• Christine Silk

Dorcas


Mrs. Hanson stood at the front of the classroom and clapped her hands.


“Please be quiet, boys and girls, and listen. A new student will be joining us tomorrow, and I want you to make her feel welcome.”


Alice raised her hand. “But it’s already January. How will she catch up in math and reading?”


“We are all going to help her,” Mrs. Hanson said. “Be kind. Make her feel included. Treat her the way you would want yourself to be treated.


We all knew this comment was really directed at Bobby Miller. He sat at his desk, twirling his pencil and looking bored.


I raised my hand. “What’s her name?”


“Dorcas O’Connor.”


Bobby snickered loudly. “Dork-ass,” he repeated. “What a name!”


“Bobby!” Mrs. Hanson said. “You will clean the chalkboard during lunch for that outburst.”


“Dork-ass, Dork-ass,” he repeated in a whisper so the teacher couldn’t hear him. I turned and gave him a hard look. Loretta and Joan made a “shush” noise at him, but he didn’t care. Bobby was like that. Once he got an idea into his head that amused him, nothing would shake him from it. My mom said he was a bright boy, but I didn’t see how. He always slacked off and turned in his homework late. And his big mouth usually got him in trouble.


“The name Dorcas is an ancient Roman name,” Mrs. Hanson said. “Shakespeare named one of his characters Dorcas. Just remember that when you see our new student tomorrow. Her name is historical, noble, and full of dignity.” Mrs. Hanson paused and held up a pile of papers. “I noticed that a lot of you are still writing the date 1959. It is now 1960, so please think before you write.” She put the papers on the corner of her desk. “You can pick up your essays on President Eisenhower after class. And don’t forget -- your next assignment is due at the end of this week.”


Later, as we were getting ready to go home, Joan, Loretta and I talked about what she might look like.


Loretta said: “If she has a Roman name, maybe she has curly hair, like the picture of the Roman woman in our history textbook,” She pointed at me. “Or maybe her hair is curly like yours, Cindy.”


I groaned. “Don’t remind me about my hair. If she’s lucky, she has straight hair.”


Loretta laughed. “Straight hair isn’t a lucky thing to have. I wish I had wavy hair like yours, Cindy. And blonde hair like Joan. Then I wouldn’t have to put my hair up in curlers every night. I could put some peroxide on it.”


Joan shook her head, and her shoulder-length blonde hair swayed from side to side. “Loretta, don’t even think about bleaching your hair. It wouldn’t look good. Anyway, what the new girl’s hair actually looks like doesn’t matter. Her personality is what counts. Anyone with that kind of a name has got to be something special to get away with it.”


“That’s not fair,” I said, “How can you expect her to live up to her name? She didn’t choose it, her mother did.”


Joan shrugged. “She has to be stylish about it, or her life is going to be hard.”


I looked across the room at Bobby, who was cracking jokes about leprechauns and carrot tops while ruffling the red hair of Henry, the shortest boy in the class.


“Yes, her life is going to be hard, alright,” I said.


Dorcas was no Roman profile, no Shakespeare character. She was tall and bony, with long, dark hair, and clothes that were too big. Her socks bunched around her ankles, and her shoes were badly scuffed. Her skirt hung low on her skinny waist. Except for the fact that her glasses made her brown eyes about three times bigger than normal, her face was unremarkable. She looked like a starving, shabby brown owl.


Of course, Bobby lost no time in making her the target of every joke and crack he could get out of his loud mouth.


When he called her “Dork-ass,” and “popsicle stick with glasses,” she just looked at him and blinked. Her face registered no offense, no annoyance, no recognition that he was even speaking English. Of course, this made Bobby want to needle her more, just to get a reaction. Because of this, he spent more time than usual cleaning the chalkboard and reporting to the principal’s office.


Dorcas caught up with the rest of the class in a matter of weeks. She was especially good in literature. We were reading Little Women and she seemed to understand what the author was trying to say better than any of us. She made comments about the characters that none of us had thought about before. Mrs. Hanson was delighted.


But we girls didn’t understand why, with her brains, she didn’t bother to comb her hair, or clean her glasses – which were smudged with fingerprints and had a fine sifting of dust. Didn’t she look in the mirror? Why didn’t she at least try to look less shabby? She obviously took a bath because she didn’t smell like sweaty old Chip Lambert. Her clothes were old hand-me-downs, but they weren’t actually dirty.

