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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
%% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table. >ou&re . . >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. go to class and pass a test without even studying. 0hin e'plains what a poem means.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. +I&m really sorry. I can actually read and write somewhat well. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. a little shamefully. It&s a completely different kind of reality./ +. +I didn&t mean anything by that. +I was just joking. +The soccer team and I go way back. I&m completely lost.s. She ran her hand through her hair again. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader.endal&s left shoulder./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings./ . +4ell.endal./ she said breathlessly. right=/ .s. I&m %%. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. +I&m sorry.endal confessed. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. though she couldn&t relate to it. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. right=/ . +It&s something I have had to work harder at./ . 4hen we discuss a poem in class. ne't to the biography section./ %% e'tended her hand. So. I might as well be reading a foreign language. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time.endal nodded. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . I tutor a lot of different people./ . +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out.sitting at the farthest table from the door. :ueenie.y friend. +4ell.endal&s frustration. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. +I&ve seen you around school. or when ./ +It&s okay.endal. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over ./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down./ said %%./ .endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked./ +That&s what I thought./ said . %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. is like that. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late.endal emitted a dramatic groan. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. and since she was a writer herself. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. I&d give anything to be able to do that./ %% smiled./ +Seriously though. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now.endal said 1uickly./ %% understood . #veryone needs help now and then.
though./ +It seems like a waste of time./ she said./ They discussed the poem at length. +I mean. to break the ensuing awkward silence.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. . She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . +%ust so we can read it together. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. long sleep./ . That makes no show for dawn./ +5ood./ %% rambled on./ +To bask centuries away. 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. . +It isn&t as important as you might think. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. ./ she said. 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. like fruity or something. %% looked up from the page. +.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. not once look up for noon . +-kay. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me. a famous sleep. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them./ . ./ +Thanks. she&s talking about death.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others./ She paused and looked up from the page. my responses don&t even make up half a page. you know.+)nfortunately. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily./ said %%. pointing at the page. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. along with a few others for over an hour./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of. An independent one./ %% heard herself say. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote. looking up from the book. It distracted her. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement./ ./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ . long sleep. +>ou smell nice. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet./ said %%. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously./ +)m*thanks. There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. . +8ead the last two lines. fully aware that . 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. +A long. ./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. See. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. +I don&t think that matters.endal said. +So. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. bask centuries away . right= A long.endal was staring at her.endal struggled to make sense of most of them.
/ said %%./ %% admitted./ %% studied her. The dorm room was empty when %% entered.endal accidentally brushed against her. She blinked and looked away. . remember=/ +4ell.endal.endal. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. though she could hear the television in the common room. She was more than beautiful. . +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to . same time.endal . admiring the child-like e'pression on her face. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious. +Same place. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader./ she said finally.endal was staring at her again. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. . for instance. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen ./ +In what way=/ +4ell. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here./ said . She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie.endal said. +I&ll see you ne't session. as if she were keeping a secret. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. >ou said it yourself.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending.c0arthy up close. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. +I should get back to my dorm. laughing.nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better.endal&s folder. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love. . +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. we&re even then. +4hat=/ ./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background. slid her hat on backwards. 2e said you were one of the best./ +>eah. It was her turn to look away this time./ +"ossibly. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. same time. you know. This one she kept in her bed in case she ever woke up from a dream and needed to write her thoughts down on paper before they vanished from her mind like midnight fog. recalling the tidbits of conversation. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head. %% stood still for half a second longer. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. letting the sound of . +6othing. and the warm sensation she felt whenever ./ she said./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said.endal asked. e'cept I&ll be on time. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor./ ./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover./ +I didn&t think that./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . +4hat did I say=/ +6othing.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent.
endal raised her voice slightly. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. 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. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. 4ild nights. ' see it . CHAPTER # +4ild nights. . +4hat=/ . sitting side by side. . . +4ild nights. no.endal appeared in %%&s mind. 4ild nights. the writer inside of her had taken hold./ +6o.endal asked. a feeling. a moment. 4hen %% opened her eyes. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed. Sitting with her legs crossed. %% sat back and admired her work. 8ead it with more enthusiasm./ %% looked at her skeptically.A number two pencil./ said %%. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. fell out from between the pages. 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. Beyond your eyes. an image of .
endal. +See the difference=/ +>eah. +#'cept this time. +So back to those @wild nights. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. wild night. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. she would have never dared to do what she had just done. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together./ she said. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. 4as she at a party or something=/ +./ said %%./ +$ickinson is the beginning. even though her stomach was in knots. they&ve been enjoyable. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem./ +Sure. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines. that was much better. studying.endal&s hand. +(utile the winds to a heart in port. %% playfully grabbed hold of . studying./ %% shifted in her chair.endal.endal&s eyes. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy. %% stood up and began clapping loudly. 4hat do you think it means=/ ./ %% forced a smile./ said %%. 4ere I with thee./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm.endal laughed. %% covered the page with her hands. It&s been two weeks of studying. +>es. 4I7$ nights. studying. done with the compass. 9ut as soon as . +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.endal./ . +4I7$ nights. +See. +-kay./ %% said after a moment. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them.endal&s hand and pushed it away./ +I know. haven&t they=/ . studying./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. >ou&ll see.endal asked. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended./ she said.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask.endal opened her mouth to begin. . She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . +4ow. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. +I&m just doing the poem justice.endal began reciting the poem. Thanks to you.endal looked on in ama3ement. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word. her hair. done with the chart.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. slowly releasing .endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y./ %% insisted./ %% held back her sigh of relief. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table. And it was all because of . She stood up firm and bellowed./ ./ ./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me. As soon as she finished. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem./ %% watched closely as . e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair. give it a little more oomph.endal sighed. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.&/ said .
flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. 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. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman./ .endal&s heart. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen. She&s just e'pressing love. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. another woman. Instead they continued talking. CHAPTER $ +So. but paused for a moment./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing.endal&s eyes widened./ They stared at one another. pretending to buff her nails. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt./ She pointed to . though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. +I do think it&s possible.endal studied the words on the page. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love./ :ueenie snorted.&/ %% laughed./ +8ight. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell. +7ook./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly./ she said finally. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. they&d have plenty of @wild nights./ +#'actly./ %% paused. She read the poem over again./ %% began. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion.endal might say in return./ +And when she got there. . slightly afraid of what ./ +I don&t know. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think. but wild as in overwhelming. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. the winds were useless to her. +4ell. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. . +>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. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender. outside the boundaries of reality. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever.
(rom that point on. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils./ %% warned./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked. Though it was rumored that ./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. That doesn&t mean I like her. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. and regain her sense of self./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose.elly $ibble. 9ut %% knew this was different./ +She&s not what she seems.c0arthy. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. I don&t know. She&s nice. . grimacing from the soreness. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. I happen to think she&s nice. too. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now. 4ith :ueenie&s help. and she longed to change the subject.endal .elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits. This is T2# . she&s*she&s different. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. but you used the word @nice. she spotted ./ %% said./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. +0an we talk about something else./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. please=/ +(ine./ she said. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named ./ +So=/ +So.+0ute. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. +6ot even close. She remained steadfast./ +-.&/ +So. if you say so. and .c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious. $uring her sophomore year. %% soon fell into a depression. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment./ %% insisted. An'iety itched in her stomach. +I don&t believe it. %% had considered it. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive.elly that she was gay and how she felt. cocking her head to one side.elly transferred to another school the following semester. I don&t even know her. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. +$on&t look at me like that. +6o. I mean./ Ah./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. In fact./ +>eah.endal . %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer. . >ou like her. yes. peppering her eggs with hot sauce. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player.. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. %% made the mistake of telling .
and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. cooked over-easy.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. and . +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams. she finally understood what her teacher was talking about and was able to contribute to class discussions instead of doodling in her notebook like she had since the beginning of the semester. :ueenie was giving her that look. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. 2er school uniform. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt. hung neatly at her hips./ 0hristine motioned to . the 0ultural Awareness Society. +$efinitely./ . There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. I just choose to eat healthy. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. #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./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel.endal&s tray./ . the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. +#'cuse me. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism.endal was on a natural high.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants.endal looked down at her runny eggs./ she retorted./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. (eeling defeated./ %% snapped out of her da3e. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark.endal sat down across from her. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. the drama club. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. +I eat. %%% .. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . . (or once. the art club. +At least I eat. +Ahem. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. %% had thought. a jacket and skirt combination. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. complemented with potatoes and bacon. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature.endal picked at her eggs./ -f course I didn&t know that.
I just never suspected. 9ut she had stared back at %%./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +./ 0hristine advised. or she might start te'ting you. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. CHAPTER & . . giving her knots in her stomach./ +4ell. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. I&d just be careful if I were you. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. and about her own response. +She&s gay. -ne. then the girl who spit when she talked. Two./ 0hristine continued./ +She helps me with homework. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all. that&s it. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. (our./ . She felt di33y and lightheaded. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be./ +5od.endal had caught her staring. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly./ +It&s so obvious. no. +I&m not naAve. a lesbian. That&s what a tutor does. I mean. 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened.+Speaking of which. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. and . She&s on the basketball team. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when .yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand.endal said 1uickly. So is half of the basketball team. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her./ . The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events. 9ut if %% was gay.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. . :ueenie or something. . >ou&ve probably seen her around school. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off.endal./ . She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name./ she gasped.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. about the feeling of their locked hands. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. +$on&t give her your phone number.endal picked up a piece of bacon. +0&mon. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. look at your track record. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded.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. 2e counted silently.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session. Three. (ive. She had suspected that %% was different somehow. +It&s %% something or other. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot.
but not too smart. where true dedication and hard work could get you. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work.yan wanted someone less brainy. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. This was his last season of his high school career. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. #verything in his life was set to high standards. . The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. +2ey. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat. you know. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. popular.c0arthy.endal .2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana.c0arthy=/ +>es. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. . The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. Sweat began to form on his brow.endal . There was one more thing he needed though. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired.yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. Then he sank to the ground. a captain on the soccer team.yan&s soccer teammates. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. %ason. 2e needed the perfect girl. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus. She didn&t have a boyfriend. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him.c0arthy. 7ack of confidence was the other. 2e breathed heavily. #ven for you./ +. +$efinitely. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. 2e had always set his goals high. I think it&s time . 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. beautiful./ ./ %ason said.c0arthy= T2# . +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. but he&d never admit that. now stood over him. +I told 0hristine. Someone like . .endal . She was perfect for him*just the right si3e. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. and began to do sit ups. 2e had the perfect body. .c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better./ .yan replied between reps. >ou up for it=/ -ne of .yan sat up and smiled slyly. from his grades to the girls he dated. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. watching himself in the mirror./ %ason said. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. one piece to make the pu33le complete. +"erfect. likeable./ . And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. 2e had the perfect reputation. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. 2e had to perform well.endal . 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about.ya 9rooks.endal . 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror.
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. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. It would be an affair to remember. 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. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job./ +4hatever you say. they eventually came around. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. he&d learned to live with the situation. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. +7et&s go. was not the reason. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. 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. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly.c9ride. of course. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. She and her family were close. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents./ he said.c0arthy.endal . 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. All it takes is a little bit of charm. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder./ . The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. buddy. Sometimes it was almost too much.+This is me you&re talking to. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. . As far as %% knew. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week.rs. . CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. %% shook her head in disbelief. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. It was early %une.onopoly. a suburb of 8ichmond. That. :ueenie&s mother. :ueenie promised. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. %% remembered the night clearly. especially not . and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . 2er mother also was a teacher. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. 9ut with a little convincing from .
2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. but this might help. . %% remembered. no designated date or time. There was no plan. hoping it would help her parents understand. years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her./ %%&s eyes widened. Something that I have to say. yet when she needed them the most. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart./ ./ Silence followed.om. being untrue to both herself and them. even though I know you both will be disappointed. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. I&d still be this way. in her bed each night. it&s not that. I&ve known since the third grade. eating dinner. 2er mother remained composed. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. It&s just something I am. +Something I am afraid to say. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. I&ve always known. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before.om. the worry and the confusion. +I know you are confused./ She handed over the book. She had always known this. you can tell us anything. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. . and knew there was no going back. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. maybe an internship. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. +6o. all those boys around. +6o. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. didn&t know the real her. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. 4ith each passing day. so caring and so sincere. 2er father. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. she couldn&t find them. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. and shook her head. It was eating her alive. (inally. herself./ %% knew this. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. +I have to tell you something. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes.om. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard.+%osie. $ifferent $aughters. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. wide-eyed. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. it&s not that. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. She could barely swallow her potatoes. +I could check with the paper./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase. the night had come. %% grew increasingly reserved. 8oast beef and vegetables. %% had rushed after her. to tell her family./ %% wanted to make her understand. her words coming slowly. it&s not something anyone did. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. and when it was time to say the e'act words. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job./ she continued.
and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. on the other hand./ :ueenie said blandly. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break./ . It&s nothing. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about . Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. . 2er father. . and they didn&t speak for days./ +2ey. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. Then again.endal besides the obvious. and her father.endal danced her way in. she felt satisfied. where would she go and why. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. She wanted to get inside . (or some reason. and wished she were there to witness it. like what was her biggest fear. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me.2er mother continued to cry.aybe :ueenie was right. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. %% craved more. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. and needed help with her schoolwork. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. It was almost overwhelming. Then her mind drifted again and . mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. 2onest. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. who was set in his ways. and that was that. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. +I&m having the time of my life. . A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. As long as she had his love and support. :ueenie. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. 2e said he loved her no matter what. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions./ she said proudly. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. It wasn&t real. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. This sparked an intense argument between them. that she was a cheerleader.endal&s head. though he still held onto his own world views.endal. %% laughed. %% had yet to learn anything more about . +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. was incredibly beautiful and popular. %% had never known anyone like her./ +I know. maybe this wasn&t real either.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome. remained completely calm.
coded look with his friends. +Too much.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him.endal.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard.endal stood there with her hands on her hips./ .yan motioned for her to join him. the captain of the soccer team. .endal. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand.endal finally won her first hand. . +4ant to play=/ one of them asked./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. She finally threw up her hands. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. 9y the time . 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. +. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. She forced a smile. she began to think about . why not. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. The dorm room overflowed with people. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. I&ll see you Sunday. I gotta go. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. She&d had previous brief conversations with . she was drunk. perfect for showing off his toned body. . 2e was cute. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. +It&s an easy game.endal knew instantly who he was. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest. +7et&s move to the couch.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. you. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards.+7ook. 2ave fun. silent. +Sure.yan. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . -f course./ he said sweetly. . said.yan.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie.yan Stevens./ :ueenie said an'iously. . It was a drinking card game. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. this wasn&t a regular card game./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. +2ey. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. +2ere. who one by one left the room. Instinctively. 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest.yan suggested. . after they were alone./ said . 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. . . %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as .endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on . ./ .
