All My Children

by Thea Zara and Deref

Chapter 16: Summer of Love

Amanda knew it had been a mistake from the moment she saw it.

Max Yasgur's farm had been set up to accommodate 40,000 people. By Saturday morning attendance was estimated at 400,000 and rising.  (Years later, the number would be estimated at over 5 million, taking into account everyone who claimed to have been there). Since the gates and fences had been torn down they'd been unable to collect entry fees, and Max had taken it with remarkable good humour considering that it looked as if the venture was going to be a financial disaster. It was, though the losses were recouped later through record sales and the like. People would write of it as a catastrophe; a disaster; a last psychotic episode marking the end of an era of drug-induced madness. But none of them had been there. For the 450,000 who had, Woodstock would always be the high point of an age of hope and optimism. To them, this would always be The Summer of Love.

To Amanda, it would always be The Summer of Waiting in Interminable Lines to Get Into Inadequate and Increasingly Disgusting Toilets.

"Damned if I'm going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that," she thought miserably as her turn arrived at last and she closed the door of the porta-can, ignoring the wet floor and the wet seat--experience had taught her to keep three rolls of toilet paper in the trunk and, when they went out walking around, to keep one in her bag.

The world looked a lot rosier after that, and as she waddled back to where she, Vincent, Paul, and John had set up camp she smiled and wobbled along as the crowd joined in on the chorus of Country Joe McDonald's Woodstock anthem...

Yeah, come on all of you big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Viet Nam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And everybody joined in the chorus.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fightin' for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Viet Nam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up them pearly gates.
Ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee, we're all gonna die!

Saturday had broken clear and warm, and the road was still jammed with cars. The farm was a sea of people stretching down to the stage and its massive sound and lighting system--some lying on blankets, some in tents that they'd put up on Friday afternoon. Farther away from the stage the crowd thinned, giving way to people camped in groups or singly. Farther out still, people with trailers had parked and set up in more comfort. The logistics had become a nightmare since the crowd had blown out by an order of magnitude and a team of helicopters had been brought in to ferry food in and, in one case, to ferry out the body of a man who'd fallen asleep under the wheel of a tractor, out. No-one had seen him there.

After getting Amanda, Paul, and John settled Vincent went to work, stuffing his pockets with film, lenses, cameras, and everything he could carry by himself. Backstage was the usual jumble of road cases, amplifiers and cables, and it took a while for him to find his way around. But it was a photographer's paradise, and Vincent was soon lost in the endless photo opportunities afforded by a regular stream of rock stars and half a million adoring fans. The music (not that he had much time to pay attention to it) was great but, for Vincent, it was the opportunity to record what he, and everyone else realised, was the ultimate expression of hippiedom. Vincent was in his element. But what neither he, nor anyone else, realised at the time, was that Woodstock was to be the ultimate in the sense of "last", as well as "best"... the last, greatest, and most joyful shout of a generation whose passion for peace, love, dope, and Hare Krishna was soon to be eclipsed by the grubby deaths of some of its most beloved heroes and by the sheer brutality of adulthood.

But all that was in the future. This was the Summer of Love, and half a million people were high on music, high on love for one another, and high on the finest mind-altering substances that a couple of dollars could buy.

Dear Mandy,

How are you? Helen and I are fine. We're travelling around the country seeing the sights with some friends of ours before we head off to college next year.

I think about your cooking all the time. The people we're with are pretty good at putting nice meals together, but nothing comes close to what we ate when we were there with you. I don't know whether Willy ever told you about the stew that the head cook at Buxton Ridge used to make - it was wonderful. Maybe when we visit you I could make it for us. I haven't tried yet, but I remember exactly how he taught me.

We don't really have any set plans for our travels, but if we make it down your way we'd love to come and visit you and Hilda. Maybe we'll be lucky and find Willy home on leave.

Would you mind sending the enclosed letter on to Willy for me? Thanks. I told him that he could write to Mom's address and I'd work out how to get it, wherever we are. Right now we're at Yellowstone National Park. It's wonderful, but we haven't seen any bears yet. That doesn't bother me. I'm a little leery of wild animals.

Helen sends her love to you and Hilda, and so do I.

Jake Morgendorffer

Amanda let the rain and the music wash over her.  All around her people dived for cover or swayed in a hypnotic haze, but for one brief moment she felt at peace with everything around her.  The rain wasn't a problem. It was just one more aspect of how incredible this whole thing was. Almost like God was weeping with joy. 

Her brief moment of peace ended abruptly when Junior decided her slightly overfull bladder was a trampoline and she waddled off towards the porta-cans. As she came out an aroma hit her nostrils, clearly not from the direction of the increasingly odiferous sanitary facilities, and she hurried back to their staked-out patch of damp field where Paul and John were on their feet grooving to the music. Wind was dancing and laughing at their antics.

"We need food!" Amanda exclaimed, prising them apart and rubbing her stomach to indicate that she meant herself and the baby.

Paul looked down at his watch, and said "Oh, of course you do, dear! Whatever were we thinking? It's been at least an hour since we OW!" He rubbed his arm where Amanda had punched him, sighed resignedly as he picked up Wind, and the three of them followed Amanda as she set a surprisingly rapid waddle towards the tents where the Please Force, a volunteer army of helpers recruited by the man who was later to be known universally as "Wavy Gravy", had set up a major logistical operation to feed the half-million.

The line moved surprisingly quickly and, as they arrived at the trestle, Amanda's stomach rumbled loudly enough to be heard over the din of the crowd. Paul handed Wind to John, grabbed a bowl and ladled her a helping of the grey-brown mush-like substance that oozed around the lid of a huge put, and earned a giggle from Amanda by twirling the ladle in one hand as he held the bowl out to her in the other.

"You're pretty handy with that ladle," a voice said from behind him, and Paul spun round to see a tall, rugged looking man staring at him.

"Uh...I..." Paul stammered, blushing.

"You could help us, man," he said, "we've got a lotta people to feed. Lotta people!"

"Uh, well, sure - I guess I could..."

But before he could finish the man had him in a bear hug. "Welcome to the Hog Farm, brother," he said, and handed Paul a red polyester rag stencilled with a winged pig. "Tie this around your arm."

Paul grinned, recognising the symbol from a growing horde volunteers, and Amanda helped him tie the badge of office.

"Now," the man said, "all you need is the password and you'll be official".

"Okay," said Paul. "What's the password?"

The man leaned over and whispered in his ear "I forget".

"What?" said Paul.

"I forget." said the man.

