Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’ve been sharing from the new opening pages of Little Ragdoll, a contemporary historical Bildungsroman (growing-up story) I’m releasing on 20 June. It’s my imagined telling of the growing up and well-deserved happy ending of the girl who inspired The Four Seasons’ famous song “Rag Doll.”
Adicia, her four best sisters, and their surrogate mother (an exploited live-in servant and nanny) are on their way to Woolworth’s in early September 1959 when they run across the two oldest brothers. Fifteen-year-old Allen is concerned because Adicia is limping, but even if it’s “just” caused by socks with holes, he’s not about to let his next-youngest sister go on such a big walk in that condition.
Allen reaches into his pockets and hands Adicia four dull quarters. “Here you go. Enough for round-trip subway fare. You, Ernestine, and Justine ride for free, since you’re so short. The nearest station’s on the corner of Delancey and Essex. Since you don’t hafta worry about walking no more, why don’t you go to onea the stores uptown? They’ve mostly got the same goods for the same prices, but it’s nice to get outta the neighborhood when you can.”
Adicia slips the coins into her pocket and waves at her favorite brother as she continues down Essex Street.
When writing the beyond-awful, original, discontinued first draft of 1993-94, I pretty much stumbled into the storyline of Allen eventually quitting his delinquent lifestyle and trying to save his sisters from their awful mother. When I finally went back to the story from scratch and memory 16.5 years later, Allen became a nice guy from the start, not that heavy of a drug user or drinker, and determined to get above his raising by graduating high school, leaving the old neighborhood, and becoming respectably working-class.
Even though they’re only ten years apart, Allen is essentially the only real man in Adicia’s life until she meets her future husband Ricky in 1972. He’s quite possibly my favorite big brother character I’ve ever written. He proves himself as one of the best big brothers ever in June 1962, when he kicks down a door to save Adicia and Justine from a fire, and then runs back into the burning tenement to save their one-year-old nephew Giovanni.