Believe it or not, I survived the afternoon faith (or rather, lack thereof) intact. It wasn’t easy. This guy was convincing, but I’ve had practice with convincing, manipulative guys. I’d told him my sister dilemma to keep his mind off of converting me, and it worked! Now he was trying his hardest to figure out how to get me to forgive my dad and sister.
I ignored it, mostly. At least he wasn’t hounding me about realizing that “God wants to be my father” which was seriously creepy. When I finally went inside, I’d learned how to skateboard pretty well, and my mom was there. That was a huge surprise. The second surprise was the girl standing next to her.
“Mom, nice to see you,” I started, as civilly as I could with my arch-enemy giving me a look of disdain. I thought about adding a “Where have you been all my life?” but I figured that wouldn’t go over very well no matter how true it rang.
“Well, Jessie, do you remember your sister?” she prodded me.
I personally would have preferred a heartfelt apology for ignoring me for the past however many years I’d been alive, but there was something threatening about Abby’s presence.
Determined to not let anything scare me, I actually met her glance. “Abby, I presume?” It was dripping with sarcasm, and may have had a little bit of anger underneath, but apparently it takes more than that to shake her.
She grinned widely back at my scowl. “You must be Jessie. I saw you out there playing with that cute guy down the street.” Strike one. “You are so lucky!” Strike two. Didn’t she know anything? but she kept on going. “I can’t wait to meet him!”
That was decidedly strike three, but I had this strange feeling that Chad was waiting outside. I had only come in for a drink of water, anyway. I fought to control my tone. “So you’ll be here for what, a week?” I asked, hoping it wouldn’t be that long.
“Uh, didn’t your dad tell you, Jessie?” Mom seemed annoyed that her ex-husband didn’t still follow orders. Of course, if they were important orders, I might understand, but “Tell me what?”
“Abby’s going to be living here.”
I was silent for a moment, then I walked over to the window and glanced out to see if the thunderbolt had been literal or figurative. It was only figurative, so I opened the door and walked out. Chad was waiting, sure enough, and I was reminded that I was still thirsty. At this point, though, it would have to wait.
“Hey,” he jerked his chin my way slightly. “Who are those people who went into your house?”
I should have known he had already seen them. “One is my mom, and one is my dad’s daughter who is for some reason staying with us.”
He nodded slowly. “Is that the point where you walked out?” Why did he have to understand so much? I merely nodded back. “So you don’t know why?”
“I don’t care why!” I stated strongly. He frowned.
“What do you care about, Jessie? All day long, you’ve told me that you don’t care about my God, you don’t care about your destiny, you don’t care about your dad, you don’t care about your technique, and now you don’t care about why your sister might be at your house.”
“Chad, didn’t you listen to a word I told you?” I could feel myself imploding as I talked, which isn’t hard since it starts on the outside. My hands were shaking, my face was crumpling, I could feel hot tears starting down my face and I knew that they would only get faster. He was safe to let it out on, though. “I poured out my heart about how I feel replaced and intimidated by this girl, how she is a thief of everything I value with my dad, how she made me a nothing, how she is my enemy, and when I tell you that she’s here, taking over my mom and ready to take the whole house, you ask me if I care about her and make me sound like the bad guy! Chad, you have no idea how bad she makes me feel already, because she is the epitome of perfection to my dad. Every time I’m around her, I am threatened by her because I realize that I could never add up. It wouldn’t be so bad, though, if it weren’t for the fact that I know my dad realizes too. Do you even understand where I’m coming from? How could you understand and ask questions like that? I thought you were my friend! Or did she already get to you?”
Sure enough, despite the fact that I was almost shaking too hard to stand, tears were speeding down my face (which was now a total wreck, I just knew it), and I was obviously losing control of myself, he stood there calmly, almost unconcernedly. It was as if he were waiting for me to say something, but I had no idea what that something could be.
“No, she probably didn’t get to you yet. She’s determined though, and when she’s determined, it’s dangerous to stand in her way. Why can’t you understand anything, Chad? She has determined to undermine any relationship I have, or just divert all the good attention to her and the bad attention to me. She always does it. I don’t even know her, but every time I see my dad, if I visibly try to be like her, he’ll pretend he likes me and he might treat me right. Then he’ll promise to call or something, and by the time a week rolls around, he does call to give me a point by point outline of my faults that Abby has gathered from what he told her. She always turns him against me, and I don’t have enough of a relationship with him to lose. I don’t have a relationship with him because she always nips it in the bud. That can’t be right, can it? But you won’t answer a word I say. Why do you have to be so heartless? Can’t you see that I falling apart?”
He still didn’t answer or move or give any other indication that my words were moving him. I stopped myself for a moment to ensure that he was breathing, but it was a very short moment.
“You honestly don’t care, do you? You’re the person that I thought, if anyone would care it would be him. I mean, you seemed awful sincerely worried when you were telling me to repent, but I guess you really don’t care about me in the least. I mean really, actions speak louder than words. And you’re getting all down on me because I don’t care? Don’t you guys have a word for people like that? What is your problem, Chad? I have a genuine problem, can’t you tell? All that’s wrong with you is that you’re ignoring me. I’m in trouble. Aren’t you going to try to help me at all? Maybe tell me a possible solution? Be a friend? Chad, what are you here for if this is all you’re going to do. Dang, you feel like my dad.”
His eyebrow moved.
“Is that what you wanted me to say, then? Fine, you feel like me dad. You can pass off this feeling of being someone who will be special and good to me, but when I need you, you won’t do anything until I say your magic phrase, which you will conveniently forget to tell me. So when I’m in deep trouble, you do nothing. Well, I’m glad I found out now.” I half-turned away, then I remembered what was in the house. I couldn’t go forward, I couldn’t go back, and I definitely couldn’t keep standing. I sank, trembling, down to the curb, dropped my head in my lap and sobbed. I felt him sit next to me, but I was determined not to fall into his trap again.
“Jessie,” he said quietly, as the force of my crying lessened, “I’m not your dad. I’m still right here. You came to talk to me because you knew that I would still be right here when you were done, and I am. I’m not out to hurt you or side with Abby, and I’m not going to be turned against you. Now, will you take my word for it and be friends, or will you insist that actions speak louder than words and wait for me to prove it?”
He wasn’t teasing me, I realized, so I looked toward him. “Okay, fine,” I managed in a small voice. “We can be friends again.”
He smiled broadly. “That’s great. I was hoping you’d say that. Hey, there’s someone else going into your house, and it’s getting dark, so you probably better go.” He stood and held out his hand which I took, letting him pull me up.
“Thanks, Chad,” I offered with as much of a smile as I could muster. “And whatever I said to you,” I didn’t finish my attempt at an apology because he cut me off.
“You were just blowing off steam. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon?”
“Sure,” I smiled much more easily this time before walking slowly toward the house. It was my house, but with Abby inside indefinitely, I knew it wouldn’t stay that way much longer. For all Chad’s counseling, he couldn’t break down the root of the problem. I hate the girl on the other side of that door.
*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious. And resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*
Next part next Friday! Title suggestions, names for various characters, or other questions, comments, or concerns can be left below, or you can e-mail me at the address on my contact page.
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