A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The Virgin Lip Club
by Kyrstie Neely (Jan 2007)

Present Day - Chicago

The sign with the picture of the hospital pointed to the left, and a few minutes later, I pulled into the St. Augustine Hospital.  I took a deep breath as I entered the building.

“Excuse me, “ I asked a candy-striper,  “can you tell me where the terminal cancer patients are?”

“That’s floor seven.  When you get there, go through the doors on your right,” she informed me.  I thanked her and walked toward the elevators.

I knocked on the door of Room 117, and then, after hearing a soft “come in,” I entered.

“Sara, is that you?” my Grandma asked.

I smiled while fighting back tears. “Yeah, Grandma, it’s me.”  I watched her put down her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, and open her arms to hold me.  I bent over her bed and hugged her.

“I’ve missed you so much, Dear,” she whispered in my ear.

“I’ve missed you, too.  How are you feeling?”

She furrowed her brow.  “Oh, honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  I’m old, I’ve raised a family, I’ve had a good life, and it’s my time.  It really is that simple.”

I smiled at her.  She had always been the one I ran to when I was in trouble.  You could always count on her to be honest.

“Grandma, will you tell me a story?” I asked, feeling like a child again.

She thought for a moment, and then nodded.  “I don’t think I’ve told you this one.” Then, as an afterthought she added, “ Plus, I won’t be around to tell your children this one, so I’m depending on you to tell them.” I nodded, and she began to tell me the story.

August 19, 1946 - Kitty Topper’s Room, Bloomington, Indiana


“Let’s start a club,” Lucy suggested.  Sara, Kitty, and I were all sitting cross-legged on Kitty’s bed.  The school year hadn’t started yet, and summer had lost its charm.  We thought we were going to die of boredom.

Kitty looked up from painting her nails.  “What kind of club?”

We sat in silence for a minute, and then Sara yelled, “ The Virgin Lip Club.” We all looked at each other and started to giggle.

After much discussion, we decided it was a good idea.  None of us had ever kissed a boy, and we knew many of the other girls hadn’t either. We opened it to any girl who still had “virgin lips” and, like us, were in ninth grade and fifteen.

We took over the old shed in Kitty’s back yard and called it our clubhouse.  We hung up old scraps of fabric from our mothers’ sewing boxes to hang over the windows and used boxes from behind the Piggly-Wiggly as our chairs and tables.

A week later, when school started, we passed around a sheet for girls to sign up for the club.  “Eleven girls, fifteen if you count us,” I announced to my friends.

“Good. Let’s hold meetings the first Thursday of every month,” said Kitty.

Sara asked, “Why the first Thursday?”

“Because,” Kitty replied with a dramatic sigh, “that’s when my dad works late, and my mom has her quilting circle.”

It was our first meeting, and Lucy was in charge.  “Okay, now that everyone is here,” Lucy yelled over all the girls’ chatter, “Let’s begin our meeting.” She began by handing out paper and pencils. “Write down who you like and then we’ll read them out loud,”

I raised my hand.  “What if you don’t like anyone?”

“Elizabeth Anne Collins, I know who you like.  So don’t even try to lie to me,” Lucy bossed me.  I wrote down a boy’s name.

Lucy began reading everyone’s crushes out loud.  I was a little nervous, because nobody had said the same boy that I had.  Sure, that meant no competition, but what if nobody thought he was a good guy to like?

Lucy’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “Elizabeth likes…,” she paused for dramatic effect, “Gabe Harris.” I could feel my face turning scarlet, and I tried to hide my face by swinging my blonde curls over my brown eyes and usually fair skin.

“Why do you like him?” Mary Jean asked, her voice full of contempt.  “His family has no money, if you can call what he has a family.  His mother ran off, so that tells you something about him.  He’s nothing, especially compared to your family.”

I stood up. But before I could say anything Sara grabbed my arm and said, “Money isn’t everything, Mary Jean.”

A few minutes later I turned to Sara, “Thank you.”

“I really get tired of her treating others like they’re nothing.  She has no respect for anyone.  Gabe is kind and good.” She smiled slyly, “He’s also very cute.”

It was true.  Gabe was kind to those who were mean, and he was cute.  He was tall, tan, blonde, and had blue eyes.  He also had freckles that ran across his nose during the summertime.

Later, Sara and I walked home together.  We stopped to look at an advertisement on one of the telephone poles.  It was for a traveling circus that was coming to town. When we reached the intersection where we would go our separate ways, I turned to Sara and hugged her.

On my way home I passed the library. Walking on the sidewalk towards me was a figure I couldn’t distinguish.  It took me a minute, but I finally realized whom it was.  It was Gabe.  I straightened my back and held my head high. As I walked toward him, I tripped and luckily fell into Gabe’s arms.

“Are you okay?” he asked.  I looked up and saw that his eyes were full of concern.

“Yes, I’m fine, thank you.” I stood up and fixed my dress. There was an awkward silence.

He looked at me. “Maybe I should walk you home. You know, to make sure you get there all right.”

We walked in silence toward my house.  When we reached my front gate, Gabe said, “Elizabeth, would you maybe like to go to the circus with me next week?” Even in the dark I could tell he was blushing.  I agreed, then went inside.

The next day I told Sara, “I don’t know what to wear.”

Sara smiled and said, “I’ll help you. You can wear that blue dress your mom made, and I’ll do your hair.” She pulled my hair into a ponytail and then flipped it through itself. It was amazing, and I looked beautiful.

Gabe and I had agreed to meet at the library at seven.  At six-forty five, I went into the living room to get my coat.

“Little Miss, just where do you think you’re going?” my Father asked me. 