"Oh, okay," said Paul. "Maybe someone else knows." He turned to a thin Hog Farmer behind the trestle and said "What's the password, man?"

"I forget", said the hippie.

"Damn," said Paul, and he turned to see Amanda, John, and Wavy Gravy (for it was he) red in the face from stifling their laughter.

Paul blushed furiously, smiled, and said "Okay - what do I do?"

"You wield the mystic ladle, man," said Wavy Gravy. "You join the band of brothers and sisters with no higher purpose than to feed the multitude!"

"Can we eat first?" John asked, "And we can help too!" he said, indicating Wind, himself and Amanda.

"Whatever you can do to help would be cool, man," said Wavy Gravy, handing them an armband each. "Eat, then help with the preparation and the cooking, but look out for the little guy around the cooking."

"Og fm" burbled Wind.

"Oh, yeah, man!" said Wavy Gravy, digging up another red band and tying it around Wind like a sash, to the baby's delight.

They each helped themselves to a bowl and went over to stand around the back where there were people peeling vegetables and mixing ingredients. Amanda tasted a spoonful, thought for a few seconds, and said "Interesting. I wonder what it is?"

"Wavy Gravy called it 'Breakfast in Bed for 400,000,'" a woman behind her said. "It's rolled oats or bulgur wheat, both when we can get them. We cook it until it's mush, add some peanuts for taste, and cook it until it's the texture of goulash.  For a side dish we just stir-fry any vegetables that we can scrape together."

"It's not bad, considering," said John, feeding Wind a spoonful.

The woman stopped what she was doing and a slightly distant expression appeared on her face. "It's really incredible," she said. "They didn't expect anything like this, you know." She waved her arm, indicating the sea of people. "Hardly anyone came prepared. The roads are blocked, there's no way to get food in except with the helicopters, but people have to be fed. She indicated the pots bubbling on gas burners. "We're just taking what we can get--people are bringing in what they've got and whatever they can get their hands on." She smiled. "We're all feeding each other, man."

When they'd eaten, Paul went up to the trestles and started to wield his ladle while Amanda and John helped out in back, peeling vegetables (which Amanda could do sitting down), taking away the trash, and just enjoying the sense of being part of an expanding army of Hog Farmers under the stewardship of Wavy Gravy, who seemed to personify the spirit of Woodstock.

"Hon, could you take this up to the front line?" the woman said at one point, handing Amanda a large bowl of cooked vegetables. She stood awkwardly and walked, half-balancing the load on her stomach, up to where John was dishing out a plateful of food and chatting happily to a 'customer'. Amanda waddled up and put the bowl down next to the pot of stew. Just as she was about to turn round and go back she noticed that the animated conversation had stopped, and she looked up to see the face of Paul's customer, staring open-mouthed at her.

Paul stared, looking back and forth between the two of them as time stood still. Finally, the customer spoke.


A tear rolled down Amanda's face, and she walked slowly around the table, staring at the woman and, by the time they met and embraced, Amanda was sobbing. "I never...thought I'd see you again," she wailed.

"Nor I you, Amanda," the woman replied, her eyes closed, holding Amanda in her arms and stroking her hair.

Amanda sniffed and turned to Paul, the wide grin on her face, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand though they kept coming. "Paul--this is Sister Assumpta, an old old friend of mine!"

"A pleasure," said Paul, smiling.

"The pleasure's mine," the woman grinned, releasing Amanda and shaking his proffered hand. "but it's just Carolyne these days." She turned back to Amanda and looked her up and down. "Unless this is the longest gestation period in history..." she looked up and thought for a minute, then continued "...or you two are fast workers! Congratulations!"

Paul grinned, and Amanda stared wide eyed.  "You think..." she looked at Paul, then back to Carolyne. "You think that he's..." and she laughed, looking at Paul who tittered, turned, and called John over.

John scooped up Wind and carried him over to the others.

"Sis...Carolyne, this is John, and this," said Amanda, taking Wind from him, "is Wind."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Carolyne smiled as she blushed. "Hello John. I should be congratulating you!"

The three of them burst out laughing, and Carolyne looked from face to face, trying to work out what was going on. "Okay," she said, "obviously there's something going on here that I'm not getting!"

"Honey," said Paul, "why don't you two take Wind and go back to camp and catch up. Your friend deserves an explanation and we've got work to do here. We'll see you back there later."

Amanda nodded and took Carolyne by the hand. "Come on," she said, and led her friend back to where they'd left their blanket and bags.

Carolyne looked at Wind and held out her arms. "May I?" She asked, and Amanda handed him over. She stopped, and looked closely at him. "Oh, Amanda, he's beautiful. Perfect," she breathed.

"Pfit" said Wind.

"Thanks," said Amanda, smiling, and leading her on again while Carolyne carried Wind on her hip. "He's great."

"It stands to reason," said Carolyne. "Considering what his mother went through, I'd say he's inherited it."

They sat down on the blanket and Wind started dancing to the music again. "Now, start at the beginning," Carolyne said, "and don't leave a single thing out!"

They sat cross-legged on the blanket facing each other. It took Amanda the best part of an hour to fill Carolyne in on events since she'd walked from her visit to Saint Agnes's, and there were times when she had to stop and gather herself, reliving the experiences as she told them. Carolyne leaned forward and hugged Amanda when she told of the desolation and despair that she'd felt after Aggie had dropped her off, and the  relief of finding Carolyne's gift. Amanda reached down and showed Carolyne the locket that Vincent had given her for her birthday.

"So you never heard from...Jake, wasn't it?" Carolyne asked, as Amanda's tale reached its end.

"No," Amanda said quietly. "I guess I'll never know what happened." She looked up into Carolyne's eyes, almost defiantly. "Whatever it was, I don't think it was his fault. I'd bet his father had something to do with it." The corners of her mouth turned up. "Besides, if it hadn't happened the way it did I wouldn't have met Vincent, and I wouldn't..." She looked down at her stomach and grinned.

Carolyne laughed. "No. And I can't wait to meet him. He sounds wonderful."

"He is," Amanda said, sitting up. "But YOU! What are you doing here? What happened at Saint Agnes's? Are you still a nun?"

Carolyne's eyes sparkled, and Amanda suddenly thought that Carolyne looked so much younger than picture she'd carried in her memory. "Well, where to start? No, I'm not a nun any more." She held up her left hand to show a small diamond ring and a plain gold band on her third finger.

"NO!" Amanda squeaked, pushing Carolyne and making her fall over backwards, laughing.

