She saw him walk by and her heart went bump.  Jesse looked so good and Blaze knew that she would do whatever it took to make him hers.  She was so blinded by the sight of him, she walked right into the corner of the hallway.  Rachel laughed, “What’s the matter, Blaze?  Blinded by love?”  Blaze’s best friend, Rachel, was the only one she had confided in about the huge crush she had on the new boy in school.  “Rachel, you have to help me.  How can I get him to notice me?”  “Don’t worry, girl.  I know exactly what to do.”

The girls made their plans and it wasn’t long before Jesse did notice Blaze.  In spite of what others told her about Jesse, she knew that they had to be wrong.  Jesse told her himself that “no one understood him.”  She knew she was the one who could make a difference in his life.  If she gave him enough love, he’d know what love was.  If she gave him enough attention, he would get over all the emptiness that filled his past.  If she helped him enough, he would find a direction in life and turn himself around.  So she loved him, she paid attention to him, she helped him.  She worked at the neighborhood grocery store and always had a bit of money to pay for the movies or lunch or even just a coffee.  She didn’t mind that Jesse didn’t work, after all, he had enough to do just to get through the day.  He worked everyday just trying to survive and to get past his messed up family.  He didn’t even have time to get his school work done.  So she took care of him.  She loved seeing a smile light up his face when she bought him a gift.  She loved seeing him happy.

They were alone in his house when he told her what would make him really happy.  She wasn’t so sure about this though.  Jesse pushed her hair aside and kissed her neck as he whispered, “I love you.”  Blaze felt a tingling sensation where his lips brushed up against her skin.  She replied, “I love you, too.”   He coaxed her, “If we love each other, than it’s alright.”  She still wasn’t sure, but she didn’t want to lose him either, so she said, “yes.”

It was three months later when she told him she was pregnant. She told him that now she needed him.  He promised he’d be there.  He said he’d take care of her.

It was a year later when she sat up all night with the baby, wondering where he was.

It was two years later when he told her that she had ruined his life.

It was three years later when she hushed her newborn crying in her arms while her hungry toddler pulled at her shirt.  Blaze was waiting for Jesse to get home so that she could take his car to the local supermarket. They needed food in the house.  Her cell phone rang and she hoped it was him.  It was Rachel calling from her college dorm,  “How are things going?” Rachel asked.  Blaze cried into the phone.  She told Rachel that there were bills to be paid.  Jesse had a job at the gas station, but it didn’t pay enough, especially after he spent half of it on his car.

It was four years later when Jesse told Blaze, “Shut-up! You are nothing but a fat piece of sh_t!”  The words didn’t hurt her anymore, she was immune to the abuse.  But she would never get immune to the look on her children’s faces as they heard their parents argue.  She wanted to take them and leave.  She wanted to go far away from Jesse and never see him again.  Her light had been snuffed out and only years of darkness lay in front of her.  Blaze was trapped and her children were trapped with her.   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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