“You’re mine,” the singer croons, “and we belong together.” The beat is slow and easy. I hope my clumsy body can find the rhythm. My arms are too long, my feet too big. I can’t believe she’s actually dancing with me.

We’re playing an oldie but goodie on the jukebox. Ritchie Valens. “He was too young to die,” she sobs. It’s been six years since that plane crash – why get so shook up about it now? “He was only seventeen,” she adds, “just like me.” I pull her closer, burying my face in her hair. So soft, so clean. “My Breck Girl,” I whisper, forgetting her name. We’ve had classes together all four years of high school, but don’t really know each other.

She was two seats ahead of me in typing class the day the teacher left suddenly, then came back with tears streaming down her face. “The President’s been shot,” she told us. I kept on blindly typing, until someone lifted my hands from the keys and gently led me out of the room. I remember pictures of a pink suit splattered with blood, getting out of school for a week, mom crying nonstop. That school year passed in a daze.

Now, two years later, jungles and burning villages with strange sounding names fill the tv screen every night. After the evening news, dad shows me his WW2 medals. He doesn’t seem proud. He seems torn up. “War is a living hell, Charlie,” he tells me.

My Breck Girl sings me back to the present. “Yes, we belong together, for all eternity.”

“Cathy!” I blurt out. “Will you marry me?”

She keeps on singing. I must have only thought the question. But at least I remembered her name. The song ends, and we drop another dime into the jukebox. The Four Tops.

“Sugar pie, honey bunch,” I sing, shutting out everything except our warm young bodies gliding across the floor. I reach into my jacket pocket, knowing that the unopened letter with its dreadful summons is waiting. It will keep. For now, I just want to dance.

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Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite (@paul-lewthwaite)
20 days ago

Great story, Julie. I love how you captured your protagonist’s almost desperation to have someone to hold onto/belong to/marry etc because he knows the bad news that he’s been called up. I also got a strong sense of the time/place and nice touch re: his Dad’s antipathy towards conflict. Well done.

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
19 days ago

I agree with you Paul. I also had a strong sense of time and place in this story. I enjoy this time in history, Julie. I think you captured the 60’s perfectly. My dad had told us many times what he was doing when Kennedy died. “Everybody remembers exactly where they were, and what they were doing when that happened.” I really love this story, great work Julie!

Last edited 19 days ago by Melissa Taggart
Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
19 days ago

Hello, Julie. I agree with them. You have completely captured the time, place and emotions of your story. And brought me back in history. Well done for a great story. 

Last edited 19 days ago by Lotchie Carmelo
Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
18 days ago

Once more, my sentiments have already been expressed in a far better way than I can. This is another fantastic story Julie. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading through every one of these this evening. I’m glad I don’t have to judge and can drop a like on as many as I want to. Excellent story, very expertly crafted.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
17 days ago

The ‘will you marry me?’ question had me puzzled Julie until I read your response to Paul. Pure desperation. It’s unimaginable what must go through a young boy’s mind receiving such a letter and just wanting to shut it out. I like how you didn’t reveal the letter until the very end allowing us to fit all the pieces of your story together. Very nicely done.

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills)
12 days ago

This story is so atmospheric that it carries you back in time. I can just imagine a little diner, with a jukebox and the smell of burgers and candyfloss. It’s all innocent and clean, with the dogs of war sitting in a letter in a young man’s pocket. I can feel his fear as well as his hopes for a future with Cathy. Love it!

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