Pretty perfect for James, right? Well, let me tell you the beginning of James' next chapter. I mean beginning, because this post will not finish his story. In fact - fair warning - it is going to keep you hanging, so feel free to reply with an ending in the comments below. Whatever you say will be your perspective, neither good or bad. I promise that if I get even one story ending, I will tell you what actually happened in this family. So here goes.
James came home from working construction in the Loop in Chicago one night. It was one of those cold, blustery days he was grateful he was built to withstand, but by the time he walked in the front door of home-sweet-home, the warmth that greeted his face and the smell of pot roast and all the fixings simmering in gravy brought back to him how wonderful - how perfect - his life was.
He had no sooner hung up his coat, when Sam, his wife of 17 years, came to him as though she had something important to say, but couldn't really disclose it at the moment. "James, Johnny is going to have a talk with you tonight about something very important, but don't say anything just yet to him over dinner. I chilled the wine, and I would recommend you have a glass - or two. You can talk to him after dinner."
"He's bombing in algebra. Is that it?" James asked, rolling his eyes.
"No, he is doing fine in school, for the most part. It's not grades." A timer went off in the kitchen, and Sam started to retreat toward the sound.
"Did my boy get in a fight with someone? Did he win it?"
Sam frowned slightly and kept walking, shaking her head. "Remember what I said about the wine."
During the meal, Johnny's eyes focused on his plate, and every so often, as if to lighten the heaviness in the room (for what reason?), he would offer a weak smile and comments about the food, or how it might snow and did they want him to lead the shoveling effort. But after dinner, Johnny hastily retreated to his room.
"That's your cue, James," Sam whispered. "Remember the love." This was a comment they often shared in the family when one of them had fallen short of someone's expectations, and he figured this was not going to be good news. What had this gentle child of his done?
James climbed the stairs and walked the hallway to his eldest son's bedroom and knocked on the closed door. "Johnny? It's Dad. Can I come in?"
Johnny mumbled something that sounded like "Yeah, okay," and James entered to see his son sprawled out on his bed.
"Mom says you have something to tell me, Johnny. Are things going okay at school?"
Johnny sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed, his eyes darting around the room as though searching for words that would make his admission acceptable. "It's not that, Dad. But I need to tell you something that you are probably not going to like." Johnny raised his eyes to glance at his father. "Well, it will at least surprise you - well, probably." He drew in his breath and paused.
"You can tell me anything, Johnny. . . anything. We remember the love here, right? What's up?"
And then it all spilled out, a dribble of information at first, and then a flood of feelings. "Dad, you know how you have called me Johnny all my life? Well, I am at the place in my life where I want to be called something else."
James shifted his weight and sat on the edge of the bed. He exhaled a sigh of relief. "I get it. We can call you John. You're in high school now. Heck, Johnny, uh, John - I will call you whatever you have in mind. Name it."
Johnny stared at his shoes for a moment as though summoning courage, then lifted his gaze to meet his father's. "Dad, I want to be called by a name more appropriate to who I really am. I thought the name, Jenny, might be good."
Okay, readers. This is where the story pauses, and you get to finish it. Please do add to the comments page on this post with a conclusion to this scene. I am privy to the next page of this story, and it just might not be anything you can imagine. And I assure you, no one yet knows the ending, because it's not over until it's over (another good thing to keep in mind).
Remember the Love,