Loch Ness Monster
I believe that every teenage girl feels like a freak at some point on the road to adulthood. I, however, am a real freak. Nessie's story.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2332 Review this Chapter
A few days before prom, we got back our tests on Persepolis. I got an A and put it away, never to think of the story again. But no one writes something so that it will be put away and never thought of again, so God must cook up punishments for those who do not think about what they’ve read. God gives people who discard Lolita a father who talks to people who are not there. He gives people who feel like Dubliners is a glorified pity party for the Irish rain on their wedding day. He gives girls who give little thought to the horrors of the Islamic Revolution grandfathers with cancer.
Marjane, the girl in the book, lost her grandfather to Islamic purists who put him in jail and let his health deteriorate, because they felt like he was not worthy of life. I had not thought about it until I saw Grandpa’s face.
He’d looked so happy to see me—so painfully happy. He’d wanted to get up to give me a hug, but Sue would not let him, so I hugged him. He was sitting in a recliner with a blanket in his lap, like an old man. He’d lost his hair, but wore a Mariner’s cap to cover it. I wanted to cry from the second I saw him.
“Come on in, kid, sit down,” he smiled and indicated the couch across from him. “Geez, I feel like it’s been forever since I saw you. Still growing? You look taller?”
“Two more inches, I think,” I shrugged, trying to bring my voice up to its normal volume. If he could be happy, then I had no reason not to be.
“My God,” he shook his head, smiling. “You know you look more and more like Bells everyday?”
Something in me filled with warmth as he said that. I had heard it before. I had heard it from almost anyone who knew both my mother and I, but from him…it seemed…different. He was the only one who said ‘Bella’ and not ‘your mother’. He was the only one who still saw her as teenager. It was so…sweet. “Thanks, Grandpa,” I smiled weakly.
He shrugged, “I’m sorry, hon. I’m sure everyone tells you that. You gotta be tired of hearing it.”
“No,” I whispered. “Not from you.”
“What was that?” he tried to lean forward. “I’m sorry, hon. I couldn’t hear you—old age, you know?”
“It was nothing,” I shrugged.
“You sure?” he smirked. “Not keeping secrets from your old Grandpa, are you?”
“No,” I smiled. “No secrets.”
“Good,” he chuckled lightly. “So, Nessie. How have you been these last…what’s it been? Months?”
“Yeah,” I cringed inwardly. My parents had kept me from him for months—something I was sure most teenage girls would be angry about, but I understood. He was my Grandpa, but he was my mother’s Dad. How could I blame her for wanting to pretend everything was okay? “It’s been…I don’t know…I’m boring.”
He laughed, “Now, that’s not true. How could it possibly be true?”
“Really,” I shrugged. “I go to school. I come home. I read.”
“How ‘bout boys?” he smirked. “Anyone I need to be worried about?”
“Not really,” I titled my head a little to the side, unsure if he knew about Jacob.
“What does that mean? Is there a boy?”
I gave a little smile and folded my arms across my chest, “He’s not a boy.”
“Ugh,” he threw his head back with mock exasperation—at least, I hoped it was mock exasperation. “Don’t tell me he’s a century years old vampire. I don’t know if I could handle that again.”
“No,” I laughed. “No. He’s not a vampire at all.”
“Whew, good,” he pretended to wipe sweat off his brow. “And you like him?”
I paused for a long moment. Jacob and I had not talked extensively since prom. He’d said, “Good morning”, and I’d said, “Good morning.” Neither of us mentioned his imprinting—probably because I didn’t want to discuss it--probably because I couldn’t. “I like him,” I nodded to Grandpa.
“And he treats you good?”
“Yeah,” I smiled. “He treats me very well.”
“Good. That’s all that matters,” he nodded. “Just make sure it stays that way.”
“I mean it,” he pointed to me. “Don’t you dare let any boy—man, whatever you wanna call ‘em—don’t you let them make you think you’re happy when you’re not. Don’t let him treat you bad. You promise me?”
“Grandpa,” I sighed.
