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When I Was Anna - 1

by Carlito


Hello! This is draft 2. I would like more big picture comments than sentence-level/grammar comments please. Thanks for reading :)

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One time at band camp a girl wasn’t too scared to talk to the boy she likes. And tonight, the final night of band camp, I’m hoping that girl is me.

My friend Bryn helps me get ready in our cabin’s bathroom because she’s the only one outside of my family that knows about my wig.

It’s a simple thing really. I lost all of my hair when I was thirteen. It started slow, a first strands here, a few chunks there. Then it came quickly. After that, I was the girl with no hair.

She hands me the blue bandanna our section leader Taylor has instructed us all to wear tonight, and I carefully fold it and tie it into a headband.

“Is it okay?” She knows I’m asking about more than the headband. I trust her to tell me if something about it looks unnatural or off.

She turns around me, checking from all sides, and gives me a nod.

Most of the drumline is gathered in a group outside of the bathrooms. The celebration of the final night of camp is already well under way on the basketball court, but Taylor wants our section to arrive together as a unit.

Kaila, a fellow snare player, cranes her neck around the bathroom building and says, “Will they hurry up? I want to go dance,” only loud enough for Bryn and I to hear her.

She’s mostly our friend out of convenience. When you’re in the same section and have seen each other daily for years, it’s hard to avoid becoming casual friends. But being in the same year and both playing snare, we’re each other’s biggest competition.

Once the final few stragglers arrive, Taylor waves his hand in the air, signaling that we can finally join the celebration. Kaila rolls her eyes out his line of sight, and we all walk towards the basketball courts together. Taylor wants us to be a team, and he’s always had a little flair for the dramatic.

I catch a few freshmen ogling towards us as we walk by. I remember being a freshman and dreaming of playing snare on the drumline. Now if everything goes according to plan, next year I’ll be able to take over Taylor’s position as section leader.

The bass from the music pumping on the basketball court courses through my feet as we get closer. I’m usually not a big dancer, but tonight I’m energized. I can do anything when I’m with this group.

The courts are already packed with the majority of the band by the time we arrive, and Taylor allows us to disperse to our individual friend groups.

For a second I wonder if Bryn and I will invite Kaila to join us on our search for the other two people in our friend group, Katya and Camilla, but she’s already disappeared into the crowd.

“How funny is it going to be when all of the other section leaders show up at our next rehearsal with different colors of headbands for their sections?” Bryn speculates as we walk the perimeter of the basketball court.

“It wouldn’t surprise me.” I laugh.

We find Katya and Camilla in line to get frozen Popsicles paid for by band moms and being passed out by our drum majors. No one objects when Bryn and I join them in line.

“Finally!” Camilla yells. “What took you so long?”

“Taylor.” That’s all Bryn needs to say.

Katya throws back her head and sighs. “Don’t be that annoying when you’re section leader, okay Summer?”

I smile. My friends know I want to beat out Kaila for the spot. “I’ll do my best.”

Camilla stands on her tiptoes to determine how many more people stand between us and Popsicles.

“Taylor is so weird. You know what Bentley had the tubas do tonight?” Katya says. “Nothing. Because it doesn’t matter. He cares about us playing our parts right and knowing our dots on the field. That’s it.”

“He’s just…” Bryn takes a second and tries to hide a smile. “Dedicated.”

“And crazy.” Katya adds.

We reach the front of the line. Our three drum majors, Stella, Micah, and Walter, sit on top of a picnic table, each with a box of Popsicles in their hands.

“What will it be, ladies?” Stella asks. She has her dark hair pulled into two neat French braids, and she’s sporting one of our newly released band t-shirts featuring our theme of the year: Disney villains. She’s a senior and the leader of the band. She stands front and center on a platform on the 50 yard line, keeping time and directing our show.

Camilla takes strawberry, Katya takes lemon, Bryn takes Cherry, and I take orange.