  

We didn’t know her well enough to ask her any of these questions. In fact, we didn’t talk to her much at all, just “hello” and “goodbye.” Even if we knew her better, how do you ask somebody those kinds of questions without hurting her feelings?


Dorcas was a decent singer. It wasn’t long before the music teacher, Miss Arnold, invited her to join the school chorus. We were already well underway practicing for the spring concert. Miss Arnold gave her a black concert skirt to match the ones the rest of us girls already had in our closets.


Then Miss Arnold made an announcement that we had all heard weeks before: “Dress rehearsal is two weeks before the spring concert. That means black skirts for the girls, black slacks for the boys, white shirts for everyone. Make sure you girls try on the skirt and hem it if you need to, or let out the hem if you grew taller. It should skim the top of your shoes. Same goes for the boy’s slacks.”


That dress rehearsal came in March. We were all in our assigned spots on the stage. Dorcas came tripping along in a skirt that dragged on the ground. She lifted it to walk up the stairs of the stage, revealing her shoes, which looked even worse now. The sole was half off the left one, and it flapped when she walked. I noticed that she never wore boots. Her shoes got wet and stained from the melting snow and the rock salt on the sidewalks.

Joan and I exchanged significant looks.


Miss Arnold, who was usually patient, turned to Dorcas.


“Your skirt is too long, Miss O’Connor, even though I told you to make sure it was hemmed. It should skim the top of your shoes.”


“I’m sorry, Miss Arnold, but I don’t know how to sew.”


“What about your mother or grandmother? Can’t they help you?”


Dorcas looked down. “My mother doesn’t know how. And I don’t have a grandmother.”


Miss Arnold turned to the rest of us. “Who here is taking sewing class?”


I raised my hand, along with half the girls in the chorus.


Miss Arnold pointed at me. “Okay, Cynthia, you’re the one who is going to hem Dorcas’s skirt for her. I want it done by the time we rehearse on Thursday.”


I nodded and hid my annoyance. Why couldn’t Miss Arnold have chosen someone else? I wasn’t even the best at sewing. Joan and Kathleen were far better. So was Laura. They were making button-down blouses now, with notched collars and darts, and I was still working on the same old lime green dress I’d started in November.


Fortunately, I had my sewing kit at school that day. I asked Dorcas to change into the skirt in the girls’ bathroom. I got down on my hands and knees to pin up the hem. The white tile floor was spotless and reeked of Pine Sol.


Dorcas didn’t say a word. If I asked her to turn, she turned. She didn’t try to look down at what I was doing, and she didn’t seem to take much interest in her own reflection in the mirror, unlike the Singleton twins who came in at one point and spent a full ten minutes gawking in the mirror and talking non-stop while they arranged their hair and carefully applied several coats of lipstick.

  

When I got home, I threw Dorcas’s skirt on the sofa. The house smelled like dinner: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Mom came out of the kitchen and kissed me on the head. Her hair was tied up with a ribbon to match her yellow polka-dot apron, and her blue skirt was clean and pressed.


“How was school, sweet pea?”


“Okay, until Miss Arnold told me to hem Dorcas’s skirt. She’s the new girl and doesn’t even know how to sew. Her mother doesn’t either. I don’t understand why not.”


Mom shrugged. “Nobody taught them. It’s nice of you to help her out.”


“Yeah, well, I don’t have a choice. And I have tons of work to get done, but the skirt has to be finished right away.”


“Sometimes our responsibilities pile up, don’t they?” Mom said. She went back into the kitchen to check on dinner and fold kitchen towels.


I had to study for a math test, and finish reading a book that we were supposed to discuss tomorrow. But I put it all aside until later. I hemmed that skirt in record time. The sewing machine didn’t jam at all! I was so relieved to have it done that I decided to bring it to Dorcas’s house right away. She didn’t live far, just a block north and east of Main and Sycamore, above Caparella’s Deli. I overheard her telling Mrs. Hanson about it.


Mom wouldn’t let me leave until after dinner. I ate quickly, and told Mom I’d have dessert later, after I got back. Dad was still at work. He was a repairman for the telephone company, and he often came home late.


It had started to snow again, and my footsteps made a muffled crunch on the sidewalk. There wasn’t much traffic at this hour. People were at home, keeping warm, probably watching the weather report on Channel 7 to see when spring might actually arrive.


