“Michael, when are you going to talk to Shayla again?” LaToya asked me.
“I’m going to call her tonight.” I replied as we pulled up to the house.
“You said that last week and you never did it. What’s keeping you from calling her? She cares about you, you know?”
“Yeah, I know. I care about her too. You know Quincy and I are working on the new album. I don’t really have that much time to talk to her because I’m tired all of the time. I do miss talking to her though.”
“Michael,” she sighed. “I want you to march up to your room and call her. Matter of fact, invite her out here.”
“LaToya, I can’t do that! She’s in school.”
“So…I can’t just take her out. Besides she might not even be on break.”
“You don’t know that. You haven’t talked to her in two weeks!”
“I know, I know. Ok. I’ll call her.”
“Don’t play with me, Michael. I’m serious.”
“Why do you care so much anyway?”
“I just do.” She smiled and got out the car.
“Why though?” I followed her.
“Why do you care that I care?”
“Because I do!”
“What? LaToya, why do you care so much?” I asked before I gave her a chance to open the door.
“Don’t worry about it, Michael. Just go call her.”
“Fine!” I opened the door for her and raced to my room only to find Janet sitting on my bed with the phone in her lap.
“What’s going on, Dunk?” I lay on my bed.
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“Why is LaToya so upset that I haven’t called Shayla?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why do you have that phone in your lap?”
“LaToya told me to make sure you call Shayla.”
“You’re in on this too?!”
“What? No! She just told me to make sure-”
“Fine. Go. I’m going to call her right now.” I took the phone from her.
“No. LaToya told me-”
“I’m calling her now. Leave.” Janet smiled and walked out slowly. “Leave!” I shut the door behind her.
“Hello?” A man answered after the phone rang.
“Hi. May I please with Shayla?” I was nervous. It must be her father or one of her brothers.
“May I ask who is calling?”
“Michael, Michael Jackson. Shayla and I have been writing letters to each other.”
“Michael Jackson? You’re the kid my sister has a huge crush on? So, she finally got through to you.”
She has a crush on me… I smiled, “yes, Michael Jackson.”
“I’m her brother, Matthew.”
“Cool. She’s told me about you.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Just that you’re twenty-three and the two of you are very close.”
“Yeah. We are.”
“So, I’m told.”
“Do you like my sister?”
I choked, “excuse me?”
“You heard me.” He pressed.
“Uh…” How do I say this? It’s her brother for Pete’s sake! “To be honest, I do. I do like her. I care about her very much.”
“We knew it. She likes you too.”
“You kind of told me that earlier.”
“Is Shayla there?”
“No. She’s at school. She didn’t give you the number to her dorm?”
“Do you want it?”
“Alright.” He gave me the number. He’s kind of awkward.
“It was nice talking to you.” I mentioned.
“It was nice talking to you too, Mike. If you hurt my sister, just know that I’ll kill you.”
I swallowed, “I definitely will not hurt your sister.”
“I’m sure you won’t. I’ll talk to you later.” He hung up.
“Whew!” I sighed.
“Did you call her?” LaToya barged into my room.
“I tried, but I only got her brother.”
“Yeah. He’s quite protective of her.”
“Well, yeah! What do you expect? You’re just as protective of me, if not worse.”
“Of course. You’re my sister. I don’t want anyone to hurt you.”
“Oh.” I made a face.
“So, she wasn’t home?”
“No. She’s at school. Matthew gave me her number.”
“Well, are you going to call her?”
“I was before you barged in here!”
“My bad. Have fun! Tell her I said hi.” She shut the door on her way out. I shook my head and dialed the number to her dorm.
“Hello?” Someone yelled into the phone. Music played loudly in the background.
“Hi. May I please speak to Shayla?” This must be her roommate.
“Sure. Who’s calling?”
“Michael.” If I tell her my last name she’d probably flip…
“Shayla, Michael is calling for you. Pick up the phone!” She yelled away from the phone. “She’ll be here in a second.”
“I have it, Lauren!” Shayla shouted. The other line clicked off. “Hello?”
