J.J.’s Journal: Part Eight

As J.J.’s visit to her mother’s reunion ends, she reflects upon her trip and her first brush with being genuinely attracted to a young man

July 15

6:49 A.M.

I’m up before everyone else in here. Marnie, Dee, Dakota, and Madison are still sleeping. Dakota and Madison are staying in our room these last nights at Gresham Hall so that we can all be together. The others stayed up later than I did. I could still hear them talking when I felt myself dozing off last night after I hung up from talking on the phone with my mother.

I need to get out of this bed soon. She’s coming over here to Waverly House this morning to hang me up on the cross about kissing Teddy on the Quad. I don’t know what kind of radar she has, but I declare, if I’m out of line anywhere on earth; somehow, someway, she finds out about it. It almost makes me want to quit trying anything, and just go ahead and tow the line.

But that would be too much like right.

Last night, she rang me up and got started in on me. She was calling me from inside her bathroom. I could tell that’s where she was because I could hear water and that told me she was in there with the shower running to keep Daddy from hearing what she was saying. My mother tends to keep stuff like this just between us because he can’t handle things like this with me. He would make a great big deal out of it: make her put me on lockdown, threaten to kill Teddy, everything. My mother, she just sticks to the point, calls me a harlot or something equally scandalous, and moves on.

But while she was all over me about what I’d done and where, (It was the second time she’d caught me kissing in a gazebo. The first time I was twelve and with Tommy.) she asked me if I had a thing for gazebos, if I thought Teddy could kiss, and if I enjoyed it this time. That’s her way. She throws monkey wrenches like that into situations with me and her all the time.

I was sleepy and caught off guard, so I said yes when she asked me, but, I wasn’t lying. I wanted to kiss him when we did it and it felt really good. However, I am glad that we didn’t keep doing it in light it turns out we had an audience. I still don’t know how she saw me or where she was at the time.

Teddy has been nice to me ever since we first met that night he snuck into our bedroom with his friends to bring us something to eat. He’s been so considerate, and he’s really quite handsome. I hope he understands that he can only come so close. I still don’t want a boyfriend no matter how kind or cute.

I have to call him this morning and tell him that he can’t sneak up into the room to visit any more while I’m here. One thing I also definitely do not want is Jennifer Hart embarrassing me to death by saying something to him about it. She told me to tell him to quit it, or she would tell him to stop it if I didn’t. I guess, when you really think about it, it really isn’t too ladylike to be entertaining boys in your bedroom even if you are just talking. Not to mention that it’s against school and parent policy.

Maybe I shouldn’t have kissed him. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as one of those signals my mother says I send out. Come to think of it, that was probably a red flag. When my mother gets here, I’ll ask her what she thinks about it. We can talk about things like that fairly rationally. I’m pretty sure she’s only upset about me kissing in public, not that I was kissing. But she’ll go there about the signal thing too.

I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon to get my ankle x-rayed again to see if I broke anything when I fell. It’s still pretty swollen. I hope Dr. Irvine will be able to get a good picture of the bone this time. She says I can’t put any weight on it until after the tests. I’m not used to being so still, but it was my fault that I had the accident, so I’ll just have to deal with it until times and my ankle get better.

I wonder how Pa is this morning and if he’s giving them any trouble over at the hospital. He can be a little mean when he isn’t feeling well. I hope my parents let me go to see him today even though I’m on the crutches. It seems strange, but I haven’t spoken to my grandfather directly since he came here to Gresham Hall on Saturday, and now it’s Monday. He came to see me on Saturday afternoon, but I was asleep.

I’m glad we’re staying here at Gresham Hall for another few days, until Pa gets out of the hospital. Originally we were going from here to his house for a week before he got sick and had to go to the hospital yesterday. I really wasn’t looking forward to doing time at Briarwood, my grandfather’s home.

The best part about being there is riding over the fields on my horse, Triple J. It’s a lovely estate, outside, that it is. I feel so restricted when I’m in the main house.  It has too many rooms. If it were mine, I’d knock out some walls and open up the floor plan so that there were more larger spaces to let in more light. Then I could kind of flow through it rather than going room to room to room, opening and closing doors. And there would definitely be a Jacuzzi in the solarium. As it is, you have to go like a maze, and it’s sort of dark even in the daytime.

The furnishings are antiques: expensive, tasteful, stark, and rigid, just like my grandfather. I think if my grandmother had lived it would have been different, warmer. Since it’s just had my grandfather and Walter as its principal residents all these years, it lacks a woman’s touch. Once he gets out of the hospital, we’ll still have to go there, but maybe not for so long. For the time that we’ll be there, my mother will be opening rooms, windows, doors, and putting her woman’s touch on everything. Pa says he likes it when my mother comes home.

Well, I’d better get up and try to take a shower so I can be out of the way of everyone else. If I wait much longer, my mother will be up here trying to help me again like she did yesterday, and I’ll be dying a thousand deaths all over again today.

Until later,

J.

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July 15

6:57 P.M.

Everybody else is out on the Quad messing around. I came up here after dinner to be by myself to write since I still can’t do too much.

So far, it’s turned out to be a pretty good day. It didn’t have to be when you consider how perilously it started.

By the time my mother arrived, I was showered and dressed. She came upstairs, put the other girls out, and asked that our breakfast be brought up to my room so that we could talk privately. I knew then that it was going to be deep. Right off the bat, she asked me how I could be out on the Quad, in broad daylight, kissing a boy I had only known for less than two days.

Okay now, honest to God, I thought I was only thinking it, but it turns out that I said it.

The words, “You accepted a proposal of marriage from a man that you had known for less than two days.” actually came out of my mouth in response to what my mother asked me.

I thought my ears were lying, but the look on my mother’s face told me that they weren’t.

I could not believe that I had said it, and I immediately put my hands over my mouth like I could stop it or take it back, but it was too late. My whole life flashed before my eyes, and I just knew that my number was up. She’s never hit me, but I was sure that I had crossed the line and the time had come. It sounded so flip the way that I said it, and I honestly wasn’t trying to be.

It was just the raw, naked truth and my mind cut right to the chase. When she said the words ‘less than two days’, that thought immediately crossed my mind, triggering my mouth, and it just came out. My brain hadn’t given my mouth any warning. I swear it just came out.

For the longest time, she just sat there looking at me. She’s got this thing she does with her eyes when she has trouble believing what she’s hearing. She narrows them like she’s trying to figure out what she’s looking at, lining it up with the message her ears are sending to her brain, and she’s trying to make sense of what all she thinks is going on. I couldn’t read her at all, but I just that knew I was so dead. Actually, I was really too scared to look at her very hard at all.

What I really wanted at that moment was for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

After what seemed like eternity, she finally slowly looked away from me and said, “I knew that story was going to come back to haunt me. I knew it the moment I heard your father telling it to you when he was showing you Tower Bridge. Why he thought he needed to expand upon what he was saying to share that bit of history with you, I’ll never know.”

I looked at her once I could feel that she was no longer looking at me. I could only see her profile, but I could have sworn that she was blushing, and she looked like she wanted to laugh.

Since I do know that story, it goes without saying that from time to time I’ve speculated about if she agreed to marry Daddy right off, whether or not they slept together right away too. My guess is, knowing them, they did, and if they did, that would mean that she made love with a man she’d only met less than two days before that too, right?

That particular thought had the nerve to tiptoe across my mind, right at that very tense moment, and I thanked God that wasn’t where my head had been at that previous moment, andthose weren’t the words that came out of my mouth. I probably wouldn’t be here writing this if that had been the case.

While I was panicking about everything and sweating bullets, I could see out of the corner of my eye that she was turned back around, looking directly at me. I’m sitting there, within her arm’s reach, quaking, pondering my fate, wording my rather brief obituary, and trying to push that intrusive thought about her and my father the hell away from me.

Then, like she could see inside my head, and she could see what was on my mind, she goes, “Just stop thinking, J.J. Just let it go.”

