In 1969 it was an age of peace demonstrations, sit-ins, burning of the U.S. flag, an escalation of the Vietnam War. Including the catalyst—a music revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs, spurring a young generation into a new decade.
Sixteen-year-old Mary believes it’s time to cut the apron strings and fly. New experiences and new friends, Mary crosses the threshold of adolescence with a bang. When her brother offers her the solution in the form of a little pill, the rumba going on in her brain should’ve been a forewarning.
Excerpt from Incense and Peppermints by Catherine Constantine
The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.
“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.
My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.
“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.
“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.
“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”
“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”
Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.
You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?
Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”
“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”
Though he surprised me, my reflexes snapped into play, and I caught it.
“Just in case you change your mind,” he mumbled. “I guarantee a cosmic night.” His saggy underwear melted into the darkened hallway.
My inner geek gawked at the pill as if I was holding nitroglycerin.
A taste wouldn’t hurt and lapped it with my tongue. It stuck. The pill began to dissolve, tasting chalky. I panicked. Plucked it from my mouth and shoveled it under my pillow.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.