Read Forget Me Not Online

Authors: Carolee Dean

Forget Me Not (8 page)

and dirty streets.

People fall

in love,

out of love,

to sleep.

Sometimes they even fall

from

rooftops.

And sometimes

they

j

u

m

p

PART SIX
L
 
I
 
F
 
E
(
O
 
R
   
I
 
S
   
I
 
T
   
D
 
E
 
A
 
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?)
I
 
N
   
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E
  
 
A
 
L
 
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Y
Ally
FIRE OR ICE

Here’s a

truth

that I have

learned—

ice

can be

so cold

it burns.

SISTER SISYPHUS

sits knitting

hour after hour

little spider fingers

work at the yarn

knit one

purl two

knit one

purl two

every time she

reaches

the final

row

it

u

n

r

a

v

e

l

s

a

t

h

e

r

f

e

e

t

THE GIRL IN BLACK KNITS

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.”

WHILE ROTCEO SLEEPS

Julie Ann comes and sits

beside me.

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.

Him

and me

and a hair dryer.”

DEAD END

“That was the end of me.

He lasted another week.

Ended it with a forty-five.

We swore we’d be

together

for eternity,

but when you’re

seventeen,

you have no

idea

how long

that can be.”

LET’S PLAY ANOTHER GAME

the Hangman says.

He seems to have a thing

for four-letter words.

This one starts with
C
.

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

be enough.

THE TANTALIZING DUO

does a dance

on the floor.

When she tries

to break away,

his lips whisper

More.

If she tries

to take a breath,

he smothers her

with kisses.

His hands are

never far

from her pale, white

skin.

She finally sighs

in resignation

and lets

him win.

I CAN’T BELIEVE

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

to celebrate.

I wanted to go home and hide.

Everyone knew I’d gone up

against Darla for the lead,

and lost.

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
Chicago

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 trouble.”

“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.”

“You’re drunk.”

“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.

HOMECOMING DRESS

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

he wanted.

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,

yeah, right.”

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

Eliza Doolittle.

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.

BACKFIRE

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

surprised.

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

I remember

ever wanting to die.

THE COCKTAIL

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.”

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