Friday Fiction Jessica Ch 19 Taking More

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 19 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica 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 19 – Taking More

I started to see Jimmy’s truck missing from his driveway more often in the mornings, usually only a few hours after I’d left him late in the night and I wondered where it was that he was going, why he would need to leave the still-warm bed we had shared, the one I had just left. Was he waiting for me to leave on those nights? Was he jumping up right after he heard me back out the driveway? It bothered me that Jimmy was doing something that I didn’t know about and I struggled to think of a way that I could ask him without making him mad. I didn’t think it was right that he was doing something that was in the middle of the night but I was afraid to ask because I worried that Jimmy was going off to see someone besides me.

I didn’t like thinking that Jimmy might also be involved with someone else. When I’d drive by and see that he was gone from his house, I could almost feel myself falling from the view of our future, where I was perched and only waiting for Jimmy to give me the sign by joining me. I had been working so hard towards this goal and I felt a queasy mix of worry and fear, wondering if once again I would be left alone.

I thought of Mom. What exactly did she do that was good to cope when Dad and then Stevie left? Besides cleaning the house and getting a job, what had gone inside Mom to direct her through the emptiness? I suddenly felt ashamed when I realized that I had always thought Mom was weak. She cowered, I remembered, she cried, she withdrew around me and Stevie and then just around me. Then she became fixed on keeping me from going the wrong way or from leaving her.

But Mom, I realized, was doing what she could do to make it. She had no one to lean on. She found a way, despite my scorn. I started to understand that Mom had a good job after all, that we lived in a nice house. I knew Dad still sent us money, but I wondered how much. I realized Mom was working harder than Dad to support us because she was here doing the job and he was just sending a check.

I wondered if she was happy. We never talked about our happiness. We existed together but I had done my best to avoid Mom. I tried to brush off a feeling of guilt and I wondered what Mom was doing at that moment, what she was thinking.

I hadn’t told Jimmy about Stu. I was afraid of his reaction. Maybe he would think I had asked for it. I still thought I could handle Stu, as uncomfortable as I was around him. He had only kissed me after all and I talked myself into believing that I was the reason he stopped. I could handle Stu.

Jimmy and I took a ride to the lake one night after work. It was one of those early summer nights when the sun’s warmth pulls everyone outdoors and strangers, when they catch each other’s eyes, share the unspoken happiness that comes with the carefree feeling of getting something good out of a work day. We drove out there in Jimmy’s truck, blanket and a six-pack in the back.

The sun was close to setting and I spread the blanket at the edge of the water. We sat and Jimmy handed me a beer. Jimmy was the one who suggested we go to the lake that night. I was glad to get out of my house, and glad to have Jimmy to myself, without worrying that Stu would be around.

“It’s nice here tonight, isn’t it, Jimmy?” I asked.

“Yup,” he answered and before he had even finished his first beer, he was grabbing the next and opening it. I was quiet. I figured he was still trying to shake off his day. I sat and sipped my beer and looked out on the lake which was quiet, with a glass-like stillness.

“Jes,” he started. The voice that I loved had a strange tone to it and it startled me. I wasn’t sure I knew it. I was afraid to look at him. I wondered how the tone of Jimmy’s voice, one word spoken, my name, in fact, how this alone could create a panic in me, with no warning. I got the courage to look at him and when I turned I saw that his eyes were wet and glassy.

“Jimmy, what is it?” I asked. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know what to do to brace myself for what would come next.

“Jes, I’m in trouble and I don’t know what to do.”

“What do you mean, Jimmy? What is it?” It was suddenly worse not knowing. “What kind of trouble, Jimmy?”

“I’m in way over my head and I don’t even know how to begin to tell you. I don’t even know if I should tell you because I’m afraid you will hate me if you know, but I can’t keep it all in anymore.”

I couldn’t stand it. “Jimmy, what is it? Tell me what it is.” I was sure he was going to tell me that he was leaving, that there was another girl, that she was pregnant.

Jimmy started his story in a babbling, unorganized confession. He swore to me that he didn’t know he was going to get as deep into things as Stu. He only wanted a little extra cash. He didn’t think what he was doing was so wrong, but now everything was going so wrong. And he didn’t know how to pull out of it. And Stu was putting on the pressure to do more.

“Do more what?” I yelled. I was starting to get scared.