"I met Bob when I went to visit my sister." Carolyne said, picking herself up. " It was...hard. I did a lot of soul-searching. By the time you came to see me I'd made up my mind."

"So...?" Amanda said, leaving the question open.

"So by the sound of things," Carolyne answered, a wry smile on her lips, " you and I ran away on the same night."

Amanda looked shocked.

"Well," Carolyne added quickly, "it was a lot easier for me than it was for you." She sighed, "My escape was easy. Bob came to pick me up. Everybody at St Agnes's wished us well." She leaned in and took Amanda's hands in hers. "I don't know whether I'd have had your courage, Amanda."

"I...I'm not sure whether I could have done it without you," Amanda said, squeezing her friend's hands. "I was thinking...there are some people who just seem to be...I don't know...connected to you. For me, there's you, and Willow, and Vincent and Wind of course. And then there are people who...who come into your life and leave again."

Carolyne nodded, knowing what she meant. "Look at us," she said. "The nun and the straight A Catholic school girl. Who would have thought, a couple of years ago, that we'd be..." she looked around " Like this?"

Amanda laughed and looked at Wind, who'd grown tired of dancing and had lain down with his head in her lap and gone to sleep. "Like this," she said, and stroked Wind's hair.

"Like what?" interrupted a voice.

"Vincent!" Amanda said. "You're never going to guess who I've found!"

"Then you'd better tell me," he said, sitting down beside her and smiling at the slim middle-aged woman in jeans and a white cotton top, her dark hair streaked with early signs of grey.

"This is Carolyne - Sister Assumpta!"

"Oh wow!" Vincent said, staring. "You're kidding! Amanda's told me so much about you! It's a real pleasure!"

"The pleasure's all mine," said Carolyne, smiling and politely looking him up and down.

"But how...?"

Carolyne briefly recapped for Vincent what she'd told Amanda, adding "Bob's a musician - strictly amateur. He plays guitar in a band, and he wouldn't have missed this for anything. Our trailer's parked up the back with the others. Bob's probably down near the stage."

"I'd love to meet him," Amanda said.

"Where are you all staying?" Carolyne asked.

"The Voice put is up at a motel just the other side of Bethel." said Vincent.

Carolyne looked concerned. "You know the road's blocked. I really don't know whether you'll be able to get out."

"We didn't bring any camping gear," Vincent said, looking a little worried. "And there's no way that Amanda could walk back to Bethel."

"Well," Carolyne piped up, "Amanda and Wind could stay with Bob and me tonight. There's plenty of room for the two of them and I'd love to spend some time with them. I don't think we could fit you and Paul and John easily, Vincent, but at a pinch..."

"We could easily walk back," Vincent said, and turned to Amanda. Seeing the smile on her face, he added "I guess that's a 'yes'."

Amanda nodded enthusiastically.

"Oh, man!" Vincent exclaimed, "that reminds me!" He stood, reached into his pocket, and pulled out his wallet, removed some bills, and handed them to Carolyne. "Amanda always felt guilty about not being able to pay you back."

Carolyne looked up at him and laughed. "Vincent, that's very sweet, but it's not necessary."

"Please," Amanda said. "the second thing I thought about when I opened that envelope was how you could afford it..."

Carolyne looked at her, and said quietly "What was the first thing you though about?"

"I thought...I you knew."

Carolyne thought for a minute. "I don't know," she said, thoughtfully. "Maybe it was what I would have done...maybe it's what I wanted you to do."

"Whatever it was," Vincent broke in, the money still in his hand, "I'll never forget the time that Amanda told me about it. It was a long time before we, you know, before Amanda and I got together, but I remember thinking that you must have been a very special friend."

"Still are," Amanda said. "And now we can pay you back."

Carolyne felt her eyes growing moist, but she forced a smile. "Come with me," she said, and, standing up, helped Amanda up and led her and Vincent, carrying Wind, up and over a low rise to where the trailers were parked. They walked between rows of haphazardly-parked trailers and campers of every size and shape until Carolyne finally stopped in front of a gleaming, mirror-finished aluminum trailer.

"Oh, damn," said Vincent, earning an elbow in the ribs from Amanda. "I mean gosh, an Airstream." Carolyne opened the door and they followed her into an interior that was more like a luxury jet than a trailer. Amanda looked around at the dark wood panelling and avocado furnishings, as Vincent ogled an expensive-looking electric guitar lying on a deeply-padded seat.

"Understand?" Carolyne asked, closing the door behind her and walked past them into the galley. "Now normally," she said, grinning," this would call for some Champagne, but, uh, under the circumstances..." and she got out a coffee pot and spooned some rich-smelling coffee into it.

"This is the fanciest trailer I've ever seen!" said Vincent.

"It's the only trailer I've ever seen," Amanda added, "but wow!"

Carolyne turned to them and smiled. "Bob likes the creature comforts, even though he's just an old hippie at heart," she said, motioning for them to sit down as she put coffee cups out. "He should be back soon." As the last syllable rang out the door opened and a half-man, half bear walked in, and the trailer shook at his step. He was at least six-six, equally tall, with a mane of wiry black hair that merged with a shaggy black beard, the whole effect framing his face in a fuzzy dark halo. He looked up, saw Amanda and Vincent, and grinned.

"Hello," he said, in a voice whose softness denied his bulk, and his deep brown eyes smiled. Amanda liked him immediately.

Carolyne almost danced over to him and threw her arms around him, enveloped in return by arms that looked as if they could snap a tree, yet held her gently, as if she might break. His eyes closed, and a beatific peace filled his face as they hugged.

"Bob," Carolyne said, releasing him and taking his hand and dragging him over to where Amanda and Vincent sat, "I'd like you to meet Amanda Phill..." She clutched her mouth as her eyes widened in embarrassed surprise. "Um..."

"Lane," Amanda supplied, "and my husband, Vincent."

Carolyne laughed as Bob turned to her in surprise. "Amanda?" he said, turning to Carolyne. "Not the Amanda you taught? The one who..."

Carolyne nodded. "The same."

Bob stared, walked over to Amanda, and held out his hand, which Amanda took. "It's a great pleasure," he said, taking her hand in his and enveloping it gently with the other. "You made quite an impression on Carolyne--me too  if it comes the that."  Then he turned to Vincent, his gentleness replaced immediately by high-spirited enthusiasm, took his hand, and pumped it vigorously. "Vincent! May I call you Vinnie?"

"A lot of people do,"Vincent said, laughing, and not even attempting to resist the irresistible force of Bob's enthusiastic handshake.

"If what I hear's right, you're a damned lucky man! You and me both, huh?"

