I thought today we would finish off the series that I’ve been working on since September. Adriane is a lovely person to work with, but it’s time that we part ways. Jaxen is a jealous character and gets mad if I work with someone else too long. So today shall be the final part of Through The Fire.
“What did you do there? At 9/11, I mean.”
“I was a first responder. A fireman, actually. I’m not one anymore, due to… injuries… but I was one then.”
Jacob’s face shone as he talked about rescuing people.
“I rescued a lot of people from those buildings. It was scary if I’m honest, but the saving didn’t get old. I knew that the people needed me, so I guess the fear never really entered my mind.”
Amazed, Adriane nodded.
“I just wish I knew who saved me. I never was able to track the person down.”
“I’m sure you’ll find him eventually,” said Jacob.
But at that moment, the waiter brought the mochas, so Adriane wasn’t able to see the sudden realization hit Jacob. She wasn’t able to see the sudden twinkling in his eyes.
They finished their little date, or whatever it was, and left the cafe. Adriane had succeeded in regards to minimal awkwardness.
It was relieving to her to know she had come so far in her people skills. There had been little to no awkward silences, and almost no small talk. She hated small talk with a passion. There was no need for it, and it acknowledged one of two things; either the person thought she wasn’t interesting enough for a real conversation or the person had a lack of any intelligent conversation topics. Shame on them.
But none of these things had happened. It was a God-given miracle, she decided. Jacob somehow seemed to be both full of life, and able to handle himself in public. This was crucial for this type of relationship.
Adriane stopped herself.
What had she just said? What kind of relationship was this to her? Would this end up being… that?
She squinted her eyes shut. How could she want that? Of course, she had always wanted that, but now as it was presented as an option, she was terrified. Jacob seemed nice but… was she ready for that? And on top of that, did he like her like that?
Jacob must have noticed her silence. It was not weird for her to be silent, however, this one must have felt different to him. How strange to have a person you barely know notice when you are not okay.
“Is something wrong?” he innocently asked.
That was all she said. She would never even dream of confronting him about that. If he wanted her, he would have to find her.
After all, she had just met him. He meant nothing to her.
“Can I walk you back to your house?”
“You can if you’d like. It should only take a little bit.”
Silence fell back upon them. This time, though, it was a warm and comfortable silence. Unusual as it was for silences, this one was okay with both parties.
“So… tell me about you,” Jacob spoke, breaking the silence after a few minutes of walking in the warm sunlight.
It occurred to Adriane how good it felt on her skin. Having never been one to run to the outdoors whenever she had a chance, the realization startled her. She was always more of the person who would be inside drinking a warm drink, while her siblings were out in the snow. She was the one who was more acquainted with the feeling of cool concrete in the shade, instead of the sun-warmed side that was not even three feet in front of her. She preferred to stay behind.
Shaking her head back into the conversation, she realized he had asked her something.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, what was the question?”
“It wasn’t a question. I just wanted you to tell me about you.”
“Because you’re fascinating.”
Adriane laughed. This man was a joke. No one ever thought she was fascinating. This had to be unreal. Jacob had to be an angel or something make-believe. This wasn’t real.
She stopped and looked at him, unbelief carefully masked behind speculation and skepticism. He hadn’t realized she’d stopped but when he did, he traced his steps back to her. Jacob’s clear blue eyes rested on her, sort of like he had found a book that looked interesting and he wanted nothing more than to be able to read it.
She was the book.
“Please tell me you’re joking…”
“I am nothing you want to spend time on.”
He turned around and kept walking. Adriane, thoroughly confused, ran after him. Within seconds, she was at his side again. This man was one of the most confusing things she had encountered in a very long time. It almost felt…
She couldn’t find the word she wanted to use. There was no word. Adriane smiled. It was something she had never encountered. She always had a word or two. This loss of it all was sort of freeing.
The warm, gentle silence fell on them again.
But it all fell down.
Her mind began to produce the sounds again. The sounds of screaming. The sound of the fire crackling. The sound of explosions. The whirring of the plane as it sped towards the people in the building.
She crumpled, shaking. It was a miracle that Jacob was there. He caught her just before she hit the ground.