Micah hands it to me and I feel my face start to grow hot. Of course it had to be Micah. He’s a junior like me, and I’ve had a crush on him since last spring. Not that I’ve told anyone. I’m not good at crushes.

I pray that it’s dark enough for him not to notice my blush.

“Thank you!” Camilla exclaims for all of us, and I’m thankful she leads us back towards the dance so I don’t have to keep looking stupid in front of Micah.

We slurp our Popsicles in silence near a batch of trees a few yards away from the basketball court.

“I need to go find Fernando,” Camilla says once she’s finished.

Katya asks what we were all wondering. “Fernando?”

“The trumpet section leader.”

“I know who he is, why do you need to go find him?”

Camilla lifts one eyebrow. “Just cause.”

I know what that means. Fernando is the latest subject of Camilla’s infatuation. Katya rolls her eyes because she’s realized the same thing. Bryn smiles because she’s nice.

Camilla disappears into the crowd of dancers.

“Should we place bets on how long this one is going to last?” Katya deadpans. “Ten bucks it won’t last until Homecoming.”

“That’s not nice,” Bryn says. “I think they could work out.”

Katya stares at her, unconvinced.

“He’s a nice guy!”

They continue on, commenting on Fernando’s merits and his ability to put up with someone as high-maintenance as Camilla. I love Camilla, but she can be a lot. I don’t find many good opportunities to jump in, so I stay silent, nodding my head and mmhming when I see fit. This is fine.

I throw my hair into a loose ponytail to get it off my already sticky neck and offer to throw away our Popsicle sticks while they finish their conversation. The trash cans are off to the side of the line for Popsicles so I’m able to sneak another glance at Micah. He’s still doing his job and meeting the needs of the never-ending line of sweaty band kids that has no sign of stopping. Surely they’ll run out of Popsicles eventually. Surely he’s not expected to sit on that table all night and he’ll be able to join in on the fun.

I picture him joining the dance. I picture cool, calm, confident, ready-to-bust-out-a-drum-beat Summer tapping him on the shoulder and asking him to dance. I picture us starting with a fast song and then the tempo changing and the two of us effortlessly moving into a slow dance.

My fantasy is interrupted by Stella yelling, “Last call for Popsicles!”

The remaining people in line mob the table as Stella, Micah, and Walter throw their remaining Popsicles into the eager hands.

“That’s it!” She yells. “We’re all out! Sorry!”

I don’t want to be caught standing here by the trash can staring at Micah like a freak, so as soon as they stand up and start collecting the empty Popsicle boxes, I go find my friends. They’re still in the same spot next to the batch of trees.

“What took you so long?” Katya asks. “We were worried you ditched us like Camilla.”

Like I’d ever have the courage to actually approach Micah and ditch them.

“I just got stuck in the mob of people there for the last call.”

“Understandable,” She nods.

“There she is,” Bryn points towards the pack of people dancing.

It’s Camilla and Fernando. They’re locked together, despite the fast tempo of the song. His hands are wrapped around her waist, her arms around his neck, and they move in perfect time to the music.

Katya rolls her eyes. “Same old, same old.”

I’m struck by Camilla’s confidence and her ability to simply walk up to a guy she’s interested in, talk to him, and then dance two inches apart with him in front of absolutely everyone. How does she do that?

I go back to that picture in my mind of me somehow talking to Micah and dancing with Micah just like her. How would I ever manage to get around the stares and the assumptions and opinions of everyone around me?

“What are we doing guys? Are we going to stand here and wait for them to make out or are we going to go have fun?” Katya asks us.

“Do you want to go dance with them?” Bryn suggests.

“Not really. If she wanted to hang out with us, she would. And call me crazy, but I don’t feel the need to get invested in this since we all know it’ll be over in a month anyway.”

“Be nice.”

“Just stating facts.” She leads us around the perimeter of the basketball court, away from Camilla and Fernando. I don’t know how to say I don’t want to get too far away from where Micah may be, not that it will matter because it’s not like I’ll actually develop the courage to try to talk to him. But I’m hoping for the opportunity for him to see me, for the universe to align, and for him to ask me to dance or something.

