Josh wrapped Jessie in a light beige cotton coverlet and then scooped her up in his arms. He carried her close to his hurting heart all the way down those interminable stairs, with the eyes of everyone at the damn party witness to his failure to love and protect her. He yearned to destroy something, that lamp in the corner, perhaps, for its inability to light Jessie’s way. Or perhaps he should hurl, through the immense bay window, that damn Jim Beam bottle, the one lying tipped over on the round marble-topped table, its last droplets a dizzying maze of shallow puddles. Or maybe he should run back up the stairs and wield the heavy bottle angrily at the actor who still dozed in a drunken stupor on the cursed bed, oblivious to the sudden arrival of Jessie’s fiancé. Josh wanted to brain him, to scream obscenities and leave him on the Persian rug in a puddle of his own urine and blood, but somewhere underneath the incessant low hum of decay there was another voice. It was calming. And it was Jessie’s.
There is always hope.
Somewhere underneath this rotten mess Josh could still hear that long ago voice of reason. And it was because of her tender intonation and unwavering belief in him that he was able to stagger away, one horrendous step at a time, from the stinging desire for violence and retribution. Enough was destroyed that day. His heart, for instance, which was crumbling and disintegrating with each burdened footprint.
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