The Flip Side
| Autumn awoke slowly, but there didn't seem to be anything amiss. She felt so relaxed and at peace. She shifted position to disentangle the IV line, but she didn't open her eyes. She started to fall asleep again, but she heard someone walk in the room. It must be Sariah; maybe she's coming to reinsert the IV, although I don't remember pulling it. She was satisfied with this probable explanation and started to drift off again.
"Autumn?" It was a female voice, but Autumn didn't recognize it. She sighed and slowly opened her eyes. The first thing she saw made her squeeze her eyes shut and turn her face toward the wall beside her bed. She wished she could roll over, for she wanted to dismiss the sight completely.
"I'm Jenny," the girl said again. It sounded like she was moving toward the bed, but she had some sort of noisy thing with which she seemed to tap a constant rhythm.
"Cut it out! Get rid of that blasted...incessant noise!" she grumbled, burying her face in her pillow.
"Maybe we should go," a male said, and the uncertainty in his voice was clear. Still, that uncertainty didn't stop the memories. They played over and over in her mind.
"Get out of here! Haven't you tormented me enough? And now you show up here, as if I can't remember! I think about it and you countless times every day. Why did you have to come just to completely make my life a living hell? You canjust ...go to blazes!"
This was not the gentle girl Lynn had described and that Lance had observed in the beginning. He alone was responsible for this! Jamison rushed into the room, turning to give Lance a murderous look.
"What in the...that is, what the heck are you doing here?" he asked quietly, but his voice was filled with anger.
"Actually, I just wanted to apologize for the--"
"You'll get out of here if you know what's good for you!"
"I know you can't believe me, but I truly--"
"This is your last warning, boy!" Jamison was still speaking quietly, but his voice was heavy with murderous rage. And why not? Lance had hurt his girl, and that Perkins kid was loyal to her. Of course he would do anything for her, and that meant he wouldn't hesitate to beat the crap out of the monster who had caused her so much pain.
Jamison didn't miss the relief displayed on Autumn's face when he spoke for the first time. It was at the sound of his voice that she turned away from the wall. Jamison had known from the beginning that her harsh words were for that monster. Still, it helped him to get a glimpse of that trust and maybe love she still held for only him.
"Will you please just give Lance an opportunity to speak?" That was right; Jamison had forgotten about the unfamiliar girl who stood beside Lance. Now he looked at her and responded to her question, "That's Autumn's decision, but I will not hesitate to get you out of here at the first indication of something uncalled for."
"Okay, I guess," she whispered in a tremulous voice. She extended her hand to Jamison, who reached her bed in no time at all.
Lance took a deep breath. He knew he wanted to make things right, as much as he could, anyway. This was going to be harder than he had ever imagined.
"Autumn, I know this seems so cheap--"
"What in God's name are you doing here, boy?" Lance almost left his feet when Jason's voice boomed from behind him. Jamison almost laughed out loud when that freak's face changed from uncertainty to confidence and utter fear within a matter of five seconds! There was something about seeing that man get his--
"What do you think you're doing here? Get out...this instant!" Jason lowered his voice just a little; it was more of a intense growl than a thunderous shout. They all turned to look at Lance to see what he would do. Jamison turnbed back to Autumn just as quickly when he noted tears. At this moment, Jamison was thankful for his 6/5 height. From his position in relation to Autumn, he could block her view of the entire hideous scene.
"I just can't stand this anymore!" she sobbed. Jamison put his arms around her, careful not to dislodge any equipment. Autumn would never tell anyone, but she desperately needed that touch. She felt secure in his strong, gentle embrace. Jamison would serve two purposes: to be her support in whatever she needed and to shield her, both physically and emotionally (if he could, that is). He wished he could take on her pain and infuse his love into her at the same time. There Jamison stood, holding the person who meant everything to him as Lance began his explanation. Even Jason was finally willing to let him explain, as long as Lance didn't move from his spot near the door.
"I was so screwed up for so long. It started long 'fore I met your mama. I been drinkin' since I was just a boy...maybe eleven years old. My daddy always said it would solve the problems in life. It made him forget. That's just what I learnt to do. He was right about it making you forget, but there's something he didn't say. He ain't never tol' me it would screw me up. My daddy didn't work, not like none of my friends' daddies. So Mama had men...and Daddy didn't never know 'cuz he's always mighty drunk. Mama had a baby who weren't my sister. Well, I mean, well...Mama and someone knew they's gonna be trouble, 'cuz that baby weren't my daddy's at all. So you know what Daddy did?" Lance looked around the room and saw the same expression on everyone's faces: shock. He thought Autumn looked rather silly there enveloped in Jamison's embrace with her head on his shoulder, her mouth hanging open. He forced his attention back to the problem at hand.
"So, when my daddy was sober 'nuf to finally see straight, he killt that baby girl. And he made me look. After he done it, he said to me, 'I gonna teach ya a lesson, boy, so you listen good. That baby don't deserve to live, an' ya know why? It weren't mine, so that mean yo' mama screwing 'round. She say that how she puts food on the table since I ain't workin'. Well, boy, I don't care what she do, 'cuz women ain't no good for nothin' 'ceptin' for good times. Still, I don't want no darn baby, 'specially a useless girl. Now you listen here, boy. You have the pretty gals, but you ain't never gonna marry one. They's nothin' but trouble, but like I said, take 'em, the pretty gals. And whatever ya do, don't let 'em complicate matters by givin' ya a baby! Ya hear what I's been sayin', boy?' I sure felt good after that, 'cuz there weren't never no more times he talked to me friendly-like. And that's how I got all mixed up in this here thing. I know it ain't no excuse, but maybe ya can understan' why I done those things. No one since my mama love me...I convince myself that your mama, Autumn, loved me, an' I just had to keep her. So that be why I done it." The room was completely silent as the others worked to digest this information.
"It makes sense, but that doesn't make it right. God intended for us to treasure, love and protect our women...and I mean the words "our women" as just that...they aren't slaves; they are people," Jamison said, not releasing Autumn.
"I ain't proud of what I done," Lance mumbled, seemingly terribly intrigued with the dust molecules on his shoes. "I know I don't 'zerve yo' forgiveness, but I's askin' for it anyways."
Autumn lifted her head to look toward the man who had destroyed all that made her woman. As she did this, Jamison saw the pleading look in her eyes, and he did not let go; he tightened his hold for emphasis.
"I will forgive you, but there is no way I can do that right now. I trust four men, and I'm still nervous around them. It seems God has given them a special measure of compassion, because they never get angry with me."
"That would be terribly insensetive and quite unthinkable!" These were Jason's first words since his initial exclamation.
"Yeah," Jamison elaborated, "it's not the Autumn I know; the same beautiful young woman lies beneath what that monstrocity shaped. It's not like you woke up one morning and decided all men are evil villains. I see your tears, rage and despair, but I still see the gentle, compassionate girl all the time...the love of my life."
Autumn was encouraged by this; her friends knew she was not acting out of spite; it was just her overwhelming fear. Even Josiah seemed to understand, and he was extremely patient and gentle when she allowed him to treat her. She thanked God for her friends and family. There were still good things to come. Josiah and Sariah would marry, and Jason and Abbie would do the same. Jason and Abbie would have a new baby and would raise him or her as their own, shaped by God's love. As Jamison helped reposition her for a much-needed nap, she asked God to help her forgive Lance. But she prayed no longer, for she had fallen asleep, only aware of the touch of the man she loved with all her heart.
Viewing chapter 88 out of 136