I looked up at her, and I could see in her eyes that she knew exactly where my head had been. We stared at each other for a second. It was more than evident that she knew preciselywhat I had been thinking. All of a sudden, she just burst out laughing. And when she laughs, it always makes me laugh.

It was all over.

We both ended up in tears, and now we have another Kodak moment. She put a period behind that line of conversation and that situation by telling me, “Do as I say, Justine. Not as I’ve done.”

I love that woman.

But, I ain’t making no promises. If the right somebody comes along… It was good enough for her, and like mother, like daughter. It’s not like she’ll be able to argue or put up to much of a fight. I have her number.

We spent the rest of our breakfast time just talking. She spoke to me again about not giving too much of myself too soon, and not letting my emotions and my raging hormones dictate my actions. My hormones don’t rage, but I asked her about if I did the wrong thing to kiss Teddy when I did. She said that if it was what I wanted to do, then it wasn’t wrong. She feels that I’m old enough and responsible enough to make my own decisions about kissing, and she said that it probably wouldn’t matter what she said anyway if it was what I wanted to do at the moment. (She’s still pretty smart about me.) She told me that I have to make my own choices in those matters because she can’t be with me all the time. The only thing that upset her was where we did it; it wasn’t appropriate, she said. (I guess we should have gone to the stable and kissed up in the loft, I don’t know. She didn’t give me a more appropriate location in the course of her talking with me.)

She did say that I needed to be honest with Teddy about how I felt about not having a boyfriend if I was serious about not getting involved with anyone. Then she said that even if I liked kissing him, I shouldn’t make it a habit if it isn’t my intention to build a more exclusive relationship. I know that it isn’t my intention to do that. Not right now, anyway. I’ll try not to kiss him again, but I’m not promising anything when it’s time for us to leave here. He is so nice, and I think I’m really going to miss him. A goodbye kiss might be in order. I think I like kissing now. Tommy kissed me on my birthday, and even though he stole it, and I wanted to slap the mess out of him; it felt real good too.

It occurs to me that I never did ask her how she saw me. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point. She did. I got busted.  Case closed.

Daddy and Dr. Irvine had made arrangements for me to have the x-rays done at the same hospital, so while my mother was seeing to Pa in his room, I had my tests.

It turns out that my ankle isn’t broken. It’s just pretty badly sprained. Dr. Irvine said that when I stepped in the hole, my ankle twisted. Then when I lost my balance and fell, I must have fallen with my weight completely on it in that twisted state. So, now I have to stay completely off of it for another three days and keep it elevated when I sit or lie down to aid in relieving the swelling. I have to go to the infirmary once a day to soak it in the whirlpool to help the circulation. If the swelling is down enough after three days, I can start gradually putting weight on it and begin the rehab with the physical therapist. All I know for sure is that I’m not getting off these crutches soon enough to suit me. But I guess I shouldn’t complain. It would be much worse if I had broken it.

After my tests, I went up to see Pa. I had seen him from a distance at the Dean’s reception on Saturday, but today was my first time actually talking up close with him. It’s funny, he’s fairly tall, but he looked so small lying there in that bed. They have him hooked up to an IV and I didn’t like looking at or thinking about that needle sticking in him. I was on crutches, he had an IV so we just pressed cheeks. I was glad to see him. He’s my only grandparent. I’ve always only had one grandparent.

People say that you don’t miss what you’ve never had, but I don’t think that’s altogether true. I have always wished that I could have known my mother’s mother, and I still wish Daddy knew who his people were. Out of the missing three grandparents, I would like to meet my maternal grandmother the most. I really do miss her even though I’ve never met her, if that makes any sense. I would just like to know what happened to Daddy’s parents and why they let him go like that. I hope it was something beyond their control, like they died or something. I hope it wasn’t just a personal choice like they had too many kids, were poor, and had to let one go; or a too young girl having a baby without being married and being forced to give him up, or his mother just plain not wanting him.

While my parents went out to lunch together, I stayed behind and sat with Pa. We talked about my school year, the things I’d done so far this summer, what I’ve read lately, and then he asked about my trip to France to see Aunt Sabrina. In my whole life, although I’ve volunteered the information, he has never, ever asked me on his own about France or Aunt Sabrina. It was at that point that I knew why my parents left me there alone with him.

After the initial polite conversation, he let me know that he knew that I was the one who had called Aunt Sabrina about him being ill. I asked him how he knew that. He said that she called him yesterday, and even though she never said, he knew it had to be me who told her.  Pa said that they made up during that call, and that they talked a long time. That made my heart dance. To think that my Great-Aunt Sabrina broke down, with her stubborn self, and called Pa up on the phone. She finally spoke to him. They haven’t talked in forty-four years. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. I just wanted her to know about him being sick in case something went wrong, and he didn’t come back. He has a bad heart, and I wasn’t taking any chances. I don’t care who’s mad at whom; we’re all still family.

When my parents brought me back from the hospital, I called Aunt Sabrina to thank her for what she did. She said for me not to thank her; that she she still had a bad taste in her mouth from talking to him, especially since he pulled through and he’s mean enough to probably live another fifty years. She just didn’t want him to die and be telling her sister when they met up again that she hadn’t spoken to him in all that time. She said my grandmother would give her hell about that if she knew. Despite what she said, I know she was happy to have extended that olive branch. I can hold a grudge too, but forty-four years against your sister’s husband? Come on now. That’s just plain stubborn. I don’t know all the particulars, but I know from the little bit she’s let on to me that she’s probably the one who stopped speaking first.

Daddy came up here with me to help me up to the room. He had never seen it. He wanted to see the room and the bed in which my mother slept when she was a student here. He was impressed, and I was wondering what was going on in his head. I wondered if he was comparing my mother’s upbringing to his own. Then he asked Miss Smythe who could he talk to about purchasing the bed as a surprise for my mother.

My mother, my foot. If he’s going to buy it, I sure would like to have it. It’s a big, heavy, gorgeous antique bed. It sleeps like a charm, and I had it last.

My cell is ringing. I’ll stop here and come back later.

______________________________________________________________

July 15

11:37 P.M.

Everyone is next door in Madison and Dakota’s room. They have a really good photo editing program on that computer. They’re downloading and editing pictures from the digital cameras. They’ll be there a while. We have two memory chips full of pictures we’ve been taking, I should say they’ve, been taking to download and process.

Daddy came back again earlier this evening and brought us over several packages of photo paper and some color cartridges that he had gone out and purchased for us. So they’re over now there deciding which images to keep and print and how to fix them up for processing. I was over there for a while, but I needed to write some things down while they were on my mind, so I took advantage of the quiet over in here and came back. Marnie knows that I’m writing in my journal and how important that is to me, so she’ll keep everybody over there for a while.

I didn’t see or talk to Teddy today. Maybe he’s away. I didn’t try to call him at all. I was at the hospital most of the earlier part of the day, myself. I thought maybe he’d come down with the rest of the guys when they came here from Brookfield after dinner this evening, but he didn’t. I didn’t call him because I didn’t want him to think I was chasing him down or anything, and I also didn’t want to be calling him just to tell him that he couldn’t come up to the room anymore, so I left it alone. It’s so funny, but I missed him today. I missed him almost like I miss Tommy when I haven’t seen him in a few days.

Now him, I did call. I miss Tommy, and I never feel funny about calling him for anything. He was at home, but he said that he had been at work at the Hart Towers all day today. Dr. Westlake, who runs the computer technologies labs likes him. He told Daddy that he thinks Tommy’s smart, and he’s been showing him a lot of the CAD going on in the Hart Technologies design labs, things that he’d never learn at school.

Tommy started out the first part of the summer working with just the electronic files, but they’ve already moved him into the design labs. There’s a big project coming down the pike in a couple of years. Hart is in the design stages of building an electronics plant in Tokyo that I think Daddy is grooming Tommy to be a part of once he’s eighteen. Already they have him studying right along with the engineers. Presently, at seventeen, he’s too young to be put on a job, but next year when he’s eighteen, I can see Daddy moving Tommy right into the mix because of his size and his knowledge base.