Vincent laughed again, catching Bob's enthusiasm and, for the first time, realising that there was a lilting southern drawl in Bob's speech.

Bob smiled broadly as he turned to Carolyne, who'd been standing and enjoying the show, knowing from experience that meeting her man for the first time tended to be something of an overwhelming experience. "I talked to Roger and it seems the children are being naughty again.  They can't seem to keep their hands off one another and he's beside himself trying to figure out how to handle things."

Amanda looked back and forth between Carolyne and Bob, confused. "Children?" she asked.

"Actors, my dear girl! Nothing but giant children, spoiled by society at large. And the actors that work in my production are more spoiled than most, or so it would seem. Apparently my leading man has been sleeping with the saucy waitress, and his wife's sister, and his maid. Unfortunately he's married to the leading lady, and she doesn't play any of those parts. The makeup department is running out of concealer to hide the bruises, since she spends most of the time she's not playing the part of devoted wife in front of the camera beating him silly. By God I'd fire somebody-- Hell--anybody, at this point, but we're fourteen weeks into production."

"Ah, I don't think I mentioned that Bob makes films." Carolyne said, stifling a laugh.

"Oh," Vinnie said. "You're in the movies!"

Bob's eyes opened wide in mock horror. "Films, Vinnie, films! Let it never be said that I stooped to populism!"

"Nor let it be said that you stooped to commercial appeal, my darling," added Carolyne, grinning broadly.

"Art knows nothing of the vulgarity of crass commercialism," Bob said in mock indignation. "Amanda understands--she's an artist!"

Carolyne turned to Amanda and Vincent and said "Actually, his stuff's not bad. It's just a good thing that he's wealthy enough to indulge himself without having to sell anything. Although if he keeps up at this rate we'll be broke in fifty years."

"And you," Bob said, standing and encircling her with a huge arm, "my dear, would love me if we had had to live in the gutter. But enough of this sordid talk!" He stooped and pulled a bottle of Champagne out of the refrigerator. "Vinnie, you and I need to celebrate this most extraordinary of reunions of old friends while you tell me all about how it happened. And the fact that these two pregnant women can't join us just means all the more for you and me."

"What?" he said, glancing back and forth between Amanda's open-mouthed stare and Carolyne's blushing smile.

* * *

"Man - he's something else," Vincent grinned as he and John and Paul walked back to Bethel later that night. "I think I would have preferred a beer to the champagne though. 'Bollocks' I think he said it was called."

"Bollinger, dear," Paul corrected.

"It's soooo romantic," added John. "The Texan Giant who swept the nun off her feet!"

"It sounds like one of those trashy romance novels you like," added Paul.

"And who keeps bringing them home?" asked John.

"He must be rolling in bread," added Paul, ignoring him.

"Yeah, I think so. Oil. Turned out his grandfather owned one of the richest oil leases in the state, but Bob doesn't care about it at all - it's just a source of money to feed his hobby."

"Maybe he could give us all parts! We could be stars!" John enthused.

"You could be a star with your parts, dear," Paul quipped.

"Where do they live?" John asked, studiously ignoring Paul.

"Texas." Vincent answered. "A little place called Highland."

"Never heard of it," said John.

* * *

Wind stirred, waking Amanda before dawn. She lay back, listening to Bob's quiet snoring from the other end of the trailer and she smiled, thinking about how they'd talked for hours after Vincent had left. It had been strange. When she'd been at school (how many lifetimes ago?) Carolyne had been a teacher and she'd been a child. And that night (so long ago) when Amanda had gone to visit her, it was for the advice of a special adult, someone wise, and...other. But last night, it had been so easy, almost as if their roles had been reversed, and Carolyne had been so full of questions. What had birth been like? How did she cope with night-time feeds? Bob had tried to be part of the conversation, but had realised quickly that this was women's' business, and he'd left to go and join in the merrymaking outside.

After half an hour she got up, as quietly as she could, and slipped out the door, looking up for some sign of a star.  Through the ambient light she thought she could make out one, if she squinted just right... maybe.  Being with Carolyne had been wonderful, but it reminded her of what she had lost, of school, of home. She leaned against the trailer and shivered in the warm night, as tears slipped down her face.

A voice spoke next to her ear, "What is it, dear?"

"It's nothing." Amanda sniffed.

Carolyne stepped down the fold-up steps carefully and opened up one lawn chair, then another.  "Sit down, and tell me what's really on your mind."

"I...I miss home. I wouldn't trade Wind mind you, or this one," she said, gently rubbing her well-rounded stomach with a serene smile, "but I miss my Mom... and even my Dad. I want them to see their grandchildren, I want to introduce them to Vincent, and to see them smile down and coo at Wind, or to cuddle--oohh!"

"What's wrong?" Carolyne asked, concerned. 

Amanda pulled upright and froze in place for a moment before relaxing back into the chair, and replying. "Nothing. Junior here must have squeezed something. I'm okay now."

Carolyne watched her carefully a moment before speaking again.  "If you're sure."

"Yeah, it's okay.  I just wish I could go home. I want to take my kids home, but it's too late for that now."

"For heaven's sakes, why is it too late?"

"When I left, when I ran away, my father was so angry with me. I thought maybe I could make things right. I was wrong," she said quietly, looking up again to hide the tears.

"How do you know?" Carolyne asked. "That little boy of yours could melt solid lead with his smile. How do you know it's too late, if you haven't tried?"

"But I have tried!" Amanda wailed, no longer able to even pretend she wasn't crying.

Instead of peppering Amanda with questions as she wanted to, Carolyne held her friend's hand and waited for the squall of Amanda's tears to play itself out. When the sobs wore down to occasional sniffles, she held out a tissue and remained silent.

After a couple unladylike honks and a few more sniffles, Amanda continued. "When we, Vinny and I, were getting married, I think some part of me thought, this is it, this is what I need to make them forgive me.  I'd be 'respectable'."  She said the last word with an ugly sneer. "And I called to tell them... to let them know they're daughter was no longer a whore with a bastard.  To see if that would make them accept us, make them love us.  I shouldn't have bothered."

"They turned you away?" Carolyne asked, incensed on her young friend's behalf.

"Worse. They had the number changed.  They don't want me any more."

Carolyne, who'd been having rather dark thoughts about so-called Christians who failed to learn God's greatest lesson, forgiveness, stopped and stared at Amanda. "You're basing all this on the fact that their number was changed? You didn't talk with them?"

"No, but they obviously never want to hear from me again."  Amanda said sniffling again.

