Qualified Entry: Fiction Category
By: Sophia Estrada
The writer. The paper. The thoughts. All these elements were important in Jessie’s life. She was the writer, she loved her paper, and she had the thoughts. Jessie never really thought of herself as a writer, more as a normal girl. Quite frankly, she never even though of herself as a “normal girl.” She always escaped through her thoughts, during class, at home, even during important lessons. She was one of the “outcasts” at school. She had her own friends that liked her for who she was. But she never really liked herself. Others thought she was just a quiet nobody. Her home life was no different. After supper and homework, Jessie went to her sanctuary; her bedroom. There she would write what was on her mind, and what she didn’t want on her mind anymore. Jessie was a quiet girl, which her parents worried about.
Her father lived in Washington, while her mother, older brother, and herself lived in New York. Miles and miles away was were second sanctuary. Jessie rarely saw her father, but on those rare occasions, she saw herself. She loved her mother, Jane, and her brother, Parker. Parker was the jock at school that everyone loved, while Jessie was in the corner. She didn’t really have the closest family ever, but it was good enough for her. She loved how her mother was not controlling or overbearing. Normally, Jessie could get away with anything, even if she had nothing to try and get away with.
Weeks came and went, and nothing ever really changed for Jessie. School. Home. Bedroom. That was pretty much her schedule for the most part. Occasionally her options would change. “Do you want to go get something to eat tonight, I’m tired of home food,” her mother would state some days. Jessie’s normal response was just a plain, “whatever.” Jane could never get Jessie to ever open up to her, so she would just go along with it. On the other hand, her brother, Parker was completely different. “Were getting something to eat tonight,” he would state so firmly. Jessie was closer to her brother, so she would agree quickly, just to get out of the house.
The person she was closest to was her father, Ray. Ray was a handsome, broad man. He had green eyes, and brown hair that would sway in the wind and change colors in the sun, like a chameleon in the rainforest. Jessie got her looks and traits from her father. Ray was not the loudest person, but was not left out of things. He was a very smart man, and owned his own business. Jessie loved when she was able to go to work with Ray. The workers who knew her as a baby would always have the same opening statements.
“Wow, you have grown so much! You’re getting prettier and older every time I see you.” they would all say. “Thank you. I just hope I can keep it going for the rest of my life,” Jessie would respond jokingly. Jessie was more open and outgoing when she was away from home. Everyone loved her sense of humor and how much she would grow every time she stopped by. Ray never wanted his baby girl to leave him. They were both sad, only seeing each other every other month, for only a week.
Jessie would hug her father goodbye, and never want to let go. “Now you be good and take care of your mother, and pick on you brother for me,” her father would say, while holding back tears. “Ill try just for you dad,” she would reply, with tears streaming down her face.
Jessie would board the plane, find her seat and write her stories, and thoughts until she fell asleep.
Awaiting Jessie’s return were luggage carts, busy terminals, and other peoples family. Crying babies, clinking drinks, and sniffling of noses. Jessie was back in her lonely world again. She would have to await her carriage ride home; a taxi, with the smell of other people and the annoying taxi driver who always tries to make a conversation.
“So do you like traveling alone?”, questioned the cab driver.
“Not all of the time,” Jessie answered, a little uneasy.
Jessie’s next response, completely threw the driver off course. “Look guy, I don’t really talk to people I don’t know that well, so if you could just keep driving that would be great.”
Jessie was always irritated, and upset when she had to go back to her “normal life.” Her schedule would start all over again. No more jokes, no more happy moments, and especially no more being who she really was.
When Jessie finally arrived at her house, it would be as if a normal day just came and went. No signs or banners. No tears or hugs, just a regular “hey, how was it?” As if she never left. She would always come back in different clothes, with a different style. She would have a skirt, ballerina shoes, and a red, blue, and occasional pink shirt on. Her everyday norm was broken, but as soon as possible restored once back at home. Nobody really knew Jessie’s other side, not even her closest friend, Mia.
Mia was very different from Jessie. She was actually Jessie’s opposite. Mia acted as Jessie acted when she was with her father. Mia played sports, had many friends, and even had a boyfriend. Something Jessie dreamed of, but could never seem to find. Nobody really caught Jessie’s attention, except for one “perfect” boy. His name was Elijah.
