Asia had just stepped outside to tend the garden, and she saw Jasmine standing on the drive. She thought it was a bit odd because most of the time Jasmine just let herself in the house.
“Jasmine? Are you ok? What are you doing out here?”
But Jasmine didn’t answer. Asia went out to greet her, but she noticed a foreign seriousness on her face.
“What is it, Jasmine? What’s happened?”
“I want to die here.”
“Wha…like, right here in the driveway? Why don’t you come inside and I’ll get your brothers for you.”
“I want to die here!”
There was a frustration in Jasmine’s voice that Asia had never heard before. It was as if she was trying to say something, but she was unable to convey it coherently. Asia looked in Jasmine’s eyes and saw what she meant. She wanted to be at home around family when she died–not a cold empty house where her two evils daughters lived.
“I see,” Asia said. “Well, it just so happens that your old room is vacant! Isn’t that nice?”
Asia went upstairs to change the linen and freshen up Jasmine’s room. Shortly after Asia went inside, Jayla came by to check on her twin. Jasmine met her on the porch.
“I’m going to die here. You should too.”
Jayla had spent half her life learning to interpret Jasmine’s insane rants and ideas. She thought about it silently for a few minutes before she figured this one out.
“So, you’re living here then?”
“Yes. Come with me.’
Naturally, Jayla’s first reaction was to come up with reasons why she couldn’t just uproot herself and live there on the spur of the moment. But as she looked at Jasmine, the house, and her niece and nephews through the window, it was clear that her time was approaching fast.
“Ok. I’ll do it. I guess we’re sharing your bed then, eh?”
Jayla went inside to do take care of her loose ends. She contacted a real estate agent and told them to get the house on the market immediately. Her instructions were to give the proceeds, whenever it sold, to the Pruett Estate.
Jasmine and Jayla were still the best of friends, and they wasted no time getting back in the habit. Jasmine even dared Jayla to streak…and she did it!
The younger Pruetts enjoyed having Aunt Jasmine around. They knew of her condition, but they still thought she was funny although she couldn’t help herself.
The next night, the Pruetts decided to have a family reunion of sorts at the park. When they got back to the house, Jayden noticed someone running away from the house. He walked down the drive a little to get a better view, and he almost fell to his knees when he saw who it was.
He ran to her. She had mixed feelings. On one hand she was glad that she got caught, but on the other hand she wished he hadn’t seen her.
“Maliyah…what are you doing here? I mean…hi! How are you?”
“I jog now. Just trying to lose some weight. You know how it is.”
“Sure. So…do you always jog down this street?”
She hadn’t seen or spoken to him in months. She figured the next time she would see him again would be some family wedding or something. She thought it would be awkward to be in his presence again, but oddly enough, she felt peace. She felt at home.
“I can’t even lie, Jayden. I’m not exercising. I wanted to see you.”
“You did?? Why didn’t you just come to the door?”
“I can’t face everyone else right now–especially Bianca. I don’t think they’re ready to receive me.”
“Oh. Yeah. I guess you’re right.”
“Look, Jayden, all these months I’ve been thinking about us and what happened. I have soo many regrets,” she said with tears welling up in her eyes.
Jayden was always a sucker for her tears, and nothing had changed in that regard. He reached out grabbed her and pulled her close. He held her tightly and didn’t want to let go.
“Oh, Maliyah! I’m sorry too!”
“But you didn’t do anything.”
“We should have talked more, especially while we were dating. I take responsibility for that.”
“When I left, I thought it was going to be easy because I left on principle. But when I got to the house, it was so empty! I wanted to come back here soo bad, but I couldn’t. I was too prideful,” she said through tears.
Jayden still had her in a bear hug as they talked.
“I felt like such a fool,” she continued. “What kind of a person leaves a beautiful home, her kids, and her husband just because? I missed the children terribly. Especially Brandon.”
“He has a girlfriend now.”
She freed herself from his embrace to hear about Amira and everything else she missed. They talked all night about the children, the jobs, the other Pruetts, this and that.
The longer they talked, the more they forgot about the pain they caused each other. They were behaving more like the previous role they played in each other’s lives: best friends. Even more than that, their feelings for each other slowly started to return. He started it, but she finished it.
“So, ummm…you said you missed the children. What about me?”
“I missed you most of all.”
“Is that right? Somehow I’m not convinced.”
“Oh…I will convince you!”
“Oh sweet llamas in the morning! I’m convinced!!”
As tender (and electrifying) as that moment was, it was short lived. No sooner than he let her go, The Grim Reaper came for him. It was almost as if this were part of some divine plan to get Jayden and Maliyah’s affairs in order so she wouldn’t have to live out her days in guilt.
“Jayden! JAYDEN!!! NOOO! Please no!! Not right now!”
Jayden felt weak and could no longer stand, and he fell to the ground. He stretched out his hand and called for her in a weak voice.
“Maliyah…I love you…you have to let me go.”
“I don’t want to let you go! I want another chance! I want to do things right! I’ll be different, I swear!! Where is that reaper??? I’ll beg for your life!”
“NO,” he shouted with all he had left. “Let me go.”
“Oh, Jayden!! Why did this have to happen now?”
When she saw that he was slipping away, she fell to her knees beside him and told him that she loved him over and over again until he was gone. She stayed there staring at his urn weeping for a while, and then she got herself together to share the news with the family. She was about to ring the doorbell, but she saw that Jared was outside on the microscope.
“Maliyah! What are you doing here so early?”
It was just after sunrise. She was still quite shocked and couldn’t find the words to tell him what happened, so she just stood there. He finally took his nose out of the microscope and noticed that she was greatly distressed.
“Whoa! What’s happened? Why are you looking like that? Is Brittany ok?”
That’s all she could get out.
“You two talked?”
She was crying uncontrollably now, and at first Jared didn’t understand. But then he knew.
“Wait…where is he? Is he all right?”
Maliyah was still sobbing.
“Oh no…he’s not…is he?”
She pointed to the family plot, and Jared lost it.