Thursday, 24 March 2016
Wooing Wednesday: The Wentworth Boys: Part III
THE WENTWORTH BOYS
Written by Kris Kaila
The next summer I had finally turned fifteen and lost about twenty-five pounds. (It was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. After the first week, eating less junk food and exercising more, it became routine). Jocelyn was voted Prom Queen 1959, and had graduated from high school. She was now getting ready to go to community college to become something more than she already was. I did not know what that something was, and I don’t think Jocelyn did either. She had received a scholarship for her straight A’s and all her after school activities. My mother had gotten a second job as a housekeeper to help her pay for college. Jocelyn herself would have to get a job in fall for the first time if she wanted any spending money. She was bummed that she would have to go to community college because that meant she would have to stay in town.
“Some day I’m going to get out of Avelle and move to some large city. I’m going to make something of myself, something big. When people see me, they will say, ‘There goes Jocelyn Fisher. She become somebody.’”
Jocelyn was halfway to her dream. People of Avelle were already saying, “There goes Jocelyn Fisher isn’t she something.” All I wanted was to be noticed by Hunter Wentworth, and maybe by Jocelyn. If he liked me as much as I liked him, that would be enough for me. I wished I could tell Jocelyn all about my crush on Hunter but she would not care.
Jocelyn, this summer, would probably spend time getting ready for college, hanging out with her friends, and being free of all responsibilities. Every summer from the age of 11, I babysat for various families to help my mother out with the bills. In reality, I was actually helping my mother pay for Jocelyn’s clothes. Amanda always asked me why I would get a job just to pay for my sister’s keep. While I earned enough money for Jocelyn to buy things, my mother could work less and still manage to pay the bills, and have money for groceries. I wish sometimes that Mother would have made Jocelyn get a job, but I knew she would never ask either one of us to work.
This summer I had managed to secure a cushier job working for Caraway Boutique. Opal Caraway, a New Yorker, owned the boutique. Every May, Mrs. Caraway would blow into Avelle with crates filled with expensive formal and informal wear, and accessories. By Labour Day, the remaining items would be packed and sent back to New York. Opal Caraway was originally from Avelle until she married Paul Caraway from New York. Her visits would be sporadic and limited to her family home, and occasional town visits. Ten years ago, Paul Caraway died of a heart attack at age 45. Opal, a young widow, with too much money and not enough time to spend it, decided to open up a boutique in Avelle for the summer. She brought things here that Avelle would not know was fashionable for several months. And they were cheap. Clothes that originally sold in New York for hundreds of dollars were sold for about twenty dollars. Every summer she would hire two or three high school students to work in her store. Those who worked for Mrs. Caraway often received free clothes, or very high discounts. I was going to get to wear things that were new and in style. For four months Caraway Boutique would be swarmed with women and men from 11 am to 6 pm. And, I was going to be in the middle of it all. I was really excited about this summer.
The first morning of summer break when Jocelyn announced her plans to go to the beach, I for once was not envious. I put on my best hand me down outfit and sat smiling at breakfast.
“Carla, since Mother’s going to be gone before you start for work, Jean said that she would give you ride to the store. I mean the store is on our way,” Jocelyn offered sweetly.
For the first time I could almost hear the admiration in my sister’s voice. She was actually talking to me like an equal.
“Sure, I’d love that.” As soon as I finished my sentence, I heard Jean’s car pulling up our gravel driveway, with the radio blaring.
“Well, I do not want the whole world knowing that my sister has to work. Going with us makes it look like you choose to work there,” Jocelyn put on her sunglasses and picked up her beach bag. “Well, come on then.”
I wanted to say something to her, something really mean, but I didn’t. What would be the point anyway?
As I got into Jean’s car with the other girls, I felt like Jocelyn that night getting into Wendell’s car. I wanted to laugh like my sister had done, but that would be too weird, too soon. Instead I relished in the attention I was getting from the other girls I had admired my whole life. I was getting closer to achieving my goal than I ever thought. Just ten minutes later, the girls waved and wished me luck. I took in a deep breath and walked through the door of Caraway Boutique.
“Good morning. Carla, would you mind grabbing the box off the counter in the back on your way? Thanks,” Sherri asked, looking up from the register.
Sherri was a college student home for the summer. She had worked for Mrs. Caraway since she was sixteen. She was the assistant manager, and I already liked her.
