This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Copyright 2012 by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Cover and Book Design: Publishing yndicate !dited by "heresa !lders Published by Publishing yndicate at #ash$ords Print !dition % B& '()*0*')+0,02*1*Digital !dition % B& '()*0*'*)+0,02*2*0 Library o. Congress Control &u#ber 2012'-0')) All rights reserved/ Thank you for downloading this free e-book. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Smashwords.com, where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support. Published in the 0nited tates by Publishing yndicate P1 Bo2 ,0( 1rangevale3 Cali.ornia '+,,2 http !!www."ublishingSyndicate.com This book is dedicated to the young poets and dreamers of the world.
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops all.” #mily $ickinson
“My river runs to thee: Blue sea, wilt welcome me ” The words lingered in %%&s ears, compelling her lips to move along the edges of the syllables. The coffee shop was bathed in dim light, e'cept for the spotlight that held the woman centered on stage as she captured the packed crowd with #mily $ickinson&s poetry. %% sat at a table off in a corner by herself, her cobalt blue journal opened wide. She glanced down at the pages of rhymes and rhythmic phrases she&d never once shared with another human being. Though she&d been attending The Spot&s (riday night open readings since her freshman year at private school, %% never before had come to fulfill a class assignment. That would have mi'ed business with pleasure. )nfortunately, that was what she was doing at this very moment* mi'ing business with pleasure. +,y river waits reply. -h sea, look graciously./ The woman reciting these words was %%&s creative writing teacher, ,rs. 0lark. She&d re1uired the class to attend a poetry reading dedicated to #mily $ickinson. -ne by one, other students took the stage to read a poem from $ickinson&s body of work. Thankfully, this wasn&t mandatory, so %% could sit 1uietly in the corner and blend in with the crowd, as if she weren&t even there. She was a fan of $ickinson, of course, but not enough of a fan to brave the stage and read a poem outloud to the audience. 2er stage fright always got the best of her. The host of the open reading, a short man wearing s1uare black-framed glasses who worked the coffee counter during the day, took the microphone and e'pressed his thanks for the large turnout. %% remembered he&d once taken her for a boy. Since she wore her hair cut short, with bleached-blond tips, usually board-stiff from gobs of gel, her soft tomboyish appearance confused him and he&d mistakenly called her +sir./ %% had simply blinked back at him. 2e&d immediately recogni3ed his mistake and offered her numerous apologies, along with a free cappuccino. She dismissed it as a misunderstanding, knowing he hadn&t done it on purpose. -thers had made far harsher comments about her ambiguous appearance before, and not one of those people had ever offered her a fresh cappuccino to save face. 4hen the winning performance of the night was announced, %% wasn&t the least bit surprised to see one of the students in her own writing class walk up on stage, smiling widely in her sunshine-colored get-up. 2er name was -livia. -livia 5reen. 6ow that&s a writer&s name, thought %%. ,uch more colorful than her own cow-milking farmhand name of %osephine %enkins. 4hen she was a child, she&d responded to everything from %osie to %o, but decided to call herself %% before she came to Sampson. She believed that going by her initials introduced
elements of curiosity and originality, themes she liked to showcase at the forefront of her personality. After she left the coffee house, %% shuffled along the broken sidewalk toward campus. As she walked her flip-flops, smacking against her heels, kept up a soothing beat. She reali3ed if she sped up just a bit, the beat would change. She tucked her journal under her left arm like a tightly kept secret. She wondered if she would ever muster up enough courage to step up on that stage and share such secrets with the world. Though she knew deep inside that she was as talented as the rest, a self-deprecating fear constantly gripped at her sides and held her back. A rumble echoed in the distance. The night&s predicted thunderstorm grew closer. %% leaned against a flickering lamppost, and then slid down to the sidewalk. 2er blueberry-colored sweatshirt itched against her back as she reached into her baggy shorts for her pen. She chewed on its end for a moment, as words played in her head. 7ightning flashed, making its mark on the sky. Then a thunderous crash shook the air. %% focused her attention back onto the blank page in her journal. She scratched out the words in her nearly illegible penmanship !"A# $%" &'M()" *$#+, T'%,, -%A&&-M'%. yet, undenia/ly T$#T-$-& *hen 'T #"A0H"& TH" H"A#T in my chest, causing 'T T$ ($-%+ *hen 'T T#A1")& TH" )'MB& of my /ody, causing TH"M T$ T#"MB)" *hen 'T &""(& into my mind, causing TH$-.HT& T$ &0ATT"# *hen 'T +*"))& in the pit of my stomach, causing 'T T$ &('% $%" &'M()" *$#+2 "%+)"&& "3'&T"%0" 0an4t ' 5ust "#A&" 'T !#$M M, M'%+ 8aindrops began to spot the page, smudging the ink. %% tilted her head, and with her eyes tightly shut let the water tickle her face. If she sat there long enough, she hoped the rain would wash away all of her fear. A smooth black 9,4 slowed and stopped at the curb beside her. Though the windows were tinted, %% knew who was behind the wheel. :ueenie ,c9ride, heiress to the throne of the ,c9ride #state, rolled down the window. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back into a baseball cap and her almond colored eyes were barely visible in the darkness. She happily wore her usual smug e'pression on her long face. It somehow lent her the appearance of a seasoned woman, someone aware of the comple'ities of life. ;nown in <irginia as the con1uerors of the cotton industry, the ,c9ride family could trace their lineage back to before the 0ivil 4ar. They owned a plantation where slaves once had worked their lands. :ueenie despised her family roots and everything they stood for. 2er revenge was to spend her parents& money as frivolously as possible. -f course, there was the added shock value of being a lesbian. It wasn&t the only thing that she and %% had in common, but it planted the seed from which their friendship grew. +4hat are you doing=/ :ueenie asked in an accusatory tone. +Are you finding yourself again=/ +I&m e'ercising my right of creative e'pression./ +0are if I interrupt=/
+$o I have a choice=/ +6ot if you want a ride back to school./ %% reluctantly closed her journal and climbed into the front seat. :ueenie hit a button on the radio that sent the Indigo 5irls blaring in surround sound. +6ew speakers,/ :ueenie yelled above the music, pointing to the back of the car. As they headed on to the school grounds, :ueenie began to sing. 4ithin seconds, %% joined in and their voices blended with the music. They entered the conservative bubble of Sampson Academy with :ueenie riding the high of buying her new state-of-the-art speakers at her parents& e'pense while %% tried desperately to erase the word fear from her mind.
4ith the rain falling outside her open window, ;endal ,c0arthy was finding it hard to concentrate on #mily $ickinson&s poetry. She lay on her stomach, staring at the words on the page as if they were written in 5reek. (or some reason, school was something that had never been easy for her. She had to study hard just to keep a 9 average. In public school, she&d coasted easily. )nfortunately, when she transferred to Sampson Academy during her freshman year, ;endal discovered she wasn&t prepared for the serious kind of studying that private high school courses re1uired. $uring the better part of her junior year, her grade point average slipped so low her parents had threatened to pull her out of Sampson altogether. If she wanted to graduate with the rest of her class, ;endal had no other choice but to seek help. 4ith a little tutoring on the side and an obligatory willingness to do her homework instead of partying, she managed to pull her grades back up. 2er hardest class this semester was 4omen&s 7iterature, and she&d decided to get some help after she received a low grade on an essay assignment. ;endal pulled her small frame off the bed and stood in front of the full-length mirror, which hung between the two single beds in her room. 2er hair was cut in a layered angle just below her neckline and was the color of auburn leaves preparing to fall. The greenish-blue tint of her eyes seemed to change color depending upon the way the light hit them. 2er face was heartshaped with a slight curve angling along her cheekbones. She was pretty and she&d always known she was pretty. 5ood genes her mother had told her, you were blessed with a good-looks gene. ;endal sighed. The fact that she was beautiful used to satisfy her. At one point it had been enough. 9ut she&d grown tired of it somewhere along the way. This was her senior year at Sampson and she felt as if something was missing, some unforgettable e'perience that would help her figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. A vacant space e'isted inside of her and nothing had been able to fill it, not cheerleading, not her friends, not her looks, not even her popularity. 6othing. She could hear the rest of the girls of $eacon 2all running around the dorm getting ready to venture out for the night. Their vivacious laughter only reminded her that she wouldn&t be joining them. Instead of partaking in common adolescent delin1uencies with the rest of the students at Sampson, she and some random tutor were going to be nose-deep in #mily $ickinson.
The door to her room swung open. 0hristine, her roommate and fellow cheerleader, barged in and s1uealed, +4e&re getting ready to go out. 0ome join./ ;endal hissed at the re1uest. +I probably shouldn&t show up late to a tutoring session,/ she said smartly. +>ou&re such a good student. >ou do know that ;yan is going to be at this party, right=/ +>es, you only told me a billion times at dinner./ +>ou sure you can&t skip this=/ +>es, so 1uit asking./ +(ine,/ 0hristine raised her hand into the air. +2appy studying, then. And um*don&t wait up for me./ ;endal fought the overwhelming urge to join everyone in the ne't room and fill her ears with the latest school gossip*until she spotted the open book out of the corner of her eye. 2er stomach turned with guilt. After gathering her things, she pulled #mily $ickinson off the bed and slid the book of poetry into her backpack. She left the dorm as fast as she could, knowing that if she lingered any longer she might get swept up in the commotion. The rain had slowed to a dri33le and the mild wind felt cool against her cheeks. She crossed the soggy lawn listening to the sounds of the campus come alive in the damp air. Sampson Academy was a small private high school with a small-town feel. It took only about five minutes to walk across the entire campus. ;endal took one last look across the 1uad toward her dorm and then up the road at ,arlon 2all, the dorm where the all the soccer players lived and where all her friends would be hanging out. She ga3ed longingly at the colonial building until she felt her backpack rub against her shoulder, reminding her that #mily $ickinson was waiting for her.
+A hundred and ten dollars for a new pair of 6ike shoes=/ %% dribbled the basketball between her legs. +I can&t believe you spent that much./ +Actually, I got a discount because I bought them online,/ :ueenie e'plained. She was standing under the basket waiting for %% to shoot the ball. +9esides, I needed to improve my vertical./ +The most technically advanced 6ikes couldn&t help you with your vertical./ %% knew full well that at si' feet tall, :ueenie didn&t need any help jumping in order to get a clear shot at the basket. +It&s my parents& money, so what do you care=/ +I don&t./ +5ood. Shoot the ball./ %% launched the ball into the air and it swished through the net. :ueenie caught it and passed it back. %% dribbled to the foul line, crossed over and shot again. The ball sank gracefully through the hoop. +0an&t stop me tonight./ she shouted, as she peeked at the clock on the wall. 2er heart sank instantly. +)h oh./ +4hat=/ :ueenie asked, as she laid the ball up easily against the backboard.
%% picked up her cell phone to check her calendar. +I completely forgot. I&m supposed to be tutoring at the library right now./ +So you&re late, don&t go./ %% already was sprawled on the floor, struggling to untie the knots in her shoes. +I can&t just skip it. )nlike you, I have to work for my money./ +I resent that,/ :ueenie said, s1uee3ing the basketball with both hands. +It takes hard work to ask my parents for money. It re1uires a certain skill, persistence and the wit of a seasoned con artist./ +-h, yeah, I&m sure it must be a struggle to go through life as a ,c9ride./ %% slid one leg into her warm-ups, trying to shove her things into her gym bag at the same time. :ueenie stepped over to let %% use her lanky frame for support. +I can&t help it if my parents are incredibly wealthy,/ she said. +At least I get to reap the benefits./ +7ucky you./ +So what illiterate soccer player are you tutoring tonight, anyway=/ %% slipped her flip-flops on and took the ball from :ueenie&s hands. +6o soccer player tonight. I drew the hot ticket in the lottery this time./ +0heerleader=/ %% nodded. +Seriously= 4ho=/ +6one other than the homecoming 1ueen herself, T2# ;endal ,c0arthy./ :ueenie raised an eyebrow. +4ell, then, you best get a move on. $on&t want to keep little ,iss ,c0arthy waiting./ +I&m sure she&s trembling with anticipation./ %% threw on her navy baseball cap and slung her gym bag over her shoulder. +$o me a favor and stay out of trouble tonight, will you= 4e have an early practice tomorrow./ +5ee, okay, ,om. I&ll be good, I promise./ %% ignored :ueenie&s retort and hurried out of the athletic center. It was a 1uarter past nine and she was supposed to have been at the library at e'actly ? p.m. to meet ;endal. She sped up her pace as she crossed the street and headed across the lawn. The rain-soaked grass dampened her socks and she wished she&d been wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops. -ther students passed her, giggling and laughing. The weekend had begun. ,aintaining a solid reputation had become an essential way of life at Sampson Academy. %% had yet to step foot into a soccer party, or even the boys& dormitory for that matter. She and her basketball teammates had formed their own cli1ue to help deal with the stereotypes that came with being female athletes at a private school full of over-privileged kids. $uring her freshman year, %% had entertained the idea of joining a few campus organi3ations because she longed to be a part of something other than basketball. 9ut :ueenie had steered her away from anything and everything superficial. So %% belonged to a group of non-conformists made up of straight-edged kids who neither drank nor smoked, nor cheated on tests. Some were athletes, some social outcasts, and some were studious kids who, like %%, just didn&t fit the so-called Sampson student profile. There was a certain pride in being part of that group, something that said, +I don&t need to fit in or be popular./ :ueenie had instilled that pride in %%, and she felt forever in :ueenie&s debt. The "age 7ibrary was 1uieter than the campus outside. As its air of calm eased into her ears, %% felt her body rela'. She searched around the room, filled with tables and countless rows of books. It wasn&t hard to spot ;endal. She was the only other student in the library and she was
/ +That&s what I thought. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. I tutor a lot of different people./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college./ . ne't to the biography section. I&m %%. a little shamefully. +The soccer team and I go way back.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. >ou&re . It&s a completely different kind of reality. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from. right=/ ./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. 4hen we discuss a poem in class. +4ell. or when . I might as well be reading a foreign language. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. right=/ . %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker.endal. So. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. I&d give anything to be able to do that./ .endal&s frustration. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying.y friend. 0hin e'plains what a poem means./ %% e'tended her hand. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't./ +It&s okay./ said %%.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously. #veryone needs help now and then. +It&s something I have had to work harder at./ %% understood . I can actually read and write somewhat well. I&m completely lost. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table.endal confessed.endal nodded. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. and since she was a writer herself.sitting at the farthest table from the door. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader./ +Seriously though. though she couldn&t relate to it. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked./ she said breathlessly./ %% smiled./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended. +I&m really sorry.endal emitted a dramatic groan.endal&s left shoulder. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. is like that. go to class and pass a test without even studying./ . %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over . +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time./ .s.endal said 1uickly. She ran her hand through her hair again. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. +I didn&t mean anything by that. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . . >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. +I&m sorry. :ueenie. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings.s. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class./ said . She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans. +4ell./ +. +I&ve seen you around school. +I was just joking.endal. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now.
That makes no show for dawn./ %% rambled on. long sleep. . She was nervous for some reason and for a second she forgot why she was even in the library until she saw the book of poetry open in front of them. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. a famous sleep.+)nfortunately. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. +. +-kay. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. +I don&t think that matters. like fruity or something.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down./ ./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ ./ They discussed the poem at length.endal struggled to make sense of most of them./ she said. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them./ ./ +)m*thanks./ %% heard herself say. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to. +It isn&t as important as you might think. +I mean. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously. An independent one./ she said. . ./ +Thanks. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said./ said %%. .endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. long sleep./ +It seems like a waste of time. 4hy even write if you aren&t going to share your work with other people=/ +Some people don&t need approval from others in order to call themselves writers. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. +So./ said %%. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. See. +%ust so we can read it together. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. +8ead the last two lines. +>ou smell nice. . right= A long.endal was staring at her. my responses don&t even make up half a page. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. along with a few others for over an hour. not once look up for noon . fully aware that .endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. +A long. though./ +5ood. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. pointing at the page. It distracted her. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. bask centuries away ./ .endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. you know. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. %% looked up from the page. There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves. . +It smells like strawberries or something like that./ +To bask centuries away. to break the ensuing awkward silence./ She paused and looked up from the page. looking up from the book. she&s talking about death./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that .endal said./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of.
one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love./ said %%. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader. same time. 2e said you were one of the best. and the warm sensation she felt whenever . for instance.endal asked. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. She was more than beautiful./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow./ . %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. ./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here. >ou said it yourself. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor./ +I didn&t think that./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. you know. e'cept I&ll be on time./ said ./ +In what way=/ +4ell./ she said./ she said finally. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background. letting the sound of . The dorm room was empty when %% entered./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to .nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor. laughing. recalling the tidbits of conversation.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook.endal .c0arthy up close./ +"ossibly. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though.endal said. +4hat=/ . slid her hat on backwards. ./ %% admitted./ %% studied her.endal. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing. This one she kept in her bed in case she ever woke up from a dream and needed to write her thoughts down on paper before they vanished from her mind like midnight fog. +6othing. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face. same time.endal. +I&ll see you ne't session.endal was staring at her again. . . we&re even then. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . +Same place.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending./ +>eah. It was her turn to look away this time. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie. +I should get back to my dorm. She blinked and looked away.endal accidentally brushed against her. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. %% stood still for half a second longer. as if she were keeping a secret.endal&s folder. -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious. though she could hear the television in the common room. remember=/ +4ell. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team.
