Dress Me Up, Dolly

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Introduction

Years passed, people never spoke of what everyone has claimed the “dark ages” and things have begun to rapidly sink, as if the whole human population was standing on quick sand. Several things from the past still remained, such as cars and airplanes for transportation, but how to fuel them has become harder than it had when taxes first begun to increase when my mother was a child.
Somewhere between new generations and amazements, to the decreasing survival rate for humans, a nuclear war broke out between what once used to be Russia and North America. Food became scarce and, from the stories, for a long time humans resorted back to the basic survival instinct of hunting, poaching, and harvesting. Those must have been hard times, my great-grandparents used to speak poorly of that era before they passed.
A town like ours sitting somewhere in the eastern territory of North America has a few surviving attributes that have become popular due to the rarity of them. Restaurants, hotels and even a black market sprung up after years. Soon a few shops, such as a bakery, a drug store and even a retail store popped up. Bartering became quite popular and well known; gold was no longer an issue for North America, because gold no longer existed, we as humans extracted it all from the earth and melted and wasted any scrap that was left.

Now things are becoming easier, possessions are in higher demand and traveling has become necessity for some people. Being nomadic was nothing to be laughed at or said to be the past, it’s a way of life.
Some people, from being nomadic have transformed, or in another sense, gained, abilities that were unheard of, unseen, and unrealistic. They are real. I no longer see them as a joke, but a threat. Things such as seeing further than the horizon, tasting every ingredient in a food, hearing every decibel possible, even seeing color waves or talking to the dead. These unrealistic jokes have become terrifyingly real threats. The government had no power to control them, the government was no longer needed in general. Living became very basic, very instinctive, and people no longer needed rule. Most disagree with that here and now, but I will never again bow to the authority of a system and especially not one man, or woman, in general. Yes, a woman was in power right before the nuclear war, sadly she was corrupt by the system and had no control over the war to come.

Life is hard, it’s no longer a walk through the park, and the simple pleasures that most people overlook, such as feeling the breeze run through their hair or feeling the sun soak into their skin, has become a pleasure to enjoy once again. I’ve learned that no one will look out for you…you have to look out for yourself. I learned that the day my parents passed away when I was 12 years old and walking through ashes of a burned down city from a rebellion. I was only a child, but now at the age of 26 I am a shaped adult, ready to face the world, embracing the nomadic life, and enjoy the overlooked pleasures as much as possible.
My story begins in a small region of what once used to be Upstate New York, the one place I had to return to, my home town…