Tommy’s artistic talent continues to amaze me. He can draw and paint like anything, and his work is phenomenal. In the years I’ve known him, his abilities have grown by leaps and bounds. He’s been invited to exhibit his work later this summer at one the local art fairs, and he wants me to help him in his booth. He’s going to be the youngest artist there. I hope my ankle is well by then.

But despite this gift, he says he wants to be a construction worker. He goes by construction sites and just sits and watches the men work. If the job takes a while, by the time it’s over, he’ll be on a first name basis with the guys who are working it and they’ll have shown him a lot about what they’re doing. He loves it when older homes are being refurbished, and he’ll ride his bike all over just to watch, learn, and talk to the people doing the work. Our house fascinates him. The fact that it’s so old and that it once burned to the ground and Daddy had it rebuilt gives him chills, I think. I showed him a place on the outside of the house on the fireplace, behind some bushes, where you can actually see where the flames charred the stone all the way up the side, and you would have thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He actually checked a book out of the library about Lawrence Freeman, the guy who designed and built the original house. That’s saying something because Tommy hates to read.

When we were younger, he started messing with Lego and he became a fanatic. He has thousands of pieces and he can put together the most amazing things, animals, buildings, furniture, you name it. He entered one of his constructions in the county fair when he was fourteen, and he won a blue ribbon and a trophy. He also got his picture in the paper. Since then he’s won several awards for his constructions, one from the Lego company itself. He’s also won several art awards and placed first in three local school art competitions for his drawings and paintings. He is definitely in line to be scholarship material.

Despite all of that, he’s so tall and big he’s more recognized at school for his size. The coaches in our building and other schools are always trying to recruit him for basketball or football. He wrestles still, he has good moves, and is the reigning champ, but Tommy says one day he’s going to be a builder. He doesn’t like it that adults try to push him into sports because of his size and agility. He says he’s going to study architecture, but he wants to do the actual work as well as the designing. But he says that first he’s going to the Navy.

I wish he wasn’t.

I want him to go to college right away, like me. Lately, we have been getting into arguments over it. His grandmother mentioned Stanford to him, so that he’d be closer to home. He told his grandmother and me over lunch that day that he was interested in SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia because they have an architecture program where the students actually refurbish some of the older homes in the historic district as part of their studies.  They’ve also taken old buildings and made them into colleges buildings to house the different disciplines of the college. His grandmother has offered to send him wherever, but he won’t take her money even though she’s extremely wealthy. He won’t let his mother send him either, maintaining that she can’t afford it, but I know Mrs. Steele would make a way if he’d let her. She’s an accountant, and with her background in finance, she’s probably been putting money away to send him to college all along. But, he’s so stubborn and wants to do everything on his own. He’s probably going to get plenty of scholarship money for his art or his athletics, but he claims that he can’t count on that. He says that if he goes into the Navy, he can earn his own money for school, and then he can go to college when he gets out because he’ll still be very young.

If he went to college right away, we could keep in touch better and see each other sometimes. I could visit his campus and he could visit mine. I would love to go and see him in Savannah. He would be right at the Savannah River and the Atlantic Ocean. We could sail sometimes or maybe hook up on our breaks. We could meet in Virginia Beach in the spring time. He loves boats and the water.

Once he’s in the Navy, though, I won’t get to see him at all. I think he’s chosen to go to the Navy because of the water thing and because that’s what my Daddy did first before he went to college. Tommy greatly admires my father and all that he’s done in his life; how he started out from nothing and built Hart Industries up the multinational corporation it is today.

Deep down I think I just get scared sometimes that Tommy’s going to enlist, start traveling and seeing the world and decide to become a Naval officer, and that then he’ll forget all about me for good. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, and I know I’m sounding selfish, but it does bother me. He’s been a part of my life for so long that when he’s not there, I feel it, like I’m missing part of myself. My hope is that we stay friends forever. I wish that all the friends I have now could be a part of my life forever. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to grow up, and that things would always stay the same. But then that wouldn’t be a real life, would it? My mother and my father say that life is about growth and change and that sometimes both of those things aren’t real comfortable, but they make us complete and make us who we are supposed to become. I hope the person I become has Tommy and Marnie in her life.

We’ll see.

Wesley has called me twice today from two different numbers, his house and his cell, but I didn’t pick up either time. When he rang my cell earlier, I just looked at it and put it back down on the table. I don’t want to deal with him at all right now. When I checked my email, he had hit my mailbox three times before three in the afternoon. If I haven’t picked up the one message, what does he think the other two are going to do? Make me curious?

I figure somebody has probably called him about Teddy being with me this past weekend, and he wants to ask me a whole lot of questions that I don’t intend to answer. When I was on the Quad yesterday evening with Teddy, his mother was leaving the reunion, and while her luggage was being loaded into her car, she saw us out there in the gazebo. She waved to me, like she was just being friendly, but  I know she was taking mental notes. She probably couldn’t wait to get home and tell Wesley about what she saw. I like Mrs. Singleton, but she can be a bit nosy and forward at times.

When Ollie put the bug in my ear about Wesley acting so obsessed with me a few weeks ago, I told my mother what he said. I also let her know that Wesley’s behavior was making me a little nervous. She suggested that I should put some distance between us for the time being. That’s just what I’m doing with not responding to his emails or his calls. At the country club, I’m polite to him if we happen to meet, but when I get the chance, I move on. He’s always trying to hem me up and talk to me, but I don’t let him get me off alone. It’s a nuisance to have to operate like that, but I think it’s for the best right now.

I hope he and his mother get the message soon. Mrs. Singleton embarrassed me like crazy last Friday when she said that in front of my mother and all those other people at the Dean’s presentation about how she hoped I would be her daughter-in-law one day. I don’t have plans to marry. If I ever change my mind and I do get married, I doubt that she’ll ever have Justine Hart for a daughter-in-law. I’m not the one for Wes, nor is he panning out to be my type. If she and her son keep on along these lines, they won’t even have me as an infrequent dinner guest.

Aunt Pat called a little while ago to check on Marnie and me and to ask how the tests turned out on my ankle. She and Uncle Bill are already at Briarwood. They went ahead of us so that Aunt Pat could get a start on the work that has to be done on the guest house. It seems that Pa is moving Dean Marchand and Miss Smythe onto the grounds to live there with him after they retire at the end of the summer term. I was surprised at that, but I think it’s real nice of him to do that. They can all be together and keep each other company. The guest house is within walking distance of the main house, and they can go back and forth for tea and what have you. It hasn’t been used in years. In fact, I used to play there when I was little. It’s been a castle, a fort, the Tower of London, and whatever else I needed it to be.

I sort of liked the Dean when I met her yesterday. She’s a lot like Pa, very smart, stiff, and formal, but I could tell that basically there’s a nice person under all of that. I like Miss Smythe too even though she fusses an awful lot. It’s the kind of fussing that you can tell is just habit, not genuine irritation. It’ll be good to be able to visit with them when I’m at Briarwood visiting my grandfather. Maybe I won’t get so quickly filled with ennui with other people there to talk with when the conversation with Pa starts getting thin. I wonder how my mother feels about that, having her old principal and housemother right there looking at her every time she goes home. She needs to get used to it. From what I understand, Pa’s giving them a home on Briarwood for life.

It occurs to me that I haven’t written about Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill getting married. Daddy told me earlier in the evening yesterday that he had some good news for me, but he made me wait before he told me what it was. We couldn’t all get together in one place, so they made a conference call to me last night. It was my parents and both of them on the line. We put the phone in here on speaker and all us girls gathered around. It was my very first conference call, and that was the best news I could ever have gotten. I’m so happy for them. They don’t have to sneak around any more, and I don’t have to act like I don’t know any more. Uncle Bill greased my palm not to tell the last time that he was at our house. He didn’t have to pay me. I would never have let on, but I kept the fifty bucks just the same. I never understood the sneaking around thing, I mean it’s not like they’re not adults. I’m guessing it’s one of those grown people’s things that kids don’t get to ask too many questions about. When you do ask, somebody just shoots you down, telling you to not be nosy, or to stay in a child’s place when all you want to do is understand.

