School assignment that my friend and I had to do...Enjoy! ~May
Jem's arm healed eventually, but the rest of him never did. For years, neither of us spoke a word about the trial; it wasn't until last Christmas that the subject ever surfaced. Dill was helping our daughter, Maudie open her Christmas presents when Jem stumbled in the door, hours late as usual.
"Uncle Jeremy!" Maudie exclaimed, jumping up and engulfing him in a hug. He caught Maudie, hesitantly patted her back and put her down. "Come see what mom and dad gave me for Christmas!"
"I'm sorry sport, but I need to talk to your mother." Jem ruffled her hair and gestured me to follow him into the kitchen.
"But Atticus would've wanted to see my presents first." Maudie crossed her arms and pouted as Jem froze.
"Maudie, go play with your new toys." I said quickly, gently pushing her towards Dill, who had appeared only a few seconds before. He shot me a knowing look as he took Maudie by the hand and led her into our living room. "Come on, Jeremy, let's go talk." He snapped out of his trance and walked ahead of me into the kitchen. I led him over to the table and he collapsed in a chair.
"Jeremy, it feels like I haven't seen you in years? How have you been?"
He pondered my question for a moment. "I'm...okay, I guess...". He seemed more distant then he was the last time I saw him. I guess a lot has changed since then, all the traces of his youth had disappeared from his face and the dark circles around his eyes were more prominent. It had also seemed like he had lost weight.
"Jem, when was the last time you slept..." I paused, pondering. "and ate?"
"I don't know, a while?"
We lapsed into a long moment of silence as we heard the sound of Maudie's laughter echoed throughout the house.
"You know, she reminds me of us. Back when we didn't know how the real world worked; before we were exposed to its horrors. She reminds me of us before the trial, back when we had Atticus." Jem chocked up and I could see tears welling in his eyes, I quickly crossed the wooden floorboards from my perch on the counter to the table and hugged him.
"You're not the only one who misses him you know, we all do..." I trailed off, sighing softly. "Not a day goes by when I wish that I could have been by his side when he died."
Jem suddenly broke away from me, and looked at me with resentment. "You do not know how it feels Jean Louise, to watch the person you admired pursue a cause, amount to nothing, and simply die." He rose from his chair as he approached me, speaking with malice in his tone. "You do not know what it feels like to have that special person die in your arms and think 'That should have been me, I should have been there' the whole time they were struggling between life and death.
"And you definitely do not know the pain of having to pursue that very cause, day after day and know that you could die the same way for standing up for others." Jem finished, panting, red-faced and angry. I can honestly say that I hated him in that moment, and that drove me to do what I did to him afterwards.
I slapped him.
I think we can agree that we were both left shocked because of my actions. For me, personally I just didn't know I had it in me anymore, the childish anger. For Jem, I thought it mean something a lot more.
I think it was more of a wake up call for Jem, a way of breaking through his protective cocoon. It made him realize that he was not alone.
"Thanks for that, Scout, I needed it." Jem spoke with a slight smile on his face. "Maudie! I'm ready to see your new toys now!"
I can't say that Jem's depression went away after that Christmas, but he had finally found the strength to stand on his own two feet.
Who knew all it took was a slap on the face.
What did you guys think?