John sat in the lounge chair in the corner at the town bakery, eating his breakfast. “Can I have some more coffee, Jessica?”
Jessica reached behind the counter and picked up a carafe and a plate she had on the counter. She headed over to John to refill his cup. “Have things settled down for you, John?” She filled his cup and set down a shortbread for him.
He sullenly looked up, but smiled. “Yeah, I’m doing okay. Still looking for a bright spot in this whole changed world.”
Jessica forced a smile and patted him on the shoulder. She could only imagine his pain. She looked up and saw Carol come in, then headed back to the counter. “Morning, Carol.”
“Hi, Mrs. Tatum.” Carol put in an order for a pastry and some tea to go. “I’ll be over here. I need to have a word with John.”
John looked up and waved Carol over. She slid into the chair across from him.
“Do you mind me asking what happened when you were in jail? Did you communicate with anyone while you were there?”
He hung his head. “I never wanted to get into it. I lost it. I deserved being behind bars. And, I was embarrassed. How could I have been so….”
Carol interrupted him. “John, you need to stop beating yourself up. Everyone messes up now and then.” Her fingers drummed on the journal in her hand. In that moment, Carol realized the mystery she was trying to solve was how to help John through this journey. “Why didn’t you let Jojo know what was going on?”
John looked up at her intently. “What do you mean? The letter I got from her was to tell me she was marrying Gary. It was why I was so mad. I kept that anger inside me trying to swallow it down. When she wasn’t home to talk it through, I lost it again.”
Carol looked at him intently. “According to her journal, she wrote several times. Did you ever think that letter was meant to get you to respond, not to anger? A chance to tell her what was inside your heart? ” She looked down, but knew it was time to hand the book over to him. “Sometimes, when someone loves someone, they forgive just about anything and they’ll reach out to connect in any way to get a response. It’s hard, but…here.”
She handed John the journal. “I think she would want to be here with you. She just needed to know it was what you wanted, too.”
His hand shook as he took the journal, and looked up with damp eyes. “Thank you.”
Carol stood up and squeezed his arm. “I hope it brings you peace.”
John opened up the book to the back of the journal to look over the last few entries.
I try to be a good wife to Gary, but my heart still loves John. I wish I could tell him.
Her final entry is solemn, almost foreboding.
Gary is a good man, and I’m lucky he’s by my side. However, he knows however my soul isn’t here. It’s out there, wherever John is, if he’d have me.
John’s eyes spilled over. He went to close the journal when a sealed letter, addressed to him, fell out from the pages.
If you are reading this, I hopefully am sitting in front of you, tearfully happy and overjoyed to be with you. If that ends up not possible, you still need to know.
I never stopped loving you.
Even in those times when I was mad at you, disappointed with how things were between us, and we were with others, I still loved you.
I know of some of the bad things that went on in your life, and when I heard of them, I rooted for you to pull through as I always knew you would.
I cheer for you through the highs, too, because that’s what we do when we love someone.
I always want you to feel loved and have a life full of laughter. May your most beautiful dreams always come true for you.
I hope we find our way back to each other one day in this life. If not, may we find each other quickly and get it right in the next.
All my love, Always.
As I come to the conclusion of this short story, I want to go back and rewrite it. I want a happy ending for Jojo and John. And I’d like to give Carol some grand discovery she can shout to the whole world through her work; hopefully she can be satisfied with making a difference in another person’s life instead this round.
The great thing is, I can always edit and rewrite…so I might.
If you have read this short story and liked it, I hope you’ll enjoy the rewrite as well when I refine the story. Thank you for taking the time to read my work. I welcome feedback so I can grow further on this journey. ~DRM~