Two nights later Angela lies awake, nestled warmly in her bed, staring blankly towards her window. She is tired, but her eyes cannot stay shut. In the darkness she lies completely still, feeling her frozen weight sink into the downy cocoon of her covers and bed. For an instant her room brightens just slightly; outside a car has flashed its headlights. Then once more. She waits. A minute later there's a small clink against her window. She lies still for just a moment longer, hugging her pillow beneath her head, so comfortable, so fatigued, she doesn't want to stir. But when the second object hits her window her eyes shut, she breathes in, then rises, and reaches for her robe.
Pulling her messy hair back with a rubber band, Angela creeps stealthily downstairs to the back door. Turning the deadbolt Angela unlocks the door and wordlessly holds it open for Jordan to slip past.
Seated across from one another, him on the sofa, her on the floor, the coffee table between them, Angela and Jordan move like they're only half awake. They're voices are muted, their movements are slow and delayed, and in the Chase's dark and still living room, lit only by a single dim lamp furthest from the stairwell, they sit, playing dominoes and speaking in lowered tones, about anything but what's plaguing them. They both look and sound run down.
With his calloused thumb Jordan pivots a domino from the row of five he's palming in his right hand and lays down the three-six, neglecting he'd had the chance to score two more points — were either one of them bothering to keep a running tally — had he only spun the tile the other direction. "I can't sleep," he remarks dully, sinking back into the sofa.
"... I know..." With as much focus as she can muster Angela studies the tiles, considering her next play. "I'm exhausted. But, I can't stay asleep." A moment more she lays down her domino, "Fifteen."
"You just say 'three'. It's three points." His words come slowly, and absent of intonation.
"That's not how I pla—"
"Shhhhh…" Jordan cuts her off. They freeze and listen. As if automated their eyes turn toward the stairs. When they hear nothing more they resume their game and Jordan takes his turn, leaning forward to make his play and strategically cut the number count open on the table. "If only Demitri'd come over and lecture," he says off-handedly, straightening out his tile, "I'd sleep for sure."
It wasn't particularly hilarious, but Angela chuckles; not much has been funny lately. She welcomes the release, and the unexpected lightness of the sentiment.
Just then the lights flash on. They both freeze and look up the stairs towards the light and the intrusion.
Above them, it's Patty who appears, pulling on her robe and speaking in a sharply hissed whisper, "What is going on? Angela?"
"Mom—" Angela's never been this alarmed, her face burns. Though perhaps discovery was inevitable, she has no words for her defense or excuse, and frozen, Angela only looks back at her mother, her mouth agape and immobile.
"Angela —" Patty, having descended the stairs in record time moves into the living room with unmistakeable purpose. "What is this? It's one in the morning."
Still in bed, Graham calls out low enough not to wake anyone still asleep, but loud enough to be heard below, "Patty?"
Patty, so upset she can't distract herself long enough to answer him, also cannot find the words to articulate the fury, the betrayal, the utter inappropriateness, the— "This—" She starts again, "This is unacceptable." She looks first to Angela then to Jordan, "This is a violation of trust. Angela." It's evident the surprise of her discovery has rendered her so angry she's visibly trying to curtail her response so as not to overreact. Her sharp words, though loaded with emotion are calculated, and quickly deliberated over in her head before spoken aloud. "You do not have free reign of this house. Jordan, you can't be here." Again emotion stops her. She swallows what she does not mean to say, and looks squarely at her daughter. "How are we supposed to trust you?"
Through this Angela and Jordan remain motionless; there's nothing for them to do but sit there and be censured. As Patty pauses now to collect her thoughts, and they await the inescapable stricture, they both look more than tired. They are more than weary; they are hopelessly depleted. Late at night, two thirds of them in pajamas, stalemated by more than one misery and more than one unanswerable question, Angela and Jordan are solemn as they look back at Patty Chase. And for the moment, they appear quite young.
Patty exhales, and allows her indignation to deflate; she doesn't want to yell at them. Covertly she scans the room for signs they've done anything more than play a board game. Satisfied, she continues, calmer and more pragmatic. "How long has this been going on?" They look up, unwilling to give a number but acknowledging that this is not a one-time occurrence. Patty sighs again, and takes a seat in the armchair. She's at a sort of loss as to what to say or how she should react. "Listen —" she's ready to level with them, "I know the situation is not the norm, but, your father — Graham — and I can't look the other way and treat you like adults. What you're going through is hard, and lonely, I suspect. We understand that. But this cannot continue." She looks at them, "Do you hear me?"
