Grace Pacitti

“What If…” by Academy Monthly

Tom set a plate of food down gently in front of Daisy who was staring off into space, lost in her thoughts. Tom got himself his own plate and sat down across from her debating whether or not he should break the silence between them. He quietly coughed trying to get Daisy’s attention. It worked and Daisy seemed to snap out of her daze and realize that there was food in front of her. She remained quiet picking up a fork and shifting the food around her plate. Tom hated seeing Daisy like this, he couldn’t take the silence anymore, growing worried he spoke up, “Are you okay? What happened? Do you want to talk about it?”

Daisy remained quiet and continued to play with her food. Tom grew angry. Angry at Myrtle for running out into the street like a fool, angry at Gatsby for not stopping like the coward he is, and angry that Daisy had to witness it all. He couldn’t imagine having to witness the death of someone else and not being able to do anything about it. He pitied his wife for having to experience that. His anger grew rapidly to the point where, Tom slammed his hand down on the table, causing Daisy to flinch, and now he was cursing Gatsby under his breath. Daisy heard him and looked up, meeting his eyes for the first time tonight. Sympathy flooded Tom’s body.

“I’m sorry. It’s just what that man did was wrong. He’s a coward, he didn’t deal with the situation himself. I told you he was bad news. I told you since I first found out how he actually got all his money. He’s a coward.” Tom’s voice grew louder and louder as he continued, “He didn’t even stop, that bastard didn’t even have the decency to stop. He just kept going avoiding the consequences of his actions like he always does!” Daisy shifted in her seat nervously. “He’ll get what he deserves.”

“Tom,” Daisy said barely above a whisper.

“If not by the authorities then-”

“Tom,” Daisy said again, but Tom still didn’t hear.

“Then, then by me.”  

“Tom,” Daisy said a little louder now.

“I’ll make sure he pays for what he did to you.”

Daisy slammed down her fork with such force that Tom finally stopped ranting about how bad of a person Gatsby was and looked up at her with questioning eyes. Daisy shook her head, she couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t let Gatsby take the blame for something he didn’t do. “It was me,” she said.

“What? I know you were there, but Gatsby-”

“IT WAS ME, TOM!” Daisy yelled, truly speaking up for the first time that evening. “It was me, I did it,” Daisy said as her eyes started to water.

“No,” Tom uttered in complete disbelief.

“I was the one driving, not Gatsby. I was the one who hit that lady,” Daisy said not being able to say her name aloud. “I was the one who didn’t stop.” The words flew out of her mouth, tears filling her eyes, and once she was finished Daisy sighed with relief. Finally telling someone what she had done had taken all the weight off her shoulders.

For once in his life, Tom was silent. His mouth was wide open in shock and he slowly tried to process everything Daisy had just told him.

“After everything that happened at the plaza,” Daisy continued, “I thought driving would clear my head. I was thinking about everything that happened that day, and by the time I realized there was someone running at the car i-it, it was too late. I stopped for a second, but then I continued driving not completely wanting to know what would happen if I stayed. I was scared, Tom. So I left.”

Tom was dumbfounded. He slowly closed his mouth, the gears in his head started to turn. How was he going to fix this? Daisy couldn’t go to jail, he refused to let that happen.

“I know that I should turn myself in, they’ll figure it out sooner or later, but I am scared of what they’ll do with me and-”

“No. I can’t lose you. I will make sure nothing happens to you.” Tom said with a determined voice.

“How?” Daisy asked desperately. She saw no way she could get out of the mess she had made.

“We’ll skip town. Go back to Chicago or Louisville. Get a nice house out there and live there for a while. I was growing tired of New York anyway. We’ll be able to see your folks again. What do you say?”

Daisy contemplated what he had just said. She fiddled with the fork, in her hand, as Tom stared at her as he waited for her answer. Her eyes went back and forth, debating whether or not it was a good idea to skip town. It didn’t sound like a bad idea, she wanted to get away from New York, needed to after all that has happened. Still, she had an empty feeling in her stomach.

“We’ll start packing tonight and leave tomorrow. I’ll get a cab to take us to the train station. No one will be able to track us,” Tom said, knowing Daisy was not entirely convinced of his plan.

Daisy couldn’t have felt more relieved by Tom’s words. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea, she thought until something in the back of her mind came to light. That one thing was holding her back, “What about Gatsby?” she asked.

The words hung there for a moment. Tom lowered his head, not meeting Daisy eyes. Daisy knew what that meant, he was hiding something. “What? What is it?” she asked.

Tom continued to stare at his plate as he said, “Look Daisy, the only way you can get out of this is if someone else takes the blame. It’s the only way.”

Daisy was taken aback. No this can’t be the only way. There’s always another way or I used to think there was. As much as she cared for Gatsby she cared about her own well being more. At this point she saw no other option, but Gatsby shouldn’t have to take the blame and what will happen to him and-

“So what if he goes to jail,” Tom said cutting into Daisy’s thoughts, “It’ll do him some good. He probably would have ended up in jail anyway with his past and what he does for a living. I’ve tried to tell you this from the beginning. He’s a bad guy, Daisy.”

Daisy sighed and nodded her head, “How early will we leave tomorrow?”