Monday, January 27, 2014

Playlist Complications

Okay. So 8tracks is pissing me off. I edited the 3 playlists from the series' working title (Bloodlines) to the official title (Birthrite Series), but anytime I try to share it on the facebook page or my twitter, it keeps showing the link as supposedly broken. Why allow you to edit the title if you can't share the new link afterward?

So, either I'll figure it out or have to upload the whole thing again.  Either way, we'll have music again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back to the drawing board...

...for a few characters and timelines of events. There are some major ones that I'm still a little shaky on, even as I revise the drafts. So I'm taking a little break from revisions and taking to my notes to write out and re-plot some of the characters' backgrounds and some of the timelines and family trees. Just to make sure there are no discrepancies. :)

Vlog coming soon at long last. :)

And sometimes I do nonfiction as well! Check out this interview I conducted with author, Freda Warrington for Ravenous Monster Webzine:

My Interview with Freda Warrington

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Added Scene!

Hello, everyone!

Hope you all are have a fabulous 2014 so far. As I've said, the more drafts I do, the more the characters evolve.  For your reading pleasure (hopefully), I am giving you part of an added scene in "Descent" (Book 1):
The first real kiss of Dorothy and Carl when they are out on their first solo date together.

In the first draft, I did gloss over that (for reasons I'll explain in a vlog I'm going to do), but with the new drafts, the scene began coming to life (as did a couple others that show the development of their relationship before all the shit begins hitting the fan).

So, hope you enjoy the new scene (the book is still is going through editing, so bear with me).


Throughout the picture, Dorothy noticed Carl stealing glances at her as he gave her hand gentle squeezes. When the film was halfway through, he placed his arm around her shoulders, bringing her close to him. Her heart fluttered as she laid her head in the crook of his neck and felt his chin rest on the side of her head. They remained that way throughout the duration of the picture.
After the film ended, they walked out into the night and used the half hour they had left to completely indulge in their walk back to Dorothy’s, prolonging their time together as much as possible. Their hands were laced together, the same magnetic pulse between them as was there a month prior. The two were about to cross under a lamppost, a mere block away from where Dorothy lived when Carl paused.
“Carl, what is it?” she asked.
He turned to her, his eyes blazing with intense heat. “Dorothy…I…”
She could feel her heart pounding as he stepped in to her, never taking his gaze away. His hands circled her waist and drew her close to him with his mouth only inches from hers. A cool night breeze circled around them beneath the warmth of the lamppost’s light. Her breath hitched in her throat as he tilted his head slightly and brought his face closer until his lips lowered onto hers.
Dorothy tensed, letting out a surprised moan as Carl’s lips began slowly massaging hers. Her head began spinning with realization of what was happening. Carl pulled her in closer to him, wrapping his arms around her as though he were afraid she would slip away. Elation replaced the initial shock and she returned his kiss while holding him tightly. The warmth of the lamp’s light mingled with the crisp autumn night permeated their beings. Dorothy thought she could feel Carl’s heart rapidly beating in time with hers. Neither wanted the kiss to end, but they parted, lost in one another’s gaze.
Carl’s chest was heaving with the deep breaths he took. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
Dorothy looked into his intense hazel-green eyes. What took you so long? she wanted to say. But all she could do was stand breathless in the aftermath.
The two embraced again, both wishing that the breeze would take them somewhere far away.
“I have to get you home,” Carl said.
“I know,” she managed.
They reluctantly parted from one another and walked home in a serene silence.
When they approached the walkway up to the Blake house, Carl paused, causing Dorothy to do the same. She looked into his eyes; there was that same intensity present that had been there earlier underneath the lamppost. He turned to her, taking both her hands in his. “Carl…” she said, glancing nervously toward her house. She looked back at him as he drew in a breath and gave her lips a quick but gentle kiss. He then looked toward the front door of her house (as someone afraid that his girl’s father would, at any second, come barging out onto the porch with a loaded shotgun). In fact, Matthew and Liz had both been at the window as Carl dropped Dorothy off, and had seen the goodnight kiss along with the way their daughter and her boyfriend gazed at one another.
Matthew swallowed, looking as though he had swallowed a shard of glass. Liz placed a assuring hand on her husband’s shoulder. There was nothing either could do to prevent Dorothy from growing up. She had come a long way from being the frightened and timid little girl she was from the time she was seven. And she seemed to be falling in love. Their daughter was almost a woman. No longer a little girl. No longer Matthew Blake’s little girl. And that scared him.
Carl walked hand in hand with Dorothy up to the front door. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said.
She nodded. “Goodnight, Carl.”
He started to say something else, but instead nodded and simply said, “Goodnight, baby.”
Her heart swelled at the term of endearment. She turned and placed her hand on the doorknob as she heard Carl’s footsteps retreat down the porch steps. She turned around and in the dim light next to the front door, she saw Carl standing in the walkway looking back at her. She smiled and gave him a small wave before opening the door to enter her house. She peered out the front window and saw Carl take a final glance at the house before disappearing down the block to his own.
It had been a night that neither would ever forget.