/ %% looked at her skeptically. +4hat=/ . 8ead it with more enthusiasm. +4ild nights. . an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. 4ild nights. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. . ' see it . 4hen %% opened her eyes.A number two pencil. .endal asked. a feeling. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . CHAPTER # +4ild nights. %% sat back and admired her work./ said %%. 4ild nights. the writer inside of her had taken hold. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. a moment. an image of . with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed.endal raised her voice slightly. a /reath A second to say the words that never leave your lips And then it4s gone )eaving /ehind a sensation Tingling in my heart )ingering in the air Ma6ing me wish That the moment never ended Ma6ing me hope To feel it again But ' imagine That ne7t time The words will flow The moment will last The /reathing will speed And emotions will reveal *hat lies patiently Beyond your eyes 4hen she finished. Sitting with her legs crossed. She whispered the poem out loud to herself in the safe confines of an empty room where she felt secure that no one else could hear her.endal appeared in %%&s mind. sitting side by side. Beyond your eyes. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. fell out from between the pages./ +6o. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. no. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library.
she would have never dared to do what she had just done. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together. +4I7$ nights. they&ve been enjoyable./ +Sure. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . #mily $ickinson is just the beginning./ she said. And it was all because of . studying. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word. done with the chart. %% playfully grabbed hold of . +(utile the winds to a heart in port./ said %%. even though her stomach was in knots. +>es. +I&m just doing the poem justice. Thanks to you./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ ./ .endal began reciting the poem./ %% said after a moment. >ou&ll see. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. done with the compass. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me.endal&s hand and pushed it away. +4ow./ %% held back her sigh of relief.endal looked on in ama3ement./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table./ %% shifted in her chair. It&s been two weeks of studying. +So back to those @wild nights. that was much better. +See. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. studying.endal opened her mouth to begin. As soon as she finished. +-kay./ %% forced a smile. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. studying. %% covered the page with her hands./ %% insisted.endal laughed. %% stood up and began clapping loudly. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. wild night. +See the difference=/ +>eah. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. give it a little more oomph./ +$ickinson is the beginning./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y.endal&s hand./ she said. studying.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask.&/ said . haven&t they=/ . +#'cept this time. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy. slowly releasing . e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair.endal asked. 4ere I with thee. 4as she at a party or something=/ +. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines.endal.endal&s eyes./ . 4hat do you think it means=/ . her hair.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down.endal sighed.endal. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury./ . you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. ./ +I know./ %% watched closely as ./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. 4I7$ nights.endal. She stood up firm and bellowed. 9ut as soon as ./ said %%.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended.
another woman./ +I don&t know. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender. but wild as in overwhelming. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. they&d have plenty of @wild nights./ +8ight./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. ./ :ueenie snorted./ she said finally. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. Instead they continued talking. +4ell. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up.endal might say in return./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say./ .endal&s eyes widened. . +>ou don&t think it&s possible for a woman to feel that intensely about another woman= To feel that much in love=/ She looked along the bookshelves as she asked this. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. She read the poem over again./ She pointed to . neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go. are you going to tell me or just sit there eating your eggs with that ridiculous grin on your face for the rest of breakfast=/ +4hat= I&m hungry./ %% began. +I do think it&s possible. slightly afraid of what . CHAPTER $ +So. the @wildness& is describing what she felt./ +#'actly. pretending to buff her nails. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. She&s just e'pressing love. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual./ +And when she got there. +7ook./ They stared at one another. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about.endal studied the words on the page./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me.endal&s heart. but paused for a moment. outside the boundaries of reality. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately./ %% paused.&/ %% laughed. the winds were useless to her. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think.
and she longed to change the subject. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. I don&t know.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive. 9ut %% knew this was different./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. +I don&t believe it. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits. This is T2# . An'iety itched in her stomach. I happen to think she&s nice./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well./ +So=/ +So.endal .c0arthy./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. cocking her head to one side.&/ +So. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. She&s nice. That doesn&t mean I like her. Though it was rumored that .elly that she was gay and how she felt. +6ot even close. I don&t even know her. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment. %% made the mistake of telling . peppering her eggs with hot sauce. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named . %% soon fell into a depression. if you say so. she spotted . +0an we talk about something else. +6o. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious./ +>eah. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity./ %% said.elly transferred to another school the following semester./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance.elly $ibble./ +-. +$on&t look at me like that. $uring her sophomore year.. please=/ +(ine. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. and . I mean.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner./ %% warned.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. and regain her sense of self. (rom that point on. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. %% had considered it./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret./ +She&s not what she seems. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. 4ith :ueenie&s help. She remained steadfast.+0ute. she&s*she&s different. . >ou like her. too./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player./ she said.endal . +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. grimacing from the soreness. but you used the word @nice. ./ Ah. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now./ %% insisted. yes. In fact./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked.
she finally understood what her teacher was talking about and was able to contribute to class discussions instead of doodling in her notebook like she had since the beginning of the semester. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back./ 0hristine motioned to .ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal&s tray. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. #very single girl at the table had looked at her as if she were an illegal immigrant who&d dared to cross the border without a valid passport. . and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism. +At least I eat./ . +#'cuse me.endal was on a natural high./ -f course I didn&t know that. I just choose to eat healthy.endal picked at her eggs./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess.endal sat down across from her. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. 2er school uniform. hung neatly at her hips. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. +$efinitely. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . +Ahem. +I eat. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could../ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it./ .endal looked down at her runny eggs. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. complemented with potatoes and bacon. cooked over-easy. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. a jacket and skirt combination. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. the art club. the drama club. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. (or once.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. %%% . :ueenie was giving her that look. (eeling defeated./ she retorted. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. and . she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table./ %% snapped out of her da3e. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only. %% had thought. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams.
and about her own response. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly./ +4ell./ 0hristine continued./ +She helps me with homework. Two. about the feeling of their locked hands. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. She&s on the basketball team. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about.endal had caught her staring. +It&s %% something or other. . And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name./ +5od. So is half of the basketball team. 2e counted silently. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. 9ut she had stared back at %%./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. I&d just be careful if I were you.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. +$on&t give her your phone number. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . CHAPTER & .endal immediately thought of them sitting at the table in the library where she and %% usually shared a book of poetry and how she&d accidentally brushed up against %% on more than one occasion over the past couple of weeks. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her.endal picked up a piece of bacon. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot. I mean.endal. no. She had suspected that %% was different somehow. +I&m not naAve. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. She felt di33y and lightheaded. look at your track record.+Speaking of which. and . She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session./ . -ne. or she might start te'ting you./ +It&s so obvious. then the girl who spit when she talked. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. that&s it. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events. (ive. +0&mon. giving her knots in her stomach. (our. :ueenie or something. . . 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened./ 0hristine&s eyes widened./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off.endal said 1uickly. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. That&s what a tutor does. a lesbian. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot./ 0hristine advised. I just never suspected. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. +She&s gay./ ./ she gasped.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. Three. 9ut if %% was gay./ .yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand.
2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. +I told 0hristine./ %ason said. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. you know. 2e had always set his goals high./ . but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection.c0arthy.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better.yan replied between reps. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. %ason.c0arthy= T2# ./ . +$efinitely. a captain on the soccer team. >ou up for it=/ -ne of . The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader.c0arthy. 2e had to perform well. Then he sank to the ground. likeable. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. and began to do sit ups. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. now stood over him. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work.endal . This was his last season of his high school career. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. popular. Sweat began to form on his brow. Someone like .endal . but not too smart. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about. 2e had the perfect reputation. but he&d never admit that. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition.ya 9rooks. 2e had the perfect body. She didn&t have a boyfriend. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason./ %ason said. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. +"erfect. from his grades to the girls he dated. 7ack of confidence was the other. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country.yan&s soccer teammates. 2e needed the perfect girl.endal . watching himself in the mirror. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. . 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. beautiful. one piece to make the pu33le complete./ +. #verything in his life was set to high standards.c0arthy=/ +>es.yan wanted someone less brainy. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come.yan sat up and smiled slyly.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts.yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus.endal . . I think it&s time . And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. 2e breathed heavily. There was one more thing he needed though. +2ey./ . She was perfect for him*just the right si3e. #ven for you. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. . +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. where true dedication and hard work could get you. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired.endal . Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat. .
%% shook her head in disbelief. of course. :ueenie promised. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents.endal . 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. It was early %une./ +4hatever you say. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. It would be an affair to remember. All it takes is a little bit of charm. %% remembered the night clearly. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. She and her family were close. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. he&d learned to live with the situation. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. especially not ./ . That.+This is me you&re talking to. +7et&s go. About two years earlier her father had threatened to disown her after her mother caught :ueenie in the guest bedroom kissing a female member of the cleaning staff./ he said. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. they eventually came around. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. The only thing that eased :ueenie&s mind about being home was the fact that she secretly had planned her biggest revenge on her family to date. a suburb of 8ichmond. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. knowing how things in his life were working out so well.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. was not the reason.rs.onopoly. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . :ueenie&s mother. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. buddy. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. Sometimes it was almost too much. As far as %% knew. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. . 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills.c9ride. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. 9ut with a little convincing from . 2er mother also was a teacher.c0arthy. . 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. thinking she was depressed because she was stuck at home for the summer and hadn&t yet found a job so that she could make some e'tra money.
/ %% wanted to make her understand. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. no designated date or time. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. 2er father. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room./ She handed over the book. maybe an internship. and shook her head./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. it&s not that. even though I know you both will be disappointed. I&ve known since the third grade. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried.+%osie. +Something I am afraid to say. 4ith each passing day. hoping it would help her parents understand. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it.om. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. yet when she needed them the most.om. %% remembered. There was no plan. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. all those boys around. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. 8oast beef and vegetables. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. Something that I have to say. +I know you are confused. It was eating her alive. $ifferent $aughters. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. in her bed each night. it&s not that. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. but this might help. and knew there was no going back. +6o. %% had rushed after her. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. herself.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. It&s just something I am. I&d still be this way. She could barely swallow her potatoes./ Silence followed. she couldn&t find them. +I could check with the paper. so caring and so sincere. the worry and the confusion. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. wide-eyed./ %% knew this. . she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. being untrue to both herself and them./ %%&s eyes widened. I&ve always known. %% grew increasingly reserved. She had always known this. it&s not something anyone did. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. her words coming slowly. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. 2er mother remained composed. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase./ she continued. +6o. didn&t know the real her. eating dinner.om./ . years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. (inally. to tell her family. and when it was time to say the e'act words. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. the night had come. . you can tell us anything. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. +I have to tell you something.
like what was her biggest fear. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. and wished she were there to witness it./ :ueenie said blandly.2er mother continued to cry. and her father. .aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. on the other hand. and needed help with her schoolwork. It wasn&t real. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. 2e said he loved her no matter what. maybe this wasn&t real either.aybe :ueenie was right. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional./ +2ey./ +I know. . A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. +I&m having the time of my life. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. It was almost overwhelming. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. where would she go and why. %% had never known anyone like her. It&s nothing. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities./ . their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. .endal besides the obvious. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. 2onest. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud.endal&s head. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. (or some reason. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. that she was a cheerleader. 2er father. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. :ueenie. though he still held onto his own world views.endal. %% laughed. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. %% craved more. remained completely calm. As long as she had his love and support. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. She wanted to get inside . and learned to look at %% through different eyes. Then her mind drifted again and . She knew how much :ueenie envied her. and they didn&t speak for days. and that was that. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. %% had yet to learn anything more about ./ she said proudly. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. who was set in his ways./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. Then again. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. was incredibly beautiful and popular. This sparked an intense argument between them.endal danced her way in. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. she felt satisfied. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about .
+Sure. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand.endal finally won her first hand. +It&s an easy game. she was drunk. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins.endal stood there with her hands on her hips./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. +Too much.endal knew instantly who he was. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave. you. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest. I gotta go.yan Stevens. %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down. 9y the time . 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. . . I&ll see you Sunday. she began to think about . who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. .endal./ ./ he said sweetly. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. the captain of the soccer team. +./ . as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind./ :ueenie said an'iously. She&d had previous brief conversations with . why not. 2ave fun. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. .yan. .+7ook.yan.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him. +2ere. said. after they were alone. . +2ey. Instinctively. +7et&s move to the couch. . .endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as .y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. 2e was cute. It was a drinking card game. silent. perfect for showing off his toned body. ./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. She finally threw up her hands. The dorm room overflowed with people.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. who one by one left the room. -f course. coded look with his friends. She forced a smile.endal. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on .yan motioned for her to join him./ said . +4ant to play=/ one of them asked.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. this wasn&t a regular card game.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards.yan suggested. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked.
She stepped aside before they collided. that&s three years too late. It bothered her to know that ./ .endal .endal&s voice caused .endal . I think it&s time we got to know each other better. +2ey. +I want to talk to you. seeing no movement.c0arthy was an enigma. I just do. beaming. wait a second. shielding her eyes. patting the cushion again. Then. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. .endal told him. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm. She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# ./ .c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass./ . and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . +Are you okay=/ %% asked. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. and plowed forward over the grass. +I don&t know.endal./ said %%. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get ./ he said.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. She kept her head down.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. +2i. The truth was.endal . suddenly. turning and walking out of the room. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that. She tingled with drunkenness.endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going.yan called after her. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs. ./ . she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. +I totally didn&t see you. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips./ 2e smiled widely.patting the saggy cushion beside him. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. At first. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. but the girl spun around. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him./ +4ell. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you.endal yelled. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. leaning in closer. 2is mind worked feverishly. Stuck in thought. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. +0ome sit over here. 4hoa.yan to inch up in his seat. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. Soon. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks. She read some intriguing online articles./ .
endal stopped walking./ +-h./ %% maintained. +I think I sat in something wet.aybe hoods should be banned as well. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol. rather than at her. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her./ +. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying./ %% told her./ .endal laughed again. that&s the one. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. It&s a great place to go and just kick back.endal./ . yeah. .yan sitting on the ugly couch. +Are you cold=/ ./ said ./ She pictured . They felt fro3en. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. of course. after a moment.endal asked defensively./ +It&s the grass. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening./ said . She turned around to get a look at her behind.endal.endal&s hands in hers./ . +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. %% studied her.endal shook her head. They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm./ said %%. I&ve had a rough night. +7et me help you up. #mily $ickinson. It&s ridiculous. +I love it there.endal said. +Thanks for walking me home. +It&s damp from the dew. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library.endal was looking through her.endal broke into a fit of laughter. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere.y little world=/ . #very month or so they have a band come and play./ ./ +"oetry is life. even though she was shivering.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet./ +-kay. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town./ %% said./ +I can think of lots of other things to do.endal rolled her eyes. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with./ %% perked up./ +I&m serious. +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. reaching forward and taking . +I need to go home./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk./ +4hatever./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. feeling as if . +I&m sorry for practically running into you. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself. 6ot life. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah. making a face.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. . It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. +>eah./ +I&ll walk you. remember. +5uys are such idiots./ +If you are so against them./ . and suddenly blurted out. once they reached the sidewalk./ .
I am. 9ut she was kind and sincere./ . smug and moronic. I&ll understand.endal said. just because of rumors.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular./ +I&m not afraid of you. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then. then paused briefly.endal fidgeted. +I was just curious. rewording her 1uestion. right./ ./ %% could only imagine what . +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of./ %% told her. something . then turned and walked toward the dorm.endal flashed a 1uick smile. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness./ It ama3ed %% that . She played with her fingers. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. She laughed out loud.endal said. then yes./ %% didn&t press the issue. +I want to ask you something. That certainly would have been awkward./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind.endal had such a hard time saying the word./ said ./ +Ask away. +9ut I don&t want to offend you.endal&s roommate had said about her.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. +0onsider yourself cultured then./ +-kay then. really. ./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back.endal had picked up on the first night they met.endal hesitated. Then she thought of . let alone get to know her. +>ou are an incredible tutor. I&ve never known anyone who was. twisting her thumbs into her palms. I&m fine. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch. +. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. +I should go to bed. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. ending the lull in the conversation. like you before./ she said./ ./ +4ell. I was just curious. 2er stride was slight and unsteady. It wouldn&t bother me at all./ . she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%. She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%.yan again. it&s fine./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. . +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so./ +6o. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. In that moment.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah. She suddenly felt ashamed. +6o./ ./ . They stood in silence as the sounds of the wind and the late night babble of students wandering home from a night out blended into one another and circled around them. I&m an open book. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad.endal. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. well.
The rain had ceased. -nce across the tracks. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. There was a bench on the sidewalk. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. She gathered up her pen. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. She headed up the sidewalk. and though she tried to avoid them. along with her thoughts. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. "uddles blocked her path. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. <irginia. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. e7cept for fog hovering a/ove the surface &mells of hot tar and muggy air fill my nostrils as #aindrops the si8e of mini water /alloons /ounce off My 5ac6et. %% entered the center of town. Muddy puddles stand in my path. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. . students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. The town was deserted./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. and began to scribble. The streets are empty. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . +It&s not that scary. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. ' stomp through them. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet.
endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich.yan for a while./ +)m. +It&s called a mask. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips. +. #very time it rained. no. +So %ason said you were alone in another room with .endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . 2er empty stomach grumbled. She decided that if . 2ello. +-h. but I&m not going to date someone . 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke.endal . #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street.c0arthy. I can honestly say that I wasn&t. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently.yan&s not only good looking. then her true colors would already have shown. I decided to leave.endal. like you weren&t in rare form either. 9ut. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns./ . ./ +. +>ou look ridiculous. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed.endal was different. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment.endal sifted through her dresser drawers.endal said. . she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. not looking for anything in particular./ As she spoke . although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. 4hether good or bad. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening./ 0hristine replied.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. %% peered along the edges of the street./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. 5ood different. and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. +I hate to break it to you. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich. %% recalled . %% believed that . . watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason.endal. +I repeat* what happened to you last night=/ +>ou mean after you crashed into %ason&s arms as soon as we got to the party=/ 0hristine stretched. deep down. +So=/ +So. +Tempting as it was.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. The heavy air turned light. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide. please. . . She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with .
finishing up on the treadmill. +I won&t regret not hooking up with . I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction. They practically flip the entire boat.yan.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. +7ook. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. . she thought. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money.endal who was still spread out on the floor.endal. thought %%.yan&s a conceited moron./ said :ueenie.endal. ./ said 0hristine. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party.endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs./ 0hristine continued. +I like to think I have higher standards than that./ -verboard. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely. The crowd of freshmen who fre1uented the athletic center was growing rapidly and was made up mostly of those unlucky individuals who had gained a few e'tra pounds and were desperately trying to reverse the effects of too many midnight pi33a runs. . Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. The last thing she needed was another party. #veryone knows that. +>ou should have seen my father./ she said. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning. and tugged the back of . CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family./ +Trust me. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. 9ut here they were.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. . +4e are young.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top./ said . -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. thank you. +I know . I&d be dating someone who actually had a head on his shoulders that could be used for something other than heading a soccer ball.endal turned abruptly and began to rummage underneath her bed in hopes that 0hristine would go back to scanning the celebrity gossip columns in her maga3ines. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. +4ho cares about standards= $o you honestly think that I&d be wasting my time with %ason if I were in college= I don&t think so. After the game was over. the couch monster. She left . (un./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . admiring the logo on the front. complaining that she was not having enough fun. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately. she would change the subject. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents./ .
wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else./ she said gently./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. it makes me sick. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. the best caterer./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell. I guess./ +9ut haven&t you ever considered just taking your mom and dad aside and having an adult conversation with them=/ :ueenie lifted her feet off the treadmill. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. sending a burst of steam into the air. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. +I&m sorry. +I know. They need a wakeup call./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. >eah.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. not e'actly.endal would not come up. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. +>ou know what they say./ %% added in an infomercial voice. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. Steam rose up around them. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook.c9rides. I&m not familiar with that particular saying. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. but to wake them up. resting her head on one elbow. then. +Sure. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. She knew as soon as she said it. They don&t know any other way. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around./ %% responded. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. with one more to go. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. They cannot and will not hear me. she couldn&t tell for sure./ (or a brief moment./ +The ama3ing sauna./ . 6ot for me./ %% managed between breaths. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them./ +These are the . +I bet we could just bring some in. hoping that the topic of . +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. It won&t matter./ +Sauna session and bacon. I like the combination. +I just need to do it. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. +So. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. +5ood./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three./ :ueenie replied. why not. I ran into her on (riday night. that&s all. she shouldn&t have./ +6o. the fanciest ballroom*ugh.
+The 1uestion. She asked me if I&m gay. The 1uestion./ +0ute. but she spun around and fell./ +That&s priceless. I caught myself. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. +So. +%ust tell me. ./ said %%. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. +4hat=/ %% asked. +It was bound to happen sooner than later. (or crying out loud./ +-h. +>ou&ll never believe this. Thankfully though./ +$on&t do that./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat./ :ueenie started to say something else.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ :ueenie agreed. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special. I mean./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip./ . but she asked me the 1uestion.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. +6othing. I literally ran into her. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. . she&s straight. and then stopped. The gay 1uestion.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. she seemed okay with it./ %% turned her head and muttered. They were just little crushes. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you./ +:ueenie. it&s getting hot in here. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now. >ou always fall for the straight girls./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. +I told her the truth. . +I just think you should be careful. yes. nothing serious. her cheeks dotted with sweat./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. .+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that . you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition./ %% said again. +She was ./ +4ell that didn&t take long./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. which made the library the only logical option. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . That&s all. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. 4e&ll see if she shows up. +6o. conservative southern town./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious. no. silly./ %% scolded.endal&s engaging laughter.
/ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. +7et&s get out of here./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt. >ou&re being ridiculous./ +"reposterous. . She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. +>ou know how straight girls work.iss . It&s called the science e'periment. 1uite frankly. +-kay./ :ueenie said pointedly. unabashed. what they really want is a guy. . +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. . The whole thing is just ridiculous./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. isn&t going to happen./ +I hardly even know her./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is./ +:ueenie./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face. 9e careful. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. but it . I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. shielding her eyes. +The least you can do is admit that much./ %% groaned./ +That she is./ +4hat do you want./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious./ +I don&t care what it&s called. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough./ +6o. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. +I knew it. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead./ +Stick to what you know best. so I like her. +I did mean half of what I said in there./ +7ook./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. There&s this energy between us./ . +I knew you liked her./ :ueenie sat up. That&s something that isn&t going to change. I&m about to sweat away to nothing. I can&t e'plain./ :ueenie continued. Then./ %% began to massage her forehead. you don&t. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. +I know you like her./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction. really. +She&s not interested in me like that.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end. +It&s true. I&ve been there./ said :ueenie. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that./ %% sighed. after their curiosity wears off./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. +She&s a cheerleader after all. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy ./ :ueenie echoed.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. +2ey.
7ately it seemed as if the entire soccer team was comprised of a group of underweight sissies who didn&t comprehend the meaning of teamwork or dedication. ./ %ason remarked. getting pummeled five to nothing./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. >ou know. 2e started working his triceps.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench. +I thought so. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself./ %ason concluded after a moment./ . don&t push it. without the usual hint of golden brown that he&d achieved over the summer lifeguarding at the beach where his parents owned a summer home. 8ela'. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form./ CHAPTER . They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright.yan from the bench beside him. it was also incredibly appealing.yan said. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong. 2is skin was e'tremely pale. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians. +$id you hook up with her=/ ./ +8ela'. +It&s not without merit. .yan glared at him. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night. And to make matters worse.+>ou know. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. %ason gritted his teeth. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. +Thought that she was out of your league./ .endal . After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch. they had lost the game. +4hat&s your problem=/ ./ :ueenie insisted. straightening up.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up./ %ason laughed. . +2ey. +#ven for you./ %% frowned.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. +>ou don&t look so good./ %ason warned as he watched .yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. It was true. 2ey. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. +I&m fine. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. . 2e looked absolutely horrible. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned. . the lowest-seeded team in their division. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. It was because he was frustrated. As a result.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. . +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray.yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber./ .endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired.
yan was confident that he would get another shot. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. but there was something missing./ +All right./ %ason said./ . In times past . . she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. +0atch you later then. . 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk./ said %ason. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much..endal had a reputation to uphold. that&s all.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. as well. 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and . And . As a result./ +#'actly. And his guest was going to be . Though his legs ached.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. 9ut today. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. picked up the weight and began lifting again. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. <ibrant shades of red. Something else was aching inside him. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. not wanting to add to . There&s no way she would turn him down. Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. . 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. It was status./ . popping Tylenol.endal . Though he had singled . +I&ve got more work to do here./ +I hear ya./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. . simultaneously knocking over a stack of books. CHAPTER ! . 4ith that.T<&s The 8eal 4orld.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. +6othing.endal would have been right there with 0hristine.endal had to help her into bed./ he said between breaths.c0arthy. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene. 0hristine got home late. 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. he pushed through the pain.yan&s salty mood. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. Sure.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. . 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. both of them lying in agony. . the legendary inviteonly soccer party. drinking refillable bottles of water.
i'. she could see her at some sporting event. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room.endal thought. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. . So this is where %% likes to hang out. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. The room to the left of the main counter was filled with artsy types of paintings on the wall and soft plushy couches scattered hapha3ardly across a gleaming maple floor. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars. She hated to disappoint her parents. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped.endal read the words. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher./ spelled out in big bold white letters. . To the right of the counter stood a stage. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. plus the beauty of the campus. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. she was a part of the cheerleading team. 8ather. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. . All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. 0he' . 4ho knew such things e'isted in a town built around a soccer rivalry and the annual homecoming weekend packed with games and a lavish parade= .endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. humming original songs about the meaning of life. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. (or that reason./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. where everyone knows your name and your business. her father especially. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. . +fantasi3e reality. #ducation was far more important.endal felt pressured to get good grades. She finally felt like she belonged. 9e Somebody. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. . She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. It was hands-on learning. That.endal&s parents. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. was why . so you could sit in the palm. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. Across the backdrop .9uilt back in the DHFFs. and the ne't thing she knew.
She tingled in anticipation./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. %%. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. until that moment. +>ou were saying*/ .. And . . afraid to disturb 0hristine.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . +)ghhhh. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. many of which could be forgotten. . 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at.endal. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. as if were weighted down. There were other occasions where 0urious .endal struck with reckless abandon.endal slowly opened the door to her room. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation./ . +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. when she was about five. >ou know. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. +I like pi33a.endal.endal returned. A nervous sensation erupted inside of her when she thought about the fact that she&d be seeing %% at the library in a couple of hours. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. I like thick crust.endal paused. dramati3ing herself.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. black mess in the middle of the living room floor. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into . +(unny. And thick crust.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . 6o. +I&m sorry. I need some grease. she dropped the attitude. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. it still provided a way to release her irritation. thoughtfully. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse./ 0hristine moaned. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. 4ell. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. %%% -nce back at the dorm. -nce. ashy. It really was none of her business. something happened all right. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. . it became obvious that her roommate was awake. smartly.endal. Though the incident had left her unharmed. given to her by her older brother. and was reduced to a gooey./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. Although she knew they were dangerous. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. 6evertheless.
+"i33a, I was saying. 7et&s get some pi33a for dinner./ 0hristine sat up now, the prospect of food taking hold. She fiddled with her i"hone and started looking up the number for a local pi33a place. +And then we could rent a movie, some sappy romantic comedy or something./ +0an&t,/ said ;endal, without the least bit of regret. +I&ve got a tutoring session in the library. I&m going to eat at the dining hall, and then head straight over. ,aybe 7aurie will want to do pi33a./ 7aurie, another cheerleader who lived in their dorm, though slightly overweight, was 1uite proud of her junk food addiction. In fact, 7aurie let it be known that pi33a was one of the five important food groups, at least in her world. ;endal often wondered if 7aurie laundered money from the cheerleading fund and dues collection to buy the enormous amount of junk food and goodies that she kept stashed in her dorm room closet. #very time they hung out in 7aurie&s room, ;endal half e'pected to find cardboard bo'es full of -reo cookies, potato chips, candy bars and the like sitting somewhere amidst the clutter. +,ore tutoring with the lesbian=/ 0hristine asked. 2er tone brushed hard against ;endal&s ears. +4hy do you have to even bring that up=/ +9ecause she is./ +She has a name. It&s %%. ,aybe you should try using it./ +4hat is your deal= >ou&ve been acting strange ever since you started hitting the books so hard./ +I don&t have a deal. 4hat I do have is a tutoring session with a girl who&s kind of cool, and I think that maybe you should stop judging people when you don&t even know a thing about them./ 0hristine climbed out of bed, and evened out her pajama shorts. 2er lips were moving, and ;endal sensed that she was choosing her words carefully. +I know all I need to know about her,/ she said coolly. +And don&t forget, I know you, too./ She casually grabbed her robe off of the back of the door and pulled it on. As she was tying the knot around her waist, she looked up at ;endal. 2er eyes were icy. +I don&t know who you are trying to be lately, but it sure isn&t the ;endal ,c0arthy that I know./ She pulled the knot tighter and tossed ;endal one final cold look before she left the room. (uming, ;endal threw her books into her backpack. 4hat bothered her most was the fact that 0hristine somehow managed to sneak in the last word. +I know me,/ she said aloud in the vacant room, her voice overflowing with anger. +I know myself better than anyone, and I also know that for the past few years I haven&t been the real me./ In the middle of her monologue, she stepped on something s1uishy lying on the floor. She bent over, picked up the ice mask that 0hristine had been wearing, and threw it at her unmade bed. +>ou don&t know me at all,/ she spat. +So take your little beauty mask and shove it./
%% was at the library much earlier than she needed to be. She&d skipped going to the dining hall with :ueenie, afraid that she might get distracted or delayed by needless conversation. Instead, she enjoyed a healthy portion of ramen noodles, the chicken-flavored kind, and some crackers. She also took a long time to select an outfit. 6ormally she would go to the library wearing nothing more than jogging pants and a sweatshirt, but today she felt like raising the bar just a bit. She put on a pair of jeans and a vintage T-shirt from the 5ap. Instead of wearing her usual baseball cap, she decided to slather some gel in her hair and spike up the ends just so. She even sprayed on some cologne for good measure. 6ow she sat in the library at the same table ;endal and she had been at last time, her knees shaking slightly. #very so often, she caught a whiff of her own cologne and smiled. At the very least, she certainly smelled good. 2er cell phone bu33ed in her pocket. She took it out and read a te't message from :ueenie, +9eware of the science e'periment./ All %% could do was laugh. She stuffed her cell phone back in her pocket, and idly thumbed through a book of poetry she&d pulled off one of the shelves. She kept a watchful eye on the door as she reread each sentence. Somehow, she&d missed seeing ;endal storm her way into the library, and looked up only when the girl reached the table. ;endal&s bag of books landed on top of the table with a resounding thud. +2i,/ she said, her face e'pressionless. +)m, are you okay=/ %% asked cautiously. +,e= >eah. I&m fine./ She reached into her bag and pulled out the bag of 0he' ,i' she had bought earlier. +#'cept for the fact that I&ve just now reali3ed that I&ve wasted all my time here at Sampson on a group of girls who are mostly small-minded and lack any substance at all./ +That&s a bit harsh, don&t you think=/ ;endal slid down into the chair ne't to her. +6o. I think it&s dead on,/ she snapped. Then she slid the bag of 0he' ,i' over to %% who politely declined. ;endal shrugged and began snacking mindlessly. +I&ve known these girls for three years now and they don&t even have one small clue about who I really am./ She tucked her hair back behind her ears, which caused %% to look at her in ama3ement. +4ow, you have tiny ears./ +4hat=/ +>our ears. They&re tiny. And cute./ +>eah,/ ;endal said. +They&re small. So what=/ +6othing. I*I just noticed. That&s all./ %% instantly wished that she could censor her thoughts before they spilled out of her mouth without her consent. +)h, about your friends*is it possible that maybe you just haven&t let them in= >ou know, let them in to get to know the real you=/ +So it&s my fault=/ ;endal&s hand smacked her own chest. +Is that what you are saying=/ +I&m not pointing fingers,/ said %% 1uickly. +All I&m saying is that friendships involve at least two people, right= And each person has to give a little in order to get a little. If you don&t let them see the real you, how are they supposed to get to know the real you=/ ;endal halted her rant. She hadn&t thought of it that way. +It&s just an outside opinion, of course,/ said %%. +I get what you&re saying. I think I&m just frustrated with everything in my life now. 9efore it all made sense, but somewhere along the way I&ve changed and suddenly nothing makes any sense to me anymore./ +Trust me, I know the feeling./
+>ou do=/ +-f course I do. 9efore I accepted the fact that I was gay, everything in my life seemed simple. I had boyfriends and everything made sense. And then suddenly it all began to change. I wasn&t happy with anything anymore and I couldn&t understand why. Things that I once enjoyed became boring to me or unimportant./ %% looked down at her empty hands and then at ;endal. +9ut once I figured out the root of it, things began to fall into place again. 6ow I know that this is who I am and who I&m happy being. Things in my life make sense again./ +That must have been hard, holding something like that inside without telling anyone. ,y problem is that I don&t even know the root of why things have changed for me./ +4ell, I don&t think it&s because you are gay,/ %% said with a smirk. ;endal laughed. +6o, I don&t think so either./ Though lately she wasn&t so sure. +,aybe you are just changing as a person. It doesn&t have to be anything specific. 0ould be as simple as your outlook on life or what has become important to you now, as opposed to when you were a freshman. I think that when we get to college, we&ll do a lot of soul-searching and find out who we really are. >ou&re just getting a head start./ +I feel like I can really talk to you,/ ;endal said suddenly. +Sorry for going off like that. I know you&re my tutor, and not my counselor./ %% felt her face grow hot, and she knew she was blushing. She stared ahead, avoiding ;endal&s eyes. +I&m glad. It&s, uh, important to feel comfortable with your tutor./ ;endal repositioned her chair at the table and moved closer to %%. +-kay. I feel better. And I think I can actually concentrate on studying./ She un3ipped her backpack and took out a purple folder and a couple of books. +So, back to poetry. 7et&s do this one first./ She opened one of her book to a page marked with a yellow sticky note, and then slid the volume over to %%. %% regained her composure and looked down at the page. +A 7etter to $aphnis,/ she read. +Anne (inch was a talented woman./ +I&m sure she was. I think I prefer $ickinson, though./ +2ow come=/ +I don&t know. ,aybe because I finally understand her poetry now, and I don&t want to move on to other authors./ ;endal forced a laugh. +Stick to what you know, right=/ +I don&t think you&re giving yourself enough credit,/ %% reassured her, easing into a smile, admiring the dips along the edge of ;endal&s lips and how they were most visible whenever ;endal seemed self-conscious. +4hat=/ ;endal asked, nervously brushing a strand of hair from face. +6othing,/ said %%. They read the poem together as %% pointed out a few key lines to help ;endal make sense of the poem as a whole. +(inch was a true feminist, though she didn&t want that to override the fact that she was still deeply in love and could be in love, while still maintaining her sense of self. In this poem, she e'presses how, though it is difficult, one can still find a happy medium between being both a devoted lover and an opinionated woman at the same time./ +That must have been hard back then,/ ;endal said. +In those days most women gave up their dreams and ambitions to be housewives./ %%&s head bobbed in agreement, +#'actly. And in this poem, (inch makes it clear to her lover that she has no such plan in mind. She writes, @%udge not my passion, but my want of skill.
totally awesome./ +I understand./ said %%. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then. %ust one 1uick peek.endal eyeballed the journal. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins./ %% nudged her shoulder. +>ou just are. but at the same time./ said ./ said . It looked pretty beat up.. +This poem is like. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily. +That&s pretty intense./ said %%. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. how=/ %% shrugged. she thought. and flipped it open close to the middle./ They continued to regard one another.any love well./ . ./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were.endal flinched. She reached for the journal. Then she&d set it right back down./ +>eah. but e'press it ill. it is. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ +. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. she accidentally knocked over her bag. which had been resting on the floor.& See./ .endal flipped back her hair./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect./ she said. and. >ou&re different. like you said.endal. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. has her own dreams. In fact. +4hoops. +ar6ness looms ' cannot see ' feel your /reath upon my s6in &par6ing a nervous warmth ' reach for you &liding my palm across your chee6 &o softly. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all./ +4ow. As she pushed her chair back from the table.iss. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst . standing up 1uickly. she wants him to know that though she is driven. afraid you4ll /rea6 *hispers reach my insides (ulling them into 6nots My flesh trem/les *ith each caress -ntil your lips find mine Timid at first touch . +I&ll be right back. +0ute. and she tripped over it.endal.aybe at first. the edges frayed and the binding worn. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you./ %% said. feeling nervous and clumsy. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. 2er journal spilled out. +9ut you&re not./ +$ifferent./ +>ou didn&t at all.
yan the couch monster.endal thought./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ . so real.yan&s pond of smoothness./ . of course. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. +2ey. looming over her like some creepy. 9ack then . +7isten. hooked up with him. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. who she now thought of as . +8eally I am.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. . +4ell. +I&m sorry. >our journal was just lying there.endal cursed her roommate under her breath.yan continued. .yan Stevens./ . 2aven&t heard a thing. just as if she were the person in the poem. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. +I&m honored.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in . +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite. hoping he would take the hint and leave. so . was standing ne't to her chair. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. and then shook her head apologetically./ he pressed on. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately./ +6ope. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. .. 2ow wonderful= +4ell.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. I swear I wouldn&t have read it if I&d known it was personal or*+ She stopped talking as soon as she looked up.endal. +0hristine said you were here. he puts it so nicely.endal could feel the tingle on her skin. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid./ +)m. I haven&t heard anything at all. +It&s e'clusive. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. anyway.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead.yan said smoothly./ +I know what it is./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it. 7ast year./ ./ . and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. that . She and %ason had been dating ever since. I&m actually studying./ he said with an overconfident grin./ .endal was lying. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down./ . 2e didn&t./ ./ she said instead./ said . She just said you were in the library pretending to study./ . 6ow. She had to read it again.y. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. she found it pathetic. +I was there last year. ominous shadow. and who was going to be left out.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence./ +-h. I&m not pretending. no.
ne't (riday. That got e'tremely hot very fast. +I sort of forgot about it until now.endal. I don&t know what he&s thinking. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff.yan considered their story. +2e&s so full of himself./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman./ said .yan. She was afraid of their reaction.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out. ./ ./ %% swallowed again as .endal would think. It&s at that coffee shop you like.endal&s eyes lit up. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ ./ . simply was not there.endal watched as . 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. eager to change the subject. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. If you&ll let me. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list.endal had pinched her.yan=/ ./ %% approached the table at that moment. +>ou&d miss a really./ +4ell. but not because poetry was personal./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es.endal or ./ said %%. I think you should enter./ She swallowed hard./ +I guess so. she felt delighted that ./ +It&s good to know that you have morals. +8ight. +That&s not entirely true.+I&m sure you can get out of it. really fun time with yours truly./ . 2er face was still damp. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday./ %% reminded her. . just as I described it./ %% jumped. Instead.aybe another night then./ he mumbled finally and walked away.endal bit her lip.endal hadn&t picked up on it./ said . +6e't (riday.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her. And she was even more afraid of what . I&m one of the good girls.yan.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath.endal e'claimed./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. I made her promise to go with me./ she blurted./ +(rom what I hear. +So. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. of what she might say. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked. The Spot. though. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red./ . +I only read a little bit. Suddenly. +8ight. +I was raised right. She sat down without glancing at either . It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels. of what they might say. +4ho= . I&m sorry. and hoped .endal shifted curiously in her seat. rubbing her leg where . +I&d like to read some more. +It was my first kiss. +. +It was incredible.
I might freak out and give up writing altogether.endal had a hunch they were about ./ %% said. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. 4riting is my life./ . releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. . embarrassed at what she was about to admit./ +That would never happen.aybe. +See. +I have a fear of being on stage. +I suppose I should. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head.endal debated the 1uestion. you know. I&m serious. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that.endal said./ +-kay./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life./ . She glanced at her cell phone and saw that 0hristine had sent her nearly a do3en te'ts since she&d arrived at the library. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger. And during the whole thing. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to . I&m not ready.endal hesitated then asked./ +That is so sad./ she e'plained. +>ou sound like my mother./ +9ut it might. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. and then averted her eyes.yan. I got on stage and played the only song I knew. we had this talent contest one year at school. that alone should tell you how important it is to you.+So./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage.endal said./ ./ +4ell=/ +4ell. 4riting is my life. I just don&t participate. I can&t take that risk. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying./ she said. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . +I ran off stage so fast. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. +It&s getting late. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything. And if something happened. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that./ +./ %% rolled her eyes. +It basically scarred me for life.endal momentarily. you&d never be able to give it up. +9ut it&s different with this. without enthusiasm./ %% closed her eyes./ said %% impatiently. about this poetry slam thingy./ +0ome on.endal so easily. what= I&m not going up on stage. I&ve never been on another stage since. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . . And when the contest came up. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world./ %% said 1uietly. desperately wanting to change the subject. So maybe you can practice with me.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. I fro3e. I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. +They have one every (riday night./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah./ . I mean./ +So=/ +So. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. everybody in the audience started to laugh. if I got upset on stage. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway.
