Below is Chapter six from my book. For those of you interested, I have published/(posted) one through five in my previous posts. I have taken a break from blogging to finish my book and have been sharing it with my followers who have requested more. Thank you for all who have actually taken the time to read each chapter. Your time is my most coveted gift!
Keri had been slow in sharing anything about Jack with her parents. They had both met him, and he had been charming, while her parents had been cautiously gracious. It was difficult for them to watch their daughter become so consumed with a boy. Keri had always been a good student and had recently, been very focused on going to college early, majoring in English and becoming a Writer, which they encourage wholeheartedly. Just the year before, they had watched her excel at workshops and earn awards. They had watched her become more involved in the school she volunteered at and had supported her decision to graduate early, and had been impressed that she had managed to accumulate enough credits to do just that.
They were proud of her accomplishments and that she had been offered a job at the Center while hearing glowing reports from Betty about what a natural she was with the children, they did not want anything to divert her from her plans, especially a boy. Keri was planning on working at the Center the first of the year, and enrolling in the local Junior College with plans to transfer to UCLA the following. Though Keri maintained her grades and Mrs. Walker applauded her recent work, they knew their daughter and saw a difference, subtle as it was, and it concerned them.
Keri realized that her parents weren’t keen on her seeing Jack. He was three years older and they had just started allowing her to date. In the past, she had gone out with guys that were friends in more of a group setting. This kind of serious dating was new for them all. Keri didn’t want the bubble to pop or to have to answer too many questions so she hadn’t talked about, or brought Jack around a lot. She had enjoyed the independence she had over the summer and wanted it to continue. Her parents had trusted her and given her more freedom due to an arrangement that they had made with Lori’s mom, knowing that she would be available if Keri needed anything . Though, they hadn’t counted on Jack hanging around. Now that her mom was home, Keri did not want to rock the boat too much. She tried not to be on the phone a lot with him when her parents were around or to be too obvious about the time he monopolized, but she loved him and wanted to be with him as much a she could. And her parents couldn’t help but be concerned.
Keri would ride the bus in the mornings on the days she knew that Jack planned to pick her up after school. One day her mom joked about how Keri had begged to get her license and had worked hard to earn her car and how strange it was now that she was back to riding the bus and mentioned that she hadn’t seen Keri actually ride the bus since Lori had gotten her license the year before. Keri just smiled, she was happy that her mom seemed to accept the new arrangements as long as she kept up with her school work. It was her senior year and her mom had shared stories of her own memories, telling Keri that her life was like an empty book and this was the year that she would begin to fill the pages with memories that she would never forget. She told her that she didn’t want her to waste a moment of any of it with regret and seemed to be okay with giving her the trust she had earned over the summer, but Keri had been aware of her mother’s apprehension.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that her mom happened to drive up as she was hopping off of Jack’s bike. She slammed her car door and stood there with her hands on her hips. “What is this?!” her mother demanded. “Uhhhh, motoooorcycle.” Keri answered a bit too flippantly with a sarcastic edge to her tone, as Jack nudged her in warning that THIS was not the right time to be joking.” Keri’s mom reiterated that fact strongly by saying “I know very well that it is a motorcycle young lady! What are YOU doing on it?!”
Keri silently handed Jack her helmet as she was ushered into the house by her mom. He had no other choice but to leave, promising that he would call later. As Keri’s mom called after him saying “Oh no you won’t.” in a very firm voice. Keri’s face was filled with disbelief and anger as she raced into the house shouting “How could yoooou?!” As her mother promptly followed her, eyeing her shorts, and demanding, “What could you be thinking getting on that bike with just shorts on?” Keri had actually burned the inside of her calf on the pipe a few days earlier and sheepishly said, “He has a helmet for me. “That’s big of him!” Her mother retorted. “So your head will be okay while the rest of you is turned into hamburger!?” “I think not!” Keri pounded up the stairs to her room slamming the door shouting, YOU are ruining my life!” Where she could hear her mom’s reply, “No, I am trying to save it!”
Keri’s mom took her to school and dropped her off the following week. Her dad was away on a business trip and had yet to come home but her mom had assured her that they would all have a discussion together as soon as he returned. Keri was miserable that week. She only spoke when necesarry and without any emotion at all. They had, had their share of mother and daughter disagreements but nothing like this. She and Jack met a few times at lunch. They sat beneath some trees behind the auditorium cautiously consumed in each other. “Baby, we will figure this out.” Jack promised, weaving his fingers through hers. He had parked his bike and started just driving his car after the scene in Keri’s driveway, and had told Keri that he would even sell his bike if he had to. He told her that he planned to go to her parents and talk to both of them when her father came home at the end of that week.
