Jack was a sweetheart, but a grown man’s obsession with a theme park, I could not get behind.
Plus, despite the fact that his visit made me feel better to the point I could actually breathe again, I still didn’t really want to leave the house, go anywhere, or do anything.
“I hate Disneyland.” I stared at him because I’d purposely used the wrong name and I knew he hated it.
He stared back.
“Just for that, I’m no longer giving you the option. We will be here bright and early. We are going to Animal Kingdom. And you are coming with us. I may even force you to go see Santa!” He set the juice glass down on the tray. “You finished here?”
He motioned his hand around the tray and looked at me, awaiting my answer.
“Mm-hmm.” I let him take it and set it on the floor beside the bed. “Jack, even if I did want to, I can’t. I’m not even sure I can get out of bed today after my trip up the stairs last night. You know how much I hate to admit this, and I’ll deny it if you tell another living soul, but I’m weak as a freaking kitten these days. I get out of breath from just a few steps. I can’t do any of the things I want to. It’s depressing as hell, but it’s the truth.”
I was embarrassed to admit it, but he needed to know that Disney was a nonstarter. There was no point arguing because, whether I wanted to go or not, I couldn’t physically handle it.
He sat back on the bed beside me, this time he sat facing me. He ran his hand up and down my leg, then took my hands in his and looked me straight in the eye.
“Look, you’re not going to like this, but here’s the deal… You got sucker punched by that asshat and his skank of a woman. Then you got dealt the low blow of a lifetime and you’ve lost four years of your life. It sucks, Sabrina. I mean suh -uh uh uh uh- ucks! There’s no scale to register the proper amount of suckage that is.”
~ 1 ~
As he went over the sum of my life, I felt like crying again. I wanted to scream that this wasn’t fair, that I deserved better than this, but my throat was raw from earlier. I was furious, at Rafe and his gf, at myself, at life, but most of all… at God. Because all of this happened because I asked God to show me my destiny.
Jack was probably the only person who knew how hard I fought for this new life after I moved to Florida. I’d given everything to it. And it was working! I felt like a phoenix, risen from the ashes of bad and naïve choices into something fresh, beautiful, and mine.
Then Rafe came along, and I thought it was the crown on my head for how hard I’d worked to start again. But I was wrong.
“He took everything from me, Jack. I have nothing left.” I slumped forward, ashamed, embarrassed, confused about how I could be this wrong about something that seemed so right.
Jack put his hand beneath my chin and forced me to look at him.
“No. He didn’t. He took nothing. He lost everything, Sabrina, because he lost you.” He stared at me, almost daring me to argue with him.
“I hadn’t really thought of it…” For a second I saw things differently, but then I remembered the truth. “No, he didn’t. Because he didn’t want me!”
I started to cry again as I felt fresh breaks in my heart.
“He couldn’t handle you and he knew it! That’s not the same as not wanting you.” He wiped my tears. “I watched you two together, I saw it. He loved you. He wanted you. But he feared losing you. You were a miracle to him, but in the end, his own smallness got in the way.”
Jack’s tone held so much contempt I nearly flinched. I almost wanted to defend Rafe. How’s that for messed up?
“I… I don’t understand. What do you mean?” I didn’t want an easy out, but something in what he said hit me as true and I couldn’t not follow it.
“You knew him. You knew everything about him. Do you know how uncomfortable that can be for someone who doesn’t accept themselves?” Jack raised a brow at me.
~ 2 ~
I thought back over everything.
Was he right?
I mean, I suppose there were things Rafe wouldn’t have wanted anyone to know that he let me know, but it was his choice to do so.
“He used to say all the time that I was his safe place. He could tell me anything.” My voice was barely more than a squeak, but I wasn’t in pain, so that was something.
I absolutely knew his secrets. I knew things about him Charlotte didn’t know, that Feffi certainly didn’t know. Good things, bad things, weird things.
“He had an affinity for crossdressing.” I giggled despite myself.
I didn’t giggle because he liked women’s clothing. I didn’t care about that, but because in speaking the words aloud, I had officially given up my role as caretaker of Rafe Lancil’s secrets, and that felt extraordinarily good.
“Interesting.” Jack smirked.
I thought about us. I thought about the good, only this time not with an overwhelming sense of loss. There was an air of power in the memories, a power that I’d never seen before. I was good to him. I was a better partner to him than I’d known how to be in my marriage. Better than he’d ever known. I supported him, challenged him, cared for him, loved him… and in the end, he chose safety over that.
