She finds Mal tagging along on her morning runs. They’re competitive beyond measure and most mornings they find themselves out of breath coughing their lungs up. If Mal went for 5 miles Jessie would go 6, practice would be extra sore (Jessie thinks it’s worth it though).
The days get shorter and shorter and they’re lucky if they get even 30 minutes of sun during practice. She doesn’t mind though, for her, there’s something emotional about playing under the lights. There’s something nostalgic about seeing their breathes rising in visible puffs, blending into the night sky. Rosy cheeks and chattering teeth become a pattern, but they’re hungry for more. The cold seeps into their gloves numbing their fingers until they cease to bend properly, but their motivation stands rigid and stubborn refusing to leave.
Jessie massages her throbbing temples as she glances at what seems like the thousandth flash card. The words seemed to blur together, she tries to blink away the fatigue but fails. The stress of finals week has her on the edge of a breakdown.
Jessie sighs and presses her forehead into the flashcard, as if trying to physically imprint the information into her brain. She throws down the card in frustration and leans back in her chair. Stifling a yawn she glances at the time, ‘1:02’, great she thought, at least it’s Saturday tomorrow.
She grabs her water bottle and takes a long drink, replenishing her brain, before forcing herself back to her studies.
Sometime in the night she hears a knock on her door. It startles her since she’s heard nothing but the heater turning on and off all night.
“Come in,” She mutters before dropping her flashcards onto the desk in a neat and orderly fashion.
Mal closes the door quietly behind her, “Why are you still up?” Jessie asks her.
Mal raises her glass of water to answer her question, “I was thirsty and when I got up I saw that your light was still on,”
Jessie rubs her eyes and stifles another yawn, she shuts off the lights before she sits down on the side of her bed where Mal's foot dangles.
“I’m gonna fail all my tests,”
“Oh come on, that can’t be true,” Mallory argues rolling her eyes.
Jessie shakes her head and shoves Mallory over to make space for herself on the bed, Mal protests for a second but reluctantly rolls over sideways.
“Why do I have to learn about the American Government to play soccer,” She asks softly and Mal laughs.
“Because Dum-Dums can’t play soccer,”
Jessie laughs, feeling much lighter than she did minutes ago. She doesn’t question the fact that Mallory’s made herself comfortable on the side of her bed that’s been empty for months.
She’s about to drift off when Mal’s voice cuts through the darkness.
“Have you ever been in love?”
“Oh,” There’s silence for a second before Jessie continues, “Mal?”
“Go to bed,” She finds Mal’s hand in the dark and intertwines their finger together, bringing it to her chest.
It doesn’t even take a minute for the darkness to take her.
She doesn’t wake up until Elsie jumps into her bed and pelts her with pillows until she sits up to hit her sister back.
“You slept forever” her sister whines, dragging out the r to make her point.
“Just wait till you get to high school kid,” She says and lays back down.
Elsie grabs her arm and drags her out of her covers, “Nope, get up, Mal said if I get you up I can have extra pancakes,”
At the mention of pancakes Jessie gets up and stretches, “Where’s mom and dad?”
“They went out on a hike,”
“Let’s gooooo, I want my extra pancakes,”
Jessie ruffles Elsie’s hair, “You know she was gonna give you extra pancakes either way right?”
“Of course, who could resist my pout,”
They eat their pancakes in silence as the sound of cartoons are playing in the background. It felt nice, the feeling of calmness that she’s craved for the past few days, watching the tiny forms racing across the pixels. After she does the dishes, Jessie nestles herself into her favorite couch and watches the rest of Tom and Jerry with Elsie while Mal finishes some homework in the dining room.
Their calmness is only broken when Kelley shows up at their door an hour later with a soccer ball.
“Wanna go get some shots in?”
“Do you have, you know? Other hobbies?” Jessie teases grabbing her soccer bag and Mal chirps in from the background.
“Kelley only has two hobbies, soccer and Emily,”
She makes sure to block the door when Kelley lunges at Mal.
They only get a few shots in before Jessie feels it. She feels herself slip into a state of ease, knowing what was coming next. Thunder rumbles in the distance and a bolt of lightning cracks the blue sky into two. She hears Kelley and Mal yelp next to her as they quickly grab the cones. They gather up their stuff to run back into Kelley’s car before the storm breaks
“Who knew you were such a scaredy-cat O’Hara?” Jessie teases sliding into the backseat with Mal.
“Hey to be fair, Pugh’s afraid of thunder too!” Kelley argues pointing her finger at Mal accusingly. Mal rolls her eyes, “Stop arguing like children,”
Kelley mutters to herself as she pulls out of the school parking lot and onto the street. Jessie feels Mal relax into her side, she wraps an arm around her protectively, hoping to soothe the other girl’s fears. The icy grey sky restlessly grumbles, soon the rain pours over the land like a roar.
Kelley drops them off grudgingly and they run back into the house. They find Elsie upstair facetiming her friends as she throws a pillow at them for trying to enter her room.
Mal clutches her chest and acts upset when Elsie slams her door.
“Wow, she talks to her friend and suddenly I’m not cool enough,”
Jessie rolls her eyes, “Join the club,”
Jessie attempts to retreat back into her room to study but Mal threatens to hide her notebooks and flashcards.
“Jess, you’re more than ready,” Mal argues tugging her towards the living room. She had set up a bunch of pillows and blankets in front of the tv.
“We’re going to have the laziest day in the history of lazy days, and you are going to stop being stressed over finals,” Mal holds up her pinkie waiting for Jessie to interlock their pinkies together.
All throughout the afternoon, the water droplets fell from the sky like they had nothing better to. There’s a laziness about them, as if they can’t be bothered to conform to the will of gravity. She turns her attention away from the window and onto the sleeping girl beside her. Mal had passed out during their third movie, just like she promised not to.
Jessie takes her eyes off the movie and lets her head drop onto the pillow. Her head lolls and her lack of sleep catches up to her. Though the movie continues playing and the speaker blares out the sound of Jack Sparrow’s drunken soliloquy, she’s asleep in moments her body relaxes and a breathing evens out.