The Trouble with Emily Dickinson

by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Copyright 2012 by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Cover and Book Design: Publishing yndicate !dited by "heresa !lders Published by Publishing yndicate at #ash$ords Print !dition % B& '()*0*')+0,02*1*Digital !dition % B& '()*0*'*)+0,02*2*0 Library o. Congress Control &u#ber 2012'-0')) All rights reserved/ Thank you for downloading this free e-book. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at, 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." 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

/ +I&ve always had trouble in school./ . It&s a completely different kind of reality. 4hen we discuss a poem in class.endal&s frustration. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late.y friend./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. +I&m sorry./ +That&s what I thought./ she said breathlessly.endal nodded. +4ell. a little shamefully. +4ell. +I&ve seen you around school. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. I might as well be reading a foreign language. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. She ran her hand through her hair again.endal said 1uickly./ +It&s okay. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ ./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended./ %% e'tended her hand./ said . +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time. #veryone needs help now and then. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in. +I didn&t mean anything by that. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her.sitting at the farthest table from the door. +The soccer team and I go way back./ . let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. So. 0hin e'plains what a poem means. or when . ne't to the biography section. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now. is like that.endal emitted a dramatic groan.endal. go to class and pass a test without even studying. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. :ueenie. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. . I&d give anything to be able to do that.endal. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. >ou&re . I&m completely lost. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans. I&m %%. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair./ %% understood . :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. right=/ ./ +.endal&s left shoulder. though she couldn&t relate to it. +It&s something I have had to work harder at. right=/ . %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over . >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. +I&m really sorry.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously.s. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings./ +Seriously though. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from./ %% smiled. I tutor a lot of different people. and since she was a writer herself. +I was just joking./ said %%.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying./ .s./ .endal confessed. I can actually read and write somewhat well.

/ ./ ./ +)m*thanks. pointing at the page. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of. 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.endal said. +A long. like fruity or something. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet. See. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously./ said %%./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. +%ust so we can read it together. +So.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. It distracted her. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ . There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves./ +To bask centuries away. That makes no show for dawn. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. bask centuries away . not once look up for noon . %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. looking up from the book.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote./ she said. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally. +./ %% rambled on./ . +8ead the last two lines. long sleep. . along with a few others for over an hour. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. ./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . +I mean. +-kay. +It isn&t as important as you might think. ./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. %% looked up from the page.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. +I don&t think that matters. long sleep.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ %% heard herself say. a famous sleep./ she said.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to./ +5ood./ said %%. right= A long.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. An independent one. you know.+)nfortunately.endal was staring at her. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. she&s talking about death. fully aware that . 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./ +Thanks. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice./ +It seems like a waste of time./ They discussed the poem at length. . I read this twice and I still don&t get it. +>ou smell nice. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. . though. to break the ensuing awkward silence./ She paused and looked up from the page. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me. .

+4hat did I say=/ +6othing. +I should get back to my dorm. It was her turn to look away this time. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience./ said . you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious./ +>eah. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. >ou said it yourself. -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. . laughing.endal . %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. . +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor./ %% admitted./ %% studied her./ +In what way=/ +4ell. +6othing. remember=/ +4ell./ she said. +Same place. for instance.endal./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that .nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader.endal said. as if she were keeping a secret. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. same time./ she said finally. 2e said you were one of the best. slid her hat on backwards.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background. same time. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. you know.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. recalling the tidbits of conversation. This one she kept in her bed in case she ever woke up from a dream and needed to write her thoughts down on paper before they vanished from her mind like midnight fog. . It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen ./ said %%./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. She blinked and looked away. and the warm sensation she felt whenever . +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. She was more than beautiful./ +I didn&t think that. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face. letting the sound of .endal accidentally brushed against her. e'cept I&ll be on time.endal./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. we&re even then.endal&s folder. +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave.c0arthy up close. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love. though she could hear the television in the common room. . She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. +4hat=/ ./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to .endal asked. The dorm room was empty when %% entered. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head./ .endal was staring at her again. %% stood still for half a second longer. +I&ll see you ne't session./ +"ossibly.

+4hat=/ .endal appeared in %%&s mind.endal asked. . 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. no. a feeling. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. an image of ./ +6o. the writer inside of her had taken hold. +4ild nights. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . 4ild nights. 4hen %% opened her eyes. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. fell out from between the pages.endal raised her voice slightly. . . sitting side by side.A number two pencil. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. %% sat back and admired her work. ' see it . Beyond your eyes. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. 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. 8ead it with more enthusiasm. a moment. 4ild nights./ said %%. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh./ %% looked at her skeptically. Sitting with her legs crossed. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space.

/ . e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair./ . they&ve been enjoyable. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. slowly releasing . her hair. She stood up firm and bellowed. It&s been two weeks of studying.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. even though her stomach was in knots. +#'cept this time.endal.endal sighed. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. studying. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask.endal&s hand and pushed it away./ she said. give it a little more oomph. %% playfully grabbed hold of . 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. studying. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. wild night. done with the compass. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together.endal&s eyes./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y./ %% insisted. 4as she at a party or something=/ +.endal./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. studying. that was much better. +4I7$ nights.&/ said ./ %% said after a moment. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing./ she said. +So back to those @wild nights. haven&t they=/ . and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down./ %% watched closely as ./ %% forced a smile. 9ut as soon as .endal asked. 4hat do you think it means=/ . %% covered the page with her hands. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury./ said %%. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. As soon as she finished. +-kay. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on ./ +I know. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.endal&s hand. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines. done with the chart. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. +See. +(utile the winds to a heart in port./ .endal laughed. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. she would have never dared to do what she had just done./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. >ou&ll see.endal looked on in ama3ement. +>es. studying.endal began reciting the poem. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me.endal./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ ./ +$ickinson is the beginning. 4ere I with thee. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table.endal opened her mouth to begin./ +Sure. And it was all because of . %% stood up and began clapping loudly. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. . 4I7$ nights. +See the difference=/ +>eah. +I&m just doing the poem justice. Thanks to you. +4ow./ %% held back her sigh of relief./ %% shifted in her chair./ said %%. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended.

and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock.endal studied the words on the page. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen. She&s just e'pressing love. . slightly afraid of what . +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. outside the boundaries of reality. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever./ %% paused. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion. but wild as in overwhelming. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell./ They stared at one another. +>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./ %% began. CHAPTER $ +So. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing./ +And when she got there. they&d have plenty of @wild nights./ +#'actly. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world.&/ %% laughed. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman./ She pointed to .endal&s heart. 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. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say. +4ell./ :ueenie snorted./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt.endal might say in return. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. . I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. +7ook.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. but paused for a moment./ +8ight./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. pretending to buff her nails. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go. Instead they continued talking./ . +I do think it&s possible. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. another woman./ she said finally.endal&s eyes widened./ +I don&t know. the winds were useless to her. She read the poem over again.

/ %% immediately shook her head in defiance.elly transferred to another school the following semester. An'iety itched in her stomach. (rom that point on. and she longed to change the subject. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity./ %% said. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. %% soon fell into a depression./ she said.+0ute./ +-. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. too../ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. if you say so. she&s*she&s different. +I don&t believe it. yes.endal . peppering her eggs with hot sauce. I happen to think she&s nice. Though it was rumored that . but you used the word @nice./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked. +6o. cocking her head to one side. She remained steadfast.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner./ +She&s not what she seems. . she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning.elly $ibble. That doesn&t mean I like her. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. and . 9ut %% knew this was different. 4ith :ueenie&s help.endal . ./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest.c0arthy. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils./ +>eah. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. and regain her sense of self.&/ +So. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. +$on&t look at me like that. I don&t know. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named .elly that she was gay and how she felt. %% had considered it. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. She&s nice. This is T2# ./ %% warned./ +So=/ +So. grimacing from the soreness./ Ah./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. +6ot even close.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. In fact. $uring her sophomore year. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits. %% made the mistake of telling . And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. she spotted ./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. please=/ +(ine. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. I mean. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive./ %% insisted. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. I don&t even know her. >ou like her. +0an we talk about something else.

while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. the drama club. %% had thought. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal was on a natural high. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. +I eat. the art club. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back./ -f course I didn&t know that. and . a jacket and skirt combination./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as ./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel..endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants./ 0hristine motioned to . . she finally understood what her teacher was talking about and was able to contribute to class discussions instead of doodling in her notebook like she had since the beginning of the semester.endal picked at her eggs.endal sat down across from her. complemented with potatoes and bacon. +At least I eat. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. cooked over-easy.endal&s tray. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar./ %% snapped out of her da3e. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams.endal looked down at her runny eggs. %%% ./ . I just choose to eat healthy. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. +$efinitely. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. 2er school uniform. (eeling defeated. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. #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./ . At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. +Ahem. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. hung neatly at her hips./ she retorted. +#'cuse me. (or once. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. :ueenie was giving her that look.

did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her. Two. giving her knots in her stomach.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach./ ./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. +$on&t give her your phone number. I just never suspected. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished.+Speaking of which. She felt di33y and lightheaded. She had suspected that %% was different somehow. 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye./ 0hristine advised. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all. +I&m not naAve. 2e counted silently. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name.endal./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. a lesbian./ 0hristine continued.endal had caught her staring. I mean. 9ut if %% was gay. That&s what a tutor does. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. or she might start te'ting you. that&s it. :ueenie or something. So is half of the basketball team./ she gasped.endal picked up a piece of bacon. and . +She&s gay. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot./ +It&s so obvious. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot. CHAPTER & . . And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. and about her own response. . (ive. -ne./ +She helps me with homework. then the girl who spit when she talked.endal said 1uickly. +It&s %% something or other./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. . then Asian acne boy and now to top it off. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. no. Three./ +5od. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. I&d just be careful if I were you. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when ./ . 9ut she had stared back at %%. look at your track record. +0&mon./ +4ell. (our. She&s on the basketball team./ . She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her. about the feeling of their locked hands.endal immediately thought of them sitting at the table in the library where she and %% usually shared a book of poetry and how she&d accidentally brushed up against %% on more than one occasion over the past couple of weeks.

yan wanted someone less brainy. The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. and began to do sit ups. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred.endal . Someone like .2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. Then he sank to the ground. There was one more thing he needed though. one piece to make the pu33le complete. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. Sweat began to form on his brow. 2e had the perfect reputation. %ason. 2e had always set his goals high. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction.c0arthy=/ +>es.yan sat up and smiled slyly. 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.ya 9rooks. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. but not too smart. #ven for you./ . but he&d never admit that. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat.yan replied between reps. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. 7ack of confidence was the other. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired.endal . This was his last season of his high school career. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. . . A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. where true dedication and hard work could get you.endal ./ %ason said./ . now stood over him. I think it&s time ./ %ason said. 2e had to perform well. +$efinitely. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus. 2e breathed heavily. likeable. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana.endal .c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better.c0arthy= T2# . +2ey. >ou up for it=/ -ne of .c0arthy. #verything in his life was set to high standards. popular.endal . 2e needed the perfect girl. watching himself in the mirror. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated./ +. She didn&t have a boyfriend. +"erfect. beautiful. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about.yan&s soccer teammates. from his grades to the girls he dated.c0arthy. +I told 0hristine. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. ./ . a captain on the soccer team. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. you know. 2e had the perfect body. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal.

one that the assembly of guests could never forget. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. 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. That. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. 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. . especially not . It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo./ . 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. As far as %% knew. %% remembered the night clearly. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. of course. %% shook her head in disbelief. was not the reason. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . They left the sweat-filled athletic center. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills.onopoly.c9ride./ +4hatever you say. 9ut with a little convincing from . Sometimes it was almost too much. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. It was early %une. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. 2er mother also was a teacher. . All it takes is a little bit of charm. they eventually came around. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. 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. She and her family were close. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be a suburb of 8ichmond.+This is me you&re talking to./ he said. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. he&d learned to live with the situation. :ueenie promised. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. buddy. :ueenie&s mother.c0arthy. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. +7et&s go. It would be an affair to remember.endal . The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend.

It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. There was no plan. %% had rushed after her. no designated date or time. she couldn&t find them. it&s not something anyone did. %% grew increasingly reserved. the worry and the confusion. +6o. and when it was time to say the e'act words. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. so caring and so sincere. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. It was eating her alive./ She handed over the book. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. . years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried./ . I&ve known since the third grade. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. hoping it would help her parents understand. 8oast beef and vegetables. all those boys around. +I know you are She had always known this. I&ve always known. +I have to tell you something. +Something I am afraid to say. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase./ Silence followed./ %% wanted to make her understand. it&s not that. the night had come. and knew there was no going back. wide-eyed. I&d still be this way. Something that I have to say. you can tell us anything. didn&t know the real her. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. 2er mother remained composed. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. to tell her family. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life./ %%&s eyes widened. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. but how could she make someone understand something that took she.+%osie. in her bed each night. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. eating dinner./ %% knew this. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. maybe an internship. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. yet when she needed them the most. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. it&s not that./ she continued. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. She could barely swallow her potatoes. but this might 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. being untrue to both herself and them. . %% remembered. +I could check with the paper. ( 2er father. $ifferent $aughters. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. herself. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. even though I know you both will be disappointed. 4ith each passing day. +6o. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. and shook her head. her words coming slowly. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. It&s just something I am.

and her father. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. she felt satisfied. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities.endal&s head. remained completely calm. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. She wanted to get inside . +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. +I&m having the time of my life. 2e said he loved her no matter what./ +2ey. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. It&s nothing. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. Then again.endal besides the obvious. like what was her biggest fear. that she was a cheerleader. . was incredibly beautiful and popular.2er mother continued to cry. It wasn&t real.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome.endal. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. As long as she had his love and support./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional./ :ueenie said blandly.endal danced her way in. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. :ueenie. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about . +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. and they didn&t speak for days. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. where would she go and why./ . (or some reason. %% laughed. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. though he still held onto his own world views. on the other hand. It was almost overwhelming. and that was that. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. and needed help with her schoolwork. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. This sparked an intense argument between them. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. maybe this wasn&t real either.aybe :ueenie was right. and wished she were there to witness it. . %% had yet to learn anything more about . She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. %% craved more./ +I know. %% had never known anyone like her. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. who was set in his ways. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. . 2onest./ she said proudly. 2er father. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. Then her mind drifted again and .