Chapter One: The Kettle

Every instinct I had was telling me no, except for my curiosity. The path lain before me was beaten down and trodden. The earth was soft, and crumbled under the pressure of my footsteps, although they were quite light. The street lamp behind me began to reach its end as I neared a corner several feet down the path. I stopped and let my eyes adjust to the darkness before continuing. The path dissipated but I had a strong sensation to continue walking. As I stepped through the tall, thick grass branches snapped under my feet and leaves crunched across the pathway, my backpack, with the few items I owned, brushed the grass making a subtle sound. There wasn’t a sound back behind me in the darkness except for the quiet hum and chirps of the miniscule bugs scattered around me.
As I continued walking I suddenly had a gut feeling to turn around, to walk away, and to forget my curiosity. I couldn’t. I jumped slightly when I heard the crunch and snap that my feet were producing not that far behind me. I stood as still as the street lamp around the corner outside of The Kettle Restaurant.
I held my breath for a second, listening to my surroundings.
Crunch. Snap. Pop.
My heart started racing and I wanted to scream and run. Who could possibly be behind me? What if it isn’t who but a what? Oh goodness… Something grazed my shoulder and I let out a yelp. “What are you doing back here?” A familiar, deep, grumbled voice boomed above me.
I turn only to end up turning my face upward and my eyes to continue. “Porter! What the he**?” I snapped, scared out of my wits. “Don’t you know not to sneak up on a woman like that?” Porter Vielle was one he** of a man; he IS the definition of a true man. His face was long, oval, with a strong masculine jaw line. His hair, thick and scraggly, amidst dirty blonde and dark brown, as is the stubble that lined his chin and jaw line. His eyes were a dark green with a hint of blue, if you got close enough to look. His skin tone was dark, creamy tan with a rough texture, since he worked out in the sun and dirt every day, and those muscles rippled with each movement he made. His looks were something of another world, and I always wondered why he never had a relationship.
A deep rumble of laughter erupted from his chest making me jump a little. “C’mon, Dolly, I’m not sneakin’ up on nobody, and you know it.” Porter said with a big pearly white grin stretched between his eyes. “So, what’re you doin’ out here anyhow?”
“I was just taking a casual stroll.” I said and couldn’t resist smiling up at him. Dolly, as he, and about everyone in town, generously calls me, just happens to be my last name. The full name is Britta Dolly, but Dolly has somehow managed to be more popular as my first name, especially since I was younger. If you heard the name Dolly you would instantly know the bubbly oval face with dark blue eyes and long, curly brown hair that’s always bouncy, if you’re from Upstate that is. The name has always been unmistakably remembered with my face.
Porter let out a small, exasperated sigh and then nods for me to follow him back to the dinner, which I un-reluctantly do. The Kettle was a small red restaurant, one of the last remaining restaurants, where it has always sat out on one of the main roads. It was decently set away from everything else, but the gravel parking lot is well lit for such a small location. When you walk in the front door of the restaurant you’re faced with a small entryway and a second door that pulls back. Two shoulder height walls block a third of the walkway on either side, once inside the doors. To the left was a long bar that has several stools placed in front of it (for those who enjoyed their own company) and the kitchen behind it. Several booths lined the front wall stretching from the doors to the opposite wall with a few circular tables scattered around the open area between. The right side of the restaurant looked exactly the same except a pool table replaced the bar and if you walk past the pool table there are two doors, one labeled MEN and the other WOMEN. The restaurant was cute and pleasant, but not all too big.
Porter offered me a seat, furthest booth from the door to the left (of course), making sure we’re away from all the noise as possible, as he began to sit opposite me.
“Dolly, I haven’t seen you here in ages!” Someone calls out as the commotion around The Kettle quiets to hushed whispers. I look up from my fumbling hands to stare at, unforgettably, Gavin Connor, the geekiest waiter in all of Upstate, and yet, he gets more action than the hunk of a man sitting across from me. Gavin Connor has scraggly, shoulder length hair that he always had tied back lying against his neck and the thick black rimmed glasses, he always insisted on wearing, are snuggled tight onto his face like they were formed to his skin. Those glasses have always been hideous, to me at least, but I suppose I could see how some women find that attractive. His eyes lack a lot of color, but if I were to place a bet, I’d have to say they were somewhere between a hazel and a brown. I’m sure if I sneak a look at his driver’s license I would know. His figure was scrawny and staggered but sleek enough to swing between tables and fill orders faster than they could be placed.
“Gavin, how’s work holdin’ up?” I ask with a polite smile perched on my lips. His eyes took in more than they could handle, and if I hadn’t been in public, I may have wound back and slapped him.
Gavin exclaimed, “Fantastically!” as he pulled out a pen and a small white pad. “What can I get for you tonight?” I threw a look over toward Porter and then back down the menu on the table in front of me.
