Renaissance Online's second serial story, "Dear Dreadful Book" will appear over four months, concluding with this issue.
SHARON E. SVENDSEN, an English teacher and writing instructor, is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. She makes her home in Bremerton, Washington.
Dear Dreadful Book
SHARON E. SVENDSEN
Chapter Four (conclusion)
Trina and Oogy and Lux and Ken and Larby and I went out to the lake today. The weather was perfect. We were going to go on Friday, but Trina has to work on Friday so that she can get Saturday and Sunday off. Lux and Ken are already tan, but the rest of us were really pale.
I felt kind of shy about having Larby see me in my swimsuit, but I think he approved. Larby was the palest of us all. And he has all these funny black hairs on his chest. I wanted to reach out and touch them, but I didn't do it.
I had brought along sun screen so we wouldn't burn and we rubbed it on. Larby and I put the sun screen on each other's backs. He has a nice back. I feel this sort of sweet affection toward him. I'm always wanting to hug him or give him little kisses or pat him on the back. At the same time, I don't want him to get the wrong idea, so I mostly keep my hands to myself.
First we swam. It turns out Larby is a really good swimmer, which is good because I am a pretty good swimmer, too. When we got to the raft, I sort of tisk tisked and said to Larby, "Is there anything you don't do well?" He blushed and said, "Sure. Lots of things." But I said, "I don't believe it."
After we swam for a while, we all had our picnic lunch. We all had a good time. Then Trina and Oogy and Lux and Ken spread out their blankets to "sunbathe" (neck) which was kind of embarrassing for Larby and me. I was afraid I was starting to get sunburned, so I went into the bathhouse and showered and put on my blouse and slacks. When I came out, Larby had showered and gotten dressed, too. We put some more sun screen on our faces and necks and arms then we decided to walk around the lake, so we put on our socks and shoes. The trail wasn't too crowded, so that was pretty nice. At one point, Larby took my hand to help me up over a rise, but he didn't let go when he could have. I didn't know if I should hold his hand, but then I thought why not? It was just being friendly.
At one point, when nobody was around and the path got kind of narrow, he stopped and I stopped and I thought he was going to kiss me, so I started talking about art class and we moved on. It wasn't that I didn't want to kiss him. It just seemed like it would be taking unfair advantage of him.
We talked about art then we talked about college. Larby wants to study music, but he wants to do something else, too - maybe be a doctor or lawyer or something. He doesn't know what. I told him I was sort of that way, too. I've been thinking about nursing or being a lab technician or maybe even being a pharmacist. Luckily, for both of us, we don't have to decide right away. He was saying there are tests they can give you to see what you're suited for. That would help.
When we got back, they had built a fire. We didn't really need one. It was still hot, but the fire was nice. we all sat around and talked. we talked about movies and cars and school and graduation and everything. The sun started getting low in the sky, and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. After that, we packed up everything and came home.
Just before Larby got out of the car, he took my right hand, turned it up and gave me a kiss right in the center of my palm. Then he walked me to the door and said good night. It was ten o'clock, but there was still a trace of daylight. I watched him walk back to his car and drive off and I closed my fingers over my palm. It felt like he had given me a treasure I could hold.
I've been trying to work through this Lizzy thing by remembering all the nice things she has done for me, but part of my brain has had this kind of sick feeling: what if she was only nice because she was like attracted to me? But I know that wasn't true. All I had to do was think about it. I mean, just because she's a lesbian, it doesn't mean she's a child molester. All she ever did for me, she did from just plain love. I know it. And Mom-Mom knows it, too. If she thought her sister was a child molester, would she have left me with her? No. And I mean, it's not like my mom is this big gay rights activist or something. She just loves her sister. She wouldn't be trying to put us together if she thought there was any danger.
Pancakes. Pancakes. Glorious pancakes. Can you juggle pancakes? Can you throw pancakes through the air like Frisbees? Can you ride on magic pancakes to new, mysterious, exotic lands? Can you build a tower out of pancakes? The leaning tower of pancakes! Can you make pancakes into stepping stones? Can you build a bridge out of pancakes? How about a house made of pancakes? They make houses out of gingerbread, how about pancakes? What about spaceships made of pancakes? Then the Martians could have some pancakes with their green cheese. World peace conferences should serve pancakes. We should build birdhouses out of pancakes. Adam and Eve should have dressed up in pancakes instead of fig leaves. Little pancakes. Big pancakes. Heart shaped pancakes. Star shaped pancakes. Pancakes!
I'm not too crazy. Larby took me out to dinner at the pancake house last night. Isn't it funny how something like pancakes can be around forever, then you suddenly realize how fascinating they are? Who thought them up? What a marvel pancakes are!
[ MORE: Garduation Day ]