It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest. though she knew e'actly what %% meant.endal asked../ said . and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home./ +0atch you later. >et. didn&t it=/ +Totally. later.endal teased./ %% managed as she watched . +0ool. though= I mean./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . +I&d like that a lot./ +Sure./ %% paused and then plunged forward. . this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. I&ll meet you out here after I get out of practice=/ +2ow about I meet you in the school lounge instead= 4e could walk over from there. she would know.endal closed the door behind her without looking back./ . As they reached the front of the building. +2ey*/ %% looked up.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. go with me= There are some great poets around here. She collapsed backward against the closed door. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way./ . fall air. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm.endal was feeling. She would instantly sense what . She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder. +So./ she said. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . They left the library and %% offered to walk . then instantly winced./ +I&m glad. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder. She hadn&t felt like this since the time she kissed 9obby %enkins in si'th grade behind the jungle gym at the school playground. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind. +>eah. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said.endal./ %% took a deep breath. that&s not going to happen. +That sounded really dumb. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. She instantly looked away. that&ll work. She breathed hard and her hands shook.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion. and some of the writing is ama3ing./ %% smiled.endal back to her dorm. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ .endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. +4ould you still like to go.endal said casually.
+>ou&re going to a gay club. Somehow. I already have plans. I&m afraid. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly. +%ust something different. . +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . +I&m not turning into a lesbian./ . as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date./ 0hristine&s head shot up. ./ +I did. but it seemed to be permanently cemented there./ . 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. . >our senior year./ .yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. smiling again. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious./ +I said @no&. apparently not amused.She sighed.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly. +Tell me you said yes. +I&ve been te'ting you all night. still lost in a di33y ha3e./ +7et me guess. pacing frantically around the room./ +I guess./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life.endal replied 1uickly. the superficial status. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. the empty conversations. so 1uit freaking out. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying./ +I couldn&t care less.endal watched her in amusement.endal. 2ow was the library=/ +-h. The thought of . +4ill you rela'=/ she said. 9esides. I&m not going to a gay club. with satisfaction. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. +6othing. 0hristine./ . isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. +>ou didn&t.endal answered./ 0hristine gasped. paying rent for some crappy apartment. very interesting. +I had an uninvited visitor. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year./ ./ .endal entered their room. . remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face.endal said.endal replied.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious.
+I get it,/ ;endal said and flopped down on her back. +I understand all about the high school e'perience. I just think I&ve gotten my fill already. I&m ready to start figuring out who I am. I&m ready to grow up a little bit. Is that so hard to understand=/ 0hristine folded her arms across her chest, +Are you taking some philosophy course this semester that I don&t know about=/ ;endal plucked a stuffed teddy bear off the side of her bed that she&d owned since she was five, and shoved its tiny head into her mouth. Then she screamed in muffled frustration. +Something is seriously going on with you,/ 0hristine observed. She sat down on the bed ne't to ;endal and gently removed the bear from her mouth. +2e genuinely likes you, you know=/ +4ho=/ +;yan. 2e came here before I sent him to the library telling me how much he really likes you and how he wanted to ask you to the party so that he could get to know you better. That&s the only reason I told him where you were./ +All he wants to know is how my body looks without any clothes on,/ ;endal said bitterly. +And then show me off like a trophy around school./ +-kay, I admit that ;yan doesn&t have the greatest history when it comes to dating girls at school. 9ut, that being said, he seemed really interested in you as a person. $oesn&t that intrigue you in the least=/ +6ot in the least,/ ;endal returned. +7ike I said, I have plans./ +To do what=/ +To do something else./ +4hat is it, some top-secret mission that you can&t share with me= 4ho are you, 9at 4oman=/ 0hristine threw ;endal&s bear down on the bed. It bounced near the edge and rolled over onto the floor. +I&m supposedly your best friend./ +4hy are you so interested in my plans anyway=/ +9ecause, I want to know what could possibly be better than an invite-only soccer party with a bevy of frosty beverages and yours truly=/ To some degree ;endal understood why 0hristine was getting so upset. 9ut after three years of doing the same thing over and over again, she downright craved something different. +There&s this poetry contest at that little coffee shop in town that I want to go to./ +"oetry=/ +>es./ 0hristine chewed on the tip of her tongue before she flung her hands up and shrieked, +Seriously, ;endal=/ +4hat is the big deal= Is it really that terrible that I want to culture myself just a little bit=/ 0hristine sucked in a short breath. +(ine. $o your little poetry thingy. 0ulture yourself and all that mess. 9ut make room for a little fun and e'citement, will you= I&m sure it doesn&t last all night. >ou can just te't me when it&s finished, and come meet us after. $eal=/ +I don&t know./ +;endal, please= It&s our last year together. It would mean a lot to me./ +-kay./ ;endal gave up. She hated being put on the spot, especially by 0hristine, whose giant sapphire eyes reminded her of a child on the verge of a tantrum. +>es./ 0hristine flung herself forward and wrapped her arms around ;endal. +>ou won&t regret it. It&s going to be so much fun./
8ight, ;endal thought. She was already regretting it because now she had to find ;yan the couch monster, and tell him that she would like to be his invite at the party on (riday after all. -f course, she would have to lay down some very strict ground rules. )nfortunately, ;endal didn&t think that would keep ;yan from trying to make a move on her.
%% was in the school lounge sitting on one of the itchy cushioned chairs that was spacious enough to seat three people happily. She was sprawled out with her legs hanging over the sides, and her head resting comfortably on the opposite arm. Sitting nearly upside down, she held her journal tight against her legs while she scribbled intensely against the page. 2er headphones were plastered to her ears, blaring music so deafening that she couldn&t possibly hear if anybody walked by. She&d just written another poem. It had been fresh on her mind when she&d left ;endal in front of the dorm, and she&d wanted to write it down before she forgot it. The halfway point to her dorm was the school lounge, which now was comfortably deserted. Since it was Sunday night, everyone was either watching television in their dorm rooms or in the library doing homework. As for those few students who took to partying no matter what day of the week it was, the last place they would care to go was the school lounge. %% reread the words she&d just scrawled onto the page. “)ately ' find My heart and my mind disagree $ne so rational, the other so free $ne that has /een /ro6en, /ut continues to heal The other unspo6en, than6ful it can4t feel +ifferent entities, yet tied so tight Both content to do what is right But how can they /oth agree $n a concept that historically Has caused them to clash )ashing out feelings and thoughts $ne ought to /e felt and not heard The other mentally spews words Both causing a tornado to spin me around +o ' follow the cloud $r 6eep my feet firmly planted on the ground An everlasting de/ate for all of time +o ' follow my heart $r do ' fol . . .” 9efore %% could finish the last line, somebody tore the journal from her hands. She stared in awe as :ueenie began to dance around the chair with the notebook dangling from her fingers. 2er mouth was moving, but because %% had her headphones turned up so loud, she couldn&t hear what :ueenie was saying.
%% struggled to untwist herself, finally rolling over onto the floor. She tore her headphones from her ears only to hear :ueenie reciting the new poem in a very obno'ious, fake Shakespearian voice. %% glowered at her and climbed to her feet. The chair was the only thing that separated them. +5ive it back,/ she demanded. +$o I follow the cloud=/ :ueenie read, gesturing upward dramatically. +I said give it back./ +-r keep my feet firmly planted=/ :ueenie stomped. +:ueenie./ %% took off around the chair, chasing :ueenie through the lounge. Somehow :ueenie managed to keep reading the poem as she ran, determined to keep out of %%&s reach. +A6 #<#87ASTI65*/ she bellowed, as she ducked around a couch and then hopped up on a table as if it were a stage. %% stood before her, panting like a rabid dog. She reached over and tugged on :ueenie&s pant leg. :ueenie stared down at her. +#'cuse me. I&m in the middle of a performance here. $o you mind=/ +5ive it back,/ %% pleaded. +Autographs will be available afterwards in the lobby, thank you./ :ueenie shook her leg free of %%&s grip. Then she put one foot graciously in front of the other and regained her stance. 2er free hand reached high into the air as she angled her face to the make-believe crowd. +An everlasting debate for all of time,/ she roared. +$o I follow my heart= -r do I fol*= -r do I follow my mind= Is that what you were going to write=/ +>es,/ %% whispered miserably. +$o I follow my heart. -r do I follow my mind./ yelled :ueenie. 4hen she finished the last word, she bowed her head to an imaginary array of applause. +Are you through embarrassing me=/ +I think so,/ said :ueenie, tossing the journal to %%. She hopped off the table and straightened her shirt. +>ou know,/ %% gritted her teeth. +Sometimes words fail to describe the distaste I have for you./ +"lease. >ou&re a poet./ :ueenie patted her confidently on the back. +I&m sure you could think of a few./ +4hat do you want=/ +I was bored, so I came looking for you. >ou weren&t in the library so this was my ne't best guess./ +>ou are a true detective./ :ueenie pointed to the journal, +4as that little poem there about the homecoming 1ueen=/ +6o./ +6o=/ +4ell, maybe a little bit. 9ut it&s a more general pondering than anything else./ +>ou&re really conflicted, aren&t you=/ %% gave :ueenie the harshest look she could muster. +And you don&t really want to talk about it either=/ +6o, I don&t,/ said %% as she walked over to the chair she&d been sitting in and picked up her book bag from the floor. +$on&t you have homework to do or something=/ +(inished it,/ :ueenie said proudly.
+I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. The hopeless romantic never wins. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. you in=/ :ueenie asked. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something. +>ou know./ +. you do it one hundred percent. And despised her for it. 4hen you do something./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. 4hat did you have in mind=/ +A certain woman sent me a te't about an hour ago asking me to meet her at a certain club at a certain time. +I resent that. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself./ %% said plainly. Take. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once./ +Spare me the theatrics. there&s none of that. for e'ample./ +$oes this certain woman happen to be the twenty-something college student who looks to you for a little e'citement in an otherwise dull e'istence=/ :ueenie grinned widely. . and you are in so much turmoil over it that you had to write a poem about it in order to make yourself feel better./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. your current situation./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem./ %% said. it&s so obvious. +%%.y dilemma=/ +>es. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine./ +Thanks. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory.e= I do all right./ +6o=/ +6o. 6o room to analy3e or obsess. +So./ %% maintained.+>ou ama3e me./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders./ +-h./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships./ :ueenie said. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ +It is. +%ust get in./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. my friend./ +"lease. +I&m not looking for better right now. sourly. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. actually. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression. really=/ They began to walk again. get out and nobody gets hurt. >ou&re into someone you can&t have./ +. +4ith the women I see. palms down and swept them to one side.
She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find .yan said. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. -nce she reached the third floor. and . she thought. +6othing. . +9usy=/ ./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. . 0hristine owes me big time.+I guess. in fact. but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club.endal ne't (riday night.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her.yan and %ason were roommates. .yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. motioning to the book. rounded the first corner. . . and also members of the basketball team. In fact.usic boomed from an open door. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with ./ she said. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air./ CHAPTER $ . %ust a cup of coffee.endal figured that . really. sensing %% was hiding something. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you./ .endal asked when he looked up. +Studying. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally.endal made a face. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. I&m going to pass on that one. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived. even though no one was in the room. and would eventually come over to the dark side. and then pushed it open. +6othing at all. .endal was on her way. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all.yan was laying face down on his bed. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. an actual lesbian. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality./ %% replied dryly. She knocked slightly. +I&ll be 1uick./ %% said./ %% said. . reading what looked like a te'tbook.
yeah. and she&d severely misjudged him. and if you still haven&t asked anyone./ +-kay=/ +4ell./ .yan said. +%ust as a friend. and then thought better of it. ./ %ason replied. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her./ ./ %ason said./ +I know. +>eah. Sure. She took a big breath. +I appreciate that.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards.endal remained standing.yan said. +I&ll watch the game in . +-f course. already halfway out the door. regretfully. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest. She&s pretty good. we can hang out and talk. you must think I&m a complete jerk. +4ait. I&ll probably be a little late. you do have 1uite the reputation./ .yle&s room.yan was staring at him. and I wanted you to be my invite.+It&s okay.endal held her arms close to her sides./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. +I&m not proud of it. it&s okay. +-kay. +I&ll see you (riday night then. not sure what to do with them. +To say something like that. my bad.endal said hurriedly./ +%%=/ +>ea. It took him a minute before he looked up. +-h./ +4ell. I haven&t asked anyone else yet. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends./ ./ she said. I&ve seen her play a couple of games.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say./ +4ell./ .endal asked. but that&s basically it./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him.yan opened his mouth to respond./ +Sounds good. +I&ll leave you two alone. I was thinking about it. +I&m just going to be a minute. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside./ . 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over.endal said. So./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do. feeling slightly better about the whole situation. .endal couldn&t believe it. then I&d like to go./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. of course.yan repeated./ he finally said. shape or form. then I understand. +I&m sorry=/ . by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. +2ave a seat. So./ ./ 2e stood up and gave ./ . I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you./ . +So. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here./ +>ou don&t have to leave./ +6o. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked./ . +>ou must think I&m a slime ball. I&m out of there. the one you were at the library with. +I was ready for a break anyway. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television. +5o get @em.yan said. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits. so it&s all good./ +As a friend./ . and reali3ed that .
/ 0hristine added./ +I know. 0hin ever did that./ ./ 0hristine said. she was going to have to do a far better job. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. she&s cool. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. . +)m./ he said. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. +4ell.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. thanks. ever. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. enjoying a small side salad. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up. +>ou look horrible.endal told her./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . She even told us which author. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. ./ She tried./ . thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. (riday.endal confirmed.r. 2er eyes were hollow. +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. I&ve never met anyone like her before. . +5ee.s.yan was staring at her awkwardly. In some ways. sunny day./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal./ . she was afraid to try to study by herself.endal yawned./ +I&m just speaking the truth./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. +She&s so smart.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor.endal said. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. That&s what I&m nervous about. +4e&re just getting to know each other. She was sitting directly across from . 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered./ +So study. +I&m going to. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. but she couldn&t help but smile.endal looked up.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. +>eah. I mean really smart. don&t. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright./ . not just about school stuff. you know=/ +8ight./ +4ell. It tasted like rubber. . 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . She&s so sweet and*/ .endal. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday.
+Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . obviously offended.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go. but as far as literature was concerned.endal study. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is./ ./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair./ . and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her. +>ou&re serious=/ +./ . she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table. She shuffled through it for her notebook as she watched the rest of the girls at the table start to pack up their things and head back to the dorm.endal said firmly. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment. -ut with it. it was empty. too.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table. I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table. +4ho in the world is Anne .endal laughed emphatically. let&s get out of here.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food./ 0hristine demanded. .endal planted her eyes at her notes instead.endal said and snatched the folder back.y behind is sore from sitting. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine.endal looked her up and down. but the rest of the dining hall was empty./ she said./ . It&s a must./ .illigrew=/ +5ive me that. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. really=/ +>es.endal held back her tongue. very cute. +#arth to . +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. +>es. +>ou are a math guru. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner./ . )nfortunately. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class./ . +7et me see what you are studying right now.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired./ +I know./ +-h. In a matter of minutes. +0ome on. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. That&s all the knowledge I need.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. . +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. . so she sei3ed the opportunity to shove a big spoonful of mashed potatoes into her mouth and swallow it down before her stomach changed its mind. yawned. +0ome on.endal.
They had been wrong./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. %% didn&t know./ 0oach 0ook hollered. . +5ood finish./ +(ine. like a basketball for instance. She needed something to give her a reason to run. on the other hand. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality./ . but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running. 8unning just to run was pointless to her. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride./ 0hristine said./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes. +0an I have some peace and 1uiet now=/ CHAPTER ' %% sucked in as much air as she could before she sprinted from one end of the gymnasium to the other. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads.0hristine whistled loudly and said. As much as she hated running. There needed to be some sort of object involved. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus.arch./ 0oach 0ook noted. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. much to the chagrin of her parental units. +4e&re sprinting. +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. in any way. %%. I know how . +0ome on. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. or whenever the basketball season was over. not goofing off. shape or form. +4hatever.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. -kay*I&ll be back in time.ya can get./ +>es. and at the end %% somehow managed to unearth a second wind and dashed as fast as she could from one end of the gym to the other. as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. and snorting. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. >ou know how . sucking in every breath. %%. not from the back. +"oint guards lead from the front./ +)gh. +0aution. of course. despised running./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. %enkins.ya can get./ +4ill you knock it off already. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. . . %ust remember you have to be back by nine./ .c9ride. %% bent over and clung to her knees.endal shouted. The team finished the sprints. I forgot. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not.endal e'haled loudly. +Thanks to you. And that was all the reward she needed. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing./ +5ood. the whole team has to give me ten more.
/2urry up and change. regardless of the score. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. and leave it all on the floor./ +2ow sweet. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. they would spend the ne't practice running from one end of the court to the other until they dropped to the floor in e'haustion. it was definitely top secret. The candlelight is optional. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. ladies.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. After three years. +Team./ 0oach 0ook barked. 0oach 0ook ignored her. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch./ +See you tomorrow. +-kay. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. ladies./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit./ :ueenie said. 4henever they lost a game. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. +I&m starving. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. the lesbian team. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. so if the two of them were. +It&s all about conditioning. +0onditioning. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . 8ather thin but muscular. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. :ueenie. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. +As a matter of fact./ :ueenie added. a couple./ 0oach 0ook said. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. that is. in fact. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. I am the one who is cooking tonight./ 0oach continued. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. though. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season./ 0oach 0ook stressed.
+I didn&t notice. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. I&m seeing two of you right now./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run./ :ueenie said.endal and back to :ueenie. ./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . +-h./ +4ait a minute. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. . +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. They sat with the other members of the basketball team./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. In fact. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air./ :ueenie huffed. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. I was sitting there in silence./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. $ean 2offman walks through the door. 2er cheeks were bulging. I can&t think straight. bread. The rest of her table was empty. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic./ +She did.endal sitting there. full of mashed potatoes. She forced her attention away from . will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it. %% winked at her. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. +That was no big deal. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. I know. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. She dashed through the food line. I&m confused. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. +>eah. right. Then they threw on some warm-up pants and their team sweatshirts before they hightailed it out of the athletic center and over to the dining hall. 2ave you two been bonding lately=/ +0an we get to the dining hall before we discuss the intricacies of my newfound relationship with 0oach= I need brain fuel./ +-kay. In fact. +That was a close call. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. that./ +(ine. chocolate pudding. As she studied her tray. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. tossing everything in sight onto her tray./ said %%.
