Day 2: NaBloPoMo — Jackie
Originally Day 9 of my 30 Day Writing Challenge:
Write a story that has the following words: mask, armor, and steal.
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Jackie (that’s what I called him) was an average ordinary kid who could steal your heart with those big brown, puppy dog eyes and a smile that lit up the room. But something happened a few months ago that took away those vibrant eyes and his smile. I asked, “what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” was always his reply.
“Well, when you want to talk, I’ll be here,” was always my response.
I sent him to a therapist because, really what teenage boy wants to talk to his mom? After the first few sessions Dr. Collins and I met for an update on Jackie’s progress or lack thereof. He told me that he doesn’t get more than a handful of words out of him each session and that Jackie enjoys playing video games (which I already knew) and he’s a phenomenal artist (which I didn’t know). “But for some reason Mrs. Pointer, Jacob has put on a suit of armor that right now is impenetrable.”
Dr. Collins tried to reassure me that teenagers go through phases and then all of sudden they snap out of it and they’re back to their normal adolescent selves.
I tried to keep this in mind and hoped he would snap out of it or better yet just tell me what’s going on. Unfortunately that didn’t happen before he had gotten into a fight and the other kid went to the hospital.
“What happened?” I asked Mrs. Alexander, the tenth grade vice principal.
“Apparently Jacob has been taunted by a few boys. This is the first I’ve heard of it because it’s never happened on school grounds,” she said. “During his free period the boys followed him into the athletics supply room and according to Mr. Sanders started teasing and pushing him around.”
“Teasing him. About what?” I interjected.
She shook and held her head down.
“What?” I screamed.
“His father. One of the boys saw the picture of Jacob and his father, after the accident, in his notebook. Took it and showed it to some other boys.”
My heart sank. I sank down in the chair. This has always been hard for Jackie to deal with. Mostly because he doesn’t understand why his father isn’t living with us anymore.
“According to Mr. Sanders,” she continued “before he could break it up, Jacob had grabbed a bat and hit one of the boys in the head with it. The boy is in serious condition.”
I had hoped he’d snap out of it, but not this way.
“How long has this been going on?”
“As far as we’ve gathered from the boys and a few other witnesses, a few months.”
That’s around the time the light went out in him. These boys took his light. I was boiling with anger. “Where is he now?”
“With Mr. Sanders and one of the in school counselors.”
“This is our weekend to visit his dad,” I thought. “I wonder if we’ll be able to go?”
Mr. Saunders, Jackie, and I went down to the police station, where we met my dad and his attorney and Dr. Collins. After everyone had given their statements we were advised that Jackie wouldn’t be charged with assault, but warned that could change if the other boy didn’t survive his injuries to the head.
“Mom. I don’t want to go see dad this weekend.”
“I just don’t want to go.”
I didn’t press the issue. “Alright. You’re going to have to stay with grandma and grandpa.”
A little over a month later Mrs. Alexander calls and tells me that I need to come to the school. The only thing I can think of is, “did someone else start teasing and pushing him around and is the outcome more dire.”
Once I got there she led me to the auditorium. Jackie was sitting on stage along with Dr. Collins and six other people I didn’t recognize.
The lights dimmed and Jackie began to speak. “About a month ago I did something I’m not particularly proud of. I’m not going to go into it because we all know what happened and why. It never should have happened, but it did. I can’t take it back and I can’t take back the circumstances that led up to it, which sickens me.”
“He sounds so grown up,” I thought.
“After spending a lot of my parents money in therapy, I thought the best therapy would be to have the man who inspired these chain of events and others like him to come and speak and give us a sense of what they go through on a daily basis.”
One by one they came to tell their stories while in the background Jackie told them in drawings. Some storytellers injected humor about losing a limb or other disfiguring disabilities. Others were still so wounded they couldn’t finish their story and for those that couldn’t, Jackie’s drawings did.
Jackie gets up one last time and says, “I would like to introduce you to the man who inspired all of this and one of the bravest people I know. Well, next to my mom. My dad.”
Richard comes out and he and Jackie embrace. His voice booms through the speakers. “I know some of you look at me and wonder is that a mask or is that his face. I’ve been asked that on the street. My response is, ‘what if it is my face’?” He takes a look around the auditorium. “Some of the people you’ve heard from have been stared at and made fun of all of their lives. People have run from them and gasped and screamed when they saw them. Some, including me, didn’t get the stares until our disfiguration happened.
“Granted I wasn’t a particularly handsome fellow before my accident and in some ways I think it improved some parts of me. For instance, I had the biggest honker any human being could ever have. And well it’s gone now. Thank goodness my boy didn’t get that nose, but sadly he got my ears and sadly I got to keep my ears. Get a good wind behind those ears and we’re liable to take flight. My eyes didn’t change too much except that one is a little droopier than the other. And my eyebrows are gone. My skin is thick and leathery in some areas and paper-thin in others.
“I have to stay at special hospital until my immune system gets strong enough before I can come back home and live with family. But all-in-all my life is great.
“So, is the moral of this assembly to have a little more compassion and understanding for your fellow-man? Yes! But more importantly you never know what cards you will be dealt in life.