Getting To Know Each Other

Karen Mossman

Jacob was in his chamber supposedly studying, but his thoughts were of Jemma. It had been three months since he had seen her. He thought of her every day, but today his feelings of her were stronger, making everything else impossible.

When Vincent came into the room, Jacob closed his book. "Dad, I need to ask you something?"

"About your studies?"

"Erm, no."

Vincent sat down on the padded chair and put his hands together, resting his chin on his fingers. "Hmm, I had a feeling it wouldnít be."

"You know this bond you have with my Mom? How did you know it was her feelings and not just you thinking about her?"

That was a difficult one to answer, so Vincent was quiet for a moment. "Youíve only met this girl once, Jacob. Youíll need to know her a lot longer before youíll know something like that."

Jacob nodded, but his fatherís remark hadnít answered his question. "My mindís not on my work" He said as he closed his book. "Is it okay to go out?"

"Youíre not much use here at the moment, so go." Vincent said with a smile.

Jacob had an intense feeling that Jemma was there, in the park waiting for him. He didnít know how he knew, but he just knew.

He went straight to the embankment where Jemma was sitting. Her face lit up when she saw him and it gave him a warm feeling.

"I hoped I would see you," she said.

"Are you on vacation?"

"Yes, Mum and I are staying with Aunt Linda again at the Abbyshore," she said, thinking how nice it was to see him in daylight. He had a strong square jaw line and had already started shaving by the looks of it. She had been right about his eyes; there was something appealing about them.

"Did you manage to sort things out with your Mom, then?"

Jemma shook her head. "Not really. Dadís death knocked us for six and Mom still cries at night."

"Knocked us for six?" he asked not understanding.

Jemma laughed, he remembered that sound and how she had said her Dad has called it a cackle and that made him smile.

"Sorry, it means being hit hard - I forget you Americans arenít familiar with our English sayings."

Jacob shook his head, "Canít say I am."

Jemma shrugged. "Sometimes I wonder if things will ever get any better. In a way Iíve lost both parents. Aunt Linda says I should give Mum more time."

"Your Mom probably doesnít realise how you feel."

She was prettier than Jacob remembered. Her auburn hair was long to her shoulders and her vibrant brown eyes complimented it. Her face was round and she seemed to blush quite easily. Although she seemed of a similar age to him, eighteen, she was petite in frame, but from what he remembered, her character wasnít.

"Iím strong and a survivor. I have to be for Mum."

"Strong enough to climb trees?" he asked not wanting her to be sad and remembering she had mentioned that last time.

"Course I can, that one? Iíll race you!" She was up on her feet and running before he had the chance to say yes.

"Hey!" he yelled chasing her as she reached the tree before him. "Thatís not fair!"

She giggled, "How do we get up?" she asked looking up as the branch to climb on was pretty high.

He cupped his hands together and gave her a leg up. He was taller, so he could jump to the first branch and haul himself up beside her.

They climbed slowly through the branches until they reached the top.

"Wow!" Jemma cried. "What a fantastic view."

"I always think you can see where ever," he said looking across to the other side of the park.

Jemma giggled, "Donít you mean forever?"

"Yes," he laughed and began pointing out landmarks to her.

They talked for a while and he told her a bit about his Mom and Dad and of the man he called Father. Although he wanted to tell her about his life above and below, he knew he couldnít. He told her that his Dad was different and that was why he wasnít like other people. He knew she didnít really understand and he couldnít explain further.

Jemma accepted he was different, his hands, the uniqueness of his face, the things he knew and his sharpness of sense. It was hard to define and maybe in time he would trust her to tell her more.

She told him about her home in England and how her Dad used to take her to football and the High School she hated and the Granny she loved.

"Grannyís brilliant; she takes me to soccer games here and says I can kick a ball like any top professional. I used to belong to my schoolís team in England, where they call it football. Its hard calling it soccer, but no one knows what Iím talking about if I say football."

Jacob saw the passion in her eyes and loved her for it. "I can bring a ball when I see you tomorrow if you want."

"Oh yes, that would be great. I can teach you how to control it and tackle and score goals."

"And Iíll show you real football!" he added with a grin.

