Suddenly, they both got quiet. Jessie looked away from her and began digging her foot into the grass, just to have something to occupy her time.
The other girl couldn't take her eyes off of Jessie. She found it endearing how shy Jessie had suddenly become. She just shrugged and asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"
Jessie looked at her. "Uh…."
"You don't have to. It's just…it seems like maybe it's something you should talk about. I'd love to hear about her. We could get some coffee or something."
Jessie smiled to herself. "I'm afraid telling you all about Katie would take longer than just a cup of coffee."
The brunette girl smiled. "I've got time. I'm Natalie, by the way." She reached her hand out to Jessie.
Jessie shook her hand. "I'm Jessie."
Jessie suddenly found it easier to look Natalie in the eyes. This was the first time someone of substance had really gone out of their way to show any interest in Jessie since she started school here. And Jessie was definitely grateful for that. She held Natalie's gaze as they both started slowly walking off towards the campus coffee shop.
"So tell me about Katie," said Natalie.
"Well Natalie, let me ask you something," said Jessie. "Have you ever heard of Billie Holiday?"
Author's note: I just wanted to thank everybody for reading this story and giving such kind reviews. It was quite a journey for me to write it and hopefully it was a journey for you to read. I hope you all understand that I needed to write this. I was at a point in my life where this just needed to be written exactly this way. It was very therapeutic for me. I hope I didn't upset anyone too much with the way it ended, but please know that I went into this story with knowing full well I was going to end it that way. Yes, it was for personal, selfish reasons. And because of that, I was thinking about perhaps doing an alternate ending. But only if you guys want it. We could replace the last two chapters and end it a different way. I don't want anyone to walk away from this story feeling ripped off or anything. If you don't want an alternate ending, then that's great. I won't mess with the original vision of this story. But if you do, let me know and I'll be happy to oblige. I'll leave it up to you.
Again, thanks for reading.