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Round Trip
by: Hebe Dotson
2001

 

Part 2

Mom and Sarah refused to discuss anything of consequence until we’d finished our supper. I thought I’d said all there was to say about my trip at lunch and in the car, but they were still full of questions. My brain was hopelessly jetlagged and I was still drowsy from my long nap, so I somehow let the existence of Chad and Jason come to light. That really brought on the questions, but it also got me sufficiently awake to evade the topic of my friendly farewell to Chad. Mom and Sarah displayed great interest, but there was nothing in their questions or remarks to make me think I’d done anything wrong.

After supper, Mom asked me for the unused portion of my (Sarah’s) ticket. It was in my handbag, right where it was supposed to be, so I retrieved it and gave it to her. Sarah and I were then given fifteen minutes to make ourselves as presentable as possible before Mom took a half-dozen flash photos of us in the living room.

So far, nothing had been said about the "something we need to talk about," so I decided to strike first. As soon as Mom put the camera down, I said to her, "Okay, I’m going to change my clothes now. Can you give me some money, please, so I can get my hair cut tomorrow morning? And could you trim my hair so it doesn’t look so girly when I go to the barber shop?"

"Let’s talk about it," Mom said. "Sit down, girls." Sarah and I seated ourselves on the sofa and Mom sat in the armchair.

"We have a problem," Mom said to me. "Maybe two or three problems. First of all, I’ve been looking for job possibilities for you. There doesn’t seem to be anything available anywhere in the Lewiston-Auburn area."

"There must be something, Mom!"

"Perhaps, but if there is, I can’t find it -- no ads in the paper, no ‘Help Wanted’ signs at any of the stores or restaurants. There are a few jobs for adults, but no temporary jobs for kids."

"Maybe something will open up," I said.

"Maybe, but we can’t get by on maybes. You’ve got to earn enough to get Sarah back from Los Angeles."

"I know. What are the other problems?"

"Well, when Sarah started her job in Kennebunkport, she signed a contract to work for the entire summer. They told her at the time that she could break the contract if she could find someone to replace her, but she hasn’t been able to find anyone."

I was beginning to get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. "No jobs here and no replacements available in Kennebunkport. Can’t you find a replacement here, Sarah?"

"I’ve tried," Sarah said, "but everyone I know already has a job. Everyone but you, Bobbi."

"I don’t know anything about waiting tables," I said.

"Neither did I before I started, but it’s not that hard. It’s hard work, but it’s not hard to learn how to do it. I have to be back at work in time to serve dinner tomorrow night -- if you’ll come with me, I can train you, and if the headwaitress thinks you can do the job, you can be my replacement."

"That sounds okay," I said. I deepened my voice as much as I could. "My name is Robert, and I’ll be your waiter this evening."

"No. ‘My name is Bobbi, and I’ll be your waitress this evening.’ Girls only," Sarah said.

"Isn’t that illegal?"

"It may be," Mom said, "but we can’t afford to file law suits."

"Why don’t you just quit?" I asked. "They can’t make you stay. Just quit, and I’ll find something here."

"It’s a little complicated," Sarah said. "First of all, I’m mostly working for tips. The hotel provides room and board and a teeny-tiny salary -- twenty-five dollars a week. We waitresses pool our tips, and we each get an equal share -- it averages two hundred dollars a week over the summer. However, under my contract, the hotel holds back a hundred dollars a week from my share of the tips until the end of the season. If I work through Labor Day, I’ll get the money -- if I don’t, it will go back into the pool for the girls who stay and I’ll forfeit it. So, if I quit at the end of this week, I’ll be throwing five hundred dollars away!"

"And that’s why you’re going to be Sarah’s replacement for four weeks," Mom said. "You should make about a thousand dollars, including the four hundred they’ll hold back until Labor Day. Sarah will replace you when she gets back -- she’ll be credited with your four hundred dollars, and she’ll give it to you at the end of the summer."

