(Three Years Later – December 2, 1982)
"Thriller was amazing, Michael! Congratulations!" Someone said to me.
I smiled, "thank you."
"Is Ola your special lady or is there someone else?" A reporter asked as I tried to walk to the limo.
"Um, there is no one right now," I unlocked my car.
"No one? Have you considered anyone?"
"Uh, I'm not big into dating right now," I quickly got in my car to avoid further questions and tried to drive off.
"Why not?" Another reporter pressed.
"I'm just not. Thank you for your questions. Have a great evening," I drove off. As I drove home, I seriously began to ponder their questions. I still wonder whatever happened to Shayla. I haven't spoken with her in a little over a year. Maybe her abrupt stop at writing was her way of saying she wanted to break up... We both got so busy with life, so the phone calls grew scarce, but the letters never stopped. It's still so sad to know that things ended the way they did. After a while, I had no choice but to deem myself single. There was no sense in saying I was still in a relationship if we stopped talking. It still amazes me that one night that practically made me the happiest man on earth. The night, I asked her if she would be mine and her brother interrupted. I had to wait until the end of the night for her to call me back and tell me she would gladly do so in the near future. I still smile at the thought. That summer of 1980, I went to visit her family. Her brothers really grew to like me, which was a good sign of course. Her parents thought I was perfect for her. Her family really seemed to accept me, especially Matt. He was the most impressed. I still miss Shayla. But we were just two kids in love... While hurt, I just put all of my focus into my music and the Thriller album came out of that. It's crazy how life goes on and two people lose contact. She was truly one of a kind.
"Do you all remember your 'ABC's?'" I asked my class of kindergarteners.
"Yes!" They smiled.
"Let's sing them," I instructed as I lead them in the song. As I sang along, I was instantly reminded of the time I spent with Michael when we went to the hospital and visited children. It's so inspiring how much he loved children. I love them as well or else I wouldn't be a teacher. But it's great to know, he truly loved children as well. That was definitely something we had in common. I know he would have loved to teach my class with me.
"Ms. Johnson, when is lunch?" Brian asked me.
"In thirty minutes," I reminded him.
"Aww," he whined. "That's forever!"
"Not really. We'll make the time go by," I told him as he went to sit down with his classmates. "Who wants to watch a movie?" I asked. All twenty of their little hands shot up in the air. "Okay, I have Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty. Raise your hand if you want to watch Peter Pan." Everyone's hands shot up once again. "Peter Panit is," I put the tape in and turned off the light. I went back to my desk and turned on my light. Oddly enough, Peter Pan reminds me of Michael. He always expressed his love for the film. I often wonder why he stopped writing me. I mean, life got in the way of us being able to call each other, but I don't believe the writing should have stopped... I'm unsure if that was his way of saying he was tired and annoyed by me, but no... I don't think Michael would ever do that if I knew him the way I thought I did. Maybe a letter got lost as Matt suggested. He's been so fond of Michael, but once the writing stopped, so did his fondness. When I graduated and moved out to Sacramento with David, I made sure to write to Michael and let him know. Maybe something did happen. I mean, he's an even bigger celebrity than ever now with the Thriller album and short film that he performed with ease. I can see how my measly letter wouldn't have even been a thought. I mean, with everything going on with me and him releasing such an incredible album, I can understand why. I wonder if his family still thinks of me at times. I often think of visiting them in Encino. But with Michael being as huge as he is now, I'm sure security was beefed up at the Jackson residence.
"Ms. Johnson?" Mya walked up to my desk. I looked up at her. "Mr. Fischer wants to see you," she pointed.
I smiled, "thank you, Mya," I got up to meet him in the hallway.
"Good morning, Ms. Johnson," he smiled that oh so handsome smile of his.
I blushed, "hi, Byron..."
"You know you never did answer my question."
"And what was that?" I flirted.
"Is there a special guy in your life?" At that, I looked everywhere but, in his eyes, and bit my lip. I've been single for quite some time since I never heard anything back from Michael. But now that someone is pursuing me about it, suddenly I'm scared to actually say it.
"No," I shook my head. "There isn't."
"Really?" he smiled. "Does that mean I can take you out soon?"
"Maybe... Now, if you'll excuse me, Byron. I have a class to attend to and so do you," I turned back to my classroom.