They haven’t set a date yet, and they don’t know where they’re going to live. Right now, she lives in New York, and he lives in Nevada, but they’re thinking of keeping their present homes and trying to find a place where they can be together when they want to be. I can tell it’s not going to be a conventional marriage like my parents’ marriage. But then, that wouldn’t be Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill. At least now, sometimes I’ll be able to visit them when they’re together, I guess.

My mother has invited them to have the wedding at our place when they decide to do it officially. They accepted the offer. So some time in the future, we’ll be hosting a wedding. I hope they do it either this summer or next spring. Those are my two favorite seasons, and the grounds are really pretty at those times of the year.

Well, I think I’ve written enough for one night. I’ll be here for a couple more days and I can’t go very far or very fast, so there will be plenty of time for getting it all down.

I hope Teddy comes by or calls tomorrow.

And that my mother doesn’t see that small passion mark at the base of Marnie’s neck from where she went for “a walk” with Josh yesterday evening while I was busy kissing Teddy.

Good Night

J.

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July 16                                                                                                                    

7:57 P.M.

Marnie is on lockdown.

We thought it would be me who went first; I have done some things since we’ve been here, but it turned out it was Marnie who ended up biting the bullet. She can’t go out of the room here at Waverly House except to take her meals, and then Miss Smythe has orders to send her right back up here.

It happened like this.

Since we have been here longer than anticipated, and we aren’t going back to LA when we do leave, we all needed more things to wear. Miss Smythe had some of our clothes we brought with us and have worn already sent down to laundry, but we’ll still need more since we originally only packed for a weekend trip. We always take more than we need- that’s a rule taught to us by our ever-traveling mothers- but even so, we still didn’t have enough for the length of time that we’re going to be away. So, Marnie went shopping this afternoon after lunch with my mother. I couldn’t go because of my ankle, and I hate to shop anyway, at least with two of them.

Dee went to her Science class early this afternoon, and Madison, Dakota, and I started working on the copies of the yearbook pictures that they made for me. We’re mixing them in with the pictures that we took of us and making a scrapbook of sorts. Dee, being the artist among us is in charge of the project. She left us with instructions to go by.

I kept a few of the pictures out for myself for future reference. I don’t know quite what I’m going to do with them. I might just keep them to look at for amusement in my spare time, especially the picture of my mother where somebody drew a cigarette in her hand. It looked like the Dean was chewing her and Aunt Pat out at the time that it was taken. Teddy said that his father and his uncle knew them when they went to school here and that they had been a lot of fun. But I digress.

Then, after we did all we could do without Dee, we went outside and wound up sitting around out front on the Quad with some Gresham girls who were between their classes. Two of them ended up skipping and staying out on the Quad with us. I think I might have a corrupting affect on people. Madison and I seem to be in sync with each other when it comes to things like that. I’ve observed that quality in her as well

Well, it seems that Marnie, who gets as excited as a kid at Christmas any time she and my shop-aholic mother are together in a store, forgot about that illicit spot of tell-tale evidence on her neck. She had left here with a blouse on that covered it up, but while they were selecting outfits and trying them on, she forgot about it.

She’s showing my mother this one top and asking her if she thought it was cut too low or anything, and the Duchess catches sight of the passion mark. She asks Marnie about it, and Marnie tries to lie, talking about she thinks she might have backed into something and since she’s fair, it must have left a mark when it kind of stuck her.

Needless to say, the Duchess wasn’t going for it. She probably knows a genuine hickey first-hand when she sees one; she seems to be up on everything along those else lines. Marnie said, Jennifer Hart goes, “Um-hmm, I bet you did back into something and it kind of stuck you, alright.”

The last thing my mother said to her and to Miss Smythe when she deposited Marnie’s little butt, and all the things they bought, up here in the room was that Marnie was not to come out for anything except to eat. That way she (my mother) wouldn’t have to worry about Marnie backing into anything else “sharp, big, hard, or otherwise”, and her getting stuck by it. Marnie was mortified. The Duchess was livid. And it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

I think Miss Smythe wanted to laugh at what my mother said too, but she held it in as well. By the time that went down, all of us were back up in the room to witness it. Dee was finished with her Science class, and Maddy, Dakota and I had their television on which they said they brought over in here for me. They watched the soaps; I read, but we were all witness to Marnie’s verbal flogging.

My mother apologized to the other girls and told them that she really wasn’t the witch they probably thought she was since they’d only seen her when she was up there getting with one of us. They assured her that they knew better; that they had heard us say enough other things about her to know what a nice lady she was. Dee even went so far as to say that it was evident that she was a good person because if she wasn’t, she would just let us get away with stuff and not care. It think she was speaking from personal experience, and I think my mother saw through what she was saying too.

When my mother left, the rest of us just fell out with laughter while Marnie went over on her bed and curled up into a fetal position. She was through. She hates when my mother catches her out of line and has to read her about being having a ‘hot tail’. But Marnie does stuff like that all the time, and she almost always winds up getting caught one way or another, just like me. She never learns.

Today, after my mother left, and after I finished laughing, I reminded Marnie of that. She goes, “F— you, J.”

That’s her way of saying that she knows I’m right.

A little while after that, Aunt Pat called. She didn’t even say hello to me when I picked up. She just right off told me to put Marnie’s “trifling little behind” on the phone. Evidently, my mother had spoken with her about what happened and had ratted Marnie out.

You could almost see Marnie’s hair blowing back like wind was in it while Aunt Pat was blasting her about letting a boy leave ‘physical evidence’ on her like that. But Aunt Pat tends to see things from a different perspective from my mother. While my mother would talk about having pride in yourself, and not acting hot, Aunt Pat takes another direction. Her philosophy with us has always been, “If you’re going to do wrong, do it right. Be smart about it, and don’t get caught.” She believes in trying everything, but that a girl should keep her business to herself in the meantime.

I guess I fall somewhere between the two of those philosophies in what I believe for myself right now.

I think Marnie had better be glad that Aunt Pat was in Maryland when she called. Even though Marnie isn’t hers, I think Aunt Pat would have kicked the crap out of her, or at least hemmed her up and cursed her all the way out if she had been here. She knows that Marnie can take it. Aunt Pat is pretty tough, and so is Marnie. That’s why they get along so well and like each other so much. They both operate on that more raw, more physical level. I’d probably cry if she had to do me like that, which of course, she never does. All she ever has had to do with me is threaten to rat me out to my mother. The Duchess can break me down completely by just talking to me. She can do it so well that, at times, I end up wishing she’d just get a belt, beat me, and get it over with. Aunt Pat has never ratted me out for anything, that I’m aware of. She always gets my back because she knows my mother, and she knows how she is.

Besides, nobody is sucking on me like that, leaving marks all over me. Especially not in places where everybody can see them. Aunt Sabrina told me that there are some other, better places for that. She says passion marks, if you’re going to get them, should be private matters, not advertisements. When I got back from France that time, I told my mother what Aunt Sabrina said about passion marks. She listened and then told me to just file that information for the time being. I did. I think that’s kind of nasty anyway.

Marnie has been pretty quiet since then. She went to sleep for a little while. We went down and had dinner when it was time, then we came back up here. Now she’s over there on her bed reading a magazine. I guess she’s depressed about getting caught, being called out on it, and embarrassed and everything. But probably she’s even more upset about not being able to go outside and get another mark from Josh. She loves boys and they, evidently, love her. She’s nervy and too swift, but she is pretty cute.

The physical therapist came this afternoon and took me to the infirmary. I had to put my ankle into the whirlpool for a bit. That felt really good. The swelling is going down, and it’s not so sore. Maybe it won’t be too long before I’m back on my feet again. Daddy went to the infirmary with me.

It’s funny. When it comes to me, my legs, and the physical stuff that I do, like playing tennis, skating, and running track, he’s the one who takes charge. He, not my mother so much, has been the one talking to the doctors, the x-ray technician, and he arranged for the therapist here in Gresham and for the one I’m supposed to see in Maryland whenever we get there.