“No problem, Sherri,” I answered, skipping my way to the back room.
The first month of summer went by in a daze. It felt like the days were melting into one another. I never had so much fun working before. I even stayed late cleaning up, and setting up for the next day. I had been able to purchase a few items, and receive others for free. Even without a Wentworth invite, I was having the best time of my life.
Even Jocelyn’s remarks refused to penetrate my thin skin.
“Don’t go around telling anyone that Mrs. Caraway give you clothes for free. I will end up looking like a charity case. Just tell people you bought them, okay?” Jocelyn instructed, as I handed her the new white blouse Mrs. Caraway had given me.
* * *
In the middle of July, Patrice Wentworth and her youngest son, Cameron came into the boutique looking like celebrities. Cameron and I had known each other since we were 5 years old, having to always be in the same classes. We were not friends, nor did we hang with the same group of people. I do have to admit that he has always been nice to me. I wished it were his brother, Hunter, who was nice to me. Patrice just fascinated me beyond words, her clothes, her hair and the way she walked and talked. She reminded me of my sister and how much I was unlike these women.
“Hello, Opal. How are things in New York?” Patrice asked, giving the store a once over.
“I did not stay much in New York this year, dear. I was in Chicago visiting my husband’s sister.”
“Hello Carla,” Cameron said, coming from behind his mother towards me.
“Hi Cameron,” I choked out.
Raising her immaculately tweezed eyebrows, Patrice turned to her son, “Do you know this…girl?”
“Carla and I go to school together. Her sister, Jocelyn and Hunter were in the same grade.”
“Ah, yes Jocelyn Fisher. You must be the other Fisher girl,” Patrice smiled.
With that, Patrice steered Mrs. Caraway towards the front of the store. She needed a new dress for some party, and needed Mrs. Caraway’s input. Cameron did not move away from me.
“My parents are going to some party or another this Saturday, so my brothers and I are throwing a party of our own. If you were free that night, it would be cool if you came. Do you want to?”
I was being asked to a Wentworth party. Me, Carla Fisher, the other Fisher girl was being asked to a Wentworth party. Was he kidding in asking me whether I was too busy for a Wentworth party?
“Yes! I mean sure, I have Saturday nights off.”
“Good. I will pick you up around 7:30.”
For a second I was lost in my thoughts of dancing with Hunter. “I thought Wendell Jones picked up the girls from Ivy Lane.”
There was no way I was going to be deprived of getting into Wendell Jones’ latest blue Ford. I had dreamed about it forever, well a couple of years anyway.
“H-he does. But I thought since you don’t really know him and all…I could pick you up.”
“Isn’t my sister invited?”
“Well I know my sister, and there is no point in us getting picked up separately.”
“That does make sense. So, I’ll see you there.”
“Definitely.” I smiled, as he turned to walk away.
“Cameron, honey, we’re leaving now,” Patrice called him from the door.
When I was recounting the story to Sherri, who had never been invited to a Wentworth party, Mrs. Caraway offered to give me the dress of my choice for free. I could not wait for the party.
The night before the party, I called Amanda down to the shop to help me pick out a dress. She had just returned from her grandmother’s and did not yet know about my exciting news.
“You got invited to the Wentworth party by a Wentworth? Are you going to go?” Amanda asked.
“Yes and yes.”
“Going to that party only shows how materialistic and snobbish you are. Is that the kind of person you want to be?”
I came out of the fitting room wearing a pink dress that closely resembled the one that Jocelyn had worn last year. Amanda made a face and shook her head at the dress.
“If you were invited to a Wentworth party, would you really say no, Amanda?”
“Don’t answer a question with a question,” Amanda said flipping her hair to the side.
“Besides it was Cameron who asked you to this party, not Hunter.”
I went back into the fitting room with a peach dress.
“So, you are technically Cameron’s date.”
“You don’t really have dates to this thing,” I informed her, hoping she was wrong, and came out of the fitting room. “Well, if you have to go, that is the dress.”
The peach dress hung just above my knees, and had thin straps with a high neckline. It hugged my hips and breasts. As I smoothed down the dress, I could see Hunter and I dancing. This was the dress.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Huh?” Amanda asked.
“Yes, I want to go the Wentworth’s party even if it makes me a shallow person.”
“I think I would too,” Amanda said quietly.
* * *
k (My Novelesque Life)