"But…"

"No buts, Bobbi," Mom said. "It’s a good job for you, and it’s right there for the taking. We won’t have to worry about you finding another job or getting the money for Sarah’s ticket home, and Sarah won’t lose money she’s already earned. It didn’t hurt you any to be a girl for two weeks, and it won’t hurt you to be one for five more weeks -- it might even do you some good."

Obviously, I was doomed again, so I surrendered graciously and agreed to be Sarah’s replacement until she came back from California. In return, Mom promised to call my friends and tell them I’d be working out of town for the next five weeks. She swore she wouldn’t tell them where I’d be or what I’d be doing. And she gave me an ironclad guarantee that Bob could then be Bobbi’s replacement for the rest of the summer -- and, for that matter, for the rest of my life.

* * *

The next afternoon, Mom drove us to Sarah’s hotel, the Ferdinando Gorges Inn, a huge old building that overlooked a stretch of rock-strewn beach and a lot of rather chilly-looking ocean. Even taking the Turnpike much of the way, it was almost a two-hour trip, partly because it took Mom nearly fifteen minutes to maneuver through the downtown Kennebunkport traffic.

The waitresses and other female employees were lodged in a ramshackle house about a hundred yards inland from the hotel. The hotel owned the building and planned to renovate it and operate it as an annex to the main hotel. That was for the future, however -- this year it was Girl City.

Before the Gorges Inn acquired the property, it had been a hotel, too -- a low-budget place filled with incredibly tiny rooms just big enough to hold a bed, a bureau, and a chair. That was good, because each employee had her own room -- if I’d had to have a roommate, I wouldn’t have been able to fool her for more than a few hours. The bathrooms were single-person facilities, too. An insufficient number of them were scattered around the building, making it interesting when everyone was simultaneously attempting to shower in the morning.

I hauled my suitcase up to a hot little bedchamber on the third floor, next door to Sarah -- my choice of the two vacant rooms currently available. Sarah’s room was just a bit better than mine, and I could move into it when she left. I opened the window, put my suitcase on the bed, and unpacked my pitiful wardrobe while Mom and Sarah chatted in Sarah’s room.

Mom had bought me two more bras, six more pairs of panties, six pairs of white anklets, four pairs of pantyhose (I had to wear them while working), and two lipsticks -- one pinkish and the other reddish. I told her I’d pay her back when I could, but she said she was saving so much on groceries that she could afford to "treat" me -- what a treat! The rest of my clothes were borrowed from Kim (the dress and heels I’d worn on the plane), Aunt Cathy (the handbag I’d carried on the plane), Sarah (another dress, a skirt, two pairs of shorts, and three blouses), Mom (another skirt, shorts, a blouse, two nightgowns, two pairs of flats, and miscellaneous jewelry), and my long-lost buddy Bob (a windbreaker, tee shirts, jeans, and sneakers). The hotel would provide my waitress uniforms, except for shoes and hosiery.

After I finished unpacking, Sarah showed me where the clean uniforms were kept, and we picked out two that would fit me reasonably well and took them to my room. Then we got dressed in our uniforms and Mom drove us over to the hotel. We all went in the kitchen entrance, and Sarah introduced us to the headwaitress, Mrs. Lord, and the two assistant headwaitresses, Bonnie Smith and Joyce Lambert, who were making certain that the dining room was ready for dinner. Mrs. Lord, a woman in her forties who had worked at the hotel for ten years, had been expecting me. She welcomed me, remarked that I was obviously Sarah’s twin, and said that she was sure Sarah would do a good job of training me and that I should come to her if I had any questions or problems after Sarah left. Bonnie and Joyce were college girls who had worked at the hotel the two previous summers.

At this point, a small army of employees -- waitresses, chambermaids, bellboys, houseboys, and busboys, most in uniform but some not -- began coming in through the kitchen entrance to get their dinners before the dining room began providing guest service. Those in uniform -- including nine other waitresses and three busboys -- were on duty, while the others, though off duty, were being fed as part of their contractually-provided room and board. They lined up for cafeteria-style service, taking their trays to a cramped employee dining area. Mrs. Lord invited Mom to have dinner with us, and she and Sarah and I filled our trays and followed the crowd. Sarah introduced Mom and me to several of her friends, but I quickly lost track of who was who.

