Thursday, January 9, 2014
An Even More Revised Chapter 16
Dorothy walked to the schoolgrounds the following morning with the chatter of Linda and Gail filling her ears. The first day of school was in session on September 8, the day after Labor Day. There was much to think about on Dorothy’s end as she mauled over the idea of seeing Carl again.
As promised, Linda had come over after dinner that previous night to help her decide on her attire, accessories, and makeup for the following morning. She had come fully prepared, armed with her powder blue makeup case, a bag of fashion magazines, and even a couple of her own blouses for Dorothy to try on. All seemed to be going well until Linda took out her eyebrow tweezers.
“No!” Dorothy protested.
“Dorothy, I tweeze my brows all the time. It’s not gonna kill you,” Linda said. “Now I’m going to get out one of my brow stencils that would suit your face structure. Then, I want you to stay very still and relax your face. One false move is enough to mess everything up, and then we’d probably have to shave them off and draw brows on you.”
Dorothy let out a defeated groan as Linda retrieved a stencil. Shaving off brows and then using a pencil to draw them on was something done by many women, especially ones more daring with their appearance (Gail had actually done it a couple times). I’m not that daring, though, Dorothy thought. She also knew her mother would not take kindly to her doing such a thing.
Thankfully, eyebrow plucking was not as bad as she had anticipated. Linda even gave her the stencil she used.
“I’ll take you this weekend to get you a good pair of tweezers,” Linda had said. “Oh, and I brought jars of cold cream and vanishing cream for you.” She reached into her handbag and retrieved two elegant glass jars filled with their respected content. “These are really nice blends my mother has imported from our relatives in Norway.”
“Won’t she miss them?” Dorothy asked.
“Nah. Her washroom cabinet is stockpiled. I swipe some for Gail all the time.”
“Thank you,” Dorothy said, taking them from Linda. “But I think I’ll be fine with soap and water.”
“No, you won’t,” Linda stated. “Do you know how to use cold cream and vanishing cream?”
“I know my mother uses them…”
Linda then went on to explain the difference between cold cream and vanishing cream, along with how to use them. Dorothy thought she sounded like a salesgirl selling a product in a beauty salon. You missed your calling, Linda, she had thought.
Linda continued with fixing Dorothy’s makeup, and Dorothy ended up being pleasantly surprised at the final result.
“Why shocked expression?” Linda asked.
Dorothy looked at her friend sheepishly. “To be honest, I was afraid you would make me up to look like a Burlesque girl. I really don’t think I’d be able to pull that off without looking like a fool. Not to mention that I very highly doubt my parents would allow me to leave the house looking like that anyway.”
“I just gave you a softer, more feminine look while highlighting your strongest features,” Linda replied. “You know I’ve been dying to do something with your cheekbones for the longest time. So here is what you’ll need to duplicate this tomorrow…”
Linda had still been in Dorothy’s bedroom at ten ‘o’ clock when Matthew and Liz Blake were about to get ready for bed. Matthew drove Linda home, and Dorothy slowly got ready for bed.
That night, Dorothy fell into a restless sleep, having the type of dreams that were so bizarre she couldn’t begin explaining them to anyone even if she tried. All that was explainable were the parts when she saw herself with Carl.
Dorothy chalked the dreams up to simply being the result of nerves. She had to admit that Linda did a good job, and she was feeling a little better about it all. But the butterflies in her stomach began scattering throughout her body as the three girls approached the high school. Her core was in knots as Linda tried preparing her for encountering Carl.
“You know how Carl is always in the same group of boys as Jimmy and Reginald in the morning,” Linda said. “That means you are likely going to see him well before homeroom, as soon as we arrive at the school grounds. Are you ready?”
“Not really,” Dorothy replied. Focusing on not hurling her partially digested breakfast onto the school grounds (and in front of Carl, no less) was Dorothy’s only concern in that moment. If I pass that test, then I’ll worry about everything else. “I may end up discussing homeschooling options with my parents later.”
“Well that’s not a very positive attitude,” Linda said. “Especially after all the work I did last night!”