“No, I mean it. I may not be around to make sure you’re treated good. And I know you’ve got your parents and Carlisle and Esme, but…what they say won’t mean a damn thing if you don’t know it yourself.”
I could barely speak. That was the first time he’d acknowledged his illness. Instantly, I was dejected again.
“You gotta promise me, kid,” he nodded slowly.
“I—I promise,” I whispered, forgetting what I was promising. It didn’t matter. You did what your dying Grandpa asked you to do—it was that simple.
“Good,” he smiled. “You’re such a good kid, Nessie.” I could smell tear forming in his eyes—the salt was potent. “You’re gonna be okay.”
I stayed for a little over an hour. We talked about school and the family and next year’s Presidential election, which would be the first one I could vote in—at least, that’s what my forged birth certificate would say.
My heart stopped when he leaned in and smirked, “I guess you should be getting home. Your parents will worry.”
I couldn’t speak. Was this the last time I would see him? How could I let it end? How could I walk out the front door and get in my car and leave my Grandpa behind?
“Now, I don’t have any big, fancy life lessons I can give you,” he shook his head when I didn’t say anything. “But I can tell you this: don’t waste your life, Nessie—and I know that yours will be longer than most people’s, but…still, you never know, right? So, don’t waste it. I didn’t. And I’m so happy I didn’t. Best thing I ever did. And don’t you go feeling sorry for me. I’ve had a better life than a lot of people.”
I started crying when he said ‘didn’t’—past tense.
He started to tear up, too, “Aw, now, don’t do that.” I tried to stop, to wipe my tears away, but they kept coming; I could not hold them. He gave me a pained expression and looked towards the kitchen where Sue was cooking dinner. Then, he pushed himself up with an incredible amount of force and walked unsteadily over to me. His arms around me were so valuable—like the story of a Holocaust survivor—I had to take it now, because soon no one would be able to give it to me and it would be lost forever. I cried more into his shoulder, and he held me tighter, “Man, I’m going to miss you, kid.”
Sue told me I should leave to let him rest a few minutes after that. I was still crying when I exited the front door and got into my BMW. I didn’t drive home. I couldn’t. It was like I was lost—I didn’t want to know the way back. And so I drove down roads I’d always passed before. I drove through neighborhoods I’d never seen but had always been there.
I parked my car at an Acme and ran towards home, still moving in circles, trying to get lost. It took me almost three hours to get tired, and I looked around to see where my feet had taken me. I smiled—I was at the base of the tallest tree in Aberdeen.
Without hesitation, I jumped up into the branches I knew so well. I breathed in the now evening air with a smile. I was feeling a little better and rather philosophical.
Dying was such a terrible thing to witness, and, until I’d spoken with Grandpa, it had seemed like a worse thing to experience. However, he seemed to be in better spirits than I was. He had laughed and smiled and told me not to feel sorry for him—he was happy.
I guess imminent death could also be used as the ultimate time for reflection. It gave one time to analyze all the decisions they’d made in life. It gave them a chance to remember all the things they had done. Plus, it gave them an excuse to do things that they probably never would have gotten around to otherwise.
If I were told I was going to die tomorrow, I would spend the day jumping out of planes and drinking to access and forgiving everyone for everything they’d ever done that was less than wonderful. I would forgive myself, too. I would have to.
“Did I summon you?” I croaked out, my voice dry from tears.
“Yeah,” Jacob smiled, pulling himself up into the tree. “And it was pretty inconvenient, too. I was in the middle of something very important.”
“Gossip Girl?” I smirked.
“Deal or No Deal,” I pointed to me as he sat. “It was interesting. I’m working on this whole theory that Howie Mandel holds the key to the science vs. religion debate inside that bulbous little head of his.”
“Sounds fascinating,” I smiled.
“It is,” he nodded, then fell silent for a moment, “You okay, Carlie?”
I took a deep breath, “I think so. You all need to start telling me things every now and then.”
