When last we left our hero, it was the 80s. But something about Tom Petty and the song struck me, and, well, here we are. A big thank you to the two critique partners who provided some wonderful insights. I was so hell-bent on keeping my word count to 500 that I did not explore a thing or two. However, seeing as others are in the 1000+ word count, I figured going s l i g h t l y over 500 would not break the bank at Monte Carlo. So now, we are involving Cami with Ben…or at least, on her way to finally interacting with Ben.
So here we go…Â Dare to compare it with last week. And this week, I will send it off to an editor for the editor’s perspective. If that is as useful as the feedback I received from my CPs, it should be enlightening!
Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)
Cami laid flat on the splintery park bench, her high, brown ponytail draped over the seatâ€™s end. She inhaled the boardwalk perfume of tar, oily sausage, and fried zeppoles while staring at the sky.Â Pinpricks of white burst through the midnight blueâ€“which pushed the indigo, which in turn squashed a tiny sliver of lavender down below the horizon line, drowning it in the black of the ocean. Just like the New York tourists, she thought. Everyoneâ€™s gotta be on top, first in line, best seat on the ride.
She gingerly turned herself sideways, her stomach pressed against the seat back, and peered over the side. Three shirtless boys with slicked-back hairâ€“they could be her classmates at High School North if theyâ€™d been towniesâ€“brayed at some unknown hilarity.Â Meanwhile, a man with an ample belly shouted at his little girl, swatting her on the ass while another small boyâ€“her brother perhapsâ€“wailed, pointing at a cone on the ground. To their right, an unnatural blonde stuffed in clingy black shorts and a hot pink bikini top stormed in the direction of the custard stand.
She turned and gazed the opposite way. Through the metal bar fence, her eyes caughtÂ a couple rolling in the sand, smothering each other with kissesâ€“ first she on top, then he. Edges of beach blanket folded up beneath their movements, but the duo remained unaware, lost in their wrestling. Camiâ€™s eyes focused on them, her breath trapped inside her until she remembered to exhale.
Ben would be working tonight at the arcade near Casino Pier. Her heart rose into her throat every time she thought about him, his soft eyelashes framing warm chocolate eyes, contrasting with his chiseled, angular face. Nearby, a booth blasted My Sharona by the Knack. A shiver raced down the back of her neck, her arms, everywhere. But Ben, who had just graduated high school with her brother Tim, never spoke to her.Â As Tim drove her to Seaside, he told her that Benâ€™s heart had broken. His girlfriend since freshman year dumped him at the prom. Soon, heâ€™d be off to college, but until then? Ben wanted nothing to do with high school girls.
Sighing, she sat up. Soon, midnight blue would reign supreme, and only stars, street lamps, and glowing cigarette ends attached to Brooklynâ€™s finest tourists would light her way. That, and the screamingly bright signs by the games area where Ben worked…where she was drawn next, a moth to the neon.Â
Well, thereâ€™s nothing else to do at home.Â
Cami stood up and brushed the splinters off her shorts. She began the first of her seemingly endless solo laps up and down the boards until Tim finished at midnight. Thousands of people, their lives in progress, would surround her as she walked. But no one would see her.
She sneaked into Dickeyâ€™s Arcade, where Ben worked nights and sidled up beside her favorite hiding spot, a seldom-used pinball machine. There, sheâ€™d blend in amidst the cacophony and characters.Â She was safe unless it was a night when Timâ€™s shift was also there. But tonight, Tim was in another building. And tonight, she would not be invisible.Â
She would speak to Ben.