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