face. She wanted it. The realization slammed into him like a baseball bat. The longing in her eyes was obvious even from where he stood.
“No, wouldn’t want to have you and me sitting in silence because you refuse to talk to me about anything that’s important. Tell Dorly hey.” With that, she went inside, and Jam suppressed the impulse to call after her. Instead, he went over to the old lady.
“Watching you two is like seeing a romance play out on two different sides of a wall,” Miss Rome commented, and Jam looked at her.
“I’m caught in a nightmare, and she’s a daydream. We are two sides of a coin, and I don’t think we’ll ever see eye to eye,” he explained, and the old lady arched her brow.
“You aren’t one of those people who thinks love conquers all?” She wanted to know, and Jam choked out a laugh.
“Miss, I’m standing in a black hell. Are you sure you want me to pull Aly and Alessandro down, too?” God, Jam had never hated himself more than he did at that moment.
“Tell me, what did you do? What’s that big secret between you and her? What are you two not telling me? What are you not telling her?” Jam gave her a grin, shaking his head.
“You’re not nearly as subtle as you think you are,” he teased.
“Subtle? I asked outright. And I swear I’ll find out. You’ll tell me your secret, boy, trust me,” she insisted, and he sighed, deciding to change the topic.
“So what’s it you need of me now?” he asked instead, and she grinned sheepishly.
“You needed to get away or she would have probably torn down your walls right there and then,” Miss Rome admitted. “You didn’t look ready to have that happen just yet. But while you ask, I still have that drawer that needs fixing, and I was thinking my porch needs a new coat of paint. What a coincidence that I have the paint, too.”
“Yes, what a lucky turn.” He laughed. He wasn’t ready to paint outside, but he was sure there was more than enough to do inside the house.
Night had settled, and Jam noticed with pleasure that his muscles felt thoroughly used. Besides the drawer, he had fixed some broken boards on the front porch and a missing piece of the railing outside. Not only did the porch need a new coat of paint, but also the whole house. He figured he’d see how long he was going to stay and then maybe get to the remainder. Cleaning his hands in the kitchen sink, his eyes rose to the house next door. There was a single light on, illuminating the porch, and a woman standing there, staring out at the dark waves.
“I always thought I’d see the day when Alessia was standing there, her expression thoughtful, until a guy walked out and embraced her from behind. He’d kiss her neck, and she’d turn around, shining brighter than the Northern Star. The years passed by, and it never happened. She’s still there almost every night,” his host mumbled next to him. Jam squinted, but no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t read the expression on her face.
“Miss Rome …”
“Would you call me Dorly, please? I feel so damn old otherwise,” she fussed, and he grinned, pointing at her white hair wordlessly. “Tactful, Mister Loane, pointing out the age of a woman.” She then huffed, and he sobered, bowing.
“I sincerely apologize for pointing out the obvious,” he teased, and she playfully slapped him. Jam liked her a lot and figured his own grandmother would be like that if he hadn’t lost her when he was young.
“You should laugh more often. It makes you seem so much younger,” Dorly commented thoughtfully, and Jam turned away from her again to watch Alessia.
“What I wanted to say was that I can’t see her face clearly from here. How do you know she looks serious? Maybe she’s smiling because she remembers something.”
“Jamison, I know her. Trust me. She’s a woman at twenty-eight, and she has a silent night because her son is gone. I don’t remember when that last happened
Dorothy Johnston, Port Campbell Press