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The Present 2

The Present 2

Once I am outside, I collapse under a tree and give full vent to my tears. Where could I go now? I didn't have much money, only 15 [$27.00]. I certainly didn't have enough for a plane. Taking the train was an option, but the only place I could only travel around England, which was useless.

Cursing under my breath, I head for the far wall surrounding John's house, Kenwood. There is a tall live oak near the wall which I start to climb. I can't go out the front way for fear of any fans that might be lurking around.

With at least ten scrapes all over my arms and legs, I jump from from the wall to the ground. With a cry, I feel my ankle twist under me. A white-hot stab of pain shoots up to my calf. Carefully I unfold my injured leg from it's awkward position under me, wincing every time my ankle moved.

Feeling completely defeated and depressed, I put my head in my hands and fought back the urge to cry--again. I'd have to stay here for God only knew how long; I could barely change position without almost blacking out.

"Aileen!" I hear John call. "Are you all right?"

"No!" I shout back. "Does it look like it?" I am furious with myself. I know that John will have to take me to the hospital and then he'll convince me that I need to stay with him.

Much more artfully than I, John jumps from the wall and lands next to me.

As he helps me up, I say through gritted teeth, "Dammit, John, why did you have to come?"

"You can't leave me," he replies cooly.

Can't I? I think bitterly to myself.

Lucky for us, there are no fans, and we make it inside the house without too much difficulty. John gets his chauffer to drive so he can stay in the back with me.

"I hate you," I mutter but don't discourage him from pulling me close and kissing my cheek.

"No you don't," he says calmly while giving me a tight hug. Then, lowering his voice so only I can hear, he murmers, "I love you so much, Aileen. I mean it. This isn't a one night stand."

"And what about Cyn? Julian?"

I refuse to let my heart rule my mind. Common sense tells me it won't work out. He can't leave his son and wife. It's me who has to leave.

John is quiet. "Maybe someday--"

"No! I've got to leave. You may have been able to convince me to stay before, but not now! Stop making it harder for me. I don't want to go anymore than you do." I bury my head in his shoulder, feeling torn in two.

"God dammit! Stay with me! I can get you a flat somewhere and--"

"Stop it!" I cry and move away from him. My ankle, now even more swollen and tender, bangs against the seat. Blackness swims before my eyes. I grip the arm rest as hard as I can, trying to suppress the scream that wells up in my throat.

"Aileen!" John says and takes my hand. I jerk it away angrily, showing him that I won't be swayed so easily.

The pain subsides into a dull, throbbing ache again. I turn to the window and try to ignore him.

"Don't shut me out," he pleads.

I say nothing. John sighs and looks out of the window as well.

It takes about forty-five minutes to get to London, fifteen to fight the traffic, and at least ten minutes spent trying to find a parking space, I think, managing to keep myself busy.

Suddenly I wonder what will happen when the press gets word that John is seen with a girl other than his wife. Even though we are going to a hospital, people still get strange ideas. Still, I have to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.

I am in so much pain when John has helped me out to the front desk, that I don't even notice anything else but my ankle. A wheelchair is brought up to me. With relief I sit down and close my eyes.

The doctor wrapps a bandage around my ankle. He says that it's only a very slight sprain and will heal up quickly if I don't stress it. Resting is the best medicine. John looks happy. He knows the only place I can stay is at his flat.

On the way home, he takes my hand in his and strokes my fingers. This time I don't do anything.


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