“Oh Jes. We are deep into layers upon layers of burglaries, of stealing computers and other crap and unloading it for cash. At first I thought it would be just one time, but Stu, he’s such a greedy shit, he said it was so easy the first time we should just keep going. I didn’t know what to say because he was right, it had been so easy and it was quick and we all got pockets full of cash. How can you say no to that? It’s not like we were hurting anyone, we were just taking stuff and making a profit so we could get ahead in the world. That’s how Stu put it.”

I had been expecting such a completely different story that I didn’t know how to react to Jimmy’s confession. My head was spinning, half with relief that I wasn’t losing him and half with the cloudy confusion of trying to understand his complicated story in such a short period of time. His rambling had just spilled out and was hard to follow and I was just beginning to put the facts together.

“Jimmy, you have to get out of this. Just tell Stu you want to stop. Tell him you’re out.”

“Jes, it’s not that easy. You don’t know Stu very well. He’s my brother, but he’s a real bastard if he doesn’t get what he wants. And Gene, he’s got Gene right under his thumb and he’s barely seventeen. Says he’s teaching him the deck business but that’s all a bunch of bullshit. He’s got Gene working for him making decks, sure, but he’s teaching him how to steal on the side. Me and Stu, we’ve never gotten along and I thought I had gotten out of his reach by doing my own thing and my job at _____________ has been a good one. I thought I could break away from him. Ever since Mom died, Dad hasn’t been right, he’s been helpless in fact and he’s pretty much left us to take care of ourselves. And Stu stepped up as he always puts it, but all he’s ever done was order us around.”

“Jimmy, then how the hell did you get pulled into this in the first place?” I asked.

“I’m so stupid sometimes, I don’t know when to shut up. I had come home from work one day and I was so excited because my boss was getting ready to send me to one of his corporate customers, to work there for two weeks and do a bunch of repairs on-site. I was bragging, I guess, trying to show Stu that I had a job that was making some money. I didn’t notice Stu’s face when I first started telling him about my new assignment, but by the time I had finished talking, he had a hungry look in his eyes and he looked like was working a plan out in his head. At first I thought he was thinking about something besides my bragging, but then he started to tell me what a great job I was doing. He was really buttering me up, I guess, telling me how important I was. At first I thought he was just being sarcastic, telling me for the thousandth time how inferior I was, but he actually sounded sincere and I was so fucking excited about my job that I kept on talking about how I would be going there starting the next Monday, how it was a real swank office, full of fancy computer equipment and, Jes, I didn’t realize that Stu was making up a plan to steal that equipment right out of the office where I was getting my first important assignment at work.”

“Well before that night was over, Stu had me agree to make an inventory of what was there, which offices had the best stuff, and told me to figure out the best way to get in there after hours. He told me we could make a shit-load of cash from just this one job, that he’d already pulled a few other burglaries like this and with Gene and me helping him out we’d be able to get a good profit from just one job.”

“I had told him I was afraid of getting caught and losing my own job, but Stu started being real nice to me and acting like he had changed his mind about me, telling me I wasn’t the stupid little brother that he’d always said I was and that we had to pull ourselves out of our shit-hole house since Dad wasn’t good for anything anymore except drinking to escape to some other place.”

“And Jes, it was easy, just like Stu said it was going to be. We didn’t take too much at first. We took a couple things to test out our plan and then we went back three more times so it wouldn’t look like a huge robbery, like maybe a bitter employee was sneaking stuff home piece by piece after work, not us. And we didn’t do it until a month after my assignment there, but I had been lucky enough to steal a key-card, the kind that disarms the alarm when you enter the building.”

“Oh Jes, I don’t know what to do. I’m so deep into this and I don’t want to be. And I’m fucking scared of Stu. I told him a few weeks ago I just wanted to work at my own job, that I wanted to get out of this other crap and he actually slapped me across the face and told me I’d better shut up and do what he said.”

I was astonished at what I was hearing. I sat there on the blanket and felt Jimmy’s panic. I looked at him and said, “Jimmy, you’ve got to move out of there, now.”

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

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

 

Friday Fiction Jessica Ch 18 A Mother Sees

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 18 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica 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 18 – A Mother Sees

I beat Jimmy to his house one night after work. We had talked that morning and I told him I would make him dinner at his house. I had seen that his truck was missing from the driveway on my way home from the diner, but I went home and showered, thinking he’d be back by the time I got there.

It didn’t matter to me, I thought, getting there before him and I found the extra key that was hidden on top of the garage door frame and let myself in. I had two bags of groceries and imagined myself walking into my picture of what might be our own house some day. I smiled at the thought of arriving home on some future day ahead of Jimmy and starting dinner for us, just like I was about to do in his own house.

