J.J.’s Journal: Part Seven

May 7

10: 57 P.M.

When I came out of school today, my mother was waiting out there for me instead of Aunt Pat like she has been all this week. My mother and father finally came home from their cruise. I knew they were coming home today, but I really wasn’t expecting my mother to be there to pick me up this afternoon like that. It seems as if she and Daddy have been gone forever.

I was so surprised and so happy to see her. She said she couldn’t wait to see me too, and that was why she came herself. She wanted to surprise me like I had surprised them. They had a very good time and she thanked me for that and for sending them. She told me I didn’t have to give them a present for my birthday; I had been present enough. That was so sweet of her to say.

It was while she was talking that I suddenly realized I hadn’t seen her or talked to her since the night of my birthday party on the 2nd. When they left, because of the way I set it up, we hadn’t had the opportunity to say goodbye to each other. Thinking about that, which it was sort of morbid and scary to think about, if anything had happened, we wouldn’t have said goodbye to each other. That’s not a good thing. I won’t do it that way again.

That thought made me come out and tell her I loved her because really I do.

She looked at me like I was crazy for telling her that out of the blue in that way, but she smiled just the same. I love when my mother smiles at me about something I’ve done that was good.

Daddy was at home when we got here, and he was as brown as a nut. He decided not to go in to the office today. He hugged me hard and then he said he owed me one big time for stressing him out like I did to lead up to their surprise, with the fake phone calls, business meetings and all. He said I nearly put him in intensive care. But he did pay me the ultimate compliment; he said I was good. He told me that I had set him up totally and that he hadn’t seen any of it coming at all. Looking at my parents standing there together as we were all reunited, they both looked very rested and happy. I’m so glad that Aunt Pat, Uncle Bill, and I set that up that cruise for them.

Marie is usually off on Thursdays, but she was here today to see to them getting settled in and having a decent home-cooked meal for dinner. Daddy gave her the rest of the week off because she had worked so hard with the party, then on putting the house and the grounds back together afterward, as well as seeing to me while they were gone. She really is something. I don’t know how she does it all, but she really does get things accomplished. Daddy is sending her up to see her sister in Seattle in the morning. I thought that meant that we would be eating out a lot. God knows we would have had to unless Daddy and I took on the cooking.

Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill were still here, but they were just about to leave for the airport when my mother and I got in. Uncle Bill flew Aunt Pat home to New York himself, and then he’ll go back home to Nevada after he drops her off. They were so funny. When my mother called on Monday to say that they were staying over another two days, that was the very last night that Aunt Pat acted like she was spending the nights here in the house. She came into my room carrying her suitcase to tell me that she was sick of acting like I didn’t know what was going on. She knew that I had figured it out, and that if I needed her, I should call out to the guest house.

This morning, when she took me to school she told me to keep it to myself about her and Uncle Bill. I told her that I would. I don’t know why it’s supposed to be such a big secret, my mother probably already knows anyway and just hasn’t said anything to them about it. But I was glad that Aunt Pat let me in on it and that she considered me mature enough to share that with me. As they were going out of the door, Uncle Bill winked and slipped me a fifty dollar bill.

Silence does have its value.

Daddy told me tonight that he is taking me to Chicago with him tomorrow for the weekend. (That means only one day, actually one morning, of us having to fend for ourselves in the kitchen. Maybe my mother can manage breakfast for her and Daddy. I’ll just be having cereal myself.) He has business in the Windy City and he wants me to sit in with him to watch the proceedings. He’s been doing that a lot lately, I mean letting me sit in. It’s like an aside when he does it; like I just happened to be with him and he had to bring me, but I know that he doesn’t do asides. Everything he does has a purpose. There’s a reason for this too, but he hasn’t let me in on it yet. I think he might be feeling me out or else he’s filling my head

Whatever he’s doing, it’s fascinating to me to watch him wheel and deal. He is so sharp. He lets Uncle Marcus do most of the talking in those kinds of settings, but the whole time Daddy is sitting there soaking it all in while he’s checking out the people around him. When I’m there, I can tell that even though he looks like he might not be all that interested or engaged, he hears every word that’s said. When he does finally say something, I think people who don’t know him are surprised that he has been processing in his head so much of what’s gone down in the meeting. You almost never see him take notes, check paperwork or anything. When it’s the two of us, as the meeting goes along, he’ll be quietly showing me play-by-play everything that’s being talked about, pointing to documents, tapping my foot when somebody says something that doesn’t make sense. After the meeting, he breaks it all down for me.

I love that stuff, and I like being with him. It’s a lot of fun when it’s just him and me.

My mother came in to see me a little while ago. She brought me back two really pretty summer dresses. She said that she got them from a little boutique on one of their stops. I reminded her that my instructions to her were that she was not supposed to be thinking about me while she was on her trip. She very arrogantly said that she could do whatever she wanted to do because she was the mother, and that I could not dictate to her because I was the child. Then she made me try the dresses on. They fit. She knew they would; she knows my sizes better than I do. I know she just wanted to see me in them. She likes when I wear dresses. I’m starting to like them too, but I’m not telling her that. I’m supposed to take them to France with me when I go next month.

While I was over by the closet, out of her reach, I told her how relaxed she looked and I asked her if I could expect to get a little brother or sister in about eight months. Her answer was, “Not from me. Not in eight months. Not in this lifetime.” Then, without missing a beat, she came right back at me and asked me if she could expect to be a grandmother eight months since she had been gone all that time leaving me to my own devices. I told her not unless I was the Holy Virgin J.J. and the Immaculate Conception was happening all over again in preparation for the Second Coming. We both had to laugh. She knows I’m not doing anything like that.

She stayed for a while and we talked about school, my finals, what they did on their trip, and what had been going on here while they were gone. I told her about how Tommy’s grandmother and mother had been hemming him up every day, keeping him busy at their places whenever he had any free time, and how we figured it out after the third day that it was because they didn’t want him hanging around down here with me while my parents weren’t at home. My mother sort of smiled, but she didn’t say anything. She knew what was up. Ms. Fee wasn’t leaving any room or time for monkey business between us.

That was why Ms. Fee said that stuff to me after the party about not letting Tommy talk me into anything. I bet Tommy’s grandmother and his mother have been talking about it and they think we like each other. It isn’t even like that. I don’t know why people won’t believe me. We are not like that at all. I’m just his friend. He’s mine. He goes out with other girls, and I don’t care. I don’t date anybody exclusively.  A girl and a boy can be friends without being intimate.

…Unlike Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat who spent the whole time they were here doing the wild thing with each other out in the guest house. But who was checking on them? Somebody should have been assigned to keep tabs on them, and give them chores, instead of them being here to watch me, don’t you think????? But I have kept my mouth closed about it the way Aunt Pat asked me to and Uncle Bill paid me to do.

I’m tired now, so I’m going to bed. I’m crazy about Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat, I am comfortable with them, and I liked having them here with me for these past few days. But now my parents are home and things are back like they should be.

I’ll sleep really well tonight.

Good night.

__________________________________________________________

May 8

10:17 P.M.

There was a fight at school. Two boys were fighting over a girl. It wasn’t a real bad fight; they mostly just pushed and shoved each other, but it got a lot of attention since it happened in the hall. It was two of the smaller guys. I wish it had been two of the hunkier, more buff ones and they had ripped each other’s shirts off and stuff. That would have been something to see. I know it’s sort of sadistic, but I figure if somebody is going to go through the trouble of fighting, it might as well be entertaining for the spectators.

Daddy and I go to professional fights, but we haven’t been to one in a while. When we do go, we always have front row seats. Daddy knows a lot of the promoters and some of the fighters personally, so he can always get some of the  the best seats in the house. My mother won’t go to the fights any more. She says they’re becoming ‘increasingly barbaric’.

Whatever. I like them regardless.

Daddy says that the only good thing about taking Jennifer Hart to the fights is that she spends the whole time hugged up on him trying not to look at the guys punching each other out. Him copping cheap, free feels off my mother was just too much information for me even if he is my father and they are married. He quit wasting the tickets on her and started taking me instead. She dislikes that I go to the fights and enjoy them so much, but I’m a contender myself. I just don’t do it with my fists- if I don’t have to, but I can if I’m pushed to it. His tickets aren’t wasted on me. If there’s a fistfight, a wrestling match, or a prizefight, I’m there and I’m looking right at it to see who wins.

When I got home today from school, Marie and my mother had already packed for my trip to Chicago with Daddy. I was at first thinking they were trying to fast-hustle me out of there or something. But it turns out that we had to leave right away in order for Daddy to make a late meeting. They had packed for Daddy too. I was only home for about an hour. I had just enough time to get changed, and then Daddy came and we left. Uncle Marcus flew in with us.

We are staying in a beautiful suite at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Chicago. Uncle Marcus has his own room here in the hotel. Our living room looks out over Lake Michigan and downstairs are all the shops of Water Tower Place. I wish Marnie could have come with us. In this hotel, we wouldn’t have even had to go outside if we didn’t want to. She loves to shop. I don’t, but I wouldn’t have minded going along with her here.

When the two of us have come here together in the past, all we do is walk and look and shop up and down Michigan Avenue, which is called Chicago’s Miracle Mile, and over on State Street. There are all kinds of stores, boutiques, and galleries on Michigan. I enjoy the galleries more than the stores. When my mother and I come here, that’s what we do. We are in and out of galleries all day long. An interest in appreciating and collecting art is something we have in common. I can’t draw or paint a lick, but I love it anyway. She’s purchased a couple of very fine pieces for our house while in Chicago, and several paintings for the house on the beach as well.

Visiting State Street is more fun though. It’s not all glamorous and touristy like Michigan Avenue. It’s grittier and it’s a more fun place to hang out. There are a lot of stores and boutiques there too, as well as street vendors selling everything from fruit to handbags, and then there’s the occasional entrepreneur selling jewelry and watches out of his trench coat. I like it better over there because its so down to earth and real, an urban marketplace. Since I’m here by myself this time with Daddy and he won’t really have time to go out to do things with me, I’ll be sticking with him most of the time or I’ll be here in the hotel. He doesn’t want me going off by myself too much. I don’t mind staying in. I have plenty of homework to do and when he’s free, Daddy always shows me a good time.

When we got here Daddy and Uncle Marcus met with several of their business associates here in the living room. Daddy introduced me to them, and I made small talk even though I hate that. I felt like my mother must feel all the time when she’s on the front line; like I had to make sure that my hair was combed, my outfit was neat, my face was clean, and my teeth were shiny because I had to represent my father well. He seemed satisfied with my performance.

They had a late dinner ordered up to the suite for their meeting. Daddy told me that I could go to the hotel’s dining room if I wanted to, but I told him that I didn’t want to eat there by myself, and I had my homework, so I took my meal in my room. He let me have wine with my dinner tonight, and he said I could order in whatever I wanted. I love how he treats me so much like a real lady when we travel together. Tomorrow night he’s taking me out to dinner at a supper club and we’re going dancing. I’m going on a date with my father, isn’t that rich? I don’t date boys, but I’m dating my Daddy.

Hope Jennifer doesn’t get too jealous (smile).

Goodnight

_______________________________________________________

May 9

12:05 A.M.

I declare, he has been in that living room on the phone with her for over an hour.

Should I click in and tell them to hang the hell up and for them to go to bed like she would do to me?

They’ve been married forever. You’d think they’d be sick of each other by now. Surely they’ve run out of things to talk about. That’s what she tells me, and I haven’t known the people I talk to for anywhere near as long as she’s known him.

Thank God I brought my cell with me. I wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise if I hadn’t. The next time, we’ll have to get a suite with two phone lines. Jeeeezzzz.

Good night/morning

 

May 9

11:52 P.M.

Daddy is on the phone with his other woman. She can have what’s left of him. I was his number one girl all day today, and I had such a wonderful time.

First, we had breakfast together in the hotel restaurant. We ate like pigs- no holding back- no calorie counting- nobody nagging at us from the sidelines about how much syrup, salt, or butter we put on anything. We just ate until we felt like stopping. He let me have coffee too, the kind I like, straight, strong caffeine-laced Columbian with lots of cream and sugar. The rush was the bomb.

From there we went to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to meet with some people there. Hart Industries did wiring work for the computer systems in a major section of the building, some drops for the main network I think, and Daddy wanted to touch base with the people in charge to check on how things were functioning. Even though he’s the CEO, he likes to give that personal touch when he can. He explained to me that doing that instills confidence in the company as a whole.

Then he took me to the Chicago Stock Exchange floor. It was so exciting and it was wild. I don’t know how anybody understands anybody, but the job evidently gets done. He explained to me how things work, and he showed me Hart Industries Stocks actually being traded. I was so proud of him. Hart stocks are labeled “Jonathan Hart Industries”. How is that for having clout in the world?

From what he explained to me, I could see that Hart Industries is in the black big time. He introduced me to many of the people he knew there, he knows everybody it seems, and so many of those people who know my mother, remarked about how much I look like her. My mother must have known what he had planned for me this weekend. When I pulled out what she packed, to hang it up and put it away, there wasn’t one pair of jeans- just business attire and evening wear. ALL dresses and skirts. I am so glad I wore pants and my boots to come here. I will be wearing them on the trip back. I sent them down to laundry this morning to make sure that they were cleaned and pressed in time.

He took me to lunch in the Signature Room at the very top the Hancock Center. You can see all of Chicago from the windows. It was just he and I at lunch. I had the grilled shrimp and parsnip ravioli. Daddy had the salmon. He really wanted the grilled filet of beef , but he’s watching his cholesterol. He said that we were going to have steaks at the supper club for dinner, and he didn’t want to overdo his red meat intake. Personally, I could eat a steak at every meal. My mother says that its good that I stay so active because I would be fat if I didn’t. She claims that I eat too much. I think I just eat a lot in comparison to her. If I ate like her, I would always be hungry and really, really skinny.

After lunch, we went to a jewelry store called Marshall and Pierce where Daddy bought my mother a tennis bracelet. He bought me earrings that I wore later at dinner. From the jewelry store, we went back to the hotel where the afternoon business meeting was held. I sat through it with Daddy. It was Saturday and he normally doesn’t do business on Saturday, but apparently this had to be done today.

As the meeting progressed, he kept me abreast of everything while Uncle Marcus actually represented Hart’s interests at the table. It came to me that’s why Daddy can come and go like he pleases when it comes to his work most of the time. He has Hart on auto pilot. All he has to do is make sure that the instruments are functioning properly. Since he keeps things under constant maintenance and surrounds himself with capable people in whom he can trust, he is pretty much assured that things will always be in working order without his constant attention.

The meeting was all men, and I got the feeling that a couple of them questioned my presence, even though nobody said anything. Daddy didn’t act like he noticed anything. Even if he did, he wouldn’t care. I didn’t speak or anything, so I don’t know why anybody would care about me being there, but I’m sure I felt it. I don’t care either. My Daddy said that I could be there and he’s the man. After the meeting, a man Daddy introduced to me as Bob Witherspoon, came up and spoke to him. Then he asked me why a pretty girl like me would want to sit through a boring meeting like that. He wanted to know why I didn’t just ask my father for some money and go shopping instead.

Before I could say anything to check him about his chauvinism, Daddy put his hand on my shoulder; he knew I was mad. He told Mr. Witherspoon that I was there because he wanted me there.

“Don’t forget this face.” He said to him. “You will be seeing it again.”

He said it in a pleasant way when he was speaking to the man directly, but then he called him an “asshole” under his breath after we walked away.

I just love my father.

I wonder if Mr. Witherspoon would have made that comment if I was Jonathan Hart Jr.? Little does he know…

Oh my God, dinner was beyond excellent!

My father took me to Green Dolphin Street which is a jazz supper club. The food was superb and the music! Oh the music! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Jazz is a pure form of music. It’s not digital, electronic or enhanced, it’s purely instruments and/or vocals. I could have listened to the music and danced all night. My ears were in heaven. My feet were on cloud nine. It seems so weird to write this, but at times I felt like I wanted to cry, it moved me so.

I got a kick out of  some of the ladies there watching me with Daddy. I noticed some of them were watching us and whispering to each other. They were looking like they disapproved of us being together. It didn’t dawn on me right away, but after I thought about it I realized that they must have thought I was his girlfriend, maybe his little thing on the side. I’m tall and I was all dressed up. I had put my hair up too, so it’s harder to tell that I’m just sixteen than when I just go, like I normally do, with the ponytail. I felt a lot older too, so I probably carried myself differently. I was on the floor dancing with my father, thought about it and got tickled. Daddy asked me what was so funny, but I didn’t tell him. For some reason, I thought that it might embarrass him to know.

Allen Baker, Jr. was there with a lady friend. His father and my parents are old friends. His father’s company is bidding on the same project as Hart Industries and he was here representing Baker Financial to meet with the same group of people that Daddy met with in our hotel room. Uncle Marcus decided to stay behind and have dinner at the hotel. Daddy says that he thinks Uncle Marcus, who isn’t married, has a lady friend at home. He thought that Uncle Marcus wanted to get back to his room and call her up on the phone.

For dinner I had lobster. He changed his mind about the steak and had the cracked crab instead. He ordered champagne and let me have some on the sly, poured it from his glass to mine. He wasn’t supposed to. I’m too young to drink in a restaurant, but I’m Jonathan Hart’s daughter and I was with him. That makes a difference, I guess.

On the way home in the limo, I thought about those ladies again and laughed to myself. He heard me and said champagne must make me silly like it does my mother. We could have caught a cab like I really wanted to, but he insisted on the limo saying that modern day princesses ride in modern day carriages. Who would I tell out loud that I went on a date with my Daddy and had the time of my life? He’s so nice. He’s funny, and he’s a very smooth dancer. I let him lead.

When we arrived at the hotel, just before the chauffeur let us out, I thanked him for the nice evening. He told me that he had a lot of fun with me, that he was proud of me, and that I was really becoming quite a lady, just like my mother. He called me gorgeous, and that made my face get all hot, and then he laughed at me.

When we got back in the suite, Russell Thomas called Daddy on business. Since I answered the phone, he and I got to talk for a bit before I called my father to the phone. Russell is another one who has always treated me like a lady and not so much like a kid. He’s such a nice guy. He always seems so interested in the things I’m into, how I’m doing in school, and about my friends. He knows Marnie and he’s gotten to know Tommy quite well from him being down at Hart a lot with his mother and from the two of them messing around in the computer labs. Russell has just always been very, very considerate of me since the first day that I met him, when he took my school pictures.

I told him about my evening with my father, and how I felt like I’d been on a real date with an older guy. Russell said that my father was a very lucky man, and that there were probably a lot of guys who would have longed to be in Jonathan Hart’s shoes this evening. See what I said about how nice he is?

Daddy told me later that Russell was supposed to come on this trip too, but something came up at the very last minute and he had to stay behind to take care of things in Los Angeles. Daddy said that he tried to get Russell to put whatever it was off, but Russell said that he just couldn’t do it. That’s too bad. I would have enjoyed spending time talking with him and maybe getting a dance from him at the jazz club if he had gone.

We were so busy today that I didn’t get a chance to call my mother. I did send her an email from my laptop earlier on one of our pit stops. When we got in this evening, I was happy to see that I had one from her. She said that she finished her article that she was behind on completing, and that she missed me. She hoped I was having a good time. I really am. We’re flying home late tomorrow morning, so I need to get packed tonight. That way I can stay in bed as long as possible.

I’m slowing down a lot, though. I think that champagne is really starting to take me out.

Good Night

_______________________________________________________

May 10

8:49 P.M.

We’re home. We got back around four this afternoon after we dropped Uncle Marcus off at the Towers where he left his car on Friday. My mother had dinner ready, (she ordered it, thank heavens) and she had kept it warm for us. We came right in and sat down to eat. I was starved.

I flew us home. That’s probably one of the longer flights I’ve made, but I have to log so many hours for my pilot’s license. I didn’t fly going to Chicago because it was night and Daddy doesn’t let me fly at night yet. He says that he will soon. Uncle Marcus knows to keep his mouth shut about me and the flying. He’s been in the plane when I’ve flown before.

I waited for my father to give my mother the bracelet he bought her at dinner tonight, but he must have been saving it to give to it her when they are alone. That’s so romantic. She likes surprises, and she’ll really like that one. It’s a real stunner.

I’ve unpacked, put the things in their places that need to be washed or go to the cleaners, organized my homework and my notebooks. I called Marnie to let her know that I was back. She said that the weekend was really dead after my party last weekend. I had six emails from Wesley which I’m not going to answer.

Now I’m going to get a shower and get over in the bed. Then I’ll call Tommy and let him talk me to sleep. He hates when I call him and then I fall asleep on him, but what are friends for if not to help you relax?

Good night

 

May 11

7:47 P.M.

I had a very good day.

When I got to school this morning everybody was standing around the lockers looking at newspapers. When I came up, they showed me that there were pictures from my birthday party in several local papers. It was kind of exciting. I was in most of the pictures, and so were a lot of my friends. There were the standard pictures of my mother and father, “Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Hart of Bel Air”. They make the papers fairly often because of their active social life and their charity work with various organizations, but mostly with Mission Street.

I’ve been in the paper before, but it was for sports: tennis and track, and a few other times for my national math awards and some other academic things. This time I felt a little funny about it. It seemed like all the articles focused on what I had on and how I look. There wasn’t much mention about me as a person. Just that I was my parents’ daughter, that I was turning sixteen, and that I’m really “quite charming and attractive”. How about I do well in school, I’m not a delinquent, I like music and I’m a runner, and I don’t have any out of wedlock kids yet? No mention of any accomplishments, but I guess one can’t have everything, and maybe that stuff isn’t what sells papers.

There was one really good picture in the Times of Tommy and me on the first dance. If I must say so myself, we made an ‘attractive’ couple- in the picture. They did mention his name. I was glad of that. I would hate for him to have gone down as ‘unidentified friend’ for posterity. There was a picture of Marnie and me. She got her name mentioned and as well as the fact that she was my best friend. She liked hers because she looked good on it. If she hadn’t, we would have had to hear about it all day. There was also a smaller picture of Wesley and me dancing, but he was an “unidentified friend’. I caught Tommy looking at that one at lunch when he thought I was busy playing cards. I could have sworn that those dimples flashed like he wanted to laugh. He was looking mighty smug to me.

