Title: hold your head up high
Jane Reynolds - April 1, 2012 08:56 AM (GMT)
[31 March, 2012; 12:56 PM]
Life the last couple of months had been surprisingly happy for Jane. Her baby girl was healthy and surprisingly normal; she was developing exactly the way she was supposed to. That was actually really surprising- Jane had expected her child to come out, like... misshapen or something. She'd thought that all the abuse she'd endured growing up would've made her incapable of producing a healthy, happy, normal child.
But it hadn't.
It was, in Jane's mind, sort of a giant 'Fuck you' to her dad, her mom's family, everyone- she was happy. She made her husband happy. She didn't ruin everything she touched. She was able to do something right. It felt really good, this security in herself and in Scott and in their marriage. They weren't normal, no, but they were lasting. She was nothing like her mother. She was still in school, well on her way to getting her degree, and things were just... good. She was a grown woman now, even though she was only twenty (twenty-one in July), and she was past the dark days of her childhood. She had a future now, ironically because her father had tried to sabotage her. Hell, Jane was actually respectable.
And she knew all that, she did. Really. She knew that the angry, hurt little girl she'd been until Scott had come into her life was gone, replaced by the woman she'd grown into. Logically, she did know that, because she was Jane Reynolds now, not Jane Sharp. She had the ring to prove it and everything. (At one point, Scott had asked her if she wanted to take the ring back, trade it for something more in line with her tastes and personality, but she couldn't bring herself to part with it- it was a tad gaudy, but it was the symbol of their relationship, even before they'd realized they loved each other.)
However, despite this knowledge and this security she'd gained, she still cringed a little inside whenever she saw someone she'd known when she was younger. She knew, she knew. She had nothing to rove to them. All those dumb jocks who thought it was fun to beat the crap out of her because they were misogynistic rat bastards and she was the only girl they could lay a hand on and not get publicly shamed for, they couldn't touch her now. All of the people who'd made snide remarks about her, they were all miserable now, themselves, and all the people who'd tacitly stood by and done nothing, well, she'd made something of herself despite their not helping. She couldn't help the way the she kind of retreated into herself, though, when she saw one of the rich kids walking toward where she was, wearing her immensely unflattering yellow Harvey's smock.
Her face fell into the same impassive, stony expression she'd worn for her entire school career, the one she hadn't had to use in almost two years (because her husband was amazing), until the boy, Spencer Gunn, approached her. She told herself to treat him like just another customer, not like one of those kids that had ignored the fact that she was blatantly, unabashedly bullied right in front of him. She forced an artificial smile, clearing her throat and saying, "Welcome to Harvey's Home and Hardware. How can I help you?"
Spencer Gunn - April 1, 2012 05:55 PM (GMT)
To say that Spencer
was bad at dealing with the real world would be like saying that Hitler probably wasn't a great guy; the truth was that Spencer was awful with dealing in reality, worse than anyone else he had ever met, and while he knew, for the most part, that the world he lived in wasn't the same one as everyone else, he didn't care. He knew that if he let things get to him, if he let himself be a part of the same world that everyone was else was he would be destroyed. He wasn't strong enough to be able to handle bad things, to be able to deal with pain, and as a result, he decided to block it all out.
This was something that he had been doing his entire life, starting in grade school and lasting all the way up until now. When he saw something bad happening, he just ignored it, he pretended that it wasn't happening and went on his way, and when something bad happened to him? Well, he repressed it, locked it away inside of him and acted as though everything was fine, as though he was the same, perfectly happy boy he always had been. As a result of this, he had ignored bullying and other cruel gestures from people in school, and he had done nothing to stop it when anyone was being hurt because trying to stop bullying would be admitting that bad things were around him, and he had never been ready to deal with that.
Now things were bad for him, things were awful, and he was still acting as though everything was fine, he would be doing this for the rest of his life. His wife wouldn't sleep with him - hell, she would barely even talk to him, and he knew why she was angry, why she was sad, but he wouldn't let himself get caught up in it, he wouldn't let himself admit that something so heartbreaking had ever happened to them. He grabbed a few rolls of duct tape and walked up to the counter, wallet out. "Oh, hey - it's Jane, right?"
he remembered her from school, but had suppressed the bullying completely. He smiled at her as he noticed the ring on her finger. "That's beautiful - are you married or engaged?"
