We’re pleased to present our next excerpt from Sockhops & Seances – an exclusive look at M. Lopes da Silva’s “The DeSoto Ghost.” Teenage girls gather for a sleepover, telling the story of the ghost that drives the highways for his lost love. But what does this mean for their lives?
We were all packed into the forbidden den at Kathy Valentine’s house, sharing a single cigarette and giggling over her parents’ records, waiting for Linda Dennis to tell us what she’d been sitting on all day. Linda wore cherry red lipstick that she’d wipe off before she got home from school; now all our lips were the same shade of red. I’d begged to try it until Linda folded with an eyeroll and let us pass the lipstick around just like we had the cigarette; our adolescent communion. Now, red-lipped and smoky, we clamored around Linda. Of course Kathy and Susan, posing as the adults in their chiffon dressing gowns, held aloof. That was their newest thing, holding aloof. Kathy kept petting her seafoam chiffon skirt as if it were a lapdog. I blushed and tried not to think about my long, white nightgown. Everybody else had cute babydoll pajamas except for me. My mother wouldn’t buy me a babydoll, claiming that I’d grow out of one too quickly, and only a nightgown with a long skirt would keep up with me. It was true that I’d shot up to five foot seven freshman year, and that I towered above most of the other girls no matter how much I kept slouching, but I couldn’t help that.
Linda held out her hand, and I returned the tube of lipstick. The makeup felt heavy and thick on my lips, a little like clay. I shifted on the brown leather sofa. Donna and Brenda stopped tittering over album covers. The sudden silence was expectant; we waited.
Linda told a lot of stories—good ones. Linda’s mother worked at the green bean cannery, and her father lived in Philadelphia, so she got into all kinds of mischief. She had a secret boyfriend, a guy she met outside the Rocket Diner who owned a sky blue Cadillac and wanted to drive to every state in the U.S. with “the right kind of girl” at his side. We all knew about him, but Linda’s parents didn’t. I hadn’t met him, but I’d seen him from a distance once, bending down to kiss Linda, his hands curling around the curves of her arms the way bird feet curl around branches. I didn’t like him, but I didn’t like any of the guys that Linda liked.
Once we were absolutely quiet, Linda began: “So, did you guys hear about that kid who died in a car accident? The one from Greenwood High School?”
What happened to the guy who died in the car accident?
What does Linda know?