The first time she saw Jakie, she was relieved


A soft knock at her door caused her to open it. She was delighted to see both
Jakie and Gage with her. It was a huge surprise to see Jakie, who was her
former roommate and her best friend from junior high school. They were
finally back. She couldn’t tell if she was relieved because she’d finally
gotten her life back on track, or frustrated with her past behavior in
retrieving her past life as a normal girl with normal, if not happy,
relationships. When she opened the door she saw another surprise in her
brother’s arms.

Gage, she saw, was a little more than a year older than her and had never
spoken to her. All the happiness in her heart went out to be there in her
brother’s arms. She tried to remember their conversations, but all she could
remember about them was when she had kissed him. She could never forget
his lips at their most perfect. They were like velvet, smooth and as if
the skin were made for each other. As he pulled her in her arms, she felt as
if she was touching a piece of the world she didn’t know. And then he
kissed her.

Forget that there was a time when she refused to kiss a boy in his
class. She wanted those lips again now. They were full, but not too full.
Gage’s lips were soft, but not too soft. Her mind played back the way he
had looked at her, the way she had looked at him, the way he had looked at
her in her school picture; how he had smiled at her on the front steps after
school. How beautiful she had thought he was. There had been a moment they
had shared in which they had looked at each other and felt the same in their
own world. Just a moment, a moment when the world was quiet, just them.
Serene, just you two. They hadn’t been alone, but they had been alone with
one another, but they had been alone.

It was a memory, one she would never forget. The memories she’d had with
Gage had always been in her head. There was no escaping them. It was like
she was the same person she couldn’t live without. The night they first saw
each other was the night they first spoke. It was a moment of revelation.
They had shared so much in that one moment, and if she could bring herself
to see past that moment, she could see the one they shared in their entire
lifespan. Their entire life. For all the years that followed she would see
Gage every time she saw his face and their world would feel like it was just
them again.


The two returned to their rooms to find their families waiting for them. As
Gage passed his mother’s room he heard Mama’s voice, his mother’s booming
voice, calling out in excitement and joy. Gage stopped. He looked at the
couple, the two that had helped him, and he wondered how they had gotten
away from the hospital like they had gone. It was the night of the
incident. He never expected that something like that would happen. Not that
he’d ever planned on this for himself. But still, there he stood. Gage
couldn’t believe it; he couldn’t believe his family would make that
decision. They would have said no, they would have fought him and fought
themselves, but he knew they would have said yes. He couldn’t believe his
mother had the power to make him so happy.

Afterwards, Gage watched his mother and Papa kiss. His family was finally
bonding. There were tears in Mama’s eyes as she said goodbye, but it was
like everything was perfect now because they were going to be together; they
would be together for eternity. Gage couldn’t bear to see his father and
son embrace. No, thank you, he wanted to say, but they were already
engulfed in one another.

Once they were gone, Jakie and Gage went to the room where the other
babies, the kids they’d had at the hospital, were asleep. They had been
there since the beginning, and in fact that had been the first place
their parents had gone. Gage didn’t like seeing the other kids. He loved all
of them, loved them as much as he was loved them, loved them as much he had
loved his own child. But they were so different. He felt as if he could
never grow up in the same way. He would always be a kid. A child. A man. He
had always wanted to grow up and be man-like, to be like the other kids,
but he realized they were older than him. They were adults. And adults
needed to start thinking about family. They needed to start thinking about
their family. Even at eleven. Even at eleven.

They had taken everything from him at the age of six. In the three years
since, everything he had ever needed had been taken. He had been a
prisoner in his own home, and he’d spent his whole life waiting for that
day to be over. And he had waited for three years until one beautiful
year, when he could become a man.

And now it was here. But it wasn’t here for him. He was here to take that
lover’s manhood. He was here to be a father. He was here to be the one
that would raise his daughter with his love. His father and his father’s
father had had it. His father and his father’s father had taken everything
from him. And here he was the one to get it back.

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