Kimberly and Jason – Part 4 of 4: Kimberly Saves Jason
By Paul Riches
Kimberly glances up and down the halls of Trudeau High School, desperately looking for a sign of Jason. He did not text her last night when he got home, like he always did. He did not texted her this morning before school, like he always did. And he did not responded to any of her messages, each growing increasingly more urgent and concerned, like he always did.
Straining her head around at whiplash speed, Kimberly takes in the hallway one more time before reluctantly heading into her first class of the day, knowing full well her mind will never be on the subject matter at hand.
Class crawls by with no word from Jason. The rest of the morning stands still with Kimberly’s worries visible on her face. Lunchtime has Kimberly rushing about, looking everywhere for Jason, but also trying to not draw attention.
As the lunch hour is almost over, Kimberly realizes she would have to do the one thing Jason made her promise to never do. Holding back tears, Kimberly walks towards the school office, all to report that her love is missing.
A ringtone, sounding like the song Jason had performed on his video, blares out and Kimberly jumps back from the door. Her fingers fumble hurriedly all over her smartphone, all to see what the long awaited message from Jason is.
A short text burst tells her one word: Library.
Kimberly turns and runs to the place where so many conversations between the two have taken place, here and at every school the couple have attended. Slowing just enough to not burst through the doors, Kimberly enters the library tenderly and slowly treads the bookshelves, all to find Jason. In a far corner, she spots him, huddled away.
“Jason!” she barely manages to keep her voice to a stage whisper as she runs over. He flinches when she puts her arms around him, trying to keep his back to her, hands over his face.
“Jason! What’s wrong? Turn around! Are you alright? What happened to you? Turn around,” she rambles out as her hands try to hold him, turn him to face her, and offer comfort.
“Kimberly…” Jason cries in a whisper. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop him. It just happened and went on and on and…” he cries more, with anguish flooding the air, “…on” he finishes in a gasp.
Kimberly holds Jason carefully, and whispers, “I want to see, make sure you are alright. Please my love,”
Slowly, guided by Kimberly’s gentle touch, Jason comes face to face with her.
And Kimberly cries.
Jason’s face is covered with bruises. A black eye is swollen half shut, almost matching a lip heavy with pain. A scrape by his hairline still harbours some blood, now dry, and one ear is reddened from some blow. Tears run down his damaged features, washing his face with the humiliation of it all.
“Oh Jason!’ Kimberly exclaims, throwing her arms around him. He flinches from the hug and lets out muffled sounds of pain. Kimberly pulls back and lets her eyes slowly look down the rest of Jason, with ruffed up clothing that she could tell was slept in. Beneath that unkempt layer, Kimberly can sense the bangs and bruises that inhabit Jason’s body.
“Is it like this all over?” Kimberly barely whispers, not wanting to hear the answer.
Jason falls down to his knees, head looking up at Kimberly.
“It hurts to move,” he says through his swollen lips, “It hurts everywhere. It just… hurts.”
Kimberly comes to her knees, her hands carefully touching Jason’s wet broken face, and she gently kisses him. “It’s alright. Everything will be alright. It’s alright. It’s alright. We will fix this. We will talk to your mom and fix all of this. It’s alright,” Kimberly babbles with her lips mere spaces from Jason’s, her tears mingling with his.
“She knows,” Jason whispers, “she knows, she watched, she did nothing,” a small shudder goes through him. “She did nothing.”
Kimberly stares into Jason’s hurt eyes.
“She did nothing? She did not…” she shakes her head abit, trying to clear the insanity from it. She looks back at him, seeking some kind of logic to this horror. “Why? Why did he do this? He has never gone this…” her eyes look over his face with incredulity, “… far before. It’s just… evil.”
Jason stares into her pleading eyes.
“I told him about us. Hoping he would be happy. Hoping he would celebrate… like your family did. And instead… he punched me. Over and over and over.”
Jason’s head leans forward and rests on Kimberly’s forehead, closing his eyes in the process.
“He kept telling me off. Saying I had no right to date you. Saying you were lesser because you are Hispanic. He called you all sorts of filthy names. Horribly filthy names. Over and over and over again.”
Kimberly opens and closes her eyes several times, hoping to wake from this nightmare.
“But why? We have been friends forever and forever, why now?”
Kimberly sees more tears streaming from Jason’s bruised eyes.
“I think he just doesn’t want me to be happy.”
Kimberly stretches her arms around Jason’s large body, knowing full well of all the unseen harm just below his clothes, and hugs him with massive love.
Jason feels the physical pain from this, but it is overwhelmed by the love of the hug.
Seconds pass like days, and the bell for class sounds. Jason looks at Kimberly, with a lost look clear on his face
“What are we going to do?” he asks.
Kimberly stares at him a split second, then glances around, thinking. On the floor is his schoolbag, still ready for class. She also sees Jason’s smart phone, laying to the side slowly charging off of a wall outlet, barely above one bar of power. Turning back to Jason, Kimberly talks quickly.
“Grab your phone and your backpack and meet me outside. I am going to the office and telling them I am sick. We are going to my house, getting you some food and rest,” she whispers.