Then.endal ./ +4ell.endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'.endal. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. +2ey. +I want to talk to you. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm.yan to inch up in his seat. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. +I totally didn&t see you.endal .yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. It bothered her to know that ./ ./ . they were worlds apart and nothing could change that. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked./ . beaming. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# .endal yelled. I think it&s time we got to know each other better. turning and walking out of the room. Soon. +0ome sit over here. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks./ he said. but the girl spun around. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. that&s three years too late. +Are you okay=/ %% asked. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. 2is mind worked feverishly. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts.patting the saggy cushion beside him. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. shielding her eyes. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. leaning in closer. +2i./ 2e smiled widely. and plowed forward over the grass./ .endal&s voice caused . and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. suddenly. At first./ said %%. . A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. patting the cushion again. +I don&t know./ . I just do. She tingled with drunkenness. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.yan called after her.endal told him. She stepped aside before they collided. wait a second. Stuck in thought. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs.c0arthy was an enigma. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . She read some intriguing online articles. seeing no movement. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. 4hoa. She kept her head down. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. The truth was. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn.endal . as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her.c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. .
/ +. +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. +5uys are such idiots.endal. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. +7et me help you up. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players./ +-kay./ +I can think of lots of other things to do./ %% maintained./ +I&m serious. I&ve had a rough night.endal said./ +It&s the grass.y little world=/ . >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it./ %% perked up./ .endal broke into a fit of laughter./ +-h. reaching forward and taking ./ said . yeah. It&s a great place to go and just kick back./ +4hatever. They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm. +I love it there./ She pictured . She turned around to get a look at her behind./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying.endal shook her head. once they reached the sidewalk. and suddenly blurted out. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ . even though she was shivering./ . %% studied her. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library./ +I&ll walk you. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself. It&s ridiculous. remember. +Are you cold=/ ./ . that&s the one./ said %%./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. #very month or so they have a band come and play.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. They felt fro3en. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself./ . making a face./ said . #mily $ickinson. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol.endal rolled her eyes. after a moment. +I&m sorry for practically running into you. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her. rather than at her.endal laughed again. +I need to go home./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry.aybe hoods should be banned as well./ ./ +"oetry is life. . 6ot life. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town. feeling as if .endal. +I think I sat in something wet. +>eah. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started. .endal was looking through her./ %% told her.endal asked defensively. +Thanks for walking me home. +It&s damp from the dew.yan sitting on the ugly couch./ +If you are so against them./ %% said.endal&s hands in hers. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with. of course.endal stopped walking.
I&ll understand./ said . like you before.endal fidgeted. She laughed out loud./ +4ell.endal said.endal said. That certainly would have been awkward. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. I was just curious. She suddenly felt ashamed. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%. She played with her fingers./ .endal hesitated.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah./ +>ou don&t sound so sure./ %% could only imagine what . ending the lull in the conversation. +I was just curious.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. then turned and walked toward the dorm. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. just because of rumors. 2er stride was slight and unsteady.endal. 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. . It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends./ . and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night.endal had such a hard time saying the word.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%./ . then yes. I&ve never known anyone who was./ +6o. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch./ +I&m not afraid of you. . something . 9ut she was kind and sincere. +6o./ .yan again./ . I&m an open book. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman./ +Ask away. it&s fine. Then she thought of ./ It ama3ed %% that ./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back. +9ut I don&t want to offend you. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness. right. In that moment. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. +>ou are an incredible tutor. twisting her thumbs into her palms./ she said. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then./ %% didn&t press the issue. +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence./ .endal&s roommate had said about her./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind. smug and moronic. +0onsider yourself cultured then. rewording her 1uestion. +I want to ask you something.endal had picked up on the first night they met. well./ +-kay then. +I should go to bed. I&m fine. +. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%./ %% told her. really.endal flashed a 1uick smile. let alone get to know her. then paused briefly. It wouldn&t bother me at all. I am.
leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. 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. 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. . but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. <irginia. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. The streets are empty. and began to scribble. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. Muddy puddles stand in my path. The rain had ceased. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. -nce across the tracks. +It&s not that scary. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. There was a bench on the sidewalk. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. She headed up the sidewalk. and though she tried to avoid them.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. The town was deserted. She gathered up her pen. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . ' stomp through them. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. along with her thoughts. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. %% entered the center of town. "uddles blocked her path.
no. +. +>ou look ridiculous. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives./ As she spoke . +I hate to break it to you. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. please. .endal. like you weren&t in rare form either.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise./ +)m.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. I decided to leave. 9ut. then her true colors would already have shown. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. +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. #very time it rained. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich.endal sifted through her dresser drawers. %% peered along the edges of the street.endal. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . She decided that if . 5ood different. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. +So=/ +So.endal ./ +. . She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. deep down. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips. 2er empty stomach grumbled. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. ./ 0hristine replied.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. +Tempting as it was. %% recalled . 4hether good or bad. I can honestly say that I wasn&t. +It&s called a mask. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch.yan for a while. not looking for anything in particular.endal was different. watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine.endal said.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn. but I&m not going to date someone . %% believed that . wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. +-h.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. 2ello.c0arthy. The heavy air turned light. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. . The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. ./ .yan&s not only good looking.
thank you./ said .endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform.endal. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money. +7ook. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs. . thought %%.endal. the couch monster. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family. +I won&t regret not hooking up with .aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning./ said :ueenie. +4e are young.yan&s a conceited moron./ said 0hristine. 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. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college.endal who was still spread out on the floor. (un. She left . -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. #veryone knows that. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents./ +Trust me. +I know . The last thing she needed was another party. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately.yan. +>ou should have seen my father.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. ./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely./ -verboard./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises./ 0hristine continued.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction. Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. she would change the subject. +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. +I like to think I have higher standards than that. and tugged the back of .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./ .endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. complaining that she was not having enough fun. ./ she said. finishing up on the treadmill. .endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. They practically flip the entire boat. 9ut here they were. admiring the logo on the front. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday. she thought. 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. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted.
/ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. +So. the fanciest ballroom*ugh. hoping that the topic of . not e'actly. the best caterer. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook./ %% added in an infomercial voice./ +The ama3ing sauna. sending a burst of steam into the air. she shouldn&t have./ +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. They need a wakeup call. but to wake them up. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. I ran into her on (riday night. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. +I bet we could just bring some in. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air.c9rides. with one more to go./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. I guess. +I just need to do it. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face./ (or a brief moment. resting her head on one elbow./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. it makes me sick./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. +Sure. They cannot and will not hear me./ she said gently. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was./ %% managed between breaths. +I know. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. >eah. She knew as soon as she said it./ . she couldn&t tell for sure.endal would not come up. I&m not familiar with that particular saying./ +Sauna session and bacon. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. I like the combination. She fi'ed her eyes on %%./ %% responded./ :ueenie replied. +I&m sorry. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. Steam rose up around them. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness. They don&t know any other way. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. +>ou know what they say./ +6o./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful./ +These are the . +5ood./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. then. It won&t matter. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. why not.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. 6ot for me. that&s all.
/ %% turned her head and muttered. +So. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. (or crying out loud. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious. which made the library the only logical option. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special./ +4ell that didn&t take long./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . and then stopped. .ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. . . but she asked me the 1uestion. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways./ :ueenie agreed.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ %% scolded. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls./ +:ueenie. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything. silly. her cheeks dotted with sweat./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. 4e&ll see if she shows up./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now./ +$on&t do that. +%ust tell me./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. +She was . That&s all./ said %%. but she spun around and fell.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. conservative southern town. nothing serious. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. +I just think you should be careful./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. she&s straight. no. The gay 1uestion. She asked me if I&m gay. They were just little crushes. +It was bound to happen sooner than later. Thankfully though./ :ueenie started to say something else. I caught myself. I mean. +>ou&ll never believe this./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home. +I told her the truth./ +0ute. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. . 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. she seemed okay with it./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. yes.endal&s engaging laughter./ %% said again. >ou always fall for the straight girls. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are./ +-h.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that . +6o./ +That&s priceless./ . She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. I literally ran into her. +4hat=/ %% asked. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. +The 1uestion. The 1uestion. it&s getting hot in here. +6othing./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight.
. +She&s a cheerleader after all./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me.iss . It&s called the science e'periment. +7et&s get out of here. isn&t going to happen. what they really want is a guy. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious./ +4hat do you want./ :ueenie sat up. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. There&s this energy between us. 1uite frankly. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. so I like her. shielding her eyes. you don&t./ +Stick to what you know best./ said :ueenie. I&m about to sweat away to nothing./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. +The least you can do is admit that much. Then. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement./ +"reposterous. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt./ ./ +That she is./ %% began to massage her forehead. The whole thing is just ridiculous./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much. +-kay. +I did mean half of what I said in there. ./ :ueenie said pointedly. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that. +I knew you liked her. +She&s not interested in me like that. +2ey. I can&t e'plain. >ou&re being ridiculous./ +6o./ %% groaned./ +:ueenie./ +I hardly even know her. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. but it . I&ve been there. That&s something that isn&t going to change. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. +It&s true. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is./ :ueenie echoed. +I knew it. +>ou know how straight girls work. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. . 9e careful./ %% sighed./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction./ +I don&t care what it&s called. unabashed. after their curiosity wears off./ +7ook. really. +I know you like her.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy ./ :ueenie continued./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know.
. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch.+>ou know. 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. +$id you hook up with her=/ . +>ou&re going to hurt yourself. +I&m fine.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest./ . 2is skin was e'tremely pale. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired.yan from the bench beside him. 2e looked absolutely horrible./ :ueenie insisted. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians./ %ason remarked.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. getting pummeled five to nothing. %ason gritted his teeth. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude./ %% frowned.yan glared at him. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. +>ou don&t look so good. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea.yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber. . don&t push it. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. +It&s not without merit. the lowest-seeded team in their division.endal ./ . 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.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. . >ou know.yan said.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night. his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. . +Thought that she was out of your league. straightening up. +2ey. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. As a result. it was also incredibly appealing./ +8ela'.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. And to make matters worse./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. . like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it./ %ason concluded after a moment. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. 2e started working his triceps./ %ason warned as he watched . 2ey.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright./ CHAPTER ./ . +I thought so. It was because he was frustrated.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. 8ela'. It was true. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. +4hat&s your problem=/ . +#ven for you. . It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. they had lost the game./ %ason laughed.
2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. the legendary inviteonly soccer party.endal had a reputation to uphold. Though he had singled .yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. . simultaneously knocking over a stack of books./ +#'actly.yan was confident that he would get another shot. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much. In times past . not wanting to add to .endal would have been right there with 0hristine. Something else was aching inside him. Though his legs ached. he pushed through the pain. 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. +6othing. 9ut today. <ibrant shades of red. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus./ he said between breaths.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. As a result. .and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. drinking refillable bottles of water. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk. . ./ %ason said.c0arthy. picked up the weight and began lifting again. . #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. that&s all.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. CHAPTER ! . but there was something missing. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson.T<&s The 8eal 4orld. There&s no way she would turn him down./ +All right./ . especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors.endal had to help her into bed. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. 0hristine got home late. And his guest was going to be . She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro. It was status. both of them lying in agony. . 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated.endal .aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net.. Sure. +I&ve got more work to do here./ . so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength./ +I hear ya. as well.yan&s salty mood. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them. +0atch you later then.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. popping Tylenol. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and ./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. 4ith that./ said %ason. And .endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene.
. Across the backdrop . a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. 8ather. so you could sit in the palm. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. #ducation was far more important.endal thought. . 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. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. She finally felt like she belonged. 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= . she could see her at some sporting event.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. (or that reason./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. where everyone knows your name and your business. her father especially. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. she was a part of the cheerleading team. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people.endal read the words. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. It was hands-on learning. To the right of the counter stood a stage. and the ne't thing she knew. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time.i'. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room.9uilt back in the DHFFs. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. . including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction.endal&s parents. She hated to disappoint her parents. .endal felt pressured to get good grades. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. That. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. was why . plus the beauty of the campus. 9e Somebody. . So this is where %% likes to hang out. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. +fantasi3e reality. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window./ spelled out in big bold white letters. 0he' . humming original songs about the meaning of life.
dramati3ing herself. given to her by her older brother. +I like pi33a. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames. I like thick crust. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. It really was none of her business. as if were weighted down. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library./ . -nce. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. . >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . 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.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. smartly. black mess in the middle of the living room floor.endal paused. many of which could be forgotten. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth.endal. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into . +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . something happened all right.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . 6evertheless. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. She tingled in anticipation. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. 4ell. . >ou know. +>ou were saying*/ . The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. it became obvious that her roommate was awake. Although she knew they were dangerous. when she was about five. +I&m sorry. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. %%.endal struck with reckless abandon. %%% -nce back at the dorm. she dropped the attitude. +(unny. I need some grease. until that moment. afraid to disturb 0hristine.. +)ghhhh. Though the incident had left her unharmed. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. 6o. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight./ 0hristine moaned.endal. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read.endal returned. .endal.endal slowly opened the door to her room. it still provided a way to release her irritation. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. ashy. There were other occasions where 0urious . And thick crust. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. thoughtfully. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse. And . and was reduced to a gooey.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time.
+"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.