They went off for something to eat and discovered they liked many of the same things, Rap and R & B music, reading, sports and surprisingly a passion for cheese and pickle sandwiches

In the afternoon they joined other teenagers on the skateboarding track. Jemma hadnít done it before, but picked it up quickly and said what fun it was.

Jacob took her round the stores to meet people he knew and showed her funny little things that people did without realising.

"See this guy coming up now?" he said, they were standing on the sidewalk outside a Deli. "He walks this way everyday and heíll stop on this corner and get a newspaper."

Jemma watched and sure enough he went to the machine, put in his money and took out a paper.

"Then heíll go in that shop and get a Latte; sip it through the lid while glancing at the head lines. Heíll not look up once till he reaches the end of the street, where heíll stop wait for the Walk sign."

Jemma watched him and giggled as he did everything just as Jacob said.

"Hereís the man with the stick now."

She turned and saw a blind man tapping his way up the sidewalk.

"Just watch what he does when he gets to the corner."

Everybody moved aside for him so he had a clear run through. When he reached the corner, he folded up his stick and walked off unaided. Jemma turned to Jacob with surprise, "Whyíd he do that?"

"Dunno, but he comes through twice a week and does the same thing. I like people watching. Theyíre all rushing around getting here and getting there, they never stop to see anything, and theyíre all blind in a way."

She grinned, "Like my Mum, she gets up, goes for a run, has shower, drinks coffee goes to work, comes home, goes for a run, showers and eats; every day the same. Dad says you have to stop and look around once in a while or the next thing you know youíll be old."

"My Dad says life is too short to miss. If we rush through it, we donít see all life has to offer."

"He sounds like a wise man, your Dad, do you think I can meet him properly sometime?" She remembered the shadow she caught a glimpse of that night in the tunnel when her mind was playing tricks.

"I donít know. Dadís a very private man. He doesnít meet people and he likes to stay inside with people who know him."

"You never talk about your Mum much. Do you see her?"

"Oh yes we have a house over there," he waved his arm vaguely in the direction of the brownstones. Sheís an attorney and tends to work a lot, so I spend most of my time with my Dad."

"Are they separated?"

"Oh gosh no! Theyíre just unconventional."

"I see. Shall we go and get a drink some where?"

********

The week raced by and all too soon and Jemma found her self saying good bye to this floppy haired blond lad with the piercing eyes.

"Why is it you donít have a mobile phone, Jacob? We could have texted each other."

"A cell phone? They donít work below for one andÖ."

"Iím confused as to where you actually live, where is below, you never really said?"

"I live above and below, but like below better. Below is under above," he said cryptically with a grin.

"In the tunnels, why?"


He shrugged, "Not quite. New York is full of crime and gang wars, itís a place where people donít really care about each other. Below its different, we may not have things such as cell phones or computers but we have safety and love with a mutual respect for each other."

"That sounds like a unique place, I donít think there is anywhere in the world that can be consider safe nowadays."

"Itís only safe as long as it remains a secret. We have to be so careful thatís why my Dad was angry that I had brought you into the tunnels and why I canít really say to much, and," he laughed, "why Iíve probably said too much as it is."

"I said I would never tell anyone, I havenít and I wouldnít."

"I know. We shouldnít be talking about it. I just feel I can with you, but we donít really know each other."

"Iím sorry. I like you a lot Jacob, I was just curious. Youíre secret is my secret. I would never betray you, ever. I just have the feeling we will get to know each other, do you."

"Yeah. Iíll miss you when you go back," he said.

"Iíll miss you too. When Iím back in town, how will I contact you?"

"You contacted me before."

"Will it work again?"

He smiled and touched her face with his fingers, "Will you think of me?"

"All the time, Jacob," she said earnestly.

"Then we have a bond and when youíre back, I will know."

"Are you going to kiss me?" she asked in wonder, as his face was so close to hers.

"Are you going to stop me?"

"No," she said, moving her face closer.

Afterward, Jacob said, "There, itís sealed. I have a little bit of you here now and you have a little bit of me. When we are apart we can still be together."

"I hate goodbyes," she said.

"Then we shanít ever say them," he said. "Close your eyes and think of me."

She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, he had gone.