At home, he goes to most of my track meets and tennis matches and tournaments. He bought me my last pair of roller blades, the speed ones, without me even having to ask for them or it being any special occasion. In fact, he goes with me, helps select, and buys most of my equipment. All I have to do is say what I need. He assists the coaches on whatever team I’m on, and Hart Industries has even sponsored a few of the teams. He’s really gotten into track with me since I’ve been in high school. When I’m running, he always tries to be there and when he is, I can count on him to be at the finish line waiting for me with a towel. It’s always been like that with us and sports.

When I used to play baseball, he would play catch with me and work with me on developing my skills. I played hard ball, not softball like most girls, and he liked that. He even taught me to spiral a football, and he’s why I play tennis so hard. I think he was disappointed when I didn’t want to play basketball. I know I have the height, but I don’t feel that I have the weight, and then too, I was more interested in track.

My mother has fussed for years about him treating me like a boy and ‘pushing the envelope’ with me sometimes. I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s just that he believes in letting me be all that I can be. It doesn’t matter if I’m a girl or a boy for that. I’m athletic like him, and we both love sports, just like we both love playing cards and gambling. He’s the reason that I have abilities in both areas. She doesn’t mind the sports part of it too much, but she could definitely do without the gambling thing on my part.

She doesn’t even want to know what all we did on Daddy’s reunion weekend. His was held last spring and was given by his fraternity in Vegas, of all places. We were at the fabulous Bellagio Hotel and Casino cleaning out everybody who tried us. It was the bomb! On the way back I was writing in my journal and Daddy leans over to me saying, “You know, baby, you don’t write everything down for posterity. Some memories you just keep track of in your head so that they can’t be traced by the wrong person.”

We both knew to whom he was alluding when he said mentioned the “wrong person” being able to trace things. The details of the Vegas trip with Daddy, I’m sure, fit the category of those kinds of things.

Okay, I didn’t write any of it down then, but I do just have to say this one thing. My Daddy may be a millionaire many times over, a class act, and the ultimate gentleman, but Jonathan Hart can shoot craps down and dirty like nobody’s business. And so can his kid.

Shhhhhhhh! Enough said about that.

The only area Daddy is definitely sexist about, where he draws an absolute line,  is when it comes to boys being around me. When it comes to that, I’m definitely a girl- 100% girl- and then he wants to start changing the rules. We, my mother and I, have to get with him about that all the time.

Pa seems to be doing much better. I didn’t go see him today because of my therapy here and all. As long as I got to talk with him on the phone, that was enough for me. He told me they took his IV out today, and that they may let him go home tomorrow. My mother and father took Dean Marchand over to the hospital to see him a little while ago. I’m guessing that they’ll stop in here on their way back to the Gresham Inn to check on Marnie and me. I wonder if Dean Marchand and my mother will become close. They don’t seem to be very close right now. My mother doesn’t say a whole lot about her, and Dean Marchand only talked about my mother being sort of stubborn as a girl. I get the feeling that they don’t know each other very well. My mother can be hard to figure out at times when it comes to things like that. I hope it works out between them for Pa’s sake.

I didn’t hear from Teddy again today. I’m really tempted to call him, but I’m nervous about that. I don’t really know him that well, and so I don’t really know how he’d feel about me calling him. I don’t want to have him thinking I’m too interested in him, but on the other hand, I do like him- for a friend, and I don’t want to lose his friendship. I wonder if he thinks less of me because I kissed him. I hope not. I certainly don’t think any less of him.

Josh called here a while ago for Marnie, but she was in the bathroom. I wanted to ask him about Teddy while I had him on the phone, but I didn’t want it to get back to Teddy that I was inquiring about him. I didn’t want Marnie to know either that I was asking and for her to start making a big deal about it.

It’s kind of hard to know just what the right thing is to do all the time. Well, if I don’t hear from him tonight, I’ll get up really early and hobble out to the stables. It will be slow going on those crutches, but I would like to see him again before we leave. I wonder if he’s still here at all. I would think that if he left to go home or something, though, he would have called and told me that. He has classes, so he couldn’t have gone home. I should just call him. Maybe I will when I work up the nerve.

Good Night,

______________________________________________________________

 July 17

5:15 A.M.

I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d write for a bit.

Wesley Singleton called here last evening. Marnie happened to answer the phone and she told him that I had gone out. He told her that he knew I had hurt my ankle, and that he wanted to let me know that he was thinking about me. He asked her where I had gone and when she thought I would be back. I was sitting right there, and I could see that she was getting mad, but she played it cool. She told him that I was gone with my father, and she had no idea how long I would be, but that I was probably going to be gone with my father for the rest of the evening. Every time she said it, she was all dry-sounding, and she kept putting the emphasis on “her father“.

He seemed to buy that, and he told her to just let me know that he had called. He probably realized too that Marnie was only going to give him so much information about me and that no amount of prodding on his part was going to loosen her up. People tend to not fool with her too much even though she’s so small in stature. Marnie gets her money’s worth out of that Napoleon complex my mother insists that she has.

Now, at the point that he called, I was supposed to be gone from Gresham Hall. As far as he knew, we were supposed to be back in LA. How did he know that I wasn’t back at home? He called on the house phone in this room. Why didn’t he ring my cell? Was he trying to pinpoint my location? And how did he know to call Waverly House- and which suite- and what number- looking for me? What does he want with me exactly that it couldn’t wait until he saw me or at least until I was back at home?

I think I should let my father know what the deal is and let him handle it. It’s getting me a little spooked. I have been down this road before, and I don’t like being scared about stuff like this. I’m not scared yet, but I am getting a little nervous. I have very good instincts, and this is beginning to not feel right. I’ve told my mother, but maybe it’s my father who should know.

I didn’t hear from Teddy again yesterday, and I couldn’t get up the nerve to call him after I waited so late. Normally it doesn’t bother me to call anybody at any time of the night. I get into trouble for it all the time, but that never deters me. Slows me down some when I get the phone taken away for it, but as soon as I get it back, I’m right back at it. But for some reason, I hesitated to call him late. Maybe because I don’t know him that well yet. Tommy called me at midnight and we talked for a long time. He had just come in from taking Claire to a movie. Jokingly, I asked him if he kissed her. He asked me who I was kissing. Neither one of us answered the other. I wonder if his reason for not answering was the same as mine.

About 9:30 last night, not long after Wesley’s call, one of the girls who skipped class to hang out with us on the Quad, her name in Shelly, came by. She’s in the cinematography class and she brought us a video tape of the movie clips that we missed Friday night when we skipped out of the theatre after my mother and Pat didn’t show up. We were all down in the common room when they came, so we watched it down there.

It was so much fun. The clips were from the class of 1962’s senior year activities. Someone had spliced them together from film and transferred them to videotape and set it to Barbra Streisand’s, “The Way We Were”. The footage was mostly black and white, but there were some color clips as well. Most of it was pretty grainy, but it was still fascinating. Watching it on the television, we were a little disappointed that we hadn’t stayed in the theatre on Friday to see it shown on the big screen.

Dakota and Madison’s mother was in it playing the French horn in the orchestra. Dakota looks a lot now how her mother did then except that Dakota’s hair is longer and she’s thinner than her mother was. It seems like most girls were heavier, or at least sturdier back then. Perhaps there wasn’t so much general preoccupation with being thin as there seems to be now.

Aunt Pat was an auctioneer for a charity event they held. She was really good, talking fast and making deals. She was really in her element. There was footage of the newspaper copy room where my mother was working on something. She was all over the place. The two of them were in another clip. Aunt Pat seemed to be directing a play in which my mother was the star. It was just a clip but there was a good scene of my mother acting angry and wiping lipstick off her face as if someone told her that she couldn’t wear it. I was reminded of that scene in Die, Die, My Darling, an old movie that I really like where this girl gets hemmed up by this crazy, holy-roller old lady who won’t let her wear make-up and gets mad when she finds out that the girl isn’t a virgin. I wish there had been more of that scene for me to see. It was kind of surreal to see my mother on the screen as a teenager like me. We really do look a lot alike except that she wore her hair way shorter than I wear mine. She wore it a little longer than a bob and kind of flipped up on the ends. A really old fashioned, sixties/preppy look. She was bonier than I am too. I have more curves to me now than she had then. My mother has always been on the thin kick. I wish she had been here with me when I was watching that tape. We could have had some good laughs.

