“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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Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
10 months ago

A glimpse into the lives of two young American teens in the mid-Sixties, a glowing moment surrounded by darkness and death. Great use of setting here. 

Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite(@paul-lewthwaite)
10 months 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.

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
Reply to  Paul Lewthwaite
10 months 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 10 months ago by Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
Reply to  Julie Harris
10 months ago

My dad was on his way home from school early, (not sure exactly why) and a kid ran to him from down the street. He told him Kennedy was shot—dad just always told me that all he could do was stand there. He placed his belongings on the ground for a moment. ‘Stunned’, that was the word he used. The untimely deaths of Kennedy and John Lennon were something that impacted him. He never forgot where he was, when it happened.

Also, I agree with your comment about the men having a hard time in the 60’s. They absolutely did!

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
10 months 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 10 months ago by Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Julie Harris
10 months ago

You’re welcome, Julie. Yes, I agree.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
10 months 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.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
10 months 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.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
Reply to  Julie Harris
10 months ago

I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been for those so young to be called upon to fight. The newsreels we were shown in the UK were truly horrendous.

I am truly honoured Julie to be featured on the Star Page. That has really made my day!

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
10 months 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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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
10 months ago

A very well told story, Julie! You have caught the atmosphere of that time perfectly, with the music from the jukebox and the historical events. The backdrop is perfect when you arrive at the conclusion of it all – the draft letter in Charlie’s pocket. Then, the reason for his unexpected proposal and his thoughts of death and war are explained. I also like your decision to let Charlie keep his letter unopened. A great piece of writing, Julie!

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Susan Giles
Susan Giles(@susan-giles)
10 months ago

From the very first I was drawn into this story – first of all by singing all the songs that were a part of the story and a part of my childhood. Reliving these plus the subsequent memories made this a very personal story. My heart clinched at the last paragraph. Too true for too many during the 1960’s.

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
10 months ago

Julie, your story gave me a glimpse of a piece of history I didn’t know much about. It is terrible to imagine the fear and uncertainty those young people must have felt, mixed with the hopes of having a future with someone they loved. Your story was like pieces of a puzzle, coming together piece by piece, until you get to the last paragraph, bringing it all together. This is such a sad, but very well crafted story. Brilliant!

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
10 months ago

Congratulations Julie, such an emotional and thought-provoking story.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
10 months ago

Congratulations, Julie. You captured a particular moment in history, and brought it to life in a very poignant way.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
9 months ago

Congratulations, Julie! Your story took us back to the 60s in a masterful way and deserved this success.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
9 months ago

Congratulations, Julie. This story stayed in my mind long after I read it. Well done.

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
9 months ago

Congratulations Julie!! I am very happy for you as I really loved your story, well deserved!!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
9 months ago

Congratulations, Julie.  ? 

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