“Oh my God, you’re right.” I placed my hand over my mouth as if afraid of the next words coming. “He doesn’t love her in truth. He loves her because she buys his façade. Oh. My. God.”
It was suddenly so entirely clear.
Feffi Moiler was a shallow, manipulative, bitch… but her façade intertwined perfectly with his, and that’s what he chose.
“With me, he’d have to choose his truth. With her, he could be the image he wished he was. He could pretend he was more instead of becoming more.”
~ 3 ~
I felt numb again, but this time for entirely different reasons.
“How did I not see that?”
Jack took my hand and gave it a squeeze.
“You had faith in him to be stronger than that. You played everything on his courage, and you lost. But you weren’t wrong to try.” Jack leaned in and kissed my forehead.
I threw my arms around him. There were no more tears, I had no need of them. All I felt then was peace.
And it was extraordinary.
Jack pulled back far enough to look in my eyes.
“It’s going to be okay. You’re going to breathe again and honestly, you’re going to be more incredible than you ever have been. You are the phoenix and each time you rise, you do so in more glory than ever.” He said every word with conviction.
“Ah man…” I started bawling. “You made me cry… again!”
He chuckled and pulled me back into his arms.
“So then we’re on for Christmas eve at Disney.” It wasn’t a question.
I pulled away and stared at him, wiping tears from beneath my eyes.
“You’re seriously going to make me go to Disney?” I was appalled.
After today I owed him so much. I couldn’t refuse him a trip to that stupid place, but… “It’s a horrible idea. You’re going to have to leave me sitting on a bench and I’ll be all alone and…”
“Honey.” He pressed his fingers across my lips. “You won’t like this, but I’ll get you a wheelchair.”
“No!” I practically bit him to get his fingers off me. “I will not…” “Sabrina, listen to me.” He spoke in this tone he had that always made me stop dead in my tracks. “You have a long road ahead of you physically. There is no reason to put life on hold until you’re a hundred percent. We’re going.
~ 4 ~
You’re sitting your ass in a wheelchair, and I’m pushing you around that park. Period. End of story. And if you aren’t a good girl, I’ll dress the damn chair up with twinkly lights and a Honk if you see Santa sign! We’ll be here at eight in the morning. I’ll bring the Jag.”
He grinned like he’d won.
“The Jag? Really?” I raised a brow at him. “Do you know how many children starve every day in this country?”
He shot me the death look … my death look. I’d taught him well.
To be fair, it was a low blow because he worked hard to support charities, food pantries and the like. In all honesty, Jack cultivated the idea in my head about taking care of others.
But I really didn’t want to go to some playground for the rich and spoiled!
“I’ll tell you what. You go and honestly don’t have a good time—” He gave me a look that worried me about what was coming next. “—I’ll sell the Jag and give every cent to whatever charitable cause you want.”
“Oh, that’s low, even for you.” I fumed, because he had me now and knew it.
“What?” He raised both hands in question. “I’m innocent.”
I narrowed my gaze on him because he was a lot of things, but I’m not sure I’d ever include innocent on the list.
“What if I do have a good time. Then what?” I missed this game. And honest to God, for the first time, I wasn’t in such pain I just wanted to die. There was a tiny spark lit in me again, and I owed him for that.
“Are you upping the ante on me?” He mocked shock.
“I am.” I smiled, legitimately.
He moved in close and dropped a friendly kiss right on my lips.
~ 5 ~
“I’ll tell you what, you do enjoy yourself, and I’ll donate twice the cost of the Jag.”
And with that, we both knew he’d won.
I closed my eyes, shook my head, and just laughed.
“I love you.” I couldn’t stop smiling now.
He hugged me tight.
“Aww baby, I love you, too. And I can’t wait for Christmas Eve!”
~ 6 ~
Additional chapters can be found below.
The Memory of Magic ~ Samantha Lucas
How are you liking it so far?
This chapter was cathartic for me, as I had a relationship like Sabrina and Rafe’s and I never really got closure with him. He chose someone else that was safer than me and ghosted me. I still have some days where I want to smack him, but mostly, I’m just glad he’s not in my life anymore. He wasn’t the man I thought he was.
I’m hoping Sabrina learns that along the way, as well. I think there will be a lot of discoveries for the entire gang over this year long journey and I hope you’ll stay with us!
This story is my gift to the world, to remind us all of hope and love and that even crazy dreams come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.
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So much love to you today and always. ~ Samantha