. said.endal. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on . 9y the time . 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as . after they were alone. +. this wasn&t a regular card game. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. silent. perfect for showing off his toned body.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. . ./ :ueenie said an'iously.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. the captain of the soccer team./ . .yan.+7ook.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. .endal.yan.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him. +Sure. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. She finally threw up her hands. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid. why not. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled.endal stood there with her hands on her hips. It was a drinking card game. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. +2ere. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. The dorm room overflowed with people. .endal knew instantly who he was. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret.yan Stevens.yan suggested. Instinctively. coded look with his friends. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. I gotta go./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest. she began to think about . There were heavy penalties for losing a hand.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard. +It&s an easy game. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes. She forced a smile. ./ he said sweetly. . 2e was cute. 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest. . She&d had previous brief conversations with . she was drunk. +7et&s move to the couch. 2ave fun. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. you. +2ey./ .yan motioned for her to join him. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . -f course./ said . who one by one left the room. I&ll see you Sunday./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her.endal finally won her first hand. +Too much.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party.

/ +4ell./ . Stuck in thought. that&s three years too late. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. It bothered her to know that .endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her. beaming. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going./ he said. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. I think it&s time we got to know each other better. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened./ 2e smiled widely. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs.endal . .endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'.yan to inch up in his seat. +I don&t know. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything.endal .c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks.c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. seeing no movement.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . +2ey.endal . She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation./ .c0arthy was an enigma. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# .endal told him. shielding her eyes. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that.yan called after her. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. +2i. suddenly. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm./ said %%. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs./ . Then.patting the saggy cushion beside him.endal&s voice caused . She stepped aside before they collided. and plowed forward over the grass. 4hoa. Soon. leaning in closer. She kept her head down. but the girl spun around. At first. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. She tingled with drunkenness. +I want to talk to you. She read some intriguing online articles. . and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room.endal. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. wait a second. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. turning and walking out of the room. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked. +Are you okay=/ %% asked. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. patting the cushion again. +I totally didn&t see you. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.endal yelled. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. 2is mind worked feverishly. +0ome sit over here./ . The truth was. I just do./ .

It&s a great place to go and just kick back.endal rolled her eyes./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah. once they reached the sidewalk./ %% told her./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying. #very month or so they have a band come and play. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it.endal&s hands in hers. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry. It&s ridiculous./ +"oetry is life./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. 6ot life. +Thanks for walking me home./ +If you are so against them./ +./ +I&ll walk you. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. +It&s damp from the dew. +I think I sat in something wet.endal.endal shook her head.endal was looking through her. after a moment./ .endal. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. reaching forward and taking ./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really./ +-kay. +Are you cold=/ ./ She pictured ./ .y little world=/ . They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm. making a face. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ %% said./ %% maintained.endal said./ +I can think of lots of other things to do. rather than at her. feeling as if ./ said %%. of course. I&ve had a rough night./ +It&s the grass./ ./ .+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. +5uys are such idiots.endal broke into a fit of laughter. %% studied her./ said ./ %% perked up. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with. They felt fro3en./ . +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. yeah.endal stopped walking. remember. . that&s the one. ./ +-h. even though she was shivering. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started.yan sitting on the ugly couch.endal laughed again. #mily $ickinson. +I&m sorry for practically running into you./ +I&m serious. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library./ ./ +4hatever. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet./ said . +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. +I need to go home.aybe hoods should be banned as well. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening. +>eah.endal asked defensively. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town. 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. +I love it there. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. +7et me help you up. She turned around to get a look at her behind.

y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah.endal&s roommate had said about her./ +6o. really. something ./ %% could only imagine what . It wouldn&t bother me at all. She suddenly felt ashamed. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%. rewording her 1uestion./ she said. +>ou are an incredible tutor./ . I&ve never known anyone who was. That certainly would have been awkward. then paused briefly. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. then turned and walked toward the dorm. I&m an open book. She played with her fingers./ It ama3ed %% that . then yes./ +4ell. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then.endal./ %% didn&t press the issue. smug and moronic. well. Then she thought of .endal had picked up on the first night they met. +I was just curious. let alone get to know her.endal had such a hard time saying the word. +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of.endal flashed a 1uick smile. +9ut I don&t want to offend you. right.endal hesitated. twisting her thumbs into her palms. I&m fine./ +I&m not afraid of you./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. I was just curious. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch. 2er stride was slight and unsteady. ending the lull in the conversation.yan again. it&s fine.endal fidgeted./ . +./ ./ said ./ +Ask away. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness. In that moment. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen./ . and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad./ %% told her. 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.endal said. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. She laughed out loud. +I should go to bed./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back./ . She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. +0onsider yourself cultured then. like you before. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so. .endal said./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman./ . +6o. +I want to ask you something./ +-kay then. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. I am. just because of rumors.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%. 9ut she was kind and sincere. . +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. I&ll understand. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence.

#very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. ' stomp through them. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. and began to scribble. -nce across the tracks. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. e7cept for fog hovering a/ove the surface &mells of hot tar and muggy air fill my nostrils as #aindrops the si8e of mini water /alloons /ounce off My 5ac6et. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. Muddy puddles stand in my path. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. . She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. +It&s not that scary. <irginia. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. along with her thoughts. The town was deserted. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. 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. and though she tried to avoid them. She gathered up her pen. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. "uddles blocked her path. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. The rain had ceased. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. %% entered the center of town. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. There was a bench on the sidewalk. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. The streets are empty. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead.

#ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. please./ As she spoke .yan for a while. +>ou look ridiculous. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. . %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street.c0arthy. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders. but I&m not going to date someone .%% looked up at the sky and smiled. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. %% peered along the edges of the street. +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. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings.endal was different. +It&s called a mask. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. like you weren&t in rare form either. deep down./ +. #very time it rained. 4hether good or bad.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around./ 0hristine replied.yan&s not only good looking. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. %% recalled . +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. +Tempting as it was. . +So=/ +So.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . 2ello./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment. She decided that if .endal sifted through her dresser drawers. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide. not looking for anything in particular. 5ood different. . +I hate to break it to you.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. . watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain./ +)m. she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch. The heavy air turned light. I can honestly say that I wasn&t. I decided to leave. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay.endal . 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. 2er empty stomach grumbled.endal said. 9ut. +-h. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. +. then her true colors would already have shown./ .endal.endal. . no. %% believed that . She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with .

(un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. the couch monster. 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. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately./ said . another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. thought %%. Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. (un. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party. +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. finishing up on the treadmill./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction. +I like to think I have higher standards than that.endal. #veryone knows that. 9ut here they were. she would change the subject. she thought. . ./ said 0hristine. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. +7ook. +I won&t regret not hooking up with ./ said :ueenie. After the game was over. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college./ 0hristine continued. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning. thank you. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon./ -verboard.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat.yan&s a conceited moron.endal who was still spread out on the floor. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. She left . +4e are young./ +Trust me. and tugged the back of . The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises. The crowd of freshmen who fre1uented the athletic center was growing rapidly and was made up mostly of those unlucky individuals who had gained a few e'tra pounds and were desperately trying to reverse the effects of too many midnight pi33a runs.endal. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. +I know .endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform. admiring the logo on the front. They practically flip the entire boat. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely.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. complaining that she was not having enough fun.yan. The last thing she needed was another party./ .endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed./ she said. . . +>ou should have seen my father.

/ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. that&s all. not e'actly. the fanciest ballroom*ugh. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook. I ran into her on (riday night./ +6o. then./ +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./ %% managed between breaths. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. I guess./ (or a brief moment. hoping that the topic of ./ +The ama3ing sauna. but to wake them up./ +Sauna session and bacon./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell./ %% responded. it makes me sick. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them. It won&t matter. 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 like the combination. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face. the best caterer. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. +Sure. >eah. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind.endal would not come up. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. +>ou know what they say. +I know. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. They don&t know any other way. she couldn&t tell for sure. why not. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. +So. with one more to go. +I just need to do it./ :ueenie replied./ :ueenie said into the heavy air./ she said gently. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked.c9rides. 6ot for me. She knew as soon as she said it. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room./ +These are the . she shouldn&t have. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. They need a wakeup call. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. They cannot and will not hear me. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. +5ood. +I&m sorry. resting her head on one elbow./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. +I bet we could just bring some in. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. I&m not familiar with that particular saying. Steam rose up around them. sending a burst of steam into the air./ ./ %% added in an infomercial voice. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else.

I caught myself. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. yes. which made the library the only logical option. but she spun around and fell. I literally ran into her. she seemed okay with it. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that ./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. I mean. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. . what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. but she asked me the 1uestion./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything. and then stopped./ +That&s priceless. +She was ./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. she&s straight. She asked me if I&m gay./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. +6o. it&s getting hot in here./ . That&s all. +So.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. conservative southern town./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . +I just think you should be careful./ +$on&t do that. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. +6othing. nothing serious. +4hat=/ %% asked.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. her cheeks dotted with sweat. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. The 1uestion./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest.endal&s engaging laughter./ :ueenie started to say something else. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special. The gay 1uestion./ +4ell that didn&t take long. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. They were just little crushes./ +0ute./ %% scolded./ said %%. +%ust tell me./ %% said again./ +:ueenie. . +>ou&ll never believe this. Thankfully though./ %% turned her head and muttered. ./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. +The 1uestion. silly. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. >ou always fall for the straight girls./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat. 4e&ll see if she shows up./ +-h. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious./ :ueenie agreed. +It was bound to happen sooner than later. no. . (or crying out loud. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. +I told her the truth.

but it . so I like her./ %% began to massage her forehead. +2ey. 9e careful. +I did mean half of what I said in there./ :ueenie echoed./ :ueenie said pointedly./ +Stick to what you know best./ +I don&t care what it&s called. +7et&s get out of here. I can&t e'plain. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. shielding her eyes. It&s called the science e'periment. +>ou know how straight girls work.iss . There&s this energy between us. isn&t going to happen./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction./ said :ueenie. . And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy . I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. +She&s a cheerleader after all./ +:ueenie. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun./ +I hardly even know her. unabashed./ :ueenie continued. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. +It&s true./ %% groaned./ . +I knew it./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much./ +"reposterous. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here./ +That she is./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. you don&t. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. what they really want is a guy./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. I&m about to sweat away to nothing. after their curiosity wears off. . That&s something that isn&t going to change./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face. +I knew you liked her./ +7ook. Then. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious. The whole thing is just ridiculous. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door./ +6o. I&ve been there. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that./ +4hat do you want./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. +She&s not interested in me like that. really. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. >ou&re being ridiculous. +I know you like her. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction./ %% sighed. 1uite frankly./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. . +The least you can do is admit that much. +-kay./ :ueenie sat up.

8ela'. +>ou don&t look so good. 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. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. . .yan glared at him. .aybe we could do like an undercover operation.+>ou know./ . +#ven for you.yan said./ %ason concluded after a moment. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. And to make matters worse.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night. +It&s not without merit.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. 2ey. +2ey. 2e started working his triceps. it was also incredibly appealing. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. +Thought that she was out of your league./ %ason remarked. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. ./ CHAPTER .yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. . As a result. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team./ . It was true. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. 7ately it seemed as if the entire soccer team was comprised of a group of underweight sissies who didn&t comprehend the meaning of teamwork or dedication./ %ason warned as he watched ./ :ueenie insisted. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray.yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber. +I&m fine. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians. 2is skin was e'tremely pale./ %ason laughed. 2e looked absolutely horrible. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea./ %% frowned. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. they had lost the game. +4hat&s your problem=/ . +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. +$id you hook up with her=/ . getting pummeled five to nothing. +I thought so. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. %ason gritted his teeth. . don&t push it. >ou know. his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form.yan from the bench beside him.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying.endal . It was because he was frustrated. the lowest-seeded team in their division.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. straightening up./ +8ela'. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned./ .yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up.

and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. that&s all. .yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. There&s no way she would turn him down. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and . +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. +0atch you later then. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. .endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene.. popping Tylenol./ +#'actly. the legendary inviteonly soccer party. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. Though he had singled . 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated./ said %ason.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro. CHAPTER ! . She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor. picked up the weight and began lifting again. but there was something missing. And .endal had a reputation to uphold.yan was confident that he would get another shot.endal . both of them lying in agony.c0arthy./ .yan&s salty mood. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. As a result. +I&ve got more work to do here. . 4ith that. drinking refillable bottles of water.T<&s The 8eal 4orld./ he said between breaths. simultaneously knocking over a stack of books. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson. as well. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. And his guest was going to be . 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net./ %ason said.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. not wanting to add to . that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. Though his legs ached. <ibrant shades of red.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. ./ ./ +All right.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. 0hristine got home late./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. . Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them. Sure. It was status. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much. 9ut today. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest.endal had to help her into bed. +6othing.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. he pushed through the pain.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs./ +I hear ya. Something else was aching inside him. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. In times past . . 9ut he knew he still had more work to do.

