I swear there's Jerry and Kim in here. Just squint really hard and you'll find it. Thank you for sticking with me, and this dedicates to all the reviews I received on my previous story "Out on The Town".
In-between conversations couldn't make up to what Kim had for Jack. Milton's thoughts on Jerry and Kim.
Milton grows up around books being shoved onto his chest. Mother is strict - she won't say clearly, but her order is obvious. 'Read this,' Mother doesn't sugarcoat her words - which, in some expect, Milton admires just slightly - and shushes him away. So he went around and sit on that little chair Grandfather bought when he was three and read the book till the last dot, the The End.
It is calming to say the least, reading books. He never really do anything in the house. Mother is a Professor with degrees she framed against the wall of their house and her office. Father travels a lot - he studies the Earth and the stars and ventures himself in history when no one's looking. It's either Milton will be answering quizzes that will test his intelligence, or read. Milton prefers the latter. (The quiz is fun, but Mother will get very frustrated if he loses, and he never likes that. No, not at all.)
The books he read are of many types. He enjoys non-fictions because they're facts and he likes to know them and he likes that very much; knowing something. Mother appreciates this. But among non-fictions, Milton does read through various of fictions for his entertainment. This also entertain him very much - mainly because when he reads fiction, it's as if he's living them. For that one particular moment, he's not in the house with Mom shuffling paperworks on the other side of the room - he's outdoor and he's adventurous and he's not weak nor is he just 'that nerd that always say the weirdest stuff in class. Ewww'.
Milton studies them.
This fiction books, how it works. The story is always the same, the plot nearly resembles one another: the hero would get the girl. They'd kiss passionately and flees of to the sunset and spend the rest of their lives in happily ever after. And yeah, it excites Milton - but eventually, it gets a tad boring.
But it's how it's written, Milton guesses. He doesn't have the power to change what has happened, and so he sits back against that chair and closes the book. The End. Milton will wait for Mother to appear and informs her he's done with the book.
When Milton joins the dojo (Mom doesn't like that he spends lots of times outside now: 'What about your studies?! Your college plan?!'), it's probably one of the first time he gain friends. Friends are hard to come by, Milton thinks. Nobody really like that lanky, awkward, red-headed, freckled smart guy as your friend. He'd probably won't pass as a 'guy', for God's sake. It isn't the first time someone questions what gender Milton is.
But to make it clear, Milton is affirmative he's a male.
Anyway, back to the point: when Milton joins the dojo and manages to have some friends, he sometimes put the parallel story-plot into his own life. He recognizes the character. It's not that hard to unfold the whole story down: Jack will be the hero. He fits all the characteristic: his complexion is outstanding, his moral values stand - honestly, what more can you ask out of him? And Kim - she'll be the girl. The girl that Jack will have.
Sure, she's not all damsel in distress, but not all the girls character are like that. She'll be slightly different, but that's about it. The love story will run just the same. And Milton counts, by the sidelines, to the days when KimandJack becomes KimandJack.
But then, he sees something. He notices Jerry and his ways with Kim. Over the times they trained, Jerry has just as much as the characteristics to match with Jack - except, in Milton's opinion, Jerry's more real. Genuine, in fact. Not that Jack isn't all that, no. It's just that - Jerry slacks and lazes around and has obvious weaknesses. And Jack, Jack doesn't seem to have that.
Jerry's more human, Milton guesses.
He's an idiot because he doesn't get stuff sometimes, but he's also smart because when it comes to his family and friends, he'd be the first to defend them. He speaks what he thinks, even if it means risking someone thinking badly of him. He's fearless but also reckless and scared. If this were a book and Milton is a reader, he'd find himself more in common to Jerry than Jack.
But this is a secret Milton will keep, kept at the back of his sweater's pocket, for no one to take a glimpse at.
He'll notices the little crook on Jerry's smiles when Kim is sharing a joke. He'll notices how they work together - they spar and went over magazines together (it shouldn't be a surprise Jerry's into mags.) - and slowly notes down on how Jerry will tell you about Kim's favorite color. Sometimes Kim will drag Jerry over to shop together (which is weird, but Jerry's really proud over that one shirt Kim chooses and so Milton doesn't comment) and how Kim knows about Jerry's every siblings. (Jerry's got, like, eight siblings - or maybe it's eleven?)