We haven’t really talked a whole lot about it, but I don’t think Tommy cares very much for Wesley. I can’t say that I blame him. Wesley can be a little pompous, but I think that’s more of a defense on Wesley’s part because Tommy brings out his insecurities. Tommy is younger than Wesley and he holds his own in any situation. That makes Wesley nervous because he knows that he couldn’t hang in Tommy’s world like he does in ours. I think he feels that Tommy needs to humble himself or something around him because his mother isn’t wealthy like our parents. I’m glad that Tommy doesn’t do that, and in a way, I’m glad that makes Wesley insecure, if that’s the case. That evens the playing field. Tommy does resent the things that Wesley says and I know they make him mad. I think they hurt his feelings too, which doesn’t do anything for my feelings toward Wesley. Wesley and I have known each other longer, but Tommy and I go a lot deeper.

My mother is a mess. For all of her, “You have to be humble in your successes, Justine” lectures, she had every one of those newspapers in the car when she picked me up from school, and she spent the evening cutting and pasting the articles and pictures into the scrapbook that she keeps of my stuff. She even had the Reverb section of the LA Weekly where someone had profiled my DJ skills when I took Andre’s place on the mike at the party. I had a ball doing that. There was a picture of me with the headphones on working the board. The caption said, “The little girl who can work the big sounds.” and it mentioned me as someone to look out for on the music scene in a few years. Yeah…do that.

Anyway, my mother has all these scrapbooks from her life with Daddy before I was born, newspaper pictures, clippings of articles, magazine stuff of things people wrote about each or both of them, the things they used to do, and then there’s the scrapbooks she’s done of me.

She has every certificate, good note, bad note, picture, test score, article, whatever that I have ever gotten in those books. They are interesting to look at. Kind of like illustrated journals, but not so personal as my written journals. And it’s like she told me about the journals, when you see where you’ve been, you can better tell where you’re going or you need to go.

For example, there’s a note that she kept from my kindergarten teacher in one of the books. The teacher was saying that she was recommending me for the English as a Second Language class. Since I didn’t go to nursery school before kindergarten like most of the other kids, I was used to being with my mother all day, and my social skills with other children my age weren’t the best. She and I traveled everywhere together and she had taken care of teaching me up till then. When I had to start real school, I really didn’t want to be there, and I was angry about her leaving me. By that time, I could speak English and French. I could also read and write already. They did baby things at school and I guess I was bored. At first I wouldn’t talk to anybody. The teacher told on me, and my mother fussed at me about it, so then I made up my mind that I would talk, but I just wouldn’t speak English to anybody at school. For the first couple of weeks or so I acted like I didn’t know what they were saying to me most of the time. The teachers thought I mostly spoke French even though my paperwork clearly said that my native tongue was English. Daddy said that was his first indication that the inmates were running the asylum at that academy, and it was his first real clue that I was something beyond intelligent.

My mother didn’t give a tinker’s you-know-what about ‘beyond intelligent’. After she threatened to spank me if I didn’t adjust my attitude, I bet I got it together. That was eleven years ago, but I still remember doing that and her saying that she would get with my rear end if I didn’t stop it. In all these years, even though I probably came close many times, she’s never had to do that to me.

Daddy looked at the newspapers when he got home and then he put them down. He got that line in his forehead, like it worried him or he wasn’t so pleased about it, even though he acted like it was fine. He and my mother went off and started talking quietly like they didn’t want me to hear, so I came out here to the patio. I hope it’s not a problem. I know that he doesn’t care for that kind of thing for himself, and neither of them like publicity pictures taken of me. It’s been a slight problem in the past when photographers sneaked around and did it. My parents made an exception this time because it was my Sweet Sixteen party and they had been being approached by photographers and reporters from the different publications wanting to cover it. They asked me how I felt about it. I didn’t care, so it was done.

They still keep me pretty much under wraps, which is cool because I’m not so sure that I like being out there like that. It was fun, though, seeing myself and my friends in the paper having a good time. That party was the best one yet.

Good night

_______________________________________________________

May 12

6:05 P.M.

Today was interesting.

I’ve been a little bent out of shape about my finals, but I took the first two today and came through them without a problem. I knew all of the material in and out. I had studied real hard, and I’ve been paying attention so I guess it all paid off. No stress on the tests.

I got called to the office during fifth period. All the way going down there I was wondering what I had done. I have to get over this automatic guilt complex I have that kicks in when I get called on the carpet. I might not have even done anything, just like today, but still I get nervous just the same.

It seems that I have a secret admirer. Yesterday somebody stuck a note inside my locker saying that they liked me and didn’t know how to tell me. I didn’t think anything of it at the time; stuff like that happens to people around here all the time. Somebody always likes somebody. But today I got sent a teddy bear and the person made out like it was from Daddy, but I don’t think it was.

Daddy wouldn’t do something like that at school. He would have had it here in my room waiting for me on my bed or something. School is serious business for both my parents. They would consider that a distraction for me. It might be Wesley. I never did answer his emails from when I was gone over the weekend.

Daddy’s not home yet. I won’t say anything about it to him. I’ll just wait and see if he does or says anything to give himself away. Still I really don’t think it’s Daddy. I’m not sure about Wesley either; he’s still in Massachusetts as far as I know. I don’t know anybody else who likes me like that. But I guess if it’s a secret admirer, I’m not supposed to know, am I?

Whoever it is, I don’t like it much, unless it does turn out to be Daddy. I don’t want presents from boys or anybody like that. I don’t want to feel like I owe anybody anything. I didn’t even bring the bear home. I put him on the floor in my locker and left him there. That first note is in there too. I don’t know why I didn’t throw it away. None of this feels right.

It’s no big deal, I guess.

Daddy’s home. I’ll be back if he says anything.

J.

___________________________________________________________

May 13

10:05 P.M.

As you can see, I didn’t come back last night, so unless he’s holding out, it wasn’t Daddy. He didn’t say one word about it.

I didn’t get anything today. Maybe it was a one time thing. Perhaps he saw me up close or something, decided he didn’t like freckles or my red hair, and changed his mind.

I had the best laugh tonight. I’m still laughing. Jennifer Hart defies description. The lady has a lot of layers to her.

After dinner, I came upstairs to do my homework, but I kept thinking about the present and the notes and I had trouble concentrating. I can’t get my mind off it. It was nagging at me all the way home from school and all through dinner. I decided to do something to take my mind off everything.

I was in my sitting room watching television and my mother came in and sat down with me. She rarely watches television, so she doesn’t know the shows or the characters or anything. Most of the time, she can’t get into TV because she operates on a much higher plane. She writes, reads, and stays so busy a lot of the time. I read and move around a lot too, but sometimes I just have to stop and veg, so I go watch TV. Tonight I just needed to chill.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was on when she came in. After a few minutes of sitting there with me watching this show which is set way back in the past in Colorado Springs when it was a frontier town, my mother commented that she didn’t think I would like watching something like that since I usually watch stuff with a lot of action and/or violence- the kind of shows she makes me turn off if she happens to be nearby and hears too much screaming, cursing, and/or gunshots or she sees too much blood and mayhem. While she was talking, Dr. Quinn’s husband, Sully, came across the screen, stopping my mother in mid-sentence. I could have sworn that I heard her breath catch. She goes, “Who is that?”

I go, “The reason why I watch this show.”

Brian Sully is so hot. He’s all tall, and buff, and rugged looking with his long hair, those eyes, and those lips. He’s got sort of a stubbly beard where he doesn’t shave a lot. He had his shirt open and his chest was showing. He was in those buck skin pants he wears looking all sweaty and everything. A true ‘roughneck’. That’s how Marnie describes the kind of guys that I find attractive.

My mother goes, “It figures he would appeal to you.”

But mind you, she’s still checking Sully out while she’s talking about who appeals to me.

I asked her what made her say that.

She said it was because I like any guy who looks like he might ride horses bareback, whose hair is long enough to put in a ponytail, who looks like he doesn’t have a suit in his wardrobe, and he’s just this side of clean. But that she didn’t figure me for going for a blonde. Then she gave me that look.

So I asked her why was it that she wanted to know who blonde Sully was when he first came across the screen. She didn’t say anything to that, in fact, she had the nerve to act like she didn’t hear me.

She fools no one. I know my Daddy is a closet roughneck. He just has to be clean shaven and pin-striped most of the time because of his business position. But she likes him real good when we’re on the ranch and he doesn’t shave every day and he’s been off on that horse, tending to the fences or working on something wearing those jeans and that flannel shirt. Oh, she likes him real good when we’re out sailing and he’s out of that suit and in some shorts and a tee shirt. And don’t think I haven’t taken note of the fact that she didn’t marry one of those prep school stiffs, pretty boys, or that old money she knew and dated before Daddy. I’ve seen the pictures. She could have had anybody she wanted from any kind of background, but she married a self-made man who loves cards, drinks scotch like water, plays the ponies with passion, can pick a lock, crack a safe, or hack a computer with the best of them, and who just happens to not be blonde either.

Don’t even try it, Jennifer Hart. You have some Bohemian in you too. I get it so totally honestly.

We had that exchange at about eight-something this evening, but it took me until I sat down just now to write this to figure out that she was alluding to Tommy when she made that crack about the pony tail, me not liking blondes, and the guys I like not owning suits. The last time she saw him, Tommy was getting off the bike in the driveway. He had pulled his hair back into a rubber band to wear under his helmet and he had on jeans with the knees torn out. After he left, she asked me when he was getting the earring and the tattoo. I didn’t tell her that he already has the earring. He just takes it off to come here when he thinks she might be home. He wants a tattoo, but he says he hasn’t made up his mind what to get yet. I hope it’s a snake or a dragon or something.

For me, looking at men is like looking at art. You don’t have to know how to do it to know what appeals to you.

My mother is a real trip, but she’s truly funny. As I’m getting older, I’m finding that she goes a lot deeper than I ever imagined. I always knew that she was her own person, and I’ve always found her interesting, but whenever I think I’ve pretty much got her figured out, something else pops up.

She knows I don’t like any particular boy like that yet. Some guys just look better than others to me, that’s all. That Sully is hot. If somebody was to ask me about the plot of the show tonight, I couldn’t begin to tell them

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

May 14

5:46 P.M.

I had another note put in my locker today. It was from the Secret Admirer.

Both times they must have been slipped through the vent slots because the door itself was still locked. This one fell out when I opened it. Marnie was with me; her locker is next to mine, but she was busy checking her makeup in the mirror on her locker door so she didn’t see it. It was in a small envelope that had been addressed to me, “J.J.”.

I stuck it in my book real quick so Marnie wouldn’t see and start asking questions. She would be ribbing me for days and then, with her nosy self, she would be going around trying to find out who it was. I would never live it down. I don’t like that kind of attention. When I do decide to go there, I want it to be important and private. I want it to be handled seriously, not like elementary school, I-like-you-do-you-like-me, kid stuff.

When I got to Calculus, after I finished my final exam for the class, I read it.

It just said that whoever this is thinks I’m pretty and wants to get to know me better. I wish whoever this is would just come on out and stop being so shy. I don’t think I’m that difficult to approach. This is obviously somebody who doesn’t know me at all. If he did, he would know that I’m not that keen on guessing games when it comes to things like this. It makes me a little nervous and a little mad when I know that some boy has honed in on me, calling himself liking me.

I just end up having to be bothered with somebody following me around like a little puppy or something, then I have to struggle to not to hurt his feelings, which is hard for me when somebody is on my nerves and I want them off. I left that note in my locker with the bear. I hope this stops, but I would at least like to know who it is.

Come to think of it, I’m hoping this is a boy. I mean, I’m assuming that it is, but at my school anything is possible. The alternative would be beyond bizarre and the situation a lot more touchy, but I digress.

Marnie had detention today during her lunch. She had to go to the detention room instead of eating with us. She got caught cursing about somebody stepping on her shoe in the hall. I told her about wearing those expensive, soft white leather mules to school. People are too rough and they play around too much. You wear something top of the line and it’s bound to get messed up in some way by somebody acting a fool. I never wear my real good stuff to school.

I tried to go to detention with her, I was going to use the time to study, but when we got there Ms. Osgood wouldn’t let me in. She said that Marnie wasn’t allowed any visitors and that she hadn’t issued any retroactive detentions. I haven’t had detention at all this year, but she says that she knows I’ve done something that would have landed me in there, but I just didn’t get caught at it.

Whatever, Ms. Osgood. If you didn’t see me, I didn’t do it. Assumption is one thing, proof is quite another.

Daddy picked me up from school today. He was a little late, so I had time to sit out front with my friends before he came. Just my luck, when he got there, Marnie had just left with Allison and her mom. That left me sitting on the wall with Tommy, Hector, Deon, Josh, Ajay, and Big Percy. Deon had his boom box and he was playing “This is How We Do It” turned up real loud. I had enhanced the bass in the speakers for him and we were trying it out. He wanted the guys to hear what I had done.

We have this thing we do on that song where if we’re sitting down we synchronize our heads and shoulders and we chair dance from the waist up. Ajay is from Pakistan, but we got to him way back in junior high. He’s now one of the best dancers in the school. He’s super smart, and pretty straight-laced, but he’s nobody’s dork.

We were all in, shoulder to shoulder, head to head, cranking it side to side to the beat. The song had just got to the part about reaching for a forty (40 ounce beer), turning it up, and telling the designated driver to take the keys to the truck “’cause I’m faded (high)”. I had my eyes closed and was all the way gone, raising the roof with my hands all up in the air, when I felt somebody poke me. It was Tommy.

My Daddy was at the curb sitting behind the wheel watching me on that wall boogying in the middle of all those boys.

Deon turned the box down real quick when he saw him. Everybody split. I just stopped, slid down off the wall, went to the car, got in and gave him a kiss. I thought sure he was going to lay into me, but he didn’t. He just asked me where Marnie was, and I told him that she got a ride with somebody else.

I wonder what he really thought? Whatever it was, he had to have kept it to himself. He couldn’t have said anything to my mother about it because she didn’t come up here, and give me the blues about acting common in public and disgracing them. For about an hour after we got home, I was holding my breath waiting for her to come in to me, but she never showed. I wish we could get some consistency going here so that I wouldn’t have to be on edge all the time.

I sure am glad she wasn’t the one to pick me up today. She abhors dancing in the street like that, especially if I’m the one doing it. If she had pulled up to that curb and saw that, she would have me in a dress every day until the last day of school for the year to keep me off the wall, and to make me act like a lady ( or her idea of one). She says that my behavior changes according to how I’m dressed. All I know is you can’t do the things in a dress that you can in jeans, period.

I don’t mean to disgrace anybody. J.J. Hart just likes having a good time wherever, whenever. And if the music is good, I’m sorry but it’s on.

Good evening

___________________________________________________________

May 15

9:56 P.M.

There was a debate at lunch today over whether or not it’s really stealing if you borrow your parents car without asking.

I feel like it isn’t exactly stealing. I mean, it’s not like you’re taking it for good. When you steal something you take it with the intention of keeping it. You’re bringing the car back, so I say it’s borrowing. Most of the people agreed with me. Marnie says it’s definitely borrowing when she does it. She’s been doing it for a while now. She doesn’t go far; just around Bel Air up around their estate. A couple of times she drove down to our back gate and I met her out there. She does it when her mother is on a date or otherwise away. She’s a few months older than me and she’s started taking Driver’s Training. She’ll probably get her license this summer.

I’ve been thinking about that scenario a lot tonight. I mean, it’s probably not a wise thing to do, and it would be better to ask if you can use the car, but what if you got in a situation and just needed a car for a minute? Like your parents weren’t home or something and you had to rush a friend to the hospital or something? That would just be borrowing it. Right?

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t apply to me anyway. My mother won’t even let me take Driver’s Training until the fall of the year. She said that I couldn’t take it before then because she knows that I would be doing something crazy like trying to drive on the sly this summer if I had any inkling that I had a reason to be behind the wheel.

God, if she only knew.

I can already drive. I can fly a plane. I can operate a motorcycle. Yes, a motorcycle. Tommy lets me ride his. He didn’t want to, but I wore him down. I had to point it out to him that my mother said that I couldn’t ride on it with him. She didn’t say I couldn’t drive it myself.

I wasn’t going to write about that, in case she let me down and sneaked to read this, but I made myself mad just now so I slipped and wrote it. Besides, I don’t think she would do that; read my journal, that is.

Look for the loophole. That’s the key to doing what you want to do without being disobedient and having to go on lockdown as a result.

I got another note from Secret Admirer today. This is getting old. Nobody at school is acting funny, like they have something to hide. I’ve been kind of waiting to see if anybody would do something to give themselves away, but so far there’s been nothing.

Daddy and I practiced out on the court this evening. I have a big match coming up at the club. It’s the finals and I’m the first seed in my division. I’m supposed to advance to the regionals, but I don’t want to compete in tennis at that level. I’m playing Angelique Baker, and no matter who wins, she’ll be going to the regionals to represent our club. Despite that, I still plan to win on Sunday.

I think my parents are disappointed that I didn’t want to advance, but I know them. They’ll get all wrapped up, have me practicing and training, and spending more time than I want to spend doing something that I just want to have fun at. I don’t have that much time to just chill and have fun as it is. I love tennis, but I want to keep loving it. I won’t if it comes to that.

My parents are like that with track, all into me and everything, but that’s different. I want their total support for that because I want to be a competitive runner. I enjoy being the best in that sport. I was proud when I took the track regionals this year in the 220 and the 440 singles and when I anchored our first place team in the 880 relays. It disappointed me some when I petered out on the 880 singles, and I came in second to Philly. She’s my girl and we’re on the same team, so that was the only thing that made it sort of cool. If it couldn’t be me, then I was glad that it was her. I want to be the best in track, but, I don’t have to be the best tennis player.

It’s early, but I think I’m going up to get a shower and get ready for bed. It’s Friday and my parents have gone out for the evening, so I can get some quality phone time in. They won’t be back for a while.

I’m going to have to get one of those things for my phone that zaps out the telemarketer calls. I’ve been getting a lot of anonymous calls and I know that’s who it is that’s calling me. My mother has one on her line and she has one on the house line. I’m glad that I have caller I.D. and I can know ahead of time that it’s not someone really wanting to speak with me personally, but it’s still annoying to have the calls get that far.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 17

11:03 P.M.

I was out and about all day yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to write. I had an early track practice. Daddy had some things to catch up on at the office, so he couldn’t stay like he normally does. He dropped me off and then my mother picked me up later when we were done.

I had a hair appointment, and I had a nail appointment right after. Those are things that she insists upon with me. I like having them done myself. I like to be neat and well-groomed. It seemed like I was in the salon all day. When she picked me up, my mother said that she was glad that I had a French manicure done on my fingers and toes and got rid of the blue polish that I had from my party. I thought the blue was slick myself, but that was just a one-time gimmick to match my outfit for that night. I prefer something more neutral for every day.

We went and had a late lunch at the Country Club. She had to meet with Shelby, her friend who she’s helping to write a book. I went and sat by myself to look over some formulas that were giving me a little trouble. I had taken my Calculus final, but I still had an Algebra final coming up. People kept stopping me to speak to me. I finally gave it up when Rick came over and started asking me about why was I studying when I could be playing tennis. He’s the tennis pro and the resident air head. All he thinks about it seems is tennis and looking up women’s dresses. If I had been Marnie, there were two words that I would have said. Instead I just smiled politely and told him that I like math, that it was as relaxing for me as other things were to other people. But I made sure that I said it nastily; my mother was out of earshot, and I think he got the message. He quickly left me alone.

Lately, there are several people, men, at the club who make me uncomfortable. I think this is one of the hardest things about getting older. The men who up to now have been people I could look up to, that I could count on to look out for me, are seemingly now looking at me differently. I catch them looking at my face, my legs, and at my breasts when they think I can’t see them. These are the same men who are friends of my parents. Some of them have known me since I was a little girl, but since I’m getting older, things are changing and I don’t always know how to deal with it. It’s kind of embarrassing and it makes me feel dirty even though I know I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too sensitive about things like that.

It helps that my mother is so candid about things. She told me a long time ago that I was going to be pretty and that it might complicate things for me. She was right. It does make things harder. People, especially boys and men, but occasionally women do it too, assume that I’m just a pretty face. I have to constantly prove myself as something beyond a face and a body and I worry that it’s going to be like this for the rest of my life. People who don’t know me are surprised when they find out that I’m smart, that I can speak several languages, that I’m pretty well-traveled, and all the other things about me that make me who I am. My mother seems to handle it so well and so smoothly, but she says that she went through the same thing. I’ll be glad when I’m on the other side, where she is now, on this.

Last night all three of us went to see a play that a friend of my mother is directing. It was a mystery and it was pretty good. I like any play that isn’t a musical. Most musicals are the pits. It’s nerve-wrecking for me when every other scene somebody is breaking out in song like that happens for real in life. A song here or there is okay, but too much of that and I’m a lost cause. I think I’m a more reality-based person.

We went backstage and met the actors afterward. I am always fascinated by the makeup, the costumes, and the sets. I especially like to see how the lighting and the actor’s mikes, which you never see, work. And I like to see how the staging is done. It’s really good when special effects are used. Daddy showed me how in this play some things were done to make certain stage effects move around by remote control. It was great.

The Director, Sid Matthews is an old friend of my mother’s from her graduate school days, and he wants her to help him with his next play. She said that she would do what she could; plays aren’t really her specialty even though she has worked on quite a few. She’s always assisting  somebody with their literary work, and Daddy never seems to mind that a lot of these people are men. It must be nice to feel that secure with yourself and your partner. I still don’t think I’m ever getting married. I don’t think I could trust anybody like they trust each other. Women come on to Daddy all the time, and my mother never seems to get upset about it, unless they do it in her face. That makes her mad, but I think it’s more of a reaction to the lack of respect shown to her than it is jealousy about him. When it’s the other way around, Daddy just moves in to reclaim what’s his.

