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“Preston...Preston this is an emergency,” I stated running in the house.
The butler was the only one I could find when I walked in the house. I had all this anger in me. I couldn't believe that they just arrested Jonah!
He looked at me and said, “I know. They took Jonah. They arrested him.”
Preston shook his
head, “They didn't arrest him. They just took him down for
“Oh thank god.”
Preston shook his head, “Well I wouldn't be so happy so soon sir. Someone tipped them off that Jonah may have known that the shooting was going to occur.”
“That's ridiculous. He had no idea. He just knew Lauren was disturbed and needed help.”
I couldn't believe Adrian had dug so low as to do this to Jonah. Jonah was innocent. Jonah NEVER told Adrian that he knew of the shooting. What he told Adrian the day of the shooting was taken entirely out of context because of Adrian's jealousy.
“Well the longer he is up there the more dangerous its going to be for him,” Preston explained to me, “I have become very fond of Mr. Jonah and he seems as though he has a habit for taking on the guilt in situations. He might talk himself into an arrest. The cops...they need more people to pin this on. That's why they do in cases like this. Everyone places the blame.”
I could tell Preston actually cared. I had never seen him look so frantic. I guess after working with a family for so long and then seeing them go through a tragedy like this would be heartbreaking for anyone.
“Oh my god...what should we do?”
“The family lawyers need to be down there. They can advise Jonah. They can bring him home before he digs himself in any holes.”
“Good. I'll go talk to Mr. Hill. Is he here?”
“No...that's the other problem,” Preston said.
Another problem? Did they ever stop happening. How could he not be home at a time like this?
“Where is he?”
“Something happened,” Preston explained, “They were taking Ms. Lauren upstate for holding and she attempted to kill herself. She's in a hospital upstate now and Mr. Hill took the drive up to see her. He is hours away. He won't be any help.”
one person that can help now.”
Shit. That was the last person I wanted to see at a time like this. She had been another one to push Lauren so far. She was always so tough on Lauren. Now look what happened.
“Yes...I can take you to her.”
Western Psychiatric was where Pristine was. I couldn't help but find that Karma was such a bitch Preston dropped me off there that night. When the nurses took me to her room I could see that this place was definitely for all sorts of looney people. I wondered what kind of mental breakdown Pristine must have had after the shooting to be taken to a place like this.
I found her in her
room. She was standing up against the window and looking into the
darkness. She didn't seem to be focusing on much of anything. When
she saw me walk in she tried to adjust her hair but she looked like
shit. Her hair looked thin, almost like she had been pulling it out
or something. It was the first time I had seen Pristine without
makeup in the 7 years that I had known her. She was still beautiful
but had this mad look about her. Had she completely lost it?
“What are you doing here?” she asked, “I said no visitors.”
not all about you. I mean your daughter did put a gun to my head but
we won't even go there right now. This is about Jonah...”
She crossed her arms, “Is he ok?”
“We need you to send your lawyers though. The cops are questioning him about what he knows about a shooting. Jonah...no...we need your help.”
She looked outside
of the window, “He will be fine. As long as I'm not around.
He'll be fine.”
“What? I'm telling you he needs you and you are telling me he'll be fine?”
“I fuck up
everything I touch.”
I had never heard Pristine sound like this before. I had never heard her say a single negative trait about her before. What she was doing now felt so distant. It was almost like I didn't know this person. At the same time I felt like this defeated Pristine was just as annoying.
know what happened was horrible,” I stated shaking my head,
“I'm so sorry. You don't know how sorry I am. I couldn't
imagine how it feels to lose a child. But Jonah lost a brother. I
lost a god-brother.”
“It's all my fault. My darling Jackie is dead. And I can't live with it. Jackie, Jackie, Jackie, Jackie. Everyday I just can't get his face out of my head. My own daughter killed my own son. I'm an awful mother.”
“What are you talking about?”
She shook her head, “Oh come on you know. Don't you even know why Jonah disappeared? Didn't he tell you how horrible I am?”
I shook my head. I had been wondering it forever. I had never seen this side of Pristine. She seemed so vulnerable and for a moment as I got closer I could see the sparkle in her eyes. She had been crying this whole time. She looked so beaten. For a moment the anger seemed to subside a little bit and I saw a human sitting right in front of me.
“What are you
“I did this to my children. I made them like this,” she explained.
“Pristine. How what happened with Jonah that made him run away 7 years ago?”
She turned to me and shook her head, “Sit...I'll tell you.
I sat on the chair across from her.
There was a silence about. It was really quiet but not awkward. She looked out the window when she began and it was almost like she was remembering everything for the very first time as she looked outside of that window.
cared so much about what people thought of me. It was a vice that
came down from my father and he got it from his mom. The Hills have
this curse where we for generations we are just CRIPPLED by what
people think of us. I used to get teased all the time...the same way
that Lauren got teased. That's why I was so hard on her. I wanted to
make her better, so the teasing wouldn't stop like an idiot. I
should have been protecting her against these bullies but I figured
why not just change her. That's what I thought about myself. I had
to change myself before the bullying stopped. I had to
become...Pristine, just like my father named me.”
