Aftermath Guardian’s War 19 / Rise of the Tellers 1: Morning

Bekah pulled up to my apartment, and I was waiting outside in the February night for her. I climbed into her car and closed the door.

“You are my life,” I said. “I want nothing but you for the rest of my life.”

Bekah stepped on the gas and eased around the parking lot.

“I told Siren that we were done, and I told her I wanted to never see her again. I said I was going to be with you if you would have me.” I could hear my blood gushing in my ears. Could feel my entire body heating up and trembling.

She stopped at the entry to the parking lot and put the car into park. She looked at her lap and sighed. Then she turned to me, and I grabbed her by the sides of the head and kissed her. It was our first kiss. I had kissed her many times, so many times before. I had kissed this one woman more times than anyone else, but this one kiss seemed different. It seemed cleaner. Seemed fuller and richer than any other kiss I had ever had. We knew things about ourselves now. We understood things that we had not before.

The last three years that I had been doing therapy to straighten myself out, Bekah had been hard at work, too. She had been to yoga. She had gone on a journey of self-discovery physically and spiritually. She had gone to an ashram and studied yoga there. Had become a yoga instructor and found a path. She strengthened herself in ways she had never before, found things in herself that she had not had any idea existed.

We had both become two vastly different people than the last time we had been together. Both stronger, both self-assured. When I kissed her that night, I felt as if she was breathing life into me and taking it out of me at the same time. As if we were feeding each other spiritually and physically. Nourishing one another with our affections. I had never felt anything so powerful and I had never felt stronger. I had never been so strongly under the mercy of another person. We kissed and when I pulled back, we were both crying.

See, we knew it was over. There was not a doubt in our minds that we were going to both fight for this as much as we could. This was our life now. We were this before anything else. We were a couple first. Everything else came after.

When we got to her house, I remember darkness. I’m sure we turned on the lights to get in bed. She probably brushed her teeth. I hadn’t brought a toothbrush. But I don’t remember any of that. All I remember is climbing into her bed, pulling the blankets up around us, and entwining ourselves in each other’s arms.

That first night we did not make love. We kissed quite a bit, but mostly what we did was talk. I told her what my last two weeks had looked like.

I was writing now. Had a two-hour writing shift that I was doing at the beginning of each day. I was working on my life story. Telling my memoirs as a way of studying what had happened to me and how it had changed me. I told her I was thirty-six pages in. It was all handwritten. I had not typed a bit of it. I did not know how to type, so I would have to get over that obstacle when I could, but for now it was just handwritten.

I had turned around my sleep schedule. I knew she would want me to sleep when she was sleeping and be awake while she was. So, I had changed my sleep schedule around. I told her I was eating breakfast now. I don’t know why that worked its way into my story but it did. It felt important. See, I had not eaten breakfast ever. When I was a kid I did, but after my mother stopped getting up with us in the morning, I stopped eating breakfast. Now I had begun to eat this meal as a way of regulating my life, as a way of embracing a more normal life.

I told her I was one day going to be a writer of all sorts of things, but for now my focus was on my autobiography.

She listened to all of it, and every few minutes as I talked about how I had changed things about myself, she would kiss my face and stroke my chest.

She spoke. She talked about how Summit was not a good fit for her. He did not want to get married. Did not think that one person could love another all of their life, and that marriage was not a thing he believed in. She said she knew when he said that that they had two different versions of what love was. That is when she called me. That is when she wanted me to fight for her.

I told her I felt as if I had been fighting for her in one way or another all my life. Trying to find her, then trying to keep her, then trying to find a way to be with her. I told her I needed all of the past to be gone. I wanted to start all over again, and I kissed her face and ran my fingers through her hair.

We talked all night. We made plans and we braced ourselves for the attack. The next day our struggle would begin, but we promised ourselves that no matter what happened we would face it as one. Then we kissed each other’s faces and stroked one another.

It was not sexual. This was not a sexual moment. This was an affirmation that the other was there. It seemed too impossible, too outrageous to be real. All of it was behind us. All of Sapphire, all of Siren. All of the ugly and the vile. All of the confusion and the pain. It seemed as if there was nothing but hope in our future and the only way we could reassure ourselves that we were not dreaming was to touch one another and hold each other.

Around six in the morning, the phone rang. When Bekah answered it, on the other end of the line was Siren.

