Jesse Tuck took one last look at the grave of Winifred Foster Jackson. He could not believe Winnie had died. He said he would come back for her, did she not believe him? Winnie had been the only thing he wanted for the past eighty-nine years, and now that he had finally returned for her, she could not run away with him. Jesse was ready to cry, shrivel up, and die so he could lay next to Winnie's grave. But he couldn't, seeing as he couldn't ever die. His pain began to eat him alive. She had also gotten married and started a family-without him? He thought she loved him, was it all just a plot to get the tuck family out of her life for good? He was about to go home when he heard a woman shout, "Miss Foster! Miss Foster! Good gracious where has that girl gone?"
Foster? Winnie? He looked around; they still hadn't cut down the forest. He watched a slim teenage girl, about fifteen or sixteen, with her light brown hair straightened and down, run from the forest laughing. She looked almost identical to Winnie Foster, except that her hair was a bit lighter and her eyes were blue-green.
"Mrs. Foster! Where have you been?" the lady cried and ran past Jesse to see the teenage girl.
"Nowhere." The girl lied, probably hiding a mischievous grin somewhere, as Winnie used to.
"Well you have an hour until the luncheon, and your grandmother will skin me alive it you aren't there in forty minutes." The middle aged woman put a hand on the girl's shoulder and began to lead her to the gate. The girl stared at Jesse as she began to walk past him.
'Who are you?" she asked, and the middle aged woman acknowledged Jesse for the first time.
"Jesse. Jesse Tuck, I was an old friend of Winifred Jackson."
The girl's eyes widened by the sound of Jesse Tuck, but she kept her voice calm as she said, "Oh."
"And you are?" Jesse asked.
"Jesseca, Winnie's dau-I mean, great great granddaughter." She replied. "Did you just move here?"
"Yeah, from Georgia."
The middle aged lady raised an eyebrow, but sweetly offered for Jesse to come in for a drink, which he accepted.
The house looked like it hadn't changed much, except for a few hi-tech gears. The woman, who was apparently named Martha and was the housekeeper, brought him into the main hall. He watched Jesseca race upstairs and Martha shout at her, "Your dress is on the bed!"
"Okay!" she cried from the upstairs.
Jesse sat down in the sitting room and looked around while he drank his drink. Pictures of the Foster family from over the years decorated the room. One showed Winnie about fifteen holding a newborn. Another had Winnie in her early twenties and a little girl sticking out their tongues. Winnie's wedding picture, Richard Jackson holding her hand and the little girl hugging her dress. Winnie and Richard holding a newborn, Winnie, Richard, the little girl, and a toddler in a family photo, Winnie with a baby girl, another family photo with all three kids, the kids growing up, and a grave saying, Christopher Richard Jackson, loving son and brother. 1919-1929. The next ones showed the young girls, then just the youngest growing up, her family, her daughter's family, and her daughter's family, including a girl who looked similar to Winnie's oldest. The rest were of Jesseca.
Jesse noticed Winnie looked happiest with the oldest girl in the pictures, and that when she stood next to Richard she was faking a smile. He also noticed how similar Winnie's oldest daughter and Jesseca looked, how the room looked exactly how Winnie used to describe it, and how the grandfather clock said 5:20…. 5:20? He was late!
Jesse returned his glass to Martha and thanked her, but that he needed to go. Martha nodded and showed him to the door. He thanked her again then walked to his motorcycle. He looked up. Jesseca had Winnie's old bedroom. Jesseca was kicking off her boots and humming a very familiar tune very loudly. She took off her jacket and shut the window and closed the curtains. Jesse noticed something off about her; he just didn't know what it was. He started the bike and drove off, off towards the café.
The Steaming Café was never that packed, in fact, after noon it was almost empty. Four men were in there besides the employees. Two were construction men, one was a police officer, and the other was Miles Tuck. Miles recognized Jesse's bike immediately and stood up as Jesse parked the motorcycle and walked through the café's door.
"Jesse-" Miles started before his brother cut him off,
"Look Miles, I'm sorry, I went to the Fosters' home and..."
"I'm so sorry Jess." Miles was a friend of Winnie's as well, and thought of her as a little sister.
Jesse took a step back. "Wait, you knew?"
"We thought we could surprise you, by bringing her to you, so we sopped by the house and saw..."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Jesse asked.
"We couldn't, we knew you loved her, and we knew you would be heartbroken…" Miles began, and saw that Jesse's eyes were swimming with tears.
"So you wanted me to see it to believe it? Good plan Miles." Jesse was angry, sad, and annoyed all at once.
Miles slowly shook his head. "Look, she was important to all of us too. And-"
"Let's go." Jesse turned around.
"I said let's go." And with that, Jesse Tuck was out the door.
Miles quickly paid for his coffee and got in his car to leave, following Jesse's motorcycle to a small house on the edge of town. Jesse parked the bike and stormed off into the house. Mae walked past Jesse, and then turned to Miles.
"What happened?" She asked.
"He went to the Fosters'." Miles whispered.
"Oh dear." Mae said, and then raced inside.
Now you know what it feels like. Miles thought to himself.
Upstairs, Jesse was in his bedroom, repeatedly throwing a baseball up in the air and catching it, a habit he developed about ten yeas ago when he needed to think. Mae knocked on the door.
"May I come in?" she asked
Without looking to her, he nodded.
"Jesse, I know it's hard learning Miss Foster died, but she did it because she wasn't afraid of the life unlived, not because she didn't love you." May whispered and she sat on the bed.
"Then why did she go off and get married?" Jesse asked.
May sighed and got up. Unsure how to respond, she sweetly said, "You should talk to your father when he gets home." And left, quietly shutting the door behind her.
That's when Jesse finally cried.