There were a few other people doing different things in it who I recognized: Wesley’s mother, Ms. Taylor, my mother’s friends Lucy, Della, and Frankie, who are all writers now, like her. I got the idea that next year, when I’m a senior, I’m going to put together a video project much like this one of the things that we do. We have a lot more technology at our disposal, and I’m in on a lot of what goes on at our school. It’ll be fun to watch it twenty or thirty years later, and to hear what our kids have to say about how uncool they think we were, like we were doing when we were watching the tape. As crazy as we are sometimes with some of the things that go on today, I’m scared to think what outrageous  things our kids will be doing in the future. Our parents probably had those same thoughts about their kids when they were kids themselves.

Speaking of parents, Marnie’s mother called her last night. She’s in Texas visiting her parents. While Marnie was here with us, she just took off without even telling Marnie she was going. Marnie’s grandparents were mad at her mother for not bringing Marnie with her when she came. Now Marnie might have to go to Dallas for a week when we get back because her grandparents want to see her. Marnie didn’t mention anything to her mother about being on punishment here for having a hickey on her neck, and when she hung up, she was cursing about going to Texas over her “dead g–d—ed body”. She said that if it turned out that she did have to go, I was going too. I told her that I wouldn’t mind, and it would probably cut the trip shorter if I went. My mother is not going to let me be anywhere with Marnie or her people for a whole week without her, AND she’ll make Daddy fly us there and back to lay down some ground rules.

My mother doesn’t trust a whole lot of people with me, and Marnie’s family heads the untrustworthy list. All of Marnie’s people have a lot of money, on both sides, but there’s always some kind of drama going on. ‘Dysfunctional’ is the Duchess’ umbrella word for the entire clan. I think that’s why the older Marnie gets, she and Daddy keep her so close to us.

Marnie spends a lot of time at our house, and traveling with us. Most of the time it’s fun to have her along, but every now and then it gets on my nerves that Marnie’s mother doesn’t do a better job of mothering her own child. But I believe that it’s more jealousy on my part. Marnie turns to my mother for advice at times, and at times my mother has to check her about her behavior, and for some reason that occasionally gets under my skin. I try not to show it when it does. I know that it doesn’t diminish or even begin to encroach upon my mother’s feelings for me, but it’s like I don’t want to share certain parts of her.

 I’ll have to meditate on that shortcoming in my personality. Marnie turning to my mother for help should be a positive, not a negative. The girl needs somebody stable in her life, with her too-grown self. She’s like a sister to me, and I guess even the best of sisters get jealous of one another at times too.

I went to the bathroom a little while ago when I woke up, and while I was in there, I tried to stand up and put a little of my weight on my foot. I’m nobody’s wimp, but it hurt like all get-out. It’s still too soon, I guess. My ankle and my foot are still a bit swollen. I haven’t worn a shoe or a sock on it since I hurt it on Saturday. It’s a good thing I had a French pedicure done on my toes right before we left LA. At least my toes look good. If this ankle isn’t broken, then I must have just missed breaking it. It’s been throbbing ever since I tried standing up on it.

 Daddy called down here right after we got back into the room from watching the tape. He talked to me for a minute, told me to have a good night, then he asked to speak to Marnie. When she hung up from him, I could swear that she looked sad and like she wanted to cry. I asked her what he said to her, but all she would say was that he said that he wanted to see her in the morning. then she lay down on the bed, pulled the covers up, and rolled away from us. The rest of us just looked at each other and left her alone. She didn’t say anything else to us all night. I think she’s scared.

We all went to bed after that. I wonder what Daddy could want with her. She’s crazy about him, she always has been. I wonder if my mother said anything to him about what happened. I wonder if it had been me with the hickey, if she would have told him. Heck no, she wouldn’t have said. She would have just done me in herself, and he would be none the wiser.

Not to worry. That won’t be me. Like I said before, I think letting someone suck your skin until you turn red is getting a bit too personal for a casual relationship.

Later, J.

______________________________________________________________

July 17

11:03 P.M.

We’re leaving tomorrow afternoon. It’s just as well.

I have a lot to say tonight.

Pa is getting discharged tomorrow, and a car is taking him right from the hospital to the airport. Once he’s on the plane we are out of here. My mother wants him back in his own digs right away so that he can rest and get back on his feet. Daddy needs to get back to Los Angeles for some business that needs his attention.

I was at the hospital today for a final check-up before I go to Maryland, so I got to see Pa. Dean Marchand was with us, and we were all in his room together when the doctor said that Pa could go home. The Dean at first looked happy. But then she started looking a little disappointed when my mother said that Pa wouldn’t be returning to her house, but would be going straight home from the hospital. Maybe I just imagined that she looked disappointed, but she was pretty quick to tell my mother that she didn’t have to be in such a hurry, that we were all welcome to stay at Gresham Hall as long as we needed to. But Pa and my mother both said that we had overstayed our time and that we needed to move on.

I’m beginning to wonder about Dean Marchand and Pa. I know they’ve been friends for a long time, but I wonder if it was more than that. I don’t think my mother would be too receptive to my questions along those lines. This will probably have to be a wait and watch situation.

Early this morning, Daddy called here. I picked up, and he wanted to know if I minded if he took Marnie to breakfast by herself. I said that I didn’t, but I was curious why he was taking her and not me or my mother. He said that it was a private matter, but it was something that he needed to do for Marnie. He came and got her. When she got back she had flowers and was all smiling and everything, telling me how lucky I was to have such a nice guy be my father every day of my life. She said they had breakfast together at a diner, but she didn’t elaborate on what happened or what they talked about, and for once, I didn’t ask. I left it right where it seemed she wanted it to be, between them. I’m glad she feels better.

Marnie’s own father is a nice guy on the surface, but he’s operating on his own agenda. My mother and I have seen him around LA with several different young women even though he’s still married with children to Marnie’s stepmother. I’ve still never told Marnie about seeing him; my mother told me not to. And the stepmother drinks a bit too much. At times when Marnie has been at their house, she ends up spending the time with her little half-brothers because their mother is often incapacitated up in her room leaving the kids alone with the help. The boys are nuts about Marnie and she’s become very fond of them. There’s three of them, and they’re really cute. Neither one of Marnie’s real parents spend much time with her either, so I guess I can spare some of the tons of attention I get from both of mine to share with my best friend.

But while Marnie was off with my father, I had good things happen for me too.

First of all, my mother didn’t want to eat alone, so instead of eating at the inn, she came over here, unannounced, to Waverly House with us to eat. I was glad that I chickened out of sneaking out to the stables to see Teddy. How busted would I have been if I had gone out there? My guardian angel was on the ball this morning for real. I was already dressed and downstairs when she got here.

I was happy to see her, and so were Miss Smythe and the other girls. It was early, so Dee was still here too. We were just getting ready to sit down when Miss Smythe said that we had two more guests. It turned out to be Teddy, his father, and his uncle. Teddy’s father is drop-dead gorgeous for an older man, and so was his uncle. The first time I saw the uncle, I was in so much pain from by ankle that I hadn’t paid much attention to him while he was carrying me up to the room, so I hadn’t noticed what a nice-looking man he is.

The two men were surprised to see that my mother was there with us, and they were all happy to see each other again. Both of them kissed my mother on the cheek and she started blushing, I think that was just because all of us were there to see it, and they were two guys from her past. Normally she just seems to accept that kind of attention without a thought. Then Teddy introduced me to his father. His father smiled at me, took my hand, and said that he came just to meet me. I wondered why, but I didn’t ask.

