The Melting of Two Hearts by Gina Mason by Gina Mason - Read Online

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The Melting of Two Hearts - Gina Mason

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She loved days like this.  The sky was clear blue.  The sun shone brightly in the sky.  A cool autumn breeze blew the bright orange, red, and yellow leaves causing them to dance across the open fields.  This was truly a classic October morning.  It was difficult to believe that a whole month had passed since the new school year had begun, and the first holiday of the year, Columbus Day, was here.  But it was true.  Today was Friday, and if the weatherman from this morning’s news was right, it was going to be a great three-day weekend.  Jessica kept this on her mind as she pulled into the parking lot of Wilson Elementary School.  The elementary school was located half way between Scranton and Philadelphia.  It had not changed a bit since the first time Jessica pulled into its pot-holed, cracked parking lot four years ago.  There was absolutely nothing inviting about the old building.  There were no cheery welcome signs or large pots of blooming flowers of the season.  There was not even a welcome mat.  The only greeting one received upon entering the front doors was the half faded warning sign that visitors must check in promptly with the office, and trespassers would be prosecuted.  That warning right there was a joke, because the security officer was never at his post, and people were constantly roaming the halls looking for this one or that one, with no prior permission. 

Although Jessica was used to the lack of warmth of the building, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the many children who attended Wilson Elementary School.  It was a neighborhood school.  Most of the children who attended it came from the nearby projects. Jessica had visited many of their homes before, and she knew that the school was the place that they came to, not only to learn, but for refuge-refuge from all of the woes that poverty brings. 

Hi, Miss Tyler.  It was seven-year old Shanice Williams.  Being the school librarian had it ups and downs.  It was definitely an advantage to know all of the students in the school, especially someone as sweet as Shanice. 

Good morning, Shanice.  How are you today?

I’m fine.  See you in the library later!  And Shanice skipped away with a smile.

As Jessica reminisced back to her first day on the job four years ago, she remembered how nervous she was.  After tossing and turning all night the night before, she was almost late for work.  She had to run around the house deciding what to put on after spilling her morning coffee on the suit that she had originally planned to wear.  She wasted time pinning her hair up, then pulling it down.  Why does everyone always compliment me on this hair anyway? she wondered.  She felt like she could never do anything with it.  It was long and dark.  Its natural curls always seemed to want to do its own thing-which never looked right.  Today was no different.  After playing with her thick mane, and doing her best to look professional, she got dressed.  She finally decided on a long, green skirt dotted with tiny flowers.  Her blouse was solid tan with a V neckline, which showed off her smoothly shaped collarbones.  One inch tan moleskin pumps, tiny pearl earrings, and a matching pearl choker finished her look.  By then, it was 7:30 and she was, as usual, running really late.  She said a quick good-bye and Wish me luck, to Max; her over-sized as well as over-protective German Shepard, and ran out the door.  She jumped into her 1965 jet-black convertible Mustang, and sped off to school.  When she finally arrived, Ms. Hutch, the Librarian’s assistant who would be mentoring Jessica and teaching her the ropes, met her at the door. 

After giving Jessica a once over glance of disapproval, ending at Jessica‘s hair, she greeted Jessica with, I’ve been waiting for you for ten minutes.  I hope that this is not an indication as to your lack of discipline in promptness.

By the look on Ms. Hutch’s face, Jessica was awkwardly made aware that some of her spiral locks of hair had escaped from their pins.  However, she was able to quickly respond, On, no, Ms. Hutch.  I assure you that it will not happen again.  I was just so nervous this morning that…

There was no need for Jessica to finish what she was saying.    Ms. Hutch simply turned around and began walking toward the library, blatantly assuming that Jessica would follow.  She obviously had o interest in hearing about the spilled coffee or uncooperative hair because of nervously shaking hands.   As Jessica hurried to follow her down the hallway, she struggled as best as she could while keeping up with her mentor’s quick steps, to push some of those escaped locks back into the proper place on her head.  As they walked silently towards the library, it was obvious that Ms. Hutch had no empathy for others, which Jessica would realize in the weeks to come.

During those following weeks, Jessica tried very hard to concentrate and memorize all of the students’ names that entered the library. This was sometimes difficult between the 600 plus students that attended the school, and the fact that this school library also doubled as the public library in this small, deprived town.  This monumental task was further hampered by the fact that Ms. Hutch didn’t know all of their names, despite the fact that she had been teaching at Wilson Elementary School for the past 28 years.  In actuality, Ms. Hutch knew very few.  When Jessica questioned her about this, she gave one of her exasperating looks, and rebuked, They are all just a blurb of bratty, dirty little faces.  They come, pick out a book, and if they remember their library card, they check the book out.  If not, they are out of luck, Jessica never questioned Ms. Hutch about any student again.  

Not because she was afraid of what Ms. Hutch might say to her--but because she was afraid of what she might say in return. 