Elijah had long black hair that was perfectly cut and that shined everyday when the sun hit it. He had brown eyes like coffee mixed with cream that were hypnotizing and deep. He had a great personality and a great sense of humor. Jessie loved to go to school, just to look forward to see Elijah. One day Jessie found the courage in herself to talk to him and try to make friends. Everyday she would try to talk to him more and more. Eventually they became good friends and could talk on a regular basis. Jessie was still shy around him, but could never show that she had feelings for him. She loved to talk to him, so she could stare into his eyes and drift off into her thoughts again. In her mind and heart she knew she never stood a chance. They were from completely different sides of the earth, or so she thought. Elijah was the second person she was herself with, and yet she had no idea. She felt she could talk to him all day, if only she had the time, but in reality the noisy bells and people would end her daydream.
But one day her dream took an unexpected path.
It was one of those regular, scheduled days. The sun was out as normal, the same people were boarding the bus, and the same bus driver, took the same course, to the same school. Jessie was used to it. It was her everyday life. She would leave later than her brother, and would have to take the bus, with the yelling, immature people, who threw paper planes, belched on occasion, and smelled of cheese and socks. While her brother drove his red truck, with his “babe.” Jessie never understood why any female being wanted to be considered a “babe.”
When Jessie finally ended up at school, her boring gray classroom awaited her joyful arrival. She couldn’t wait to see Elijah again. She wanted to talk to his eyes, and hear them talk back. They would get into trouble sometimes, but that would never stop them. They would talk for the whole class period, and end up having to finish their “classroom discussion” the next day.
It was five minutes until the bell rang. Jessie could here the ticking of the clock, as the next minutes of her happiness faded away. She wished she could stay in that class forever and never have to stop talking. Then, something very unexpected happened on that same, normal, grey day.
“Hey, Jessie.” Elijah said, one day after class. Jessie was surprised and a little confused by his sudden approach. “Oh…hey Elijah.” She responded. Her face turned a light red and she instantly gained a smile, but Elijah didn’t comment on it. She fiddled with her fingers and pushed back her hair. Elijah did the same.
“So I was wondering, if you were doing anything today?” He questioned.
“Oh, um…no I’m pretty much free.” She responded, as her face turned redder and redder ever second she stood there.
“Oh great!” He said excitedly, “I was wondering if you wanted to hang out later?”
“Ok. yea, just call me later,” she said, feeling butterflies in her stomach, and the urge to scream as loudly as she could.
After the exchange of numbers they both went to their next periods. The first person she ran to first was Mia. That day Mia happened to be sitting with her “cool” friends.
“Guess what?!!” Jessie yelled at the top of her lungs, unaware of the other people around her.
As soon as Jessie became aware of her surroundings, she turned into a tomato. She wanted to go and hide under a rock and never be seen again. And yet, when she really thought about it she didn’t care. After stealing the attention of Mia from her group she told her about everything that had happened. Jessie felt so overjoyed and alive when she told the story, and she couldn’t stop picturing Elijah in her mind, asking her that unexpected and yet so wonderful question. She wondered to herself if it was real or if she needed to be pinched.
The rest of the day Jessie was smiling and very kind to every one of her teachers, and to every person who had regularly irritated her and to who had been unkind to her over the years. Most of the people were very confused and a little uneasy at her change of personality. She volunteered more in her classes, and talked to so many more people.
She was finally living her dream; her fantasy.
On the bus ride home, Jessie sat in the front and had a whole conversation with the bus driver.
“It’s so beautiful today. You know, I have known you for a very long time, and never once said hello. I’m very sorry. Hello!” Jessie said to the bus driver. “Why hello young lady. Yes I guess you have known me for a while. And no need to apologize, nobody ever really notices me.” responded the driver. “Oh, that’s awful. I understand how you feel though.” Agreed Jessie.