Dorothy absently twirled a dark curl of her hair around her index finger as her friend continued on with her instructions. “Now remember, you don’t want to appear desperate. Men like to feel needed, but they don’t want to be smothered. And honey, please leave your hair alone! It looks perfect, so don’t ruin it!”
Dorothy released the curl from her finger as Gail said, “Listen, try not to think about it too much. Carl talked to you yesterday and I’m sure he will again.”
Dorothy clutched her books and lunchbag. “Easier said than done. And I may not even have a chance to talk to him today anyhow.”
Despite the assurance her friends were trying to give her, Dorothy still felt anxiety brewing inside. What if she made a fool out of herself and this was all done for nothing? What if Carl decided she was such a chucklehead yesterday that he decided to not even speak to her again?
“Yes you will,” Linda said, “and I’m letting you borrow one of my best blouses, so I don’t want to see you after school until you talk to him.”
The school grounds were in view, and Dorothy could feel her heartrate picking up speed.
“Almost there,” Gail whispered to Dorothy, giving her friend’s hand a squeeze as they approached the building.
Dorothy tried to appear confident, giving her friends a small smile. She looked ahead to the grounds across the street and saw the group of boys at their usual spot, underneath a tree near the front steps that led into the school. As usual, Carl was among the group.
Linda called to Jimmy as she, Gail, and Dorothy crossed the street. He turned in their direction, waved, and headed toward Linda with Reginald trailing close behind him as he came to meet Gail.
The two boys happily greeted their girlfriends before saying a quick hello to Dorothy. She smiled back at them, still a little embarrassed over Jimmy, and possibly even Reginald, knowing about her feelings for Carl. She dreaded not being able to face any of her friends again if she blew it.
Her eyes fell back to the group of boys under the tree. Carl was carrying on what appeared to be a very amusing conversation with Evan and George. She looked away as Carl began gazing in her direction while talking with his friends. She swallowed, hoping he hadn’t caught her staring at him like some gaping idiot.
As Linda and Gail headed off with their boyfriends, Dorothy got a wink from Linda and a reassuring smile from Gail.
Dorothy sighed, acknowledging to herself that she was, in fact, tired of being the fifth wheel to her friends. She drew in another breath and steeled herself.
I’m not going to avoid Carl on purpose…
She held her head up, kept her face forward, and began walking toward the building, passing by the tree Carl and his friends were under. Stay calm…he’s just a boy…
Dorothy managed to maintain steady breathing, even slowing her steps as she began passing the group.
She was almost to the steps of the school building when heard him call to her.
She stopped and turned around, letting out a gasp as Carl broke from the group and headed toward her, giving her the same warm smile from the previous day. Dorothy nearly melted, but her attention was thwarted when she noticed the other boys in the group watching knowingly.
So apparently the whole school knows. Thanks, Linda.
But Dorothy was feeling more relaxed than she thought she would be.
I suppose it’s now or never.
She put a smile onto her glossed lips, and returned Carl’s greeting. “Hello,” she said, only a little breathless this time.
“Hi,” he replied, stopping inches in front of her.
The two of them stood silent for a moment before George gave Carl an encouraging—though rather obnoxious—yell from over by the tree.
“Can it, George!” Carl called back.
Dorothy could hear George, Evan, and some of the other boys laughing at Carl’s response, and was surprised at how little it affected her. Carl was here. He was talking to her, and smiling at her in a good way. At that moment, this was all that mattered.
“May I walk you into school?” he asked.
Dorothy felt her heart swell at Carl’s gentlemanly gesture. She then remembered Linda’s advice of not appearing too eager or desperate. She was able to maintain her composure, and answered Carl by saying she would like that.
The two walked side by side up the stairs, stealing glances at one another before they entered the building.
“You look beautiful, by the way,” he said, opening the door for her.
She bit her lip and smiled. “Thank you.”
Carl had walked Dorothy to all of her classes that day, regardless of how far out of the way it was for him. By day’s end—as it always happens in high school—word on the new budding relationship had spread. Some were surprised by the pairing, though many seemed happy for both of them.
It was also exciting for Dorothy to walk with Carl to the drugstore & soda fountain to meet up with some of their other schoolmates after school had let out. He had paid for his chocolate soda and her strawberry sundae. The two sat next to one another among the group, their hands and forearms occasionally brushing. Dorothy was also grateful for he decision to bring a light sweater with her that day, as it covered the goosebumps that rose on her arms when Carl allowed his thigh to lightly touch hers.
