Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A.J.'s Heart

Hi everyone. Dare I call today's story "New Adult?" No, I don't dare. But the author, June Toliver, did so that is what I shall call it! June is a writer from Indiana who spends her non-writing time as a social studies teacher. She writes both YA and adult, and is sharing a story called A.J's Heart, which takes place in the mid-'90s and focuses on a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Hope you enjoy!

A J's Heart 
By June Toliver 

The hot shower felt so good after working all day long, running around a very crowded and busy diner. I loved the way the hot water hit my skin and how the steam pushed its way into my lungs, especially in the dead of winter. However much I enjoyed the shower I emerged quickly to get started on my crazy hair. Stepping out of the shower onto the cold tile floors, I leaned forward to wipe out a space in the foggy mirror. Wrapping one towel around my hair and the other one around my chest I gave myself a good look over. I was pale and probably could use some Sun, aside from that, I did not have much else to complain about my looks tonight. As I began to work the towel through my hair, I wondered what Chad was up to and where we were going tonight. After blow drying my hair and tying it up in a more messy pony tail than usual I put on some eyeliner, mascara, a little face powder and then some of my favorite red lipstick.

On my way to the bedroom, I heard the door bell ring and knew from the chatter of my family that Chad had arrived. I quickly rushed into the bedroom threw on my clothes, and my boots. Grabbing my jacket off the bed, I hopped on one foot trying to tie my left boot. I then quickly made my way down the hall towards the living room where Chad was obliviously standing waiting impatiently for me to emerge.

Coming into the living room and front foyer area of my parent’s home, I was almost knocked off my feet when I saw Chad standing there in his Sunday’s best. My parents and brother were looking at me and I could see that they were as stunned and speechless as I was. Chad always dressed very casually in what seemed like the same old Flannel shirt, jeans, and construction boots. To see him in a pair of khakis, neat long sleeve polo and loafers made me even more suspicious about what we were really up to tonight and where we were going. Chad never, I mean never dressed up and he had a lot of explaining to do later.

As he met my eyes and the eyes of my family nervously I felt like he could almost read my mind or our minds regarding why in the heck he looked like a yuppie going on a job interview, instead of a guy from a Midwestern Indiana town going to a friend’s house to have a couple of beers or just hang out.After a moment of shock and being thrown off guard, I quickly rescued Chad from the gawking looks of my parents and Cham, who was one moment away from bursting out in laughter over Chad’s appearance. Seeing Cham on the verge of tears caused my protective, somewhat maternal instincts to quickly kick in.

“Hey, Chad you look great…Wow is that a polo you’re wearing?

Before Chad could respond, I sort of winked at my Dad who then began to chime in talking about how handsome Chad looked and how he wished young men took as much care in their appearance as Chad had tonight. He continued by comparing Chad to himself in the 50s when Chad’s makeover would have been considered sharp by the standards of those times. In almost an instant I realized that, though well intended, my Dad was somehow making things worse. As I grabbed my pocket book and keys from the kitchen, I dashed back to the awkward scene in the living room, with Chad getting more nervous by the minute. Saying goodbye to my family, Chad and I escaped quickly out of the front door, before my father could say anything further. At this point, I was beyond embarrassed and humiliated for both Chad’s sake and mine.

Once outside, Chad slowly walked in front of me, his loafers making loud crunching sounds in the snow. He was not wearing a coat so I knew he had to be freezing. As we approached Chad’s pickup truck, the engine purred quietly as the exhaust pipes let out a familiar grey mass into the cold night air. The truck felt so warm once I got inside. Watching Chad walk around the front of the truck with the bright headlights hitting his neatly pressed khakis, made my heart melt for my friend and at that moment I decided not to drill him about where we were going and what we were doing. He obviously was on a mission and I was not about to be my usual pessimistic self. At this point, I felt an internal need to just encourage him and give him some additional confidence boosting as he would need some when other people who knew us saw him in these clothes. I was not sure who we would be partying with tonight however, my family’s reaction would be nothing compared to the guys that Chad normally hung out with. These local guys would be expecting to see the John Deere Hat, Flannels and old blue jeans as much as my family and I had.and they would probably give him a really hard time.

As Chad sat in the driver’s seat, putting his truck in reverse he looked over at me with a smirk on his face …

“Hey Janie, I did not mean to almost give your dad a heart attack or to make Cham almost have a hernia in his attempt to keep from laughing…. I actually have a very good reason for my "debonair" appearance this evening…"

Pausing for a moment and winking at me as he spoke, I was completely stunned by his choice of words and the way he was talking.

“…her name is Julie and we are attending her party tonight,”

As I sat quietly, A feeling of relief began to flow over me, I was so grateful that I wasn’t going to have to come up with more compliments regarding polos and how the color of his shirt brought out his eyes. “Soooo cute”…I thought with a chuckle …new lady, new look , new words…this was really too much.

“ Well, Julie huh? …that’s a nice name, I suppose I will be meeting her soon.” I responded after a moment of silence.

“Yep that’s the plan" Chad said with a little pride in his voice….


  1. Surprising little twist on the end of that one. Nice job, June.

    Sarah, since you said you wouldn't call it New Adult, are you an 'anti-NA' agent? I've seen a lot of groundswell for it as a category. Personally, I'm not sure it's needed, as I'm more of a lumper than a splitter. I'm curious what you and agents in general think of the move to get it recognized (hah, I feel like I'm talking about some obscure nation-state and the UN). Thanks!

    1. @JeffO - I don't have an interest in representing New Adult, but I have nothing against it as a concept. That bit of snark at the top of my post was just a nod to all the hoopla around NA lately. Though if you read the post I linked to above, you'll see why I'm not planning to represent it.