I found the door that led upstairs to Dorcas’s apartment. The stairs were lit by a single dim bulb. The floor was wet and muddy, and the linoleum was missing in places. I tramped up the stairs and knocked on the door, which could have used a new coat of paint ten years ago.


After what seemed like forever, a quavering voice on the other side said: “Who is it?”


“It’s Cynthia Roberts from school. I hemmed Dorcas’s skirt, and I wanted to drop it off.”


There was a fumbling with locks. The door opened a crack. A thin, frightened woman peered out. Then she let me in and quickly shut the door behind me. Her short dark hair looked like it hadn’t seen a comb in months, and she was dressed in a frayed pink robe that emphasized her skeletal figure.


“Dorcas is in the kitchen,” she said, pointing in the general direction. Then she shuffled over to a threadbare sofa in front of the television, arranged a brown blanket over her legs, and was immediately absorbed in “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”


I made my way through the small apartment, and Ozzie's voice followed me. The place smelled of stale tobacco smoke and coffee. It was a mess. Here and there a sock or a towel was lying on the floor, a broom or dried out old mop was stuck in a corner, used coffee mugs, ashtrays, and magazines were scattered around. Laundry was hanging to dry everywhere: on a lingerie rack in the dining room, on hangers dangling from doorknobs and curtain rods, over furniture, even on the ancient chandelier.


Dorcas was dancing around the small kitchen while eating out of a tin can with a spoon. A radio was playing Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea.”


She stopped when she saw me standing in the doorway.


“Oh, it’s you,” she said, clearly disappointed that I had interrupted her dancing. She turned off the radio.


“I brought your skirt,” I said. “You might want to try it on.”


Dorcas put down the tin can. It was Dinty Moore Beef Stew. She took the skirt and proceeded to slip it on.


“You might want to take off your slacks first,” I suggested. “This way, we can see if it drapes the right way. Also, put your shoes on.”


Dorcas disappeared into a room off the kitchen and shut the door. A minute later, she came out again, wearing the skirt. She picked up the can of stew and began eating again.


“Want some?” she asked, scraping the bottom.

 

“Uh, no thank you,” I said. I thought about the delicious dinner I’d had earlier, and I wondered why her mother didn’t cook.


I squatted down to make sure her skirt was the right length. It looked fine. Her shoes needed help, though. The sole of the right shoe now matched the left one, gaping open like an alligator mouth.


“Do you have any other shoes for the concert?” I asked.


Dorcas shook her head. “I only have one pair, and I’m wearing them.”


“Can your mom lend you a pair?”


“Her feet are smaller.”


“What size are you? Maybe I can find someone who has an extra pair.”


"Nine.” She paused. “I know. Giant feet. Like Godzilla. Wait until Bobby finds out,” she said with a sigh.


“Don’t worry,” I said. “I won’t tell him. He has a big mouth and he needs to learn to just shut up.”


Dorcas giggled, and held her hand up to her mouth. For some reason, the gesture made me realize that I wanted to be her friend.


An idea popped into my head. “Do you have any tape? We could tape the sole to the upper part, then it won’t flap around so much.”


Dorcas blinked and adjusted her huge, smudged glasses. “I wish I had some, but I don’t.”


“What if I bring some to school tomorrow?” I suggested. “My dad has a roll we can use. It’s super-industrial.”


“Okay.”


“Will your mom get mad at us?”


Dorcas shook her head and waived her hand dismissively in the direction of the living room.


“Oh, she won’t even notice.”


I mustered up courage. “What’s wrong with her, anyway?”


“Depression.”


“Has she always been like that?”


“Pretty much. Although there were some months when she was actually close to normal. Those were the good times.”


“What about your dad?”


Dorcas shrugged. “Haven’t seen him in years. We have no idea where he is.”


“Oh.” I wanted to ask more questions, but I knew it would be rude to pry. “Well, I guess I should be going.”


Dorcas shuffled her foot and looked down at the floor. “Thank you for helping me with the skirt, Cynthia.”


“You’re welcome.”


At school the next day I told Joan and Loretta all about my visit to Dorcas’s apartment.


“And this is the roll of tape I got from my dad,” I said, fishing it out of my book bag.


Loretta stood with her hand on her hips. “You know Bobby is going to make fun of her the minute she tapes up her shoes.”


