Maureen and Sylvia

By on Feb 11, 2013 in Fiction

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1950s teens at soda fountain, with firework border

Gary Garfield and Fuzzy Mariano were sitting in Fuzzy’s basement living room discussing what to do that summer Saturday morning — Fuzzy sprawled on the couch, his feet on the coffee table, and Gary in the Barcalounger, fully reclined, staring at the ceiling tiles.

There were two weeks left in the summer of 1957 before they would be high school freshmen, no longer boys, almost men. Only two weeks, but it might as well have been a year and a day, because Gary and Fuzzy lived life as it came, and two weeks from today was the distant future.

Fuzzy and Gary thought about girls, cars, and sports, but they talked only about cars and sports. They did not discuss girls. Neither had a girlfriend. Neither one had been ever really had a date. Actually, they were afraid of girls, perhaps Gary more than Fuzzy. That very morning Gary’s mother had asked Gary where he was going and he said to Fuzzy’s and his mother said, out of the blue, “Whatever happened to that cute little O’Reilly girl you used to shoot baskets with?”

Gary had shuddered and said, “Nothing, as far as I know. I gotta go, Mom.”

Gary sat up slowly, and opened Popular Mechanics magazine, which was sitting on a table. On the cover was a picture of an ordinary car, except it was in the air, above the houses and trees. The flying car, which the magazine said would be in every driveway by 1967, showed a well-dressed family riding in a sedan with little wings, flying above a village that looked like Pepperville but a lot nicer.

“So, whatcha wanna do?” asked Fuzzy.

“I dunno,” said Gary. “Whatta you wanna do?”

Fuzzy’s sister Mary Anne walked through the room with her nose in the air. “Hi, Mary Anne,” said Gary. She kept walking.

Fuzzy actually had two sisters. The other one was Sylvia, who was a senior. Gary was hopelessly in love with Sylvia. She was really nice. She always talked to him, but, when Gary went over to Fuzzy’s basement, he hoped she wasn’t there because when she was there she asked him questions, and he said really stupid things and felt like an idiot. He liked to look at her, but he couldn’t talk to her. He didn’t know how. Fuzzy’s little sister, Mary Anne, was in sixth grade. She ignored the boys, and they ignored her. She acted like she was superior or something. When Gary was there, she didn’t even talk to Fuzzy. Fuzzy told Gary that Mary Anne said he was the only one of Fuzzy’s friends who was not a retard and the only one who was nice to her, which Gary could not understand, because he hardly ever said a word to her, even in school. When he and Mary Anne passed in the hallways they each looked away as if something on the wall had caught their attention.

Suddenly there was a sound of slamming doors and running, quick light steps coming down the stairs, and then Gary’s heart stopped as Sylvia came twirling into the room, wearing a full skirt, bobby socks, loafers, and an incredible pink angora sweater. She threw herself on the couch next to Fuzzy, showing a flash of leg above the knee as she tucked her legs under her. Gary was sitting only three feet away, staring, with sense enough only to close his mouth.

She had a banana in her hand which she started to peel. She was actually going to eat it in front of him. “Hey, stranger,” she said to Gary, her voice like a song. “Haven’t seen you in a while. You been avoiding me?” and flashed him a smile. Gary said nothing. She peeled another strip. “How’s your dad — my favorite teacher? You going to the Fireman’s Carnival next week?” That was two questions, or was it three, but even one would have been too many. Gary was speechless. She peeled the last side and started to put the flesh of the banana in her mouth.

“What?” said Gary. She just looked at him, chewing, then swallowing, her tongue darting out to catch little white bits that stuck to her lips.

“They’re gonna have a live band. You dance?” she said, taking another bite.

“Yuh,” said Gary. “Well, not really.” He looked up, and she was looking right at him. She gave him a private smile, raising her eyebrows, clearly for him alone. He had no idea what to do.

Then she jumped up, almost touching him. She was close enough that he could smell her. Her skirt touched his knee. “Well, I got to go take a shower,” she said, tossing the uneaten half of her banana to Fuzzy saying, “Here, stupid, you can finish this,” as she ran out of the room.

“I don’t want your garbage,” screamed Fuzzy, throwing the banana on the table next to the couch, close enough for Gary to reach. “She is so weird.”

“Yeah,” said Gary, staring at the banana, wishing he had the strength to reach over and taste where her mouth had just been, but he knew he didn’t.

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Peter Obourn's work has appeared or is forthcoming in many literary journals and anthologies. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. His latest story, "Morgan the Plumber," published in the North Dakota Quarterly in 2012, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recently, he served as editor for an anthology entitled Adirondack Reflections, published in 2012, a collection of creative writing from thirty years of the Old Forge Writers Workshop, a workshop he participated in for more than ten of those thirty years.


  1. Comment

  2. This is such a sweet story. It makes me want to go back in time to that village and its neighborhoods. You make the kids so real I can picture them and hear them speaking. Thanks for sharing this, Peter!

  3. What nostalgia! This could have been our small town and several boys I knew. Great job!

  4. This is a page out of my high school diary.