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Wake the Hollow

Chapter Seven

“…the more bashful country bumpkins hung sheepishly back, envying his superior elegance and address.”

Turns out I have a rotating block schedule, so it’s three classes one day, then three the next. Rinse and repeat. So I have to wait until Wednesday to have American Literature again.

On Wednesday, I watch Dane from my seat behind Bram. I’m beginning to internalize things about him, like the length of his loose blond hair and the way he nods every time Dr. Tanner says something. The way he scans everything going on in the room when he thinks nobody is watching him, and the way he covers his mouth with his fist when he’s listening.

I have to say, even if my dad wasn’t making me stay in school while visiting Sleepy Hollow, I’d probably attend anyway, just to watch him. He’s completely fascinating. However, I’m careful. Every time Bram looks back to see what I’m doing, I pretend to be absorbed by my literature book. I know we’re not together, but something definitely simmers just underneath his surface.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I’m handing it over to Mr. Boracich for the start of the new unit,” Doc Tanner says, putting up his feet on a plastic chair.

Dane stands at the front of the class, and he and Doc Tanner fall into a deep discussion over something, as though agreeing first on the material to be presented.

Dane claps once to get everyone’s attention. “All right everybody, here’s my big debut.” Chuckles echo throughout the room. “I’d like to begin by asking…how many of you have secrets?” He raises his hand to get us to do the same.

Half the room raises theirs. I don’t, even though I have plenty of dreams, visions, and voices nobody knows about.

“Right, most of us do.” Dane paces around slowly. “But would you ever tell anyone your secret?” Quiet laughter and hell no’s resound. “No, because then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, right? But what if you were a writer—any writers in the room?” He raises his hand suggestively again. A few lift into the air.

Aside from a research paper I wrote last year, I’m not much of a writer.

“Well, what if you were compelled to write everything down? Whether for posterity or because you’re just cursed with the need to record every thought, emotion, plan you’ve ever had? Would that be a great testament to your existence, or would that be…say…shooting yourself in the foot?”

“Shooting yourself in the foot,” Bram offers, eliciting chuckles around the room.

 “Could be.” Dane holds eye contact with Bram for what feels like an eternity. “And that’s why primary documents—journals, birth certificates, notes, letters—are so important to historians. Because long after we’re dead, everyone will read them and know more about us. Especially the dirt.”

Bram taps his pen on the desk repeatedly. I nudge his shoulder to get him to stop.

Dane goes on. “It’s interesting to discover that people we regarded so highly were just like you and me, people who made mistakes.”

“I never make mistakes,” Bram mumbles, and his buddies erupt in laughter.

Ugh. Bram is in a dork mood. “Let the man speak,” I whisper.

“Of course not, Bram. Not you.” Dane grins.

Muffled oohs resound around the room. I want to hide under a rock.

Dane uncaps a marker and writes two names on the board. All the awkwardness suddenly melts away, replaced by the sound of scribbling pencils:

Washington Irving & Mary Shelley

“So when we find out more than basic facts about a person, like where they lived, when they were born, what books they published, you start getting clues, and these clues make you wonder where the truth really lies.”

I’ve seen those two names together before, but it’s all suspect. What does Dane think he knows about it? A hand goes up in the front. “Who’s Mary Shelley?”

Seriously? Come on, people.

Dane holds his arms out. “Anyone want to answer that?” Nobody raises their hand. I want to, but I’m scared of looking like the teacher’s pet. “Nobody knows this author’s most famous piece of Gothic romantic literature?”

“Micaela knows,” Bram declares.

I almost smack him over the head with my binder. “Instigator.”

Bram snickers.

“Micaela?” Dane raises his eyebrows at me.

“Frankenstein,” I say. I can’t believe nobody else knew that.

“Correct.” He smiles.

Natalee raises her hand. “I thought the author of Frankenstein was British, but isn’t this American Literature?”

“She was, very good. But Irving was barely American himself, for all the time he spent on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The reason I wrote their names up there is because a lot of people believe that these two…” He gestures to both names with his dry-erase marker. “Were hooking up.”

Giggles erupt through the room. One guy loudly yells, “Yeah!”

I’ve heard of this, but it’s pure rumor. Behind Bram, I mutter to myself. “Shelley wanted Irving to want her. I’d hardly call that hooking up.” I heard my mother talk about this to guests at Sunnyside before. Irving and Shelley were briefly a couple after her husband died—the famous poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley—but the romance lasted less than a year and didn’t really amount to anything. He must be bringing this up because it’s October and fun to think about.

“Can you imagine if these two would’ve married and had kids?” Dane raises an eyebrow. “Two major celebrities having a baby. Not that different from today’s famous stars getting together.”