Carolyne looked at her for a moment. "You know, Amanda, you've always been one of my favourite students. You've got an eye for art and the hands to match, but you were obviously never very bright."

Amanda gasped as if slapped, while Carolyne continued. "People get their numbers changed for all sorts of reasons, and not all of them mean they hate you."

Abruptly Carolyne stood up kissed Amanda on top of her head and went inside the trailer, leaving Amanda alone with her thoughts.

After a couple minutes Amanda wiped away the fresh tears, this time hopeful ones, and followed her friend inside.

Within five minutes the vacated lawn chairs became beds for two tired and bedraggled young men who happened to wander by and spot them.

* * *

The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee woke Amanda an indeterminate time later. She opened her eyes, blearily. The trailer was full of light and she could hear someone moving around in the galley. She yawned and stretched, and turned...

"Good morning, Amanda. I hope you slept well. Coffee?" Bob smiled, and reached for a mug.


He poured a steaming mug of coffee and brought it over to her. Amanda accepted it gratefully and, thanking him, held the mug in both hands and letting the rich aroma waft into her nose as she took a sip.

"This is delicious! I think it's the best coffee I've ever had!"

"Glad you like it. I get it brought in from Colombia. Good, isn't it?"

Amanda smiled and nodded.


"Good morning, my love," he said, turning to smile at Carolyne. "Coffee?"

"Coffee, my FAT AUNT," she fumed.

"Is something wrong, my dove?" Bob asked, puzzled.

"Yes something is indeed wrong! GET SOME DAMN CLOTHES ON!"

"Oh," said Bob, looking a little surprised. "But I always..."

"I KNOW YOU ALWAYS! But we have GUESTS, Robert!"

Bob looked surprised. "I'm sure Amanda doesn't you?" he asked.

Amanda tried not to laugh. "No, of course not."

"Well I mind!" Carolyne exclaimed.

"Your wish is my command, my sweet," he said, whispering sotto voce, "you can take the girl out of the nunnery..." and winking at Amanda as he walked off to get dressed.

"I'm so sorry!" Carolyne said, sitting on the bed next to Amanda and rolling her eyes.

"It's okay - really," she said, feeling a little embarrassed because her friend was, and smiling a little as she thought that, considering his height and girth...

"Better?" Bob asked, returning in shorts, flip-flops, and a tie-dyed t-shirt.

"Much," said Carolyne. "And now I'll have that coffee."

"Your wish is..." Bob started before he was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"That'll be your entourage, I expect," said Bob as he opened the door. "Vinny! And this must be Paul and John. What--no Ringo? Come in, come in."

After several rounds of excellent bacon and eggs prepared by Bob, accompanied by mugs of strong, sweet, Colombian coffee, Vincent left to get to work. Paul and John waddled off to help the Hog Farmers prepare breakfast for the multitude armed with a bag of donated sugar and some vegetables, and Bob took his leave to get a good spot for the day's show. Amanda, Wind, and Carolyne sauntered slowly back to the place on the hill where they'd been the day before, past a sign proclaiming "Drop acid - not bombs!". By the time they arrived Joe Cocker was in full flight.


he sang, pausing momentarily,

Would you do, if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?

by which time what had started out as an amusing little ditty from the pen of Lennon and McCartney had been turned into a one of the raunchiest paeans of the Woodstock generation.

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I will try not to sing out of key

Cocker was prancing round the stage like someone struck by St Vitus' Dance, or an epileptic in the throes of a grand mal seizure, as the black girls, like a choir of angels, joined in on the spine-tingling chorus...

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends
Gonna try with a little help from my friends

Wind started dancing right away, to the delight of a group of hippies sitting behind them who cheered him on and dubbed him The World's Coolest Baby.

Three trips to the porta-cans later, Amanda arrived back to find that Carolyne had slipped back to the trailer and returned with sandwiches and fruit, a Thermos of coffee, and a bottle of milk for Wind. The three of them lay back contentedly as The Band finished their set with The Weight, and Johnny Winter launched into Mean Town Blues, prompting Wind to get up and start dancing again to the cheers of his fan club. Amanda grinned and stood up to join him, holding his hands and stepping to the music as Carolyne laughed and clapped in time.

In front of them, two hippies who, by the occasional waft of sweet-scented smoke, had been progressively losing touch with reality as the day went by, stood up to join Winter's solo on their own air guitars, dancing and whirling. Amanda laughed at their antics, provoking grins and laughter in return.

Carolyne, seeing all this, became lost in thought. The habits of a lifetime are hard to break, and she found herself thinking that there was more genuine love, more real peace and goodwill, at this music festival than she'd seen in a lifetime of religious observance. You could feel it in the air. There wasn't a negative vibe to be found. Black people, red people, yellow people, white people, children and adults, old and young, were truly brothers and sisters here. She was brought back to herself sharply as one of the air guitar-playing hippies stumbled over her leg and fell back, bumping into Amanda who sat down hard.

"Oh man," he said, helping her up. "I'm sorry. Are you okay?"

Amanda looked down.

"Aw shit, man," said the hippie's friend, staring with bloodshot eyes. "You broke her!"

Dear Willy,

I'm sending this letter on to your Mom. I know she'll pass it on to you. Sorry I haven't written sooner, man, but its been a really strange summer. Good, but strange. Helen and I are with some friends of hers - of ours.  They're really cool people, though they're a bit strange sometimes. We're travelling around, just going wherever we feel like. It's really cool.

Boy, did I screw up big last week. You'd never believe how stupid I was, I thought Helen was through with me for sure. I'll tell you all about it in person - never know who's going to read this.  But I did do something pretty cool the other day. We were attacked by a wild animal and I rescued Helen! I got pretty badly injured, but it was worth it! She said I was "so brave"! Let's just say that I got an amazing reward for my bravery.

Anyway, next year I guess we'll be at college, so we're going to enjoy this year as much as we can. Helen's decided that she wants to go to law school.

You know how I wasn't sure what was going on with Helen and me? Well I'm sure now. I never thought I'd feel this way, you know, after A--after before.  I think about her sometimes - a lot I guess. Man, I hope she's okay. So this thing with Helen - its not really the same...I mean it is, but you know its like it has its own flavour. God I probably sound like an idiot.  But this is it, Willy, I'm sure. I screwed up one chance and I'm not going to screw this one. I was thinking about you and Hilda and your wedding. That was great - the way you can give yourself to a person for life. I envy you.

