Chapter 5

A month. It's been an entire month since I've heard from Shayla. I really hope everything is okay. She is the only person I feel I can talk to. Mother understands. She notices I'm happier when I receive a letter from her. We're done with "Off the Wall." I may just send a copy to Shayla. I think she'll really like that.

"Michael!" Joseph called just as I was walking down the stairs.

"Yes?" I answered as he held up an envelope in his hand.

"Do you plan on meeting this girl?"

"Who?"

"This 'Shayla' girl."

"Oh. When the time comes, I hope so."

"That's good. Here," he handed me the envelope.

"Thank you. Did this just get here?"

"Maybe. It's been sitting on the counter for quite some time."

"Oh, boy," I ran upstairs.

"You're welcome!" He shouted up the stairs.

"I said, 'thank you!'" I said as I shut the door. Has it been on the counter all this time and no one told me? When I write back, I'm sincerely going to apologize. Why didn't I check the counter? As I opened the envelope, a photo fell out. Shayla must be beautiful. Of course, she is. A girl with an amazing personality is always beautiful. I picked the photo up and turned it around. She is gorgeous! Beautiful smooth caramel skin, long black curly hair, beautiful brown eyes, long sexy legs, and the most beautiful smile. Her eyes are fixated on the camera and her pose tells that she's having a good time. Her hand rests on her hip as she points to a red Mustang with a gorgeous smile on her face. I wonder how old this photo is. She doesn't look old. Maybe seventeen or eighteen. God, she's gorgeous. I mean, I knew she would be with such an amazing personality like her own. I put the photo in an empty frame and set it on the nightstand beside my bed. This photo isn't going in the drawer with all the other photos. It's going right beside me where I can admire Shayla and her beauty. I wonder what her voice sounds like. She must have a beautiful voice. I can't get my mind off Shayla. She's so... Let me just read her letter.

Dear Michael,                                                                                             July 20, 1979

I hope you like the photo I decided to send you. It's the best I could find. I don't really like taking photos, but I was forced to take this one because it was my birthday and my dad got me my favorite car. Isn't it nice? I'm glad my dad got it in my second favorite color. How ironic is it that I happened to be wearing red that day too? Forgive me for my hair. I couldn't find the hot comb, so I just wore it naturally curly with a big red bow. Enough about that. I hope you like the picture. Do you mind if I have one of you? I know you're all over the magazines, televisions, tapes and record covers, but I would like a personal photo of you. If you don't mind...

Thank you for wishing me a happy birthday! I really did have a good time. Not only did I get the red mustang you see in the photo, but I also had a surprise birthday party with all of my classmates. Even the ones who wouldn't dare speak to me. I'm sure it was my Mother's doing. Nothing got out of hand. But I got a lot of presents. I thought everyone didn't like me, but apparently, they do. At school, I have so much respect now. It'll probably die down within a month though.

Yes, Michael! I really like your drawing! I pinned it above my desk. What did your mother think of it? I'm sure she loved it as much as I did. You call it "Neverland?" I really like that. I would have never thought of that, but "Neverland" is amazing. I don't think you're crazy. You have an amazing imagination and I admire that. You would allow me to come with you? That would be so fun! I would love to!

What do you think it is? Do you think they just want to marry you because of your looks? Your money? Or simply because of your amazing voice? If you don't want to answer that because you think you may sound conceited, I understand, but to me, you won't seem conceited, because I feel as if I know you a little bit now and you've told me you aren't. 

If you ever go to college, tell me what you think. I think you'll do great. You'll be the valedictorian...if they have that at college. I think you'll like it there. Do you like to learn? I've read that you love reading because you can travel to another world. I believe you. That's why I read. Especially since my dad is being so odd towards Mary, I like to escape to another world.

My mother's name is Angela Elizabeth Johnson. She's very nice and she wanted to be a country singer at one point in her life, but she figured she couldn't because of the color of her skin. So, she's a nurse. She's the sweetest person in the world. I love her with all my heart and I would never want another woman to be my mother...well if I had a nice mother-in-law, I guess she would do. Ha-ha! My father's name is James Johnson. He's not a stern man. People say he looks like he would be stern, but he's not. He has the kindest heart. He loves children, but when he thinks someone is a bad influence on his children, either me and my siblings or his students at school, then he becomes stern. You wouldn't really expect it from him since he has such a kind heart.

I hope you get this letter soon!

Sincerely,

Shayla

"Dunk!" I shouted as I walked down to Janet's room. "I'm coming in!" I opened her door.

"What?" She asked.

"Guess what?"

"What?"

"No...you have to guess."

"Fine. You have a purple elephant."

"No. That's a good one though."

"Ok. What?" She became impatient.

"Shayla sent me a photo."

"Really? Oh, my goodness! Let me see, let me see!"

"I left it in my room. Come on," she followed me to my room.