My mother and I went to church this morning, and for once, Daddy went too. Characteristically, he fell asleep during the sermon, causing my mother to pinch him, which shocked him awake. He said a bad word, and consequently, she pinched him again. It was all I could do to keep a straight face and not get pinched myself for thinking him amusing.

After church, when we were outside, Father Daly made it a point to come up and speak to Daddy. He told Daddy how glad he was to see him at the service for once, and that he wished he could see more of him. Daddy let him know that he sent his representatives on a fairly regular basis and that God alone knew his heart.

In the car, my mother told him that he had been rude to Father Daly. Daddy said that he fully supported the church’s programs financially, and that attending church every Sunday wouldn’t make him any better a person than he was. Then he said that he bet Father Daly would have seen a lot more of him indeed if he had pulled his pants down and mooned him like he wanted to, and that he wouldn’t have said what he said if Father hadn’t tried to strong arm him in front of everybody like he did.

Then he turned around to me and went, “Right?”

I just gave him the hand. I was not about to get involved in that discussion. I have to live with the woman every day and on a subordinate level, so I was not about to take sides. But the mooning thing was to die for.

My mother fussed at him and told him that he needed to be ashamed, but she said that she knew that he wasn’t. She said that she was just trying to make sure that they spent eternity together. He told her that she knew full well that she loved him and couldn’t do without him, and that wherever he ended up, heaven or hell, she would be breaking her neck to be right there with him because she was so crazy about him.

Now that he was right about.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 18

8:15 P.M.

Today I got called to the office again. This time for flowers, red roses. And another note was stuck in my locker. When the flowers came, just like with the teddy bear, they called over the intercom to tell me to come to the office. Everybody in class oohs  because they think I’m in trouble. I don’t say anything to the contrary because I would rather that people think that than to know what’s really going on. So far, nobody but me and whoever is doing this knows exactly what’s happening. It’s no big deal and I don’t want one made over it.

I thought for a hot second, when all this got started, that this might be Tommy trying to be funny. After all, he did kiss me at my birthday party, but since then he’s just been Tommy. He would have broken down by now and told me. It’s not his style either. He’s not big on trinkets and gifts. He’s more about substance than show. Like for my birthday, he gave me a dozen roses, yellow ones which are my favorite. He gave them to me himself, from his hands to mine. Wesley brought me roses too, but they were red roses, two dozen, in this huge, beautiful cut crystal vase. But his parents actually brought them here when they came to the house that night. He said he had his parents to bring the flowers because he had his boys in the car with him and he didn’t want the roses to get all crushed or anything. But even then, he just told me they were in the house on the piano rather than giving them to me himself. He made sure that he told me when I was with Tommy, and it was right after Tommy gave me his roses.

The note that came with the flowers said that they were from Daddy again, but I knew right away that they weren’t. My father knows that I prefer yellow roses, and that’s what he would have given me if it was him. It’s my mother who likes red roses, and that’s what he gives her. He caters to our preferences when he’s trying to please us. I also knew then that it wasn’t Tommy for sure. He, too, knows about my liking yellow roses over red.

I threw the flowers in the garbage can right outside the office, but I kept the note that came with them. I put it in my locker on the floor with the other stuff. Later, when I came back to get something I needed for one of my classes, there was another note inside the locker.

It’s so weird. The note cards that come with the gifts are blank. Just the envelopes have writing. All the notes put inside my locker are always typed, as if the person doesn’t want his handwriting identified. That makes me think it must be somebody at school. But then why would he go to the trouble of having things delivered to me from the office and then say that they’re from my father? Why not just leave the things for me at the lockers? It’s as if they don’t really know how to get to me with the gifts, so they have to get past the secretaries in the office. Could this be two people? One sticking the notes in my locker and another leaving the presents?

And why wouldn’t the secretaries recognize the person leaving the presents if it’s somebody at school? They think the presents are really from my father.

If they only knew.

What if this isn’t somebody from school? Who else could it be? It has to be at least one somebody from school because of the notes in my locker. Today’s note said that I was pretty, that he liked when I smile, and that he wanted to talk to me soon. It also said that if I was nice, he would give me the other half of the dozen roses later. He can keep them.

What constitutes “nice”?

He wants to talk to me? Yeah, I want to talk to him too, so I can tell him to flake off and leave me alone.

I don’t care for this at all and I wish I knew who it was so that I could tell him to please stop. If he likes me like he seems to, I don’t want to lead him on. I don’t believe in that. Being square with people about things that matter is what I try to do. It’s how I would want to be treated. I have no interest in anyone like that. It’s not like once I find out who it is, I’m going to suddenly fall in love with him because of this. More than likely, it will be the other way around. I am just not there yet. This stuff is occupying my mind too much, and it’s taking up too much of my time.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

May 19

3:14 A.M.

I had a bad dream. I don’t remember the details, but it woke me up and I can’t get back to sleep. I know it’s connected to this junk at school. I hate this. I really hate this.

When I woke up, it felt like somebody was sitting on my chest and I was having trouble breathing. Maybe that’s what woke me up. Maybe I’m just coming down with something and I thought I was having a bad dream because I couldn’t breathe. Maybe I just need to go back to sleep.

Good morning

 

May 19

7:52 P.M.

I got another note today. It was in my locker just like before. He still thinks I’m pretty and nice and now I have a smile like morning sunshine, typed in all caps. Leave me alone, please.

I’m getting to the place where it makes me a little nervous to go to the locker at all. It makes me feel funny to know that somebody might be watching me to see when I’m at the locker and when I’m not. And it’s eerie that nobody around me seems to know anything about any of this. Nobody has said a word, and this is not a group that keeps secrets real well, not secrets like this. That means that whoever this is must be keeping an eye on everything and everybody if he’s able to put something in my locker without being seen by any one. I’m beginning to think this isn’t a kid at all. The only time a student could put a note in my locker without being seen is when the rest of us are in class, and who would skip or be late that regularly for a thing like that?

What if this is a grown man?

I haven’t said anything to anybody about this, and nobody has said a word to me. Well, Tommy did ask me this morning if I was okay. He said that I’ve been pretty quiet for a couple of days now. I played it off by telling him that I was just stressed over how my finals were going to come out. He said that he always wonders why I worry about my grades. I had to remind him that I don’t take things like that for granted;  that I don’t let my guard down on anything if I can help it. I believe in crossing t’s and dotting i’s. Just because I’m gifted academically doesn’t mean I can’t get caught slipping. I pay attention in class, I study, and I worry about my grades just like everybody else, and he knows all that, so I’m fairly certain that he bought that as the reason for any changes he might have noticed in me.

I wish I bought it.

I hate letting somebody have this much control over my thoughts and my life. I know that I’m allowing it to happen, but what else can I do? I realize that it’s making me paranoid. I’m looking at everybody in a new light, thinking could it be him? Could it be him? Then when I have to do something that requires my attention, I have to force all that back and away so that I can focus clearly on the matter at hand. It’s not automatic like it was before. I hate this so much.

When I do find out who this is, he can forget about liking me because he has worn out any welcome he might have had.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

May 20

9:18 P.M.

I had another note today.

I also had cramps, so I didn’t feel like any of that today. I was dizzy a lot of the time and I felt like hell. My mother must have been able to tell that I was feeling badly. I must have looked like death warmed over. She got me all the way to school, looked over at me, and then asked me if I wanted to just go back home, take the medicine and lie down. I had to finish a tape that I’m doing for my music final, so I opted to go to school.

For the first time, I avoided the lockers. Starting the day at the lockers or on the front stairs outside is our crowd’s daily ritual, and I normally look forward to it. But, I had taken what I needed for my classes home with me, so I didn’t have to go when I first got there. Marnie was all over me about not my not going into our hall with the crew, but I told her that I really needed to go to the library, which I did. I didn’t tell her that I just needed to go there to be alone. I didn’t feel good, I didn’t feel like talking, and I didn’t feel like hanging out with my friends. I don’t think she liked that very much, but I couldn’t help it and she knew not to press.

During second period, I realized that I left the blank cassettes that I needed for my music class in my locker, so I was forced to go into it. There it was, another white envelope with “J.J.” typed on it. My heart started racing and I felt like I wanted to pass out. I was so sick that I almost called my mother back to tell her to come get me, or just so I could hear her voice, but I really had to finish that tape. And anyway, if I called her, even just to talk, she would have known something was up and she would have come for me right away. I threw the note up into the locker, got what I needed and went on to class.

Just before lunch, I got the note and took it into a stall in the restroom to read it. It just said, “Thinking of You”. For some reason it felt like I wanted to scream. Instead, I just stuck the note in my book and went outside by myself instead of going to the lunchroom with my friends. I found a place on the lawn to sit alone. I was feeling so badly emotionally and physically. I didn’t want anything to eat and I needed to get somewhere quiet so I could think. Something about this is all wrong. I just have that gut feeling.

My mother says that I have to be careful about the signals I send out. I keep trying to figure out what I could have done to set somebody off like this. I don’t know how, or when I do this signal thing. I can’t help looking like I look. I like to look nice and dress nicely, but I don’t think I try to be overly sexy in any way most of the time. Every now and then I push it, but for the most part I’m pretty conservative, I think. I know girls who go out of their way to look hot every day of their lives.

I also try to be very specific about letting boys know that I’m not interested in developing any intimate relationships. I don’t date. I try to act my age, and not be too grown. I’m friendly, but it’s not like I’m trying to get anybody’s exclusive attention. Why is this happening to me? I want it to stop.

I wonder if I should tell someone what’s going on. Even if I told somebody, would that stop it? I don’t know who it is, I haven’t been harmed in any way, so what is there to tell? I keep hoping that it will just go away.

After a bit, Tommy came outside looking for me. He knows I get sick every month. We didn’t talk; we didn’t have to. It’s funny, but for some reason, even though he’s a boy, it doesn’t bother me that he knows about that.  He just took his jacket off, rolled it up to make a pillow out of it and let me lay my head back in his lap until the bell rang for us to go back in. I almost went to sleep.

Later this afternoon, after lunch time, Ms. Grimsley, the counselor waved me into her office as I was passing by. She told me that she saw me from her window lying with my head in Tommy’s lap. I explained to her that I was sick and that was why I did that. She asked me if I thought it was appropriate. I told her that I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it was appropriate for me. Then I apologized to her. I know that I was sounding flip, but I really wasn’t trying to be rude, but that was just how it is between Tommy and me. We are friends, just very good friends who look out for each other.

I cleaned it up, but she really was working my nerves and I didn’t have that many for her to be toying with at that moment. She called herself fussing at me and she asked me what I thought my mother would say if she had seen us out there like that. I answered that she probably would have asked me the same thing that she did, but that I would have given my mother the exact same answer, which I honestly would have done. Ms. Grimsley just nodded then and told me that I could go. She knew she couldn’t win and that I wasn’t going to see it her way no matter how long she talked.

Getting those seriously good grades that I get comes in handy. They keep people off my back when they try to check me about trivial stuff. If I can do the stuff I do, and still maintain the grades I make, it takes away their leverage and gives me the definite advantage in a situation. It does not take a village to raise this child. I have a mother. I do not need her trying to mother me. Stick to the academics is all she needs to do with me.

What I didn’t tell Ms. Grimsley is that if it had been Jennifer Hart checking me, after I told her that part about me and Tommy being good friends, she would have told me that she didn’t care what kind of friends we were, I didn’t need to have my head down there. But that is why I wouldn’t have done that where the Duchess could see me. She wouldn’t have understood that about us either, at least not to that extent.

But still, if Ms. Grimsley had a problem with it, all she had to do is pick up the phone. She has all the numbers. Let my mother be my mother.

Let me just say this here while my mind is on it. God forbid, if my parents ever broke up, they could never remarry anybody other than each other or even date comfortably if I’m anywhere around. The stepparents or whatever wouldn’t stand a chance.

I’ve given it some thought, and I’ve decided that I would be most uncooperative with anyone trying to take the place of either one of them. But, it would be the stepmother who would truly catch it if he had the nerve to think he was going to marry somebody else in this lifetime. Even Daddy’s girlfriends would catch it. He wouldn’t be serious about them, he loves my mother too much, and I would work the those little gold diggers over every chance I got. My mother’s boyfriends wouldn’t fare much better with me either, but then she  probably would be doing her own share of messing over them herself. She’s very high maintenance, and none of them would be Daddy. Somebody would really have to come some with her to beat Daddy’s time.

But fortunately, this is all pure fantasy. The Harts were made for each other and they’ll be together forever- in heaven or hell- or wherever Daddy ends up.

I am on drugs now, and they’re kicking in, as I can tell as I read over what I just wrote. My cramps are easing up, so I am calling it a night.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

May 21

7:05 P.M.

I’m a mess. I can’t eat, and when I get to where I can’t eat, I’m pretty much wading dangerously into the deep and murky.

I’m having trouble concentrating without really having to push it. I think I need to tell somebody about what’s been happening, but I don’t really know how to tell my parents without getting them all upset. My father will call out the troops and my mother will freak. Things like this get to her. She has never said it out loud to me or told me specifically what it is, but I can just tell that she has a deep-seated problem with women being hemmed up in any way by men.

But my mother knows that something is wrong. She asked me if I was okay in the car today when she picked me up from school. I know that she knows that I didn’t feel well because of my period, but I think she’s aware that something else is going on. It’s like she has radar or something when it comes to me. No matter how much I try to hide it, she always knows when something is on my mind. I told her that I was okay, but I know that she didn’t believe me for a second. I read it in her eyes in the car and tonight at the dinner table.

I just came up. I tried to put on a good show at the table, but I couldn’t eat much and I asked to be excused before my parents were done. I told my mother that I was coming up here to take my medicine and study. My father looked like he was worried about me. I hope it was just because he thinks it’s my regular problem.

I got another present delivered to me today at school.

I was in music finishing my tape for my final and they called into the room to tell me to come to the office after class. Mr. Washington waited until I was finished with my work to tell me. I didn’t hear them when they called because I was busy working at the piano and I was wearing headphones. When I got to the office, the ladies were all making jokes and teasing me about my “handsome father” loving me so much and paying so much attention to me. I only wish this was my Daddy paying so much attention to me.

The present this time was a silver bracelet. Somebody even went to the trouble of having it engraved with my initials. It was in a plain white bracelet box with “Love Daddy” typed on a label that was stuck onto it. I looked at it real well to see if I could recognize anything that would give the jeweler away, but there was nothing. When I asked, the secretaries couldn’t tell me anything about the delivery person except that it wasn’t the same person each time. I acted casual so as not to alert them that anything was wrong.

Several things stick out in my mind about all of this. The whole thing started right after my pictures started being printed in the papers, and my caller ID is full of anonymous calls, more than there have ever been at any time. I bet whoever this is has been trying to call me without revealing himself and that this has something to do with those newspaper pictures. What it is about this person that he won’t reveal himself to me after all this time? I don’t think this is a kid. A boy wouldn’t last this long with the secrets. Boys are impulsive and they want a girl to know when they like her. If this is a man, what in the world does he want with a kid like me? And why me specifically?

Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I’m just overreacting because of my hormones or something. I get all weird at this time of the month anyway. After all, nothing bad has been said or done. It probably is just PMS that’s making me so edgy and paranoid. I’ll just finish studying. Then I’ll take the medicine and go to bed.

Good night

 

May 21

10:58 P.M.

I am so bent out of shape.

A man is doing this to me. I don’t know what to do. If I tell, Daddy will have a fit and my mother will definitely freak completely out.

I broke down and answered that last anonymous call and there was a man on the phone disguising his voice. He asked me about the presents and the notes, if I liked what he sent. He called my name. He told me I was pretty, and that he wanted to take me out and get to know me. Why? Who could this be?

I couldn’t catch the voice and of course, he wouldn’t tell me who he was when I asked. I feel so stupid. I shouldn’t have picked up. Now he knows for sure that this is my number and that he can reach me here. He probably knows all about me. He already knows where I go to school. He knows what I look like and exactly who I am.

I know that I need to tell, but I’m so scared. I don’t want to be locked down the way they’ll lock me down if they know. It would be for my own good, but that would make it worse. They would be scared for me. I don’t know what to do.

My stomach hurts so bad I want to puke, my chest hurts, and now I have a headache. I’m going to have to take a double dose of that pain medicine. It makes me dopey and sleepy, so I can just go to sleep twice as fast and forget about it all for now.

J.

___________________________________________________________

May 22

4:07 A.M.

Another bad dream. I never can remember the details once I wake up. I just know that I can’t breathe and my chest feels so tight that I start almost choking.

Then I was so nauseous that I went into the bathroom to be sick, but I wasn’t. Nothing came up. I think I took too much of that medicine. I won’t do that again. That’s how people become junkies, trying to medicate problems away. I’m stronger than that and I know it. This too shall pass.

I just got a ginger ale out of the cooler in the sitting room to settle my stomach and I’m back in my room writing this in my journal in case something bad ends up happening and somebody needs to know what went down with me.

I’m going to lay down now and let my Grandma Suzanne put her guardian angel arms around me like she did that time before when I had bad trouble.

J.

 

May 22

4:59 P.M.

Dear God, please help me know what to do.

Whoever this is stalking my mother too. He sent pictures of her to me at school today and there was a note saying that he knew where she was all the time. I’m so scared. I have never been this scared in my life and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what he wants from me. I don’t know what he wants me to do.

I know that I should say something, but maybe if I tell, he’ll find out and hurt her. The note didn’t say that he would do that, but he knows where she is. The pictures were taken on different days, at different times, and in different places. I don’t want to scare my mother. She has issues already over this kind of thing.

If I tell Daddy, he’ll want to kill somebody, especially over somebody doing that to my mother. I have never been in this kind of trouble before. I wish I could go back to being a little girl. I know that I can’t, but I really wish I could. Being a woman brings some scary things out in men and I don’t think I can handle this.

J.

 

May 22

11:52 P.M.

I’m in a lot of trouble. I don’t know what to do about anything.

I just came from downstairs where I was about to fix myself a brandy like Aunt Sabrina has me to fix for her when she wants to relax. I can’t get to sleep and I have practice first thing in the morning. I thought that if I had a drink it might help me sleep. My parents are in bed, so I was going to sneak and do that. But at the last minute, I changed my mind. I don’t want to be a junky and I definitely don’t want to be a drunk. Not over this. That would put somebody else in control. It already has me not talking to my friends like normal. My parents trust me to stay out of the liquor. I’m not going to betray their trust over this.

I’m getting to be entirely too preoccupied with this B.S.

I’m in charge.

Those pictures of my mother are in my lingerie drawer. I had a bunch of anonymous calls again tonight, but I didn’t pick up. Why is this happening? Who could it be? I’ve thought about it, and thought about it, but I can’t come up with a soul who likes me like that. Nobody has come on to me. I wish I knew so that I could tell him that I’m not interested. But if it’s a man, that would mean that his intentions toward me most likely aren’t honorable, so he probably wouldn’t leave me alone just because I asked him to.

Maybe I’ll tell Daddy tomorrow at practice. He’s going with me.

That’s what I’ll do. I’ll tell him and put it in his hands. He’ll fix it. Daddy can fix anything that’s broken.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

May 23

4:12 P.M.

I couldn’t do it. Daddy asked me, but I just couldn’t find the words to tell him. He was looking at me so hard, so directly. He wanted to help me. He’s knows that something is wrong, but he’s never had to be bothered with this type of thing in connection with me. It makes him nervous just to know that I’m being escorted somewhere by a boy that my mother picked out for me. He freaks out when I’m just out with a group that has more than two boys in it. I thought he might take my head off the other day for just sitting on that wall with my guy friends listening to music. How in the world could he possibly be expected to handle something like this rationally?

I can’t tell him about this. It’s just too dirty and embarrassing to tell him that somebody, a man, is bothering me like this. I couldn’t tell him about the pictures of my mother. That would frighten and anger him too much. That’s his woman and knowing that somebody was following her and taking pictures of her without her knowledge would set him all the way off. Then he’d be trying to lock her down until he got it figured out. She wouldn’t want to go for it at all. Then they’d be fighting tooth and nail. He can be suffocating when he’s trying to be protective, and she can be a tigress when it comes to being shut down, and the battling would be all my fault. I hate it when they fight. When they do, it’s usually over something that has to do with me.

Why did this have to happen?

I acted like I didn’t know what he was alluding to when he pulled me in off the track to talk to me, and I made out like it was my running that concerned him. He knew I was bluffing, but he went for it to spare me.

I think everybody is seeing something in me. I know that I haven’t been myself. I’ve tried to play it off, but I know that I haven’t been entirely successful at it. It’s just too deep to cover up. Coach Rogers chewed me out in a nice way at practice. He said that I was unfocused and detached and that he needed for me to be able to put personal things to the side for the sake of the group. I’m going to be team captain next school year, and he says that’s a skill that the captain has to master. I’ll be setting the tone. He said that he wasn’t trying to minimize whatever was on my mind, but that I just needed to put it on the back burner for practice. If I wanted to talk about it, I could come to him after practice if I wanted to, and we could kick it. I told him that I would be okay. What he said was right, though. Life has to go on, for me and everybody else despite all of this.

I don’t know what I’m going to do or what’s going to happen, but I cannot allow this to take over my whole life. I have that tennis match tomorrow and I need to be on my game.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 23

8:32 P.M.

When Daddy brought me home from track practice, my mother was gone out. That made me nervous for her, but I had to tell myself that she goes out alone all the time and it was no big deal. He got a call and had to go back out himself, so I was hoping that maybe they would meet up somewhere and have dinner or something so that she would be safe with him.

My mother says that one thing every girl needs in her life is at least one good girlfriend. She has Aunt Pat, and I have Marnie.

Marnie came down this afternoon and made me tell her what was going on. I wasn’t going to. I didn’t think she needed to know considering all that she’s been through herself. Sure enough, when she broke me down and  I told her, she started crying and that almost made me cry. I knew that telling her would bring back too many bad memories for her.

