Chapter 4

(Shayla)

"Shayla-Elizabeth Ann Johnson! Did you not hear me? I said you got another letter from this Michael fellow!" Mom shouted. I shot up from my bed. "Shayla, did hear me?" She asked in a softer tone.

"I just heard you," I rubbed my eyes.

"Were you sleeping or were you faking again?"

"I just woke up when I heard you calling me."

"Well, why didn't you get up?"

"I was about to, but you were already coming."

"You kids," she rolled her eyes. "Well, here's your letter from Michael. Next time you hear me calling you, you better come quick. Whether you hear me coming or not."

"Yes, ma'am," I looked at the envelope. Michael really does have beautiful handwriting. I put my hair in a ponytail and sat at my desk to read his letter. As I opened it, a piece of paper fell out. I unfolded it to see a drawing of a theme park. That's what it looks like at least.

I pinned it above my desk. He has such amazing talents. He can sing, dance, and draw? How amazing is that! I wonder what it's supposed to be. Maybe I should read the letter to figure it out.

After reading the letter, I was quite happy as usual. When you get to know Michael, he's amazing. I wonder how he feels when girls just want to marry him without even knowing him. Through a letter at that... That's just tacky. I'm gonna ask that. I really wanna know how he feels when girls ask him that. Because if guys sent me a letter like that, I would get irritated. Who would dare have the audacity to ask a person you only heard of and seen on television to marry them? I find that foolish. That means you only like them for their looks and would not care to know how they really are. I really want to know Michael's thoughts about this.

Dear Michael,                                                                                                 July 10, 1979

I really love your drawing! I'm guessing you would like your home to be a theme park of some sort? I really like that idea. I never would have thought of it myself. "No more Kings Island! Now my own home is a theme park!" I really like your idea and you should really show your mom. She will love it as much as Janet and I do. I fully support your idea and I hope it goes through. I would also love to visit someday if I may.

Michael, I want to know something. How do you feel when you get a letter from a girl asking if you will marry them? I know I would be irritated if a boy sent me a letter asking me that and they only knew me from watching television or listening to my music and not even getting a chance to get to know me. It would upset me greatly. So please, tell me how you really feel when you get letters considering this subject. Sorry to skip to another subject so quickly. I'm just eager to know how you feel.

I enjoy receiving letters from you too. Each time I read your letter, I have the biggest smile on my face. 

I can only imagine how your sister Rebbie felt. I would have been upset. How does Rebbie deal with that? I would have thought my dad hated me. 

Yes, Michael! I think you have beautiful handwriting! End of discussion! Just kidding. But yes, you do. Out of all the guys handwriting I've seen, yours is the best. So, you should be happy about that.

Thank you, Michael. You know how to make me smile. I let my nails grow a tad bit and they look great. Hopefully, I won't bite them down again.

My mom and cousin graduated from Fisk. They say it's a great school. I really think you should apply or check it out sometime. I've applied there, and I got accepted, but I don't want to go. I want to go where my dad went.

I respect your decision for wanting to cancel the show. However, I must tell you that I bought every album you sold while you were doing the show. You still had me to count on.

I have a feeling your father's name is Joseph? Why do you call him by his first name? If my brothers and I called my father by his first name, we would probably get a long lecture about respect.

Your mother's name is pretty. I would love to meet both of you someday.

Michael, I hope I get a response from you soon. In three days, it's my birthday and I would really look forward to getting a letter from you. Only your letter would make me happy.

Talk to you soon!

Sincerely,

Shayla

(Michael)

It's been a week since I've heard from Shayla. I hope she is okay. I hope nothing is wrong. Maybe it's not her. Maybe the letter is taking a while to get here. I hope it gets here soon!

"Applehead!" Janet called as she ran up to my room.

"What, Dunk?"

"Here's a letter from your girlfriend," she teased as she gave me the letter.

"Get outta here!" I pushed her.

"See! You're blushing! You like her," she pinched my cheeks.

"So..."

"Really?!"

"I mean, I do. I like her personality. Personality is what really counts, Dunk. Looks are just a bonus."

"Do you have a picture of her, so I can see what see what she looks like?"

"No. She didn't send me one. I didn't ask for one either."

"I think you should now."

"Why?"

"Since you like her and all...why not? And you guys have been writing for a while. I think it's safe to ask for a picture."

"You really think so?"

"I know so."

"No, you don't. You think so."

"So, what!"