He lightly grabbed my wrist, "okay, let me at least take you out to dinner."
I smiled, "I'll think about it."
"LaToya, have I gotten anything in the mail?" I asked as I walked into the house.
"Just fan mail," called back from the kitchen. "You know, Michael, it's almost been two years. Why are you still worried about that girl? Clearly, she isn't worried about you anymore. Your career is booming, I'm sure her teaching job is too. Get over it. Please for the sake of us all." Maybe LaToya is right. I guess it's just become a habit for me to ask if I had gotten anything from Shayla. I haven't tried calling her in a while because the number I had before was changed. I wonder what would happen if I called her university... I hurried to my room. After I remodeled my room, I haven't been able to find anything. I have the photos of Shayla and I still framed around here somewhere. It would be nice to talk to her and tell her everything that has been going on. I picked up the phone and dialed 411 who directed me to Ohio State University.
"Hello, you've reached Ohio State University. How may I direct your call?" Someone asked.
"May I please be directed to the dormitory offices?"
"Certainly," they transferred me over.
"Hello?" Someone answered very clearly frustrated.
"Hi, I'm calling to be directed to a friend of mine. I lost the number to her dorm, so I figured you all would be able to help me with that."
"What is their name?"
"She doesn't reside here anymore."
"Really?" I asked.
"She graduated in May of this year."
"Graduated?" I asked. What the heck?!
They sighed, "yes."
"Thank you," I hung up. Graduated? Why didn't she tell me she was graduating? I would have been there to congratulate her. This has been bothering me for a while, but- I can all Matt. He'll be able to tell me everything. Ever since I went out to Ohio, Matthew and I have become friends of a sort. He'll tell me what happened to Shayla. I searched for his number and found it deep within my desk. I dialed it and waited for him to answer.
"Yo," he answered.
"Matthew? It's Michael!"
"Michael as in the Michael who stopped writing my sister or the Michael, I owe twenty dollars to?"
"Um," I didn't know how to answer that, because the outcome sounded bad either way. So, I answered the best way I knew how "Michael Jackson."
"Man, what happened to you? You know you had my sister crying over you when you stopped writing her! I was ready to come over there to California and kick the shit out of you! What happened?!"
I was stunned, "I never stopped writing her. I-" I paused. All this time I thought she stopped writing me. Someone's letter must have gotten lost!
"Yeah, sorry. Matt, I never stopped writing your sister. Maybe a letter got lost because, despite everything I had going on in my life, I always looked forward to Shayla's letters and writing her back."
"I don't know if I should believe you... I told her that letter probably got lost or something. She believed me for a while, but eventually, she stopped caring and began to doubt me.
I have to get in contact with Shayla, "Matt, is Shayla with you?"
"No. She moved away with David."
She was that upset that she moved? Oh man... "Do you," I cleared my throat. "Do you think she'll want to talk to me, so I can explain what happened?"
"I'm sure she would love to talk to you, but her schedule is pretty tight nowadays. I can barely get through to her and you know we're close."
"She's a kindergarten teacher. After the two of you stopped talking, all she does is for those kids. I can't even have a decent conversation without her bringing up one of those little brats."
"A kindergarten teacher? Wow."
"Yeah, you know she loves those stinking kids."
"Maybe you can visit her. She's actually not very far away from you now."
"Where is she?"
I gasped, "that's only five hours away!"
"Well, go get her!"
"Thanks, Matt! Hey, do you have her number?"
"Of course," he gave it to me. "Oh, and by the way, you might want to explain to her that that chick in your video was only for your video."
"Gotcha. Thanks, Matt. I truly owe you one."
"Nah, forget it. Just don't get my sister pregnant before you put a ring on her finger. I don't need her running around here with a rich baby daddy. Plus, I'm not ready to be an uncle."
I laughed, "gotcha." I hung up. "Yes!" I jumped on my bed.
"What's up with you?" Janet asked as she walked in my room eating popcorn.
"I talked to Shayla's brother and he gave me her number."
She made a face, "Shayla-Elizabeth? Didn't you all break up?"
"We lost contact. We'll see how everything else goes. Do you think I should call her now?"
"Give it some time to sink in. You don't want to sound too excited and creep her out."
"True. I'll wait," I sighed and lie back on my bed. I can't wait to hear her voice again.