(Previously: USE YOUR WORDS)
“Jack Rory! WAIT!” Lisa’s voice rang out so commandingly that Jack Rory stopped in his tracks.
“Jack Rory,” she said more soothingly. “Please don’t destroy the sanctity of Group by leaving without closure. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of us to work through this.” Over her shoulder, he could see Destiny’s imploring gaze.
Jack Rory considered his options. Walking out now would almost certainly mean the end to his relationship with Destiny. He didn’t want that. But at the same time, he wasn’t sure if he could handle the trip down memory lane Lisa seemed to expect from him. He looked up to find Destiny’s alluring cat-like eyes fixed on him. For me, she mouthed.
Jack Rory sighed. “Fine,” he said. “You want to hear about my childhood? Gather ’round.” Everyone eagerly complied.
“Details about my life before the orphanage are scarce,” he began.
“Orphanage?!” Louis and Bonnie exclaimed in shared horror.
“Yes, orphanage,” Jack Rory confirmed. “All I know is that I was left outside the front door in a basket.”
“Jack Rory, didn’t you say that your baby was also left outside a door for you to find?” Lisa asked.
“Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” Jack Rory said irritably. “Do you want me to tell this story or not?
“So,” he continued, “I was abandoned at the orphanage with nothing but a note that read, ‘Please take care of my baby. His name is Jack Rory. Some day I will come back for him.’ But nobody ever came.”
“There was nothing else?” Regina asked excitedly.
“There was one other thing,” Jack Rory said. “This broken charm bracelet.” Plunging his hand into an unseen pocket, he produced a tarnished piece of jewelry.
“You see? It just says ‘Jack.’ If I ever find the ‘Rory’ part, I’ll know I’ve found my real parents. But I’m not holding out hope.”
(Destiny was stunned. This was the first she’d heard of any of this! And she’d never even noticed that Jack Rory had pockets!)
“Anyway, back to the orphanage,” Jack Rory continued. “It was run by a horrible alcoholic who made us orphans clean the place day and night while performing complicated song-and-dance routines. We never slept. We barely ate. All we could hope for was to one day be adopted.”
“And were you?” Chuck said hopefully.
“No. I wasn’t,” Jack Rory said. “I came close a couple of times, but I always told the people I was waiting for my real parents to come back.” He sighed, clutching the locket in his fist. “So they chose someone else.
“After years and years of waiting, I’d had enough. Nobody was coming to get me. It was time for me to move on. As it happens, it was Christmas Eve. All the other orphans were sleeping, but I was lying awake on my bed. And then I heard someone coming down the chimney. It was…”
“SANTA?” Mike asked.
“Yes,” Jack Rory said. “I wasted no time. When he was looking the other way, I scampered into his sack. From there, we were off to the North Pole.”
Lisa looked worried. This story had taken a twist she hadn’t predicted.
“But that must have been wonderful, Jack Rory!” Louis said. “The North Pole? Santa’s workshop??”
“Wonderful?!” Jack Rory said. “Sure, I guess if you like sweatshop labor. Making toys around the clock for no pay. But I didn’t have any choice. So I did it.
“I worked so hard trying to impress Santa. I wanted him to love me. But he never had time for me.”
Jack Rory’s face crumpled at the memory.
“All I ever wanted was to be LOVED,” he sobbed.
“I think we’ve heard enough for today,” Lisa said, trying to regain control of the room. “Friends, can we join Jack Rory in a circle of congratulations? He’s made a huge breakthrough today!”
The group clambered around Jack Rory, embracing him and offering their words of support.
Only Destiny remained outside the circle. It was impossible to tell what she was thinking.
TO BE CONTINUED…