It was later that day that I returned home from Stacey's, later that night when Dad said he would be home, yet no one answered my call when I entered the threshold. Just as I was about to close the door behind me, I saw flickering lights against the far wall of my living room. I turn around to see my father's police car pull into my neighbor's driveway. I watch from my door to see my father and his partner get out to knock on Ricky's front door. While I could not hear any voices, I watched as they handcuffed him and brought them to the police car. Running out on my front porch, I grasped the railing tight, afraid I might fall over from momentum.
"Ricky." I gasp out of shock. They all looked up at me in surprise, as if I wasn't supposed to be there, which I wasn't. However, I couldn't stand there and allow this injustice to happen.
"Klara, go inside," my father warned in a stern voice that happened to be so foreign.
"No, Dad, you have it all wrong," I ran down my porch stairs while they packed him in the back of the police car. I watched as his eyes lowered and refused to meet mine.
"Klara, get back into the house," Father approached me, guarding the car door.
"But, Dad, I can explain," I tried to fight his fencing arms. However, a pair of arms wrapped around me, pulling me away from the car, in order for my father to retreat to the driver's side. They piled in and pulled away, while I kept resisting the force that held me back. I watched Ricky give me a strong look from behind the window of that dreaded car. Once they were out of sight, I let my body go limp, and the power behind me loosed its grip. I had failed. My prediction was coming true and there was no stopping it. Ricky wasn't even going to use me as an alibi. I just prayed that my warning prepared him.
"Come on, Klara," I hear Jackson behind me, wrapping his arms around my shoulders to assist me back to his house. I didn't care or think anything of it until he closed the door behind me. It had been years since my feet had entered his home. He brought me to the kitchen table and started a pot of tea. It might not strike you at first sight, but Jackson and his mother were maybe the most proper family in town. Tea was their go-to for any form of company. It caused me to enjoy tea as a child.
"Why were you there?" I asked him quickly.
"I was coming home from Tanner's house when I saw the scene." He focuses on the pot. If only I could confess to him that his best friend is flirting with his girlfriend.
"So you held me back," I let the irritation set in my tone of voice.
"You can't get mad at me, Klara," he pulled off his sweatshirt revealing a forest green Nike shirt underneath that complemented his dark tanned skin from the summer. "Your father was just trying to do his job and you were holding back the process."
"Because Ricky didn't do anything wrong," I snap.
"Why are you so defensive of him?" Jackson comes back just as quick.
"We just have an understanding, that's all." I mumbled but he looked at me suspiciously. "I just know he didn't do it."
"The only way you would know he didn't do it is if you were with him that night, Klara. We both know you were with me that night," he sat in the chair next to me and observed my reaction closely. "Unless... you were with him that night, too, after me that is."
"You gave me information that I had to confront him with," I excuse myself. He breathes a laugh in disbelief.
"Did you kiss him? I bet you did and I bet you didn't think twice about kissing two guys in one night." He shook his head at me.
"I don't know what you expect from me anymore, Jackson. You throw all these emotions at me and expect me to juggle them. You don't speak to me for years and then you want to protect me, then you kiss me, then you get mad and storm out when I don't accept it right away. Now, you comfort me, bring me into your home, interrogate me about someone who should be none of your business and get mad about how I react," I explode at him while he seems somewhat shocked. "I might be quiet, but that does not mean that I don't have a backbone."
The pot began to whistle from across the kitchen. He quickly stood to grab it. When it was quiet once again I pulled away from the table to stand.
"Thank you for your hospitality, but I better go," I refuse to look him in the eyes.
"No," he quickly says before composing his tone. "I don't want you in that house alone and I don't think your father would either. Why don't you stay... have a cup of tea and help me with my English," his endearing eyes plead. "Just for a little while, please."
I nod and return to my spot at the table as he distributes liquid into two cups and retrieves his backpack. I assisted him in the true meaning of The Great Gatsby. We even shared a few giggles when discussing the literal meaning. I hadn't shared moments like this with Jackson since we were young and it was refreshing to feel this way again. At one point we were sitting so closely and laughing so hard that we looked up to be only inches away. Swept away in a moment of fond memories and deep happiness, we both leaned in before I stopped myself.
"Rejection." He whispered, closing his eyes due to the blow. "Twice."
"Do you really not feel this, Klara?" He gestured between us.
"I don't know, Jackson. Feelings set aside, you have a girlfriend," I reminded him.
"I know I do," he ran his fingers through his chocolate hair that seemed so swift.
"I won't be like her," I shake my head.
"Why would you be like her?" He leans forward again, interested in my knowledge. Even though it wasn't my information to tell, I thought of how badly I would desire to know if the roles were reversed.
"Tanner and Lillian have something going on," I warned him.
"They are just friends," he shrugs as if that solved the issue.
"Jackson... you know it's true, I can tell. You refuse to believe it." I say out loud what he doesn't want to hear.
"I don't know what to believe," he confesses in a hushed toned so I drop it.
"I should go. My dad will be home any minute and they are going to have school tomorrow, so I need a good night's rest, as do you." I stand and thank him for everything. This time he just nodded and didn't try hard to mask his wounded face as I walked out.
Dad was pulling into the driveway as I walked up the steps.
"I don't want to hear it, Dad. I just don't want to discuss it." I refuse to look at him.
"Klara, listen to me," he follows me up to the house.
"I'm going to bed," I ran up the stairs and slammed the door behind me so he got the message. I went to the window, opening the shades to see if my neighbor was home. His room was dark with no occupant, so I sat on my bed and waited until a light turned on... no matter how long it would take.