Okay, so you guys are probably sick of me showing you revisions
of the same chapters, but here is how I'm working. After a few grueling
revisions of HECTOR'S CAVE, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE, and THE TIME IN BETWEEN,
I'm working on these chapters a couple at a time as to not overwhelm
myself too much to the point to where the words start to swim in front
of me. I'm trying to get each chapter and each part as "perfect" as I
can get them before printing them out and going over everything again
with a red pen. I'm liking
these new revisions as they are also revealing more about the characters
and because of that, the characters are evolving more. So this will be the last revision I will show you guys of these particular chapters, I swear. :)
of the Past
From the time she came into the world at the stroke of midnight on December 1, 1913,
Dorothy Frances Blake resided in Plains Township as the only child of Matthew
and Elizabeth “Liz” Blake. She was a student in the Plains School District, and
would be entering her senior year at the high school as part of the Class of
Dorothy was who many would refer to as being a late bloomer.
She grew up with Linda Parker and Gail Carr as her closest friends since early
childhood. Just prior to their freshman year of high school, her girlfriends
began to notice and talk about some of the boys from school and around town
while Dorothy maintained her interest in books and literature instead of
fussing over which boy she thought to be the cutest. During their sophomore
year, Linda had started going with a boy from their graduating class. Jimmy Kratz
was a running back on the school’s varsity football team, and Linda was smitten
with the tall, dark, and handsome young man from the beginning. The two of them
going steady would eventually lead to his friend, Reginald Johnson, taking an
interest in Gail and by the start of junior year, Reginald and Gail were a steady
The four often went out together on group outings and
attended the school dances. Of course, Linda and Gail would always try to
convince Dorothy to come out and join in on the fun, but their friend normally
declined. The times Dorothy did give in, the evening usually ended with her
feeling like the fifth wheel.
By the end of junior year, Dorothy still hadn’t had a
boyfriend or even been out on a date. Many did find her to be a very pretty
girl; her wavy dark hair and a peachy complexion were set off by the grayish-blue
eyes she inherited from her father’s Irish lineage, and her high cheekbones
were courtesy of her American Indian great grandmother, a trait Linda often openly
claimed to be jealous of.
“Honey, if I had your cheekbones, I would be accentuating
the hell out of those,” she always said.
“Well, then thankfully you’re not me,” Dorothy would reply.
Linda had come to own her voluptuous ‘Blonde Bombshell’
looks that often got her compared with Jean Harlow (a comparison she completely
ate up). She knew how to emphasize her best features, and took it upon herself to
make Dorothy her personal project that summer.
In Dorothy’s opinion, her friend was wasting her time, but
while she would never admit it out loud, there were times she questioned
whether or not Linda was at least partially right. She had watched Reginald and
Gail become close, and Jimmy and Linda were even discussing getting married
after high school. Jimmy gave Linda his class ring and football lettermen’s
jacket right before the junior prom, which was only a step away from an
engagement ring. Throughout much of junior year, Linda often shared her
experiences of “parking” with Jimmy; Reginald and Gail had also started doing a
little of that themselves. Jimmy’s father owned a mechanic shop in town, and with
the growing number of automobiles being used in the last twenty years, Jimmy developed
an interest in cars from the time he was a little boy and laid eyes on the 1919
Oldsmobile after it was unveiled as the newest edition to America’s Industrial
Age. He worked a few afternoons a week at his father’s business, and was set to
begin working full time after graduation. As an early graduation (and possible
wedding) present, Mr. Kratz had given him a black 1930 Chevy.
Several students had taken the driver’s education course
their school was beginning to offer if they weren’t being taught by a parent or
older sibling. But Jimmy was one of the few kids at Plains High School with his
own car, something Linda would constantly gush over.
“Now we can go up to the hill in his car! It’s so romantic,”
she always said, rubbing it in to her two best friends. Jimmy and Linda had
‘gone all the way’ during one of their parking encounters on a Friday in late
April of 1931 (close to the end of their junior year). That following night,
Linda and Dorothy had gone to sleepover at Gail’s house, where Linda did
nothing but go on about her and Jimmy’s first time together.
“I think he’s going to get me an engagement ring for Christmas
this year, too!” Linda beamed while sitting at Gail’s vanity table, painting her
fingernails a pale pink color. A small tray of dark nail colors, among a few
other cosmetics, sat on the vanity table, though Linda’s very large and packed
to capacity cosmetic case made what Gail owned seem miniscule.
“We’ve been talking about getting married for a while now
and he has been working extra in his dad’s shop,” the blonde girl continued. “I
think to make sure he has enough money to pay for the ring. I want to have the
wedding the summer after graduation. Of course, I want you two and his sister,
Amanda, as my bridesmaids.”
