Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 39 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 39 – “Not Everything Changes”
Mom turned off the stove, wiped her hands on the dish towel and draped it over the cabinet door. Her face was set in tight resolve. “You let your father in. I’m going upstairs to change and I’ll be back down after you get settled.” She was halfway out of the kitchen when she turned and said, “Go ahead and offer him something to drink. There’s beer in the fridge and there’s wine if he wants a glass, but you’ll have to open the bottle and find the corkscrew and glasses if that’s what he wants.”
I can do that for Mom, I thought. I knew this would be hard for her. Was Mom nervous or mad about seeing Dad? Offering him a drink? Was she thinking about being nice, or did she just want a drink herself to steady her nerves? I hadn’t thought much about Mom’s reaction to all that had happened. But I had been talking so much about everything else for the past three days, I had no more words.
I foolishly thought Dad would come to the back door because that was the only door I’d ever seen him come through. Despite the years, it seemed only natural for him to walk right into the kitchen, the way he had when we were small. How strange to fall back into the idea of a routine that had been broken.
I jumped when the doorbell rang and shook my head in disgust. Was I still hoping Dad would come back to us?
“Hey Jes.” Dad stood on the front step. His hands were in his jacket pockets. I thought it was strange for him to be standing there like that, deliberately casual. He must have quickly stuffed his hands in his pockets after just ringing the doorbell. I wondered if Dad was nervous about seeing Mom.
“Hi Dad. Come on in, we’re going to eat in the kitchen.” We walked through the hall to the back of the house and I felt a familiar pain behind my left eye. I knew I would be facing one of my headaches by the end of the night and I groaned at the thought. Day after day of stress and change and shock had caught up to me.
“Smells good, Jes. What are we eating?” Dad was cheerful and I appreciated his effort because I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing Mom and Dad in the same room together.
“Actually, I don’t know. I just got home too and Mom was cooking.” How strange to be talking like this. As if we were both coming home to dinner that Mom had made. I had to remind myself that Dad had a whole new home in New Jersey, with a new wife and family.
Dad smoothed his hair and pulled his shoulders back, preparing himself, I suppose, for a tough night. What had they said to each other when he called that day? Had Mom accused him of taking over? Was Dad’s plan to save Jimmy really that crazy?
We entered the kitchen and he looked around. “Where’s your mother?” he asked, a little too quickly.
“She went upstairs to change. She’ll be down in a few minutes.” I paused. “She said to offer you a beer if you want, and we also have a bottle of wine we could open.”
“Oh, well that’s nice. I’m kind of in the mood for a glass of wine. Maybe your mother would want a glass too. Do you need help with the bottle?”
Our conversation was too easy, and it didn’t fit. I didn’t think we should be talking about wine and whether Mom would want a glass. But I was grateful for words to fill the dead air.
“Here, Jes. Hand me the wine and grab a corkscrew. I’ll open the bottle. Go ahead and get three glasses and when your mom comes down I’ll pour us each a glass.” Dad’s take-charge charm was filling the room.
I didn’t think the night could get any stranger. I was sure a glass of wine would cause my developing headache to arrive even quicker, but maybe a glass of wine would help.
“Okay,” I answered. I pulled the corkscrew out of the utensil drawer. Dad smiled. “Same place as always. I guess a lot of time can go by, but not all things change do they?” He looked at me, hopeful, I supposed, that I would meet his smile. I thought about his effort to try so hard and what it meant. I was afraid to agree with him, but I felt a smile expand my face. “Here Dad. I’ll be right back.”
I met Mom halfway through the hallway. Unlike her normal routine, she had changed out of her work clothes, not into sweats, but into nice jeans and a sweater I had never seen. Her hair was pulled back in a barrette and I tried to remember if it was the way Dad used to like.
“Where are you going, Jes?” Mom was whispering fiercely at me, like a conspirator, I thought.
“I’ll be right back Mom. I’m just going to get some glasses. Dad opened the bottle of wine.”
“Oh, okay. Keep your voice down. I’ll wait for you.”
“Mom, I know you’re nervous about seeing Dad,” I whispered back, “I’m sure you are mad at him too. But you’ll be fine. You look great and I’ll be right back.”
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”
Chapter 36 – “I Just Want To See Him”
Chapter 37 – “I’m Not Going Anywhere”
Chapter 38 – “He’s Here Now”
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