How is the military, man?  I don't think I could do it.  MD's probably spinning in his grave about that, the bastard, but turning my life over to the Man? It's just too much. I don't blame you or anything. I'm just learning a lot. Hey - is there anyone like Ellenbogen there? What kind of shoes does he wear?

Helen said something about maybe writing you a note, if she does I'll slip it in before I send it to your Mom.  Boy oh boy do I miss her cooking... I could still cry thinking of all those gift baskets I helped you get rid of.

You take care buddy, and give Hilda a hug from us. If you want to write - and please do - send it to my home address and I'll either pick it up or get Mom to send it on when I know where we're going to be.

Your friend,


Amanda looked up at the hippie, then turned to Carolyne, her face a mixture of frustration, disappointment, and fear. "Oh shit," she breathed.

Carolyne immediately adopted her teacher persona. "We'd better get you to the first aid tent," she said, and turned to the hippie who'd bumped into her. "Would you mind giving us a hand?"

"Oh, yeah, man, no problems!" he drawled, and clapped slowly as his friend joined in.

"I mean will you help us find our friends?" Carolyne groaned.

"Oh! Right, sorry," drawled the hippie.

"Right. I want you to go to the tent where the Hog Farm's serving food. Do you know where that is?"

"Yeah, man - I do," said the other hippie. "I had some food there. I had the munchies real bad."

"Right. I want you to find John and Paul. Tell them..."

"I know! Tell them that Ringo and George are lost, right?"

Carolyne groaned again. "No! Tell them that Amanda's having the baby and that they need to get Vincent and come to the first aid tent. Can you remember that?"

"Uh, tell the Beatles that...."

"No, man," interrupted the other hippie, turning to Carolyne. "Get John and Paul. Tell Vincent to come to the first aid tent. I can remember that."

"Great, thanks," Carolyne sighed. She picked up Wind and turned to Amanda. "Come on--let's go. Are you okay?"

Amanda winced, then  nodded, and they set off towards the first aid tent.

The hippies watched them go.

"We'd better get our heads together, man," said the first. "This is some heavy shit."

"Yeah," agreed the second. "Maybe we'd better do a number so that we don't freak out. They're relying on us, man."

"Yeah," said the first, and reaching into his pocket he took out a small tin, opened it, and reached inside. He took out a thin hand-rolled cigarette and handed it to his friend. "Here, man," he said.

"Cool," muttered the other, lighting it and inhaling deeply.

* * *

"People, there's some bad acid goin' round. Stay away from the brown acid--some people are havin' bad trips, okay? Also, got a message here for Vincent Lane. Vincent Lane--please go to the first aid tent. Vincent Lane to the first aid tent."

A jolt like an electric shock struck Vincent as he heard the announcer's message. An instant ago he'd been lost in concentration, lining up a perfect shot across David Crosby's guitar towards Steven Stills, sweating with concentration as they hit the middle bars of Wooden Ships. Now he could only think of one thing. Amanda. His hands shook as he stuffed the camera into its bag, and he turned to go, barely holding down the sense of panic and the gorge rising in his throat. He scrambled down the stairs at the back of the stage, trying to force himself to remember where the first aid tent was and to orient himself. Up the hill. Straight in front of the stage, about half a mile back. He struggled to picture the layout of the crowd, trying to remember what it had looked like from the edge of the stage and calculating the fastest way to get to where he needed to be.

Half a million people spread out like a fan up the hill, a triangle of humanity between him and his goal.

He fought through the red fog that clouded his mind. Around the edge? Would that be faster than going straight ahead? THINK, DAMMIT! He stopped at the bottom of the stage, peering left and right, but there was nothing but  a sea of people in every direction. He swallowed and, giving up on any attempt to  work it out, he ran, pushing people aside and dodging anything that wouldn't get out of his way.

It was like running through molasses.

Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down

sang four voices in perfect harmony from the stage. Vincent was panting with the effort now, hardly noticing the words, and he turned back to the stage to see how far he'd come. Tears of frustration clouded his eyes as he realised he'd hardly made any progress, and he pushed on frantically. A patch of clear space opened up ahead of him and he felt a rush of relief as he charged ahead without questioning why, in a crowd like this, a space would be empty of people.

* * *

As soon as the announcement ended John dropped the plate he was carrying and looked round to see Paul staring at him from behind a makeshift trestle table full of a ragtag assortment of cooking pots. "Amanda," they said simultaneously, and ran off towards the first aid tent a hundred yards away.

The tent--or tent complex, more correctly--was huge, and they elbowed their way in past a crowd of people waiting for attention. A surprising number of them were bleeding from feet that, even at a cursory glance, were cut to ribbons, the result of broken glass and steel can ring-pulls on bare feet. Others were babbling, some were freaking out, and some were sitting with bandages over their eyes. They made their way towards someone who looked as if she was in charge, or at least not bleeding, stoned, tripping, or blind.

"Excuse me," Paul said breathlessly. "There was an announcement for Vincent Lane?"

"Oh," she said, "you're Vincent?"

"No, we're friends. Can you tell me..."

"Back there," she said, indicating an adjoining tent.

* * *

As soon as Vincent broke free of the crowd into the clearing his legs did what they'd been trying to do since he'd left the stage--they ran. Five steps later he was sitting in his socks in a pile of black mud the consistency of glue. His shoes, a pace apart, were three-quarters buried and full of mud several yards back. Stifling a scream of frustration, he picked himself up and, as fast as he could, squelched his way out of the sticky mess, leaving his shoes where they lay and turning back to orient himself to the stage to make sure he was heading in the right direction.

He'd just managed to pick up his snail-like pace through the throng when he was grabbed by the elbow, and he stopped. Vincent turned to see an agitated, heavy-set man of Asian appearance, with thick black hair braided tightly though still hanging down to his waist, and a heavy set of keys that dangled from a silver chain attached to his belt. "What?" Vincent groaned angrily.

"You're that photographer from the Voice, right?"

"Yes," Vincent sputtered. "What? I have to..."

"It's Jimi, man. He's gone. He did this to me at our last gig. He got off his face and ended up wandered off. I found him wandering the streets ten minutes before he was due to go on. I mean he played like an angel, but I swear I'm gonna kill that mother if he's gone and done it again!"

"Look, I'm sorry," Vincent blurted out. "But it's my wife. I have to go!" He shook himself free and started off again, only to stop two paces later. He looked down, turned pale, and felt his head start to swim.

"Shit, man," he heard the man who had stopped him say, and he felt a strong arm supporting him.

Vincent felt himself break out in a sweat, and he looked down again, to see blood pouring from his foot. There was no sensation of pain, as if it was someone else's foot, but it was attached to his leg, so it must be...

