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"What?" I snap into my cell phone as I settle back into the seat on the Centre jet.
"I have a question for you Miss Parker. If you had one day...only one day to spend with someone you love who is dead, who would it be?" I am taken back, I had expected Sydney or Broots to be on the phone, not Jarod with a riddle.
"Stop it Jarod, I'm in no mood for your games." A slight hangover coupled with problems at the Centre has left me in foul mood. "If you..."
"Think about it." The line went dead and as usual he is gone with having the last word.
"Who was on the phone?" Lyle asks as he sits down across from me.
"Telemarketer." I answer. "And yes I am on the do not call list."
"Oh." He adjusts his suit and tie and his body language suggests he is satisfied with my answer. I pull some papers from my brief case and scan through them only to have my mind play on Jarod's question.
" If you had one day...only one day to spend with someone you love who is dead, who would it be?"
Thomas my heart answers back. I'd spent it with Thomas. Closing my eyes and leaning back as we take off, I envision what the day would be like. I would tell him how much I love him, how much I miss him to start with. And how sorry I am that I put his life in danger, that I couldn't protect him .... 'I'm sorry I failed you Thomas.' A tear makes it's way gently down my cheek as I remember his smile and the warmth of his touch.
'I love you Parker. You didn't fail me.' I can hear his voice and a faint smile finds it's way to my lips. I feel his hand close around mine as we walk and all I want to do is listen to his voice until he asks 'I want you to do something for me Parker, will you?'
I nod my head 'yes' and reply 'Anything! What do you want me to do?'
'Listen to Jarod, he's a good man and you can trust him. Leave the Centre before they kill you.'
"No!" The sound of my voice speaking out loud snaps me back to reality.
"Excuse me?" Lyle asks with a puzzled look.
"Nothing. " I reply. "Just thinking out loud." I realize we're in the air and my head throbs as I put away the papers and pull out my laptop and pretend to work. Lyle returns to his phone conversation while I clench my teeth. Why should I trust Jarod? Thomas only knew one side of him, not even the real person but someone out crusading for justice. He had no idea of who Jarod was or what he was. Trust Jarod? Not on my life! But his question keeps coming back.
"If you had one day...only one day to spend with someone you love who is dead, who would it be?"
Since the thought of spending it with Thomas only served to make me feel more agitated and angry then I already am, then it would have to be Mom. 'I miss you so much Mom.'
I find myself mentally picturing being with her, hugging her and sitting under a tree on a perfect day with a picnic lunch spread out before us. I feel like a little girl again.
'I miss you Mom. ' I can see her smile and she reaches out to take my hand.
'I know you do and I miss you too.' My body begins to relax and I find myself telling Mom all the things I've held in for so long. Thomas, how much I wish she could have meet Thomas. She smiles as she listens for a long time before interrupting.
'I am so happy you found someone. And I am so proud of you. But there is something you're doing that distresses me.' Her face darkens. 'Something I'm not proud of...in fact it hurts me. Why are you listening to your father and Mr. Raines? And why are you hunting Jarod? I tried so hard to rescue both of you and I failed. Now Jarod has freed himself but you're trying to bring him back.'
I look at her in disbelief! My mother, my own Mother! At first I feel hurt then realize this is just part of Jarod's game. Lay the guilt on nice and thick. Everyone else has so why not him? Have I become so conditioned that even in a daydream I can't escape it? The vision of Mom fades from view as I feel a nudge on my shoulder.
"Here, thought you might need this." Lyle is standing by me with a drink in both hands, one for him and the other for me.
"Thanks." I say as I take the glass and watch him sit back down.
"Not a problem Parker. I never like to drink alone." He shifts in his seat and before I can say a word his cell phone rings. He has it out and answers "Lyle here."
I turn back to my laptop and stare at the screen. Where was I before I let Jarod's question hijack me? I work on a document for a few minutes before my mind strays back to the question: "If you had one day...only one day to spend with someone you love who is dead, who would it be?"
If Thomas and Mom are out then who would it be? Faith! Oh Faith, how much I have missed you. I smile and remember my one friend who was a girl at the Centre growing up. 'Faith why did you have to be sick?' I think. I can see her laugh and it feels like the years have melted away. 'There were so many things I wanted to do and share with you.'
'I miss you too Miss Parker.' Faith's voice is strong instead of weak. For a few moments I listen to her talk about the things we had hoped to do and share when she got well. I find myself smiling remembering how excited I was to find her and all my expectations that never materialized.
'Why are you trying to bring Jarod back to the Centre?' I am surprised at her question. 'I said I'd always be with you and I am. But why are you trying to bring Jarod back?'
'Not you too!' My face clouds over and I can feel my anger rising. 'Where do you get off asking me that question? Didn't my mother bring to the Centre to try and get you well? What right do you have to question me?' My head buzzes, not from the alcohol but from anger as the vision of Faith disappears. Damn you Jarod! Damn you for asking me that question.
I close the laptop and stare out the window the rest of the flight. I'm silent during the landing, dreading the prospect of Jarod's next phone call. My cell phone rings no sooner then the wheels of the jet stop rolling on the runway. I know who it is without looking and let it ring. 'Damn you Jarod, I'm not playing your game anymore today.'
"Parker, your phone." Lyle looks expectantly at me, waiting for me to answer so I glance at the caller id more to satisfy him then for myself.
"No one important. " I tell him as it stops ringing. A few minutes go by and it rings again. Lyle glances at me with a furrowed brow and annoyed look. I know this time he expects me to answer but what will I say?
'Hello Jarod, sorry but your little game backfired.'
"They can leave a voice mail. Let's go, we have a lot of work ahead of us." I tell Lyle who looks less then satisfied with my answer. We stand and get ready to depart from the jet. As it stops ringing, I start to turn my cell phone off but reconsider. I slip on my jacket, adjust my gun to a more comfortble position and take a few step when it rings again. I motion to Lyle to go on without me as I answer.
"I have a question for you. If you had one day, just one day to spend with one of the people you tried to rescue but failed, or someone killed by one of your sims Jarod, who would that be?" I don't wait for a answer but hang up on him. Let Jarod deal with that question. As much as I suffered, I know what he feels will be ten times worse.
Author's Challenge: Since he is only human and can't save everyone, who or what do you think Jarod would do? If he had one day to spend with one of the people he tried to help and failed, or even someone who was affected by his sims, what would he do? What would it be like? It's up to you!