Jim Thorpe’s Interrogation - Chapter 2
"Why is he here at our table?" I ask indignantly, gesturing in the direction of my usual lunch table where a familiar face sits next to where he knew I'd be sitting.
Astryd rolls her eyes, "I walked in and he was here, there wasn't much I could do."
"You could tell him to leave!" I urged in a hushed shout as I hear a fake cough from nearby. As I turn to look, he's giving me his usual cocky grin.
Damien brushes a hand through his soft and tousled brown- almost black- locks. He stares dead into my soul with his amber eyes and I take notice of the flecks of green in them that I used to love so much. Damien and I had been in a relationship for seven committed months and things only ended when he found out I was going to therapy to talk about the grief of losing my parents. And of course the grief of losing my memories.
I'd been going to therapy for free- paid for by the state- for almost as long as I can remember, something that Damien was ashamed of. I still find solace in my sessions and all of my real friends understand that it's nothing unusual.
But Damien didn't understand that and the sight of him disgusted me.
"So, do you plan on talking about me or coming over and telling me to leave yourself?" Damien asks smugly and I suppress something that feels like a growl.
"Leave." I tell him, my fists balled and shaking.
"Talk to me." He reasons, "I came here for you."
"Leave," I repeat, "Please."
"I've changed," He begs, "I get it now. I understand."
Astryd looks to me and I look to her and then to Ethan who's approaching the table. I'm hoping something, anything, will happen and help me to avoid this situation.
Just as Griffin saunters over and wraps an arm around my waist.
"Everything alright?" Griffin asks, his voice low and husky.
Damien raises an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware you were seeing someone, Parker."
I take a gulp and I tell him confidently, "Yes I am, and you're sitting in his seat actually."
With that Damien got up rather quickly, scurrying away which fills me with relief. I look to Griffin who removes his arm from my waist. He smiles shyly at me and I return it.
"Thank you so much." I tell him and he nods.
"Of course, it's the least I could do." Griffin holds out a hand, I'm assuming for me to shake, "Friends?"
I take the hand and dramatically shake it. "Friends," I confirm.
He smiles again as I take my seat and he sits down beside me. Only half of the table is occupied all with people who I associate with, some of whom I consider friends. There was Leah who was something of an artist who preferred to break rules rather than pencil points. Then we had Arty who was a bit of a stiff kind of guy who hung out with us purely so he wouldn't have to alone. I don't actually know much about Arty, his favorite conversation to have with us is the "stop talking about that it's grossing me out" which always ends in him pouting. And finally of course there was me, Astryd, and Ethan.
All of us were a little odd and strange, all except Astryd. I'm pretty sure she was the exception.
And now we had Griffin, the new kid who everyone seemed to do a drive-by stare during that lunch period. Half of these obligatory stares included giggling and hushed whispers.
"So," I pop a baby carrot in my mouth, giving Griffin an amused stare, "How'd you end up in our little town of Thorpe?"
He gives a quizzical look before responding, sarcastically, "I'd hoped I'd lose myself in the mountains here. And isn't the towns name Jim Thorpe?"
"None of the locals say Jim Thorpe. Thorpe sounds prettier." I chuckle and he nods.
"It does," He agrees and gives me a little smile. In the background my friends voices fade away as I look at Griffin, trying to analyze him. I'd done that since I was younger, I'd stare at someone until the world fell away and I could see clear into their soul. It was like a gift of mine that I could get such a powerful feel off of people.
Griffin seemed like the extroverted type, so I suppose I was confused that he was clinging around me and my friends in his first days here. But something in the deep of his eyes also told a different tale, clung to himself in a new environment?
The way he wrung his hands together when we spoke made it extremely clear how nervous he was around anyone he didn't know, social interaction maybe wasn't his forte. Perhaps I'd misjudged? I squint and take him in, his essence, and then continue bombarding him.
"Where are you from?" I ask and he raises an eyebrow. It was such a simple question, really. Not a trick question and certainly not meant to confuse him so I'm not sure why he stammered with his answer.
"New Jersey." He blurts out and his face grows red. Was it really that difficult to answer?
"What part?" I ask and he stands up quickly.
Nervously he explains, "I need to use the restroom."
And I don't recall seeing him the rest of that day. Of course, I'd looked around everywhere and hoped I'd see him but sometimes asking too many questions can scare a man away. I choked it up to that, he didn't seem like the open book type anyways.
After he ran off, I looked at my friends with a quizzical expression and ask, "So, anyone up for a D&D discussion? Don't forget we have a session this Friday! Ethan's house, am I right to assume Pops is making his famous taco dip?"