“Will we have to wear pink?” Gail asked from her position on
the floor as she paged through one of Linda’s fashion magazines.
“Yes,” Linda replied. Pink was Linda’s favorite color (something
very much reflected in her all pink and white bedroom).
“Then count me out,” Gail said.
Dorothy did her best to suppress a laugh at the retort while
re-reading The Call of Cthulu in the
February, 1928 edition of Weird Tales magazine.
The story was written by one of her favorite newer writers, H.P. Lovecraft. His
work had appeared in a few pulp thrillers and periodicals, and Dorothy hadn’t
missed a single one.
Linda stopped polishing her nails and stared in disbelief at
Gail. “You’re not serious?!”
Gail snorted. “Of course I’m not serious, Linda. I shall
wear the wretched color just for you. Even though Dorothy, Amanda, and I will all
look like a couple of washed out ostriches.”
A giggle escaped Dorothy. Linda was very much outnumbered in
her love of the color pink.
Gail had a dry, sarcastic humor that Dorothy really enjoyed,
especially if it was used to challenge someone’s overconfidence. Her bold,
almost vampish, style countered Linda’s soft, feminine appeal. She had dark
hair and eyes that were courtesy of her mother’s Italian-Persian heritage, and
her pale skin came from her father’s German-Scottish side. Red was also Gail’s
favorite color, and it was shown in her bedroom décor and a lot of her selected
clothing. She normally wore her eye color dark with bold, red lips, but even on
the days she skipped makeup, she always made certain to have her red lipcolor
on hand. Her hair was cut short, in a style similar to a flapper’s, which left
her slightly resembling Louise Brooks or Clara Bow.
Linda rolled her eyes and continued. “Well, the color scheme
is going to be pink and white,” she stated matter-of-factly.
“Big surprise,” Gail said, tossing the fashion magazine
aside. “I’m sure Jimmy will be just thrilled with his pink wedding. Hey
Dorothy, did you bring anymore of those pulps?”
Dorothy looked up from her copy of Weird Tales and said, “Sure,” before reaching into her bag to pull
out another issue to hand to Gail.
Linda grimaced. “How can you two read that stuff? That’s all
Jimmy has on his shelves, too. Besides, I wasn’t finished with telling you guys
about him and me last night!”
“Linda, aren’t you worried about…you know…getting into
trouble?” Dorothy asked. “You’re being awfully nonchalant about it.”
“Jimmy and I talked about that,” Linda answered, “and we do
take precautions. Jimmy says he will always use protection and has access to
getting what he needs. Anytime he can’t, he has no problem withdrawing. But if
all fails and that happens, we’ll just get married sooner than planned.”
“I’m glad you figured that one out,” Gail said while reading
the open copy of Weird Tales in front
of her. “To be honest, though, if Reg didn’t have to borrow his old man’s car, we
would probably be doing a lot more than we are. We have talked about it.”
Linda brightened. “Really? Please, tell. How far have you
“Petting,” Gail answered. “Borderlining on heavy petting.
And Reg is saving up for a car with
some of the cash from his job at the grocer’s.”
From her place on Gail’s bed, Dorothy watched her two
friends. Linda was squealing over Gail’s confession, and Gail smiled as she
paged through Weird Tales until she
found a story that drew her interest.
Dorothy leaned her back against the wall, glancing down at
her own bare fingernails as her friends continued on with their chatter. She was
partially listening, but her mind began to wander.
What if there is just
something wrong with me?
The only boy her age she had ever been close to was her
cousin, Cletus, the son of her father’s older brother, Ronald, and his wife,
Eunice. He was a year younger than she was, and like Dorothy, had the best of
his gene pool when it came to his physical appearance but lacked the confidence
in working his charm with the opposite gender. He was especially shy if he
happened to really like the girl, and at age sixteen, he had only been out on
Cletus also had friends after him about why he still didn’t
have any real experience with girls, and it didn’t help that his older
brothers, Chayton and Raymond, seemed to be able to court the girls they found
attractive without problem. In fact, Chayton had just gotten married that
spring, and Raymond had a steady girl and seemed to be headed for a permanent
arrangement. As for Cletus and Dorothy, the only regular “dates” they had been
on were the times the two cousins went to the cinema to see a picture, or to a
diner, pizza place, or soda shop when one family would visit the other.