Jane Reynolds - April 2, 2012 05:43 AM (GMT)
Jane was a little surprised that he remembered her. He'd been in a different year of school than her, and though she was a little infamous, she'd never thought that those who weren't, like, by nature mean and cruel were actually aware that she existed. She looked at him a little strangely as she rang him up, noting his own wedding band. It took her a moment to actually remember to respond. "I- uh, oh, um, thanks. Married. I'm married." She smiled a little, in that slightly goofy, involuntary way she always did whenever Scott came up. "A year and a half. Our, um, anniversary is in September." She realized she hadn't answered the first question. "And yeah, it's Jane. Um, you're Spencer, right?"
She felt like she ought to say something more. That was how these things worked, right? Someone recognized you, and you started a conversation. She thought. She still wasn't entirely sure how this whole 'polite society' thing worked, but she was trying. "We, uh, actually just had a baby about... a month and a half ago? About that. Her name's Evie." Because Jane was almost never going to miss the chance to brag about her daughter. Evie was her pride and joy. In Jane's mind, Evie represented everything that she'd ever hoped for- stability, safety, happiness... There would never be a little girl as deeply loved as her daughter was, and even if Jane wasn't that great of a mom, Scott more than made up for it as a father. "Actually, this is her, and my husband," she said, pulling out her keys. She had one of those photo keychains, that she kept with her at all times, even when she was at home.
She blushed a little and put the keychain back in her pocket, murmuring a sheepish, "Sorry. You probably really, like, don't care." Showing off your kid's picture to a random customer who you happened to have gone to school with was not the way to interact with someone normally. Normal, Jane. C'mon. Right. Shit. She could practice socializing, right? Right. "Uh, er... you were expecting, too, right? How, er... How's that going?" If she remembered correctly, Spencer had gotten married to this other underclassmen, Bri-something. Brianne? No, it was also a song... Brielle! Yeah, it was Brielle.
She had no idea why she was even, like, talking to him. He was a customer. He didn't care about her month-and-a-half-old daughter. He just wanted to buy his duct tape and get home, most likely. She gave him his total and waited for the payment to be exchanged. Awkward. That was what she was. Awkward, awkward, awkward.
Spencer Gunn - April 2, 2012 05:55 AM (GMT)
Spencer was glad for Jane. Things had been rough for her in school, though he had blocked that out, and he liked to hear that people were happy, that some people got the fairy tale that he had always dreamed of. Had everything that was happening recently with Brielle not happened, he would have been elated for Jane, even though he hardly knew her. He loved the fairy tale image of life, and he was glad that people got it, though he had always imagined that he, too, would have it, and even with his denial, it was hard to pretend that anymore, hard to act as though everything was going to be okay when things at home seemed so rough around the edges. He loved Brielle, more than anything, but he had recently been doubting if she still loved him.
He had been staying at his parents the night before, and he wasn't sure when he was going to go back to Bree, when he was going to beg for her forgiveness and hope for the best. He had left her alone to decide whether their marriage was something that she still wanted, but she had been furious when he left, and he wasn't sure what to do with all of this. He loved her and he wanted to fix things, meaning he had to pull his head out of the clouds, at least for her, but around everyone else, he was still acting as though everything was fine. Maybe, just maybe, when he fixed things with Brielle that would change, but he doubted it. He didn't want people to know he was in pain.
As she took out her wallet and started showing pictures, Spencer froze, completely unsure of what to do. He didn't mind hearing about her happy life, but seeing the pictures was almost too much for him. The marriage wasn't what got to him, that was fine - he was happy for her about that, but the baby, so small, so adorable, so perfect. He and Brielle could have had that, but they had lost it, and while he had pretended for so long that he didn't care, he did, and as he looked at Jane's pictures, he had a hard time keeping that inside of him. He had only just admitted to Brielle that it upset him, only just admitted it to himself and now here he was, looking at someone else having the life he wanted.
He had always been the one with the perfect life while Jane had had nothing even close to it, and now it seemed as though that had been completely flipped and reversed, and he didn't know what to say. "She's...she's beautiful." he forced a smile onto his face, wanting to appear genuinely happy for you. "You and your husband look great together, what's his name?" He wasn't the kind of person who showed weakness, who showed pain...then again, he wasn't usually the kind of person that let himself come anywhere near to feeling it, meaning that this, in and of itself, was something completely knew for him. He was feeling bad things, and he just wanted them to go away.