"Sit down, man," said the man, helping him to sit on the ground. He squatted at Vincent's foot, and held it up, shaking his head. "This is gonna hurt," he continued, gently taking Vincent's sock off. "Close your eyes."

Vincent, only half-conscious of what was happening, did, suddenly feeling the pain hit and taking a sharp intake of breath.

"There. Bastards," the man said, holding up a bloody shard of broken glass. "We'd better get you to first aid."

He helped Vincent up and put his arm around his neck, supporting him around the waist.

The pain in Vincent's foot was intense, but he started to collect himself. "Thanks," he said. "I'm sorry--it's my wife..."

"Oh--right! You're the guy they called over the PA. Victor, wasn't it?"

"Vincent," Vincent replied as the man started to push his way through the crowd, noticing that this time it was parting in front of them as people made way, seeing Vincent hopping on one leg, his foot held up and dripping blood as he hopped along supported by the other.

"Right, Vincent. So have you seen Jimi?"

"Jimi?" Suddenly it dawned.  "You're talking about Hendrix?"

"Yeah, man! He's been groovin, but he's a sucker for acid, and there's some bad shit goin' down."

"The brown acid?" Vincent asked, remembering the announcement that the organisers had made warning people to stay away from it.

"Yeah. Fuck. Who knows, man? That's what I get for being a road manager. I shoulda stayed in the insurance game like my old man told me."

"If he was having a bad trip he'd probably end up at the first aid tent."

"Good thinking! So we're heading in the right direction. Come on people--let us THROUGH --PLEASE!" he yelled as the crowd parted again.

John and Paul pushed through the back of the first tent and into a second. It was less crowded and more organised, but still chaotic. People lay on stretchers, some with bandages on their feet, some with bandages over their eyes. Beside them, a flamboyantly-dressed black man with an afro hairstyle lay on his back on a stretcher, his eyes wide, mumbling "far out...far out...far out..."

"John? Paul?"

They turned to see Carolyne, holding Wind on her hip.

"Carolyne!" John breathed. "How's..."

An infant's wail split the air.

"I think we're about to find out,' she said, turning to the back of the tent where a canvas flap divided it into two.

John and Paul waited, as nervous as long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs.

"Far out!" said the man on the stretcher, and they turned to him.

"What's the scene, man?" asked John, realising that the flamboyant shirt he wore was almost certainly pure hand-printed silk and, if so, worth a small fortune.

He turned to them, his eyes sparkling and a beatific smile on his face. "Butterflies," he said, and pointed slowly to the roof of the tent.

John and Paul looked. A solitary brown moth flutttered against the canvas.

They looked at each other, then to the man, who was still grinning and watching the moth. "Uh, that's just a moth, man," Paul said.

He looked at them, a disappointed expression on his face. "Aw, shit--you guys haven't had any of the acid, have you?"

They looked at each other again. "Um, no," John answered. "The brown acid?"

"Yeah, man," he said. "It's hell on your guts, but the butteflies, man--the butterflies!" He winced, farted, and turned back toward the roof just as Carolyne poked her head around the canvas and quietly called their names. The turned, looked at each other, and back to Carolyne, who was smiling. Paul reached out and took John's hand as they nervously walked towards her. Carolyne, seeing the gesture, thought Oh, so, and smiled inwardly.

Dear Willy, Hilda, and Mandy,

I hope you're all well. Willy and Hilda, I particularly hope you've been able to spend plenty of time together. It's so sad that you had to leave so soon after the wedding, Willy - I hope they've given you lots of leave. Do you know where they're going to post you yet?

I'm sure Jake's told you all about our adventures. We're having a wonderful time, mostly, in this year off school. One thing happened that was so funny I must tell you about it. Our friends adopted the cutest little puppy, and a few days ago we were just about to go to sleep in our tent when it attacked Jake and bit him on the rear end. He thought it was a wild animal! You should have seen it. We still haven't stopped laughing about it. Well, except for Jake of course.

I hope that we'll be down your way before too long and that we can visit. I'd love to see you all and to hear all about what's been happening, and to eat some more of your delicious food, Mandy.

Love to you all,

Helen Barksdale.

Carolyne carried the baby out of the first aid tent and stopped in astonishment.

A crowd of people had gathered and, in front, stood the two hippies who'd been given the job of finding Paul and John.

"We made it, man," drawled the hippie who'd bumped into Amanda.

"We went to the food place, you know?" added the second. "And we asked about John and Paul and George and Ringo, but there was a whole bunch of people called Paul, a whole lot more called John. There were some Georges too, but no Ringos"

"It freaked us out, man. We figured we must have screwed up the names." said the first.

"So we brought everyone."

The baby's crying had also attracted a crowd of flower children; some dressed in elaborate clothes with beads and decorations, some wearing body paint, some in jeans and t-shirts, two naked, many with flowers in their hair, all standing quietly, anticipating. The cloyingly sweet perfume of hashish hung in the air, and collective sigh went up, but the crowd remained quiet until one woman, herself very pregnant, said "Is it a boy or a girl?"

"What's its name?" asked another.

Carolyne looked back towards Amanda who, supported by Paul and John, leaned over and whispered in Carolyne's ear. Carolyne looked at her for a minute, then she smiled, turned to the crowd, uncovered the face of the sleeping newborn, and looked at the people who'd assembled.

"The baby's mother has asked me to introduce her to you." She spoke quietly, but with all the confidence and authority that comes with long years of practice. The crowd felt it and were quiet. Seeing the happiness in her face, they edged closer to one another, and listened. At the back a man covered in mud, a bag hanging from his shoulder, supported by another man, one foot held up covered in bloodstained mud, pushed his way through the crowd to stand at the front, staring, catching his breath.

"We came here to celebrate new beginnings. If ever there was a new beginning to celebrate..." and she looked down at the baby and smiled, "...this is one. We came here as much to celebrate as to listen to music. We've celebrated in song. We've celebrated in dance and in poetry. We've celebrated with our hearts and with our voices and with our bodies. We've celebrated together because we hope that in our celebration we may be planting the seeds of a new age. An age in which war and hate and killing might be replaced by brotherhood and peace and love. And we've shown that it can be more than a dream."

Mutterings of "cool" and "far out", "right on", and "yeah" rose from the crowd.

"This baby girl is a child of the love between her parents. She is a child of this summer--the Summer of Love. Her name is Summer Love Lane."

A collective sigh went up.