“Yeah, but he makes fun of her now, no matter what,” Joan pointed out.


Loretta snapped her fingers. “Hey, I have a plan. If we all tape up our shoes, then Dorcas won’t be singled out. I’ll bet Mary and Kathleen and Alice will go along with the plan, too. Maybe even Mrs. Hanson, if we tell her.”


By the end of the day, a lot of us had taped-up shoes. Bobby didn’t quite know what to do about it.


“What, did you all join the Dork-ass tape-your-shoes club or something?” he taunted.


“That’s right,” Loretta shot back. “Wanna join?” She held out the roll of tape.


“No way. I’m not stupid like all you idiots,” he said, frustrated that the number of targets outnumbered his ability to gain the upper hand with his wisecracks.


By the end of the week, Joan had found a used pair of black flats from her aunt, and I managed to find a pair of snow boots from a neighbor who no longer needed them. 


We presented them to Dorcas at lunch on Friday.


“Thank you,” she mumbled, taking the bag of shoes.


We expected her to jump for joy at the gifts, but she remained inscrutable. Then I realized that her big eyes looked a bit watery behind her glasses. She blew her nose. Our gift had had an effect, just not the one we'd expected.


On the weekend, Joan, Loretta, and I had a sleepover. We talked almost exclusively about Dorcas.


“I’ll bet she’d look better if she’d let us fix her hair,” Joan said.


“Yeah, and if she polished up her glasses, that would help too,” Loretta observed.


Joan nodded. “And we could get one of the Singleton sisters to show her how to put on lipstick.”


“Dorcas doesn’t strike me as the kind of girl who is very interested in lipstick,” I said.


“But she might need to know one day,” Joan said. “How will she catch a husband?”


I rolled my eyes. “She’s only seventeen, just like us. I’m sure she’s not thinking of marriage.”


“She’ll need to learn at some point. My cousin just got married, and she’s twenty.”


“Twenty is far into the future.”


“No it’s not. My mom always says it’ll be here before you can blink.”


“That’s because she’s older. All old people think that way.”


“Doesn’t mean it’s not true.”


Loretta cut in. “That’s enough, you two. Let’s talk about Dorcas.”


We talked about how we could dress up Dorcas and make her prettier, as if she were our own living Cinderella doll. We paged through old magazines, looking at “before” and “after” pictures of women who had been through a makeover. We swapped ideas about what would work with Dorcas and what was out of the question.


None of us wanted to broach the subject of a makeover when we next saw her. It was too out-of-the-blue, so we waited.


The day of the spring concert arrived. Miss Arnold had us assemble an hour before curtain time so we could get ready and have a warm-up.


In the girls’ dressing room, Joan said casually, “Gee, Dorcas, a lot of us girls decided to fix our hair for the concert. We can help you fix yours, if you want.”


Dorcas blinked. Then she said, after a long pause: “Sure. I guess so.”


We girls excitedly guided Dorcas to a chair, and we set upon her like the Emerald City munchkins set upon Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Joan positioned herself as the hairstylist. I stood next to Joan, ready to help.


“Dorcas, I’d like to give you some bangs,” Joan said. “It’s all the fashion right now. Will your mom mind too much?”


“She won’t even notice,” Dorcas said.


“Okay, I need some scissors,” Joan called out.


Marilyn, who was in my sewing class, produced a pair of pinking shears.


Joan waived her away. “No, not those. Scissors.”


Someone found a pair and put them in her hand.  The rest of us stood around and watched Joan deftly section a piece of hair above her forehead and cut a straight row of bangs. Long pieces of severed hair fell on Dorcas’s lap, but she didn’t seem to mind.


“Wow,” Mary said. “She looks better already.”


“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” Joan said, holding bobby pins between her teeth and brushing out Dorcas’s hair.


Loretta suggested that maybe Dorcas’s glasses needed to be polished. Dorcas reluctantly allowed her glasses to be removed, but she made Loretta promise she wouldn’t break them.


“Otherwise I won’t be able to see a thing,” she said.


Two of the other girls offered to lend Dorcas some jewelry: a necklace and a bracelet. Another volunteered to polish the black flats we had given to Dorcas, which were now on her feet.

Dorcas sat there like a mannequin. I couldn’t tell whether she enjoyed the attention, or whether she was just putting up with it to make us all happy.


Without her glasses, and with her hair in a nice up-do, she wasn’t a bad-looking girl.


