When Cinni met Levy

Lost and Found Blogfest

The Love Lost and Found Blogfest is hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out and Guilie Castilol-Oriard of A Quiet Laughter, and co-hosted by Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey. and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Participants share a poem, story, essay, or song about love lost or found.

This scene takes place on 5 May 1942, as young soulmates Levon Kevorkian and Cinnimin Filliard meet for the first time. Cinni has just seen her on-again, off-again, no-longer-so-secret interfaith boyfriend Barry kissing his boring new girlfriend, and she’s shut him out of her heart for good.

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From across the room, Levon’s eyes latched onto Cinnimin on the davenport, and his heart fluttered.  This pretty American girl obviously wasn’t Armenian, but he had a strange, uncanny feeling she was someone special.  Perhaps his parents and grandfather had been driven out of Turkey, and he and his siblings had come to America, just so he could meet this girl.

“Tiffany, can you introduce me to the one with curly hair?”

“What?  I doubt she wants to meet a brand-new immigrant.  And why Cinnimin?  How about my cousin or their other friend?”

“I can’t explain, but I sense something really special about her, and she’s got a more natural beauty than the other girls.”

Tiffany looked over at the three girls commiserating on the davenport.  Though both Elaine and Violet were spoken for, Cinnimin was still single, as far as she knew, and didn’t seem to have a crush on anyone special at the moment.  It couldn’t hurt to at least introduce her to Levon.

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“Cinnimin, this is Levon Kevorkian, one of my guests.  He asked to meet you.”

Cinnimin glanced at the boy with the foreign name and noticed he had a very sincere face. “Do you speak English?”

Levon’s tongue was like lead.  He tried to nod, but found his head immobilized too.

“Yes, boy?  You wanna talk to me?  I don’t read minds.”

He managed to open his mouth, but nothing came out, too paralyzed by intimidation by this pretty American girl.

“Well, can you speak English or not?”

Levon finally found his tongue, praying his basic English wouldn’t fail him and he wouldn’t accidentally blabber in Armenian or Bulgarian. “You are extremely beautiful.  I can tell you have an extremely beautiful mind too.”

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Violet and Elaine burst into giggles.

“Oh, so you do speak English.” Cinnimin glared at Violet and Elaine. “Please excuse my friends.  They’re not as mature as I am.  Violet in particular has very poor taste in boys.” She smiled at him. “You’re cute.  Can I call you Levy?”

“My family calls me Levoush.”

“Oh, that doesn’t sound very American.  If you’re here to stay, you need a proper American nickname.  What’s your middle name?”

“Mandarias.”

Cinnimin grimaced. “That sounds even more foreign.  Please, can I just call you Levy?”

“You don’t like my name?  I have very nice, traditional Armenian name, and I didn’t think it sounded too foreign.  You have strange name I never heard.”

“My mother named me after her favorite spice, but she couldn’t spell it properly.  I’m so used to writing my name that way, the so-called correct spelling just looks wrong to me.”

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Tarchin is the Armenian form of her name,” Tiffany provided from the background.

Levon ventured a shy smile at Cinnimin. “When we add tarchin to our food, we say it’s like adding love to the food.”

“You’re pretty eloquent,” Cinnimin said, feeling his dark eyes burning a hole in her soul. “But everyone needs a nickname.  Don’t you think Levy is a cute nickname?”

Levon finally nodded, hoping “eloquent” was a positive word.  Now that the ice was broken, he figured it couldn’t hurt to ask a slightly personal question.

“You have boyfriend?”

Cinnimin jumped up, her heart racing. “I’m sorry, I must leave.”

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WeWriWa—Coupled at Last

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. Since I’d like to move back to my WIP, I’m skipping ahead quite a bit with the story of how Cinnimin and Levon got together. Much of the material needs thorough editing, revising, and rewriting. The sixth Max’s House book in particular, which today’s segment comes from, is a hot mess.

It’s December 1942, and Cinni is finally single again. She was humiliated to be turned down by Todd on account of her big mouth and attitude, and spent the summer flirting with Levon, whom she secretly met twice more after last week’s scene. She even kissed him a few times, though it wasn’t reciprocated. On her birthday in August, she shocked all her friends by revealing a new boyfriend, Julian, whom no one felt was a genuine love match or cool enough for her. Finally, her friends Elaine and Kit conspired with her mother to get her to dump Julian, in the hopes that she’d do the right thing.

During lunch, Cinni gets Levon behind the bushes and, after enjoying a cigarette, point-blank tells him she’ll be his girlfriend. Levon seems a little uncertain to make a move, but then he surprises her.

