CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SIXTY-FIVE
When Valerie didn’t respond, Jacob thought it might help if he said something.
“If I may …” Jacob said.
“I understand what you’re saying,” Jacob said. “I even remember those pink shoes. Do you remember what happened to them?”
Valerie shook her head.
“You got terrible blisters,” Jacob said. “You had to see Dr. Bumpy and got a lecture from Nurse Dionne about taking care of your feet. ‘No fashion is more important than caring for your feet, young lady.’”
“She’s right,” Valerie said.
“Of course she is,” Jacob said.
When she didn’t say anything else, he continued.
“I don’t think that you have a love of money,” Jacob said.
“I was furious with Mike over those stupid paintings,” Valerie said. “He was like: ‘What? I’ll paint more. The Denver Art Museum has helped me a lot. They need to raise some money. What’s the big deal?’”
“Of course, he’s right,” Jacob said.
“Hrmpft,” Valerie said.
She crossed her arms over her chest.
“I don’t think you have a love of money,” Jacob repeated. “I think you wanted to be safe.”
Valerie turned to look at him.
“Social safety was always important to you,” Jacob said. “You didn’t want to be made fun of or be bullied or taken advantage of. You felt small. I don’t know why, but it still comes over you now. It’s crazy to me, but you feel small, sometimes. Overlooked. Money seems to make that go away.”
“Seems,” Valerie said. She shifted back to look at her mother’s gravestone. “Money steals away everything else.”
Valerie sighed, and Jacob waited.
“I’m thinking of leaving acting,” Valerie said, firmly.
Jacob laughed. She hit him again, and he laughed harder.
“Why are you laughing?” Valerie asked.
“You love acting,” Jacob said. “You love everything about it. You’ve already signed contracts for two more movies and a commercial and whatever’s next.”
“Whatever you do, you’re not quitting acting,” Jacob said.
“Maybe now that the money thing is not such a big deal, you just need to add more of the things you love into your life,” Jacob said.
“Like what?” Valerie asked.
“Like hang out with Samantha,” Jacob said. “She is your best friend. Like take really great care of yourself for a while. Or just play.”
“Philia. Philautia,” Valerie said. “Ludus.”
“Oh God, not you too,” Jacob said, mock groaning. “Mike’s been whining about being ‘charged with Agape.’”
“He wants someone to pay!” Valerie said with a laugh.
They laughed for a moment.
“Actually, I can’t think of anything better than focusing on the different kinds of love,” Jacob said. “We need them so desperately now. The world seems to have a shortage of love. As Aristotle said …”
“All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself,” Jacob and Valerie quoted their mother with Jacob saying, “woman” and Valerie saying “man.”
They sat in front of their mother’s grave in silence. They missed her so desperately and, yet, somehow, she was still there with them. Valerie sighed.
“Is Mom here?” Valerie asked.
Jacob shook his head and sighed.
“I haven’t seen her in a while,” Jacob said. He gave a soft shrug. “I assume she’s needed elsewhere.”
Valerie gave a soft nod. After a few more minutes, Valerie stood up.
“Love you, Mom,” Valerie said.
“Now and forever,” Jacob added.
Valerie hooked her hand through his elbow and they walked back to his truck.
“Buy me lunch?” Valerie asked when they were in his truck.
“Famous lunch or just lunch?” Jacob asked.
“Just lunch,” Valerie said.
“Good,” Jacob said.
He started the truck and they slowly drove from the cemetery.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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