“Katya!” Bentley yells from the pack of people in the middle of the basketball court. “Come dance with us!” Most of the junior and senior brass players are with him along with Taylor and a few other members of the drumline.

Katya exchanges looks with us, Bryn and I aren’t big dancers, shrugs, and joins Bentley and everyone else. I wouldn’t be opposed to staying here on the sidelines with Bryn, but that’s also not how I’ll get noticed by Micah. So when Bryn smiles and follows Katya onto the court, I tag along with her.

The music is pulsing, and it takes some effort to press our way through to Katya and the others. Taylor lets out a howl of glee and fists pumps his hand in time with the music. I throw my head back and laugh and begin to shake my hips in time with the music. I may not know how to dance, but I certainly know how to keep a beat.

Two songs later, it’s really not so bad. Some of my reservations start to dampen and I add in a few awkward arm movements with my hip swaying and occasional jumping around. I hope Micah sees me out here having fun, but I hope I don’t look too awkward or weird if he does see me. Even though he’s seen me every day for the last two weeks of band camp, I know he doesn’t see me in that kind of way, and I want him to see me in the best light.

Bryn nudges me in-between songs and whispers in my ear, “New couple alert?”

I look around, trying to figure out who she’s talking about. She nods her head behind me towards Micah and… Kaila.

What?

No.

He’s twirling her and dipping her and they’re dancing close together the same way Camilla and Fernando were, both with huge grins on their faces.

My stomach drops out of my body.

When did this happen?

I think back through band camp, the first week when we learned all of our new music in the band room at school, and then this last week when we stayed at camp to learn the drill. I try to remember if I noticed them talking or hanging out or if there was any indication that something was brewing between them. I come up short. For all of the time I spend noticing Micah, I know I would have noticed if he had suddenly started spending more time with Kaila.

It could be a one-time thing sparked by the end of band camp euphoria. It could be nothing. But they’re dancing a little too close and they look a little too thrilled for it to be nothing.

Bryn smiles like this is some kind of incredible, cute development, but now I wish I were absolutely anywhere but here. Kaila and I compete over everything. Chair placements, honor band spots, section leader. Now this? Him?

I can beat her at anything drum related, but this? This is uncharted territory where I have no idea what to do, and she does.

“When did this happen?” I ask Bryn because I know she won’t read into anything. I need to know how I missed this and how far along this is.

She shrugs and starts jumping along with the music again. “Couldn’t tell you. But I think I like it! What do you think?”

I hate it. I can’t say that though, so I shrug. “I thought she was dating that saxophone player.”

“They broke up because he’s about to go to college.”

Oh great, so she’s looking for a rebound. And out of every single guy in this band, she had to choose him.

“Anyone catching your eye this year?” She asks.

I duck my head in case I blush. This is such a common question.

Camilla wears her heart on her sleeve and proudly announces any and all crushes, big or small. Katya asks for our opinions on someone before she goes on a date with someone new. Bryn is happy with her boyfriend of over a year. And then there’s me. The one who has never been on a date or had a boyfriend because it’s too hard to pluck up the courage to talk to someone I’m interested in. I always say no whenever they ask because what if they judge my choice or what if it somehow got out. It’s easier to stay quiet.

So I shrug, even though the answer is a very solid YES. If Camilla were asking, she would keep on prying, but Bryn lets it go.

I get back into my groove even though my heart isn’t in it anymore. I chance another glance at Micah, daring to hope that maybe it was a fluke, a one song thing. Maybe we saw it wrong. Maybe I still have a chance.

But they’re still smiling, still dancing, still having the best time together. My stomach twists and I wish more than anything that I had the courage to walk over there and ask for a dance without caring about who is staring and what people are thinking or saying about me.

If I stay here and do nothing, they’re going to get closer, and I’m going to lose whatever window of opportunity I had. But even still, I stand here, and I do nothing.


