[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his week, my friend Jessica completes her GED. That might not sound impressive to you, but it is to me.

Jessica was a sweetheart. Not my sweetheart, she was too much of a tomboy for that. No, Jessie was one of the fellas. If you looked past her skinned knees and foul mouth, you’d see a girl.

She was tough; good at shooting, climbing trees, telling jokes, and spitting. And she could cram more tobacco into her mouth than any boy I ever knew, and not get sick.

This, I learned the hard way.

Since birth, Jessie show-jumped horses. I watched her practice on the back of her farm. She’d whip Softy into a canter and leap over the arrowheads. Then, she’d turn Softy around and stride over taller fence-combinations.

And leave us boys speechless.

At age fifteen, something happened to Jessie. She started getting nauseated in the mornings. Things got worse. After a few months, Jessica’s clothes weren’t fitting. Her face got puffy, and her pants became tight. It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening inside of her little body.

In her eighteenth week of pregnancy, they expelled Jessie. She never came back, and nobody treated her the same afterward. Small-town people can be downright vicious when they want to be.

Well, I never gave a blessed damn what they thought of Jessie. I didn’t back then, and I sure as hell don’t now. If you ask me, a thirty-three-year-old girl with a GED can prove a lot of judgmental, closet-drinking Baptists wrong. Congratulations, Jessie darling.

Give that daughter of yours a kiss.



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