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Haley Ann's story (repost)

 
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dreamboatkaren
Keith's Date
Keith's Date


Joined: 07 Apr 2005
Posts: 460
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:33 pm    Post subject: Haley Ann's story (repost) Reply with quote

I found what I had saved on my puter titled, "Haley Ann's story"....LOL I had saved it in two parts, so I will see if the first part works as one post and then post the second part. Keep your fingers crossed!

**********************************************
Time period: Late November, 1972
Setting: Somewhere south of Denver, Colorado.

The thrumming hail chunks beat heavily in the weary heads of the
Partridges outside the windows of their old, psychedelic painted
bus. They had just completed their most demanding gig to date;
performing for a solid week atop a makeshift waterfall at an
exclusive country club, where teenagers from across north America
had gathered to view their favourite family. Shirley Partridge
looked proudly at her listless children who were seated behind her
throughout the large vehicle. She couldn't help but chuckle softly
to herself. Though Shirley Partridge was only in her early forties,
she had been through a great deal of life-altering events. Her
husband had died suddenly two years ago, leaving Shirley Partridge
to care for her five children alone. When her children had
approached her to sing in their rock group, Shirley thought it would
be an adventurous move, if not any enjoyable form of earning a
living. Though it was a risky venture, Shirley felt her previous job
at the local bank kept her away from her children far too much. By
joining their singing entourage, she would be able to be with them a
great deal more. So with a family full of enthusiasm, a whole lotta
nerve, a well-rehearsed act, and five very talented children,
Shirley Partridge signed a contract that would change their lives
forever. Despite mother Partridge's apprehensions, she and her nest
had fared extremely well with a number one hit, five gold records,
and a consistent position on the Billboard top 40 hits. Still,
Shirley assured that at all times her children knew that this was a
job, and no matter how popular they became, they couldn't let fame
go to their heads. Thus far, the kids had done a remarkably good job
remembering these simple ideas that gave the Partridge Family an
identifiable image.
In the oblong, rearview mirror above her head, Shirley could see all
five of her children passing the time of their long bus ride each in
their own way. Her eldest daughter, Laurie, sat three seats behind
Shirley with her back to the window. Still in her performance
clothes with her long legs outstretched, and her long, brown hair
creating a halo around her pretty, teenage face, Shirley thought
that her daughter was the picture of seventeen year old idealism.
Laurie had a deep look of concentration in her wistful, blue eyes as
she read "The Feminine Voice: An American Woman's Guide To
Liberation". Laurie gave a brisk nod, obviously agreeing with
something in the text, and Shirley beamed at her in the mirror.
Laurie was the Partridge Family champion of causes, and was never
reluctant to speak her mind. Most of the time, Laurie was as
level-headed as they came, but present her with a handsome young man
and a picturesque setting and her clear head became a thing of the
past.
If there was any one of her children that was more focussed than
Laurie, it would be Shirley's second son Danny. At just twelve years
old, Danny had all the qualifications of a Wall Street trader,
except that the seventh grade commanded the majority of his
attention. Danny Partridge had fiery red hair and a spirit to match,
sometimes trying the patience of his family. Shirley was relieved
that her energetic son was contentedly engaged in some papers that
their manager, Reuben, had sent him outlining new contract
opportunities and stock growth potential.
Though they often sparred, it was highly evident that Danny and
Reuben had a relationship that was nearly magical. In fact, it was
Danny himself who had approached the highly strung Reuben Kincaid,
and had him agree to manage the family act. The golden-haired
manager may have been shrewd, but he was affectionate towards the
family and looked after them with pride. He felt a certain
responsibility to "his" family of a half dozen, and would do
anything to prevent letting them down under any circumstances. The
Partridges depended on Reuben not only for his expert managerial
skills, but also for the role of older male figure he provided; if
you can call being in your early forties being among the "older"
set.
Seated across the aisle from Danny was his younger brother Chris.
who himself was just ten years old. Chris and Danny had their
quarrels as all brothers tend to have, but they had their share of
good times too, and were awfully close. The only thing was, Chris
Partridge was much more relaxed than Danny, and took his childhood
in stride rather than forging ahead and rushing it. This fact was
subtly displayed as Chris turned another page of his book of magic
tricks and worked on mastering his latest trick to date. Though
Chris wanted very much to be more of a man like his older brothers,
Shirley never saw more sweetness than that which crept up in the
face of Chris Partridge as his eyelids drooped, and a yawn escaped
his boyish mouth. Such a sweet face he had, accentuated by his dirty
blond hair, and blue-grey eyes.
Chris' more youthful partner in crime was his eight year old sister,
Tracy. The two cavorted together often, but as the youngest
Partridges grew a little bit older, the difference in gender became
more of a hurdle. While Chris longed to grow and do manly things, on
the opposite end of the spectrum stood Tracy, who would give
anything to paint her face with those glorious colours her mother
did, and have boys look at her the way they did Laurie. In the
fashion of Chris though, Tracy embraced her childhood too. So, until
adulthood reared its head, Tracy was satisfied with hair ribbons and
books with paper dolls to occupy her time.
Oh they definitely were a wonderful bunch of children; Shirley knew
that with the whole of her heart. They brightened every evening and
made each day worth waking up to. They gave her life colour in the
most brilliant hues.
And then, there was Keith. Keith Partridge, Shirley's eldest son and
child, was her knight in shining armour. Keith, now nineteen, had
been Laurie's age, just seventeen, when his father had passed away.
Though Keith concealed his grief in lieu of protecting his family,
Shirley had seen the pain he had experienced at the time. Even now,
Keith, being nearly a man, struggled with the untimely death. He had
no figure to turn to in the time of his descent into manhood, and
Shirley could see he was very much alone.
Keith loved and cared for his family deeply. He was the lead singer
and guitarist for the Partridge Family, and was dedicated to the
family act. Emotionally and mentally Keith was beyond the Partridge
Family though, and Shirley witnessed it more and more with each
passing day. Shirley's heart ached for her son who was in search of
something he couldn't seem to find. His expressive, emerald eyes
told Shirley he was longing for something he desired greatly, and
she willed him to find it, and quickly!
As it stood, Keith sat sideways on the seat at the very back of the
bus, with his bare feet propped up on it. Listlessly, he faced the
window, a pall cast over his exceptionally handsome face. He loosely
clutched his guitar and plucked the odd chord. The reason wasn't
that Keith wasn't focussed that a song wasn't shaping up, however,
it was clear to Shirley that Keith's concentration lay elsewhere
than his guitar. To himself, Keith emitted a small sigh. He hadn't
diverted his attention away from the frosty window for a good half
an hour, but now the hail picked up pace and thrummed with more
power on the metal roof of the bus. It appeared to rouse Keith out
of his daze as he glanced at his watch: 9:16 in the evening. It had
been a long day indeed, and Keith imagined his mother would likely
be wanting a break from driving down the endless highways. Slipping
his feet into his black boots, and readjusting his navy, rib-knit
sweater, Keith gingerly made his way to the front of the bus.
Keith caught a glimpse of Chris, who was showing Danny his now
mastered trick, and couldn't help but feel a little isolated. Oh
sure, he and Laurie were close in age and they often did spend time
together, but Laurie was never willing to just simply talk. Her
conversations always had the be relevant and heated. And, in frank
honesty, as much as he loved Laurie, members of the opposite sex
held no fascination for him unless they were close to his age and
NOT related to him. Nonetheless, seeing Laurie sitting there
peacefully reading her novel brought some comfort. If Keith really
needed to talk, Laurie would be there to listen.
Laurie heard Keith's footsteps and tore her attention from her book.
"Hey, Mr. Lonely," she greeted before returning to her reading.
Laurie got great satisfaction out of teasing her brother when he
didn't have a girl at his side since he usually did.
Good-naturedly, Keith gave Laurie a gentle shove and answered, "I
don't exactly see an entourage surrounding you either."
Just to spite her older brother, Laurie rejected his comment by
scolding, "Shh! Keep it down Keith! Tracy has just fallen asleep."
He knew that Laurie was only jesting, but Keith did feel a pang of
guilt as he looked into Tracy's wan face. They were so far apart in
age, just a little more than ten years, but Tracy was like a pixie
to Keith. She romped around with angelic appeal, spreading sunshine
to everything she passed. Because of the age gap and gender
difference, Keith and Tracy weren't exactly close, but Keith proudly
knew Tracy depended on him to act not only as brother, but as father
as well. Keith took the job of protecting his younger siblings very
seriously. If anything were to ever happen to any of them, he would
never forgive himself.
As he felt the weight of the world bear down on his shoulders, he
couldn't help but wonder if someone would be their should HE need
SOMEONE else's help.