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Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:18 am
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Lionhero333 wrote a review...



❤❤❤ i love young adult romance books. This is a really good start. You understand the character and their predicament. Honestly I do not see anything wrong or thats a really big problem. So i say great job all in all. I will definitely read the rest and offer feedback.

Also, if you can, can you read my story. I started posting it today and im just trying to get a good sense of direction.




Carlito says...


Thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :D



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Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:10 pm
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Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey Carlito! I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I've been looking for a new novel to review this RevMo, and I'm a sucker for a good YA romance, so here I am!

Since you asked for reviewers to focus on big-picture stuff and not grammatical nitpicks, I have successfully shoved down my grammar Nazi and so, instead of starting with a few nitpicks, I'll just jump into my initial impressions & critiques.

So, first of all, I liked that the Summer is losing her hair. That's something that I've never seen before in a YA book, and it gave her some depth right off the bat and helped me connect with her more since it didn't seem like she was two-dimensional, but rather a fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional character. Throughout the rest of the chapter, I could also relate to her; I am also that girl who rarely talks about crushes and is always too scared to actually go up and start a conversation with them, so I could empathize with her there, and I think a lot of other teenagers (boys and girls alike) can too.

On a more minor (and slightly sadistic) note, I would have liked to see Summer be more upset or even panicked after she sees Micah and Kaila dancing together. I think that would have really shown how much she cares about him in a tangible way, and would have clued her friends in to her drama, which could have led to some interesting plot developments. But there's nothing wrong with where you took it, either!

My biggest critique here is the number of characters introduced. I found it hard to keep up with at first readthrough, since it was all new to me, and a lot of characters came at me in rapid succession. I think I would have been able to remember the main friend group, Taylor, and the love interests, but adding so many minor characters (like Stella and Walter) made it confusing and overwhelming to keep track of everyone's role in the story and how they all connected with each other.

Hope this helped, and I can't wait to read more! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

All my best,
Tuck




Carlito says...


I apologize for the late response! Thank you so much for your review! I'm glad you found Summer relatable and that you're enjoying it so far <3



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Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:13 pm
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Tenyo wrote a review...



I agree with the other comments, Summers voice is fantastic. You've captured that beautifully awkward medley of adolescent emotions really well. I really liked the part where she was imagining talking to Micah and trying to bring herself back to it. It seems quite sweet but still has that light air of creep about it.

The hair thing was a little jarring. It looks like she was trying to breeze over it, a kind of 'this thing happened now let's move on' kind of attitude, in context with the quality of your writing, but in the beginning it looks more like a trope.

Also, have you seen American Pie? If you've chosen 'One time at band camp' as an opening on purpose then it's kind of clever, but if you haven't you might want to google the phrase. It has some specific connotations attached to it.




Carlito says...


I apologize for the late response!!
Thank you for your review!! :)

I haven't seen American Pie, but I'm aware of the "one time at band camp" connotations. I went to band camp and I've told many stories about band camp saying "one time at band camp I..." (but not american pie esque stories :p) so that's why I went with that. I hate first lines though, so I'll probably end up changing it.



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Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:40 am
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PrincessInk wrote a review...



Hello yes I adored this and yes I am definitely reading on <333

I really really liked Summer's voice. It feels natural and not stilted, with a lovely balance of dialogue/action/thought. I'm no expert on it but one thing I'm looking forward to see in alter drafts is *maybe* fine-tuning it a bit more to sound more Summer. I'm not sure, I'm just throwing it out casually, and my opinion might change as I read on, given that I don't know Summer too well yet.

Ooh, so I can imagine Kaila will be one of the central sources of conflict for Summer? Like the mean girl :P I'm not the biggest fan of girl-on-girl conflict because FEMALE EMPOWERMENT but at the same time I must say that it definitely has realism because of jealousy over boys, school, privileges, etc., and also competition! So, as much as I theoretically "dislike" girl-on-girl conflict...it definitely adds drama and tension and I'm looking forward to know where it goes!

