Jess March’s real name is Jessica May. When I met her she introduced herself as Jess March but I saw on her intake form her name was Jessica May so I asked her why she called herself Jess March. She said that Jessica was a common name and sounded too boring and the nickname Jess matched her personality more than Jessica. I do not know how names can match a person’s personality because Jess has no meaning. Jess is a nice and weird person so if I had to think of a name that matched her personality it would be Unique or Odd. I asked if I could call her those names because they actually match her personality but she said no. She liked her last name May but she liked March better. I asked her if it was because March has five letters and May has three and five is better than three but she said she doesn’t like five or three and I found that weird because five and three are my favourite numbers but Jess hated them. She said she chose March because the sisters in Little Women, her favourite book, had the last name March. I pointed out that March is the third month in the year and she shouldn’t have picked it because she hates that number. She said that it is okay because her March is the kind that a soldier does not the month of the year.
I don’t know why I call her Jess March and not just Jess but I always have since we were in secondary school and she went to my sister school. I saw her crossing the street one day. She was only stepping on the white lines, her feet never touching the black pavement. When she got to the other side she hopped over the yellow bumpy square next to the traffic light. I think I stared at her too long because she looked at me, but her eyes never met mine, it was like she was looking right next to me and for a second I thought there was someone behind me. From two metres away she shouted.
“Why’re you looking at me?”
And I said, “Why did you jump?” Usually people get mad when I don’t answer their questions but she didn’t.
She said, “I don’t like the bumps.”
I said, “I don’t either.” I don’t know why I said it. She didn’t need to know and we didn’t even know each other. She didn’t say anything, just turned around and walked towards the shops. I didn’t see Jess March for three years but then I met her again when she joined a circle group my parents made me join. I don’t like the word “therapy” because it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. But it was a therapy circle.
When Jess and I started university we moved into a small flat together. It was tiny but clean. There was no dust and the counters had no chips on the surface. I think we got a good flat because Jess March’s parents are rich. Jess still doesn’t look people in the eye. I used to not look people in the eye but then I learned how and now it is all I can do. My aunt always said, “eyes are the opening to someone’s soul” but I don’t believe in souls. There is no such thing as souls, all the emotions and feelings that make a person and their personality come from their brain and when you die your brain dies too and no “soul” stays behind. But I like my aunt and I didn’t want to tell her she was wrong so I pretended that she said “emotion” instead of “soul”. I still don’t think you can see someone’s emotions in their eyes unless they are crying, in which case they are probably sad or happy, which makes no sense. No matter what, I try to always look someone in the eye just in case I can see their emotions but usually I can’t. Jess March gets mad when I try to look at her. She says it feels like someone is touching her and she doesn’t like to be touched. So when we are in the same room she tries to keep her back to me so I can’t look her in the eye but she doesn’t like having her back to anyone, it scares her. So she walks sideways when she gets close to me but I still try to look at her and then she gets mad. And then we fight and neither of us like it when we fight. So we talk through the walls. I can’t see her and she can’t see me. I don’t feel the need to look her in the eyes if I can’t see them and she likes to face my voice but not have me looking at her. So talking through the walls works for us.
Jess March only wears sweatshirts, even when it is hot out. She only owns two shirts and they are both identical dark navy blue long sleeve running shirts. She is very good at folding clothes and does it very fast. She said she is good because she folded clothes for her whole family. She said that being the oldest sister is hard because they get the most pressure put on them. Even though she had an older brother she still did all of the house work along with her mum. I once asked her why she did it and she said, “If I don’t do it, who will? My brother can’t fold for crap.” I didn’t understand what she meant because I think in the saying she was trying to use she was supposed to say, “Shit” but she doesn’t swear.
Jess March likes the numbers one, two, seven and eleven and no others. She likes numbers that multiplied by themselves or two make another number she likes, or divided by two make a number she likes. Like one, because one times one is one. One times two equals two. One divided by two is a fraction; her rules don’t apply to fractions. One divided by one is one, so she really likes one. The rest of her numbers don’t follow that rule, eleven comes close, but still isn’t perfect. Sometimes I don’t understand her rules and sometimes she doesn’t understand mine. Like the foods I like to eat which make her gag.
Jess March has a cat that follows her around everywhere. I like dogs but her cat is okay. I am a very observant person so I know where everything is when I enter a room but her cat is the only thing that stumps me. I know he is always with her but sometimes I just can’t see him. But then when she leaves the room that cat follows and he jumps down from an obscure shelf or crawls out from behind the rubbish and scampers out to follow her.
People say that Jess March is my girlfriend. All I know about girlfriends is they’re pretty and you are supposed to have sex with them. That is what Charlie told me. Charlie was my friend when I was fifteen. I think he works at Tesco now. He said that a girlfriend needs to be pretty and I think Jess March is pretty, she is certainly not ugly, very pleasant to look at. We have never had sex, we have never kissed, we have never even touched. Jess March is a weird girl but so am I. I mean I’m not a girl, I’m a boy, but I’m also weird.