“What about after that? I don’t want to go home… I can’t go home,” Jason asks.
“We will… we will hide you at my house. That’s what we will do. Hide you from him, forever and forever,” Kimberly states with conviction.
She kisses him, making this plan, born out of love and desperation, official.
Short minutes later, Kimberly and Jason are outside and heading to her house. Soon the couple are feeding Jason, and after that, a restless nap for him on the couch. By late afternoon, Jason is awoken and is moved, along with all traces of him, to Kimberly’s bedroom. She had cleared some space for him in her closest, not a perfect hiding place for the large boy, but it would do for now. A flashlight and a book became his companions when the closest door slides shut, even though both admitted he would be too nervous to read, much less enjoy it.
Shortly after April and Luke are home, with Kimberly doing her best to present a normal look, not entirely convincing her younger siblings. The act is made doubly hard when her parents come home from work with her mother immediately senses something is amiss. Multiple times through the course of the rest of the night, she repeatedly prods Kimberly about how she was. Her reply, as always, was that she just wasn’t feeling well. Her mother had no clue about Jason’s life all these years, a secret he requested be kept between them, and she has to honour his wishes.
The night ends with Kimberly in her bedroom, letting Jason out of her closest and hands him some food she managed to sneak away with.
“You okay?” she whispers.
“Yes, abit stiff. I could hear everyone downstairs, talking and stuff. I think they know something is different, something is wrong,” he replies.
“Nothing is wrong,” she whispers back, “you are here and you are safe, so nothing is wro—”
Kimberly is interrupted by a knock on her door and her mother’s voice calling her name with concern.
Jason scrambles back into the closest, dropping the dinner rolls. He thumps against he clothes as she slides the door shut. As her mother swings the bedroom door open, Kimberly hops into the center of her room, landing in the middle of the food.
“What was that noise? Why is their food on the floor? What is going on here? You have been acting odd all night young lady and I want answers!” Kimberly’s mom is almost shouting, looking around the room and giving stern looks to her daughter.
The noise attracts her father and younger sister and brother, who come barreling down the hall and into her doorway.
“Well Kimberly, what is going on?” Her mom demands.
“Nothing. Noth–,” Kimberly stops when a strained thump sound emanates from her closet, causing all eyes to turn in that direction.
Her mother strides over, slides the door open, and stares in disbelief at Jason standing in the closest, arms covering his face.
“What is going on here? Get out of that closest right now Jason!” her mother shouts, then turns to Kimberly, “Were you two planning on having sex tonight? Is that what this is all about?”
“NO!” Kimberly shouts back, tears forming, “It’s not like that at all!”
Her mother turns back to Jason, still shouting. “Jason! Put your arms down right now! Tell me what in hell is going on!”
Slowly, with tears already flowing, Jason lowers his arms. “I am sorry. I am sorry,” he bawls.
Kimberly’s family sees the bruises, the black eye, the swollen lip. They see the scratches and the welts and the tears now blanketing them.
“Who did this to you?” Kimberly’s mom whispers, the anger in her eyes replaced with shock.
“My step dad. My step dad did this. Over and over and—” he cries.
Jason’s words are cut off by Kimberly’s mother, who puts her arms around the large boy and holds him. Just holds him. For almost a minute. And keeps saying, over and over, in a calm tone filled with tears, “It’s going to be alright now Jason.”
When she slowly, reluctantly, pulls away, Kimberly’s mother turns to her.
“This is why you were so… strange tonight,” she says to Kimberly, then turns back to Jason, cupping his face with her hand, and smiles. “You were protecting Jason.”
Another second passes before she turns back again to Kimberly. “And what was your plan to deal with this problem Kimberly? Were you going to hide Jason in your room forever?”
“If I had to,” Kimberly says through the tears, “forever and forever.”
Her mother smiles at her daughter, then gazes at her husband.
“I think Jason is pretty hungry right now, I will take him downstairs and get him something besides dinner rolls,” she states very calmly.
Her father nods and turns to Kimberly. ” Jason is staying here from now on,” and then looks at Jason, “and a lawyer we know will keep that man away from you.”
As Jason leaves with her mom, Kimberly and her dad sees the stunned faces on April and Luke. “Jason’s step dad did that to him?” Luke asks, with April whispering “Why?”
Kimberly’s father huddles down and hugs both of them quickly, then pulls back, and with his hands on their shoulders, answers, “Yes he did, because he is not a nice man. But Jason is safe now with us,” he glances at Kimberly, “forever and forever.”
Half an hour later, Jason is tucked away for the night on the living room couch, belly full and wounds more appropriately cared for and documented.
He looks over and sees Kimberly walking towards him, carrying a sleeping bag.
“Mom and dad said I could sleep on the floor beside you tonight.”
Kimberly unrolls her sleeping bag and gets inside it.
“Thank you Kimberly… for everything,” Jason says.
“Forever and forever,” Kimberly says back.
And as they settle in to fall asleep, Kimberly and Jason smile at each other.
Kimberly reaches up her hand and Jason lovingly takes it.
Kimberly and Jason is Copyright 2014 to Paul Riches
First published on Monday, February 3rd, 2014