She went through something like this herself last year, but her situation was worse. It was her stepfather and he was saying suggestive things directly to her and he had been sneaking into her room peeking at her when she wasn’t dressed or when she was in the shower. She tried to tell her mother about what he was doing to her, but her mother wouldn’t believe her. I think her mother wanted to hang on to her husband so badly that she was able to convince herself that Marnie was just trying to break them up. Marnie didn’t like him, he was her mother’s third husband, and Marnie and her mother didn’t have the best relationship in the world to begin with at the time.

So Marnie set him up. She fixed it so that her mother would catch him in the act of peeking on her while she was naked in the shower. It worked even though Marnie had to put herself through that on purpose to get her mother to believe her. Then her mother put him out and she got divorced from him, but Marnie is still mad and hurt about it. She’s had counseling, but she quit going because she said that it wasn’t doing any good. She and my mother have talked about it some. She says that my mother talking to her helped her more than the therapist, and that I need to be grateful that I have a mother like mine. She told me today that I need to tell my mother what’s going on, especially since somebody is taking pictures of her too.

I’ve begun having these things, these breathing-thing episodes, more regularly. I don’t know what they are actually, but when I get caught up in thinking about any of this, I start having trouble breathing and my chest starts sucking in. It started to happen again earlier this afternoon when I couldn’t find that note that came with the pictures of my mother, and I was panicking because of it. I was tearing up my room looking for it. The last thing I remembered doing was putting it in my pocket after I came out of the restroom at school before going to my mother’s car yesterday. I was praying that it hadn’t fallen out in the car and that she had it. I was thinking that if she did, she would be pinning me to the mat, because she wouldn’t have any context to which she could connect anything and that seed planted into her fertile imagination would have her justifiably frantic. Whatever scenario she came up with, though, wouldn’t have been too far off the mark as bizarre as this is.

The breathing thing got so bad that I had to stop and lie down on the floor to think myself calm again.

Well, it turned out that the note had fallen out of my pocket when I went off on Marnie at the lockers, and she had it. She had tried talking to me about if anything was bugging me and I got mad. It was right after I had gotten those pictures, and after I had come out of the restroom from looking at them. I was scared and confused, and then suddenly there she was asking questions. I just lost it, and went off on her. I was surprised that she was even speaking to me when she called this afternoon to say that she was coming down. When the note fell out of my pocket, she picked it up, read it, and kept it. Then she made it her business to come down here today to bring it to me and to confront me. That took some nerve, but she’s got plenty of that. That’s why we’re such good friends.

After I told her, we bounced it around trying to think of who it might be. Marnie came up with some pretty wild people: a few of the boys she knows at school who like me, the tennis pro at the club, that old pervert Mr. Baker who’s always had the hots for my mother; Wesley. We figure it most likely has to be somebody at school because the stuff all happens to me at school.

I just don’t have a clue. I guess I don’t think like that. I’ve never sat around and considered who might possess the characteristics for being a stalker. I never had to. It didn’t apply to me before now. I don’t even think about having a boyfriend of my own. That doesn’t apply to me either. I just want to learn to like and know me real well first.

Why can’t I just be left to do that in peace?

Like the thing with me and Tommy. People at school are always asking Tommy, not me because they know better, why we aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend because we spend so much time together and we get along so well. Like when Wesley’s home and he keeps sweating me. I’m dreading having him come home this summer. Then there’s Ms. Grimsley asking me if it was appropriate for Tommy to offer me his lap to lay my head down in when I didn’t feel well. And Ms. Fee worrying about us doing it. I- me, J.J., Justine- don’t want that. Why can’t people understand that just because that’s how they see a thing, or they feel that’s how it should be, that doesn’t mean that’s how it is for everyone. Why can’t whoever this is that’s doing this to me understand that just because he sees someone he wants, that doesn’t mean that he can have her. I have to want it too, and I do not.

Maybe I am a lot more immature and naive than I like to believe. Maybe I’m not seeing things correctly. I know I have a bit of a problem with recognizing how I affect other people. I kind of have tunnel vision when it comes to that. I just don’t think that having one boyfriend is that important for me right now, and I think I’ve made myself more than clear, but some people just refuse to hear me. I certainly don’t want the attentions of a grown man directed toward me.

Marnie said a couple of things this afternoon that really stuck with me. She told me first that what’s happening isn’t my fault. I’ll feel like it is, but it isn’t. That is so true. I do keep wondering what signals I sent out to get this kind of unwanted attention.

Then she told me that I had the best mother in the world when it came to listening and paying attention to girls’ problems. When she left here today, the last thing Marnie said to me was for me to tell my mother.

They aren’t at home right now. They came back together earlier, but they had an engagement and had to go back out.  I’ll try to do it if I can get her alone tonight if I’m still up when they get back.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 24

12:45 A.M.

I had fallen asleep by the time my parents got back home. When I did get up, I thought I could hear someone downstairs so I went to see if perhaps my mother may have stayed up working late like she sometimes does. Both my parents were downstairs, but it wasn’t a real good time for what I wanted.

From the foyer, I could see two brandy glasses on the table, and I could hear my mother laughing over by the fireplace. I couldn’t see anybody, but I did see her shoes, her sweater, and Daddy’s jacket on the floor on the other side of the room by the piano. I thanked God that I came down the front stairs and not the back ones. Then I came back up here. I don’t know what was going on, or what they were doing, but I was leaving nothing to chance with the two of them. I didn’t want to blow their high at that moment with my problems or scar myself for life either.

My voice mail is full of calls, a bunch of them are anonymous, but I don’t feel like talking to anybody at all. I erased the messages. My friends will call back if they really want me.

I’ll give talking to my mother a shot again tomorrow.

Good night

 

May 24

8:45 P.M.

I had a very good day.

I slept a little later than usual this morning. I stayed in bed until my mother got me up to go to brunch with them at the club.

I didn’t eat very much at brunch, just some fruit, because I had the tennis match coming up and I don’t like to play with food on my stomach. I play too hard and get too hot for that. Usually I wait and eat after a match once I get showered, changed, and more settled. My parents ate with friends, and Marnie went off to brunch with the Barnett twins, Chase and Chance, who are home from military school for the summer. They wanted me to go with them, but like I said, I had the match and I needed to get my head together, so I was out on the patio sitting by myself.

Angie Baker came out and sat with me. She said that she didn’t feel well, and that she didn’t want to play me because we both knew who was going to win. Despite the fact that we were rivals today, we are actually pretty good friends. I like her a lot. She’s quiet and a little on the shy side, but she’s very nice and an excellent tennis player. I knew that I would probably beat her too, but I didn’t want her to feel like that going in, so I asked her why she felt that way. She said that she had been in an argument with her older brother, also she was having her period, and that she didn’t like playing while wearing that pad; it broke her focus. I could not believe that a girl as old (nineteen) and as active as she is was still wearing pads. I told her that I could hook her up, and then I took her in the bathroom and gave her a tampon. I stood outside the door and told her exactly what to do with it. She doesn’t have a mother for this kind of thing; her mother died when she was born. That always makes me a little sad for her. I liked being able to do something for her to make her life little easier.

There is no way in the world I could have survived having a period this long without those handy little things. I went to France the year that I was thirteen, and I ran out of pads. I told Aunt Sabrina, and she sent for some supplies for me. She didn’t know that I was using pads, so she got tampons, but she said that it was time out for the pads anyway. She took me in the bathroom and showed me what to do. I would only let Aunt Sabrina do that with me. Come to think of it, she’s probably the only one who would, but I was so grateful afterward. Up until then, I despised having periods. It was so messy on top of being painful, and being on while wearing a pad restricted what I could do. After she switched me to tampons, I had my life back. My mother didn’t say anything about it when I told her. She just got that little smile she gets, and shook her head and went, “My auntie”. That’s what I’ve used ever since. If it weren’t for the cramps the first two days and the anemia symptoms, I would hardly know that I was on.

Angie got it up in there and she was grateful to me for the same reasons I was to Aunt Sabrina. Said she couldn’t feel at thing. She started laughing and told me that maybe she’d beat me this afternoon since she had gotten her bottom half together. I didn’t say anything against it, but it was going to take more than her cat being comfortable for her to beat me. She’s been taking lessons from the tennis pro, Rick Slater, and it’s improved her game, but not enough. It’s rumored that Rick gives lessons in more than just tennis, but as far as I know, it’s just rumor. I wouldn’t know first hand, I take my tennis instruction from the master, Jonathan Hart, and occasionally his partner, Jennifer with the wicked backhand, who still claims to fear playing against me one-on-one.

As I stepped out onto the court, I looked up into the stands for my last minute support like I always do before a match. Dead center I could see my red headed mother sitting and tugging ever so subtly at her left earring when our eyes met. That’s her good luck signal to me. Daddy was sitting next to her grinning and giving me a thumbs up on the down low. Marnie was sitting on Daddy’s other side mouthing, “F— her up!” to me.

There’s nothing like having your family and your foul-mouthed best friend in your corner to get you fired up to win. I put everything out of my mind, so that I could focus.

I wore Angie out on the court. She’s good, but I was better. I beat her three straight sets and this year’s trophy in the Club’s Honors showcase will say “J.J. Hart”. Rick Slater was courtside through the first two sets. He had the nerve to start trying to coach me. Marnie came down at one point between the first and second set and told me that I should tell him to kiss my a– to get him leave me alone. I had tuned him out for the most part, but right before the third set got started, Daddy came down and said something to him close to what Marnie said to me and sent him on his away.

I couldn’t understand why he kept wanting to coach me. He’s not my coach and I’m not advancing anyway. He’s Angie’s coach and she’s the one who will be going on, but he wasn’t even trying to work with her which I think negatively affected her game as well. Rick is one of those guys I talked about. I’ve known him for years, and I’ve always been good in the court, but he’s never paid that much attention to me until recently. Now all of a sudden he wants to be all over me, and I think I mean that literally. I don’t know how to take it. He’s always looking at me in that way. I can’t describe it, but I feel very uncomfortable when grown men who’ve known me for years start acting like that.

I was at the club practicing about two weeks ago and I was bent over tying my shoe. I looked up to find Allen Baker, Jr., Angie’s brother, trying to look down my tennis blouse. He’s another somebody who I’ve known all my life. He’s about twelve years older than Angie which makes him way older than me, but suddenly he’s trying to look down my shirt. I caught him, and he tried to play it off like he wasn’t. He started talking to me about school and math and stuff. I was polite, but I didn’t linger. I’m young and not real experienced, but I’m not stupid. Marnie was with me at the time and she saw what he was doing. She said that he tried it with her before too. We got away from him. He gave us the creeps. He and his father are serious lechers.

During the match my mother had gotten a call on her cell. It was her friend and editor Marcia saying that she was flying in from San Francisco to spend the night so that they could go over some drafts of articles my mother has written for publication. We had to leave right after I was done playing so that she could get home and get prepared. Marcia wound up arriving not long after we got back, and they started working right after dinner.

Marnie wasn’t ready to leave the club. She wanted to stay and get a ride home with the Barnetts, but Daddy has one major rule that he makes us adhere to when he’s in charge: who you leave home with is who you return home with. Since she came with us, she had to go home with us, and that was that.

She was disappointed, but I told her the boys would be home all summer and we would have plenty of time to spend with them. They came over and congratulated me on winning, told me they were sorry that they missed me at brunch, and said that they would come out to the house and see me soon. They are really handsome boys, twins but not identical, and they are a lot of fun.

The afternoon was nice enough that I forgot my problems for a little while. When I got home, I ate and came up here. With Marcia visiting, I can’t talk with my mother until tomorrow. I really don’t won’t to tell Daddy about it, at least not by myself.

Maybe I’ll get lucky, and the guy is tired of me and it’s done.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 25

6:57 P.M.

I wish the earth would just open up and swallow me whole. I am so tired of everything. I began the day with the hope that it was over, but it wasn’t. It just keeps on. I had an awful day today.

First, I found out that my mother came to school on the down low to see Ms. Grimsley,  then I had a huge blow-up with Tommy, and finally I got another note today from Mr. Whoever.

I’m so nervous about everything; I couldn’t eat anything at dinner. I kept feeling like I was going to cry, so I asked to be excused and I just left the table before either one of them could tell me that it was okay for me to leave. I know that they know something is wrong for sure now. They knew it before, but for sure they know it now. I hate making them worry, but what can I do? Either way it goes, they’ll be worried.

I know my mother is upset. Why else would she have come up to the school, but not tell me she was there or why she came? It’s not like her to do things behind my back. If Ms. Grimsley called her up there to tell on me about my head being in Tommy’s lap, my mother would have found me and reamed me out about it before she left the building, or she would have done it in the car when she came to get me. That can’t be it.

All the way home, I kept waiting for her to say something about it, but she didn’t. At dinner, but she didn’t say a word about having been at my school at all. I only know she was there for sure because my friend Emmeline works in the Guidance Center as an aide and she recognized her. Having never met her, Emmeline wasn’t sure at first that she was my mother. But she caught her attention because first of all, my mother is always sharp and Emmeline is heavily into fashion. Then she said that the woman looked so much like me, it made her go check the sign-in sheet where she saw the last name and confirmed the connection. Then she made it her business to give me the heads up when she saw me in the hall later.

I wonder if Ms. Grimsley sent for my mother or if my mother came on her own. I bet Ms. Grimsley called her. It wasn’t like I was face down in Tommy’s lap or anything. Whether she came on her own or not, I’m not going there. I’ll just wait to see if she brings it up. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It still applies in these iffy situations.

I got called to the office during second period this time, which was earlier than the other times. I picked up an envelope that was left for me, but this time I didn’t open it. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had one more final and I knew that if I opened it and read it, it would upset me and that might negatively affect my performance on my exam. I am determined that my grades are not going to be messed up over this. I’m not giving this person control over that part of my life. I am finishing first no matter what. I’ve worked too hard all year to let this throw me off at the last minute. I stuck the envelope in my book and made up my mind to forget about it for that moment.

Then Tommy confronted me in the hall right after that. He has never come at me like that before. He almost scared me. He’s big and he hemmed me up against the wall telling me that he knew something was wrong with me and that I needed to give it up to somebody and get some help. Like I said, he’s never come at me like that, so it caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to say or do. He boxed me in and wouldn’t let me out, trying to make me talk to him. I reacted very poorly. In my surprise and nervousness, I got angry with him. I was angry about the whole thing, but I took it all out on him. I think he interpreted my reaction as me just being stubborn, so he told me off and so much as called me selfish, then he stormed away. But before he left he took my hand and squeezed it like we do, so I knew he was still my friend deep down even if I did make him as mad as hell.

Later at the lockers, when it was time to leave, he was still fiery mad and he acted like I wasn’t even there. He just got his stuff and walked away without speaking to anybody. Everyone around us knew something was wrong because we weren’t talking or playing around like usual. Only Marnie knew what was up, and she didn’t say anything at all which is some feat for her. We were all so quiet in that hall, and I wanted to just die. Tommy has never been mad at me like that before. I just left and went down to the car to go home. I didn’t think I would care as much about Tommy being mad at me as I do.

I tried telling my mother in the car, but I just couldn’t. I even got ready to pull the envelope I got out of my book to show her, but I chickened out and put it back. She has her own personal issues and I know it. She was already worried about what she didn’t know. To know for real might be too much for her. I was too close to breaking down completely anyway and it would have freaked her out all the way to see me do that.

When I do tell her, I’ll need to be calm and rational to keep her from losing it right along with me. Sometimes I get the feeling that someone hurt her really badly at one time in her life, either mentally or physically, and that she hasn’t dealt with it all the way. This mess with me is not going to help her any. Thinking that about her doesn’t do a lot for me either. The thought of someone doing anything to her brings out some really ugly things in me.

For sure I know that my mother loves me, I think she likes that I was born a girl, and she is helping me be a strong girl. It’s all somehow connected to her evolving into a stronger female herself. I know that sound pretentious, but I don’t have it all figured out yet and maybe I’m not saying it right.

One day I hope she lets me in on what it is that’s bugging her so that I can deal with how it affects me.

I still haven’t opened the envelope. There’s a bunch of anonymouses (Anonymi? It’ not really a noun so it can’t be plural, can it?) on my caller I.D. and I know it’s him.

I wish the earth would just open all the way up, swallow me whole, and all of this would all be over.

J.

___________________________________________________________

May 26

7:15 A.M.

In the course of his teaching me things I need to know to survive in the world, my father has always told me that when he doesn’t know what to do, he waits and he watches because all things are revealed in time. He must have been waiting for and watching me to come clean with what was bothering me. I had a huge nightmare last night and now they know.

In that envelope that I got yesterday, there were pictures someone took of me with a hidden camera. I was changing clothes at the Country Club and the pictures were of me in my underwear, just my bra and my panties. Whoever is doing this knows everything about me; where I go, what I do, and now what I look like in my most intimate attire. If my mother hadn’t had to get home in such a hurry, I guess the pictures would have been of me in the nude. Who knows, maybe he has some others of me that are nude. I’m not ashamed of my body, and I’m not shy, but having someone film me without my knowledge like that makes me feel like I was as good as naked. This is so terrible, and humiliating, and degrading. I haven’t ever felt this bad about myself. It’s as if somebody has removed my skin and every nerve I have is exposed to whatever.

I haven’t seen anyone else yet this morning. After I write this, I’m going to have to go in to see my father to take him those pictures of my mother. I didn’t want her to see them last night when I showed her the rest of the stuff I’ve gotten. I heard somebody go downstairs, so I peeked and I saw that she was going down by herself which means that Daddy is still over there in the room. I am dreading this so much, I know that he has those pictures of me because they are missing from in here, but he needs to know that she’s being stalked too.

I’m dressed, but I don’t know if I’m going to school today. I don’t know what’s going to happen once Daddy hears the whole story.

Later

___________________________________________________________

May 26

7:52 P.M.

The whole day was just totally surreal.

I spent most of it feeling like I was on the outside looking in at somebody else having a bad day, and feeling sorry for her. Every now and then, I’d stop and realize that it was actually happening to me, and then I would feel even worse.

I’ll start from the beginning.

Last night I was in my room thinking about everything. I was really feeling badly about having the fight with Tommy. We’ve never had a scene like that before. Then I finally opened that envelope that I got in school yesterday. I waited until I got home to open it and still it wasn’t until after dinner that I was able to make myself do it. Inside the envelope, there was a suggestive greeting card, but it wasn’t signed. There was another envelope inside the card, and it had the pictures of me inside of it. I was so shocked that I started to panic and had another one of those episodes where I can’t breathe.

At the same time, my mother came to my door demanding to talk to me. I was able to put her off, but she said that she wanted to see me the first thing in the morning without fail. The Duchess was calling me on the carpet and she let me know that I had better be ready to sing for that command performance. My father must have been with her because I could hear them arguing in the hall outside the door. He must have been fussing at her for not making me talk right then, but that is not how she does me. She doesn’t force herself on me like that, and I respect her for respecting my feelings in that way.

Also, I didn’t want Daddy to see those pictures of me. I could show them to her, but I didn’t want him to know that some man was looking at me like that, in that way. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just didn’t think that was something that I wanted to share with him. He’s kind of funny about me and other males. I think it’s a father/ daughter thing that I don’t have a handle on yet, but it makes me real uncomfortable to know that he feels that way.

I guess being stressed out like I was caused me to have that nightmare last night/ early this morning. I don’t remember the details of the actual dream except that it was very frightening and it was about my mother. When I woke up she, my father, and Marie were all there with me in my room, so I must have been pretty bad off. I was crying and my mother was crying too, which made me feel even worse than the dream had me feeling. Daddy was holding on to us.

When I calmed down, Daddy and Marie left, but my mother stayed. She told me that she wanted me to tell her what was going on with me. It was the zero hour at that point, and I couldn’t make any more excuses. I didn’t want to. She was scared for me, and so was I, for both of us.

Earlier in the day, we had to clean out our lockers at school because it’s the end of the year. I started to throw all that crap that I had gotten from the man away, but something in me said that I needed to hold on to it, like evidence or something. I just kept thinking that if anything came of any of this, how mad Daddy would be that I had gotten rid of it, so I put it all in my backpack, brought it home, and hid it in a box in my closet. I went and got it when my mother asked me to tell her what was going on, and I gave it to her.

She looked at all of it. As she was reading the notes, her face got really pale and I could tell that she was freaking out even though she didn’t say anything. That was when I realized that the pictures of me were gone from under the pillow where I had hidden them. I was feeling around for them, trying not to draw her attention. I just wanted to make sure that they were there, but they weren’t. Daddy didn’t come back, and I put it together in my mind that he had the pictures. I got to thinking that they embarrassed him, and he couldn’t look at me right then, and that was why he stayed out of the room. That made me so sad, ashamed, and sick to my stomach.

I started to feel like it all had to be happening to someone else. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to J.J. Hart. My life is too secure, safe, and insulated for someone to be able to get this close to me. I started crying, but I also started kind of like fading out, like I was leaving the situation. I could see and feel my mother’s hands, but not the rest of her. It was like if I could see her eyes, it would have killed me dead to see the pain in them. I closed my own eyes to avoid hers and let myself just go on and fade out, but I didn’t want her to leave me even though I couldn’t do what she wanted, which was to talk to her. I just couldn’t.

That’s all I remember until I woke up this morning.

I took the pictures of her to Daddy this morning. Before I did, I took a last good look at them. Whoever took them was interested in her face. They made sure to take the pictures when she was facing the camera and her face was what they focused on. They were taken at different times, on different days, and in different situations, but that one thing was consistent. Somebody likes how she looks. She’s a very striking woman even if she is fifty-something and my mother. She really stands out.

Daddy was angry. He was mad that someone was doing this to us, but he was mad at me too for not telling him what was going on. I tried to tell him that I was scared and confused, but what I heard as I was talking was that I had been selfish too. I was concerned about going on lockdown which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t that important. I needed to be on lockdown to be kept safe, but I had been more concerned with my own freedom of movement.