/ %% nudged her shoulder. >ou&re different./ ./ said %%../ +4ow. 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 . which had been resting on the floor. like you said. +This poem is like. It looked pretty beat up. Then she&d set it right back down.iss. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily./ said %%. but e'press it ill. and. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. how=/ %% shrugged.any love well. +9ut you&re not.endal flipped back her hair. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst . standing up 1uickly. has her own dreams. She reached for the journal./ +>ou didn&t at all.endal flinched. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has./ +I understand. +0ute./ . She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. +That&s pretty intense. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. +4hoops. +I&ll be right back. In fact. +>ou just are./ said ./ she said./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders./ They continued to regard one another.aybe at first./ +. %ust one 1uick peek./ %% said. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all.& See.endal. and flipped it open close to the middle. 2er journal spilled out. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence.endal eyeballed the journal. totally awesome. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then./ said . feeling nervous and clumsy.endal./ +>eah. the edges frayed and the binding worn. she wants him to know that though she is driven. and she tripped over it. but at the same time. As she pushed her chair back from the table. +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. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. she thought. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. it is./ +$ifferent. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. she accidentally knocked over her bag. .
but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. . so . he puts it so nicely. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down.endal cursed her roommate under her breath. >our journal was just lying there. ominous shadow.. +0hristine said you were here./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ ./ . She and %ason had been dating ever since. She had to read it again. of course. +I&m sorry. 9ack then ./ he pressed on. and who was going to be left out.endal was lying. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table./ . A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. just as if she were the person in the poem. hoping he would take the hint and leave. 7ast year. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited./ said ./ he said with an overconfident grin. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite.endal. +2ey./ .endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence. +I&m honored. .endal could feel the tingle on her skin./ .y./ . She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. anyway. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. I&m not pretending.yan&s pond of smoothness./ +6ope.yan Stevens.yan said smoothly./ +)m.yan continued.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. who she now thought of as .endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in . that ./ +I know what it is. and then shook her head apologetically. I haven&t heard anything at all./ she said instead. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. she found it pathetic./ . 2e didn&t. 2aven&t heard a thing. +8eally I am.yan the couch monster. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead. looming over her like some creepy. 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. was standing ne't to her chair. 6ow./ . no./ +-h. I&m actually studying. +It&s e'clusive./ . +7isten.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack.endal thought./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it. . and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. She just said you were in the library pretending to study. +4ell. hooked up with him. so real. +I was there last year.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts.
So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer. The Spot. .endal hadn&t picked up on it. +8ight. of what she might say. really fun time with yours truly./ said .aybe another night then. If you&ll let me. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. +2e&s so full of himself./ she blurted./ ./ . It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it./ %% jumped. simply was not there. of what they might say. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. +So. She sat down without glancing at either .yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es. +>ou&d miss a really.endal or ./ +It&s good to know that you have morals. and hoped .endal&s eyes lit up. +That&s not entirely true. Suddenly./ said %%. .endal had pinched her./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. It&s at that coffee shop you like. ne't (riday. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday./ %% reminded her.endal shifted curiously in her seat. eager to change the subject. I&m sorry.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. +6e't (riday. I made her promise to go with me. +.endal./ %% approached the table at that moment./ +(rom what I hear./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. +I sort of forgot about it until now. I think you should enter. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked. she felt delighted that . I&m one of the good girls.endal would think./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff. but not because poetry was personal.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list.+I&m sure you can get out of it. just as I described it.yan considered their story./ She swallowed hard. +8ight./ +I guess so./ he mumbled finally and walked away. +4ho= ./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. +It was my first kiss. though. 2er face was still damp.endal watched as .endal had wanted to dip into that side of her.yan. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels. rubbing her leg where . That got e'tremely hot very fast. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman./ %% swallowed again as ./ . She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice.yan=/ ./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people. She was afraid of their reaction.endal bit her lip. And she was even more afraid of what ./ +4ell. Instead. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ .yan.endal e'claimed. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. +It was incredible. I don&t know what he&s thinking./ . +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. +I only read a little bit. +I&d like to read some more./ said . +I was raised right.
/ +-kay.endal had a hunch they were about . maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. I can&t take that risk. you know.endal said. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying.yan. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ . I&ve never been on another stage since./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that. 4riting is my life. I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day.endal so easily./ . you&d never be able to give it up.endal momentarily./ . everybody in the audience started to laugh. I mean. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song.+So./ %% closed her eyes./ +That would never happen. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to .endal debated the 1uestion. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger./ +./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . about this poetry slam thingy./ +That is so sad. I might freak out and give up writing altogether./ +4ell=/ +4ell./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. I got on stage and played the only song I knew. .endal hesitated then asked. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . +>ou sound like my mother. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it./ +So=/ +So. without enthusiasm. I fro3e. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head. I&m serious./ %% rolled her eyes. embarrassed at what she was about to admit. +They have one every (riday night./ she said.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. So maybe you can practice with me. +I have a fear of being on stage. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything. and then averted her eyes. I&m not ready. what= I&m not going up on stage./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life. +See./ +9ut it might. desperately wanting to change the subject. 4riting is my life. And if something happened. that alone should tell you how important it is to you. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage. +I ran off stage so fast. +It basically scarred me for life./ +0ome on. 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./ %% said 1uietly. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world. And when the contest came up.aybe./ said %% impatiently. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. I just don&t participate.endal said. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her./ . . we had this talent contest one year at school. And during the whole thing. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder./ %% said. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. +I suppose I should. +It&s getting late. +9ut it&s different with this./ she e'plained. if I got upset on stage.
though she knew e'actly what %% meant. They left the library and %% offered to walk ./ .endal.endal asked. though= I mean. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. +4ould you still like to go.. She would instantly sense what . +So./ . then instantly winced. fall air./ said . 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . her backpack pressed tightly against her chest.endal back to her dorm. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. +That sounded really dumb. +I&d like that a lot. she would know. that&s not going to happen. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder./ %% managed as she watched . I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said./ %% smiled. and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. She instantly looked away./ %% paused and then plunged forward./ she said. didn&t it=/ +Totally.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . 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. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem.endal teased.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. >et./ %% took a deep breath./ +0atch you later. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah./ +I&m glad. She collapsed backward against the closed door. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder. +2ey*/ %% looked up. and some of the writing is ama3ing. later.endal said casually. go with me= There are some great poets around here. that&ll work. She breathed hard and her hands shook.endal was feeling. +>eah.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack./ +Sure. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind. +0ool. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. As they reached the front of the building. 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. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . . %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way.
2ow was the library=/ +-h./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly. >our senior year.endal replied 1uickly. . paying rent for some crappy apartment. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone.endal answered. with satisfaction.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. . I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties.endal. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying. .endal replied. I already have plans./ . but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. +I had an uninvited visitor. +4ill you rela'=/ she said./ 0hristine gasped. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. very interesting. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. +6othing. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college./ . I&m not going to a gay club. still lost in a di33y ha3e. apparently not amused. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious./ +I couldn&t care less.endal watched her in amusement. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face. The thought of . and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life./ +I guess. smiling again. +Tell me you said yes. the superficial status./ +I did. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious./ ./ . 9esides./ . the empty conversations. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia.endal said./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend./ 0hristine&s head shot up./ +7et me guess. pacing frantically around the room. +%ust something different./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent.endal entered their room. Somehow.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly.She sighed. I&m afraid. ./ +I said @no&. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. +>ou&re going to a gay club. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o./ . the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . +>ou didn&t. +I&m not turning into a lesbian. +I&ve been te'ting you all night. 0hristine. so 1uit freaking out.
+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.
/ +6o=/ +6o. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery. you do it one hundred percent. . +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. +I resent that. +>ou know. your current situation. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best./ +Spare me the theatrics./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that./ +$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. there&s none of that. +%ust get in. 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 know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. +4ith the women I see. you in=/ :ueenie asked. >ou&re into someone you can&t have.e= I do all right./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking. sourly. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. And despised her for it. Take. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. it&s so obvious./ +-h. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. really=/ They began to walk again./ +./ +. for e'ample. 4hen you do something. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. actually./ +"lease./ :ueenie said. palms down and swept them to one side./ +It is./ %% maintained. 6o room to analy3e or obsess./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders./ %% said plainly. +So. get out and nobody gets hurt. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. 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. The hopeless romantic never wins. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. my friend./ +Thanks. +%%./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. +I&m not looking for better right now./ %% said.y dilemma=/ +>es.+>ou ama3e me./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression.
%ust a cup of coffee. I&m going to pass on that one. . +I&ll be 1uick. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion.yan and %ason were roommates.endal made a face. and . in fact. and would eventually come over to the dark side. ./ she said. In fact. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . -nce she reached the third floor. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. . an actual lesbian.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. +6othing at all. . and then pushed it open.yan said. really.yan was laying face down on his bed./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. +Studying./ . she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school./ %% said. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. 0hristine owes me big time. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight.endal was on her way. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. she thought. She knocked slightly.+I guess./ %% replied dryly.usic boomed from an open door.endal ne't (riday night. . but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. rounded the first corner. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. sensing %% was hiding something. and also members of the basketball team. +6othing. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. +9usy=/ . :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. . but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. motioning to the book./ %% said.endal figured that . +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air./ CHAPTER $ . She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with .endal entered the dorm on a mission to find .endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. . Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends.endal asked when he looked up. even though no one was in the room. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. reading what looked like a te'tbook.
the one you were at the library with. +I&m not proud of it. +-h./ ./ +Sounds good./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else./ +I know. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. +-f course. She took a big breath./ %ason replied.yan said. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked. +>eah./ +>ou don&t have to leave. +I&ll leave you two alone. +I&ll watch the game in ./ 2e stood up and gave .yan was staring at him.endal remained standing. already halfway out the door. I haven&t asked anyone else yet. +I appreciate that. and reali3ed that . my bad. yeah./ .yan repeated. you must think I&m a complete jerk. you do have 1uite the reputation.+It&s okay. +To say something like that. regretfully. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television.yan said./ +6o. +-kay./ she said. +4ait. She&s pretty good.endal asked. and then thought better of it. +%ust as a friend. I&ll probably be a little late.endal couldn&t believe it. and she&d severely misjudged him. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way./ .yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say./ . but that&s basically it. +2ave a seat.yle&s room. of course. and I wanted you to be my invite./ . feeling slightly better about the whole situation. +5o get @em. . I&ve seen her play a couple of games. shape or form. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. . So. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest./ +%%=/ +>ea./ +-kay=/ +4ell. then I understand. +I&m just going to be a minute. I&m out of there./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him./ . This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. I was thinking about it./ +4ell./ ./ %ason said. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards. it&s okay. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball. Sure. we can hang out and talk. and if you still haven&t asked anyone. then I&d like to go.endal said hurriedly. so it&s all good. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over.yan opened his mouth to respond./ ./ ./ he finally said.yan said. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her. +So. It took him a minute before he looked up./ +4ell./ ./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game.endal said.endal held her arms close to her sides. So. not sure what to do with them. +I was ready for a break anyway./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. +I&ll see you (riday night then./ +As a friend./ . +I&m sorry=/ .
+4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. I mean really smart. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . +)m./ . . 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered. I&ve never met anyone like her before. .r. ever./ +So study. It tasted like rubber. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright.endal told her. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. +She&s so smart./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. ./ 0hristine said. ./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. you know=/ +8ight. In some ways./ . she was afraid to try to study by herself. enjoying a small side salad.s.endal confirmed. 2er eyes were hollow./ +I&m just speaking the truth. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. That&s what I&m nervous about.endal yawned.endal looked up. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. sunny day. she was going to have to do a far better job./ . +>eah. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth./ +I know. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. +5ee.endal. don&t. +4e&re just getting to know each other. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. She even told us which author. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. (riday. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class.endal said. 0hin ever did that. but she couldn&t help but smile. +I&m going to.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor./ +4ell. not just about school stuff. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3./ ./ 0hristine added. +>ou look horrible. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up. +4ell./ She tried. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. She&s so sweet and*/ ./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday.yan was staring at her awkwardly./ he said.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. she&s cool. She was sitting directly across from . thanks.
+Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. let&s get out of here.illigrew=/ +5ive me that./ +I know. That&s all the knowledge I need.endal study. +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. . very cute.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her.endal looked her up and down. It&s a must. too. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. . e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner./ ./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . +4ho in the world is Anne ./ . The soccer team was just coming in for dinner. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . In a matter of minutes.endal.endal laughed emphatically. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class./ 0hristine demanded./ . 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 planted her eyes at her notes instead. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table.endal said and snatched the folder back./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair./ +-h.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked.y behind is sore from sitting. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. yawned. it was empty.endal held back her tongue.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired. +>ou are a math guru. +#arth to . +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. +0ome on. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her. )nfortunately. but as far as literature was concerned. I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. -ut with it. +>es.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. but the rest of the dining hall was empty. obviously offended. +7et me see what you are studying right now./ . 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./ ./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment./ ./ she said. +0ome on. +>ou&re serious=/ +. really=/ +>es. .endal said firmly. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go.
/ 0hristine said. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. +Thanks to you. %ust remember you have to be back by nine. +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. They had been wrong./ 0oach 0ook noted. >ou know how . sucking in every breath./ +4ill you knock it off already. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. the whole team has to give me ten more. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level.ya can get. despised running. She needed something to give her a reason to run. +0aution. or whenever the basketball season was over. As much as she hated running.c9ride. 8unning just to run was pointless to her. as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. The team finished the sprints. 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. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. +5ood finish.endal e'haled loudly. %%. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride. -kay*I&ll be back in time.endal shouted. shape or form. I forgot. +0ome on./ . And that was all the reward she needed. in any way./ . I know how ./ 0oach 0ook hollered./ +>es./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. . %% bent over and clung to her knees./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. . +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . . on the other hand. %% didn&t know. not from the back. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. +"oint guards lead from the front./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court.arch. There needed to be some sort of object involved. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running. %enkins. much to the chagrin of her parental units./ +(ine. +4e&re sprinting./ +5ood. of course. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. %%. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said.ya can get. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus. not goofing off.0hristine whistled loudly and said. +4hatever./ +)gh. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. and snorting. like a basketball for instance.
the lesbian team. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. 8ather thin but muscular. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. that is. /2urry up and change. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. I am the one who is cooking tonight./ :ueenie added. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. +Team. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. though. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. 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. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season./ 0oach 0ook barked. it was definitely top secret. 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./ :ueenie said. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. +As a matter of fact. who also was rumored to be a lesbian./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. +I&m starving./ +See you tomorrow. in fact. +It&s all about conditioning./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. 0oach 0ook ignored her./ 0oach 0ook said.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. +-kay. so if the two of them were. a couple. regardless of the score. After three years. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . and leave it all on the floor. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season./ 0oach continued. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. :ueenie. 4henever they lost a game. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. The candlelight is optional. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. ladies./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. +0onditioning. ladies./ 0oach 0ook stressed. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders. 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. >ou freshmen have to get into shape./ +2ow sweet.
/ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. She dashed through the food line. The rest of her table was empty. They sat with the other members of the basketball team. . 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before./ +4ait a minute. . who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. tossing everything in sight onto her tray./ +She did. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly.+I didn&t notice. +That was a close call. I was sitting there in silence. I&m seeing two of you right now. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. full of mashed potatoes. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw .endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her. +That was no big deal./ :ueenie said. +>eah./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. chocolate pudding. I can&t think straight. As she studied her tray. right. In fact. 0oach and I see eye to eye now.endal and back to :ueenie./ +-kay. 2er cheeks were bulging./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. that. I&m confused./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all 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. She forced her attention away from . :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray./ :ueenie huffed./ +(ine./ said %%. bread. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. +-h./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. 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. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. $ean 2offman walks through the door.endal sitting there. In fact. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. %% winked at her. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. I know. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy.
/ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office. of course. +All over a stupid 1ui3. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door.endal confessed. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you. >ou two kids have fun. I&ve got a surprise for you./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes. It was classic. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . +4ell done.endal . +I wouldn&t say that. we both turned our heads at the same time. As soon as she saw me there. +>ep. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something./ +>es way. @It&s okay. 0oach. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. was @Sweetie. >ou should have seen the look on her face. did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. +6ever a dull moment. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. ./ said %%.endal barely even noticed :ueenie.c9ride.c0arthy right ne't to her./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. without looking up./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair./ %% reached her hand across the table. we both were just sitting there not saying anything./ +-nly you.& Then I winked and walked out of the office. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock./ ./ . +I know. +So. $o you want to study someplace else=/ . she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. indeed./ :ueenie leaned forward. %% looked on in wonder. well done. my friend./ +So*/ %% said eagerly./ +6o. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble./ :ueenie continued./ +So. %%./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful./ she e'plained. it&s okay. +%%. +I need your help desperately.endall said. So I stood up and said. 6ever a dull moment. +I mean./ %% pushed her tray aside.&/ +6o way.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. And at that e'act moment. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there. I&m a complete mess./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. +I guess I&ll be going now./ ./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked. then she assumed that 0oach was alone. +This kind of thing only happens to you./ +4ell.
endal said. I don&t./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. Thank you so much. . +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start. She thought of . +0ome on. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there.endal said politely./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly.+>ou can come to my dorm room./ ./ .endal suggested.akes sense. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked. I have to be in my room by nine. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. +I owe you big time. +I can&t./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday./ %% returned./ +-kay./ ./ They both stood up.endal said eagerly./ .ya. and she enforces it.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. +>ou remember our plans./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her. too. came up with it./ . ./ . %% studied her e'pression.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening. I&ll see you in an hour then./ +I was just leaving. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling. +The coffee shop. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o./ . Then maybe we&d play better. don&t you=/ +>es. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. she&s the captain of the s1uad./ %% agreed. +Thank you. +4e&re closing. I have curfew tonight.endal said adamantly. I remember./ +. 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. +And that will be enough. 0oach should give us a curfew./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine.endal nodded. I was just checking./ %% returned. or that she liked the way %% smelled. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional. miss=/ .endal held her backpack to her chest. CHAPTER ( +A curfew./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow./ .
0hristine./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls.i' +I didn&t mean it like that. +I&m sorry.+4hatever./ %% started for the door. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out. +(or documentation./ +I know. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. +School spirit is a way of life. +0heerleading. +"edaling poetry. %ust sneak a few photos.endal&s dorm. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to . A rather thin blonde. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room.endal walked into the room. right.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. 0hristine. +Am I that transparent=/ . %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. offering %% some 0he' ./ +4hat=/ +0ome on./ %% said.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. 4e can use this to our advantage. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. . She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors.endal . +That was my roommate. +-h. straight out of the pages of <ogue./ ./ she said./ :ueenie said./ %% responded and held up her notebook. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life.endal. #ach door on . -nly. Sampson Academy paraphernalia. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. +If 0oach gave us a curfew. %% thought as she knocked against . taking a handful from the bag. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America./ the blonde said./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. +0ome on in. +Thanks./ %% backtracked.endal&s door.c0arthy&s dorm room./ +7et me guess. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand. >ou sure are 1uick. and little cheerleader cutouts. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. opened the door./ said %%. 2ave a seat. %% recogni3ed her. Interesting decor. I&d 1uit. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here. proudly. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . +(riendly people you got here. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. 6o wonder you&re a tutor./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff. +>ou need professional help. -ver ./ %% stepped through the door and into the room./ +4ait./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%./ said . She often sat with ./ ./ she said to the blonde.endal in the dining hall.
+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. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. at this line in )pon Saying .endal. but me they scorned&=/ . well aware of how little space remained between them. +9ecause I was an afterthought. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention.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. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. It was flattering. but I know it&s about this author at least. setting her folder and her book in front of her./ +9ut that&s not fair. +So./ +7ook here. +It&s a secret.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along. +Anne . See. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know./ +So*what else=/ . @my numbers they admired.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully. but she was also proud to be a woman./ +I don&t even know who she is./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing./ +It was. after a moment./ +I think you&ll like ./ said %%.+I&d like to think there is. +-kay. -ne of my favorites. but she loved every minute of it. She was more than happy to play along./ %% smiled mischievously. and my other brother is twentyfive./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once./ +-kay. really young. . who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked. See how she says./ said .illigrew. +It was . bumping her shoulder as she settled into position./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. +That&s fair.endal&s perfume. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman. I had to do and learn a lot on my own. yet awkward.endal let that idea marinate./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . +I don&t know.y oldest brother is in his late twenties. . $eal=/ .y <erses 4ere .endal thought for a moment. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed. +7ike what=/ %% asked. +7ike*/ ./ she said. I mean.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer./ +That must have been hard. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented./ %% cleared her throat./ she said. +8ight there=/ +.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write. I was*une'pected.endal sat down ne't to her. .endal considered the words on the page.ade 9y Another./ . And even though men adored her poetry. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem. trying to distract herself from the scent of .illigrew. It wasn&t long before . she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman.endal pointed to one of the poems. She leaned her back up against the comforter.
.endal had seen before. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain. Having the strength to stand. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all./ . for obvious reasons.endal slumped back against the bed./ +To be out. and then stopped.endal read out loud. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies./ said %%. !ree at last. She licked her thumb. #elief from my shoulders. Instead. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. #elease./ %% closed the book in front of them. . +2ere. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for./ . Beyond the tears. . (ride. men in this case. who took it willingly. !reedom.ost of her work was discovered much later on. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. #aising my head high. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied.ou gave me your hand without thought. 0ourage. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life./ . +This e'plains it better than I can./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell. she refused to compromise herself or her art. *ith this gesture you taught. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world./ She slid the journal over to .endal shook her head./ . )eaving me sta/le.unfortunate that the very same people./ +I would have never survived. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. She read the rest of the poem in silence. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like./ +4hat did it feel like. She disappeared for a bit.endal. ' /elieved in me. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide.endal asked.
/ said %%. They were free to write whatever they wanted.endal. 0lark cleared her throat./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. whether it was the beginning of a novel. 0lark was impressed. like many of her previous free writing efforts. As soon as the class was seated. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret.endal laughed. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. %% knew. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads./ +0ome on. . and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . )sually.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. And %% had written a poem.rs. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. She was one of a kind. That day. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. #veryone sat up straight. 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.. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. . 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. a short story.y writing hardly compares to with hers. +0lass. +I forgot about that part. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. but. at the same time. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. remember=/ +-h. -n occasion./ said . 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. this was a huge compliment because it meant that . right. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. +It&s not even close. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. . And at that moment.rs. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother./ . 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. a journal entry or a poem. possibly even a nervous breakdown.rs. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. you know that= >ou pour everything. It&s like $ickinson. She began flipping through the journal.rs. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 0lark. The chatter ceased.rs. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. . It didn&t matter. however. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. turned out to be today.
she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom.rs. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. 0lark. 2er lips moved slowly. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. %% tiptoed in. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well.rs.rs.rs. signaling that her class had ended. And the class deserves to hear it. Instead. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended.like her. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. She waited until students began to file out the front doors.rs. did it=/ +6o. She glanced from face to face in a panic. She trembled as she stood. +>ou might want to stand up. and then cringed when she heard ./ . 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. shuffling through papers on her desk. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her./ . 0lark&s nasal voice. +%%*are you okay=/ . 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk.rs. not ever./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. She&d written the first line on a whim. 6ot now. she sat down on a nearby bench. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. It deserves to be shared with the class. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom. unable to move. She tried to speak once more. ma&am. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last. who liked cheerleading and boys. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. 0lark asked./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. She breathed heavily. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. 0lark was still in the room. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. Instead. +And speak up a bit. but no audible words came out./ +9ecause that would be a shame. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. and again no sound emerged.rs. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read.ay I go to the restroom=/ . +. +I didn&t feel good. and %% bolted from the room. 0lark advised. +%%. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. %% was the e'act opposite. the building for #nglish classes.rs./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . so I decided to leave class./ %% managed. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. It&s yours to share. It&s yours. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. 0lark nodded. Their relationship had suffered because of it. mouthing the first line. She knew . And that wasn&t going to happen. . hoping for some closure.
/ ./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. as usual. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing. rela'.onday. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. on the basketball court. %%. +I&m just checking in. +2ey. %% couldn&t concentrate./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. :ueenie. just as your basketball coach believes in you. +6ice job. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound. what good is art for that matter./ she said./ . garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy. +I can&t force you to read it. And she was flattered that . 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud.rs./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. and not because of the sweat. 4atch and learn./ %% leaned against her locker.onday. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. +I&m sorry./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. 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./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation.endal has nothing to do with it. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . I just have a lot on my mind.endal was only a few hours away. )nlike %%. offering criticism of their work. aren&t we=/ ./ %% replied dryly. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. had another outstanding practice. . She understood. +I&ll read it on . say. +Touchy.aybe she did. and removed her glasses from her face. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team.rs. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are./ %% reasoned.aybe she wanted it that way../ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning./ +. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. and taking in criticism of your own. 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. ladies.rs. 0lark called after her. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game./ +. 4atch and learn. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say./ +All right.rs.
/ Apparently. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. 0oach./ %% snapped. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. 0oach. 0oach is like your best friend now. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one./ +I know. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. carrying a rose.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. 0oach. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. sitting on a locker room bench. >ou better get your game in gear./ She barked from the doorway. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. +>ou know me./ . +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm. +Says you. who stifled a laugh. a big part of it. And the point is that you played horribly today. +. -nce in the confines of her office. I don&t start players who perform like that./ +I&m busy tonight. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. %ust what I need. %% thought. +#asy for you to say./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. +$on&t worry about 0oach. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. 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./ %% said. +%enkins. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. %%. +I e'pect more from you. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. +$on&t do anything stupid. +5ood. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. And you two are my senior captains. >ou brought :ueenie to the team. %% thought. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class./ she said. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. +6o. +I didn&t play well at all./ 0oach 0ook said./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her./ she said. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground./ she replied. right./ %% acknowledged./ Ignoring that comment. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow./ +>ou are the starting point guard. playing with her i"hone./ :ueenie said. >ou are the floor general. %%. She was already showered and dressed. +"eachy. I need you to play with confidence. remember=/ +-h. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk.
%%% . it&s the truth.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. +0hristine./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight.endal by the arms.endal had chosen. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit./ 0hristine smiled wryly. as a result. thought . +I thought I looked good.endal groaned./ +I already told you I&d be there. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser. pulling it back and swinging it forward. 0learly. .endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her./ . She wanted to try something different.endal. +I have no idea. +(or the umpteenth time.endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror.endal. +(ine./ 6ot again. I&m only going to this party tonight with . +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ .endal ran her long fingers through her hair. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ ./ +8ight. +I promise.endal asked. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for . 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed./ . +I can&t believe you are going to go with her. wondering about her outfit. It was as simple as that./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ .endal said. She stood up and grabbed . She stood facing the doorway. mulling over which way accented her features better. I&d be creeped out. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . teammate and confidante. that&s gross.yan&s benefit. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine.endal spun around. and. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine.yan as friends. "ersonally.yan. stomach-first. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know.endal shrugged. admiring her jeans./ . She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans./ +>ou do. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight. As my roommate./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets./ 0hristine held out her pinky./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s. She&d been thinking of %%. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . I&m just asking./ . I&ve never been to one before. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. +(lattered= . a slimming red graphic T-shirt./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. She wanted to go to The Spot. she hadn&t been thinking of .
In the end. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. she sat down again. . It probably didn&t matter one way or another to ./ %% blurted out. And I like to carry my journal with me. admiring %%&s outfit. Then she stood up. it couldn&t get much worse. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. After a minute. +I keep some of my favorite books in here./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. too. 9ut she hadn&t. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. %%&s head snapped up./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside.endal enjoyed the most.endal. pointing at %%&s backside. +There&s something you don&t see every day. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. Then she checked her cell phone. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. I think. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. She crossed her legs. +8ight./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair. +I like you without a hat better./ .endal had tried to call or send her a te't. she reali3ed what she&d said./ . Then she batted her eyes at . +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took ./ she said./ she said. >ou look ama3ing. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. +>ou&re right. pointing at the backpack.endal. as well. but resisted.endal asked./ . She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. who started laughing. the doors swung open and in walked ./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . +>ou look ridiculous. And that was the side she thought . leaned over and tried to rub it out. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. +I mean*you look nice and everything. just in case . and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. +5o ahead.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. At that moment.endal said.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe. -nce the words left her lips. She 1uickly stood up straight./ +4ow.endal said. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors./ she said. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts.endal smiled. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly.
endal asked. +0hristine doesn&t know you. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better.endal responded blandly. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight.endal confessed. +I don&t know. +)neventful. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before./ +She doesn&t like me very much. genuinely interested. +-nce. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress ./ . +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy./ +. either.endal had grabbed it first. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours./ %% struggled to e'plain./ ./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. She reached for the doorknob. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked.endal said. They talked about anything and everything they could. They sat in the corner near the window. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company./ %% said. Several students crossed their path. That&s all./ . The looks didn&t bother %%. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ ./ +4hat did she say= ./ %% said. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever.endal. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you. with %% directly on her heels. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now./ said . afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. smiling. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman. She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. The more she thought about it. +I wouldn&t worry about it. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track. A roving waitress appeared.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. and laughed. unsure of how to respond. too. and both %% and . the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room.endal laughed nervously.endal much.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus./ . +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity.e. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. and then looked away./ . . but . and %% assumed that .endal flashed %% a knowing smile. and neither of them held back. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. They didn&t seem to bother . +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left. some staring at them in wonderment.
clearly offended./ +I know what that&s like./ . It was so embarrassing./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all./ %% offered./ +>ou said you felt uncomfortable in your own skin= Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in mine that I wish I could be someone completely different for a day just to see how it would feel. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there.endal continued./ +6o./ +9efore I met you. the real me. I want you to know me as I am now. I have no idea who I am./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise./ %% professed. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. I have to see those pictures. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me. I became that.%% laughed./ +I&m sorry. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains./ . And when I show them the pictures. +I&m still playing the same role now. and my hair was long. And because I knew that everyone thought that./ . +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. I panicked and ran off stage./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ ./ said %% honestly. you don&t./ . people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. +I didn&t know.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. not the younger me that was insecure and confused. +There&s so much more to you. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. 4hen it came to the talent portion.endal straightened up./ +9ut you are changing. +>ou&re joking. and tried to fit in. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant./ +4ow. I played the role. 9ut forget about me. I wore make-up. It came down past my shoulders. 7ook at 0hristine. +It was awkward to say the least. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life. I was just like her. . +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. 9ut back then I acted different./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly. I&m the same. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home.