CORRECTION: Original draft took place in Colorado. New draft takes
place in Montana.

"I'll take over the wheel mom," Keith offered to his mother.

"Oh, don't trouble yourself. You look worn out Keith. Get some rest
and don't worry about me."

Keith stood over his mother and placed a loving hand on her
shoulder. His touch astonished Shirley. When had his grasp become so
firm and noble? She turned her head for a moment, and caught a
glimpse of her son's hands. They reminded Shirley so much of her
late husband's hands; so strong and protective. And yet, from
playing the guitar, Keith's well-practised hands were almost
graceful, much more defined than her husband's had ever been.

"No, mom. I insist on driving. I've been letting my mind run wild
all evening. So not only for your sake, but for mine as well, I'd
like to take the wheel and just concentrate on something..." Keith
paused in search of the right words, "...less intense," he
concluded. He looked straight into his mother's lovely blue eyes and
waited for her response. There was no cause for such deliberation
other than the fact that Shirley always wanted the very best for her
children, and that included rest.

As Keith flicked his soft, brown hair off his shoulders with his
fingers, Shirley smiled at her son with an almost bemused grin. He
was such a fine young man, not to mention his exquisite good looks.
Oh the hearts Shirley imagined he'd broken. The least Shirley could
do was accept Keith's generous offer. "Of course you can drive now,
honey. Just let me pull over here."

Shirley proceeded to maneuver the bus to the side of the highway on
a soft shoulder. Now that she wasn't concentrating on roadsigns and
getting her bearings, Shirley realised how beautiful the landscape
was. As in the famous painting, either side of the roadway was lined
with trees all marching in a row. Only these trees were a mix of
bare maples, and bushy pines and not luscious palms as was in the
painting. Since that the bus was stopped and not ploughing its way
through the driving sleet, the sound was almost deafening. Within
seconds of the windshield wipers being off not a thing could be seen
out of the front window through a steady stream of falling ice.
Weather like this was Shirley's least favourite part of forgoing air
travel for the publicity the multi-coloured beast of a bus provided.

Keith ensured that his mother was seated comfortably and retrieved a
cushion and afghan from a nearby seat to keep her warm. They were
far from their home in San Pueblo, California, and November in
Wyoming was not nearly as forgiving. The temperature outside the bus
was well into the negatives, a fact that made Shirley realise the
likelihood of some very nasty weather approaching. She didn't like
driving through hail and blizzard-like conditions, and her anxieties
were only heightened in turning the responsibility over to Keith. It
didn't take a meteorologist to recognize the slickness on the
asphalt was not a pane of gleaming glass, but a thin sheet of ice.
"Keith, I know I'm supposed to be a mod-mom, but I'm going to play
granny for a minute and warn you to please drive very carefully,"
mother Partridge urged. Keith nodded his agreement.

Despite the fact that the heat was turned on in the bus, there was
still a nip in the air. Keith gingerly draped the cozy afghan around
his mother only to hear from Shirley, "Okay, back to the mod-mom
bit. I'm not a priceless antique that you have to protect, you know."

Keith smiled and kissed his mother on top of her blond head, saying,
"True. But you're pretty valuable to me. " With that, Keith finally
sat at the wheel and fastened his seatbelt. He made certain that
everyone was safely seated and pulled away from the shoulder.

His intent was to relax a little bit, but in trying to drive against
the hail on the slick road, he felt all of his muscles tense up one
by one. Keith could only see perhaps five feet ahead of him at a
time. Even driving the bus at only 8 miles an hour, Keith felt as
though he had little control. He wasn't entirely certain it was the
wisest idea to keep on driving, but he knew his family would be
anxious to get to their plush and comfortable hotel. They still had
hours of driving left to get to Glasgow, Montana from Northern
Wyoming, possibly more considering the weather was less than
agreeable. Not sure of what to do, Keith turned to face his mother
for a brief moment. She seemed blissfully unaware of the hazards
while engrossed in her gothic romance. This made him wonder if his
mother was lonely, and if she read those books to incorporate a
little love into her life. "I sure wish I could find love in a
book," Keith thought morosely. Nonetheless, he did not want to
burden his mother with the difficulties he was having, so he
silently drove on. This was to be only the very beginning of
challenges Keith would have to confront in ensuing days.


Over an hour and half of driving had passed, and though it was only
perhaps quarter to eleven, five of the six Partridges were soundly
slumbering with Keith at the wheel. Due to the weather, Keith didn't
manage to take the family more than 17 miles. More than once the bus
slid several metres to one side or the other, and under the
circumstances the breaks seemed woefully inadequate. Keith was
almost certain now that they would have to spend the night
somewhere. Even if they continued he knew they would never get
anywhere near their destination at the rate they were going. Plus,
they ran the risk of getting trapped in the storm. Keith
contemplated these thoughts for the next mile or so, and without
consulting his mother or the rest of the family, he made a snap
decision. Slowly making a gentle turn at the next green and white
exit sign he spotted, Keith drove the bus in the direction of the
nearest motel.

As it turned out, the closest lodging was actually an old hotel,
very old. It looked to have been built in the late 1800's, Keith
noted as he pulled the bus up to the imposing building.
Interestingly enough, that is if the signs mounted on the lower
portion of the facade were any indication, portions of the hotel had
been rented out to local merchants to service the hotel patrons.

