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Jamie

Jamie never lingered around his school once the bell rang, he always went straight home, so his mother was always the first person he would talk to. His mother was called Pamela by everyone else, and she was used to talking about other peoples’ days before her own because she owned an interior design firm. But even without talking to her clients she could get to know them and all their quirks and flamboyancies, from the way they chose to decorate their homes and offices. That was how Pamela came to realize that even the smallest aspect of a person’s life could reflect upon them.

With this in mind, Pamela did her best to make her own life seem in order. Her appearance was always neat and attractive, and her house was kept clean and was decorated so that it appeared both inviting and livable. Her walls were a soft lilac hue and were accented by plush, beige furniture with light blue throw pillows. She preferred floor and table lamps to overhead lights so that nothing appeared too bright or harsh; everything was kept in a soft light and any sharp corners or odd angles could be covered by shadows.

Pamela had tried to instill the same care she put into her life in Jamie. The job of raising a son had fallen solely onto her, and while she knew that any flaws Jamie might have were his own, she also knew that she would be judged for them. They had a closer relationship than most other teenaged boys had with their mothers, but Pamela knew what it meant when a fifteen year old boy spent more time with his mother than with his peers.

That was the problem with Jamie; he was too self-conscious, too self-criticizing. He spent more time buried in his comics and artwork than he did with people. Pamela sometimes worried that his shyness might be mistaken for rudeness or worse, a slow wit. It was Pamela’s biggest disappointment in Jamie, and it was only growing worse.

So when he came home later than usual one day, and apologetically told Pamela that he’d been showing his art teacher one of his comics, she was surprised, but happy.

“Which one did you show him?” she asked excitedly.

Jamie looked up from the notebook he’d been flipping through. “‘Tales From Olympus,’” he said.

“Well, did he like it?” asked Pamela.

“Yeah, he said so,” said Jamie, though he did not seem as happy as Pamela thought he should have.

“Are you going to show him more?”

Jamie shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Pamela’s smile was beginning to feel a bit stretched. “You should,” she said, “it will show people how creative you are.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why not?” asked Pamela.

“I don’t think everyone will like my stuff. Some people have…laughed at me before.”

“I know,” said Pamela, “but you have to put yourself out there sometime. You might be surprised by what people say.”

Jamie nodded and looked thoughtful, as if Pamela had just confirmed something for him.

“Actually there’s a comic that I’ve been wanting to show you, if you don’t mind,” he said.

“Of course not,” said Pamela.

Jamie handed her the notebook he’d been reading. “It’s called ‘The Pit,’” he explained as Pamela opened it to the first page. She was taken back by what she saw.

The comic was drawn in black ink; there was no color anywhere. The panels were black and the pictures were black, but from the darkness a white face emerged.

“It’s about a pit where people are dragged down by their own personal demons,” said Jamie as Pamela slowly turned the pages.

“Their minds are tortured until they whither away and they’re beyond all feeling,” he continued. “All they feel is emptiness.”

A pale hand was reaching out towards Pamela, reaching out towards anyone.

“One man tries to climb out, but he can’t because you need the help of an outsider to make it out of the pit. That’s the trick. If someone had reached into the pit to help pull him out he could have gone and enjoyed his life again, but no one did…”

Pamela turned to the last page. It was completely blacked out.

“…so the pit consumed him.”

Pamela closed the notebook and stared at Jamie. He stared back. She knew that he was waiting to see what she’d say.

“I don’t think you should show this to anyone else,” Pamela said. “I like your nicer comics much better.”

Jamie blinked, then nodded slowly. His face was unreadable, but Pamela thought his shoulders were sloped downward a little more than they had been a moment ago. She held the notebook out to him, but he made no move to receive it.

“What’s the point in having it then?” he said.
Pamela exhaled. “I’ll get rid of it for you, but if you ever want me to look at anything else, just ask.”

Jamie nodded but said nothing.

“I think I’m going to get started on dinner,” said Pamela, turning toward the kitchen, “why don’t you go do your homework, or something?”

The kitchen was painted a bright yellow. Pamela thought it was the most cheerful room in the house. She threw Jamie’s notebook away on her way in.

“Kids his age get like that sometimes,” Pamela told herself as she opened a box of oven-bake lasagna. “They start to think a little too much about themselves, but nothing’s really wrong with them. There’s no point in letting other people think there is anyway.”

She tried to put it out of her mind as she heated the oven up to the perfect temperature. Nothing ever burned in Pamela’s kitchen.



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