Miss Smythe invited them to stay, and they spent the whole breakfast talking with my mother. I can see why men find her so attractive. Aside from being pretty, she’s charming, witty, and a good conversationalist. But, both Mr. Baxters kept bringing up stuff from my mother’s seemingly sordid past, and she kept trying to shut them up, but I was sitting there, catching it all- soaking it up, and she knew it.

It would appear that she and Aunt Pat were on the wild when they were students here. According to the conversation she was trying to suppress, my mother had the Dean and Miss Smythe chasing behind her a lot because she was all over everywhere. She almost burned down the stables once while she was sneaking to smoke a cigarette out there. There was more to that story, but they all started laughing before they could finish it. Then my mother and Aunt Pat set it off in the chemistry lab, nearly blowing it up by mixing up some wrong chemicals. Teddy’s father said that all the boys were crazy about them and that guys spent a lot of time trying to get onto Gresham Hall grounds because of the two of them. They said that things were a lot more restricted then than they are now, so it was harder to get in and the risk of getting caught and it’s penalties, much higher. Teddy’s father was laughing about a time that they couldn’t have any fun for a while because my mother got scared into being good because my grandfather threatened to send her to a convent school in the Swiss Alps if she got into any more trouble.

That particular threat had a very familiar ring to it for me.

They said it wasn’t long before the fear of being sent to the mountains wore off, and my mother and Pat were back in the Dean’s office. I couldn’t believe my ears. Aunt Pat maybe, but not my refined, cultured, angelic scholar of a  mother.

Teddy’s father did most of the talking and my mother did most of the laughing. I got the feeling that they had been very good friends at one time, the kind where even if you don’t see the person in a long time, you can pick right up where you left off. Teddy’s uncle seems to be the quieter type. He just smiled and laughed a lot, mostly at and with my mother. While I was checking him out, she kept peeking at me, like she was trying to feel me out and warn me off going there. Too late. For once, I had the goods on her, and she was the one trying not to die of embarrassment and mortification, if that’s a word. This will be used as reference material for future conversations where I find myself coming up short. I will be going there, and I have the pictures to back me up.

In the meantime though, while Teddy talked to all the other girls at the table, he wasn’t saying very much to me at all. I couldn’t think of anything much to say, and bottom line, I was still confused and messed up as to why he, his father, and his uncle were really there. What was their real reason for showing up like they had? Was it just to see me like his father said? How did they know that we were still there since, according to plan, we might have been gone. Those thoughts and the other action at the table kept my mind kind of tied up while we were eating.

When breakfast was over, Dee had class, so she left. My mother and the Baxters decided to go out to visit the stables. They wanted to show her the changes that had been made and for her to see all the horses. They both said they remembered how much she likes horses, and since the stables were something her father started, they wanted for her to see what all had been added to them over the years. Madison and Dakota said that they were going upstairs to get packed since their mother was going to be coming for them. That left Teddy and me alone at our table while the housekeepers began clearing.

At first it was kind of awkward. I didn’t know what to say, and it seemed that he didn’t either. In my mind, I was going between being nervous and being angry. I did want to see him, but Teddy had been missing in action for two days. He hadn’t called me, he had come by that morning out of the blue without calling and bringing company to meet me without warning me, and then had pretty much ignored me throughout breakfast. I didn’t know what was going on in his mind, and I didn’t care at the time. Dwelling on all of that, I was making myself madder by the minute.

After a couple of very quiet minutes, he asked me out to the porch. Reluctantly, I agreed to go with him. I was reaching for the crutches, but he asked me to leave them and just lean on him. As a rule, I don’t lean on people, but for some odd reason I did it this morning even though I was angry with him. We sat in the swing once we made it outside and we didn’t talk for another minute or two. Then he asked me if I was upset with him or something. I was mad, but him asking that question kind of surprised me. I mean, what would make him conclude that was upset with him? I asked him what made him think that, and he said it was because I hadn’t called him in two days.

Me call him?

He explained that ever since he met me, he had been chasing me, and coming to and around me. But I never called him, and he got to thinking that he maybe he was pressing me too hard. He said that he knew that I didn’t want a boyfriend, and he didn’t want me to think that he was sweating me, so he backed off to give me some space. His exact words were that he, “didn’t want to wear out his welcome with me”. He said that when he kissed me, he realized that he cared more for me than he should, and he he was afraid that he had gone too far.

My heart and my anger instantly melted at his honesty, and if I’d had two good feet, I would have kicked myself for my persistent tunnel vision. No matter how hard I try, I seem to only be able to see things in terms of how they affect me, not how I affect others. I’m getting used to guys chasing after me, but I’ve never had one to tell me that he was looking for me to come to him sometimes. I didn’t know what to say. It’s difficult for me to tell most people how I feel about things, sometimes it’s hard for me even with my own father who always listens to everything I say when I’m talking with him. The only person in the world that I don’t have that trouble with is my mother, and she wasn’t a part of that moment in my time.

Teddy took my silence, I think, as indifference, and I believe his feelings got hurt. He turned red like he was embarrassed, told me that he was sorry for pressing me, that he’d enjoyed my company, and then he started to get up like he was leaving. I didn’t want him to go.

I panicked and did the only thing I could think of, the thing I secretly have been wanting to do for the last two days. I pulled him back to me, and I kissed him. Again.

A real kiss this time- with everything- the full monty- right out in the open- and it felt soooooooo good.

When I came back from my orbit around the earth and could get my breath, I explained to him why he hadn’t heard from me. I told him first about how I’d assumed he had gone home. Then about my being afraid of making him think I was being some kind of skank by seeming like I was chasing behind him and everything; that after all I said about not wanting a boyfriend, I didn’t want to be sending mixed signals. Then I had to laugh at myself. He asked me what was funny. I told him that I was laughing because I’d twice kissed a boy to whom I’ve been insisting that I’m not looking for an exclusive relationship. If that wasn’t sending out mixed signals and the sign of a true, teasing skank, I don’t know what was. He had to laugh right along with me, kissing me on my cheek and assuring me that he had no such thoughts.

After that we were able to relax and talk more freely. We both agreed that there’s some real chemistry between us, but that neither of us is ready for it. He said that I was the first girl to ever have the kind of effect on him that I’d had. I didn’t tell him what was on my mind, but I was thinking along those same lines. This is very different from Tommy and me. Tommy is my friend, and the only guy who gets to come close to me in terms of my feelings and emotions. This is something else entirely. I generally don’t like boys very much. I can take them or leave them, and their oversized, constantly hungry egos I can leave altogether. The best I can usually do is say who’s cute or who isn’t, who has nice ways and who doesn’t. It’s never been like this for me.

Who would have thought that coming to Gresham Hall with my mother for a stuffy old prep school class reunion would so change my life? I don’t know what to feel or what to do. I wish we weren’t leaving tomorrow, and then again I wish we were leaving tonight.

Teddy asked me if I would consider going to his senior prom with him. I thought he was talking crazy because his prom and his graduation are way next year in May, and I told him so. But he said that there was nobody else he had even thought about asking until he met me. He told me that if my parents would allow it, and I would invite him, he would fly into Los Angeles for my ‘legendary annual birthday party’, and he’d bring his father as a sign of his good intentions. That way we could spend my seventeenth birthday together and he could meet the rest my friends that I’ve told him about and he’s heard about. We could continue to celebrate my birthday as well as his graduation by returning to Gresham and going to his prom. I could bring my mother on that trip as my chaperone since I’ll still be pretty young to be traveling alone for that sort of trip, and that way she and I could spend some of the time in Maryland with my grandfather.

I got tickled listening to him. Evidently he had been thinking a lot about it; he had it all worked out. What else could I say? I told him that when the time came, if he still felt the same way about me, then we could do all of that if our parents agreed to let us. Without a doubt, if mine agree to it, Jennifer Hart will be dispatched by her husband to keep a close eye on me, and an even closer one on Teddy. No way is Daddy going to let me come to Massachusetts on a date by myself. He’ll probably be the one to fly us here, that’s if he gives his consent for me to go to the prom in the first place.

It seems like we’ve been here a lot longer than not quite five days. It just doesn’t seem like so much could happen in such a small space of time.