Keith suspected that his mother would be opposed to staying
overnight since it meant spending money that they didn't need to
spend. Shirley never liked to spend much more than she had to, lest
they find themselves in a position like they had two years back when
Mr. Partridge had passed away. Besides University (and thanks to
clever ol' mom, there was already a handsome trust-fund alotted for
that purpose), Keith really didn't have all that much to save up for
or spend his money on. He already owned a car, and companies were
always donating things like music equipment and clothing to the
Partridges because it was the best kind of advertising they could
get. So Keith didn't mind footing the bill for the night's
accomodations if it meant his family would be more comfortable.

Quietly, Keith shut off the engine and tiptoed gingerly to the back
of the bus to grab the necessary suitcases. He proceeded to the
courtesy desk and checked his family into two adjoining rooms. The
place had real character to it. Keith discovered that the hotel,
named The Old Appletree Manor, had been erected in 1881 and remained
with the Garrett family who founded the hotel and ran it for as long
as it had been around. The hotel must once have been quite
spectacular; a dream for the 1920's Hollywood set. It had elaborate
wood trim and fixtures which paid tribute to it's former glory. As
it stood, the Manor was immaculate, very elegant, but decidedly
old-fashioned. The lighting was dim and gave Keith the feeling of a
haunted west-coast mansion. It was a shame they were only staying
for one evening. After his music career, Keith intended to study
history and architecture, and this place was a breeding ground of
prime examples for both! He would have enjoyed exploring the aging
building. However, he couldn't stand around thinking about that now.
He had to retrieve the last two necessary suitcases, wake his
sleeping family, and escort them inside.

When Keith returned to the bus he'd forgotten how bitterly cold it
was. The wind whipped ferciously, sending his sweater and hair
billowing. Keith decided it was imperative that he bring the luggage
containing their heavy winter gear insided with him. Inside the bus
all five Partridges remained asleep in the pleasant warmth. Keith
hated to disturb them, but his guilt was alleviated knowing they
would be out of harm's way and more comfortable once inside The Old
Appletree Manor.

The creaking and rattling of the bus doors woke Danny. As per usual,
Danny maintained his composure, not in the least ruffled by their
surroundings. "Why are we stopped, Keith?"

"There's a heavy storm moving in, and I didn't think it was safe to
keep driving," Keith explained.

Danny nodded his understanding and offered to carry the remainder of
the Partridge's pale blue luggage into the lobby. Simultaneously, as
if sharing women's instinct, Shirley and Laurie fluttered their
eyelashes, let out small yawns, and awoke with a subtle start.

Laurie used her long fingers to poorly comb out her tousled hair. In
a thick sleepy voice, she asked, "Keith, where have you taken us?"
She appeared quite uncertain about her brother's navigational skills.

Shirley seemed no more certain. "Keith are we in some kind of
trouble? What is the meaning of all of this?"

Keith chuckled softly to himself and flashed an innocent grin their
way. "Relax, will you? And try to keep it down. Chris and Tracy are
still asleep," Keith whispered.

Shirley looked slightly embarrassed. "Sorry," she said softly. "But
what ARE we doing here? Has the bus broken down? Or-wait a minute!"
Mother Partridge gasped. "Where's Danny?! Oh nothing has happened to
him has it?" Laurie looked on with genuine concern.

"Oh no, nothing like that," Keith assured his mother and sister.
"Danny just took our luggage into the lobby to be picked up. There's
a heavy storm more than on its way. I dolled out some loot for a
pretty decent set of rooms in this old place, and I've decided we'll
spend the night."

"But what about tomorrow's gig?" inquired Laurie.

Keith replied cooly, "With the weather so bad we wouldn't have made
it anywhere near Great Falls anyway. Besides, there's no sense
putting ourselves in that kind of danger. We'll set up camp for the
night and hit the road early tomorrow. Does that sound like a plan?"

Laurie shrugged her shoulders in indifference and then confirmed her
consent with a slow, sleepy nod. Shirley however seemed reluctant.
"So you went and decided this, hmm?"

Keith explained with firm decisiveness, "I've paid the clerk
already, and once Danny has made his imprint on the room I highly
doubt a refund is possible. The arrangements have already been
tended to, so you have the choice of sitting in the bus, which seems
to be growing colder with every passing minute, or you can came
inside with your fabulous children and enjoy all the ammenities this
charming place has to offer." He paused for his mother's response.

"Ammenities? Shirley asked, her curiousity obviously peaked.

"Oh sure mom. This place has got it all. Dining quarters, gift
shops, a game room, a place for ice skating and sledding, and if I'm
not mistaken, I believe there is a spa as well. Come on. What do you
say mom?" Keith cajoled.

Shirley pursed her lips, and admitted, "Well it does sound tempting.
Are you quite sure you don't mind spending the money?"

Keith exhaled out his expectancy while lifting Tracy from the seat
she was sleeping on. "I wouldn't have stopped if I wasn't willing to
spend it." Even Simone, the Partridge Family sheepdog who was just
waking up, seemed to stir with eager anticipation.

"Thanks Honey, I really appreciate this. All right. Laurie, grab
Simone and I'll wake Chris. Keith, are you okay with Tracy?"

"Of course," he answered.

"Then let's go troops!" Shirley commanded in the voice of a stern
army general. And that began the Partridge Family's rather
interesting, event-filled stay at the Old Appletree Manor.


Keith was right. The place DID have a lot to offer, Laurie thought.
While Shirley put Chris back to sleep and snuggled Tracy down into
the double-bed beside him, Laurie and Keith had gone prowling the
grounds. On their walk, Laurie could tell that Keith felt guilty
about leaving their mother behind with the children, so she spoke up.

"Keith?"

"Hmm?"

"Don't worry about mom. She IS well-seasoned you know. After all,
look at how well we turned out," Laurie mused with a smile. Keith
made no move to respond. "That was a joke," she told him. "Chris and
Tracy are both asleep and I'm sure all Danny is doing is sitting on
the bed watching the late show. Mom isn't enduring any kind of
trouble," Laurie reassured.

"What? Oh, sorry, Laurie. I'm glad that you said that about mom, but
that's actually not what's plaguing my mind," Keith replied honestly.

He appeared highly distraught. Things had never been better for the
Partridges, except maybe when their dad had been alive. Still,
Laurie held fast to the thought that her father was up in heaven,
tapping his foot in time with the Partridges unique breed of music.
Laurie knew the death of father Partridge had troubled Keith
immensely; it had understandably affected the entire Partridge clan.
But, well, it had been so long ago that they had all grown
accustomed to living without him.

Yes, all in all, sensitive, young Laurie Partridge was very pleased
with her life. She couldn't think of anything missing in it
except..maybe a little romance? Could Keith be yearning for love? It
would certainly make perfect sense. He was 19 years of age and had
never had a steady girlfriend. Because of the whole rock-star image,
Laurie knew that Keith was often confronted with a lot of beautiful
young women. The only trouble was, most of the girls didn't care to
know who Keith was inside ( ), and they didn't offer the kind of
connection that such an intense and intimate person as Keith most
likely craved. Of course! That must the reason he was so distant and
discouraged lately.

