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Jen walked to her Chemistry class and took her seat beside Dawson. She was feeling really low. A bubble of sadness had swollen up inside her and pushed away all her other emotions. She felt like a boat that had gone adrift: she could not tie herself down long enough to concentrate without thoughts of her grandfather entering her head. He had been like a magic cure when he was awake. He had the power to dispel all her problems with one hug. Life was going to be very difficult to cope with without him around.
"Jen, can I speak to you?" Dawson asked gently. Jen smiled at him.
"Sure, Dawson. Shoot."
"Um, well, okay. I think I know what you and Joey were talking about this morning before homeroom."
"Joey told you?"
"No, I just saw how upset you were and I figured it out for myself." Dawson admitted.
"Yeah. I still feel kinda shocked by the whole thing. I mean it happened so fast. How do you deal with someone dying?" Jen was surprised to see all the color drain away from Dawson's face. "Dawson, are all right?"
"Uh, yeah , I mean, no I mean......dying?.......What do I do? This is such a shock....to hear it from you......why didn't Joey tell me?"
Jen was clearly puzzled. "Dawson, you don't need to do anything and there is really no reason why Joey should have told you. She probably assumed that you already knew."
"How could I already know? Does she think I am psychic or something?" Dawson demanded.
Okay, now he is getting freaky Jen thought. Why is he getting so upset about my gramps dying? Jen could see that Dawson was getting flustered. It hurt her that he hadn't considered how she was feeling and that he hadn't thought to comfort her. She knew that they had broken up but that didn't mean he had to stop caring did it?
Dawson continued: "I mean, death is such a scary word, Joey must be so freaked out. Especially after her mom....."
"Uh, well, sure, Dawson. I guess this can't be all that great for Joey. It must bring up a whole heap of memories of her mom but I think that this whole thing is just a little bit harder on me than it is on Joey."
"How can you say that? I mean the idea of dying....Where do you go? I find it hard to believe that you are just a pile of bones rotting under the soil but maybe you are! Maybe there is no life after death, maybe it's an eternity of nothingness... Jen, are you crying?"
Bitter sobs shook Jen's body as she buried her head in her hands. How could Dawson do this to me? His hysterical outbursts on the subject of death had wounded her deeply. They had voiced her doubts about the afterlife at a time when she desperately needed to cling to her grams's faith. She felt Dawson's arm around her. He helped her to her feet and led her out their Chemistry classroom into the privacy of the hallway. Jen noticed that his voice was slightly choked up as he said, "It'll be all right, Jen, I promise."
Though somehow, she knew nothing would ever be all right again.
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