Authors: Carolee Dean
and dirty streets.
out of love,
Sometimes they even fall
that I have
hour after hour
little spider fingers
work at the yarn
every time she
another pink sweater. Smiles.
Holds it up when she
is done. I notice the bump
under her dress. “You’re pregnant.”
She puts a hand on
her stomach. “When I told one
of the other girls
about the baby, she said
I wasn’t the only one.
She told me I could
hide it under my robes, and
afterward, I could
put it in the river that
ran through the convent, but I
couldn’t bear the thought
of leaving my sweet, helpless
baby there alone.
So one dark night before she
was born, I filled my pockets
with rocks, went down to
the water, and I never
came back out again.”
Julie Ann comes and sits
She presses her back
against the wall like she’s trying to
make herself invisible.
For the longest time
she doesn’t say a word. Sits
as still as a bird.
“When he wakes up, don’t tell him
where I am. I’m sick of him.”
There’s no place to hide,
but I let it pass. She seems
so tired and desperate.
“Eternal Love isn’t what
the poets claim it to be.”
“Just say no,” I tell the girl.
“I can’t. He did it for me.
They were going to
send him away to the war.
I couldn’t live without him.
We used to meet at the headmaster’s house
when he and his family were out of town.
It was right behind the dormitories.
I knew where the key was hidden
because I babysat his kids.”
She looks back at the boy in fatigues.
“He was beautiful.
The first time we made love it
was in a bathtub.
and a hair dryer.”
“That was the end of me.
He lasted another week.
Ended it with a forty-five.
We swore we’d be
but when you’re
you have no
that can be.”
the Hangman says.
He seems to have a thing
for four-letter words.
This one starts with
No one is willing
to buy a vowel.
He soon gives up and writes
the word C-A-K-E
on the wall.
Rule number two
of the hallway:
“You can’t have your cake
and eat it too.”
“You already told us there’s no
food,” I remind him.
“Not that kind of cake,” he says,
pointing at Rotceo and Julie Ann,
who are at it again.
You can have all the love
you want but it will never
does a dance
on the floor.
When she tries
to break away,
his lips whisper
If she tries
to take a breath,
he smothers her
His hands are
from her pale, white
She finally sighs
I’ve ended up here,
with these pitiful people.
I wanted to do
something with my life.
I wanted to be somebody.
Was that a sin?
I tried out for the lead in
My Fair Lady,
and I would have nailed it except for the fact
that Darla was a senior and I was just a freshman.
“You’ll have lots of opportunities,” Mrs. Salazar told me.
But it didn’t feel like that.
It felt like my life was over.
I was assigned the role of a flower seller,
but I’ve never been good at being just
one of the crowd.
After the parts were posted,
Darla took the Ravenettes
up on the roof of Brady Theater
I wanted to go home and hide.
Everyone knew I’d gone up
against Darla for the lead,
I would have gone home,
if I hadn’t been so afraid
of what they would say about me
in my absence.
I was glad I didn’t, because
when we arrived, Davis
and the guys from the football team
were already there.
Darla was instantly on him
like a lioness in heat.
Davis tried not to look in my direction,
but he kept stealing glances,
especially when Will Jones draped his arm
around me and started drinking a bottle of Jim Beam.
“If we get caught with alcohol, we’ll all be on a
forty-five-day activity suspension,” whined one
of the freshman girls.
“Then don’t be stupid enough to get caught,” said Darla.
I felt sorry for them, for how afraid they looked,
huddled together like pigeons
seeking the protection of the roost.
Darla grabbed the Jim Beam from Will
and took a drink.
She handed it to me,
her eyes daring me to defy her,
the way I’d defied her by trying out for her part.
There was an unwritten rule that nobody went up against Darla.
But there’s a problem with unwritten rules.
Nobody can read them.
Not that I would have paid attention to that one.
I looked her straight in the eyes,
grabbed the whiskey from her hand,
and took a long, slow swallow.
It tasted like my father’s aftershave and burned
all the way down my throat.
I wanted to gag and vomit, but I didn’t dare.
Darla seemed pleased.
She took the bottle from me
and handed it back to Will.
Then she leaned in close and whispered,
“Don’t worry about the play, Ally.
When I’m gone, you can be
the queen of everything.”
It seemed I had been forgiven.
And in a few minutes, a warm,
buzzing sensation washed over my entire body.
