A Mississippi River Romance - Part 8

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A Mississippi
River Romance

Who Am I?

by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
the story's always better than the truth
so tell me what you wanna see
and i'll give it back to you

Romance Along the Mississippi


That was Danny Pearson. His brother went into the hospital last night...he's doing better but he'll be in for a few days...bleeding ulcers." She shook her head, wondering like any other parent would about what would give a fifteen year old boy an ulcer. She looked over at Jerry and realized she was looking at a child with enough inner struggle to produce acid by the gallon.

"I think we should go see him," Miri said as she turned around and stared at her brother.

"We can stop by after school tomorrow; the bus goes right by the hospital...St. Luke's, right?" Giada nodded and Miri continued.

"Maybe Adele can pick us up after she gets off work? So we'll still be home early, okay?"

Adele normally wouldn't like being volunteered, but she didn't mind stopping by the hospital on the off chance Danny might be there. She still felt awkward and insulted by his behavior, but she had hoped it was just a glitch in an otherwise nice personality.

"I'll pick them up about five - five thirty. I don't mind." She turned and expressed her only control over the situation and stuck her tongue out at Miri. Jerry laughed, but his heart wasn't in it.

"I'd rather not go, if it's all the same to you." He looked over at Miri, his eyes practically pleading for a pass.

"I can't just go alone...I hardly know him. If we both go it will be nice and won't make him uncomfortable."

"Not uncomfortable? The last time he saw me he thought I was you!"

Jerry shuddered, fearing the reunion at the hospital more than anything he had experienced. He didn't know how he felt about Vinnie. He didn't know how he felt about himself. He didn't even know what he felt about himself; was he a boy? A girl... A freak? He began to cry. Adele walked over and pulled her brother to herself in a hug.

“You’re going to be alright. I promise. Tell you what. I’ll get off tomorrow and we can all visit him together. If I think things are getting too much for you or if Miri sees that? We’ll just say we have to get home for dinner and leave. But you have this chance that I never had...I’m not complaining, but if I had half the understanding and support you have? Think of it this way. He already knows you have issues; a secret revealed loses its power over you.” Adele squeezed his arm

“Besides...He’s probably so zonked with pain killers he’ll probably think you’re Miley Cyrus.” Miri tossled his hair before kissing him.

Adele thought again of how Danny might be at the hospital when they arrived. Her fear of repeating the past was being overtaken by her fear of being alone, and she had already started to think about what she would wear. But it would be what Danny decided to wear that would break the tie between risky, guilt-driven behavior and an honest relationship at last.

The Magliano neighborhood, Monday morning...

"Do you think she'll mind?" Cindy asked Vi as they walked to the bus stop.

"I sure hope not; she's my best friend ever, Cin." Violet said as she spit out her gum onto the Parker's front lawn.

"I'm really scared, Vi...this is the craziest thing I've ever done. Well, apart from pantsing Gina Conforti in second grade. And she got over it enough to be my best friend. But this is really..."

"Crazy? Yeah, but what's the worst that could happen? That she won't like you? She doesn’t like you now...well...she doesn’t dislike you either, so either way?" Violet shook her head and stopped.

"I could ask a couple more kids? Would that help?" Violet smile until her sister glared at her.

"Yeah...so if she says no there will be more people to stare at me when I start cryin'? No...I don't think so. Let’s just leave it the way it is. Either she comes over or not, but I don't want an audience when I fucking fall apart." Cindy pouted and then started to cry.

"Gee, for a big sis, you sure are such a big baby!" Violet said, but her tone was playful and her hug belied any mean intent.

"I guess you can't help who you get a crush on, right?" She patted Cindy on the back.

"If this is what it's like in ninth grade, then I don't want any part of it." She laughed softly and rubbed Cindy's back.

"I swear, Vi...if this doesn’t work, I'm gonna join a fucking monastery." Cindy said quickly until she saw Violet start to smile. Violet started to laugh and Cindy began to turn red.

"What's so funny, Vi. This isn't funny." She pouted until Violet stopped laughing long enough to say,

"Monasteries are for guys, stoooopid." She teased.

"Well, that'll work too, since I don't seem to be having any success with girls.

"Yeah..." she replied and then shook her head.

"Cindy...it's gonna be okay!"

"I wish!" Cindy said before turning around and running back toward their house.

So when I make big mistake
When I fall flat on my face
I know I'll be alright
Should my tender heart be broken
I will cry those teardrops knowin'
I will be just fine
'Cause nothin' changes who I am

"Oh shit." Violet said as she saw her sister run up the front steps and into their home. She turned and saw a familiar figure walking in front of her toward the bus stop.

