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[ what has become ]
by kHo


Jimmy always woke up before she did.  Sometimes she wondered if he ever went to sleep, but she never bothered to ask.  He wouldn´t have told her the truth if she had, and she hated that he lied to her, but at least it was a lie out of love.

She´d wake up slowly to the feel of his fingers sliding through her hair, over and over, in gentle strokes.  Her hair would curl around the tips of his wide fingers and his fingernails would scratch against her scalp and slowly her senses would come back to her.  She´d turn into him, keeping her eyes closed and trying to clasp to the last few seconds of sleep before she had to get up and be real.

Now she wishes she´d spent that time making love to him and talking.  Even if he´d gotten mad, even if she´d pushed him, it would have been better than this.  It would have been better than waking up in an empty bed, no fingers ghosting through her hair, no smile on his face when she finally opened her eyes.


She used to watch Jimmy sleep because that was the only time he ever looked at peace, and the sweet smile on his face sometimes made her cry.

Tommy´s nose wrinkles when he sleeps and his fingers curl into the sheets as he mutters, and sometimes his leg jerks when he yells.

She´s not sure what she was like when she slept, but it´s been a long time since she has so she guesses it doesn´t matter.


Jimmy knew how to cook, but not well.  The eggs were burnt, the toast blackened, the bacon shrunken into curly pieces of hard flesh.  She used to bitch at him, saying if he just would have waited until she´d showered she would have made it.  He´d always smile and say if her showers didn´t last longer than a Led Zeppelin concert, he would have.

Damien would trudge into the kitchen fifteen minutes before he had to leave for school and Jimmy would ruffle his hair.  Damien would grumble about personal space, and leaving well enough alone until someone was awake for Christ´s sake, and then he´d slump at the table and gripe about overcooked bacon and how sometimes he wishes he was Jewish so he didn´t have to eat this shit.  Jimmy always failed miserably at trying to hide his smirk as Sheila swatted him upside the head for his language.

Now she leaves the stove on high when she cooks her eggs and she doesn´t take them off until they´re sticking on the pan.  She puts her toast through twice and when she spreads the butter over it black flakes of crust scatter into the tub of margarine.  Damien´s still a grouch when he wakes up but he never curses and he never complains about the bacon.  Sometimes she finds herself glaring at him because she wishes he would.


When Jimmy would wake up and the first thing out of his mouth was I love you and he'd smile at her the same way he did the first time he saw her.

When Tommy wakes up he says fuck and grumbles for the first ten minutes until he's rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

She used to get up and wrap Jimmy's warm robe around her body, but now she just pads into the bathroom in her pajamas.


She used to spend half of her morning reading in the big comfy chair of Jimmy´s that she pretended to hate, Enya playing on the CD player as she turned the pages of the Danielle Steele novel.  She´d drink her coffee while reading about guys named Raphael and girls named Desirea and she´d snort at the cheesy lines and mentions of heaving bosoms.  She´d bookmark a page for Jimmy to read later and plan to go to the store to buy a corset just so she could see him laugh.

She´d wait until the hour before Jimmy would come home to start cleaning.  She´d get out her duster and her pledge and she´d swipe it haphazardly over the tables and the chairs.  She´d turn on The Rolling Stones and sing loudly and horribly off key while she ran the vacuum and she always made sure her hair was messy when Jimmy got home.  He´d smile down at her and she´d pretend she couldn´t hear him over Mick Jagger until he´d grab her around the waist and kiss her until she couldn´t breathe anymore.

Now she drinks whiskey instead of coffee and watches CNN and she never sits in that chair, not ever.  By ten o´clock the whiskey has numbed her brain enough for her to crawl back into bed under covers that used to be warm enough and pillows that used to smell like smoke and Dial soap.  She cleans on Sundays and she broke the Rolling Stones CD months ago when she was too drunk to remember to take it out before she put Zeppelin in it´s place.  She thinks part of it is still wedged in her player somewhere because every once in a while a CD would skip even when it wasn´t scratched.


She used to tell Jimmy the dreams she had and he'd laugh at her and make fun of them and then he'd call her in the middle of his shift to remind her.

The only thing she tells Tommy is when she needs to get off and after they've both come they lay there, sweating and spent, saying nothing.

She used to be able to bring herself off in the middle of the day if she wanted to, but now she just gets aggravated and gives up ten minutes into it.


Jimmy´s favorite way to spend a day off was to go to the park with Tommy and Janet and the kids, cooking hot dogs on the grill while sharing a beer with Tommy.  She used to sit on the sidelines with Janet and watch Damien throwing a football with the kid from down the block and Jimmy smile in the way he only did around Tommy.  She´d smile and ignore Janet´s comments about the way Tommy´s pants didn´t fit and how he needed a haircut, and resisted the urge to tell Janet that she should really see someone about getting that stick surgically removed from her ass.

