Chapter Four – Decisions

Den første fredag i sidste måned kom og gik uden at jeg fik lagt det næste kapitel ud af min roman. Lidt ferie kom i vejen og det er jeg bange for der også gør i næste måned. Det er derfor lidt med vilje jeg har gemt kapitel 4 til jer, så I kan få det her midt i mellem, og så håber jeg ikke at I sidder derude og føler jeg snydt. I må absolut ikke tro at jeg har glemt jer! Der er en mening med det hele. Nu får I kapitel 4 hvori Jennifer må træffe nogle svære valg, hvis I skal friskes lidt op kan i kigge tilbage på kapitel 3 i mellemtiden.

 

The first Friday of last month came and went without me getting around to posting the next chapter of my novel. A bit of vacation got in the way and I’m afraid it’s the same case for next month. I have therefor, on purpose, kept chapter 4 from you so it would be available to you here in between months. I sincerely hope you do not sit out there and feel cheated of chapters. Do not think that I have forgotten you, because there is a point to everything. Here is chapter 4, in which Jennifer must face some difficult decisions; if you need to refresh your memory a bit you can look to chapter 3 again in the meantime.

 

Chapter 4 – Decisions

  The next morning when Jennifer woke she thought, no she practically hoped, it had been a very long dream. The little amount of hope she had for that vanished when she came down for breakfast and saw the long faces.

>>It definitely wasn’t just a dream?<< Still rather tired she joined Sam and Jack, shaking their heads, for breakfast.

>>I can’t figure out if I want it to be a dream or not.<< Jennifer sighed and pushed her plate away. It was like her normally large appetite had vanished overnight.

Her respect for her mother’s choice, to keep it a secret, had on the other hand grown vastly. By this, her bitterness towards her so-called father had grown too, because he was dumping all this on her. A part of her wished she hadn’t been told and everything was as it always had been. At the same time she knew that was not an option. The bubble had burst. The ideas she had formed over the years about her father had been destroyed by the truth, a truth she apparently still didn’t know half of. Many small pieces of a grander puzzle still seemed to be missing despite all she had learned over the last few days.

>>I wish it was a dream.<< Said Sam and started clearing the table. Jennifer glanced her way with a frown.

>>Why? It’s not you who have to make this choice about giving up your entire life in exchange for a new one in a matter of three days.<< Jennifer banged her forehead against the table in pure despair.

>>This is exactly what mum meant.<< Sam let dishes be dishes and came to sit with Jennifer. Jennifer turned her head, still resting on the table. She didn’t see how she was going to make this decision in just three days.

>>Mum knew how much it would change your life if you found out the truth. I only realized yesterday that’s why she wanted us to continue to keep you in the dark.<<

>>You really think so?<<

>>You heard dad. Anna and I are too old. You’re the only one with the possibility of having a life in Júzrïe, and I think mum realised this before she died.<<

>>Yeah, that’s one thing I still don’t understand.<< Jennifer straightened up and rubbed her cheek gently after it had been stuck to the table. >>Why are you and Anna too old?<< Sam frowned and looked confused again. It was a look that seemed to have settled permanently among the house these days.

>>You have to understand Jennifer; even I don’t know everything about all this. I can only tell you what I know and understand. As dad said, Júzrïe isn’t on any of our maps because it’s not part of the world we know as such. Dad said it sort of belonged to our world. From what I remember it is because Júzrïe is an old country, older than I remember. The reason why it’s not on any map is because it’s hidden, don’t ask me how since I have no idea, dad never told me and I never asked. But it’s something to do with the Mirrors. That’s how you get there.<<

>>What? Through Mirrors?<< Sam nodded.

>>You saw how the living room lit up yesterday when he left. The light came from the Mirror when he left. I tried it once many years ago and it’s not the most pleasant way to travel. You feel dizzy for a long time after and need lots of rest.<< But it wasn’t the means of transportation that had caught Jennifer’s interest.

>>You’ve been to Júzrïe?<< Jennifer had moved further to the edge of her chair and her attention was fully devoted to Sam by now.

>>Once. I didn’t see a lot or anyone. I only went there for a day to sign some papers because I chose to live here with Jack. But Jennifer,<< Sam reached for Jennifer and she suddenly looked sad again. >>All this is not important. How to get there, or where it is, or why Anna and I are too old is insignificant. What matters now is you and the choice you have to make.<< Jennifer was speechless. >>If you choose to, you will learn much more about Júzrïe than I’m able to tell you.<<

>>Sam are you trying to get rid of me?<< Jennifer said indignantly and pulled away.

>>Of course not, not ever. I want you to stay here, but I know you Jennifer. I saw you yesterday, and how you lit up at the idea of a family.<<

>>Sam, you guys are my family.<<

>>Yes. But you have the chance to get to know the rest of our family. And not just meet our family. You would get to experience many things in Júzrïe you would never even get close to experience here.<<

>>So what you’re saying is, you want me to go but you also want me to stay here?<< Sam chuckled.

>>I know it sounds crazy. Jennifer, you know I dearly want to keep you here with us, but at the same time I can’t help to think of other people. I can’t be selfish and keep you forever. In Júzrïe there are many people who wish for you to take dad’s place when he is gone.<<

>>Sam is right Jennifer.<< It was the first time Jack had spoken all morning and Jennifer was surprised to find him still in the room. >>Your dad asked you for a reason. Because, he is counting on you. Not that I want to put any more pressure on you but that is something you have to take into consideration too. He chose to help his family many years ago and now it’s up to you if you want to do the same?<<

>>When I had the choice in front of me, it was all very appealing but not nearly as appealing as certain other things.<< Sam reached a hand across the table and a smile passed between her and Jack. >>All though, I didn’t have the extra burden put on me as the one you’re facing it was still very appealing, but my life here meant much more to me. Jennifer you’re young and as far as I know you have nothing keeping you here. Don’t worry about us. As you said yourself, we’re your family and families stick together no matter what.<<

>>Maybe.<< Jennifer got up. Her head was swimming.

>>My point is,<< Sam hurried to say before Jennifer left the kitchen. >>Don’t make your decision based on other people’s need and wishes. When it comes down to it, it is your choice and you’re the one who has to live with it. Listen to your heart and make the decision you want to. Then the rest of us have to deal with it, whatever it may be.<< Jennifer nodded and retreated to her room again.

She gently closed the door behind her and slid to the floor where she crouched. She sat like that for a long time, just thinking. She thought about the many things she had learned over the last days and what Sam had just told her. Most of all, she thought about her mother. She thought how hard it must have been for her too, to live her life knowing her husband was alive but they were unable to be together. On top of that she was forced to raise their three daughters alone. Jennifer tried to imagine the struggles her mother must have gone through.

She tried to think of her childhood but it was hard to remember anything specific. As far back as she could remember, it had only been her sisters and their mother. She had no memories of her father at all. For many years, she had thought him to be dead and she had always wondered why her mother never re-married. Every time Jennifer asked about her father her mother disregarded it and immediately talked about something else, as if she were too busy to talk about him or she was too tired or some other excuse she came up with. No matter how Jennifer sprang the question on her, she never got a straight answer. Her mother simply refused to talk about him, something Jennifer had never understood. Now she knew why and understood why her mother had never re-married. Because she was still very much in love with her husband and knew he was alive.

Jennifer looked around her room, hoping to find something to help her make her decision. She was afraid to admit it to herself that she had already made her choice almost the minute she’d heard of Júzrïe and therefore she did her best to try and find things to change her mind.

The idea of Júzrïe made her feel excited and happy. She didn’t think about her father, but the rest of the family she had been missing for so many years. The family she had been longing for, and was possibly waiting for her in Júzrïe. She didn’t think about her father, because every time she did so it made her angry. Granted he had explained things to her why he had left, but it didn’t change the fact that he had left. No matter how you chose to look at it, he had turned his back on his wife and children. And now he had placed Jennifer in a similar position. The small things which previously reminded her of a loving father now seemed to mock her about the lie it had been. She grabbed the photos of him, a jewellery box and a teddy bear from the bed and shoved it under the bed, so as not to remind her more than necessary. After this she sat down cross legged and looked around the room. There was no longer anything reminding her of her father. Though he was a large factor in the decision she didn’t want to be reminded of him constantly as she was about to make her choice. She was determined to make him have as little influence as possible.

 

Jennifer was standing on a hill top. The air was sweet with a touch of summer and flowers. Her eyes were closed and she embraced the silence. Beneath her bare feet she could feel the freshly cut grass. There was a familiar presence in the air. It seemed to be caressing her. If it weren’t for the fact that she knew it was a dream, she could have been standing there for a long time. But her sub-consciousness was telling her otherwise. The loving surroundings were merely an aid to her. To help her in the choice she was about to make. It made it seem much easier to her. But she could still feel the struggle inside her about what path to choose.

Behind her, in the southern direction, she had the view of a valley with a little cottage. A woman was walking around in the garden, carrying a child on her arm. A man joined them from the house. They looked very happy. Even from a distance, one as far as the one Jennifer was at; she could almost feel their happiness as her own. She realized the couple she was watching, was Sam and Jack and the child was Susan. She could still feel their happiness and the urge to join them was growing stronger. Yet, something held her back. There was something else tying her to her spot. She turned her back on her family and gazed at the horizon on the northern side.

It was a view more spectacular than anything she had ever seen. A vast ocean stretched beyond the horizon where the sun was reflected in the water as it shone over the country side. The fields and forests stretched for miles on both sides and she couldn’t see the end of them. The wind was in her back now, gently nudging her to go this way. Jennifer remained indecisively where she was.

Exotic birds flew from the forest and sang beautifully in the sky. People were walking around the fields and working, each and everyone one of them ignorant of the battle Jennifer was facing. Both sides were beautiful and alluring in their own way. The big question was, which side she would join in?

With a heavy heart she simply squatted down, not knowing which way to go. She kept looking from south to north, hoping the answer would come to her by chance, but no luck. Leaves blew up from both sides and slowly gathered in a shape in front of Jennifer. Very suspiciously Jennifer watched as her mother stepped up to her. Without knowing why, Jennifer suddenly started to cry. The memory of her mother was too great and overpowered her for several minutes where she just cried and cried. A feeling of someone holding her made her stop for long enough to make out that everyone, both on the southern and northern side were looking up at her expectantly. Jennifer turned in despair to her mother.

>>No matter what path I choose someone will be hurt.<< Stuttered Jennifer between the heavy flow of tears. Her mother kneeled down and smiled lovingly at her daughter.

>>The question you need to ask yourself darling, is which path would hurt you? This is a choice where you have to disregard everyone, but yourself. You are the one who have to live the rest of your life with it. It is all right for you to be selfish this one time. You just have to follow your heart and it will lead you down the right path.<< As the final word echoed, the form of Susan Paris evaporated and the many leaves rushed around Jennifer before they fell to the ground, as the leaves they were. Jennifer stared at the leaves for a long while before she looked one more time at each side of the hill. Determinedly she got up and wiped the dry tears from her face. She took a deep breath and thought about her mother’s words.

Facing west, she closed her eyes and started to feel for her mother’s presence again. She located it in a gentle breeze coming from east and rustled her dark hair around her face. Jennifer could feel a sense of calm finding her heart very slowly. A feeling she had searched for, for many years and had only now started to come about. A feeling that helped point her in the right direction. With that feeling  in her heart, Jennifer took the first step towards her future.

 

Jennifer woke with a heavy heart. The image of her mother lingered with her and seemed more real than it had been. She pulled the covers close and dried her wet eyes on the corner. The dream had left Jennifer with a pleasant memory of her mother and a calming feeling she had not experienced since her mother had died. Jennifer breathed slowly as she remembered the dream in the darkness. It was the night before the third day. The following day her father would arrive, expecting an answer. The only problem was, Jennifer still hadn’t admitted to herself what her choice was. She had spent the last few days in company with no one else but her thoughts. Her room was one big mess after Jennifer had rummaged through it, trying to find things to help her decide.