At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place.9uilt back in the DHFFs. she could see her at some sporting event. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place.endal&s parents. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches.endal read the words.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. was why . big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. She hated to disappoint her parents. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. . 0he' . so you could sit in the palm.endal thought. 8ather.endal felt pressured to get good grades. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. she was a part of the cheerleading team. Across the backdrop . It was hands-on learning. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. plus the beauty of the campus. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. She finally felt like she belonged. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. humming original songs about the meaning of life. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. . . 4ho knew such things e'isted in a town built around a soccer rivalry and the annual homecoming weekend packed with games and a lavish parade= . She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. #ducation was far more important. . (or that reason. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. . So this is where %% likes to hang out. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. +fantasi3e reality. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. To the right of the counter stood a stage. her father especially. and the ne't thing she knew. The room to the left of the main counter was filled with artsy types of paintings on the wall and soft plushy couches scattered hapha3ardly across a gleaming maple floor. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. where everyone knows your name and your business.i'. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. 9e Somebody. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. That./ spelled out in big bold white letters.

endal paused. There were other occasions where 0urious . -nce. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. +I like pi33a.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling.. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. when she was about five. I need some grease. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. She tingled in anticipation. .endal. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . It really was none of her business.endal slowly opened the door to her room. Although she knew they were dangerous. it still provided a way to release her irritation. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. smartly. >ou know. And thick crust.endal returned. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. it became obvious that her roommate was awake. %%. many of which could be forgotten. +I&m sorry. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into . I like thick crust./ . %%% -nce back at the dorm. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. 6o. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse.endal./ 0hristine moaned. +)ghhhh. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. thoughtfully./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. she dropped the attitude. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. +(unny. . . and was reduced to a gooey. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. 6evertheless. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames. afraid to disturb 0hristine. something happened all right. And . she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast.endal struck with reckless abandon. as if were weighted down. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. 4ell. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. Though the incident had left her unharmed. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. ashy. given to her by her older brother. 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./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. dramati3ing herself. +>ou were saying*/ . black mess in the middle of the living room floor.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. until that moment. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight.endal.

+"i33a, I was saying. 7et&s get some pi33a for dinner./ 0hristine sat up now, the prospect of food taking hold. She fiddled with her i"hone and started looking up the number for a local pi33a place. +And then we could rent a movie, some sappy romantic comedy or something./ +0an&t,/ said ;endal, without the least bit of regret. +I&ve got a tutoring session in the library. I&m going to eat at the dining hall, and then head straight over. ,aybe 7aurie will want to do pi33a./ 7aurie, another cheerleader who lived in their dorm, though slightly overweight, was 1uite proud of her junk food addiction. In fact, 7aurie let it be known that pi33a was one of the five important food groups, at least in her world. ;endal often wondered if 7aurie laundered money from the cheerleading fund and dues collection to buy the enormous amount of junk food and goodies that she kept stashed in her dorm room closet. #very time they hung out in 7aurie&s room, ;endal half e'pected to find cardboard bo'es full of -reo cookies, potato chips, candy bars and the like sitting somewhere amidst the clutter. +,ore tutoring with the lesbian=/ 0hristine asked. 2er tone brushed hard against ;endal&s ears. +4hy do you have to even bring that up=/ +9ecause she is./ +She has a name. It&s %%. ,aybe you should try using it./ +4hat is your deal= >ou&ve been acting strange ever since you started hitting the books so hard./ +I don&t have a deal. 4hat I do have is a tutoring session with a girl who&s kind of cool, and I think that maybe you should stop judging people when you don&t even know a thing about them./ 0hristine climbed out of bed, and evened out her pajama shorts. 2er lips were moving, and ;endal sensed that she was choosing her words carefully. +I know all I need to know about her,/ she said coolly. +And don&t forget, I know you, too./ She casually grabbed her robe off of the back of the door and pulled it on. As she was tying the knot around her waist, she looked up at ;endal. 2er eyes were icy. +I don&t know who you are trying to be lately, but it sure isn&t the ;endal ,c0arthy that I know./ She pulled the knot tighter and tossed ;endal one final cold look before she left the room. (uming, ;endal threw her books into her backpack. 4hat bothered her most was the fact that 0hristine somehow managed to sneak in the last word. +I know me,/ she said aloud in the vacant room, her voice overflowing with anger. +I know myself better than anyone, and I also know that for the past few years I haven&t been the real me./ In the middle of her monologue, she stepped on something s1uishy lying on the floor. She bent over, picked up the ice mask that 0hristine had been wearing, and threw it at her unmade bed. +>ou don&t know me at all,/ she spat. +So take your little beauty mask and shove it./


%% was at the library much earlier than she needed to be. She&d skipped going to the dining hall with :ueenie, afraid that she might get distracted or delayed by needless conversation. Instead, she enjoyed a healthy portion of ramen noodles, the chicken-flavored kind, and some crackers. She also took a long time to select an outfit. 6ormally she would go to the library wearing nothing more than jogging pants and a sweatshirt, but today she felt like raising the bar just a bit. She put on a pair of jeans and a vintage T-shirt from the 5ap. Instead of wearing her usual baseball cap, she decided to slather some gel in her hair and spike up the ends just so. She even sprayed on some cologne for good measure. 6ow she sat in the library at the same table ;endal and she had been at last time, her knees shaking slightly. #very so often, she caught a whiff of her own cologne and smiled. At the very least, she certainly smelled good. 2er cell phone bu33ed in her pocket. She took it out and read a te't message from :ueenie, +9eware of the science e'periment./ All %% could do was laugh. She stuffed her cell phone back in her pocket, and idly thumbed through a book of poetry she&d pulled off one of the shelves. She kept a watchful eye on the door as she reread each sentence. Somehow, she&d missed seeing ;endal storm her way into the library, and looked up only when the girl reached the table. ;endal&s bag of books landed on top of the table with a resounding thud. +2i,/ she said, her face e'pressionless. +)m, are you okay=/ %% asked cautiously. +,e= >eah. I&m fine./ She reached into her bag and pulled out the bag of 0he' ,i' she had bought earlier. +#'cept for the fact that I&ve just now reali3ed that I&ve wasted all my time here at Sampson on a group of girls who are mostly small-minded and lack any substance at all./ +That&s a bit harsh, don&t you think=/ ;endal slid down into the chair ne't to her. +6o. I think it&s dead on,/ she snapped. Then she slid the bag of 0he' ,i' over to %% who politely declined. ;endal shrugged and began snacking mindlessly. +I&ve known these girls for three years now and they don&t even have one small clue about who I really am./ She tucked her hair back behind her ears, which caused %% to look at her in ama3ement. +4ow, you have tiny ears./ +4hat=/ +>our ears. They&re tiny. And cute./ +>eah,/ ;endal said. +They&re small. So what=/ +6othing. I*I just noticed. That&s all./ %% instantly wished that she could censor her thoughts before they spilled out of her mouth without her consent. +)h, about your friends*is it possible that maybe you just haven&t let them in= >ou know, let them in to get to know the real you=/ +So it&s my fault=/ ;endal&s hand smacked her own chest. +Is that what you are saying=/ +I&m not pointing fingers,/ said %% 1uickly. +All I&m saying is that friendships involve at least two people, right= And each person has to give a little in order to get a little. If you don&t let them see the real you, how are they supposed to get to know the real you=/ ;endal halted her rant. She hadn&t thought of it that way. +It&s just an outside opinion, of course,/ said %%. +I get what you&re saying. I think I&m just frustrated with everything in my life now. 9efore it all made sense, but somewhere along the way I&ve changed and suddenly nothing makes any sense to me anymore./ +Trust me, I know the feeling./

+>ou do=/ +-f course I do. 9efore I accepted the fact that I was gay, everything in my life seemed simple. I had boyfriends and everything made sense. And then suddenly it all began to change. I wasn&t happy with anything anymore and I couldn&t understand why. Things that I once enjoyed became boring to me or unimportant./ %% looked down at her empty hands and then at ;endal. +9ut once I figured out the root of it, things began to fall into place again. 6ow I know that this is who I am and who I&m happy being. Things in my life make sense again./ +That must have been hard, holding something like that inside without telling anyone. ,y problem is that I don&t even know the root of why things have changed for me./ +4ell, I don&t think it&s because you are gay,/ %% said with a smirk. ;endal laughed. +6o, I don&t think so either./ Though lately she wasn&t so sure. +,aybe you are just changing as a person. It doesn&t have to be anything specific. 0ould be as simple as your outlook on life or what has become important to you now, as opposed to when you were a freshman. I think that when we get to college, we&ll do a lot of soul-searching and find out who we really are. >ou&re just getting a head start./ +I feel like I can really talk to you,/ ;endal said suddenly. +Sorry for going off like that. I know you&re my tutor, and not my counselor./ %% felt her face grow hot, and she knew she was blushing. She stared ahead, avoiding ;endal&s eyes. +I&m glad. It&s, uh, important to feel comfortable with your tutor./ ;endal repositioned her chair at the table and moved closer to %%. +-kay. I feel better. And I think I can actually concentrate on studying./ She un3ipped her backpack and took out a purple folder and a couple of books. +So, back to poetry. 7et&s do this one first./ She opened one of her book to a page marked with a yellow sticky note, and then slid the volume over to %%. %% regained her composure and looked down at the page. +A 7etter to $aphnis,/ she read. +Anne (inch was a talented woman./ +I&m sure she was. I think I prefer $ickinson, though./ +2ow come=/ +I don&t know. ,aybe because I finally understand her poetry now, and I don&t want to move on to other authors./ ;endal forced a laugh. +Stick to what you know, right=/ +I don&t think you&re giving yourself enough credit,/ %% reassured her, easing into a smile, admiring the dips along the edge of ;endal&s lips and how they were most visible whenever ;endal seemed self-conscious. +4hat=/ ;endal asked, nervously brushing a strand of hair from face. +6othing,/ said %%. They read the poem together as %% pointed out a few key lines to help ;endal make sense of the poem as a whole. +(inch was a true feminist, though she didn&t want that to override the fact that she was still deeply in love and could be in love, while still maintaining her sense of self. In this poem, she e'presses how, though it is difficult, one can still find a happy medium between being both a devoted lover and an opinionated woman at the same time./ +That must have been hard back then,/ ;endal said. +In those days most women gave up their dreams and ambitions to be housewives./ %%&s head bobbed in agreement, +#'actly. And in this poem, (inch makes it clear to her lover that she has no such plan in mind. She writes, @%udge not my passion, but my want of skill.

/ %% nudged her shoulder.endal eyeballed the journal. +That&s pretty intense./ .endal flinched. but at the same time./ +>ou didn&t at all. has her own dreams. but e'press it ill. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. she accidentally knocked over her bag.any love well.endal flipped back her hair. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. +I&ll be right back. it is.& See. totally awesome.endal./ said %%./ They continued to regard one another./ . until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily./ she said. It looked pretty beat up./ said . +This poem is like. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. ./ +>eah. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. and. +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. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then./ +4ow. +4hoops. she thought./ +. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst ./ %% said. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has./ +$ifferent./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. like you said. She reached for the journal. feeling nervous and clumsy.iss. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. In fact. Then she&d set it right back down./ said ./ said %%. +0ute. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. how=/ %% shrugged. she wants him to know that though she is driven. and flipped it open close to the middle. As she pushed her chair back from the table. %ust one 1uick peek. +9ut you&re not./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. 2er journal spilled out. and she tripped over it.aybe at first. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all. standing up 1uickly. >ou&re different. which had been resting on the floor. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ +I understand.endal. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon.. +>ou just are. 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 . the edges frayed and the binding worn. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins.

/ . because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately.y. she found it pathetic. +4ell. ominous shadow./ +)m.endal cursed her roommate under her breath. . 2e didn&t. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead.yan said smoothly.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in .endal could feel the tingle on her skin. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. +2ey./ +-h.yan the couch monster. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. of course. 2aven&t heard a thing. and then shook her head apologetically.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence.endal was lying. was standing ne't to her chair.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. She and %ason had been dating ever since./ .endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. +7isten. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples. hooked up with him./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. +0hristine said you were here./ ./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ . She had to read it again./ he said with an overconfident grin.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. +8eally I am. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid./ . just as if she were the person in the poem./ ./ . +I was there last year. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. no. so real.endal thought. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. who she now thought of as . 9ack then .yan Stevens. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite. hoping he would take the hint and leave. that ./ said . +I&m sorry. She just said you were in the library pretending to study. >our journal was just lying there. anyway.endal.yan&s pond of smoothness./ she said instead. I&m not pretending. 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./ +6ope. 6ow. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. +It&s e'clusive. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. 7ast year.. looming over her like some creepy. he puts it so nicely./ he pressed on. . I haven&t heard anything at all. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. so ./ ./ +I know what it is. +I&m honored./ .yan continued. .endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down. and who was going to be left out. I&m actually studying.

/ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks.endal e'claimed. +I only read a little bit./ +(rom what I hear. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. I don&t know what he&s thinking.yan. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday. +I sort of forgot about it until now. +.aybe another night then. of what they might say.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. +8ight./ . really fun time with yours truly.+I&m sure you can get out of it./ . simply was not there./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. +8ight. +>ou&d miss a really. just as I described it. 2er face was still damp. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list.endal watched as . I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. +2e&s so full of himself. ne't (riday. she felt delighted that . Suddenly. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es. +It was incredible./ %% swallowed again as . +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ . and hoped .endal hadn&t picked up on it.yan. . And she was even more afraid of what ./ +I guess so. The Spot. but not because poetry was personal. She sat down without glancing at either ./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think.endal. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked.endal bit her lip.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out./ She swallowed hard. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. I&m one of the good girls. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels.endal had pinched her. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. eager to change the subject. That got e'tremely hot very fast./ ./ %% approached the table at that moment. It&s at that coffee shop you like. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer. rubbing her leg where .endal&s eyes lit up. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it./ she blurted. Instead. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. +So. I&m sorry.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her. of what she might say. If you&ll let me./ he mumbled finally and walked away. I think you should enter./ said %%. I made her promise to go with me. +I&d like to read some more./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff.endal would think. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman./ +It&s good to know that you have morals./ ./ +4ell. +I was raised right. ./ said . +6e't (riday. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss.endal shifted curiously in her seat.endal or ./ %% reminded her. +4ho= .endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand. +That&s not entirely true./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people.yan considered their story. +It was my first kiss. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked./ said ./ %% jumped. She was afraid of their reaction.yan=/ . though.

you&d never be able to give it up. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that.endal said.endal hesitated then asked.aybe. +It basically scarred me for life. And during the whole thing. embarrassed at what she was about to admit.+So./ +-kay. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage./ %% said 1uietly. 4riting is my life. you know. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it. +They have one every (riday night. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world.endal momentarily. And when the contest came up.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. everybody in the audience started to laugh./ said %% impatiently. +>ou sound like my mother./ +4ell=/ +4ell. +I ran off stage so fast. . that alone should tell you how important it is to you. +9ut it&s different with this.endal so easily./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. I got on stage and played the only song I knew./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. And if something happened.endal had a hunch they were about . I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger.endal debated the 1uestion. without enthusiasm. I might freak out and give up writing altogether. I&m serious. desperately wanting to change the subject./ she said./ %% closed her eyes./ +So=/ +So. +See. we had this talent contest one year at school.yan. 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. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. I can&t take that risk./ she e'plained. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. +I have a fear of being on stage. what= I&m not going up on stage. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . +I suppose I should. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song./ +That would never happen. I just don&t participate./ %% said. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . about this poetry slam thingy. I&m not ready./ +That is so sad./ +0ome on./ %% rolled her eyes./ . I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. +It&s getting late. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. 4riting is my life. . +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. I&ve never been on another stage since./ ./ +9ut it might. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. I mean./ +. So maybe you can practice with me./ ./ . I fro3e. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to . Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head. and then averted her eyes. if I got upset on stage.endal said.

