Background: Sally is dealing with an alcoholic father, a young man’s unwanted attention and her senior year in highschool. She leans on her only true friend, Linda.
First day of school finally arrives. Sally was ready for the bus when it stops in front of her house at 7:30. Mr. Bowen was the driver and had been since she started to school at Stuart. When Sally’s foot hits the first step-up, Mr. Bowen speaks to her. “Good morning, young lady, how was your summer?”
“Fine, Mr. Bowen. Did you have the summer off?”
“Sure did, but I still had to work the farm. I’m ready to get back to driving so I can get a rest.” He chuckles and closes the door. The kids are excited and everyone is sitting next to someone talking ninety miles an hour. Sally finds an empty seat and sits next to the window. She likes looking out the window as they drive the five miles to Stuart School.
The Bus only makes one more stop before it gets to the school. They pick up the Wood and Kirkland kids. No one sits beside Sally. She pulls out her library book and begins to read. Whenever she wants to escape, she does it in books. Withdrawing into her reading is Sally’s way to escape all the fighting and problems caused by her dad’s drinking, or anything else that might bother her. When the bus stops in front of the school all of the kids get off. Sally’s first class is Study Hall, so she has forty five minutes that she can read before she has to start her classes.
Linda is waiting inside the front door, grabbing Sally as soon as she enters the building. “Are you ready for this? I can’t believe we’re seniors. I’m excited, but I’m also wondering what’s going to happen.”
“Hi, Linda, you are wound up this morning. I can tell you’re excited. There’s no point in worrying about any of it. We’ve got everything handled. I’m just ready to get this year over with. Come on, let’s go get our seat in study-hall before everyone else gets there.
The two girls walk to study hall, which is actually the school library and pick out a couple of desks next to the windows. Since the school is not air-conditioned, they want to feel the air coming in, if it does. The middle of August can be a killer when it comes to the heat. The temperature outside this morning is already eighty-two degrees, so they know the afternoon will be a scorcher.
Mr. Chambers, who usually teaches the sciences, is the homeroom teacher this morning. “Ok, everyone, welcome back for your last year at Stuart High.” A big round of applause and cheering erupts out of the class. “You’ve almost made it through. Since this is the only class where you’re together, this morning we are going to nominate for Homecoming King and Queen. I know basketball season hasn’t started but it will be easier if we do it now and get it out of the way.” Sally moans to herself because she knows what is about to happen.
“Let’s hear the nominations for Queen.” Mr. Chambers says.
Three hands go up in the air. Amanda nominates Brenda Jones, Ronald nominates Cassie Smith and Janice nominates Sally.
“All right will the three nominees leave the room and we’ll call you back when the voting is over.” Mr. Chambers waits while the girls leave the room.
I’ve been through this every year and I know my nomination is just meanness. I’m not going to give them the satisfaction this year.
“Excuse me, Mr. Chambers.” Sally said, as she stood up by her desk.
“Yes, Sally, what is it?”
“Mr. Chambers, I’d like to respectfully decline the nomination for Home Coming Queen.”
“Thank you, Sally. Please be seated. Would the other two nominees please leave the room?” Mr. Chambers smiles at Sally when he sits down at his desk. He knows some aggrevating fun for the class snobs went the wrong direction.
Cassie Smith wins the nomination as she does every year. She is bright, beautiful and built very well. The boys call her, hot stuff.
Sally feels relief. That one act of standing up for herself was six years in the making. After study hall, Sally and Linda head to their next class. Linda pokes Sally with her elbow. “I can’t believe you did that.”
I’ve gone out to the hall every year knowing I was too fat and not liked enough to be Homecoming Queen. I decided this year I wasn’t going to let them do that to me again. I can’t help that I’m not built as good as the other girls, but they’re not going to rub it in anymore.”
The school day over Sally returns home on the bus. She goes in the house and immediately picks up the phone to call Linda. Neither of her parents are home, because the workday isn’t over for them. She or Linda call as soon as they get in the house. This ritual has gone on since the first time they met.
“Hi, has Linda made it home yet?”
“Yes, Sally, she’s here. Hold on and I’ll call her to the phone. I don’t know how you girls can talk so much. You just left her after being with her all day.”
“I know but we didn’t have the chance to talk about some things.”
It took Linda a couple of minutes to get to the phone. “Hello”.
“What took you so long to get to the phone?”
“I have to go to the bathroom sometime, silly.”
“You can take care of that when you know I’m not going to be calling you.”
“Oh, dry up. There’s times that are forced on you. You should know that very well, Miss Run Over By Her Own car,” Linda said laughing.
“Okay, you made your point. What are you doing this evening?”
“Just all that home work that we got today. Oh, I want to ask you if you’ve heard from Bill.”
“Not since he took us to get those Coke’s. Maybe he’s decided he’s tired of me being rude to him. I sure hope so.
“I heard Floyd tell one of the guys that his brother was at Ft. Sill.”
“Bill is still in the Army. I don’t think he has much longer in his enlistment, maybe a month or so. He’s come home every weekend to his mom’s place since he has been in Lawton.”
“Maybe he will leave you alone. Time will tell.”
“Dark Shadows will be on in about ten minutes. Give me a call after it goes off so we can talk about what we think is happening.”
“All right Sally, I’ll call you. Bye.”
Sally hangs the phone up and starts on her chores. I hate sprinkling those starched clothes. I don’t know why daddy want’s his pants so starched anyway. They will stand by themselves. At least I don’t have to iron the stupid things. Mine is bad enough without having to do his also.
The washtub is in front of the couch and the clothes are on the couch. Sally has the TV on channel 10 when the eerie music begins letting her know Dark Shadows is starting. She sits sprinkling the clothes, rolling them up, and completes the process by placing them in the tub. She’s through in fifteen minutes and then covers the tub with a couple of towels, to keep the clothes from drying out. Now she sits back and listens to Barnabas chide Angelique about causing trouble at Cottonwood. Before she knows it, the program is over and the phone rings.
“Hello Linda, what did you think? No, I think Angelique and that other ghost will do something with those two kids. Have you noticed how much their behavior has changed? I think it will get really interesting before it is over. Oh, ok, I’ll see you in the morning. Don’t let your dad work you too hard. Bye.”
Sally hangs up the phone and goes to the kitchen table to get her homework done. She keeps losing concentration thinking about her dad. Wondering what time he will get home and how drunk he’ll be.