He did have those pictures of me. He didn’t say that he did, but he did tell me that I didn’t have to feel ashamed about anything. He said that he had seen all of me before, and that even though I had changed, I was still his. I know he loves me, but I’m still embarrassed that he has to know that somebody else is interested in me in that way and has seen me like that.

At breakfast he made me tell everything. I gave him all the details, but when he asked me how I felt about all of it, I just said that I was okay since he knew about it,  but really I’m not. I still feel pretty down. But there isn’t anything that he can do about that, and I didn’t have the words together to say that at the time anyway.

It turned out that my mother was the one who had to go on lockdown, and not me. If the overall situation hadn’t been so grim, I might have found that amusing. It worked out that Daddy wanted for me to go to school and act like I normally do so that the person wouldn’t think that I had told about what was happening. He was hoping that maybe the guy would try to set up a meeting with me which would bring him out into the open since it was the last day of school, and school was where he had been contacting me. He told my mother that she had to stay on the grounds so that she could be watched by security. Daddy was worried about who was following her and what their intentions were toward her. Of course she got mad, but this time he wasn’t negotiating with her and she knew it, so she had to go along with it. In this matter he was the King of this castle and the Queen of Harts had to submit herself to his wishes whether she wanted to or not. What he said was how it was going to be. He isn’t normally like that with her at all, most of the time he’s Silly Putty in her hands, but not this morning.

I could tell that it left a bad taste in her mouth to be forced into confinement like that, but c’est la vie, Jennifer.

She didn’t want me out of the house either. She was, of course, concerned for my safety and she started to raise a stink about that. It took Marie to fully convince her that it was the only way to get the guy. My mother and Marie are pretty close. Marie really loves my mother and she looks out for her all the time. Like when she’s pushing herself too hard, Marie will insist upon her eating to keep her weight up and upon her slowing down to get enough rest. Ever since that time she got sick with pneumonia a couple of years ago, I’ve noticed that Marie has been even more protective of her. Almost like she has ESP, Marie can tell when my mother is on the verge of one of her headaches and she’s right there with what she needs to get a handle on it before it becomes too bad on her. On top of all of her other duties, she often plays social secretary and runs interference for my mother when necessary, too. She is the best.

It was Marie who reminded my mother this morning that she needed to trust my father on this, and that seemed to get my mother’s attention. I think in her anger, fear, and frustration; for a minute, my mother forgot to do that.

The one bright spot in my day was finding out that I finished the year first out of the two hundred seventy-four students in the tenth grade class. The finals have all been evaluated and the standings were posted outside the Guidance Center. I was glad about that. My buddy Ajay, with whom I’ve been competing since junior high, finished a half point behind me. Last year, the situation was reversed. My hope is that we’ll finish dead even and share the Valedictorian’s duties at the commencement exercises when we graduate. A female and a male, totally equal, that would be great and that would show him.

I’m still trying to keep up with my mother academically. She and Aunt Pat finished high school sharing first place and they were both Phi Beta Kappa. My mother never says anything about me having to be on top, but she doesn’t let me slide or get by academically. See, I messed up early and showed her my hand by learning to speak two languages and to read before I was four. She knew from go that I was smart, and consequently her expectations for me have always been very high. Both my parents have always encouraged me to do my best, and I know that they’re proud of my academic achievements. When it comes to my parents, I have a good balance. She works with my mind, and Daddy works with my wits. I’ve learned that they’re two very different things.

But even that moment was got ruined. Some man gave Ajay a note to give to me, and he did right when we were together outside the Guidance Center looking at the standings board. Ajay told me that the man was in our hall by my locker!

I was caught speechless by that revelation, so Tommy, who hadn’t spoken to me all day, steps up in front of me and starts asking Ajay all about the man like he was my bodyguard or something. It made me mad that he was listening in on my conversation and put himself into it like that. He wouldn’t stop asking Ajay about it when I told him to, so I just walked off to class and left them there talking. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to deal with it at all. I stuck the note in my book and left it there.

I was in the music room when Tommy marched his big hulking butt in there and snatched me right up out of the desk and pulled me out into the hall. The bell to start class hadn’t rung yet, so there were people in the room and in the hall still. Everybody was shocked and appalled that he did that to me and they were all getting out of the way as he marched me through the hall while I was hollering at him. Even the teachers were looking, but they didn’t intervene. I guess they were shocked at Tommy and me going at it like that too. He was fussing and saying me that he was sick of me and that we were going to talk if he had to hem me up for the rest of the day to get me to do it.

I was soooooo mad that I could have spit fire.

Nobody has ever treated me like that or talked to me like that. I would have beaten him the hell up if the odds of my winning had been better. He’s so much bigger than me- and he was so mad himself- that I didn’t dare try, but I really wanted a piece of him. He wouldn’t let go of my arm and drug me around to our hall. We ended up skipping class altogether, which was okay since it was the last day. On the last day, I think the teachers actually hope and pray that the students don’t show. We should all have been on the wild, since it was the last day, but I was too down in the dumps to get up for that.

Me and Tommy had it out. I knew that I was wrong, and he didn’t mind pointing that little detail out to me- several times during the argument. In the end, when it was all said and done, we made up. I love that big lug. He’s always looking out for me no matter how ugly I may act. I need to work on being a better friend.

Both times that Tommy confronted me, he told me that he knew some stuff about my situation that I didn’t even know. It’s occurred to me that as nosy as I normally am, not one of those times did I ask him what he knew. I don’t think I wanted to know then. It’s for sure that I don’t want to know now. If Tommy told Daddy what he knows like he said he did, then that’s enough for me. It’ll be handled accordingly by the proper people.

Something else is going on that is kind of weird. It strikes me as odd that if I had to, I would rather talk to Tommy about this than I would to my own father. I didn’t discuss it with Tommy this afternoon, but I would have if he had pressed me. Just like the trouble I go through with my periods, Tommy knows more about how I feel about that than I think Daddy does. He knows when I’m sick with them without me even saying anything, which I don’t. I’m more comfortable sharing my feelings about those kinds of things with him than I am with my Daddy. I wonder why that is?

When we made up, I gave that fool a kiss on his cheek and he blushed, and him sitting there on the floor doing that made me go there too. He tries to be all hard and macho, but something small and simple like that reduces him to ooze It’s such a funny thing to witness. He says that I try to be hard and tough, too, to prove that I can hold my own because I’m a girl. I’m glad he recognizes that. I’ll kick his butt if he ever tries that stuff with me again, I don’t care how big he is. When it’s over, I might not win, but he’ll know that he’s been in a serious fight.

We had a good laugh about Daddy’s security people. They were all over the school today keeping an eye on me. They were disguised as landscapers and maintenance workers. Mr. Lamb, the chief of Hart Security, served us our lunch. I couldn’t believe it when I looked up and he was asking me if I wanted gravy on my potatoes with this really deadpan face. I don’t know how my father talks people into doing what he wants, but evidently he has pull everywhere.

Marnie joined us in the hall a little while later; she was skipping too. From there, we all went down to the lower level, the back hall, and hung out in that john where everybody, boys and girls, go to skip and play cards or hang out. Deon was there when we got there. He asked me if I wanted to split a cigar with him, but I didn’t want to chance it with Daddy having his security all over the school today. It was bad enough that it would probably get back to him that I skipped class- in a coed john, no less. Since it was the last day, he wouldn’t care too much about the skipping, but I would hate for him to hear that I was smoking with guys too. Reluctantly, I turned the offer down even though as tense and edgy as I was, a good Black and Mild and a couple of hands of poker would have hit the spot. Tommy and Marnie got in the game. I just watched. I figured I couldn’t get into too much trouble over that.

Daddy picked me up from school today.  He had been the one to drop me off earlier, too, because my mother was still on that lockdown. Is that priceless or what?? I  guess that’s a classic example of irony. I still can’t believe it.

It felt so good to get into the car with him. I might not be able to talk to him about everything, but somehow he can definitely make everything feel better by just being there for me. I was only able to relax completely once I pushed the button to lock the car doors.

I never got to read the note. I gave it straight to Daddy once we got home. He read it and then he handed it to my mother who, when I asked her what it said, so much as told me to stay in a child’s place. So I got my skates and went outside to do just that. She said that I was out of it, and that is exactly where I wanted to be anyway. But despite my wishes to left out of it, my head is still there.

I keep wondering what it is about women that makes men act so nasty and animalistic toward them. Men have physical characteristics about them that are attractive to women, but nobody tells them to cover up, watch what they do, be careful where they go, don’t be in a crowd of women, and all that. It’s like men aren’t expected to control their impulses when it comes to women, but women are supposed to be all reserved and everything. It’s a woman’s fault for tempting or enticing a man if she happens to be pretty, or she’s shapely, or she has an outgoing personality, or she’s just simply female, and he gets turned on by it.

I think about those women in those countries whose religions and or customs require that they stay covered from head to foot and/or stay in the house for the sake of modesty. Like the female form is something to be ashamed of since it stimulates certain feelings in men. In those same countries they marry off little girls as young as age nine to grown men. Where is the modesty and decency in that? But the men don’t have to cover up like the women, and they are allowed to be out and about. What’s up with that? The women don’t get stimulated at the sight of a rock hard stomach or some good arms, nice eyes, a handsome smile, or a tight butt on a man?

And furthermore, I thought that was how things were set up, you know, men and women are supposed to look attractive to each other to keep the species flourishing and everything? The contradictions confuse me, as I’m sure they do a whole lot of other young people who think about them.

Angie came by to see me while I was down skating by the back gate. We laughed about giving each other a run for the other’s money last Sunday at the tournament. Even though I beat her, she is a worthy opponent. I had to do some mean playing; it was no cakewalk. She said that she just stopped by to see me before I left for France, but that trip isn’t for another week or so. Surely I’ll see her again at the Club or just out and about. We are always running into each other. She winded up telling me to be careful and to watch around myself. She told me that guys would use me if I let them. It sounded like she knew something, but I don’t know what exactly she was trying to tell me. Something was on her mind.

I like Angie. She always has this air of sadness and uncertainty about her that makes her precious to me. I always want to give her a hug or something because she’s so sweet and because she doesn’t have a mother. My God, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my mother. Angie never knew hers, so that’s probably a little different, but still, she doesn’t have one and her father isn’t real nice to her all the time. I’ve seem him act like a total butthole to her. He did it last Sunday when she lost to me. I was happy when she went right back off on him about not wanting to play me in the first place, and that he shouldn’t have made her do it if he was going to be so upset about it when she lost.

She told me once that her father doesn’t like her because her mother died having her. Her brother is way older than her, and he had been an only child before her, so they aren’t that close. Angie started out her life with all those strikes against her, but I hope she can find a way to get out from under that. She doesn’t have to be a loser because her father’s a class A jerk. Mr. Baker still tries to flirt with Jennifer Hart, and I think it’s getting old with her. She’s been shutting him down quicker and quicker when he tries to get started. Mr. Baker, Jr. gives my mother the eye sometimes too. I’ve seen him do it- looks at her bust, her butt, and her legs. I wonder what his father has said to him about her to get him going. There’s no telling with men. Angie should have planned to go out of state to college instead of going to UCLA so that she could have had a fresh start and a new life away from her father and her brother. That might help her some with her self-esteem .

I do wonder what that note said. I didn’t want to read it, but I would like to know what it said. My mother got mad when she read it, and she wouldn’t tell me. She told Daddy that she had a plan to take care of everything. If SHE has the plan, it has to be good. She has this gigantic imagination that she normally uses when she writes and when she used to make up stories for me, and she’s so pissed about all of this; there’s no telling what she’s come up with to take care of this. Somebody is going to get chewed a new one if she’s handling the matter. Normally it’s Daddy, but I have a feeling on this one. Even though I’m glad that I got it all out and that somebody else knows now, I sure would like to know where this is headed. I guess it’s the little snoop in me.

I think I’m going to be breaking Daddy down in the morning. He’ll tell me if I ask him right. He isn’t as protective as my mother is about shielding me from things. He knows I’m tough and that I can handle bad news… most of the time. I also think that he feels that it toughens me up to allow me to deal with things.

Right now my hand hurts. I’ve written enough, and I’m tired. I hope I can sleep all night tonight without dreaming about anything. Lately all my dreams seem to be bad ones and I wake up all sweaty with my chest hurting. Sometimes I even have to go in and take a bath in the middle of the night to relax again.

I’m going to call Marnie and then Tommy. I’ll go to sleep on Tommy, but he knows his role in my life.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 27

11:45 A.M.

I did it. I got Daddy alone out back and I broke him down. He tried to hold out, but he finally told me what was in the note. He said that the man was trying to set up a meeting on the quieter side of the mall for 4:00 this afternoon in the atrium.

I tried to get him to tell me how it was supposed to go down without me being there, but he wouldn’t say. He said that he only told me what he did because he didn’t want to leave me in the dark completely; he knew that I would be sitting around wondering, but that was all he was going to tell because that was all I needed to know.

Later, I’m going to ask him if I can at least go and see who it is that’s been doing this. He might let me if I promise to stick close to him. I feel like I really need to see who is doing this. Every time I start to thinking about it, my chest starts hurting, I get all sweaty and clammy, and then I start feeling like I’m choking.

It’s so weird how my emotions can affect my physical functioning.

Later, J.

 

May 27

10:51 P.M.

Too tired to write and my chest hurts so bad. It feels like somebody heavy is sitting on it.

I had to talk to the police and the investigators all evening.

I am now on a seriously tight punishment, but I love my mother like crazy.

Goodnight

___________________________________________________________

May 29

9:14 P.M.

Ever since the ‘incident’, it has been a little nuts around here.

I’m still on extreme lockdown, and I will be for another five days. I can’t go off the grounds, I can’t have company, I can’t talk on the phone, my mother has both my cells, and I’m not supposed to use my email or the Instant Messenger (she figured out the benefits of Instant Messenger the last time she took the phones from me).

This time I don’t care if I am on punishment. My ordeal is over, and it doesn’t matter to me one bit if I don’t get to do any of the above for a while. I welcome the down time.

And so I am left with nothing to do except to read or write. That’s okay. I have an awful lot to say.

After I couldn’t talk Daddy into taking me with them to meet with the man who had been contacting me, it only took me a second to find the loophole in what he said. He told me that I couldn’t go with them. He didn’t say that I couldn’t go at all.

The plan was that I was to go down to Marnie’s while they went to the mall. When he dropped me off supposedly for safekeeping, Marnie and I restyled my hair. Marnie gelled it and pulled it all up into a tight knot on top of my head. The gel makes my hair darker and that big, long ponytail is my calling card. I didn’t want to be noticed right off in case we were spotted. People tend to see my hair before they see me. Then we told her mother that we needed a ride to the mall. Mrs. Tolbert dropped us off assuming that we were there to shop. Marnie’s mother never asks a whole lot of questions, unlike my mother who puts you under a naked light bulb and slaps her palm with that rubber hose while she grills you about the details of where you’re going and what your plans are until you almost don’t want to go any more.

I knew that Daddy told me I couldn’t go only because my mother didn’t want me there. But I had to go. I had to see for myself who was doing that to me.

Once we made it to the mall, we found out that Tommy had been tailing me, without my knowing it, from the time that I left my house with my father. He met up with us after Marnie’s mother dropped us off and pulled away. I must have been really slipping to not have detected him until then. After Tommy got the car parked, we all sneaked around to the other side of the mall where Daddy told me the guy had arranged to meet me.

It turned out that my mother had taken my place. She came to the designated spot dressed in my clothes. She must have gotten with her hairdresser or mine to have a ponytail made up just like mine, which she wore through the back of my baseball cap just like I do sometimes. The cap was pulled down low on her face and she had some of her hair hanging down on the sides like I wear mine. She had on one of my baggier outfits: my favorite jersey, parachute pants, (She was so cool; had the drawstrings at the ankles open and everything.) and my best running shoes, my new Nikes. She changed how she walked and she was me all the way. We ( Actually it was Marnie with her nosy self.) found out later that she even had on boxer shorts under the pants like I wear under them when I have them on. She even had the pants sagging in the seat like she was supposed to. The look was the bomb.

We hid out to watch, and it was just one shocker after another once she sat down on that bench.

It turned out that the man who had been contacting me was Angie’s brother, Allen Baker, Jr. or Junior as he’s generally known. I could not believe it. He has always just been Angie’s older brother to me. He’s never paid any particular attention to me that I ever really noticed to be out of the ordinary, not like that anyway. He’s never even spoken to me beyond hello and some casual comments about my math progress. In Chicago he was with a woman that I took to be his lady friend. I would have thought it was his father before I suspected him. It just goes to show; you never know about people.

You never really know about anybody. I say that because just as soon as he started talking to her and looking like he wanted to get cozy, my mother pulled a gun out from where she had it hidden under my jersey. She stood up and put the thing to his head like she was going to assassinate him on the spot. My heart stopped beating; I’m sure of it.

At first I couldn’t move, I was so stunned. In no way is my mother a violent person, in fact she’s known for her kindness and her gentility. Sometimes she’s a bit TOO genteel for me, but seeing her do that with my own eyes, there was no doubt in my mind that she intended to forgo all of that, and just take him right on out. Nobody, in a million years, could ever have told me that she was capable of that. I’m sure now that she has some sort of problem. The older I get, the more I can see it in her. I know that she’s very protective of me, but whatever this is in her comes out so much more in situations where men try to take advantage of women. It’s kind of like with Marnie; it’s still in there and she acts it out rather than talking about it.

Once she pulled that gun, she stood up over him and kept pushing the barrel into his head, sort of stabbing him with it while she told him the things that she wanted him to know. I could swear that I heard the metal banging against his head.

I was so scared. I forgot, even though I knew he was there, that Daddy would be hiding just like the three of us were along with Hart Security, Captain Gray and some LAPD undercover officers. When that pistol appeared, everybody started screaming at her not to do it. Tommy, Marnie, and me, our original plan had been to just see who it was and scram before we got caught, but when that happened, we all came out of hiding with everybody else, rushing her. Daddy made everybody stop, waving them off her to keep from spooking her, but I didn’t stop. I kept going toward her until I got right behind her on the other side of her from Daddy. I could hear her talking. She was speaking very low and she didn’t sound like herself. Her voice was very cold and flat. She was challenging him to mess with her, a real woman, like he messed with me, a child. She was telling him how I would never forget the terror I had been feeling while he was putting me through that. Even though everything was all so crazy at the time, I remember thinking to myself, “How would she know that?” She sounded to me like she was speaking from experience and I could tell that she was still furious about it. I could hear that she was talking to him through her clenched teeth.

I knew that I had to do something. The gun was cocked and all she had to do was pull the trigger. The only thing I could think about was that she was going to kill him and regardless of the circumstances and the outcome, she would have taken a human life. She advocates for the rights of animals. How could she kill a human being and not be affected by it? If she went through with it, my mother, as I knew her would be gone forever.

Daddy was trying to talk her into giving him the gun, but she wouldn’t. She just kept poking Junior real hard in the head with it while she kept talking to him about what he had done to me. Daddy was scared too. I could hear it in his voice.

I wasn’t supposed to be there. I knew I was going to be in big trouble for it, but my mother was in worse trouble. I begged her to stop and give Daddy the gun. History was going to repeat itself if she took matters into her own hands. That would make me a motherless girl as well.

She must have heard me and realized what I was witnessing. She has always been the one to shield me from things, the one to teach me what is proper behavior and what is not. This had to be the ultimate for her as far as exposing me to negative things went, and she was the star player in all the drama. She ended up telling Junior that the gun wasn’t loaded, called him a coward, and then she handed it to Daddy.

Junior fell over, I guess because he was relieved. She had frightened him so badly that he had actually wet himself, I saw it. It was dripping on the floor underneath the bench. He should have been relieved. She was lying to him. I know that gun was totally loaded, and I knew right away that my mother was lying to him for my sake. My parents have always taught me that guns were not toys, that they were only to be pulled when one meant to use them for their intended purpose. My mother wouldn’t have pulled hers out on Junior if her intention hadn’t been to follow through. That was no bluff, and she wasn’t just trying to scare him. Daddy’s eyes confirmed that to me when he checked the gun before he put it away.

The cops converged on Junior, and then my mother turned around to me. She told me to come to her, but I was scared of her for some reason, and I couldn’t. It was almost like that time when I was fourteen and I snuck out to go to Marnie’s party and my mother came after me. I thought I was going to faint from the fright and the stress. I was having one of those attacks I’ve been having, and I realized that I had been pretty much holding my breath. Then when I did try to breathe, I couldn’t. I started choking and gasping for air. It felt as if someone had their hands around my neck and they were squeezing very, very hard.

I heard her tell me to come to her again, but the second time she said it, she sounded more like herself- like my mother. I went to her and let her wrap me up. I think she needed to feel me as much as I needed to feel her. But, when she was holding me, that’s when she told me that me and Marnie were going on lockdown. She was helping me to calm down and breathe while she was putting me on punishment. I could not believe her! She had just tried to blow a guy clean off the map, but she still had the presence of mind to notice that I was out of order and to check me on it.

I tried pointing out to her the loophole in the directions I was given, but then I realized that in doing so, I had given Daddy up. She told me that Daddy was through too. Daddy, Marnie, and me; we were all through according to Jennifer Hart.

I spent all that evening talking to the police about everything. Tommy took Marnie home, and my mother stayed with me. For some reason I don’t think she wanted Daddy in there when they were speaking to me. She kept telling him that she could handle things with me and putting herself between us. It was weird of her to do that. She’s never done that before.

Daddy and Hart Security went on and met together. I don’t know what they met for, though. Captain Gray came in at one point and tried fussing at my mother about what she had done, but she just smacked her lips and gave him the hand. He knew his words were falling on deaf ears, so he shut up and left her alone about it.