He smiled, “Agreed. Again, not my fault, but…agreed.” I gave him a little glare, and then turned back to look at the town in the evening’s glow.
“I think I’ve conquered my fear of death,” I told him.
“Fear of death? Carlie, hon, you’re immortal,” he smirked.
“Don’t be smart,” I said, my voice still crackling. “I’ll start crying, and you’ll feel terrible.”
He laughed lightly, “Okay, sorry. That sounds pretty impressive. Usually people never conquer that type of fear.”
“I think it’s all about your perspective,” I nodded.
“Like, glass half full type of thing?”
“Yeah, sort of. Like…just because someone doesn’t live that long, it doesn’t mean they didn’t live a full life, you know? I mean, as long as they’re happy, then it’s…this sounds horrible, but…if you’re happy, then it’s okay to die,” I pulled my shoulders in, afraid how that would sound.
“Hmm,” he nodded. “I get that…and it doesn’t sound so horrible. It sounds nice. I mean, you wouldn’t want to die when you’re sad, right? That’d just be really depressing. You’d have to write bad poetry about the injustice of it all. Ugh,” he made a face, and I laughed lightly.
We waited a few more moments and the silence was heavier than it ever had been before. There had never been any awkwardness in my relationship with Jacob until this instant.
He laughed, “I guess we should talk.”
“We are talking,” I shot.
“Carlie,” he sighed.
I took a deep breath and looked out to the town afraid to meet his face, “I don’t know what to say.”
“That’s okay,” he shrugged. “Just say how you feel. There isn’t a wrong answer.”
“Yes, there is,” I whispered.
“It’s not wrong,” he whispered too, “It’s just not exactly the one I’m hoping for, but if that’s what you decide…”
“Jake,” I turned to him. “I…I’m not completely against the idea of…you know, feeling the same way about you that you feel about me.”
He took a moment to digest my odd wording, and then nodded, “Okay.”
“Okay,” I nodded. “But…I mean…I don’t know…I’m—“
“It’s okay, Carlie,” he smirked. “Just say whatever you need to. I’ll try and make sense of it.”
“I think I’m in love with you, Jacob,” I blurt out, not knowing what else there was for me to say.
“Oh,” he smiled.
“No!” I held up a hand. “Don’t do that. Don’t get all excited. I…I think I do, but I don’t know. I mean, Jake…I’m six years old. I…I don’t know what love is, and I don’t want to tell you I’m in love when I’m not sure, so….please, don’t get all…happy…”
He laughed, “Okay. I won’t be happy; I promise.”
“No!” I cried out. “No! I didn’t mean that. By all means, be happy! I want you to be happy, it’s just…I don’t know yet.”
“You said that,” he nodded.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.
“Don’t be,” he shook his head, still smiling. “Look, Carlie, everything you just said makes perfect sense, and I’m not in any rush to move forward with anything. As long as you’re happy; I’m happy.”
“Well, I’m not happy unless you’re happy,” I shook my head.
“Well, I’m not happy unless you’re happy,” he grinned.
“So then, I guess we should just be happy, then,” I managed a smile. “But how can that possibly be fair for you to wait for me?”
“It’s okay Carlie,” he reached out his arm, and I laid my head against his shoulder. “Your dad had to wait a century for Bella to come around. I’m willing to wait forever for you.”
I sighed, feeling the weight of that word—forever. “That’s a long time.”
He smiled, “You’re worth it, kid.”
I felt tears in my eyes but laughed, “Sexy nickname.”
Jacob pulled back the slightest bit to look me in the eye, “You like Loch Ness better?”
I laughed outright and pulled him back, so I could lie on his shoulder again, “It has a certain elegance to it.”
He shook his head and kissed my temple, “I’ll call you whatever you want, Renesmee.”
I breathed in his warm, calming scent and smiled, “Jake?”
“Yeah,” he barely whispered.
I stared out over the town and could feel every heart beating with mine. There was something in this that was so right—so perfect. I whispered to him, not wanting to disturb the moment, “I don’t think you’ll have to wait forever.”
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