Chapter 47: A Time To Embrace And A Time To Refrain From Embracing
“…and that is how we built a roller coaster to the moon!” Jackson finishes babbling, having completed what seems like fifty run on sentences in a row to Ilona.
“Okay, I can possibly believe everything but that last part,” Ilona giggles, “that came from a television show.”
Jackson stares at her in disbelief, than snaps his fingers loudly. “Busted! Darn, thought for sure you would never catch me! You are really good at finding fibs Ilona!”
She rolls her eyes. “Thanks, but that one was fairly obv–”
Jackson immediately cuts Ilona off and begins another long rant, this time slamming his words together even more, almost to the point of nonsense.
“Jackson. Jackson. Jackson!” Ilona raises her voice with each word, ending with a quasi-shout. The young boy stops, somewhere mid-sentence, and stares again at Ilona, sporting hurt eyes.
“Hey Jackson sweetie, what’s going on? You keep talking and talking and talking, and while you do talk a lot, even this feels,” Ilona mulls over the correct word to use next, “excessive, more then usual,” she continues. “And now you look all upset. Is everything alright?”
Jackson moves his gaze from Ilona to the ground, then back up to Ilona. His eyes glisten a bit and he slowly leans back on the kindergarten fence just behind him.
“I didn’t tell you something that happened this weekend. And I don’t know if Clara said anything this morning or not.” Jackson states in a neutral tone.
“She did say something happened, and I know Madison and Cynthia already know, but she promised to tell us all the details at lunch,” Ilona explains, “is that what is bothering you?”
Jackson shifts his feet. “Only a small bit. Mommy and Daddy talked to me about all that, so I am not as upset as when everyone was shouting.”
Ilona’s mouth gapes open, “everyone was shouting?”
“Yeah, but that’s all taken care of now,” Jackson says with conviction, “and what I gotta do now is what is making me all sad and stuff.”
Ilona whispers, “gotta do now?”
Jackson stands up his young body as straight as possible, even squaring his shoulders.
“Last week I realized all of a sudden that you are in grade five.”
“And that next month is your last month at SummerFall, for, like forever.”
Ilona nods again.
“Soon you will be in grade six at a whole other school, far far away.”
Ilona nods yet again.
“I really really like you a lot Ilona, so doing this is the most hardest thing I have ever ever done in my life.”
Ilona does not nod, she just lets the feelings flow out, “Jackson, are you breaking up with me?”
Jackson plunges onto Ilona.
“I’m sorry, so very very sorry!” He sobs. “But you are going away!”
Ilona lifts her shocked arms and wraps them for the last time around Jackson, giving him one last bit of herself. Looking down at the crying little boy, she knows what her responsibilities are, how the older, adult, her must now kick in. All to make young little hurt Jackson better.
“It is okay Jackson sweetie. It is alright. I understand. I still like you a lot as well. And we can still be friends you know?” Ilona gives careful thought to each word, each feeling, each idea, all for him.
“Can we still be friends?” Jackson pops his head up and smiles through tears at Ilona.
“Of course! I would have it no other way!” Ilona giggles, than plants a kiss on Jackson’s forehead.
“Ewww!” he jumps back out of the hug and quickly wipes his forehead clean, “you kissed me!”
“I know!” Ilona laughs, “our first kiss! Want some more?” She lunges forward, lips pursed together, making smushing sounds.
“Yuck! Keep your kisses away from me!” Jackson shouts, waving his arms frantically in front of Ilona.
“Okay, okay, no more kissies for Jackson,” Ilona mushes up his hair, creating smiles all around.
For the next few minutes, the former girlfriend and boyfriend chat about television shows, movies, strange things on Youtube and of course, what brought them together, books.
As they see the mini van come up the street, Jackson turns to Ilona. “When Mommy reads me Love Me Forever tonight, I will think of you. And how fun you are. And everything.” Jackson states just as the mini van stops. “I really still like you a lot,” he finishes.
“I really still like you a lot as well,” she replies.
A minute later, hello’s are exchanged between Ilona and Jackson’s mom, as the little boy is strapped into his booster seat. Waves happen and seconds later the mini van drives away, taking her now ex-boyfriend Jackson along with it.
Ilona turns back and faces SummerFall, and it feels so distant and lonely.
Part of her has sadness because Jackson, while still in her life, is not who he once was. He has grown up, without her fully realizing it, and has already thought about the future that Ilona has blindly ignored.
Which is where the other part of her sadness comes from. SummerFall, with its hard cold brick walls and millions of years of unknown history, will soon no longer be a part of her daily life. Her school, the only school she has ever walked and talked and breathed in, will be forever in her past.
Grade six is coming.
And Jackson knew this before Ilona did.
Hearing her stomach rumble, she remembers what time of day it is, and how feeling sorry for the future can happen later.
Shortly, Ilona joins her friends in the gym to eat lunch. Clara looks relieved when she shows up, and promptly changes the conversation around. “Okay, we gotta put the Buffy talk on hold for now, because some big crap happened this weekend that only some of you know about.”
Ilona chows down on her sandwich, trying to get through her funk and listen to what is obviously an important update from her friend. The trying is not that difficult, because very quickly Ilona can tell this life changing, even shattering event to Clara, Jackson and Josh, is a big deal.
Now she knew what her now ex-boyfriend was talking about.
After Clara finishes, Susan pipes in immediately. “Well, we always knew your grandfather was a jerk, but now we know he is a superjerk.”
Collette squints her eyes in comprehension. “So walk me through this insanity. Your grandfather, who has never been a good father or grandfather or anything nice at all, has a major freak out. All because he finds out that Joshua is gay? No offence, but he is an idiot.”