One of the lady detectives questioned me and she wanted to know why I hadn’t said anything to my parents sooner. She had the things that Junior had sent to me, and she took my statement about them. When she was done, she tried to intimate that maybe I didn’t tell because I liked the presents and all the attention, and I didn’t tell because I wanted it to continue. I didn’t know what to say to that even though I knew that what she was saying wasn’t a bit true.

It turned out that I didn’t have to say anything.

When that lady said that to me, my mother looked up at her and went, “Excuse me?” in that way that sounds like she didn’t think she heard what she knows she heard.

The detective knew that she had messed up and she tried to backpedal saying that I looked older than sixteen (my hair was still up) so maybe I was trying to act older; that it was not uncommon for young girls to seek out father figures, especially girls of privilege like myself who are used to the best of things, which much older men can provide.

I knew with absolute certainty that Jennifer Justine Edwards Hart was going to let her have it with both loaded barrels. I literally braced myself. Gripping the table with both hands, planting my feet squarely on the floor, I sat back and held my breath.

Sure enough, my mother rose up, slammed her hands down on that table, and lit into that woman with everything that she had. She told that detective that attitudes like hers keep victimized girls like me from coming forward when things like this happen. She went all the way off on her about how no daughter of Jonathan Charles Hart needed to seek that kind of attention from any grown man, that I had a very strong father figure in my life who gave me all that I will ever need emotionally and far too much when it came to material things. She was most worked up by this time, and she was yelling at the lady telling her that NONE of what happened to me was my fault, and that she wasn’t about to have anybody’s “misguided so-called professional” put that idea into my head.

At that moment, I could hear Marnie saying that same thing to me, and I sat wondering if my mother had helped her come to that understanding.

The interview was totally over at that point; my mother shut it down and told the detective that she was taking me home. Then she got me out of there. Before we left the precinct, she made it her business to seek out Captain Gray and tell him that he needed to use another detective to talk to girls in situations like mine. That detective, she said, could do more harm than good.

In the car, when we were all finally together, nobody said anything about anything, but Daddy and I knew that my mother was as mad as hell- angrier than either one of us were. I was the one the bad things had happened to, so I couldn’t figure out why she was so angry, but it’s a sure bet that I didn’t open my mouth.

Real early yesterday morning, something woke me up. I didn’t know what it was at first that caused me to wake like that, but when I opened my eyes, I saw that my mother was standing over me in the dark. She didn’t say anything. She was just standing there with her arms folded, watching me. That’s all I remember. She was just standing there looking at me, not saying anything, not reaching for me.

When I woke up later, at my regular time, I recalled her having been there earlier checking on me. That was when it dawned on me that my mother had come in here the night before, before I ever fell asleep, and she had worn pajamas to bed and not a gown. Her hair comes to just below her shoulders when it’s loose, not down her back like mine, and where was her wedding ring? She always wears it, and you don’t miss my mother’s ring. Her eyes are definitely deep brown, not sort of hazel like they were last night. And since it was dark in the room at the time, how could I tell all of that? I remember there being a sort of light around her even though the room itself was dark.

Okay, so who was that in the room with me and what was going on?

As if to further my confusion, just as I was sitting there trying to get it together, my mother knocked and came in wearing a robe and those same pajamas that she went to bed in. A shiver ran through me when I saw her in those, and she was wearing her ring. I must have been looking crazy because right off she stopped in her tracks and asked if I was alright. I said that I was, but inside I wasn’t so sure.

Had I been dreaming when I saw who I thought was her? Even though I’m willing to bet big money that I woke up and saw her, I don’t remember going back to sleep. I’m still not real sure what happened, but I think I’m going to leave it alone. I have enough anomalies to deal with in my life right now.

My mother had come in to tell me that I had a phone call that she was going to allow me to take. It  was Tommy’s grandmother, Ms. Fee. The police had questioned Tommy, so now she was aware of what had happened to me. I wasn’t real happy about everybody knowing my business, but I took the call.

Ms. Fee fussed at me a little about not speaking up, but she mostly wanted to know how I was feeling. Then she started fussing again about Tommy and me. She said that Tommy had stolen his mother’s new car to come to my aid. I told her that I didn’t know how Tommy had come by the car, but I was sure that he it hadn’t been his intention to rip it off. Ms. Fee said that he hadn’t asked his mother if he could take the car, so Mrs. Steele classified it as a theft. Ms. Fee said that she felt the same way about the situation as I did, and that she tried to explain that to Tommy’s mother, but Mrs. Steele took Tommy’s motorcycle away for a week anyway and she put him on lockdown to boot. He can only get out of the house to go to work, and then he has to come straight home- on the bus. Ms. Fee said that she was going to have Tommy stay with her at the condo to serve his punishment out since it’s closer to his job, but Mrs. Steele wasn’t having any of it. We all know that wouldn’t have worked. That would have been like me being on punishment and doing the time with Daddy. The punishment would be over before the first day was out.

So Tommy, Marnie and me, we are all on lockdown for a week. Somebody will end up sneaking and calling somebody before the seek is out. None of us ever make it a whole week.

Before she hung up, Ms. Fee said that she was coming over to pay me a visit during my period of incarceration. I wonder what she wants with me.

Today I didn’t do much at all. I mean, what could I do, really???

I walked the dog after breakfast. I cleaned my rooms and then I went to the gazebo and read for a while. I watched television later (of course, nothing good was on), and I worked on my website for Triple J, who won a race last weekend in Virginia. It was all I could do to not check my email or answer Philly who was trying to Instant Messenger me while I was online, but it’s too early in the game to compromise my honor. Maybe around day five when I’m truly desperate for outside contact…

I thought about those pictures that Junior had taken of me. Daddy said that he thought that they were pulled from video and he’s having the dressing rooms at the club checked. If the pictures were taken from video footage, I wondered what other pictures he had of me. How much of me has he seen? Who else was he looking at? Am I the only one he’s been doing this to? Is he the only one who’s seen them?

Earlier today I had to go with my mother to our attorney’s office. There I spoke with Mr. Drayton about what happened. I guess Daddy is filing suit. I didn’t ask. I’d like to stop talking about it. I wish I could just go back to being J.J. Hart, Sweet Sixteen like I was before all of this. Life was a lot more simple a month ago.

___________________________________________________________

May 30

5:47 P.M.

I was supposed to go flying with Daddy this afternoon, but I’m on punishment so that was out. My mother made me sit and polish the silver instead. Marie stayed in there with me while I got it done. For the first time, it was okay that I couldn’t go flying. I didn’t really want to go.

While we were alone in the dining room, Marie told me that she’s worried about my mother. She said that I’m young and that I’m different from her. I tend to put things behind me and move on after a time, but my mother doesn’t. She said that my mother just moves things to the side to deal with them later and that this was a very big thing for her. Since she mentioned it, I have noticed that Jennifer Hart has been mighty silent these past couple of days. Other than ordering me around, and saying the things that need to be said, she isn’t really talking. Of course, I’ve been pretty much holed up, so maybe I just haven’t been hearing her.

Last night, real late, Daddy tried to slip me a small box of Ghiardelli chocolates through the cell door, but he got caught in the act by the warden. She crept up behind him from the hall, and I could see her but he couldn’t. By the time he read it in my eyes that she was back there, it was too late. She was right there watching his every move with her hands on her hips. Then he tried to play it off like he had found ME with the box of candy and he just was there taking it away from me. She knew better. She called him a big old piece of warm putty, and then she put him out of my room. She took the chocolates away from me too talking about she was saving me from having acne. Did I ask her to? I had gotten my mouth all set for them.

It’s time for dinner. God, I hope that’s not steamed cauliflower I smell. I’ll just die if there’s some of that slimy faux vomit down there waiting for me on my plate. I know that I’m on lockdown, but cauliflower is cruel and inhuman punishment of the worst kind.

Later.

 

May 30

11: 03 P.M.

The police came here this evening to talk to my mother, father, Marie, and to me. It seems that I am not the only one who has been victimized by Junior after all. There were cameras found running in several areas of the club where ladies go to do personal things. Daddy’s security people found them and the police interviewed all the club employees. Finally they broke the club photographer down after things started pointing to him, and he told everything. Junior had the cameras set up to spy on us. Junior also paid him to take those pictures of my mother which he used to try to intimidate me. That Junior is one sick puppy.

It’s also coming out that Junior has done things with other very young girls in the past and gotten into trouble over it, but his father got him off each time. That’s why he had to leave two colleges without graduating and ended up back here in Los Angeles working in his father’s business.

Captain Gray said that I was lucky. I think it’s just that I have the right people looking out for me, including my grandmother, Suzanne. What the living can’t see, she can and she’s been guiding my feet around life’s pitfalls and helping me get back up when I do fall. I don’t normally go for that kind of thinking. I don’t believe in ghosts and spirits and such, but I do when it comes to her. She has done some things lately to kind of force me into seeing it her way, and the bad part about it is I can’t kick the validity of her presence around with anybody else without them thinking that I was losing it.

You see, I believe it’s her that I saw that night because I have a picture of her on the night table in my room that was taken right before she was killed in the accident. Even though she was thirty-two when she died, the woman I saw in the dark looked like she could be old enough to be my mother’s sister, or her mother. My mother’s younger pictures look very much like my grandmother, so I imagine that as she’s aged, my mother looks even more like her own mother. Wouldn’t my grandmother appear to me looking like my grandmother?

Reading this over, I sound crazy even to myself. Maybe I am losing it.

Whatever. Nobody reads this except me anyway. I wonder if my grandmother works with my mother too in her own way. I wonder if my mother can see her like I can. I hope so.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

May 31

8:53 P.M.

Spent much of the day at the pool listening to CD’s and thinking.

I’ve been trying to put it behind me, but I had to go back in my mind to that day that Junior came here to the house. I wonder if he really came here to bring papers for my father like he said that he did or if he actually came to see me. Thinking back on it, he seemed awfully intent upon finding out who was home with me and on getting in here. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but in light of everything that’s been revealed about him, that situation looks a lot different to me now. His story about having to come into the house to call to have the papers faxed here fell flat. Even though Marie let him use the phone to call for them, no papers ever came. Marie later told my father, and then Captain Gray, when he interviewed her, that Junior was carrying a working cell phone at the time, and that he seemed disappointed when she came to the door.

Disappointed about what? That thought is so frightening to me. Here’s a person that I’ve known all my life. He’s at least fifteen years older than me, and I shouldn’t have to worry about him, yet obviously I need to. His kid sister is older than me. I could see it if I was twenty-one and he was thirty something, but I’m only just turned sixteen. Captain Gray said that some of the girls he had become involved with were younger than that. He didn’t say it in front of me, but I think he was trying to imply by saying that I had been lucky, that Junior was having sex with some of them. They were just little girls. Maybe the girls thought they wanted to do it with him. Some girls do think that hanging out with much older guys is cool. Some of them would do anything a guy asked of them if he said the right things to them or gave them things to make them feel special. But Junior should have known better. He was the adult, and he has a sister. How would he like it if someone was doing that to her? Like my mother asked him, why didn’t he take that to a real woman?

How is girl supposed to know who she can trust? Marnie couldn’t even trust the man who married her mother. He was supposed to be in love with her mother, but he was making advances on Marnie. I know that if they were married, he was getting sex from Marnie’s mother. Why in the world would he need to do that with Marnie too? I don’t understand. I want to ask, but I don’t think this is a good time to be asking my mother things like that. She seems really uptight these days. She’s been abrupt with everybody, which is one reason why I was outside much of the day today.

Daddy tries so hard to make both of us smile. I love him so much, but I don’t feel like smiling a lot. I don’t think my mother does either.

Good night

___________________________________________________________

June 1

3:46 P.M.

Ms. Fee just left. She’s really a fine lady. When she first got here, she talked with my mother out on the patio for a while, and then my mother called for me to come down to keep Ms. Fee from having to climb the stairs to me. I met with her in the great room. My mother then left the two of us alone.

Ms. Fee started out just asking me how I was coming along with my punishment and all, but when I said that I was okay, she told me that she knew I wasn’t. My eyes were telling her that I wasn’t, and she said that she needed for me to be honest with her during our talk. She told me that she didn’t blame me if I wasn’t okay, that she knew that I had been through something. She advised me to run it around through my head a while longer and then let it go.

At first I didn’t say anything. After all, I’ve only known Tommy’s grandmother for a few months, but somehow it seems like I’ve known her all my life. The woman has a way of looking at me that makes me feel like she can see what I’m thinking before I say it. She and Tommy have the same eyes, actually the same general Latin look, and they both have a way about them that puts me at ease. It’s funny how genetics work. Tommy didn’t know anything about her until earlier this year, and he didn’t know about her, but they are so much alike and they have become so tight. They have really developed this strong bond in such a short time.

I would generally be nervous around somebody like Ms. Fee, an older lady who I haven’t known that long, but somehow it calms me to be near her, and it’s the same way for me when I’m with Tommy. I’m usually on my guard with guys, but that is not the case with him. It’s comforting, pleasant, and fun to be in his company. It always has been.

I needed to ask somebody this question. She brought it up, so I asked her. How do I let go of it? The stuff really bothers me, all of this male-female stuff; it bothers me all the time. Like, I was getting dressed to go to the pool earlier, and I found myself putting on a one-piece suit rather than a two-piece like I would normally automatically wear at home. For the first time in my life, I felt uncomfortable in the two piece.

Why?

Also, as part of this male-female thing, I don’t understand why I can share personal things with Tommy that I can’t share with Daddy. What’s the difference? Daddy is my father. I love him and I trust him wholeheartedly, but I don’t feel like I can tell him everything that I’m feeling. Especially the girl-things. And I don’t really know what man outside of my father I can truly trust to not hurt me or to not be thinking about doing things with me that are inappropriate for him to do with me. I told her all of that and how I’ve never been one to worry about how I looked or what people thought of me, but that’s all changing for me and that I didn’t like it.

That was when she made me come to the other side to sit by her and she put her arm around me. Now I don’t let too many people get that close to me, but I let her. She must really be an okay person in my mind because I did it without hesitation. Ms. Fee said that her heart had been hurting ever since she got word of what was going on, and that was why she came to see me and my mother. She knew that we were both in pain over all that happened; that she thought we were both too beautiful to let this ugliness touch us and change us. We had to be strong and come out of it the same people as we were when we went into it. We needed to stay strong for my father, she said; he lives for us. I hadn’t looked at it like that. I’ve felt for the longest that he couldn’t make it without my mother, but I never really thought about his deeper feelings for me. I mean, I know that he loves me, but I’ve never thought too much beyond that. Am I more to him than just his daughter? Does he see me as a person too?

She told me that Tommy had kept my secret from them: her and his mother. I told her that I never told him anything about it; he had come by what he knew on his own. She said that before she knew for sure, she could sense in Tommy that something was wrong with me, but that Tommy never said anything to anybody about what he knew: those things that he wouldn’t tell me about. Nobody knew what was going on with me until it all went down at the mall and the police called Tommy’s mother to have Tommy come down to the station. I guess I really can pretty much trust that particular male.

Ms. Fee starting laughing and said that Tommy’s mother was just in the process of raking him over steaming hot coals about taking her car without permission when the phone rang, and there the police were on the other end. Mrs. Steele started screaming that she was going to kill Tommy for whatever he did in her car that the police would be calling her house about it. Then in an effort to save his life, the cop had to hurry up and explain to her what he really wanted with Tommy. I wish I could have been at their house to see that when that  happened. That should have been a real Kodak moment. His mother is little and short, so she has to reach way up to get to him, but she will not hesitate to knock his block off without so much as batting her eye. If she told him to, he’d bend down to let her do it because that’s his mother and she does not play. I’m surprised he had the nerve to take her car like that, especially the new one. She has two and she only lets him drive the Tercel on occasion. He really took a chance on borrowing the Lexus.

I told Ms. Fee that Tommy said that he had spoken with Daddy about me behind my back. According to her, he let her know that after the fact, but she was glad that he had exercised better sense than I did and went ahead and spoke up even though he waited much too long to tell it.

I promised her that I would never sit on anything like that again. I really won’t. I thought I was sparing somebody worry in keeping it to myself, but I think I might have made things worse by not coming forward sooner.

Ms. Fee said that the male-female things would become clearer to me as I got older and had more experiences with guys where I had to exercise my judgment and reasoning. In the meantime, I should continue to listen to my mother’s teachings and stay true to myself. If anything didn’t feel right to me, then I shouldn’t involve myself in it. She also said that I shouldn’t fully trust any man outside of my father at this point in my life, that I had no control over what or how they thought of me, and that as long as I carried myself like the lady she knows me to be, I should go on and continue to be the happy girl I was before this happened. Later in my life, I might find a man that I want to put my trust in fully, but then again it might work out that I don’t ever find one, but that was something to deal with way down the line, not now at sixteen. The important thing right now, she said, was for me to not let this change me. It could shape me, it could make me smarter, but I was not to let it change me or change how I felt about myself.

Before she left, Ms. Fee told me to keep an eye on my mother, and to try to be a comfort to her for the next few days.

I think the best thing I can do for my mother is to just keep out of her way. She doesn’t need any more stress than that which she’s presently operating under. She watches me all the time when I’m in her eye line. I think she wants to talk with me, but if she’s in the shape I’m in, she doesn’t know what to say to make it better. either

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

June 2

10:00 P.M.

Today was my last day of lockdown, but for once it doesn’t matter. Normally, by this time, I’ve usually broken down and sneaked in a couple of calls or I’ve emailed somebody on the sly. Or else I’m at the windows or down at the gates (if I can go outside)  peering out like a caged animal at the world beyond. I didn’t feel it this time. I didn’t miss anybody, and it doesn’t even seem like it’s been a week.

Earlier today, I was in the loft looking for a book, and I could hear my mother talking on the phone downstairs. She was speaking to someone about what a mess things have become. It seems that the things that have been whispered about Rick Slater are true and that he was sleeping with Angie as well as several other women at the club. My mother isn’t a gossip, so what she was saying had to be true. I got out of the loft before I could overhear anything else. I didn’t want to hear anything else. My biggest fear is that this thing will become public and everybody will know. I couldn’t bear that. I’m glad school is out and that I don’t have to face people every day. By the time classes are back in session in the fall, this will have died down and I hope that it will be forgotten.

No wonder Angie said those things to me out back that day when she came over. She must have found out about her brother and what he was doing to me. She was trying to warn me without actually telling me who it was that had designs on me. After all, how could she tell me?  It was her brother and she had her own problems as well. I have no hard feelings toward her. In fact, I feel even more sorry for her than before.

I really hate all of this. How come it has to be like this with men and women? Why do things have to be so complicated? Why couldn’t I just stay little where I wouldn’t have to worry about this stuff? But then again, I could be living in one of those countries where I would have to worry about it even if I was little. Hell, that kind of thing happens here. Look at what happened to that little JonBenet Ramsey girl. Million dollar home, two parents, seemingly a good family, and still she was paraded around in those kiddie pageants for her looks and  she ended up dead in her own home. She was only six years old, and it was suspected that she was sexually abused before she died. I don’t know if her appearance, being a girl, and her death were all connected in any way. I don’t even know why I thought of that in connection with this.

I don’t understand any of it or why it happened.

Wesley will be home when I come off this punishment. I don’t have my phone equipment in here, but I just know that his number is all over my caller I.D. I hope he doesn’t start up with me. I don’t know what I’ll do if he does come at me like that, but it won’t be pleasant. I won’t be able to hold this acid tongue of mine, and he’ll end up with his feelings hurt for real. I wasn’t ready before when he went there with me, and I really don’t want to hear it now.

I think I’m going off the deep end on all of this. I go on vacation to France in a few days. Maybe being with Aunt Sabrina and the Eccentrics will help me get past this. Aunt Sabrina will be a big help. I can talk to her about anything. Or I can not talk and she’s okay with it. I’ll still be her “Cherie” no matter what I choose to do. I know that my mother has told her about what’s been going on with me. She and my mother talk all the time, especially about me.

I just thought about it. That hot-blooded Emil is going to be there. He’ll have to keep his distance this summer too. A good distance. I won’t EVEN be feeling like him and his junk. Normally I just laugh him off. This summer I might  kick his butt.

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t had a lot to say to my father lately. In fact, we haven’t said much to say to each other at all since it all happened. He did bring me another box of chocolates, and he got them to me safely this time. Right before he left for work this morning, he cracked the door open and he tossed them in to me.

Late this evening, right before dusk, we went for a walk out in the garden. I was already outside, and he asked me to come with him so that he could get some roses for my mother. I went, but we didn’t say too much to each other then either. I mostly played with the dog while he cut the flowers.

When he finished gathering all that he wanted, he turned around to me and took one from the bunch. After he carefully pulled enough of the  thorns from the stem for me to be able to hold it safely, he held it to his lips, kissed it, and then he handed it to me.

That gesture was very symbolic of my relationship with my Daddy in every single way.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

June 3

8:07 P.M.

It was the first day of freedom in a week for the three amigos. We went to the mall early this afternoon, but as soon as I  got there, I kind of started having flashbacks and suddenly I got the creeps. I felt like I was going to have one of those attacks, so I asked Tommy to please take me back home before everybody found out what was happening to me. I was so embarrassed.

I did, however, before I stepped foot into it, think to ask him if he had gotten his mother’s permission to use the car this time. He assured me that he had. She let him use the new one when he said that he was going to be picking me up. He said there was no way he was going head-to-head with that little woman again any time soon. Personally, even though I said I said I didn’t mind being on it the last time, I wasn’t trying to go back on lockdown. Getting picked up by the police as a passenger in a stolen car, with one of my best friends at the wheel, would probably warrant that kind of action on my mother’s part.

Marnie didn’t realize what was going on with me, so she stayed a the mall. I was glad that she did. The Barnett twins were there and she wanted to hang out with them. She called me a while ago and said that they brought her home. They had been everywhere and had a ball. Under ordinary circumstances, I would have been right with them. I like both the twins a lot, but that Chase Barnett who my father calls the Cincinnati Kid because he gambles and plays pool so well, is my boy. He’s an excellent sailor too, and we go out on the water together a lot in his or my father’s boats or to jet ski. Hanging with him almost always gets me into curfew trouble; we have such a good time when we’re together that time just gets away from us. His brother, Chance, is into racing- boats and cars- and we’ve had some fun with that too. But today I just didn’t feel like any of it.