I walked into the kitchen and put my bags on the counter, and I looked over at the picture of Jimmy’s mother, thinking she would somehow approve of what she saw, me taking care of her son now that she was gone. It put me in one of those sad and sweet moments and I thought about how happy I was going to be to see Jimmy walk in the door.

I didn’t expect to see Stu walk through the door. I didn’t pay attention to his schedule and a twinge of anxiety went through me. I tried to get myself ready for a comment about me making Jimmy dinner. I was sure he would make fun of me. I remembered how he grabbed my arm at the diner, acting somehow that it was his arm to grab.

Stu was loud as he banged around the side room and dropped his things on the floor. He walked straight into the kitchen and headed straight for the fridge when he saw me standing there chopping vegetables.

“Well, look who it is!” and he grinned as he grabbed a beer out of the fridge. He twisted off the cap and walked past me to the trash, taking a path that was closer to me than he needed. He leaned against the counter and looked at me. “You making me dinner, Jes?” he asked.

I tried not to be defensive. I tried to be light, tried to be cool as I answered. Stu rattled me. I swallowed and looked straight at him, foolishly hoping to gain strength by staring right at the enemy. “This is dinner for Jimmy and me.”

“How sweet,” he mocked. “Well, I don’t want to interfere. When’s the hubby getting home, little lady?”

“Very funny,” I said, trying keep strength in my voice. I shifted my feet to a more solid position with my back to the counter. Stu noticed the change. He came towards me and I realized the mistake of my movement, for it put me out there for him to approach. He took a drink from his beer, smiled and put the bottle down. “You’re a pretty young thing, Jes, you know that?” he asked. I had no good answer for him. I wanted to say shut up, to say stop, but I had no chance because in the next moment Stu was right there at me, pressing his mouth against mine and I had nowhere to go. The space between me and the counter was gone as I felt the sharp edge press into my back.

I wanted to slap his face, to ram my knee into him, but as hard as his mouth had kissed me and as hard as he had pushed me against the counter, he suddenly stopped. He made a hideous smirk at me and said, “Well, we can’t get carried away tonight, Jes, since lover boy will be here soon. I wouldn’t want to spoil your dinner plans.”

And with that, Stu grabbed his beer and left the kitchen, pounded his way upstairs. I looked again at the picture of Jimmy’s mom and somehow felt ashamed that she had to see what kind of man her oldest son had become.

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

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction Jessica Ch 15 It’s Not What You Think

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 15 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica 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 15 – It’s Not What You Think

Stu started coming into the Springs Diner regularly, always during my shift. He’d walk in with a swagger, stroll over to my section and pick a table without waiting for the hostess to seat him. As he sat, he’d look casually around the restaurant, always the same, until I could feel his eyes burning into me. I didn’t like Stu eating at the diner. Not after he’d made fun of me driving past their house in the mornings. But I had to wait on him and every time was the same. As he stared, I tried to keep my body from shaking with nerves. I ignored the sweat on my forehead and upper lip, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I looked like I had been working out instead of standing there waiting to take his order.

“Hey Stu, here for breakfast?” I tried to sound casual, cheerful. He’d look me up and down like he was thinking about what kind of girl his little brother was hooking up with and I wanted to tell him to quit it, that Jimmy and I weren’t just hooking up, we were in it for the real thing. But I somehow knew Stu would have laughed at me for saying that even if I was sure it was true.

He always said thanks after I brought over his order, a little too loud, as if to prove he was being proper. He’d start eating and I’d think I was through the worst of it, but every time I cleared his plate when he finished, he’d sit back and stare me down. He’d come up with some unanswerable comment like, “Well don’t wear yourself out too much working tables here, Jes. You don’t want to be too tired in case Jimmy calls you later, you know?” He’d laugh and give me a mocking look to make sure I got what he meant. Even though I didn’t want it to show, I could feel my face getting hot.

One day after he ate, I went to grab his plate and he reached over and put his hand on my arm. I felt the grip of his hand. It was tight at first, but then I could feel him loosen his fingers and let them slip with the sweat from his palm. I was sure he moved his hand like that on purpose. I could feel him grinning at me without even looking and I was disgusted at the suggestion that we were connected in such a way. I stopped with a jerk and called out, “What?” in a shaky voice that gave away my nerves. He leered at me with a controlling smirk.

