My Son's Best Friend Ch. 14byCheleste©
It was weird, like we were all living in this sort of limbo. If I thought too much about it, it disturbed me, but if I just took things one day at a time, it was fine.
Like, Jonah didn't really live at his own house any more, but he didn't totally live at our house either. Kira lived in town by the college, but she was at our house most weekends. Paul lived here, but he spent most of his time at his job and at Kira's in town during the week. I lived here, but some part of me had felt at home out on the river with Jonah in a way I had never felt here.
I was feeling more and more settled with Jonah all the time, and things were moving forward without any request for my permission.
One day, Jonah was telling me what he wanted from the grocery in town, and I said suddenly, "Why don't you come with me?"
The thought was new, but not completely foreign.
He looked at me, and I knew he was aware of my anxieties about "what other people might think".
"You sure?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, a little hesitantly. Then, "Yeah," a little more emphatically. "Why not?
"You should pick out your own food - I don't want to do it all. Get what you want. Help me out a little."
Jonah hesitated, but not for the reason I would have thought. He paused, then asked, "Do you - want me to pay for some stuff?"
"Do you have any money?"
"Then how would you pay for stuff?"
"Well, I could get a job."
"Do you want to get a job?"
"Then why did you ask me that?"
"Well, I don't want to be a freeloader or a - deadbeat. I just thought you might want me to help out or something."
I smiled. "Look, Jonah. Paul's father was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. But luckily, he wasn't materially bankrupt. He sends me a steady income, and it's enough.
"I didn't used to think it was enough. I used to think he owed me way more. But it's enough, and I know that now. And I'm very grateful that I don't have money worries, because I live within my means, plain and simple.
"You don't seem to need much. I certainly have enough to buy the food you eat. You're welcome to it - to whatever we have.
"You fixed my mailbox the other day. You repaired the roof when it leaked. You wash dishes sometimes, take out the trash. I don't need any more than that from you. That, and all the things you do for me that there are no words for...
I looked in his eyes.
"You know what I mean..."
I smiled again. "Okay, then. We'll go shopping and you'll pick out what you want, and help me cart the stuff home."
"You're not afraid to be seen with me?" he asked then.
"Well, I think it's time. They're gonna have to get used to seeing us together sooner or later, 'cuz I'm not giving you up any time soon, so, I guess this is it."
"Okay," he agreed.
* * * *
It was a little odd to walk into the grocery store with Jonah, but at least I was used to being with him now. We were comfortable together. We didn't hold hands or anything. As far as anyone was concerned, he could have been along with me for any number of reasons. I figured people would get used to seeing us together, and eventually we would be able to be more open. For now, it was enough just to be there together.
I saw acquaintances, but nobody I knew very well. People were friendly enough. We filled the cart, unloaded it at the check-out, exchanged pleasantries with the cashier, filled boxes that were kept at the front of the store, and took them to the car. It was all very uneventful - rather anti-climactic.
But it was nice to have Jonah's company, and nice to have his help with the boxes. Grocery shopping had been a little more work since he had been staying with us.
When we got to the car, Jonah told me to wait a minute while he picked up something at a nearby shop. So I sat in the car and listened to the radio while I waited.
He returned carrying a small paper bag.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Some paintbrushes and stuff," he replied.
Hmmm. Another clue.
* * * *
When we got home and put the groceries away, Jonah said he was going home for a while.
I couldn't help myself. I had to ask.
He was so closed mouthed! Sometimes it was infuriating!
"Seen your mother lately?"
"She doing okay?"
Forget it. He was hopeless. He didn't even seem to realize I was fishing!
"Jonah!" I was a little exasperated.
Then he reacted, like a fork in a microwave. "Jean! What do you want me to say? My mother's fine, I'm fine, everything's fine! You want me to tell you that she beat me when I was little, that she tied me up in a closet, that she's a maniac? What do you want to know, huh?"
I got really quiet. "She did?" I asked, subdued.
"No. She didn't beat me. She didn't...do anything. She didn't do anything! We just don't connect, okay, and I don't know why you keep asking about her. Why do you care what she's doing or what she thinks?"
I thought about that for a minute.
"I don't know. I guess I just worry a little bit, that if you have such a crappy relationship with her, that it'll affect your relationship with me, or something."
"Do you see it affecting our relationship?"
"Well, only when I bug you about her. Otherwise, I don't see it."
He put his arms around me then. "So don't worry about it. She's not you, you're not her."
"But you told me you don't love her," I said, muffled against his shirt.
"That doesn't mean I don't love you."
I stood quietly, listening. "Do you love me?"
I turned my face up to his, and he looked down. He nodded. Then we just stared at one another.
"You called me Jean."
He nodded again. I shook my head.
"I don't think I like it. It sounds really weird when you say it. Don't call me that."
"Okay. What do you want me to call you?"
"I don't know. Maybe you don't need to call me anything. You haven't until now."
We laughed a little then.
He kissed me, long and deep. I held his dark eyes with mine.
"Sometimes I can't believe how much I love you," I said.
"Can I see your paintings some time?"
He nodded. "Sure."
Then he left.