Most of the Blake side of Dorothy’s family still lived in
Illinois and Iowa, but her Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice lived in the
Chattanooga, Tennessee area with their three sons. When Gerard Blake married
Violet Hyland, they had purchased a plot of land in Tennessee where their four
children, Joseph, Abigail, Ronald, and Matthew, grew up. Later in their lives,
Gerard and Violet had moved back to Illinois and into the house Gerard’s father,
Jonathan, had built. Gerard’s eldest, Joseph, had also moved with his wife into
the house of Charles and Emma as Chaska (who had lived there with his now late
wife when Emma was in her final years) aged. Matthew, the youngest of Gerard
and Violet, left a rural life at age eighteen to attend New York University’s
undergraduate program. He met Elizabeth Winthrop at a party her older sister,
Roxanne, had dragged her to.
Matthew and Elizabeth (or “Liz” as he would call her) began
courting almost immediately and married during Matthew’s junior year. The
couple made a permanent settlement in Plains after Matthew graduated and was
hired as an accountant at a publishing firm in the town. The company merged
with Livingston Publishing in late 1929, a merge that occurred as a means of
allowing the two companies to stay afloat through the Recession. Because
Dorothy was their only child, she regarded Cletus as more of a brother than a
Dorothy always looked forward to visiting her Uncle Ronald
and his family in Tennessee. They were a musical family, as Ronald had taken an
interest in the guitar when he was a young boy. Cletus and Uncle Ronald had taught
Dorothy a little guitar, and while she hardly considered herself as good a
player as her cousin and uncle, it was another activity she enjoyed. She also
discovered that she had a decent singing voice; it was rather strong and
contrasted her quiet personality. She was still shy about performing in front
of her peers, and normally kept it to the privacy of her bedroom.
Contrary to what she put out to her friends, reading was not
her only interest, and like many of her female peers, Dorothy did have an
interest in boys. There was one in particular from their graduating class who she
did like, quite a lot.
But I can’t ever see
him in a million years ever taking an interest in me…
Dorothy’s quiet intelligence balanced Linda’s sensual
feminity and Gail’s sharp wit. There were many times when she wished she had
the confidence of her two best friends.
She had always been a rather private person, and wasn’t one
to put herself out there and share details of her personal life; even Linda and
Gail were unaware of the longtime crush she had on Carl Turner.
Dorothy was wrenched from her thoughts at the sound of Linda
calling to her.
“What…?” She looked up to see her two friends staring at her
as their nails dried.
“I was asking you if you wanted a nail color,” Linda said.
“I think you should try this peachy color. I have it in my makeup case.”
“Sure,” Dorothy said. She got up and reluctantly headed to
the vanity where Linda’s powder blue case sat. “I swear, Linda, you have enough
colors to open up your own five and dime,” she said, sorting through the
bottles of nail color.
“Tell me about it,” Gail said, turning her eyes back to her
“Hey, looking pretty takes work,” Linda said. “It’s how I
Gail looked up. “Really? I thought it was your grace, charm,
and wit that got him.”
Dorothy let out a snorted laugh and Linda stuck her tongue out
at Gail before blowing on her drying fingernails.
“My point is,” Linda said, “Dorothy, it is senior year. You
missed out on homecoming, all the dances, and the prom last year. This year, you’re
going if I have to knock you out with a club and drag you there in a sack.”
Dorothy slowly picked out the bottle of peach nail color. Here we go again…
“Dorothy, I actually have to agree with Linda,” Gail said.
“Et tu, Brutus?” Dorothy said.
“Well, it’s not as though we’re asking you to hike across
Siberia,” Gail replied.
“Actually, I’d rather do that then what you two are
suggesting,” Dorothy said, avoiding eye contact with either of them as headed
back to her place on Gail’s bed.
“Dorothy, come on,” Linda said. “Don’t sit this year out. You
need to have some fun before we graduate!”
Dorothy frowned as she plopped down onto the wine-colored
bedspread. “What are you talking about?I have fun.”
“Dorothy, you’re always
reading,” Linda said rolling her eyes. “The only male figure you seem to spend
any time around is James Livingston’s statue outside the library.”
“Hey! Hello, I like to read too,” Gail retorted, “and
Reginald doesn’t see it as a bad thing. Why does it have to be a bad thing,
Linda sighed. “I’m not saying that it is. But you also have
to let boys know that you’re interested and available to them. Otherwise, they
are going to pass you right by, just like they have been all throughout high
Dorothy lowered her eyes as she felt the heat creeping up to
her face. “Thanks a lot,” she muttered.
“Linda,” Gail said, shooting her friend a warning look.
“Hey, I’m just telling it like it is. I’m trying to help.
Dorothy, come on. There has to be a
boy you’re interested in.”
Dorothy fidgeted with the nail color bottle as her heart
began racing. She began thinking that perhaps she should just come out, confess
her crush on Carl, and let that be the end of it. Linda obviously wasn’t going
to leave her alone until she got an answer.
