“Hello?” Jenna was lying on the sofa reading the back of a DVD case when the phone rang. She sat up and picked up the receiver on the third ring, automatically asking who was on the other end of the line, even though she had been expecting the phone call for the past half-hour.
“Hi Jenna. How are you darlin’?” was the drawled response.
“Stevie!” Jenna almost squealed into the phone mouthpiece. “I thought you might have got caught up and not been able to call before now,” she said teasingly, before adding, “Is the war running late?”
“A bit.” Stevie chucked before repeating his earlier question. “How are you sweetheart?”
“Tired, happy, missing you.” She smiled while twirling her hair.
“Why are you tired?” Stevie asked.
“I’ve been out shopping all day,” Jenna pouted as she spoke. “But guess what I bought?”
“A blue elephant? A fifty-ton block of chocolate? A silver surfboard?” he teased.
“No, silly. A special edition DVD of Charade,” Jenna said before adding excitedly, “Audrey Hepburn supposedly speaks French to the director in the outtakes.”
“When I get home, we will have to watch it together.” The happiness in Stevie’s voice was almost palpable.
“I promise not to watch it before you get home.” Jenna raised her hand in a solemn promise.
“You’d better not,” he threatened.
Jenna giggled, “I won’t watch any more Audrey Hepburn movies without you by my side.”
“We must have almost every one of her films by now,” Stevie stated matter-of-factly.
“Almost all of them, I think.” Jenna knitted her eyebrows together as she tried to think of any Audrey Hepburn films that they don’t own, in their collection of DVDs.
“Are you scrunching your eyebrows again?” Stevie asked, as if he could see Jenna standing before him.
She reached up in an attempt to cover her forehead. “How did you know what I was doing?”
“You always scrunch your eyebrows together when you are thinking hard,” he replied.
“Do I?” she squeaked.
“Yes,” he laughed, “and it’s adorable too.”
“Hmmm.” Jenna paused before asking, “Are there adorable eyebrow scrunching women where you are?”
“Not that I have seen many women’s eyebrows around here. The burkhas don’t let you see anything of anything!” Stevies bark of laughter echoed down the phone line.
“All the women wear burkhas?”
“Only the locals,” Stevie clarified. ”Our girls over here don’t wear them obviously, but then none of their eyebrows do anything for me.”
“I wish you were home already,” Jenna added quietly.
“Me too,” Stevie agreed.
“But at least we can talk on the phone,” Jenna thought she sounded positive.
“Yeah,” he murmured.
“When we talk about everyday things like this, it feels almost like you are sitting right next to me,” Jenna whispered.
“Just pretend that for this moment, I am sitting right next to you watching old movies on the television and doing my best impersonation of Cary Grant.” It was Stevie’s turn to sound hopeful.
Jenna laughed before stating seriously, “I really don’t know if I like these sorts of moments.”
“What do you mean?” Stevie asked.
“These moments when you know that nothing could be better than it is right now.”
“I can think of a couple of things that could make these moments better.” Stevie’s purr was obvious..
“Not that! Is sex all you think about?” Jenna huffed.
“That isn’t what I was thinking about at all!” he defended himself.
“Well, just what were you thinking?” Jenna gently asked.
“I was thinking that….” Stevie stopped mid-sentence as he was gathering his courage to say what he really was thinking.
“What Stevie? You can tell me,” Jenna asked again.
“I was thinking that I love you.” Stevie said it as calmly as he could manage.
Jenna mumbled her reply. “Oh…”
“And?” Stevie waited for Jenna to reply.
“And what?” Jenna asked, avoiding the answer that she knew Stevie wanted to hear.
“Well…” Stevie nudged.
“I really like being with you,” Jenna added hopefully.
“You like being with me?” It clearly wasn’t the words that Stevie wanted to hear.
“Stevie, I mean it. We have fun together all the time,” she emphasised.
“Yes and…” Stevie nudged some more.
“We like films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina and Funny Face and …” Jenna’s eyes searched the room as she hoped the right words would come to her.
“I’m not talking about movies, Jenna. I’m talking about us.” Stevie suddenly sounded impatient.
