Running Down a Dream - First 700 Words (or so)

Okay, so I lied. You got a problem with that? ;-)

Very brief synopsis: The year is 1974 (before the whole Watergate thing). Rita Fuentes is on the phone, trying to find out something from the woman on the other side of the receiver. Will it be good news, for a change, or will her search be at an end?


Rita Fuentes paced around the kitchen table until she was sure she'd leave a groove in the linoleum floor. Biting her nails, she waited for the woman on the other end of the phone to talk again. Tell me you've found me, she thought.

"Sorry," the genealogist said. "Just another minute."

Rita clenched her teeth when she heard a thump. "That's right, put the phone down," she said. She stopped at one of the kitchen chairs, turning her gaze to the nearest wall. What was her mother thinking when she put up that bright green and orange wallpaper?

"I guess Margaret has to make sure one part of the house fits in with what passes for decorating." Fitting in. For seven long years, since the hippies' Summer of Love, she'd wondered where she fit in.

"Thanks for holding, Mrs. Fuentes."

Rita held her breath.

"Unfortunately, I can't find anyone in Los Angeles with that last name who had a baby named Rita on September 28, 1942."

Rita blinked, but tears already pricked her eyes. "Adoption records?"

"Most adoption records aren't available to the public, Mrs. Fuentes."

Rita's shoulders drooped. Seven years wasted. Margaret's long ago search failed, so why did she think she could succeed where her mother had not? Because she contacted a professional genealogist? That was another thing. Why had the genealogist taken her on? For money? She breathed in and out several times, determined to control her anger; too much misery had come after she'd lost control. "I see," were the only words that came to mind.

"If you remember," said the genealogist, "I didn't promise anything. I told you I didn't want your money, but you sent me a check anyway."

"But, but--"

"Adoption records are sealed, remember?" the genealogist continued. Rita could almost feel nails being driven into her skin. "I'm really sorry. When you told me your mother said Rita was your name at birth...well, I've heard that before. I need something concrete that proves what your mother told you."

Pulling a chair from the kitchen table, Rita bit her lower lip as it screeched across the floor like chalk across a blackboard. "The newspaper picture doesn't help?"

The genealogist sighed. "If you'd given me a birth announcement...I'm sorry, but I couldn't help you even if I had access to those computers NASA used on the Apollo missions."

Rita stared at the blank sheet of paper on the table.

"Mrs. Fuentes," said the genealogist, "I took you on because I'm adopted. I know I shouldn't have; I've gotten in trouble with this before, but you sounded desperate. By the way, I haven't cashed your check."

Desperate? Rita thought. Damn, yeah. "Could you just rip it up?"

"Not a problem."

"Thanks," Rita said, massaging her forehead. She had one more idea. "Couldn't you get a list of all the Ritas born in September of 1942 in, say, San Francisco?"

The genealogist chuckled. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh at that. I just remember my son wanting to go to San Francisco back in sixty-nine because it was such a 'groovy' place, whatever that means. Anyway, now you're scattering your resources like buckshot--"

"But could you come up with something?" Rita wrapped and unwrapped the phone cord around her finger.

"Like I was saying, you're scattering your resources like buckshot, hoping to hit something. Mrs. Fuentes, please, please listen. It can't be done that way, not with adoptees. And how do you know you were born in California? Maybe you were born in New York, and your mother brought you back just in time to have her picture snapped."

Or here in New Jersey, Rita thought, nodding. Her lower lip trembled, as she knew in her heart the woman was right. "Now what?"

"It's not much, but I'll give you the phone number and address of an adoptees organization called ALMA."

More numbers and addresses, Rita thought, sighing. "What's ALMA?"

"The Adoptee's Liberty Movement Association, which I think started in 1971, out of New York City. They probably won't be able to help you anymore than I have, but maybe they have access to resources I don't."

Probably. Maybe. The same regurgitated words. And a few years too late. "Sure," Rita said. She picked up her pencil as if she were lifting a tree trunk. Dutifully, she scribbled the address and phone number and thanked the genealogist for her help.

Rita's young daughter, Natalie, comes in to try to cheer her up, and to egg her on to keep at it. They get into a discussion about Japanese things (purses, called nerukes, and certain statues of Japanese gods); that part will serve as a foreshadowing of certain later events...

I'm unsure if this beginning will stand, but I'm going with it for now.

Hope you enjoyed it.

~Nancy Beck


Anonymous said...


Wonderful, I love it!!!!!


Anonymous said...


I love it!!!! Keep going!!!