My Favorite Time Consumer

So, I’m writing again. Maybe it constantly fills my thoughts, and it might possibly distract me from daily tasks like, you know, eating, but I think the end product is worth it!

Here’s an excerpt from my most recent revamping of a great, original story so you can see if you feel the same way! Enjoy!

~Ari

Dear Jason,

Where are you, baby? I really need you to be okay right now. I haven’t washed the syrup off yet. I probably never will.

Why were we so stupid to never specify that your dad’s last name is MacNair, and mine’s is Jacobs? I mean, I can’t blame the director.

Actually, I can.

She is licensed to take care of you all day long, but when a strange guy walks in and says he’s picking up a naïve, beautiful, trusting 3 year old and gives her his identification, she doesn’t even use the resources she has to check out his background!

Just based on the fact that he is the father of someone who is permitted to pick you up, she trusted you to an abusive, hate-filled disgrace of a man who actually has a restraining order filed. In her office.

Just to make sure this doesn’t happen, you know?

Jason, my little baby, I spent three years saving you from your father, but I never thought to prepare you for mine.

Don’t make him mad. He isn’t like Chris. He can’t be appeased, and I wouldn’t let you do that anyway. He just wants to hurt you because he knows that it’ll hurt me.

I really need to hear you lisp my name again, sweetie! Just this once, I wish karma would pay me back!

I’ve given up so much and done so many things for you, for my mom, even for Tony before I knew him.

It wouldn’t be fair for the universe to not even consider paying me back, just to see you, baby!

No, not just to see you. To see you safe. To see you safe, in your bed, surrounded by the people you love, regardless of their varying levels of affection for you.

There’s not a lot of love here without you. You were what holds us together!

Chris hates me and hates the fact that I’m keeping his secret, and that’s destroying his marriage. Tony is just a mess, and he needs constant attention, which means no one has time for them self, which means everyone’s a mess.

Without an adorable three year old to lift our spirits and lisp away our troubles, we’re not going to make it, Jase. Someone’s going to have to give, and I hope it’s my mom, because I could never leave her in a situation like this.”

Meredith paused, pen above the paper, unsure of how to continue.

Her lip quivered, and the pen dropped as her head dropped onto her desk.

“I miss you, Jason!” she whispered brokenly. “Please come home!”

“Ah, Meredith?” A voice just inside her door made her look up.

Oh, PS, the title of this one is going to be “Echoes” at the moment. I like it. What do you guys think?

My Sister, Abby (Part 28)

“Chad, we need to talk,” I reminded him as I caught up with him after morning chapel.  We were free until lunch, so I figured that it was as good a time as any.  He nodded, but he looked a bit preoccupied.  “Well, whenever works, let me know.”

He grinned the grin I’d missed.  “Thanks for being flexible, Jess!  We can catch up after lunch, okay?  I’m looking for Sean.”

That made sense.  “Oh, of course!”

“Oh, and do you mind if Abby is around too?  I want to tell you both the whole story, but I don’t really want to tell it more than once.”  The way he said it, I could tell that he was trying to figure out where Abby and I stood now, and I thought of how much had changed.

“Yeah, that would be fine.  After all, I’d never hear the end of it if she missed out on anything important.”  I smiled, hoping for a grin back.

I wasn’t disappointed.  “I see some things never change,” was his only comment.  It made me rethink our all-important conversation, though.  If he was happy that some things hadn’t changed, did that mean he wanted to just stay friends forever?

I decided to ignore that thought until we could talk, and instead I went roller blading with Melanie, my counselor.

“It sounds like you have an interesting family, just from your testimony last night,” she mentioned, and I realized that this was going to be the private conversation she had warned us about.

“Interesting doesn’t start to describe it,” I answered, wondering exactly what she would ask.

“I gathered that your parents aren’t together?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah, that’s putting it mildly.”  She didn’t answer, so I kept going reluctantly.  “Well, I have one older brother, Nathan.  He’s in his twenties, and he moved out of the house as soon as he turned eighteen.  Abby is a year older than me, but we have different moms.”

“Wait a second,” the predictable response, “do you and Nathan have different moms too, then?”

“No.” I answered shortly.  Then, because she was waiting, I kept going.  “I was sort of a surprise to my dad, because he’d been intending to divorce my mom for a little over a year, and then I came along and really messed up the order of his kids.  So he just kept Abby and her mom a secret for eight years, then destroyed everyone’s lives.  Abby’s mom was arrested last year, and my dad has never been awarded custody of any of his kids, so to keep her out of the foster care system, my mom took her into our house.  She gave her Nathan’s room and my attention, and essentially replaced both of her kids for her husband’s girlfriend’s kid.”