Angela nods slowly, "Yes."
Patty looks to Jordan; "Yeh."
Turning back to Angela, Patty impresses upon her, "I need to know where you are." To Jordan she says, "And where you're not." She couldn't be more earnest in these directives, but she's too worn out to be scary and threatening, and beneath the unflinching sternness of her words is Patty Chase's maternal nurturing. With eyes widened for emphasis she gives them both a look to be certain they've received the message. Satisfied, she rises, pulling her robe close to her at the collar. "You have three minutes." To Angela, "In four I want you in bed." Partially joking she adds, "Alone." Patty ascends the stairs, "Goodnight."
Once more two figures sit quietly in the dark room. The girl, still seated on the floor, exhales, a bit sunken in. She and the boy exchange looks — 'What now?' They've been discovered and their late-night commiserations have been terminated. Somewhere a clock chimes.
At school the next day, Angela's eating lunch, kind of, with friends by the back railing overlooking the sports fields. When the bell rings she smiles her goodbyes, collects her paper sack and backpack, and, as she passes by, spots Jordan and his buddies under the bleachers. Angela makes a detour and ducks under to check in.
When he sees her approaching, Jordan grounds out his cigarette. As she comes upon them Joey heads off from where he'd been talking with Jordan to join Shane; Nate gives her a silent head nod and she smiles at him as she ducks under a bar to reach where Jordan stands. "Hey," he says, looking down at her. "You in trouble?" She shrugs. "Grounded?" Jordan asks.
"Not that I've heard."
"I'm, uh, goin' to Lis's tonight. She asked if you'd come; for dinner."
"Tonight?" He nods. Angela tightens her lips as she thinks, then makes a determined, understated nod. "Sure. I mean, I'll have to ask." He nods.
"'ll swing by 'round five. Thirty."
"Okay," she makes a small head jerk back to the main building, "Gotta go."
"Yeah," he gently shoves her, "go learn sum'in." She slips him her untouched sandwich as she leaves, hurrying to make it to class before the second bell.
Later, Angela, Jordan, Ben, and Lisa are in Lisa and Ben's small living room, sitting on the floor around the coffee table, eating dinner. They're laughing at something that was said, but not freely; it is somewhat reserved.
DrinkIng her wine, Lisa eyes Jordan to read if he wants her to stop as she begins to broach the subject, "Okay..."
"You know." Angela says, laying down her fork.
"We're really sorry," contributes Ben. "We know it's a hard position to be in, and—"
"We just wanted to reach out and offer whatever help we can."
"Thank you," is Angela's sober response.
Jordan drinks his beer.
"'Cuz," Lisa speaks warmly, "I was on my own at sixteen. I know what it can be like."
"Mm hm," Angela tucks her hair.
"I just—" Lisa looks about the room, choosing her words as she does so, "I thought that maybe—" She changes tack, "I've got friends; I don't know if you know anyone else who's been there..." She takes another drink, then lays it out, "I wanted to put it out there, in case — if you wanted someone to talk to, about any of it."
"… Thanks. …" Angela's appreciative of the gesture.
"Jordan says you told your folks," Ben says.
Angela nods. "Yeah."
"And that was okay?" Lisa looks to Ben for a second then back to Angela, "We talked about it," she's not making a big deal of the offer, she's casual and down plays it — at no point is she sentimental or saccharine, "and if you need it — now, or later — if you need a place to stay, you can come here."
Angela's humbled by this offer, unnecessary as it is. "I'm okay. Thank you." She pushes at her food with her fork; "My parents aren't thrilled, but, it's okay."
"You're lucky." Angela understands Lisa hasn't said this facetiously and so she has to stop and think about this statement. Angela knows even less of Lisa Catalano's story than she does Jordan's, but Rickie Vasquez is the only other person she knows who one day never went home, and she knows that at its very best, the story can't be good. Jordan drinks his beer.
Noting that in the course of this exchange Angela's conversation has dwindled to just a few words and Jordan hasn't said anything, Ben shifts the tone, saying, "We don't have to talk about it."
"It's okay," Angela smiles. "I just, I don't know what to do, yet." Without moving his head in her direction, Jordan looks at her.