“It’s okay. Talk to me,” he gently coached. He slowly lowered her to the ground and then sat beside her. Concern passed in waves over his face.
Adriane looked at him, tears streaming down her face and shaking. She was never a gentle cryer, and it always bugged her. The picturesque few tears rolling down the person’s cheek was never a reality. Her face would get red and her eyes would too, and it would be followed by torrents of tears.
This is what happened now.
Realizing she had been sobbing for too long now, she scooted a little bit away from Jacob, who was still sitting next to her. He looked a little bit afraid. Not of her, but what she had experienced. Guilt snuck into her stomach, making what felt awful feel worse.
“Jacob, I’m sorry,” she barely whispered amid sobs. “You don’t need this. You can go.”
The man opposite her shook his head vigorously.
“Why on God’s good earth would I do that?”
“Because… I’m breaking down? What boy wants to help clean this up? No boy ever. You can go, I’ll be fine-”
“Incorrect. I want to help clean this up. We are going to sit here until this passes and then I will take you home. Moving you now will just bring on more tears. Can I hug you?”
Hesitating, Adriane looked at him. This was too good to be true. How could a man offer to stay? Maybe, just maybe, this Jacob could be something important.
She scooted a little closer and leaned her head onto his shoulder.
“Okay, now cry it out. It’s okay. I understand.”
But Adriane had cried all of the tears out. It was now just a shaking that she knew would stay for a good while. It always stayed for a good hour or two after the panic attack.
“I can’t cry anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
“Then do you want to talk about it?”
“Let’s walk while we do that.”
Jacob stood up, then took her hands in his and helped her up after him. It was still amazing to her that he was as active as he was, especially considering he had prosthetics on both legs.
“Is it 9/11 related?”
Adriane merely nodded. She was still shaking and didn’t particularly feel like discussing this part of it.
“You’re doing amazingly well.”
This caught her by surprise. She glanced over at him, hoping to see something that would help her figure out what he meant. While sometimes guys were easy to read, the other times it would be like trying to understand someone with a mouth full of cookies. It was nigh impossible. Unfortunately, like the cookies, it was unclear what he meant.
He laughed. “You’re welcome, Adriane.”
They had now reached the entrance to her apartment complex. He had been quiet for a long time, but she wasn’t worried about it. Everything she had picked up so far had told her that it was just something that he did. Jacob seemed like a thoughtful person, and she liked that.
At the door to her apartment, she turned to Jacob. He seemed startled a little bit but recovered quickly. Adriane wasn’t very sure how this would go.
Oh, please don’t kiss me, she prayed.
That was one of the most awkward things that had happened to her previously. She had gone out with an idiot some years ago, and he had kissed her at the door. She hated it, and soon after, she hated him too.
Luckily enough, Jacob didn’t kiss her. He simply gestured back to the door, asking her to continue with her normal business. Confused but very thankful, she unlocked the door and then once again turned back to Jacob. This time she hugged him. He jumped a little at her touch, but he welcomed the hug.
“I want to get to know you better.”
Her heart jumped but she had to tell it to shut up, as he had continued to talk.
“Can I take you out sometime?”
Adriane’s heart stopped. Was he- he had!
“Sure. Come over any time you want. Make yourself at home,” she said as her cheeks nearly fell off because of the smile that was tearing them apart. He smiled back.
“Good. I like you.”
If she had been any less sane, she would have died right there, but she kept her cool.
“I like you too.”
Maybe this whole 9/11 problem would have some redemptive qualities. He seemed to understand her. It was rare for that to happen. But, here it was.
And Adriane would take it one step at a time.
God was providing things to get her through the fire. She had always heard the saying “when God closes a door, he opens a window” but she had never understood until now.
“Okay then, I’ll come by after my shift maybe tomorrow?”
“Fine by me. I’m not doing anything. Come over whenever.”
Her cheeks screamed in protest and begged Jacob to leave. He did, and she shut the door. There was a glowing way through the fire, and she was going to take it.
“Thank you, Lord,” she whispered, smiling to herself. Life was about to get interesting. And He would be there on the journey.
She sang to herself as she poured another cup of coffee.
“Great is thy faithfulness…”