And on and on their conversation went, until Jessie arrived at her house. She thanked the driver and skipped up her driveway to the door stop. She waved goodbye and looked at her keys, still smiling. When Jessie found the key, she looked up at the door, holding the key that anticipated to be turned in the keyhole. Instantly her new, joyful smile turned to a frown. Her eyes lost their gleam, her mind lost its dream, and the day lost its shine. She turned the key in the door, grabbed and turned the handled and walked into her scheduled life once again. She didn’t want to ruin the moment anymore than it already was, so she went straight to her room. From the top of the stairs she yelled to her mom, “I’m going out tonight.” Her mothers response was a plain, “Ok, see you later.” As if she were leaving at that moment. Jessie could have snuck out and no one would have seen, or cared.
Jessie walked to her room and threw herself on her bed. Grabbed a pillow and yelled as loud as she possibly could into it. After her awareness of what had happened she went to her closet and took every hanger off of the rack. She was so new and unaware of what to do. She had no one to go to for help. Her brother was of no help; being the male species, and her mother would overreact. She went through almost every piece of clothing she had. Jessie went through pants, skirts, different shirts, and a wide variety of colors. At four o’clock she got a phone call from Elijah. “Jessie?” Elijah asked. “Hey, Elijah what’s up?” Jessie responded trying to keep her cool, and not burst out in giggles. “I’ll be there around six, is that ok?” Elijah stated on the other side of the receiver. “Sure, six o’clock sounds good to me.” Jessie responded willingly. “Ok well see you there.” Elijah said. They both hung up, and Jessie went back to getting ready. Five o’clock came and Jessie’s stomach had more butterflies than she imagined any normal person having.
She quickly jumped into the shower and though of his eyes and especially him, and how they would be alone, instead of in a classroom with everyone all around. She got out of the shower at five fifteen and her stomach was ready to burst. She had finally found the perfect thing to wear, and had it set up on her bed. Jessie was completely ready at five forty-five. She was very excited and couldn’t wait to hear that door bell ring.
The clock soon reached six fifteen. Jessie thought either her clock was wrong or maybe Elijah was a little late. The clocked ticked away and reached six forty-five. Jessie’s butterflies started to fly away.
Seven o’clock. No sign of Elijah. Jessie started to take the necklace and make-up off that she had especially put on for that occasion. She knew it was too good to be true. “He could have at least called, or something” she thought to herself. “Or maybe he had something important to do, or his phone broke.” Jessie kept trying to make up excuses so she would not have to feel the pain and betrayal as much as she did at that very moment. She even thought to herself that she would wait just one more hour, just in case.
Eight o’clock came and went. ~~Elijah never showed.
The sun was out and the birds were singing, but Jessie was still in bed. She woke up with streams on her face that caressed it so painfully. She felt so betrayed, so hurt, and most of all so mad. She didn’t want to get out of bed, to board the bus to her school. It was a Thursday, which most people are excited and look forward to. Jessie, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Her face was darker than normal, and her eyes were covered with dark circles. She had spent the whole night crying and trying to keep quiet so know one could hear her. She cried into her pillow, and tried to get “him” off of her mind. Jessie was questioning to either go to school or pretend to be sick. She knew her mother would ask questions, and overreact even more. But she didn’t want to see “his” face.
After thinking for about half an hour Jessie finally decided she would go to school. She just thought to herself that she would not talk to him or pay attention. She was even thinking to ask to be moved, or other possible ways to get away.
As Jessie was waiting for the bus, she couldn’t stop wondering what had happened, and why he would do something like that. She though he was different. “So much for Mr. Perfect”, she said to herself, as a single tear hit the floor.
When then bus arrived, from what seemed like a wait that took forever, she quickly wiped away her tears and tried to look her best.
“Hello miss, ready for school?,” the bus driver said happily, as though it were a great day. Jessie gave the bus driver her pass, and just looked at him as if he were a stranger. She walked to the back of the bus and sat in the farthest and loneliest seat. Jessie had once again lost herself.
Finally, the bus had arrived at their school. As Jessie was getting off of the bus the driver gave her a friendly smile and said, “have a nice day.” Jessie looked at the driver, with sorrow in her eyes and heart. She stuck her hands in her pockets, looked towards the floor and walked off the bus with no words. For once she was dreading the sound of the bell to got to class. Jessie wanted to be as far away as she possibly could from her first class. But, as soon as she started walking away, the dreadful sound was heard. She walked as slowly as possible to her class. Jessie felt as if she were walking on death row. When she reached the door to the classroom, she felt nervous and scared, and yet she still had that feeling of excitement for Elijah. The halls were empty and there was no sound from anywhere. There was no wind, no movement, and no progression towards the door.