Some other comments: I thought the comment about Summer losing her hair was a rather throwaway remark. I believe it might be a bigger deal for Summer, given that she's hiding that and also I feel like she's feeling a little insecure especially regarding boys? Not very sure. I was a little surprised for her to think about it only once. I'm also excited to see how the drumming will factor into the story. I'm always interested to learn more about an MC's passion especially if I'm drawn to her, just like Summer did to me. I hope Summer and Micah get together in the end!! :D The other reviews mentioned that there seemed to be a LOT of names introduced here, and I kind of agree, but I also thought their distinct personalities were established well. I agree with Mea that some physical description'd be awesome especially for the Awesome Micah. He must be hot, but "hot" is a very vague way for me to think about his appearance.

Sooo the review may sound rather critique-y but I liked this so so much and *crosses fingers for Micah to have a crush on Summer too*

Love,
Ink




Carlito says...


Thank you so much for all of the notes!! I'm so glad you like Summer's voice and that you want to read on <3



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Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:29 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hey Carlito!

I saw a few chapters of this hanging out in the Green Room and realized I've always wanted to read some of your writing. I think this first chapter was a great setup, and I'm excited to see where it goes, knowing the premise. The TV show Catfish is a big guilty pleasure for me, so it's fun to see a story being written about it.

The one thing I was confused about was why she lost her hair. I see that and think cancer, but I feel like that's something that would have been mentioned. Unless it's a rare genetic defect or something like that (my science knowledge is woeful) but that's probably something that should be explained. I love Summer's character too. She reminded me a bit of Gypsy Rose on The Act (another great show).

Description wise, you did a great job with the setting and it really brought me back to when I went to summer camp growing up. I wanted to echo Mea's comments about being more descriptive of the characters, as it was a little hard to keep the girls especially straight.

I don't have too much else to add, but please let me know if you have any questions!

Great job! I can't wait to read more.

Love,
Elinor




Carlito says...


Thank you so much! <3 <3

Catfish the TV Show is also one of my guilty pleasures :)
And the no hair thing will be explained more later. It's not cancer-related, but it is a medical condition.

Glad you like it so far! Would you like me to start tagging you in chapters? (no worries if not!)



Elinor says...


Plot twist: Summer ends up on Catfish XD Just kidding.

Yes please do! I'm going to try to get caught up in the next few days. :)



Carlito says...


Hahaha wouldn't that be a twist!

Yay! Thank you again <3



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Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:56 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey Carlito! I am finally here for this! :D <3

I love the setup for this and I love Summer's character already. She's very much relatable in her shyness, but the fact that she's a drummer and that she wears a wig does a lot to stop her from feeling generic. I think I'm 100% more sympathetic to crush woes now that I've actually been in a relationship as well lol. Like when she blushes when Micah hands her the popsicle, my first reaction is "It's just a popsicle" and my second reaction is "Yeah but you know you weren't any better with Boy." So it's cute and I love it. :)

I did find the number of characters or at least the number of names a bit much as I read the first half. I got the important ones - crush, rival, and immediate friend group, but the more I read back over the chapter the more I see the bits of their individual personality come out. So I'm not sure you're doing anything wrong here, I might just have a hard time separating a bunch of high school band kids in my head.

One specific thing I think you could do to differentiate them better is physical description. The only person who seemed to have a distinctive physical description I specifically noticed was Stella, and she's definitely not the focus of the scene. I don't even know Micah's hair color, and he's the all-important crush! Obviously balance is necessary, but a bit of physical description of Summer's friends would help put names to faces.

I also kept losing the setting in my head. I was never in band when I was in high school (orchestra all the way), so I'm not very familiar with where band camp would take place or what a party there would look like. I wasn't sure at first if the basketball court was indoors or outdoors or where the popsicle line was in relation. Careful reading helped solve most of those issues, though, and once I figured out this was more of a campground than anything, that helped a lot. I think I'm just clueless about band camp lol.