“You look really good, Dorcas,” Loretta finally said, giving her back her glasses.


“Yeah, you do,” several of the girls murmured. The rest of us nodded.


“Now stupid Bobby Miller can keep his fat mouth shut for good,” Joan said.


“But he’ll still make fun of her name,” Mary said.


We all wished Mary hadn’t spoiled our mood by pointing out this obvious fact.


“What if she changes her name,” I said slowly. “What if we call her Cass or Cassie from now on.”


“Yeah! Yeah, that’s a great idea,” the other girls exclaimed.


Joan put her hand up. “Hold on. It’s Dorcas’s decision. Whaddya say, Dorcas?”


We all looked at Dorcas, who sat in the chair, blinking and patting her new hairstyle.


“Well, okay, I guess that’s fine.”


“Cassie, Cassie! Cassie O’Connor,” we all sang. Then we all giggled. Even Dorcas.


The Singleton girls (who were not in the choir) somehow got wind of what was happening, and they appeared in the girls’ bathroom. They looked at Dorcas and then exchanged significant glances.


“Wow. What a change,” Linda Singleton said, cracking her chewing gum.


“I’ll say,” Lisa Singleton nodded. “Good job on the hairdo, Joanie.”


“Thank you,” Joan said, standing a little straighter. “Now that you’re here, ladies, maybe you can show Cassie how to put on some lipstick.”


“So she can catch a husband when she’s older,” I added sarcastically.


“What does lipstick have to do with a husband?” Dorcas asked.


I pointed. “Ask Joan. She’s the one said it.”


“All I meant was, men like women to look good,” Joan said. “Lipstick helps.”


“It sure does,” Lisa Singleton agreed.


Dorcas got a thoughtful look on her face. “My mother never wore lipstick. Maybe that’s why my dad left.”


The Singleton twins were already standing by the mirror. “Come over here, Cassie, so we can show you what to do,” Linda said.  She gave Dorcas a tube of pink lipstick.


Lisa shook her head. “That’s the wrong color, Linda. Magnolia Blossom is too pink. She needs something red, because of her dark hair.” Lisa dug around in her purse. “Here it is. Cupid’s Kiss Red. Just the right shade.”


The two sisters demonstrated how to use a lip liner and how to apply lipstick. Dorcas imitated them. We all stood behind, watching.


“Here is how you make sure you don’t get lipstick on your teeth,” Lisa said. She stuck her finger in her mouth, wrapped her lips around it, and pulled it out. There was a ring of lipstick on her finger.


“Sort of like a . . . lollipop,” she added, with a smoky glance in the mirror. A few of us giggled.

Miss Arnold came to the door to see what was keeping all the girls. A small group went to the door to explain. “Shh, Miss Arnold, don’t interrupt! The Singletons are giving Dorcas a beauty lesson, and she looks so good! We’ll be in rehearsal in five minutes, we promise. Oh, and just so you know, she goes by Cassie now instead of Dorcas.”


Miss Arnold was a good sport about it and said she wanted to see us in exactly five minutes --  not a second later. When we arrived on stage, the boys were already in their places. Bobby Miller watched us shrewdly. His eyes narrowed into a squint of mischief, and his mouth curled up into a smirk. He was at the far right end of the semi-circle, front row, and Dorcas was at the far left end of the semi circle, front row.  They had a good view of each other.


Before Miss Arnold could play a single note on the piano, Bobby blurted out:  “Would you get a load of Dork-ass. Someone painted her up to look like a doll, but she just looks like a skinny twig with big red lips to match her big owl glasses.”


Miss Arnold was getting ready to reprimand Bobby. But Dorcas had already broken out of formation and was striding across the stage, right past Miss Arnold, who stood there with her mouth open in astonishment.


We all watched Dorcas march up to Bobby. He was one of the tallest boys in the class, and she was one of the tallest girls. They stood face-to-face.


“Bobby,” she said in a calm voice that everyone could hear, “my name is now Cassie, so please don’t call me Dorcas anymore. I also want to tell you that what you said about the way I look is an insult to all my friends. They spent a lot of time helping with my hair and lipstick, and you just hurt their feelings by telling them they didn’t do a good job. I would appreciate it if you would apologize to them.”


Bobby was so take aback, all he could do was shuffle his foot and look at the floor.


“Go ahead,” she prodded. “Say you’re sorry.”