"Michael, did you get your envelope off the counter yet?" LaToya asked as she came up the stairs.

"You knew, and you weren't going to tell me?" I shot her a look.

"I mean..."

"I didn't know it was there until today. Joseph gave it to me."

"That's good. What are you two up to?"

"Michael's gonna show me the photo of Shayla," Janet said excitedly.

"She sent you a photo? Did you put it in the drawer with the other ones?"

"No."

"You threw it away?"

"No, I-"

"Come on, Toy. You should see it too," Janet pulled LaToya along.

"Michael, your room is still a mess!" LaToya made sure to mention.

"I know. I'm going to get to it soon."

"I don't see how you can live in this-"

"Michael, where's the photo?!" Janet was anxious.

"It's right there on my nightstand," I pointed. Janet picked it up with a little too much excitement and shared it with LaToya to see.

"She's prettier than the other girls," LaToya said as she looked at the photo.

"I think she's gorgeous," I blushed.

"She is. Is that all her hair?"

"You only notice her hair?"

"Well, not everyone wears their hair natural anymore."

"I do! So, does mom," Janet mentioned.

"I know, but not everyone does. I don't."

"I think it's her hair, LaToya. She spoke about wearing it naturally curly."

"Wow...it's long."

"Why is she pointing at that car?" Asked Janet.

"It was her birthday present."

"It's a nice car," she nodded.

"Why is she wearing that bow on her head?" LaToya giggled.

"Maybe because she liked it. I like it too," I took the picture frame.

"Applehead, you two would make a cute couple," Janet smirked.

"Aww. They would!" LaToya squealed. I blushed. "Michael, you're totally blushing! You like her!"

"Yeah...so?" I smiled.

"Have you written her back yet?" Janet asked.

"Not yet."

"Alright. Come on, Toy. Let's leave so Michael can write back to Shayla," Janet pulled LaToya along.

"Are you gonna call her soon?" LaToya asked before she shut the door.

"I don't know. I hope so soon."

"Aww, young love," She smiled and shut the door.

Dear Shayla,                                                                                         August 17, 1979

I'm sorry for the late response. Apparently, your letter has been sitting on our kitchen counter for a month now and I didn't notice. Everyone else in the house did but couldn't tell me. Joseph gave it to me today. I was quite grateful.

I really like the photo you sent me. It's not raunchy like some of the photos I've received. It's very nice. I know you'll enjoy your car. You look pretty happy that you got it. I would be too. You're gorgeous. When I got your photo from the envelope, I wasn't shocked, because I've always stuck to my saying that a girl with a beautiful personality is a beautiful girl. You're beyond that though. You're stunning! You have a beautiful smile and your hair is amazing. It's really pretty when it's naturally curly. I think it looks best that way although I have yet to see it straight.

Red is your favorite color? That's one of my three favorite colors. I like red, yellow and black. What is your other favorite color?

Sure, I don't mind sending you a photo. I take tons of photos, so I'll have to look for a good one. Do you mind if it's a photo with one of my siblings if I just so happen to pick one with them in it?

You're welcome, Shayla. It seems like you had a great birthday. I'm sure the respect for you won't die. Each day, you'll receive more. I assure you that.

My mother loved "Neverland." She said it was a great idea and that she always knew I had a large imagination. She hopes it goes through too. If I don't get it... I could settle for a nice house out in the country. I wouldn't mind. I'll still write music. I enjoy the moon and stars, so I'll be able to see those all the time and get more inspiration.

I think it's many different reasons. For some girls, it may be the money. It may be because their parents want them to marry me to take advantage of me. It may be my looks. It may be my voice. It could be anything. I could really care less. I'm just glad you're different from them. You're not talking to me to marry me for the money or whatever. You're talking to me just to talk to me! Just to get to know me. You're talking to me for me. Not because of what you see on TV, in the magazine or when you hear me on the radio. You just want to know the true me. I want to thank you for that.

If I ever go to college, you will be the first to know about it. I'm sure it's a great place. I really like to learn and read. I like learning history, art, and music. I believe art and music are the same. You can paint a picture in a person's mind when you make music. They're the same thing. That's why I like them so much. What are your favorite subjects in school and why?

Your mother's name is beautiful. It's ironic that she wanted to be a country singer. So, did my mother! She didn't want to be for the same reasons.

I'm guessing your father is a teacher or maybe a principal? It sounds like it.

I'm going to send this letter immediately in hopes that you get it and I won't forget to send it off. I hope to get a response from you soon!

Sincerely,

Michael

I sealed the envelope and ran downstairs.

"Who's that?" Randy asked.

"Michael," I replied.

"Hey, can you help me with something?"

"Give me one minute." I hurried to put a postage stamp on the envelope and ran it out to the mailbox. "Please get this," I whispered as I put the envelope in the mailbox...

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