The Stories In the Wine, Part III.

See “Stories in the Wine,” and “Stories in the Wine, Part II.”

Jenna switched the channel yet again. CNN to MSNBC to the broadcast networks, cycling through them obsessively. The only one she skipped was Fox News, out of habit more than anything. Nothing changed: every station showed the exact same pictures of the smoking plane sitting just off the runway at Logan, with people wandering, looking dazed. Pictures of fire fighters. Pictures of cops.

The same statements from the same police chiefs, and fire chiefs, and all the other talking heads tasked to give no information to the public while appearing to calm the situation. No idea yet what caused the fire, no indications of terrorism. (There was a reason she was avoiding Fox News, Jenna realized: what was probably a electrical malfunction would be, according to the network, yet another ISIS attack — proof that Western civilization was in grave danger.)

She didn’t see Jeff in any of those pictures, as hard as she squinted. Wait! wasn’t that his favorite plaid shirt? No, it was worn by a man with curly red-hair, not Jeff’s blond buzz-cut.

She didn’t expect a call. They weren’t lovers, any more; they were barely friends. That was a very recent development — his decision to go to Boston to move in with Lauren had pretty much caused her to stop speaking to him. He was heading back now to arrange for all his stuff to be shipped.

Jeff’s abandonment of her was devastating. Not to mention that Lauren had been her best friend, and now was… what? It wasn’t Lauren’s fault Jeff decided he would be better off if he were not with her. She refused to buy into the “rivals” motif the novels seemed to put forth in situations like this.  And yet… she had lost her best friend. It hurt worse than losing Jeff.

Jenna went to her cupboard, because she desperately needed a drink. Not a cocktail — she didn’t have the mental wherewithal to make anything. She opened a bottle of wine labeled “Shipwreck Red.” It was appropriate in a gallows humor sort of way.

She remembered getting the wine with Jeff. A local winery had “bottle your own” days where you could bring your own bottle and buy decent cheap wine. They had ended up buying a case. Then they went and sat on the sand at the beach at San Gregorio, huddling in the little caves near the cliff’s edge, eating deli sandwiches and drinking wine, hiding the bottle every time the ranger came by, like silly teenagers. It was a wonderful day, and the wine wasn’t half bad either. When she closed her eyes, she could still see the cornflower sky and smell the salt tang of the seawater.

Jenna switched channels again. Whatever had come between them, she still needed to know that Jeff was alive and well in the world. She knew that it might be a long time before she heard anything. They usually waited to release the names of the dead and wounded until the families had been notified, a process that would take a while in Jeff’s case. His parents were both dead, and his brother Brad was God knows where. Jeff and Brad had had a spectacular fight after their father’s funeral, and after the estate had been settled they went their separate ways.

And so Jenna sat, drinking, waiting, waiting for the end to the suspense.

She poured another glass.

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