He did as he said and Keri’s dad respectfully listened as Jack apologized for taking her on the back of his bike without their permission. He assured her parents that he was a very careful driver, with both his motorcycle and his car, but admitted that it had been a bad idea to allow Keri to ride in shorts. Her mom thanked him for realizing that, as Jack reached out to shake her Dad’s hand. Her Dad had been impressed with the handshake and Jack’s apology and told them that they would be allowed to to see each other again, adding that he would even allow Keri to ride on his motorcycle only when they had permission and were properly dressed for riding but he would prefer them in a car for the majority of their dates. “Thank you daddy” Keri jumped up and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck. And then hugged her mom as well. There had been a lot of tension that week and Keri wanted it over as did her mother. “I KNOOOW that you just want the best for me” she said quietly to her mom as her mom hugged her back with an extra tight squeeze.
After that, Jack would pick her up in his Triumph Spitfire and they would take long drives with the top down. He would bring a blanket and lay it out as he would tell her stories of adventures he had, and wanted to have. Some of his stories were of wanting to sail around the world, others were of how he wanted to learn how to fly, and others included memories of Maddie, and those were hard to hear. He spoke of school and how hurt he had been by her and how betrayed he felt. Keri tried to understand and act like she didn’t mind the stories. She knew he was still hurt and had a hard time trusting her completely because of his past, and so she just tried to love him even more. and to prove that she was not Maddie and would never hurt him.
One day they went out on the boat alone. Jack was teaching Keri to sail. She loved it when it was just the two of them. Even though she enjoyed when other couples had gone with them, she cherished her time alone with Jack. Keri had discovered that she actually, loved sailing even though the first time out they had been caught up in thirty mile per hour Santa Ana winds, they had been out several more times after that, and the weather had been wonderful. This particular day, the breeze was perfect and there was no one around for miles. They tacked back and forth a long time and he praised her for her natural ability, he even sat back and let her handle the boat all by herself and praised her until she beamed with pride. Finally, Jack tied the line and leaned back into Keri, she breathed him in, she loved his smell. He smelled like fresh air and the sea.
Her heart felt full as she leaned back and let the sun coat her bare skin. They sailed that way for a long time and then Jack lazily asked, “You hungry?” Keri thought a minute and said “I guess I could eat something.” She got up and began unpacking the picnic lunch she had packed that morning. She had just handed Jack a sandwich and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. He leaned back sipping a grape soda and began soaking up the sun again. The temperature was perfect. Boats had slowly begun speckling the scenery and the sky was bluer than she had ever seen it. Keri took in the day, took a bite of her sandwich and admired Jack’s swimmer’s physic when the wind changed and Jack steered the boat as she jumped up to adjust the jib, as she casually mentioned something about how she couldn’t reach the “rope.”
All of a sudden Jack stiffened and his face grew red and he exploded. “Line, it’s a damn line!” He bellowed at her. Keri’s eyes grew wide in surprise. She was not sure if he was serious. He was in such a rage that it had totally caught her off guard. She dropped her sandwich. He threw his in anger, yelling at her and roared that “the only rope on a boat was the one on the bell ”How could you not know that by now?! he raged.
At first, Keri seriously thought he was kidding but when she realized he wasn’t, something inside of her broke. She had never had a “friend” speak to her that way. Even when she was in big trouble, her parents had never yelled at her like that. Keri was dumbfounded. She did not know what to think. Something shifted inside of her, she did not recognize exactly what it was, maybe it was the instinct of survival kicking in, maybe it was just the simple respect that she had for herself but right there in the hub of that moment she knew that it was over. Even if she had made a huge mistake, if she had pulled the jib so tight that the boat had been hard to recover, she hadn’t deserved his anger, he had no excuse to talk to her like that. Their day was ruined. Their future was gone. She watched a stranger storming around as he turned the boat back without her assistance. She just sat there frozen.
They were silent all of the way back to shore. She had never experienced anything like the scene that had just happened. She kept playing it over and over again in her head. She was devastated. He had not only screamed at her. He had grabbed one of the lines and hit her with it and then somehow in his rage had proceeded to spit on her. She was stunned. She wiped her face and stared out to sea. She tried to remember just what may have led up to his reaction, to trigger such an explosion. She did not know how it had finally ended. The rage seemed endless as if something had snapped inside of him. Keri had finally just started crying and then it was over as quickly as it had begun. As if her tears had snapped him out of the place he had seemed to go. He seemed spent as he reached the shore. She hoped nobody would ever find out. She was totally humiliated and very glad that they had been alone and no boats had been nearby.