Jessie eventually summoned up the courage to try and reach for the door. Her hands turned sweaty and her body felt as if it were on fire. She felt like she was falling forever and could never catch herself. As she reached for the door, her hand started to shake, and her mind and heart was racing. The handle of the door felt so hot to Jessie. As she turned the handle she could hear the turning of the mechanism inside of the door. They sounded as if they were never used before, and been put on a microphone. Thoughts were racing in Jessie’s head; what she was going to say, what she was going to see, or if she could even get herself into the classroom.
Jessie took a deep breath, opened the door, and instantly saw nothing.
Elijah was not in his seat, or anywhere in the classroom. Jessie was dumbfounded and couldn’t seem to maneuver her body towards her seat. “Your late. Please take your seat, and stop taking up class time Ms. Jessie.” Her teacher sounded irritated, and demanding. “Oh, yes ma’m,” Jessie responded quietly. She found her way to her seat, through the quiet giggles of class mates. She was embarrassed, but more confused at why Elijah was not at school. Her thoughts started to race again.
Jessie’s first thought was that Elijah was too embarrassed to show his face. But as she thought about it, she realized that she was the one who was embarrassed. More and more thoughts came and went in Jessie’s mind. She was mad, hurt, sad, and at times, surprisingly happy. She could not get over the confusion, and emotions towards Elijah. She wanted to know why he wasn’t there.
The bell rang, and instantly Jessie came back to reality. She went through the whole day thinking about Elijah. She thought about Elijah during school, on her way home, at night, and when she woke up.
The next day when Jessie went to school, she had more courage to get into the classroom, and deal with Elijah. But he never showed. Jessie felt cheated once again. She didn’t see him in the halls, at lunch, or with any of his friends. She started to wonder more and more of what had happened, he never missed school. She even wondered if he had changed classes. But she thought, that that was too drastic, and not him. Jessie could not figure it out, and thought about it over and over again.
Days and days passed and still no sign of Elijah.
Vacation time finally came, and Jessie was getting ready to go with Ray. Two weeks with no sign of Elijah, was driving Jessie insane. At times she felt stupid, and annoyed of how much she was looking into it. “I’m going with dad, I just have to forget about here, and I’ll be ok.” She tried to convince herself. Her mind was so confused, she couldn’t remember what to pack, or where anything was. Jessie would pause at moments and start to think about Elijah again, and all of the thoughts would start to race around her head and jumble together. She would catch herself and shake her head in disappointment. Jessie could not understand why she was so caught up with this situation. She felt like a “loser.”
The terminal seemed different to Jessie. It was less crowded, and not as loud. There were no more families saying goodbye, no more holding back tears, no more crying babies, or clinking drinks. Jessie wondered if she had gone into the right terminal. She looked at the sign, 7b…that was the terminal she always used. Jessie just shrugged her shoulders and waited for her plane to start boarding. She took out her notebook and pen, and started to write about some of the things on her mind. She wrote and wrote until she became lost in the pages of her imagination. She wrote about what she had seen, heard, and felt in the terminals, and in the cab. But the most she wrote about was Elijah. Every story or idea Jessie would come up with, would end with a thought of Elijah.
“7b is now loading, 7b.” The intercom announced. The loud, unexpected sound of the intercom startled Jessie. She jumped and closed her notebook as if hiding deep secrets. All of the passengers of 7b started heading toward the entrance of the plane. Jessie loved to be the last one on, so she could observe the different traits and emotions that everyone had as they left their home. She loved to just sit and watch the people.
As Jessie headed toward the entrance, she felt as if her emotions were being left behind, and a heavy weight was lifted. She found her seat and waited for the plane to take off. Thoughts were in Jessie’s head again, and she felt the urge to write them down. She opened her bag, to find her notebook was not there. Jessie started to ruffle through her bag, looking through every pocket she had. She couldn’t find her notebook. She started to look under her seat and in the isles. “Please sit miss, the plane will be taking off shortly,” one of the flight attendants said. “Ok, but have you seen a notebook anywhere?” Asked Jessie. “No, but I need you to sit,” the flight attendant sounded more demanding, and annoyed. “I need to find my notebook.” Jessie said forcefully. “I understand, but you need to sit now. Its not my problem,” the flight attendant said with a twitch of her head. Jessie gave the attendant a glare, and took her seat with no luck of finding her notebook.