Stu let go of my arm and laughed at me the way an animal might laugh at its prey before the kill. “Whoa, you’re a jumpy one, aren’t you?” he asked.

I defended myself even though I felt overmatched. “I’m just busy, Stu. Are you done?”

He laughed at me again. His laugh wasn’t the kind that made you want to join in. It was the kind of that made you feel like you were on the outside of the joke, or maybe you were the center of it, but it didn’t matter because either way was wrong. He acted like the two of us had just shared a joke, the kind you’d want to keep private except for the laughter. I worried that my boss and the other waitresses were getting the wrong idea about Stu and me.

Stu grabbed the check, stood up and tossed a tip on the table and, before he walked over to the cashier he said, “See you at home, dear,” as if it were perfectly natural for him to say so.

I hated Stu for talking to me like that and I knew that every time he did, he was chalking up a victory for himself. I was stupid and I didn’t know anything except that Stu was messing with me. I had never been anything else at their house except Jimmy’s girlfriend and up until a few weeks ago I had barely talked to Stu or his brothers.

“Isn’t that Jimmy’s brother?” my friend Cindy who waitressed with me asked one day. And when I said yes I didn’t even have to look at her to know that her eyebrows went up, like she was judging me in some way.

“It’s not what you think, Cindy,” I answered.

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

Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction Jessica Ch 8 He Made Me Nervous

Friday Fiction

Jessica

Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 8 of Jessica, a story about a nineteen-year-old woman who is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What Jessica wants most is to build a life with her boyfriend, Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When Jessica 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 8 – He Made Me Nervous.

I was mad when I left Jimmy’s house. I should have said something, but I lost my chance. I drove the ten-minute ride home in the quiet, no music, just the sounds of the car and I sulked, thinking somehow that Jimmy would be able to see me there being unhappy and call me to apologize. Even if he did nothing but call, just so that I could hear his voice saying “Hey Jes,” that would have been enough. Then I thought, maybe he wouldn’t call me that night, but maybe the next day he’d call and say, “Sorry about last night, baby.” I went to bed feeling hopeful.

The Diner opened at 6:00 am. I had to be there at 5:30 to help set up. I groaned when my alarm went off at 5:00 and I dragged myself out of bed thinking how stupid it was that I was getting up so early just to wait on a bunch of people drinking coffee and eating eggs and bacon and pancakes.

I had just enough time to shower and leave early enough to take my regular route to work, passing by Jimmy’s house. I was falling into a pattern of denial and submission.

I started to think how foolish it was for me to expect Jimmy to apologize. Apologize for what exactly? That would have been his argument if I confronted him about it. I thought back on the night and tried to remember exactly what he had said and done. Was there anything wrong with being quiet? I still felt the sting of hurt that he hadn’t kissed me and that he had barely talked to me while I was there. But was that enough to fight about? I started to wonder.

What had we said on the phone that day? What kind of plans had we made? Maybe Jimmy had things to do. I could almost feel myself reversing my thoughts, moving away from what I felt to think more about Jimmy. It was automatic, my change in perspective. “Jimmy must have a lot on his mind,” I thought. How stupid of me not to notice! I decided to call him as soon as it was a decent hour. I’d call before he went to work to see if he was okay.

I felt better because I had a plan. If Jimmy had a lot on his mind, it was up to me to draw him out, to throw some of his pile on me because I could take it. I was living practically all alone in my house with a mother who had been deserted just like me, but I was digging myself out of that mess and I felt strong about my plans to be with Jimmy as soon as I had enough money to make it. Before long, I felt sure that later when I talked to Jimmy, the sound of his voice alone would make me feel that everything was alright.

Just like every morning, I drove the route past Jimmy’s house and turned my head to see the comforting and familiar sight of his red truck in the driveway. But the space was empty. Jimmy’s car was missing again and my stomach knotted in a painful twist. I remembered the stack of rocks. I had just enough time to see if they were still there.

The rocks were there but something was different. I couldn’t think why. Were they in a different shape or were there just more rocks in the pile? I wish I had paid better attention the first time! I wanted to turn around and look at them again, but I had no time. I decided to check again after work. I would count them and try to figure it out. How could these rocks be important to anything? It seemed ridiculous to mention them, but I felt they meant something, that they were somehow connected to the other questions I had. Why had Jimmy said almost nothing to me the night before? Where was he going in the mornings?

