Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 32 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 32 – “Sorting It Out”
I hung up with Dad, feeling crazy with no answers. Now my mind was beginning to unravel. As if the situation with Jimmy wasn’t enough. I also had to sort out a big mess with Mom and Dr. Hutchins.
I’d been sitting and waiting in the same chair in my room all night when I heard Mom coming home from her weekend trip. I jumped when she stuck her head in my room. It was dark, but I could see what looked to be a surprised expression on her face and I couldn’t understand why she would feel that way since my car was in the driveway and she knew I was home, but I guess I hadn’t moved from the chair since Jimmy left and there were no lights on in the house. Mom was looking at me with an alarmed kind of face and I could see her mouth moving and then a few seconds later the words would come out. I had trouble connecting the words to the movement of her face and all that time I was thinking, wow, it must be crazy trying to read lips, yet that’s what I was doing because the sounds Mom was making weren’t making any kind of sense to me.
I think I remember hearing Mom say, “Jessica, are you alright?” But I guess I didn’t answer her because then I could see her shape coming towards me from the door in my room and her figure suddenly looked like a huge shadow because she was right behind what I was thinking for the first time was a searchlight in the hall, and with no lights on in my room everything about her looked dark and massive. It scared me, that giant shadow because it didn’t make sense, seeing it coming towards me. I must have screamed, because the shadow seemed to jump backwards and then I heard Mom’s voice again, but still the words didn’t make sense.
The shadow left my room. I leaned back in my chair again, and I put my hand on the phone that was on the table next to my chair, lifting it up, checking to make sure it still worked, checking the base to make sure I hadn’t missed a call. Then I looked at the digital clock next to my bed and tried to read the numbers on it. Inside my head I thought, how weird that the numbers I was looking at were so hard to read because I remember buying that clock with the huge numbers to help me see them when I wasn’t wearing my contact lenses. I was sitting there studying the numbers. I had narrowed it down to either 11:00 pm, which made some sense to me, but something was tricking me and then the clock looked like 1:10, but was that am or pm? I didn’t know. As I thought about those numbers, there was a noise at the door again but this time there was no shadow because Mom had turned on the light in my room.
Mom was carrying a cup of water and my pill bottle. I remember thinking, “God, she has no right to go get my pills,” and I was getting ready to tell her just that, but Mom spoke first and this time her words were coming out very slowly, like she had figured out how to keep her mouth and voice connected and I thought to myself how strange, I’d never known that the person talking would have to concentrate on something as complicated as that. And I wondered how on earth I knew how to do that since I’d never even thought of doing something like that until right then.
Mom sat on my bed, which was weird too because when she sat all I could think about was how ridiculous it was that she was sitting on the bed where Jimmy and I had just made love. Then I started thinking about Jimmy and me clinging to each other on that bed and a certain clarity returned to me, and then it didn’t matter what time it was or what Mom was saying because the new thought in my head was Jimmy and his warm body next to mine and that’s what made me smile.
“Jessica, you are not taking your prescription. You need to take one of your pills now. Can you tell how disconnected you are? Do you even know where you are?”
Bam! Mom’s words were pulling me away from the nice warm thoughts of Jimmy and me and I yelled at her. “I don’t need any pills, Mom. All I need is Jimmy and I’m sitting here waiting to hear from him. He’s going to be calling me any minute now.”
“Jessica, I’m going to have to insist that you take one of these, or I’m going to call Dr. Hutchins right now and she’s going to agree with me and make you get back on your medication.”
“But Mom,” I yelled. “You don’t get it! I hate those pills. You can’t make me take one. Jimmy’s going to call me soon and if he doesn’t call me Dad’s going to let me know that everything is okay, that it all went okay, that Jimmy is safe.”
“What are you talking about, Jessica?” Mom was yelling at me and her words weren’t matching her mouth again. Think about Jimmy, I thought. If I think about Jimmy, maybe I’ll be able to understand what Mom is saying. “What does your father have to do with any of this?”
Mom walked over to the phone and I felt my hand jump over to the receiver and grab it before she could put her hand on it. “No, you can’t use the phone. I’m waiting for Jimmy!” I yelled.
But Mom pulled the phone away from me and then I heard her talking, talking to someone about Dr. Hutchins and then she hung up. “Mom, I’m not going to take that medicine. There’s no way you can force me to.”
The phone rang a few minutes later and Mom grabbed it before I got to it and I heard her talking in a quiet but tense way, like she was trying really hard not to be loud even though the force of her words was adding volume to the sounds. And then she handed me the phone and told me Dr. Hutchins was on the line.
I didn’t want to talk to my doctor and I hated that Mom was making me talk right then, after sitting in the dark all those hours, not during my regular appointment where I had the time to think up the correct answers and phrases ahead of time. I squeaked out a hello on the phone and I heard Dr. Hutchins asking me how I was, how I was feeling. I wondered if she was taking notes on a big pad at the other end of the phone line, if she was writing something down that would later be transcribed into a memo that would go into my file. Saying something like, “confused, disoriented, belligerent.” What the hell did doctors mean using words like belligerent anyway? Who wouldn’t be ready for a fight when their mother blasts into their room and is trying to force them to swallow a pill that does the opposite of what it’s supposed to do, making me lose the person where I can find the one major and solid part of my life?
“Jes,” she started. At least she called me by the name I liked. I started thinking about that and then I couldn’t decide whether she was doing that to pretend to understand me or if that she really did respect me.
“I want you to listen to me. I can tell you have been off your medicine for a few days. I can hear it in your voice. I know you don’t like taking them, but I want you to try to think about taking just one pill, to bring you back a little bit so we can talk about what isn’t working with the medicine and everything else that’s going on in your life. One pill. Can you take one and then tomorrow come and see me and we’ll talk about what to do?”
I felt like she was tricking me. “I don’t know. I have to wait for Jimmy to call me. I don’t need a pill to talk to him. And Dad, he’s supposed to call me too.” Again, I had mentioned Dad and I remembered that Mom probably didn’t understand what I was saying.
“Take one pill and I promise you I won’t ask you to take anything more until you and I talk it over.”
“Jessica, please.” I heard Mom say from her spot next to me and I wondered how on earth Mom could know what Dr. Hutchins was saying since we couldn’t see her face and it was my ear that was connected to the phone, not Mom’s.
I don’t know what made me say okay. Part of the reason I didn’t want to say so was because I couldn’t stand to see the whooshing relief rushing through Mom and changing her whole figure into something that looked a little more like Mom. Or hear Dr. Hutchins say, “Well that’s good” even though I didn’t have to see her face.
But I gave in and I put the phone down and Mom brought me the cup of water and the pill and she watched me swallow it and look at her like I was supposed to get praise for being a good girl or something.
Mom left the room so I could get some sleep, but I knew I wasn’t going to rest until Dad or Jimmy called. And after Dad called, I lay on my back and stared into the black space above me, my mind racing with questions.
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?”
Chapter 30 – “What’s so Great about Balance?”
Chapter 31 – “I’ll Call You When It’s Over”
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