"Whatever," I laughed. "Alright. Go on and get outta here. I want to read this letter in peace."

"Why so you can-"

"Dunk!"

"Fine! I want all the mushy details," she said and stuck her tongue out as she walked out and shut the door.

"Finally," I opened the envelope and began reading its contents...

My face hurts from smiling so much.

"Michael, I...why are you smiling so hard?" Randy barged in my room with cassettes in his hand. "Is it that 'Shayla' girl again? I thought she was just a fan."

"I consider her a friend."

"A friend?"

"Yeah...anyway. Why are you here?" I rubbed my cheeks as I looked for a pen and paper.

"Have you seen my Stevie Wonder tape?"

"Yeah. Here," I handed him the tape.

"Michael, what did I tell you about going in my room and touching stuff?"

"I can't help when I'm inspired," I shrugged and lay on my bed once I found my pen and paper.

"Don't do it again."

"Fine. Can you leave now?"

"Whatever, Mike," he slammed my door.

"Thank you!" I shouted.

Dear Shayla,                                                                                                           July 17, 1979

I see your letter was delayed from arriving. I'm sorry I couldn't get this letter to you for your birthday. I feel terrible, but I think you understand. I wish you a Happy Belated Birthday! What did you do? Did you have fun? I'm sure you did.

You really liked my drawing? Thank you! I thought you would think I overdid it. I call it "Neverland." You know how Peter Pan had "Never Never Land" where he never grew up? That's what my "Neverland" will be like. Please don't think I'm crazy, because I'm not. I just have a huge imagination. I want it to go through. I really do. When I have enough money, I'm going to create "Neverland" and I'll invite you. You and I could ride all the rides, eat all the ice cream and all that other great stuff. I'm sure you will love it. When I create it, you'll be the first person to come and explore with me. Well, I mean, if that's okay with you. I'll show my mom as soon as possible. She'll love it. I know she will now.

Janet has asked me that same question. Honestly, when I get a letter, I read it and when it gets to stuff like that I just stop reading it or pitch it. I get irritated, not entirely upset though. It's innocent, honestly. I get irritated because they don't get to know me. Like how you are getting to know me. They just see me on television or something and think, "I'm going to marry Michael Jackson someday" or something like that. It makes me wonder sometimes. That's why I'm glad you're different from them. You didn't send me a photo with a heart around it, "Mrs. Michael Jackson" written on it, and a letter that contents included: "Dear Michael, WILL YOU MARRY ME?" Those letters are funny sometimes though.

I was only ten at the time Rebbie got married. When he didn't walk her down the aisle, she had a problem with that and was quite upset about it. Now, I'm sure she's over it. At least, I'd hope so. I mean, that's not really something you can easily forget and sweep under the rug.

I just might apply to Fisk someday. It seems like a good school. I'll have to check it out some more if I ever have any time.

Yes, my father's name is Joseph. We call him by his first name because that's what he wants. He doesn't want us calling him: dad, daddy, father, pop, papa or any other name for a father. It's strictly Joseph for us. I learned that the hard way as a youngster. I have always longed to call him my father, but I'm not allowed to. It no longer upsets me.

What is your mother's name? What is she like? What about father? What is he like?

Shayla, I don't want to be too forward or anything. Janet suggested that now would be a good time to ask you since we're getting to know each other. If you don't want to, I understand. It's your choice, but can I have a photo of you? I would like to put a face to the girl I'm talking to. To me, looks don't matter. It's all about personality and I must say, I love your personality already. You have a different mindset from anyone I've ever met. So, if you don't mind, I would like to see the beautiful girl with that beautiful personality. 

Well, I hope to get a response from you soon. Happy Belated 19th Birthday again. I'm sure you had fun.

Sincerely,

Michael

I hurried to seal the envelope and went downstairs to put it in the mailbox just when Joseph came.

"What you doin'?" He asked as he shut the car door.

"Just putting something in the mailbox."

"Another fan response?"

"No."

"No? Well...?"

"Her name is Shayla and we're friends."

"Friends, huh. Where did you meet?"

"Nowhere. She wrote a fan letter."

"Then the two of you became friends?"

"Yeah."

"Has she sent you a photo?"

"No. Not yet."

"Are you sure this is safe?"

"I'm pretty sure."

"You know in my day-"

"Joseph, I'm sorry to cut you off, but it's about dinner time and mom needs help setting the table."

"Alright," He waved me off as I hurried toward the house. 

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