I took to the heart of the town by foot, passing by the shingled buildings, wooden cross bridges, and soggy, leaf-adorned porches of New England. I just loved experiencing the newness, tasting a wacky flavor, bursting with the spirit of suburbia, indulging in the evening sunsets, blooming pine trees, and piles of dried-up grass, something which just wasn’t readily disposable in the city. I made my way down Main Street, the area of Nashua that pulsated with small town energy more than anywhere else. To my left, a local vendor sold “true blue American cheese” for 40 cents per pound. To my right, a faux Native American that donned a full headdress and woven boots glared at the passersby with an eager look on his face that spoke, “I am here in my native country, my native land, no matter what. Take me away, but my soul is here to stay.” I felt a pang of encouragement after taking a seat on a bench next to it. People went about their daily routines, carrying bags full of groceries, riding bicycles with flowery wicker baskets, chasing after the rowdy squirrels that crossed their paths. I found myself amidst a splendidly tame environment that felt as if it would never succumb to the pressures of daily life, the intimidation from its larger metropolis cousins, no matter how many times it was jabbed with vicious intent.
Farther aside, a group of gals sat on a bench and from the looks of it, were deep in conversation about rehearsed choreography that was miraculously synchronized—nothing like our wild and spontaneous twist or boney moronie. I outstretched my ear to catch a word or two of their conversation. “Girls, make sure you move your right leg to the left and crisscross it with your left leg on the count of three. Take it from the top.”
They then demonstrated the Hully Gully and actually howled at the top of their lungs like four Billie Holidays at the same time. No accompanying musicians—they made their own music. I was astounded. There were four of them: Nora was the one with the dirty blonde ‘do tied over with a towel. She seemed the unofficial leader, followed by Paige, long-flowing fringe girl with long limbs to match. Whatever Nora did or didn’t approve, she would back 110% ,which often lead her into trouble. Then there was Edith, a squeamish broad who scrunched up her nose and squinted her eyes past her frizzy lion’s mane and looked like she was lived in her own little world beyond Main Street, beyond the state, and possibly the planet. And finally Arabella, a plump figure who tried as best she could to keep up with everyone, but obviously lagged well behind the other three when it came to creative contributions.“Hold on, hold on. I didn’t catch that very well. Let’s do it again,” she called out with a mouth full of crumbs. From what I gathered, they weren’t one bit talented when they were apart, but put them together and they were some hepcats, something to be marveled at.
I watched the group on from afar. “Great,” I thought to myself, “now that I’m on my own, perhaps I’ll nudge my way in and really dance this time—sing too! Ah, ah, ah, maybe, maybe.” I caged myself in the nearby bushes to prevent them from seeing my prying eyes. A half hour went by in studying moves and reassuring myself of all the good that would happen in the future when I joined in on their act, how all the pieces would fit together, how I’d finally achieve a state of completeness. I wasn’t sure if madness set in or if I was just plain coming to my senses, but after sitting among leaves and twine for what felt like days, the time came to come clean out of the shadows and approach them.
The day broke gloomy and imminent clouds appeared. While everybody scattered for shelter, I headed to the four girls sitting on the bench who had yet to notice the flurry of panic that these clouds brought on to bystanders. They were getting ready to leave and discussing where and when they were to meet again, which bus to take to which station, how much change they’d need to spend, and so on, when all of a sudden, “Tally-ho!” Edith pointed to me in hysterics. Slowly they all ceased whatever they were chattering on about, becoming but a mere paralyzed version of themselves.
“Hi there. You looking for anyone to join?” I blurted out senselessly before I even introduced myself. I forgot that they couldn’t see me in the same way that I watched them from the prickles. Delirium took over. Nora looked me up and down, snarled her lip, and asked, “ What’s your name, honey?” She tapped her lacquered high heels on the pavement as the rest of them looked on from behind her shoulder.
“Shucks, of course! We could always recruit a new person in our group, can’t we Nora?” Arabella confided in Nora but only received a stone cold stare that must have pierced through to the core of her heart. Nora looked down, licked her lips, batted her eyelashes in a mean sort of way, and circled around me with her arms folded and her shoes clacking. She said, “Well, Valerie Freed. Show us what you got.” I did a little jig here, a bit of twist there, some hand jive, and ta-da’d! She was less than impressed.
“Sorry,” she said as she unfolded her arms and put her coat on, “we have no room for new members. Come on girls, let’s go.” She led the way off the bench and down the street, with their pretty ribbon-tied ponytails flopping back and forth. Edith, Arabella, and Paige trailed behind and looked half-confused, half-sorry for me. They disposed of me like a piece of trash. In a matter of minutes, I went from admiring and imagining what could be to standing deserted on the sidewalk and wondering what could have been.
Bohemia is released on September 13, 2012 and will be available for purchase worldwide on Amazon.com, Kindle, and American bookstores. Read more about the novel below.
©Veronika Carnaby, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.