I hope you are all enjoying these “favorite scene” moments. I have really liked going back over the series and picking certain parts to explore with all of you.
Thundering Silence was a new experience for me because it was the first time the issues which faced the characters came from within. Julie becoming ill was impactful to so many characters for different reasons. Aside from her being a part of the family, Julie has represented something profound for three of the characters.
For Tommy- she was simply the reason he survived. He had to be okay for her and if she wasn’t there, he would have given up, plain and simple. She is his sister, and his connection to his parents and his past. He adores her and the woman she has become is one of his proudest reflections.
For Jack- Julie grounded him. He was lost, no one needed him and nobody understood him. When Tommy and Julie invited him into their family, he became whole again. Helping Tommy to raise her gave him a purpose and a profound respect for life and family. She is, as he likes to tell her, the glue.
Bill. What can I say? Julie had Bill’s heart the moment he set eyes on her and the most amazing thing, for him, was how she looked at him. In her eyes, he was the man he always hoped he would be. She saw him, all of him, and she embraced every bit. He had never loved anyone like he loved her, and nobody had ever believed in him like she did. They were truly soul mates, and to know she was suffering from something he couldn’t fight, it just killed him.
But first and foremost, Thundering Silence focuses on Jack and Stephanie.
Stephanie is always a challenge for me to write because she is the closest character to me. We share the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and how I write that aspect of Steph is how I try to live my life. It isn’t always easy to just let it be. Some days the disease wins and although like Stephanie, I don’t dwell on it, sometimes it’s all I can think about.
Jack reacts like many in my family have reacted. I don’t dwell on it, so they don’t either, but when it rears its ugly head, the reactions aren’t always what we expect. I love how Jack loves Stephanie, and his frustrations about how she tries to hide her issues hits home for me. A lot of the issues Multiple Sclerosis brings to people’s lives will begin to be explored a little more, beginning in this book and beyond.
But, on to this book. I chose to share a flashback scene to a pivotal moment in Julie’s upbringing. I love writing these flashbacks and this one, in particular, makes me smile.
(13 years ago)
Tommy came home and tossed his books on the table. It had been a ridiculously long day of classes and he just wanted to relax and watch some television. He saw Jack on the phone and he grabbed some chips before he plopped down on the couch. He looked at the table and realized Julie’s bag wasn’t there. He tried to think if she had any after school meetings. He sighed as he realized he was drowning with everything going on. He had to organize things better.
“Tom, we have a problem,” Jack said as he walked in.
“When don’t we have a problem,” Tommy said and looked at his friend and roommate.
“Julie skipped school,” he said.
“Shit, what the hell is going on with her? Is she in her room? I’ll talk to her,” he got up and Jack shook his head.
“She never came home.”
“What? Where is she? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know, hence the problem.”
Tommy looked at him and nodded. “Let’s go find her.”
Jack nodded and they went to the car. After driving around for a while, they made their way to the cemetery. Tommy breathed a sigh of relief when they saw her sitting on the bench. Both men got out and ran to her.
“Jules, what are you doing here? How did you get here? Why did you skip school?” Tommy yelled at her.
Jack saw Julie had been crying and he gave Tommy a look. “Did something happen?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Why did you come here?” Tommy asked.
Julie looked at them and turned scarlet. “I had a problem at school.”
Jack looked at Tommy. “What kind of problem? Is someone bullying you?”
Julie rolled her eyes. “I can take care of myself.”
Tommy sighed. “Julie, how did you get here?”
“Promise you won’t blow a gasket?”
Both men stared at her.
“Julie Williams I am going to kill you. What were you thinking? You weren’t thinking, you never think. You are going to give me a heart attack. What is wrong with you?” Tommy yelled at her.
She glared at him, her eyes flaming. “I needed to talk to mom, okay. I had a problem and I couldn’t talk to you about it. I can’t discuss this with either one of you,” she began to cry.