And at that e'act moment. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. 6ever a dull moment. I&ve got a surprise for you. of course./ said %%. +I mean. %%.& Then I winked and walked out of the office. @It&s okay./ :ueenie leaned forward./ +>es way. I&m a complete mess./ +So./ :ueenie continued. So I stood up and said. 0oach./ she e'plained. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door.endall said. >ou two kids have fun. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. then she assumed that 0oach was alone. did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her./ +-nly you.c9ride./ ./ +4ell. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. +All over a stupid 1ui3. without looking up./ . if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. As soon as she saw me there./ . we both were just sitting there not saying anything./ +So*/ %% said eagerly./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . my friend./ %% reached her hand across the table. +%%. %% looked on in wonder.c0arthy right ne't to her. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. we both turned our heads at the same time.&/ +6o way. +I know. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray. it&s okay.endal confessed. >ou should have seen the look on her face. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her. was @Sweetie. +I guess I&ll be going now. +4ell done. well done./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. +So. $o you want to study someplace else=/ . +>ep./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked. It was classic. +I wouldn&t say that. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. +6ever a dull moment. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. +I need your help desperately./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair./ +6o. . +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office. indeed. +This kind of thing only happens to you./ %% pushed her tray aside. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words.endal .endal barely even noticed :ueenie.
came up with it./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine. 0oach should give us a curfew. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first./ ./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday.endal nodded. .endal suggested. and she enforces it. miss=/ . I&ll see you in an hour then. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling.endal said adamantly.ya. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional./ +-kay.+>ou can come to my dorm room. I have to be in my room by nine. but it&s a good way to make sure everyone on the s1uad gets their homework done before the weekend and is rested for practice on (riday and the soccer game on Saturday./ +I was just leaving./ ./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening./ +./ %% returned.endal held her backpack to her chest./ %% returned. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday./ . don&t you=/ +>es. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. .ya does it on Thursday nights because she knows everyone on the s1uad would throw a fit if we had to have a curfew on (riday nights. +Thank you./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow. +And that will be enough. CHAPTER ( +A curfew./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly. +The coffee shop./ .endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her. too. I have curfew tonight. +I can&t. +4e&re closing. Thank you so much./ %% agreed.akes sense. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start.endal said eagerly.endal said politely. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. She thought of . she&s the captain of the s1uad. +>ou remember our plans./ ./ . +I owe you big time. %% studied her e'pression. I remember. I don&t./ . +0ome on. I was just checking.endal said. Then maybe we&d play better./ They both stood up. or that she liked the way %% smelled./ . +4hat about the library=/ %% asked.
I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life. %ust sneak a few photos./ %% said. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . >ou sure are 1uick. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. right. ./ +I know. opened the door. 0hristine. #ach door on . I&d 1uit. -nly./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%./ +4ait. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff./ said %%.+4hatever. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment.endal&s dorm./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. +Thanks.c0arthy&s dorm room. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow.endal in the dining hall. proudly./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to ./ :ueenie said. A rather thin blonde./ %% backtracked. 4e can use this to our advantage. 2ave a seat. +0ome on in.endal&s door./ said . 6o wonder you&re a tutor. +(or documentation. +That was my roommate. +If 0oach gave us a curfew./ she said to the blonde. offering %% some 0he' . +Am I that transparent=/ . as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory.endal . $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand. +"edaling poetry. +I&m sorry.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. Interesting decor./ she said. +0heerleading.endal walked into the room. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here./ %% responded and held up her notebook. taking a handful from the bag. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America. Sampson Academy paraphernalia. +-h./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. 0hristine. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. and little cheerleader cutouts./ %% started for the door.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked./ . %% recogni3ed her.endal. She often sat with . +(riendly people you got here./ the blonde said./ +7et me guess./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. %% thought as she knocked against . +>ou need professional help.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors.i' +I didn&t mean it like that. -ver . straight out of the pages of <ogue. +School spirit is a way of life./ .
She leaned her back up against the comforter./ she said. but she was also proud to be a woman./ +-kay. -ne of my favorites. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention. +9ecause I was an afterthought. and my other brother is twentyfive./ +I think you&ll like .endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully. See. +So. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. but I know it&s about this author at least. +Anne . setting her folder and her book in front of her. And even though men adored her poetry.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer.y <erses 4ere ./ +9ut that&s not fair.+I&d like to think there is. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman. +-kay. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem. It was flattering. . well aware of how little space remained between them.endal sat down ne't to her. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position./ said %%. yet awkward./ . but she loved every minute of it./ +7ook here.ade 9y Another. +7ike what=/ %% asked.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along./ said ./ +It was.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write./ %% cleared her throat./ +That must have been hard. . I mean./ +I don&t even know who she is./ +So*what else=/ . and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. I had to do and learn a lot on my own. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family. +8ight there=/ +. ./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor.endal&s perfume. trying to distract herself from the scent of . It wasn&t long before .endal pointed to one of the poems./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. at this line in )pon Saying .endal considered the words on the page. +It was ./ %% smiled mischievously. +It&s a secret. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked. See how she says. She was more than happy to play along.illigrew.illigrew./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her.endal turned her head and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue like she had the other night when they stood outside of her dorm talking. +That&s fair. but me they scorned&=/ . @my numbers they admired./ she said.endal. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. really young. after a moment.endal thought for a moment. +7ike*/ .endal let that idea marinate./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . $eal=/ . +I&ve never even heard of her before and I think that&s why I&m having such a hard time understanding the message that she was trying to get across in her poems.y oldest brother is in his late twenties. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed. I was*une'pected. +I don&t know.
/ said %%. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that .endal read out loud. #elease./ . even though she kept writing for the rest of her life. She read the rest of the poem in silence./ She slid the journal over to . without hesitation ' see clear s6ies.ost of her work was discovered much later on./ +To be out. and then stopped./ %% closed the book in front of them.endal had seen before. who took it willingly. Beyond the tears. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution./ . #aising my head high.endal. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for./ +I would have never survived. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain.unfortunate that the very same people. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like./ +4hat did it feel like.endal shook her head.endal slumped back against the bed. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. ' /elieved in me. +This e'plains it better than I can. Instead. she refused to compromise herself or her art. .endal asked./ . (ride. +2ere. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. !ree at last. )eaving me sta/le. . Having the strength to stand. #elief from my shoulders./ . She disappeared for a bit. 0ourage. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then.ou gave me your hand without thought. for obvious reasons. men in this case. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so. !reedom. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide. . *ith this gesture you taught. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. She licked her thumb./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell.
She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. were overshadowed by the work of someone else.y writing hardly compares to with hers. 0lark. The chatter ceased. And at that moment. 0lark cleared her throat. That day. whether it was the beginning of a novel. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. but./ said %%.rs. .. this was a huge compliment because it meant that . The only drawback was that the selected authors always were asked to stand up and read their work aloud in front of the entire class before a general discussion. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment.rs. at the same time. . She began flipping through the journal. It didn&t matter. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . possibly even a nervous breakdown. you know that= >ou pour everything. +It&s not even close. . like many of her previous free writing efforts./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. #veryone sat up straight. As soon as the class was seated. however./ +It&s not like $ickinson. She was one of a kind. a journal entry or a poem. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. +I forgot about that part. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. -n occasion. 0lark was impressed.rs. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing.rs. turned out to be today./ . right. And %% had written a poem. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . It&s like $ickinson.rs./ +0ome on. +0lass./ said . %% knew.endal laughed. They were free to write whatever they wanted. )sually. .endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. a short story./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. remember=/ +-h.endal. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big.
/ . -nly she didn&t head to the restroom./ %% managed./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. 6ot now. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. not ever. It deserves to be shared with the class. She breathed heavily. And the class deserves to hear it. She tried to speak once more. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time.rs. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. +. 0lark nodded. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. Their relationship had suffered because of it. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. She&d written the first line on a whim. She glanced from face to face in a panic. It&s yours./ +9ecause that would be a shame. but no audible words came out. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. and %% bolted from the room. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. She knew . 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. %% was the e'act opposite. +And speak up a bit.rs. +I didn&t feel good. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly.rs. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended. so I decided to leave class. +%%*are you okay=/ . did it=/ +6o. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. And that wasn&t going to happen. . 4hen the last couple of students trickled out. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. and then cringed when she heard . She trembled as she stood.ay I go to the restroom=/ . who liked cheerleading and boys. It&s yours to share.rs./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read.rs. %% felt as though she was under a microscope.rs./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread./ . 0lark&s nasal voice./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. hoping for some closure. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. 0lark advised. 0lark was still in the room. unable to move. %% tiptoed in. 2er lips moved slowly. and again no sound emerged. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. the building for #nglish classes. +%%. 0lark asked. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out.like her. signaling that her class had ended.rs. +>ou might want to stand up. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. she sat down on a nearby bench. mouthing the first line. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. Instead. Instead. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . 0lark. shuffling through papers on her desk. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. ma&am.rs.
on the basketball court. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. +I&m just checking in. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. what good is art for that matter./ +I&m not doing this to be mean./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. %%. as usual. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound. and removed her glasses from her face. +I&ll read it on . ./ .onday. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . I just have a lot on my mind./ %% reasoned. offering criticism of their work. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded. +6ice job.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. +Touchy. And she was flattered that . had another outstanding practice./ +. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity.rs. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. +I&m sorry.rs.aybe she wanted it that way. 4atch and learn. rela'. and not because of the sweat. just as your basketball coach believes in you. flubbed numerous breakaway layups and had the ball stolen right from her hands three times in a row by an over3ealous freshman eager to make it into the starting lineup. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing.. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest./ %% leaned against her locker.rs. She understood. aren&t we=/ ./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning.endal was only a few hours away. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . say./ +. +2ey. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold.endal has nothing to do with it. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing.rs. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. :ueenie. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +./ . )nlike %%. and taking in criticism of your own. It didn&t mean that the thought of having to share her work in front of the entire class still didn&t scare her to death. %% couldn&t concentrate. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud./ +All right./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. ladies.aybe she did. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as./ she said. +I can&t force you to read it. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. 0lark called after her.onday./ %% replied dryly. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. 4atch and learn. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy.
+#asy for you to say. And you two are my senior captains. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. 0oach./ she said. I need you to play with confidence. +./ She barked from the doorway. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. a big part of it. who stifled a laugh./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. >our non-date with the non-lesbian./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm. 0oach is like your best friend now. +Says you. right.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. remember=/ +-h. +6o.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. 0oach. %% thought. %%./ %% acknowledged. And the point is that you played horribly today. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one./ %% said. +5ood. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. %% thought. sitting on a locker room bench. >ou brought :ueenie to the team./ Ignoring that comment. I don&t start players who perform like that. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked./ Apparently. +I e'pect more from you./ +I know. playing with her i"hone. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them./ :ueenie said. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. >ou are the floor general./ she replied./ 0oach 0ook said. +$on&t worry about 0oach. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk. +%enkins. +$on&t do anything stupid. >ou better get your game in gear. +"eachy. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years./ %% snapped. carrying a rose. -nce in the confines of her office. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. +>ou know me. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. %ust what I need./ +I&m busy tonight. She was already showered and dressed. +I didn&t play well at all. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. 0oach. %%. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say./ she said./ +>ou are the starting point guard. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office./ . %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in.
endal. +(or the umpteenth time./ +8ight. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine. as a result. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed. mulling over which way accented her features better. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening.endal asked. +I have no idea. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . and./ ./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser.endal had chosen. She&d been thinking of %%. "ersonally.endal ran her long fingers through her hair. I&m just asking. She wanted to try something different. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive./ . pulling it back and swinging it forward. I&ve never been to one before.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her. admiring her jeans./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill./ . +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. it&s the truth.%%% . a slimming red graphic T-shirt. It was as simple as that./ . +(ine. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. She stood up and grabbed ./ +>ou do.endal shrugged. 0learly. She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt. wondering about her outfit. I&d be creeped out. +0hristine. that&s gross./ +I already told you I&d be there./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ . She stood facing the doorway.endal by the arms. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. thought ./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. she hadn&t been thinking of .yan. As my roommate.yan as friends. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit.endal said. I&m only going to this party tonight with .endal spun around.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance.endal groaned./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked./ 0hristine smiled wryly. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know. . +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ . +I thought I looked good. teammate and confidante./ 6ot again. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight.endal. +(lattered= .endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . She wanted to go to The Spot. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for ./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror.yan&s benefit./ 0hristine held out her pinky. +I promise. stomach-first. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ .
Then she checked her cell phone. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. +>ou&re right. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. it couldn&t get much worse. ./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. 9ut she hadn&t. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid.endal said. the doors swung open and in walked ./ she said. pointing at the backpack. %%&s head snapped up. +>ou look ridiculous. she sat down again. +There&s something you don&t see every day.endal had tried to call or send her a te't./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots.endal smiled. In the end./ . +8ight./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. She 1uickly stood up straight. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good. admiring %%&s outfit. +I mean*you look nice and everything.endal.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. +I like you without a hat better.endal enjoyed the most. pointing at %%&s backside. And I like to carry my journal with me. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . I think. she reali3ed what she&d said. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing.endal said. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to . Then she stood up. Then she batted her eyes at ./ .endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. too. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts. -nce the words left her lips. And that was the side she thought ./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start.endal asked. She crossed her legs. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe.endal. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. After a minute. who started laughing. but resisted.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside. +5o ahead. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. as well./ she said. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. leaned over and tried to rub it out./ +4ow./ %% blurted out. just in case . +I keep some of my favorite books in here./ she said. >ou look ama3ing./ . The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. At that moment.
/ said . They talked about anything and everything they could. afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way.endal much. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ . +-nce. and neither of them held back. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman. +I wouldn&t worry about it./ +. She reached for the doorknob. A roving waitress appeared.endal asked.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus./ . She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. smiling. but . +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity./ ./ . hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. +)neventful. That&s all. either. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. with %% directly on her heels. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress .endal. some staring at them in wonderment.endal confessed. and both %% and . They sat in the corner near the window./ +She doesn&t like me very much. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. The looks didn&t bother %%. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. and laughed./ %% said. . and then looked away.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left.endal laughed nervously. and %% assumed that . during a tryout for the IF-yard dash./ +4hat did she say= ./ ./ %% struggled to e'plain.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track./ . The more she thought about it. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be.endal responded blandly. genuinely interested.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours.e. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them./ %% said. too. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. +0hristine doesn&t know you.endal said. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. Several students crossed their path. +I don&t know. unsure of how to respond.endal had grabbed it first./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk. They didn&t seem to bother .
/ . people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me. 9ut forget about me.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. not the younger me that was insecure and confused./ +4ow. I have to see those pictures./ +9efore I met you./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do./ .endal straightened up. you don&t. 4hen it came to the talent portion./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different./ +>ou said you felt uncomfortable in your own skin= Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in mine that I wish I could be someone completely different for a day just to see how it would feel. I became that./ +6o. the real me./ +I know what that&s like./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. 7ook at 0hristine./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. I played the role. And because I knew that everyone thought that. +There&s so much more to you. clearly offended./ . +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson./ +I&m sorry. I&m the same. It was so embarrassing. +It was awkward to say the least.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me. . "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change. I want you to know me as I am now. +>ou&re joking. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains. +I&m still playing the same role now.%% laughed. +I didn&t know. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place./ %% professed.endal continued./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise./ said %% honestly. I was just like her./ +9ut you are changing. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be. I have no idea who I am. and my hair was long./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly. and tried to fit in. I wore make-up. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. 9ut back then I acted different.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life. And when I show them the pictures./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips./ . +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. It came down past my shoulders./ %% offered./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here. I panicked and ran off stage.
-f all the poems in her journal. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours. then meet up with her at the soccer party./ +I know a place. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much./ ./ %% considered the offer. +-kay.endal asked. just to be sure. . +0ome on. you owe me a poem./ +4hat if I helped you=/ .endal had to choose that one.endal asked. then she&s going to lower my grade. .endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%. %% rolled her eyes. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. and if I don&t read it.+>ou aren&t anything like her. +4hat&s . . It&s (riday night./ %% paused./ %ust before they left the coffee shop.onday. almost taking her by the hand./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know. looking around.endal glanced at her cell phone. She was supposed to te't 0hristine. >ou showed me your favorite hangout./ she agreed. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to ./ +I have to do this by ./ +Speaking of $ickinson. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful.endal stood up and tugged %%. you&re smart. There are so many things about you that ama3e me. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret.endal asked. I&ve never told anyone that before./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. 9ut here she was with %% instead./ %% panicked. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me./ %% told her.endal. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue./ .other . +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. I need someplace private./ ./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for./ said . +Then let&s go someplace else.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said. so that makes it a secret. +>ou think I&m smart=/ . That is./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now./ +>ou don&t owe me anything. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed. I feel like I owe you or something./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on .endal said adamantly.endal. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once./ %% wasn&t about to argue. if you&ll let me. you&re kind. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. after skimming through the pages.ay I about=/ . +6ot here.
The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance. 2e stood up. +6o way./ he said. dude=/ he grumbled. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. +7et me try and call her./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps.yan. %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed./ %ason offered. she&ll come./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. who now glared at ./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . (or . and stood up instantly to look out the window.yan that meant wearing black slacks. +I don&t know where she is./ %ason had heard enough. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button. +If you don&t come tonight. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. This girl is cra3y. as she held up her i"hone.yan. +>ou&ve got issues. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire./ said . 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands. 9ut she clearly was distracted. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. aside from winter formal.yan out of the room./ said 0hristine. . 7et&s go./ she whispered under her breath./ said 0hristine.yan said miserably.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend./ ./ 2e turned to 0hristine. she&s going to regret it. +4hy don&t you go find out. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch. who finally took the hint. She smiled eagerly at %%. sounding frustrated. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. 2e was still sitting on the couch. +Seriously. Apparently. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse.yan shot back. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight. +She&s probably on her way here right now.yan pressed./ +I&m going to regret it./ +I&ve got issues=/ . ./ . waiting for . +She should be here with me. and closed the door behind him. She ditched an invite-only soccer party. She&s been acting so strange lately.4ithout saying a word./ he said. +I don&t know. I&m the best looking guy on campus. as he nudged . he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. impatiently. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out.endal. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie. +6ever mind. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian.yan./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . +0ome on.
>es./ . +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night. ./ +That&s pretty clever. %% and . I didn&t want that happening to me.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. +I found this spot during my freshman year. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad. %% sat down beside her. And follow she did.endal sighed. illuminating the spot. they&d watch us go into some place. wait until we came out. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. That included the library. we were fair game./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints.CHAPTER !! %% and . the side to the bleachers being left open. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. I even slept out here once or twice.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry. unfolded and spread it out. +)ntil it gets too cold. She turned it on. They huddled together. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. +This hiding spot was so good./ . +It was fun at the time. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. with .endal grabbed the blanket. eyeing the flashlight. +0ome here often=/ %% asked. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. and classroom buildings. she&d stuffed a flashlight. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall. dining hall. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars.endal crept under the bleachers.endal argued. "erched up high on a platform./ +I&m full of surprises. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way.endal left the coffee shop. See. and after classes to read or do homework. even though she already knew the answer. and grab us. she&d gone through ha3ing. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. that it got to the point where they&d all eat with me in the dining hall so that they could grab me as soon as I walked outside./ +-h. 9ut that never worked either. urging %% to follow./ she said. So.endal told her. I had all my routes mapped carefully. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house./ ./ said %%. I was so scared every time I walked across campus./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad. and were completely hidden by the tarp. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. In the middle of the blanket. . the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. come on. 6o one ever found me here.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. ./ . +$oesn&t sound like fun to me./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school.