"I think I may know now what your troubles are, dear brother,"
Laurie speculated.

Keith stopped walking and turned to face his sister. He was so out
of sorts, he almost sounded bitter when he asked, "Oh you do, do
you? And just what is wrong with me, Nurse Partridge?"

Laurie turned her back to Keith and said with confidence, "Oh
nothing. Just a deficiency of female companionship perhaps."

Keith was proud that his sister was aware and conscious of people,
their needs, and their feelings, but sometimes, well, it could be a
nuisance. Laurie had the ability to see things in people that they
didn't always want her to know. For Keith, this was one of those
times. He grabbed Laurie by the shoulders and spun her around to
face him. "So what if that's what's bothering me? I mean, could you
blame me? Geez Laurie! I feel so alone!" Keith blurted out.

"You have mom and I," offered Laurie sympathetically.

"I know, I know," Keith said more calmly. "But sometimes there are
feelings and experiences that a guy just can't share with his sister
and mother."

Laurie's heart really went out to Keith. She never knew that he felt
that way. Laurie was only 17 herself, so the desire for love wasn't
as great for her. Or maybe it was, but it had been fulfilled. Laurie
had already had 2 steady boyfriends, and plenty of casual dates in
between. Keith had taken plenty of girls out, but rarely for more
than a date or two apiece. He just never seemed to be able to find a
girl that he took interest in (though the good Lord knows they were
interested in him).

"I'm really sorry, Keith. I wish that I could help. Really, I do,"
she sympathized.

Keith allowed himself a smile. "I know you do. And I appreciate your
concern."

"Besides Keith, love can't be terribly far off. I mean, you're a
real groovy guy. It's obvious that all the girls think so. What you
need is to find someone that YOU think is equally groovy."

"I'm not THAT picky, am I?" Keith joked.

Laurie screwed up her face in thought and wavered her hand from side
to side. "Well, maybe just a wee bit picky. I'm just teasing you.
I've seen some of the girls you've brought home, and quite frankly
I'd be disappointed too."

"Are you inferring I only pick up lousy chicks?" Keith feigned mock
insult.

"Oh knock it off, you fool," scolded Laurie. "Let's get back to mom.
Her motherly-alarm must be going off by now."

"I suppose you're right," Keith agreed. "Though I hate to leave.
Something about this place brings some comfort. I feel like it has
something to offer me." Keith peered around at the thick, gold
flocking that adorned the walls. Dimly lit brass fixtures surrounded
the hotel, and elaborate chandeliers hung precariously from the
vaulted ceiling. It certainly was lovely, even if a little dated.

As they ascended the wide, curving staircase, Laurie pivoted to look
her brother in the eye. "It's refreshing to see you in positive
spirits, Keith. I hope they'll stick around."

"So do I. Come on, Laurie. Let's go meet up with mom. Tomorrow is a
brand new day, and after a good night's sleep I'm sure things will
look much brighter."

Laurie caught her brother's enthusiasm. "Hey, and if we get up early
enough before we hit the road, we can really take a look at the
outdoor splendour," Laurie pointed out.

"True enough," Keith said. "All right sis, let's meet mom."

The two siblings ascended the stairs to the second floor landing. It
stood a good two stories above the lobby. Mahogany rails of ornate,
wood carvings wrapped around the lushly carpeted hall of the
landing. On either side of the rounded upper landing was a stairway
just as the one Keith and Laurie had mounted. Now that they had
reached the top of the massively wide 42-step staircase, the pair
had a spectacular eagle's-eye view of the entire lobby and lower
associate area.

"Oh Keith, look!" Laurie exclaimed. Her finger pointed to the ground
below. The enormous chandelier cast a protective field of gold over
everything it's light touched. Laurie hadn't noticed before, but the
floors were of a rosy marble with dull, gold grout. Mahogany
base-boarding stood a half foot tall and framed the entire canvas.
Why, from up above, the hotel was dated at all, but rather, had a
classic majesticness to it. "Isn't it sensational?" breathed Laurie.

Even Keith looked impressed at the beauty of it all. "It certainly
is. Wow. I could see really cozying up to a fabulous girl at this
old dive. If only..."

"Don't start, Keith. Accentuate the positive," commanded Laurie.

"Ahh, you are one for serenity and pacifism, aren't you? A typically
soothing solution provided by Laurie Partridge," noted Keith.

"Ha ha ha," laughed Laurie dryly. "Glad I could help you, your Royal
Negativeness. Come on you, let's away."


"Did you two get a good look at the hotel?" Shirley Partridge asked
her eldest children. As Laurie had suspected, Chris and Tracy had
long since been asleep. Surprisingly though, Danny hadn't turned in
much later. Shirley was in a thick, cotton nightgown and had thrown
on a royal purple robe in her haste to let Keith and Laurie inside
the room. True to her motherly status, Shirley already had the
suitcases unpacked and the room feeling like home.

"Oh you bet we did. And you wouldn't believe this place! It's so
glamorous," Laurie gushed to her mother.

"It is pretty sensational," admitted Keith. "It would be a far-out
place to visit again sometime when we can take advantage of all the
sights and things to do."

"Yeah, mom. You wouldn't believe the scenery outside in the rear of
the building. The trees and the rolling hills, well, they just make
you want to live in the forest!" Laurie exclaimed, in her customary
breathless way.

"That sounds wonderful, dear. You kids will have to show me around
tomorrow morning," suggested Shirley.

Laurie and Keith exchanged confused glances. "Tomorrow morning?
We'll have to show you are pretty early, mom. The concert is at
8:30p.m. tomorrow. We've got a lot of ground to cover before Great
Falls. Not to mention rehearsal and freshening up," Keith pointed
out to Shirley.

Shirley smiled at her children and crossed her arms. Her filmy
purple sleeves buried her peaches and cream hands as she said,
"Well, how would you feel about staying here for a few more days?"

"Pardon me for sounding dim, but, um, what are you talking about?"
Laurie chuckled. She didn't understand her mother's intent.

She went on to explain to Laurie, "Reuben telephoned. The storm
Keith navigated is here, and it's even worse in Montana. The
audience for the amphitheatre can't possibly make their way to the
building. Even if WE could make it safely, we'd be performing for an
audienceless audience."

"So you mean to tell me that it was actually Reuben's idea to cancel
the performance?"

Shirley nodded.

"And risk losing the money and a captive audience?" Keith asked
incredulously. "The storm must have really hit hard."

"Well hard or soft, it's here, and the performance is cancelled no
matter what the outcome of the weather is tomorrow," said Shirley.

Laurie appeared thoughtful for a moment. "You know, I can't say that
I'm all that disappointed," she admitted. "After all, we have been
awfully busy lately. This will be a groovy mini-vacation for us."

"I'm glad you see it that way. I know that you, and especially Danny
were looking forward to the posh engagment. I suppose we'll just
have to settle for a beautiful, old hotel with ample space and
scenery," Shirley said in a playful tone.

