author's note. Once again, kind of a random fandom for me. I used to write strictly NCIS but I've been branching out more and more lately. I've been a fan of the American Girl series of books & dolls ever since I was a kid (they have been around since 1987!) and now that my daughter is old enough, we've sort of rediscovered that world. I've been reading the Kit books to her every morning before school - Kit is her doll of choice just as Molly was mine, all those years back - and I have to say, I really love her stories. I see a lot of parallels between her Depression-era struggles and all of the economic problems of today (sad to say, we have plenty of experience with that around here). Plus, I love all of her feedsack dresses! Anyway, at the back of 'Meet Kit' in the Looking Back section, they mentioned that Kit would be 18 when World War Two broke out, and she would possibly become a war correspondent, since she'd had the longtime dream of writing for the newspaper. Needless to say, I took the bit in my mouth and ran with it - I've always been fascinated by World War Two, and Kit's such a great character I just had to know what happens to her when she grows up.
I was a little surprised - although perhaps I shouldn't have been - that there's actually a section for American Girl stories on this site. I guess I'm not the only one who never quite outgrew them. Also, I think it's funny how many Ben/Felicity stories there are; I've always assumed that they'd end up together and even tried my hand at writing it, myself, back when I was about thirteen or so. Ben Davidson was such a hottie, wasn't he?
That boy's as scrawny as a plucked chicken now. But you mark my words - he'll grow into that voice and those ears and elbows someday. And when he does, he'll be a handsome fellow.
-Aunt Millie in Happy Birthday, Kit!
Kit Grows Up
The young lady in question didn't look up from her desk. "I go by Margaret now," she said.
"I'm sorry, but you'll always be Kit to me," the young man said. "Why don't you say hello to an old friend?"
Dragging her eyes from her work, Kit looked up, without recognition at first as she took in the tall figure before her. It was the familiar gray eyes that clued her in. And the first thought that sprang into her mind was: Aunt Millie was right. He did grow up handsome. "Stirling Howard!" she exclaimed, and slipped from behind her desk for an impulsive hug. "What in the world are you doing here?"
"Dropping off some things for my boss," Stirling explained. "I work just up the street."
"I had no idea." Kit turned to a female co-worker. "Cathy, will you cover for me for a few minutes?" Cathy nodded. "Let's walk," she addressed Stirling, slipping a sweater over her shoulders.
"Let's." Stirling looked her over. In her navy skirt, yellow Peter Pan blouse, and pale blue cardigan Kit looked like springtime itself. Her blond hair was still worn in a sleek bob, tamed with a pair of bobby pins. In short, her unlooked-for loveliness left Stirling Howard slightly speechless.
"I see you're still with the Register," he began inanely as the elevator descended to street level.
"I think that Mr. Gibson just got used to seeing me around," Kit explained. "I started working here for real as soon as I was out of school. Of course it's not so unusual for a girl, now, with all the young men away at war, and -" She blushed, suddenly realizing what she'd said. "I'm so sorry, I don't mean -"
"I was classified 4-F," Stirling said, without a trace of bitterness. "It's all right. Have you learned to type properly, then?"
"With all ten fingers," Kit replied, wiggling her inky digits by way of proof. "I took a special course."
"What's your beat?" Stirling asked as the elevator doors opened and they crossed the busy marble lobby..
"War Desk," Kit said, causing Stirling to whistle his admiration. "It's not such a big deal, really," she continued offhandedly. "The news comes across the wires, and we type up the stories."
"Don't shortchange yourself," Stirling urged her. "Think of how many people depend on you for the news. And you like it, I'm sure."
"I love it." Her face glowed, and it wasn't just the May sunshine. "And look at you - you've really grown up." This wasn't an exaggeration; she had to tilt her head back a little to look him in the eye. "What are you doing now?"
The Howards had moved out when Kit and Stirling were thirteen, and she'd seen him at increasingly infrequent intervals since then. Truth be told, she hadn't even thought about him for the longest time; now, he was working just up the street! "Well," he said, "I graduated early and then I managed one year of art school. Just one." His cheerful demeanor belied the years of abject poverty he'd endured, the ridicule, and the responsibility for his mother that he'd assumed at such a young age. "I'm working for an ad firm now and we've got a government contract, so there's plenty of work."
"'Buy War Bonds' and all that," Kit concurred. Being in the news industry, she saw it on a daily basis.
"You know the poster where Hitler's body is on the head of a chicken?"
"The Hitler Chicken?" Kit used her coworkers' nickname for the image that was ludicrous, but effective. "Your company did that?"
"I did that," Stirling corrected, his thin chest swelling with pride. "It may be silly, but it's a good honest living."
"It's not silly at all," Kit said practically. "I'm so pleased for you. How's your mother?"
"Mother's very well, thank you," Stirling replied. "She keeps house for a lovely old widow at the edge of town. It was your mother's recommendation, actually, that got her the post. And how are the Kittredges? Still keeping boarders?"
"We're down to three," Kit explained. "Once Dad started working as an auto mechanic, Mother thought to shut down the boarding house, but we'd all grown so used to having the extra people around. And there are so many farm girls coming into town to do the jobs the men left behind. We have three young lady boarders - one of them actually works at the Register; we take the train in together sometimes."
"Charlie joined the Army after two years in the CCC," Kit explained. "He was saving money for college, but before he got out, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Now he's in it for the duration."
"But we hear from him often," Kit added hastily. "He's over in Europe - I can't wait to tell him that the Hitler Chicken is yours."
"Here's my building," Stirling said with evident regret. "It was wonderful seeing you again. I can't believe I've been working up the street from you all this time without knowing it."
"Don't be a stranger." Kit had a sudden inspiration. "Oh! Why don't you come by for supper tonight? I'm sure my folks would love a visit."
"Are you sure?"
"You remember the way, don't you?" She gave him an impish grin.
The smile he returned was a mile wide. "Of course I do."