Linda Ed is coming to terms with JF, ‘Joey’, having left school and gone to work in Cordova.
Seated on the couch with one leg folded up under her, Linda was eating the reheated pizza. Thinking about everything, Linda realized she had begun withdrawing from everyone shortly after JF had moved out of his parent’s house and into Brenda’s old apartment.
It hadn’t been about Dash’s wedding. It might have been because she was seeing less of JF. He had begun taking classes at UAA and was no longer at his parents’ home in the evenings when she would drop by to chat with Lila.
‘Was I that dependent on him? Was just his presence enough to calm me down?’
Linda thought to herself. JF had been working nights as a stocker for a big box store before starting college. He had always left for work at the same time she had gone back to her condo. Laying the paper plate carefully on the coffee table, she thought about it all.
Usually she sat in the kitchen with Auntie Lila when visiting. She had not had much interaction with Joey, but she had known he was there. Lounging with Dick and Della or studying, his presence had been a solid comforting thing.
She recalled how often she had flung the ‘kid’ epithet at him. He had not smiled at her teasing for quite a while, perhaps a couple of years. Joey had been the one she really wanted to see when visiting Auntie Lila.
Linda sighed. Now he was in Cordova. It would be quite some time before she could see him again. Unless, …unless she traveled to Cordova. She could do it, but would Joey be happy to see her? That was the crux of the matter. If he had left school and Anchorage to get away from her, he surely would not be happy to see her waltzing around Cordova.
Tears threatened again. Linda wondered how badly she had poisoned the water. When she recalled the look on his face the morning after their night on the bluff, Linda realized Joey had wanted to declare to the world she was his. It was the moment everything had ended. She had left him there, alone.
Joey had honored her wishes, or so he thought. What had she really wanted? The look on his face when he had first ridden up, his anger at her stupidity had been a turn on. Drumming her fingers against her leg, Linda explored her bit of insight further. She had wanted him to come after her.
If Joey came after her, if he took possession forcefully it could mean he was interested enough to not drop her later.
But he was a gentleman. That was not Joey’s style. His style was to be there solid, like his dad was there for Lila and the rest of the family. Were they doomed because of the differences?
There had to be a middle ground. Tears began to form behind her eyes again.
“Damn it! I am not going to cry again! It’s not his problem, it’s mine. I’m the nut case here. What the hell does he want from me anyway?”
Linda got up from the couch. She was pacing the floor as she mumbled to herself. She began recalling all the major interactions she could remember between herself and JF Jones from the first time he had crawled over to her as an infant.
When had she begun rejecting him? The answer was clear. The first time Joey had followed her to the bluff site, her rejection of his offer of friendship had come the next day. Joey had embarrassed her by taking on Jack, but she knew that was not the real reason.
The real reason stemmed from the trip to Delta Junction she had made with Auntie Lila and the boys for the hockey game at Delta. Her mom had to work that weekend and did not want Linda left alone while Auntie Lila and the family were in Delta Junction. Auntie Lila had offered to take Linda along. It had been the weekend before she had run away up to the bluff the first time.
It was there Linda had seen him again. Aldrich had been at the game. He was rooting for his son, who was on the team. How badly she had wanted Aldrich to recognize and affirm her existence as his child, his daughter.
Aldrich had been holding the hand of another child, a small boy. Her father had walked right past her without as much as a nod. A simple nod would have helped. But she had been nothing to him, nothing at all. Linda had felt like a discarded piece of garbage kicked to the side of the road.
Everyone else had been exhilarated because of the game. There had been post mortems of the plays, shouting and singing on the drive home. Only Joey had noticed her withdrawal. He had sat in the far back of the suburban with her. Joey had taken her hand. There had been no discussion of how she was feeling; he had just been there like always.
Each and every time he had come back until now. Now he was gone. She had finally driven him away. Like a puppy wanting to play he had returned every time until she had finally convinced him she did not want his attention.
“Stupid bitch! You’re finally alone. How do you like it? Does it feel good to be completely alone?”
Linda’s anger spiked. She turned and cleared everything from the coffee table with one arm. The pizza, several books and her notebook computer went flying across the room. Looking at the mess she had created, Linda barely restrained herself from creating more damage.
Picking her cell phone up from the floor she went into the bedroom. She threw herself onto the bed. Who was she going to call? Who could she call? Joey was the one she wanted to speak with. The only one. Linda placed the call.