“I’ll have the house burger with a bud.” Porter said as I heard Gavin shorthand everything. I felt two pair of eyes on me.
“I’m just gonna have a hot chocolate, for now.” I say, looking back up to meet Porter’s eyes and then Gavin’s.
“That’ll be coming right up!” Gavin strode away from our booth and back to place the order with the chef. The Kettle had its usual customers, or what I had remembered from the past years. I hadn’t really been that interactive in this area since… well, let’s not get into that.
The Hewitt’s were placed at a round table up near the bar, their son not looking too pleased to be sitting with them, but then again he never looks particularly pleased. Miles Knapp sat down at the bar, looking older than he usually does and more depressed than ever, which of course, he begins drowning himself in alcohol. Nicole Ferret and Harry Goodwin sat on the right side of the room in a booth, looking as if they were on their first date or something, but those two had always been inseparable. Then there is Jessica Redder who is just a bundle of hatred when it came to everyone and everything. Jessica sulks on through the door looking for some miserable soul to pick on and poor Miles Knapp pulled the shortest straw tonight.
“Miles Knapp, you haven’t gotten sober yet?!” Jessica cries out in her southern accent and every pair of eyes in The Kettle turns to see the newly arising commotion. She clicks and clacks her way on over to the bar in her ridiculous neck-breaking high heels. How some women wear heels taller than four inches, I will never comprehend.
“Jessica, I don’t have the time for your petty bulls*** tonight.” Miles said as sober as he can, and trust me, that was hard for a man of his state. Poor Miles Knapp was a good-hearted man with a want to do right, but he always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Miles had short dark brown, almost black, hair with chocolate brown eyes. He can’t be much older than I am, we had attended school together, so he has to be somewhere between 24 and 28 years old, although, sometimes, he looks much older.
For being from the area, he looks a bit out of place. From all the traveling I’ve had to do over the years has made me realize one thing; every area has a specific quality that marks them from where they are. Upstate New York, most people have green eyes, or what used to be Ontario, Canada, all the people there have a deep bronze skin, and scraggly hair. One area I wandered through reminded me a lot of something I read in a book, some form of an old school book, the Nazi Germany, years before the most present war broke out. I don’t quite remember where I was but all the people were well built, blonde haired, blue eyed, and it reminded me of that specific race Hitler was trying to create; The Aryan people, I believe that’s what they were called.
“Bulls***?” She snapped down on him as she takes the stool next to him, my mind snaps away from my thoughts. “When have I ever given you bulls?”
“What do you suppose a hick like her is doing here in New York?” I whispered over to Porter. I know it’s rude to generalize anyone with a southern accent as a hick, especially when most of your family is southern, but being born and (mostly) raised in New York gave quite an impression of the south.
“Well, I s’pose she’s being a b****.” Porter said making me burst out laughing. He didn’t even attempt to keep his voice low or out of her hearing range. Those nasty hazel eyes snap our direction fixating on Porter Vielle and I as her thick curly blonde hair fell off of her shoulders. Her figure disgusted me, not only does has she always come across as anorexic, but she had absolutely no sense of style. Her red heels clashed with her violet dress that hugs all the wrong places, and her make-up, that’s a new style of trashy all in itself, her hair always had an odd assortment of pins and clips, as where her jewelry makes no sense; a cross made of gold around her neck, green anchors hanging from her ears, a small bird nestled in her cartilage, a small chain link around her wrist and an odd hoop looped through one of her nostrils. Disgusting and trashy… have always been my thoughts about her.
“Well, if it ain’t Britta Dolly and Porter Vielle!” Jessica gave a wistful sneer through her obnoxious gesture of pleasantry as she stands up, presented us with a trashy walk, and leaned onto our table. Both her hands placed flat on the table top, her elbows locked, and her (lack of) cleavage being flaunted. “Why hey there, cutie,” she said as she ran her index finger under Porter’s chin. That in its self makes me want to gag; thank god I don’t have my hot chocolate yet.
“Get your hand off of me.” Porter says as cool as a cucumber as he brushed Jessica’s left hand away from him. She looked highly offended and coiled within herself as she stares blankly at Porter for a moment.
“What business you have over here?” I asked getting more irritated by the moment. “Why don’t you go to some other public place and torture someone else to build up your self-esteem?” I get a nice reaction out of that.
“Oh, I’m torturing you?” Jessica’s lips pulled up in the most unattractive snarl, which I believe was supposed to be some sort of smirk. “Well, la-dee-freaking-da!” She practically screams. “Someone knows how to get under the skin of the pretty little Dolly!” My eyes slant and I can’t resist rolling them at her sheer stupidity. Jessica stands up straight with hate oozing out of every pore that covers her skin. “Well, ain’t I one lucky b**** to be able to accomplish such a feat.” As the word b**** leaves her mouth she almost lets out a growl and I swear if looks could kill, poor Porter and Miles would both be lying in their graves, not to say I wouldn’t be digging the hole for mine right next to theirs.