“That must have been hard,” was Melanie’s only comment.

“So yeah, my family is interesting.  My dad is in jail right now because he tried to kidnap us, he was dealing drugs, and he tried to kill us.  I’m pretty sure that was all that was on his record just then.”

“Well then, tell me about Chad.”  She didn’t know what she was asking for.

“How long do you have?” I asked, dead serious.

She laughed.  Predictable and excusable.  “However long it takes.  I’ll be here all week,” she added with a wink.

I cracked up and almost wiped out, but Chad’s lessons had trained my feet better than I remembered.  “That’s nice to know.  But anyway, Chad.  He was my neighbor  last year.  I wanted to hear what his school was like, because last year was my first year in high school.  We started hanging out, and he was teaching me to skateboard, and you know the story of how he got me to go to church with him.  Then we just hung out all the time, and he was trying to convince me that I would be able to deal with all my stuff better if I knew Jesus, and eventually I realized that he was right, and you know that story.  Then he got taken away from his grandparents because some court decided that his mom and new step dad were better parents, so that happened, and this is the first time we’ve seen him since.  Or even talked to him, for that matter.”

“That must have been hard,” was her only comment.

“Yeah, well, I got over it.  Now he’s here, and we’re going to talk after lunch and clear things up, so that’s all cool.”

“So how close are you to your mom?”  That was unexpected, I have to admit.

“Um, after Abby came, any relationship I had with her was over.  She sort of reversed us.”

“What do you mean, reversed you?” she asked quizzically.

“Abby got treated like her daughter, I got treated like her ex-husband’s daughter.  Nothing has changed as far as that goes.”

“So how are you and Abby with each other?  I mean, that must be awkward,” Melanie commented matter-of-factly.

“It’s awkward when people ask questions, but since Chad left we’ve been pals, and lately we’ve accepted the fact that we’re technically sisters, so we’re actually on good terms with each other.”

“That’s good to hear,” Melanie replied.  Apparently sensing that I was done offering up facts having to do with my family history, she asked about Nathan next.

“Oh, Nathan and I are best friends!  He occasionally shows up on the weekends and takes me somewhere else just for fun, and we text all the time.  He actually talked my mom out of punishing me for a couple B’s last year in a really hard class, so we’re pretty close.”

“That’s great that you have at least one person you can be close to,” she answered with a smile.

There was every possibility that Chad could be added to that list by the end of the week, but I kept my mouth shut about that until we could actually talk to each other privately.

 

*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*

———

Next part next Thursday!  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.

If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk!  Every little bit helps!

My Sister, Abby (Part 27)

Once we had moved into our cabin, things started moving quickly.  We had to go to an orientation for all the rules for the upcoming week, we met our team leader, and all of that stuff.  We played an all-camp game, and then we went back to our cabin to get ready for the evening service.  Abby seemed a little off-balance, but I decided, for once, to not try to force anything out of her.

Our counselor hadn’t made any such promises, however.  After the evening service, which of course, was all about salvation since it was the first night of the week, we went back to our cabin for bed.  Before we went to sleep, our counselor had us sit in a circle and go around talking about how we got saved.  Abby looked at me like I’d set it all up, but I hadn’t anticipated this.  I was sort of nervous myself, because I didnt’ like talking in front of people, and I wasn’t even sure if my story counted.  I was halfway around the circle of nine, and as each of the four before me, including our counselor, told their story of how they grew up with Christian parents and got saved and baptized (which I’d never even heard of) at four or five, I was getting really nervous.

My counselor finally smiled at me.  “What about you, Jessie?”

I decided to try for a laugh before I disappointed them all, so I started, “Well, there was this guy,” and it worked.  While they laughed, I set myself up to be told I couldn’t be a Christian and took a deep breath.  “Actually, I wasn’t raised by Christian parents.  This guy was basically my only friend, and he was always talking about God.  So this one day, my dad showed up while we were talking, and he wanted me to get into his car, but I didn’t want to because he wasn’t supposed to be there int he first place.  Chad was right there behind me, and my dad literally threw both of us into the back of the car and took off, but somewhere in all that, I was tricked into promising to go to church with Chad.  Abby saw us and called the police, who set up a roadblock, and when my dad tried to avoid it, he ended up totaling the car, and Chad and I were both in the hospital for a few days.  After we finally got home and got our stitches out and our respective female guardians actually let us out of the house, he claimed his promise, and I went to church with him.  I liked it, so I kept going, and I liked the idea of God being loving and always there, and all of that.  I just wasn’t sure about whether I wanted to make a long-term committment, but one day, I realized that I wanted everything to make sense and fall into place, and it did, so I told God that I trusted him and I wanted to be his child.”