The evening fog drifted in as she sat shivering in the car, it was not too terribly cold but for some reason she could not stop trembling, as if she was chilled to the bone. She sat in the passenger seat, trying to block out the memory of what had just happened and feeling the raw emotion of it all. They had never even argued before. She never imagined that he had such a temper. He had always been so patient and kind and a wonderful teacher. This had ruined everything. She felt no responsibility over what had just happened and yet she was still so confused and began second guessing herself, wondering if perhaps, in some small way, it was her fault. She knew he had made a comment about ropes being called lines and the port and starboard sides and some other technical sailing terms but didn’t think it was such a big deal. He had seemed to love teaching her things and she loved learning from him. Keri began remembering a time when her own father would try to teach her things and would get so frustrated with her and the memory made her cringe. She wondered what really set him off or if it had actually been her. She continued pouring over every detail of the outburst in her mind and could not come up with a reasonable explanation except that perhaps she was to blame.
Keri could not move as she watched Jack hooking everything up. She caught herself holding her breath watching him and when she realized what she was doing, she would slowly let it out as she heaved a deep sorrowful sigh. She was so angry she couldn’t even cry. She was just stunned as she began thinking about all that they had shared, and all that she had begun to dream of, now all lost in this horrific outburst. She wondered, maybe she had made a mistake about a nautical term but she could not excuse the scene she had just observed nor could she erase it from her memory. No reasonable person would ever get so upset over something so irrelevant would they?
She wondered if this is why Maddie broke up with him. She wondered if Mrs. T knew about his temper when she manipulated them like little game pieces, relieving her own daughter of this boy only to push him off on some other mother’s daughter, not to mention her daughter’s best friend. She wondered if Lori knew. She sat there feeling totally sucker punched. The nausea inside of her began to make her stomach convulse. He was taking so long and finally she felt tears of anger rising, she began to strategize her departure and the little speech she intended to make when he finally dropped her off. She kept wondering if Lori had any inkling of what Jack Sagan was capable of behaving like or if she had witnessed any of it. She stewed, growing angry and hurt and decided not to trust anyone ever again. She was mad at Lori, and at Mrs. T. and at Maddie for making her a part of this situation, and then feeling so consumed by it all, she felt nothing, just the hot tears on her cheeks.
Overwhelmed with a sadness she had never known. She had been humiliated, crying in front of Jack. Though Keri’s crying is what ultimately seemed to save her. He had not seen her cry much before and it really did seem to break the fog he seemed immersed in, but now, they were at a standstill No one had said a word since the outburst and Keri just wanted to go home.
The longer Jack took to get in the car, the angrier she became. She was mad and she had a script penned in her head of what she was going to say to him. Maybe he had treated other girls like that but she was not going to allow any boy to treat her that way ever again, and she meant it. It looked as if he was having trouble hooking up the lights on the trailer. The longer it took, the angrier she got. Keri had believed in God since she was a little girl. Her mom had taken her to church and that is where she met Lori. They went to both the same school and church. But like so many, Keri had gotten busy and fallen away from her routine of attending regularly. She had learned about praying and the thought nudged at her heart as she continued to sit there and slowly she just began to pray quietly but the words formed fluidly. As soon as she closed her eyes, a peace came over her that was hard to describe. Suddenly, she was not worried about getting home or even about how Jack would respond to her, just bringing God’s name into the situation seemed to help her find an amazing peace. She felt a stillness in her heart that was calming, as she prayed, “Dear Lord please be with me now and on the drive home, it was as simple as that. Nothing elaborate, just simply inviting God into the car. With her eyes closed she felt His presence, almost as if He was sitting next to her and just the mention of His name, calmed her. Keri watched as Jack walked around and around the boat and tried to wipe out the details of the memory and what had happened earlier. Keri was still hurt but she felt stronger after her prayer.
Jack finally slid int his seat and gently shut the door. The silence filled the car. Every sound screamed loudly inside her head. The door closing, Jack’s breathing, the clinking of his keys, the pounding of her own heart, the sounds of nothing and everything, overwhelmed her. Keri waited for Jack to start the engine, but he didn’t move. He sat there with his keys in his hands. He was not stoic or angry like she had expected him to be. She waited and waited. Jack just sat there, in silence and then he did something so unexpected, he began to cry. “I am so sorry Keri” he began.”I want you to know that there are things about me that no one knows, I can’t really explain it. But I don’t want to hurt you and I will, I promise I will. I know that much and that we can’t go out anymore. I behaved like a monster today and can’t promise I won’t again. I want this to be goodbye.” He said so firmly that she believed that he was serious.