"It really is quite spectacular here. Laurie and I were saying how
much fun it would be to take the kids ice skating on the lake, if
only we had the time. Now we do," Keith mused.

"The lake?" Shirley questioned, her mouth agape.

"Oh sure mom. I'm telling you, this hotel really is tremendous. They
even have the skates to rent right in the gift shop," Keith told his
mother.

The sound of the older Partridges' voices had reached the
ever-observant ears of Danny, whose matted red-mopped head popped up
from his pillow. "I'm going to hold you to that promise of ice
skating, Keith." Obviously he had been listening for a while and was
just waiting for his cue to interject.

Keith smiled at his mother and sister. "Sure thing Danny. First
thing after we've eaten mom's bacon and eggs and Laurie's pancakes,
we'll rent out skates and head straight for the lake," teased Keith
to Shirley and Laurie.

"Oh no, Keith. Didn't you hear Laurie? This is a mini-vacation. I do
not entend to cook. We'll be eating in the hotel restaurant as long
as we're here," Shirley assured her son.

"Yes, yes. I assumed that much to be true. Besides mom, I'd sooner
see myself in an apron preparing breakfast than to have you do it.
You're entitled to a break, and I intend to see that that's just
what you'll get," promised Keith.

"Yeah, and everyone knows that your eggs are runny and Laurie's
pancakes are dry anyway," Danny added.

"Thank you for the encouragement, honey," Shirley said, and then
planted a kiss on Danny's freckled cheek.

"Yeah, we really appreciate your gratitude," Laurie added dryly,
retreating into the bathroom.

"You know Danny, attitude doesn't get older brothers to take their
siblings ice skating," Keith warned. He knew that Danny was only
joking of course about the lousy cooking, but Shirley and Laurie,
especially Shirley, worked so laboriously as far as being domestic
was concerned, that the digs must have hurt a little.

Danny assumed a look of sheepishness and hung his head in a pout.
"I'll be good," he said in a comical child's voice.

"Well then I suppose I could take you and Chris and Tracy out
skating on the lake tomorrow. By the way, do Chris and Tracy know
yet that we're staying for a few days?" Keith wanted to know.

"Yes dear. After I called Reuben to tell him where we were, I gave
him the phone number of this place. Of course, when he called back
to tell me of the storm and cancellation, the phone woke Tracy and
Chris, who were both just itching to talk to Reuben. So, yes, they
found out about our imprisonment then," Shirley told him.

Danny took a serious look upon himself. It was the look he got
whenever he was thinking in terms of dollars and cents. Shirley
could only guess at what was going through her middle son's head.
"The owner, what's-his-name..."

"Garrett. Lloyd Garrett," interjected Shirley.

"Well, Lloyd Garrett should consider himself lucky," Danny stated.

"Why's that?" Keith wanted to know.

"Because," Danny began, "I'll bet we're his first famous guests. It
could give his business a real shot in the arm."

"Danny," yawned mother Partridge, "this is hardly a new business
looking for a boost. I don't think Mr. Garrett is in it for the
money. I think his idea is to carry on the family legacy."

"Besides," Laurie began to add as she emerged from the bathroom in
her two piece night clothes, "People from Vivian Leigh, to Paul
Newman, to the Supremes have stayed here. In fact, we may not be the
only well-known faces in this hotel right now," she finished
mysteriously.

"Oh yeah? Who else is here?" Danny challenged his older sister.
"Captain Kangaroo?"

"No, not Captain Kangaroo," she retorted. "Actually, it's some
dancer."

Danny grinned fopishly, and then got out of bed. He began to do some
ridiculous and provocative dance around his older brother and said
with a sly smile, "Ooh, a dancer, eh? A nice little exotic dancer
for Keith to get to know, maybe?"

"Oh, Danny, please. Do you really think I'd go for that kind of
trip?" wondered Keith aloud.

"I would."

"Yeah, we know YOU would, Danny, but I think by now Keith has
matured past the point of simply wanting sexual fulfillment," Laurie
speculated.

"Could we please shift the focus from my sex life?" pleaded Keith.

Shirley was clearly uncomfortable. "Yes, let's. So what about this
dancer?"

Laurie answered, "Oh, I don't know. Apparently she's from Canada and
she's appeared in the leads in the Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet,
and stuff. The elevator operator told me she rode his elevator this
afternoon, and that's how he knew," Laurie explained. Keith had been
checking out some architectural anomally in the structure of the
hotel at the time.

"Won't Tracy be pleased?" Shirley exclaimed with delight for her
daughter. Tracy loved to watch the ballets whenever they were
televised, and Shirley often thought of signing her youngest
daughter up for lessons. She was a little hesitant though, since
Laurie had danced and quit after a year and a half because she
didn't believe it was 'in keeping with the feminist spirit'.

"A ballerina?" whined Danny. "So she'll be an old hag with her hair
pinned back all severely then. That's no fun for me," he mourned.

"Shows how much you know, beetle-brain. Ballet dancers are in their
prime when they're young. As in not old hag like. Actually, I think
she's my age," Laurie informed them.

"That will be lovely for you dear. Perhaps you and she could make
friends over the course of the next couple of days," suggested
Shirley. "If she isn't too busy dancing, that is."

Laurie nodded at the idea. "As long as her feminist integrity is
more prominent in other facets of her personality, I think that
would be marvelous," forecasted she. "But I was really thinking the
maybe Kei-"

Keith interrupted his sister. "Nevermind Laurie. I'm sure what you
were going to say isn't important since I will be helping mom all
week long," he said tersely. "After all, there are some things that
I share with MOM, and other things that I share with YOU," Keith
said through a grimace.

"What?" Laurie was thoroughly befuddled.

Keith stepped right up to Laurie and advised, "Lay off the love
issue around mom, will you? I don't want to remind her of how lonely
she must be, and she certainly doesn't need the added burden of
worrying about me."

"Ohh, now I see." It was literally like that proverbial light-bulb
had illuminated to shine realisation into Laurie's pretty blue eyes.
"So, that sounds great mom," Laurie said a little louder, stepping
away from her brother. "While Keith and the kids are skating, maybe
I'll seek her out."

"Okay, Laur. But listen, you're not going to be able to greet her,
or anyone around the hotel for that matter, if you don't get some
sleep. It's past 1:00," Shirley informed regretfully. She hated to
see her energetic and growing children not get enough sleep.

Keith spoke up. 'Alright. Laurie, you can sleep with mom, and I'll
move Chris over to Tracy's bed, and share a bed with Danny. The
other bed is in the room through that door." He pointed to the
cream-coloured door that led to the attached suite. Keith leaned in
to plant a kiss on his mother and sister's cheeks to send them to
bed with. "Sweet dreams, ladies," called Keith as they exited
through the door.

Upon their exit, Danny piped up, "Now that the women are gone, it's
just you and me. Let's really get down to manly affairs."

"You mean sleeping? Because that's all I intend to do," Keith told
his little brother sleepily.

"Oh fine. Be the big baby who needs his sleep," Danny said huffily,
while Keith lowered Chris beside Tracy in the next bed.