When we had eaten, Mom hugged Sarah and me, wished us luck, and left to drive back to Auburn. I then became Sarah’s shadow. We waitresses had a quick meeting at which Mrs. Lord, Bonnie, and Joyce made sure we were all properly uniformed, made up, and ready for action. Mrs. Lord reviewed the menu, told everyone to be helpful to the new girl, and turned us loose. We all went to our stations. Mrs. Lord opened the dining room doors and our guests began drifting in from the hotel lobby.

That first meal was a whirlwind, though all I did was follow Sarah around, listen to what she said, and observe what she did (I was also allowed to refill several water glasses and, once, to fetch and deliver an additional basket of rolls for one table). I heard several phrases many times ("You must be identical twins" (not quite), "double trouble," "double the pleasure, double the fun," etc.) but no one said, "We should give you a double tip." At the end of the evening, I was exhausted -- my feet hurt, my legs ached, and I was glad I was wearing flats -- and I really hadn’t done much of anything. Sarah was tired, but not completely wiped out like I was.

We walked back to our dormitory with the other waitresses. When we got there, I wasted no time in going straight to bed.

* * *

That was Monday. I continued to follow Sarah around for the next two days, gradually taking on more and more work until I had a little experience in everything she did. Thursday I worked on my own, with Sarah playing shadow.

The hotel restaurant served twenty meals per week -- six breakfasts, six lunches, Sunday brunch, and seven dinners. It needed ten waitresses for dinner, eight for lunch and Sunday brunch, and four for breakfast, which was served buffet-style. There were fifteen waitresses (besides me -- I didn’t count yet) and each one had to work ten meals per week. Each got one 48-hour break each week -- Sarah’s (and mine by inheritance) began after the Saturday lunch and ended at dinnertime Monday. Sarah worked four dinners, four lunches, and two breakfasts, never more than two meals per day and some days only one. All the girls had similar schedules, but they could swap off meals with Mrs. Lord’s approval.

Thursday afternoon I tagged along with Sarah when she went to a hair salon to get her hair cut and permed for her trip. The hairdresser eyed me and said it was a quiet day and she could fit me in too, if I wished (her unspoken message: You’re pretty disgusting).

"Why don’t you?" Sarah said. "You’ll save so much time with a perm. You’ll be able to sleep fifteen minutes later, and it’ll be my treat -- I’ve got enough money to pay for both of us." I felt a little funny about it, but the thought of extra sleep overwhelmed my inhibitions and I agreed. Besides, my hair needed to have something done with it -- it hadn’t been touched since Aunt Cathy worked it over three weeks earlier, and she’d only trimmed it a little. When the hairdresser finished with me, I had waves and curls and a slightly different hair color. I was glad I’d had it done -- it looked really nice.

Friday, a busy night, Sarah and I worked independently. Mrs. Lord kept an eye on us. Since she couldn’t tell who was who without checking our nametags, she decided I had learned my job and pronounced me capable of replacing Sarah.

We worked Saturday breakfast and lunch, and then Mom arrived to take Sarah home. She told me she was taking the day off Monday and she’d bring me back Monday afternoon if I wanted to come along. I packed the little overnight bag she’d brought for me and was ready to go in ten minutes. We drove back to Auburn and spent the rest of the day helping Sarah with last minute errands and shopping, collecting her things together, and getting packed.

As much as I would have liked to call my friends and revert to Bob for the weekend, my new hairdo ruled that out. I really should have listened to those inhibitions, I thought -- but I also thought about sleeping later and decided everything balanced out.

Sunday morning, Mom and I took Sarah to the Portland Jetport and put her on the 10:35 flight to Dulles International, where she’d make her Los Angeles flight connection. We waited until Sarah’s plane was airborne and then retrieved the car and retraced our route back to the Turnpike.

"Are you in any rush to get home?" Mom asked.

"No. With my hair like this, I don’t want to see anybody I know, except you."