She sat there blindsided. She blinked, she swallowed. She let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding and had to remind herself for the second time to breathe. This was nothing like she had imagined the conversation going. She sat still reeling by what he had to say. She sat there dumbfounded as he continued. She had planned to tell him goodbye but hearing him take the initiative panicked her. He shared some memories from his childhood, horrific things that he had gone through as a young boy, things he had never shared with anyone, as Keri quietly listened.
Her heart ached for him.She wanted to reach over and wipe away his tears, she wanted to hate the ones who had hurt him. Tears filled her eyes as he continued to share his heart breaking memories, of horrific things that had happened to him as a little boy, and realized that his childhood was not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination. Keri’s heart literally hurt as she considered everything Jack had shared. He waited as he ran his fingers through his sandy blonde hair. Once he had finished the recount of some of the things that had happened to him as a young child, he admitted that though it might explain his anger, in no way did he feel it excused what had happened that afternoon and he was so sorry. He said that he knew that he had huge anger issues and had trouble controlling the rage he felt so strongly at times and again insisted that he could not go out with her anymore. He also assured her that none of what had happened had anything to personally do with her.
Even though Keri had made the decision to not continue in the relationship even before Jack had gotten into the car, she did not see this coming. She understood more now, on a much deeper level, where he had come from. She felt honored that he had trusted her with so much. She realized that his inner child felt so out of control that when Jack felt as if he was losing any part of control now, he just didn’t know how to deal with it. Keri’s heart broke for him and she began crying too. She began to imagine the terror he must have felt when his mother became so out of control. She felt his pain and loved him even more. All the anger left her. As her body relaxed, she wondered if God had a hand in helping her understand Jack more.
Keri tried to picture her days and nights without him in them and her heart stopped. She had known him for such a short time and yet could not imagine her life without him in it. She did not care about today. She would not mention it again. She would protect him now and make up for all those times as a child when he felt unprotected and abandoned. She decided then and there that she would show him how to love by loving him so much he couldn’t possibly ever feel unloved again. As long as she was by his side, she would teach him all about love. At that moment she decided that she was not going to leave Jack. She would make it very clear that could never happen again, but she was not leaving.
Keri reached for Jack, all the resolve of leaving had left. Her heart changed in that moment. She saw his tortured soul. and looked right into it. Jack could see that Keri was in this for the long haul. She was not going anywhere. For the first time in his life, Jack felt as if he had come home. Keri pressed her lips against his hair and held her face against him for a long time. She soaked in that moment, wanting to remember it forever. Feeling the calm and the love after the storm was like a salve. The windows of the car were covered with a blanket of fog, providing a remote haven for their new found devotion to one another. They held onto each other with appreciation for their new though unspoken commitment. And then Jack lay his head in Keri’s lap and they both cried and then sat in silence. Keri stroked his hair for a long time, feeling oddly maternal, and then slowly lifting his head in her hands, she told him. “I won’t leave you Jack, I promise. I won’t leave you, ever.” And she truly meant it.
So thank you to all who have been reading. Just to let you know… there are about twenty more chapters…. I think that I have posted enough of my book for now….
I will save Chapter Seven and the rest … for you when I finish the book. Hopefully you have gathered that this story is a look back at first love and coming of age, it paints a picture of how an innocent young girl can lose herself so easily. Even when she knows better and comes from a good, solid upbringing.
It begins, in the seventies before cell phones and google, before Facebook and Oprah. Before abuse was talked about openly. It makes you think twice about asking someone abused why they stayed. It is not an explanation for them or an excuse for the abuser but hopefully it paints a picture of how people become who they become… because of where they began.
It is a story about a young girl who falls hopelessly in love with a young boy so damaged from his childhood, and how that first love evolved into a heartbreak that followed her for the rest of her life controlling the different choices she made along the way and how those choices are a little like raindrops. It only takes one to begin a flood. It touches on the tools she gathers along the way as she comes full circle, learning to build a dam so that she will never be washed away in the same way ever again.
Soooo again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading! I hope you have enjoyed it so far.
Hopefully I will finally get it published so that you can find out what happens next!