It’s been three weeks since I’ve last gotten a letter from Shayla. I wonder if she’s alright. Meanwhile, Quincy and I have been talking about a new album. I have high hopes for it.
When Mother came to pick me up, she gave me an envelope. It’s from Shayla! I’m so excited. It’s too dark out, so I really can’t wait until I get home to read this letter.
When we got home, I helped Mother out and hurried to open the door then ran up to my room.
“Michael, do you want any dinner?” She called up to me.
“Yes, ma’am! I’ll be down soon!” I called back and shut the door. It’s been three long weeks and I’m so excited to read this response from Shayla.
Dear Michael, July 5, 1979
I’m so very sorry I haven’t been able to respond to you in a while. The house has been mighty hectic now a days. Robert came back to tell my dad that he’s marrying his childhood sweetheart. My dad always thought she was trouble. So, the house has been filled with arguments. I’m happy for Robert and Mary. There’s absolutely no problem with her. It’s just the lifestyle her parents chose to live that the whole neighborhood knew about. I guess my dad thought she would live the same way. But she doesn’t want to live that way. She looks down on her parents’ actions. When she and Robert were younger, they would always have sleepovers in his clubhouse (that was for boys only) because she never wanted to be around her parents at night… I feel bad for Mary. Not only because of how her parents live but also because my dad dislikes her so much. He doesn’t really dislike anyone. It’s all so weird over here.
You really like writing to me? You don’t know how happy that makes me. Usually when I write someone or even talk to someone they don’t want to write back, or I get ignored. I’m glad you’re different from everyone else. It makes me happy that someone wants to know my opinion on things.
Michael, you have beautiful handwriting. Why don’t you like it? Well, I guess I could understand why you don’t like it. Everyone has something about themselves that they don’t specifically like. For me, it’s my nails. I tend to bite them a lot when I’m nervous or jealous. I want beautiful nails like my mother. Her nails are so beautiful. Every time we go to the nail salon and get our nails done, I’m ashamed because I’ve bitten them so badly. I try to stop, but I can’t. I’ve been doing it since I was a child. My dad used to do it a lot and that’s who I picked it up from. He’s stopped the nasty habit, but I can’t seem to stop. I’m sure I’ll stop at some point.
I had the nerve to ask my parents what they were thinking after they had me. You wanna know what they said? They said they wanted another baby since I grew up too fast. My thoughts were, ‘why didn’t you guys just have another baby two years after me, like you did the boys?’ I should have said that, but I didn’t. I probably would have gotten a serious lecture. I’m pretty sure Mariah will grow too fast for them too and they’ll end up having another baby. My parents are quite hilarious and mysterious people.
Thank you for answering my questions on your brother. I won’t say anything else about that topic, because you did say that it is a sensitive topic for you. I won’t say I understand, because I don’t know what it’s like to lose a sibling, but I do respect your sensitivity towards it.
I am leaving soon. Right after graduation I’m going to Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina where my dad went. It was between that and Yale. I decided to follow my father’s footsteps and go where he went. He says it’s a great school anyway. Are you going to college or have you already tried it out? If so, what is it like? I would really like to know before I go. What have you got in mind for where you want to live? If you still don’t know, I understand.
Janet is hilarious! I remember watching your show “The Jackson’s Variety Show.” She always had me cracking up. Both of you were funny. I’m upset that it’s cancelled now. What happened? If you can’t tell me, I understand.
What’s your Mother’s name? She’s a sweetheart whenever I see her on television or in the magazines. They always refer to her as Mrs. Jackson. She’s very beautiful. I see who you got your eyes from.
Again, I’m sorry for responding late. But whenever you get this letter, thank you for reading it and I hope I get a response from you soon!
Shayla, Shayla, Shayla. She’s such an interesting person. I never would have imagined I would meet such an interesting girl while writing letters back and forth. She’s so different than all the other girls who have written letters to me. I want to know what she looks like now. I know for a fact she’s beautiful. Does she have long hair, long legs, and beautiful brown eyes? I would really like to know. Should I ask if I could have a picture of her? Yes? No? Maybe? I don’t want her to think I’m interested in her looks. She can probably already tell I’m very interested in her personality. Maybe I should wait to ask for a picture. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll wait.
Dear Shayla, July 7, 1979
It’s been a while since we’ve last written to one another. I was excited when my mom gave me an envelope with your name on it. I couldn’t wait to get home to read what you had to say. That explains that I enjoy getting letters from you.
I understand what you mean about your brother Robert marrying his childhood sweetheart and your dad reacting to that. When we were still young, Rebbie, my oldest sister, was going to marry her childhood sweetheart, Nate. Joseph was outraged. He didn’t really like the idea of them marrying. I was only ten at the time, so I don’t really remember anything, nor did I understand. But I do remember the day her wedding was also the day of a show my brothers and I were supposed to do. He did go to the wedding, but he refused to walk her down the aisle. Imagine how upset she was. But I think she was still glad that he attended.
You really think I have beautiful handwriting? I never imagined my handwriting to be “beautiful.” I don’t like it because it’s sloppy half of the time. Especially when I’m writing songs. Well, I don’t think that’s a problem. A lot of artists and people in the music industry have sloppy handwriting. I guess I don’t feel bad.
Shayla, I bet you have beautiful nails. Whether they’re all bitten down or not. I would think they’re beautiful.
Your parents sound hilarious. If my parents told me that, I’m pretty sure I would laugh out loud. But then again, they had seven before me, so I don’t think I would have much of a reaction to it.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to college. If I do, it’ll probably be later on when I’m not as busy with my career. I haven’t had any colleges in mind either. But since you bring up the topic, a college that I have heard was a great school was Fisk University. If I ever get a chance, I wish to visit and hope to get a degree. I don’t know what I would major in just yet. If I ever go, I’ll make sure to tell you everything.
I really haven’t gotten anywhere in mind yet, but I have drawn out an idea. I’ll send it to you. Tell me what you think. It’s a little rusty, so don’t judge me. I showed Janet. She thinks it’s a great idea. I haven’t shown anyone else, but her. I plan to show my mom soon. If you think it’s a great idea, I’ll show my mom. If you think it’s foolish, I’ll try something else.
Honestly, I’m the one who had it cancelled. The people who had us do it in the first place told us it would bring up our record sales. I thought it was a bad idea in the first place. I told Joseph it would make the sales plummet, but he disagreed and went ahead with the show. When the show happened, guess what happened? The record sales plummeted just as I predicted. Most of the time, people don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to me because they think I’m inexperienced. I’ve been in this business since I was five. I think, I’d know enough by now. When I showed the producers the evidence of how the show impacted the record sales, it was cancelled. I had fun on the show, but TV isn’t for me. I apologize, because I know it was your favorite show. But I had to do what was best for my career.
My Mother’s name is Katherine Ester Jackson. I admire her so much and I love her with all my heart.
I hope to receive a letter from you soon, Shayla!
“Michael, come get your dinner!” Janet called from the bottom of the steps.
“I’m comin’!” I called back as I put my drawing in the envelope. My heart raced with joy as I ran outside to put the envelope in the mailbox.
“Michael, what on earth are you doing?” LaToya asked me.
“I was putting my envelope in the mailbox.”
“You’ve never been that eager to respond to a fan.”
“She’s not just a fan.”
“Is she your girlfriend?”
“No. We just met. This is only our third letter.” I made a face.
“Whatever. Everyone is waiting on you and we’re hungry.”
I followed her to the dining room, “where’s Joseph?”
“Out.” Randy responded.
“Oh…” We wasted no time to wait for Joseph and bowed our heads to pray.