Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 30 of Jessica. Jessica is nineteen-years-old and she is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What she wants most is to build a life with Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When she 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 30 – “What’s So Great About Balance?”
I don’t know why I never told Jimmy I was on medication except that I was afraid he would think I was too shaky for him. But I think he probably would have understood this about me, maybe he would have loved me more because of it.
I couldn’t figure out why Stu was suddenly so worried about Jimmy. It didn’t make sense to me. Jimmy always acted like they stayed away from each other as much as possible, and this whole break-in connection, it wasn’t like they were buddies in it together, it was Stu putting pressure on Jimmy. These two parts of Stu were completely different.
I didn’t want Mom to know I had stopped taking my medicine. I was due at the doctor’s office next month, to go over my progress, to make sure I was on track. I hated those appointments. I always lied at them. Whose business is it what I think or believe? “Yes, my job is great,” I’d say. Or, “Jimmy and I are going to get married just as soon as we save enough money to get our own place.”
Then he’d ask about Mom and Dad and I’d say something like, “Mom, she’s great. We’re good friends and we spend a lot of time together, eat dinner out, just the two of us.” And then I’d talk about Dad. “Sure, I guess I missed having Dad around, but they didn’t get along. He needed to get away, I guess and I understand that. I’m good with that. Sometimes things just don’t work out.”
Then my doctor would ask me more about Dad, because I guess she thought this was probably the center of all my troubles. “Sure, I talk to him every week. He’s great. Always on some kind of adventure.” Or, “Oh yes, I’ll be going up to New Jersey next week to spend time with him. He’ll be working during the day, but I’m going to shop in the mornings and then meet him at his office for lunch. It’ll be great.”
I felt like I could say anything to her because I knew she couldn’t tell Mom. I was nineteen and an adult. Everything was confidential. I could paint the best picture for my doctor and no one would know the difference. And then the doctor would check off a bunch of milestones for me in my file, maybe adjust my medicine, reduce it. I didn’t even think I needed to go anymore.
I wouldn’t have even gone to those monthly appointments, being that I was an adult and my own responsibility, but Mom, even though she couldn’t know everything about my ‘condition,’ as she put it, she nagged me to go. And she kept track of when my appointments were, reminding me when they were coming up.
“Yes, Mom, I know,” I’d say. “Yes, I’m feeling good. I’ll go, but I don’t need to.” And then she’d ask me if I was taking my medication and I’d lie to her about that if I had skipped some days. The truth was, sometimes I did take the pills. On my shaky days, that’s what I called them. I never called them bad days. They weren’t really bad. I never felt bad when I didn’t take them. That’s the ironic thing. I usually felt worse when I took them. Like I was slow, like nothing was really funny or enjoyable. Just stable. Stable. That’s the word Mom liked to use. “Just take them to keep you stable, Jessica. Then you’ll be able to balance your life.”
Who wants to balance a boring life? I’d always think that and if I said that to Mom or to my doctor, they wouldn’t really have an answer. I guess Mom liked having a boring life. Maybe she’d had enough excitement with Dad jumping ship and Stevie leaving us. Maybe she liked that balance. And my doctor, well that was usually the point where she’d look down at the pad in her lap and say, “Hmmm” or something like that and then she’d casually write something down, pretending not to be urgent about it, like it was just something she’d remembered to get at the grocery store that night. Maybe she didn’t want to hurt my feelings, or alarm me, make me think that I still had big problems. That was her job, I guess. Play it down in the office, take a few notes while I was talking with her, then fill up my file with reports of concern. Recommend medication. Keep me off the fantasy path.
I didn’t just hate the medication because it made me too stable or too boring. The pills upset my stomach, made my mouth all dry, made me want Jimmy less. So when I knew I was going to see Jimmy, I’d skip a day. What harm could that do? I mean, here I was a physically healthy young person being told I needed to take these pills to keep me centered, but oh, by the way, there are a couple side effects, like your libido is going to drop.
Libido? What a stupid clinical word, I thought. At first I smirked a little when she said it, and she’d only said it in passing, like, yeah, these may make you tired sometimes. And I thought my doctor was young enough not to skim over that subject.
I thought that was the worst part. It was. But I didn’t want to talk about sex with my head doctor. What did she know anyway? The ironic thing was sex with Jimmy was the one thing that actually helped me. Made me feel centered, focused, in control. And wait, they were giving me medicine to take that away from me? The first time my doctor told me this, I just nodded like a bobble head. Yeah, I thought, right. And like a good girl I did start taking the pills regularly at first. I didn’t feel any different I thought, the first few days and I guess I had started to see my real life in better focus, God how I hated hearing that word. And mentally, I was still looking forward to seeing Jimmy, physically too I thought.
The first night we were together when I could feel the full effect of the loss of libido, I pretended there was nothing different. I acted through the whole thing and I thought, great. Now I’m acting like I’m having a good time. What kind of reality is that? Maybe Jimmy didn’t even notice, but I did. I wasn’t even interested.
I got home that night and cursed myself for taking my pills that day and I swore a promise to myself that I would just keep myself on track without losing the one piece of me, my life with Jimmy, without taking my pills.
I didn’t tell anyone I was skipping days. Whose business was it anyway and I didn’t think anyone would be able to tell. Jimmy didn’t know about the pills in the first place and if he had, he’d probably have been glad to get the old me back. But Mom, she must have been keeping track on the calendar. Checking to see when I’d need to get a refill. She was monitoring me. “Have you taken your medicine today, Jessica?” she’d ask. “Yes Mom,” I’d tell her, but then she’d say, “You seem to have a lot left in your prescription bottle. Are you sure you haven’t missed a day or two? You know you have to take them consistently to have them work.” Another word I hated, consistently.
So to beat the system, I consistently flushed the ones I didn’t take, got rid of them on schedule so Mom wouldn’t check my bottle and count the days.
The day Stu drove me home I had fought the feeling that Stu and Millie were naming as what was unique to my condition. I lay on my bed actually feeling good about myself. As I lay there and closed my eyes thinking that I knew better than anyone, that was when I started to remember Jimmy and my trip to see Dad and the big Philly break-in and I felt the anxiety creep into my body. I couldn’t figure out why Stu was acting this way, when he had a big illegal robbery just days away. Maybe it was a trick, to get me out of the way. But he didn’t even know I knew, or did he? I couldn’t remember what I’d told him exactly.
I closed my eyes. I’ll take a nap now, and then I’ll call Jimmy later and make sure he’s okay. I have to warn him about Stu, that Stu’s got some other scheme that’s going to confuse me.
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”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”
Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”
Chapter 24 – “Striking a Nerve”
Chapter 25 – “Help Has Its Price”
Chapter 26 – “Who Asked for Help?”
Chapter 27 – “You’ve Done Enough”
Chapter 28 – “The Plan”
Chapter 29 – “Who Says I’m Not Okay?”
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