/ %% paused and then plunged forward. that&ll work./ . I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said. +2ey*/ %% looked up. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way.endal said casually.endal./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . +>eah.endal teased. she would know. though= I mean. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest./ %% managed as she watched . She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. 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. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . later. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . They left the library and %% offered to walk . >et.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms./ said . As they reached the front of the building. +So. 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. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder./ +I&m glad. and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. She breathed hard and her hands shook. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest. though she knew e'actly what %% meant. She would instantly sense what . fall air. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that. +That sounded really dumb. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion.. then instantly winced. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm./ %% took a deep breath. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder.endal closed the door behind her without looking back./ +0atch you later. didn&t it=/ +Totally. +I&d like that a lot. go with me= There are some great poets around here.endal back to her dorm./ she said. +4ould you still like to go. .endal was feeling.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. +0ool. She collapsed backward against the closed door. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. and some of the writing is ama3ing. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. She instantly looked away./ %% smiled./ .endal asked. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem./ +Sure. that&s not going to happen.

pacing frantically around the room./ . +I&ve been te'ting you all night. +Tell me you said yes. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. I already have plans./ . I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties.endal replied. +6othing. 2ow was the library=/ +-h. . +4ill you rela'=/ she said. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly. the superficial status. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone./ .She sighed./ +I said @no&. with satisfaction. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date./ +7et me guess. The thought of . so 1uit freaking out./ .endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. Somehow. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as ./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. +I&m not turning into a lesbian.endal watched her in amusement. +>ou didn&t./ 0hristine gasped. the empty conversations. +I had an uninvited visitor. . +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. ./ +I couldn&t care less. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life./ . 0hristine./ +I guess./ . counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again.endal said.endal answered./ +I did. 9esides. I&m afraid. very interesting. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. +>ou&re going to a gay club. I&m not going to a gay club. >our senior year. paying rent for some crappy apartment./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent. still lost in a di33y ha3e. .endal. +%ust something different. apparently not amused.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. smiling again.endal entered their room. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o./ 0hristine&s head shot up. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed.endal replied 1uickly. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian.

+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.

sourly.e= I do all right./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something.+>ou ama3e me./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders. >ou&re into someone you can&t have./ +$oes this certain woman happen to be the twenty-something college student who looks to you for a little e'citement in an otherwise dull e'istence=/ :ueenie grinned widely. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. you in=/ :ueenie asked./ :ueenie said. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. +So./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. there&s none of that. +%%./ +6o=/ +6o. Take./ %% said./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that. your current situation./ %% said plainly./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking.y dilemma=/ +>es. really=/ They began to walk again. it&s so obvious./ +Thanks. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. get out and nobody gets hurt. for e'ample. +I resent that./ +"lease./ +. +4ith the women I see. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. The hopeless romantic never wins. +I&m not looking for better right now. actually. 6o room to analy3e or obsess. my friend./ +. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ +It is. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. +>ou know. you do it one hundred percent. . tossed her head back and pretended to laugh./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. 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. And despised her for it. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. 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./ %% maintained./ +-h./ +Spare me the theatrics./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. +%ust get in. 4hen you do something./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. palms down and swept them to one side. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best.

motioning to the book. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. . an actual lesbian. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends.endal was on her way. -nce she reached the third floor. . :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. . 0hristine owes me big time. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you./ she said. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. +I&ll be 1uick. ./ %% replied dryly. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally.yan was laying face down on his bed. in fact.endal asked when he looked up. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. . sensing %% was hiding something.+I guess. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. +9usy=/ . even though no one was in the room. I&m going to pass on that one. +6othing. . She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. +Studying. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. %ust a cup of coffee. and would eventually come over to the dark side. and . she thought. really. and then pushed it open. but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club.endal made a face. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality.usic boomed from an open door.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin.endal ne't (riday night. reading what looked like a te'tbook. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air. . She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked./ %% said./ . +6othing at all. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. rounded the first corner. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with . She knocked slightly.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find . and also members of the basketball team.endal figured that ./ %% said. In fact./ CHAPTER $ .yan and %ason were roommates.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her.yan said.

+2ave a seat./ . +I was ready for a break anyway. +I&ll watch the game in . +4ait. +-kay./ .endal couldn&t believe it.endal said hurriedly.+It&s okay. and if you still haven&t asked anyone.endal remained standing./ . and I wanted you to be my invite. yeah./ +I know. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits. of course.yan was staring at him. then I understand./ +-kay=/ +4ell. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards./ ./ ./ 2e stood up and gave .yan said. +I&m sorry=/ . you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked. She took a big breath. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball.yan said./ +As a friend. then I&d like to go. and reali3ed that .yle&s room. but that&s basically it. Sure. you do have 1uite the reputation./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. +I&ll leave you two alone./ . if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. +I&m not proud of it.endal said./ %ason replied. +-f course. It took him a minute before he looked up. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here./ +6o. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. regretfully. feeling slightly better about the whole situation./ .endal held her arms close to her sides.endal asked. +I&m just going to be a minute. it&s okay. the one you were at the library with./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. +So. +%ust as a friend. and she&d severely misjudged him./ . and then thought better of it. I was thinking about it. +-h. not sure what to do with them. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over. ./ +Sounds good. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her./ ./ %ason said./ . so it&s all good. I&ll probably be a little late. you must think I&m a complete jerk. So./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television. +>eah. +I&ll see you (riday night then. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you./ he finally said. +I appreciate that. already halfway out the door./ +4ell. I&m out of there. . we can hang out and talk.yan said. So. I&ve seen her play a couple of games. shape or form./ +4ell. I haven&t asked anyone else yet.yan opened his mouth to respond. my bad./ she said. +5o get @em.yan repeated. +To say something like that./ ./ +>ou don&t have to leave./ +%%=/ +>ea. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. She&s pretty good.

./ he said./ +I know. +4ell./ +So study. +)m.r. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. she&s cool./ +4ell.endal.endal confirmed. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help.endal yawned. It tasted like rubber. but she couldn&t help but smile./ . So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. . +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. not just about school stuff./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. . she was going to have to do a far better job. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. She was sitting directly across from . ./ +I&m just speaking the truth. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. don&t./ She tried.endal looked up./ . I&ve never met anyone like her before. She even told us which author. 2er eyes were hollow. ever. That&s what I&m nervous about.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor.s. +I&m going to. I mean really smart.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up. thanks. +>ou look horrible. In some ways.endal told her. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . +5ee./ 0hristine said. She&s so sweet and*/ . enjoying a small side salad. you know=/ +8ight. she was afraid to try to study by herself. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. +>eah.yan was staring at her awkwardly. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3./ ./ . 0hin ever did that.endal said. sunny day. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. She left the dorm feeling like a fool./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. (riday. +She&s so smart./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal. +4e&re just getting to know each other. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday./ 0hristine added. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered.

+4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . yawned. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table. +#arth to . +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. but the rest of the dining hall was empty. +0ome on.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired./ .endal study. +4ho in the world is Anne . too. -ut with it.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine.endal looked her up and down./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair.illigrew=/ +5ive me that.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her.endal said firmly. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping ./ ./ . ./ she said. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. 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. +>ou are a math guru. but as far as literature was concerned./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. 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. . )nfortunately.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. That&s all the knowledge I need./ +-h. +7et me see what you are studying right now. In a matter of minutes. it was empty.endal said and snatched the folder back. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight./ 0hristine demanded. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table./ . +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. let&s get out of here. +>es. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. +>ou&re serious=/ +. obviously offended. +0ome on./ ./ ./ +I know.endal held back her tongue.y behind is sore from sitting. really=/ +>es. .endal laughed emphatically. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go. It&s a must.endal. very cute./ .

+5ood finish. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality./ 0oach 0ook hollered. 8unning just to run was pointless to her./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. +4e&re sprinting. +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. %% didn&t know./ +>es. much to the chagrin of her parental units./ +4ill you knock it off already. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. ./ . +0aution./ 0hristine said./ +(ine./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of .ya can get./ +5ood. She needed something to give her a reason to run. +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes. %ust remember you have to be back by nine. >ou know how ./ +)gh.endal e'haled loudly. +Thanks to you. . +"oint guards lead from the front. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. not from the back./ 0oach 0ook noted. %%. +0ome on./ . as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. 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. And that was all the reward she needed. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. %enkins. They had been wrong. not goofing off. shape or form.arch. the whole team has to give me ten more. despised running. -kay*I&ll be back in time. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. %%. .0hristine whistled loudly and said. I know how . on the other hand. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. As much as she hated running. in any way. There needed to be some sort of object involved. +4hatever. sucking in every breath.ya can get. I forgot. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. like a basketball for instance. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. The team finished the sprints. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. of course. or whenever the basketball season was over. %% bent over and clung to her knees. and snorting. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday.c9ride.endal shouted.

/ :ueenie said. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. 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. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall. I am the one who is cooking tonight./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. though./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. ladies. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore. +As a matter of fact. regardless of the score./ 0oach 0ook barked. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. +Team. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders. /2urry up and change. a couple. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. +-kay. and leave it all on the floor./ 0oach continued. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. in fact. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. :ueenie. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. +I&m starving./ :ueenie added. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. The candlelight is optional. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. that is. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity./ +See you tomorrow. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . +Is the missus waiting for you at home. +0onditioning. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints./ +2ow sweet. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle./ 0oach 0ook stressed. it was definitely top secret./ 0oach 0ook said. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. 4henever they lost a game. 8ather thin but muscular. ladies. +It&s all about conditioning./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. the lesbian team. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. After three years./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. so if the two of them were. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. 0oach 0ook ignored her./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play.

I can&t think straight. +That was no big deal. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. I&m confused. . which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. I was sitting there in silence.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her.endal sitting there.endal and back to :ueenie. +That was a close call. I&m seeing two of you right now. $ean 2offman walks through the door. She dashed through the food line. +-h. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . In fact. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. She forced her attention away from ./ said %%. full of mashed potatoes. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. +>eah. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. I know./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead./ :ueenie huffed.+I didn&t notice. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. . bread./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. a side salad and a tall glass of milk./ +-kay. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. %% winked at her./ :ueenie said./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. They sat with the other members of the basketball team. 2er cheeks were bulging. tossing everything in sight onto her tray./ +She did. that./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. As she studied her tray. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. 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. In fact./ +4ait a minute./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. The rest of her table was empty. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. 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. chocolate pudding./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. right. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie./ +(ine.

+I guess I&ll be going now./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. +All over a stupid 1ui3./ :ueenie took a sip of milk./ +-nly you. well done./ said %%. +This kind of thing only happens to you. >ou should have seen the look on her face./ +4ell. +So. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words. +I know. then she assumed that 0oach was alone.& Then I winked and walked out of the office./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there./ %% reached her hand across the table.endall said. it&s okay. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her.c0arthy right ne't to her. we both turned our heads at the same time. +I need your help desperately. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful./ :ueenie continued. %%. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. +6ever a dull moment. $o you want to study someplace else=/ ./ . did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. 6ever a dull moment. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. So I stood up and said./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes./ %% pushed her tray aside. 0oach.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office./ +So that&s where the wink comes in./ +So./ +6o./ she e'plained./ ./ +>es way. As soon as she saw me there./ +So*/ %% said eagerly./ . +>ep. I&ve got a surprise for you. indeed. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you. was @Sweetie.endal confessed. It was classic./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray. %% looked on in wonder.endal .&/ +6o way. we both were just sitting there not saying anything. +I mean./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her. +I wouldn&t say that. +%%. ./ :ueenie leaned forward. of course. my friend. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. @It&s okay. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door. And at that e'act moment./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. I&m a complete mess.c9ride./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked. without looking up. +4ell done. >ou two kids have fun.

/ . +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous./ . I have curfew tonight. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional. Then maybe we&d play better./ .akes sense. 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. or that she liked the way %% smelled. +And that will be enough./ +I was just leaving./ +. I don&t./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow./ They both stood up. %% studied her e'pression.endal held her backpack to her chest.+>ou can come to my dorm room./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. I have to be in my room by nine. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. 0oach should give us a curfew.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood. she&s the captain of the s1uad./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly. +Thank you./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine./ %% returned./ . She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. +0ome on. +4e&re closing. She thought of . +>ou remember our plans./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday.endal said politely.endal said adamantly./ +-kay.endal said.endal said eagerly./ %% returned. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked.endal suggested. +The coffee shop.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening. CHAPTER ( +A curfew. came up with it./ ./ . don&t you=/ +>es. miss=/ . +I can&t. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling.endal nodded.ya. I remember. I&ll see you in an hour then./ . Thank you so much.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. . too. +I owe you big time./ %% agreed. I was just checking. . and she enforces it. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o./ .

