Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 36 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 36 – “I Just Want To See Him”
Driving home from Stevie’s, all I could think about were his face, his eyes, his scared and lonely eyes. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to Stevie that had put him in that dirty house, in those worn and ragged clothes, in that beaten and spent body. I felt like on top of my problem with Jimmy and my own unbalanced self, there was no room to think about Stevie. I decided to tell no one about my visit to Stevie’s house, not at least until I went back there tomorrow.
I still had hours before I had to work the dinner shift at the diner. I drove home and before I could even get in the door, the phone was ringing.
“Jessica, hi, it’s Mom. I’m just checking in. How are you?”
Mom tried to act casual, but she was talking too fast. Her words were tight and she was too loud, like she was hoping that if she got the words out loud and clear, I’d definitely hear her and I would know exactly what she was asking me, even if I was in a fog from either taking my medication or from not taking it.
“I’m fine Mom,” I answered.
“Good! Great, actually. I can hear that you’re fine. In your voice, I mean. Did you get my note this morning?”
I don’t know how I could have missed Mom’s note. She had attached it to the tea canister in the kitchen. I tried to keep Mom far away from understanding my thinking, but like a mother who has studied her daughter and her habits for years and years, I guess, she knew the patterns of my movements. And she knew that even when I changed them just to annoy her so she wouldn’t be able to claim that she knew me so well, even then, she knew I would always have tea in the morning, that it would be the first thing I did when I walked into the kitchen.
“I got it Mom, thanks. And yes, I took my pill this morning.” I knew that was the real reason she called, to make sure I took it.
“I’m glad, Jessica. We have to talk about this more, just hang in there with them until we figure it out.”
“I will Mom.” I was partly lying. I would hang on but I couldn’t promise I would keep taking them.
“And Jessica, I know you want to go see Jimmy today. I can’t keep you from going. I don’t know how he is, but I want you to think about going with someone, maybe his brother Stu would take you, just in case Jimmy’s not good, then you could have someone to talk to about it. His brother might help you fill in some of the blanks about what has been going on with Jimmy.”
I hated the idea of going to the hospital with Stu. I still didn’t trust Jimmy’s brother, no matter what Dad had explained to me. I tried to remember the night Stu kissed me in their kitchen. I knew I hadn’t been feeling great that night. I couldn’t remember how long ago it was exactly and when I had stopped taking my pills. It was like trying to remember a night of heavy drinking, thinking back to the thick, hazy, slow-moving minutes and hours of that night.
“I’ll think about it Mom, but I’d rather see Jimmy on my own.” No sense in promising Mom something I would never do.
I called the hospital to see if Jimmy was still there. He was and that’s all the nurse would tell me about him.
“Are visitors allowed?” I asked.
“Only family today,” answered the nurse.
Damn. I was going to need Stu after all. As much as I didn’t want to call him, I knew that would be the only way I could even have a chance of seeing Jimmy.
“Okay, thanks.” And I hung up.
Stu answered the phone right away.
“Jes, how are you?” he asked.
Stu’s voice was friendly, glad to hear from me, I thought.
“I’m fine. How’s Jimmy?” I asked. “I want to see him today. Do you think you could take me?”
“I can take you, Jes, sure. You should know though, that he’s not doing very well. They’re keeping him in the hospital for a few more days at least until he can settle into some clear thinking. This story of his, the one about the robberies, about me forcing him to break into your Dad’s office building and others, there’s not one piece of truth in them. I know you believed Jimmy’s story. I just got off the phone with your dad. He’s still in town and was asking about you.”
It was strange to not see Dad for seven years and then suddenly to be pulled into a crisis where we had to talk constantly. There had been no time to yell at Dad for leaving us. No time to think about why he had agreed to help me. Why he was still in town. There was no time to work those feelings into the words we traded.
“Oh, okay,” I said. “I guess I’ll call him later,” I added for no real reason, but once I said it I knew I would probably do just that. No time to think about anything else.
Stu started up again, “I was just getting ready to go over to the hospital. Visiting hours begin at noon. I can pick you up on my way over there, okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed.
“And, Jes,” he added. “Jimmy’s on some medication. He might not recognize us, so don’t be disappointed if that happens.”
“Okay,” I answered. “I just want to see him, to see that someone’s taking care of him.”
Stu told the nurse I was Jimmy’s sister and the nurse let us both go into Jimmy’s room. It was a private room and Jimmy was sitting in the chair next to the bed, looking out the window. His arm was bandaged. I hadn’t wanted to look, to see where he had cut himself.
“If Jimmy had wanted to kill himself, Jes, he wouldn’t have cut his arm crosswise like that. It was just a surface cut and it hardly bled. I think he was just so overwhelmed that night when he got back to the house and seeing me, well, he was so confused about what he thought I had told him to do and I think he was starting to see that what he had been telling himself and you was all wrong. I don’t think he could put it all together and understand his mistake, or maybe he could tell after all, how confused he had been, maybe cutting his arm was a way to get us to focus on something else. Anyway, it worked, I guess and it got Jimmy here which is where he should be for now.”
“Hi Jimmy,” I said. My voice was quiet. He looked at me blankly at first and then I think he saw me, who I was, he saw my eyes and when he did, he locked them with mine and it was this recognition I was looking for. These eyes that I had looked into so much over the last two years, they were the eyes I still loved and they were still part of this boy who had fallen into a jumble of misunderstood thoughts.
“Jes,” he croaked. His voice was so dry and cracked I couldn’t tell if it was because he had been shouting in a rage all night, or if he hadn’t said a word that day until just then, but it was the same deep man’s voice coming from Jimmy, the one that could always make my heart sing with the joy of knowing that this deep and wonderful voice was talking to me.
My eyes filled up and all I could say was “Hi” again but it was enough because just saying it rebuilt the connection that had broken between us, the one that had been based on a confused collection of fantastic and crazy ideas, my voice and his, they met in the middle like the space between two separate pools of water, dug by children on the beach and filled with buckets of ocean water, all the time the children running down to the surf and then back, with water spilling out of the buckets, but leaving enough in them to dump into the holes until the walls of sand keeping them separate slowly break down and the waters from each mix together and minutes later you would never even know there had been two holes, the single larger one was so perfectly formed and so full.
I knew then that once we got out of this, Jimmy and I would be okay.
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”
Chapter 33 – “Truth and Lies”
Chapter 34 – “The Car-Port House”
Chapter 35 – “It’s a Dead Yard”
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