“Hey Shayla, it’s Michael.”
“Hey! Long time, no talk.” She giggled.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’ve been caught up in a lot.”
“Like your new album I’ve been hearing rumors about?”
“Yeah. I’ve been meaning to call you, but I guess I’ve just been too tired. LaToya actually forced me to call you tonight. Not that I didn’t want to call you…”
“It’s okay. I understand. I’ve been lounging around here. It’s winter break. Which unfortunately for me means parties galore. Where you ask? My dorm. Lauren is the definition of a party animal.” We laughed.
“It’s great to hear your voice again.”
“It’s great to hear yours too.”
“Is that a smile I hear?” I flirted.
“Yes, it is.” She giggled.
“So…how long are you on break?”
“Until January seventh. It just started.”
“January? That’s nice. Hey, um…I don’t mean to be too forward or anything, but would you like to come out here for break?”
“Where? Los Angeles?”
“Yeah. I’ll pay for your flight and everything.”
“Wouldn’t that be too pricey?”
“Who cares?” I shrugged.
“Oh my gosh! Are you serious?”
“Yeah. For your whole break! I would really love to meet you.”
“I would say I have to discuss it with my parents, but I don’t!” She laughed.
“I would love to. That would be so great.”
“So, can I buy your ticket tomorrow? Is that okay?”
“Awesome.” I smiled.
“Hey, what kind of ideas do you have for your new album?”
“Well, one thing for sure, I want this to be a fun album. I’m really excited for this album. You know I only got one award for ‘Off the Wall?’”
“Yeah, I saw. You must have been pretty upset given that you worked so hard.”
“You bet! But it just let me know that I have to try harder.”
“I just want you to know that although I wasn’t able to contact you, you were always on my mind.”
“Yeah. You’re on my mind all the time. I always look at your photo. You’re stunning.”
“Thank you so much, Michael. You got me blushing over here. I’m about to get completely off track. You don’t mind if I change the subject, do you?”
“Nope. Go ahead.”
“How did you get my number? I never gave you the number to my dorm.”
I paused. I’m embarrassed now. I cleared my throat, “well, I called your house before I called you and your brother, Matthew answered.”
“Matt was there?!”
“Yeah. We actually talked for a bit, but then he asked me if I wanted your number.”
“What did you guys have to talk about, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Me?” she laughed. “What about me?”
“He brought up how you liked me. Then I…told him…I liked you too. That was it.” I swallowed. I definitely just admitted that I like her.
She gasped, “he told you I liked you?”
“I’m going to kill him! You weren’t supposed to know that…”
“I don’t really mind. You don’t like me because I’m quote unquote, Michael Jackson, right?”
“Oh, dear God, no! I like you for you. I like you as a person, Michael.”
“Thank you.” I smiled a bit. It’s seldom I hear someone tell me they like me for me…
“However, I did here you say that you told my brother you liked me too?”
“Yeah…I do…” My heart was racing faster than a speeding bullet.
“I told you in the letters.”
“Tell me again. I want to hear you say it.”
“I like you because you got to know me. You don’t like me because of who I am or because I make music. You like me for me. You’re an amazing person. You’re stunning, smart, you’re different from any other girl I’ve met. You’re you and that’s all I want from a girl. For them to be themselves.” Her side of the line was silent. “Hello? Did I say something wrong?”
“No. I’m sorry. To everyone else, I’m weird simply because I want to get to know people. Thank you, Michael. Thank you so much. I guess we both needed someone to like us for who we really are…”
“Yeah… I guess you’re right.” I nodded. I didn’t think anything like this would come out of writing to someone.
“I have to go. Drama club starts in fifteen minutes.”
“Ok. So, I’ll talk to you later?”
“Yeah. Talk to you later, Michael!” She hung up.
“I think… I’m in love.” I put my hands behind my head.
“Applehead!” Janet ran into my room.
“I invited Shayla out here.
“Yeah. I’m going to buy her ticket tomorrow.”
“Yay! I get to meet your girlfriend!”
“She’s not my girlfriend!” Yet…