I didn’t care how bad the stuff tasted,
I wanted more.
So I grabbed the bottle and took another long drink.
The other freshman girls slinked away, and Darla laughed
as she watched them scurrying down the fire escape.
“Lightweights,” she called after them.
Darla called up the sound track from
on her iPod, and a few of us got up
to do our dance routine while Darla directed us
from the sidelines.
When we got to the part where
we typically unzipped our Windbreakers,
in a mock striptease,
we took off our shirts instead.
“Hey, freshman,” Will called out to me. “Take it all off.”
I loved the way he and the other boys
suddenly turned their attention to me.
I loved the way Davis’s eyes filled with
panic as I reached to unhook my bra.
And I loved the way Davis suddenly
sprang up from where he was sitting,
put his arm around me, and turned me away
from the other guys.
He handed me my shirt and told the others,
“Don’t mess with Ally, she’s Bri’s friend.
I’m taking her home.”
“Good,” said Darla. “We wouldn’t want her to miss her curfew.”
“Stay away from Will,” Davis warned
when we got to the bottom of the ladder.
“He’s your best friend,” I said,
pretending to slump so he had to hold me up.
“That’s how I know he’s trouble.”
When we got to his car, Davis started the engine,
and he drove about a block before he had to
throw on the brakes, because I’d unzipped his pants.
He pushed my hand away. “Damn it, Ally.
Do you want to get us both killed?”
“What I want is you.”
“I still want you.”
I reached for him again, and he tried to push me away,
but I pulled up my skirt and crawled on top of him.
I loved how bold the liquor made me feel.
And I loved how we made love,
right there in the car,
under the streetlight.
Just a block away from where
Darla was celebrating her victory.
Darla broke up with Davis
two weeks later. It was five days
before homecoming when they had
a huge fight on the quad.
She said she was tired of him
tying her down.
He asked me to the dance that same night.
“We can go out to my car between sets,”
he said, like he wanted me to do for him
what I’d done the night I got
drunk on the roof.
Truth is, I would have done anything
I was so elated, I spent
every dime I had on a
red silk gown and shoes.
Megan Frost, one of the other freshman
Ravenettes, helped me choose it.
She was dying to know
who my date was, but Davis
said we should keep it quiet
until homecoming night.
I couldn’t wait to see the looks
on the faces of the other girls
when they saw me with him.
But the secret was burning
a hole in me,
so I confided in Brianna
and asked her to come
with me and Megan to the mall.
“To help you get ready for a date with the Thing,
Screw her. I didn’t need
her self-righteous BS in my life.
I’d completely forgotten about the photo
she’d taken. Had no idea she’d want revenge.
For three days I couldn’t eat a thing.
On Wednesday afternoon,
at the pep rally, my heart swelled
when Davis was elected king.
I was just a freshman,
and I was going to the dance
with the homecoming king!
So what if I didn’t get to play
I was becoming the star
of my own life.
But then Darla was chosen queen,
and my victory began to feel tentative.
Somewhere between the
gymnasium and the parking lot,
Darla decided it would be
awkward if she and Davis didn’t
go to the dance
together. So they sort of
patched things up.
I was devastated.
I’d lost my only chance
to be with Davis at homecoming.
Next year he would be far away at
college. He said he was sorry. He hadn’t
planned for things to turn out this way.
He said if I went to the dance,
he and I could still
hook up in the parking garage.
The parking garage!
I couldn’t go. I couldn’t face
seeing him with her again.
When Friday came, I stayed home sick,
crying half the day, and then
I got the scissors from the drawer,
cut and shredded, ripped and tore.
Red silk covered half the floor.
Then Will Jones called me on the phone.
He said he’d heard that I was free.
Would I like to double with him
and Davis and Darla?
I said, “Yes,”
thrilled that Davis had found a way
for us to be together.
I tried to put the red silk pieces back,
but a gown is like a broken heart.
So easy to tear it apart;
hard to put it together again.
When I showed up at the local
Steak and Ale
with Will, and we slipped
into the booth, Davis grew pale,
but Darla didn’t seem the least
When Will and Darla went
to talk with friends,
Davis said, “What the hell
are you doing here with him?”
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” I asked.
“Are you out of your mind?” he replied.
That was the first moment
ever wanting to die.
When Darla came back to the table,
she grabbed me by the arm and told the boys,
“Ally and I are going to the restroom.”