But then what happens
if I do tell them? Will that simply be the end of it? Gail may respect her
boundaries, but Linda was another story…
Dorothy’s crush on Carl was a classic case of the shy,
studious girl loving the school’s ‘bad boy’ from afar. He was known for being a
wise guy, something of a daredevil, and was a regular in detention with George
Kolinski and Evan Frasier for a variety of stunts the three boys pulled around
Dorothy figured that like Linda’s boyfriend, Jimmy, Carl
could have his pick of any girl in school, and she feared embarrassing herself
if the truth should come out. They had all known each other since their
childhood playgroups, Dorothy began taking a more serious notice of Carl during
freshman year. She had spent that first year trying to resist her feelings from
developing. He was too much of a troublemaker, she tried reasoning with
herself, and such feelings would only lead to disappointment. But it was no
use. By sophomore year, her budding crush won over, and she was almost as
smitten for Carl as Linda was for Jimmy.
Dorothy was also very observant and pretty intuitive when it
came to people. As she watched Carl from a distance, she thought she could see
what appeared to be little bit of softness beneath his tough exterior. He also manages to hold down his after
school job at Mr. Kratz’s mechanic shop in spite of everything…so he does make
money…not that money is the most important part of a relationship…
“Dorothy, come on,” Linda begged. “You have to like someone. I won’t believe you for a
second if say no one.”
Dorothy drew in a breath. Perhaps I should tell them. They are my friends, after all. What could
possibly go wrong? “Fine. I like Carl,” she muttered.
“Who?” Linda asked, leaning in closer.
“Carl!” Dorothy said, increasing the volume of her voice. She
then realized how loudly it had come out, and hoped no one else in the house had
A pin could have been heard dropping onto the floor as
Dorothy peered self-consciously at her two friends who sat staring at her with
their jaws dropped. Her heart pounded as she watched the O of Linda’s mouth
spread into a gleeful smile.
Finally, Linda jumped up, clapping her hands and squealing,
not seeming to care if she smeared her nail color.
“Carl Turner,” Gail said, looking satisfied with the answer.
“I knew it!” Linda
cried, bounding over to the bed and throwing her arms around Dorothy.
“You did?” Dorothy asked, slightly horrified.
“Well,” Linda replied pulling away, “not specifically that
you liked him. But I knew there had
to be somebody you were mad for.”
Dorothy rolled her eyes and said, “Please don’t get carried
away, Linda. I’m not mad for him. I just find him to be good-looking and I like
Of course, that wasn’t completely true, but…
“Well, we have to get started on this!” Linda went on as
though she hadn’t heard a word Dorothy said. “Carl and Jimmy hang around
together and Carl works at my future father-in-law’s shop. Maybe I can put a
“No!” Dorothy cut Linda off.
A startled expression on the blonde girl’s face turned into
one of disappointment. All were silent for a moment before Gail spoke up.
“Dorothy,” Gail said gently, “I don’t see how it could hurt.
You like him and I don’t see why he wouldn’t like you.”
“Yeah!” Linda chimed in. “You just have to make it more
known that you’re available to him.”
“Girls, I don’t think so,” Dorothy said. “Bernice Chaconas
was the last girl from school he went with, and before her, he supposedly went
with some twenty-year-old vamp named Veronica from a speakeasy, so I highly
doubt I’m his type. Look, I gave you the answer to your question. Now can we
just forget about it? Please?”
“Dorothy,” Linda scolded, “sooner or later, you’re going to
have to get out of this nun rut you’re in.”
Dorothy raised an eyebrow. “Nun rut?”
“You know Linda, you’re just the queen of tact,” Gail said. “Look
Dorothy, there are subtle ways you can let a guy know you’re interested. You’re
a gorgeous gal. I’m sure plenty of boys at school, Carl included, would be
happy to have you as their girl. Besides, what’s the worse that could happen?”
“Let’s see,” Dorothy replied. “I die of embarrassment, am
the laughing stock of the school, and end up having to be homeschooled for the
remainder of my senior year because I can never show my face in public again. Now
again, can we please forget about it?”
Linda thought for a moment before conceding. “Okay, fine,”
she said. “But only for the time being.”
And Linda would keep her word on that.
For the time being.
As both had promised, neither Gail nor Linda would bring up the
subject of Carl for what remained of the school year. On the last day of their
junior year, Dorothy met up with Linda, Jimmy, Reginald, and Gail at the
school’s entrance. As they left the building, she spotted Carl sitting a bench
beneath the tree near the schools entrance. He was talking to George Kolinski
and three other boys as the five of them smoked cigarettes. She watched Carl
bring the cigarette to his lips and then remove it, exhaling out the smoke with
a rather suave manner. Just enough sunlight filtered through the tree’s branches
to enhance his chestnut brown hair. Two female students walked passed the five
boys, who responded favorably. As Gail and Linda greeted their boyfriends,
Dorothy watched Carl quirk the side of his mouth up appreciatively at the two
girls before bringing his cigarette back to his lips. She tried to bury the
pang of jealousy she felt shoot through her.
