“Doesn’t matter. I’m not going back,” Jess said, staring at the ceiling.
Cory wasn’t sure what she heard. “What?”
“I’m not going back. I decided. Especially not after this.” She held out her arms, connected to tubes.
“Okaaaay.” Cory grabbed a gossip magazine off the nightstand and thumbed through it. “What are you going to do, then?”
Jess sat up, propped on one elbow. “You know what? I don’t care. For once, I don’t have a plan. I don’t have anything I have to do, and I’m enjoying it. I’m not going to intensive dance camp in Massachusetts this summer—that’s for sure, especially not since Dad refuses to let me live with him. For God’s sake, it’s not like I asked to move in with him forever.” Jess slumped back against her pillow. “Asshole.”
“That’s what Mom says.”
“She’s right. What a selfish prick.”
“You could maybe still find somewhere to stay in Mass. We do have other relatives . . .”
“No.” Jess slumped down. “I’m done with that.”
“Done with what?” This conversation was taking a strange course.
“What do you mean? You can’t be done with dance.” The words ended, but the unspoken question, can you? hung in the air. Jess turned her face toward the wall with the high windows. The sucking air noise of a machine filled the silence.
Cory shifted in her chair. The fake leather squeaked. “Jess . . .” She didn’t know how to finish. She didn’t know how to start. She chewed on her bottom lip. “Jess,” she began again, “I know you must feel really bad right now, but—”
“Actually, I don’t.” Jess turned back to Cory, her chin lifted high. “Actually, I feel great. I feel like a huge ton of crap has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel light, like I don’t care about anything anymore and I can just sleep all day or get hugely fat or quit school or do whatever it is I feel like doing.” She took a deep breath. “And I don’t feel like doing anything anymore.”
“But after all the work, all the stuff you’ve been through, you can’t just quit!”
Jess let out an explosive laugh. “That’s funny! You telling me not to be a quitter. Huh”—she tapped her bottom lip with an index finger in a mock gesture of deep thought—“guess I’ve finally seen the wisdom in your approach to life.”
Cory slid away from Jess’s physical presence as if her words, like small ice pellets, had been flung in her face. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, Cory, don’t act all hurt and everything.” Jess flipped the covers back and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her feet, her horribly scarred and calloused dancer’s feet, didn’t touch the floor but hung like bruised fruit at the bottom of her stick legs. “It’s not like you’ve never quit anything before,” she continued. “Oh, except for when you never even try because you’re scared of the consequences. Doing nothing is the same as quitting. Maybe worse.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish