Nu er hverdagen ved at vende tilbage og jeg håber til at jeg kan være lidt mere stabil i min udgivelse af kapitlerne her. Første fredag i september byder på 5 kapitel hvor Jennifer møder sin far for første gang og en del spørgsmål bliver opklaret mens andre opstår.
A normal everyday life is slowly returning and I hope to be much more consistent in my posts of these chapters. The first Friday in September offers chapter 5 in which Jennifer meets her father for the first time and some questions are answered, while others arise.
Chapter Five – Proof
When Jennifer came down for breakfast that morning it was for one more surprise. Anna was at the table, already having second helpings of scrambled eggs by the looks of her plate. She was joyfully chatting to Sam, who was trying to get Susan to eat her mashed bananas. Susan, on the other hand, was not in a mood for eating and every time Sam came near with the spoon, Susan struck out her hand in the hopes it would fall to the ground. It was Susan who spotted Jennifer first as she was trying to avoid another spoonful. As she saw Jennifer her face spread in a large grin and Sam saw the chance to sneak the spoon in her mouth, resulting in Susan spitting most of it out again.
>>Morning sis.<< Anna said with such spirit. She didn’t seem affected by anything at all, making Jennifer doubt whether she even knew what had been going on for the last few days. Jennifer joined the table without making a word and received a suspicious glare from Anna. She raised one eyebrow beneath her dark bangs and glanced over at Sam, who just shrugged.
>>By God, you two are acting as if someone’s died.<< She burst out and laughed loudly. After a minute or so, when neither had joined in her laughter, she shook her head making her short hair ruffle around her ears.
>>Do you even know what have happened these last days?<< Asked Jennifer tiredly as she leaned across the table in exhaustion.
>>’Course I do. D’you think I’ve only come to see your pyjamas?<< Anna gently poked Jennifer in the side. This was typical Anna. She had always been the positive of the three. Anna was the middle sister and had always been forced to adapt to situations a bit faster. This was partly the reason why she always saw the bright side of everything. Apparently this was no different than any other situation to her. >>Look, Sam called the other day and filled me in.<< Jennifer looked to Sam, who only shrugged innocently.
>>She was going to find out eventually. Anna has every right to know what’s happening as any of us.<<
>>Not like you were going to leave without saying goodbye either?<< Jennifer looked startled at Anna.
>>Who said anything about me going anywhere?<< Jennifer looked at the both of them. Jack was standing by the sink, barely glancing at the three sisters. Very silently he moved to pick up Susan and the two of them left the room.
Jennifer crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat. It seemed her sisters had already made the decision for her. Of course she had decided what to do, but now she wasn’t so sure she wanted to tell them before their father arrived later that day.
>>Come on Jennifer.<< Anna was still smiling. >>We both know you. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you didn’t go.<<
>>What do you mean?<<
>>What Anna mean, is that you’ve been given the opportunity to have some extraordinary experiences. You’ve always been the most adventurous of the three of us, which is why we feel this would be an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up on.<<
>>Have you decided yet?<< Anna interrupted abruptly and shoved her cutlery away. Jennifer kept looking at her sisters. She had no idea how she would tell them. Of course, she had made up her mind. The truth was, her sisters were right, they knew her too well, but that wasn’t something she was keen to admit. After her dream it had been much easier. She no longer felt like she would disappoint anyone no matter what she chose. In the end, it was her choice and whatever it would be, she was doing it for her and no one else.
>>Yeah, I’ve made up my mind.<<
>>So? What is it? Are we going to be stuck with you forever or are you leaving to bug our dad a bit for all the years he hasn’t been here?<<
>>What? It’d do him some good, I figure.<< Anna rolled her eyes, but Jennifer kept focusing on Sam. Ever since their mother died, Sam had stepped in and taken care of Jennifer as a second mother. It was her she feared telling the most. She knew Sam was the one who would suffer most from the decision. She could see this already. Sam was almost holding her breath from pure nerves, bracing herself for what Jennifer would say.
>>Are you sure you wouldn’t want to wait till he gets here?<<
>>Heck no, spit it out!<<Jennifer moved uncomfortably in her seat and tried to avoid Sam’s eyes, but they seemed to have pierced their way through her. All she could do was look at the table as she said it.
>>I’m going.<< There, she’d said it. Anna put her hands together enthusiastically for being right. Sam on the other hand looked like someone had just slapped her across the face.
>>Well, I guess that’s that.<< Sighed Sam and got up. Without another word she left the kitchen and went outside in her bathrobe. Anna looked stunned. Sam had never acted anything like that. Jennifer’s choice had clearly shaken her.
>>Should we go get her?<< Anna went to look out the window for Sam.
>>I think she needs to be alone a bit.<< Jennifer was already heading upstairs when Anna stopped her halfway.
>>Think again you. You, go talk to her and that’s right now. Here, bring her a coat.<< Anna tossed both coats to Jennifer who, although reluctantly, went outside.
It was a cool summer morning; the sun still had some time to show. Sam sat on the large concrete bench in the middle of their little front garden; she had her bathrobe pulled close around her. The wind was still chilled from the night and Jennifer pulled on her coat before she moved to put Sam’s around her shoulders. She kept quiet when Jennifer sat next to her. Jennifer didn’t want to say anything, partly because she didn’t know what to say and partly because she was afraid to upset Sam even more. Instead, they stared at the road and the lone few who’d risen from bed early. Those few, who were up, looked questioningly at Sam and Jennifer as they stepped outside to gather their newspapers.
Sam reached out and took Jennifer’s hand to give it an affectionate squeeze. The minutes passed like this and the sun slowly moved across the sky, making all the flowers wake up from the night and bathing Jennifer and Sam in the sun light.
>>Deep down, I think I always knew that was what you’d choose. I guess, I was just hoping to prove myself wrong for once in my life.<< Jennifer gave a slight twitch at the sound of Sam breaking the silence. >>Even when we were children you stood apart from Anna and me.<< Sam Laughed. >>When mum told us about dad she also said it would change too much if you ever found out. Even when I realized what she meant, I hoped it wouldn’t happen. But I think mum must’ve known it would turn out like this, otherwise she wouldn’t have been so keen on us keeping it from you, unlike the rest of us. I remember when we were young and the stories you used to make up about dad. You were always desperately hoping he wasn’t dead and he would return one day. I remember dreaming that too the first years after mum explained he couldn’t come back. The only difference between Anna, me and you is that we slowly let go of the dream while you held on to it.<< Sam had tears in her eyes by now and Jennifer’s heart ached at the sight of it.
>>I do respect your choice Jennifer; don’t think any less of me. I just can’t believe you won’t be here anymore in a few days time.<< She caressed Jennifer’s cheek softly and Jennifer could feel her tears piling up too, but she forced them back. She would have plenty of time to cry later.
>>You make it sound like I’m never going to see you again.<<
>>Of course you are. It’ll just be really far in the future and not as often as we both would like. It will be strange not having you in the room across the hall. You, on the other hand, will have plenty of adventures and other wildly experiences you would never in a million years achieve here. You don’t have to worry about us, we’ll manage in do time.<< Jennifer leaned in to Sam’s embrace as she kissed her forehead. >>Mum would’ve been proud.<< She whispered and Jennifer had a sudden flashback to her dream.
>>You know, I think so too.<< Sam barely heard it but put an arm around her and Jennifer huddled up close to her sister. She ignored the little voice in her head telling her this might be the last time she would be able to do so, though it wasn’t easy and it made her hold on a bit longer than usual. It seemed Sam was thinking the same thing as she didn’t seem to want to let go either.
The thought of leaving the comfort she had felt for the last sixteen years suddenly seemed scarier than it had done a few days ago. The enthusiasm of leaving had evaporated during the morning, after she had voiced her choice and made it much more realistic. The prospect of her actually leaving was more real and the short time until she would leave appeared frightening.
>>When does he get here?<< Jennifer asked in a hushed voice, secretly hoping Sam hadn’t heard her.
>>Some time in the afternoon. You’re absolutely sure about this?<< Sam scrutinized at Jennifer, hoping she would shake her head and change her mind right there and then.
>>I don’t know.<< Before Jennifer had the chance to continue, Sam heaved a sigh of relief, under false pretences hoping she would get to keep her sister. >>I’ve never doubted anything more in my life, but on the other hand I’ve never been more sure of anything either. It might sound crazy, but I actually want to go. It’s scary but still exciting. I have no idea how to act around our father.<<
Jennifer could see Sam fall back a little when her last hope vanished, although she tried to hide her disappointment. She had said she respected Jennifer’s choice and was happy on her behalf despite how much she was going to miss her.
>>You’ll figure it out as time passes.<< Jennifer got the strange sensation that Sam was talking to herself more than to Jennifer.
Jennifer spent the day with her family. They argued what would happen to Jennifer, or they tried to guess what would happen as neither one had the faintest idea. Anna hadn’t been there the first time their father had visited and had as the first thing demanded a complete re-cap of it. She exploded with questions the minute Sam and Jennifer finished.
>>He said you were going to receive lessons? What kind of lessons d’you reckon they’d be?<< She started to chortle as she picked up the last cookie just before Sam returned the tray to the kitchen.
>>You couldn’t have left some for him.<< Sam returned with a full tray of cookies again and Anna looked at her reproachfully.
>>So, did you pack yet?<< This was Jack shattering the happy mood in the room. This one sentence forced everyone to face the reality of Jennifer’s decision. The fact that it would happen in a matter of hours made the laughter evaporate from the room at once. Jennifer fell back in her seat and lost her tongue. Before, it had seemed like it had been one big game and when those moments arrived and they had to face the reality of it the mood fell several degrees. It still seemed like a dream to Jennifer, one she would soon wake from and laugh about. However, as time progressed, the funny parts became lesser and more indistinguishable. She shook her head and Jack nodded in understanding. Silence followed this small exchange. No words were uttered, as they waited for him to arrive. As Jennifer remembered it, the time moved too slowly, opposed to the past days which had rushed by her. Absentmindedly, she was fiddling with some torn holes in the couch. She had entangled one finger tightly in a few strings when the room was suddenly lit up by a bright light. Instantly she squeezed her eyes tightly shut, blocking out the incredibly bright light. Just closing her eyes wasn’t enough though, and she held up her free hand to cover them too. When the light seemed to disappear she opened her eyes and saw her father standing in the middle of the room with a huge grin plastered across his face. He wore the same robe like clothing as he had the previous time and didn’t look like he had changed much. Though, there was one thing definitely the exact same thing; his green eyes. He had tiny wrinkles around his eyes which Jennifer took as his sign of nerves. Almost instantly, his green eyes scanned the room and settled on Jennifer. This made Jennifer feel most uncomfortable and once again doubt started to creep up on her.
>>Why, Anna?<< Neither Sam nor Jennifer had introduced Anna, not that there was any need for it. Their father had recognized his middle daughter right away. Anna awkwardly got to her feet and went to accept the hug he clearly had ready for her. All the while, Jennifer sat back and tried to blend in with her surroundings. She did whatever she could to prolong the upcoming conversation. Because once it had taken place, there was no turning back.
>>I didn’t expect to see you here. Then again, I hadn’t expected any of this.<< There was a sigh hidden in his voice though it was cheerful. When he spoke again, it had changed, he sounded nervous and full of expectations. >>Well, we all know why I am here.<< Everyone nodded. Sam reached for Jack’s hand for support. Jennifer kept her mouth shut, till the moment he turned to her.
>>Jennifer? Have you made your choice?<< But before Jennifer had the chance to tell him what she had decided, Sam interrupted.
>>If Jennifer should go with you, how would it take place?<<Sam made it sound like she didn’t know what Jennifer had told her earlier. But Jennifer wanted to know the answer to Sam’s question too so she waited for him to answer.
>>If Jennifer decides to come with me, she will as I told you last time, receive lessons in another form than what she is used to. Her education here will come to an end upon her first day in Júzrïe, as will everything else she had any part in here. Coming with me will mean a goodbye to her life here, and the beginning of a new one in Júzrïe. It will be a large transition, I agree not just for you but very much for Jennifer too. I realize people might start to ask questions regarding Jennifer’s whereabouts and I cannot interfere in what you tell your neighbours. Although I doubt anyone will believe the truth.<< He laughed briefly and it seemed to loosen the tension in the room slightly in the aftermath from his bad joke.
>>Should Jennifer choose to come with me, I would not take her with me today. I assume she has people here she wishes to say her goodbyes to and other affairs to sort out. I will do my best to avoid adding more pressure than necessary; I will respect your choice, whatever it might be. I’ve answered your question now Sam and it seems only fair I have mine answered by Jennifer.<< He turned his attention to Jennifer midsentence and she felt very vulnerable as his eyes pierced hers.
In that moment, she realized how much a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would change. She was well aware that she had already told her sisters she wanted to go but that meant nothing. They were her sisters; they couldn’t take her anywhere it was only her father who could do that. Jennifer had trouble breathing as she looked around the room. She knew why neither Sam nor Anna had said what Jennifer had already told them. They knew too that there was still the slight chance she could change her mind and stay where she was.
But it was impossible for Jennifer to return to her old life. Even if she said ‘no’ she had learned too much to go on pretending anything else. By now she was breathing in short fast intakes and she didn’t notice the nervous glances shared between her sisters. She couldn’t’ keep stalling. She took one more deep breath before she uttered the few words that would change her life forever.
>>I’ll come.<< She said it as fast as she could. Instead of looking for a reaction from her father she looked to Sam. Sam’s shoulders had dropped and she looked devastated. Anna on the other hand was smiling; it was a small smile but a smile non-the-less. Then she turned to look at her father. His sparkling eyes were positively shining with joy. He was so happy that the little wrinkles around his eyes seemed to be climbing over each other in pure excitement.
>>I cannot tell you how much it pleases my old heart.<< He reached out for Jennifer as if he wanted to hug her but by the look on Jennifer’s face she was glad he settled for a handshake. He then seemed to pay attention to the effect it had had on Sam. He let go of Jennifer’s hand, which he had held on to leaving Jennifer feeling awkward, and went over to embrace Sam. She sniffled into his shoulder, as she was a child again, but he didn’t look like he cared.
>>It’s fine. I’m okay.<< Sam sniffed after a moment or two and pulled away again.
>>I understand your sadness Samantha, but it’s not a permanent goodbye. Jennifer can always come visit.<<
>>It’s Sam. And yes, I know but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss her.<<
>>I’m sorry. Of course you can, but as I said earlier I won’t be taking her with me today, unless of course you would want to go today Jennifer?<< He turned to face Jennifer again who instantly shook her head vigorously. For a short moment he seemed let down by this but it had been such a short moment she couldn’t be sure. She really didn’t know him that well to tell for sure.
>>I thought so. I will return the day after tomorrow to pick you up Jennifer. Which leaves you with the rest of today and all of tomorrow to take care of what you need taken care of and say goodbye to your family and friends.<< He let go of Sam and went to hug Anna again after which he turned to Jennifer. She got up a bit too fast and stumbled slightly on her feet. He held out his arms to hug her as he had done with her sisters. But before he embraced her, he placed his heavy hands on her shoulders.
>>I realize the pressure I have placed on you the past days and I am sorry about that, it was necessary unfortunately. I’ve been under quite a lot of pressure myself these days and your choice helps to take some of it off me too. The High Council has been breathing down my neck lately but now I can finally let them know what has been bothering me.<<
>>What are you going to tell them?<< Jennifer looked troubled at her father. His lips turned to a smile.
>>Nothing too big. Only they won’t have to worry about me anymore. I intend to save the news of your return to the family for as long as I can.<< For some reason this calmed Jennifer. She still wasn’t completely certain how she felt about this council of old men who, apparently, were already judging her. >>Before I leave I have a small token for you Jennifer.<< He let go of her shoulders and reached inside his robe in one of many pockets from the looks of it. He had a bit of trouble finding what he looked for among the many pockets but when he did he held out a small golden package for Jennifer. >>Consider it a welcome home present.<< He said with a huge grin and held it out to Jennifer, who took it hesitantly. She didn’t have time to unwrap it before he had said goodbye and moved to the large mirror.
>>I’ll see you in a few days. Practice while I’m away.<< And just then the room was lit up by the bright light again and forced them all to look away.
Jennifer was left behind with plenty mixed emotions and the small golden package in her hand.
>>Open it!<< Anna encouraged almost instantly as the last beam of light vanished. She was hovering behind Jennifer looking over her shoulder. The package was no bigger than an apple and didn’t weigh much. Jennifer gently removed the golden paper knowing every eye in the room was on her.
It was a small wooden box with a gold necklace inside. The gold necklace had a pendant dangling from it, the size of an acorn. It was circular with a symbol in the middle which was twirling around it. The symbol was two half-circles barely connection to form the shape of an ‘s’. Both circles were twirling and glinting in the light.
Jennifer placed it in the palm of her hand and it gave her a strange sense of security as it rested there. It was a proof that everything had been true and was really happening.
Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg
To be continued in Chapter 6 – New Senses