“Hey, Carl! George!” Jimmy yelled, wrenching Dorothy out of
The boys under the tree turned and waved as the group
Dorothy was with began moving toward them.
“Jim!” George yelled. “Guess what? Carl and I managed to
avoid Summer School this year!”
Jimmy laughed. “Congratulations.”
Dorothy straggled behind her friends, feeling as though her
stomach was going to drop out from her torso. I could just say hello to him, she thought. We’ve all known each other since we were little…what would it hurt…?
As Carl rose to greet Jimmy, Dorothy felt any small amount
of nerve she may have had completely leave her. She grabbed Linda and Gail by
the sleeves of their blouses as George was handing cigarettes to Jimmy and
“I have to go,” she said, trying to keep her voice from
shaking. “I’ll call you both tomorrow.”
The eyes of Linda and Gail went from puzzled, to knowing, to
disappointment. Before either of her girlfriends could attempt to convince her
to stay, Dorothy hurried from the schoolgrounds and started for home.
“Hey, Gail, you want a smoke?” she heard George say.
“Sure,” Gail responded.
Her heart was pounding in her chest and she could hear the
blood rushing in her ears. She had never felt more foolish than she had in that
moment. She felt silly for running out on her friends, and all because of a
A boy I probably don’t
have a chance with, anyway, she thought, remembering his reaction to the two
girls from moments earlier.
She inhaled, and let out a breath while clutching her lunch
pale, notebook, and the copy of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera that she was rereading. When she felt she
was a safe enough distance, she turned her head back to the scene beneath the
tree. The group had expanded as Evan, Bernice, and a few other kids joined
them. She knew they were all likely to head someplace like Chuck’s Diner or
Leonard’s Drugstore & Soda Fountain to celebrate the end of school and the
beginning of summer vacation. Part of her wanted to go back and rejoin her
friends. It was the last day of school, after all, and time to start really
having fun before senior year started up.
At that moment, Linda’s words from a few days ago echoed
back to her:
You have to let boys know you’re interested and available. Otherwise
they are just going to keep passing you right by as they have all throughout
She considered heading back to the group, but then the kids
under the tree began heading toward the direction of town. Dorothy watched the
group disappear down the road, focusing on Carl who was laughing at something
Jimmy said to him. She felt her heart sink. What
am I going to do? Start running after them now and really look like an idiot?
Though, maybe I could walk toward town and find where they are. The group
wouldn’t be that difficult to spot…I could just tell everyone had I forgot
something in my locker, and Linda and Gail wouldn’t snitch on me, they’d go
along with it…
But her legs remained planted to the sidewalk.
She stood watching as the last few kids exited the school.
The warm, late spring afternoon surrounded her. A breeze enveloped her,
rustling her skirt and seeping in through the material of her light,
short-sleeved cream sweater. She felt it move to her neck and lift stands of
her the soft curls in her hair. The light wind that circulated around her was
comforting, reassuring. She looked up to the blue sky, decorated with puffy
white clouds and the brilliant sunlight, enjoying the quiet serenity. She knew
she would be scolded by Linda and Gail later for ditching everyone, but in that
moment, all was peaceful and the anxiety she felt when exiting the school had
Dorothy turned in the opposite of town and headed to the
Maybe I’ll start a
letter to Cletus while I’m there…
In that moment, she didn’t want to face anyone from school
or home. She just wanted to be alone.
That night, Dorothy had a dream she would not remember any
details of the following morning. Though she would remember having the
sensation of floating.
Though Gail and Linda did scold Dorothy for ditching them on
the last day of school, the promise of avoiding discussing Carl was kept as the
late spring faded into summer. Dorothy continued being witness to her friends
recounting their dates, necking sessions, petting sessions, and—when it came to
Jimmy and Linda—times having gone all the way. Every so often, the image of
Carl smoking under the tree at school entered her mind as she listened to her
friends talk, and she did wonder what she was missing out on. Reginald and Gail
were reaching a deeper intimacy with one another, and Linda was often very
candid about the details of her times with Jimmy.
