Jane Says

“Jane says she ain’t never been in love, she don’t know what it is
She only knows if someone wants her.
I wonder if she wants me?”

Jane doesn’t say anything but her words still ring loud in my ears, glaring at me, as they are from the monitor.

“I have to see the doctor again tomorrow. Something went wrong last time and now I might be damaged.”

“Last time?” My fingers seem to be moving of their own accord, pressing responses into the keyboard before the phrases have even become fully formed in my head.

“Yes. Last time.” And again, my ears can not hear her but my mind can and the ice in her voice is palpable.

“Oh.” My fingers spasm. “How many times have there been?”



“What? No lectures? You’re not going to tell me to be a good girl?”

Neither my mind nor my fingers can find any combination of letters with which to form a response to this accusation of intrusion.

A new message forms from the blue of the screen. “Sorry. Are you still there?”

“I’m here. I just don’t know what to say.”

“I’m sorry. I’m just feeling a little tense.”

“Ok. If you want to tell me about it, I’m here.”

“What do you want to know? I’ve been working this new job and I got knocked up again and I went to the doctor for a procedure and now he says I might be permanently damaged.”

My hands lift coffee to my lips, giving my brain time to shake off the ice forming like a mirror over the insides of my thoughts. I set my fingers to the keypad and rest them there like statues guarding some ancient Greek Bay, silent and still. Eventually the meta thought forms to direct the flow of glaciers: simple questions, honest questions.

“I thought the job was a proper escort service? Going to the Opera and such.?”

“Don’t be naive.”


“Sorry. I mean, it was, but then one guy offered me a little extra for a hand job and the baby was out of diapers and then…I don’t know. It just escalated.”



I think that over, wondering what corridor to flail down next. “And the ‘procedures’?”

“Well, after the baby was born I couldn’t afford another and, well, these things happen.”

My fingers wrap themselves around the coffee mug on my desk in a successful attempt to cut off the phrases flinging themselves out of my mouth, twenty miles away from Jane. Thoughts like “Bullshit. These things don’t just happen.” and “They’re called rubbers?”

Eventually I type: “I see.”


“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

The resulting explosion catches me off guard. My stomach shrinks in as the air makes an exodus from my lungs. My blood screams for fresh oxygen and my brain tries to shut itself off. The screen glows.

“Wow. Look at that. After hearing all about my mess, you still want to save me. Do you really think you can save me? Do you still want me? Christ you’re even more of a fucking mess than I am.”

A long silence settles over my desk, my keyboard, and my lobes.

The screen flickers with the word “sorry”, soon followed by “Are you still there? Please don’t hate me. I’m sorry.”

I write with one finger, pressing each key with a deliberate slowness, keeping my emotions in chains. “I’m still here.”

“Thank you.”

After that, the day flows along it’s course without a comment or command from me. Work ends and evening begins and I pick Jane up from her small brown apartment building and we begin the drive to the clinic. I am focusing tight on my driving, now that she is here, in my car where I can smell her and see her and she can hear everything in my head just by looking at me.

She entered the car with a small smile of apology and a wet kiss of thanks. Now the words of my sister are ringing through my head and I’m hoping they’re soft enough that Jane can not hear.

“She’s just using you.” My sister’s voice is lovely but her blunt words overpower any beauty in her speaking. “You know that don’t you?”

“Yes, I know.”

“Ah.” Beauty is returned to her tongue as comprehension dulls the knife. “Saving those that don’t want to be saved is never harder than drowning in flames.”

My hand stays on the doorknob for a brief eternity as I consider giving up. Then the door opens and Jane is in my car, with her hand on my knee, letting me try.

“Why do you keep doing it?”

“I don’t know. Because it’s good money, I guess.”

“Jane. You hate this. There are other jobs.”

“I know.”

“So why?”

Jane says nothing, only looks out the window and struggles with tears falling from her eyes that she does not want me to see.

“I guess,” she says, and my hands grip the steering wheel ever more tightly, “it’s because I know they want me.” She looks at me and I look at the road. The clinic appears before us, the grey building looming in the foreground like a troll at dusk and I stop the car. She gets out, saying, “You’ll wait for me?”

I nod and she runs up the steps. I sit in the car and wait, wondering what the hell I’m doing in Seattle.

Category: Left From Home


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Filed under Stories I Tell Myself At Night

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