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JILTED
by Schuyler

My thoughts are crabbed and sallow,
My tears like vinegar,
Or the bitter blinking yellow
Of an acetic star.



Miss Parker ran as fast as she could, panting hard, her bare feet swollen from the extended period of contact with the gravel and concrete along the road leading down towards the docks. The cold September breeze continually whipped at her face, each lashing causing another tear to trickle down the side of her moistened face.
Please tell me he hasn’t left yet. Please tell me he hasn’t left yet. Please tell me he hasn’t left yet .. the mantra repeated over and over again in her head, and every time she heard it, it became more and more urgent.

She quickly glanced at her watch, which read exactly 10 pm. ‘Damnit. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I won’t let it end this way!’ she hissed, sucking in another lungful of crisp air that seemed to burn the back of her throat.

Using the moonlight to guide her way to where the boats were anchored, she finally decided to part with her expensive silver pumps that had been held tightly in her sweaty palms. The shoes were thrown and swallowed by the elusive blackness of night that had gradually descended upon the town of Blue Cove, and yet, Miss Parker took no notice of her surroundings, other than her main objective: to make it to the pier where her chance at freedom might still be waiting.

Jarod.

Tonight the caustic wind, love
Gossips late and soon,
And I wear the wry-faced pucker of
The sour lemon moon.


‘Miss Parker, I have something to tell you,’ came his throaty purr over the phone.
It sent a slight shiver traveling down the full length of her slender spine, and she couldn’t help but feel that a bombshell was about to be dropped upon her fragile self. Jarod had been acting very strange as of late, his phone calls no longer coming during the early hours of the morning, but instead, the early hours of the evening. His voice lacked its perpetual piquancy and cockiness, and the last time she had seen him, his lustful brown eyes contained a meaningful secret that was visibly tearing at his insides.

‘Well .. what is it?’ she asked uncertainly, preparing herself for the worst that was sure to come.

‘I’m leaving, for good. I’m going to permanently disappear, and nobody at the Centre will ever hear from me again. Even Sydney .. and you.’

Clutching her chest, Miss Parker felt the knife blade of anguish thrust deeply into her icy heart. She stumbled backwards from her desk, falling into her leather chair, mouth agape, eyes widened in shock as his confession slowly registered in her mind.

He’s leaving me, again.

‘No, I’m not,’ he answered, almost as if he had read her thoughts. ‘Miss Parker, I .. I want you to come with me. I want to save you from the Centre, and give you the freedom you’ve always deserved. You’re the only one that I’ve ever truly loved, and the thought of having to leave you behind is too painful for me to even contemplate. Please .. marry me.’

A gasp escaped from her luscious lips, her hand immediately flying up to cover her mouth as her body began to shake from the impact of his sincere words. It was surreal; here she was, resident huntress of the ongoing Centre game, and her prey had just offered a truce by proposing to her.

Nobody would ever believe this.

‘J .. Jarod .. I don’t .. I .. I ..’

‘Shh .. you don’t have to answer now. Go to Jefferson pier at 10 o’clock tonight. There should be a boat named “Refuge” docked there. That’s where I’ll be, waiting for you. Come precisely at that time, not a minute after, or else .. or else, I will have your answer, and we part forever.’

‘No Jarod, I –’

‘I love you Parker, and I always will, whether we’re together or not,’ he murmured into the voice piece before she was greeted by the dial tone of his phone.

Blindly putting the phone back on the hook, Parker looked at the clock on her office wall. 9:03 pm. Just under an hour to pack her belongings, bid an evasive yet tearful good bye to Sydney and Broots before driving down to the docks and meet Jarod, who would execute her liberation.

Thank you Jarod, for releasing me she thought, as she hurriedly picked up her keys and bolted out her office door, anxious to find her two co-workers and start the chain reaction of events.

While like an early summer plum,
Puny, green,and tart,
Droops upon its wizened stem
My lean, unripened heart.

It wasn’t hard to find her two cherished colleagues. As predicted, Broots was in the Tech room with Sydney, the poor psychiatrist forced to endure the boredom of listening to the technician prattling on about his new computer equipment and how each and every component worked. Parker couldn’t help but laugh at her friends, the foreign sound immediately catching the two men’s attention.

Sydney was thankful for the temporary distraction. ‘Miss Parker! What a surprise to see you here. Do you need me to do something for you? Anything at all?’

‘No Syd, I’ll manage,’ she replied, giving him a warm sympathetic smile.