"Sure," Lisa says, serving her brother seconds without him having to ask.
"Thank you though." Angela smiles again.
Compelled to lift the mood, Ben offers brightly, to no one in particular, "More?"
After dinner, Lisa's in her bedroom grabbing an oversized sweater. Jordan raps on the open door and leans against the threshold. "Hey."
"How'ya doing?" She asks as she pulls on her sweater. Jordan rolls his eyes. Lisa speaks in a lowered voice, speaking closely, "I think I made her uncomfortable." Jordan waves it off.
Beer in hand, Ben passes by the bedroom, stopping in when he sees them talking. "What's happening?" Lisa smiles, shaking her head. Ben claps his hand on Jordan's shoulder; Lisa, pulling her cardigan to her, crosses the room, and gives Ben a small kiss as she exits the room to return to Angela. Ben takes a drink. "You hangin' in there?"
Meaning the beer, Jordan asks, "Got another?"
Ben smiles; yes, he'll get Jordan another beer, but, though he may have been the one to get J stoned the other night, this can't be the game plan. "Not getting you drunk."
"I've been drunk." He speaks flatly; now he just wants a beer. How many times had he been drunk since he'd heard? That night with Ben, in the lot outside Louie's when Lis'd found him, one day at school — Jordan hadn't planned that, but Joey'd had it on him, and it'd made more sense than that Thoreau guy he was meant to be studying. Jordan isn't under any delusions that he's gonna solve anything - or escape anything - through alcohol, but what's it hurting?
Ben asks, "Any idea what's going to happen?"
"Nuthin' good." Jordan heads for the kitchen.
Back in his car, he and Angela sit parked on Lisa's street. His hands on the wheel, Jordan turns from the window to her, he sounds doubtful, "Was that not helpful?"
"'Helpful'?" she repeats, a little surprised that was the intention; "It was nice." Angela looks at him, wanting him to really understand, "My parents aren't going to kick me out."
"I know." He does. "She just… That's her experience. Basically. _ Wull, you know," he gestures, "not the same." He shrugs, "She didn't know what else to do."
In response to nothing in particular, Angela leans forward against the dashboard, exhaling in frustration, "Uhhhhhh..." Jordan watches her. Momentarily she shifts, just slightly, so that she can see him as she speaks. "I just keep thinking that whatever decision I make now is based on what I want for my sixteen-year-old life," she lifts herself up. Fiddling with the glove compartment handle she continues, "but that as I grow older—" He reaches over and touches her hand to get her to stop messing with his car. Her hands now unoccupied, Angela sets them uncomfortably in her lap; "Like, having a kid now seems, crazy. Not possible. But, seven years from now…"
He's messing with a cigarette he knows he can't light; "You'll be, what? Twenty-three." He looks at her dubiously, "Would you want a six-year-old?"
"Maybe..." She does not sound convinced. The second part comes off stronger, "People do it."
"Yeah; they do…" He can't deny that people do it; is she saying that she would be one of them? He waits.
She shakes the thought from her head; "What I'm saying is, in six, seven, years, maybe it wouldn't be as big a deal to have been pregnant, to have had a child."
"Meaning, what? Adoption?"
"Maybe." She looks at him, "What do you think about that?"
"'Adoption?' I don't know—" He looks out the window then back to her, "It's kind of hard to tell how that'll turn out. You can't guarantee what that'd be like."
"They have thorough screenings, don't they? Agencies and whatnot?"
"I guess. But, look at the foster system; they say that's screened." Seemingly prompted by nothing, he reaches and removes his keys from the ignition; "Not everyone makes a good parent."
"I think you can interview them; get to know them some," she offers.
"Okay." He's said it because it seemed like she wanted him to, but he isn't finished: "But, my old man seems okay enough on paper; he can make a good impression if he wants to. People," he gestures, "like him."
"I haven't found that to be true"; he looks at her. "So, you're against it? You don't want to consider it as an option?"
"It's just, something to think about." His voice is rigid, a bit gruff, "I'm not gonna rule out anything you want to consider."
"Are you saying this is all my decision?"
"No. Not 'all'. If you don't want it. But, mostly. Yeah." He looks at her, "Why? Is that wrong?"
She doesn't answer. She presses her hands to her face, rubbing her eyes. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, she drops her hands. Re-centered now she looks at him, "I asked you once about what you would do if this ever happened."
