Chapter Two – Burn Marks

Det er den første fredag i måneden og som jeg har lovet begynder jeg fremover at udgive et kapitel fra min roman, som jeg stadig arbejder på. Sidste måned fik i første kapitel, i dag er det så tid til andet kapitel hvor I sammen Jennifer Paris opdager lidt flere ting om hendes familie.

(It is the first Friday of the month and as I promised I will henceforth post a chapter from my novel, which is still a work in progress. Last month you got the first chapter, today it’s tome for the second chapter where you will, along with Jennifer Paris, discovver more things about her family.)

 

Chapter Two – Burn Marks

Jennifer looked flabbergasted at her sister, who on the other hand had an apologetically look.

>>Jennifer, please say something?<< Sam gently nudged Jennifer making the locket slide to the bed. Jennifer blinked a few times but kept staring at Sam in confusion.

>>Alive?<< Was all she managed to get out and Sam merely nodded as a reply. For a long time the silence reigned between the two and neither knew how to break it. No matter what either of them wanted to say, it wouldn’t change a thing.

>>But mum… Then maybe she’s still…?<< Jennifer suddenly had a spur of hope in her chest but the sight of Sam and the sad look in her eyes quickly deflated it again. Sam had guessed Jennifer would come to this assumption, which only made the situation much more difficult.

>>No Jen, mum is dead. You attended her funeral yourself. We cannot change that. Neither can we change this. Dad is alive.<< Jennifer shook her head, contradictingly as the confusion whirled around inside her head.

>>No. It can’t be. And anyway, what has this got to do with my nightmares?<< Jennifer got up from the bed in sheer frustration and started pacing the room.

>>Jen, it is true! And if you would sit down again I will tell you how everything is connected to your nightmares.<< Sam gently placed a hand on the bed for Jennifer to sit down again. Jennifer determinedly kept pacing the room all the while shaking her head and mumbling, mostly to herself.

>>Jen, please sit down?<< Sam begged apologetically. Jennifer gave her a harsh look.

>>You knew? And still you never told me? You and Anna? You both knew?<< Sam looked regretful as she nodded and Jennifer took a deep breath.

>>I think…. I think I need to be alone for a while.<< She didn’t wait for any response from Sam as she headed for the door. She hurried to her room and barricaded the door. She didn’t want to see any of her sisters at the moment. She just wanted to be alone with the many thoughts awakened in her head. After a while she could hear Sam moving around outside the door. But she never knocked or asked how Jennifer was doing. She simply stopped outside the door for a brief second and then Jennifer could hear her move downstairs to the kitchen to be with Jack and little Susan. Although Jennifer had wanted to be alone it became too much for her with all the thoughts and speculations flying through her head. There was too much new information to grasp.

Her father was not dead as she had believed him to be for her entire life. At the exact moment Sam had told her this, a tiny glimmer of hope had erupted within Jennifer. Perhaps her mother was still alive too? Despite the craziness of it, she couldn’t help but hope. Despite the fact that Sam had pointed out to Jennifer that they had both attended the funeral, Jennifer still couldn’t help but to believe there was a slight chance their mother was still alive. If her father was alive after she had believed him dead for all those years, shouldn’t there be a chance her mother was still alive when it had only been a few months? Finally it became too much for Jennifer. She dressed and slowly moved downstairs. The urge for breakfast had started to make its appearance in her stomach but the minute she saw Sam, that hunger disappeared.

>>I’m going for a walk.<< She announced and turned, heading out the front door as fast as she could. She could hear Sam tell Jack about their earlier conversation behind the closed door, but she didn’t stay behind to hear what she was telling him. All she heard before she trotted on was the non-existent surprise from Jack about the whole non-dead father issue. This both surprised and angered Jennifer because it meant he must’ve known about it before her too. Jennifer could feel the tears pressing behind her eyes though they weren’t tears of sadness, at that moment they were tears of anger and betrayal. She had been living a lie all these years with a family who knew the truth but had decided not to let her in on it. Though she was fiercely angry at them, she was also determined not to cry because of them. She wiped her face swiftly on her sleeve and walked away.

She had no direct plan as to where to go. She just knew she wanted to get as far away from her house and her family as possible. So she walked around with no purpose not really paying attention to where her feet took her. It was a while later she heard her name called by a shrill voice that made her stop and turn around.

>>Well well, if it isn’t Miss Paris. And she’s all alone.<< The voice shifted to a mocking baby-voice and Jennifer was confirmed in her assumption as she turned around and was face to face with Billy Christensen from school. As per usual he wasn’t alone but flanked by his two buffoon friends Martin Goldwen and Tom Fletcher, who followed Billy and did practically everything he told them. Billy Christensen was the self proclaimed ‘cool’ kid of the class. Ever since the age when you were labelled a nerd if you did the least amount of homework Billy had strived his hardest to do the exact opposite and instead stir up trouble at every opportunity. Anyone not exactly like him was an opportune victim of his pranks, when he wasn’t busy bullying the younger children in school.

