Chapter 7

By the time Ennis and Jack reached Alma's house, she had already left with her sons; the girls would be on their own in there. Ennis knew that they would take the news of his illness hard, but he had to do this. They deserved to see him one last time.

With Jack's help, Ennis had managed to figure out exactly what he wanted Junior to do after his death and had written her some instructions. Together, they had remembered the area on Brokeback where they had fallen in love and started their relationship; they wanted her to scatter the ashes from the hillside. Ennis was confident that she would reach the area with very little trouble.

He sat his girls down on the sofa and got ready to tell them; Jack sat in the armchair and watched. "Well...I dunno if your mama told you anythin' about why I wanted to see you."

"She sounded kinda serious," Junior replied. "Are you okay, Daddy?"

He smiled at her intuition. "I ain't, Junior. I've got lung cancer from all them years of smokin'. The doctors can't do nothin'..."

Tears filled two pairs of eyes as they took in this information. "Daddy..." He hugged them tightly and looked at Jack, who looked sadly at the girls he wished he could have known better. They had changed a lot since he'd seen them.

"Girls, it's okay...shh..." He waited until they had calmed down before speaking again. "You two are good, strong girls an' I know that yer gonna be okay. You've got yer mama, an' Monroe's a decent enough fella, I reckon."

"He is, but he ain't you," Jenny sniffed, wiping her eyes. He smiled at her.

"Darlin''ll be okay. Listen...I've got some things I wanna say to you both on yer own. Junior, can you give us a sec?"

She nodded and went into the kitchen; Ennis indicated to Jack that he wanted him to follow her and make sure she was okay. Jack did so, finding her leaning over the sink and staring out of the window. When Junior wasn't looking, he silently got some kitchen towel and pushed it close to her. She wiped her eyes and looked around the room, feeling as if she was being watched.

Ennis talked to Jenny about how proud he was of her and how much she reminded him of his sister. He knew she wanted to sing and he told her that she should follow her dream.

When they were finished, Ennis sent Jenny for her sister and Jack kept an eye on her too while Ennis spoke to Junior.

"Listen...I had some different things to say to you, apart from what you already know," he told her. "You know I love you, Junior. You're the smartest girl I know so...there's somethin' I want you to do for me."

"What?" she asked, sniffing. He rubbed her shoulder.

"You remember my friend, Jack Twist?"

She nodded. "Yeah. You loved him, didn't you?" At the look on his face, she managed a shaky laugh. "Um...I kinda figured it out. You weren't happy with Mama, an' you seemed happy when you was goin' on yer trips with him. Then last year, we saw you after your trip an' you seemed really sad."

"We had a fight," Ennis admitted. "I said things that I shouldn't have, an' it hurt him."

She nodded. "Then a month later, worse. You seemed really upset afterwards..."

"Jack died," he told her, the memory of that day outside the post office still stinging even now. "He was killed by guys who don't like what we felt about each other. An''s nearly time to join him."

" the kitchen I got the feelin' I was bein' watched. Is he...?"

Ennis smiled. "Yeah, he's here. He appeared in my trailer an' I asked him to come with me. You girls can't see him, but he's keepin' an eye on Jenny now."

His daughter smiled back. "Tell him I said thanks...for makin' you happy." Ennis could see Jack in the kitchen, watching them with a smile on his face.

"He knows. Look, Junior..." He handed her several pieces of paper. "I've written some things for you. Tellin' you about me an' Jack, but also what I want you to do when I've gone. I want you to follow these instructions, okay? Yer mama knows I'm sorry for what happened an' we've made our peace. But this is what I want you to do, okay? You can tell yer sister but I want you to do it."

She nodded, holding the papers close. "Okay, Daddy." Ennis called to Jenny and she came back in, followed by Jack. Then he stood up.

"I best get goin', then. I love you girls, an' you know you made me happy." They hugged him and finally let him go, with Jack glancing back at them sadly.

Outside in the fresh air, Ennis turned to his companion. "Well...that was okay, I guess." Jack smiled at him.

"I know that wasn't easy for you, bud. But at least it's done now."

"Yeah. You know...Junior told me that she felt like she was bein' watched. I think she could sense you, Jack."

"Maybe. She's a smart girl, that one."

"Sure is." They headed back to Ennis's truck and he drove them back to the trailer park where he had been living for the last few years. Jack didn't like to think of Ennis living in a place like this; if they'd been together then things would have been better for them, but this was how the dice had rolled.

Inside, Jack took Ennis's hands. " know that from tomorrow you've only got two days left. You've sorted things out with Alma an' the girls, so is there anythin' else you wanna do?"

Ennis shrugged. "Don't think so. Just wanna spend time with you, if that's okay."

Jack smiled and kissed him. "That's more than okay, cowboy." Ennis smiled back, feeling more at peace than ever.