Back Then

Back then, everything was worse.
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Rating: 8. Original name: Prince Charming's Next Door, finished. More From Author. The Beautiful Time With You. Bringing the Nation's Husband Home.

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Versatile Mage. The King's Avatar. My Youth Began With Him. Romance , Drama , Shoujo , Tragedy. My grievance at not winning was private and intense. My mother had artfully fashioned a crown out of tinfoil and draped it with one of her necklaces to give it a bit of glitz. I drowned my sorrows in cherry Kool-Aid, and went to confer with the boys on the other side of the pool, where we ganged up on one of them, naming him Rick the Ratty Raunchy Ratfink, which, we decided, would be his nickname for all time.

I was thirteen, as I said, and something was going on with me, in my head or outside it. I had got my hair cut short only two weeks before. My mother had taken me to her hairdresser, whose name was Tawney; it was the first time that someone other than my mother had cut my hair. The chair I was ushered to was mechanically intimidating, with levers that made it rise and sink.

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October 28th, 2 Comments. There was nothing there but an expanse of gravel and a set of sagging clotheslines on which cottage dwellers hung their wet swimsuits and towels. This applies to being physically behind the speaker's current location or to locations that are temporally 'behind' the speaker. You must log in or register to reply here. November 18th, 1 Comment. Later that afternoon, after I had taken off my bathing suit, I stood in the dimly lit bathroom of our cottage for a moment before putting on my clothes, looking in the mirror at my own longer, narrower face, the aggressive set of my eyebrows.

I sat and was whirled to face the mirror and swathed in a pink cape. Tawney and I looked at each other in the mirror, her scissors poised. When my mother came back, the longest part of my hair was the bangs. Tawney had teased two locks in front of my ears, like sideburns. My neck was itchy with freedom. Probably our mother just needed a rest from our endless demands, our ceaseless movement. By the time I was thirteen and my sister ten, it was understood that we would simply stay out of the way for the hour that kept us from drowning.

The something that was going on in my head made me want to avoid my sister and our cousins, and I spent a lot of these hours fooling around behind the cottages. There was nothing there but an expanse of gravel and a set of sagging clotheslines on which cottage dwellers hung their wet swimsuits and towels. Beyond the gravel were the inferior cottages, separated from us by a low white fence.

The fence suggested that the space it enclosed was potentially a special one, but the yard belonging to those cottages was shabby and neglected, unworthy of protection. The gravel had migrated into the grass, which must have made it hard to mow—it was long, at least shin-high. They took ballet lessons, and in the summer they went to the pool down the road from their house every day, and therefore had tans.

They could do cartwheels.

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They each had a boyfriend, even though Sandy, the younger of them, was only twelve years old. None of these things seemed available to or attainable by my sister and me.

We were forbidden to date until we were sixteen. They wore two-piece swimsuits, which, if not bikinis, still showed their navels. Need I say more?

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It's true that back there is more appropriate if you wish to highlight a geographical distance, and back then is more appropriate if you wish to highlight temporal. Back then is an expression you can use in order to refer to a specific period of time in the past. For example, if you are teaching about Middle.

At the end of the summer I would be starting high school. I wrote in my diary that year that I wanted to study etymology, though I had an imperfect idea of what that was. I thought it was a kind of philosophy, a field of knowledge that would reveal all the secret things that held the universe together. I was always looking then to explain everything, looking for meaning behind the ruddy, cheerful, rule-bound world I knew.

I almost yearned for them, the bad things, so strong was my desire to know.

The night after the Miss America pageant, we went to the frozen-custard stand, a boisterous gang of kids kept barely in check by the presence of my mother and my aunt. When we were younger, my sister and I had often wished that Janet and Sandy were our sisters. Ahead, the pink-and-blue-and-green neon sign glowed. Our mother stepped up to the order window and called for quiet so that she could ask what everyone wanted. Inside, the frozen-custard employees waited, bored, for us to decide on chocolate or vanilla, cherry or chocolate dip.

I was wearing a new outfit: white shorts and a horizontally striped shirt, which I thought was very smart. I had just begun to be interested in teen magazines. I thought of their content as a form of reporting, as documentaries, each photo a window into a life of possibility, where there was always a breeze to fan out your hair or modestly ruffle the hem of your skirt.

I stepped up to the pickup window when my mother called me over to take the cardboard carrier of cones to the picnic table. The frozen-custard woman pushed it toward me. The woman gave the carrier a little nudge so that it was more firmly in my grasp. At the beach the next day, I consulted the older of my cartwheeling cousins, fourteen-year-old Janet.

Did she think that my hair was too short? We were lying on our beach towels, she in her red-and-white checked two-piece, me in my turquoise-and-white striped one-piece. The stones of the Rocky Beach were hot under us and the water was still, the waves coming ashore with barely a fringe of white foam. There was no question of our staying at the beach without her. Both of us were making little piles of rocks on our towels.

She liked to have a theme: this year she was collecting only hot-dog-shaped rocks. I chose mine for their color and how they felt in my hand. She held up a rock to show me and then we both shook our heads. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, trying to decide what it was about her that had got her a boyfriend. She had fair, reddish hair and round cheeks, a small pouty mouth. Her eyes were small, too, but there was something about how they crinkled when she smiled, how her cheeks pushed up so that her eyes almost disappeared, a gleaming line of blue.

Later that afternoon, after I had taken off my bathing suit, I stood in the dimly lit bathroom of our cottage for a moment before putting on my clothes, looking in the mirror at my own longer, narrower face, the aggressive set of my eyebrows. My lower lip was fuller than the upper: what did that mean? When I was ten, I had a story I inhabited for the whole week of vacation.

In the morning, as we walked to the lake, I let my sea name rise into my mind: Darena, who lived under the blue-green water. My sister and my cousins were my unwitting servants, and the towels we spread on the rocks were royal robes.

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When we went into the water, I splashed and dived and swam, I pulled handfuls of sand from the bottom and pretended that it was soap, I played at being a shark. But I was living a double life: I was a little girl whose mother was watching from the beach, whose father was standing in the shallow water staring at the horizon he never swam ; and I was Darena, who could call the fish out of the water and make the waves rise to cover the road.

I never told anyone about her. I conjured Darena up the next year, too. Then, when I was twelve, she came forward on the first day we swam in the lake and I tried to let her in. I leaped in the water, I twirled in a circle, trailing my fingers to make streams of bubbles, but she kept her distance. Now, at thirteen, I was thinking of her, remembering her, during the hour that we were letting my mother rest.