They´d sit at a picnic table underneath a big oak tree and Tommy would tell jokes and try not to curse, but he´d always slip up when it came to the word shit.  Janet would glare at him and Jimmy would laugh until he was red in the face.  The kids always finished eating first and go back to reading or playing or talking on their cell phones and that was always Sheila´s favorite part.  When Tommy stopped trying to be polite and Jimmy would sling his arm around him.  She thinks Janet used to get jealous that Tommy and Jimmy were closer with each other than they were with their wives, but she just liked seeing Jimmy so open and carefree.

Now she doesn´t answer the phone when she sees Janet´s name on the caller ID and the last time she saw Colleen was when she was at the store with one of her friends.  She takes the long way to avoid looking at the park on her way to the grocery store and she gets nauseous when she smells hot dogs.  The last time she bought lighter fluid was when Damien was going to a friend´s house and they were planning on building a bonfire.  When she gave it to him she´d grabbed his chin and told him he better sure as hell make sure that shit was out when they were done.


When she met Jimmy she was a flirt and a tease and he had her from the moment he smiled at her.

When she lost Jimmy she thinks she forgot how to smile without it pulling at her heart like a snapped tendon.

She's not sure if she'll ever love again, but sometimes Tommy smiles at her and it doesn't shatter her any more than she already is, so she thinks maybe she'll settle for this.


Jimmy never talked about the fires, not even when she could see the shadows under his eyes.  He´d come home smelling like death and charred skin, soot covering his face, and head straight for the shower before she even had the chance to ask him if he was okay.  When he got out he smelled like Dial soap and his smile never reached his eyes, but he´d kiss her and say it was a rough day and she learned very early on to not ask him to elaborate.

Sometimes at night she would feel his arms wrap around her a little too tightly and she could feel the wetness on his cheeks but she never turned around.  She´d lie there and listen to him breath and sometimes hear him mumbling about life and death and love and she´d close her eyes and wish he would do this when he thought she was awake.  She´d hear him on the phone at two o´clock in the morning every once in a while talking to Tommy, his voice low and barely above a whisper, and she´d wonder if Janet ever just let him cry on her shoulder.   She´s pretty sure she knows the answer so she never bothered to ask.

Now she´s the one who can´t sleep and there´s no one for her to call at 2 o´clock in the morning so she hugs the pillow to her chest instead.  She took a bar of soap one day and rubbed it over the pillow case so it would smell like Jimmy after he took a shower.  She´d gotten it in her eye and it had stung like hell but she´d still clung to the pillow despite the tears running down her face because the tears were pretty much constant anyway.


She's not sure exactly when she lost her sanity but she knows it was sometime between when that first building and the second building fell.

She drinks whiskey in the morning and she drinks it at night, and she pretends the burn in her chest is the same as it used to be when she knew how to love.

There was a time when she would have known how to get help, but the only person she knew to ask was dead and gone and the reason she wasn't sane to begin with.  


Jimmy used to roll over sometimes in the middle of the night and tilt her face toward him and kiss her while she was still asleep.  She´d wake up to the feel of his fingers sliding underneath her nightgown and she´d smile to herself and ask him why exactly he insisted on interrupting her very good dream about Johnny Depp.  He´d say she was muttering in her sleep and he got jealous and wanted to show her that she was his and his alone.

He was always so gentle, his fingers curving around her ass, gently pulling her on top of him because he knew she liked to be in control sometimes.  He´d close his eyes and run his big hands up and down her body and hiss when her nails dug into his skin.  He was never rough, he never pushed her into having sex when she didn´t want to, and he´d spent ten minutes apologizing one night when he´d accidentally knocked her off the bed when he was coming, kissing her bruising thigh and whispering that he´d find a way to make it up to her.

Now she can´t get off unless Tommy is pulling her hair in two directions at once, biting his teeth into her skin hard enough to break the flesh.  She hates it when his fingers skate over her skin and she digs her heels into his back until his nails bite into her back and he bucks, cursing harshly against her skin.  She downs half a bottle of whiskey after he pulls out of her, swats at his arm when he throws it around her when he´s falling asleep and kicks him out before Damien wakes up.  


She's thinks she really needs help, but she's not even sure she wants to be sane again.

Sane means dealing with it, sane means living through it, sane means sober, and she doesn´t think she could do that.

The only person who knew how to get her through things like this was Jimmy, and she´s pretty sure he can´t get her through his own death.


She gets drunk, she fucks Tommy, she makes sure Damien goes to school, and she reminds herself to breath.  She takes a shower every day, she makes breakfast every morning, and she thinks that´s doing pretty well.

She hates the fact that she knows Jimmy is disappointed in her, wherever he is.  She thinks if Jimmy´s so damned disappointed in her, let him come back and make her do it better.

She knows she´s fucked up and she´s pretty sure Damien knows it too.  She knows there are better ways to do this, but this is the only way she knows how to do it without breaking completely.


That´s all anyone can expect of her anyway, she thinks.

Jimmy was her everything, and now he´s gone.

What else is she supposed to do?

All feedback much appreciated!
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