It was quiet for a minute, then my counselor smiled.  “That’s great, Jess!  Isn’t it awesome how God plans events and times perfectly with each other?”
 
I nodded, a little surprised.  Abby’s turn was next.  I waited expectantly, and she flashed me a smile.
 
“Actually, I’ve been going to church with Jessie for a while now, and I’ve been a Christian all my life, so yeah, that’s about it.”
 
“But was there a specific time in your life when you remember actually choosing God?  You don’t have to answer right now; we can talk privately later if you feel more comfortable that way, but I just want you to think about it.  Actually, I want to talk privately with each of you this week, so just keep that in mind.  Julie?  Your turn.”
 
Abby looked relieved that she hadn’t pressed the issue, and I could see her already planning out her arguments for whenever their private conversation was, but I’d seen our counselor’s determination already, just in the game, and I had a feeling Abby wouldn’t be leaving camp without having her confidence shaken at least once.

*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*

———

Next part next Thursday!  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.

If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk!  Every little bit helps!

My Sister, Abby (Part 26)

I looked where Abby was staring, and my mouth dropped open.  “Unbelievable!” I whispered to Abby.

She grinned.  “C’mon.”

I hung back as she started easing her way into the aisle.  “Wait, Abby.  Everyone else here knows him too.  Don’t make a big scene!”

“Oh yeah, I forgot,” she grinned.  “You might want to talk to him alone first, right?”

I rolled my eyes.  “Really, Abby?  I’m coming already!”  This time I joined her in the mass of teens all moving toward the door.  Thankfully it was less than three minutes before we got off the bus.  Even more importantly, he was still there.  Abby and I casually strolled in his direction, but his back was turned and he didn’t see us.

“Okay, I give up,” I muttered to my faithful side-kick when we were still far enough away that it would look awkward to call to him.  “Run for it!”

She laughed at me as we both took off, running for our lives, and quickly covered the remaining distance before crashing into him with the appropriately named “tackle-hug”.

He was startled since, blind as he was, he still hadn’t seen us coming, but as soon as he saw who we were, he broke out in a huge smile and hugged us back fiercely.  “Jess!  Abby!  Where’d you guys come from?”

“The bus,” Abby answered flippantly as if this were just another conversation instead of being the first time we’d seen our friend in months.

It was Chad.

Abby was talking as if her voice box had gotten stuck at “on”.  “Hey, if I didn’t know any better, I’d accuse you and Jess and God of conspiracy, but Jess didn’t know either, so I guess that ruins that theory.  You didn’t know, did you, Jessie?  No, I could totally tell you couldn’t because of the look on your face when you saw who it was.  Besides, you said it was unbelievable, and that was really funny because you’d just finished telling me about how you trusted God to bring Chad back.  Then he did, and you couldn’t believe it!  Oh, that was the funniest thing I’d ever seen!  But where have you been all this time, Chad?  Did you not have reception, because Jessie sent you a ton of texts.  Or maybe you were just busy, but I don’t think you could be that busy, especially with what good friends you and Jessie are.  You guys are still friends, right?  What am I saying?  Of course you’re still friends!  Jessie, I wish you’d stop me.  I think I’ve just blown poor Chad’s mind just by how fast I’ve been talking.  We’re actually pretty good friends now, you know.  I guess that’s one good thing that happened since you left.  Actually, it’s the only good thing, but Jess will fill you in on that I’m sure.  What brings you here?  Are we ever going to see you again after this week?  You are staying for the week right?  You aren’t, like, leaving are you?”  She stopped short, thankfully, because I was getting dizzy just trying to keep up with her.

Chad shook his head violently.  “Nice to see you, Abby!  How have you been?  And you, Jess?”
I grinned as well as I could.  “Fine, I guess.  What about you?”

He shrugged.  “Long story, you know?”  I made a face while I nodded.  “Let me guess; that look means you’re nodding, but you don’t really know.”

“Not to sound like my sister, but it’s hard to understand anything about your life over that past year when I haven’t heard from you.”

“Yeah, about that.  We can talk later,” he said apologetically.

He looked really sorry, like it wasn’t really his fault, and I forgave him on the spot.  I think my face sort of reflected my internal decision, because he smiled happily, and Abby frowned like she was disappointed.

“So, you are here for the week?” I asked after an awkward pause.  He grinned and nodded.

“And, at the end of the week,” he was starting to say when the rest of his youth group caught sight of us and made a lot of noise as they stampeded across the parking lot.