Natalee raises her hand again. “But Irving never had children. Didn’t his fiancée die when he was like nineteen?” Ding, ding, ding! Go, Natalee!

“Yes, but he could’ve been with another woman after that,” Dane says, and a few guys chuckle knowingly. “I’m not saying they did have a child. I’m saying if they did, that child would’ve been a famous kid back then.”

“My mom said he was probably gay,” Natalee adds. “Never married, never had kids…”

“…Was a world traveler, yes, I’ve heard those, too.” Dane sits on the edge of the desk. “And it could be true. But he still could’ve had a child. Many gay men in the nineteenth century were fathers and husbands. Things weren’t as out in the open then as they are now.”

Everyone’s taking notes while I just sit back. I don’t know. I don’t buy it.

“But as I discussed with some of you…” His eyes land squarely on me now. “Irving wrote everything down. His diaries were extremely detailed. Miss Burgos, why don’t you tell them? You’ve had an interesting perspective considering where you spent a lot of time growing up.”

Ground, swallow me.The stares at me range from envy to genuine curiosity. If anyone had missed the return of Micaela Burgos earlier this week, they definitely caught it now. I clear my throat. “You pretty much hit on everything. But um…he wrote about things like music and language lessons, the friends who came to call each day, what he ate for supper…daily, boring stuff like that.”

“Everything, exactly. Thanks.” He uncaps his marker again and writes on the board: 1825–1826. “Yet the year he spent with Ms. Shelley went undocumented. Only his recorded meals and visits with fellow authors take precedence during this time. No details about their relationship.”

All is quiet, except for Bram, who nervously taps his foot against the floor.

“Odd, right?” Dane cocks his head. “That Irving should so deliberately skip over the time he spent with Ms. Shelley? But then, the years that followed while he was in Spain spoke vaguely of something he brought with him from London. The double creation, he wrote.” Dane pauses for huge dramatic effect. “Twins maybe?”

What? Oh my God, please, Dane, this is so silly. I never read anything about Irving bringing something from London, double creations, or any babies for that matter. What would make him say something like that?

Bram raises his hand. “Wouldn’t people have known if she was pregnant with twins? That’s not exactly easy to hide.”

Dane shrugs. “Depends. If you were Mary Shelley, a woman shunned by a society that already hated her, who spent all her time trying to have her husband’s works posthumously published, living with her only surviving child in a run-down apartment because she wasn’t making any cash from her books—not really. She wasn’t in the limelight like Irving was. In fact, she was considered crazy and a leech to rich and famous Washington Irving. Not the type of woman he would ever mention in his journal. I mean, God forbid anyone reads the embarrassing stuff about him.” He pauses. “Would you record it?”

“I wouldn’t write anything,” Eric says.

“But Irving couldn’t help it,” Dane says. “He left a paper trail everywhere he went, which means that somewhere, he must have written about his involvement with this young woman who was only nineteen when she wrote her most famous novel. And it’d be interesting to imagine what happened between them. I mean, we’re talking the authors of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and Frankenstein having a romance together. That’s pretty freakin’ cool.”

The class laughs, while I keep my eyes down before he calls on me again.

“Two legendary characters of Gothic and postGothic literature, the brainchildren of two amazing people,” he says, his words lingering in silence. Doc Tanner is taking mental notes of all our reactions. “Anyway, just something you all might not have known about your town hero.”

Bram leans back and stretches. “That would be one awesome monster movie right there. Spawn of the Headless Horseman and Frankenstein! Grrr!”

I roll my eyes. “They’re both boys, stupid.”

Our eyes meet, and he gives me a mock shocked look. “Stupid, huh?”

How incredible would it be to prove Dane’s theory correct? The truth is, nobody will ever know. Any diaries of Irving’s not housed at the various universities around the country are at the Historic Hudson Library, the Engers’ library. And my mother read them all. She would’ve known about any kids the two authors might’ve had, and she didn’t.

Dr. Tanner discusses something with Dane, but I can’t hear them since the rest of the class is talking about Bram’s suggested new horror movie. In the midst of this, Dane looks over at me protectively, as if I’m surrounded by wolves.

As crazy as this idea sounds, I’m liking Dane Boracich for his creative theory. Dane and I are so much alike. He’s a mature man of Harvard, whereas I’ve applied to Yale, and he knows his history of literature, and I’m going to study literature as a precursor for law school. And lastly, whenever he’s around, he watches me like a hawk.

Which is sexy, albeit borderline stalker-ish.

But strangely reassuring.

And nothing to do with being two peas in a pod. But I like it.

Wake the Hollow
by by Gaby Triana

  • Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Fiction
  • paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Entangled: Teen
  • ISBN-10: 1633753514
  • ISBN-13: 9781633753518