‘Is everything alright Miss Parker?’ Broots asked hesitantly. ‘You look .. happy. I mean, uh, of course you’re allowed to be happy, but it’s just, um ..’

‘That I’m not very often,’ she supplied, to which he nodded in confirmation. Her eyes carefully surveyed the room, taking in its familiar décor as she released a soft sigh. ‘I never realized how precious these moments are Broots. The three of us together, not always in a good mood, but still in each other’s presence, spending whatever time we have left on this planet together. I’d really miss this should something happen to one of us, and the trio becomes a duo.’

Broots was puzzled by what she was trying to say, but thankfully, Sydney caught the hidden message. ‘I'm sure the other two would know that the missing person would always still be regarded as a friend. As long as she’s contented, that’s all that really matters.’

Grinning, and almost at tears, Parker tightly embraced the doctor, whispering a thank you into his ear before moving on to her balding co-worker. Although surprised at such a display of affection, Broots returned the hug just as enthusiastically as it was given.

Kissing the top of his head, the brunette willed herself to maintain her self control, bidding good night to the two men before quickly leaving the room.

Still stunned, the technician turned to the other man. ‘What was all that about Syd?’

‘You’ll find out tomorrow Broots, you’ll find out tomorrow.’

‘Oh, okay then,’ he replied, then continuing on with his dull computer lecture before the interruption.

Revving up the engine to her silver Porsche, Parker left Centre grounds and drove at the maximum speed allowed on roads surrounding the cold gray building all the way to her own driveway. Glancing at her dashboard, the LCD screen flashed 9:26 pm. She was exactly 34 minutes away from leaving the Centre forever.

Fumbling with her keys at the front door, she hastily entered her house and made a beeline for her bedroom. Grabbing an overnight bag from the closet, she began to gather whatever clothes, makeup accessories and mementos she could, tossing them into the bag as she mentally counted the seconds ticking by. Three photos were also included, Parker unable to even think about leaving any of them behind: one of her mother, one of her father, and one of Tommy and herself. With everything that held a significant part of her life packed in the bag, she took one last look at her house before turning off the lights and heading for her car. But just as she was about to close the door, the shrill ringing of her phone stopped her midway.

Should she answer it, or let it go?

What if it’s important? queried a voice in her head. You don’t want to leave behind unfinished business, do you?

Just go Parker! demanded another. You’re so close freedom now; don’t let anything delay what you deserved years ago.

It could be Jarod calling to see if you’re still at home, or Sydney hoping to give you a proper good bye

And if it’s Daddy, or maybe even Lyle? They’ll hold you back, and before you know it, you’ve run out of time! If you’ve get any sense, you’ll want to get there early with plenty of time to spare rather than run late and increase your chances of missing him!
The strength and determination contained in the latter argument pressed her to close the front door upon the unanswered phone call. Placing the bag on the passenger side of the car, Parker backed out of the driveway, her eyes lingering on the house that contained so many memories, both good and bad, that she was about to abandon forever.

‘Farewell,’ she whispered, then hit the accelerator and sped off towards her rendezvous point with Jarod.

The closer she got to Jefferson pier, the faster her heart thumped against her ribcage, and the more excited she became. Coming around a bend in the road, a crash scene stretched out in front of Parker, forcing her to suddenly slam the breaks on, the Porsche skidding loudly to a halt. Several heads turned, puzzled looks upon the policemen's faces as an angry brunette jumped out of her car and marched right up to the closest one.

‘What the hell is going on here?’ she practically screamed, hands clenched into fists, ready to knock out the first person who gave her a wrong answer. Her initial response had been fear - fear that it had been Jarod involved in the collision - but now her thoughts were only of annoyance.

‘There’s been an accident ma’am. I’m afraid you won’t be able to pass for at least another hour.’

‘But I don’t have an hour! I need to get to the docks now!’

‘Is it a matter of life or death?’ the officer calmly asked. Miss Parker shot daggers in his direction, the man visibly flinching at the vehemence brewing in her captivating dark blue eyes.

‘Yes! I am fifteen minutes away from freedom and ..’ Grabbing his collar and wrenching off his name tag: ‘some punk ass cop by the name of Lieutenant Corday is holding me back!’ she exclaimed, throwing back the label and shoving the cop away, a string of expletives soon following.

The two were soon joined by other police officer who stared at her peculiarly as he attempted to find out what all the commotion was about.

‘This woman here claims she has to get to the docks in fifteen minutes or else she’ll lose her chance at freedom,’ Corday said as he nudged his head in Parker’s direction, still astonished by her assault.