Jessica loved these children.  In the four years since that awful comment made by Ms. Hutch, Jessica had made many of her own decisions, being careful not to let anyone of authority know it.  For example, if a child came up to her counter with a book, and had forgotten their library card, she would simple make them look straight at her and promise to bring the book back by its due date.  How could she turn a child down simply because they had forgotten their card?  Only a few times did this backfire, and Jessica had to pay for the book out of her own pocket.  But she did not mind.  It was still worth it.

Although the children had taken quite a liking to Jessica-the fact is, they loved her-it was quite a different story with her coworkers.  As open and friendly as Jessica was with the children, she was just the opposite with adults.  She was very shy and untrusting. She had been so all her life.  Could this have been caused by the fact that her father had left her mother when she was eight months pregnant with Jessica?  Or could it be the fact that her mother began sleeping around with different men shortly after Jessica turned three years old, in the hope of finding her a real daddy? There was no clear reason why.  This had just become a part of Jessica’s grow-up world, no matter how biologically young she was when she had become grown up

Jessica’s mother, Susan, was a beautiful woman, with long, black hair, smooth, olive skin, and deep green eyes.  Her tall, slim body and long shapely legs were all that she needed to bring a man home.  Brining the right man home and keeping him there, however, were two different things. 

The pattern was always the same.  Susan would meet someone at a bar, or at the park, or somewhere, and they would begin dating.  Shortly after he would move into their apartment, and promise all sorts of nice things (marriage, a house, or whatever Susan had wanted at the time).  Jessica would begin calling him daddy, just like Susan wanted her to.  Then it would end.  There would be an argument, sometimes violent, sometimes not.  Then the crying and pleading would start, followed by a slamming door.  Susan would throw some sort of glass, which would crash down, and splinter all over the front door.  Finally, there was the opening of the Vodka bottle.  Jessica eventually learned to stay in her room and put her earphones on until it was all over.  When there were no sounds left except the quiet snoring of her mother passed out on the couch, she would always shuffle out into the living room to clean up the broken glass.  If she was lucky, the neighbors had not called the police.  On the days that authorities did show up, she was left to make up excuses like she had the TV too loud, and was very sorry.  The Police Officers always looked into her innocent deep brown eyes and believed her. 

It was always the same, no marriage, no house, no man to supply Jessica with a daddy, and a somewhat more deflated Susan.

The older Jessica got, the easier it was to convince the police that there was no problem.  Her long, curly, chestnut colored hair and sable eyes made her breathtaking.  She had the same long legs and olive skin like her mother.  Unfortunately the same exquisite looks that mother and daughter shared made the time before the breakup more and more unbearable.  The scene was the same but with one difference.  Yes, her mother was still attractive, but time and alcohol were taking its toll.  She was still brining men home, but it was Jessica they ultimately wanted.  Many nights after Susan had passed out from a drinking binge, the current lover would sneak into Jessica’s room for some fun.  Susan never woke to Jessica’s screams.  Nor did she ever believe Jessica when she tried to tell her what had happened.  The only thing Jessica could do was lock her door at night. 

They moved many times during her adolescence.  Although the police would accept Jessica’s excuses and apologies, their neighbors would not.  Sometimes her new bedroom had a lock, sometimes it did not.  During the latter, she was always sure to stop by the nearest hardware store the very next day to buy a hinge and a lock. 

Over the years, Jessica became very self-sufficient.  She was able to cook a good, nutritious meal (no matter how empty the cabinets or the refrigerator seemed to be), clean (no matter what type of mess Susan and her current man had left), and do many simple household repairs.  She could not, would not, leave her mother.  They were all each other had.  Although Susan didn’t know how to show it, Jessica knew that her mother loved her, and if Jessica ever left, it would kill her mother.  And Jessica loved her mother.  She did not blame Susan for anything.  That was just the way things were.

Jessica soon became the sole support of the household.

Shortly after high school graduation, Jessica got a sales job at Thorn’s, a local department store.  This was actually an easy task, since she was so attractive.  Young and old came to Jessica for advice, as if they could ever look anything like her.  Although she dressed simply and did not wear much makeup (her natural radiant skin and coloring did not necessitate much of anything man-made at all), she was still able to give fashion and makeup tips.  However, she just was not very happy.  She did not like the hubbub of a busy department store.  Day in and day out she watched the elite clientele come and go, not having to look at the price tags before making a purchase.  Four digit bills were frequent and often paid in cash.  Along with the money came the demands.  The demands of immediately personalized attention coupled with the I deserve this attitude were much too much for Jessica.  She liked life easier and much quieter.  So, while working during the day, she began going part-time to the local college.  Training to become a librarian combined her love of books and her quiet personality.

Jessica did not date much.  Her stunning beauty intimidated most men.  The few men that would have had the nerve to ask her out did not because they interpreted her shyness as snobbishness, and did not want to waste their time.  Jessica told herself that it didn’t matter.  She would much rather spend her weekends alone, reading a good book.  Besides, she really wasn’t alone; she had her mother to take care of.

