“You aren’t happy.”
“No Momma, I’m not.”
That’s all it had taken for Mrs. de Luca to realize her Little Ray of Sunshine was losing her light. The once happy go lucky little girl was now a moody, sulky, 17 year old girl trapped.
Growing up in a small town in Georgia, Jaymee de Luca had been the town’s little princess. Your regular Southern Belle. Beauty pageants, singing at all the local events, All Star cheerleader, blonde haired, blue eyed, All American Girl.
And by her side through everything ever since her first day of kindergarten had been her best friend Blake. They had met when another little boy had pushed little Jaymee to the ground at recess and Big Bad First Grader Blake had seen it and had come running to Jaymee’s defense, wiping away her tears and brushing the dirt and gavel from her skinned knee before offering her half of a cookie. They had never left the other’s side since then. Sharing a love for music and sports, not to mention a birthday, just a year apart, they’d bonded quickly over the years, staying friends in the ever changing world known as elementary and then middle school.
“We’re gonna get out of here, de Luca. Just you wait. You and me, the day you turn 18, we’ll blow this joint and show the world what we’re made of.”
That whispered promise during her thirteenth summer and become an unbreakable bond between the two. They would do it, they’d show their town they were bigger then local carnivals and contests. They’d take the world by storm. Jaymee and Blake. Friends to the end.
Jaymee had never expected the end to come so soon.
April 1st, 2011.
Her 17th, Blake’s 18th.
She had woken up early, ready to spend the day with him like they had done every year since meeting. What she hadn’t been expecting was her mom to sit her down as she tried running out the door.
“Blake is gone.”
“Gone? What do you mean, gone? He was here? No way he beat me to it. He’s a lazy bum, Mama.”
”No, Peaches. He’s gone. As in his stuff, him, and his truck are gone.”
“I don’t believe you, Mama. You can come out now, Blake. Very funny. Aprilll Fool’ssss.”
“I’m sorry, Sweetie.”
The screen door had slammed behind her as she raced across the street to Blake’s house where his family had moved six years before. Letting herself in, she had raced upstairs and thrown open Blake’s door.
“Haha, very funnny.”…. “Blakey?”
Her best friend had left. All their promises and plans lay in an invisible broken heap on his bedroom floor. He’d left a note but his mother had refused to let Jaymee read it.
“Get out of this house and don’t you ever come back, de Luca. You made my little boy leave. You and that damn music.”
She’d returned home and spent the next 11 and a half months in a constant state of withdrawal. She barely ate, she wouldn’t talk to anyone, she no longer sang, she no longer smiled. She even graduated early just to avoid all their old friends. Her father had constantly yelled at her to snap out of it. To get ready for college. To stop it with her childish dreams. It was time to grow up.
But Jaymee didn’t want to grow up; her best friend, her first love (although she had never told Blake), her partner in crime, was gone.
Her mom had watched her little girl draw into herself and knew she needed out of her small town. Away from the constant reminder of what had been and would never be again. So, she had talked to Jaymee and against her husband’s orders, had rented a house for Jaymee in Florida and helped Jaymee find a job at Disneyworld.
“Go find my little girl.”
And that’s exactly what Jaymee was hoping she could do. Find the happy person she had once been. Find herself. Find the Jaymee, without the Blake.
Hopefully the magical world of Disney and a little of Tinkerbell’s Fairy Dust can bring back this Southern Girl’s spunky charm.