Cast of Thousands, Chapter 26
The two got home just in time for dinner. Afterward, Jess timidly brought her corrected essay downstairs and showed it to her parents.
"An eighty-nine, wow, that's very good, Jessica!" Dorian congratulated her. "Do you mind if I read it?"
"Go ahead, I guess," she muttered, looking down.
They both read it, Joyce looking over Dorian's shoulder. As she got deeper into it, Dorian choked and tried to cover it up by coughing. Joyce had her hand over her mouth. Jessica hoped she was just trying not to laugh at something, although she didn't think her essay was that funny.
When she finished, Joyce said, "That's really good, Jessie. Looks like your teacher really liked it."
Jessica realized Joyce had been trying to cover up a smile while she read the essay. "What were you laughing at?" she said accusingly.
"Nothing! Nothing, it's just ... funny. I don't know. I know we always told you you should be totally open about stuff, I just didn't know how open you could be!" Joyce laughed helplessly. "Oh, honey, I'm sorry. It's a real good essay. It was just a little shocking to be reading about ourselves."
"That goes triple for me," Dorian said, looking embarrassed. "Or more, maybe."
Jessica looked like she was going to cry. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to!"
Joyce came to hug her. "It's okay, honey, it's okay, there's nothing to cry about! It's a great essay, and your teacher really liked it, and everything is great, and you got a really good grade on it too." Jessica sniffled.
"I didn't know how much attention you paid to all this stuff," Dorian said. "I thought I was just sort of... this blur of people that all get to be 'Moms.' I guess I don't know how different other people in here seem to you."
"Well, you are all different. I mean, I'm really lucky, and stuff, and I just wanted everyone to know about it," Jess said uncomfortably.
"Who's everyone?" Dorian raised an eyebrow.
"Umm...." Jessica squirmed. "I was going to ask you about that. Cause, uh, Ms. Woods says that we can get extra credit if we read our essays to the class. She wants everybody to talk about how we're all different but we're all the same, or whatever. She says it's important to share our experiences and things. But I thought I should ask both of you before I did that in case you didn't want me to tell the whole class everything about you or something."
Joyce and Dorian looked at each other for a long moment. "No...." Joyce said finally, "I think it would be okay if you wanted to read it. I mean, you're the one who has to go to school with these kids every day. And we decided a long time ago that we weren't going to try to hide anything about ourselves from the people we live with and work with. It's not worth it to hide stuff that nobody should be ashamed of. It just eats you up later." Dorian nodded, smoothing Jessica's hair.
"Okay," Jessica said, still looking downcast. "Now I just have to decide whether I want to or not." She sighed. "It would be a lot easier if you just said no!"