I frowned now as Abby and I stepped back to make room for the crowd.  “He better finish that sentence,” I threatened no one in particular.  Abby grinned.

“Or what?  You’ll send him back where he came from?”

“Never!” I exclaimed.  “This kid isn’t getting away from me again, ever!”

“I thought so,” Abby said, looking satisfied.  Too satisfied.

“Abby, why are you so happy about that?” I asked suspiciously.

Her blush didn’t change my suspicion at all.  “You know, because it would be nice to have him around again!”

I pursed my lips.  “I thought so.”

*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*

———

Next part next Thursday!  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.

If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk!  Every little bit helps!

My Sister, Abby (Part 25) (For Real)

There were tons of conversations like that in the following months, but Abby continued to argue that there was no way she could ever trust a God who could let our dad be himself and take our only friend away.  She ignored the way we had plenty of friends from youth group, including our college-aged youth leader, Sean.  There were sometimes I felt like joining her, you know?  It felt like I’d been betrayed by the one person, besides Nathan, of course, that I really trusted.

The past months had been rather long, actually.  We’d managed to come through our first year at this school; well, barely survived is probably a more accurate description.  It was July, and we were on our way to a church camp with our youth group.  Abby had agreed to come after Tiffany showed her a picture of the guy she’d met there last year.  I think Abby took more make-up than I took clothes, but that’s totally beside the point.  The point is that we were stuffed into the back of a bus full of fifty excited kids talking about what God did in their lives last year.

That really bugged Abby, apparently.  I mean, it makes sense to some degree.  I mean, from her perspective, what did God in her life last year?  Sent her mom to jail, sent her to my house, sent our dad to jail, gave her a totally cute friend, and then jerked him away.  Oh, and turned me into an annoying Jesus freak.  So I get it, but she signed up for church camp.  What did she really expect?

“Jess, are they ever going to stop?” she asked under her breath when we were almost to the camp.

I grinned at her, remembering what Tiffany had told me.  “Not a chance.  Just wait until they’re on the way back!”

She half growled under her breath.  “What am I doing here?  Why did I let her talk me into this?”

I just sat there waiting for her to finish her rant, but at the end, she tossed in a new question.

“Why am I going to a camp with you guys for a belief I don’t share with you guys?”

“Because I think you really want to share our belief,” I offered promptly.

“What makes you think that?” she demanded.  Great, now she was getting all defensive.

“Because you’ve said something like that in the past, I guess,” I admitted, going with the plain, hard truth.  Sure enough, she bristled up immediately.

“Why would I say that?  You know how I feel!”

“Actually,” I answered cautiously, knowing it was going to cost me, “I don’t know how you feel for real.  I only know what you’ve told me.  So, let’s clear this up once and for all.  How do you feel about God?”

She glared at me for a long moment, then cleared her face.  “Okay, so I tell you what.  We’ll have this conversation now, and then you won’t initiate any more conversations of the kind.  Deal?”

“Sure,” I shrugged.  I mean, if she was ready to talk, she would be the one initiating the conversation anyway.  “Are you planning on answering my question now?” I asked after she didn’t keep talking.

“Whatever.  I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ve already heard the whole thing, but whatever.  I don’t trust God, I can’t believe that he loves me, and pretty much the only thing I do believe from your religion is that he is like a father.  You know what that means.  Besides, he took Chad away, and he was the only friend I ever really had.”

“Why are you so unable to have this conversation without mentioning Chad?” I asked.

“Because they’re connected in my mind, I guess.”  I hadn’t been expecting an honest answer, but I realized that she was just going to answer anything so that this would be the last time we talked like this.

I took a deep breath.  “I think I finally get it, Abby.  I figured out why we took Chad’s leaving so differently.”

“Why?” she asked, finally interested.

“Because you chose to never trust God since he was responsible for taking Chad away, but I realized that I had to trust him since he was the only one who could bring Chad back,” I summarized my thoughts into the single sentence while we turned into the camp parking lot.

Abby sighed and looked past me out the window.  I sighed too and was thinking about how I could have said anything better when she sat straight up and stared at something out the window.

I rolled my eyes and was thinking that she’d just found her camp boyfriend when she broke into my thoughts with the startling comment, “Based on your last remark, Jess, the bus driver for that church over there is God!”

*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*

———

Next part next Thursday!  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.

If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk!  Every little bit helps!

My Sister, Abby (Part 25)

PSYCH!

big smile

I know…

facepalm

Well, thing is, I’m very busy.  Way too busy for the kind of

celebration

celebration that the 25th post deserves, so I’ll post it later on.  Deal?  I mean, that’s cool right?