Ethan nods with a smile. "Brave warriors can't adventure on empty stomachs!"
"Funny, coming from the person whose character died from starvation." Astryd laughs. She'd been the one to give Arty the idea to kill Ethan's character, it was a whole big thing. Those two began to somewhat playfully, somewhat seriously argue.
My friends and I had just recently started a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign and I was pretty excited about my new character. Her name was Faunalynn, an elf paladin, and she was everything I wanted to be. I'd given her all my dream characteristics and due to some loopholes found by the DM, Arty, she was incredibly wise.
So I made it through the rest of my day without paying much attention to any of my schoolwork, more so paying attention to replaying the details of my conversations with Griffin over and over in my head. Something about him isn't adding up or making any sense. I got lost in my head, tapping my pencil against my desk in each class as a nervous tick.
As the final bell rang out loud and clear, cutting through my thoughts, I was shocked to discover a board full of notes I hadn't taken and two busy work assignments sitting before me that I hadn't completed.
I'd always told myself I wouldn't let a boy get between me and my goals in life. I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse at the very least. I enjoyed helping people a lot. For a while I considered being a social worker albeit such a job would've hit close to home given my situation.
I walked home alone, Ethan had an afterschool art program to attend to. He'd begged me to join but I can barely draw a stick figure.
The autumn leaves crunched beneath my beat up sneakers. I felt every rock and branch beneath the worn down sole of my shoes as I trudged through the forest to home. There was a chill starting to fall in the air and winter most certainly was coming.
At that moment all I had in my brain was Griffin. His name, his eyes, his body, his smile... Everything about him intrigued me. I can't say I was interested in him but I was definitely curious. As I've mentioned before, I'm good at reading people and he was like a confusing book transcribed into too many languages and a million different fonts.
I arrive home at promptly four and help Ms. Jane set the table for dinner, despite the fact that we don't eat until five. Why so early? Mr. Jane works night shifts and likes to eat with his family before leaving. I was thankful that I had a day off for the first time in what felt like weeks, when really I always got at least one day off a week. Tonight we'd be having spaghetti and meatballs, a staple in our household. The Jane's weren't exactly wealthy, even with the money they received for fostering me. They still had bills to pay and Lily to take care of.
Lily is my adoptive younger sister and at age ten- and a half- she tends to absorb a good amount of their funds. They adopted Lily when she was six and I was nine. I thought it unfair at the time since Lily was officially their child but this was also around the time that the Janes still were actively looking for a family for me. These days it was as though I was their child, no sense in anyone adopting me and dealing with the three- soon to be two when I turned sixteen in November- years of my childhood they have left.
I think if anyone were to adopt me that the Jane's would be devastated. I assume I'll age out of foster care and then live under the Jane's roof and pay rent, put myself through med school, and then live an average life. My dream was to be a surgeon.
Never have I ever had high hopes for myself. Something about my living situation made me feel as though I shouldn't, and maybe even couldn't, have high expectations for the life I'd live.
At exactly five we sat down at the table and went around talking about our days. I was still distracted. How could I get Griffin out of my head? Lily chatters excitedly about her day while I stir around my mashed potatoes. I loved mashed potatoes but after having them almost every night since potatoes were inexpensive, I started to crave more. Instant grits for breakfast and mashed potatoes with dinner. And then Ms. Jane brought out the full course, spaghetti and meatballs. An odd thing to serve with mashed potatoes.
I suppressed a sigh, choked down my dinner, and then sat at the table waiting to be excused. I stare at Lily without meaning to, wondering again why they adopted her but only chose to foster me. With her perfect porcelain skin and raven locks, she was a cutie. And she was only eight, they had plenty of years with her.
My childhood was technically over in three years.
Ms. Jane gives me a smile as she takes her seat across the way. We were an interesting family to gawk at, Ms. Jane was a mousy woman with ashen brown locks and bright green eyes. Mr. Jane was Haitian and broad shouldered, perfect for when Ms. Jane had been standing all day and needed someone to carry her. Lily was adopted from somewhere in China when she was only three and I was of Polish descent, I'm sure. Fair skin, light blue eyes, and blonde- almost white- hair.
I return the smile awkwardly. My thoughts were out of control.
"If you're done, you're excused, Parker." Ms. Jane tells me and I nod. I clear my plate, retreat to my bedroom, and flop down on my bed. I had the pleasure of having my own room for now.
Staring at the baby pink walls that once brought me comfort from nightmares I fell asleep soundly at just five after six.