There was darkness to her story.
I shuttered a little bit. It was kind of weird hearing Pristine open up with so much emotion.
“Is that why
you married Mr. Hill? To change yourself?”
She smiled and laughed, “Yes. Everything I did was to impress others. I found myself having children just to impress others. The most impressive was Jonah of course. You aren't supposed to have a favorite child but he was my Jonah. Jackie was always much closer to his father at the time and Lauren was a loner even back then. Jonah was such a good looking kid and so smart. He knew more about the world than I did at 10. So when I finally got an invite to join the country club I decided I'd take him. You know to impress people. Well that was when something happened. One of the mothers saw my Jonah kissing another boy. And I remember them asking, 'whose child is this?'. And this was my moment. This had been my moment to finally be completely accepted and Jonah had ruined it for me. I shrugged and told them I didn't know who the little boy was. He reached out to me. He called me mom and I told them that little boy had a crazy imagination. I had never seen him in my life.”
“You denied him?” I asked, “Because you found out he was gay?”
“No it had
nothing to do with him being gay. Not really. I always knew Jonah
was different. I never had an issue with the gay thing. It was the
idea that others had an issue with it. I NEEDED to fit in. I
couldn't be that girl getting picked on all the time again. It may
not sound so bad but it was. I left him there at the party.”
“Oh my god...”
Pristine was crying. She was tearing up.
I couldn't take any more crying my damn self after the shooting but my heart was breaking for Jonah. I couldn't imagine how it would feel to have my mother completely denying my existence to my face. I couldn't imagine how lost and hurt I would feel. The worst part was that Pristine wasn't on drugs or anything like that. She was fine. Her obsession with what others felt about her made her leave her deny her OWN child.
She tried to wipe her tears and talk at the same time, “I came back for him hours later hoping that I'd apologize to him and everything would be better. He wasn't there. He had completely disappeared. I hadn't seen him again for 7 years.”
“Oh my god.”
I couldn't say it enough.
“He must have
run away at that point or I guess from what we know now he came back
to the house and just never made his presence known to me. If I
didn't exist to him I guess that was my payback...for him to really
not have existed.”
“I wish I could comfort you in anyway,” I stated shaking my head, “But that is fucked up Pristine. That is really fucked up what you did.”
She hugged herself, “I'm a horrible mother. That trait that I inherited where I need acceptance from others I gave to my child.”
“No...that's where I disagree,” I stated, “Ok I see Jackie may have had the trait. He had a lot of self-hate issues when it came to race. He was fine with making racial jokes against his own race and dating a racist girl. I definitely even see Lauren with how she reacted to the bullying. But Jonah...not Jonah. Jonah could care less about what other people think of him.”
“He changed that about himself when he ran away.”
“Yeah, he would be mad if he knew I told you this. He wanted it kept between us. We had a talk when he came back in private. He said he forgave me and I couldn't help how I was. He said that he had to lose himself in order to find himself. I didn't know what that meant at first but I thought about it...”
“He had to lose him self in order to feel comfortable in his own skin.”
“Exactly. In order to feel not care what anyone else thought about him he self-exiled himself from society. And he was able to achieve what none of us were. He was able to achieve freedom from criticism of others.”
It made sense.
Jonah had told me the same thing about losing himself in order to find himself.
I guess the little things he said did make sense after a while.
“What about Mr. Hill?” I asked, “Did he know what you did? I could have sworn he was hiding it for you.”
“He has no
idea, even to this day. If he was asking you, he was really trying
to figure it out himself. If he knew what I did back then he'd
probably leave me. I wouldn't blame you for telling him.”
“If Jonah is a big enough person to forgive you for what you did then I am a big enough person to forgive you as well. You need to be there for him though. He needs you right now.”
For some reason Pristine having let that all out seemed to bring her back to life a little bit. I could hear her suck in the air so hard at that moment.
“It's like I'm breathing for the first time in years,” she stated, “I need my phone. I'm getting my son out of there.”
Pristine was off with her lawyers and told me to wait at him. The impatience of waiting at home almost killed me. Luckily I had Ozzie there with me.
“He’s going around telling everyone that Jonah knew about it,” Ozzie stated, “Adrian is fucking going crazy right now.”
I figured he would be.
“People need someone to blame. With Lauren gone, they are going to persecute him,” I explained, “Even if it’s not legally, think about how people will react in school. All their friends dead and the most popular kid in school is blaming Jonah.”
Ozzie shook his
head, “That’s fucked up. He doesn’t deserve
“I love him Ozzie.”
Ozzie walked up to me and hugged me.
It was good to have a friend to talk to about this.
“I know. Everything will be ok. We’ll figure something out.”
“What if we don’t?”
Ozzie shook his head, “We will. Jonah is stronger than you give him credit for.”