And Milton will pretend he's blind to when Jerry slowly massages Kim's knotted shoulder - his fingers will be soft but his pressure will be firm and she will always look just a little less tired after he's done - or when Kim slowly rubs his thumb against his arm when he's conflicted - and Jerry will lift his chin up and their eyes will meet and she'll smile and Milton swears he sees something more to them.
But Kim's affection towards Jack is much bigger - bigger than Milton could print out in paper, bigger than Jerry could ever dominate a stage and bigger than Rudy can really envision.
So when they're about to go their separate ways after graduation - Rudy planned a camp-out - and Milton sees Jerry by the campfire with a guitar tucked under his arms and a grin carves across his lips, his eyes settle on Kim across from him. They're laughing. Milton clicks his tongue - the bittersweet of it all stings him. Jack, Jerry and Kim are all seniors that year - Milton still had one more year to go at high school, Eddie got two. Jack's going to San Francisco, Jerry's going to work for his Uncle at Ireland and Kim's heading to New York.
'Oh man,' Kim's laughter lessens, but her smile lingers. Jerry strums a note. 'I'm really going to miss that.'
'Yeah, me too.' There's a familiar long of pain beating across Jerry's eyes, but he hides it when he meets with Kim's eyes once again. 'Hey, so I've been meaning to show you something.'
Kim takes a sip of her drink, 'Oh yeah? What?'
'Remember when you force me to watch that movie - what was it again? Dear Tatum or something.'
'Tatum?' Kim looks confused, then barks out laughing. 'Dear John! Oh don't pretend you don't know the name of that movie - you cried towards the end!'
'Hey, it was a very good, convincing movie, alright?' Jerry looks offended, but he's also joking. So when Kim continues on laughing, he begins to strum more on his guitar, a small smile on his face still. 'Yeah, yeah - so remember the song you totally fell in love with?'
There's something glinting in her eyes, 'Yeah?'
'Listen to this,' Jerry grins, then strums the guitar more solidly, a firm melody fills the air around them. Kim's smile widens, the shadows under her cheeks seem brighter. 'Been up all night, staring at you wondering what's on your mind - I've been this way with so many before but this feels like the first time...'
Kim whispers an 'Oh my God', but doesn't stop him.
Jerry's grin grows.
The fire continues to emit.
'I want to make you laugh, mess up my bed with me, kick off the covers - I'm waiting. Every word you say I think I should write down, I don't want to forget - Come daylight...' There's a tear welling up in Kim's eyes - it's not much, but it's there. She's still smiling though. Milton guesses she likes the song very much. 'Happy to lay here, just happy to be here - I'm happy to know you. Play me a song, your newest one. Please leave your taste on my tongue...'
The days could go on forever, but Jerry would continue on singing and Kim won't probably get tired of just staring at him.
And Milton is ready - he's ready to re-write this story. That maybe, maybe the hero isn't the one with all the characteristics. It may lie in the body of a reckless kid that loves to dance and would go watch a movie until he cries and sings a song that the girl desires. It may not be Jack after all. He'd have to change something, the whole thing perhaps, reform the equations, seek a different answer - but he'll have the The End that he wants.
Maybe he's being selfish.
Jerry looks tired, and devoted. 'Kim's got her heart set on Jack dude,' he says when Milton asks. 'I'm not messing that up.'
Milton tries not comment on how Jerry looks a little worn-out, but his determination is rough and barely scratch. His friendship with Jack is stronger than how he feels, and Milton - Milton respects that out of Jerry. And Milton also doesn't ask about how Jerry wishes he could stay, enroll in the community college - but he had to go. His Uncle awaits him in Ireland, and that's where he'll be.
Milton wonders what Kim's thought of that.
So, Milton doesn't re-write the story. He sits on the little chair Grandfather bought and watches as it all unfolds. But he does write that one line Jerry says, that one line that keeps repeating itself like a chant.
'It's never been me,' Jerry has these set of eyes that's too intense, it could sears something through you. 'With Kim, it will never be me.'
Milton closes the book and waits for Mother to appear.
He tells her he wishes to be a writer (but doesn't include that he desires to publish stupid, romantic fictional books Mother despises - just so he could write whatever he could, because he could tamper with his own plot, not Life's) and Mother, she seems pretty satisfied.