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The Girl from Lincoln (2)

by Elinor

“Really?” I was a bit shocked that they had such an interest in me, but I thought about what Laurie had told me once, when she was explaining why she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. The world isn’t against you, Deb. It’s only your imagination.

They nodded. “I’ll call her,” I said.

I took a moment to be sure no one was coming. We weren’t supposed to be making personal calls on the store phone during business hours, but at that moment, I didn’t care. The more I thought about it, if I talked to Mother now, I could avoid actually having to interact with her at home. I might just have to meet Jay in my uniform, but so be it.

They continued eating their ice cream and chatting amongst themselves as I dialed the phone. After two rings, she picked up. “Hello?”

“It’s me,” I said.

“Debbie.” She seemed out of breath, flustered. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m going over to Laurie’s house tonight, okay?” I’d never exactly told Mother that we weren’t on speaking terms, and recently she’d asked me why Laurie hadn’t been over to the house in a while.

 “It’s late. And we still have a lot to do for tomorrow.”

“You have a lot to do,” I said. “I didn’t want to have this barbecue. I shouldn’t have to help you.” Alex and Sasha watched me, starting to laugh. 

“Deborah Gail,” she snapped.

“I’m not asking for your permission, I’m telling you.” I could hear her fuming. “I’ll be back later.” Then, I hung up the phone.

I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. For a long time I’d wanted to stand up to her, and I couldn’t believe that I actually had. The girls were beaming, their laughter playful.

“We’re proud of you, Debbie,” Alex said.

“She’s going to be so mad,” I replied.

“She’ll be okay,” Sasha said.

I saw it was 8:35. I needed to start closing. I told them this, and they said they’d wait. They continued talking amongst themselves. Something about someone named Helen and some grocery store clerk she’d flirted with and how it was so obvious that he’d had it bad for Helen and had never slept with anyone before. I was a bit shocked that they were talking so openly about sex.

By this time, they’d finished their ice cream, and they turned to me. “So where exactly are we going?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” they both with a giggle. Then, out of nowhere, they started singing The Doors’ “Love Street”. I watched them, uncomfortable. They motioned for me to join them.

“I don’t know the song well enough,” I said. 

“Why not?” Sasha asked.

“My mom thinks Jim Morrison represents the worst of our generation,” I said.

“Your mom is wrong,” Alex responded. “But that’s okay, we’ll change that.”

Soon enough it was nine, and the store was closed. The heat, for a brief moment, was welcome. I started to get my bike off the rack as they gestured towards their car, a red Chevrolet with Wyoming plates. “Leave your bike here,” Alex instructed. I hesitated. “Come on, no one’s going to steal it.”

I knew she was right. I got in the back seat. In the back of my mind, there was a brief moment of hesitation, of knowing something about this situation wasn’t quite right. But in that moment, it was a call to something different. To something exciting.

Alex got in the driver's seat and Sasha in the passenger’s. Immediately as we began to drive, Sasha turned on the radio. She turned back to me. “What kind of music do you like?” She asked me.

“Um,” I said. “Elvis is good. And I like the Beatles.”

As Alex began to drive, Sasha started flipped through the radio. She lingered on a news channel about the Apollo mission, which was due to depart in a week and a half for the moon. It was secretly something that I wanted to listen to, but I didn’t want them to think I was weird. I had a feeling they were people who thought the entire thing was a waste of money and resources. Even if I thought it was amazing that a man could land on the moon in a few short days, I wasn’t about to say anything now. They eventually settled on Peter Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. It wasn’t what I would have expected, but it was a nice, relaxing song for the late night drive.

Even though I’d lived in Lincoln my whole life, I felt like the drive was one of the first times that I’d really noticed the city. I’d always felt like it was boring, but its empty streets had a quiet peace to them. For a few minutes, no one spoke, and I lost myself in the music. It didn’t take long before the angular outlines of buildings faded into fields. The midwest had to be the most boring part of the country, geographically.

“Are you guys from Wyoming?” I asked. I didn’t know much about it other than Yellowstone was there, so it was probably prettier.

“Oh, no,” said Sasha. “Why do you ask?”

“The license plate.”

“No, we’re not from Wyoming," Alex said.

There was a moment of awkward silence. “We’re probably just in time for the fire,” Sasha said, changing the subject.

We turned onto a dirt path, and I noticed the faint outline of an encampment. One tent, a few sleeping bags, and a fire pit. There were a few sparse trees and a gentle stream. “Are you allowed to camp here?” I asked.

The girls both shrugged. “No one’s said anything to us yet,” Alex said. “We aren’t hurting anyone.”

As we got closer and parked, I noticed a light emanating from the tent. There was also the figure of a young woman sitting by one of the sleeping bags. She was reading a book and put it down and came to meet us. She was very beautiful; long, honey-blonde hair, wide blue eyes, perfect skin. I thought of my own frizzy hair, pored face, and uneven eyebrows. It wasn’t fair. She’d probably never had an intrusive thought about her looks in her life. How could she? She turned to Alex and Sasha.