From the beginning, Sam had told her to make the choice based on Jennifer’s wishes alone. Just like their mother had told her in the dream, to follow her heart. The only problem was that at the moment, Jennifer’s heart was very confused and indecisive. Which was the reason why her brain and logic had taken over lately, not that it had helped remotely. Every time she found a reason not to go seconds later she would think of a reason why she should go. In the morning she would be determined to go but when evening came she would have decided to stay. She changed her mind like this constantly, though without telling anyone about it. Jennifer didn’t want to burden Sam with the worries and speculations she had. If Jennifer eventually chose to go she didn’t want to upset Sam more than necessary in advance. Because Sam seemed to be sad already, as if she expected Jennifer would leave and she was using the last days as her days of goodbye. She cooked all Jennifer’s favourite dishes, despite the fact that Jennifer’s appetite still hadn’t returned. She made sure Jennifer spent a good deal of time with baby Susan, making sure both of them got the best out of each other’s company. To Jennifer, Susan was a joy to be around. When she was with Susan, Jennifer didn’t think about her upcoming decision, or more specifically the lack of it. When she was with Susan, it was just the two of them and nothing else mattered. One element she kept returning to, which always made her change her mind from whatever choice she had made, was her father. For seventeen years she hadn’t had the least bit of connection to him or a memory of him. The idea of living with him brought a whole new amount of doubt to Jennifer. There were so many things she didn’t know but still wanted to find out. For her entire life, while she still believed him to be dead, she had like any other child losing a parent imagined what her father would be like. Now she had the chance to find out. This was scary too, because while she had been given the opportunity to learn who he really was, the chance of him disappointing her in relation to the many ideas she had developed during the years had risen as well. Jennifer rolled over and looked out at the moon shining brightly in the night sky. It was like Jennifer had isolated herself to decide what her future would be like.

Even if she decided to stay with her sister, her life had changed forever. The last seventeen years had been based on a lie and she couldn’t return to the ‘simple’ life she had had before. In the future, the knowledge of her father would be hovering over her. On top of that, she would be thinking of what could’ve happened if she chose to stay. But it would be the same if she chose to go, only backwards. Jennifer heaved a deep sigh and firmly closed her eyes, desperately hoping to go back to sleep; only her brain would not shut down. All her wonderings and speculations roamed around and wouldn’t let her rest. She glanced at the clock, 3.13 in the morning. In less than ten hours everyone expected her to have made a choice. The feeling of a looming dead-line didn’t exactly make things easier. Jennifer thought about her father again. Only the word father didn’t seem to suit him. Jennifer still didn’t feel like she had a father. Being without a father her entire life and having to call him dad now didn’t seem right. She was convinced it was her father though, his eyes proved that. It was more the feeling of having a father that was missing. It wasn’t until three days ago that she had met him for the first time and the fact that she suddenly had someone to call dad seemed unreal. Jennifer thought about all the children she had known and envied for having a father. And not just a father, a family. This was another thing Jennifer had the opportunity to get. Her father had said their family was the oldest where he came from, but he hadn’t mentioned anything about how many this family included. Scepticism rose in Jennifer. Though her family may have been the oldest didn’t mean it was the largest.

She rolled on to her back again and pressed the back of her hands against her eyes to shut out the moon light. Only it started to hurt after a short while and when she removed her hands the room was much brighter than before. With a heavy sigh she sat up. Going back to sleep seemed to be an impossible task. She gave up trying to go back to sleep and went to sit by her desk instead. The drawers were almost empty after she had cleared them out in her desperate search. She managed to find a pen and some paper and got comfortable as she turned on the desk lamp.

Slowly, and with a lot of care, she started writing down pros and cons for everything. She couldn’t think of anything better to do at the time, when sleep was so evasive of her. Twenty minutes later, she hadn’t gotten much down on the paper. The biggest con if she left was, having to say goodbye to Sam, Anna, Jack, Susan and the few friends from school she had, along with life as she knew it. This was primarily the only con, though it was only one, it counted as a very big one. On the pro side, one thing was listed in capital letters: DAD?

The rest didn’t really mean much to Jennifer. The big responsibility he had talked about; her taking over didn’t mean more than the chance she would get to know her father and the rest of her family. Though she was still very angry with him, despite the explanation he had given the other day. In pure frustration Jennifer crumbled up the paper and tossed it aside. Exhausted she rested her head on the table and reconsidered everything once more. As the many pros and cons ran through her head along with images of the people they represented, her head grew heavier and before she knew it, she was a sleep.

Had she known her life would change drastically over the next 24 hours, it is unlikely she would have fallen asleep.

 Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter Five – Proof

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