"It looks nice," Mom said. "Very pretty. Your hairdresser did a good job."

"Thanks -- I’m glad you like it." I was surprised to hear myself say that, and even more surprised to realize that I meant it.

"I’m not in any hurry to go home, either," Mom said. "Let’s go for a ride and have lunch somewhere."

That was fine with me. We stayed on Interstate 95 when it branched off from the Turnpike and followed it to Brunswick. By that time, Mom had remembered a restaurant in Harpswell, right on the water, that she’d been to years ago. We drove through Brunswick and found the road to Harpswell. Mom had a good sense of direction and a good memory, and the restaurant was exactly where she thought it would be.

The restaurant was good, but it wasn’t crowded. We had a table on a deck that extended over the water. There were only two other customers eating outside, and they were at the other end of the deck.

While we ate, Mom asked me about my job. I told her that I was sure I could do it. I knew my way around the dining room and kitchen now, and I didn’t think I’d have any problems.

"Are you enjoying your work?"

"I’m not sure there’s that much to enjoy about it," I said. "It’s hard work and lots of it. But most of the guests are pretty nice, and I like Mrs. Lord and Bonnie and Joyce."

"How about the other girls?"

"The other waitresses, you mean. I may be a waitress, Mom, but I’m not a girl!"

"Sorry," Mom said. "How about the other waitresses?"

"I’ve been so busy, I haven’t really been able to get to know them. I know their names, but that’s about it. They all seem nice, and some are really gorgeous! I wish…"

"I know you do, dear. I’m sorry."

"It’s okay," I said. "If I were Bob, I’d be home this summer and I wouldn’t have met them anyway."

"That’s a pretty philosophical way of looking at it."

"I guess it is," I said. "Of course, I’d like to be at home with my friends, but I know I’ve got to stay in Kennebunkport."

"I’m afraid so."

"But in four weeks, when you bring my replacement back to the hotel, I’m going to get a buzz cut as soon as we get home and have some fun before school starts."

"I think you’ll have earned it."

* * *

After lunch, we made our way to and through Brunswick and got back on the Interstate. "I’m still not in any rush to get home," Mom said. "Let’s stop in Freeport and look around the shops."

That wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but if she wanted to prowl around America’s biggest strip mall, I was willing to go along. We got off the Interstate, drove into Freeport, and found a parking place in one of the outermost L. L. Bean parking lots. From there, we hiked to Main Street and gazed around us.

"Where are we going, Mom?"

"No place in particular. Let’s just walk around and see what we can find. Do you have enough clothes?"

"I think so," I said. I rattled off the particulars of my wardrobe.

"Why, that’s terrible," Mom said. "Everything’s borrowed -- you’ve nothing of your own."

"Sure I have. I’ve got tee shirts and jeans and sneakers."

"But you don’t have anything pretty. If you have pretty things to wear, you feel pretty, and then you feel happy about yourself."

"I’m happy enough to get me through the next four weeks, Mom."

We strolled along Main Street, looking in shop windows and occasionally stepping inside a store for a few minutes. All at once, I found myself in an expensive women’s clothing store, with Mom holding an incredibly expensive dress against my plastic-packed bosom. Her eyes appeared to be somewhat glazed. "This would look lovely on you," she was saying.

A saleslady materialized out of hyperspace. "Oh, yes!" she said. "It’s just perfect with her coloring."

"Why don’t you try it on, Bobbi?"

"Um, Mom…" I mumbled.

"Just so I can see how it looks on you," Mom said. "Please?"

"The dressing room is right back here," the saleslady said. She headed for the back of the store, beckoning to me to follow her. I shrugged my shoulders, took the dress from Mom, and went to the dressing room.

When I emerged, I had to admit that it was a pretty dress and it did indeed make me look pretty. I preened and turned before the mirror, making the skirt swirl around my thighs. I smiled, wishing Chad could see me. Where did that thought come from?

"It’s perfect, Bobbi," Mom said with a delighted smile. "Do you like it?"