I&m being honest./ ./ %% gladly rejoined . +4hy=/ +4ell. +>ou keep saying that./ said %%./ +I do not. "oetry is personal./ . my therapist=/ %% snorted. And that was $ickinson&s poem. 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit. for starters. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion. That&s not the problem.+-kay. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself. I don&t./ +>es. +I feel stupid. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem. It has to be./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. or what=/ %% blinked twice./ ./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it.endal replied.endal said. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem./ +Trust me./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself. you got me there. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. opened her mouth wide and said. relieved to be out of the spotlight. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this./ . +9ecause I was trying to make a point.endal on the blanket. +7et&s talk about the poem./ . I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. but she didn&t care./ . +And read it to me as if you were in class. a nervous habit over which she&d little control./ +>eah. +Are we going to talk about your poem. >ou know that. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place./ +4hat is holding you back=/ +I don&t know*the fear of rejection from the crowd=/ %% knew she sounded like a bratty five-year-old at that moment.endal glowered at her. but that was different. I&m just trying to help here. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke./ +5ood. +2ey. She cleared her throat. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot./ +6o.endal played with her fingers. +I can&t. It is. I&m honest and upfront about myself./ %% admitted./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. you do.endal ordered.
She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue. you will. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. but I bet most people will./ . .endal had said. or even her parents.endal maintained. +>our writing is ama3ing.endal&s cell phone rang./ It was the first time . +I believe in you. not her coach. It&s the same with your writing. she saw .endal reassured her./ +9ut that&s ridiculous.onday.endal fall for her even more. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way. %% had never heard anybody. It was the simplest of phrases. Some people may not like it.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes./ . +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else. That was it. +4hy=/ %% asked./ +It&s the same principal.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. And it only made ./ +>es. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face./ +Argh./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. eyes that made .endal took it. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. +And you make it hard not to. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm. you still did it./ . That was how the night had ended. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. Some people may not respond in the best way. wondering where in the world she was. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm./ %% hid her face with her hands. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . +I never thought of it that way. e'posed. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now./ %% said.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when .+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality. %% had offered . as . In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer.endal had seen %% without her confident grin. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. and spoke through her fingers.endal laid her hand over %%&s .endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again. +I&m never going to be able to do this by . and yet it carried so much weight./ +4ow./ . . say those words to her before. It confused her to the core. startling them both. with regret. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. %% was vulnerable. and fell over on her back.endal had dared to picture a different ending./ 4hen %% looked up.endal weak in the knees if she . In her imagination . and gave %% one in return.
She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. . She and . . ./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking./ They walked briskly.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her./ . I wanted to help her out. +./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. still tapping. +I am way beyond mad.endal found herself pouting. the gentleness of her touch. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center. she stood up and stretched.stared at them long enough. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. +I need to work out./ she said. +I&m really sorry. and only her imagination.endal jogging behind her to keep up. before transferring to Sampson./ . and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. +I&m waiting. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. Saturday might as well have been a pause. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips. That thought alone frightened her deeply. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. a definition to describe the feeling. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real.endal organi3ed her thoughts. irritating. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. yet . and . . +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. 0hristine&s only response was. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. She burst from the locker room. -nce she finished tying her sneakers. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again. e'cept. to let her e'plain.endal huffed.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker. +(ine. and probably to make her suffer. In fact. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . +4ell*/ 0hristine said. She needed a word. with . or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. . I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. +7et&s wait until we get to the track. >ou can come if you want to. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. .endal didn&t know how to e'plain it. 4hen their pace slowed. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts.e.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. to give it a name so that she could understand it better./ 0hristine spat. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. +I just lost track of time.endal didn&t know what to say. and yet oddly comforting./ she said as genuinely as possible./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face. +-kay*I know*you&re mad./ 0hristine sang.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted.endal begged. . and then %% had this problem she needed help with.endal found the tapping distracting./ 4orking out was not something .
+I don&t know what&s going on with you lately. She spotted %%. but that didn&t mean she wanted out./ The color instantly drained from . and wondered if %% had been one of them. +And you know what that means./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason.endal flung her hands to her hips./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged.endal screamed. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face.endal. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. and yes. noted where she was. I don&t know./ 0hristine shouted./ She leaned in and whispered. +>ou know how these things go down./ +6o. and . She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. 2er face contorted. . +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. she had her complaints. you pinky swore with me.endal felt amused./ . +I just don&t see what the big deal is./ ./ 0hristine told her. +They are having a meeting. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in. or if she was just really upset by what .endal&s face.endal asked. >es. #ither way./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. ./ It was as if . offering a full view of the courts below./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest.endal. and continued with her rant. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug.+. They didn&t want you to know. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. .endal had said. nor bearing the school colors. +4hat are we. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. +It&s the truth. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center./ 0hristine shouted again. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore./ 0hristine screamed. in first grade=/ she asked. It was supposed to be a secret. a little too loudly. That&s what it means. and they&re starting to talk./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. +That&s cra3y. she had her frustrations. They turned to each other and giggled./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. "eople are starting to wonder about you. >ou went back on a sacred oath. +>ou are infuriating. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. but your priorities are all messed up. +>ou have no idea what this means. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ .endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain.
. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her. +Tomorrow night. She&d judged people. and smartest students on campus. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. 2er eyes instantly softened. 9ut for some reason. and her participation in student government activities. then you can come. ./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. as if she were a freshman. She had 3ero athletic ability. . stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships. unsurprising.endal felt small and shallow. She&d have to start over. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . cast aside. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. she was in on one of the secret meetings about a sophomore who spent more time hanging out with her skater friends on campus than she did attending practice or other cheerleading-related activities. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. no matter how good you were. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. and she&d been happy doing it. she did care. be it academic or otherwise.endal shouldn&t have cared. but if you skip that. Aside from being pretty and popular. Standing there in the athletic center. Suddenly. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. )nless you carried at least a K. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. nothing final.endal asked.endal knew e'actly how these things went down./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . prettiest. She&d been the e'ception to the rule./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. at the school lounge. She&d been happy to belong to what she saw as a loving and supportive organi3ation that appeared now to be nothing more than a superficial. 7ast year. (or some reason./ 0hristine said plainly. popular. . 9ut. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities./ +5et another one. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. unanimous vote. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. it did matter.endal&s hands. They went after only the most involved. She&d seen how these things had gone down./ 0hristine said. by way of her K. She was dismissed. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. the most athletic. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. as it sometimes happens.endal had been lucky./ ./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition. you had no shot at making the s1uad. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. $on&t even mention what I said. It shouldn&t have mattered. I&ll vouch for you. . or you either for that matter. one that she couldn&t put her finger on.L 5"A. +or how do you e'pect me to vouch for you=/ If you continue to hang around her no one is going to believe me. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. her involvement in the drama club. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. +It&s only going to be a discussion.
+>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip. :ueenie said./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. things on her mind. +. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. +$on&t you think=/ +6o./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. She hadn&t heard from . and :ueenie would love it. +That&s awesome. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. I&m talking about T2# . she might not like it so much..y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either.endal and her roommate arguing./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. Time was running out. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. study session. There were other. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. +./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase.endal glanced toward the basketball team again. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. It was discouraging. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. and she didn&t care now. nor would she ever critici3e her work.endal . as :ueenie looked on in amusement. I don&t. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . %% could probably scribble out the alphabet. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. to say the least./ . and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. +8umors are starting to circulate./ :ueenie said./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%.c0arthy. more important. In the meantime. in 1uotes with her fingers. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. +-kay./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. :ueenie loved.endal at all on Saturday. which wasn&t much at all./ she said without looking away. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing.
+>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. -nce . I want you to get out this time before it&s too late. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else./ she confessed./ :ueenie stood up. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. %%./ %% warned. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now. really I do. +And you&re wrong about her. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other./ +She&s not like that. I&m in love with the girl./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since./ said %%. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. right=/ +8ight. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. the playful smirk gone from her face.endal. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. +I know you&re in love with her./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show./ %% maintained.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think. %%. when she was all %% could think about. once she reali3es the weight of it./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later./ +That&s absurd. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have./ %% said. +It isn&t a game. %% e'tended her hand./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. It&s a fantasy./ :ueenie said.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. she&s going to stop talking to you. 9ut you&re wrong this time./ +(ine. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. +This is reality. a lump forming in her throat. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe./ %% resisted the urge to argue. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. The deal was sealed. +All right. and it&s never going to happen./ +I appreciate what you&re saying. :ueenie shook it. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . I hate watching you go through this./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. that&s the point. +9ecause you never learn.
wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two. which made her easy to talk to. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting. and added. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. watch out. 9ut as sweet as she was. and then knocked on . +#'cuse me. +. As far as your behavior. asking for permission to sit down. wearing a pair of bo'ers. and hanging out with certain people. +.endal braced herself.ya said warmly. an open te'tbook in her lap./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. +Sure.ya was alone. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. have a seat. ./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. +6othing much.ya said. +0ome in.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure .ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. popped the top./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts.endal. She motioned to the bed. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie. . she knew how to play the game when it mattered. and about little else. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately. ./ +She did. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport./ :ueenie burped.sprawled out on the couch watching television./ CHAPTER !$ . +I wasn&t e'pecting you. It was her life. who released one can. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ .endal replied evenly. It was all she ever talked about. . we have noticed. a true humanitarian. >ou know.ya burst out laughing. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not.endal. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand.endal heard from beyond the peephole. I thought . +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. surprised.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair.ya was sweet and understanding. She was compassionate and charitable./ . avoiding soccer parties and such. +I told you so./ . She opened the door and saw . She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately./ .ya&s door. and passed it over before taking one for herself. letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. and sat down./ . They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. though. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to ./ .ya 9rooks. Their conversations were few and far between. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. She had little in common with . And not once did :ueenie say.
+$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es. silly. . +6o.sociali3e as much. and we wanted to throw you a party. it&s not a gay fraternity.ya&s book dropped from her lap. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. +I don&t know.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. because of %%. not that I know of. +I mean. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea./ ./ . +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ . in any way./ +.endal walked across the room.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad./ +That&s it=/ . +#ver since I met her.ya laughed. side by side. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too. the thought has crossed my mind. . took . are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. It&s a regular fraternity./ . +6ot that I am. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop.endal stood up. but she&d certainly implied that . Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. It has straight members. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. I didn&t know what to do. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. shape or form. make it mandatory. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own. I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad./ +. but if .endal remembered a tall./ .endal nodded. +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%./ +I don&t believe this./ . I&ve never met anyone like her before.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. And black members. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting./ . but that&s basically about it. And I try to stop the feelings. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know. recalling meeting . I&ve been all over the place. And I know she&s a girl.ya stood up.endal replied. ./ +4hat&s going on=/ . if I met someone. a woman./ . I guess.endal. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. They sat down. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ ./ She smiled./ +A gay one=/ . too. at this point in my life.et who=/ +%%.endal said 1uickly. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way. then I had to stop spending time with %%. +>es. And he&s even in a fraternity.ya&s eyes. . So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends.endal hurried to e'plain. or think I might want to ./ . +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay.ya asked. And white members.
2er finger had landed on that page by chance. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours. She sat down. +$on&t worry. the words that were branded in her brain.ya. 4hen she opened her eyes. just let me know. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. and rested her finger on a single line. she saw the words of the poem before her. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. I plan on having a little talk with her. Somewhere along the road . She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. leaned up against the bark. +Is everything okay=/ . and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. and had been since the first time she&d studied it. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort.endal a slight hug and added. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. everything is perfect.endal initially agreed not to see %%. +If you ever need to talk more about this. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s. She flipped opened the book. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do. That would have been awkward. .endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. .ya&s voice was enough to satisfy . . She hadn&t shown any interest in him that night at the soccer party when the two of them were left alone in a room. %%% .endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening./ she said. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session.ya. Then ./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. She paused in the threshold. It meant something.endal&s appetite for revenge. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. She remembered that poem now.ya asked. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her./ +I might take you up on that..ya gave . +>es. yet for some reason .endal ./ said . And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense./ +5ood. She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. +In fact. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. 9ut with .yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head./ . After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego.endal headed for the door.c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. the slight hint of wickedness in ./ . as she sat beside . turned and said. .endal couldn&t decide which one. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session./ Although . And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the .endal thought about the poem. +I underestimated you. #verything is more than okay. She knew that poem. closed her eyes.endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her.
Apparently. And when he finally thought he had made a dent.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. 9y itself. lifeless. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew .aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite. . when winter thawed.yan many things about . . And they hadn&t worked.endal.yan had seen . . taking up space. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. the fountain had been shut off. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. was just around the corner.endal&s mind about him. the girl on the basketball team. There was one other person. that whole approach had been pointless. as well as fall semester. #ven its soft blue color had faded. she&d stood him up anyway. the cement structure was depressing. who would be anointed . Then. one other girl that . which meant that the chosen pair. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. To .yan. It just stood there. It had no purpose. the fountain couldn&t go on living. attained a status far higher than everyone else. . At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . while students wandered by and paid it no attention. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about.endal would be his 1ueen.ing and :ueen. without water. he needed a new game plan. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple.endal would respond to. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. 4ell. wondering why she&d just wasted a decent amount of her brain cells crafting a metaphor on the circle of life and a waterless fountain when she could be doing something much more productive with her time.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. 4hat better way to get to . . only larger and more upscale. If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in .endal hanging around with over the past month. She just might let him in.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. 2e had acted like such a fool. It made no sense.endal&s tutor. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. for that matter. It sucked the life right out of her. things that she&d thought . playing the sweet and sensitive guy. The one he had hatched originally was not working. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad. which left it looking gray. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. every spring.endal would respond to. though. %% sat there. at least for the rest of the winter. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it.endal just might bend.endal better than she actually did. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. The end of the soccer season. rhyme nor reason.
+It&s just the way you deal with things. not even her writing. . She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic.endal practically everywhere she went.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. though. #ver since . %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. to not let herself get attached. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. my friend./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. for whatever reason. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. isn&t it=/ %% asked.6othing mattered to her. 4hat made it all worse. in fact. She did care. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. +4henever something like this happens. . %% had never asked her why. 9ut . #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. %% shook her head in disappointment. turning back to face the fountain./ The voice rose from behind. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . +It&s pathetic. hands in her pockets. possibly by a former girlfriend. Attending a small private school made it far too easy to bump into the same people on a regular basis*whether you wanted to or not. +6o. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. +6o. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. a wide grin on her face. you go off to find yourself.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things./ %% frowned. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures./ :ueenie returned. it&s not pathetic. +7et&s go.aybe she needed to not care. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. not basketball.endal all along. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. .endal never even looked in her direction. She walked over and sat down on the bench./ +Say no more. #ither way. I guess not./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. It didn&t help that she saw . she refused to be like :ueenie./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring.
+Sometimes when I&m out with you.rs. She didn&t have a choice. She was also in with the bouncer. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. . +She&s with me. At least. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs. she hoped she would be able to./ :ueenie shook her head./ :ueenie told him. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. . There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that.%% nodded./ She yanked %% off the bench. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around./ said :ueenie. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon.rs./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. %% had agreed on the spot. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. +I swear. who called her by name once he saw her. though. At the end of the semester. +>ou are. she&d asked to speak to . +It&s fine. since the bass had been turned up so loud./ %% said. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. She even had taken time to do her hair./ :ueenie teased. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks. I feel like I&m with someone famous. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. 9y the time they arrived at the club. Somehow it had worked because . :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. +4e&re going out. +So it&s settled then. And in a state of panic./ %% regarded her clothes. 9efore they left the dorm. during e'ams./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. 0lark out in the hall.rs. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. She had gotten an e'tension. +It&s going to be a great night. 2e watched %% suspiciously. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled.
she&d forgotten that %% was even there. %% once again made her way through the crowd. which was 1uite hard to do. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. %% was ready to leave the club./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. +$o whatever you want. +. though she was standing right in front of her. It was almost K p. +I&m leaving./ she sputtered. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. %% took off through the crowd. walked down a narrow corridor and out into an open space that was packed wall to wall with every type of lesbian you could possibly imagine. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing.. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening.m. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. At that point. +9ecause I&m ready to go. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. An hour later. She offered to buy %% a soda./ %% shouted.They reached the second floor landing. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered.e= At least I move to the beat. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. she was cute enough. Sure. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. She stomped down a narrow corridor./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. +>ou look ridiculous. since she had none./ %% frowned. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. +7et&s go dance. +4hy=/ she asked.endal. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. The music was deafening./ :ueenie yelled. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape. %% was still leaning against the wall. and pushed %% to the side. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. +I&m not ready to go yet. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. +:ueenie. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. I&m kind of in the middle of something. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. and you could almost see the walls shaking. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. %% glared at her. . %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement.
and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. And. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. and I felt*used. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. eyes fi'ed on the television./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much./ %% sipped her soda. +(unny. really. +So. After she finally got down from the fire escape.y story isn&t half as good as yours. +4ait a minute./ +9ut. +I mean. so %% crawled into bed./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. and then I lost interest.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . :ueenie still wasn&t home. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club.&/ %% pressed. now you know what happened to me last night. which cost me twenty-five bucks. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table./ :ueenie repeated. and they fell from underneath me. +I should have never gone out. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. it looked like more than @not much was going on./ %% shook her head from side to side./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. broken beer bottles. seriously./ +Trust me. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting./ :ueenie shrugged. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. by the way. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. The two of them slept until after noon. . +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. I managed to land on my feet somehow. if you hadn&t gone out. either.ung "ao chicken./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. I walked across them anyway. And in hindsight. it was considerably amusing. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. after the club closed we went our separate ways. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie . 9ut when %% told her story./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. %% nodded.c9ride=/ . she&d taken a cab back to school. The night had been a complete and utter failure. and random individuals lurking about./ +$o tell. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground./ +There&s nothing to tell./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up./ :ueenie said. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. +(rom my perspective. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions.
+Something is obviously bothering you. 4hat happened=/ +#h. +And you know what she said to me= She said. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down./ +:ueenie. I don&t know./ %% told her. +6ope./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. >ou had a moment of guilt./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. and stood up. very. seriously./ :ueenie said finally. The moment passed.&/ +And that bothered you because . +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. you can talk to me. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. So./ she said. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. like I suddenly grew a conscience./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. something a bit more real. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone. +-kay. Try this one on for si3e. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning. @I&m not into that. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped. And thankfully./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. . 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime.:ueenie turned off the television./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. +%ust like that./ %% began. @relationships. and rubbed her temples./ :ueenie said. >ou felt the need for something more. @not into what=& And she said. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second./ . And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. +That&s my line. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. 9oth. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes. +4e said this weird goodbye./ +I don&t know what it is. It passed. +-kay./ +It passed=/ +>es./ +4ait a minute. and that&s it. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience. .& So I said. or through the eyes of some of the girls you hook up with and leave hanging= >ou felt how they feel after you cast them aside. I don&t think that&s it. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. It&s me. +I think I just wondered*for a very./ %% scratched her head. %% paused. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. It was something that started with an @S&. She circled the room. I don&t know.