Sometimes, Gail would shake her head at Linda for revealing
too much information, but Dorothy could see the wheels of curiosity of what
such an act would be like with Reginald turning in Gail’s head. And Dorothy’s own
curiosity had heightened since confessing her feelings for Carl. She made the
decision to not allow her feelings of insecurity dictate her life and accompanied
Linda and Gail to meet up with Jimmy, Reginald, and other kids from school,
including Carl. The group of schoolmates often met at such places as Chuck’s
Diner, The Pizza Palace, Leonard’s Drugstore & Soda Shop, and the Hollywood
Carl usually arrived with George, Evan, and Bernice. Carl
and Bernice had gone together throughout most of junior year, having ended
their relationship shortly before Dorothy revealed her secret to Linda and
Gail. The two still seemed to remain friends, even when Bernice started going
One word that Dorothy and many others would use to describe Bernice
was ‘gorgeous.’She was what many
referred to as ‘exotic’ in her features, a result of her Greek-Lebanese
heritage. Her black hair was normally styled in a similar fashion to Joan
Blondell, and she wore her dark eye makeup in a way that made her look fairly
similar to some depictions of Cleopatra or Nefertiti. Like Gail, Bernice seemed
to have an affinity for the color red, wearing it often and—like Linda—wore her
clothes to hug the dangerous curves of her body similar to that of pinup
models. She was also one of the very few girls who wore stiletto heals to
school (with Linda also being among those few). There were a few times Principle Langan had
ordered Bernice home to change for wearing something considered too provocative
for school. Bernice’s parents had divorced when she was ten and her brother,
Henry, was sixteen. Not even a year later, their mother passed away, reportedly
a suicide. The children lived with their father, but Mr. Chaconas traveled a
lot for business, leaving Henry and Bernice to themselves. Henry also had the
same wild streak as his sister, and was killed in a motorcycle accident the
Dorothy did feel badly for Bernice, and tried to not to be
envious and resentful when Bernice was Carl’s steady. She also tried not to be
judgmental when other girls at school would turn their noses up at Bernice’s loose
behavior. She hung around a mostly male crowd and didn’t seem to have many
female friends. But then she would hear the stories about her and Carl and the
things she did with him…there were times she would feel a deep seeded anger
burning in her core, knowing it was unfounded, but not being able to control
Throughout the summer, Dorothy continued avoiding eye
contact with Carl, something that was made easy in their large group. She also ignored
the knowing glances Linda would throw in her direction.
That is how it was for the entire summer.
September 8, the day after Labor Day, brought the first day
of school and the first day of Dorothy’s senior year. The summer had been
relaxing, though uneventful, and she was actually ready for school to begin.
She walked to school with Linda and Gail, as the three had
done since the fifth grade when their parents stopped walking them. Of course,
Linda was chattering about all the dances she was looking forward to attending
with Jimmy. While Gail never gushed the way Linda would, Dorothy could also see
her excitement of attending such events with Reginald.
I guess I’m sitting
this year out again, Dorothy thought as she listened to her friends. She
also thought she could sense Linda wanting to broach the issue up again. To
Dorothy’s relief, Linda never said a word.
The trio dispersed when they reached the school grounds and
were joined by Jimmy and Reginald. The two boys greeted Dorothy, and she smiled
and greeted them back before they stole Linda and Gail away.
“See you at lunchtime!” Linda called to Dorothy as she
walked away with her arm linked in Jimmy’s.
Dorothy gave her friends a small wave as they left with
their boyfriends to go to a secluded area for quick, pre-homeroom necking
She stood alone for a moment before turning to look toward
the group of boys Jimmy and Reginald had come away from. Sure enough, Carl was among
them, under the tree smoking a cigarette. Her heart skipped a beat at the site
She had a brief impulse to heed the advice of Linda and
Gail. What would it hurt to walk passed
Carl and maybe try to smile at him a little? Nothing! Maybe I can go to a dance
or two this year after all…
But in the end, her nerves won.
She hurried inside the school building, doing her usual best
to avoid all possible contact with him.
Her first three classes occurred without incident and so
far, this first day of school had not been any different from others. Dorothy
left her third period Chemistry class and said a quick goodbye to Calvin, who
was to be her lab partner that semester. Calvin didn’t have many friends and
kept mostly to himself.He wore thick
glasses, and his brown hair was rather dull and usually plastered to his head.
He was also the type to wear bow ties and his pants up a little too high held
in place by suspenders (something Jimmy always got a laugh out of).
But Calvin was smart and very polite, and Dorothy didn’t
mind being his lab partner.
“I’ll see you in Calculus, Dorothy,” Calvin said.
Dorothy smiled. “Sure, Calvin. See you then.”
Calvin hurried to his next class and Dorothy stopped at her
locker to retrieve her bagged lunch before she would go to meet Linda and Gail
in the lunchroom. She was shutting the metal door and making sure it was
securely locked when she heard a voice from behind greet her.
She froze, with her heart lurching into her throat. Oh dear God… She turned her head in the
voice’s direction and found herself standing face to face with the boy she had always
done her best to avoid. Carl stood by her locker, his hazel-green eyes looking
down at her as his lips turned up into a friendly smile.