"Just get into the bed, will you?" Keith asked of Danny, while
rubbing his face with his hands.

"Oh, alright," he agreed reluctantly. When the two brothers were
finally in bed, and Keith had just shut his eyes, Danny whispered
Keith's name.

"Yes, Danny?" he answered, without bothering to open his eyes.

"Are you really not going to go for that ballerina?"

"I haven't even met her. Besides, what difference could that
possibly make?" Keith wanted to know.

"Because if you don't, I will! The way those girls bend? Wow!"
whistled Danny.

"Danny!" Keith groaned, a little louder than he'd intended to.

"Good-night, Keith," Danny giggled.

"Good-night, Danny," an exasperated Keith replied. And for the first
time that day, Keith was able to do what he'd been hoping to do for
a long time. He was finally able to let his mind rest.




The next morning was to be the start of an excitingly busy day for
the Partridge Family. The drive in the storm from the night
preceding seemed to be little more than a distant memory, though it
certainly left evidence of its presence. As Tracy had proclaimed
when she drew back the heavy, ivory drapes, "Golly! It looks like a
sugar factory!" And indeed it did appear that way. There were
mountains of snow everywhere. Not one thing was left untouched by
the glistening powdery substance. The angle at which the sun was
rising caused the surface of the snow to be nearly blinding. It was
this light that woke Tracy from a refreshing slumber.

Tracy was the first to wake, and, excited about being in a new
place, leapt from her bed almost instantaneously. She didn't even
bother to untangle her feet from the hem of her pink, be-ribboned
nightgown, and nearly tripped on her way to the bathroom. Eager to
begin her day, Tracy stood on tiptoe to reach light switch plate of
lacey gold, and promptly began filling her bath.

As she was still considerably young, Tracy took no note of the
opulence of the bathroom in which she stood. The floors, just like
downstairs, were a gleaming marble, however they were pale blue
streaked. The counter was high, and made of marble also, but
coloured in a gold tone to match the elegant gold sink and fixtures.
The toilet was blue porcelain. Tracy did take notice of the matching
bidet, but hadn't the foggiest idea what it was for until Danny
later explained it to her. On either side of the immense mirror hung
two small lamps, both with frosted glass covers. Forget-me-knots
were hand-painted upon them. It seemed the theme at the old hotel
must have been luxury and elegance. It was all so exquisite. Tracy
was surprised when she turned on the faucets for the bathtub and
water began bubbling out several holes in the sides of the tub. She
decided this must be the Jacuzzi Laurie had raved about last night
when she
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dreamboatkaren
Keith's Date
Keith's Date


Joined: 07 Apr 2005
Posts: 460
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:36 pm    Post subject: Haley Ann's Story (second repost) Reply with quote

Okies...looks like that worked! Now for the rest of what she had posted. Hopefully she will get around to finishing it soon!

***************************************************8
When the group of five returned to their suite of rooms, Shirley was
already awake and dressed. "Don't tell me you've skated already,"
she said to her children as they walked through the door.

"We're just heading out actually, but we wanted to bring you some
breakfast first," Keith said, offering his mother the styrofoam
container.

Shirley lifted the lid and inhaled the sweet, steamy aroma of the
breakfast. "Mmm, pancakes, my favourite. That was nice of you."
Shirley beamed at her son.

Keith just smiled sheepishly in return. "Oh mom. Of course I'm going
to bring you breakfast. It's not exactly a saintly act," Keith
replied, pulling at the collar of his light brown suede winter coat.
He produced a pair of brown leather gloves from his coat pocket and
fit his hands into them. "Ready gang?" His siblings nodded and
scurried out the door. "Bye mom." Keith blew his mother a gloved
kiss.

"Have a good time kids," she called after them. Watching them down
the hall, Shirley thought her children resembled movie stars: Keith
dressed so dashingly in his winter attire, his long hair protecting
his neck and ears. Laurie looked very hip in her knee-length scarlet
waist coat with navy mittens and scarf, though she clashed woefully
with Tracy who herself had a deep purple parka with light purple fur
trim. Danny had balked at the green double-breasted suit-like
jacket, likewise Chris at his of powder blue, but Shirley was glad
she had bought them. They were protective against the elements and
very smart looking too. Everyone except Keith had now put on
matching caps of wool as well as mittens and were clearly prepared
for a morning of chilly fun.

Shirley had plans of her own that were somewhat warmer. The hotel
had a lovely giftshop, really more like modified plaza with
independent specialty vendors. Because they were stranded on a
business related excursion, the Partridges, Shirley found out from
Reuben, were to receive a little compensation. That meant that
Shirley had a little bit of extra money. "I'll look for some nice
things for the kids," thought Shirley. "They've been working really
hard lately, really putting their nose to the grindstone. It will be
fun to surprise them with a little something." On that thought,
Shirley speedily demolished her pancakes to begin her morning of
shopping. She jotted a quick note to Laurie and Keith indicating her
whereabouts, locked the door behind her and took the elevator down
to the lobby where the shops were located.

It didn't take Shirley long to navigate her way to the bank of
shops. It was quite easy to find really, "Just past the restaurant
and around the bend," the elevator operator had told her. There were
five shops in all: a small department type store called simply
'Emery's', next to the multi-furnished store to it's right was the
pharmacy, followed by the jeweller's, after which came the sporting
goods and rental store, and lastly the boutique of men's, women's,
and children's fashions. Deciding that the pharmacy was definitely
out as far as gifts for her children were concerned, she found
herself making her way over to 'Emery's' when she was taken with a
pretty little display of ballet merchandise. Since Tracy was
becoming increasingly fixated with the ballet world, it seemed a
sensible place for Shirley to start. The problem was, she realised
as she stood before the corner of the store dedicated to the art,
she knew almost nothing about ballet.

Her moment of uncertainty was quickly resolved when a voice from
behind asked, "Excuse me? Is there something I can help you with?"
Shirley whirled around quickly to face the coy voice.

"Mrs. Partridge!" the voice exclaimed.

Shirley found the languid feminine voice belonged to a young girl
that looked to be about Laurie's age. "Fan or friend?" Shirley joked.

The young girl's smile broadened. "Fan. For now that is." Shirley
noticed that though her lips smiled, her eyes didn't. Her bright
green eyes were far from empty, because they certainly had a soul to
them. No, to Shirley they seemed almost distressed, full of fragile
dreams and robbed of a great deal of hope.

Shirley flashed the jade-eyed girl her friendliest grin. "I'll never
get used to that feeling. People greet me as if they know me and I
feel guilty that I don't know them. I often worry that with all the
people I've met over the last few years, maybe I'm just forgetting
those I already knew!"

The girl giggled. "Well, you needn't worry. We haven't met before."

"Then I'm Shirley Partridge," greeted Shirley, extending her hand
forward.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Partridge. My name is Haley," the
girl returned the greeting. She reached out a slender hand with
well-manicured nails painted frosty pink to shake hands with
Shirley.

"Haley you said? What a pretty name."