+2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked./ %% said enviously./ +It&s all trivial. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis./ :ueen returned./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. +I feel like I am going to throw up. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter./ +Trust me. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. I just get a little an'ious now and then. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall./ :ueenie said. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. She sat in the dining hall. :ueenie sat across from her. +I need energy for the game. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. +I figure. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt. I don&t know./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible. I suppose. And so do you. comfortably stuffing her face as usual./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other./ +I&m not that bad. +That&s just part of your character. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. I get nervous./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter. After all. +9esides. Someone who opens herself up to people. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. %%. she&d been right about ./ %% picked up her fork again./ +It&s just a game. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations.endal. playing in basketball games. +It really isn&t that big of a deal./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. >ou are that bad. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee.%% threw her hands up in the air./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ . +I can&t help it./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. this time with determination. graduating from high school. +I&m hungry.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant. . +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. +>ou get nervous about everything. between ample gulps of milk. And I&m not depressed. taking e'ams./ Though she didn&t admit it. I reali3ed who I was talking to./ +I know.
/ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. %%. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. +>es=/ +>es. It&s part of the game you&re in.aybe./ +>ou know. +4hat you really are afraid of is success./ said :ueenie. >ou never let it rest. be-all for you./ :ueenie said at last. I&m listening. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . $eep inside./ +Take your stage fright. %% waited patiently for her to respond. you know you can do it. this time you are actually making sense. >ou&re a writer. +0ome on./ +7isten. and do it. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. but you don&t really know my parents. rather than taking advice yourself. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle./ +That&s fine./ %% started her response. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so./ :ueenie smiled. sliding her plate aside.+6ot in the big scheme of things. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. you know you want to do it. 9ut just hear me out. +I was being serious. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. :ueenie. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. I don&t want to be anything like them./ %% said. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff./ +-kay. $eep inside. 9ut she did know better. +>es. She gave :ueenie a long look. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. There is one thing that I am afraid of. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on./ +./ +So am I. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. >ou think I care if 0oach chews me out for missing a shot that would have won us a game= There&s always going to be another game. and stared up at the ceiling. or belittling them every chance you get./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating./ %% glared at her. If %% didn&t know any better. for instance. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. >ou know my parents. on paper or otherwise. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again./ said %%./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. :ueenie.
uninvited./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es./ %% cocked her head to one side. but I&m still not following you./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. +True. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position./ +Trust me. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. +7isten. +It&s important./ . I know you&re tight with her. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater./ he said. I&m going to go to law school./ +>ou&re friends with ./ .yan e'plained.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep. keeping his eyes planted on %%. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction./ ./ . and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis. I&m popular.maybe. if you know what I mean. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them. if you just talked to them./ :ueenie volunteered. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. +0an I talk to you=/ ./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked./ he smiled devilishly. +0ome on.c0arthy./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. right=/ +>ou could say that. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction. +4ho is this creep=/ . %% thought. and./ %% hated the fact that he was right. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person.endal . +I said I need you to do something for me./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. I just need you to say a few nice things about me.yan Stevens loomed over them. +I need you to do something for me. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. ignoring :ueenie altogether.yan leaned in and whispered. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ +9ut I hardly know you. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride. It was empty. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. And this would help me out a lot. .yan sat down across from %%. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them. a shadow fell over the table. and gave up her seat. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned.yan asked./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. +There&s no common ground.
+>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. %% had secured her starting position. according to 0oach 0ook.yan practically whined./ she said. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. :ueenie had played superbly. +I&ve got a game to get to. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and .yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table.%% sat there. as she was making her way to the locker room. I can&t help you. >ou not only played with skill. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. That&s it.c0arthy was doing there. They hadn&t spoken since . too close for %%&s liking. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. . 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. I can appreciate your interest in ./ +4hy not=/ ./ +4ait*/ . I can&t help you. whether by te't or by phone. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did./ %% stared at his hand until he let go./ she told him sharply.yan called after her as she walked away. ladies./ . So %% figured their friendship. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. 4e don&t even talk anymore. but you also played with heart. %% had played well. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd.endal had stood %% up. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. too./ And so it was official. +I&m sorry. entirely confused. After the game. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. +7ook. was over./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying. or whatever it was.ary. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate./ +4e aren&t best friends.endal didn&t listen to them.endal. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. +That&s it=/ . I was her tutor. 4e aren&t even friends. There was no apology./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game.endal . She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted.
/ . would you=/ +. as she pulled on her warm-ups. +. 9y the time she made up her mind. Then it&s always short and sweet. +She just rambles when she&s happy. As soon as she saw . -ne. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. ladies.endal halfway or stay where she was./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening./ :ueenie said./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind./ . she knew why. I&m glad we won though. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. 5reat team effort. +5ive me a moment./ They left the locker room together. I stink. as she fle'ed her arms. I want team on three. >ou&re really good. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself./ +Thanks. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out.nocked me around= I&m all muscle./ %% said. it&s a different story. +5reat game. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. two./ %% whispered. +4hen we lose. :ueenie hesitated. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. +I&m ready.endal already stood in front of her. three. 9y the way./ :ueenie declared. we won a game. there&s a first time for everything. when she noticed that . +I can hold my own./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks. I&ll see you back at the dorm.an.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms.endal took in the empty gym. +5reat team effort tonight. #veryone else followed suit. +It was e'citing and fun to watch.endal was still sitting on the bleachers./ +>ou definitely played well tonight./ %% yawned and stretched./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance. debating whether or not she should meet ./ +It&s about time. .0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side./ +>ou know what they say. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. 0oach left the room./ /That&s very true./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. +"lease=/ +-kay./ %% replied as evenly as possible. you wouldn&t know.
yan Stevens is head over heels for you. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class. I said you&d never do anything like that. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything.endal closed her eyes. . She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. I don&t know you at all.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. And I stuck up for you. she wondered if she&d made the right decision./ ./ . +9ut it&s not what you think.endal pleaded. .aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for./ +>es. (or avoiding you./ she said roughly.endal interrupted./ +I didn&t freak out. 9ut when ./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something./ she said. CHAPTER "* . +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. to e'plain what happened.endal. she decided to walk away.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets./ . +5ood luck with the rest of your semester.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm. 5uess you proved her right. Instead.endal cringed. look./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. +2ey./ +>ou know./ ./ +6o. It is what it is./ said . +I came here to apologi3e. +I know how it looked. you do. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. why did you wait so long to talk to me= I&ve seen you around campus and you acted as if I wasn&t there. against her better judgment. +-h. +I&m glad you came to the game.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her. +I thought I knew you. I guess he likes you a lot. :ueenie warned me. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up./ she said. as you put it. That&s the problem. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space. +>ou know me. I don&t. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ . +She said you&d stop talking to me. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. you know. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder./ . I know you&ll do well./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. 2e&s perfect for you. 4anted me to put in a good word for him./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance. and you should probably know that ./ %% took a giant step backwards.
+4hat&s your name=/ +. >eah.endal heard a voice ask. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch. +2ey. 9ut look. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch.endal insisted. She was dressed as if she were going out downtown.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages.endal. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting.eet me in five minutes instead./ .endal. ./ The president pointed a finger. %ust give me five minutes./ +2ello./ the students said in unison. +>ou&ve got five minutes. I wasn&t .endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover.endal=/ +4ell*/ .endal approached her slowly. . .endal*/ +2ello. (rom where she hid.endal gave a slight and awkward wave./ the president said patiently. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. +I. +I already know what you think of me. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. . She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket.endal stood slowly. +Sorry to interrupt. #veryone./ +(ive minutes is all I need. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge. . really. . . 2is eyes were warm and welcoming.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. 9ut you&ve got it wrong. races and religious beliefs. I found it. +See. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. I.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. . :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. and then looked back at . . +It&s okay. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. you behind the couch. +>es. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. in faded jeans.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins.endal said.endal. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. take your time. please say hello to ./ ./ The entire group looked at her strangely. . 4hen she stood up. shuffling through its contents. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. +It&s important. then crossed her arms over her chest./ . +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. To . earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. +And you are=/ . talking on her cell phone.
/ .endal declared. Tell her to meet me there in an hour. All of it. . +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. This time./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. It&s important.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. ./ She laughed in spite of herself. I&m serious./ . . I want to*I don&t know. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away. but . I haven&t even made it off campus. but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. I don&t even know what I&m saying. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. no matter what people think or what people say or . 6o.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. >es. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened./ .endal walk away. ./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. she could still see . And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. It distracted her for a moment. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. #verything. . In fact. And I needed some space to think about my confusion.endal striding along the sidewalk. I want to do the e'act opposite. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door. +This is so new to me. I want to talk to her more. +4hy did you suddenly stop talking to her= And why did you do e'actly what I said you&d do=/ +9ecause I was confused. And there&s more to be said. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. %%% +So what happened with . and continued to watch her from afar. I&m still confused. Something came up. let me guess.yan as they left the athletic center. until her silhouette faded into the night.endal hugged herself to keep warm. and that didn&t go so well. I knew she was mad at me./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day.endal=/ %ason asked . I thought I&d try a different approach. She&ll know where I&m talking about./ +. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. as if her words were left suspended in air.endal e'plained. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . I already tried talking to her. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings./ +So. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer./ .going to stop talking to %%. See you in when you get here.eet me in the school lounge. +%%. +9esides. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. School. I&m not going anywhere yet. -kay. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. then she&ll come meet me. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. It&s me. I&m not downtown yet. I want to*spend more time with her. (riends.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season.
isn&t that*/ . %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge. +She said she hardly even knows . $oes it matter=/ . Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up.endal .an.yan looked up. does she know if . +5et it=/ +$ude. 8emember= She stood me up. +It bombed.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on./ %ason bit down on his laughter./ %ason snickered. +. I&m just. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason. +9ut I&m going to follow her.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out. seriously./ +So=/ +So. The whole sensitive guy routine. rela'. . and then to a figure approaching the soccer field.an.yan waved his hand into the air. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered. +I don&t know.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. And I can&t figure out why. +I think it is. +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud./ . okay./ . She said .yan said.+6o.endal ./ +6o./ +I tried a different approach. +I don&t know. They watched together as the figure took a sharp left off the cement path that led to the soccer field and cut over to the bleachers. Then it was all ./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. +2ey.endal in more subjects than one./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ ./ %ason stopped walking. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean. A devilish smile broke out on his face./ he said.yan answered./ +.yan rolled his eyes. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans./ .aybe you just need a different approach. +Shut up.c0arthy this and ./ e'ploring my options. +It does now. +Take this for me.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness.aybe she&s just not into guys./ ./ he said 1uietly. while making 1uotes with his fingers./ +I doubt that.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. +-h*right. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party./ +I don&t get it. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass./ +4hat are you going to do=/ . +I&m thinking about asking somebody else. the one that you talked to.yan said. I forgot about that. maybe she&s tutoring .yan rolled his heavy shoulders back. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet. +4hat. >ou know./ .c0arthy that./ . all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl.
*ant to &ometimes ' do.endal. Sure.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. . '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. Heart open. only this time she hadn&t let it take over. But it4s 5ust a moment. erratic. so to spea6. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. '4m wea6. to relieve in itself The pain. static feelings.. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. Thoughts reel. She reread the words 1uickly. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. The first time she . mind /lea6. And move on. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. . &ometimes it helps. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . &omewhere. strength. &o real. +I&m not sure. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment .
so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. %% knew that now. perhaps=/ +6ice try. care of the ./ +:ueenie. took the podium./ %% looked around the room./ :ueenie whispered back. %% was even more curious when she spotted :ueenie sitting on a cushioned chair in the corner of the school lounge that normally was reserved for reading or studying. with glasses too big for her face. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. unassuming. or lack thereof./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. It was therapy. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. This time. I forgot. +7istening. As she reached for her baseball cap.c0arthy. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. every word. stage fright. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. A meeting of some sort was taking place.endal./ +6one other than T2# . dark-skinned girl. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game./ :ueenie sat up straight./ %% said evenly. %% had been able to do it all by herself. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened.endal ./ +>ou give up too easily. every rhythmic phrase. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. closed the journal. . right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. even basketball. right. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. All the things that had sent her thoughts reeling over the past month inspired her to write the poem that had just oo3ed out of her like sweat from her pores and landed on the page. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie. at Sampson and how it was the responsibility of the 0ultural Awareness Society to help spread understanding and acceptance of all cultures around campus through activities and school-wide functions./ They watched together as a tiny.c9ride&s./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. She spoke about tolerance. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. It made sense. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause.
+-kay./ %% sat down again. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. 4rong. she took another deep breath. The nerve of some people. (or some reason./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. +6ow. she took a deep breath.iss . if you&ll e'cuse me.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. +And she wants to tell you herself. She could only nod./ %% cleared her throat. #njoy the rest of your. save your breath. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. you should know that . I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . It doesn&t happen too often. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. she likes spending time with you./ %% stood up. 4hen she reopened them. of course. I&ve got two. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations.c0arthy once and for all.endal. I got the impression that she even missed you. taps me on the shoulder. and says she needs to talk to me. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. +This is a big deal for me. and I don&t want to know./ :ueenie closed her eyes.+That&s right. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. I&m heading back to the dorm. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand./ :ueenie admitted. 4as. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. +5ood.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. I&ve got three words for you.endal . I asked. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. I&m talking on my i"hone outside./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air./ +She likes you./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. in hopes that I might go speak to her. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all . ./ said %%./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step./ :ueenie continued./ +4hich are*=/ +I. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. three./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About . Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. I still don&t understand. +6o. +As much as I appreciate your confession and the fact that you were even able to get those three little words out of your mouth. +4onderful.
+>ou must be rubbing off on me. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. +%%. and slammed it down on her head. +./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. . :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. :ueenie ./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head./ +I can&t believe this./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'. my friend. +%ust when I&m over the girl./ +Thanks. come on. you might hear her say it for yourself. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. I did my part. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain. I&m talking @like like./ said %%./ %% yelled. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to./ %% whispered in return./ +I can&t believe this./ +I know./ %% yelled again. she couldn&t tell. CHAPTER "! ./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation.endal supposedly was waiting.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. you turn around and tell me this./ +That&s up to you.+9asically. Then I&m heading downtown. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug. +0all me if you need to. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field. I think she really cares about you. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge./ :ueenie whispered. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all. I mean.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. you&ve got a small head.c9ride./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body./ +And I appreciate that. The hard part was to choose which doors. 4alking through them would be the easy part. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone./ She pointed at %%.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. She grabbed her baseball cap back. She&s not like I thought she was. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. >ou were right. >ou have to believe me. And if you get off your high horse and remove the @but I&ve still got my pride& plugs that you&ve stuck into your ears for just one second./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having. This is me you&re talking to.an./ :ueenie continued. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. +I was wrong about her. +It was obvious.
The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite .The flashlight lay on the ground beside her.yan returned./ .endal&s protest./ ./ ./ . 4e have so much in common. casting a dim beam over the blanket. It&s been said./ +Some friends come with benefits. 2is charisma had melted away. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. If :ueenie had come through for her. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. +4ould this so-called friend be the tutor you&ve been spending so much time with lately=/ +2ave you hired a private investigator or has 0hristine been filling your ears with gossip again=/ . didn&t you= 2ow sad. +4ell./ .endal as she scanned the darkness. >ou are the biggest self-centered. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ . %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story./ . clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them./ 2e approached the blanket. +"lease. egotistical moron I&ve ever met. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up.endal spat. right=/ +It was a girl.endal laughed sweetly at him. She crossed her arms in frustration. +That seat is reserved for someone else. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. +4hat do we have here=/ . worried that %% would arrive at any second. +It&s cold out here./ +"athetic=/ . if you must know. +#ither way. +6ice little set up you got here.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself./ +4hy= 4ho is this person you are so eagerly waiting for=/ +4hy do you care=/ +I care because you stood me up not so long ago and I&m curious to know why./ +4ith some other guy. 4e could take this school by storm./ he confessed. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me. +I apologi3e for standing you up. well. I&ve never even entertained the thought./ +7ook./ ./ said . +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip.yan forced a laugh. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more. 2ave you ever noticed why the girls you hook up with suddenly stop talking to you= -r did you actually think that you were the one playing them=/ +I*/ +-h*you did. And in the end.yan stared down at the blanket./ 2e winked at her. well. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. you&re pathetic.yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness. just go. eh=/ +That&s none of your business.endal pointed a hard finger at him.endal&s sweet smile soured instantly. 4e&d make a great couple. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it.endal looked at him with distaste. "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ .endal told him at once. +Think about it. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. I found a much better way to spend my night./ +A friend=/ . A friend.
+They&re his rules. >ou might as well let them see the real you. . 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ .endal&s own eyes softened.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then.endal. I get good grades./ . or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. not mine.yan didn&t answer. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. +9efore you met who=/ ./ . ./ said . It&s about who you are. anymore. +Then tell me.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side.yan asked./ . +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. 4ho&s going to brag ten years from now that they were on the soccer team or the cheerleading s1uad at Sampson Academy= I&m not. >ou act so conceited. And apparently you aren&t being yourself.yan maintained./ he said./ 2e looked at her. +Then why do you act like such a jerk most of the time=/ +I guess I always thought that&s how I was supposed to act.endal continued. She peered into the shadows. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. they might respect you more.endal stared at him firmly. +That&s the real point of going off to college. I take care of myself physically. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives./ . . then./ he e'plained. +It isn&t worth it. +4here did you get all of these ridiculous rules from= Is there some book out there that states what guys should or shouldn&t be=/ +. She suddenly felt sorry for him. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school./ +So it&s true. >ou really are a lesbian=/ .yan said 1uickly. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors.y father&s in the military. $o you really want to be the same person in college as you are now= >ou&re going to meet a whole new set of people and friends. I&ve done everything right. what am I doing wrong=/ . so I&m supposed to get all the girls.endal approached him. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. I guess not.yan stood up. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. -nce we graduate.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. now you know. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. setting her hands on his shoulders. It&s not about what you do. no matter what other people think./ +./ she said. it turns people off. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school. +I&m the captain of the soccer team./ +7ook. desperation in his eyes. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o./ +6ot everything./ +I can be a nice guy./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ ./ he told her. I&m in no position to tell you what to do. +I don&t know what I am.+4ell. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. but there was no one there.
6ew .ya the week before. 6ew classes. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. She had decided to move in with .ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school./ . +I&m just saying I know how you feel. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone. +5o look in the mirror./ ./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . but . +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . really. +6o. +6ope. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere. +Then you&ll see what I mean. and*/ +I can do it by myself.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered.ya&s room if you want. I said I was sorry a billion times. 2e stared at it blankly. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm.endal knew she&d done that all by herself. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since . Is that enough=/ +"ersonally.endal said. +>ou&ve changed./ she advised. and it&s important to me. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded./ As .endal. 7ook.endal had started packing.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. . 6ew semester.yan leaned forward to hug her. Steadying the crates in her arms. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new. I think you got off easy. It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well./ She pushed past 0hristine./ . 2er clothes were spread across her bed. ./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ .endal replied.endal . +I&ve already been scolded by . she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to .endal agreed./ . you know that=/ +I have changed. I&m not doing anything./ . 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff./ +.ya&s room.c0arthy. I can&t understand. and then took it in his hand.+It doesn&t matter./ she said. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night. +If it were me. She turned her back and resumed packing.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest./ +>ou lied to my face and you made me think I was getting kicked off the s1uad just so I&d stop hanging out with someone you disapproved of. ready to be carried away to some other closet.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything. 6ew living space.
