Houdini’s Box

Part 2


By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!




June 20th, 2000


"What are you staring at?" I ask Grace as I enter the apartment. She doesn’t answer and I angrily toss my keys onto the counter. Why is she looking at me like that? I walk towards Grace noticing that she looks pale, like she’s just seen a ghost.

She opens her mouth to speak, but no sound comes out. She’s acting so strange, and I grow concerned. I continue to walk slowly to her, wondering what in the hell her problem is. After the day I’ve had I was hoping that she would be happy to see me.

I finally reach her and extend my hand to hers. She flinches and pulls away. "What is wrong?" I ask her, making a conscious effort to keep my voice soft. She doesn’t answer and falls to the couch, bringing her knees up to her chest. "Grace?" I ask again, growing impatient.

She buries her head in her knees and begins to sob. I sigh and rub my forehead tiredly, willing my headache to fade. Why is she crying? Can someone explain to me what is happening?

"Grace, talk to me." I plead, my voice demanding yet compassionate.

"You’re mad at me." She manages to say, and I furrow my brows in confusion.

"What are you talking about?"

"You look so mean and scary, like you hate me." She responds, her voice childlike. I gently and slowly wrap my arms around her and she tries to pull away from me.

"Shh." I tell her calmly. "I’m not mad at you and I could never hate you." I whisper, planting kisses all over her arms and legs. "I’ve just had a really crummy day." I feel her relax under my touch and I breathe a sigh of relief.

I sit on the couch next to her and pull her into my arms, feeling only a mild ache from my ribs. They’ve healed up nicely from the shipwreck, but are still a little tender at times. Grace willingly collapses in my embrace.

I continue to hold her, rocking her gently in my arms. She is still crying, but I think she’s calmer. What a completely shitty day. "Are you okay?" I ask her, upset that I scared her.

"Yeah." She answers, her voice muffled in my shirt. "I’m sorry I overreacted."

"It’s okay." I tell her, kissing the top of her head. "I’m sorry I looked so scary." I shake my head from side to side. "I was excited to see you, I couldn’t wait for this day to end so I could come home." I feel her smile, and I grin for the first time since this morning. Silently, I count to ten in my head. I know how curious Grace is and I guarantee that she won’t be able to last any longer in asking me about my day.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

"Why was your day crummy?" She asks, and I chuckle. She sits up from my embrace and looks at me, her beautiful green eyes marred by her running mascara.

I make myself more comfortable on the couch. "Well, it started off fine, right after I called you I had to drive to the Cape for a meeting." She looks at me, confused, and I remember that she isn’t familiar with Massachusetts yet. "It’s south of Boston, almost to Rhode Island." I explain and she nods in understanding. "It’s usually not a bad drive, and I made it in great time, had a short meeting that ran long, so I didn’t even leave there until one. Anyway, on the way back I get a call on my radio saying that I am supposed to be at the station for a departmental meeting that I knew nothing about." I curl my lip and growl at this, recalling how pissed off I was. "So I had to drive all the way back to the station and deal with that bullshit. Then I finally was on my way home and I tried to call you but my cell phone was dead and I left the charger here." Grace takes my hand in sympathy, but I know I’m not even at the really bad part yet. "I just had my police radio with me. Then I was coming through Boston and because of the stupid Big Dig I hit a pothole on the Storrow Drive Bridge and blue a tire."

"Jaden, that sucks!" Grace exclaims, back to her normal self now. "Is your car okay?"

I snort. "Yeah, it’s fine. But I blocked up traffic that was already moving slow and I managed to get my car to the side of the bridge, blocking the lane completely and try to change the blasted thing."

"Why didn’t you call the station on your radio?" Grace asks, smiling.

"Because I didn’t want them to know what an idiot I was and then the guys would laugh at me." I admit, hanging my head self-mockingly. My pride is a bad thing at times, and sometimes I wish I could just suck it up and admit for help.

"Oh honey, that’s awful." Grace says, laughing.

"So I had to change the tire by myself and I couldn’t get the lug nuts off and I finally put the spare on, only to find that it seemed to have a slow leak. So I had to go to a tire place." I finish dejectedly. "And that’s why I’m so late."

"I was worried." Grace responds softly. "I thought something happened to you."

"I’m sorry you worried." I tell her, my voice calm while internally I’m screaming, "No! Don’t worry about me! I don’t want to be tied down in a relationship where I have to answer to someone!" Jesus Christ I’m terrified of this blonde girl across from me. She makes me feel things that I mocked others for feeling.

I know I need to deal with my commitment problems. I can’t hurt Grace the way others have hurt her. She doesn’t deserve that.

Sensing my discomfort, Grace changes the subject. "What’s the Big Dig?"

I sigh angrily. "It’s a stupid construction thing that Boston has been working on for the past 20 years. It was supposed to be done ages ago, and by the time it’s finished it will be technologically inferior to other roadways. Basically it’s a waste of taxpayer time and money."

"Oh." Grace says. "That’s stupid."

"Yes it is. I can’t tell you how it holds up traffic." I shake my head, clearing my thoughts from my horrendous day. "But that’s over. Let’s do something fun." I tell her, standing up and extending my hand to her. She takes it and gets up, wiping the last of her tears away. "You okay?" I ask as she turns her eyes towards mine.

"Yeah." She answers, engulfing me in a warm hug.



Journal entry

June 23, 2000

A girl could get used to this. I’m stretched out in Jaden’s comfortable bed, where I laid back down right after I took Bean outside to potty. When I woke up this morning, I glanced at the clock and saw that it was already 11:00am. Then I slowly get out of bed and headed into the bathroom I brushed my teeth and ran my hands through my hair.