When we got to the car, Tommy noticed that I was having trouble breathing, but he didn’t get bent out of shape over it. He just reached over to pull me to him and started rubbing my back the way he saw my mother do it that day. He held me and did that until I could get it together and then he let me go. He wanted to know how long that had been happening to me. I told him, he nodded, but he didn’t say anything about it after that.

Despite my condition, he didn’t want to take me home. He said that we had been cooped up long enough, so we went to Griffith Park instead. We drove for a while, went for a walk, and then for a ride on the Merry-go-round. While I rode on one of the horses, he stood up next to me while it went around. He said that he was too big to be on that thing in the first place, but that he definitely wasn’t going to be caught looking like a goof riding one of carousel horses himself. We went to the zoo after that and messed around, then we left the park. On the way back to my house, we stopped at the deli and ate. Then he brought me home.

We didn’t talk a lot today, but that’s the thing about us. We can have a good time and not talk very much at all. When he came around to my side of the car and opened my door, something he insists upon doing when we’re together in the car, he squeezed my hand and told me that it would be okay soon. I asked him how he knew that it wasn’t alright already. He looked me in the eye and said that he knew me and that he knew that it wasn’t okay in my world yet. He wanted me to know that all guys aren’t like Junior. I know that they are aren’t, but it’s sorting them out that’s the problem.

Goodnight

 

June 3

11:49 P.M.

I had to come back up. My mother was downstairs by herself, and she was crying.

I was going down the front stairs to get some milk just now and I heard her. She wasn’t crying loud, but I could hear her before I got to her. I didn’t want her to know that I was there. She wouldn’t want me to know. I’m sure she thought she was by herself.

I went back up and told Daddy about it. He got right up out of bed and went downstairs to her. I didn’t want to know what was wrong with her. For her to cry like that, it has to be bad, and I don’t think I can take any more bad news without crying myself.

I hate to cry.

J.

___________________________________________________________

June 4

2:45 P.M.

I got a plaque in the mail today from the school board. It was for being first in my class for the year. It already had a hook, so all I had to do was put it up. I stuck it up on the shelf for now. I’ll get Daddy to hang it up later. My mother brought it up to me when it came, and she told me that she was proud of my academic accomplishments this year. I finished with all A’s like I always do, and I served as an officer for our school’s branch of the National Honor Society. I did some other things too, and she was happy about all of it.

Instead of going back out, though, she stayed and sat on the side of my bed with me.

I had been lying on the bed listening to the headphones when she came in, and she wanted to know why I wasn’t outside doing something. I told her that I just didn’t feel like it. She asked me where my friends were. I told her they had been calling, but I just wanted to be by myself. When she asked me why, I didn’t have an answer for that one, so all I could tell her was that was just how I felt.

I know that was probably odd for her. With school being out, she and I are usually going at it tooth and nail by this time because either my friends are here under foot, or I’ve been gone somewhere myself for too long and she’s calling me, blowing up my cell, wanting to know where I am and if I realize what time it is. For me to be here at home and by myself is not a normal situation.

We haven’t been shopping for my trip yet either, I’ve noticed. That too is not normal. Shopping for my annual trip to France is something  that my mother looks forward to and I dread. She drags me from store to store, and even though she’s shopping for me, I’m as bored and irritated as all get out. She’s fussing and I’m pouting. It’s not like I don’t have enough things to take with me in my wardrobe as it is without having to shop. I never understand her need to send me to our aunt with all new things. Then when I get to Perpignan, Aunt Sabrina takes me shopping again. I never wear all the things that they buy. BUT Aunt Sabrina did buy me some really sexy underwear and even some thong panties last summer. She said that I have the body for them, and that I should enjoy it while I can. She did.

She still does.

Now I did wear ALL of those things; I changed underwear several times a day sometimes. It makes me feel so feminine and pretty to wear that stuff. I hope I’ll feel that way about myself again soon.

I could tell that my mother wanted to talk, but there’s nothing to say. What could I possibly say to her?

“Mom, I’m so proud of you for trying to blow Junior’s perverted head off at the mall?”

That’s exactly how I feel about it, but that’s not something that I can get away with saying to her even though I would give anything to let her know that. She wouldn’t understand why that would make me proud. Daddy would, but I don’t think she would. I’m sure that she’s not real satisfied with herself over it. That’s not her style to lose it like that. It wouldn’t bother me one bit if the situation had been reversed, but we’re not the same when it comes to that kind of thing. Where she would stop to check herself, I would just keep on going and see it all the way through.

I am so glad that I was there that day to see her do that. It confirmed some things about her that I have always felt. I’ve always viewed her as being too ladylike and genteel to do certain things, and her general trust in people has worried me at times. No matter how rough the situation, she never seems to lose it, and I wondered what made her like that; how she managed to stay so in control all the time. Where I would get completely pissed off about something and not hesitate to let the whole world know it, she would just continue to smile and be gracious, and then later she might find some low key, classy way of getting even. Now I do like that about her. In the back of my mind, though, I have always suspected that she could be tough physically.

It was so nice to see that she had some unpredictable roughneck in her too. Our hair is red for a reason. I’ve seen her go off on occasion, but never anything like that.

There are those people who would probably contend that I should have some counseling after seeing my mother pull a gun on somebody with the intent to do him in, but I don’t need any counseling from somebody who’s being paid to listen to me. It’s just like Ms. Fee said, I need to move it around in my own head for a while, find out where it fits, put it in its proper place, and then go past it. I don’t really want to go past that part of it yet- that part about my mother. There’s a lot to this thing that I haven’t quite got processed enough yet to even begin to write it down, but my mother was a true bad ass that day and I admire her immensely for it. I’ll never forget seeing her do that, and the look on Junior’s sorry-assed face as long as I live.

I wanted so badly to ask her while she was here why she was crying last night, but I didn’t. It wasn’t my business, but I really would like to know. I hope it wasn’t about this stuff with me, but what else could it have been? I know that it still has her pretty stressed out. Even Third doesn’t hang around her. Dogs can sense when you’re not at your best, and they give you room when they can sense that you need it. Even though I don’t think they’re fighting, she and Daddy don’t seem too be very close either. He’s always talking with police, security, his lawyers, the management at the Country Club, and so on. She buries herself in her work at her desk or she’s on the phone. At night, they both get up out of bed to come and check on me. They think I’m asleep and don’t know that they do that. I’m not sleeping all that well these days. Besides, I’m sixteen. How long are they going to keep that up?

I’ve been finding out bit by bit that some of the girls that were approached by Junior were girls that I know. There are a couple from my school, a few from the Club, and some from here in Bel Air and the surrounding area. Marnie has been talking to a lot of them and, of course, she fills me in. She doesn’t mind talking about how it was for her and sharing her story with others who found themselves in the same boat. I don’t want to talk to anybody about it, really. I want it to just all go away. It will if I wait long enough.

My mother has invited me to a late lunch. I think I’ll wear one of those new dresses that she bought for me on her cruise. That should cheer her up some. Maybe we can take in a movie, one of those old classic romantic, mushy things that she likes so much. I like them too, but I act like I don’t when I’m with her. Nobody needs to know about my softer side.

Later, J.

___________________________________________________________

June 4

9: 53 P.M.

I had two interesting phone calls today.

The first one was from Pa. I picked up the phone, heard his voice, and I held my breath. I thought he was calling to talk to me about what happened. I was praying that nobody had told him. During the course of the conversation, I kept waiting for him to bring it up, but he never did. Evidently, my mother has spoken to him about my school year, but most likely not about that other thing. He was calling to tell me how proud he was of how well I had done  academically this year and he congratulated me on being first in my class. He said that I was smart just like my mother was in school, but he didn’t say a  word to me about any of the other. I gradually got the feeling that he wasn’t aware of it at all, as if she hadn’t mentioned it to him. Since his heart is not so good, she most likely did not. If that is the case, I’m glad that she didn’t. I would never want to talk with Pa about something like that. Seeing as how he’s as stiff as he is about that kind of thing in general, (he didn’t let his own daughter date until after she graduated from high school. Imagine that.) my mother probably wouldn’t mention anything like that to him.

Who in the world did she take her personal concerns to? It had to be Aunt Sabrina and that couldn’t have been real easy with Aunt Sabrina being in France, and her and Pa being on the outs like they were. Pa got her phone records and paid her bills. He knew when she was calling France and who she would be calling. From what I gather, he didn’t keep her from Aunt Sabrina. He just didn’t deal with her himself, and he restricted the time that she spent with her. My mother told me that when she was in college, that was really why she went to the Sorbonne for that period of time. She needed to be near someone who could help her be a woman. Aunt Sabrina was definitely the one for that…

Aunt Sabrina and Pa still don’t speak. My poor mother must have felt like she was out there all alone. I really hope my grandmother made her presence known to her like I’m pretty sure she does with me.

The second call was the funny one.

I picked up, said hello and the voice on the other end asked, “Want I should come and kick the living shit out of him, J.? I can get the next flight out. Just say the word.”

That was Aunt Pat. I burst out laughing. It was the first good laugh I’ve had since this whole thing started. Now her, I could take.

We talked for a long time about everything. She told me that she understood why I didn’t say anything to my mother right away. She’s the first person who said right off the bat that they understood. But then she and my mother go way back and she knows a lot about my mother that probably nobody else knows, not even Daddy. I wanted to ask her about my mother, about that thing that’s going on inside her, but the two of them are like me and Marnie; there are things that you trust the other person not to mention to anyone else, so I didn’t ask. That would have put her on the spot. My mother will tell me when the time is right, I guess, if there is indeed anything to tell.

I asked Aunt Pat if my mother told her that she made Junior pee on himself. It seemed like the kind of thing that Aunt Pat would get a kick out of. I was right. She did. She started laughing as I described the look of Junior’s face and the water running onto the floor. She said that was the kind of low-life, tasteless detail my mother would leave out of a story, but that we would include. I told her my mother probably didn’t even notice him doing that, but I did.

There’s a story my mother tells about when I was little, when she would come to pick me up daily from kindergarten and first grade. She would always ask me about my day, and she says I would never tell about what I learned, but I could always report on who got in trouble, who was fighting, who got sent to the corner, or who had an accident on themselves. Unless, of course, it was me who got in trouble, had a fight, or got sent to the corner. I wouldn’t tell that.  My mother says that she would know when I had gotten into trouble because I wouldn’t say anything about my day when she asked, or I’d be in the corner when she came for me. But I never had ‘accidents’, though. That’s where I am definitely Jennifer Hart’s daughter. I have always maintained my dignity in personal matters. I never, ever had to use my spare set of clothes, and I was quick to let people know that. She says that would be completely mortified about some of things I would do and get into, but she could at least be proud of the fact that I never soiled myself.

But she made a grown man do that, and I’ve never been prouder of her.

Aunt Pat threw in about the time I got caught playing the shell game with the kids at my play table in kindergarten. It seems that while the other kids were playing house, I was using three plastic cups from the play house kitchen cabinet and a marble from one of the games in a more creative, but less orthodox manner. I had a little boy crying because he couldn’t pick the right cup (What a dunce he must have been! I was only five.) The teacher heard him bawling like a little sissy and came over and found out what I was doing. Needless to say, I was in the corner when my mother came for me that day. My mother gave my father pure hell when he got home from work that night. I seem to remember being in the corner quite often when my mother would come for me in those early days of my formal education, and the corner was not a good place to be when Jennifer Hart arrived to pick up her only child. I can still feel that sickly, sweaty feeling I would get while I would be waiting for her to get there. I was just a kid. I didn’t know I had picked up bad habits. I didn’t even know what vice was at the time. Daddy didn’t tell me that part.

Talking about that, Aunt Pat and I laughed until we cried.

It had crossed my mind once or twice in the past few weeks that I should have called Aunt Pat, but I was sure that she would have told my mother. And that is just what she said when I asked her if she was mad that I hadn’t called her and asked her what to do. She said that she wasn’t because that would have obligated her to let my mother in on it. There would have been no way that she would have been able to be in New York knowing that I was in trouble here without letting my mother know what I told her. Then she said what everybody else has said in one way or another: trust my mother and let her know right off if something like this ever happens again.

I promise I will.

I feel better right now than I have in a long time.

Good Night.

___________________________________________________________

June 5

7:05 P.M.

Marnie and a bunch of the girls came by this morning wanting me to go skating at the pier with them. There were two carloads of girls, and they were all out there looking like they were going to have a blast. Angie was driving her car and Britt’s older sister, Tiffany had their father’s SUV. They were going to roller blade and swim. I turned them down. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel like being with anyone today.

I couldn’t understand how Angie could go and be with people and have a good time. She had to talk to the police about what she knew, about her relationship with Rick outside of the tennis lessons, and how Junior and Rick hooked up to get the goods on me. They both used Angie to get to me, but she didn’t know what they were doing until it was too late.

I know the girls are asking her about Rick and everything. How can she talk about it to just anybody? How can she make them not talk to her if she chooses to be left alone about it? What do the other girls think when they look at her? I think it’s easier to just avoid them altogether until things cool off.

Tommy and Deon called wanting to know if they could come by and see me. I begged off. I was into my music when they called and I was deep into learning to play a new tune on the keyboard. I had the headphones on, but I had the cell on vibrate in my back pocket. That’s the only way that the call got through. I wouldn’t have heard the regular phone. That’s the nicest thing about headphones. You can zone out and be with your own thoughts and the music. Nothing else gets in.

Tommy wanted to know how long I was going to be on the sidelines. I don’t know. I told him that. He just said okay and said he’d talk to me later.

After she got back today, Marnie said that everybody wanted to know why I was keeping such a low profile these days. She said that she covered for me saying that I had been busy getting ready for my trip, but that she knew that wasn’t it. We almost got into an argument because she kept pressing me to tell her why I wasn’t coming around our friends. I didn’t know why, so how could I tell her? I just said that I didn’t feel like it. Then she wanted to know why I was shutting her out too. I didn’t realize that I was. She said that Tommy mentioned it, too, when she talked to him on the phone last night; that I had been closing down on him. I don’t mean to. I just need time. I just feel better up here in my room, in my world.

I didn’t tell her that I talked to Tommy this afternoon. She ended up telling me that I couldn’t run from it and that I can’t hide from it. If I didn’t deal with it, that it would find me and deal with me. To hell with her and everybody else. Nobody knows how I feel, and nobody deals with everything the same way. I have to do what I have to do.

Later, J.

___________________________________________________________

June 6

12:02 A.M.

I guess when I wake up in the morning I’ll be on lockdown again.

Tommy called me a little while ago and told me to meet him at the gate. I told him no at first, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said that if I didn’t come down, he wouldn’t speak to me for the rest of the summer. I asked him what he wanted with me at eleven o’clock at night, but he said that he couldn’t tell me unless I came down to the gate. So even though he was blackmailing me into it, I went. Only Tommy could play me like that. It was déjà vu all the way. I knew that I was going to get busted just as sure as my name was J.J. Hart., just like I got busted the last time I went down to the gate for him in the middle of the damned night.

I snuck out and I skated down to the back gate where he was out there waiting for me, and I let him in. I asked him how he got past Bel Air Security; Daddy has this place watched like Fort Knox. Tommy said that ‘his boy’ Ben happened to be at our front gate, and he let him go around to our back gate when he asked him to. Tommy knows all the guys on Bel Air Security. He can talk his way past anybody, and people just give him the hookup every time. Somebody is going to lose their job one day fooling around with Tommy Steele.

We sat down on the ground down there to talk. He wanted to know what was up with me and why I was avoiding him. I told him it wasn’t personal, it wasn’t about him; I just needed time to be alone. He made the comment that being alone could become a habit if a person wasn’t careful. I let that go past. He said that he missed me, he missed having fun with me, and summer was going to be over before we knew it. I told him that I missed him too, but that I just wasn’t fit company these days.

He wanted to know if I was still having those attacks. I didn’t want to talk about that or about having gone to the doctor or anything. When he saw that I wasn’t going to answer him, he suddenly spit on the ground and declared that he hated Junior for causing me so much pain and messing up my life like he did. I don’t want Tommy or anyone to be hating anybody over me. His anger surprised me. I didn’t think he would care that much. I mean, I know he cared, but not to that extent. I don’t even hate Junior myself. I hate what he did and I hate whatever it is in him that motivated him to do it, but not him the person. I told Tommy that my life wasn’t messed up. It was just a little derailed for the moment. I just needed time to get back on track.

I asked Tommy what makes guys act like that, like Junior, and if he ever thinks of me like that.

He didn’t say anything at first. Then he said he didn’t know what made Junior do what he did, that it was different for each guy. While he was talking, he had been looking at the ground like he was nervous or something. Then looked up me, and asked me if I could take it if he was honest with telling how he thinks of me. That was what I needed, so I told him to go ahead and hit me with it.

Tommy told me that I’m pretty, and I’m sexy and that he would be lying if he said that he didn’t think of me like that on occasion, but that his respect for me overrides all of that. He told me that because I make it clear that I’m not looking for sexual attention from guys, that’s why guys who really know me don’t come on to me like that. Within our circle, he said I am the girl that the guys have put on a higher plane because that’s how I carry myself. But at the same time, I’m still very attractive, and I have sexy ways that are simply just naturally appealing to males and that’s just how it is. There wasn’t anything that I do to make it that way, and there probably wasn’t anything I could do to change it, not that he wanted me to.

I wanted to know specifically what it was that was so sexy about me. He told me to stop fishing for compliments, but I explained to him that I really don’t know and I really needed to know from someone I could trust to tell me the truth. I think he could see that I was being dead serious. He said that for him it was my eyes, my hair, my hands, and my voice that are sexy. That’s just like him. Not my legs, my boobs, or my butt, like I would have thought. He’s an artist. I should have known that his answer would be somewhere outside of the box.

He went on to say that I have feminine, “silky” ways- most of the time- and that’s attractive to most guys. Then he told me to excuse him for making the observation, but my mother was the same way, and that I was a lot like my mother to the eye in the way that I look and they way that I move. It didn’t make sense to me when he said it, but he also told me that the fact that I don’t chase after guys and seem so uninterested in them makes me even more attractive to them.

I was just about to get him to elaborate on that and the ‘silky ways’ thing when my mother all of a sudden walked up on us out from around the bushes and stood looking down on us sitting there on the ground. She didn’t seem mad or anything, even though it was half past eleven at night and I had snuck out of the house to meet a boy- out back no less. She just said that it was time for me to come in and for Tommy to go on home.

I let Tommy out of the gate, and she and I walked back up to the house. I waited, resigned to my fate, for her to go off on me, but she didn’t. That probably means that I’m in worse shape than I think. Oh well, it won’t be that bad. I leave for France in a couple of days anyway so if she does put me on punishment again, it won’t be for that long. Besides, I haven’t been going anywhere or talking much to anybody anyway.

And once I get to France, I won’t be on house arrest. There’s no such thing as lockdown at Aunt Sabrina’s.

Goodnight

 

June 6

1:56 P.M.

I’m not going to France. Not right away anyway. I heard my mother on the phone this morning telling Aunt Sabrina that I wasn’t emotionally ready. Then she told me during lunch that she and Daddy were postponing my trip.

During the night, I had another one of those things. I woke up and thought I was going to die. I was actually choking and gagging to the point that I had to sit up to keep from blacking out. I couldn’t even call for help, I was so scared and overcome by it. I guess I was having a bad dream, it started in my sleep, and it woke me when my breathing got so constricted by it.

All of a sudden, my mother was there. This time it was really her. She sat with me and she held me until I could breathe again. I think she was crying again. When I woke up this morning, she was still there next to me, but she was asleep on top of the covers. I don’t think she’s ready for me to go to France either. We are both up to our necks in the deep and murky and we need help getting out of it.

She’s taking me to Dr. Kendall this afternoon to see if there’s a physical reason for why that happens to me. I don’t know what the plan is if it turns out that it doesn’t have a physical cause. I don’t care what they say, I’m not seeing any therapists or psychologists. Junior and his filthy-minded crap are not sending me to anybody’s shrink. I can get past this on my own. I know that I can.

J.

 

June 6

7:16 P.M.

There is nothing physically wrong with me .

Dr. Kendall says that she thinks I’m having something like panic attacks since the symptoms seem to coincide with my thinking about what happened and the anxiety that those thoughts bring about in me. She put my mother out of the examination room so that she and I could talk. When it was just the two of us, she asked me if I could put one word on the whole thing, what word would I use. The first word that popped into my head was “dirty”. The whole thing makes me feel like I’m dirty, like everybody can see that I’m not right. I’ve taken more baths and showers since this all began.

Dr. Kendall took me over to the full length mirror. She stood me in front of it, undid my gown, and she made me look at myself naked. I was embarrassed to be there with her like that at first, but she told me to hurry up and get over it because she’s seen parts of me that I haven’t even seen. Given the fact that she’s my gynecologist as well as my medical doctor, that was so very true, so I went on and relaxed like she said.

While she stood behind me, she told me to look at myself in the mirror real well. I did. She asked me if any part of my body looked dirty to me. I had showered before I came, so no, I didn’t look physically dirty. I even smelled good. She asked me if I thought I had an ugly body. I told her I thought I looked okay. I’m not as skinny as I used to be. I’d like to have bigger boobs, but other than that…

She laughed, poked me in the side, and said that my boobs were big enough, too big for just-turned sixteen as far as my mother was concerned. She handed me the gown back and said that since I’m quite obviously not dirty to the eye of the beholder, then nobody could make me feel that way except me. Junior had the filth problem, not me and I had no business buying into it. I had to let it go or it was going to continue to make me sicker and sicker until I really would need professional help, and she knew my feelings about that sort of thing. She told me that I needed to force myself back into my routine, even if it took a monumental effort on to do so my part at first. If I did that, then before long, I would find that I would be back to myself and perhaps these ‘things’ would stop.