“How was town?” She asked.

“Good,” Sasha said. “We got ice cream.” They gestured to me. “And we met Debbie.”

The young woman turned to me and smiled. Perfect teeth, of course. “I’m Helen,” she said.

“Debbie.” We shook hands.

“Jay’s in his tent. I’ll tell him you’re back.” She gestured towards the fire pit, which had a pile of kindling next to it. “We got the fire started.”

“I can tell him,” Alex said. Before anyone could react or say anything further, Alex began towards the tent. Sasha started to laugh and then bit her lip, and the three of us formed a small circle. Just then, I noticed the starry night sky. Between it and the calm of the field and the river, I had to admit it all was beautiful. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alex lean down in front of the tent, talking to someone who I couldn’t see. Then, she entered it. I said nothing, and looked back towards Helen and Sasha. Helen noticed my uniform.

“Do you work at Baskin Robbins?” she asked.

“Uh, yeah,” I said.

Just then, Alex emerged, followed by a man. I quite sure what I’d been expecting, but this wasn’t it. I supposed he was handsome, but he seemed old. He approached us, all of the sudden I felt his eyes on me. “Who’s this?” He asked. I was discomforted by the intensity of his gaze, but only because no boy had ever looked at me like that before. The only boy I wanted to look at me like that was Ken Arnold, but to this day he and I had never spoken. But then again, Jay wasn’t a boy.

“I’m Debbie,” I stammered.


I nodded. For a moment I wondered how he knew, but I supposed that most Debbies were really Deborahs so it wasn’t a big leap. Then, he turned the girls, specifically to Helen. “We’ll be there in a minute.” They all seemed to understand and went over to the fire. From the corner of my eye, I could see them beginning to get it started. Jay stepped closer towards me. “What brings you to us, Deborah?” The feeling of being close to him made my body react in ways that I didn’t fully understand.

“I’m, um, Alex and Sasha… they…” I supposed that something about him made me forget how to speak. I felt my gaze shift away from his. A mere moment later, I felt his hand on my chin, forcing our eyes to meet again.

“You have such beautiful eyes,” he said. “But no one’s going to know if you never look at them.”

I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry,” I finally managed.

I heard chatter in the distance and became aware that the girls had begun to talk amongst themselves. But the moment I began to turn away, his hand pulled me back. “Don’t worry about them right now,” he said. “What matters is us.”

I said nothing, and he must have sensed my discomfort.

“What’s wrong?” He asked. “Why so tense?”

“I don’t know, um, I don’t know.” Nothing I was saying was making any sense.

“Relax,” he said, gently rubbing my shoulders. Even though he was being awfully forward, I didn’t mind it, and in fact I welcomed the attention. I was just unused to it. "I’m glad you’ve joined us tonight,” he said, gesturing towards the fire. He stepped forward, and extend his hand. I took it, aware that the eyes of the others were on me. 

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314 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:02 pm
mellifera wrote a review...

Hey Elinor! Back again to review some more :D let's get into it, shall we?

The world isn't against you, Deb. It's only your imagination.

I took this to mean that she can be paranoid at times? From the "world is against me" mindset, and the fact that her friend was suggesting that it only was her imagination about it. I wanted to mention it, since I don't know how you intended it to come across, but I do like the suggestion for her character and adding more layers to her!

Alex and Sasha watched me, starting to laugh.

It seems like an odd reaction to laugh at this? I imagine Debbie's tone is a bit clipped here, just by what she's saying and her thoughts about the barbecue in the last part. She's telling off her mum, which I expected to garner approval from Alex and Sasha, but laughing makes it sound... amusing, which the line doesn't warrant, in my opinion? I don't know, maybe they smile or something instead?

I could hear her fuming.

Instead of "hearing" her fuming (because we're going back to the telling thing, and what does her mother's "fuming" sound like anyway?), maybe she imagines her mum getting red in the cheeks? Or maybe her expression gets really pinched, and Deb pictures that? Or maybe her mum does do something audible, like huffing or gasping. Then the reader can actually imagine/recreate what your describing, plus it adds a little more to Deb's mum (and, if Deb is very familiar with her anger/disappointment/etc, then the fact that she can visualise those emotions says something about her home life).

For a long time I'd wanted to stand up to her,

And here is a line that I really enjoy for the reason I just said actually! You throw in more of Deb's past without telling, and it makes the conversation that she just had more impactful!

"She's going to be so mad," I replied.

I'm curious how she says this line? Does the worry that her mum will be mad close in on her triumphant feeling all of a sudden? Or is it more of a general toss out there that "she's gonna be mad" but Deb's not concerned about it right now?

In the back of my mind, there was a brief moment of hesitation, of knowing something about this situation wasn't quite right.

