Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 33 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 33 – “Truth and Lies”
I went into see Dr. Hutchins the next morning. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to talk to Dad and to Jimmy and I had to work the dinner shift that night. Millie had cut my hours to only one shift. She had told me it was because they weren’t busy enough to have that many waitresses working, but I was sure it was because she didn’t think I could handle the busy morning and lunch shifts. I didn’t like not having as many hours because I was still saving my money to make my escape.
Mom insisted she drive me to my doctor’s appointment and she made a big deal out of helping me get buckled into my seat before we left. It was like she wanted to keep me strapped into a sort of life that I didn’t want. I kept saying to her, “I’ve got it, Mom. Stop. I can do this,” but the truth was I was a little bit unsure of my steps and I guess it showed.
We got to Dr. Hutchins’ office and Mom and I sat in the waiting area. I kept telling Mom I needed to call Jimmy and I kept asking her if Dad had called me and Mom, she answered with words, but she never did give me a straight answer. I knew she was spinning an answer for me and maybe she thought my head wasn’t clear enough to notice, but my medicine had been working its magic on me and I could hear her just fine.
“Well, as soon as we get out of here, I’m calling both of them. Dad called me after you went to bed and I told him I’d talk to him this morning.”
Dr. Hutchins came out of her office and told me she was ready to see me. Mom stood up and started walking with me to the office and I started to panic like they were planning to descend upon me and force me into more medication or lecture me on the tricky task of balancing a person’s mental health. I did not want Mom in the room with us and I thought it was my legal right to refuse, but then I wasn’t sure, being only nineteen and not twenty-one. My thoughts were getting cloudy again.
“Mom, I can handle this by myself,” I told her. “I don’t want you in there with me.”
Mom looked worried and unsure, but Dr. Hutchins said it would be alright. Would be alright. What did that even mean? Why wouldn’t it be?
I sat in one of Dr. Hutchins’ comfortable swivel chairs. Dr. Hutchins sat in the same kind of chair across from me, like we were about to have a nice friendly chat.
After she asked me how I was feeling, which I answered fine, she started to talk to me about how important it was for me to take my medicine consistently because otherwise it wasn’t going to work. She warned me that the prescription’s efficacy would drop every day that I didn’t take it.
“Dr. Hutchins, you don’t know what it feels like to take those pills. I don’t even feel like myself when I do. Nothing tastes good, nothing feels good, everything just feels blah. I can’t live like that.”
“Your mom called me this morning and she mentioned that you are anxious to talk to your Dad and to Jimmy. She doesn’t understand what you are talking about and she thinks you are making up the story about your father calling you. Why don’t you explain to me what’s been going on?”
I liked Dr. Hutchins because I think she believed me and I knew Mom thought I had just been babbling about Dad and Jimmy. At least she was giving me a chance to tell her Jimmy’s story, but there were so many things I didn’t know at that point.
I told her all about the break-in and about Jimmy and Stu and Dad helping get Jimmy out of trouble. She didn’t take notes, she just listened and sometimes she asked me a question. And when I was finished, Dr. Hutchins put down her pad and pen on the glass table between us and took off her glasses.
Finally she opened her mouth and then I was glad I had taken my medication because I could tell she was about to tell me something important and I didn’t seem to have any trouble lining up her mouth with her words. But what she told me next made no sense to me and she had to explain it to me three times before I began to believe it might be true.
Mom tried to call Dad that morning, after I had insisted for about the tenth time that he had called me at 3:00 in the night. She tried his office in Manhattan and sure enough, his secretary told her he was at the Philadelphia office. I could have told her that, but she wouldn’t listen. Dad wasn’t surprised when she called him in Philly, but he refused to tell her anything more.
“If you’d been in touch with Jessica more often than once every seven years,” Mom told him, “you would know that she is very unstable and is under a doctor’s care.”
Dr. Hutchins told me that as soon as Mom told Dad about my condition he said he had to go and he hung up.
“That’s when your father called my office, Jessie. He asked about you and I told him a little bit about your medication, but now this is the part I’ve decided to tell you. I know you are waiting to talk to your father, but I’m going to break some rules and tell you that Jimmy is in the hospital and he’s undergoing psychiatric evaluation.”
“No!” I screamed. “Dad called me in the night and told me that everything was fine, that Jimmy was home and that he was safe. I don’t understand.”
Dr. Hutchins picked up her phone, and dialed. “Here,” she said and she handed me the receiver. “It’s your dad.”
That’s when Dad told me about Jimmy, that there was no break-in, that Jimmy had made it all up, the Philly break-in, the robbery ring that Stu had supposedly been involved with. It was all a story and he had pulled me into it, and I believed it all. Every single word. And the worst part was that Jimmy hadn’t been trying to trick me, he believed it himself. Even that first time, where he supposedly stole equipment from his boss’ client. All a lie.
He told me that once he got Jimmy in his car in Philly, Jimmy fell apart. “I didn’t know what to do, Jessie. I knew this boy was something important to you, but I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know if I could trust his brother Stu and in fact every time I mentioned Stu’s name, Jimmy would just wail. I was afraid for him. By the time we got back to his house, Jimmy was no better, he was worse, in fact, and I knew I couldn’t leave him. That’s when I called you, Jessie. I called you because I knew you were waiting to hear from me, but I didn’t know what to tell you so I said nothing.”
“I didn’t know about you either, Jessie, that you’ve had some problems, otherwise I wouldn’t have handled it this way. I never would have helped you stage a break-in like that.”
I made up a lie about my session being over and I told Dad I had to get off the phone then I hung up and said to Dr. Hutchins, “Where is Jimmy? I want to see him.”
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”
Chapter 32 – “Sorting It Out”
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