>>Out walking all on her own?<< Billy struck up a hilarious laugh, and sure enough not a second after, Martin and Tom did the same. Jennifer didn’t respond in any way, but had frozen on the spot. Billy was smirking and he had that gleam in his eyes he always had when he had found a perfect victim. Mostly it was the younger kids in school but for some reason he had always had something extra to spare for Jennifer, and it had only increased as they got older. Jennifer never knew why, nor did she really care, she just did her best to avoid him whenever she had the chance. Of course that wasn’t possible all the time and it seemed Billy was keen on finding Jennifer in every crowd, whenever he had the chance. Billy wasn’t just pushy and annoying; hormones had also started to race through him as they grew into their teenage years, which made him even more unbearable. Because according to Billy, none was more handsome or charming than him and all the girls were supposed to fancy him. Billy was the tall gangly type who nearly always wore the same clothes, which became easier to distinguish as the smell also increased with the daily uses. His long hair was always sticking to his face and thereby, thankfully, covered more than half of it. This was a blessing due to the high level of acne he always seemed to be infested with; Jennifer always feared one would burst if you came too close.

Today was no different than the rest, and Billy seemed even more determined due to the deserted street.

>>Where’s your little friend? Huh, Miss Paris?<< Billy moved closer and Jennifer couldn’t do much else than cringe away. The stench of sweat crept its way up Jennifer’s nose and she kept her mouth firmly shut. She knew if she answered him it would only spur him on and he would never stop. If she responded in any way he would know he’d upset her and it would’ve made his day. Besides this it would give Martin and Tom a reason to crack their knuckles and look threateningly at Jennifer if she came too close. Not that that was ever going to happen if she could have any say in it. When Billy was involved she just wanted to get as far away as possible.

In the background Martin and Tom were grinning buoyantly. Both of them had been chosen by Billy to be his friends though not due to their loyalty. Billy had chosen them for the simple reason of their size, guaranteeing Billy a way out of trouble if he ever went too far, which happened on quite a few occasions. Martin and Tom never objected to any of the things Billy did or wanted, they were both as dumb as the day was long. Even when Billy’s pranks ended in Martin and Tom getting blamed, they stuck up for Billy and did as he told them.

Billy was circling Jennifer, his new prey of the day. As he walked in circles around her, he decreased the circle and came closer and closer to her, forcing Jennifer to hold her breath in short intakes to be able to stand it.

>>Don’t you have some poor kid to beat up today?<< Jennifer asked between breaths and turned to walk away. Martin and Tom, who had burst out laughing at Jennifer’s comment stopped abruptly with one look from Billy.

>>Maybe.<< Billy jumped in front of Jennifer cutting her off. >>But we’re having so much fun here, aren’t we?<< He reached a hand out and slowly stroked it along Jennifer’s arm. Jennifer had to close her eyes out of pure disgust to keep from vomiting. She wanted to pull away but Billy’s hand closed around her wrist and soon his other hand closed around her other wrist.

>>Let go!<< Jennifer had opened her eyes again and was looking Billy straight in the eyes with the most venom she could muster.

>>Why though? Isn’t this much more fun than anything else?<< His grin turned deviously and he moved his long, skinny body closer and closer, making Jennifer grow ever more angry. She felt one of his greasy fingers run along her jaw line and she could feel the bile at the back of her throat. >>You two go make yourself useful somewhere else.<< Billy barked at Martin and Tom. Panic rose in Jennifer. This had never happened before. Billy always kept Martin and Tom around, no matter what. What could Billy have in mind that he didn’t want Martin and Tom stick around to see?

>>Let go!<< Jennifer repeated the best she could through clenched teeth only making Billy’s grin even wider. Jennifer could see Martin and Tom turn their backs on them with the same confusion as Jennifer felt.

>>Nah, I don’t think I will. This is much nicer. I bet you haven’t experienced anything like this ever before.<< Billy’s voice had turned to a whisper and his body was pressing against Jennifer’s. She wanted to run for it, but she could still feel his hand around her wrist and she knew he would only pull her back if she made a move. His other hand moved from her jaw line and was moving down her collar bone tracing the line of her shirt. Jennifer tried to pull her hand free, with no luck and this only seemed to entice Billy even further because next moment she felt his dry lips against her neck. Jennifer cringed at the touch and kept pulling away from Billy but he followed her body like a magnet pressing against every curve of her. Suddenly she couldn’t move any further, and she was backed up against a wall.

>>Stop it Billy!<< She both pleaded and commanded but her asking him to stop only made him grow bolder. Slowly, he forced one of her hands down towards his groin. His lips were still tracing Jennifer’s neck, though they had started to find their way down her neck towards her collar bone.

>>I like it when they tremble.<< She could hear him murmur and Jennifer realised only then that she was trembling. She willed herself to stop it and she struggled to think of a way out of it. Her hand was forced on his chest now, under his shirt moving up and down by the force of his own hand. After a minute or so doing this he forced her hand downwards to undo his pants. By now his tongue was tracing her neckline, trying desperately to move past her shirt. As he forced her hand to undo his pants he pressed his pelvis against hers and she could feel him against her, making her want to wretch. His other hand moved up her arm and surprisingly gentle took hold of her chin to move her face around. She saw his ugly face with his dry lips come closer and closer to her own, and then….