Everyone murmurs their agreement and shakes their heads. Cynthia mutters, “some people have issues.”
Clara puts her garbage together and turns to Ilona. “That’s my craziness from this weekend, but what about you? Happy camper is not written all over your face.”
Ilona is slightly taken aback, not realizing how much the break-up is a visible wound to the world. “Well…” she starts, “Jackson and I were talking, and he decided to… break up with me.”
Everyone stares. Cynthia breaks the silence. “That is unfortunate. We all feel sorry for you and Jackson Ilona,” she reaches over and holds Ilona’s hand, “but we all knew, due the nature of this relationship, that it would not last very long.”
Clara takes Ilona’s other hand, “I was kinda surprised the Muskrat kept it going as long as he did. But you were a good sport for humouring him. Thanks for that.”
Ilona glances down. “Yeah, no problem.”
Clara squeezes Ilona’s hand. “Ilona, I know for him it was real, and for you it became real. And I know we have all been through a lot lately-”
“Yeah, the last few weeks have really sucked dragon dung!” Madison interrupts.
“That is one way of putting it,” Clara sighs at Madison, “Even with all we have lost recently, you must remember the one exception, Jackson is not gone. You two may not be some kind of boyfriend and girlfriend anymore, but you are still in each other’s lives. And that’s a good thing.”
Everyone stares at Clara. Collette raises her hand. “Okay, that was profound. Where did that come from?”
Clara shrugs. “You think I wasn’t listening all these years as you and Susan and Cynthia babbled on with philosophy and stuff?” She shrugs very nonchalantly. “Besides, I had a bit of practice helping calm the little Muskrat this weekend after all the chaos the jerk caused. Which is after Joshua calmed me down of course.”
Everyone nods in solemn agreement, except for Madison. “Aaaaarrgh! For the love of Sunnydale! Let’s talk about something that doesn’t involve the sad face emoticon!” She smacks Collette on the arm. “You! Status report on Samantha!”
For the next several minutes the friends leave the gym and got ready to go into the schoolyard. Soon they are assuming their usual positions at the wall, with books at the ready. During all this Collette was verbalizing a mental checklist of everything Susan had told her about Samantha.
Doctor Who? Check. Harry Potter? Check. Joss Whedon? Check. Can’t wait for the Trident movie? Check. Writes fanfic? Check. Thinks Taylor Swift is awesome? Check. That last fact prompts a gagging sound from Madison, which results in a smack from Clara. All seems like perfection according to everyone, which only slightly reassures a nervous Susan. Just as Cynthia declares that they all should probably get back to their books, Ilona jumps in, “again, just wondering, why aren’t we getting all this information directly from Susan?”
“Because we need an unbiased opinion, and when ya in love,” Madison emphasizes the last word with a fluttery voice, “unbiased ain’t an option,” she finishes back in her normal voice.
Lunch time continues with everyone settling into their books, and a group high five is completed before they head back into SummerFall, for Cynthia has experienced To Kill A Mockingbird. The rest of the day crawls by for Ilona, Susan and Clara, all because Mr. Micheals is now so meek and timid and non-offensive, with even his chalk flipping attempts being lame and boring. The day ends with more group talk in the schoolyard for a few minutes, and Cynthia again promising to inform everyone if she hears word from Cecily.
Getting home, Ilona stares at the apartment walls, and turns away rather quickly. So much gained this year, and now so much lost, and the walls just box her back into her old self too much. Entering into her chores in a lackluster way, Ilona gets dinner prepared and some homework done, all before the door loudly slams open.
Her parents have barely opened their mouths when Ilona ploughs into them with a hug.
“Okay, who left school now?” Her father whispers.
“No one left this time,” Ilona breathes into her mother with a sad face, “my boyfriend broke up with me.”
“BOYFRIEND?” Both of her parents exclaim in unison. “This is NOT something we discussed being okay Ilona, and you kept it secret from us? We are going to have a long talk about this young lady!” Her mother huffs out quickly, her brow creasing.
“I know Mumma and Poppa, but I didn’t tell you because I did not want to break Jackson’s little heart. So I know I will be punished but please understand-” Ilona babbles.
“Wait, wait, wait,” her mother interrupts, “Jackson was your boyfriend? Clara and Josh’s Jackson? The boy half you age?”
“Yes Mumma,” Ilona replies looking down.
Her mother reaches over and lifts Ilona’s chin, causing their eyes to make contact.
“Somedays,” her mother smiles, “you are incorrigible Ilona.” She pinches Ilona’s cheek. “And at dinner, you simply must tell us all the lovely details of your relationship with Jackson.”
“Even the part where I kissed him?” Ilona asks wide eyed.
“Kissed?” Her father says loudly, but quiets down quickly after a look from the mother.
Dinner rolls by, with the tale starting at the Grade Five Reading Partnership sign-up sheet all those months ago and ending with the lunch time waiting for the mini van today. Comments and questions are peppered at Ilona by her parents, some serious, some comical, and some absurd. “No Poppa, we had no plans to invite Robert Munsch to our wedding,” Ilona states with her hands on her hips.
By the end of the night, Ilona and her world feels a bit more settled. A good long talk with Mumma and Poppa always helps in this regard. While prepping for bed, the phone ringing causes her mother to shout, “Ilona, it’s for you.”
Ilona goes to the kitchen and picks up.
“Hello little sister!” Shouts Joy, “I heard from the magical online world that you are now single and carefree. Wanna talk about it?”
And now Ilona finally feels like the healing is almost complete.
Song For This Chapter: Someday by Jacksoul
New Story Arc Starts Next Week! The Final One!!
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.