Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 17 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 17 – Choosing Balance
We drove past the strange and ugly ranch house twice a day for the rest of the week, and each time I noticed the rocks. Sometimes the brown car would be in the carport, in the same condition as it was the first time I saw it. I had been shocked to make the connection between a random and almost frightening person on the road and the house where its driver must live. It was strange, too, to begin to know his habits. The car was usually gone from the driveway in the mornings and almost always there on our trip home. I wondered what he did, gone at 5:30 in the morning.
I watched for the rocks to change and they did, in number and size and I thought I couldn’t possibly be the only one to have noticed. I wanted to talk to Jimmy about them. I was almost insanely curious about what they meant, for they changed too, at Jimmy’s house and I wondered if there was some kind of pattern to explain the differences.
But Jimmy and I had patched things up between us. I couldn’t exactly say how or what, if anything, had changed. He had never apologized or explained what had happened the night of the basketball game, but the sting of the night had faded as each day passed until I barely remembered myself why I had been upset. Jimmy had a way of charming me out of our funks and I was beginning to notice that we walked through the same steps every time something like this happened. What did it matter, I thought, as long as we got back to the good place that there was between us? I didn’t want to analyze it. I just wanted to be.
I got better at handling Stu, too. He still came into the diner for breakfast and tried to make me sweat and squirm. He never failed to stare at me and leave me feeling uncomfortable, but I got better at hiding my reaction and learned to live with it.
I finally got my car back the next week and my routine fell back into a comfortable rhythm, passing by Jimmy’s house on my way to the diner and back, seeing his truck in the driveway. I was feeling happy and good about the small things in my life, especially when I’d walk into Jimmy’s house, toss my jacket and bag onto my own pile in the side room and see Jimmy waiting for me in the kitchen or the living room. I knew he was waiting now and feeling glad, because he’d turn and move towards me and pull me up to him. We’d kiss and I’d feel the familiar warmth of what I knew to be the truest feeling I would ever know. And maybe that is how I knew that Jimmy had been apologizing to me for that one night when he ignored me. It seemed a small thing, suddenly. As our balance settled, I let the feeling run through me and I put my thoughts about the rocks and the ranch house out of my mind. Jimmy and I were good again. I didn’t want to tip the balance. I didn’t know that I should have upset things. I should have asked questions, that if I had, my story wouldn’t have turned into such a complicated mess.
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
Chapter 10 – Connections and Time
Chapter 11 – The Reverse Apology
Chapter 12 – Empty Bedrooms
Chapter 13 – Job Description
Chapter 14 – The Car I Saw
Chapter 15 – It’s Not What You Think
Chapter 16 – A Different Route
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