“Jilly. Are you there?”
“Hi, Jade! Hold on. Leo, I’m not going to tell you again- get out! Go!”
“But I want to see Jade too!”
“Go hang out with your own friends!” The screen was still black but in the background I heard the muffled sound of feet and then the slam of a door. After a moment, “I’m sorry, Jade. Just waiting for my screen to load. HEY!”
“Come on, that’s not fair Jade! You’ve seen my face for the past 9 months in pictures, and I can’t take the suspense for another minute!”
“Okay okay! Tada!”
Jilly literally gasped.
“Oh, my, gawd! That’s just so……. it’s almost like I’m looking at a picture of your mom! But that’s a good thing,” Jilly quickly added.
“Wow. Really?” Leaning over to the mirror on my desk, I took the first long look at myself. I couldn’t really see what she was seeing. Was it the eyes? No, mom’s eyes were wider than mine, like large almonds. The face shape was the same I thought, but it took more than that to look like someone else.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure I see it. But I will take your word for it. I guess I need time to get used to my new face.”
“Oh you do trust me. You are so gorgeous all the boys will be chasing after you!” Then she frowned “But I just remembered, there aren’t any boys where you live.”
“Yeah well, that’s me. Jade the island prisoner.”
Jilly laughed. “You got to admit, there are worse places to be stuck. Seriously! How can it be you’re only an hour away from me by boat and yet you get no snow! Doesn’t really seem fair!”
“Oh that’s easy. It all has to do with elevations and the currents of the water. Then you add in those mountains-”
“All right smarty! Now you’re just showing off and demonstrating how much better homeschooling probably is. I haven’t been taught any of that…. well, maybe it was taught and I was distracted, though.”
“Yeah well, if you knew Mama Sun and her fear of weather since the hurricane destroyed our last home, you could see why it’s a big priority of hers that I know all about weather patterns.”
“I can understand that, after what you’ve all been through. I’ve been really focused on anatomy and physiology – it’s an honors course. I want to be a doctor so bad, Jade. Sometimes it’s hard, though, to focus on what I’m supposed to when I have to keep track of what Leo’s doing, too. Honestly, he’s so juvenile, drawing guitars all the time instead of working on what he’s been assigned. If I don’t keep on top of him, well, I’m afraid he just won’t even graduate when the time comes! He wants to be a rock star, can you believe that? Like I said, absolutely juvenile.”
I laughed because I just couldn’t help it. “Rock star could be cool I guess. Just imagine all the really great places he would get to go and all the things he would see! That would just be like a dream come true. Plus think about it. If he actually became a rock star, you could go with him! And, if he did became a rock star it wouldn’t matter if he graduated because nothing at school would prepare him for that kind of career. The real question here is….can he even sing or play the guitar? Or drums?”
“Oh yes, he can sing very well…for a child. He plays the guitar and piano but no drums. He writes songs too. I think they’re pretty good but I don’t see how he plans to make it happen.” Just then I heard Leo yelling from the hallway.
“I can play something for her if she wants!”
Jilly made a face at me then turned to yell, “Leo! Go! Away!” She turned back to me, “Brothers! Be thankful you don’t have any!”
I really didn’t know what to say to that. it was easy to feel that way I guess, when you had then, but when you had wanted a sibling all your life….I decided it was easiest just to shrug my shoulders at her. “I wouldn’t mind hearing a little sometime.”
Jilly’s nose scrunched up. “Really? Okay then, but I’ll warn you now, he never stops at one.”
“So, now that I am a teen, tell me all about what high school is like!”
Nine months ago, when Jilly transitioned to teen and started her first day of high school, she came home and suggested we make a rule; “No teenage talk until you have transitioned too.” In a return letter I agreed and together we had kept our word for the last nine months. It did mean however, that she talked mostly of her family and all the things going on with them. I loved it, to be honest, and it served to help dampen my longing for siblings that I had been carrying around for some time. The memory of asking for a sister stuck in the back of my mind still today, as well as the fight that it caused between Sun and Jin. In this regard I had kept my word, never bringing up the subject again. Yet the longing never went away and hearing Jilly talk about Leo, almost made me feel like I had a brother too, in a way. It was less lonely and gave me a bigger connection to the outside world. Jilly did have two sisters as well, but it seemed to me in her letters and messaging, that she didn’t have as much time to spend with them; her brother keeping her busy enough with all his shenanigans.
I asked her once, why she felt so compelled to look out for Leo as she had always done. Taking the blame for his pranks, making sure he sat to do his school work and just generally acting like a mom. She had written back, saying “I’ll tell you something that no one knows Jade. Sometimes in school, I get made fun of because of my grades. Some of the kids call me names like brown noser and teacher’s pet. Leo’s the popular one and he defends me and makes sure if he’s invited to something, that I get invited too. Sometimes I wish I was as popular as Leo, and he tells me that he wishes he was as smart as me. We’re twins and it’s like we can read each other’s minds and even finish sentences for each other. I know I act all annoyed by him and everything, but really, the truth is, I don’t think we could live without each other.”
Jilly had one on and on about her school, so much so that my head was spinning with all the intricacies of it all.
“Wow! High school sounds like so much fun! I wish I could go.” Just then, a knock sounded at my door and Jin stuck his head in my room.
“Jade supper is ready.”
“Okay. I will be there in a minute.”
“Hi Jilly,” Jin yelled across the room with a wave of his hand. “Nice to see you again.”
“Hi! Its nice to see you, too. Thanks for getting Skype for Jade” she yelled back at him.
“So I guess I got to go Jilly.”
You have got to be kidding!
Special thanks to RosemaryMarie for collaborating with me to write this chapter. All of Jilly’s responses and the pictures of Jilly were provided by RM and I thank her very much for working on this with me. We will be seeing more of Jilly in the upcoming chapters until…..well those of you reading RM’s story know what I am referring to. But if you don’t, here is RosemaryMarie’s awesome blog site: www.booomcha.com