I was startled, “I’m going to the circus.”

He got out of his chair, newspaper in hand.  “With who?”

“Um, a boy, Gabe Harris,” I smiled. “He asked me to go with him.”

My dad stared at me.  “No, go back to your room.”

“Daddy, why?” I asked, confused and upset.

“Some people aren’t meant to be together,” and with that he left the room.

I angrily stomped off to my room and slammed the door.  From a distance, I heard my Mother’s voice, “Elizabeth Anne, don’t slam doors.”

I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath.  I pulled down the covers of my bed and stacked my pillows in a line, then pulled the covers back over it.  If my parents came in to check on me, they’d think I was already in bed. I then snuck out my bedroom window.

Gabe and I were holding hands on the way back to my house.  “Elizabeth, I had a really great time with you,” he said uneasily. 

“Me, too.” I agreed.  I paused, “ Does this mean we’re going together?”

“Okay,” was all he said.

For the next two months, we snuck out to see each other.  I spent almost all my time with him.  We hadn’t kissed yet, but I knew we would soon.  I found myself wanting to and not wanting to.  If we kissed, I’d have to leave the club, but I loved him. 

“Elizabeth,” my Dad said one evening, as I walked in the door. “Sit down.”

I sat in the chair by the window, across from my parents. “What is going on?”

I could tell from the grim looks on my parent’s faces, this wasn’t going to be pretty.  “We think that you’re not concentrating enough on your school work. You seem distracted.” He looked at me.  “We’re sending you to a boarding school in Boston.


May 19, 1947 - Boston


The girls at the Boston Academy for Girls were nice enough, but I didn’t make friends.  I was too sad to put forth any effort towards a social life.  I didn’t do anything extra-curricular.  I studied my schoolwork, ate, and slept.   I tried to keep myself occupied by reading Jane Austin.  I wrote a few letters to Gabe but soon lost contact.

It was May and that meant I would soon return home.  My roommate Lena walked in with the mail.  “Elizabeth, do you know a Mr. Harris?” Lena asked.

I jumped off my bed and snatched the letter out of her grasp.  I yelled a thank you as I ran out of the room and down the steep stairs.  I went outside and sat underneath my favorite tree.  I turned the letter over and opened it.  It read:


My dearest Elizabeth,


I’m sorry I haven’t written lately.  I’ve been busy working at a store in Chicago.  I know, can you believe it; I‘m living in a huge city and doing great?

Sara wants me to tell you that she misses you and can’t wait to see you.  I must admit that I feel the same way.  I don’t know how we’ll get to see each other. Just know that I love you.




June 4, 1947 - Bloomington, Indiana


“Sweetheart, how are you?” my Mother asked on the way home.  I told them I was fine and that I loved Boston.   They kept going on about how much I had changed.   I didn’t see any difference.   Sure, my hair was longer, I was taller, and a year older, too, but I was still the same person.

After I unpacked, I decided to go to the library.   I sat by a window and reread Pride and Prejudice, for what had to be the fifth time.   I looked out the window and saw a familiar figure reading a book. I walked outside and quietly sneaked up behind him.

“Gabe!“ I shouted as I grabbed him.  His astonished face made me giggle. He stood up, smiled, and kissed me square on the lips. I hugged him and kissed him back.  

Unfortunately for us, the Piggly-Wiggly was across the street, and that is where my Mother was grocery shopping.

I heard my Mother’s voice call my name, “Elizabeth Ann Collins.” 

“Sorry, I love you,” I said to Gabe as I ran toward my Mother. Once at home, I got the tongue lashing of my life.

“How could you completely disobey us, Elizabeth?”  My Father asked, while my Mother looked sternly at me.  I looked down and shook my head.  “Go to your room. You’re grounded.” 

On July 4th, they agreed to let me go to the town social.  Sara found me immediately and dragged me off toward the duck pond.  “Gabe is dying without you,” Sara whispered in my ear.  “He also asked me to give you this note.”  It was short and to the point.  He wanted to meet and runaway together. 

“Sara, what do I do?”  I asked. 

She smiled mischievously, “I think that you should spend the night at my house and tomorrow morning meet him at the library.” 

I smiled, “Okay.”

I packed as much as I could into my overnight bag.  I grabbed my pillow and blanket and headed over to Sara’s house.

“Bye, Honey, have a good time,” my Mother called after me. I turned around, blew a kiss to my parents, and yelled good-bye.

I spent the evening and that night at Sara’s.

“Elizabeth, wake up,” Sara said.  I sat up and looked around. 

“What time is it?” I asked groggily. 

“Five-thirty, you’re supposed to be there in ten minutes.”

I got up and started to get ready.  On my way out, Sara pushed a ring into my hand.  “You deserve a ring.”  I hugged her and thanked her for everything.  Two days later a judge married us.  We moved to Chicago and lived in an apartment. 

Present Day - Chicago

There was a knock at the door, and a nurse came in to change the towels in the bathroom.  My Grandma paused, “You know the rest, Sara.”

“Thank you,” I said as I reached into my purse and held out the small diamond ring for her to see.  “His name is Colby.  We started dating last month.  I know I’m only twenty, but I love him.  We got married yesterday.”

She smiled and said, “I know.”

I was shocked and confused.  She wasn’t at all mad at me, like my parents.  “I told you this story for a reason, Honey.”

As if on cue the door into Grandma’s room opened, and my husband entered.   I stood up, and he kissed my forehead.  Then my Grandma said, “I think you two will be just fine.”

Site Map

HOME           ShortStories           Essays           Poems         Websites      

Meetings         Comments         ContactUs         Members

This is the website of the Red Dirt Writers Society.
Revised January 2007.