>>What the..?! What do you think you’re doing?<< Jennifer hadn’t seen what had happened; she had no idea how it happened. But next second Billy was backing away clutching his groin and crying out in pain. He was looking appalled at Jennifer. She saw Martin and Tom come running up the street at the sound of Billy’s cry of pain. Billy was looking at his hands; they were red and covered in blisters. The way he moved, or more specifically barely moved, suggested other parts of his body looked the same. Martin and Tom looked awestruck at what had happened to Billy. Jennifer saw this as her opportunity of escape and sat off in a run. She could still hear their voices behind her, but they didn’t come after her or try to stop her either.

>>What happened?<< Martin sounded confused.

>>Why did you let her go?<< Tom sounded just as confused and even surprised, which had Jennifer think this had happened before though not in the same way.

>>I kind of had to let her go you idiot. Look at my hands?! D’you think I want to look like this everywhere else? Damn it, it feels like I’m burning. Get me some ice idiots!<< Billy was shouting and he was mad as hell. >>You’ll pay for this you crazy…<< Jennifer was gone before he could finish his sentence. She didn’t stop running before she was sure she had escaped them and they hadn’t followed her. When she was sure she was alone she stopped to catch her breath. Once she was breathing normally again she found a bush, and wretched. She emptied her already empty stomach and still felt sick about what had just happened. She shook her entire body but knew the grossness of it wasn’t going to go away until she had showered at least ten times. When she had calmed herself she got up and noticed where she had ended; the town’s graveyard. Still breathing fairly hard she sat down on the nearest boulder and looked down at her hands.

What had happened? What made Billy back off and why had he cried out like that? Jennifer studied her hands front and back but nothing looked out of the ordinary. Anyway her hands had been nowhere near the places he claimed hurt. Well, almost not near. Jennifer suddenly felt a chill run down her neck despite it being a warm day in mid June. Billy’s hands had been red as if they were burnt, and he had yelled something about burning. This reminded Jennifer of her nightmare. But Jennifer had neither done nor said anything, so how could anything like it happen? It’s not like she had made anything happen on purpose, or…? She had desperately wanted Billy to let go of her, but had she wanted to hurt him like that?

She still couldn’t grasp how it had happened in the first place. Jennifer’s head was still heavy from the amount of information from that morning and the previous incident. She relaxed her shoulders and looked around. Although it was the beginning of a warm day there were still clouds hanging overhead. The sky was a boring and threatening gray and if she looked at the horizon it looked closer to black. She guessed it would rain later that day given the warm air around her. Despite this, Jennifer felt cold but she was sure it had nothing to do with the weather. She took a few calming intakes of breath before she moved down the many tombstones, searching.

It didn’t take her long to find the one she was looking for. It looked almost too new among the moss covered ones around it. Jennifer hadn’t set foot there since the funeral; she hadn’t been able to bear it. She could tell Sam and Anna must have come almost weekly because of the neatness of the grave. Jennifer crumpled to her knees and ran her fingers over the engraving.

Susan Paris
1958 – 2005
 
Beloved mother
Missed mother

This time it wasn’t tears of anger slowly finding their way down her cheeks, but tears of sadness. She could hear someone move around by a tombstone close by, but whoever they were they quietly went away again. Perhaps they didn’t want to disturb Jennifer in her grief, as she sat there crying. She wiped her eyes though she kept crying.

>>What’s happening to me mum?<< She asked the tombstone in despair. >>Why didn’t you ever tell me dad is still alive? Why did I have to hear it from Sam, who’s told it to everyone else but me? It’s my dad too!<< Jennifer’s voice no longer sounded sad but broken, angry and hurt. She pounded her hand in the ground and looked angrily at the tombstone. >>Like I wasn’t grown enough? Or important enough? Because he is only my father. But I guess you were planning on keeping this tiny bit of information from all of us forever, right?<< For several minutes Jennifer sat and raged at the tombstone and her mother. She was perfectly aware that she wouldn’t get a response but just the outburst of emotions and letting go of it seemed to help. She let go of the bound up feelings and thoughts that had piled up over the last months as the tears poured down her face.

Somewhere far away a slight thunder was beginning to be heard but Jennifer didn’t pay attention to it. Neither did she move when the rain started to pour and soaked her to the bone. It only meant rain water mixed with the tears on her already wet face (and Billy’s presence would be washed off her). Eventually, when she was all out of tears and she felt like she had said all she wanted to say, Jennifer thought about going home. Yet at the entrance to the graveyard the sound of home still didn’t sound too good. She looked up and down the street. The rain was really starting to pour and she was already soaked through and through. She didn’t want to go home but she couldn’t figure out where else to go. The rain increased, making it harder for her to see more than a few feet ahead and the cold from the rain had folded around Jennifer like a blanket.

In the end the cold won and Jennifer went home.

 Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter Three – Family Revelations

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