then meet up with her at the soccer party./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful. then she&s going to lower my grade.endal asked. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam.endal said adamantly.endal glanced at her cell phone. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit. just to be sure. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed./ %% wasn&t about to argue. and if I don&t read it./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said. I feel like I owe you or something./ .endal. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. -f all the poems in her journal. . +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much. after skimming through the pages. It&s (riday night. I need someplace private. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it. so that makes it a secret. +-kay. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. +4hat&s ./ +I know a place./ %% panicked./ %% considered the offer. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e./ ./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. +0ome on. . +>ou think I&m smart=/ . you owe me a poem.+>ou aren&t anything like her. +Then let&s go someplace else.endal stood up and tugged %%. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours./ +>ou don&t owe me anything. if you&ll let me.endal./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on . you&re kind./ %% paused. She was supposed to te't 0hristine. %% rolled her eyes./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can.endal asked. 9ut here she was with %% instead./ ./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead./ +Speaking of $ickinson./ %% told her. .ay I about=/ . >ou showed me your favorite hangout. you&re smart./ +I have to do this by . There are so many things about you that ama3e me. looking around.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%. +6ot here./ she agreed.endal had to choose that one. I&ve never told anyone that before. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . That is. almost taking her by the hand.other ./ said . and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me.onday./ +4hat if I helped you=/ .endal asked.
and stood up instantly to look out the window. dude=/ he grumbled. She&s been acting so strange lately. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. +I don&t know where she is. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing./ said .yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. 7et&s go.yan pressed. aside from winter formal. 9ut she clearly was distracted. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. +I don&t know. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. +0ome on. who finally took the hint./ %ason had heard enough. . +She should be here with me.yan out of the room. she&s going to regret it./ +I&ve got issues=/ . who now glared at ./ 2e turned to 0hristine. The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps. This girl is cra3y. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. and closed the door behind him. She smiled eagerly at %%./ he said. +She&s probably on her way here right now./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . impatiently. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . she&ll come./ said 0hristine. Apparently. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire.yan said miserably. waiting for . +>ou&ve got issues.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room./ he said. +6o way. I&m the best looking guy on campus. +6ever mind. sounding frustrated.endal./ ./ she whispered under her breath. as he nudged . I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight./ %ason offered. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. +4hy don&t you go find out./ . as she held up her i"hone.yan.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend. +If you don&t come tonight. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked.yan. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. 2e stood up. .yan shot back./ said 0hristine. (or . +7et me try and call her.4ithout saying a word. +Seriously./ +I&m going to regret it. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian. She ditched an invite-only soccer party. 2e was still sitting on the couch. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button.yan that meant wearing black slacks. %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands.yan.
/ +That&s pretty clever. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. I didn&t want that happening to me. See. eyeing the flashlight. I had all my routes mapped carefully.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. She turned it on. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. with . I even slept out here once or twice. urging %% to follow./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it. . ./ .endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad. we were fair game. she&d gone through ha3ing. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot.endal left the coffee shop. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry./ said %%. +This hiding spot was so good. And follow she did. %% and . +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night.endal sighed. So./ . the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. +0ome here often=/ %% asked. the side to the bleachers being left open. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad./ she said.endal crept under the bleachers. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. "erched up high on a platform. 6o one ever found me here. . #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. and classroom buildings. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. 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./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. come on./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. and after classes to read or do homework./ . %% sat down beside her. even though she already knew the answer. They huddled together. unfolded and spread it out.endal argued. dining hall. +I found this spot during my freshman year. >es. +It was fun at the time. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall. illuminating the spot./ . and were completely hidden by the tarp. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either./ +-h. they&d watch us go into some place. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints. she&d stuffed a flashlight.endal told her./ +I&m full of surprises. That included the library.CHAPTER !! %% and . wait until we came out. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. +)ntil it gets too cold. In the middle of the blanket.endal grabbed the blanket. 9ut that never worked either. and grab us.
/ +Trust me. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. +I can&t. She cleared her throat. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face. That&s not the problem./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it.endal ordered. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. >ou know that./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away. +7et&s talk about the poem. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. I don&t./ +I do not. +>ou keep saying that./ +5ood. I&m just trying to help here. +And read it to me as if you were in class./ ./ +>eah./ %% admitted./ %% gladly rejoined ./ +>es. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place. or what=/ %% blinked twice. 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit. I&m honest and upfront about myself./ ./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that.endal replied./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met.endal said./ . "oetry is personal. opened her mouth wide and said.endal glowered at her. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself. And that was $ickinson&s poem. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. +2ey./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot. but she didn&t care./ . It has to be. +I feel stupid. relieved to be out of the spotlight. but that was different. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ . I&m being honest.endal on the blanket./ +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. my therapist=/ %% snorted. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem.+-kay./ said %%. It is. +Are we going to talk about your poem./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable./ +6o./ . Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion.endal played with her fingers. you got me there. for starters. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. you do. +4hy=/ +4ell. a nervous habit over which she&d little control. +9ecause I was trying to make a point.
endal had seen %% without her confident grin. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer.endal fall for her even more. +And you make it hard not to./ It was the first time .endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. In her imagination .+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo. +4hy=/ %% asked.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes. she saw ./ %% said. and spoke through her fingers./ +4ow. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. %% had never heard anybody.endal weak in the knees if she . They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . but I bet most people will./ .endal had said.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. and fell over on her back./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality. . you will. It&s the same with your writing./ 4hen %% looked up. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far./ . +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. . e'posed. with regret. It confused her to the core. say those words to her before.endal&s cell phone rang. not her coach.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again./ +Argh./ +>es.endal maintained. Some people may not respond in the best way. +I never thought of it that way. you still did it. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense.onday. %% had offered ./ +It&s the same principal./ . wondering where in the world she was./ +9ut that&s ridiculous. That was it. or even her parents. and yet it carried so much weight. +>our writing is ama3ing. It was the simplest of phrases.endal laid her hand over %%&s . That was how the night had ended./ %% hid her face with her hands. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile./ . +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. and gave %% one in return. eyes that made . And it only made .endal took it.endal had dared to picture a different ending.endal reassured her. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. +I believe in you. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm. Some people may not like it. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else. startling them both. +I&m never going to be able to do this by . %% was vulnerable. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. as .
. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. -nce she finished tying her sneakers./ 0hristine sang. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center.stared at them long enough. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it. She burst from the locker room. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. e'cept. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. she stood up and stretched. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead./ she said as genuinely as possible. . and only her imagination.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. . +(ine. +I need to work out. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. yet . still tapping. to give it a name so that she could understand it better. . She and .e.endal begged. >ou can come if you want to.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. +7et&s wait until we get to the track. and yet oddly comforting. +I just lost track of time. I wanted to help her out. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. to let her e'plain. 0hristine&s only response was./ ./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face.endal didn&t know what to say. +I am way beyond mad.endal huffed. +4ell*/ 0hristine said./ 4orking out was not something . +-kay*I know*you&re mad.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. and . with . before transferring to Sampson. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts./ .endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. In fact. a definition to describe the feeling. . "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. 4hen their pace slowed.endal found the tapping distracting. Saturday might as well have been a pause./ she said. . +I&m really sorry. irritating. and then %% had this problem she needed help with. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement.endal organi3ed her thoughts. That thought alone frightened her deeply. +. the gentleness of her touch. She&d even dreamt about it the following night./ They walked briskly.endal jogging behind her to keep up.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted.endal found herself pouting. +I&m waiting. and probably to make her suffer. . The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. She needed a word. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . I didn&t want to just leave her hanging./ 0hristine spat. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight.
endal had said. >ou went back on a sacred oath. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad.endal felt amused. It was supposed to be a secret./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. They turned to each other and giggled./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. . +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face.endal screamed./ 0hristine shouted./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in. +>ou are infuriating. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. noted where she was. +I just don&t see what the big deal is. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug. +That&s cra3y. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. +And you know what that means.endal&s face./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. That&s what it means. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading./ 0hristine shouted again. but your priorities are all messed up. >es. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. and yes./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream.+. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason./ +6o. in first grade=/ she asked. you pinky swore with me. +>ou know how these things go down. . +4hat are we./ The color instantly drained from .endal./ . +They are having a meeting. she had her frustrations. and they&re starting to talk. she had her complaints. +>ou have no idea what this means./ It was as if . #ither way./ 0hristine told her. a little too loudly. I don&t know. and ./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. and wondered if %% had been one of them. 2er face contorted. or if she was just really upset by what . +It&s the truth.endal flung her hands to her hips. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore.endal. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. They didn&t want you to know. She spotted %%. offering a full view of the courts below.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain./ 0hristine screamed.endal asked. nor bearing the school colors. "eople are starting to wonder about you. . and continued with her rant./ She leaned in and whispered. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print./ . +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ . 0hristine cast icy eyes at them.
and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single.endal had been lucky. as it sometimes happens. . Aside from being pretty and popular./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%.endal felt small and shallow.. 9ut for some reason. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. 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. she did care. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. you had no shot at making the s1uad. . and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. She&d judged people. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. nothing final./ 0hristine said plainly. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. or you either for that matter./ . She had 3ero athletic ability. prettiest. . +Tomorrow night. as if she were a freshman.endal asked. I&ll vouch for you. be it academic or otherwise. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her. then you can come.L 5"A. cast aside.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went.endal shouldn&t have cared. 2er eyes instantly softened./ +5et another one. 7ast year. She&d been the e'ception to the rule. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. at the school lounge. but if you skip that./ 0hristine said. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. by way of her K. the most athletic. and she&d been happy doing it. Standing there in the athletic center. her involvement in the drama club.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. )nless you carried at least a K. Suddenly. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. and her participation in student government activities. She&d have to start over. (or some reason. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships. one that she couldn&t put her finger on.endal&s hands. +4hen&s the meeting=/ ./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . it did matter. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. . The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. It shouldn&t have mattered. unanimous vote. She&d seen how these things had gone down. +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. +It&s only going to be a discussion. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. popular. and smartest students on campus. unsurprising. 9ut. She was dismissed. They went after only the most involved. 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. no matter how good you were. $on&t even mention what I said.
endal glanced toward the basketball team again. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. nor would she ever critici3e her work./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. which wasn&t much at all. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. study session. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then. Time was running out. There were other. in 1uotes with her fingers. more important. and she didn&t care now. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. +./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet.. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. I don&t. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. It was discouraging. +8umors are starting to circulate. +$on&t you think=/ +6o. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%.endal and her roommate arguing.endal at all on Saturday.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. and :ueenie would love it./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and ./ :ueenie said. +-kay. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. :ueenie loved.c0arthy. I&m talking about T2# ./ she said without looking away. +. to say the least.endal . +That&s awesome. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. She hadn&t heard from . don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen ./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. :ueenie said./ . she might not like it so much. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. In the meantime. things on her mind. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her.
because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour. when she was all %% could think about. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else.endal./ :ueenie said. right=/ +8ight. -nce . because in a way she knew :ueenie was right./ +(ine. +This is reality. %%. It&s a fantasy. :ueenie shook it. 9ut you&re wrong this time. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now./ %% warned. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. she&s going to stop talking to you. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. +And you&re wrong about her. I hate watching you go through this.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think. that&s the point./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. +I know you&re in love with her./ %% maintained. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. %%. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. The deal was sealed./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since./ +That&s absurd./ +I appreciate what you&re saying. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about./ +She&s not like that. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe./ :ueenie stood up. I&m in love with the girl. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. the playful smirk gone from her face. +All right. +9ecause you never learn./ %% said. and it&s never going to happen. a lump forming in her throat. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late./ %% resisted the urge to argue. %% e'tended her hand. really I do./ said %%. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place.+I&m not playing this game with you right now./ she confessed. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. +It isn&t a game. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . once she reali3es the weight of it./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone.
+Sure. +#'cuse me./ .endal. and added. I thought . mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. and passed it over before taking one for herself.ya burst out laughing. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand. As far as your behavior. . but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. . She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie. we have noticed. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad. who released one can.ya was alone. and hanging out with certain people. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately. surprised. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. Their conversations were few and far between.ya said warmly./ :ueenie burped. And not once did :ueenie say. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. >ou know.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. and sat down. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. 9ut as sweet as she was./ . It was all she ever talked about. She opened the door and saw . popped the top. +.endal braced herself.ya was sweet and understanding./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. avoiding soccer parties and such. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately. It was her life. asking for permission to sit down. +./ +She did. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. She was compassionate and charitable./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . . +4hat are you watching=/ she asked.ya&s door. +I told you so. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting.endal.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did./ . She had little in common with . . She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. which made her easy to talk to. She motioned to the bed. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night.ya 9rooks. a true humanitarian.ya said. though./ .endal replied evenly. have a seat. and then knocked on ./ CHAPTER !$ . +6othing much. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. watch out./ . and about little else. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . wearing a pair of bo'ers. she knew how to play the game when it mattered./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell.sprawled out on the couch watching television. letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed.endal heard from beyond the peephole. 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. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading. an open te'tbook in her lap. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. +0ome in.
