Jacquelyn O’Gregsson used to live upstairs. She and her parents had moved in because of a tough financial situation they were in, and since our parents had been close friends for years, my father decided to let them have the upstairs floor as their own. Everyone had their own bedroom; we only shared the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room and the TV room. Everything worked pretty well.
Jacquelyn was seven years old when she moved into the house. I was seven too. We went to the same school, but we were never in the same class even though we were in the same year. We always hung out together in the playground, though. During recess, we liked to swing up to the highest point and jump off pretending that we could fly. For some strange reason, Jacquelyn always flew higher than me. I guessed it was because she was lighter, but still, it made me jealous.
At home we played a lot together too. I had this huge box filled with toys of all kinds, and we always emptied it and played ‘Village’ with all the stuffed animals and cars and little plastic characters. There were also all the countless times when the floor was made of lava, and the couch’s cushions were lava-sharks.
I really liked Jacquelyn. She was a fun kid, and cute. Short red hair, brown eyes, and always with a smile on her freckled face. I liked how she used to make all these weird noises with her mouth like some retarded animal, and I always joined her, causing the rest of our schoolmates to stare at us with weirded-out looks.
One unforgettable afternoon, Jacquelyn said she wanted to play a game she saw on TV. She took me up to her room and told me to close my eyes. I did, and the next thing I felt were her soft lips on mine. She giggled and did it again but I couldn’t keep my eyes closed. I simply stared at her close-up eyes and wondered why she was kissing me.
My mother caught us. She got really angry and prohibited us to do that ever again. She also said I wasn’t allowed in Jacquelyn’s room without any permission.
So naturally, we kept doing it in secret. Whenever we had the chance, Jacquelyn and I sneaked into lonely places of the house and kissed, giggling quietly. As the days passed, we learned how to kiss with our tongues, and our little moments suddenly became serious. I often found myself sitting in class, wishing that recess would come sooner so I could sneak out the back of the school to kiss again.
Two years passed and we were both nine. We had grown a lot during this period of time, but in those days, this went unnoticed. The only thing that I realized had changed, was the way that I saw Jacquelyn because she wasn’t just my best friend anymore. She was also my secret girlfriend; the girl that made me happy and jealous all the time.
Another unforgettable afternoon, we were kissing in the garage when she suddenly placed a hand on my crotch. This shocked me so much that I actually pushed her back. She said that it was a new game that she saw on TV and she wanted to try it out. The next thing I know, she touched me again. I didn’t move a muscle, but when the initial shock slowly faded away, I touched her back and saw that she liked it. From that point on, we played this game every afternoon after school, and our experimenting got to the point where we completely lost our innocence. I liked every feature of her body, including the soft, fine hairs of her arms and a pear-shaped mole right beside her belly button. Jacquelyn and I, we played forbidden games for many more weeks.
Then the day came when her parents decided to leave the house. Her parents and mine got into a big argument and things got very ugly in the end. The adults yelled and shouted and cursed, and Jacquelyn’s dad decided to leave. Just like that. I didn’t even get a chance to say good-bye to Jacquelyn. For months, I pictured the frightened look on her face as her father angrily pulled her out the front door. Her brown eyes, locked on mine, screamed that she didn’t want to leave.
Ten years later, I found myself working at an internet café in the state of Washington. I had made good friends in town, and I liked to hang out doing dumb, unproductive stuff, like drinking and playing video games. Life was pretty good.
One night, as I was closing up the café, I recieved an e-mail from one of my friends. I opened it and saw a clickable link on the page. Dude, check this out. It’s the best I’ve seen in a while, my friend wrote as the e-mail subject. I clicked on the link and my web brower opened up a new tab, where an underground video site loaded up. The video buffered, it began to play, and the loud, exaggerated moans of a girl boomed around the café. It was a good thing that I was closing and nobody else was in there.
I lowered the volume so I could barely hear and saw the girl having sex with a guy in a fancy-looking bedroom. The guy turned the girl around with a single heave and I saw her face. She wore heavy make-up around her eyes, and her hair looked fake, like a wig. The camera panned down and I could see the action going on downstairs. My heart began to pound hard, and then it suddenly stopped.
The girl had a pear-shaped mole right beside her belly button that I recognized instantly. I felt like my head was a hurricane, spinning and spinning, the world around me disappearing in my own mind Countless times had I pressed my fingers against that mole, and seeing it again sent a powerful shiver throughout my entire body.
“Jacky,” I whispered.
After an extensive on-line investigation, I found several more of her videos on different sites. She had dozens of them. I couldn’t help feeling confused. That girl was Jacquelyn O’Gregsson. I used to fly off the swings with her. Why did she choose such a path? Did things go really bad with her parents? It also surprised me how much she had physically changed. She was not the cute, little redhead anymore. She was nineteen now, with a maturing face, and wore lots of make-up and a black wig. It hurt me to see her like this. I felt sadness. Jealousy. Anger.
On-line I found out that she lived in Los Angeles. I made up excuses to my friends about going over to visit my parents for a week, and I headed straight to the airport afterwards. I boarded the next plane to California and spent the whole flight thinking about Jacquelyn, and how insane I was to be doing this.
It took me a surprisingly short time to meet up with Jacquelyn. I booked a ‘date’ with her after contacting her agent, and I waited outside of the address that had been sent to me via e-mail.
Jacquelyn recognized me immediately. Her brown eyes widened and she froze on the spot, right at the front door of the strange house.
“Jacky,” I said.
She didn’t answer.
“How are you?”
Again, no answer.
Her agent put a hand on her shoulder and said, “Hun, are you alright?”
Jacquelyn nodded. “Yeah. Can you give us a moment?”
The agent gave me a searching look and she backed off to the sidewalk.
“Why are you here?” Jacquelyn asked me.
I was taken aback. “I just wanted to see you.”
She turned away and pulled out a cigarette. She lit it, inhaled deeply, and glanced at me over her shoulder. “How’d you find me?”
I gulped. “I saw a video.”
We stare at each other. I wanted to know what she was thinking. I wanted to tell her that I missed her, but I couldn’t get myself to say it. Instead I said, “Why, Jacky?”
Jacquelyn threw her unfinished cigarette to the floor and stomped on it. “Is that why you’re here? To lecture me like my parents?”
“Jacky, I just wanted —”
“What? What do you want?”
“You don’t have to be doing this! You can —”
“No!” she shouted. “Shut up! Who the hell are you to tell me how to live, huh?! I’m doing just fine on my own. I don’t need anybody. I make money and I can do whatever I want.”
Jacquelyn’s agent approached us. “We have to go,” she said.
Jacquelyn stared at me. Her eyes were watering. She spun around and headed over to her agent’s car. I wanted to shout out that she was wrong, that she did need someone in her life, but I simply stared and watched her climb into the car’s passenger seat. The agent got behind the wheel, and just as the engine came to life, Jacquelyn turned to me and our gazes met through the car’s clear window. Her powerful eyes sent me a clear message: I love you, but never look for me again.
And I didn’t. It was hard at first, to let her go like that, but I learned to accept her decision over the weeks because she was right. I wasn’t anybody to tell her how she should live her life. I could advise her and suggest her and everything, but in the end, she was the one that would choose. As individuals, each one of us has the power to make our own decisions and choose whatever paths we want to take in life. It’s our choice, and our choice only.
Jacquelyn O’Gregsson has already chosen her path. And I will respect it.
by Ralph Serr