"Hey...Mags...Miri...wait up," Violet yelled down the street. She ran up to the girl and turned her around quickly with a yank of her shoulder, only to find that it wasn't Miri, but Jerry that stood in front of her.

"Oh, shit, Jer...sorry. With your hoodie up from the back you walk just like your sister."

"Thanks for the complement," Jerry said sarcastically.

"Oh, shit, Jer...I'm sorry. Hey...the other day...when you and Miri were out? I promise I won't say a thing. Our secret." She smiled and Jerry relaxed.

"It's no problem..." He turned and looked away.

"Lissen..... Miri is my best friend...I wouldn't do anything to hurt her or you or your family. You've been like a second family to me...I just wish I had a mom like yours." Violet and her sister were being raised by their dad; their mother had died when they were in fourth grade.

"My mom is sorta special, isn't she...yeah? I know you wouldn't...It's just...."

"You sorta like wearin' Miri's clothes?" Violet's face twisted a bit, and Jerry took it the wrong way.

"Forget I said anything...just forget it." He turned to walk away, but Violet grabbed his hood and yanked.

"Hey...I'm sorry..." She said as his books spilled onto the ground. He picked them up and stood red-faced in front of her.

"I'm not sayin' anything. But I wondered about you...you're a lot more like Miri....like me and my sis...like you...." She paused.

"Like a sister? Oh thanks, Vi...I feel so much better." It was more of his own confusion; everything had gotten mixed up as if his whole life were thrown into a blender set on puree'.

"I'm just sayin' you and your sis are really close, maybe 'cause you're twins and all, but I think it's nice." As they were talking, Miri walked up quickly and shouted as she walked past,

"The bus is down the block...we gotta get goin'!" Violet and Jerry looked at each other.

"We okay?" Violet asked and Jerry nodded before the two turned and ran up to Miri as she stopped at the corner.

"Hey...wanna come over for dinner on Friday?" Violet asked.

"Sure...haven't done that in a while," which was true. Violet spent most of her time at the Magliano house, since her sister had been off doing her own thing and her father was working a second job on the weekends to make ends meet.

"Okay...you can come over at six or so."

"Great...your dad gonna be there? Haven't seen him in ages...." Miri's voice trailed off as the bus pulled up to the stop.

"Nah...just me and Cindy."

"Oh...okay." Miri said as she climbed up the bus steps. Something sounded odd in the way Violet said that...like she had something to hide. She shook her head as if to shake off the notion that Violet had something to hide.

St. Luke’s Urgent Care Center...that afternoon...

"212...this way," Adele said as she looked at the visitor's pass. The three walked down the hallway until they reached the room.

"You two go in...I'll just wait out here," Jerry said, gently pushing Miri toward the doorway.

"Oh, no, Jer...you're not getting away that easy...you two go in and I'll wait. “Adele said as Miri began to drag Jerry gently toward the door.

"Hey, Vin, you've got some visitors," Danny said as he stood up. Miri and Jerry walked in slowly, more out of nervousness of being in a hospital than visiting a boy they both liked.

"Hi..." Vinnie said weakly. He was 'tube-free' as Danny had kidded him, save for the IV in his arm.

"Hi." The twins said in unison. Both voices were soft and a slight shade of pink had begun to cross both their faces.

"I'm gonna run down for some coffee, Vin. I'll be back but you've got company." Turning to Miri and Jerry he smiled and continued,

"Thanks for coming by. I'll be back in a bit."

He waved at Vinnie before walking out. He looked down at his watch and looked back up just in time to walk right into Adele, who was standing outside the room with her back to the door. They both fell to the floor with a thud, with Danny ending up on top looking down right into Adele's face. She frowned until he spoke up.

"Why, Miss Magliano, so nice to run into you."

He laughed softly; that laugh.... She tried to continue to frown, but his smile was entirely disarming, which drew a soft laugh from her. He stood up and helped her to her feet. She pulled her hand gently, but he still grasped it, and she looked into his eyes...those kind, caring eyes.

"I wanted to apologize for what happened the other day. I seemed to have insulted you and that certainly wasn't my intent at all. I'm sorry." Danny spoke softly, and only then did she notice the warm lilt in his voice, almost as if he were crooning.

"I'm a bit shy when it comes to pretty girls, and I didn't want you to think I was being forward."

"Him being forward?" Adele thought. She looked into his eyes once again.

"I'm just a bit...sensitive. Your brother hurt me very much, and I took your response the wrong way. It's I who should apologize to you, Dan." Adele paused for a moment. She would never continue had it been someone else, but somehow there was something in Danny that drew her out, and she spoke again.

"I've had a ....tendency to be..." She was about to say immodest, but he finished her sentence.