I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff./ %% responded and held up her notebook. offering %% some 0he' ./ +7et me guess./ said ./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. proudly. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors.+4hatever.endal walked into the room. +That was my roommate./ %% backtracked. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. %ust sneak a few photos.endal in the dining hall. +>ou need professional help. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand. +-h.endal. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment. I&d 1uit./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside./ she said. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here.endal&s door. +Thanks./ %% said. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite. right./ :ueenie said. 0hristine. Sampson Academy paraphernalia./ +I know.endal . +I&m sorry./ . straight out of the pages of <ogue. She often sat with . >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life. +(riendly people you got here. >ou sure are 1uick. +"edaling poetry. -nly.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory.i' +I didn&t mean it like that.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. opened the door. 0hristine. taking a handful from the bag. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . A rather thin blonde. %% recogni3ed her./ %% started for the door./ she said to the blonde./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. . +This could be the room of any popular girl in America. +(or documentation. +0heerleading. 2ave a seat. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%./ said %%. Interesting decor./ . 6o wonder you&re a tutor. +Am I that transparent=/ . 4e can use this to our advantage. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. +0ome on in. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. +School spirit is a way of life. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. %% thought as she knocked against . #ach door on .endal&s dorm. and little cheerleader cutouts. -ver ./ the blonde said. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to ./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. +If 0oach gave us a curfew./ +4ait.c0arthy&s dorm room./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her.

endal pointed to one of the poems. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented./ %% cleared her throat. +-kay. She was more than happy to play along. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. but me they scorned&=/ ./ +7ook here.illigrew.endal sat down ne't to her./ +So*what else=/ .endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully.y <erses 4ere . who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. setting her folder and her book in front of her./ +-kay./ +That must have been hard. after a moment. +That&s fair.endal thought for a moment./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. +8ight there=/ +. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. +It was .endal considered the words on the page. +I don&t know.endal let that idea marinate. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed./ +I don&t even know who she is. +7ike what=/ %% asked./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . +It&s a secret. but she loved every minute of it. I mean. And even though men adored her poetry. See how she says. at this line in )pon Saying . I had to do and learn a lot on my own./ she said. but she was also proud to be a woman./ said %%.y oldest brother is in his late twenties. I was*une'pected. It wasn&t long before .endal&s perfume. @my numbers they admired./ +It was. $eal=/ ./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman. See./ +I think you&ll like . trying to distract herself from the scent of .illigrew. but I know it&s about this author at least. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer. . yet awkward.ade 9y Another. +I&ve never even heard of her before and I think that&s why I&m having such a hard time understanding the message that she was trying to get across in her poems.+I&d like to think there is. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. She leaned her back up against the comforter. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. +7ike*/ . +9ecause I was an afterthought. -ne of my favorites. +Anne . . and my other brother is twentyfive./ +9ut that&s not fair. really young. +So. It was flattering.endal. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. well aware of how little space remained between them./ she said.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. . I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem./ ./ %% smiled mischievously.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along./ said . +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family.

and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so.ou gave me your hand without thought. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . #elief from my shoulders./ .ost of her work was discovered much later on.endal shook her head./ +To be out.endal.endal slumped back against the bed. She read the rest of the poem in silence. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. She licked her thumb. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. Beyond the tears. she refused to compromise herself or her art./ . +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide.unfortunate that the very same people. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. men in this case. and then stopped. . or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like./ +I would have never survived. who took it willingly. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. She disappeared for a bit. . . ' /elieved in me. for obvious reasons./ ./ %% closed the book in front of them./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell.endal asked./ She slid the journal over to ./ ./ +4hat did it feel like.endal read out loud. +This e'plains it better than I can. +2ere./ said %%. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain. 0ourage. !ree at last. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. #elease. *ith this gesture you taught. !reedom. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied. #aising my head high. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. Having the strength to stand. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life. Instead.endal had seen before. )eaving me sta/le. (ride.

0lark cleared her throat. And at that moment. It&s like $ickinson. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just .rs. 0lark was impressed. She began flipping through the journal./ +0ome on. right. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. +It&s not even close. It didn&t matter. like many of her previous free writing efforts. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her said . 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. +I forgot about that part. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. whether it was the beginning of a novel./ said And %% had written a poem. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class.endal laughed. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. . 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod./ . .endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. a short story. #veryone sat up straight. at the same time. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. %% knew. As soon as the class was seated. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. )sually. you know that= >ou pour everything. The chatter ceased. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. possibly even a nervous breakdown. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class.y writing hardly compares to with hers. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. ./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 0lark. but. remember=/ +-h. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. The only drawback was that the selected authors always were asked to stand up and read their work aloud in front of the entire class before a general discussion. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. turned out to be today. +0lass. a journal entry or a poem. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. -n occasion. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. That I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. . were overshadowed by the work of someone else. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. however. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. They were free to write whatever they wanted. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous this was a huge compliment because it meant that . hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. She was one of a kind.

-nly she didn&t head to the restroom. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well./ . and then cringed when she heard . she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. 0lark was still in the room. +%%*are you okay=/ . shuffling through papers on her desk. And that wasn&t going to happen./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read. +I didn&t feel her. but no audible words came out. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her +%%. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. Their relationship had suffered because of it. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. not ever. who liked cheerleading and boys. unable to move. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to She glanced from face to face in a panic. It&s yours to share. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. mouthing the first line. She&d written the first line on a whim./ %% managed. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . %% was the e'act opposite. She tried to speak once more. Instead. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended. signaling that her class had ended. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. She trembled as she %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. the building for #nglish ma&am. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. 0lark nodded. 2er lips moved slowly. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. so I decided to leave class. and %% bolted from the room./ +9ecause that would be a shame./ . It&s yours. It deserves to be shared with the class. hoping for some closure. +>ou might want to stand because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. 0lark advised. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. . She&d wanted a daughter who was girly./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. Instead. 6ot now.ay I go to the restroom=/ . She waited until students began to file out the front doors. %% tiptoed in. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last. She breathed heavily. and again no sound emerged. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. And the class deserves to hear it. She knew . +. she sat down on a nearby bench. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out. +And speak up a -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. 0lark asked. did it=/ +6o. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. 0lark&s nasal voice./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly.

rela'. 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. +I&ll read it on ./ +.endal was only a few hours away. +6ice job. +2ey./ +. and not because of the sweat. It didn&t mean that the thought of having to share her work in front of the entire class still didn&t scare her to death. . +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. +Touchy./ %% leaned against her locker. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game. and taking in criticism of your own./ %% replied dryly.onday. %%. just as your basketball coach believes in you.onday. 0lark called after her. say.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices.. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing. :ueenie. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . 4atch and learn. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. on the basketball court. what good is art for that matter./ she said. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. offering criticism of their work./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. ladies. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active %% couldn&t concentrate. aren&t we=/ . 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound.endal has nothing to do with I just have a lot on my mind. )nlike %%. +I&m sorry. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent.aybe she wanted it that way. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates./ +All right. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane./ . 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. +I&m just checking in. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. 4atch and learn./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . She understood. And she was flattered that . had another outstanding practice./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom >ou&ve been out of it since this morning. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. and removed her glasses from her face.aybe she did./ ./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud. as usual. +I can&t force you to read it./ %% reasoned./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room.

+I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. carrying a rose./ she said. %ust what I need./ +I know./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. sitting on a locker room bench. %%. who stifled a laugh. +%enkins. %%. 0oach is like your best friend now. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. +6o. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. right. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. I need you to play with confidence./ she said. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. +So I&m going to get straight to the point./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie./ %% snapped./ 0oach 0ook said. >ou are the floor general. 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. I don&t start players who perform like that. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. She was already showered and dressed./ %% said./ %% acknowledged./ Ignoring that comment./ Apparently. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk. +>ou know me./ . 0oach.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. 0oach./ She barked from the doorway. >ou better get your game in gear. +$on&t do anything stupid. +Says you. +I didn&t play well at all. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball./ :ueenie said. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked./ +>ou are the starting point guard. playing with her i"hone. +I e'pect more from you. >ou brought :ueenie to the team. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. And you two are my senior captains. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. %% thought. remember=/ +-h. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es. +. +#asy for you to say. And the point is that you played horribly today./ she replied. 0oach. +5ood. %% thought. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. -nce in the confines of her office. +"eachy./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. a big part of it./ +I&m busy tonight. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. +$on&t worry about 0oach./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her. >our non-date with the non-lesbian.

She stood facing the doorway.endal shrugged. +I have no idea./ 0hristine smiled wryly. +(ine. +I thought I looked good. mulling over which way accented her features better.endal by the arms.endal ran her long fingers through her hair. She wanted to try something different. +(lattered= . I&d be creeped out./ ./ . It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets. "ersonally. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit. as a result. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked.%%% .endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her./ +8ight. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ . . +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. She stood up and grabbed . linking her pinky with 0hristine&s./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ . a slimming red graphic T-shirt./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. it&s the truth.endal had chosen.endal asked. stomach-first. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ ./ +I already told you I&d be there. and. It was as simple as that./ . She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed.yan&s benefit. that&s gross. +0hristine. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. pulling it back and swinging it forward./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive. teammate and confidante. She&d been thinking of %%. She wanted to go to The Spot./ 0hristine held out her pinky. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for ./ 6ot again. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . 0learly. As my roommate.endal groaned.endal. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance.endal said. I&ve never been to one before.endal. +(or the umpteenth time.endal spun around./ . wondering about her outfit. +I promise. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight. admiring her jeans./ +>ou do. I&m only going to this party tonight with .yan as friends.yan. I&m just asking./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. thought .endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her. she hadn&t been thinking of .

+I mean*you look nice and everything. +I like you without a hat better. Then she stood up./ . 9ut she hadn&t. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark.endal said. She 1uickly stood up straight. admiring %%&s outfit. >ou look ama3ing. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. pointing at %%&s backside. the doors swung open and in walked . +5o ahead. leaned over and tried to rub it out./ . she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. Then she checked her cell phone. just in case . And I like to carry my journal with me. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. she reali3ed what she&d said. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring.endal. And that was the side she thought . and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts.endal had tried to call or send her a te't. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. +There&s something you don&t see every day. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good. I think. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. it couldn&t get much worse. pointing at the backpack.endal smiled. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair./ she said. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . as well.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. but resisted. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. After a minute. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ .endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . In the end. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands.endal asked. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. too. At that moment. she sat down again. She bent down as far as she could without falling over./ she said.endal said. ./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge./ . After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked./ %% blurted out. +>ou look ridiculous. +8ight. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. who started laughing.endal enjoyed the most. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. She crossed her legs./ she said.endal. %%&s head snapped up. Then she batted her eyes at . She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside./ +4ow. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to .endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. +>ou&re right. -nce the words left her lips.

She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e./ .endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. and both %% and . She reached for the doorknob. . +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity./ . 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better.endal asked. +I wouldn&t worry about it./ +She doesn&t like me very much./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk./ said . the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way./ %% said. unsure of how to respond. They sat in the corner near the window.endal had grabbed it first. They didn&t seem to bother . and neither of them held back. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever.endal. They talked about anything and everything they could. That&s all./ . afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ . +-nce.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. The looks didn&t bother %%./ +4hat did she say= . does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash./ . The more she thought about it.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track. too./ +.endal responded blandly. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left.endal said. +I don&t know.e. Several students crossed their path. but . +2ow was your day=/ %% asked. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. some staring at them in wonderment. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you.endal much. with %% directly on her heels.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong./ . +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy.endal confessed./ %% said.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. +)neventful.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus. +0hristine doesn&t know you. genuinely interested. and then looked away. and %% assumed that . I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. smiling. and laughed. A roving waitress appeared. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress .endal laughed nervously. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before./ %% struggled to e'plain. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. either.

I have to see those pictures.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief./ +I know what that&s like. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. +>ou&re joking. and tried to fit in./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home. I&m the same. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far.endal straightened up. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life./ +I&m sorry. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . It was so embarrassing./ +6o. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now./ +9ut you are changing. +I didn&t know. +There&s so much more to you. and my hair was long./ +>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./ . "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change./ %% professed. I wore make-up. I became that./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different./ . And when I show them the pictures. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me./ . And because I knew that everyone thought that. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. 7ook at 0hristine. I have no idea who I am. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be. 9ut back then I acted different. I want you to know me as I am now. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips. you don&t./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do. 4hen it came to the talent portion. I panicked and ran off stage./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. It came down past my shoulders./ said %% honestly. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me. I was just like her./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. . clearly offended. +It was awkward to say the least. 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./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise.endal continued. I played the role. the real me./ %% offered. +I&m still playing the same role now./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly./ . +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. 9ut forget about me. not the younger me that was insecure and confused.%% laughed./ +9efore I met you./ +4ow.

I need someplace private. you owe me a poem. then she&s going to lower my grade. almost taking her by the hand. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. ./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed. you&re kind.endal glanced at her cell phone. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours.+>ou aren&t anything like her. +0ome on./ +>ou don&t owe me anything. looking around. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning./ said .endal asked. if you&ll let me. so that makes it a secret. then meet up with her at the soccer party. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing./ ./ %% told her. I feel like I owe you or something. +6ot here./ .endal. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful./ %% considered the offer. %% rolled her eyes. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. That is./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know. .other . you&re smart. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. +4hat&s .endal had to choose that one. just to be sure./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead./ +I have to do this by . Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for.endal asked./ %% wasn&t about to argue./ +I know a place./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on ./ %ust before they left the coffee shop./ she agreed. and if I don&t read it./ +Speaking of $ickinson. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. after skimming through the pages. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit./ . +Then let&s go someplace else. +>ou think I&m smart=/ .onday.endal said adamantly. There are so many things about you that ama3e me. It&s (riday night. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to .endal. .endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine./ +4hat if I helped you=/ . +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it.ay I about=/ . +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret. +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. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now.endal asked./ %% paused. 9ut here she was with %% instead. +-kay. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. I&ve never told anyone that before. She was supposed to te't 0hristine. >ou showed me your favorite hangout. -f all the poems in her journal./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can.endal stood up and tugged %%.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%./ %% panicked.