“Jessica, you are more stupid than a box of rocks.” A man’s voice chimes out and the entire restaurant turns to look at the bar. A slightly sarcastic remark rolls off his tongue next making me practically roll on the floor with laughter at Jessica’s expression. “Actually, shucks, that would be offending the rocks, now wouldn’t it?” Miles Knapp has swiveled on his bar stool to face my table. The man’s definitely facing a hard night, week, month or maybe even year because it shows plain as day that he has been crying and definitely not sleeping. “Get your ugly country a** out of my café before I personally throw you out.” Miles grumbles and with that she stomps out the two doors leading out to her car.
The bustle and commotion finally resolves itself back to normal as the cooking even stirs back up. Gavin shows back up with my hot chocolate and Porters bud. I turned to Porter after Gavin leaves to take other orders and ask, “How long has Miles been running The Kettle?” in a low tone.
“Since his old man died back in December.” Porter isn’t one to be subtle on any topic, he lays it on the table and doesn’t care if you had been given too much to chew or not, you had to chew it all up. I glanced at Miles as I take a sip from my hot chocolate. How can such a drunken man run a restaurant? Well, I suppose if the beer was supplied… Da**, I need to stop thinking rude thoughts. “Miles Knapp is much more than he appears, Dolly. Do not underestimate him.”
“What do you mean, Porter?” I ask in a hush-hush kind of way. Just then a cold breeze swept through The Kettle. The little bell above the door lets out a small jingle and no one seemed to notice the chill or the oddness of the man who walked through the door.
His eyes stood out like a solid green cactus in a completely empty desert. His eyes were lime green, almost the color of my cats, but they stood out because his complexion was a soft ivory and his hair was a soft dirty blonde, whereas the coat he wore was darker than night. His coat was old fashioned somewhere between a petticoat and a trench coat but it was quite stylish. He looked around the room, sensing someone watching him. Porter’s too enthralled by his burger that was just placed before him to even notice that my eyes have landed on the out-of-towner.
The man inclined his head toward me before taking a seat at the bar. He spoke quietly to Miles Knapp as a foaming mug of beer is placed on a coaster in front of him. He caught my attention, that was for sure, but how the small population of The Kettle hasn’t notice him astounded me.
Alice Trumble gives me a small wave from behind the stove pulling me out of my own thoughts. Alice was at the least 15 years older than myself, ball parking her around, oh let’s say, 38 years old or so, but da** did she look fantastic for her age. Alice is the complete opposite of what you would expect a cook to be. She has long curly blonde hair that when it isn’t tied up bounces down to her butt and her eyes are bright hazel, set off by her completely freckled face. Her cheeks are always rosy and a smile is always pasted on her lips. She never manages not to make someone laugh even at their lowest points.
The other chef is in the back room chopping away at some of the vegetables. He’s scrawny, tall and has a bushy blonde hairdo. He reminds me a lot of someone I used to know, but I couldn’t quite place it. If I wasn’t mistaken, I believe the chef’s name was Harry Platte. An odd man, that one; he didn’t say much, have much of any facial expressions, and he didn’t associate with anyone except the people he was forced to work with.
Harry Platte was taking glances over his shoulder nervously as he watched the strange green eyed man talk to Miles Knapp. I heard that Porter was talking to me, rambling about something or other, but I was curious about the exchange at the bar.
The visitor leaned across the bar to rest on his forearm and talk as quietly as possible. His eyes never shift from Miles as his body movement just screamed danger. There was something wrong with this exchange. The man stood and Miles rose with him nodding at a statement that was placed. Miles was a decent sized man but the other man completely towered over him making Miles seem almost insignificant in size. The man extended his arm to shake Miles’s hand and as he did so I saw something slip from his hand to Miles. “…and I plan to get out of town for a few days when I can.”
“Where will you go?” I asked Porter pretending that I heard all of what he was saying. I was still completely focused on the swift, gliding movements of this stranger and the way he made Miles awkwardly uncomfortable. He doesn’t look like he’s from the states… I wonder where he could be from…
“Maybe somewhere across seas, like Ireland or Rome, somewhere beautiful, that’s for sure.” Porter said and for a moment I thought he was answering my thought and I almost responded but I held my tongue. “I was hoping maybe you’d want to join me, Dolly.”
“A trip, hm, that sounds like a wonderful idea. It’s time to go see somewhere new. Choose the place and I’m all set to go along.” Showing the thrill that Porter actually wants to go somewhere with me was lighting up his face. Deciding to go on this trip was just the start of a very thrilling, spiraling adventure… for both of us…
?
Chapter Two: The Plane