"Whatever you believe in," Carolyne continued, "whatever you worship, or if you don't, please give her your blessing. Give her your hope that she may grow in a world in which she will be able to ask her parents what war was, and in which they--in which we--may finally be able to answer 'I don't remember'."

And to Amanda's surprise, one by one, the crowd walked past Carolyne, and one by one looked down at Summer Lane. Some just smiled. Some gently touched her forehead and said a word or two.

And one, hopping on one leg and supported by another, who'd stood and stared at the baby longer then the rest, with tears in his eyes, shook himself free of his support, hopped over to his wife and kissed her.

In the not-quite-silence, from inside the tent, someone muttered "Far out...far out...far out..."

The man who'd been helping Vincent stared open-mouthed, muttered "shit," and ran off into the tent.

It was raining heavily, making a tattoo on the trailer's roof loud enough for them to raise their voices.

"Carolyne," asked Paul, "do you really believe it?"

Carolyne looked at him with a wry smile. "Those things I said?"

Paul nodded and took another sip of Bollinger.

"No," she replied quietly, still smiling a little. "Maybe I was just, I don't know, captured by the moment."

"It was beautiful," said John, forcing a small chuckle from Carolyne.

"I think the crowd enjoyed it," she said.

"I did," said Amanda, smiling serenely as Summer suckled at her breast, and Vincent, his foot bandaged, stroked her hair from his place beside her on the bed.

"Bubba! Bubba!" said Wind, pointing to his sister and looking alarmed.

"But who was that fellow you were with?" asked Bob, refilling Vincent's glass.

"Whoever it was," John interrupted, "he walked off leading a black guy away. He was in a bad way by the sound of it. Your friend was saying something like 'it's okay, man, there are plenty of butterflies over here."

"Damn! And I didn't have the camera ready!"

"What do you mean, honey?" Amanda said looking up at him.

"I probably lost the chance for the best shot of the whole gig."

Bob shrugged and went to sit next to Amanda.

"So what are your plans now?" John asked.

"Well, tomorrow we have to get Summer to the hospital so she can be registered. They couldn't do it at the tent."

"And then?"

"I dunno," Vincent answered. "I think I'd like to head back west." He looked down at Amanda. "How about you, Honey? Back to San Francisco?"

"I want to go home."

Helen and Jake sat atop a picnic table, her head leaning on his shoulder and a small smile on her face as she took in the warmth of his body in the rapidly chilling evening.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" said a voice from behind them. Helen turned to look questioningly at her oldest friend.

Willow sat down on the bench by their feet, "The sunset," she explained. "We're about out of supplies," she continued a minute later, "So if we're gonna stay here awhile longer, someone's gonna have to make a grocery store run."

Helen scratched a mosquito bite, and looked up guiltily when she realized that Willow had stopped talking and was looking at her awaiting an answer.

She mentally rewound what Willow had said then smiled ruefully.  "As much fun as this has been, moderation in all things." Jake looked at her confused. "One more night of wolves howling and bugs biting my rear end and I'm going to go nuts. I say we leave tomorrow."

"Ah," Willow said. "That's groovy,  Lavender.  We've got these friends in Oregon who were starting up a commune last time we talked.  Why don't we head there for a visit?"

Jake perked up immediately thinking about the good food and the excellent pot at the last commune, and enthusiastically replied, "Sounds great!"

Helen smiled and nodded, "I still want to get to San Francisco, but we have plenty of time. A little more communing with nature sounds fun." With that she wrapped one arm around the top of Willow's body and another around Jake's waist and pulled them both into a hug. The serene silence held for a moment or two, then a bark from nearby caused Jake to jump, while Helen and Willow laughed into the coming night.

"Stop! Here."

Vincent slammed on the brakes and brought the Willys to a halt. "This is it?" he asked.

"No," Amanda said peering out of the window. "It's down there, around the corner."

"Honey?" Vincent asked, after Amanda had been silent for a couple of minutes.

"It's so strange," she said quietly. He waited, and finally she continued slowly. "It's...different. I don't know. I grew up here. But it doesn't's not..."

"It's not home any more." He finished for her, and reached over to take her hand.

Amanda turned to him and nodded, the sadness that he'd always noticed in her face was back. "Vincent, I don't know..." Her eyes darted back and forth between his, desperately searching for something.

He put his hands on her shoulders. "You have two children. You're their universe. You have a husband who thinks you're the most wonderful person on Earth. You have..." he smiled..."some rather extraordinary friends who seem to think that you're very special. For the last twelve months you've been living a life that's been...shall we say eventful? And now you're being dumped back into a situation that, when you left, you were a child, living at home." He looked into her eyes. "This has to be hard."

She turned too look at the familiar and, at the same time, alien street, and sighed. "Yeah. Hard.."

"Do you want to wait?" he asked.

Amanda paused again, and finally whispered "No."

"You're sure?"

She nodded once.

"Okay." He started the car and drove slowly round the corner.

"Here," she said, and he pulled up in front of the house.

Amanda sat, staring out the window. Vincent said nothing. Without turning, she opened the door walked up the path to the door. He watched as she stood for a moment, motionless, wishing with all his might that he could be doing this for her.

Holding her breath, Amanda knocked on the achingly familiar front door. As she waited, heart in her throat, she thought about what she'd just done. This had been home. She'd never knocked on her own door before. It brought reality washing over her as words echoed in her ear in a voice that sounded gentle and sad... her fathers voice... 'they say you can never go home'. For the first time she understood what that meant.

As she raised her hand to knock again the door opened.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of All My Children.

Disclaimer: All characters are copyright MTV except for Willy and his family who belong to us.

Special thanks: to all our beta readers:  Brother Grimace; Steven Galloway, Greybird, NMorgendorffer, RLobinske, Sleepless, Mike Nassour, gearhead, Martin J. Pollard, Bootstrapper, Milderbeast.. Thanks to Ben Yee for letting us borrow him, as so many have done before, as Hendrix's roadie.

Woodstock: Sadly, niether Deref nor Thea was there. But we took our stories from those of  people who were, so most of it is based on truth. There were, by all accounts, two babies born at Woodstock. Who's to say that one of them couldn't have been Summer Love Lane? Particular thanks to this web site for providing us with eyewitness acounts and so much information. Jimi Hendrix, but the way, actually did end up, tripping and unrecognised, in the first aid tent.

Quirks: Deref, who typed the words, is an Australian, so he's used Aussie English spellings and grammar conventions. He may also have inadvertently used some Aussie idioms though he's tried to keep in culture.

Liked it? Hated it? Tell Thea Zara or Deref - please?