Jasper - A Character Sketch

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A follow up character development on Jasper.

Submitted: November 29, 2016

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Submitted: September 27, 2016

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Escaping the Darkness

The bell finally rang, leading Jasper both to both his key to freedom and simultaneously guiding him back to his prison cell. He kept his shoulders hunched, hoodie up, earbuds in, doing everything to keep the high school out of his head. Song after song blasted through his earbuds, reverberated through his head, carrying him through the crowd of students. As the beat flowed into his ears, the bass dropping down into his toes, the mass of backpacks, Converse, and conformity faded away to gray. Around him, the bus, words, and people all turned to smoke. In a struggle to stay anchored, he fought to block out the whispers that encouraged him to pull the earbuds out and just fall asleep in the warm sunlight.

Four more stops, three more, two more, one more.

He watched as the blurry mirage of students filed off the bus, before finally dragging himself up and out of his seat. Jasper had ridden the bus his whole life; he used to pretend that it was his chariot leading to his kingdom, which was hidden deep into the forest. Today, well, today he didn’t have time for such things. It was just a rickety old bus, a worn dirt road hidden by overhanging trees, and a small baby blue house with a tree fort in the backyard.  Jasper trudged his way up the long driveway, pulling his lanyard out from his pocket and swinging his keys around his hand. His hand poised on the doorknob, Jasper closed his eyes and took a deep breath, bracing himself. Sure enough, the door swung open to reveal his mother crashed on the living room couch, countless bottles piled up around her. He looked up at the clock, it read 2:35. Jasper hurriedly gathered up as many of the bottles as he could. At 2:40 on the dot, the door slammed with the energy of none other than his bounding little sister, Arianna.

“Jaz!”

She met him with a joyful exclamation and a warm hug, slinging her backpack off her shoulder and onto the floor. Her pixie auburn hair was plastered to her forehead with sweat from running down the path. Jasper followed her twinkling eyes as they jumped around, still sparkling with excitement from the day- until they fell on their mother.

“Hey Ari, how was your day?”

He spoke softly, gently pulling her shoulders, centering her focus away from their mom; immediately her face lit up again.

“It was AMAZING! You wanna see what I drew in art? We were studying surrealism and the famous painting The Treachery of Images by René Magritte. First we went outside and studied the environment around us, then I saw this really cool butterfly sitting on a bush, and then I thought about how all of it kind of connected and flowed into each other, all the colors and lines, and so I drew it like that, all flowy, and the teacher said she really liked it.”

Jasper smiled; it was one of those rare smiles only Ari could bring out of him. She talked at the speed of a mile a minute.

“Sounds like you’ve had a fun day,” he beckoned her away from the living room and into the kitchen, “you want to show me your drawing?”

She slung her backpack forward, unzipping the back pocket and pulling out her art folder in one excited motion. Jasper drank in all of the colors and flowing lines of the paint and pencil, seeing exactly where Ari’s hand had curved and twisted, attempting to capture the ultimate connectedness she saw in the moment. It was the same glow of imagination he had once had, the one that showed him endless kingdoms of possibility and wonder.

Jasper smiled again. “It’s great Ari; I love it.”

“Thanks!”

She gingerly placed it back in her pack with her other treasures. Their brief moment was interrupted by a moan coming from the next room.

“Jasper, Ari, is that you?”

He gave Ari a warning look. It was one that said, “Get out; go to your room, quickly.” She gravely nodded her head and retreated to her bedroom, shutting her bright teal door quietly behind her.

“Yeah mom,” his called, his voice coming out gravelly and low, “I’m in here.”

“Oh Jazzy, could you come in here and help me baby?” Her voice was slurred and choppy.

He hesitantly stepped into the next room, his mother still clutching a bottle in one fist, attempting to stand.

“Help me up,” she demanded, beckoning him with her hand. She was barely dressed, wearing nothing more than a tight, revealing dress, some smeared makeup, and a headful of ratted hair. Jasper cautiously stepped forward, offering his hand to help her. She took it and narrowed her eyes, giving him a suspicious look.

“Jazzy, where were you last night?”

“I was here mom.”

“No you weren’t, I heard you leave. I watched the door all night.”

“Mom,” he said more insistently, “I didn’t leave.”

“DON’T LIE TO ME JASPER LEE HAWTHORNE!” Her voice smelled heavily of vodka, the stench scorching Jasper’s face along with her words. Her voice became deadly quiet. “I will ask you, one more time. Where were you last night?”

He lied to her, recognizing that she wasn’t going to believe what he said either way. “I went out with Chris. His parents are fighting a lot right now, he needed a night.”

His mom looked off to the side, nodding her head. Like a python, she turned unexpectedly on him and smacked him hard in the mouth. “You don’t leave your family behind. You don’t leave ME behind. You don’t want to be like that, that pig of a father you had do you? He left you, you know. I stayed behind. I took care of you. You don’t leave your family behind.”

Jasper hung his head barely controlling his raging anger, a red hand shaped welt beginning to burnon his face. He could hear the smallest of snivels coming from the next room.

“I’m going out, I’ve ran through all my bottles. I’ll be back soon.”

“Mom, please, you shouldn’t be driving right now, let me go get them for you,” he pleaded with her.

She grabbed his jaw, looking him dead in the eye. “I can go get my own liquor; I don’t need you to look after me Jazzy. Be sure to feed your sister.”

“Yes mom.”

He waited for her to slam the door shut behind her before sinking down onto the couch behind him, burying his head in his hands. From around the wall, his sister’s eyes peeked out at him. As soon as his eyes caught hers, she broke down into tears.

“Oh Jasper,” she choked out through sobs, “I’m sorry, I should’ve stayed out here with you, she goes easier on me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Ari; I wouldn’t let her touch you.” He pulled her into a tight hug. “You gotta be strong when she gets back though, okay? Don’t let her see you’ve been crying.”

She nodded, burying her face into his shirt.

“Shhhh, it’ll be okay, we’ll get out soon. I’ll get us out. I promise.”


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