A few minutes after the plane had taken off, Jessie felt a tap on her shoulder. She quickly looked to her side, to see who it was. The person who had tapped her looked so familiar, as she looked from his shoes up.
He wore black and white converse that looked newly bought, long blue jeans that slightly covered his shoes, a black shirt with a bird whose wings were spread across his chest, and a gold necklace. Jessie finally got to his face. He had long black hair, and hypnotizing brown eyes.
Jessie started to breath deeper and faster, and her body felt like jelly. Was she really seeing who she thought she saw?
Her voice sounded shaky and on the verge of crying. “Elijah?” Her face looked so innocent and hopeful, as she looked up at this Elijah. In her heart she hoped so badly he would say yes, and end her nightmare of never seeing him again. The boy who stood there, looked confused and surprised. He looked around the plane to see if it was him that Jessie was talking to. “Uh, no, but I heard that you were missing a notebook.” He said with an honest voice. Jessie let out her breath she was holding, and looked toward the floor. She was embarrassed. She started to message her forehead from side to side, and closed her eyes. “Oh, yea. Did you find one?” She asked “Yes, is this yours?” The boy showed her a notebook, with an offering hand. “Yes. It is,” she took the notebook from his hand, and flipped through the pages. “Thank you,” Jessie said with no emotion. “You know your stories are very beautiful, but they tell sad stories,” the boy stated. “What? You read them?” Jessie was surprised and a little embarrassed. “Yeah, their really good,” the boy sounded eager to keep a conversation with Jessie. “Thanks.” She said.
“I’m Derrick” He said as he offered his hand to Jessie, before she could ask anymore questions.
“I’m Jessie” She said as she accepted his hand shake.
Jessie and Derrick talked the whole way to Washington. They both found out many things about each other, and were sad when they had to depart. Jessie got off in Washington, and Derrick stayed on. They were both sad, but said goodbye. Jessie’s father was waiting for her at the same spot he always did. She ran over to Ray and gave him the warmest and longest hug she had ever given. She felt safe and at peace
When Jessie went to work with Ray, the coworkers all started with the same comments. “Wow, you have grown so much! You’re getting prettier and older every time I see you.” Jessie just smiled and gave a little laugh. Ray and the coworkers looked confused. “Maybe she just feels a little under the weather,” Ray said. They all just shrugged and went back to work.
When they got back home, Jessie didn’t eat much, or talk as much as she used to. Ray started to worry. “Are you alright sweetheart?” Ray asked concerned. “Hmm, oh yea, I’m fine.” Jessie seemed so distracted and not there. “I’m just going to go to bed.” Jesse stated as she ran up the stairs to her room.
For the next few days that she was with Ray, she acted the same. And when she was going to board the plane, she shed not one single tear. Ray was hurt and could not hold back his own tears. Jessie was on the plane already headed for home when Ray let it out.
The plane arrived in New York, at the regular time, but something was different. Jessie’s friends were waiting for her in the terminal. “What are you guys doing here?”, Jessie asked. They all just hugged her, and took her bags. It’s not my birthday? She thought. Jessie’s friends escorted her to her house, and hugged her goodbye. She hadn’t received so many hugs before, since she was a baby.
The same greeting was awaiting Jessie as she walked into her house.
It was time for school again and Jessie was waiting to go to her first class. As she arrived at school, she was still getting hugs from all of her friends; when she got to school, in class, and frankly, every time they saw her. When Jessie went to her first class, there was still no Elijah. She was so confused, and lost. Where was Elijah? Why was everyone hugging her? And why was nobody talking to her? Even her first teacher was different. She was more calm and nice.
At lunch everyone looked at Jessie in a weird way. They would all look at her for a second, then looked at the floor. Even her friend Mia, said nothing and looked away.
Jessie started to ask question, and try to get information.
“I’m so sorry,” they all said. Jessie’s head tilted to one side, her eyebrows slanted in and her forehead grew wrinkles.”
She had no idea of what was going on.