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