Sunday, November 23, 2014

Excerpts from "Descent": Chapters 17 and 18

Hey all,

Here are a couple more excerpts from the book Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) from "Part 6, Shadows of the Past."

I'll also have news on the future of the blog once Descent is released. I've been wanting to do a recap of a book for a while on here and I think I've found one I want to do. It's appropriate too given the eras The Birthrite Series take place in. I'm also redoing my more formal website so that it's more user friendly. So I'm busy. :D

But for now, enjoy more excerpts of Descent as we get down to the wire of its release. :)

Read after the jump. :)


The last day of school quickly approached and after her last class, Dorothy met up with Linda, Gail, and their boyfriends at the school's entrance. As they exited among the rest of the student body eager to start summer break, she spotted Carl. He was seated on a bench underneath the tree near the front of the building. George Kolinski and three other boys surrounded him as the five of them smoked cigarettes and discussed the newest Marx Brothers picture. As promised, neither of her two girlfriends had mentioned Carl again after the confession in Gail's room.
A sigh exited Dorothy as she watched him bring his cigarette to his lips. After an inhale, he withdrew the tobacco stick, exhaling the smoke in a rather suave manner. Just enough sunlight filtered in through the branches, enhancing the chestnut brown coloring of his hair. Then, two very attractive female students walked passed the tree, throwing Carl and his friends coy glances to which the boys responded favorably.
As Gail and Linda were occupied with Reginald and Jimmy, Dorothy tried burying the pangs of jealousy piercing her core as the side of Carl's mouth quirked up. He looked the two girls over appreciatively before returning his cigarette to his lips.
“Hey, Carl! George!” Jimmy yelled, wrenching Dorothy from her trance. The boys under the tree turned and waved as her group moved toward them.
“Jim!” George called back. "Carl and I managed to avoid summer school this year!”
Jimmy laughed. “Congratulations.”
Dorothy straggled behind her friends, feeling her stomach about to drop out from her torso at any second. I could just say hello to him, she thought. We’ve all known each other since we were little anyhow...
Carl rose to greet Jimmy and the two boys shook hands. George handed cigarettes to Jimmy and Reginald as conversation on the Marx Brothers resumed.
Dorothy drew in a breath, ready to offer Carl a greeting when the small amount of courage she managed to muster suddenly left. With her heart pounding, she grabbed Linda and Gail by the sleeves of their blouses.
“I have to go,” she whispered, trying to keep her voice from shaking. “I’ll give you both a ring tomorrow.”
Dorothy watched as the eyes of the other two girls went from puzzled, to knowing, to disappointment. Before either Linda or Gail could even attempt to change their friend’s mind, she had already hurried from the schoolgrounds.
“Hey, Gail. You want a smoke?” George said.
“Oh…sure. Butt me,” Gail responded.
The blood rushed to Dorothy’s ears as she reached the sidewalk across the street. She felt terribly foolish for allowing a boy to intimidate her that much.
Clutching her lunch pail and copy of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, she slowed her steps, allowing her breath to return to normal. She turned back to observe the scene in front of the school. The group under the tree had expanded as Evan, Bernice, and a few other kids joined. Everyone was likely headed to either Chuck’s Diner, The Pizza Palace, or Leonard’s Drugstore & Soda Fountain.
Part of Dorothy wanted to rejoin her friends. After all, it was the start of summer break and time to have fun before senior year.
Senior year…
At that moment, Linda’s words from a couple weeks ago echoed back to her: “You have to let boys know you’re interested and available. Otherwise they're just going to keep passing you by...”
As Dorothy considered heading back, the group started toward the direction of town. Her steps froze as she focused on Carl, who was laughing over something Jimmy was saying to him.
Her heart sank as she watched everyone disappear down the road. What am I going to do? Start running after them now and really look like a numbskull? Though, maybe I could walk toward town and find them there. The group wouldn’t be that difficult to spot…I could just tell everyone I forgot something in my locker, and Linda and Gail wouldn’t snitch on me…they’d go along with it… But her feet remained planted as the last few students trickled out from the school's entrance.
She continued regarding the nearly empty building from the side in the warm, late spring afternoon. A breeze suddenly enveloped her, rustling her skirt. It moved toward her neck and lifted the strands of her soft, dark curls. She felt a reassuring comfort as her eyes turned toward the sky. White, puffy clouds decorated the infinite blue, and warmth from the brilliant sunlight seeped through the light material of her short-sleeved cream sweater.
Even knowing that Linda and Gail would scold her later for ditching everyone did nothing to disrupt the serenity of that moment. In that moment, all was peaceful and she wanted it to remain that way.
Not wanting to face anyone from school or home, she turned in the opposite direction and headed for the library. All she wanted was to be alone.