When Jane mentioned that he and Brielle were expecting, he froze up completely. How the hell was he supposed to answer that? He had just been ignoring that thought, that question for so long and now that it was directly posed at him, he didn't know what to do. "No, I...we're not." He gulped, tears stinging at his eyes. He tried to keep them back, but a few of them escaped, rolling down his cheeks. Had he not seen Jane's pictures, he'd have been able to keep up the ruse, act as though everything was fine, but it wasn't and she had his life. "We're not," he said again, though he kept his eyes glued to the duct tape on the counter, unable to look at the other woman. Spencer almost never cried, and definitely not in public, but here he was now, sniffling in the hardware store in front of Jane Sharp, of all people.
Jane Reynolds - April 2, 2012 06:30 AM (GMT)
She's...she's beautiful. Jane couldn't help the smile as she pocketed the picture. Evie was the one thing that even she couldn't screw up, she was pretty sure. "Thanks. His name's-" When she noticed the tears, Jane froze. Shit. Shit shit shit. She was... not the comforting, maternal type. She'd spent her whole life ignoring her emotions, or else turning them to the anger that had fueled her studying and fighting (until everyone else kept growing and she didn't). She knew fighting. She knew violence. She knew anger and cruelty and hateful, hateful words blasting at her like a pressure-washer, trying to strip the flesh from her bones. Those, she could handle. Those, she was used to.
She was not at all used to tears, particularly other peoples'. She sure as hell wasn't used to being in the position of 'comforter,' especially not when she was the one who'd made them cry. That was the one thing that Jane had always sort of prided herself on- she'd never gone out of her way to be cruel to anyone else. She'd done her best to be a Good Person, actually, as if that could make up for the taint that had been bestowed upon her by her father. God. Shit. She had no idea how to handle this. "Shit. I'm so sorry." She bit her lip, not knowing what to do. What was the proper response in situations like these? Then...
It hit her.
They weren't expecting.
She covered her mouth with her hand, looking at him with a renewed sense of deep, deep sympathy. She'd never lost a child, no, but she'd lost plenty else in her life. "I am so, so sorry." She bit her lip, looking around. Shit. Well, it was a really slow day, and she hadn't taken a break yet, anyway. She'd been working there since she was thirteen, so it wasn't like she was going to get fired at this point. She came out from behind her cash register and took Spencer's elbow ever so gently, leading him to the back, past a door that said 'employees only.' She sat him down in a slightly ratty, moderately uncomfortable old chair in the break room, one that she'd spent hours and hours in, studying and really just avoiding going home. She gave him a paper cup full of water. That was what you did for crying people, right? You gave them water, and offered them a hug or something.
...that wasn't going to happen. Jane didn't have a panic attack about being touched anymore, but she wasn't hugging some, like, stranger. She licked her lips, standing there with her hands in the back pockets of her jeans, trying to figure out the right thing to say. "I really am sorry," she said, fidgeting with the bottom hem of her Harvey's smock. "I wouldn't have said anything, if I'd known..." Not that apologizing five zillion times was going to make anything better. She sighed softly, running her hand through her hair. "If you wanna, like, sit here for a little bit, I'm sure my boss wouldn't mind. Uh, er..." What could she say? She suddenly felt oddly protective over this boy.
She had no idea why. He'd never said anything to her, good or bad. In fact, he'd ignored her, since she and her situation didn't fit the All-American Small Town Americana ideal. She had no reason to give a damn about anything about him, but... she did. But she knew. She knew how it felt to have your whole world right in front of you, just yours for the taking, then having it yanked out from under you, just. Like. That. She knew, and, as she figured, it was probably about a thousand times worse for him, since he hadn't grown up with pain and strife and sorrow. "Er... is there anything I can do to help? At all?"
Spencer Gunn - April 2, 2012 06:47 AM (GMT)
This was one of the things that Spencer had been trying to avoid. Pity. He had never had someone pity him before, hell, no one had ever had reason TO pity him before. He had had everything. Loving parents, lots of money, a steady, beautiful girlfriend whom he loved and who loved him right back. He was smart, he was good looking, and nothing had ever really gone wrong for him before. The last time he had cried, not counting his recent fight with Brielle, had been when he'd broken his arm sophomore year of high school, and almost every other time that he had cried had been for a similar reason. A bee sting, a scraped knee, he'd fallen out of a tree once, but he had never cried like this, never cried because he was upset, never cried because he had lost something that meant so much to him. Never cried because he was scared.
