Summery: X-tra credit for my English class. Decided it was all right. No beta, so don't kill me.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything about To Kill A Mockinbird, Harper Lee, Scout, Jem, Atticus, or anything at all. Again, blame someone else, specifically my English teacher
The next morning was a peculiar one. Dr. Reynolds came first thing in the morning, asking how I was, then immediately went in to see Jem. Calpurnia attempted to get me to stay in the kitchen by saying that she would let me help, as though it had nothing to do with the steady stream of people entering and exiting the living room all morning. Aunt Alexandria spent most of the morning entertaining truth-seekers, who would just then go out and tell false stories of a drunken man falling on his knife while attempting to kill two unsuspecting kids. And though I was permitted to help in the creation of the small snacks that women for some reason love to eat, I was somehow kept in the kitchen throughout the morning.
The one thing that wasn't enough to keep me in the kitchen, however, was a holler from the other room that I know all too well.
And I flew from the kitchen, through the living room, where powdered women were blathering about the "horrible occurrence", and into Jem's room, where I found him sitting up with an appearance of pure and utter shock at the situation he was in, bandaged up and such. He was on a second "what the" when the memory of the previous night hit him like a block of wood. Suddenly, to my amazement, he called out the last word I thought he would ever say.
At my name I ran to his side, and started to tell him everything that happened; I told him about Bob Ewell and him breaking his arm, and how Bob Ewell fell on his knife, but he really was killed by…
"It's Arthur, dear."
"Boo Radley was in our house, right there by your bed! He touched your forehead! And he isn't mean at all. He saved your life, Jem! He saved our lives!"
Jem looked at me for a minute, probably considering going back to sleep and refusing to wake up until the world was set back on it's hinges, until what I said hit him.
"B-b-boo R-r-r-radley?" he stuttered. "He…?"
"Children, I believe that this is the end of this conversation" Atticus butted in just before sending me out the door to get Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra. And never before in my life was I so happy that Jem was alive than when I bounced out of the room to collect the adults.
It's sad I thought as I rested on the porch after doing my homework. Everything seemed to be back to normal. Fruit Baskets and donations were sent to the Ewell hovel. A funeral was held for the man, though it was only attended by his numerous offspring, and it was rumored that only some of them showed. Eventually, as the days passed by, as weeks passed by, and eventually, as months passed by, the Ewells went back to their residence and Bob Ewell was completely forgotten.
And of course there was the rumors and the conversations at school about being attacked, and how "we had it comin' the way Atticus acts". A few days after the attack Jem returned to school as well, and because he was no longer any use to the football team, he would traipse home every afternoon before the sun would go down, because he would never walk around in the dark at all.
Life went on. At least, for most people it did. But it didn't for Jem. It was horrible.
At night his screams echoed through the house and reverberated through the door into my room. He had nightmares that had him up and screaming every night. Either Atticus or Aunt Alexandria would rush in every time and silence him with hushed whispers of reassurances that no one would ever try to hurt him again. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and go to fetch some water when I would hear Jem's soft whimper escaping from under Aunt Alexandria's gentle humming, and I knew that I had slept through another one of his nightmares. In the morning Atticus would wake up and leave with sleepy eyes, and Aunt Alexandria wouldn't get out of her room until after we left for school. Every morning Jem's eyes were rimmed red and his cheeks were raw and pink, and I knew that he had been crying. Calpurnia would make his favorite food, but he just wouldn't eat. One day I asked Atticus about his odd behavior.
"Atticus, why is Jem acting so strange?" I questioned one evening after Jem went to bed early, as usual.
"Well, he's upset, Scout. He's scared."
"What's he scared of? Bob Ewell's gone. He can't hurt him no more."
"He knows that, but he is still afraid. It's like ghosts. They aren't real, but you are still afraid of walking into a haunted house."
I could tell that he was tired, so I left him alone and dressed for bed. That night when I heard Jem scream I thought about ghosts, and I understood why he screamed.
And as I look down the street toward the schoolyard I see Jem walking up the sidewalk, arm in cast, all of his books piled up on the other. That's another thing. He never walked on the Radley side of the street. If we were walking to school together, he wouldn't let us cross the road until we passed the great big oak. Even I knew why he did that. That was where his demons came from. That's where he was suddenly shown how fragile life is.
As he walked up the street, he seemed even more preoccupied that usual. Today, it seemed that his head was more in the clouds than ever before; that his demons were chasing him more now than at night when he screamed and cried like a small child. His eyes never left the Radley place until he was standing directly outside our front gate. He turned towards the house, and I waved ecstatically at him, hoping to get him out of the slump he must have been in the whole day. But I guess he didn't see me. He didn't wave back, or even nod like I had been accustomed to him doing after this whole ordeal started. He opened the gate and set his tower of books down on the ground as to keep it open, then turned around. As I watched intently, he walked across the street, like we did every other day before Halloween night, but didn't stop at the sidewalk. He walked all the way up to the Radley gate, and turned to the left, just watching the oak try sway side to side in the uncommonly heavy winds we were having that winter. After a few seconds of him watching the shadows dance under the tree, he opened the Radley gate and, slowly but surely, walked up the path, up the porch stairs, and to the front door. Memories of him, Dill, and I daring each other to touch the house, reenacting scenes of the Radley story, and eventually trying to contact Boo flooded back to me as I stood on our porch watching him on theirs. He stood there for what must have been a minute, just watching and waiting, staring blankly at the door in front of him.
And slowly, he picked up his good arm and knocked.
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