Fathom Mag

Published on:
May 19, 2020
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3 min.
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Jacob (Part II)

Jacob is a series of flash fiction that takes place in 2005, when we were still trying to figure out if Jack and Meg White were siblings or exes.

“I’m worried about you,” Jacob could hear John’s mom say from the kitchen. Becket was on the computer in the family room, cracking up at his new obsession: YouTube. 

“I mean it, this isn’t normal behavior,” she continued, and Jacob tried to turn his attention to Becket, so as not to eavesdrop. John came in a few minutes later, shaking his head. He flopped on the couch, sucking on a blue airhead. 

“Chewing you out again?” Becket said. 

“Whatever,” replied John. “She’s mad at my dad, not me.” 

Hours later, while trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, Jacob continued to think about John and what he was doing.
Rachel Joy Welcher

Jacob wanted to ask more, but he knew that John had probably reached his threshold of vulnerability for the week, so he didn’t say anything.

A few weeks later, John’s comment made more sense. On their drive home from school, Kenny was teasing John about “making early alliances” at the Bridgeport County Correctional Facility. 

“My dad sure hasn’t,” John scoffed. Then he rolled down the window and stuck his head out, ending the conversation. 

“They’re playing Anchorman at the dollar theater this week,” Becket suddenly announced. 

“Let’s do it,” said Kenny. 

Kenny filled Jacob in later that night. It turns out that John had been visiting other prisoners on his weekly visit to see his dad. He had to fill out paperwork and everything to do it. “If you think I’m socially awkward, you should meet my dad,” was John’s explanation. He had made the decision to be an advocate for his dad. He figured, if he did some favors for his dad’s fellow inmates, maybe his dad would get beat up less often.

“What kind of favors?” Jacob asked. 

“So far, just family stuff, like going to their kids recitals and baseball games and stuff, then telling them about it. 

“Seriously?” Jacob said. 

“Yes, it’s pretty weird, man,” said Kenny. 

Hours later, while trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, Jacob continued to think about John and what he was doing. He had always assumed that he was the sensitive one of the group. The one that thought deep thoughts and wrote novellas in his head. But what John was doing was on another level of strange and selfless, and Jacob was kind of in awe. 

So he decided to join him. At first, John would have none of it. 

“This is something I have to do on my own, man,” he said. But after some prodding, he told Jacob that he could come with him to the ballet recital for the daughter of a prisoner named Anthony. 

“I have to take notes and stuff, so I can remember the details.” 

Jacob watched John scribble away while little girls bounced around on stage, falling over and missing their cues. One little girl stole the show, though. She was confident and exaggerated every move. The crowd loved her. 

“I hope that one’s his kid,” Jacob pointed. John shook his head. 

“It’s that one,” John said, pointing to the girl in the back row who was fiddling with her shoulder strap.

“I think you should embellish it a little bit,” Jacob said on their drive home. 

“Dude, he knows his daughter’s personality. I can’t make stuff up.” 

“Well you don’t have to lie, but you could add some flourish to the description. Read me what you wrote.” John flipped through his yellow legal pad. 

“Hm...I said: purple dress, blue sh--” 

“It’s a leotard,” Jacob corrected him. 

“Oh,” John scribbled some more. “Okay, then I wrote: danced with her friends to a peppy song, bowed at the front of the stage at the end and…” 

“And…?” Jacob pushed. 

“And she seemed happy,” John said. 

“Oh. That’s good.” Jacob said, “Keep that.”  

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine and an Acquisitions Editor for Lexham Press. She earned her MLitt. from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and the book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality (InterVarsity Press, 2020). You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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