I’ll try. I hope she’s right. I would love nothing better than to feel like myself again.

I’ve been waiting for the shoe to fall, but so far I haven’t gone on lockdown- not yet at least. I think in light of everything else my mother forgot about me sneaking out last night. You can bet I won’t be the one to bring it up seeing as how I’m not going to France right now, making for plenty of lockdown time left to serve here on Willow Pond.

I am going to be extra good for a while so that she doesn’t have cause to remember.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

June 8

7:51 P.M.

I’m up in the mountains. Daddy brought my mother and me up here to the cabin yesterday. It’s beautiful here. It’s sort of like magic for me when we visit this place. I know I don’t go for that kind of supernatural stuff, but I cannot deny the healing powers of the silence and serenity that I find when we come here. I’m currently sitting by the lake as I write this. There’s a breeze, the sun is just starting to go down, and there’s a mother duck and her ducklings making a crossing.

It has been a marvelous couple of days and I finally feel so much like it’s going to be okay.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon. Our horses had been delivered and were tied up and waiting for us out back. I know my father arranged for that. He knows how much my mother and I love to ride. We went right out as soon as we got changed, just she and I. He stayed back to cook dinner for us.

There’s something about being up on a horse that switches things up for me. I leave cool, crazy, frenetic J.J. Hart behind in L.A., and I become J.J. Hart, the laid-back maverick girl. That’s how Pa refers to me sometimes, a maverick.

I think I was meant to be raised on a ranch or somewhere out in the country. I love horses and I love being outdoors. I feel like I can stretch these long legs of mine all the way out when I’m in big spaces. The estate at home is large, but it’s not the same. I like it here, and I love it at the ranch. Pa’s place is nice too. It’s all big country. I can roam and run until I get tired, and I can leave the fast pace of the city behind for a while.

Something about my mother changes, too, when she’s on a horse. I can clearly see her power and her strength when she rides. She can handle any horse, even the wilder ones at the ranch that Daddy leaves alone. She’s normally so feminine and soft; it’s as if she morphs into another kind of woman at those times. When she rides, she looks like I feel most of the time, if that makes sense. As a girl, she was raised with horses up until she went away to school. I wonder sometimes how she was ever able to come away from that life. If I had been raised with horses like she was, I would have stayed in that game. I truly, truly love the life.

My mother and I rode most of the afternoon into the early evening. We went way up into the hills and we didn’t talk at all. As we were coming in after we put the horses down for the night, she stopped me at the door and put her arm around me to ask me how I was doing. I said I was going to be fine. To my surprise, she said that she would be too. That was the first time that she admitted to me that she was anything less.

Daddy had fixed my favorites: T-bone steaks and baked potatoes. There was a tossed salad too, but that was a side dish for me. She made me have some. When I finished eating and had done the dishes, I just went over and passed out on the hearthrug like a big old beached whale, and I almost went to sleep. My mother made me get up before I did.

When I went up to bed it was early for me. The air up here makes me so loose and relaxed. The riding had made me tired. I didn’t feel like writing in my journal so I sat in my window, just looking, checking out the vista. After a while, I saw my mother and father down below. They were leaving the house and were walking out toward the woods. He was carrying a blanket under his arm and she had the wicker basket. Late night picnic? Right. Complete with ‘dessert’, no less.

I guess they needed that and it was okay with me if they went out there for it. The cabin is just too close for that kind of action even though my room is in the loft. Nobody wants to know that (or accidentally hear) their parents do it.

On the serious side, I make fun and I act disgusted about the things they do, but I really do hope that one day I’ll be in a relationship like theirs. I think that’s what scares me. They seem so perfect that it couldn’t possibly happen for anybody else like it happened for them. Not even for their only daughter. I’m not ready to do it, but I do wonder sometimes what it feels like to have a man make love to you when he truly loves you and you love him. I know how people make love, and why they make love, but there’s so much else involved that I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to open up (so to speak) enough to let somebody that much into my space. I would really, really have to trust a man to allow him to touch me in that way because once you do that with a guy, you can’t get mad and take it back if he does something to piss you off. Once you give that, it’s gone. I wouldn’t want to give that much of me to just anyone, and when I do give it, I would want it to be for keeps. I don’t want to be sorry about it later.

I think that’s the thing that bothers me about what happened to me. Junior stole something from me that I can’t ever get back. He stole my sense of security. I never worried about someone spying on me like that before. I’ll worry about cameras, peepholes, and the like every time I have to change in public from now on. He also stole a chunk of the little bit of trust that I might have had in my fellow man. I’m kind of skittish about people in the first place, and then he went and did that. I might get some of that back, but it will take a long time, I think.

I’ll be dealing with the fallout from this in one way or another for a while. Tommy said that all guys aren’t like that. I know that’s probably true, but my mother has said that I need to be careful of what I wear around Tommy. I need to wear a robe when I come out of my room. Why? The only man in our house is Daddy. Is he looking at me? Do I have to watch what I wear around Tommy because he might lose control and attack me or something? Or is it because I shouldn’t show all that I have?

I don’t know the answers to all that, but before I leave these mountains, I am certainly going to ask my mother about it. When I don’t know the answers to anything else that I want to know, I do research to find the answers. It’s time to find the clear answers to that stuff too. I know where my research has to be done for those.

My mother told me that when she met my father she fell in love with him right away. She said that she agreed to marry him after she had only known him two days. I wonder if they did it before they got married. Probably. They were old when they met and they both had other boyfriends and girlfriends before they met each other. That would mean that she trusted him right away too. How often does that happen? She’s more trusting that Daddy or me, but still…

I would love to be able to open my heart right away to someone like that, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do it that fast. As much as I like to gamble, I can’t stand gambling with my emotions. I like a sure thing when it comes to that. I’m not scared to take chances in most situations, but not with my heart. I’m finding that I really can’t stand being hurt and this thing has hurt me through and through. That’s what I’ve been feeling that I couldn’t describe to anybody. I am hurt.

It’s hard. It’s so hard to know what to do and when. It’s hard to know who means well by you and who doesn’t. I cut the middleman most of the time and distrust everybody until they give me a reason to trust them. I have a lot of people trying to help me, but it’s going to be up to me to get my legs back under me and to stand up on them again. It’s so very, very hard. I want to tell those baby ducks out there on the water not to grow up. To just keep letting their mother tell them what to do and they should just do it. It’s so much easier that way… but then life wouldn’t be nearly so much fun.

I haven’t forgotten that I narrowly missed lockdown. I’m still not sure if I’m out of the woods yet.

Early this morning my father met me out on the rim. The sun hadn’t come up yet, but I had gotten up early and went up to sit and see it rise. He taught me to do that. Every since I can remember, he’s taken me outside at times, way early in the morning here, at the ranch, at Pa’s, even at home to see the sun come up. It’s one of his favorite times of the day, and now it’s mine too. When I was a baby, a month old, he gave me this bracelet that I’ve worn all my life right there under that same tree. He sat with me this morning and we talked for the first time in ages.

Daddy doesn’t trust people right off either. That’s probably because he was an orphan and didn’t have anybody to count on but himself. That’s what he told me this morning when he asked me how I was feeling about everything and I told him that I felt like I didn’t know who to trust. He said that I had to trust myself first before I could do it with anybody else. That makes sense. If I don’t believe I could count on me, how can I do that with anybody else?

I used to think , before all this happened, that I knew myself pretty well. I think now I’m going to have to get reacquainted with me or get better acquainted with the growing-up me. I’m changing, my body is changing, and I probably need to change the way I view myself. Other people certainly have.

I think he was a little worried that seeing my mother pull that gun on Junior had affected me in some way. He knows that our bond is pretty strong. The way that he asked me about, it sounded like he was nervous about it. I assured him that I’m not scarred or devastated or anything like that, if that was what he was worried about. If anything, it made me stronger. I know she shouldn’t have done it, but I also know why she did it. I would have done the same thing if it were my daughter. If it was her it happened to, and I had been in her (my) shoes that day, I would have done it the same way. I would have done it that night Andy Seagren drugged her at the ball last year, then they would have been trying to talk me down. You do what you have to do to make people understand that you’re not going to let them mess all over you and yours. I do not have a problem with that. People will take advantage of you if you let them. I am not weak. My last name is Hart, and I have plenty of it. All three of us do.

But I did ask him about her, whether or not she had something eating at her. He said he thinks that it’s something in her past, but evidently she hasn’t talked to him about it. I noticed, though, that he’s made note of it just like I have. I gathered that he respects her privacy enough to not have pressed her about it. He called it her “baggage”. I guess if you live long enough, you collect stuff along the way that you pack in the recesses of your mind so that it does become baggage. I have some already, just from this past year. This last mess will most likely become part of that.

I think Daddy was a little shocked at my mother too. As well as he knows her, he didn’t seem to know that lady who was looking like me, but was holding that gun on that man. I would love to know just what all was running through his mind as he viewed that scene. It had to be looking bizarre even to him. It was so out of character for her. I don’t think either one of us was prepared for that, but I also think that like me, he was extremely proud of her for sticking up for me and for her beliefs like that. She has balls, to put it in my Daddy’s terms. Nobody messes with her one duckling.

We laughed until we cried about Junior peeing his pants. Daddy is so crazy. We laughed about how the cops didn’t want to ride him in their car with his pants all pissy like that. He said that Junior should have crapped on himself with the way my mother did him, and then the cops would really have had a problem to argue over. If my mother had been there on that rim with us, she would have been all over him for encouraging my incorrigibility and on me for acting common once again. The incorrigibility and the commonness; it’s genetic, I swear. He had me laughing until I thought I was going to split my side.

I guess Junior knows that he tried to mess with the wrong one this time. I got the word that the Bakers are being sued by several of the parents of girls he misused, including mine. The tennis pro got fired from the club and I know that Daddy has been talking with people from the school board. The photographer and Junior are being indicted on several charges. I feel so sorry for Angie. She just got caught up. My father isn’t finished with it. I could see it in his eyes that he’s going to go after Baker Financial. He’s not mean, but he can be lethal in the business world. I’m anxious to see what move he’s going to make. He did it last year to that man who hurt my mother. That’s how Russell came to Hart and why he’s doing so well.

I’ve been thinking on it. All of us girls involved in this thing are children of parents with money, power, hosts of lawyers, pull with law enforcement, psychologists, and everything else. We’ll get looked out for, but what about the girls who have these things happen to them, but who don’t have anybody advocating for them to the extent that we do? What happens to them? Who puts them back together? who makes it right by them?

Why do these things have to happen in the first place? Why can’t we all just get along?

Well, it’s getting late, and they’ll be looking for me.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

June 9

6:17 A.M.

I think I’m going to be okay. I can breathe again. I’ve gone for almost twenty four hours without having one of those things.

Later, J.

___________________________________________________________

June 10

7:05 A.M.

I’m on the rim again. I’m by myself. The sun just cleared the horizon.

I had a long talk with my mother last night. We went riding after dinner and she took me up to a place she knew of where you could see the sky without it being obstructed by all the trees. She sat me down and said that she wanted to talk to me. We sat on the blanket she brought, and she apologized to me for what she did in front of me.

I could not believe that my mother was telling me that she was sorry for something! I’m usually the one uttering those words. My mother was actually embarrassed by what she did that day at the mall.

I had to set the girl straight.

She had absolutely nothing to be sorry for. I told her that aside from the surprise of it, and my not really wanting her to actually shoot him, I wasn’t the least bit bothered by that. I might have been more upset about it if she had been her normally reserved self. That part of all of this was the least problematic for me, and I let her know it. She kind of laughed a little at that and said that she should have known; that I was so much like my father when it came to those types of situations. She said that she’s been worried ever since that day that I was disappointed in her. Is she nuts? Never.

I wonder if that was why she was crying? I didn’t ask her that. I didn’t think it was my business.

I did ask her if she was still mad at me for having been there. She said she was never mad at me; she was mad at herself for not anticipating my father and me. She said she should have known that he was going to tell me, and that somehow I was going to be there. In her anger she didn’t do her usual methodical thinking, and she wound up letting her guard down. We’ve both been doing that lately. Daddy says that stress makes you miss your marks, and it really does.

I wanted to know why things were happening the way that they were for me. I asked her why grown men were looking at me differently, why men act the way that they do, and why it all had me feeling so badly, so nervous, so self-conscious lately. A look of pain crossed her face, I saw it. I know she was identifying with what I was saying and she was feeling something inside herself, but she said that was just how it was with men and women. But that didn’t mean that I needed to change anything about myself. She said that I’m fine like I am.

I told her about the men at the club, their friends who eye me, and about Junior trying to look down my blouse. Her answer was that I have become something to look at. She said that it’s come to pass that I’m very attractive, and my personality makes me even more so. She said that what she was telling me was to be taken and used as fact, that it was not meant to be a compliment. I’ve heard her say that before. Furthermore, I was just going to have to get used to guys trying to look at my breasts because I have “quite a nice set” and that’s what they will see, but that I didn’t have to put up with being disrespected about it. In fact, it could be an advantage in evaluating a man’s intentions. If that was the first place he looked, then I would know where his mind was right off the bat. If that’s where his eyes stayed, then I would know that I needed to leave the situation. She said that I had to be smart because men tend to be lead by another part of their bodies when it comes to pretty women. I know the part to which she was alluding.

Then she told me the same thing that Tommy said, that I have a way about me that let’s guys know that they can’t just say anything to and do just anything with me, and that aspect of my personality holds me in good stead when it comes to my dealings with boys now and it will with men later. She told me that the way I carry myself makes people want to respect me. That’s a good thing, I guess.

She smiled and said that despite the fact that she has to be on me all the time, I really am becoming quite a lady and she likes the way that I handle myself, for the most part. I still have a few rough edges that need filing down, but she expects we’ll have that worked out by the time I leave for college. I hope so. I’ll be on my own then, and if I don’t have it together by that time, God (and Grandma) help me.

My mother emphasized to me that none of what happened was my fault, but that I was never to try to spare her feelings like that again. She said that I should have told her what was going on from the start because things like that don’t stop. It just gets worse unless it’s nipped properly, in the bud. I don’t know if I will always tell her everything. She worries about me a lot, and I don’t see the need to tell her about stuff that I can handle on my own, but if anything like this comes at me again, she will be the first to know.

I took the opportunity, and I asked her if anything like this had ever happened to her in her life.

She didn’t say anything for a long time, and she wouldn’t look at me. I was almost sorry I asked her that. Then she just said that it was a long time ago, and that she would tell me about it when I was older. I asked her if it still hurt to think about it. She said she put it away a long time ago, and it only hurt now when I was in trouble, but that what happened to her made her a stronger woman. I hope it wasn’t real bad, but if it wasn’t, why wouldn’t she tell me? Why does she want me to be older before I know?

Now I’m not so sure I want to know. However did she handle whatever it was with no mother to turn to? I know Pa was no help to her in it. I’m not comfortable taking things to my father all the time, and he’s no where near as stiff and uptight as Pa. Maybe Aunt Pat and Aunt Sabrina helped her through it.

When she was pregnant with me, my mother said that she prayed for a girl. She wanted a daughter because she wanted a chance to try be the kind of mother to me as the one that she lost in her life. She said that even though I wasn’t quite the girl she expected, she thought we turned out okay just the same. I let her know that I think she does a very good job with whatever this is she got. She started laughing and she hugged me. She said she had top of the line material with which to work, even better than she originally expected, and she wouldn’t want me to be any other way. I’m glad she got a girl like she wanted even if I’m not the kind she expected, and I’m going to keep trying to make her happy that she had me.

In a moment of weakness, I broke down and asked her about the other night, and why she didn’t punish me for sneaking out like I did. It must have been a moment of insanity for me to go there like that, but I just couldn’t take the suspense any longer. She said that she didn’t punish me because I had been punished enough in the last few weeks, and that she recognized that I probably needed to talk with one of my friends. But she advised me not to try it again. Three strikes, she warned, and me and Tommy would be toast.

Then she wanted to know what it was about Tommy that made me continue to put myself on the firing line like that for him. I told her what he said about not speaking to me for the rest of the summer if I didn’t come to the gate. She wanted to know why that mattered so much to me, why I would sneak out- twice in one year- to let him in the gate in the middle of the night. I told her she was asking me too many hard questions.

I love and admire my mother. I know she has to miss her own mother even after all these years. I’m sure that my grandmother would be so proud of how she turned out. She really missed out too.

But, then again, maybe she didn’t after all.

Good Night

___________________________________________________________

June 12

11:08 P.M.

I’m back at home. We came home last night.

Today I went sailing with the Barnetts. Chase had left a message, actually several, while we were gone to the cabin, that he wanted me to go sailing with him and his family today. Daddy let me go because their parents were going. He likes Chase, but he says that the two of us are too much alike, and he thinks it’s a dangerous combination without adult supervision.

Whatever.

Despite my initial discomfort about what people might be thinking about me, I had a good time. We went jet-skiing once we were out on the water and I forgot about my problems. Skimming across the water like that is almost like riding a horse. I get the same feeling of freedom and exhilaration. I had to hold on to Chase real tight because he drives like a maniac, but what a rush! Then he let me drive and he had to hold on to me. I almost flipped us. He called me crazy, but he said that was what he liked about me. I’m nobody’s sissy.

No. I am not.

His father took us to Catalina and we had dinner. I like Mrs. Barnett. She’s hoity-toity, but she knows how to have fun. She and I left the guys and went shopping where she bought me this huge sun hat because she said she didn’t want Jennifer Hart letting her have it about letting me get sunburned. She said that my mother was her girl and everything, but she didn’t want to have slap her around about trying to go off on her over me. I laughed. I’d like to see Mrs. Barnett try that. I was having such a good time that I hadn’t even thought about sunburn. I hadn’t noticed how red I was getting, but Mrs. Barnett did. That was good looking out on her part. My mother would have a fit about that. She doesn’t like for me to be in direct sunlight too long. And if I had gotten a bad sunburn, that would have put my trip to France off again. I’m leaving next week hook or crook.

Back on the boat, I figured I’d better put the sun block on again. Chase wanted to do my back, and I was going to let him, but his mother cut him off at the pass. She told him to not even try it, and she snatched the bottle from him. Then she told me I had to watch out for wolves wearing her son’s bathing suit. She put the sun block on my back herself while I had a good laugh. I’m going to really have to be smarter about the things that I do. I don’t trust people half the time, and then I do dumb things the other half. What am I going to do with myself?

I was reading the paper this morning while I sat on deck, the editorial section, and there was this letter that a woman wrote that really struck a nerve in me. She was writing in response to a columnist’s earlier article on the difficulty she was having trying to find age-appropriate clothing for her young daughters. The editorial letter agreed that the columnist had been right to try to keep her daughters in clothing that reflected their youth and sense of style, and that the fashion industry does sexualize young girls in a dangerous and disturbing way. But she took issue with the columnist saying that girls and women who wear the revealing outfits that they see in the fashion magazines and ads were dressing like ‘sluts’.

The part of the lady’s letter that really stuck out for me said that while it’s important that parents protect their daughters from the dangers of growing up too quickly, it was equally important to protect them from the dangers of thinking that they should be ashamed of their sexuality. She said that parents should focus their girls on the dangers and responsibilities that go along with sex rather than on the characterization of female sexuality as something dirty and shameful. Bingo! There it was, as big as day, jumping off the page at me.

THAT is what I had been trying so hard to say all along.

THAT is what my mother has been teaching me all these years.

THAT is what she means when she says that my being pretty is a fact and not a compliment.

She’s been teaching me to live responsibly and comfortably with that fact. She’s been protecting me from growing up too fast because of the way I look, and she’s been teaching me to be proud of who and what I am. That’s why she argues Daddy down so tough when he complains about what I wear if she’s the one who has picked it out for me, and it’s why she shoots down some of the things I try to wear at times. That’s why she advocates so hard against double standards, and why she gives Daddy such a hard time about his attitudes about me and boys. That’s why she let me wear that outfit for my birthday party, and also why Dr. Kendall said that Junior had the filth problem, not me. It’s why Ms. Fee said that I mustn’t let this thing change me. And it’s why my father treats me like a lady, talks to me like I have a brain, and spoils me rotten. I’m a girl. A pretty girl. A very intelligent  girl who just happens to have ‘silky’ ways. A girl who’s being taught what all of that means and how it all fits in the grand scheme of things.

I finally understand.

It’s okay to be all things female and to like it and to be comfortable with it. It’s okay, in fact it’s correct, to expect to be respected as a person, and not to accept being treated as a simple sex object by others- or yourself for that matter.

I have nothing to be ashamed of, and no, it was not my fault.

When I got home, I went through the old newspapers in the recycling bin and found the original article. Then I scanned the article and the editorial response and emailed it all to Marnie so she could see it. She read it and forwarded it to several of our friends who got caught up in this same mess as me. My phone has been ringing ever since.

We’ve been burning up the phone lines, on three-ways and everything. In light of what has been revealed to me by that lady’s words, I think I can put into my own words now the things I’ve been holding inside. I emailed the newspaper’s editorial department a little while ago, and asked them to somehow put me in touch with the lady who wrote the editorial response. I want to thank her helping to open my eyes.

I think I may have stumbled upon a project for my mother to get busy with that will help all of us, even her. She has issues and secrets too. Maybe through talking about it together here, and having my mother put it to words, all of us can work through some of our stuff. At the same time, we can help other girls out there who might find themselves in difficult positions to know that they are not alone. If it could happen here with us, it could be happening anywhere to anybody.

Even if my mother doesn’t want to talk about her problem herself just yet, maybe her writing about us will help her work through her own difficulties. Maybe some of the other girls’ mothers have things to work out as well.

It’s tough being female. I’m finding that out, but I’m going to be okay with it. Hey, I can think about it all now and I don’t have trouble breathing at the same time! It’s tight, but I can breathe.

I’m going to be fine.

Sometimes just knowing somebody else is in the lifeboat with you, and that they need to make it to shore just like you do, gives you the strength to row that much harder.

Goodnight.

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