/ .endal remembered a tall. +#ver since I met her. . The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. then I had to stop spending time with %%./ +A gay one=/ .endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. And white members. And I know she&s a girl.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year.endal said 1uickly. but if .endal replied. or think I might want to . She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. +I mean. I guess. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way.endal stood up./ . +6ot that I am. if I met someone. make it mandatory./ .ya laughed./ .endal nodded. +6o.ya&s book dropped from her lap. took . And he&s even in a fraternity. at this point in my life. not that I know of./ ./ . and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%. And black members.endal walked across the room. ./ +. It&s a regular fraternity./ +That&s it=/ . too./ She smiled. a woman. And I try to stop the feelings.et who=/ +%%./ +4hat&s going on=/ . it&s not a gay fraternity. I didn&t know what to do. but that&s basically about it.endal. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop./ .sociali3e as much. I&ve never met anyone like her before. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know. I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own. and we wanted to throw you a party. recalling meeting . It has straight members. . +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. the thought has crossed my mind./ . Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad. but she&d certainly implied that .endal hurried to e'plain. They sat down. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ . +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es./ +. +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ ./ +I don&t believe this. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . +I don&t know. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too. because of %%. side by side.ya&s eyes. . So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea.ya stood up. I&ve been all over the place. in any way. shape or form. silly. +>es.ya asked. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath. +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay.
the slight hint of wickedness in .endal thought about the poem.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s. and had been since the first time she&d studied it. turned and said. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do./ she said.c0arthy it seemed almost impossible.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy . especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the ./ +5ood. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum.endal headed for the door. She sat down.ya. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. #verything is more than okay. yet for some reason . stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. She remembered that poem now..endal a slight hug and added. as she sat beside . and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. the words that were branded in her brain. and rested her finger on a single line.endal&s appetite for revenge. . She paused in the threshold./ .endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. she saw the words of the poem before her. 4hen she opened her eyes./ .endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it./ Although .endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her.endal couldn&t decide which one. %%% .endal . .ya./ said . She flipped opened the book.yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head. everything is perfect. . and Sunday turned into Sunday evening. +$on&t worry. Somewhere along the road . It meant something. She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. That would have been awkward. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense.ya gave . 9ut with . The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. +In fact.ya asked./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. +If you ever need to talk more about this./ +I might take you up on that. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped. +Is everything okay=/ . the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. I plan on having a little talk with her. . just let me know. Then . leaned up against the bark.endal initially agreed not to see %%. She knew that poem. +>es. +I underestimated you. closed her eyes. 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.
There was one other person. #ven its soft blue color had faded. And when he finally thought he had made a dent.endal&s mind about him. 4ell.endal. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad.endal would respond to.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. every spring. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. who would be anointed . as well as fall semester. And they hadn&t worked. at least for the rest of the winter. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . . Apparently. taking up space.endal just might bend. it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. lifeless.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year.endal better than she actually did. things that she&d thought . In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. only larger and more upscale.yan many things about . It had no purpose. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . rhyme nor reason. the fountain couldn&t go on living. She just might let him in. Then.aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about. that whole approach had been pointless. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . the cement structure was depressing. though. It sucked the life right out of her. she&d stood him up anyway. one other girl that . The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. which left it looking gray. without water. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action.endal would respond to.endal hanging around with over the past month. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. To . It just stood there. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. . .endal&s tutor. which meant that the chosen pair. for that matter. the girl on the basketball team. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple.ing and :ueen. 2e had acted like such a fool.yan had seen . The end of the soccer season. when winter thawed. was just around the corner. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . attained a status far higher than everyone else.endal would be his 1ueen. 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. . the fountain had been shut off. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. It made no sense. 9y itself. The one he had hatched originally was not working. he needed a new game plan. . the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. 4hat better way to get to .yan. %% sat there.
%% had never asked her why. she refused to be like :ueenie. not basketball./ The voice rose from behind. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality.aybe she needed to not care. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . +7et&s go. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . a wide grin on her face. for whatever reason. 9ut . she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. She walked over and sat down on the bench. hands in her pockets.endal never even looked in her direction.6othing mattered to her. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. %% shook her head in disappointment. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way. +It&s just the way you deal with things./ :ueenie returned. possibly by a former girlfriend. #ver since . 9ut %% knew that was impossible. turning back to face the fountain. my friend. +4henever something like this happens. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. #ither way. in fact.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. I guess not./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. you go off to find yourself. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. She did care. it&s not pathetic.endal practically everywhere she went. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. though. +It&s pathetic. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. 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. 4hat made it all worse. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. not even her writing./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. isn&t it=/ %% asked. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. +6o. It didn&t help that she saw . ./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached./ %% frowned./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. +6o. . . She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic.endal all along./ +Say no more. to not let herself get attached.
+I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. %% had agreed on the spot. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. +4e&re going out.%% nodded. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. +>ou are. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . She had gotten an e'tension. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo.rs. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. +It&s going to be a great night. she&d asked to speak to ./ :ueenie shook her head. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. during e'ams. since the bass had been turned up so loud. 9y the time they arrived at the club. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester.rs. who called her by name once he saw her. She didn&t have a choice. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. And in a state of panic./ %% said./ :ueenie teased./ :ueenie told him. . She was also in with the bouncer. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. 2e watched %% suspiciously./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. Somehow it had worked because . She even had taken time to do her hair. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that./ said :ueenie. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. At the end of the semester. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. I feel like I&m with someone famous. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. +I swear. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. though. 0lark out in the hall. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond./ She yanked %% off the bench. . They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs./ %% regarded her clothes. 9efore they left the dorm. she hoped she would be able to. +It&s fine. +She&s with me. At least. +So it&s settled then./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant.rs. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed.
and you could almost see the walls shaking. %% was still leaning against the wall. +$o whatever you want./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting.They reached the second floor landing. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. ./ she sputtered.endal. %% took off through the crowd. +7et&s go dance. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. +>ou look ridiculous. An hour later./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. At that point.. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. which was 1uite hard to do. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. 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. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. since she had none. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . +:ueenie. +. and pushed %% to the side./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. The music was deafening. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. +9ecause I&m ready to go. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction./ :ueenie yelled. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. Sure. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape.e= At least I move to the beat. +4hy=/ she asked. She offered to buy %% a soda. %% once again made her way through the crowd. I&m kind of in the middle of something. It was almost K p. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. %% was ready to leave the club. She stomped down a narrow corridor.m. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening./ %% shouted. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. +I&m leaving./ %% frowned. though she was standing right in front of her. +I&m not ready to go yet. %% glared at her. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. she was cute enough.
/ +9ut. seriously. it was considerably amusing. And in hindsight. %% nodded. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing./ %% shook her head from side to side./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. and I felt*used. and then I lost interest. I managed to land on my feet somehow./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up./ +$o tell. and random individuals lurking about. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told.y story isn&t half as good as yours. she&d taken a cab back to school./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. now you know what happened to me last night. +(rom my perspective. by the way. 9ut when %% told her story. +So./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked./ :ueenie shrugged. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs.ung "ao chicken. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. which cost me twenty-five bucks./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. +(unny. +4ait a minute. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . if you hadn&t gone out./ :ueenie repeated. and they fell from underneath me. so %% crawled into bed./ +Trust me. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. it looked like more than @not much was going on.c9ride=/ . I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. eyes fi'ed on the television./ +There&s nothing to tell. +I should have never gone out./ %% sipped her soda. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. +I mean. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. after the club closed we went our separate ways. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. . >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie . :ueenie still wasn&t home. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. broken beer bottles. After she finally got down from the fire escape. really. either. The two of them slept until after noon. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. And. The night had been a complete and utter failure./ :ueenie said. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. I walked across them anyway.&/ %% pressed. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun.
9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. +%ust like that. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down. So./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. 4hat happened=/ +#h. It was something that started with an @S&. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning.&/ +And that bothered you because . (ive seconds ago you had a conscience. %% paused.& So I said. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone. . 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./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. I don&t know. ./ +I don&t know what it is./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner./ :ueenie said finally. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something./ +:ueenie. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. +I think I just wondered*for a very. It passed. and stood up. She circled the room. +4e said this weird goodbye. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. +-kay.:ueenie turned off the television. I don&t think that&s it. +That&s my line. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes./ she said. +-kay./ %% told her. And thankfully. +And you know what she said to me= She said./ %% scratched her head./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. >ou had a moment of guilt./ :ueenie said./ +It passed=/ +>es. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it./ +4ait a minute. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. like I suddenly grew a conscience. I don&t know. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can./ %% began. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. seriously. It&s me. very./ +That girl=/ %% cringed./ ./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. >ou felt the need for something more. 9oth. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard. +6ope. something a bit more real. The moment passed. @relationships. and that&s it. Try this one on for si3e. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. @I&m not into that. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside. and rubbed her temples. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. you can talk to me./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. @not into what=& And she said. +Something is obviously bothering you. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much.
+2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. graduating from high school. +That&s just part of your character. I reali3ed who I was talking to. I don&t know. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee. +I feel like I am going to throw up. She sat in the dining hall. comfortably stuffing her face as usual./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. taking e'ams. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. I just get a little an'ious now and then. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis./ +It&s just a game. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations.endal. Someone who opens herself up to people. +>ou get nervous about everything./ +I know./ +I&m not that bad.%% threw her hands up in the air. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall. After all./ Though she didn&t admit it. +I need energy for the game. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. :ueenie sat across from her./ +It&s all trivial. I get nervous. ./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. I suppose./ +Trust me. And I&m not depressed. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. between ample gulps of milk. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. +I figure. playing in basketball games. she&d been right about . +9esides./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ ./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. %%./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible. +I&m hungry./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. And so do you./ :ueenie said. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her./ :ueen returned. +It really isn&t that big of a deal. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. +I can&t help it. this time with determination./ %% said enviously./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach./ %% picked up her fork again. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. >ou are that bad. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked.
There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort. $eep inside. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again.+6ot in the big scheme of things. +0ome on. you know you can do it. +I was being serious. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. be-all for you./ +That&s fine. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. %% waited patiently for her to respond./ %% said./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. There is one thing that I am afraid of./ said %%. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. on paper or otherwise. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. 9ut she did know better. and stared up at the ceiling. rather than taking advice yourself. :ueenie. 9ut just hear me out. for instance. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs./ :ueenie said at last. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating. %%. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. +>es. and do it. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. She gave :ueenie a long look./ +-kay./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. you know you want to do it./ +7isten. >ou never let it rest./ +Take your stage fright. sliding her plate aside. >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. $eep inside./ +. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. >ou&re a writer. If %% didn&t know any better. +>es=/ +>es./ :ueenie smiled. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn./ said :ueenie. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all./ %% started her response./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. or belittling them every chance you get./ %% glared at her. It&s part of the game you&re in.aybe. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. I&m listening. I don&t want to be anything like them. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over. :ueenie. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. but you don&t really know my parents. this time you are actually making sense. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. >ou know my parents./ +>ou know./ +So am I. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when ./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%.
She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test. right=/ +>ou could say that. I just need you to say a few nice things about me. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction. +True.yan Stevens loomed over them. +I said I need you to do something for me. and gave up her seat./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. and. I know you&re tight with her.yan sat down across from %%./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond.endal ./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person. And this would help me out a lot.maybe./ he smiled devilishly. %% thought. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride./ +Trust me. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. if you know what I mean. but I&m still not following you. +There&s no common ground.yan leaned in and whispered. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. uninvited. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them./ . which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ ./ :ueenie volunteered. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not.yan e'plained. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her./ . +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me.yan asked. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned. +I need you to do something for me./ ./ +9ut I hardly know you./ %% hated the fact that he was right./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her.c0arthy. a shadow fell over the table. It was empty. +0an I talk to you=/ . I&m going to go to law school. I&m popular. +It&s important. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. keeping his eyes planted on %%. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. +7isten. ignoring :ueenie altogether. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. +0ome on. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school. ./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table./ he said. if you just talked to them. +4ho is this creep=/ .yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep./ %% cocked her head to one side./ +>ou&re friends with .
They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight./ she told him sharply.endal. They hadn&t spoken since . +but I&m not the person you should be talking to.endal . The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. +7ook. 4e don&t even talk anymore./ she said. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . There was no apology. %% had secured her starting position. >ou not only played with skill. I was her tutor.yan practically whined.c0arthy was doing there.endal had stood %% up. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate. That&s it./ +4e aren&t best friends. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close./ ./ +4hy not=/ . and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. was over. or whatever it was. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. too. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying. ladies.%% sat there. whether by te't or by phone. +I&ve got a game to get to. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. After the game. So %% figured their friendship. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. :ueenie had played superbly. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. I can&t help you./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. too close for %%&s liking. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. but you also played with heart. I can&t help you. as she was making her way to the locker room. entirely confused. %% had played well. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. . +I&m sorry. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season./ %% stared at his hand until he let go. I can appreciate your interest in ./ +4ait*/ . according to 0oach 0ook. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted.endal didn&t listen to them. 4e aren&t even friends. +That&s it=/ .yan called after her as she walked away. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and .ary./ And so it was official. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival.
/ %% said. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out./ +Thanks. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before./ /That&s very true./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. . 5reat team effort./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks. +I&m ready./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. >ou&re really good. debating whether or not she should meet ./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance./ :ueenie said. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym.endal was still sitting on the bleachers. as she fle'ed her arms. three. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. As soon as she saw . +5reat game./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. 9y the time she made up her mind. would you=/ +./ They left the locker room together.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind./ . was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around. as she pulled on her warm-ups. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended. +It was e'citing and fun to watch./ %% replied as evenly as possible. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening. when she noticed that .endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. I want team on three. we won a game./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. +4hen we lose. :ueenie hesitated. I&ll see you back at the dorm. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on.endal halfway or stay where she was. +5reat team effort tonight. -ne. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. ladies. +5ive me a moment. I&m glad we won though. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. I stink. it&s a different story. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter./ +It&s about time. she knew why. 9y the way.endal took in the empty gym. +"lease=/ +-kay. +. +I can hold my own./ :ueenie declared. #veryone else followed suit./ %% whispered.endal already stood in front of her. two. Then it&s always short and sweet./ . +She just rambles when she&s happy. you wouldn&t know./ %% yawned and stretched. 0oach left the room. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. there&s a first time for everything.nocked me around= I&m all muscle./ +>ou know what they say.an.
endal pleaded. you do./ .A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. +I thought I knew you. +-h. +2ey. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. I don&t./ +>ou know./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. she decided to walk away. 2e&s perfect for you./ said . I said you&d never do anything like that. 9ut when ./ . And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space.endal./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. +>ou know me. I don&t know you at all. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. against her better judgment. It is what it is. look. as you put it. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. +9ut it&s not what you think./ . I guess he likes you a lot.yan Stevens is head over heels for you. And I stuck up for you. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. That&s the problem./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder./ . you know.endal closed her eyes./ +6o. 5uess you proved her right./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. (or avoiding you.endal cringed./ +>es. ./ she said.endal interrupted./ . 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. +She said you&d stop talking to me. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ .endal reached out and touched %% on the arm. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester. CHAPTER "* . :ueenie warned me./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. she wondered if she&d made the right decision.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond./ %% took a giant step backwards. +I know how it looked. 4anted me to put in a good word for him. +I&m glad you came to the game. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something./ +I didn&t freak out. +I came here to apologi3e. to e'plain what happened. . and you should probably know that ./ she said roughly. I know you&ll do well./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance. Instead./ she said. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for.