I think you do a really good job of the teen friend group dynamic - shown in the dialogue and who goes where with whom in the chapter. It takes me back, haha, and I can definitely feel how they are genuine friends, but there's still plenty of potential for very teenage drama.

I think that's about all I've got for this chapter! The main other thing I can think of to say is that I'm confused as to why popsicle was capitalized every time in the chapter. Is it one of those things where the word was originally a brand name and I never knew about this? Either way, great first chapter here, and good luck with all the rest of this second draft! I'll be back for more later. <3333




Carlito says...


One specific thing I think you could do to differentiate them better is physical description.

Mea. Why you gotta make me describe things :p

The main other thing I can think of to say is that I'm confused as to why popsicle was capitalized every time in the chapter

Scrivenger told me to, I don't know, I stopped fighting it :p

Thank you so much Mea!! Great notes as always <3333



Mea says...


One specific thing I think you could do to differentiate them better is physical description.


Mea. Why you gotta make me describe things :p

I know the struggle but it's good for you <333



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Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:00 pm
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Liberty wrote a review...



Hey Carlito!

Hope you're doing well today or tonight, depending on what side of the world you're on, obviously. I'm here to drop off a review. Alright, so when you had first posted this, I didn't get a chance to read it, and then I forgot. And then when you posted the second chapter, and tagged me, I remembered! Thanks for that. Let's start!

So, this was quite cool! I love Summer already. But she could've asked for a dance. She could've tried! Fine, fine, I'll be honest, I wouldn't really blame her, because I never would've even thought of it, if you ask me. I'd just shy away. And not even look at him, lol.

And Bryn seems like a very sweet friend, I would love to have such a friend. But nowadays... I can't even think of it. Also, you really grabbed me there when you said that Summer had no hair (:(). That grabbed my attention very much. I'd love to see what else is in her background. Well, enough with my chitter chatter. I saw this one little thing.


Camilla takes strawberry, Katya takes lemon, Bryn takes Cherry, and I take orange.


So, over here, the bold word is capitalized... Is it supposed to be? Because it's just the name of a fruit, and - yeah, no need for capitalization there! I'm pretty sure. That's it! I'm all done with my review. I love this very berry much and I can't wait to read more! I'm off.

And as always...

Keep on writing!

~Liberty500




Carlito says...


Thank you! Glad you like it so far!
And good catch on cherry. It's funny because in the novel I was working on before this one, I have a character named Cherry, so it must be habit at this point :p



Liberty says...


Lol. You're welcome!



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Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:44 am
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EternalRain wrote a review...



Hey Carlito:)

I'm a total YA fan so I'm really excited for this, haha. I enjoyed this first chapter a lot - right off the bat I can relate to Summer, a girl who's a bit low in confidence. But she definitely has a unique story which I'm excited to get to know more about (no hair?? :( ) I really enjoyed Summer's inner comments - they're really realistic and raw (jealousy, hope for Micah to watch her, etc).

As I was reading, I was a bit worried with all the characters that were being introduced, but with a lot of the personality set up already, it helps lessen that confusion for me. Bryn seems kind and positive while Camilla is wild and Katya maybe analytical or logical. The amount of characters also almost adds to the chaos and whirlwind summer camp can be like, so it does set that sort of ~vibe~.

It seems like confidence is going to be a big part of Summer's journey, and the passage where she's comparing herself to her friends with their boyish endeavors made me really sad for her. I'm a bit curious how she's kept her crush on Micah a secret for so long, especially with friends who seem really into the dating scene/curious about who she likes - but then again, I guess there's always the "I don't like anyone right now" answer.

That's really all my comments. I didn't have much to critique, hehe, I might have more comments as the story goes on. I looove this start, though. And Bryn seems like such a sweet friend. Excited for more!

~ EternalRain




Carlito says...


Thank you!! %u263A%uFE0F



Carlito says...


Thank you!! %u263A%uFE0F




Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
— Mark Twain