And he was scared now. Hell, he was past scared, he was terrified. His marriage was on the brink of failing and he didn't know what to do. He hadn't been single since he was 12 years old, he had been with Brielle since he was practically a child himself, and then they were supposed to have one of their own and now...now that wasn't going to happen, it wasn't an option anymore, at least not right now, and he wasn't sure how to live with that fact. He had married Brielle because she had gotten pregnant, started a life with her in their own house which revolved around the knowledge that they were soon going to have a child with them, but that wasn't happening, not anymore, and he wasn't sure what to do now. They had been sharing the house for moths, but it hadn't been the same as before, and he was scared that it never would be again.
Spencer loved Brielle. He loved her more than anything in the world, and he didn't know how to be without her, but right now things were bad, so bad that he wasn't living in their house right now, and even though it was a short break, just a few days, he was scared that it would turn into more. When he had left, he had asked Brielle to think about whether or not she still loved him, and he was terribly afraid that, once she had some space to herself and got to thinking about it, the answer would be clear to her and that that answer would be no. She was the one that he was supposed to be with forever, or so he had felt, and now he wasn't sure that forever would even see them turning 20.
When Jane apologized, he said nothing. He was sure that she knew by now that he was in tears, that she knew he was crying like a little girl, but he knew that if he opened his mouth, if he said anything more, he would sound so much more pathetic than he had ever wanted to in his entire life, and he didn't want to do that, not in front of Jane, not in front of anyone. He didn't know this woman, not really. They had been in school together, but not the same year and they had rarely spoken. She wasn't in his group of friends and he had turned a blind eye to her tormentors, even though he probably could have done something about it. He didn't deserve her being this nice to him, even if it was awkward, but he didn't know how to say that out loud.
He allowed himself to be led into the back room, to be sat down and given water, the duct tape he had gone out to purchase lying abandoned on the counter. Did he really want to sit back here and just wait? He was grateful that she had taken into the backroom, that she had taken him out of the public eye so that there would be less shame, less embarrassment, but he still felt awkward and awful and he didn't know how to go about fixing that. He was really in it now, crying in a hardware store to someone he hardly knew was an all time low for him, and what scared him the most was that he knew it could go a lot lower if certain things played out in a negative way. He had already lost a baby, whom he would have loved unconditionally, and if he lost Brielle too, he wasn't sure what he would do.
"Thank you." he managed to choke out the words before drinking the water, taking it all in in one gulp to avoid having to say anything else. Spencer had never felt so emotional in his life, and he wasn't sure if it was just the reality of the potential of losing his wife, or if it was being shown the life that he had been lined up to have, but that had been ripped away from him, or if it was a combination of the two things. There was a huge lump in his throat, and while he wanted nothing more than for it to go away, he also knew that there was not much of a chance of that happening, that it was far more likely he would end shedding more tears before the day was done.
He wanted nothing more than to get out of here, to leave the tape behind, run for his car, drive home and lock himself in his room before the tears fully came, but he was certain that there was no time for that. He couldn't move. He was rooted to the chair, too weighed down with his emotions to get away from them. Spencer saw no way out, and he gulped, trying to keep that lump back for as long as he could. 'I'm sorry, I...I..." He didn't know what to say next, and it didn't matter. The tears came out, far faster and in a far larger quantity than before, and his face fell into his hands. He mumbled words into them, mostly apologies, but he was sure that they were lost among the sniffling and the tears. He had never cried like this, not once in his entire life, and the fact that he was now upset him, causing him to cry even more. "I'm so, so sorry," he said again, trying to compose himself, wondering if that was even possible at this point. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." he said those two words again and again, not sure if he was still apologizing to Jane, or if he was apologizing to everyone for everything he'd done wrong.
Jane Reynolds - April 2, 2012 07:18 AM (GMT)
Jane was freaking out. Selfishly, she was freaking out. She had no idea what to do. Jesus Christ on a cracker, what the hell even was this? Jane was not the one that usually found herself in these situations. She didn't even, like... understand emotions. Well. Obviously she did, but she'd become so adept at controlling hers (to a point- she still couldn't really control her temper) that, like... seeing someone else with overwhelming emotions, was also overwhelming to her. She wanted to fix it. She wanted to fix it, at least partly because no one had ever tried to fix hers, at least not until Scott, and she knew. She knew what he was going through. She knew how it felt to be alone, to feel stranded on this island of hopelessness, like there was no way out. Hello- welcome to her entire childhood, you know?