A soft blush painted the pale complexion of the girl. "Oh, thank you
Mrs. Partridge."

Once again Shirley smiled in return, but this time more a sad smile.
Haley seemed to feel so undeserving of this small compliment. It
saddened her heart. "You're very welcome. But please, do call me
Shirley," she instructed.

This seemed to please Haley as she asked once again, "Alright then
Shirley, can I help you in any way?"

Shirley screwed up her face. "I hope so. I'm out for a morning of
shopping, moreso for the kids than myself, and I came across this
display. Tracy adores ballet and just the other night I got to
thinking maybe it was time I sign her up for lessons. The only
trouble is, I don't know where to start or what to buy," she
concluded throwing up her hands helplessly.

"That's not an uncommon problem, Mrs. Partridge-"

"Shirley," she reminded the girl.

"I'm sorry. As I was saying, that's not an uncommon problem,
Shirley. When starting out, the things to buy depend on only a few
criteria: age of the dancer, experiece, frequency of the lessons,
and the studio, school or company that she'll be dancing at. Tracy's
seven right now, right?"

"Yes. She'll be eight in June," Shirley confirmed.

"Then she won't need pointe shoes, a blessing for you since next to
the lessons, they are the most costly of the fundamentals,"
explained Haley.

"Pointe shoes? I'm afraid I don't know-"

"Here. Let me show you," offered Haley, while gently guiding Shirley
to the back of the display. "In ballet, dancers work on two types of
shoes. The first," she began while removing a shoe from the display
stand, "is simply a slipper. It's flat footed, made of maleable
leather, and has canvas on the bottom. This is what Tracy would
begin dancing with. You see, she is not experienced enough to be
able to manipulate her foot properly for a pointe shoe, nor is she
old enough to be able to handle it without experience," she
concluded.

Mrs. Partridge took the slipper from the hands of the young girl and
studied it. "Somehow I always thought the shoes that ballet dancers
wore were prettier, though these appear more comfortable than what
you see on television or at performances," Shirley commented.

Haley removed another shoe made of cool pink satin from the shelf
and offered it to Mrs. Partridge to look at it. "You get the best of
both worlds. While the shoes you just looked at are leaps and bounds
more comfortable, the shoes you are now holding are much prettier
and can do wonders for the foot visually."

Shirley thumped her knuckles against the hard end of the shoe. "I
can see why your foot would need to be trained for this kind of
thing. What's in the toe of the shoe?"

Haley plucked a shoe off the rack in her own size and began to
remove her strapped heels. "Actually, believe it or not, it's a
small block of wood. A person's toes are so narrow that one couldn't
stand on their own toes. The wood provides the proper base to
support a person's weight. See?" Haley asked as she rose to the tip
of the shoe.

Mrs. Partridge nodded her understanding. She took another look
around the ballet display and spoke up again. "Okay, so now I know
Tracy doesn't need those shoes just yet."

"Probably not for another three years or so, no," Haley interjected.


"My question is, what does she need then?" wondered Mrs. Partridge
aloud.

Haley proceded to list the essentials that every budding dancer
would need and a few non-essentials for inspiration. She rifled
through the racks to locate body suits for Tracy, one a pale pink
short-sleeve suit with sweetheart neckline and darker pink rosebud
ribbon edging, and the other a more simple and mature style of black
with long sleeves and high cut legs. Shirley agreed that both
choices were sure to please Tracy and added them to her growing pile
of merchandise hand-selected by a very helpful Haley.

Haley began sharing information with Mrs. Partridge about how to
begin a lifestyle as a dancer and about the ballet schools in San
Pueblo. Coincidentally, while Shirley Partridge and she were
discussing ballet, from the speaker overhead they heard the DJ
announce the next song, 'God Bless You Girl', a recent hit for the
Partridge Family. The next thing they heard was Keith's pure voice
croon the first lines of the song. Absentmindedly, Haley sang along
softly with the radio voice of Keith Partridge while searching for
leg warmer's in Tracy's size.

"Say, if I didn't have my hands full with the five I've already got,
I'd say you could be the next Partridge," Shirley joked.

Haley snapped out of her daydream, legwarmers in hand, and looked
like a frightened kitten for a moment. Shirley felt badly for saying
anything until Haley's face broke into an honest smile. "Oh, I'm
sorry Mrs. Partridge. Most people are surprised because they assume
that I would be interested in much deeper, heavier music, you know?
Classical and such? It's just that when I hear that great voice of
Keith's, well, I can't help but sing along I guess." She paused
before adding, "That should do it. Your daughter should be well
prepared with what we have here."

Shirley nodded and reached out to place a warm hand on Haley's
shoulder gratefully. She noticed it was a little bony by her
standards. "Thank you so much for all your help. Clearly I would
have been lost without your assistance. I'll be sure to tell Tracy
of your help."

"It was my pleasure. I only wish I could have met the rest of your
family. Good luck with those purchases. Maybe I'll see you around
the hotel sometime." Either it had suddenly become warmer in the
room or Haley was a little in awe. A subtle blush stained her cheeks
at the thought of meeting the family. "Mrs. Partridge, if I may?"
Haley stepped forward and gave Shirley a quick hug. "Have a
wonderful day." And with that, Haley exited 'Emery's' leaving a very
confused Shirley Partridge at the counter being served by someone
else.

"Excuse me, but does that young lady I was speaking to work here by
any chance?" Mrs. Partridge asked the older woman now serving her.

"Haley Edgar? I dare say not. Did you find everything you were
looking for?" enquired the saleswoman.

Shirley looked after Haley who was now more than halfway across the
lobby, then returned her gaze to the cashier. "Er, yes, thank you.
This will be all." How odd, thought Shirley, that the saleswoman
knew her name, yet Haley didn't even work there, and furthermore,
she was so helpful. It took all kinds she supposed and continued in
her shopping pursuits.



While Mrs. Partridge was busy touring the rest of the stores, her
five energetic children were busy touring the lake. The parted
clouds, which allowed the sunshine to pass, did nothing to ease the
bitter cold. It was absolutely frigid outside, no warmer than -20
for certain, and yet the Partridges were having a marvelous time.
The ice on the lake was like absolute glass, perfect for the freshly
sharpened blades on the rented skates to cut into. Each snow flake
that fell felt like a chip of ice on the faces on the kids, but the
sensation of gliding freely across the lake was so liberating that
none of them wanted to stop. Laurie and Tracy clung to one another's
hands, spinning and twisting, each trying to best the other by
showing more grace, creativity, or technical prowess. Danny, who was
usually all business, was speeding around the perimeter of the slick
surface having the time of his life. As Tracy had anticipated, Chris
was working on his slapshot, with Keith giving him pointers as best
he could. The quintet were all thoroughly contented and relaxed.

"Keith! Hey Keith!" Tracy called to her brother. "Watch me!" Keith
turned his attention to his youngest sister to see what she had to
show. Laurie took Tracy by one hand and began spinning her around.
Her speed increased with every rotation. When she stopped, Tracy
turned to Keith for his reaction.