+It&s okay. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. . take your time.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers.endal. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. ./ ./ The entire group looked at her strangely.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. ./ . To ./ the president said patiently. >eah. +2ey.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge.endal heard a voice ask. She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room. #veryone./ +2ello. I found it. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors. +I. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting.eet me in five minutes instead. %ust give me five minutes./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked.endal*/ +2ello./ +(ive minutes is all I need. +See.endal gave a slight and awkward wave. (rom where she hid./ . :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. +>ou&ve got five minutes.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. really. .endal. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air./ The president pointed a finger. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. 9ut you&ve got it wrong./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. +And you are=/ .endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover. +It&s important. +Sorry to interrupt. shuffling through its contents. . 4hen she stood up. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand.endal. . earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. +I already know what you think of me.endal=/ +4ell*/ . you behind the couch. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. races and religious beliefs. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal stood slowly. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages.endal approached her slowly.endal insisted. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. . . I. and then looked back at . +4hat&s your name=/ +. . She was dressed as if she were going out downtown. +>es. then crossed her arms over her chest.endal said. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. talking on her cell phone.endal. in faded jeans. . I wasn&t . please say hello to . +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. 9ut look./ the students said in unison.
In fact. I knew she was mad at me. It&s important. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. . +9esides. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. 6o.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. Tell her to meet me there in an hour. >es.endal hugged herself to keep warm. and that didn&t go so well. . but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her.yan as they left the athletic center. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. She&ll know where I&m talking about. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. . If she&s really interested in what I have to say. I want to do the e'act opposite. And I needed some space to think about my confusion.endal walk away. but . +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. I already tried talking to her. I&m not going anywhere yet. I&m still confused./ +. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. I want to*spend more time with her.endal striding along the sidewalk. #verything. It distracted her for a moment. no matter what people think or what people say or . . . I&m not downtown yet.going to stop talking to %%. I don&t even know what I&m saying./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. See you in when you get here./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward./ . as if her words were left suspended in air. I&m serious. then she&ll come meet me. School. I haven&t even made it off campus. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged./ .endal=/ %ason asked . let me guess. I want to*I don&t know. +%%. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself./ ./ She laughed in spite of herself. Something came up. +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.endal declared.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. %%% +So what happened with . All of it./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. :ueenie stood firm as she watched .endal e'plained. and continued to watch her from afar. I want to talk to her more. It&s me. +This is so new to me. until her silhouette faded into the night.eet me in the school lounge. she could still see . I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. This time./ +She&s back at the dorm right now./ +So. And there&s more to be said. -kay. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened. I thought I&d try a different approach. (riends. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her./ . pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear.
/ +I tried a different approach./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. rela'. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge. +She said she hardly even knows . I forgot about that.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. +5et it=/ +$ude./ ./ +I doubt that./ he said 1uietly. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else./ .yan rolled his heavy shoulders back. +I think it is.yan looked up./ +. Then it was all . She said . 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. +I don&t know. +9ut I&m going to follow her. I&m just.an. maybe she&s tutoring ./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ .c0arthy that. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl. and then to a figure approaching the soccer field. Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up.yan said. seriously. +It does now./ he said.endal in more subjects than one./ . okay. the one that you talked to. A devilish smile broke out on his face./ %ason bit down on his laughter. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered./ +I don&t get it. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days.aybe she&s just not into guys. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean. . The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass.+6o.yan waved his hand into the air.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans. +2ey.yan said. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet./ ./ +So=/ +So. +Shut up. +I don&t know./ %ason snickered./ %ason stopped walking. $oes it matter=/ .endal . +It bombed. >ou know.yan rolled his eyes.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on.an. does she know if . +Take this for me. +-h*right./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ e'ploring my options. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away.c0arthy this and ./ . +./ . while making 1uotes with his fingers.endal . +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud. The whole sensitive guy routine. +4hat. isn&t that*/ . 8emember= She stood me up.aybe you just need a different approach. And I can&t figure out why./ +6o.yan answered.
But it4s 5ust a moment. Heart open. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain.endal. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . so to spea6. She reread the words 1uickly. Sure.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. &omewhere. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. *ant to &ometimes ' do. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called.. Thoughts reel. +I&m not sure. to relieve in itself The pain. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. The first time she . . '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. mind /lea6. &o real. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . only this time she hadn&t let it take over. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. '4m wea6. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. And move on. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. &ometimes it helps. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. strength. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. static feelings. erratic. .
She spoke about tolerance. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses.endal ./ :ueenie whispered back. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. 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. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. It was therapy./ +6one other than T2# ./ They watched together as a tiny./ :ueenie sat up straight. I forgot. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. It made sense. care of the ./ %% said evenly. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. stage fright. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. dark-skinned girl.c9ride&s. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. with glasses too big for her face. closed the journal. %% 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. +7istening. even basketball. ./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. As she reached for her baseball cap. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone.endal. or lack thereof./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . This time. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. A meeting of some sort was taking place. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game./ +>ou give up too easily. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. took the podium. right. %% had been able to do it all by herself. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome./ %% looked around the room.c0arthy. unassuming. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. perhaps=/ +6ice try. All the things that had sent her thoughts reeling over the past month inspired her to write the poem that had just oo3ed out of her like sweat from her pores and landed on the page./ +:ueenie. every rhythmic phrase. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. every word. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie. %% knew that now.
/ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About ./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. +-kay. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. 4hen she reopened them. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. +As much as I appreciate your confession and the fact that you were even able to get those three little words out of your mouth. . I&ve got two. +6ow./ +4hich are*=/ +I./ +She likes you. and says she needs to talk to me.endal . of course. in hopes that I might go speak to her. +And she wants to tell you herself./ %% cleared her throat. she took a deep breath. she took another deep breath. I&m heading back to the dorm. I&m talking on my i"hone outside./ %% stood up. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer.iss . +6o. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . She could only nod. +4onderful. and I don&t want to know. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. you should know that ./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. +5ood./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all ./ %% sat down again. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth./ :ueenie continued. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. taps me on the shoulder. 4rong. I asked. save your breath.endal. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. #njoy the rest of your. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. she likes spending time with you. The nerve of some people. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. +This is a big deal for me./ :ueenie closed her eyes./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair./ said %%./ :ueenie admitted. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. It doesn&t happen too often. 4as. (or some reason.c0arthy once and for all. if you&ll e'cuse me. I&ve got three words for you. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. I got the impression that she even missed you. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. I still don&t understand.+That&s right. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. three./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand.
& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. . you might hear her say it for yourself. +>ou must be rubbing off on me. +I was wrong about her. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain. I think she really cares about you./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap. I did my part. 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. and slammed it down on her head./ :ueenie whispered. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door./ %% whispered in return. Then I&m heading downtown. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. 4alking through them would be the easy part./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having.c9ride. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all./ +And I appreciate that./ +I can&t believe this. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting. :ueenie . +%ust when I&m over the girl. my friend. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind./ said %%./ +I can&t believe this. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either.+9asically.endal supposedly was waiting./ She pointed at %%. you turn around and tell me this. +. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head. +0all me if you need to./ +Thanks. She&s not like I thought she was. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. I mean. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions./ +I know. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends./ %% yelled again. This is me you&re talking to. come on./ %% yelled.an./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body. she couldn&t tell. you&ve got a small head. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories. The hard part was to choose which doors. +It was obvious. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. I&m talking @like like. >ou were right. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge./ +That&s up to you. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall. CHAPTER "! . >ou have to believe me. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. She grabbed her baseball cap back./ :ueenie continued. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. +%%. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . She&s waiting for you at her @special spot.
endal looked at him with distaste. 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.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her./ ./ +7ook. egotistical moron I&ve ever met.endal told him at once./ +Some friends come with benefits. well. 4e&d make a great couple.endal&s sweet smile soured instantly./ said .yan forced a laugh. >ou are the biggest self-centered. +I apologi3e for standing you up. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ ./ +A friend=/ . clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them. +#ither way. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school./ . +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story. worried that %% would arrive at any second. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic. well.endal pointed a hard finger at him. A friend. 4e have so much in common. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up. +That seat is reserved for someone else. didn&t you= 2ow sad./ . +4hat do we have here=/ . +4ell. if you must know./ +4ith some other guy. I found a much better way to spend my night. If :ueenie had come through for her.endal spat./ . I&ve never even entertained the thought./ he confessed. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer.yan stared down at the blanket. 4e could take this school by storm. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. right=/ +It was a girl. just go. +6ice little set up you got here. +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=/ ./ . And in the end. +"lease. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip. casting a dim beam over the blanket. eh=/ +That&s none of your business./ .endal laughed sweetly at him.yan returned./ 2e approached the blanket.endal&s protest. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite .endal as she scanned the darkness./ ./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. +It&s cold out here. It&s been said. She crossed her arms in frustration./ 2e winked at her. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon. "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ .yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go./ +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./ +"athetic=/ . +Think about it. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. you&re pathetic. 2is charisma had melted away.
/ he told her./ . I&ve done everything right. +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. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you./ . .+4ell./ she said. 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. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives./ . it turns people off. desperation in his eyes./ . I&m in no position to tell you what to do. +9efore you met who=/ . I get good grades. +I&m the captain of the soccer team. It&s about who you are. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. $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. +Then tell me. 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 might as well let them see the real you./ +I can be a nice guy. now you know. I guess not. . -nce we graduate. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket./ +7ook./ +So it&s true. She peered into the shadows. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. they might respect you more./ +6ot everything.endal stared at him firmly. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ . +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=/ +.yan stood up.yan said 1uickly. +I don&t know what I am. what am I doing wrong=/ . not mine. >ou act so conceited./ +. I take care of myself physically. but there was no one there. . +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. She suddenly felt sorry for him.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. +It isn&t worth it./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. no matter what other people think. then. And apparently you aren&t being yourself. setting her hands on his shoulders./ he said.endal./ 2e looked at her. anymore. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school./ said .endal continued. +They&re his rules. >ou really are a lesbian=/ .endal approached him.yan asked.endal&s own eyes softened. It&s not about what you do.yan didn&t answer. +That&s the real point of going off to college. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you.yan maintained.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side.y father&s in the military.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o./ he e'plained.
endal replied./ ./ ./ +>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./ she said.ya the week before. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same./ She pushed past 0hristine. you know that=/ +I have changed. It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night. ./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . +If it were me. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. I can&t understand./ .endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates./ . but . really. 7ook. +6o. . calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.endal agreed. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere. 6ew . and*/ +I can do it by myself. I think you got off easy. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined.endal .endal.ya&s room if you want.endal said. ready to be carried away to some other closet. and it&s important to me./ she advised. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to . It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. +5o look in the mirror. 2e stared at it blankly./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ .endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest.endal had started packing. 6ew living space.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. She had decided to move in with .+It doesn&t matter. +I&ve already been scolded by . I&m not doing anything./ As . +>ou&ve changed. 6ew classes. Steadying the crates in her arms.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. +I&m just saying I know how you feel. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. I said I was sorry a billion times.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since ./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. +Then you&ll see what I mean.c0arthy. She turned her back and resumed packing.yan leaned forward to hug her.ya&s room. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded./ . +6ope. and then took it in his hand. 2er clothes were spread across her bed./ +. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . 6ew semester. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything.endal knew she&d done that all by herself.
/ +If it&s any consolation. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others. +Time to move on. +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ ./ ./ +7et me help you. it&s not. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book.endal snatched the book away from . She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once./ said ./ .ya as soon as she saw her looking at it. 6ew semester.ya helped . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that.. 7etting me move in here is help enough.e. 6ew things to come. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ ./ said ./ +"ositive=/ +./ +Such as*/ +4ell. +Is it possible./ . I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation. +I&m a little on edge still.endal.aybe. things change./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know. I know she feels bad about it.ya asked gently./ +Are you sure=/ +>es./ . It&s not a big deal at all.endal had waited in the cold.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles. neither. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything. 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.ya asked./ . she sure was an attractive scapegoat. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes./ she said. 9ut. I&m sorry. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year.endal admitted.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 %%./ +5ood.endal entered her room. +That&s what she feels bad about. nothing. +I can do it. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible.endal replied apologetically.ya sat down on her bed. And she never showed up./ +I have plenty of room. +2onest.endal frowned./ +It&s okay./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= . +6ot much. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible./ .endal. She does feel bad about what she did./ +So what now=/ +6ow.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor. +6o./ . reluctantly. +./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance./ . +I know. as . And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it./ ./ +8ight./ .
endal said. if you like that meathead./ she said./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute./ +-h. +4hat&s that=/ . I happen to think .ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her. 2er stroll. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. +(or instance. +Then you can help me think of what to say to .yan would have asked you for sure./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot.endal returned. jockish sort of look./ . I understand. +2e&d never say yes./ .y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in.yan Stevens needs in his life.ya jumped up off the bed. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop.ya answered. here&s a list of possible venues. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me.yan. I forgot./ . popular and the captain of the cheerleading team. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything. had led her nowhere in particular. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +.ya blushed./ . +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal./ .e= I couldn&t. +4hat=/ . and began sifting through some papers. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo. She picked up the binder and showed it to . certainly lacked appeal.yan is cute. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl.ya cooed like a little school girl. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him.ya asked innocently. +8eally= I thought . debating whether or not to go in. and took .yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous.endal&s hand. And apparently she&s not into me. +. listening to successful./ . +0ome on. I can promise you that. +. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl . I have to do it soon./ . >ou name it*it&s on here. >et she continued to linger./ +4ell. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine. in search of inspiration for writing.+It&s okay. ./ +>ou like .endal smiled wickedly./ . She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen.endal./ +>ou&re into girls now.endal asked. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem.endal burst out laughing./ +(orgot what.ya teased.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach./ . +I&m not into girls now./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. -therwise he might ask somebody else./ .
/ +0ouple=/ ./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. completely heartbroken.yan held up a finger.yan echoed. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. 9ut there was no masked man. +And I doubt she will any time soon. 6amely you. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee.endal. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. +>ou two make a cute couple. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure ./ %% stepped aside to let them pass. They shuffled by her. +2ey %ason. %% gave him a slight nod.endal told you what happened. Then for some reason . +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about ./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground.yan. +I don&t think so.yan. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window. .endal was holding ./ said .endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win./ she said. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ .yan&s shoulders gently.yan Stevens standing directly behind her. +-h. %% 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 .yan glanced inside the coffee shop. +I thought she&d tell you. Instead./ . more significantly. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then./ said . And when she finally stopped running. %% stared at him vacantly. other girls. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. %% almost called out to her. Save me a spot in line. right./ she said blandly. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. and then turned abruptly toward %%. +>ou know. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. breaking into %%&s flashback. She&s too much to deal with. she turned and ran. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt./ said .endal would be waiting./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. she didn&t./ said his friend %ason./ +(ine by me./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. completely out of breath and.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. At that moment.The sun had just settled in for the night./ he whispered. barely acknowledging her presence. 9esides. I&ll catch up with you. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. She had gone there. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm./ As he turned and reached for the door./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. +4ell. who was standing beside him. +6o. +I hope you treat her right. +. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. telling him to wait a minute. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory.yan. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her.