“Sorry,” he mumbled.


“That’s okay,” she said. “I’m sure they all forgive you. I forgive you, too.” Then she leaned over and planted a big, red kiss on his cheek, and walked back to her spot as if nothing had happened.


Bobby put his hand up to his face. His eyes were wide with shock. He stared at the red lipstick smudge on his palm. We were all speechless. Then a few of the boys started making loud kissing sounds.


Miss Arnold held up her hands. “That’s enough everyone. Let’s start our warm-ups.” She turned to a mortified Bobby. “Go to the bathroom, please, and wash that stuff off your face.”


“That stuff is Cupid’s Kiss Red,” Joan said loudly.


Bobby jumped off the stage and ran to the bathroom as fast as he could. Some of the boys were repeating “Cupid’s kiss red!” and laughing and making kissing sounds again. Miss Arnold gave them a strong warning that they’d go to the principal’s office if they didn’t hush and start their warm-ups.


From that time on, Bobby never called her “Dork-ass” again. Some of the boys called her “Dor-KISS” in front of Bobby, and he looked as if he would sink into the floor from embarrassment. In fact, whenever she was anywhere near him, he’d get a panicked look on his face and try to get away as soon as possible.


He once wore a crimson jacket, an a few clever kids went up to him and said: “Say, Bobby, what shade is that, anyway? Cupid’s Kiss Red?” After that, he didn’t dare wear any color that remotely resembled red.


We also noticed that Bobby didn’t make any more wisecracks. He was quiet in class, and he seemed to buckle down to his work more. Some of us overheard our moms talking about the fact that Bobby’s mom didn’t know what had come over her son, but she wasn’t complaining.

Dorcas completely ignored Bobby. Her popularity had increased, although it didn’t go to her head. She was still the same old Dorcas -- or I should say Cassie, since that’s what everybody called her. Whatever friendships and attention came her way she accepted without letting it go to her head, as if it were the weather and she could do nothing about it.


We told her about the rumors we’d heard about Bobby’s improved behavior at home, and she shrugged.


“Maybe he learned to grow up,” was her only comment.


One summer, when I was in my early twenties, I bumped into Bobby Miller at a friend’s backyard barbeque. He was clean-shaven and well-dressed. In his face I saw none of the sarcastic insolence I remembered so well from when we were teenagers. Whatever had happened in high school was behind us now, overshadowed by our adult responsibilities.


He said: “You know, Cindy, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the years, and I owe you an apology for all the times I was a jerk in high school.”


I smiled. “That’s okay, Bob. By the time we graduated, you were no trouble at all. It must’ve been a stage you were going through.”


He looked thoughtful. “It was more than a stage. I was pretty darn rude back then. Dorcas, er, I mean Cassie -- she’s the one who really counts. If she hadn’t set me straight that one time in choir rehearsal, I’d probably be out of a job right now for making one too many wisecracks in front of the boss.”


“Wait. Is this the same Bobby Miller I used to know? The one who teased everybody and got sent to the principal’s office almost everyday?” I asked, laughing.


He smiled ruefully. “That’s the one.”


“What changed, Bob?”


He shrugged. “I finally understood what it was like to be on the receiving end.”


“Are you sure aliens didn’t land after dark and give you a different brain?”


He chuckled. “Yeah, maybe that’s it, Cindy. I thought I saw a green glow out on the lawn one night.” He took a sip of cola. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to know where I could write to her, do you?”


“You mean Cassie? I heard she’s working at Joan’s beauty parlor over on Ashland Avenue,” I couldn’t resist making the next comment: “Aren’t you a little scared to talk to her? She might plant a big, red Cupid’s kiss on you.”


Bobby smiled and rubbed the spot on his cheek. “To tell you the truth, I am a bit nervous, but not because of lipstick. After what I put her through, the least I can do is apologize. If she gives me a hard time . . . well, all I can say is, I have it coming.”


A year later, I got a postcard. On the front was a picture of the newlyweds. Cassie was wearing red lipstick, no glasses, and her hair was perfectly styled in a bouffant with a white ribbon. She looked glamorous. Bobby Miller looked handsome and content.


On the back of the postcard, she had written:


Dear Cynthia,

I caught a husband! I think it was definitely the lipstick.

Love,

Cassie


Under that was a lipstick kiss. 

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© 2020 by Christine Silk. All rights reserved.