Justine's bedroom was now a common room between Cassiopeia's and Serina's bedrooms. I was informed of this as she shut the door. The sacred pinups of Richard and Dirk were removed from the wall, and the well-worn tape attached them to Justine's pillows. The Dirk-pillow was held out to me reverently with the words: "Here, Cassie...I found Starbuck!"


I had found myself on a date with the man of my twelve-year-old dreams!

Justine had me sit down, and left the room for a bit. When she got back, she was carrying some cheese (slices of Velveeta), crackers (Saltines), paté (cold, sliced hot dogs), and wine (cherry Kool-Aid). As she set these items out on the floor, she apologized for not being able to find some candles. "Mom would've smelled the smoke anyway." I nodded in agreement.

We proceeded to have a very nice, romantic dinner with our dates, pretending to include comments from Richard-pillow (in the guise of Apollo) and Dirk-pillow (as Starbuck). If one of us didn't catch a pillow comment, the confused would ask: "What did you say, Apollo/Starbuck?" and the non-confused would repeat what had been "said".

I guess we can honestly tell people we shared pillow talk with these guys. *dodging the rotten tomatoes being hurled my way*

Our little dinner ended after the food was gone. I figured the date was over, too, until Justine looked pointedly at me and asked: "Cassie, don't you think you and Starbuck might be more comfortable in your bedroom?"

Whaaaat? Huh?

I must've looked like a total doof to her at this point, because she broke character. She explained it to me like I was a small child: "You take him into the closet, 'cause that's the bedroom, and you make out with him."

"How do I do that?"

"You KISS him, dummy."

"Justiiiiine," I whined, "It's a picture. You can't kiss a picture."

She rolled her eyes at me dramatically, grabbed Richard-pillow, and gave him a big, long smooch. Then she looked back at me.

"See? That's how you do it. How do you think you're gonna kiss a boy if you don't practice?"

"I dunno. But I don't know how to kiss."

"You just do what I did. You make a whistle with your lips and you put your lips on his lips. You kind of move your head around, too, because that makes the boys like you more. Just go in the closet and kiss Starbuck!!!"

Ummmm, okay...

So this is how, late one night in the last days of November, 1980, I found myself in a dark walk-in closet practicing my first kisses on a pin-up of Dirk Benedict taped to a pillow. At some point, the play clothes and the Catholic school uniforms were transformed into glistening draperies on the Rising Star, and the old window over the built-in chest of drawers became a view port through which Starbuck and Cassiopeia gazed at the passing stars, talking in hushed tones about finally finding Earth.

Something like an hour passed, and I finally ventured a peek out of the closet. There was Justine, curled up on her bed with Richard-pillow snugly in her arms. I crept around to the other side and climbed in, hugging Dirk-pillow as I fell asleep.

The next morning was filled with all the last-minute conversation we could fit in before my mother came to pick me up. I definitely remember something being said about the two of us growing up to be rich and famous, and putting "Battlestar Galactica" back on television. (This cracks me up now, in light of the revival efforts.) We also decided that we would move out to California when we turned eighteen, and she would start dating Richard Hatch, and I would date Dirk Benedict. (I don't know where SHE is, but I'm here in the Los Angeles area. I'm quite single, and my phone number is...yeah, I know. Dirk lives in Montana. Please.)

Mom pulled up just as we'd finished eating a bowl of whatever cereal that is with Sugar Bear on the box. Justine turned the stereo up with her Supertramp record on the turntable so we "didn't hear" the doorbell. Her little brother finally answered the door. He told my mother we were just a bunch of stupid dummies. Mom just smiled, and informed her little Colonial Warrior it was time to go.

I called Justine as soon as I got home to talk some more. I was beginning to turn into an American Teenager, much to my parents' dismay.

The rest of seventh grade went pretty much like that. I spent the night about five more times at Justine's house, and she came over to mine a few times. Love notes attributed to Starbuck and Apollo kept getting passed, and only one was ever intercepted. The teacher, bless her heart to this day, had the prudence to read the thing first, and chose not to read it out loud to the class, which is what was normally done. I actually think she got a kick out of it, myself.

All the paperback novels from the series were terribly dog-eared by May, and set to memory. There wasn't a single inch of our book covers or notebooks that wasn't sporting some sort of Galactican drawing. We had even taken to writing any personal things in that alphabet. Yes, I tried to turn in a book report using the alphabet for my capital letters, only to be informed by the teacher that I was to use normal writing from then on.

We actually did try and do our best in school, because that was the only way we would be accepted into the Warrior Academy. (Oh, don't ask. If I remember right, we were vaguely talking about the Air Force Academy, so we could fly planes and join Project Blue Book---we didn't know it had been closed for over a decade.) Unfortunately, with all our obsessing about a television show, our grades were just average. Mom wasn't too happy.

Then came the announcement in Homeroom that we were going to have a talent show. By lunchtime, Justine and I were already planning on doing a scene from "Battlestar Galactica". I had the pilot episode on tape at home, and that night I transcribed the scene where Adama finds his home in ruins on Caprica, and tells Serina and the others to gather everyone together for the exodus of the Twelve Colonies.

When Justine saw the pages the next day, she immediately demanded that I let her play Apollo and Serina. Fine with me, I thought. After all, *I* was the one who was going to be the famous actress (when I wasn't hunting down U.F.O.s, that is), so I should be Adama, because he had the most lines.

I think it took us all of thirty minutes to memorize our lines.

When we got up in front of the whole school the afternoon of the talent show, we were on top of the world. Justine turned on the tape recorder, and the theme to the show tinnily filled the room. She turned down the volume, and I spoke to our audience: "There are those who believe that life here began out there..." As we launched into the scene, the parish hall turned into the ruins of Caprica in our minds, and we went headlong into our television world. Everything was so perfect we didn't want to stop when it ended.

And we surprised ourselves when we actually got decent applause as we took our awkward bows. Of course, we were probably more entertaining than the kid who'd gone before us...his mom had made him read from Moby Dick. A girl from the sixth grade squeaked out some unidentifiable song on the flute as we found our seats again. Typical talent show stuff.

And as for the FINAL CHAPTER...