I&m the best looking guy on campus. +0ome on. Apparently. ./ %ason offered.4ithout saying a word./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . and closed the door behind him. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked.yan said miserably. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. She smiled eagerly at %%./ said 0hristine. she&ll come. This girl is cra3y.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight. She ditched an invite-only soccer party. +If you don&t come tonight. (or . she&s going to regret it. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. 2e was still sitting on the couch. who finally took the hint./ %ason had heard enough. +I thought you said she was coming tonight./ . impatiently. +Seriously.yan shot back. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out.yan. 2e stood up. dude=/ he grumbled. and stood up instantly to look out the window. 7et&s go.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend. +She should be here with me. %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed.yan./ +I&ve got issues=/ . +7et me try and call her. She&s been acting so strange lately./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room./ 2e turned to 0hristine. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. sounding frustrated./ +I&m going to regret it. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts. +4hy don&t you go find out. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. +>ou&ve got issues. who now glared at .endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch./ he said. .yan pressed. +She&s probably on her way here right now. +I don&t know where she is. The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance./ said . +6ever mind./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ .yan that meant wearing black slacks. +I don&t know. waiting for . 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands./ . 9ut she clearly was distracted. as he nudged .endal. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button.yan./ said 0hristine. +6o way./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . as she held up her i"hone./ he said.yan out of the room. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. aside from winter formal./ she whispered under her breath.

she&d stuffed a flashlight./ said %%. we were fair game. with . she&d gone through ha3ing. dining hall. come on. I had all my routes mapped carefully./ . I didn&t want that happening to me. +This hiding spot was so good./ she said. She turned it on. >es.endal told her. And follow she did.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. 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. So. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. . took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry./ . +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. In the middle of the blanket./ +I&m full of surprises.endal crept under the bleachers. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. +It was fun at the time. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls.CHAPTER !! %% and ./ +-h.endal argued. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints. wait until we came out. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night. and were completely hidden by the tarp.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. and after classes to read or do homework./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus.endal grabbed the blanket. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. "erched up high on a platform. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life./ . the side to the bleachers being left open. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. eyeing the flashlight. urging %% to follow. %% and . %% sat down beside her. 9ut that never worked either. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. they&d watch us go into some place. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot. . +)ntil it gets too cold./ +That&s pretty clever. They huddled together. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me. even though she already knew the answer. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall. unfolded and spread it out.endal left the coffee shop. and grab us. and classroom buildings. 6o one ever found me here. ./ . See. +0ome here often=/ %% asked. illuminating the spot. I even slept out here once or twice./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad.endal sighed. +I found this spot during my freshman year. That included the library./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it.

That&s not the problem. my therapist=/ %% snorted./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it./ %% gladly rejoined . I don&t.endal replied. She cleared her throat. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place./ +6o. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot. It has to be./ +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. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. +I can&t. I&m hoping it&s a good thing./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion. relieved to be out of the spotlight./ ./ +Trust me./ +>es./ +5ood. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself. +>ou keep saying that./ +I do not. >ou know that. but that was different./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit./ . I&m being honest. And that was $ickinson&s poem. "oetry is personal.endal glowered at her./ +>eah./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke./ %% admitted. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward. +I feel stupid. I&m just trying to help here. opened her mouth wide and said.endal played with her fingers.endal on the blanket. or what=/ %% blinked twice./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you./ ./ said %%. It is./ . +Are we going to talk about your poem. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself.+-kay.endal ordered. you do. but she didn&t care. +9ecause I was trying to make a point. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. I&m honest and upfront about myself. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem./ .endal said./ . I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. +2ey. you got me there. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason. for starters. +7et&s talk about the poem. +4hy=/ +4ell./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. a nervous habit over which she&d little control. +And read it to me as if you were in class. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good.

endal reassured her. she saw ./ . They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . startling them both. +I&m never going to be able to do this by .endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways./ +4ow. Some people may not respond in the best way./ %% said. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well. . .endal weak in the knees if she . you still did it. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur./ It was the first time . 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way./ %% hid her face with her hands.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile. That was it. as .endal had said. and spoke through her fingers./ 4hen %% looked up. but I bet most people will. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer. with regret. you will. It was the simplest of phrases./ +Argh. That was how the night had ended. e'posed. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense.endal had seen %% without her confident grin. +And you make it hard not to. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far.onday. eyes that made . %% had never heard anybody. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm./ +9ut that&s ridiculous. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. +>our writing is ama3ing. or even her parents. and fell over on her back.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. wondering where in the world she was. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated./ ./ +>es.endal had dared to picture a different ending. +I believe in you. and yet it carried so much weight. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes. %% was vulnerable. +I never thought of it that way.endal took it. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm.endal&s cell phone rang. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. In her imagination .endal laid her hand over %%&s . say those words to her before./ . not her coach. It&s the same with your writing. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. And it only made . They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as ./ .endal fall for her even more.endal maintained.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again. It confused her to the core.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo./ +It&s the same principal. and gave %% one in return. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face. +4hy=/ %% asked. %% had offered . Some people may not like it.

endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run. 0hristine&s only response was. She and . She burst from the locker room.endal didn&t know what to say. . The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited.endal huffed. Saturday might as well have been a pause. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of./ They walked briskly. the gentleness of her touch. +7et&s wait until we get to the track.endal jogging behind her to keep up. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd./ she said as genuinely as possible. yet ./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. . irritating./ . 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. +I&m waiting./ 0hristine spat. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. and probably to make her suffer.endal begged. >ou can come if you want to. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. and yet oddly comforting. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ .endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. She needed a word. +I&m really sorry.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again.stared at them long enough. +-kay*I know*you&re mad. I wanted to help her out. . 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of .endal found herself pouting.endal found the tapping distracting.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. and . before transferring to Sampson. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. with .e. still tapping. In fact. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. -nce she finished tying her sneakers. ./ she said. +. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. and only her imagination. and then %% had this problem she needed help with. +(ine. a definition to describe the feeling. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. ./ . already out of breath as they made their way around the track./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking. 4hen their pace 0hristine practically shouted. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year. +I am way beyond mad. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. e'cept.endal organi3ed her thoughts. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake./ 0hristine sang. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. +4ell*/ 0hristine said. to let her e'plain./ 4orking out was not something . . +I just lost track of time. to give it a name so that she could understand it better. she stood up and stretched. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. That thought alone frightened her deeply. . +I need to work out. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker.

She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. +That&s cra3y./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. >ou went back on a sacred oath. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug. +4hat are we. They didn&t want you to know. offering a full view of the courts below. . but your priorities are all messed up.endal screamed. #ither way. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in./ The color instantly drained from .endal had said. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ .endal. 2er face contorted. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face.+. and they&re starting to talk./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. +>ou are infuriating. +>ou have no idea what this means./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore.endal asked. +They are having a meeting./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. They turned to each other and giggled. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. She spotted %%./ It was as if ./ 0hristine shouted again.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. I don&t know. and . nor bearing the school colors./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. she had her complaints. +>ou know how these things go down./ 0hristine shouted.endal&s face. and continued with her rant. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. and yes. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately./ +6o./ 0hristine screamed. +And you know what that means. and wondered if %% had been one of them. That&s what it means. . At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. she had her frustrations.endal flung her hands to her hips. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know./ She leaned in and whispered. It was supposed to be a secret. >es. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye./ .endal felt amused. "eople are starting to wonder about you. you pinky swore with me. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. in first grade=/ she asked. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately. a little too loudly./ . ./ 0hristine told her.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print.endal. +It&s the truth. or if she was just really upset by what . noted where she was. +I just don&t see what the big deal is.

/ . and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. she did care. ./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%.endal asked. no matter how good you were. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. or you either for that matter. as it sometimes happens./ 0hristine said. one that she couldn&t put her finger on. nothing final. Suddenly. the most athletic. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. .endal had been lucky. She&d seen how these things had gone down. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. unsurprising./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . 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. be it academic or otherwise. cast aside./ +5et another one. Aside from being pretty and popular. She&d judged people. +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. She was dismissed. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. It shouldn&t have mattered. you had no shot at making the s1uad. 2er eyes instantly softened. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. $on&t even mention what I said. but if you skip that. She&d been the e'ception to the rule. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. Standing there in the athletic center. . (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her./ 0hristine said plainly. her involvement in the drama club. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. as if she were a freshman.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. (or some reason. 9ut. +Tomorrow night.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. 9ut for some reason. and her participation in student government activities. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . unanimous vote. . )nless you carried at least a K. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd.endal felt small and shallow. and smartest students on campus. at the school lounge. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. and she&d been happy doing it. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. She had 3ero athletic ability.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. I&ll vouch for you./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition.L 5"A. She&d have to start over. then you can come. +It&s only going to be a discussion.endal&s hands. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. popular. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. They went after only the most involved. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. by way of her K. 7ast year. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. 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. prettiest. it did matter.endal shouldn&t have cared..

I don&t./ . She hadn&t heard from . There were other. +-kay. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . and she didn&t care now. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. things on her mind. she might not like it so much. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room./ :ueenie said..c0arthy. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. +. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. in 1uotes with her fingers. In the meantime. nor would she ever critici3e her work. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now.endal glanced toward the basketball team again. I&m talking about T2# .endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. study session.endal ./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. more important. :ueenie loved. It was discouraging. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%. which wasn&t much at all./ she said without looking away. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other.endal at all on Saturday. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. +. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. to say the least. Time was running out.endal and her roommate arguing./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. +$on&t you think=/ +6o. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. :ueenie said. and :ueenie would love it. +That&s awesome. +8umors are starting to circulate./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself.

She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . It&s a fantasy./ she confessed./ %% maintained./ +I appreciate what you&re saying./ %% said. The deal was sealed. I&m in love with the girl./ :ueenie stood up.endal. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. really I do. that&s the point. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think. :ueenie shook it. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead./ +She&s not like that. I hate watching you go through this. +This is reality. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. +All right. %%. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else. +And you&re wrong about her./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show. 9ut you&re wrong this time. +9ecause you never learn./ :ueenie said. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour. when she was all %% could think about./ +That&s absurd. +It isn&t a game./ %% resisted the urge to argue. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you. the playful smirk gone from her face.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. and it&s never going to happen./ said %%. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. right=/ +8ight. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. she&s going to stop talking to you. once she reali3es the weight of it. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. +I know you&re in love with her./ %% warned. %% e'tended her hand./ +(ine. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. a lump forming in her throat. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later. %%./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. -nce .

And not once did :ueenie say. and added. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. surprised. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie. +I told you so.endal. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. an open te'tbook in her lap. She had little in common with .ya 9rooks./ CHAPTER !$ . +Sure.endal heard from beyond the peephole. and then knocked on .ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. 9ut as sweet as she was. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . asking for permission to sit down.ya burst out laughing. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . she knew how to play the game when it mattered. . we have noticed. . And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. +. and about little else. watch out. It was all she ever talked about./ . aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad.ya was alone. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. She motioned to the bed.ya&s door. popped the top. a true humanitarian./ ./ +She did. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. avoiding soccer parties and such. It was her life. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word.endal replied evenly.ya said. though. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly./ ./ . wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad.endal. and hanging out with certain people. wearing a pair of bo'ers. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a.ya was sweet and understanding. She opened the door and saw . have a seat. which made her easy to talk to. I thought . ./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned.endal braced herself. >ou know. Their conversations were few and far between.ya said warmly. +0ome in./ :ueenie burped. and sat down. and passed it over before taking one for herself. . +#'cuse me./ . letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. +. +6othing much./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. who released one can. She was compassionate and charitable. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. As far as your behavior. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand.sprawled out on the couch watching television.

silly. +I don&t know. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea. but that&s basically about it./ +4hat&s going on=/ . unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. And black members. but she&d certainly implied that . So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way./ ./ . in any way. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop./ . not that I know of. too./ +.endal replied. Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. +I mean.endal hurried to e'plain. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. I guess. And he&s even in a fraternity. then I had to stop spending time with %%. shape or form. a woman. took ./ . but if . .sociali3e as much. +6ot that I am. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . and we wanted to throw you a party. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. recalling meeting . or think I might want to . The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. it&s not a gay fraternity. +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay. I&ve never met anyone like her before. +6o.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath./ . And white members.endal said 1uickly.endal remembered a tall. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%. . They sat down./ . at this point in my life. It&s a regular fraternity./ . She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ . I didn&t know what to do. And I know she&s a girl./ +. if I met someone./ She smiled. the thought has crossed my mind.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad.ya laughed. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. +>es.ya stood up.ya asked./ . I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too.ya&s book dropped from her lap. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. make it mandatory. And I try to stop the feelings./ +That&s it=/ . side by side. It has straight members. . +#ver since I met her. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own.ya&s eyes.endal walked across the room. I&ve been all over the place./ +I don&t believe who=/ +%%. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ ./ +A gay one=/ .endal nodded. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es.endal stood up. +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. . because of %%.endal.

