Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 20 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 20 – Robbing the Future
Jimmy’s confession to me put me into shock. We sat on that blanket by the lake late into the night. Jimmy’s words had flown out and he couldn’t take them back. And now they circled around and around my head, making me dizzy with disbelief. We spent hours talking, Jimmy explaining, me asking questions, trying to understand and then finally we were silent. There was no great answer waiting for us at the end of all those words and we sat exhausted on the blanket.
Jimmy didn’t want to go home. I couldn’t bring him home with me. So we sat. Separate. I didn’t know how to comfort him, but Jimmy was the one who kept the space between us. He looked hurt and spent and yet I desperately, selfishly wanted to know how we, Jimmy and I, would fare through this crisis. Thoughts of my crumbling future with Jimmy were making me shake.
At midnight we got into the truck. I closed my door and leaned my head back.
“Come here, Jes.” Jimmy’s voice. It was low and sweet and weak and needy and it stirred within me a deep feeling that I could not understand. In a brief span I both longed to put his head in my lap and stroke the hair on his head, like a baby and then all I wanted was for him to comfort me, to tell me it would all be alright.
I slid over to Jimmy. He spread the blanket on us and we leaned back and listened to the sounds by the lake. I woke at dawn to Jimmy gently kissing my face.
“We’d better go,” he said. And he turned the key and started his truck. I looked at the clock on the dashboard and knew I would be late for work for the first time.
Stu’s car was missing from the driveway when we got to Jimmy’s house. Thank God, I thought. I wondered where Stu would be this early.
“I’m sorry you’re going to be late for work, Jes,” Jimmy apologized.
“It’s okay. I can call the diner,” I answered.
“You want something before you go home?” Our words were ordinary, but they were a comfort. They were pulling us back into a normal rhythm. I was exhausted, but Jimmy’s voice, so silent for so many hours, was giving me a new energy.
“Let me make you something,” he offered. “I can make you some tea and some toast.” Sweet Jimmy. He knew I hated coffee. He knew I always had tea and toast in the mornings. I thought that this small understanding between us, and other things like this might hold us together, might help pull us through.
I called the diner at 5:45 and told them I was sick. Jimmy made me breakfast and we sat in his kitchen, trading small, comforting words.
“Where’s your dad?” I asked quietly.
“He’s probably upstairs sleeping off a night at the Green Jug,” answered Jimmy. I had seen his father’s car in the driveway, but Gene’s was missing.
“Do you think Stu and Gene are out together?” I asked.
“Well it’s too early to be building decks. I don’t want to know where they are, but I figure they are out organizing some of the shit we stole last week.”
I suddenly thought of the rocks and I knew this was the time to ask. “Jimmy, do those stacked rocks have anything to do with the robberies?”
Jimmy looked at me and his eyes were red and bitter. “Yeah, that was Stu’s dumbass idea. They’re a signal to our contact that we’ve finished a job. When he sees the rocks he knows to get ready for us to bring the stuff to him. Then he puts a stack of rocks in front of his house to tell us it’s all clear. I don’t know how he came up with the idea and why he insists on it. I think he gets some kind of thrill out of making signals with those stupid rocks. He looks like an idiot out there stacking them up.”
“Jimmy, I noticed those rocks months ago and tried to ask Stu about them and he blew me off. You did too, Jimmy. And I’ve seen the same kind of rocks at a house on 401, when my mom had to drive me to work. And one time I saw a guy driving in a beat-up car with duct tape on the mirror and then I saw that same car in that driveway. Is that where you’ve been taking the stuff you stole and who is that creepy guy?”
Jimmy had held nothing back, I thought, that whole night and I was grateful to him for that. I was beginning to see things more clearly. But Jimmy looked at me funny and then he looked away.
“You’re right about what you saw, Jes. That is the guy we know and that’s where we’ve been taking the stuff.” Then Jimmy stopped.
“Well who is he?” I asked again.
“Oh, he’s just some guy, Jes.”
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
Chapter 17 – Choosing Balance
Chapter 18 – A Mother Sees
Chapter 19 – Taking More
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