"I love it," I said, "but…" I held the price tag so she could see it. The smile never left her face.

"It’s on sale this weekend," the saleslady said. "Thirty percent off."

"I think we should look at a few more," I said. "There were some nice dresses in the shop down the street."

"I can offer you a forty percent discount, if that will help," the saleslady said.

"Oh, we’ll probably be back," I said, lying through my teeth. "This is the nicest one we’ve seen, but we have several more places to look." I went back to the dressing room, taking one last regretful look at myself in the mirror, and changed back into my hand-me-downs. I returned to the front of the store, smiled at the saleslady, gave the gorgeous dress to her, got a firm grip on Mom’s arm, and waltzed out the door.

"That dress was really pricey, Mom. Beautiful but pricey."

"It wasn’t all that expensive," Mom said.

"Mother dear! Even with forty percent off, it costs more than I’ll make in the next two weeks at the hotel."

"I could put it on my credit card."

"Mom, you’re crazy. Let’s go back to Auburn. I don’t want that dress. I’d have no reason to wear it in Kennebunkport, and I’m certainly not going to wear it after that."

Mom sighed. "You’re right, dear. I just wanted you to have something pretty of your own."

"If you must get me something, Mom, let’s go into Bean’s and buy me a new top -- something with long sleeves for those cool K-port evenings. Something that doesn’t cost more than twenty-five dollars."

So that’s what we did. We found a pretty long-sleeved ribbed top for $29.95, marked down to $23.95, and we bought it. Mom was right -- it made me happy, though I wasn’t sure why.

* * *

"Let’s get your ears pierced, Bobbi." We were in an earring boutique across the street from Bean’s, and Mom was still trying to buy stuff for me. We’d looked at the boutique’s limited stock of clip-ons, but nothing appealed to us. That’s when Mom led me to a mirror, held a delicate gold hoop earring against each of my earlobes, and invited me to get myself mutilated.

"For four weeks? No, thanks, Mom."

"You could still wear earrings. Lots of young…ah…people do."

"Not my style, Mom. Anyway, I couldn’t wear anything like these."

"Please, Bobbi. I let you talk me out of that dress -- I really should thank you for that -- but I do want you to do this for me. You’ll look adorable."

"Why would I want to look adorable?" I asked. It seemed like a reasonable question to me.

"I don’t know. You probably won’t, but maybe you will, and if you do, these earrings will help a lot. Trust me."

"But when I go home…"

"You can conceal the holes with a little dab of makeup, and if you stop wearing earrings, the holes will close up."

"Then why bother? Let’s just not put the holes in." I said.

"Bobbi, I really want you to do this. This will be something from me that will make you look pretty and feel pretty. The piercing is free and the earrings aren’t expensive."

"The new top is enough."

"The new top is nice, but it’s utilitarian. Earrings aren’t; they’re just pretty," Mom said.

When we left the boutique, I had little gold starter studs in my ears and a bag with two pairs of really pretty earrings in my hand. Mom had a happy look on her face -- and I was smiling, too.

* * *

The top and earrings finally satisfied Mom’s urges to pamper me. We went back to the car, drove home, and decided to send out for pizza.

After we’d eaten, we sat on the porch to savor the evening. I had put my new top on, since the air was cool, and I hoped the scent of fresh blood on my earlobes wouldn’t draw too many mosquitoes.

As we sat there, talking of nothing in particular, a car pulled up to the curb. "I wonder who that is?" Mom said. If I’d been thinking, I would have made myself scarce, but I had sort of zoned out in the familiar surroundings, forgetting my circumstances completely. "Why, it’s Al!" she said. "He must have bought that car he was talking about."

Too late, I went on alert. Al could only be Al Pelletier, my classmate and best friend. Oh. My. God. What was I going to do? I couldn’t run away now. "I’m not me," I whispered to Mom. "I’m Sarah."

I didn’t have to tell Al I was Sarah -- he thought that right from the start. "Hi, Mrs. Morris! Hi, Sarah! I thought you were in California."

"Not yet," I said. "I had a problem with my reservations. I’m going tomorrow."