“I know you are. It’s just that saying those three words is an awful big commitment…you know?” Jenna tried to sound strong but ultimately, she knew where the conversation was heading.
“But I’m not asking for a commitment. Saying ‘I love you’ isn’t a commitment.” Stevie paused before continuing quietly, “Love isn’t just a commitment, Jen, it’s a feeling.”
“I know what you mean, but I don’t know if I am ready to say it yet.”
“You mean you aren’t ready for that feeling yet?” Stevie’s tone became decidedly cold as he continued the conversation.
“Umm…Stevie, I really like you but I told you that I’m not ready. Please stop pressuring me,” Jenna begged.
“Pressuring you?” Stevie repeated Jenna’s words as he tried to understand the meaning behind them. “I’m ‘pressuring you’?”
“That isn’t what I meant either. And you know it.” Jenna ran her hand through her hair as she tried to work out what she should say next to diffuse the situation.
“Then what do you mean?” he asked coldly.
“I just meant….I just meant that I like you but I am not ready to say those words.” Jenna avoided repeating Stevies words, as if he would take it the wrong way.
“You say those words as if I am asking you to commit to have an affair with a snake.” Jenna could almost hear the quotation marks around the word those.
“You aren’t a snake and you aren’t asking me to commit to anything but Stevie, you are asking me to say something that I am not ready to say.”
“Will you ever be ready to say it?” It sounded more like a statement than a question to Jenna’s ears.
“Yes, maybe, I don’t know.” Jenna closed her eyes. She didn’t want to argue about this.
“I think the word you are searching for is ‘no’.” There was finality in Stevie’s voice as he said the last word.
“Stevie….please don’t be like this.” Jenna clenched the curled cord on the telephone handset.
“Like what exactly? I tell you that I love you but you don’t know if you will ever be able to say that you love me?” Stevie asked again.
“Ummm…” Jenna had nothing left to say.
Stevie spoke slowly and without emotion. “I think you have answered the question for me.”
“I’m sorry Stevie,” she said.
“Me too, Jenna,” he agreed and then repeated himself for good measure. “Me too.”
“What now?” Jenna asked.
“I think we should call it a day” Stevie spoke softly.
“Why?” she asked, hoping he would change his mind.
“What do you mean, ‘why’? I think it’s very clear why,” Stevie said tiredly.
“Yes, I guess so,” Jenna nodded as she spoke. “And I really am sorry.” The words were nothing more than a whisper.
“You’ve already said that,” he said flatly.
“I know. But I don’t know what else to say,” she said quietly.
“Jenna, I think you have said enough,” Stevie said.
“Stevie please…” Jenna begged before Stevie interrupted her.
“I think we both know that this is the end of the road,” he stated.
“But Stevie…” Jenna began to say, only to be cut off again.
“Jenna, there is no point in continuing on,” he said resignedly.
“Does this mean that we are over?” she asked even though she knew the answer.
“Yeah,” Stevie said sadly.
“Can we still be friends?” Jenna asked hopefully.
“I don’t think so. I wanted more than friends between us.” The hurt in Stevie's voice was evident.
“I know and I am sorry.” Jenna released the curled cord of the telephone handset.
“I think I had better go,” Stevie said.
“Okay,” Jenna added sadly.
“Bye Jenna.” Stevie rang off and Jenna was left with only the sound of the dial tone in the phone earpiece.
“Bye Stevie,” Jenna said as she put the phone down. Just at that moment, she felt a flutter in her belly. She reached down and ran a hand over her swollen abdomen. “I’m sorry baby. If your daddy knew about you, he would be rushing home to us and telling you that he loves you.” Jenna sniffed to try to stop herself from crying, “But baby, I will always, always love you.”
I would like to thank Myk for his encouragement and unfailing hand holding as I wrote this piece. It would have ended up in the trash without his help. I would also like to thank Bardeara for his suggestions which make this a much better story. And last but not least, I really want to thank my editor Rob. He has come to my rescue once again, by taking up his big red pen and doing the dance of delete, restore and repair. Not only does Rob make me look better than I am, he is a terrific friend as well. I love you Rob.
Authors thrive on feedback!