One thing I fear: planes. I absolutely hate planes; they terrify me, especially since the tragic happening of September 11th that we all hear so much about, there’s no one alive today who actually experienced that tragedy. I always feel like when I sit down and the plane turns my seat is going to fly right out the window or another plane will crash into mine, or…or…or… turbulence, the kind that makes the plane nosedive and the pilot can’t regain control. We’ll be toast at that point. And there is absolutely no way in he** someone would be making me jump out of something that is 30,000 feet in the air, whether it’s going down or not. Nuh-uh. It’s not natural to be plummeting through the sky… free-falling toward God only knows what.
I felt a sharp pain in my fingers. I look down to see I’m basically peeling the fabric off the arm rests on my seat because my nails are dug in so deep. I feel a shift of movement toward my left and I jump. “Dolly, are you alright?” I could hear Porter’s voice, but it seemed to be off in the distance. “Dolly, can you hear me, hello?”
“Uh-huh, I can hear you. I’m uh…fine.” I said as I continue to stare straight ahead. The plane has been slowly moving forward at this point. It picked up speed and, as I felt the plane tilt upward, I heard the wheels retract within the plane. I clenched my eyes shut and tried to pretend it was just a dream.
“You never told me you had a fear of flying.” Porter said quietly and close to my ear. I could feel his warm breath caress my skin.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t affect me.” I said between my teeth. As the plane leveled out slightly I released the hold on my breathing. My hand was suddenly being pried from its death grip and encircled by Porter’s fingers.
I allow my breath to even out and slow the beating of my heart. The feeling of Porter’s smooth hands clasped around mine seems to cool my body down and allow me to forget that I am actually gliding 30,000 feet or more above the nice warm grass, the dirt, and the home that I once owned.
After a few hours or so Porter was sound asleep, a pillow behind his head and a blanket over his knees. A light snore rumbled from his chest. I let out a small sigh and hold back my fear as I peer out the window to my right. The clouds are being grazed by the richest gold from the sun making the sight one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. The clouds were pure white, fluffy, and wisped; magnificent. I feel as if I need to capture the image in a bottle for my own personal use. As I decided to be a little more curious, I allowed my eyes to drift downward and panic struck my heart again. I slammed back into my seat at the sight of how far the ocean was below us.
A few seats behind me an argument rises up between two men, and I focus on that rather than my fear to calm myself. I turned slightly to take a glance at the two who are arguing, an older man and a man about my age. The older man had reddish-brown hair with light grey sneaking through, laugh lines encircle his mouth and stretched out from his eyes; he’s quite attractive, as is the younger man next to him. His hair was short but thick, black with a dark hint of grey, and quite the business look about him. Suddenly, he looked away from the older man and his eyes catch mine. My breath caught in my throat as I saw his eyes were a lime green, just like the man from The Kettle. What an odd color…
This man’s eyes seem a bit more of a natural green though, a little more subtle than the odd man I had seen before. He strikes me as odd though. There is something off about him and the man that was talking to Miles Knapp. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it though.
I turn back around and reach down into my purse. I pull out a small book, the binding’s cracked and warn, and the pages have been turned a million times. It had been my mother’s favorite book, it was read so many times I am amazed at how the pages haven’t fallen out of the binding yet, or turned to dust. This one single book has always been my fall-back, my comfort zone, or (as many people call it) my safety blanket. The Giver by Lois Lowry, for some reason my mother could not get enough of this book, and I never even wanted to touch it until I was fifteen and finally sick of running from her death. Now I’m the one who can’t get enough, I’m always caught in the pages.

