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