She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. +Is everything okay=/ . . . the words that were branded in her brain.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk.endal thought about the poem. %%% ./ she said. She remembered that poem now. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. Then . 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. everything is perfect. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her.endal&s appetite for revenge.endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her. she saw the words of the poem before her. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense.endal initially agreed not to see %%. +>es. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. That would have been awkward. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening. leaned up against the bark. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s. . her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. closed her eyes.endal couldn&t decide which one. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson.c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. +If you ever need to talk more about this. the slight hint of wickedness in ./ Although . She hadn&t shown any interest in him that night at the soccer party when the two of them were left alone in a room. just let me know. and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. 9ut with .yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head. She paused in the threshold.endal headed for the door. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. Somewhere along the road .ya.. turned and said. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. I plan on having a little talk with her.ya gave . And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the . +$on&t worry.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session./ +5ood. and rested her finger on a single line. She sat down. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours.endal a slight hug and added.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy ./ said ./ . +I underestimated you. +In fact. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. #verything is more than okay.endal . 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. 4hen she opened her eyes./ . feeling more relieved than she could have hoped. .ya asked.ya./ +I might take you up on that. She knew that poem.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. as she sat beside . (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. It meant something. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. yet for some reason . and had been since the first time she&d studied it. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. She flipped opened the book./ +And I underestimated 0hristine.

the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad.endal&s mind about him. that whole approach had been pointless.yan many things about . the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite. 4hat better way to get to . The one he had hatched originally was not working. as well as fall semester. when winter thawed. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . . he needed a new game plan. every spring. To . 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. It had no purpose. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. wondering why she&d just wasted a decent amount of her brain cells crafting a metaphor on the circle of life and a waterless fountain when she could be doing something much more productive with her time. the cement structure was depressing. without water. %% sat there. Apparently. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. There was one other person. she&d stood him up anyway. 2e had acted like such a fool. for that matter. It made no sense. only larger and more upscale. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about.endal better than she actually did. . the fountain couldn&t go on living.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. . at least for the rest of the winter.aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. The end of the soccer season. was just around the corner. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . Then. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy .endal hanging around with over the past month. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder.endal. And they hadn&t worked. lifeless. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. . 4ell.endal would respond to. It left her in a complete and utter da3e.yan had seen . If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . 9y itself.endal just might bend. #ven its soft blue color had faded.endal would be his 1ueen. the fountain had been shut off.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. . who would be anointed . which meant that the chosen pair. things that she&d thought . It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. rhyme nor reason. the girl on the basketball team. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. though. which left it looking and :ueen. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. one other girl that . it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. taking up space. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal.endal would respond to. attained a status far higher than everyone else.yan. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. And when he finally thought he had made a dent. She just might let him in. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew .endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain.endal&s tutor. It just stood there. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. It sucked the life right out of her. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it.

though./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way. . isn&t it=/ %% asked. +6o. She walked over and sat down on the bench. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. for whatever reason. +It&s pathetic./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. 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.endal all along. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. %% had never asked her why. it&s not pathetic. #ither way.6othing mattered to her./ +Say no more./ :ueenie returned. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. not even her writing. #ver since ./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. +4henever something like this happens.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. 4hat made it all worse. It didn&t help that she saw . not basketball. possibly by a former girlfriend. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . to not let herself get attached./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. 9ut %% knew that was impossible./ %% frowned.endal practically everywhere she went.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. I guess not. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. turning back to face the fountain. +7et&s go. %% shook her head in disappointment. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. a wide grin on her face. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. 9ut . in fact. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic. she refused to be like :ueenie.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. She did care. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . ./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. . hands in her pockets. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor.aybe she needed to not care./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. +It&s just the way you deal with things. you go off to find yourself./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class./ The voice rose from behind. my friend. +6o. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not.endal never even looked in her direction.

There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. during e'ams. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. 9y the time they arrived at the club./ :ueenie teased. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. She even had taken time to do her hair. +So it&s settled then.%% nodded. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome .rs./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. +It&s fine. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. %% had agreed on the spot. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. She was also in with the bouncer. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. since the bass had been turned up so loud. +>ou are. +I swear. She had gotten an e'tension. she hoped she would be able to. +She&s with me. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. I feel like I&m with someone famous./ She yanked %% off the %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. She didn&t have a choice. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. 2e watched %% suspiciously. At least. who called her by name once he saw her. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. And in a state of panic. Somehow it had worked because ./ :ueenie told him. +It&s going to be a great night./ said :ueenie. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs./ :ueenie shook her head. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. she&d asked to speak to . 0lark out in the hall. 9efore they left the dorm. +4e&re going out./ %% regarded her clothes. At the end of the semester. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last ./ %% said. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. . though. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled.

but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. she was cute enough. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. +4hy=/ she asked. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. . %% once again made her way through the crowd. +I&m leaving. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered. %% was ready to leave the club. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again./ %% shouted.e= At least I move to the beat../ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. and pushed %% to the side. +:ueenie. %% glared at her. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . she&d forgotten that %% was even there. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. though she was standing right in front of her./ she sputtered. +>ou look ridiculous. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. It was almost K p./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. +I&m not ready to go yet. She stomped down a narrow corridor. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening. I&m kind of in the middle of something. +7et&s go dance. and you could almost see the walls shaking. +$o whatever you want. Sure.m. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. An hour later./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. which was 1uite hard to do. The music was deafening. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. %% took off through the crowd. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd.They reached the second floor landing./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas.endal. +9ecause I&m ready to go. At that point. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. %% was still leaning against the wall. since she had none. +. 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. She offered to buy %% a soda. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape./ %% frowned./ :ueenie yelled. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor.

and they fell from underneath me./ %% sipped her soda. +(rom my perspective. broken beer bottles. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. ./ +9ut. which cost me twenty-five bucks. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. now you know what happened to me last night. And. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. I walked across them anyway. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. seriously./ +There&s nothing to tell. after the club closed we went our separate ways.&/ %% pressed. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. it was considerably amusing. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. The night had been a complete and utter failure. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. The two of them slept until after noon. either. eyes fi'ed on the television. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. and random individuals lurking about. if you hadn&t gone out.c9ride=/ . %% nodded. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. 9ut when %% told her story./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. by the way./ +Trust me./ :ueenie said. +I mean. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. and then I lost interest./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. she&d taken a cab back to school. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told.ung "ao chicken./ :ueenie shrugged. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. +4ait a minute. it looked like more than @not much was going on. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. After she finally got down from the fire escape./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. :ueenie still wasn&t home./ :ueenie repeated. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing. +I should have never gone out. so %% crawled into bed.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . I managed to land on my feet somehow.y story isn&t half as good as yours. really. +So. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie . She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. And in hindsight. +(unny./ +$o tell. and I felt*used./ %% shook her head from side to side. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation.

e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground.& So I said. So. >ou had a moment of guilt./ +:ueenie. She circled the room. +That&s my line.&/ +And that bothered you because ./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers./ +That girl=/ %% cringed./ +4ait a minute. 4hat happened=/ +#h. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped./ %% began. +-kay. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else./ :ueenie said finally./ +It passed=/ +>es./ she said. +I think I just wondered*for a very. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. It&s me. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. 9oth. It was something that started with an @S&. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience./ +I don&t know what it is. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can. and that&s it. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. and rubbed her temples./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. like I suddenly grew a conscience.:ueenie turned off the television. @relationships. +And you know what she said to me= She said. or through the eyes of some of the girls you hook up with and leave hanging= >ou felt how they feel after you cast them aside. . +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. I don&t know. +%ust like that. something a bit more real. I don&t know. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard./ %% told her. >ou felt the need for something more. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. you can talk to me. seriously. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. I don&t think that&s it. +-kay. and stood up. +Something is obviously bothering you. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. Try this one on for si3e. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. +6ope. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning./ . very. It passed./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. %% paused. The moment passed. @I&m not into that. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. @not into what=& And she said. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. And thankfully. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes./ %% scratched her head./ :ueenie said. . +4e said this weird goodbye. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down.

/ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. After all. She sat in the dining hall. +9esides. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. I just get a little an'ious now and then. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt./ %% picked up her fork again. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. +I need energy for the game. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. +I&m hungry./ +I&m not that bad. >ou are that bad. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. I get nervous. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations./ %% said enviously. she&d been right about . forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce./ +It&s all trivial. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. And I&m not depressed./ :ueen returned./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. graduating from high school. And so do you. ./ +I know. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. this time with determination. :ueenie sat across from her. +>ou get nervous about everything./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ . +That&s just part of your character. I don&t know. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall. +I figure. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. +It really isn&t that big of a deal.endal./ +It&s just a game. +I can&t help it. taking e'ams./ Though she didn&t admit it. %%. I suppose. I reali3ed who I was talking to. Someone who opens herself up to people.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other./ +Trust me./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. between ample gulps of milk./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. playing in basketball games. +I feel like I am going to throw up.%% threw her hands up in the air./ :ueenie said.

Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back./ +Take your stage fright. She gave :ueenie a long look. >ou never let it rest. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. this time you are actually making sense. I don&t want to be anything like them. or belittling them every chance you get. and stared up at the ceiling. and do it./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%.+6ot in the big scheme of things. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. 9ut she did know better. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle./ said :ueenie./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. you know you want to do it./ :ueenie said at last./ +So am I. >ou know my parents. +>es./ %% said./ %% glared at her. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over. %%. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again./ +-kay. %% waited patiently for her to respond. It&s part of the game you&re in. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. on paper or otherwise. 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./ +>ou know. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. There is one thing that I am afraid of. :ueenie. be-all for you. rather than taking advice yourself. for instance. :ueenie. sliding her plate aside./ :ueenie smiled. +>es=/ +>es./ +7isten. +0ome on. >ou&re a writer. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. +I was being serious. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. I&m listening. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. but you don&t really know my parents. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when .aybe. 9ut just hear me out./ said %%. $eep inside. $eep inside. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. you know you can do it./ +./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort. >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./ %% started her response. If %% didn&t know any better.

I just need you to say a few nice things about me. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction.yan asked. if you know what I mean./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position.endal . a shadow fell over the table./ %% hated the fact that he was right. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. And this would help me out a lot./ .yan e'plained./ :ueenie volunteered./ he smiled devilishly. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her./ +>ou&re friends with . but I&m still not following you. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test./ .maybe./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep. +True.c0arthy. keeping his eyes planted on %%. +0ome on./ . She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. +There&s no common ground. +4ho is this creep=/ ./ %% cocked her head to one side. and gave up her seat. %% thought. +I need you to do something for me. . +I said I need you to do something for me. I&m popular./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond./ he said. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. right=/ +>ou could say that. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ ./ +Trust me. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. +It&s important./ +9ut I hardly know you.yan sat down across from %%. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them. uninvited. I&m going to go to law school. ignoring :ueenie altogether. +7isten. if you just talked to them.yan Stevens loomed over them. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. +0an I talk to you=/ . It was empty./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table. I know you&re tight with her. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. and./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue.yan leaned in and whispered.

4e aren&t even friends. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in./ +4ait*/ . was over.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. entirely confused. too./ she said. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. +I&m sorry. %% had secured her starting position. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. according to 0oach 0ook. >ou not only played with skill. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. . I can appreciate your interest in .ary./ +4e aren&t best friends.yan called after her as she walked away. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. +That&s it=/ . %% had played well. whether by te't or by phone. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and . 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. too close for %%&s liking. +I&ve got a game to get to. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates./ she told him sharply.endal didn&t listen to them. After the game. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . I can&t help you. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. as she was making her way to the locker room. but you also played with heart. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. So %% figured their friendship. They hadn&t spoken since . or whatever it was./ And so it was official./ . 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. There was no apology. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game. I can&t help you. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said./ %% stared at his hand until he let go.endal .c0arthy was doing there. ladies.endal had stood %% up./ +4hy not=/ . 4e don&t even talk anymore. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate.endal./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. That&s it.yan practically whined. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game.%% sat there. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. +7ook. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. I was her tutor. :ueenie had played superbly.

+She just rambles when she&s happy./ :ueenie said./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. as she fle'ed her arms. I stink. 5reat team effort. %% yawned and stretched./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance. she knew why. 9y the time she made up her mind./ %% said. As soon as she saw ./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended./ %% whispered. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side. +5reat game./ . three.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. -ne. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me. 9y the way. there&s a first time for everything./ They left the locker room together. 0oach left the room./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening./ %% replied as evenly as possible. would you=/ +. :ueenie hesitated./ /That&s very true. debating whether or not she should meet . +5ive me a moment. I&m glad we won though./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms./ +>ou know what they say. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around.endal halfway or stay where she was.endal took in the empty gym. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to./ +Thanks. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. ladies. +I&m ready.nocked me around= I&m all muscle.endal already stood in front of her. when she noticed that . +I can hold my own./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. . +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. we won a game./ +It&s about time. as she pulled on her warm-ups. I want team on three. you wouldn&t know. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on. #veryone else followed suit. Then it&s always short and sweet. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. two. +It was e'citing and fun to watch.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle./ ./ :ueenie declared. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. I&ll see you back at the dorm. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. +5reat team effort tonight. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. >ou&re really good. +"lease=/ +-kay./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. it&s a different story. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet.endal was still sitting on the bleachers. +4hen we lose.

and you should probably know that . And I stuck up for you./ . And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space. I said you&d never do anything like that. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. look. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder. you know. . +2ey./ said . CHAPTER "* ./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. 5uess you proved her right.endal pleaded. you do./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. I guess he likes you a lot. Instead. she decided to walk away.endal. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something. why did you wait so long to talk to me= I&ve seen you around campus and you acted as if I wasn&t there. I don&t know you at all. +I thought I knew you.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for. 4anted me to put in a good word for him. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm./ . +>ou know me. I don&t. 9ut when ./ +6o. +I&m glad you came to the game. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class. I know you&ll do well.endal interrupted./ . That&s the problem./ she said. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. +She said you&d stop talking to me. +-h./ +>es. +9ut it&s not what you think. +I know how it looked. to e'plain what happened. she wondered if she&d made the right decision./ she said. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve./ .yan Stevens is head over heels for you.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ . :ueenie warned me. as you put it. +I came here to apologi3e.endal closed her eyes./ +>ou know./ . against her better judgment.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. 2e&s perfect for you.endal cringed./ %% took a giant step backwards.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her. . +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. (or avoiding you./ she said roughly./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up./ +I didn&t freak out. It is what it is. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today.

really.eet me in five minutes instead.endal.endal.endal*/ +2ello. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. you behind the couch. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand./ +2ello. . 4hen she stood up. . I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up.endal./ . She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room. +I./ . . +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. I found it. 9ut look. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. +See. +It&s okay. take your time.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. then crossed her arms over her chest./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. +>es. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air. I wasn&t . and then looked back at . (rom where she hid. >eah.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. +I already know what you think of me. ./ the students said in unison. I./ The entire group looked at her strangely. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket./ The president pointed a finger.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. .endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. talking on her cell phone.endal=/ +4ell*/ . 9ut you&ve got it wrong.endal. +2ey.endal insisted. %ust give me five minutes./ the president said patiently. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. . +Sorry to interrupt. shuffling through its contents. +It&s important. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal said. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. . She was dressed as if she were going out downtown. .4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge.endal gave a slight and awkward wave. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors./ +(ive minutes is all I need. in faded jeans. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting. . she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. +>ou&ve got five minutes. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. earlier today I dropped some change in the couch./ . races and religious beliefs. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover. . she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. +4hat&s your name=/ +. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. #veryone. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. please say hello to .endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her.endal heard a voice ask. To .endal stood slowly.endal approached her slowly. +And you are=/ .