"What are you going to do today?" I asked myself in the mirror, amazed at how healthy I look just after being here a few days. It’s incredible what actually eating and not worrying all the time does for me.

I decided that I wasn’t going to do anything today, and hence, that is why I’m back in bed. I’ve been lazy the past few days, doing nothing more than watching television, writing in my journal, and walking Bean around. Jaden has had to work quite a lot, but mentioned that she’s off for the weekend and some of next week. She’s being really cryptic about her job, but I’m not sure why. I’ve been trying to give her space because I know what a huge adjustment this must be for her.

I love it here. Bean loves it here. Jaden subtly asked if Bean and myself would be interested in going on a morning run with her. I looked at her like she had three heads and politely declined. I don’t think she could get me out of bed that early if she paid me. However, she has been taking Bean and they both have been enjoying themselves. Plus, Jaden’s apartment has a huge back yard that is fenced as well as the beach. But we haven’t taken Bean there yet. I can’t wait to see her play in the ocean, and I know she will have so much fun.

Speaking of dogs, Uncle Rick is completely ecstatic about his new little puppy. I didn’t hear from him the night that he got the puppy and I was worried that something was wrong. I called him, and it turns out that I forgot to give him the number at Jaden’s. Duh. He was in tears thanking me, and it felt to nice to know that I did the best thing for him that I could.

It seems that the shy little puppy isn’t shy one bit now that he’s away from his brother and sister. He’s a holy terror, according to Uncle Rick, but very sweet and loving. Little Hercules, that’s what Uncle Rick is calling him. That’s such a cute name, and I can tell that they are really happy. I can’t wait for Bean and Hercules to meet, but I guess I have to go home for that to happen.

I wonder if I’ll ever go back home again. I miss Lydia more than I thought I would, and I really regret that I never got to say goodbye to my grandparents. My mother’s parents are both dead, I was so little that I hardly remember them. But I was really close to my father’s parents, especially my grandmother. She’s the only one in the family that I kind of look like. I’m sure by now my mother has turned her against me.

Lydia hasn’t called. I know I shouldn’t be worried about her, but I am. I was hoping she’d try to sneak and call me when she was by herself.

Part of me feels some strange guilt for leaving, because I failed everyone’s expectations and didn’t play the role I’ve always played, I guess. But I know that I could never have been happy staying in SmallTownville, Ohio and marrying Scott. And isn’t that what life is really about? Making the most out of the time you’ve got?

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty for being here, and I wish that I could fully realize what a good choice I’ve made. I’m going to go to school out here, and have the kind of life I’ve always dreamed about.

And Jaden making this possible is just icing on the cake, so to speak. I couldn’t have done it without her.

But I’m worried about her. She’s still so closed off from me at times, and I don’t know if she’ll ever be fully able to open up. We still haven’t talked about her drug addiction besides when she blurted it out while half-asleep. We haven’t spoken about our future, or the status of our relationship. That scared me so much, that she could just come in from work one day and want me gone because I’m cramping her style. I don’t honestly think she’d do that, but the fear is there.

We’ve had such an amazing week together. She’s had to work all kinds of different shifts and then she stops out at the barn on her way home from work. She promised to take me to meet Studley this weekend, and I’m so excited to be around horses again. I’ve missed it so much.

I know that I need to get my ass in gear though. If I’m going to go to college here in the fall I need to get my financial aid stuff filled out and do student loans. I need to unpack my car so I can stop living off the few outfits in my bag like I have been, and I need to find a job. Uncle Rick’s generous money minus what I paid for Hercules will keep me afloat for a while, and I have a lot saved up but I refuse to dip into that. That’s for college and I plan on keeping it that way. So, first thing Monday morning, I’m getting motivated.




June 23, 2000


The phone ringing brings me out of my catnap on the couch. Standing and rubbing my eyes, I click off the TV and trot to the kitchen to grab the phone.

"Hello?" I ask, my voice thick from sleeping.

"Did I wake you?" Jaden’s good-natured voice asks and I smile.

"Yes, but I can’t think of a better way to wake up. Unless you were here." I tell her, surprised at how shy I am still with her sometimes.

"I wish I was there to see your bed-head." She responds, laughing. That’s been a big joke between us since I moved here with my cropped hair. Regardless of how I sleep, my hair is always messed up really badly when I wake up. I really need to get it cut by a professional.

"Shut up." I tell her jokingly.

"Listen, the reason I’m calling is because Diana and her husband wanted to meet you and I thought we could grab dinner tonight if you wanted." Jaden asks, her voice casual but I can tell she’s nervous.

"Diana the dispatcher?" I ask, remembering the good-natured woman I spoke with when I was at the airport.

"Yep, she’s been pestering me all week about meeting you. I thought we could go out for drinks and dinner."

"Sure!" I tell Jaden, excited to meet her friends. "That sounds fun."

"Okay, I’ll let her know." Jaden answers, sounding more relaxed. "I think you’ll like them, they are really fun."

Ah, so that’s why she’s nervous. Jaden actually likes Diana and her spouse and really wants to go out. I thought she was dreading it, but it seems like she’s excited. Cool, I can’t wait to meet them.

"What should I wear?" I question, running through my possible choices.

"Something casual is fine." She answers. "I’m on until 5 and then I’ll be home. They live close so we’ll go shortly after that, okay?"

I glance at the clock. Crap, it’s almost 4:00 now. "Okay." I tell her, wondering if it’s possible to get a haircut right now. "Is there a Supercuts or anything nearby?"

She laughs. "Gracie, your hair is fine. But yes, drive down towards town and it’s in the shopping center plaza."

"Great!" I tell her, hoping that I’ll be ready by the time she gets here. "See you then."

"Love you." She responds, hanging up the phone.

I smile into the silent receiver. That gets me every time.


Part 3: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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