Her heart beat faster as her ability to speak failed her. This has to be a dream. It has to be. Please
let it be…
She shifted her gaze from his eyes to his thick, chestnut
brown hair. Her limbs were going soft as she fought to maintain her stance. She
could once again hear the blood racing in her ears as she tried to get control
of herself and the situation.
“Hello, Carl,” she managed, cringing at how squeaky her
After three years of watching and daydreaming about him from
a safe distance, he was now standing in front of her in the school hallway as
Dorothy used every last ounce of her strength to avoid making a fool out of
After a very long and awkward pause, Carl said, “Well, I
guess I’ll see you around?”
Dorothy nodded, clearing her throat. “Yes. Yes, of course.
Have a nice day.” She was relieved that her voice was back to its normal tone
The dimple in his left cheek deepened as he quirked the
corner of his mouth into a half smile before turning to head back down the
hall. Dorothy stood staring until he turned the corner.
When he was out of sight, she let out the air she had been
holding in as the other students filed passed her. Her knees were still shaking,
and she clutched her books and lunchbag, hanging onto them as if they were life
preservers. The girl’s lavatory was only a few feet away. She ran inside and
burst into a stall, latching it shut.
She leaned against the wall, shutting her eyes. In an
attempt at keeping the stall from spinning around her, she crouched down with
her head lowered, taking in and letting out deep breaths.
About a minute went by before Dorothy started regaining her
composure. She left the stall and caught her reflection in the mirror above one
of the sinks. Even with her summer tan, all the color had drained from her
face. She turned on the tap, and splashed cold water onto her cheeks before
reaching into her purse to pull out the lipstick Linda had given her. She
opened up the tube and stared down at the almost nude shade.
“With your coloring,
you can definitely wear this. Especially now that you have a suntan. God, how I
wish I could suntan as easily as you!” Dorothy recalled Linda telling
She was bringing the color to her lips as the final bell
ring. With that, she recapped the tube, threw it back into her purse, and
dashed to the lunchroom.
She was quick to spot Gail and Linda. The two girls looked
wide-eyed at their friend as she collapsed into the seat across from them.
“There you are!” Gail said.
“Honey, what happened to you?” Linda asked. “You look as
though you’ve seen a ghost!”
“You’ll never believe what just happened,” Dorothy said,
shaking her head. “I can hardly believe it myself…”
“What?” Linda pressed.
Dorothy took in a deep breath. “Carl Turner talked to me!
Just like that! Out of nowhere!”
Linda smiled as she and Gail exchanged glances. “Well, that’s
wonderful, Dorothy,” she said.
“Almost as though he knew right where to find me. As though
he were waiting for me to get out of class,” Dorothy continued. “But why would
he do that?I didn’t even think he knew
I was alive before today. Or if he did, he didn’t care.”
“I don’t know,” Gail said slowly and shrugged. “Maybe you
were just wrong in that assumption of him.”
“But his locker and mine aren’t even close, so he would have
to know my class schedule,” Dorothy said. “How would he even know that? Unless…”
Her voice trailed off as a sense of realization hit her with
the intensity of a locomotive. She studied her two friends sitting across from
her, both of whom seemed to be trying to cover up rather suspicious expressions
“Wait a minute, what’s going on?” Dorothy demanded as Linda
shifted in her seat.
“Nothing…” Linda said with an obviously feigned innocence.
The denial proved futile as the look in her blue eyes said it all.
“It isn’t nothing,” Dorothy said. A feeling of dread pulsed
through her as Gail turned her eyes downward. “Oh…please tell me you didn’t!”
“Didn’t what?” Linda asked.
“Don’t be coy, Linda!” Dorothy snapped, and lowered her
voice to a loud whisper. “You know exactly what I mean! You told him, didn’t
you?After I asked you not to!”
“I most certainly did not!”
Dorothy turned her glare over to Gail.
“Don’t look at me,” Gail said. “I haven’t said a word.”
“Well somebody did and I want to know who. Now!”
Linda fidgeted with her fork as Gail turned her eyes to the
“Alright,” Linda said. “I may have mentioned it to Jimmy, and then he might have gone and
said something to Carl.”
“Oh God…” Dorothy moaned. “I think I just lost my appetite…”
“Look, I’m sorry, okay?” Linda said. “But I think you’re
overreacting. This is good! Probably the best thing that’s ever happened to
Dorothy stared at her. “Please enlighten me then, Linda.”
“Well…he talked to you,” she said. “He could have gone
running for the hills, and he didn’t.”
Dorothy paused. Linda did have a point. “Alright, fine. But
what if he was just doing it out of pity to make me feel better before letting
Gail groaned. “Will you stop second guessing yourself?”