Dorothy walked into the kitchen where her parents sat. Her father sat paging over that day’s Wall Street Journal and her mother prepped the food for breakfast the next morning.
“I’m home,” Dorothy said.
Matthew and Liz looked over at their daughter and only child.
“Hello, sweetheart,” her mother said. “How did the evening go?”
“It was so wonderful!” she wanted to swoon. But she maintained her composure and said, “It was very nice.”
Liz smiled. “Good. I was going to go visit with Mrs. Turner tomorrow.”
Dorothy returned her mother’s smile and looked at her father. He turned his lips up slightly, a rather wistful expression.
“Well, I’m going up to bed,” Dorothy replied. “Linda and Gail want me to call them tomorrow morning.”
And they did. Before Dorothy got home that day to prepare for her date, her two friends insisted on being given any and all details of the night with Carl.
She went to her mother and father, hugging both of them.
“Goodnight, honey,” Liz said.
“Goodnight, sweetheart,” Matthew said.
Dorothy closed the door to her room and flopped onto her bed, beaming from ear to ear. She replayed the evening in her mind, and anticipated Carl’s phone call to her the following afternoon. She also looked forward to telling Linda and Gail all that happened. Her lips tingled at the memory of the kiss…
She gazed at the dreamcatcher above her bed, an artifact of her Ojibwe and Sioux heritage.
It’s the beginning…she thought, next weekend is the Autumn Dance! Then Carl’s eighteenth birthday on the 25th, and then George Kolinski’s Halloween party, then the Winter Formal…
Her thoughts wandered as she stared up at the feathers that hung from the beaded web. The word ‘marriage’ began forming. She wasn’t sure if it came from her listening to Linda chatter on about her own pending wedding to Jimmy, but she found herself contemplating the possibility of being married to Carl after high school.
Dorothy Blake-Turner…Mrs. Carl Turner…
She recalled the way he had looked at her before taking her into his arms underneath the lamppost, the way he looked at her as he told her goodnight…was it love she saw?
Dorothy quickly arrested the thoughts. We’ve not even been together for a month. No one falls in love that quickly. Not even in literature…and if they do it always ends in disaster…Romeo and Juliet is a classic example of what not to do.
But what of your great-grandparents?
Dorothy sat up and looked around her bedroom. Where did that come from?
The voice was pronounced, comforting, and one she could not identify. Whatever it was spoke the truth. The stories of Jonathan and Kimimela Blake told of how the two had reportedly fallen in love upon their first meeting, were engaged after two months of courtship, and then went on to be happily married for over sixty years.
Her heart palpitated as the memory of the kiss she and Carl shared filled her mind and the sensation she felt pulsed through her veins. She recalled his hands on her waist and then pressing against the small of her back. She thought of how her hand felt as it held his. How his hands felt when he touched her…
Her thoughts grew more intimate and she began to wonder about experiencing the physical pleasure Linda spoke of having with Jimmy. A few couples from school used the parties, dances, and other events where they were away from their parents to their advantage. Even Gail had been talking about how she and Reginald planned to use one of the forthcoming events to finally go all the way. The thought of being with Carl in such a romantic, intimate way caused her to have feelings that seemed like tasting forbidden fruit. Feelings that made her lower body squirm as she lay back on her bed. Despite the events of the evening, the idea just did not seem possible.
I wonder how long it took for him to kiss Bernice…or that girl, Veronica, from the speakeasy…or Juliette Sims…the voice was like a soft whisper, distant and ominous.
Her fantasy of Carl stilted and she sat up again, chills prickling her skin and a feeling she was being watched. She sat frozen as darkness washed over her. The feeling was familiar, one that mirrored the oppressiveness she felt when she had that horrible nightmare years ago…the one she could not remember…
The feeling did pass and Dorothy was able to stand and slowly get ready for bed. She tried taking away the memory of the horror from ten years ago by continuing with her re-reading of Wuthering Heights, a book she had made a tradition of reading every autumn since she was thirteen. She had only gotten to the third chapter when her eyelids began to grow heavy. She marked her place and set the book on her nightstand next to her small radio, a sage candle, a lamp, and the wolf figurine given to her by her father’s cousin, Tahatan, on the day she was born.
With another glance at the wolf figure, she pulled the small chain on the lamp, shutting her room in darkness. The waning gibbous moon was bright in the sky that night and cast its beam into the room through her light blue and cream bedroom curtains. Above her, the web of the dreamcatcher seemed to glisten as a spider’s web would on a dewy spring morning. She stared up at it with the love story of her great-grandparents playing through her mind. As much as they had loved each other, the relationship of Jonathan and Kimimela had not been without challenges.
Before drifting into sleep, her last thoughts were questions of what the future held. Questions on where life would take her and Carl.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

More Revisions

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. :)

Shadows of the Past
Plains, NY 1931

 Chapter 14

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 1932.
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 item.
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 two gone?”
“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 one date.
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 cousin.
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.
“Yoohoo! Dorothy!”
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 pulp thriller.
“Hey, looking pretty takes work,” Linda said. “It’s how I landed Jimmy.”
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, anyway?”
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 school.”
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 school.
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 heard it.
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 his personality.”
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 word in—“
“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 her trance.
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 Reginald.
“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 boy.
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.
Senior year…
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 high school.
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 almost evaporated.
Dorothy turned in the opposite of town and headed to the library.
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 Cinema.
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 with Evan.
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 previous year.
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 it.
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 sessions.
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 of him.
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.
“Hi, Dorothy.”
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 voice sounded. 
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 herself.
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 that time.
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 her. 
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 of guilt.
“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 blonde girl.
“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 you!”
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 me down?”
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 voice.
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.
“Actually, no.”
“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 afraid of.



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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 would be.
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. 
“Hey, Dorothy!”
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 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, 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 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 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 after.
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 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 until pair of dark eyes flashed before her and interrupted that euphoria.
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 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 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.