"Engaging? Warm....friendly...kind? Inviting?" Danny was being a bit flirty himself, but who could blame him.

'No...that's very kind, but let me speak," she said, insistently but kind.

"Since...since my...you know...."

"Your surgery?"

"Why....yes...I've had a tendency to be....too accommodating."

This was way more than anyone should know, but it was like she needed to be honest to herself; almost like confessing to a priest or a rabbi or minister.

"I've... Oh...gosh...what am I doing....I'm so sorry."

"Miss Magliano...you have nothing to be sorry about...at least as far as I'm concerned. Okay?"

"Oh...okay." Adele had begun to tear up and her face was warm and red.

"Listen, why don't you go in and say hello, okay." Danny was trying to save her any more embarrassment.

"Dan...would you mind if I tagged along when you get your coffee?" She put her hand on his arm, but pulled it back quickly in embarrassment. Dan acted if he didn't notice and spoke.

"I don't mind at all. In fact, I've got about six dollars or so of change in my pocket, so my treat, okay?" He smiled at her once again. She found herself getting lost in his eyes. A few seconds passed and he spoke again.


"Oh...oh yes...treat." She smiled at him and they both set off down the hall toward the elevator.

I'm a saint and I'm a sinner
I'm a loser, I'm a winner
I'm am steady and unstable
I am young but I'm able

While at the same time in Vinnie's room...

"Hi...how are you feeling?" Miri said. Jerry stood behind her, trying to hide. It was the first time 'he' met Vinnie, so to speak.

"Better...my doctor says I can go home on Wednesday." He sighed. It was an awkward moment for all of them. None of them knew how to relate; feelings can sometimes short circuit talking. Vinnie took a stab.

"Jerry?" He practically gasped, more so out of embarrassment than any of the procedures from the other day.

"Yes....?" He tried to sound boyish, whatever that was.

"I...I promise I won't tell anyone." What was intended to be a kind gesture added to the uncomfortable mood. Jerry turned beet red. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. Miri turned to him and whispered in his ear, hoping that Vinnie would see it as a 'twin' thing.

"It's okay...I'll talk." She turned back to Vinnie.

"We were playing a joke on my mom, and Jer sorta forgot that he was...you know...dressed up like me when you came to the door." Vinnie nodded, trying to understand. He still struggled with his own issues, but he accepted Miri's explanation until Jerry blurted out,

"I sometimes wear Miri's clothes," which turned the clarity of the moment back to blurry, even if Miri had been fibbing just a bit. Vinnie surprised both of them by replying,

"Me, too!" Vinnie couldn't believe he had just said that, but say it he did, and it was just the right thing for both him and Jerry to hear.

"Huh?" The twins said in unison once again.

"I'm going to a doctor...I..." He bit his lip. He had gone too far. Whatever chance he had of having a real friend had just flown out the window. Miri would think he was crazy and Jerry? He didn’t know what Jerry would think, but judging by his red face and shocked look, it couldn't be good. But Miri didn't think he was crazy.

"That is so cool...I think everybody should go to see a doctor." She blurted out until she realized what she had said and her face turned the same shade of Jerry's, which was quickly joined as Vinnie face began turning crimson as well.

"I....I mean....when you've got...issues....you know....problems." The hole was getting deeper by the moment, almost threatening to swallow all three of them in a pit of embarrassment.

"I have a problem....I'm not sure who....I am?" It begged a joke, but Jerry put them all at ease.

"Me too...like am I a boy? Or....a girl?" The last bit was very painful, and even at the risk of being more embarrassed, Jerry started to tear up. No one but his mother and sisters knew about that until now, and he had just risked rejection.

"Me too...well not so much lately. Megan...My doc? She's been helping me with that. But I know how hard it is. Maybe...." Vinnie scrunched down in his bed, almost afraid of suggesting it. Miri jumped in.

"Maybe Jerry could talk to your doctor? That would be great." She turned to Jerry, who by now had started to cry.

"It's going to be okay....It's going to be okay." Miri was so happy for Jerry that she started to cry. In a few seconds they were all crying; albeit for different reasons. Jerry was relieved that Vinnie hadn't rejected him. Miri was excited and happy that her brother might finally have someone who could help him.

And Vinnie? He was crying because after all that, he was more confused than he had ever been in his entire life.

I am Rosemary's granddaughter
I'll grown up how I oughta*
And when the day is done
My momma's still my biggest fan
Sometimes I'm clueless and I'm clumsy
But I've got friends who love me
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am

Next: You're Not From Here!

Who I Am
Words and Music by
Brett James and Troy Verges
As sung by
Jessica Andrews

*lyric changed to reflect storyline

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