This story is by Debra Campoli and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The calliope sounds of amusements and the blinking neon colors of rides and signs made the warm summer night exciting. Dana and her friend Mary were 15 years old and on vacation with her parents. But Dana was almost 16 and feeling her “oats” wanting to meet some boys.
The girls stood in front of the Himalaya ride that spun around forward and then in reverse with the music blaring. Mary wore a tank top and denim “Daisy Dukes”. Dana, being busty for her petite size wore a low cut tank top with her short shorts.
“Mary, don’t look but there are two cute guys standing to your right staring at us with big grins on their faces!”
“Maybe they’re deciding which one of us they each want,” said Mary excitedly.
“Remember we are 17 and seniors in High School. Otherwise, they will think we are too young because they definitely look older than us,” replied Dana quietly in Mary’s ear.
The two young men came over to the girls and introduced themselves and asked if they wanted to go on the ride with them. The girls agreed and they each paired off and went on the Himalaya where the ride spins so fast it compresses one completely into the person they are sitting with. The boys naturally put their arms around the girls giving them that feeling of security that males are known to do.
The fellow with Dana was named, Tony and after the ride, he took Dana’s hand and walked her to the side of the ride and kissed her. His French kiss felt possessive and demanding. Dana was excited yet a little scared with that butterfly feeling in her stomach at how pushy and bold he was. She kissed him back not wanting him to realize how inexperienced she was.
John Robert, who was the boy with Mary, kept his arm around Mary’s waist. He kissed her sweetly on her forehead a few times as he squeezed her close while walking.
The young men told them how they had just graduated from high school and were both going away to Miami University on baseball scholarships. They were best buddies since grammar school and now they were going to college together. They were staying at a boarding house with 10 rooms and 2 common bathrooms and no kitchens because they weren’t allowed to cook in their rooms. They had it rented for 3 weeks and were so lucky because it cost them the same money for three weeks as it would for 1 week in any of the local motels!
Dana and Mary didn’t want to say Dana’s parents were with them at the Eden Roc Motel and let them go to the boardwalk by themselves. They had a curfew and had to be back in the motel by 11:30 pm. They were there only for the week and still had 5 days left.
Tony and John Robert asked the girls if they wanted to go back to their place. A party was going on with many of their friends and they had booze and were guaranteed a good time.
Dana and Mary were a little apprehensive but still wanted to feel like grown-ups. They loved feeling “wanted” by these older guys and were excited thinking that they were going to have a “Summer Romance” that may even blossom into having college boyfriends. Dana’s Tony was already moving his hand over the side of her breast when he kissed her but Dana wasn’t sure if it was an accident or not because it was over her top and not completely over her entire breast.
John Robert said, “Come on let’s go back to our place! You can meet everybody and we’ll have a blast!”
Tony looked at Dana with puppy dog eyes that pleaded with her to go. She couldn’t refuse that look so she and Mary went to have a private chat.
.“What do you think?” inquired Dana.
“ I kind of want to go” said Mary, “but what about your parents? You know they sit near the end of the boardwalk till like 11 or so and they will probably see us walking that way…”
“Yeah, I know. I was thinking of that but, I really want to go if you do? But I don’t want to get in trouble either and we are going to have to tell the guys that we are staying with my parents and have to be back by 11:30” replied Dana somberly.
The girls explained to the guys that since they were staying with Dana’s parents and their motel was one block before the end of the boardwalk, they didn’t want to be seen leaving the boardwalk with the boys. Since the Sterling Boarding House was located 3 blocks past the Eden Roc, Dana and Mary decided to walk under the boardwalk to the end and then walk a bit more off the street to make sure the “coast was clear” of parents.
They agreed that was a great idea and promised they would make sure the girls were back at their motel for 11:30. Dana and Mary went down the steps onto the sand and under the boardwalk but the boys walked above them.
They walked quite a ways and the girls were giggling at their crazy adventure while looking up and seeing through the cracks in the boards that the boys were walking at the same pace as they were.
As Dana looked up while walking, she slammed into a cement rafter that was holding the boardwalk up onto the cement pillars! She fell down onto the sand seeing stars and blacking out cold!
Mary screamed that Dana was hurt and grabbed her head as blood gushed from above her eyelid! Luckily Dana came to right away but already blood had poured into her eye and down her face. The girls had nothing to press against the injury except Dana’s own hand.
The girls ran out from underneath the boardwalk and saw some stairs to go back on top. As they reached the top stair, a security officer was close by because someone had called that a girl was screaming. Dana was brought by ambulance to the Shore Hospital while the police came and brought Mary to the motel to tell Dana’s parents about the incident.
Dana received five stitches just above her eye. The doctor had said that she was lucky that she didn’t crush her eye socket bone the way it had smashed into the concrete.
Dana’s parents were upset with the girls for being so dumb walking under the boardwalk. They believed their tale that they were under the boardwalk because it was faster so they wouldn’t be late for curfew with how crowded the boardwalk was.
They drove back to the motel from the hospital. As they got out of the car, they could smell smoke with little flickering ashes floating through the air. Nobody around knew what could be on fire but they did say they had heard lots of sirens blaring earlier.
Dana and Mary never saw the boys again after Dana was hurt and as they lay in their room that night decided that they were truly dumb! Not just because they were deceiving Dana’s parents by walking under the boardwalk but, who knows what could have happened at that boarding house with older boys? Sure they wanted to experience making out and having a summer romance to tell their friends about. But Dana had this feeling that something bad was going to happen. She kept pushing the thought away because she thought that maybe she was feeling guilty about lying and doing something she knew her parents wouldn’t approve of.
The following day as they went to a diner for breakfast, everyone was buzzing about the terrible tragedy that happened the night before! The waitress explained, “the Sterling Boarding House which rents to teens during the summer had a crazy party. Two young people died in a fire that burned it to the ground! A 15-year-old girl was burned and found tied to a bed… And an 18-year-old named John Robert Rollins succumbed to smoke inhalation and couldn’t be revived. It’s just a horror! ”
Shocked, Mary looked at Dana and they both had tears in their eyes. Dana’s mother and father just shook their heads saying how the kids today are so irresponsible never thinking something bad could happen to them!
Later Dana looked up to Heaven and said to Mary, “ I will never deceive my parents again! I think GOD made the choice to crack me in the head instead of being somewhere we shouldn’t have been.”