I certainly hope so.  See you next week…I’ll have awesome stories of weird people and practical jokes…or just the next excerpt of My Sister, Abby.

Which do you prefer?

Tweet me @randomness1228 if you enjoyed this post for a change using the hash tag #IMissRandomness

If you want me to do a make-up post next week in addition to the already planned Thursday post, use the hash tag #doubletrouble

If randomness wins, there will be a large celebration.   If trouble wins, Jessie will get in big trouble in both posts and there will be frequent references to those two incidences in future posts.

Deadline for tweets is 6 pm MDT.

 

My Sister, Abby (Part 24)

The smallest words have the biggest meanings.

I thought of that after I’d faced a confused Abby later that night.  I’d finally worked up the nerve to ask her what I was certain would become ‘the fatal question’.  “You never did answer, Abby.  You’ve stood there, you’ve flustered and babbled a bit, but you didn’t answer my question.  Have you ever done what they keep saying in Sunday school and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”

Abby huffed.  “That’s not really the point, Jess.  I wouldn’t mind having someone controlling the chaos, the way the youth leader keeps saying we’re afraid of having someone in charge.  That’s not the point, so don’t start unloading that on me.”

“What is it then?  Can I help?  I mean, what’s stopping you, if you want Jesus to be your Lord?” At this point, she wasn’t the only one confused.

She sat down next to me on her bed.  “You already understand, though.  And if it didn’t stop you, I guess you’d be the one with the answers, huh?”

I nodded and waited silently.  My heart was racing, and I made a mental note to send Chad a final text so he couldn’t read about how grateful I was that he beat back all the nerves to talk to me.  That was sarcasm.

Abby took a deep breath.  “Jess, our dad sucks.  You know that.  But he thinks he’s perfect.  He’s in jail awaiting sentencing, and he is perfectly convinced of his innocence.”  I knew where she was going with it, and she probably saw that.  Her eyes dropped to her lap and watched her hands wring each other for a moment until, as if on impulse, she jerked herself up to meet my eyes with her pain filled eyes as she spat out the sentence through the tears that hadn’t formed yet.

“If I were to do all they said, and get an eternal friend and guide and know the person in control, I’d have to be adopted into God’s family.  If my dad was a total jerk, but he thinks he’s perfect, why do I want to get an eternal, all-powerful father who has convinced billions of people over the centuries of his so-called perfection?”

I took a deep breath.  “What’s the alternative?  I mean, I haven’t been destroyed, all the people at youth group are so much happier than you, what’s to lose?”

“What about Chad?  He was a Christian.  That didn’t stop him from getting taken across the country when he didn’t want to.”

“I don’t know, Abby.  Part of knowing the person in control is trusting that he’s doing it right.  After all, like you said, he’s all-powerful.  It’s not like we can change what he’s doing.  That’s not an option, so we’re left with two: we can fight pointlessly, or we can trust him and wait to see the beautiful outcome.”  I had no idea where those words came from, but they seemed to fit perfectly in this conversation.  I sent up a silent prayer of thanks, which was a habit our youth leader had challenged us to make last month.

“Jess, why did you trust him?” Abby asked.

“Trust who?  God, Chad, Dad?” I winced at the last two, but I didn’t know which she was talking about.

She rolled her eyes.  “I know you didn’t trust Dad, so I wouldn’t ask that.  Why did you choose to trust God?”

I thought for a moment.  What point had it been where I decided to trust God?  “I guess, because we’re already reliant on him for everything,” I started, “it was easy to build on that and trust him for larger things when I realized that he was already really in control of them anyway.  I mean, if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have oxygen right now, we could spin out of orbit and crash into the sun, but that’s not the situation.  Do you see what I mean?”

“That’s, uh, something to think about,” Abby said slowly.

“Actually, Abby,” I cut in suddenly, “it happened when I realized that he wasn’t lying.”  I waited for that to sink in.  To me, not her.  It amazed me every time I thought about it.  “He wasn’t lying, so I could trust him.  Now, if you want me to leave, I’m going to bed, but I want to ask you a question first.”

“Nothing’s stopped you yet tonight,” Abby said sarcastically.

“Abby, what are you afraid will happen if you let go of the twig holding you on the cliff of sin and drop into God’s arms?”

When she didn’t answer, I left her room quietly, got ready for bed, and prayed hard for her until I fell asleep thinking how much hinged on trust, and what a small word it was in comparison.

*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious.  Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*

———

Next part next Thursday!  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.

If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk!  Every little bit helps!