Siren had called to talk Bekah out of taking me back. I hope you can see the lunacy of that. Siren said the two of them were friends, how could Bekah do this to her? She said I was sick and I was just going to hurt her again. She said she had talked to Fish and that she had said there was another guy. Said this was only my way of keeping her from leaving and finding real love in the arms of Summit. She said it was all just a scam. That I was a monster. That the two of us were just leaving broken hearts strung along behind us. But in the long game, her entire argument came down to, “Give him back! He is mine, I fought for him. I want him!”

Bekah deflected everything that was hurled at her. With ease Bekah guided herself around every barb and every attack. Her thinking on it has been told to me many times. She had won. It was over. The battle of her life was fought. It had taken us seven years to get from our first day together to this one, and it had been the battle of our lives. So many obstacles and enemies had come between us. So many terrible things and terrible truths had been brought before us, and we had handled every one of them. Today was the first day of our victory. She was not going to let it be ruined by a screaming match with Siren. And Bekah was not interested in gloating.

The call was long I think. I am not sure. Every part of that night and day are blurred together. Either way, Bekah hung up the phone and called Summit.

He was so happy for us! So excited that we had made it work. He wanted to meet me. Wanted to talk to me, and she handed the phone to me and I talked to what would become one of my best friends. He was warm and kind and had an immense capacity for love. He poured love, even through the phone, and I knew I had never met anyone quite like him.

We had breakfast and then she called her parents.

They were furious. Bliss was visiting and they had three phones in their house, so all three of them got on a phone and they all hit her at once.

Hymnal said at one point, “I wish someone would just come and sweep you off your feet.” But the last time someone had done that, it had been me and they had attacked it.

Bekah’s response was, “Someone has and his name is Jesse Teller. You need to accept that and move on.”

Bliss started to talk about Summit, saying I was seeing her leave to find happiness and that I was just ripping her away from Summit to keep her from being happy and healthy. This was proof I was a bad person right here, because when I saw her about to be happy, I had stepped in and ruined it.

Bekah deflected the hit. She said I was always the one and that Summit was not a real option because he had different goals.

Then Hymnal insisted on talking to me. This part still pisses me off. It has been 16 years. 16 years ago this was said to me. But still it hangs between me and Hymnal, this tiny bit of insult that I can’t get past.

I took the phone and she snapped, “Why should we give you another chance? Why should we let you back in after you have hurt us so many times?”

They had broken us up the first time. They had inserted themselves into our relationship and shattered what we had, and they had blamed it on me because I called off the wedding. The second time we had gotten together, when I lived on Normal Street, they had bad mouthed me behind my back and tried to break us up. When the entire thing fell apart after Grasp and the war I was fighting with my entire family, they blamed me for breaking things off.

Both times Bekah and I had broken up it had not been my fault, but here I was on this phone begging to be let back in for crimes I had never committed. I soaked the comment. I knew there was no fighting it. I knew my anger could not win them over and I thought about Bekah first.

If I yelled and screamed right then, if I cursed at her parents and slammed the phone down, Bekah would have backed my play. I knew she would have. She would have cut her family out until they backed off and apologized. I knew my reaction to this hit would dictate Bekah’s relationship with her family. And I was not going to destroy that.

“How do we know this is not just a manic episode and when you get depressed again you are not going to just drop Bekah and run off?”

“This is different,” I said.

“Different how?”

“Listen,” I said. “There is nothing I can say right now that is going to persuade you one way or the other. Nothing I can say will ease your fears or quiet the voice in your head. So, I will not try. I will only say this. Watch very carefully. Watch everything I am about to do. Watch the miracle I am going to work in your daughter’s life. Let my actions convince you because nothing else will.”

“Are you going to buy her a ring?” Bliss said.

Here came a bunching of anger as well but I beat it down and smiled. “I will be having one designed and made for her. She is a unique woman. She will have a one-of-a-kind ring.”

They said a few more things, all of them insulting on some level, but I soaked them all. I would not let them get me angry. Would not let them bring me up yelling or cursing. I walked away from the phone and handed it to Bekah.

This would not be the end of it. They would come at us a few more times. But we were a rock now. There was nothing more important to me than holding onto Bekah. Nothing more important to her than the power of our relationship. No matter what we had to do, we would do it. This was our life now. No one would be allowed between us.

This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.

Vol. 1: Teardrop Road is available now on Amazon.

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