Later that night, Dorothy had a dream. She would not recall any details after waking the following morning. Only a strange sensation of floating.


As Dorothy expected, Linda and Gail did scold her, but the girls continued keeping their word when it came to discussion of Carl. Instead, they continued recounting their dates, neck and petting sessions, and—when it came to Jimmy and Linda—times being together in the married way. Every so often, the image of Carl smoking beneath the tree entered her mind, a vision that made her heart flutter. Reginald and Gail had reached a deeper intimacy, and Linda was often quite candid about the details of her times with Jimmy. Sometimes, Gail shook her head at Linda for revealing too much information, but Dorothy could see the wheels of curiosity turning in her friend's head over what such an act would feel like with Reginald. And since the confession of her feelings for Carl, Dorothy found her own curiosity heightening. She also made the decision to never again allow insecurities to dictate her life.
As late spring faded into summer, Dorothy mustered up the courage to regularly accompany Linda and Gail when they met up with Jimmy, Reginald, and other kids from school, including Carl. Carl usually arrived with George (who would also bring his current squeeze of the month), Evan, and Bernice.
Carl and Bernice had gone together throughout junior year and ended their relationship shortly before Dorothy revealed her secret crush to Linda and Gail. The former steadies seemed to remain friends following their break up, even after Bernice started going with Evan. Such a thing was—for the most part—rather unusual. When it came to Bernice, 'gorgeous' was a word that came to the minds of many, including Dorothy. Her features were courtesy of her Greek-Lebanese heritage, and she typically wore her black hair styled in a fashion similar to Joan Blondell. Her dark eye makeup also resembled some depictions of Cleopatra or Nefertiti.
Like Gail, Bernice seemed to have an affinity for the color red when it came to her clothing and lipcolor. Like Linda, she wore her clothes to hug the dangerous curves of her hourglass frame. As one of very few girls who wore stiletto heels to school (Linda was also among those few), there were times Bernice had come to school dressed so provocatively, Principle Langan ordered the girl to return home and change into more decent clothes. As for Bernice’s home life, her parents, Randall and Leila Chaconas, had divorced when she was ten and her brother, Henry, was sixteen. Shortly after, Leila reportedly committed suicide during a stay in a psychiatric hospital. It was said her mental health deteriorated following the death her and Randall’s second child, a daughter named Nora. The little girl had passed away one month after birth and was buried in Plains Cemetery. The stone was small, befitting for an infant, and simply read:

Nora Sophia Chaconas
November 1910

Following the divorce, the courts placed the two remaining Chaconas children in the custody of their father, but Randall traveled frequently for business, often leaving Henry and Bernice to themselves. Randall was also among those affected by the 1929 crash and recession, losing much of his stocks. While he managed to keep his job, the business had to downgrade, thus making it necessary for what was left of the Chaconas family to do the same. If that wasn’t enough, Henry—who had the same wild streak as his sister—was killed the following year in a motorcycle accident.
Dorothy did feel badly for Bernice, and tried to not to be envious and resentful during the girl's time as Carl’s steady. She also tried not to be judgmental when other girls at school turned their noses up at Bernice’s loose behavior. But then a rumor about her relationship with Carl would be mentioned and Dorothy would feel deep seeded anger ignite her core.
Logically, Dorothy knew that such feelings were unfounded. However, her emotional side—the side that felt passionately for Carl—seemed to defy logic. Some would likely write this of as nothing more than a fiery Irish temper, but to Dorothy, it went beyond that. She fought for control as it lurked in the far crevices of her being, waiting for the right time to rear its ugly head. To put it simply, it frightened her.
One gift that Dorothy seemed to inherit from the Blake side of her family was strong intuition and reading people. As she was able to get a little closer to Carl that summer, she could see hints of gentility beneath the tough exterior. He does manage to hold down his after school job at Mr. Kratz’s mechanic shop in spite of everything…so he is capable of having responsibility...
On several occasions, Dorothy considered attempting some form of contact with him but always backed down (which was made quite easy in a large group). She also ignored Linda's knowing glances.
Dorothy was quite relieved when her father announced a trip out to Ohio over the week of Independence Day, after which they would head over to stay at the Blake property in Illinois. This meant two weeks without the stress of Carl and the possibility of running into him during the Plains Township Fourth of July events hanging over her head.
As July made way for August, Dorothy made the decision to forget the young man of her desire. Her plan was to focus on making it through her senior year so she might fullfill her plans of attending college with Gail and Reginald. Ever since she was a little girl, her goal had been to teach. I can never see Carl fitting in with my plans, she told herself.
He was just a boy. One in a sea of many.

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