XVIII

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Jillian's P.O.V:

"Zen?"

"Yes dear?"

"Are you a 'child' person?"

He chuckled, "'child' person?" he embraced me as tight as he could, "darling of course I am, and imagine, they would be half me and half you, I would be crazy about them!"

"Really?"

His eyes softened and he gave me a warm smile, "darling whatever I have with you, children, a house, a life, even a dog, is beyond everything I could ever dream of."

I loved him. I did. With all my heart and its components. With all my being actually. I was happy, for he was my happiness and all of life's possibilities.

I hugged him, like the many times I did before, sure that he loved me as much as I loved him.

The stroll phase. Well that's what I like to call it. It is after every doomed relationship that the recollection of memories is inescapable. Only my stroll down memory lane was a bit late, almost five months late. The happy times, oh the happy times; the long conversations, the gifts, even the times where unexpectedly shows up at work for a late lunch. The watch, I even gave him the watch back, I winced at that thought. What did he do to the stuff I gave back? Did he throw them away? Burn them? Are they in a box in a dusty coat closet? The ring! I didn't give him the ring back! I stood up and rampaged my room, where did I put that ring!?

I remembered I must have placed it in the bag pack I used for Santorini. Where is that bag!?

"MOM!"

Then again.

"MOM!"

"Yes dear?" she then answered when she entered the room hastily. "What's wrong? What happened to your room? Do you need to call your doctor?"

Have a psychiatrist and you are a mad person. Sarcasm intended.

I rolled my eyes, "No mother, where is that bag back I took to Santorini?"

"Oh that! Well I emptied it, and washed it, why?"

"What did you find in it exactly?"

"Sunglasses, laundry, and I guess a pair of flip flops, why?" Inquiring about the sudden interest in my bag.

"Well I just need it for the next time I travel. Next week actually."

"Again?! What is it this time?"

"This time mom it's not for me."

The ring. I lost it. The last remaining piece of him gone. I sat again in my chair facing the window and sobbed. Wept actually. Okay ugly cried. They say regret is irrepressible, it keeps haunting you until you are a decaying pile of ash. It eats you up, consumes you. Your future decisions become questionable, irreversibly wrong by default. It was sure as hell eating me up. The confrontation didn't go so well. Not well at all. Next week I will be traveling to England. I will come back and nothing will change. I will travel again. And come back again. I will come back to nothing. No apartment, no job, and no fiancé. I lost everything. Everything...those certainly are reasons for depression. I cried and kept on crying. How and why in the hell did I expect anything to happen?! What did I expect to happen?! Of course my job and fiancé I left won't be welcoming me at the airport asking me what fucking lessons I learned. I am so naïve, I am so stupid. I rested my head on my knees, and cried until I was out of breath.

"I expected a happier version of yourself, Greece and all."

Entered my younger sister. I didn't answer, I was supposed to be better.

"You heard about Zen didn't you?" she approached and stood next to my chair staring in same direction. "He called every day you were gone. He kept asking if I-your sister-heard anything. I told him I didn't. I really liked Zen. He seemed to...fit. He was family already, and he kept on being a family member. He still calls dad, and calls mom, and talks to me occasionally asking how I am in college." As she continued describing his attributes, how much of a good person he truly is, I shed more and more tears, silently. She came closer," You never included me. You had your own 'thing' going on, and I wanted so desperately to be part of it. Yes of course you are a good sister, but great presents aren't everything. Sometimes I would talk to myself, out of the blue, and imagine how you would reply. In my head, you were the voice of reason, the kind friend that cared only for my own benefit-hell knows if my friends ever care-and I would be alright. I am still alright, but I always needed you and the moment you actually came home, you came back depressed and at a loss. Then you left everything, everything. I wondered why Jillian would do that. There must be something behind that, and every time I end up with nothing. For the past four months, I stopped listening to that voice that was yours, because now I question it."

Zen was right! I was so selfish. Not only to him, but to my family. I never thought of them, how they were effected by what I had done, I only thought of my selfish ass. I turned to her, eyes welled up and face swollen, "I am not depressed anymore, and I stopped my meds. I am heartbroken and I am terribly afraid that if I continue to wallow in my misery, I will go back there again. I lost him, Leah. He doesn't want me anymore and I stupidly handed him over to someone else." I paused and inhaled sharply, "I am genuinely sorry I never included you in anything emotional, that's the problem with being an elder sibling; you have to be the caliber of perfection so the next child doesn't mess up. I am so sorry I wasn't always there, and I am sorry you are burdened with a miserable excuse for sister." I lowered my gaze afraid to look her in the eye. I have done wrong too many, and I will fix that. I will try. I am flawed and I am human, and I will correct what I have done.

"Oh darling sister of mine, would you like to go out for lunch? We have a lot to catch up on." Her forgiving heart, her immense love for me, I never realized and took for granted, wasn't the first time but it was the last. If one person didn't forgive me surely the others will.

We had lunch together, and acted like sisters. Truly. She told me about her college, her major, her dreams, her plans, her friends, and her life basically. For the first time I didn't mention myself and only listened and occasionally commented. That felt refreshing, and selfless.

That night I thought of Cecilia. Where was she? Did she arrive safely? Did she find that old lady? I called her mother and asked for the villa's number, I had known she would leave her contact information at her parents' in every stop.

I called and the reception answered, she tried her room but Cecilia didn't answer. She told me that Cecilia liked to stroll in the field at that time in the day, the woman asked who I was and if I would like to leave a message. I just told her to tell Cecilia I called. Apparently everything worked out, and she was regaining spirits, hopefully. I was reassured with the thought that she was actually there. That she was doing something. I have to do something, I didn't need a trip anywhere to fix what I have here. I will do what is left on this stupid-life-ruining-thought-a-17-year-old-devised- list, and then restart. I will be better. I won't blame life anymore, I will embrace what is to come, and let go of what was.

Oh Zen why wasn't I sensible like this before? Why did I leave you?

And to the deep corners of my soul, for the first time since my selfish impulsive rampage, I felt regret. Bitter, wounding, alcohol-rubbing, regret. I hurt so many with my negligence, my family, my friends, and the love of my life. I prayed, very recurrently that evening and the nights after, that I do right by people I love. That they eventually forgive my egocentrism.

I will be better.

I will be better.

And may they forgive me.

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