The morning shift was extra busy. I needed to think, but I was consumed by the fast but meaningless pace of taking orders and delivering food. Just when the crowd thinned enough so I could catch my breath, Stu walked through the door.

I hadn’t seen Stu in a few weeks. This was his busy season. He worked longer hours in the spring and summer, building decks, and he didn’t spend much down time at their house. Probably spent his nights at the Jug, I thought, a bar in the borough. I thought it was strange for Stu to be coming into the Diner in the middle of the morning. I took a second look, just to make sure it was Stu and not Jimmy. When Stu saw which tables I was working, he came and sat at one of mine.

I don’t know why Stu made me nervous, but I think he got a thrill from seeing me sweat. I’d been with Jimmy for two years and had never been with anyone else. And now that I was out of school, I didn’t always know how to act around other guys, without Jimmy by my side. I thought it might have been good to have Stevie around, just to give me a point of reference, but Stevie, was long gone somewhere north.

If nothing else, at least I knew that around Stu I should try to act like things didn’t bother me. I walked over to Stu’s table. “Hey Stu,” I said as I handed him a menu. “Here for breakfast?” Stu grinned at me. His eyes went straight to mine and they crinkled as he looked at me, like he was trying to read something in me. I felt bare when he did that, but I did my best to stare back at him like I was challenging him to find something.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I’ll have some scrambled eggs and sausage, and some coffee first, please.” He grinned a nasty kind of smile, and I wondered if he knew something I didn’t know. I thought of Jimmy the night before and the rocks. I thought maybe Stu knew something. I wanted to know why Jimmy’s car was gone that morning, if Jimmy had gone out the night before, after I left. As I was bringing Stu’s coffee back to his table, I decided to ask.

“Thanks,” he said as I placed the coffee on the table. “You’re sure up early for these morning shifts,” he added. “What time do you have to be in here anyway?” I told him 5:30 and he whistled like that was something truly unbelievable. I felt somehow defensive, like what did he care what time I had to be anywhere? Before Stu came in I was glad for the break, glad for the chance to kick back for a few minutes. The owners didn’t mind when we did that, as long as we jumped up whenever someone new came in the door. This was my chance to ask Stu about Jimmy and the rocks.

Stu looked straight at me and said, “You must really have to rush in the mornings, don’t you, Jes?” And I said “Yeah, but it’s not that far a ride to work.”

“Oh yeah?” he asked. “Me, I’m not much of a morning person. I roll out of bed and I have just enough time to grab my stuff and jump in my truck and get to my job. I never have enough time to grab breakfast at home. I barely have time to get to where I need to go. You, though. You must be a morning girl, giving yourself lots of time to get up and shower and drive here without rushing. Is that right, Jes?”

“I guess so,” I answered. I wished then that someone new would come into the diner to get me away from Stu’s table. I didn’t care anymore about asking about Jimmy and the rocks.

Stu took a sip from his coffee and then he started up again. “I see you sometimes,” he told me. “I see you going by our house in the mornings on your way to work. Is that the best way to come here?” he asked. “I mean, do you come here to work that way to beat the traffic or something?”

I didn’t like that Stu was asking me these questions. It wasn’t that I had anything serious to hide, but I didn’t like that he had discovered my habit of checking on Jimmy. What business was it of his to know something that personal about me? I felt like Stu was seeing that I wasn’t totally sure that I knew everything about Jimmy. Or maybe he saw me as some kind of needy girl who wanted to see that Jimmy was in for the night after he was with me. I didn’t know myself exactly why I always drove past. But I didn’t think it was any of Stu’s business.

“Yeah, well, I like going that way,” I answered. After a minute I said, “I’ll go check on your eggs,” and he said, “Okay, Jes” all smooth and natural. The thing was, there was nothing really wrong with the way he was talking to me, but I didn’t like it. I brought Stu his eggs and gathered up the nerve to ask.

“Hey Stu,” I asked, feeling brave. “You ever see that pile of rocks outside your house?”

“Rocks?” he answered, a little fast, I thought, then caught himself. His eyes narrowed and he looked straight at me while he chewed. “There’s a stack of rocks at the edge of the road, right in front of your house,” I continued. “You’ve never noticed? I was just wondering if you put them there.” “I build decks, little girl. I don’t play with rocks. You should keep your eyes on the road, or someday you’ll crash that car into a big pile of rocks.” Then Stu shut me off and dug into his breakfast. I thought how strange it was that just minutes before he was barging into my life, asking his own 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

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.