As the group of friends sat in the large booth, engaged in laughter and conversation, she caught site of the joy in the eyes of Linda and Gail. Told you, their eyes said.
Yes, you did…Dorothy thought, stealing another glance at Carl.
The large group of kids dispersed outside the drugstore, and for the first time since knowing one another for their entire lives, the group of six (Jimmy, Linda, Reginald, Gail, Carl, and Dorothy) walked home together. When they reached the Blake residence, Carl promised Dorothy he would phone her that night. And he did.
Matthew had answered the phone when Carl phoned after supper. Dorothy was unable to mask her excitement as her father handed her the receiver with questioning eyes. Carl was polite enough to Mr. Blake, but Matthew was also aware of the young man’s reputation. Despite his concern, he allowed Carl to speak to his daughter that night.
And the night after.
Friday followed, and the two made plans to see a picture show with Jimmy and Linda at the Hollywood that evening. Dorothy was nervous about Carl picking her up, as she knew her parents wanted to be there to greet Carl before seeing them off. She was relieved when the meeting between her father and her date went rather smoothly, though Matthew did emphasize Dorothy’s ten ‘o’ clock curfew.
The two walked side by side to the Hollywood where they met up with Jimmy and Linda. A screening of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring John Barrymore, was playing that night. Carl, Dorothy, and Jimmy very much enjoyed horror pictures and always looked forward to their screenings. While Linda was more for romances, she did enjoy seeing the horror showings with Jimmy, as they gave her another opportunity to have him put his protective arms around her.
Dorothy was taken by the gestures of gentility Carl showed her. She was able to get a closer look at the soft, caring nature she always felt was beneath his the-devil-may-care exterior.
In the dark theater during the picture, he surprised her with a rather nervous kiss on her cheek as Jimmy and Linda were occupied next to them. She shifted her eyes over to him. In the sepia glow of the picture projected on the large screen, his gaze at her was almost unreadable, but it was a look that made her heart flutter. There seemed to be a magnetic pull between them as John Barrymore transformed into the malevolent Mr. Hyde. It was as though some outside force or something within their own beings was trying to pull them toward one another. In that moment, Dorothy thought she felt something softly brush by her ear, feeling almost like a soft whisper. She felt her heart race when she saw a shift in Carl’s eyes. A shift that occurs before a person is about to take a chance, and maybe lean in for a first kiss. But for a reason only known to Carl in that moment, he blinked it away and instead, brushed his hand over Dorothy’s. Heat permeated her veins as she allowed him to lace his fingers through hers.
They turned to watch the rest of the picture, their hearts still racing as that same magnetic force flowed through their linked hands, circulating through their bodies before returning to what made them one in that moment.
Dorothy leaned back into her seat, taking in the energy. She didn’t understand what it was, or why she was experiencing it, and neither did Carl. It was something raw. Something real. Something primal. It was simultaneously wonderful and scary.
She drew in a breath, enjoying what she and Carl had in that moment. A pair of dark eyes flashing before her interrupted that euphoria, causing her to gasp and jolt backward in her seat. The eyes were familiar, though she couldn’t place why. Terror pulsed in her core. The same way I felt when I was seven…
It was an unexpected thought passing through her mind.
“Are you all right?” a familiar voice whispered.
Dorothy turned to see Carl regarding her with concerned eyes. She drew in a breath, attempting to regain her equilibrium, and nodded.
Carl opened his mouth as if to reply, but instead, gave her a gentle smile before slowly raising an arm to place around her shoulders. She felt her body relax as she leaned her head on his shoulder and took in his scent.
“Don’t worry,” he teased. “I won’t let John Barrymore jump out of the screen and get you. He’ll have to get through me, first.”
She let out a quiet giggle and raised her head to meet Carl’s eyes. The picture hadn’t been what frightened her. She couldn’t even place what it was that had frightened her. But she was willing to let it go for that time being. In that moment, she would not have minded if, for the rest of her life, the two of them would just remain frozen as they were.