"You're a star! What flair and grace you have. I'm impressed," Keith
told his sister with pride. He really was impressed seeing as Tracy
had just recently learned how to skate.

"I know what you mean. I just can't hold a candle to this twirling
beauty," Laurie agreed.

"Hmm," muttered Keith. He hadn't really heard much of what Laurie
said, for he was looking at a twirling beauty of another kind. Down
at the far end of the very small lake, a girl stood on her toes,
whipping around furiously, every so often executing great control of
her legs as she manipulated them this way and that. Despite the
mind-numbing cold, the girl had on only ear muffs, fur leg warmers,
a fitted fur coat and gloves over what appeared to be a flimsy red
leotard. Her spinning ceased and she proceeded into a series of
delicate steps.

"Hey! That must be that ballerina that the elevator operator told me
about. Think we should go over and say 'hi'?" Laurie asked, turning
towards Keith.

"Oh Keith! I wanna go see the ballerina!" voiced Tracy from behind
him.

"Don't you think it would be a litte strange if the five of us just
went over there and struck up a conversation? Don't you think it
would be a bit of a bombardment?" expressed Keith with concern.

Laurie raised an eyebrow to her brother. "Would you stop being so
concerned with how you're going to be perceived and just act?"

"Chris and Danny wouldn't be interested in meeting her anyway,"
Tracy piped up.

"She does have a point there, Keith. Let's just go over," suggested
Laurie.

Keith shrugged his shoulders and simply said, "Fine. Whatever makes
you girls happy." He and Laurie started slowly in the direction of
the dancer while Tracy skated speedily ahead.

"I wonder what mom is up to right now," Laurie wondered aloud.
Before Keith had a chance to voice any speculations, an ominous
groan seemed to rise from under their feet. "What on earth?"

"Laurie! The ice!" Keith screamed. "There must be a fault in it
somewhere. Tracy! Slowly make your way off of the ice!" he shouted
after her. It was a lost cause. She was too far ahead to hear what
Keith was saying.

Laurie's eyes blazed with trepidation. "How can there be any
weakness in the ice when it's this cold?"

Keith explained through an aggitated voice, "It's only been this
cold for twenty-four hours or so. It must take a lot longer than
that to fully freeze a body of water this size, even if it is
relatively small. We've got to get to her."

The groan grew louder and in a flash become a deafening cracking
sound, not unlike a stern teacher cracking a yard stick over a desk.
The dancer quickly stopped dancing and by the expression on her face
was quite aware of the impending danger. "Oh God! Tracy!" Keith
cried frantically. He quickend his strides, all the while silently
pleading for her safety.

One final crack sounded and was followed by an unexpected splash as
Tracy's heavily clad body slipped beneath the icy waters.

"Keith! Why isn't she resurfacing?" Laurie shrieked in hysteria. The
pair was still a good one hundred yards from where Tracy and her
frigid tomb lay. "She knows how to swim!"

"That's not the problem Laurie," Keith yelled over his shoulder.
"Her winter gear and skates must be weighing her down so that she
can't fight her way up. The water is likely so cold that it's
causing her lungs to constrict and she's losing strength."

Laurie began sobbing when she heard that. In fact, she collapsed in
a frenzied heap on the ice. It's probably better that she stay there
anyway, Keith thought to himself. No sense carrying more weight over
to the weakened ice. In a panic, he worried he would never make it
in time.

When the young girl at the end of the lake realised the severity of
the situation, it took her no more than two beats of a heart to make
a decision. To Keith's surprise, she removed her jacket, leg
warmers, and shoes until she was left wearing nothing but her red
pantyhose, leotard, earmuffs and gloves. Without a moment's
hesitation, she inhaled deeply and dove swiftly into the black
waters after Tracy.

Fearful that now two lives were in danger, Keith poured on extra
speed he didn't know he had as he drew frightfully close to the
water's edge. He didn't see either the dancer or Tracy when he
finally reached the damning hole in the ice.

"Get her! Get her!" a hysterical Laurie screeched from behind.

Of course I'm going to get her, Keith thought. Does Laurie have no
faith in me? Keith kicked off his skates at the same time he reached
to unbutton his coat. As he reached the last button, miracles of
miracles, the girl surfaced with Tracy clutched under her arm.
Obviously vetoing his decision to jump in after her, Keith knelt
down and reached for his precious sister. She was still breathing,
but laboriously. Her face was waxy, so unreal looking.

"Use my furs!" the girl instructed from her place in the water.
Keith nodded, peeling Tracy's drenched clothes from her lifeless
body. Thank God that girl was here or we may have - wait a minute!
The girl! She was still in the water, Keith realised. By now Laurie
had reached Keith's side.

"Get the rest of her clothing off, Laurie. Put my skates on her and
use my scarf to wrap around any parts that don't get covered by the
furs over there," Keith instructed, pointing to the discarded jacket
and leg warmers of fur left behind.

"Okay," she responded shakily.

As Keith lowered himself once again to the water's edge, he prepared
the lift the young woman out of the water. She clutched his neck
with icy fingers as he hoisted her slight weight from the ebony
abyss. Placing one arm under her legs and the other around her
shoulder, Keith realised they had a new problem. This girl had
nothing on but leotards and she was absolutely soaked. The air was
so cold it stung Keith's skin even through his warm, dry clothes.

"Where are your brothers?" the ballerina gasped from Keith's arms.

Chris and Danny! Of course! Keith called his brother's over, who, up
until that point, were unaware of the looming dangers. He asked them
to remove what they could to help clothe the girl and they complied.

"Is Tracy okay?" the girl asked through tears.

Keith looked over at Tracy whose eyes were now open and whose
breathing had returned to normal, thanks to the nurses training
Laurie had in school. Even some of her colour had been restored,
which was a promising sign.

"Yes. She's going to be fine. How about you? Are you alright?"
questioned Keith, looking into the girl's green eyes. They seemed to
stand out like emerald's in a mine against her now blue skin. Her
legs must have been blue to for beneath her sheer red pantyhose,
they looked purple.

She nodded quickly in response. She didn't look alright. Every part
of her was greyish-blue, including her lips. It was as if her teeth
were set in a permanent chatter. In fact, she looked worse off than
Tracy who had been submerged longer.

"Chris, grab her shoes and put them on her feet. Danny, finish
wrapping what you can and then put my jacket around...?" Keith
searched for a name.

"Haley. Haley Edgar," she squeaked from his arms.

"Okay then, Haley. Finsih wrapping what you can around Haley.
Laurie, cover Tracy's feet with the ends of the leg warmers; they
have plenty of extra length for her short legs. I need my skates
back. Danny and Chris, help Laurie with Tracy while I carry Haley to
the infirmary. Follow me closely behind and make your way to the
infirmary as quickly as you can," Keith commanded decisively. As
soon as he had his skates on his feet, Keith announced, "Time to
head out. Don't bother with our boots. We'll come back to the
shoreline and get them later."

With that, six very cold, very frightened young people made their
way across the snowy bank towards the hotel infirmary. They could
only imagine what Shirley Partridge would have to say about it.
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