***

“You prayed for this day since you saw me and now you won’t even—”

It was what she had secretly prayed for all those months.  It was the first time he had kissed back, and she knew she would never kiss another boy so long as she lived.  Now he was hers and she was his, and she never wanted this one perfect moment to end.  She lost track of the time and let time stand still behind the bushes.  Fate had brought her this boy from Bulgaria whose parents had survived unspeakable cruelties, and she wasn’t about to argue with Fate itself!  But she knew the moment couldn’t linger on forever.  As soon as he let go of her for a moment, she decided to see what else he might do and started undoing her buttons.

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The problems with the sixth Max’s House book aren’t about bad writing so much as it’s overwritten, far too long for this type of book, focused on the wrong characters, and trying to tell two stories at once, the 1942-43 main story and a (very spoilerific) parallel story about Cinni’s granddaughter Livia and her husband Liam in 2007. Max, Elaine, and their family, the supposed stars of this series, seem more like secondary characters in much of the fourth through sixth books.

WeWriWa—Secret Meeting

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a little after last week’s, and is primarily a rewritten version of the original 1997/1999 scene.

Cinnimin Filliard has snuck over to see Levon Kevorkian a week after they met, while his hosts are at church. She’s just revealed to him that she’s a half-orphan, having lost her father right after her tenth birthday. He then told her about missing his own parents, who are waiting to come to America. Cinni says he’s taken away her smoking appetite by reminding her of her father, and says he has to cheer her up. He ends up putting a premature end to the meeting with his response.

This snippet has been modified somewhat to fit eight sentences.

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“I love your beautiful brown eyes.” Levon leaned very close to her and gazed into her eyes. “I can see your soul in your eyes.”

Cinnimin backed away from him. “I’m not the type of girl who kisses guys she barely knows.”

“Oh, no, that wasn’t what I wanted.  Do people really do that so quickly in America these days?  I’m sorry if I scared you or made you think the wrong thing about me.”

WeWriWa—Secret Meeting

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. The scenes I’ve been sharing recently are currently placed in my fourth Max’s House book, though it’s grown obvious over time that much of the material in the fourth through sixth Max’s House books are more suited to my magnum opus Cinnimin.

One week after they met, Cinnimin Filliard has snuck over to see Levon Kevorkian while his hosts are away at church. Meanwhile, Cinni’s friends believe she’s getting dirt on their frenemy Adeline to destroy the joke of a club Adeline started in opposition to their own new club. Cinni has first surprised Levon by saying she came over to see him, not Elaine or Max, and then shocked him even more by taking out cigarettes.

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“You already know I curse as well as any guy.  Why would you expect I don’t smoke as well?  Next month makes one year I’ve been smoking.  My mom is so stupid she thinks these are colored pencils.”

“What does your father think about them?”

“My daddy died right after my tenth birthday.  He had rheumatic fever the summer I was six, and his heart got weaker over the next few years.” She bit down hard on her lower lip.

***

The original reason for Mr. Filliard’s death was the kind of thing you only can come up with when you’re twelve and have a richly overactive imagination. He had some “local STD” called WARDS, Weakness Acquired Reproductive Deficiency Syndrome, which I think was my attempt at some fictitious, premodern disease like AIDS.

It was important to the storyline of my first three chronological Atlantic City books that he have a similar condition that he knows is slowly killing him. I chose rheumatic fever as the replacement, knowing that’s what ultimately led to Lou Costello’s early death.

WeWriWa—Secret Meeting

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. It seems I forgot to sign up last week, which I realised when my post had very low views throughout the day. This week’s scene is a continuation of last week’s.

One week after Cinnimin Filliard has met Levon Kevorkian, who’s destined to be the love of her life, she’s told her friends she’s out getting dirt on their goody-goody frenemy Adeline, who had the nerve to start a barely-populated club in opposition to their own new club, and proclaim herself president. Before she goes over to Adeline’s house while church is still in session, though, Cinni sneaks over to see Levon while his hosts are at church.

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Cinnimin strode into the living room and plunked herself down on the davenport, motioning for him to join her. “I noticed you’re a southpaw, which I think is really special.  You’re brave to not let anyone change you.  In first grade, I saved my sort-of friend Ariania Miller when the teachers tied her arm down with rope.  I was given the gift of ambidexterity, and I wrote with my left hand just to spite them and show solidarity with Ainy.  The teachers eventually left her alone.”

Cinnimin pulled out a new box of Sobranies and lingered over them before finally selecting a turquoise cigarette and fumbling for her Katharine Hepburn lighter.  She laughed at the horrified look on Levon’s face.

***

This is an entirely new part of the original 1997/1999 scene. Both the first and second versions just had way too much rapid-fire, unrealistic dialogue, along with not being developed enough.

Ariania (Air-ee-AYN-ee-yah) is one of my characters who started out strongly based on someone I knew, and her family were also initially strongly based on my friend’s real-life family. Twenty-two years on, I’ve never told my nearly-lifelong friend that I have this character she inspired. I’ve never encountered the name Ariania anywhere else, so it’s entirely possible I invented it.