He nods, "I know."
Her eyes narrow as she tries to recall, "What did we come up with?"
Jordan shakes his head, "Being careful?"
"Oh. Good." With a wry smile, "Good job us." But quickly after her moment of self-deprecating irony, she deflates and turns to him defeated, "It's too much."
"It's gonna be okay." Did he mean that, or had he just said it? It's getting harder for him to tell.
She turns to him, "Are you scared?"
Jordan shuts his eyes, then turns his head and looks at her. "We'll figure it out." He speaks her name, but he's out of things to say, "Angela _"
In the silence he's created he studies her profile, gazing at her intently. Softly he brushes hair away from her face, "I'm sorry," he almost whispers. She softens a bit and he continues to stroke her face, her neck. He moves in closer, lips brushing over her ear, following her jaw line, grazing her neck; slowly she turns towards him, her eyes meet his for just a moment before he moves in for a kiss. Surprised by her willingness given how she'd been feeling just seconds earlier, she returns the kiss and it progresses quickly. When his hand moves past the hem of her skirt he breaks away, and with a quick glance in her direction, Jordan inserts the key in the ignition, starts the car, and drives them quickly down the street.
Minutes later Jordan pulls over on an empty side street. Before the engine's died he lunges into a kiss and she melts into him. "Come here—" he gets out between kisses. He pulls her on top of him so that he can push forward her seat, making room for her to crawl into the back. Kissing him, she tugs lightly at his collar as he follows after her. Without breaking the kiss he shrugs off his jacket then holds her face close to his, gripping her head, pulling her hair. Angela looks at him steadily as she pulls off her sweater. He takes her in, so small, so beautiful, and precious, and— God he wants her. Reaching up through her skirt from behind, he yanks down her underwear and tights, so brusquely that they dig into her flesh a bit. She's kicked her shoes off already, and with one more tug at her tights she is free. Deftly he undoes his buckle and pants; there would be no fumbling with barriers tonight, nothing keeping him from her, all of her. Kissing her deeply, holding her to him, he pushes into her, more forcefully than she was prepared for. She cries out for a moment, but when she's quiet again he pushes in further, moving into her while pulling her to him. The pain is startling as her body adjusts but she's desperate to be with him and she grasps at his back, pulling him closer. Moving rhythmically deeper in, he pushes her knees up, holding her tightly; with the force of his pressure against her never relenting, she succumbs, holding him fast, yielding to his pleasure, then slowly she guides him towards hers. All this week she's felt so alone and she's desperate to feel him there, strong and warm right there with her, his hot breath in her ear, his soft lips on her mouth, her neck, his teeth grazing her jaw; she feels herself pulsing and it drives him wild — he wants more of her; there is nothing more to have, he has her completely, she's given herself wholly and he wants to sink into it all, completely enclosed; their tandem movement awakens her and she feels herself opening up, letting him in as everything else falls away — her name, her mind, the feeling in her toes and limbs; everything there is is right there where they are desperately together, loving one another. He's never been this at home in her body before, he's never felt her body this way, or felt so much like she was his — no reservations; his mind floods with the thought as his body feels it intensely: she's his. Without direction from Angela her hips open impossibly wider and she gasps when he reaches a place she never knew was there. He lifts her, getting evermore closer, and she lifts her hips to meet him, to keep him there — right there… This, surge, of intensity is new to her, she has not felt this before, and he feels the difference in her, this absolute and fierce capitulation: receiving, pulsating, devouring — he cannot stand it and he lets everything go; falling into her as his strength and determination melt away, he feels so surrounded, so safe wrapped in her arms, her legs, lost in her sweet hair and warm skin, his arms gripped firmly round her slight waist as her heavy panting wanes in his ear. Still holding tightly to his neck, as her last shudders of desire and pleasure subside, her body collapses and she gives way to it all. She begins to sob, first silently and then violently. He holds her face, presses his to hers; she cannot be soothed. He rolls over and pulls her into his arms. She continues to sob and he does what he can to console her.
"Angela. … It's okay. …" She's inconsolable. She has allowed herself to feel, and now she is feeling everything. "Come're." He can't calm her down. She can hardly breathe. He pulls her in tighter and buries his face in her hair. "It'll be okay…"
How's it going? R&R?