"I envy you," Al said. "Wish I were going too. Any word from Bobby?" Al and my mother were the only ones who called me Bobby. I was Bob to everyone else in the world, but I’d been Bobby when Al and I met in kindergarten and I’d always be Bobby to him.

"Not really," I said. "He’s working pretty hard and wishing he were back home with his friends. Is that your car?"

"It sure is," Al said. "Bought it this morning. Dad co-signed. It’s old but it’s clean -- runs fine. I was just driving around when I spotted you and your Mom. Just thought you might like to see it."

Bob was envious, but Sarah was pleased for Al. Mom and I walked to the curb and admired Al’s car.

"Want to go for a ride?" Al asked.

"Not me, thanks," Mom said. "Perhaps Sarah…"

"I don’t…" I said.

"Oh, go ahead, dear. Just don’t be late -- you’ll have a long day tomorrow."

I shot her a dirty look. I was tempted to decline, but it would be fun to spend a little time with Al, as long as I could make him think I was Sarah. "I’ll just be a minute," I said. I went in the house, put on more lipstick, and grabbed my purse. Mom stopped me on my way out the door.

"Just so you know," she said. "A couple of times this summer, while you were in California, Sarah dated Al when she came home for the weekend."

Al and Sarah? My best friend and my sister? My sister and my best friend? Sarah and Al? It sounded crazy no matter how I looked at it. As Al opened the car door for me (when and where did he get manners?), closed it behind me, reminded me to fasten my seat belt, started the engine, and drove down the street, I realized that it was worse than crazy. It was perilous, since I had no idea how friendly he and Sarah might have become. Oh, well…

One thing was clear -- Al and Sarah was not the same thing as Al and Bob. I let him take the conversational lead, hardly daring to do otherwise. I thought he’d talk about things he and I would have found fascinating -- his new car, for instance. Instead, he had a bunch of Al and Sarah topics -- new movies, a rock concert series in Portland, her trip to California (hey, I had a trip too!), and the doings of his (and my) friend Pete Rogers with Sarah’s friend Celia Mapes (that was the first I’d heard about that; I covered my surprise by reminding him that I, Sarah, had been in Kennebunkport and hadn’t heard anything new from Celia).

Mom was right -- the time had come when I wanted to look adorable. Not to attract Al, just to keep him thinking that I was pretty little Sarah, not ugly little Bob. Now I wished I was wearing those gold hoop earrings, but they were still a few days ahead in my future -- if I had a future, and I wouldn’t have one if Al stopped believing I was Sarah.

We drove all over town. We went up Gough Hill to prove his car could do it, and back down again to prove his brakes worked. We stopped for ice cream -- Al hoped we’d run into Pete and Celia, but we didn’t. We drove out to Lake Auburn, where we found that several other water enthusiasts had preceded us, and we gazed at the moonlight on the lake. Al draped his arm over my shoulders and I went into analysis mode: did he do that confidently, as if he’d done it before, or brashly, as if challenging me to move his arm away.

Salvation was a flashing blue light. A police car had pulled in, quite discreetly, about twenty yards behind us, and it flashed its lights just once. Engines started all around us, headlights came on, and cars began easing onto the highway. Al joined the crowd. When I looked back, the police officer was the only one enjoying the scenery.

"I’d better be getting home, Al," I said. "I’ve got to get up early."

"Okay," Al said. I think the police car had spooked him slightly.

* * *

We pulled up in front of my house. Al turned his engine and his lights off and resumed his interrupted attempt to turn me on. I guessed that he’d probably made out a little with Sarah, so I shouldn’t be too unfriendly. When he put his arm around me, I slid over and snuggled up to him. Snuggling was relatively harmless and bought a little time.

"I hope you have a good time in L.A.," he said. "I’ll miss you."

"I’ll miss you too," I said. "You be sure and have a good time here in this L-A while I’m gone -- but not too good a time."

"Oh, don’t worry about that," Al said. He held me tightly. "I’ll be counting the days."