Life seemed to be going smoothly for once in a long time.  No mother’s lovers meant no warding off would be molesters, no loud breakups, and no explanation to the neighbors or police. 

It was one month before college graduation, and Jessica was hoping to keep her mother sober long enough to attend the graduation ceremony.  As it turned out, she would not have to worry about Susan staying sober or attending the ceremony.  Jessica came home one evening to find her mother lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood.  She shot herself in the head with the handgun that Jessica didn’t even know was in the house.  She didn’t leave a suicide note.

Jessica did not cry when she found the body.  She did not cry when she called the police.  She did not cry as she scrubbed the kitchen floor for the fifth time that night.  She did not cry.

One week later, no one but Jessica and the local minister were present at the funeral.  Still, Jessica did not cry.  Not until she returned home did she weep.  She fell to the floor and let out her repressed pain in loud screams.  Her body shook in convulsions.  She felt like she could not breathe.  She sobbed until her body ached.  She thought she would never stop crying.  Where did all of the pain come from?  Was it sorrow for the mother that she would never see on earth again?  Was it pity for her mother who felt so desperate that she believed there was no other recourse but to kill herself?  Could it be the anger that she felt because her mother had left her completely alone in this world? Or was it guilt; guilt because of the relief that she felt; relief that she could finally live her life without fear of the next man that would share their home; relief that she could walk into a home without walking through a field of broken glass that shattered across the kitchen floor as Susan passed out once again; relief that she could finally live her life with out all of the excuses and apologies; relief…

Utterly alone, with no one to offer her a kiss or simple congratulations, Jessica graduated.  As she walked up to the stage to accept her degree, a single tear trickled down her cheek, and she knew that this would be the beginning of her new life. 

After finally paying all of the funeral expenses (of course there was no insurance money), Jessica had only a small amount of money left in her checking account.  She knew that she had to find a new job soon.  She had been fired from Thorn’s Department Store 2 weeks earlier.  Her department head told her it was because her sales were down and that she was not getting enough business.  It was true, her sales had slipped a little lately with her mother’s death always on her mind.  But, she knew that that was not the real reason she had gotten fired. 

It was shortly before that, that she was called into the store manager’s office after work one day.  She had never really spoken to Patrick Thorn before, but she had noticed Mr. Thorn watching her on the sales floor a few times.  She was quite curious as to what he had wanted to see her about.

When she arrived at the door, she knocked lightly.  A voice answered, Come in.

As she stepped inside of the luxurious office, she was quite surprised at what she saw.  It was nothing at all like the other offices in the store. Most offices were very feminine, with rose color walls and cream colored carpeting.  This office was quite manly.  While the walls were painted a smooth ivory color, they were filled with sports memorabilia.  Heavy wine colored drapes opened up to a spectacular view of the city.  The flooring was an Italian marble that was polished to an almost mirrored appearance.  A large mahogany desk was at the end of the room covered with paperwork.  The tall, athletic Patrick Thorn was holding up a finger to gesture, I’ll be done in a moment. as he finished giving an order to Gravel’s, the famous designer of women’s clothing.  Jessica wondered around the room in an attempted to not bother Mr. Thorn and his apparently important phone call.  The first item she noticed was a baseball. Getting nearer, she saw that this ball was not just some dirty old baseball, but was signed by Babe Ruth.  Continuing her walk allowed her to see a basketball with the signature of Dr. J.  A pair of worn sneakers was encased in a glass box with a gold name plate that said Jessie Owens was quite interesting.  Jessica's eyes next caught another box, but this once seemed to be made out of crystal.  As she took a closer look, she could see that enclosed was a large man's ring.  The gold name plate on this said Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Ring-1974 Steelers 16, Vikings 6.   But it was a photograph of a hockey team holding up the Stanley Cup in the air that was the last item that captured Jessica's attention just as Mr. Thorn was ending his current phone call.  Mr. Thorn was seen in the center of the picture with his arm around another distinguished looking gentleman in a suit Yes, I know we are your best customer, which is why I am sure the line will arrive on time.  Good-bye.

Jessica had been gazing so intently at the photograph that she barely realized that Patrick had hung up the phone and walked up behind her.  Terrible thoughts enveloped her mind of her mother’s men constantly watching sports on their only television; and it was never pleasant.  There was always screaming and cussing when the favorite team was losing.  It became worse if the current boyfriend had a gambling habit (as many of them did), and lost more money (as many of them did).  Over the years, Jessica had learned to hate sports for many reasons.

Patrick interrupted her thoughts, Oh, so are you a hockey fan? 

She did want to insult him and tell him what she really thought of sports-you know a waste of time and money.  This besides the dreadful memories any sport produced in her mind, coupled along with the brutish mentality and actions sports teams such as hockey seemed to invoke in others, caused her incapable of understanding others' feelings towards sports.   He really did not seem interested in her answer anyway, because before she was able to respond, he again interrupted her thoughts.  I called you up here because I just found out what happened to your mother.  I want you to know that I’m here if you would like to talk.

Jessica could not figure out