Teddy said that he’s talked on the phone to his father about me the last two days, and that was why they over came this morning. His father came in from Boston last night to see him so they could talk face-to-face. Then Mr. Baxter also had business with his brother at the stables first thing this morning. While they were out there, his father decided to come up and meet me and to see if they could snag a breakfast from Miss Smythe. The other Mr. Baxter joined them at the last minute as well, to see how I was doing. He supposedly felt guilty about not coming up to see me since my accident. I personally think he was just taking a shot at seeing my mother. He spent an awful lot of time just staring at her when he thought she wasn’t looking, and I know that “I love Jennifer Hart” look when I see it. I didn’t ask Teddy what he talked to his father about concerning me, but I assumed that if he was feeling all churned up like I was, then it was the kind of thing I would talk, and will be talking with my mother about. It’s nice to know that some guys do that with their fathers too.

I was hating that I hurt my foot, and thinking that we could have been riding the entire weekend if I had been able. But then again, in thinking about it some more,  it occurs to me that it’s very true that things happen for a reason. Maybe that was somebody’s way of slowing things down between us and keeping me near home and us out of trouble. There’s a lot of awfully pretty, romantic country one could get lost in up here if one took a mind to do so.

My mother walked up, back from the stables with Teddy’s father about the same time as my father got back with Marnie, and just as Madison and Dakota’s mother pulled up to come for them. She had Dee in the car with her. She had seen Dee on her way back from class as she was driving in from the gate and picked her up. Our long weekend was beginning to come to an end.

The adults all stood out front talking for a while, getting acquainted and reacquainted. Teddy excused himself so that we girls could go up and say goodbye to each other. He said that he would talk to me later. Before I could protest, he was up and off the porch. I saw my  mother and Teddy’s father watching him as he walked real fast past all of them and went on down the walk. It looked as if he was headed back to Brookfield without waiting for his father to drive him. Then my mother looked up to the porch to me, but I couldn’t look at her just then. I went into the house with the help of the other girls. Teddy was gone so fast. I wasn’t ready for him to go, but what else could we do? I didn’t want everyone asking me a whole bunch of questions anyway, so it was probably best.

All of them were crying when it was time for Madison and Dakota to go. I don’t cry in public, but I used my ankle as an excuse to not walk them down to the car.  I hate goodbyes, especially at the end of a very good time. We all exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and promised to keep in touch. I think Madison and I really will. I sense a real good friendship with her. She wants to come out to Los Angeles during one of our breaks. We’ll work it out. She’d like LA, and LA would like her.

Dakota hit it off with Marnie more, even though I liked her a lot too. Both of them were crying on each other like fountains. My hope is that we all stay in touch. I watched and waved from the window almost wishing that I was coming back in the fall to go to school and thinking about how much my feelings had changed from those very first moments that I spent in this room. I wondered if my mother had felt that kind of change over time and if she had been in any way sad when it was time for her to leave this place for the last time. She had to. This had essentially been her home for six years of her life, and I would have to think that it’s got to be hard to leave home even when you’re looking forward to being on your own.

Dee showed me earlier, after she got back from class, that she got a more than decent score on an impromptu science quiz today. She had been checking out my website links off and on all weekend, taking notes, and she said that she got tons of information that helped her with that quiz. She says that she’s going to keep on using the site. That’s what it’s there for. Every time I find something new out there in cyberspace, I link it up. Tommy keeps it sorted out for me. He’s the file king. There’s so much good science and math stuff out there that we’ve found and organized on that one site we figure somebody can get some use out of it.

Marnie and I packed everything except what we’re going to wear and need tomorrow because we were going to be the next to leave. We do that on the day before so that the next morning we can sleep, and we don’t have to be rushing around trying to pack in a hurry and be perhaps forgetting things. As we were getting things together, I noticed Dee shutting down again. She got very quiet, and I remembered what she’d told me on Saturday about not wanting me to leave. I wish she could come with us, too, but she has school. After I helped her some with her homework this afternoon, she went over and sat by herself on her bed to work on a sketch while we were packing our suitcases and bags.

I’ve noticed some things about Dee, the first thing being that she’s had no calls from her family that I know of since we’ve been here. I wonder of Dean Marchand knows about that. Secondly, she hasn’t been angry and touchy during the entire weekend when we were all together like she had been when I saw her that first day. But she was very quiet all day today, like before. Thirdly, I remembered what she told me last Saturday about us being here being the most fun she’d had in a while

I feel badly for her. It must be very lonely in Waverly House with all these huge suites and she the only one in them. Just her and Miss Smythe who sleeps on the first floor. Everybody else who normally stays in Waverly has gone home for the summer. We are the last girls to leave from the reunion. How can her family do that to her?

I’m glad Pa took care of his daughter in her down time from school. Girls need their mothers, but they need their fathers, too. If I didn’t have my mother, Daddy and I would probably be a mess together, and it would take us some time to get a rhythm going. But now that I’m older, I think we’d make it. I know more about how to take care of myself, and I would be too busy taking care of him to get into too much trouble. Besides, I wouldn’t want to add to his burden by being a problem for him. He would need my help to hold it together. My mother means everything to him, and he would likely have a very hard time getting on with his life. I, on the other hand would have all the things My mother has taught me about life and living stored in my head and nobody can take those things away from me. They’ve put down roots. My mother has been seeding and fertilizing my mind all of my life.

Maybe that’s what Daddy was doing with Marnie this morning when he took her to breakfast. Marnie is his girl and maybe if my mother told him about that mark on her, he was sowing some seeds himself. She’s been on cloud nine all day even though she’s still on lockdown, and in the dog house with Jennifer Hart. That’s not like her. Usually when that happens, she’s either scared or mad. She took those flowers he gave her and put them on the table next to her bed and she keeps smelling them. I noticed that when Josh called for her this evening after dinner, she told him that she was busy and didn’t think she’d see him before she left. But she did give him her number at home, as well as her cell, and she invited him to call her. She didn’t even seem upset about not being able to get out to meet him or kiss him goodbye like I know she wants to with her hot self. She didn’t even try to talk him into sneaking in over here to see her. What’s up with that?

Right before they left to go back to the inn this morning, my parents came up so that my mother could tell us what to do, like we don’t know how to pack or something. Daddy gave me a single yellow rose with baby’s breath in a bud vase. When he left, I gave it to Dee. I told her that he brought it for her. She was in the bathroom when he gave it to me, so she doesn’t know from where it came. I don’t normally lie, but I think I’ll be forgiven for that small untruth.

I know my father loves me. I don’t need flowers from him to tell me that. But I think Dee can use more flowers in her life.

Teddy called back this evening to tell me good night. We didn’t talk very much. He said that he’ll stop by in the morning to see me. I just thought about that he didn’t say what time, or if it would be before or after he goes to the stable. I’ll need to get up early because if it’s before, then he could be here at the crack of dawn, and if so, I’d like to be downstairs and outside to meet him. I have to use those stupid crutches, and it’s going to take me some time to get washed, dressed, and down the stairs without drawing Miss Smythe’s attention.

I never did tell him that he couldn’t come up here any more to visit. Oh well, visiting me is irrelevant at this point anyway. We had fun with it when we could. But I will tell him to play it cool in the future because I think the Dean is on to him..

It’s a good thing that we weren’t at the kissing stage when he was up here that last time. There’s no telling where that might have gone, and what the Dean might have found when she came up here, all unannounced and everything, to see me like she did. Whew!!

This is probably going to be my last Gresham Hall entry. There won’t be time in the morning, and tomorrow night we’ll be at Pa’s. I’ve had such a good time and as always when I travel to new places, I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a much better trip than I ever could have imagined despite the trouble I’ve gotten into, not to mention Marnie’s little escapade.

It’s on to Briarwood from here. We’ll see what’s up with that leg of this excursion when we get there. So far, if somebody were to ask me, I’d have to say that this has been a pretty good summer, and a very good trip.

I’m sure there’s lots more to come.

But enough for tonight. My hand is cramping.

Sweet dreams.
J.J.

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