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