“Yeah, that isn’t going to get you anywhere,” Linda added.
“Well in your expert opinion, what do you propose I do?”
Dorothy asked. She couldn’t help the small trace of sarcasm trickling in her
Linda thought for a moment. “Well, you could maybe walk by
him and see if he talks to you again. If he tries to make conversation, you’ll
know that his talking to you today wasn’t just a one time deal!”
“I don’t know,” Dorothy said, though she was starting to
feel a little better about it all.
“Come on, how will you know unless you do it?” Gail said.
Dorothy sighed. “Okay. Maybe you two are right. But I still
wish you would’ve talked to me about the plans you had for me first.”
“Would you have allowed us if we did?” Linda asked.
“Well, there you go. See? Jimmy and I did you a favor.”
“Alright,” Dorothy conceded, “but at least let me wait until
tomorrow so I can maybe be a little more prepared…”
Linda smiled brightly. “You read my mind! I was just going
to suggest my coming over to your house tonight to help you with all that!”
Gail shook her head. Of course Linda was going to use this
as an opportunity to play clothes, hair, and cosmetic consultant, Linda’s
favorite subjects aside from Jimmy.
“Fine,” Dorothy said, “come over and do your worst.”
Linda’s smile widened, pleased with herself as she began
spinning ideas in her head.
Dorothy picked at her food, relieved when Linda began talking
about her and Jimmy again, thus shifting the subject of conversation.
She nibbled on her sandwich while recounting the incident
with Carl in the hallway. Her thoughts then turned to anticipating Linda coming
to her house that evening after dinner. Then what? How would she approach
speaking to Carl the following day? What would she say? And what would Linda
have her wearing? Just please don’t make
me look like some glamour-puss. I’m a high-school student, not a showgirl.
Dorothy forced down what she could of her lunch, telling
herself that this was nothing to be anxious over. There was nothing to be
Dorothy walked to the schoolgrounds the following morning with
the chatter of Linda and Gail filling her ears. 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
“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 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, the 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 anything about
using 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 their use. Dorothy thought she sounded
like a salesgirl selling a product in a beauty parlor. You missed your calling, Linda, she thought.
Linda continued with fixing Dorothy’s makeup, handing her a
mirror when she had finished. Dorothy ended up being pleasantly surprised at
the end 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, she 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
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 to
see him well before homeroom, as soon as we arrive at the school grounds. Are
“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 having to discuss 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
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 there.
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 and gazing in her direction. She swallowed and looked away, 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. It was time for her to
grow up. Even if Carl wasn’t interested in her, she would find someone who
She drew in another breath and steeled herself, holding her
head up and keeping her face forward as she began walking toward the building.
She passed by the tree where Carl and his friends were. 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. He was 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
I suppose it’s now or
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, coming to a stop only a few inches in
front of her.
He could still simply
be letting me down gently…she thought. Boy,
would that be humiliating…
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. She stood staring at nothing in particular as Carl
turned back to her.
“Um, may I walk you into school?” he asked.
Dorothy felt her stomach drop and her heart leap. Did he just say what I thought he did?
Then, she remembered Linda’s advice of not appearing too
eager or desperate. She was able to maintain her composure as she said, “I
would love 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
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
Leonard’s Drugstore & Soda Fountain to meet up with some of their other friends
after school had let out. Carl had paid for her strawberry sundae along with
his chocolate soda, and the two sat next to one another among the group, their
hands and forearms occasionally brushing.
Dorothy was grateful for her 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 or knee to lightly touch hers.
As the group of friends sat in the large booth, engaged in
laughter and conversation, she caught site of the elation in the eyes of Linda
and Gail. Told you, their eyes said.
Yes, you did…Dorothy
thought, stealing another glance at Carl.
Later on, 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 been the one to answer the phone when Carl
called after supper. Dorothy was unable to mask her excitement as her father’s
eyes questioned her as he handed her the receiver. Carl was polite enough to
Mr. Blake, but Matthew was aware of the young man’s reputation. Despite his
concern, he allowed Carl to speak to his daughter that night. And the night
Friday followed, and the two made plans to see a picture
show at the Hollywood that evening with Jimmy and Linda. Dorothy was nervous
about Carl picking her up, as she knew her parents wanted to be there to greet
and speak to him 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 turned to look at him, and their eyes met 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. It was that same familiar
feeling she had when she stood on the sidewalk months ago after the last day of
their junior year. She felt her heart race as she saw a shift in Carl. 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, and
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
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 until pair of dark eyes flashed before her and interrupted that
She gasped 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
“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 exactly had frightened
her. But she was willing to forget about it. 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.