Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 10 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica learns the truth about Jimmy, it’s up to her to save him. To do this, she must turn to the one person who has hurt her the most, her father. A series of events pushes Jessica beyond anything she can imagine and forces her to define happiness and love in a different way, and at a heartbreaking price.
Chapter 10 – Connections and Time
The connections between people in this town can be surprising. The most unlikely lines can be drawn between two people and then criss-crossed between two more, again and again until a network of people exists that no one person could ever explain. Some of those connections begin as far back as the lunch line in elementary school, forming either strong alliances or bitter rivalries. The connections can form and then seemingly disappear, only to pop up again in different forms, years later.
Stevie and Jimmy’s brother, Stu became rivals during third grade recess. At nine years old, Stevie was small and skinny, but in a fight, he caught people by surprise. He had a streak of stubbornness in him that made him hang on until the bitter end. It was an unwritten schoolyard law that the bigger kids were in charge. Stu was one of the bigger kids and he started messing with Stevie the first week of school. It didn’t take long for the two to wind up in a knock-down fist fight on the playground. When Stevie won, Stu and the other boys understood what kind of kid he really was.
All I remember about Stevie’s fight with Stu was hearing that Stevie came out on top. I don’t remember what they fought about and years later, if the subject ever came up, Stevie would say something like, “Yeah, I really nailed that kid, but he deserved it.” A flash of pride came across his face whenever he talked about the fight and, as a little sister, I felt safe when I saw him smile at the memory.
Stevie and Stu spent the whole school year bristling at each other and jumping at the first chance to fight, but by the beginning of fourth grade, the two boys had moved on. They never became friends, but they seemed to outgrow the rivalry. It was a loose connection, rarely mentioned, and eventually forgotten.
I didn’t think much about Stevie and Stu when Jimmy and I got together. We were sixteen and Stevie was long gone by then. Sometimes I imagined what Stevie would say about me being with Jimmy. I guessed it would be something negative, like Jimmy was probably a bad fighter just like his brother. I started to feel glad that Stevie wasn’t around to make comments like that and I thought that if he ever saw Stu now he would think differently about toughness.
I first saw Jimmy at the McDonald’s across from the high school. He was sitting at a table with a group of guys and they were messing around, throwing French fries at each other and being loud and intimidating. I had gone in there alone on a Friday after school to get a soda and Mom was waiting in the parking lot. Mom hated all drive-thrus. She had insisted on parking that day while I went inside and I was mad at her for making me get out of the car. Jimmy and I looked back to that day sometimes and toasted each other with our beer cans, laughing and thanking Mom for bringing us together. I was sure Mom’s mouth would have gotten tight in disapproval if she had seen us smirking like that, but I didn’t care. I liked to think of her seeing me drinking beer with Jimmy and shooting us a look like that.
I stood in line and saw Jimmy and his friends out of the corner of my eye and I turned my head just in time to see Jimmy looking right at me. He didn’t smile, he stared for a moment and then he looked away. If I hadn’t turned just then, I never would have noticed him. What I did notice was the quiet way he looked, sitting in a group of boys acting stupid and making a mess and on the verge of getting kicked out of McDonald’s.
Jimmy’s look was over nearly as soon as it began. I moved to the front of the line and got my soda. I felt a hot surge of nerves pass through me as I walked past Jimmy and his friends and felt the cold metal of the door as I pushed it, never looking over to see if Jimmy was watching.
I was shocked to see Jimmy walking through the halls at school the following Monday. Suddenly Jimmy was in a world that was mine and I had never noticed. Before long Jimmy was nodding to me as he passed and by the end of the week he had stopped at my locker when he saw me and said “Hey.”
That was the beginning of a new connection.
Thank you for reading. All comments are welcome.
Click below to check out earlier chapters.
Chapter 1 – Jimmy
Chapter 2 – Stevie
Chapter 3 – A Photo and a Letter
Chapter 4 – The Life Within
Chapter 5 – Jimmy’s Truck
Chapter 6 – The Springs Diner
Chapter 7 – Dinner and a Game
Chapter 8 – He Made Me Nervous
Chapter 9 – I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday
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