The Stupid Boy and the Outsider Chapter 8
Jackie just relived her most embarrassing moment. It was more depressing than embarrassing in my opinion, but I guess it all depends on who you are. What do I say to something like that knowing that I was the one to cause it?
“I’m sorry,” I said. Geez, that was lame.
“You don’t have to apologize, it’s over, in the past, and we’re friends now.” Was she always this nice? “Last question,” she said as she reached for it.
Crap. I snatched it away before she could pick it up. “I think we’re done for today,” I said.
“But we only went through 9 questions and you didn’t answer one of them.” She had a small smile on her face.
“I know, but… it’s a stupid question.”
“Supposedly there aren’t stupid questions just stupid answers,” she said before snatching the paper back. I prepared for the worst. “Do you ever think about your real parents?” She read out loud. It looked like she was gonna cry or something.
“I told you it was a stupid question. You don’t have to answer it.” I took the paper away and crumpled it back up.
“Of course I don’t have to answer it. I mean we’re both supposed to answer it… and you obviously can’t.” Her eyes were wet, but she still managed to have a smile on her face. “Unless,” she said. “You answer that one question you didn’t answer earlier.”
“How about we just come up with another question?” I know that she knows how far I’ve gone. I never did anything but make out with Kristine.
Jackie rolled her eyes and asked, “What would you do with a million dollars?”
Good question. “Hmmm… I’d say buy a kazoo or harmonica, but you’re already getting those for my birthday.” She rolled her eyes again. “I’d buy a complete set of Jim Carey DVDs, a DVD player, a pinball machine, and a lifetime supply of cereal.”
“That was serious?” Of course I was serious! I just nodded my head and waited for her to answer. “I’d want to go somewhere like Europe, Rome maybe.” It looked like she wanted to say more, but was holding back.
“Anything else? I know it’s a lot of money to travel, but I doubt it’ll be a million dollars worth.”
She looked away from me and towards the sky. She let out a big sigh and said, “I don’t know maybe visit other places, donate some to charity… my old orphanage.” She got up and sat in the tire swing. “I remember the workers there being really nice. I never really talked to the other kids, but there was this one girl that always talked to me. She was really nice.
“Mrs. Abner was the owner of the orphanage, Warner Manor” she said with a smile on her face. “Her parents were the ones that started it. They bought a big house with like 5 rooms in it. They lived there in the house with the orphans. When Mrs. Abner took over she and her husband built five more rooms to house more children. She gave me my first book when I was three.”
“Three?” Now that’s just crazy.
“I didn’t read it, she’d read it to me.” That makes more sense. “I still have the book. It’s in my room. Sometimes my mom would come over and read to me.”
I gave her a weird look. “Your mom?”
“Yeah.” She let out a light laugh. “Like I’ve always told you, it’s not that my parents didn’t want me, they just couldn’t.” There were more tears in her eyes now. I got up and started to lightly push her on the swing.
“I thought your parents… you know.”
“Died?” She said it so calmly. “Yeah, they did, but they weren’t dead when I was three.”
I never really got the whole story. I just heard mom and dad talking about it once. All I got from that convo was that Jackie’s real parents died and she was adopted by the Mathews.
“Jackie,” Mrs. M called from the back door. “I’m going to the store do you kids need anything?”
“No thank you,” we both called out.
“Soooo…” I really didn’t know what to say. I wanted to know about how her parents died and why they would just dump their daughter to an orphanage, but I wasn’t about to ask her. I usually say stuff before thinking; I’m surprised I haven’t blurted it out yet.
“So, since we’re on this whole memory lane thing,” she started to say, “you wanna see my box?”
That was an odd question. “Your box?”
“Yeah.” She got out of the tire swing and pulled me into her house and up to her room. I sat down on her bed as she went into her closet and fished out a shoe box. She sat on the bed Indian style facing me with the box between us. “This is my box.”
“I see.” She laughed at took the lid off. There were a bunch of pictures, papers, and a small book. I picked up the book without thinking. “So this is the book?” She just nodded in response. It was one of those little books with half a sentence on each page. The word Thumbelina was printed across the top.