Jack had been in the middle of a hundred of these fights. He looked at Tommy. “Take a walk for a minute.”
Tommy glared at Julie before he turned and walked away. Jack sat down and put his arm around Julie. “What’s going on?”
The 13 year old looked at him and Jack decided he was out of his league. He didn’t know what she was going to say and he suddenly felt every bit of his immature 19 years.
“I had a woman problem.”
Shit. Jack looked at her. “Did something happen? Did someone do something to you?”
“No. I became a woman.”
Jack looked at her. “You didn’t have sex, did you? You’re only 13.”
“No I didn’t have sex,” she wiped her eyes. “This is too embarrassing. Just leave me alone.”
Jack took a deep breath. “No. You can tell me.”
She looked down at her hands. “I got my period and I didn’t know what to get. All of my friends are so much more mature and they all have moms to help them. I have to get stuff at the store and I don’t know what I’m doing. I just want to crawl into a hole and die.”
Jack stood up and looked at her. “Wait here.” He walked to Tommy and looked at him. “She got her period. She needs stuff.”
Tommy stared at him. “What? I thought she already had that. Isn’t she old?”
Jack shook his head. “How the fuck do I know? How many teen girls have I raised? Why don’t you sit with her and I’ll go to the store and get some stuff.”
Tommy looked past Jack at Julie. “What do I say to her? I don’t know what to do.”
“Figure it out. I’ll be back.”
Tommy walked over to Julie and sat down. They both looked ahead. “So, do you have any questions?”
Julie looked at him. “You did not just ask me that. I am going to die of embarrassment.”
Tommy wiped his palms on his thighs. “Well I can look it up if I don’t know.”
She stood up and walked to the grave of their mom and sat down. Tommy walked over and she looked at him. “Please leave me alone.”
“No, I can’t do that,” he sat down and looked at the stone with their mom’s name. “What do you think mom would have told you?”
She wiped the tears that fell from her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. She can’t tell me. She’s been dead a year and every day it still hurts. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, Tommy. All of these things are happening to me and I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. She and daddy are going to miss everything. My friends are going to go through drivers training and their parents are talking about what camps and sports they should play and I am skipping school because I am becoming a woman. I don’t have anyone to talk to and I just want her back. I’m such a loser.”
Tommy pulled her into his arms as she sobbed and he rubbed her back. He felt awful for her and he wished he had some way to help her. “You are not a loser, Jules. I miss them too. I wish mom was here to help you. I wish you didn’t have to think of all of these things and you could just be a kid like everyone else,” he looked at her and wiped her eyes. “Do you want me to talk to one of your friends moms? Maybe they can help you.”
She hugged him. “No. I just need you and Jack; but I’m scared Tommy. How will I know what it means to be a woman? How will I learn what to do?”
He looked up as Jack came over carrying two huge bags. Julie looked again like she wanted to die.
“What the hell did you buy?” Tommy asked.
Julie took the bags and pulled out the packages. “Depends? You bought me diapers?” she yelled incredulously.
“I don’t know, I just grabbed one of everything,” he said sheepishly.
“Jack, you bought every shape and size,” Julie said and burst into tears.
“I’m sorry. I’ll take them back,” he grabbed everything and put them back in the bag.
Julie shook her head and moved to hug him tightly. She moved to hug Tommy as well. “You guys are the best moms ever.” She looked at them. “I love you both so much, but if you ever try to buy me anything like this again, I will kill you.”
Jack smiled and Tommy shrugged. “Deal.”
“Can we go home or should I hitchhike again.”
“Don’t think that’s going to go unpunished,” Tommy said as they walked to the car.
“Jack, you have to talk to him,” she whined.
“Oh no way, Jules, I agree 100%. You could have been killed, or worse.”
“Worse then killed? Isn’t that kind of the worst?” Julie asked.
“I bet you think you’re cute,” Tommy said.
“I know I am.” Julie smiled at them and they all got into the car and drove home.