"Me, too -- all twenty-eight of them. But I’m counting the hours now -- there aren’t very many left before my plane goes."

"Oh, that’s right. I guess I’d better get you inside before your mother comes out to fetch you." He released me, got out of the car, and came around to open my door. He put his arm around my waist as we ambled up the walk, and it seemed only fair for me to reciprocate.

Mom -- bless you, Mom! -- was sitting on the porch. "Did you kids have a good time?" she asked as we came up the stairs. Our arms automatically fell to our sides.

"Oh, yes, Mom," I said. "Al’s car is really nice."

"That’s good. Well, I think it’s time I went to bed, since we have an early day tomorrow. Good night, Al. Don’t be long, Sarah." And -- how could you, Mom? -- she went inside.

Al took my hands in his and turned me to face him. He put his arms around me and drew me toward him. My mind raced. Let’s see -- I’d imagined Chad was Meg Ryan, but this was much worse. Chad was really just an acquaintance, but Al was my pal, for Pete’s sake. As his lips touched mine, I found myself imagining he was…Chad! What brought that thought into my head?

Al was a good kisser -- not that I had that much experience to draw on, but he was at least as good as Chad. Who would have thought it? He drew back. Well, that was a once in a lifetime experience, I thought. Wrong! He pulled me toward him again. For Sarah’s sake, I decided to put a little extra into my response, and I did, and it was really nice, even if it was Al. We’d laugh at this someday. Maybe. Now I was glad I didn’t have my adorable earrings on.

"I’ve got to go, Al," I said. Then I touched my lips very gently to his, smiled at him, and went into the house.

* * *

Regardless of what I’d said to Al, I slept late and lazed around the house until it was time to go back to Kennebunkport. Mom dropped me off at the dorm, got out of the car to give me a hug and a kiss, and headed back to Auburn. I went up to my room, unpacked my overnight bag, and put on my waitress uniform and pantyhose.

As I walked from the dorm to the hotel, it suddenly hit me: I was on my own, with no support system. No Sarah, no Mom, no Aunt Cathy or Kim. Everyone for miles around thought I was a girl. I’d been on my own on the flight back from California, of course, but this was different. No one had paid any attention to me on the airplane, but here I’d have customers, Mrs. Lord, Bonnie and Joyce, fourteen other waitresses, and maybe even the whole Bush family to jump on me if I messed things up.

Dinner was hectic, but I didn’t make any serious mistakes, so I knew I could probably survive without my sister. When work was over, I went back to my room and wrote a quick letter to Sarah to tell her I had made it through my first test as a waitress. I thought I’d better tell her about my experience with Al, since that would have to be her experience, too.

 

Well, sister dear, I wrote, if you didn’t have a kissing relationship with Al before you left, you do now. It was for your own good-- I figured you wouldn’t want me to cool off anything that was warm. If I accidentally warmed up something that was supposed to be cool, it’s your own fault for not telling me about Al before you left. Anyway, he’s all yours now -- the next time he sees me, I’ll be Bob. Just to be sure of that, I’m going to stay right here in K-port until you come back.

A few days later, I got a letter from Sarah, apparently written the same night I wrote to her. What a strange thing! she wrote. This afternoon, Kim and I had just left the house to walk over to the convenience store when this car pulled up beside us. "That’s Jason, my boyfriend," Kim said, but then these two boys jumped out of the car. One of them ran up to me, yelling "Bobbi! You’re back!" and he gave me an enormous kiss! Well, Sis, as you can probably guess, it was your boyfriend Chad. Why didn’t you tell me about him? He’s really cute. Kim introduced us, and she explained it all to me later, how she kind of maneuvered you into double dating with her and Jason -- otherwise I would have been a little worried about you. Anyway, I guess you must be done with Chad. Do you mind if I keep him?

 

It was possible, I thought, that Sarah was reading my letter to her at the very moment I was reading her letter to me. I wondered if she’d decide to worry about me a little or a lot after she read about my adventures with Al.

 

To be concluded

 

 


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2001 by Hebe Dotson. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.