At the torrential downpour of tears that came when she handed him the cup, Jane had no fucking clue what to do. He just sat there and kept muttering 'I'm sorry' over and over and over. She looked heavenward, almost beseechingly, then sat down in the chair next to him. Despite everything else, Jane tried to be a kind person, and kindness dictated that she try to make him feel better. She put a hand on his back, rubbing back and forth in what she hoped was a comforting gesture. It was weird. It was completely alien, this whole thing where she was the one who was doing the comforting. She sighed again, wishing that she could do something to make him stop crying.
Ironically, the last time she'd completely lost her shit (besides her first Christmas with Scott) had been in the Harvey's break room. " 'snot your fault," she said gently. She had no idea what he was apologizing for, but in her experience, when a kid apologized like that, with tears, to the degree that Spencer was, where it came from the very depths of your being, it really, really wasn't their fault. And... Spencer was just a kid, Jane realized. He was younger than her. If her math was right, he was only like 18, maybe 19. And he'd lost a kid. Jesus. She took her hand off his back, standing and getting him some more water. Crying like that was wont to leave you with a bitch and a half of a headache. She set the water down in front of him, sitting down next to him again. She wasn't actually sure that he wanted her there, but she didn't think that leaving him alone right then was the best of ideas.
Okay. So. What did she do? Did she just sit there and wait for him to stop sobbing? She didn't think she was the best person to comfort him. She knew she wasn't, actually. While she had been decidedly more personable since Scott and Evie, she wasn't... good. She wasn't 'bad' anymore, but she wasn't anyone's definition of 'good.' She was... Actually, she realized, she wasn't as broken as Spencer was anymore, and maybe that was why she could be at all helpful. "It's, uh, it's... going to be okay." It wasn't particularly convincing, but it was the best she could do.
Spencer Gunn - April 2, 2012 07:35 AM (GMT)
Like Jane, Spencer wasn't sure what to do, not about his current tears, not about anything. He had never had to take care of himself, not once in his entire life and now here he was, freaking out because he had no idea HOW to care for himself, how to deal with pain. He should have learned this earlier, he should have stopped shutting everything bad out and started learning how to accept it, how to live with it, but he hadn't, and now he was sitting there, sobbing his brains out because he didn't know what else to do. He could ask his parents for help, and he was certain that he would, but he was scared of what they would say, scared that they would lecture him, that they would tell him things he didn't want to hear and that he would withdraw back inside of himself, and that was something that he and his relationship couldn't really afford right now.
He had never been like this before, so broken that he didn't even care he that he was losing it in front of a stranger. Maybe he needed this, maybe just crying, letting it all out would end up being what he had needed, what would make him feel better. He had read in books and seen on TV that sometimes, people just needed to cry, and that once they did, things got better. Of course, Spencer didn't see a way for that to happen, a way for tears to magically fix everything that was wrong in his life. This wasn't Harry Potter, no phoenix tears were going to close up this wound. He had fucked up, there had been pain, he had lost a child, a baby, his kid. HIS kid. He had never thought of it like that before, never thought of the baby as his, but it was. It was going to be his flesh, his blood...something that was half of him and half the woman he loved...the perfect symbol of their love.
Thinking of it like that just made him lose it all over again, and he wrapped his around himself, pulling them in tightly, trying to keep from shaking. He kept his gaze focused on the ground, sure that he would feel horribly ashamed if he looked into her eyes for even a second. How could this not be his fault? This was hi fault, and it wasn't okay, it wasn't going to be okay. He was losing everything, first the child, then his wife. He had let himself panic, let himself become more and more sure with every moment that they were apart that she wouldn't want him anymore, and he didn't know how to handle that, thus...the sobbing mess in the back room of the hardware store. This was not how his life was supposed to be, he was supposed to have JANE'S life, and she could have it to, he didn't care, he just wanted things to be the way that they were supposed to be, the way that they would have been without the miscarriage.
Spencer just sat there and let himself cry. He didn't know how long he was going on and on, or how much of Jane's time he had wasted, but he knew that it was far longer than it should have been. Finally, he managed to compose himself. He picked up the water, drained the second cup, his head pounding, and got shakily to his feet. He was embarrassed, so, so embarrassed, and he didn't know how to face this woman. "Thank you," he said softly, looking at the wall to the side of her and not making eye contact. "Can I buy that tape now?" He was pretending to be fine, pretending that his little outburst hadn't happened, and while he knew that pretending to be fine was what had gotten him into trouble in the first place, he had no idea how else to deal with a situation like this.