Jenny was glad to have finally found a reason for being. She'd had trouble finding any reason but was actively searching. Her lack of interest in just about everything had isolated her. She was always on the periphery of conversations at her school, simulating interest and nodding and pretending to laugh or gasp at the right times but never truly engaging. She was no one's best friend or worst enemy. She was just Jenny. 'Oh, it's just Jenny', people said. Even her mother said it. Just Jenny, someone adults kept alive and healthy to see what might become of her. Well, she had decided what she was going to become and, my oh my, what she became.
Despite her persistence, Jenny's online forum contributions and Facebook posts always went unacknowledged. That is until Aarzam from Luton (a place in England) started responding to her because she responded to him. He kept going on about God and justice and all this stuff and Jenny asked him what he was talking about. What followed was a correspondence that lasted for months. Jenny didn't really care what they were talking about, the important thing was that they were talking. Jenny never had a point of view on anything so she consciously decided to adopt Aarzam's point of view on everything. Not everyone agreed with Aarzam, in fact some people thought he was crazy or evil, but he got people's attention and attention was something Jenny craved.
Anyhoo, as the girl in question would put it herself, this all led to Jenny being stopped at the airport and asked to step into a back room to answer some questions. She told them, flatly (everything she said came out flatly) that her destination was Syria and that she was joining her boyfriend. The airport security were nonplussed by this strange girl in a homemade burka fashioned from a bed sheet dyed black. Things became even more confusing when they asked Jenny where she was from. South County Dublin was the answer but her accent was clearly United States. She told them her 'mom' spoke like that too. She was asked if her 'mom' was American. 'I don't think so', Jenny said. They asked Jenny if she had ever been to the United States. Jenny said she hadn't. They asked Jenny why she had an American accent. Jenny wasn't aware that she had an American accent and said it might be because she 'watched a lot of shows'.
So, like, anyways, things turned into a really big deal. Aarzam had been seen in a viral where a non-unionised freelance journalist got beheaded. Jenny became the opposite of famous, infamous, for a while but then she just became famous when she renounced her newfound beliefs and ran a mini-marathon in aid of something, she wasn't quite sure what. This was all on the advice of an agent Jenny's mother employed. 'We're going to need someone to handle this Goddamn fucking shit storm', was Jenny's mother's reasoning.
The newspapers and the TV went crazy and spoke to the other kids in Jenny's school and they said that she always seemed like she was keeping secrets. Jenny didn't know they thought that about her. It was kind of cool. Better than boring. Jenny went from being 'Just Jenny' to 'Jihad Jenny' in the space of a few days. Some professor guy called Schlemp wanted to talk to her for a book he was writing called 'Online Anomie International: Islamic Extremism and the Search for Likes'. They were going to make a movie too with Saoirse Ronan acting as Jenny. 'She's OK I guess, she's kind of old though', Jenny told Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show. Ryan asked Jenny if she'd lift her burka and give the audience a peek at her pretty face. Jenny did. There was a big round of applause and then Ryan gave everyone a hamper of beauty products.
Jenny's mother was really happy with how the whole thing panned out but she was 'really pissed' at first. There was silence in the car when she picked Jenny up from the airport but then she suddenly exploded. She screamed and slapped her open palm against the steering wheel.
'How the fucking motherfuck did you wind up facebooking with a bunch of Wahhabi crazies?'
'Jeez Mom, take it easy. I don't even know what Wahbabbi or whatever is. I just made friends with a Muslim boy is all. What's the big deal?'
'Just made friends with a Muslim boy?' Jenny's mother repeated, emphasising her incredulity.
'Yeah', said Jenny, 'he kind of like listened to me'.
'And what the heck were you saying that made him listen to you honey?'
'I dunno', replied Jenny, her voice trailing off. 'Just stuff I guess, ...just, y'know, ...stuff.'