“I remember begging Mrs. Abner to teach me how to read. She started me on some work books and I’d go to school with the older kids in the study room.” She had a big smile on her face. She must have been proud to have learned how to read when she was so young.
“That explains why you’re always reading.”
“Well, my dad did work in a book store.” She reached into the box and pulled out a picture. It was of a man in his mid-twenties holding up a baby in his arms. They were standing in front of a book store. There was a sign in the window that read Leong’s Books and Coffee. “That’s my dad and me when I was one. Mrs. Abner told me that he loved books and took over that store when the owner left. I don’t think he ever changed the name.”
“So what happened to the book store now?”
“I don’t know, maybe someone else bought it and turned it into… a flower shop or something.” That must suck.
“Why couldn’t they…” I started asking before I could think, but I couldn’t finish my question. I really wanted to know why she was in that orphanage, but I knew it was rude. After all the stuff I said about her parents not wanting her, I don’t think I deserve the real story.
“They were really poor and I was a surprise,” she answered anyway. “I mean when you’re so poor that you can’t even afford a condom then you must be.” I think that was supposed to be a joke, but I didn’t find it funny.
“So how did your dad afford to buy a shop?”
“I said he took over, I didn’t say he bought it,” Jackie clarified. “He worked there for a long time, getting paid just enough to get by. The owner of the shop, Mr. Leong, wanted to retire. I’m not sure how much better or worse owning the shop was financially.” There was a long pause as I looked at the picture of Jackie and her dad in front of the shop. He looked pretty happy. “My mom was a waitress, but I don’t know where. My dad was going to pick her up from work late one night. He never showed up.” The tears were back, but it didn’t look like she was going to cry. There was just a blank expression on her face. “He got hit by a drunk driver and died on the way to the hospital. I was four.”
She reached in the box again and handed me a piece of paper. “What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s a letter my mom wrote me for my fifth birthday.” Fifth birthday? But she was five when she first got here.
“Read it.” So I did.
My dearest Jaclyn
If you’re reading this it means that it’s your fifth birthday. Happy birthday, baby girl. I love you so much and if your dad were here he’d say the same thing. Unfortunately, you reading this also means that I’m not there to wish you a Happy Birthday myself and that I won’t ever be able to anymore. I’m sorry baby girl, but I’ve left and I’m going to be with daddy.
You may not understand any of this now, but I know you will eventually. Just remember that we both love you. We always have and we always will. We never wanted to give you over to the orphanage and we never wanted to leave you, but you never get everything you want.
If there was one thing I would want you to learn from me it’s this, appreciate everything you have. Don’t take anything for granted. Things happen for a reason, maybe you’re meant to be adopted by a good family that can give you things that daddy and I couldn’t. In return they get a beautiful little girl with a heart of gold that they can love that will love them back.
I know you’ll never forget us, but we don’t want to hold you back from your new family. Love them as you’ve loved us. Be good baby girl and eventually we’ll see each other again.
I love you,
Is this a suicide letter to her daughter? How sick is that?
I heard Jackie sniff and I looked up. She was really crying now. There was no sound but the light sniff every so often, but the tears were flowing all the same. What do I do? I’ve never been in a situation like this. I moved behind her and gave her a hug from behind. She began to openly weep as she turned to burry her face in my shirt.
After a while the sobbing ended and she sat up. “Now that is my most embarrassing moment,” she said trying to lighten the mood as she wiped away her tears. “Crying like a baby over a letter.”
“It’s not just a letter Jackie. It’s more than that.”
She scooted back so that she was leaning on the wall. She hugged her knees to her chest as she rested her chin on them. “I know. I think of them everyday, but I never talk about it.”
“Why not? Isn’t that what your therapy sessions are for?”
She rolled her eyes. “My counseling sessions are just to talk about things, anything, not just about me being adopted.”
“So who do you talk to about this stuff?”
“Like I said, I never talk about it. You’re the first.” Wow. “Thanks for listening.”
This whole week I’ve been feeling a little jealous that Berna and Kevin were getting closer to Jackie than I was. I know it’s irrational. I mean I don’t own her or anything, she’s allowed to have other friends, but it just got me really jealous. Now here we are and she’s sharing her deepest secret with me. Damn I must really be a jerk.