Maybe Ozzie was right. He left me at the house soon after but I just kept thinking about what he was saying. I did baby Jonah and felt like I treated him like he was made of glass. He just wasn’t used to the world. He didn’t like it. The idea that Adrian could do something so careless as to tell the cops he was involved in this tragedy made me sick to my stomach.
Pristine and Jonah walked in. I could almost kiss Pristine for getting Jonah out of jail. When they walked in the house I couldn’t hold back.
I ran at Jonah and gave him a hug right in front of his mother.
She stayed back silently watching but not saying anything as we embraced.
“Have you been cleared of everything?” I asked him.
“They didn’t have enough proof to charge me with anything,” he explained.
Pristine offered to back him up, “My lawyers will make sure they never do. What happened was…a tragedy. Well I have to go back out to plan Jackie’s…funeral. Are you boys going to be ok?”
Jonah nodded, “We’ll be fine.”
He was holding my hand now and I figured at this point in her life Pristine had a lot more things to worry about then whether or not her son was gay.
Jonah waited until she had left the room and kissed me hard.
“I missed you so much,” he said.
“Adrian’s a fucking dickhead.”
“Fuck him. He wants you and is just finding a way to get me out of the picture,” Jonah explained shaking his head, “I had no idea she was going to go that far. You know that right baby? You believe that much right?”
I nodded, “Of
“Good. Pack your bags.”
“Where are we going?”
“Away,” he explained to me.
That was all he said and he started to walk away as though getting ready to do this. There was a focus in his eyes that I didn’t even recognize. He looked completely lost in this moment that we had been having.
are you talking about?”
He was already up the stairs and by the time I caught up with him he was already in my room throwing his clothes in a suitcase. Jonah looked lost like someone had said something to him or done something to him. He looked shaken.
“We getting out of here baby,” he explained, “I came here to help Lauren and I couldn’t…so now I’m out of here. And I’m taking you with me.”
“Jonah we can’t just leave.”
I thought he was joking at this moment. I thought he was joking but his face was dead serious. It was beginning to actually freak me out how serious he looked.
Jonah was REALLY trying to run away.
love you but we can’t just leave…not now.”
He turned to me as confused as I was.
“What? Why not?”
isn’t how things work. You don’t just runaway when shit
gets tough,” I explained to him, “Jackie is dead. Lauren
is in prison. Think about your parents. The last thing they need
is for their remaining child to just disappear.”
Jonah came close to me.
He looked me in my eyes and grabbed my face leaning it close, “These people aren’t like us. All they care about is their money.”
“Pristine told me what happened…why you left before.”
He got quiet.
I could see he pull out another suitcase and this time he was packing up my things. It was like he had made some executive decision and I was just supposed to follow along.
thought I was an idiot for running because of that.”
“No,” I stated shaking my head, “I understood. I got how hard it is to be a ten year old feeling unwanted. But now you aren’t ten anymore. Now you are running away from me too.”
“I’m running WITH you.”
“Not like this,” I explained, “If I leave with you ever I will leave prepared. I’ll say goodbye to Ozzie. I’d say payback the Hills. I’d make sure it was after it was 18 so I can have my inheritance money so that we can have a way to live. I’m not trying to struggle.”
He stopped backing already.
“Oh I get it. It’s about money with you.”
“You got someone here that is in love with you shorty. I’m trying to spend the rest of my life with you. You say you love me too. And you want to stay in this hell hole because of money? I don’t believe they got to you too.”
“Jonah, it’s millions of dollars. I’m not just going to walk away.”
“Why the hell not?” he asked me.
It was like the amount of money made no difference to him at all. With millions of dollars I wouldn’t have to work. Jonah and I could live comfortably.
“Baby,” I explained, “This isn’t about you. I love you more then you know but I’m not like you. I can’t just drop the world I’ve lived in all my life. Don’t make me choose…”
He threw the suitcase on the floor and sat on the bed thinking.
I walked over to him cuddling up next to Jonah.
“We will get through this together.”
“You know I love you right?” he asked.
“Of course and I love you.”
come over here.”
Sleeping with him was amazing and I felt everything would be ok at that moment. Still I wondered how we would get back from this tragedy. How do we rebuild a life that had crumbled all around us? What do we do? What do we change?
How do we rebuild?
I knew I would have a nightmare but the nightmare that came made me sweat. I kept seeing Lauren running up in the school shooting everyone.
I tossed and turned.
I was reliving everything as if it had just happened for the first time. And in my dream Jonah was no where to be found. I kept calling for him but he had already gone. He had already disappeared again and I realized now this was my worst fear.
And then I woke up screaming and sweating.
It was just a dream.
“Jonah I had the craziest dream,” I said looking to my right, “Jonah?”
I pulled the covers beside me back and realized that there was no one there. It was maybe 6 am in the morning. Where the fuck was he?
He was gone! He wasn’t there.
I got up off the bed running to the bathroom. His toothbrush was gone.
I ran to the closet. It was clear of his stuff
There was no suitcase.
There was no smell of cinnamon.
Jonah had run away in the middle of the night. My worst fear had come true.