I think this could be expanded on? Like, Deb knows that getting in the car of two almost strangers can't be a good idea, but they've been nice to her and she's tired of her life right now, so safety isn't at the forefront of her mind? I know it does go into that in the next lines somewhat, but I feel it could have been stated a little more concretely rather that being vague about "something's not right here".

"What kind of music do you like?" She asked me.

I noticed a few times after dialogue that you capitalise words that don't need capitalising? Mostly, you have "I said/asked" or "Name said/asked", but when it's just a pronoun, it shouldn't be capitalised.
(Specifically for this one, though, I don't think you need the dialogue tag. The reader should know it's Sasha asking the question since she's the one who turned around to face Deb, and the "She turned back to me" followed closely by "She asked me" doesn't read quite right to me. Repetition dulls writing, and while there is repetition that reads fine, the dialogue tag isn't inherently necessary here, so the repetition doesn't serve any kind of purpose here other than to sound a bit funny)

The Midwest had to be the most boring part of the country,

haha wow isn't that the truth. a big pancake pretty much.

I didn't know much about it other than Yellowstone was there, so it was probably prettier.

also true :p

"We're probably just in time for the fire," Sasha said, changing the subject.

I'm someone who is supremely guilty of this as well, but the "changing the subject" is really already implied by her dialogue, so writing in that she was "changing the subject" is telling and doesn't serve much of a purpose here.

"I'm Debbie," I stammered.


I don't know why? But I love Jay's penchant for asking people their full names if they give him like, something shorter haha.

I love how fast the transition of Debbie's emotions are after she meets Jay. The way you've written it does really get across that mindset that she has where it's just confusing. Her mind is swirling and she doesn't know what to do about everything that's happening, and I think that it really comes across in the way you've written it at the end here :)
(I MEAN I hope that's what you were going for??)

I also really enjoy how all the girls seem to notice how open and beautiful the sky is when they're first brought to the campsite? That seems to be many of their reactions and, as someone who adores the stars and the night sky, I really appreciate this reaction and the way you describe it.

Okay! I think that's all I have for today! I really enjoyed the read :D

I hope you're having a wonderful time! <3

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Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:47 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



I love how clear it is that Debbie's situation is very different from Helen's. Helen very clearly had gone through a whole different stage of life by marrying someone and attempting to start a family while Debbie is still at home and living a life with her mother. So kudos on ensuring their experiences extend from very different scenarios!

I definitely didn't expect Debbie to be so... disrespectful? to her mom. Like I knew there was a little iffyness from Debbie regarding her mother and how she might not really have wanted to help with the barbecue, but it wasn't really explained much at all or we never really dwelled on her thought process as she made that decision to not help out, so the phone call actually threw me for a loop. I didn't see the disrespect coming at all.

But I like that Debbie has this kind of relationship with her mother; it adds just a unique perspective into this entire scenario with Jay. Helen ran away from a toxic environment out of sheer desperation, Debbie has this odd relationship with her mother -- whether it's because she wants to be independent or she and her mother have always had a tense relationship. It's very clearly different and unique to Debbie.

All the while, both of them were brave enough to look for a solution to their unhappiness.

I also love that Debbie is still uneasy around Jay, unsure of what she's feeling and kind of just wants to stick with the girls. Like she was looking for a new friendship with these girls, a friendship she once had with Laurie. She was hoping for that camaraderie, and this Jay, despite having heard of him a little bit, made her just uneasy. She might have likened the look to Ken Arnold, so basically an experience she's familiar with, but that doesn't mean she likes it either. She's just weirded out and not sure while at the same time a part of her is like wait.. maybe I do like this ?? becuase she'S BEING ACCEPTED WITHOUT QUESTION which is an experience that anyone would be thrown off about and weirdly want.


And gosh, Jay is nasty and charismatic and charming and terrible and just. perfectly. evil.

AND ALSO THE STARRY NIGHT REFERENCE. Something tells me this is used a lot as a commonality, and I just absolutely love that.

This ended rather abruptly, so I'm wondering if more will be added!? Didn't feel like much of a conclusion, but we can also kinda gather where this might be headed too considering the other piece (and more that I haven't read, I'm sure). As a stand alone though, it ends a bit roughly, so I'm guessing there might be a third installment and I look forward to reading it if so!

Elinor says...

Ha, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I agree that Debbie is rude, it's intentional. The relationship is supposed to be toxic, but I don't want her to come across as unlikable or unsympathetic because of it, as there's certain things I had in mind that that I don't really have the time to get into here. But mostly she's just an angsty teenager?

Also, she's attracted to Jay but she's uncomfortable because she's never had any guy pay attention to her like this before, and she feels a lot safer with the girls. It sounds like that all came across so I'm glad!

And there is definitely more to come. I'll keep you posted. :D

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
— Abraham Lincoln