Mathangi Mahesh Kumar, II Year B.A. English.
Diana waited outside the door for about ten minutes thinking whether she should knock. It wasn’t too late to change her mind and go back. But that would break Jamie. And so for ten minutes she debated whether to prepare herself to be strong or walk away and come up with a lousy apology later. She suddenly thought of Jamie and the look on his face when he had asked her and before she could change her mind, she rapped her knuckes on the door.
“Diana Phillips? Ah yes, it’s lovely to meet you at last. Do come in. Take a seat.” The man with hair as silver as the moon, led her into the living room. Her legs felt like water and anxiety chewed away inside her gut. Just as she had taken a seat, a middle aged woman with the same green eyes as Jamie’s came walking in. Her face held a kind smile. “Well you must be Diana Phillips. You look much better in person. Jamie has told us so much about you.”
The woman turned around and called out in an excited voice. “Ian! Look who’s here.” The man who entered looked so much like Jamie, with his tousled red hair and his one sided grin, that Diana felt the sudden urge to laugh. She stood up to greet him. “It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Parrish.”
“Please, call me Ian.” He said shaking her hand. He turned to his wife. “I’ll go tell Jamie she is here.”
“Would you like something to drink, my dear?” The old man, whom she figured was Jamie’s grandad, asked her politely. “Some wine, perhaps?”
Diana’s stomach sank and her smile almost faltered. Wine. What had Jamie said the first time they had talked? Something about his parents once fighting over having to buy wine every time his father’s boss came over.
Not wanting to sound rude and because of the effort they had gone to make her feel comfortable, Diana nodded with a gracious smile. “I would love some.” He walked out of the room.
At once Mrs. Parrish stared gushing. “I hope you know that Jamie has been thrilled ever since you said you’d come home to visit us. It took a lot of coaxing from his father and grandad to get him to ask you. Even rehearsed in front of the mirror.” She smiled fondly as she thought of her son. “He’s a good boy.” She says after a pause.
“I know.” Diana said with such surety that she even surprised herself.
After about five minutes of small talk and hearing a little bit of the local gossip, Diana felt more at ease in the little house with its cozy little chairs. She wasn’t that nervous anymore. Jamie’s grandpa, whom she had heard so much about over the past one year, cracked one of his baseball jokes, making Diana laugh.
It was a little over eight when Jamie finally stepped into the room. He wore formal pants and button down shirt that looked newly ironed. His messy hair was sorted out with a comb but Diana could see that it wasn’t as dense as it once was His face broke open into his one sided grin and his green eyes twinkled as he ran to her.
Diana bent down to hug him. “Hey Miss. Phillips!”
“Hi Jamie.” She laughed at his childish enthusiasm. “You look pretty handsome.”
“I know. My mamma told me.” He said in his cocky Jamie voice before grinning even widely at her. Everyone laughed at that.
“Well, come on. I’m starving. Let’s go eat.” He pulled on her hands and she stood up and followed. “Mamma made you chicken soup the way you like it.”
After dinner, Diana excused herself and locked herself in the bathroom. She didn’t look that bad. She would be lying to herself if she thought she was anything close to fine. She wasn’t. Seeing Jamie smile and talk was such a hard task. Glancing down at the floor, she almost gave a yelp. Strings of red glittered in the golden light of the bathroom. Jamie’s hair. The therapy ensured his red locks withered away. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the door. She can do this. She took a deep breath and left the bathroom.
The seven months that followed was like passing through a different level of hell. She would get news from Jamie’s parents or the Principal from time to time and each time, she would end up curling with a blanket on her couch, reading book after book until exhaustion took over. She had gotten used to walking past an empty chair in her class and grading only nineteen papers and not twenty.
The day when her life would turn around forever arrived on one dull Thursday morning, when the first of the snowflakes settled on her hair while she walked to work. She received a message. A message delivering not disaster for once but a miracle. A miracle as needed as the snow. A miracle that brought tears to her eyes. One which was too good to be true.
Another seven months later, a red haired boy walked into her class, quite late. When asked why, he flashed a smile at her and shrugged his shoulders.
Jamie still had a way with his grin.