/ +Are you sure=/ +>es. she sure was an attractive scapegoat. +2onest. 6ew semester. things change. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance. +.ya asked. +I&m a little on edge still. nothing. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . +Time to move on. 6ew things to come.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor. reluctantly./ . It&s not a big deal at all./ . +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ .e.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet. +That&s what she feels bad about.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it./ . +I know.aybe it has less to do with 0hristine and more with the fact that I know I&m the one who messed things up with %%.endal snatched the book away from .ya asked gently. 9ut.endal./ +If it&s any consolation./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= ./ . +6ot much. She does feel bad about what she did. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book.endal frowned. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything. neither.endal entered her room./ +5ood./ +Such as*/ +4ell./ said . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that./ +So what now=/ +6ow./ +It&s okay. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem./ said . +6o. I&m sorry. as ./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know./ .endal had waited in the cold.endal.endal admitted./ . I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year./ +I have plenty of room./ +"ositive=/ +. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible./ .ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it. And she never showed up. +I can do it.ya helped ./ +8ight./ . +Is it possible. 7etting me move in here is help enough. She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once.ya sat down on her bed./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly./ .endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor.aybe. it&s not.endal replied apologetically. sitting on top of a damp blanket and flicking the flashlight off and on for almost two hours before she&d finally given up hope.. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible./ . I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets./ +7et me help you./ she said. I know she feels bad about it. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles.
I understand.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. if you like that meathead.endal returned. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals./ she said./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl . I forgot./ . and took . listening to successful. And apparently she&s not into me. +8eally= I thought ./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal./ .ya cooed like a little school girl. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me. +0ome on./ +(orgot what./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon./ +>ou like . -therwise he might ask somebody else. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here.ya blushed./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot.endal&s hand.ya jumped up off the bed. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him.endal burst out laughing. certainly lacked appeal./ .ya teased./ +4ell. +2e&d never say yes. in search of inspiration for writing./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen. +I&m not into girls now. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. +.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in. +(or instance./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then. >ou name it*it&s on here. ./ +-h./ . debating whether or not to go in. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. here&s a list of possible venues.yan would have asked you for sure. 2er stroll. had led her nowhere in particular.yan is cute. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach. I have to do it soon.yan. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team./ .endal smiled wickedly.ya answered./ . >et she continued to linger. and began sifting through some papers. jockish sort of look.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her. +4hat&s that=/ .+It&s okay.endal asked. I can promise you that.e= I couldn&t./ ./ . +./ +>ou&re into girls now. +4hat=/ .endal. +Then you can help me think of what to say to .ya asked innocently./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +./ ./ .endal said. I happen to think .yan Stevens needs in his life. She picked up the binder and showed it to . imaginative writers spew out poem after poem.
telling him to wait a minute./ . +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about .yan&s shoulders gently./ said . +And I doubt she will any time soon. . %% gave him a slight nod. more significantly. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her. She had gone there. +4ell.yan echoed./ she said. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. 6amely you./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. she didn&t. right. +. +>ou know. completely heartbroken. and then turned abruptly toward %%. who was standing beside him.endal was holding . And when she finally stopped running. once he was back outside on the sidewalk./ As he turned and reached for the door./ +(ine by me. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window./ she said blandly./ he whispered. she turned and ran. %% almost called out to her.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. +6o./ %% stepped aside to let them pass. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. +I hope you treat her right.endal would be waiting. At that moment./ said ./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. +I thought she&d tell you.yan.endal. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. breaking into %%&s flashback. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. other girls./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. Instead. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . +>ou two make a cute couple. 9esides. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory./ +0ouple=/ . Then for some reason ./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground. 9ut there was no masked man. +2ey %ason.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. %% stared at him vacantly. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure ./ said his friend %ason.yan.The sun had just settled in for the night.yan held up a finger. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win. completely out of breath and. I&ll catch up with you. She&s too much to deal with. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly./ said . %% recalled the e'citement she felt flowing through her when she&d left the school lounge and headed down campus to the soccer field where :ueenie had said ./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. Save me a spot in line. +-h. They shuffled by her. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks.yan. +I don&t think so.yan Stevens standing directly behind her. barely acknowledging her presence.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. but muffled her words before they left her mouth.endal told you what happened.
She didn&t./ . +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time. wait a minute. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you. even though it was still unmade. +So. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. She flopped down and closed her eyes./ he glanced around again.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight.+6o. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. that&s good advice./ . being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street./ %% smiled./ +9ut I saw you together.yan struggled to recall the incident. the door to her room opened. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping./ +2ey. and her lower back ached. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. she said she was e'pecting someone else./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly. right= About me. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side. and she basically put me in my place. CHAPTER "$ . 7ike I said. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a. let me get this straight. the sky and ./ she said.endal mumbled. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up. bouncing off the sidewalk. %ust as she was about to fall asleep./ +4ell./ she said suddenly.yan called after her as she hurried down the street. >ou two were about to kiss. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it.endal was holding onto your shoulders./ . +4e talked about a few other things./ . 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly./ A warm.yan&s face. I wish./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. +I wanted to know what was going on with her. you know. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was. +.endal didn&t want you there. Then it hit him. so I followed her./ %%&s eyes danced around./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach./ +>ou saw us=/ . .yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued. +I knew it. too. and smacked herself in the forehead./ . but I have to go. +. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you.endal sat down on her new bed./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. +She was waiting for you.yan e'plained. +I&m sorry. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed.
And./ +That I did./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +./ +4hat=/ . +./ +4hat do you mean. She stood up and began to pace around the room. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen.ya. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know. +4hatever you have to say. . just for the record. I&ll listen. trying to make sense of what was happening. +I was in town earlier./ .ya. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself./ . it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss. +./ +That is a mistake. I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly. +I mean that I did show up that night.yan Stevens. I&m ready. +I just saw what I saw and ran./ She observed .endal./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed./ +.endal said dryly. and made a face./ ./ +That depends.yan the couch monster. it looked much different through my eyes./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands./ +>ou could have said something.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. +7ooking for you./ +I was thinking we could go to the library./ +And that you basically told him to get lost./ said a familiar voice. +And. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently. through my eyes./ said ./ .endal snickered./ said ./ +4ell.endal&s eyes shot open. +4hy were you looking for me= I thought you didn&t want to have anything to do with me anymore=/ +I think I made a huge mistake.ay I=/ . through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ +>ou and me both. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge.yan=/ +That&s beside the point.endal told her. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her./ +-h.aybe do a little studying. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something. only I showed up right when you were giving .endal flinched.+It&s not ./ . I&m not captivated by his washboard abs.endal.endal&s new surroundings./ +I didn&t know what to think./ %% e'plained./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide. )nlike . I guess I didn&t really believe it. I prefer to call him ./ %% insisted.ya told me where you were./ .ya likes . +I have to say I like this room much better than your last. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth./ +That he did. It doesn&t matter to me. She was sitting up now. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did./ +-nly.yan a lecture. and I ran into .
/ %% had said. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it./ she eventually told %%.endal said. The two became inseparable after that. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. in walked :ueenie . +I&m :ueenie . 9ut %% resisted. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go.c9ride with her parents in tow. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. And that was a moment worth remembering. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. They were going to take the campus by storm. performed only when her parents were around. and re1uest a roommate change.+Studying=/ +>eah./ ./ +That&s right.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. the one and only. making it to the state championships. The day she&d met :ueenie. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. and nothing could stop them. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude./ +0ome on. %% didn&t dare deny it. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. before classes began. The championship game went . +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her.c9ride. +Thought so. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. #ach was notable for a different reason. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. Somehow. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind./ said :ueenie. The first was the day she met :ueenie. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. right down to her socks. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. They had both arrived a week early. her life was forever changed. you know that=/ At that moment. .
and all. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked. staring is rude. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. The room was no bigger than a closet.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds.endal replied.endal replied.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. %ust as she could recall the smell of the scuffed hardwood as she lay beneath the pile of players after they had won the championship game. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . chasing her down.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. 4hen %% reached the landing. facing %% who lagged behind her. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. and tackling her to the floor. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court.endal rounded a corner./ ./ . As she made her way toward the biographies section. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door./ she said. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. you know= Two girls holding hands./ +$oesn&t bother me much.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't./ . %% had to ask. once they were inside. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. . +I&m learning as I go along. eyeing the key. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand. her heart sped up e'citedly./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us. +9esides. since she&d made the winning basket. she saw . %% gulped.into double overtime. they were e'tremely hard to come by. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before. +I&m just having a little fun. and as they stepped aside they studied . +I&m obviously used to it by now. $uring e'ams. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. she knew the smell of . +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. And since e'ams were right around the corner. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision./ +-h. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided./ said %%. with a playful smile. -nce . She watched with anticipation as . seating three or four people at the most. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. The walls were soundproof.
endal shook her head and laughed. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. +I thought you said you were ready to listen./ +4ell.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear./ .endal returned her attention to the book in front of her./ she said./ +-h. +The interest never went away.endal looked at her that way. She pointed at the cover. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. +#verything that was right in front of me. %% nodded.endal or across from her. it knocked the breath straight out of her./ . +I was so confused. +Interested in you=/ . +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right. waiting for me to lug her to class. her nerves getting the better of her./ She looked up at %%. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. +8ela'. +I used to hate her.endal shot her a look. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key. +>es./ +0heerleading connections. +4hat did you mean back on the steps.endal played with the key. . +9ut. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose.endal. that&s all.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ said .+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . +She used to torment me at night./ +Sit down./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. I don&t see you listening./ . 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around./ ./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. 4hen . unable to speak./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. I didn&t . not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es./ +I am./ +I have my ways. . +This=/ She held it up. +I know I&m supposed to be listening.endal finished. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. that./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed. She patted the open seat ne't to her. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. %%.endal began. All I see you doing is talking. "age DEP. you&re a girl and that complicated things. She decided to test the waters first. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore. really=/ . +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. -nly. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her./ she managed.endal confessed.endal ordered./ . I should have known./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly. +It&s a learning process.endal sighed. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. %% remained standing.
/ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit. +I knew you were going to say that.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before.endal. 9ut that isn&t the case./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently./ said . suddenly made no sense at all. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. when %% was lying in bed that night. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants./ said .endal softly. 4ild nights. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before.endal in the eyes. +I finally get the meaning behind it./ said . 4I7$ nights. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. and especially not 0hristine. not my friends. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. not the s1uad.endal. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. +>ou don&t have to say anything. no matter what anyone else thought. and how you helped me change my perspective. still unable to look . she sei3ed the moment./ ./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. even when I didn&t know myself./ . All I know is that I want to be around you. That&s why I avoided you. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling. The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. +I finally get it.endal . Instead. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet.c0arthy. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. %%% 7ater. I didn&t want to stop seeing you but at the same time I didn&t want to lose my friends and everything I had built at Sampson over the past few years./ She pointed to the page./ said %%. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. .endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. And that&s you. That&s why I stood you up. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. +>ou are way too humble.
+I just can.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. If %% could study for it./ :ueenie said. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me./ +>ou know. she would./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading./ +Thank 5od for that. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup./ She hopped up on %%&s bed. she could read them as they floated by. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. I was wrong about her. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak. +6o. no. which she already was an e'pert at. +%ust what the doctor ordered. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. I won&t take your charity. The poem that .rs. 4hen she closed her eyes. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear./ +4ait a second. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. I&m going to lose it. and worn folders spread out in front of her. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately./ +It&s my pleasure. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand.endal . The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ %% marveled at :ueenie. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . I hate to admit it./ +So where is T2# ./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. and it was hardly an e'am. 4e&re naturally gifted./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then. scattered papers. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large./ She paused momentarily. +2ow do you do that=/ she asked./ +>ou would. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. She had gone over it again and again. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. but she&s pretty cool./ :ueenie said honestly. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write./ +Thanks. scattering notes and papers everywhere. +I need it.
. +I&m sorry./ :ueenie sighed./ +. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best./ +2ey.y sister is taking that risk. +4ell. +Are you okay=/ she asked. scary lesbian& secret during my maid of honor speech at my sister&s wedding=/ +2ow could I forget= It&s the only reason I&m going to the wedding.c9ride family soon enough. +4ell-adjusted= "lease./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. I still plan on making a colossal splash into my parent&s pool of normalcy by declaring my homose'uality to the rest of the . The lighting was dim. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. besides all of that.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. so nobody else at her table could . but we all can. I&m not sure what&s going on with me.+I&m serious. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. +"erhaps. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. but I think you might be right. 9ut if you never take that chance. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big. I&m so proud. To take a risk like that./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously. not to mention childish. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. morally-sound young woman./ :ueenie insisted./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall. you can be cynical sometimes. thankfully. 7et&s not go overboard here. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about./ +Sure. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. devilishly-motivated./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all./ +It happens to the best of us. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. She&s putting her all into someone. It&s something special. you&ll never know the difference between the two. thing to do=/ +>es./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor. shifting her position every other minute. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself./ +If I&ve learned anything from you over the past three years it&s that sometimes your heart is going to get broken and sometimes it isn&t./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem.
+2ey./ :ueenie replied. +>ou okay=/ . %% ignored her and took in the crowd. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way.yan Stevens behind her. 2er mouth was already off and running. you two make 1uite the darling couple.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . +I&d be able to concentrate just fine.endal./ .yan&s hand. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out. +.ya asked./ +2ey./ +And without baseball metaphors. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here.ya./ said :ueenie confidently./ . for that matter./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. +7ook at her./ %% grumbled. She gave ./ %% forced a laugh. . +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year. She was sitting beside %%.y. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked . And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing.see that she wasn&t only pale. +I must say./ +>ou think so=/ . I don&t think . And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. genuinely serious. that would totally rock./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt. as he rubbed the sore spot.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table./ said :ueenie. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to .ya in the school paper. right. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. 5ood luck. +)h. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie./ +Isn&t that .ya=/ %% asked. .endal asked./ :ueenie remarked. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad.endal slipped in through tight lips. but it was too late./ he mumbled.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. as she slapped . and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support. girl. stop./ :ueenie smirked. +2ow about. She grabbed hold of . I bet they&ll even dub you . yeah.endal&s hand shot up in the air./ +-h. +4e just came over to wish you good luck.atie 2olmes of this school.endal and %% shot her a warning look. ladies. 9oth . ./ +4ell. %% nodded in return. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal. +She&s fine.yan even had a choice in the matter.ya elbowed him gently in the gut./ %% smiled politely.ore than usual.endal. +I guess so. +-h. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er./ .yan fidget until . afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak. +Are they together=/ %% asked./ +2ey. 2onestly. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and . and watched .
and turned her head swiftly as soon as . +At least you&ve got your color back./ said :ueenie. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body./ . water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . And it&ll do . 0lark&s hand. +. we better find a seat before they&re all taken. +>ou know./ %% scowled at :ueenie. +%ust look at her. that&s all. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. +%%. +4ell. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. She&s as steady as a rock./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees.endal maintained.ya looked in her direction. 0hairs shifted. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd. She felt ./ said . (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. +I think I&m going to be sick.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while.endal suggested. She yanked .rs./ . +Are you nervous at all=/./ .rs. hard.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm.rs. %% stood there.rs. +>ou don&t look so good. +. 0lark&s voice from her ears.ya asked. yeah. . +2ey./ she hissed at :ueenie. +I&ll go get you some water. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink./ added :ueenie.+0ut it out. +Thanks for the water.yan. She shrugged her shoulders back at them./ said %%. as every person in the entire room stared at her. and she began to hyperventilate./ %% gulped./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at .ya&s a little*particular. +That . 4ith her cheeks growing hotter. The damp taste in her mouth went dry. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. he sure is a lucky guy. 0lark shouted into the microphone./ :ueenie offered in return. At this point she was seeing everything double./ %% announced. +Take deep breaths./ . she&s not nervous at all./ said :ueenie. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell.ya&s a sweetheart./ said . :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head. +2e looked absolutely miserable.ya shifted. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back.endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign. +She&s just psyching herself up. +2ey./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair./ %% mouthed. In an instant. 0lark take the stage. and I&d have to start calling names. +6ot at all. She felt .e=/ %% pointed at her chest. +.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block ./ +-h.endal. She&s a girl who knows what she wants./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw .endal.
There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. settling on . I suppose you could say I wrote it. the best writer in class. I untied them and my hair ran wild. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. It was the final signal that there was no going back. +4henever you&re ready. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. %%. tiger. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . They stopped about halfway around the track. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. The words just kept flowing from my pen. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. 4e found a common strand. >et. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. who held her breath in anticipation. She accepted our fate. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. and they kept coming. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. I cringed at her reluctance. Together. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. She cringed at my defiance. +I wrote this for class*well. +She tied my hair in ribbons. I boasted that I was her only daughter. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen./ CHAPTER ") . I took it off and basked naked in the sun. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room.endal. she lifted her eyes to the crowd.rs. :ueenie.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. 2er shoulders straightened. 0lark./ said . somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress.endal and :ueenie in the corner. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room.other . She forced a cotton shirt over my head. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. @. She often wondered who I was inside. one after the other. I accepted our gender. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. until they blended together into a sea of colors. And these are the words that ended up on the page. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. of course. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward.
/ +Speaking of T-shirts. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I. you should stick around and check her out. actually./ .endal e'tended her hand to him. actually./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es. +0ome here often=/ he asked. by the way. he was standing right in front of her. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ 9rad said.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage./ she said as nicely as possibly. . a biography of #mily $ickinson../ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those.endal./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger./ ./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him. while chomping on a piece of gum.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . . After you&re done playing.endal teased. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end. A $rummer and (our 5uys. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up.aybe I will.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night.endal smiled. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. It&s ama3ing. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson./ +She was a poet. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him.endal. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again./ +So listen. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts. +I&m ./ ./ +0lever. and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title./ . +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry./ . ./ +8eally=/ 2e paused. +TouchM. +So what brings you here on a (riday night= I thought Sampson Academy was a party school=/ +This is our favorite place to hang out./ +6ice to meet you. +#very (riday night./ +5uess not.endal. 4e&re pretty popular in this area./ she said politely.y name is 9rad. +0lever. isn&t it=/ he grinned./ She pointed to his maroon T-shirt which had a white heart on the front of it with the phrase +I like you/ printed on it./ +Agreed./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or./ +. +I&m sorry. by the way. >ou should read some her work. ./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you. She smiled momentarily.
/ +4ill do./ said . She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. a person that ./ . a new and confident %% was born. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot./ +-omph=/ .endal. . which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away. As for .endal. 8ecently. +6ot at all.endal played along./ +Stick around after your set.endal sat back down. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time./ ./ said ./ %% teased. Since then. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. 4I7$ nights. % % % THE E+D % % % . 4ere I with thee. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud.aybe I will. laughed and cleared her throat. As ./ . because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. #ventually.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance./ As 9rad turned to leave. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights./ said %%.endal laughed.endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year.endal. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury./ +That was much better. he stopped suddenly. once she reached the table./ +6ever hurts to ask. would she=/ +6o. signaling that spring had arrived at last. #verything around her felt fresh and new.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before.&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night.+..endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand. +She might change her mind after she hears you play. +>eah. . +4I7$ nights. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond.endal looked on as 9rad crept back to the stage and traded barbs with his band mates about how he had just been shot down. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. +I don&t think so. as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride .endal stood up. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad.ollow -ueenie and . she wanted to become a teacher. She looked out of the adjacent window. oomph. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before.
or#ation and e2cerpts . and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# . you are under age 2.by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.or her anthology My Story is Out %.ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.