Three days later after coming home from a recording session with Quincy, Mother told me about a letter I had sitting on the dining room table. I grabbed it and raced to my room. It’s from Shayla-Elizabeth. I’m so excited to read what she has to say! Once I opened the letter, I found two more pieces of paper. This girl really likes to write…
Dear Michael, June 13, 1979
I’m shocked you responded to my letter! You should have seen the smile on my face when I saw that I got a letter from you. My mother said I screamed so loud I woke my baby sister, but I don’t remember that. I don’t think I would have screamed that loud. As soon as I got to my room, shut and locked the door and put on my pajamas, I read your letter. You may not think so, but I think you have nice handwriting! You’re probably thinking I’m a weirdo… I did tell you I’m not an ordinary girl. I notice the odd things about someone and compliment them on it. Are you left-handed or right-handed? I’m right-handed and I can’t help but to angle my paper when I write. It just feels so right!
You really think I’m funny? I don’t think so. Usually people laugh at me, not with me. But thank you for noticing my sense of humor, unlike some people…besides my baby sister.
I’m glad you don’t mind that I’m not that big of a fan, but you know what? I do know some things about you. You have eight siblings; however, it would have been nine, but your older brother Brandon passed away. How do you feel about it? Does that affect you at all? Were you too young to care when your mother told you? Do you wish to see him in the afterlife? Forgive me if this is a sensitive topic for you. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I completely understand.
Well, on a happier note, I have four siblings. My oldest brother, Robert is twenty-five; my second oldest brother, Matthew, is twenty-three; my third oldest brother, David, is twenty. Then it’s me, eighteen and my baby sister Mariah, who is three. I don’t know what my parents were thinking after having me. Out of all my siblings, I’m closest to Matthew. We have a lot in common and we stand out. We tend to lead the crowd instead of following it. The only difference is that he was the cool one in school who everyone wanted to be friends with. I’m the girl who has few friends, if any… Who are you closest to? One of your brothers and one of your sisters. Why are you close to them?
My favorite name is ‘Michael’ because it means, ‘who is like God?’ or ‘a gift from God.’ Plus, I find the name to be attractive for a boy. Everyone is a gift from God, but St. Michael was to defeat Satan’s soldiers and he did. So that’s why I like the name. Do you think differently of yourself now?
Once again, thank you for taking the time out to read my letter. I hope I receive a response from you again! I hope you have a great day, Michael J
P.S. You can call me, ‘Shayla.’ That’s what all my friends call me.
I had very mixed emotions after reading Shayla’s letter. I was happy because of what she knew about my name and she’s interested in knowing more about me instead of sending me a photo and wishing to marry me. But I was sad, because the last time our family talked about Brandon was when Randy was told about him. He’s bound to be brought up again when Janet is a tad bit older.
Dear Shayla, June 15, 1979
I’ve never actually carried on a conversation with someone through a letter. Maybe because they always just send me photos and ask to marry me, so I don’t write back. You’re different. You’re writing me with a totally different approach and I thank you for that. I wish for us to continue to write to one another, because it’s already a joy seeing you write back.
I don’t think you’re weird. It’s cute. I don’t really like my handwriting. I’m sure it will get better soon but thank you for the compliment. I admire your out of the ordinary mindset and that you compliment people on what may be seen as ‘odd.’ Sometimes I do that myself, but not often. To answer your question, I’m right-handed. Sometimes, I angle my paper when I write as well, so you’re not alone.
I do think you are funny. You have a great sense of humor. When I read through your recent letter, there were sometimes I just had to laugh, like when you mentioned you don’t know what your parents were thinking after they had you. You don’t have to count on your baby sister to think you’re funny. You have me now and I’m sure if I were around you right now and you said something funny, your sister and I would laugh like there’s no tomorrow.
I’ll answer your questions on my brother, Brandon. You’re right, this is a sensitive topic for me, but it’s not all that bad. Whenever I think about it, I feel sad and upset. Sad because my mother had to experience the death of her newborn child. I feel upset because I wish he would have lived with the rest of us. Did you know he and Marlon were twins? Marlon doesn’t get upset about it, but I’m sure he wonders what life would have been like with a twin. When my mother first told me, I was sad. As a child, I didn’t understand, but she explained to me that he would not come back, and I understood that. I think I cried, but I’m not sure. I would have to talk to my mother about that. Of course, I wish to see my brother in heaven soon. My mother tells me when we finally see him, we’ll all rejoice because we’re all together again. Time will only tell when that will happen. I can wait. Brandon understands.
I did the math and I noticed that you and your siblings are two years apart except for Mariah. I would like to know what your parents were thinking as well. Seeing as only you and Mariah are living at the house. You will be leaving soon, right? If you don’t, I completely understand. I’m still with my parents until I find somewhere I would like to go. As of now, I’m fine here.
Out of my brothers, I’m closest to Jermaine. Some people think I would be closest to Randy since we’re the youngest out of all the boys. But I’m closest to Jermaine because during our Jackson Five years we were the lead singers and always shared the same room. So, a bond grew between us. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about when he left us. I was pretty upset about that. Sometimes, I still don’t know how to handle it. Out of my sisters, Janet and I are the closest. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s just how we are when we’re around each other. She just gets me, and I get her. We just get along so well. We’re the pranksters around the house too, so we have that in common.
In a way, I feel different about myself. I didn’t know St. Michael had to do that. But having been reminded that he was one of God’s angels, makes me feel good. Mother told me what my name meant a while back. I really like my name. Not just because of what it means, but because…well…I guess it’s just me. It fits. I can’t imagine being named anything else.
I wish to get a response from you soon. I enjoy getting your letters already.
“Mom! Is there a post office anywhere?” I ran down the stairs with my envelope sealed and ready to send to Shayla.
“Yes, what’s the hurry, Michael?” She looked confused.
“I have to send this to Shayla so that she’ll get it quickly.”
“You can’t just wait until tomorrow?” She asked.
“I can, but…”
“Michael, just wait until tomorrow. You get some rest. You’ve had a long day. I’ll give this to the mailman as soon as he gets here. Okay?”
“Okay, but please don’t read it.”
“Because it’s for Shayla.”
“I’m not going to open it, Michael. I wouldn’t have opened it anyway.”
“Thank you.” I began to make my way back up to my room.
“Get you some rest, Michael!” She called up the stairs.
“Yes, ma’am.” Another full day and two or three days until I get a letter from Shayla…