The second officer merely raised a brow, clearly unconvinced by the reason given. ‘I’m sorry ma’am, but you’ll just have to wait like everybody else,’ he drawled out, further aggravating the dark beauty. ‘Perhaps if you come over here and –’ But before he could finish his sentence, she was already gone, headed back to her parked car. Opening the overnight bag, Parker took out the three precious photographs, breaking the glass in each frame upon the car door as she removed the glossy paper and crammed them into her jacket pocket. Then, much to the surprise of the two officers, immediately sprinted down the road as fast as humanely possible in her shoes.

If she wanted to make the deadline, then running there was the only way.

With each step, Parker pushed herself harder and harder, her legs burning with lactic acid as she forced herself to maintain a reasonable pace that would get her to the pier in time.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can .. she told herself, her arms moving back and forth in rhythm with her long strides, her speed decreasing a little as she occasionally stumbled. Something was holding her back from reaching her full potential speed .. her shoes! Momentarily stopping, Parker furiously pulled at the silver Gucci pumps, literally ripping them off her feet as she took off once again.


She was running the marathon of her life. Absolutely everything now depended on whether or not she made it to the finish line. The minutes were ticking away, and so was her liberation. Could she really make it in time?

I know I can. I know I can. I know I can. I know I can!

Never ever had she been this focused upon a task before, her concentration so intense that she didn’t even feel the pain as she bit into her lower lip, the sweet sticky liquid smearing itself all over her teeth and gums.

When the wafting smells of the salty sea reached her nostrils, the realization that she was so close seemed to give her a new burst of energy. As her pulse palpitated in her temples and fists, and with the gentle lapping of the waves against the pier, the rhythms created an almost musical atmosphere. Parker ran as fast as she could, panting hard, her bare feet swollen from the extended period of contact with the gravel and concrete along the road leading down towards the docks. The cold September breeze continually whipped at her face, each lashing causing another tear to trickle down the side of her moistened cheeks.

Please tell me he hasn’t left yet. Please tell me he hasn’t left yet. Please tell me he hasn’t left yet .. the mantra repeated over and over again in her head, and every time she heard it, it became more and more urgent.

She quickly glanced at her watch, which read exactly 10 pm. ‘Damnit. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I won’t let it end this way!’ she hissed, sucking in another lungful of crisp air that seemed to burn the back of her throat.

Using the moonlight to guide her way to where the boats were anchored, she finally decided to part with her expensive silver pumps that had been held tightly in her sweaty palms. The shoes were thrown and swallowed by the elusive blackness of night, the motion of her actions launching her slim body further forward like an athlete at the end of his race.

As she dashed along the pier, her eyes frantically searched all the boats for the one that was named “Refuge”, and yet she could find none. Thinking she might have accidentally gone past it, she turned around and ran back the way she came, but still, Jarod’s boat was not there. She could feel her throbbing heart creep up into the throat, the staunch fear spread through her veins like a contagion, and impetuous sadness settle upon her bewildered mind. This wasn’t possible .. it couldn’t be happening to her.

Looking out into the sea, in the glint of moonlight, the outline of a small boat silently sailed away with the tide.

‘Jarod!’ she screamed with all the energy left in her weakened body, waving her arms in the air as she tried to capture the attention of the shadowy figure on board. ‘Jarod, I’m here! Please, come back! Come back!’ But the silhouette merely stood there, unmoving, watching her yell desperately as the distance between the two of them became greater.

‘Jarod, no!’ Without a second thought, Parker leaped into the freezing murky waters below in efforts to swim to him. A hoarse cry tore from her lungs, an intense blinding white pain overwhelming her senses as the salt water continually bit into her tender feet and wrapped its fingers around her limbs, pulling her back against the current.

It was no use – the aroma of freedom no longer lingered in the air. There was no point in drifting out further, for to keep on going after the boat would be just a tedious as going back to shore.


Pulling herself up out of the water, Parker collapsed onto the dock in a saturated heap, allowing her guttural cries to overtake her body, violent shivers and shudders racking her frame while strange kneeing noises escaped her lips every now and then. Reaching out with one hand, she imagined touching the boat, hooking her fingers into its stern and gradually pulling it back towards her before it merged with the night. With her arm still extended, she closed her tearstained eyes as a phrase she never told the Pretender was whispered to the disappearing shadows.

‘I love you Jarod.’

And with that, her lonesome heart shattered like glass into a million tiny fragments as oblivion descended upon her.


(c) copyrighted 03.18.00 , 02:49:18











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