She flopped down and closed her eyes. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because./ . I wish. and her lower back ached. and smacked herself in the forehead./ he glanced around again.endal sat down on her new bed. she said she was e'pecting someone else. +She was waiting for you./ +>ou saw us=/ ./ ./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah./ . I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. bouncing off the sidewalk./ +4ell.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued./ %%&s eyes danced around./ +9ut I saw you together./ . +. so I followed her. +So. Then it hit him.endal mumbled. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up.endal was holding onto your shoulders. too./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was. but I have to go./ A warm. even though it was still unmade. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a. CHAPTER "$ . 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you. %ust as she was about to fall asleep. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. . +.yan e'plained. right= About me.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight./ .+6o. the sky and . that&s good advice. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out./ %% smiled. 7ike I said.endal didn&t want you there.yan called after her as she hurried down the street. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. let me get this straight. +I wanted to know what was going on with her./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. and she basically put me in my place./ +2ey. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street. She didn&t./ she said suddenly./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. +I&m sorry. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand.yan&s face. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. >ou two were about to kiss. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you.yan struggled to recall the incident. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. wait a minute./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping. the door to her room opened. you know./ she said. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. +4e talked about a few other things. +I knew it.
endal told her. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen.endal snickered./ +-nly./ +And that you basically told him to get lost./ %% insisted.ya told me where you were./ said ./ %% e'plained./ ./ ./ said . and I ran into ./ ./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands. it looked much different through my eyes. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something.aybe do a little studying./ +That he did./ +That is a mistake.yan the couch monster. )nlike ./ +4ell./ . through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime.endal. through my eyes.+It&s not . +4hy were you looking for me= I thought you didn&t want to have anything to do with me anymore=/ +I think I made a huge mistake./ +>ou and me both./ +. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently./ . and made a face. +I mean that I did show up that night. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did. I prefer to call him .yan a lecture./ said a familiar voice. I&m not captivated by his washboard abs. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last.yan=/ +That&s beside the point./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +./ +I was thinking we could go to the library.endal said dryly./ +That depends.ay I=/ . +. . +4hatever you have to say. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that. trying to make sense of what was happening.yan Stevens./ .ya./ +4hat=/ . I&ll listen. I&m ready.ya. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge.endal flinched. I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly. She stood up and began to pace around the room. just for the record. only I showed up right when you were giving ./ +I didn&t know what to think./ +-h.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. +And. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth./ +That I did. And. She was sitting up now. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now.endal&s eyes shot open. +I was in town earlier./ +>ou could have said something. +./ She observed . +I just saw what I saw and ran. It doesn&t matter to me. I guess I didn&t really believe it./ +4hat do you mean.ya likes . +7ooking for you.endal.endal&s new surroundings.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her.
performed only when her parents were around. They had both arrived a week early.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. right down to her socks. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. the one and only. . :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence./ said :ueenie. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson./ +That&s right. And that was a moment worth remembering./ +0ome on. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. and nothing could stop them./ %% had said. The first was the day she met :ueenie./ . 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. #ach was notable for a different reason.c9ride with her parents in tow. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. making it to the state championships.endal said. +Thought so. The day she&d met :ueenie. you know that=/ At that moment. her life was forever changed. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. before classes began. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. Somehow. 9ut %% resisted.c9ride./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. The championship game went . As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. in walked :ueenie .+Studying=/ +>eah. The two became inseparable after that. %% didn&t dare deny it. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. and re1uest a roommate change. They were going to take the campus by storm./ she eventually told %%. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. +I&m :ueenie . She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior.
%ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked.endal replied. since she&d made the winning basket. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory./ .endal rounded a corner. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. staring is rude. and tackling her to the floor. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. and all.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us.into double overtime. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. . seating three or four people at the most. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before./ . trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. her heart sped up e'citedly. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. she knew the smell of . %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./ +$oesn&t bother me much. eyeing the key. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. As she made her way toward the biographies section. with a playful smile. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door./ she said. +I&m learning as I go along./ +-h. she saw . -nce . +9esides.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. %% had to ask. and as they stepped aside they studied . so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ .endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. they were e'tremely hard to come by.endal replied. who had broken free from the defense under the basket./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. you know= Two girls holding hands. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. The room was no bigger than a closet. facing %% who lagged behind her. $uring e'ams./ . made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. %% gulped. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. She watched with anticipation as ./ said %%. She scanned the second floor 1uickly.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. +I&m just having a little fun.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. The walls were soundproof.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. +I&m obviously used to it by now. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. And since e'ams were right around the corner. 4hen %% reached the landing. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. chasing her down. once they were inside. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time.
+I was so confused. and then turned her attention to the book on the table./ . It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. that. +4hat did you mean back on the steps.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . that&s all. her nerves getting the better of her.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear./ said . +#verything that was right in front of me. +The interest never went away./ +-h./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly. She patted the open seat ne't to her. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. you&re a girl and that complicated things./ she said. unable to speak./ +Sit down. "age DEP. I didn&t . I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning.endal began.endal shook her head and laughed.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her. +She used to torment me at night./ . I don&t see you listening. +I used to hate her./ She looked up at %%. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench.endal or across from her.endal.endal sighed./ +I have my ways. waiting for me to lug her to class. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for. She decided to test the waters first. +I know I&m supposed to be listening./ +I am. +I thought you said you were ready to listen. +This=/ She held it up. really=/ . -nly.endal shot her a look. +8ela'. it knocked the breath straight out of her./ +4ell. 4hen ./ she managed./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here.endal finished. %%. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. %% nodded.endal ordered./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. +It&s a learning process.endal looked at her that way. +Interested in you=/ . %% remained standing. +>es. She pointed at the cover. . +9ut./ . when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her./ . ./ +0heerleading connections. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed. I should have known./ .endal confessed.endal played with the key. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. All I see you doing is talking. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right.
And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling. +I finally get the meaning behind it. and how you helped me change my perspective. still unable to look . you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that./ . #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me. ./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore./ said .understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before. And that&s you./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally.endal in the eyes./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. not the s1uad. That&s why I avoided you.c0arthy. 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.endal . %%% 7ater./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently. and especially not 0hristine. not my friends.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed. +>ou don&t have to say anything. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind.endal softly. +>ou are way too humble./ said . The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. no matter what anyone else thought./ said %%. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. even when I didn&t know myself./ said . I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. +I knew you were going to say that.endal./ . 4I7$ nights. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. +I finally get it. 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.endal. she sei3ed the moment. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me./ She pointed to the page. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. 4ild nights. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . when %% was lying in bed that night. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. 9ut that isn&t the case. Instead. All I know is that I want to be around you./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. That&s why I stood you up. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. suddenly made no sense at all.
+2ow do you do that=/ she asked.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading. 4hen she closed her eyes./ +>ou know. scattering notes and papers everywhere. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. I&m going to lose it./ +It&s my pleasure. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then./ %% marveled at :ueenie. which she already was an e'pert at./ :ueenie said. she would. +I need it.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. +I just can./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me./ +4ait a second. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. If %% could study for it. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand.rs. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. and it was hardly an e'am. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. I hate to admit it. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest./ +>ou would./ :ueenie said honestly. She had gone over it again and again. no./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker./ +Thanks. The poem that . +6o. I won&t take your charity. 4e&re naturally gifted./ She paused momentarily. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic. but she&s pretty cool. I was wrong about her. +%ust what the doctor ordered./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. 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. and worn folders spread out in front of her. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear.endal ./ She hopped up on %%&s bed./ +Thank 5od for that. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. she could read them as they floated by./ +So where is T2# . scattered papers.
/ :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. so nobody else at her table could . thing to do=/ +>es. The lighting was dim. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. besides all of that. I&m not sure what&s going on with me. . 7et&s not go overboard here. 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&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall./ +It happens to the best of us./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. 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. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. +"erhaps. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. shifting her position every other minute. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. I&m so proud. not to mention childish./ +Sure./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem.c9ride family soon enough. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. 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 . and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. +4ell-adjusted= "lease./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor.+I&m serious./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. you can be cynical sometimes. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated.y sister is taking that risk./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie./ +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. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself. but I think you might be right. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. devilishly-motivated. but we all can. To take a risk like that. thankfully. +Are you okay=/ she asked./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. morally-sound young woman. She&s putting her all into someone. +I&m sorry./ :ueenie insisted. you&ll never know the difference between the two. +4ell. It&s something special. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving.
yan fidget until . for that matter. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out. %% nodded in return. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. stop./ +2ey. She gave . +>ou okay=/ .ya elbowed him gently in the gut. .see that she wasn&t only pale. I bet they&ll even dub you ./ ./ said :ueenie. genuinely serious. She was sitting beside %%. 5ood luck.ya. +2ey.endal and %% shot her a warning look./ he mumbled./ :ueenie smirked.yan even had a choice in the matter. +She&s fine.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. She grabbed hold of . +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . +I must say./ :ueenie replied./ +And without baseball metaphors. +7ook at her. you two make 1uite the darling couple. 9oth . +./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt./ %% grumbled. and watched . +)h. 2er mouth was already off and running. +-h. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here. +I guess so./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. as she slapped . . but it was too late.yan&s hand.endal slipped in through tight lips./ +-h.atie 2olmes of this school. +4e just came over to wish you good luck. that would totally rock. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and . +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing./ +2ey. 2onestly. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support. %% ignored her and took in the crowd.ya in the school paper. And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth./ +>ou think so=/ . yeah.endal. as he rubbed the sore spot.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table.y. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak.ya=/ %% asked. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal.endal asked. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked ./ . She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well. .ya asked./ +4ell. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine. +Are they together=/ %% asked./ said :ueenie confidently./ %% smiled politely.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret./ :ueenie remarked. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad.yan Stevens behind her./ ./ +Isn&t that . right. I don&t think . girl.endal&s hand shot up in the air. ladies.endal. +2ow about.ore than usual.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic ./ %% forced a laugh. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something.
And it&ll do .endal maintained./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . +Take deep breaths. +>ou know. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition.ya looked in her direction.endal suggested.rs. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. +Thanks for the water. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. In an instant./ . and turned her head swiftly as soon as .endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign. +2e looked absolutely miserable. yeah./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair. +6ot at all./ %% gulped. She felt ./ +-h. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. +>ou don&t look so good. +I&ll go get you some water. she&s not nervous at all. At this point she was seeing everything double. 0hairs shifted. She&s a girl who knows what she wants. She shrugged her shoulders back at them. +2ey. he sure is a lucky guy. as every person in the entire room stared at her. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back. +%%.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd./ said :ueenie. She&s as steady as a rock. . +I think I&m going to be sick./ . She felt . +She&s just psyching herself up. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink./ .yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . 0lark&s voice from her ears. +2ey.rs. 0lark take the stage.ya&s a sweetheart.yan. 0lark shouted into the microphone. and she began to hyperventilate. +Are you nervous at all=/. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter./ added :ueenie./ said :ueenie.ya shifted. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block ./ %% announced. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm.endal. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb.rs.endal. 0lark&s hand. that&s all. +%ust look at her. +./ she hissed at :ueenie.ya asked. %% stood there./ said %%./ said .rs. She yanked ./ %% scowled at :ueenie. +That ./ said .ya&s a little*particular. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop.+0ut it out. +. The damp taste in her mouth went dry. +4ell. and I&d have to start calling names. +At least you&ve got your color back. we better find a seat before they&re all taken./ %% mouthed. +./ :ueenie offered in return. hard.e=/ %% pointed at her chest. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw ./ .
I boasted that I was her only daughter.endal and :ueenie in the corner. and they kept coming. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. Together. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. It was the final signal that there was no going back. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . until they blended together into a sea of colors. >et. who held her breath in anticipation. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. The words just kept flowing from my pen. I untied them and my hair ran wild. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. I accepted our gender. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. +She tied my hair in ribbons. +4henever you&re ready. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. settling on . I took it off and basked naked in the sun. 0lark. @.other . the best writer in class. tiger. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward.rs./ said . %%. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. I suppose you could say I wrote it. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed.endal. +I wrote this for class*well. of course. And these are the words that ended up on the page. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. 2er shoulders straightened./ CHAPTER ") . somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. She often wondered who I was inside. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. She accepted our fate. They stopped about halfway around the track.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. :ueenie. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. I cringed at her reluctance. She cringed at my defiance./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. one after the other. 4e found a common strand.
ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . ./ +6ice to meet you./ she said politely. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything.endal smiled. 4e&re pretty popular in this area./ she said as nicely as possibly. +0lever. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans. by the way.endal./ +Agreed.y name is 9rad./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or. A $rummer and (our 5uys. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with. It&s ama3ing. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up./ 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. you should stick around and check her out. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you./ +8eally=/ 2e paused./ +She was a poet. 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. . 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him. he was standing right in front of her. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I./ .endal e'tended her hand to him. while chomping on a piece of gum./ +0lever. actually./ +5uess not./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him./ . +TouchM.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. +I&m . +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. actually./ +Speaking of T-shirts. She smiled momentarily. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts.aybe I will./ . +I&m sorry. +#very (riday night./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating. . +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./ ./ +So listen. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. After you&re done playing. .endal./ 9rad said./ .. +0ome here often=/ he asked. by the way. a biography of #mily $ickinson. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend. isn&t it=/ he grinned.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage.endal. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end. >ou should read some her work.endal teased./ +./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those.
/ As 9rad turned to leave. As for ./ . +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high./ +4ill do. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot. . She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. #verything around her felt fresh and new. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked.endal. +6ot at all. . would she=/ +6o. she wanted to become a teacher. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before./ said .endal sat back down.&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away.aybe I will./ +-omph=/ . 4I7$ nights.endal. +I don&t think so. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. +4I7$ nights.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. signaling that spring had arrived at last. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. #ventually. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for. laughed and cleared her throat.. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before./ +6ever hurts to ask.ollow -ueenie and ./ %% teased./ .endal laughed.+. She looked out of the adjacent window./ +Stick around after your set.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand.endal played along.endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. a new and confident %% was born. 8ecently. % % % THE E+D % % % . as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride . +She might change her mind after she hears you play./ said .endal stood up. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. he stopped suddenly. oomph./ said %%.endal. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. +>eah. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. once she reached the table. 4ere I with thee. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. Since then. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . As .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. a person that ./ +That was much better./ .
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# .by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.or#ation and e2cerpts . you are under age 2.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 .