After a few hours I had to set down my book, after getting a decent way through it, might I add, and decided I would try to close my eyes for a little bit. The sound of the engine running a good distance behind me has finally set my mind at ease…

The lights are dim, and the floor is wet and cold beneath my legs. My eyes slowly fluttered open as I realize my legs are at an angle under my butt and my arms are supporting my head. “Where am I?” My voice is hoarse and raspy. I must’ve been imagining that Porter had actually asked me to take a trip with him across the sea, right? No, that was real I am sure of it… but where exactly am I…
“You’re where you belong, Miss Dolly.” A deep voice calls out to me through the darkness. The hair on my arms stood straight up and a shiver ripples down my spine. “You’re to be hanged tomorrow as planned; you’ve known this for months. Why are you asking where you are? Have you forgotten, or just gone mad, mi lady?”
My breathing caught in my throat. I sat straight up in my seat and gasped as the plane hit turbulence. I’m not quite sure how long I had been sleeping, when I had fallen asleep, or why I had that odd dream.
I suddenly feel my stomach churn with a need to run for a bucket. I unbuckle as quick as I can and make my way to the back of the plane. The bathroom is mere feet in front of me when my stomach churns again. I can’t hold back anymore. Thank the heavens that the bathroom isn’t preoccupied… I flung the door open and as it slammed behind me my stomach empties itself.
Why do I let flying get the better of me? I’ll never know…
One of the flight attendants knocks on the door as she calls in, “Are you alright, ma’am?”
I clean myself up after flushing, and opened the door. “I’m fine, thank you. I’m just not a huge fan of flying.” I attempt a smile.
“Neither was I.” She said as she helped me back to my seat. Her eyes were a startling blue, and her long curling locks were to envy. “One day I enrolled in a class to become a flight attendant and, voilà! I’m never off of a plane. I’m sure it’s a phase that will one day pass.” She smiled at me and I returned the gesture.
“I sure do hope so,” I return to her as my gaze followed her toward the back of the plane. Yet again, those green eyes were connected with mine. I felt a sort of…familiarity, when I looked into his eyes, but that couldn’t be because I had never met the man before in my life.
As I sat back down in my seat my mind started racing about the long forgotten past. Things I wish I could have had happen all over again and things I wish never did happen. One thing I surely do miss is my best friend, my lifetime friend, a soul that should never have left my side; Brynn Ashfield. His looks definitely satisfied his name. His hair was a dark brown to black but every time he stepped into the sun you would have to double guess your eyesight at the way his hair seemed to have grey in it, just like soot. His skin was a beautiful shade of olive, deepened by the sun, and toned over the years. His eyes were an odd green, nothing like the men I have continued to see the past few days, but they were very pale, almost looking blue from a distance.

Brynn Ashfield used to be the one person I could count on, I could trust, I could feel like myself around, until he picked up and vanished. Now I have only myself to rely on.

I couldn’t help but wish he were here sitting next to me on the plane instead of Porter. I want to tell him of the men with strange eyes, and tell him of how I still think of home, and how we all know there is no stable “home” for any of us. The things I want to tell him, to discuss, the things we used to share and laugh about. I miss all of it. I hope he has found himself, has been living a well life, enjoying it while he can and not taking a moment for granted. I don’t doubt he’s changed a lot since I last saw him when I was 14, I believe he would have been around 17 years at that point and considered a man in today’s society.





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