Jess wanted to twist Jeremy’s gorgeous neck. He was driving her insane.
He did nothing but complain the whole time she’d been at the apartment. Nothing was as they should be. Everything sucks. Jess could feel a headache coming.
“When am I allowed to swim?” Jeremy said grumpily. He’d asked her that question more than once in the last two hours.
“When you get your stitches out,” Jess answered as she patiently counted to ten.
She stood in the kitchen, preparing some fruit snacks for Jeremy and had already been thinking about the ingredients for dinner. Shirley had been cooking for them for the past evenings and for a change, Jess wanted to give her a break by preparing some Cantonese dishes she knew Shirley liked. Gie-Ming was helping Josh with some DIY at his apartment, so there was just the three of them tonight.
Jess loved cooking, so she was looking forward to it.
“I’m bored,” Jeremy continued to grumble.
“Read a book or a magazine,“ she replied. “There’s a pile just beside the couch.”
She could hear him rummaging. “I’ve read all these,” he complained. “Jess, come play a videogame with me.”
“I can’t right now,” Jess answered.
Jeremy was silent.
Great, thought Jess.
She could understand the impatience, the grumpiness and the restlessness. Jeremy had always been an active person. When he was told to sit still and rest his knee – it had been acceptable the first week after his surgery. Getting into the second week was tough, though. He wanted to see improvements and results, which unfortunately weren’t available yet.
Jess could hear him grumble and move clumsily around the living room. Jeremy limped to her side.
“Come on, Jess.,” Jeremy pleaded.
“I can’t right now,” Jess repeated.
“Why not?” he asked.
“I have to prepare stuff for dinner,” she replied.
“We can dial take-away,” he suggested. “You don’t have to cook.”
“I want to cook,” Jess said.
“You’d rather cook than be with me?” Jeremy complained his voice rising. It made Jess wince and made her headache worse.
“I’m with you most of the time, Jer” she said a bit too harshly. “You can’t expect me to be at your beck and call every minute I’m here.”
“If you have better things to do, then stop wasting your time,” he was practically shouting.
Jess snapped. The headache and Jeremy’s whining – it was all too much.
“I didn’t say I was wasting time.” He is so not getting the point.
“If I thought I was wasting my time, I sure wouldn’t be here right now,” she yelled.
Jeremy turned around and limped back to the couch. Jess hated it when Jeremy just clams up. Jess was trying to gather her thoughts despite the pain from her headache and the anger she was feeling at how Jeremy was acting.
Sounds of explosions filled the room as Jeremy played Call of Duty. The noise was not helping Jess at all. She needed to breathe – to get rid of the headache and anger so she wouldn’t end up saying something awful to him.
Jeremy was conscious of Jess’ movements.
He was angry – over what, he couldn’t explain. This whole thing sucks, he thought. He wanted to be on the court instead of stuck in his apartment. He wanted to be able to walk and run instead of limp around. He wanted to take Jess out to dinner – wanted to be able to jog with her again.
“I’m going for a walk,” he suddenly heard her say. “It won’t take long.”
“Whatever,” Jeremy answered without taking his eyes off the TV screen. When Jess closed the door shut, Jeremy picked up a handful of the magazines on the couch and threw them at the door.
Jess winced at the sound of something hitting the door, just as she closed it. She took a deep breath – tried to empty her mind. He’ll cool down in a bit and so will I, Jess thought.
When Shirley entered the apartment she noticed the magazines that lay on the floor, the noise and her son’s face. He’s angry and unhappy, she thought. Jess… was nowhere to be seen.
“Hey, mom,” Jeremy said when he finally looked up. Yes, he’s definitely upset about something, Shirley thought.
“Where’s Jess?” she asked.
“She went for a walk,” Jeremy answered and avoided his mom’s gaze.
“Jess has been busy, I see,” Shirley said – loud enough for Jeremy to hear her above the videogame noise. The kitchen counter was filled with the vegetables, some prepared and some barely peeled. So Jess was preparing dinner; she was always so thoughtful. As Shirley continued the task Jess had started, she thought about how much help Jess had been since Jeremy’s surgery.
“Erika told me how hard Jess had been working since she moved to New York.”
Jeremy did not say anything, but felt a twist of guilt in his gut. Of course Jess worked hard. She was looking tired and pale lately – he’d just been too egoistic to see it. He was feeling really stupid right now.
Shirley placed a bowl of fresh fruit on the coffee table in front of Jeremy. “Here, she even made some snacks for you,” she said. Jeremy was silent.
When they heard the door open, they both looked up. Jess came in. Her cheeks were rosy from her walk.
“Jess,” Shirley said, “Have you thought about dessert tonight?”
“No, I forgot,” Jess grimaced.
“Know what, I can run to the grocer’s. I see you’re cooking …” Shirley’s curiosity hang in the air.
Jess grinned. “It’s a surprise.”
When Jeremy and Jess were alone in the apartment once again, there was silence. Jeremy had stopped playing and Jess stood in the kitchen. She could hear him limp towards her. Jess kept her back turned. Her headache was gone, but the irritation was still there. She could feel tears sting her eyes and fought to hold them back – refused to cry.
When Jeremy stood behind her, he buried his face in her hair and whispered, “I’m sorry, Jess. I’m sorry for being such a jerk.” When Jeremy gave her a hug from behind, she leaned against him and absorbed the feel of Jeremy’s body against hers.
She turned to face him and took his face in her hands. “Remember when you broke your ankle in high school?” she asked Jeremy. Jeremy nodded and remembered.
“You came out of that injury a new person – a better person. This is no different.”
“It’s just so frustrating, Jess,” Jeremy whispered, as he kissed her right palm.
“I understand – but you need to be patient. I’m here, Jer. We’re all here,“ Jess said.
“Thank God, you are,” he whispered as he kissed Jess and felt her envelop him a hug. He let out a deep breath and found comfort.
They stood like that for a while.
“Next time you act like a brat around me, I will kick your butt,” Jess whispered.
“I’ll let you,” Jeremy smiled.
Shirley heard their laughter when she entered the apartment. Jeremy sat on a bar stool by the kitchen counter and was helping Jess cook. They not only looked good together, Shirley thought, they were good for each other.