/ .eet you where=/ +At my special spot.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. -kay. Tell her to meet me there in an hour. but .endal e'plained. 6o. .yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. And I needed some space to think about my confusion. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. .endal=/ %ason asked . +%%. This time. and continued to watch her from afar. %%% +So what happened with . I haven&t even made it off campus./ She laughed in spite of herself. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. . I don&t even know what I&m saying. >es./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. It&s me. I&m not going anywhere yet. +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. School. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away. I knew she was mad at me. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened./ . no matter what people think or what people say or . ./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer.yan as they left the athletic center. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. . I thought I&d try a different approach. See you in when you get here. I&m not downtown yet. I want to*I don&t know. but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. In fact. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%./ . I want to*spend more time with her.endal striding along the sidewalk. It distracted her for a moment. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. I already tried talking to her. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door.endal hugged herself to keep warm. I want to do the e'act opposite. +This is so new to me.going to stop talking to %%. #verything./ .endal walk away./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . And there&s more to be said. as if her words were left suspended in air. she could still see . She&ll know where I&m talking about. let me guess. then she&ll come meet me. I want to talk to her more.endal declared. and that didn&t go so well. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. All of it./ +So. Something came up. +9esides.eet me in the school lounge. until her silhouette faded into the night. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. I&m serious. (riends. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. +>ou get a chance to help make this right./ +. It&s important. I&m still confused./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked.

./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ .an. maybe she&s tutoring . does she know if ./ +I don&t get it./ %ason snickered.+6o./ ./ .yan said. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason.yan waved his hand into the air. seriously./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans. 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 think it is. +5et it=/ +$ude. +2ey. She said . all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl./ +I tried a different approach. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on./ he said 1uietly.c0arthy that. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party. +Take this for me. I forgot about that.endal in more subjects than one. +Shut up. +9ut I&m going to follow her. A devilish smile broke out on his face./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason.endal .yan rolled his heavy shoulders back. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else. the one that you talked to./ %ason bit down on his laughter./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ e'ploring my options./ ./ ./ +.yan rolled his eyes. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet. +I don&t know. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away.endal . +It does now.yan looked up. +It bombed. okay. while making 1uotes with his fingers.yan said. +4hat. +. 8emember= She stood me up. $oes it matter=/ . +She said she hardly even knows .yan fi'ed his eyes on him./ +I doubt that. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team. Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up.aybe you just need a different and that she&s just one of her tutors.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek./ .endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out. I&m just. rela'. and then to a figure approaching the soccer field. >ou know. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered.yan answered. isn&t that*/ . The whole sensitive guy routine. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge.aybe she&s just not into guys./ +6o./ +So=/ +So. Then it was all . +-h*right./ he said. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days. +I don&t know. And I can&t figure out why./ %ason stopped walking.c0arthy this and . +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean.

. static feelings. so to spea6. . +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. Thoughts reel. only this time she hadn&t let it take over.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. mind /lea6. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. . *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. Heart open. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. But it4s 5ust a moment. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . The first time she . ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. strength. *ant to &ometimes ' do. &ometimes it helps. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. to relieve in itself The pain. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . Sure. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. She reread the words 1uickly. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. +I&m not sure. '4m wea6. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. &omewhere. erratic. And move on. &o real.endal.

/ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. 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. As she reached for her baseball cap.c0arthy./ :ueenie whispered back. unassuming. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. She spoke about tolerance./ +:ueenie.endal . +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. 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. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. care of the . :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously./ :ueenie sat up straight. ./ %% said evenly. %% 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. %% had been able to do it all by herself. dark-skinned girl. +7istening.c9ride&s. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. It made sense. This time. every rhythmic phrase./ +6one other than T2# . %% knew that now. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. It was therapy. took the podium. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. every word. closed the journal.endal. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting./ %% looked around the room. even basketball. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. right. perhaps=/ +6ice try.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. with glasses too big for her face. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance. stage fright. I forgot. or lack thereof. A meeting of some sort was taking place./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective ./ +>ou give up too easily. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place./ They watched together as a tiny./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium.

/ +She likes you. and I don&t want to know.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. 4hen she reopened them./ :ueenie admitted. +-kay.+That&s right. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. I&m talking on my i"hone outside. I asked. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. she took a deep breath. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all . I still don&t understand./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About .endal . I&ve got three words for you. +As much as I appreciate your confession and the fact that you were even able to get those three little words out of your mouth. if you&ll e'cuse me.iss . #njoy the rest of your. She could only nod. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation./ said %%. three. +This is a big deal for me./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. of course. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. . I&m heading back to the dorm. The nerve of some people. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. 4as./ :ueenie closed her eyes./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. and says she needs to talk to me. (or some reason./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand./ %% stood up. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill./ :ueenie continued.endal. I got the impression that she even missed you. she likes spending time with you. +6o. in hopes that I might go speak to her. +6ow. I&ve got two. +And she wants to tell you herself. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. It doesn&t happen too often./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. she took another deep breath. save your breath. 4rong. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason.c0arthy once and for all./ +4hich are*=/ +I./ %% sat down again. you should know that . one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on./ %% cleared her throat. +4onderful. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. +5ood. taps me on the shoulder.

-ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap./ +I can&t believe this. Then I&m heading downtown. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. +>ou must be rubbing off on me. +I was wrong about her. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation. +%%. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. you might hear her say it for yourself./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head. :ueenie . +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. I did my part. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field./ %% yelled again. you&ve got a small head./ +I can&t believe this./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body./ She pointed at %%./ +And I appreciate that./ +I know./ +Thanks.c9ride./ +That&s up to you.endal supposedly was waiting. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. CHAPTER "! . And if you get off your high horse and remove the @but I&ve still got my pride& plugs that you&ve stuck into your ears for just one second. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having./ :ueenie continued. she couldn&t I think she really cares about you. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall./ :ueenie whispered. +0all me if you need to. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to./ %% whispered in return. She&s not like I thought she was. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends. The hard part was to choose which doors. and slammed it down on her head. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. come on. +./ said %%. +%ust when I&m over the girl. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. >ou have to believe me. . 4alking through them would be the easy part. I mean. my friend./ %% yelled. This is me you&re talking to. She grabbed her baseball cap back.+9asically. I&m talking @like like. +It was obvious./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. >ou were right. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge. you turn around and tell me this. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where .

%% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story. If :ueenie had come through for her./ 2e approached the blanket. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go./ +"athetic=/ . The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up. well.endal as she scanned the darkness.endal&s protest. just go./ +4hy= 4ho is this person you are so eagerly waiting for=/ +4hy do you care=/ +I care because you stood me up not so long ago and I&m curious to know why.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her.yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness.yan stared down at the blanket.endal told him at once. 2is charisma had melted away. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. eh=/ +That&s none of your business. >ou are the biggest self-centered.endal looked at him with distaste. 2ave you ever noticed why the girls you hook up with suddenly stop talking to you= -r did you actually think that you were the one playing them=/ +I*/ +-h*you did. casting a dim beam over the blanket. +4hat do we have here=/ . +That seat is reserved for someone else. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you.endal spat. It&s been said. right=/ +It was a girl./ . +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. +6ice little set up you got here. +Think about it./ +Some friends come with benefits. And in the end. egotistical moron I&ve ever met./ said ./ 2e winked at her. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer. +I apologi3e for standing you up. 4e&d make a great couple./ . "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ . 4e could take this school by storm. +It&s cold out here. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon. A friend.yan forced a laugh. I&ve never even entertained the thought./ ./ +4ith some other guy. I found a much better way to spend my night.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. She crossed her arms in frustration. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it./ . +4ould this so-called friend be the tutor you&ve been spending so much time with lately=/ +2ave you hired a private investigator or has 0hristine been filling your ears with gossip again=/ ./ ./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. +4ell.endal pointed a hard finger at him./ ./ +A friend=/ . that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. 4e have so much in common. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic./ . pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. well. worried that %% would arrive at any second. +#ither way./ he confessed. +"lease. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me.endal laughed sweetly at him. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . you&re pathetic. didn&t you= 2ow sad.yan returned. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ .endal&s sweet smile soured instantly. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more./ +7ook. if you must know.

And apparently you aren&t being yourself. but there was no one there./ . I&m in no position to tell you what to do. then. it turns people off. 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. +That&s the real point of going off to college./ . anymore. +I&m the captain of the soccer team./ she said.endal continued. I get good grades./ he said. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. desperation in his eyes./ +.yan said 1uickly. +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=/ +./ 2e looked at her. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ . and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school. -nce we graduate./ he e'plained.endal stared at him firmly. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. setting her hands on his shoulders. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives.yan asked.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. . +I don&t know what I am. She peered into the shadows. +They&re his rules.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. $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. what am I doing wrong=/ ./ said . I take care of myself physically. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. It&s not about what you do./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. >ou might as well let them see the real you. now you know./ ./ +So it&s true. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o. they might respect you more./ +6ot everything. I&ve done everything right.endal&s own eyes softened. >ou act so conceited.+4ell.yan maintained./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . +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 can be a nice guy. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong./ he told her. +Then tell me.yan didn&t answer.y father&s in the military.yan stood up. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah. +It isn&t worth it. no matter what other people think. >ou really are a lesbian=/ . +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. It&s about who you are. .endal. She suddenly felt sorry for him. not mine. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not. I guess not. . the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors./ +7ook./ .endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side. +9efore you met who=/ . it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school.endal approached him.

I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. +If it were me. She had decided to move in with . Steadying the crates in her arms.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. 6ew classes. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. I can&t understand. 7ook. 6ew semester.ya&s room if you want.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm.endal said.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school. ./ . . and*/ +I can do it by myself. She turned her back and resumed packing.yan leaned forward to hug her. and then took it in his hand. 2er clothes were spread across her bed. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere.+It doesn&t matter./ ./ +. I&m not doing anything./ she advised.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. 6ew living space. +5o look in the mirror. and it&s important to me./ As . she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to . It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night./ ./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since . +>ou&ve changed. really./ +>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. +Then you&ll see what I mean.endal agreed. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally.c0arthy. +6ope.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. I said I was sorry a billion times. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything. I think you got off easy. +I&m just saying I know how you feel. you know that=/ +I have changed./ . It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well. 2e stared at it blankly.endal knew she&d done that all by herself. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.endal . 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded. +6o. 6ew ./ She pushed past 0hristine.ya&s room. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay.endal had started packing. but ./ she said. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to ./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff.endal. +I&ve already been scolded by ./ . +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined.ya the week before./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as .endal replied. ready to be carried away to some other closet.

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. things change. neither./ +It&s okay./ +"ositive=/ +./ said ./ +5ood.endal had waited in the cold./ she said./ +8ight. +./ .ya asked gently. +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that./ . +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ ./ said . And she never showed up./ .aybe it has less to do with 0hristine and more with the fact that I know I&m the one who messed things up with %%.endal./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= . 6ew semester. I&m sorry.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it. reluctantly.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor./ . I know she feels bad about it.aybe. +6o. +Is it possible. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet.endal replied apologetically. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles.endal./ +So what now=/ +6ow. +Time to move on. +I know./ +If it&s any consolation.ya sat down on her bed.ya asked. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book. +That&s what she feels bad about./ ./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly./ +Are you sure=/ +>es. nothing. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation. 7etting me move in here is help enough.endal entered her room.endal snatched the book away from . she sure was an attractive scapegoat./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know.endal admitted./ . it&s not./ . as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others.e.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor. +2onest. +6ot much./ +Such as*/ +4ell./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. It&s not a big deal at all./ +I have plenty of room./ +7et me help you. +I can do it.endal frowned.. She does feel bad about what she did. 9ut. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it. 6ew things to come./ . +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ ./ . for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year.ya helped . +I&m a little on edge still./ . She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once. as .

+.endal said./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then./ ./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +. +4hat&s that=/ ./ +4ell. She picked up the binder and showed it to . I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything.e= I couldn&t.ya answered.ya cooed like a little school girl. jockish sort of look. here&s a list of possible venues. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal.yan. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. +(or instance. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. debating whether or not to go in./ . +I&m not into girls now.ya teased.endal returned.yan would have asked you for sure. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes.yan Stevens needs in his life. certainly lacked appeal. I understand.endal burst out laughing./ . listening to successful.endal smiled wickedly.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her./ +(orgot what. 2er stroll./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo. >et she continued to linger.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in.+It&s okay. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him. I happen to think . +0ome on./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot. and took ./ .yan is cute./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl ./ . +8eally= I thought ./ +-h./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. if you like that meathead.ya asked innocently. +2e&d never say yes./ ./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke./ ./ . And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. +Then you can help me think of what to say to . in search of inspiration for writing./ +>ou&re into girls now. >ou name it*it&s on here. I have to do it soon. and began sifting through some papers. +4hat=/ ./ she said. I forgot. -therwise he might ask somebody else.endal asked./ +>ou like . ./ .yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me./ .ya blushed. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach.endal&s hand. And apparently she&s not into me.endal. had led her nowhere in particular. I can promise you that.ya jumped up off the bed. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. +. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here.

/ he whispered. more significantly./ said ./ +0hicks=/ +>eah./ she said. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure .yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. and then turned abruptly toward %%. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. And when she finally stopped running./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ .yan&s shoulders gently. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window.The sun had just settled in for the night. Instead. +I thought she&d tell you. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line./ As he turned and reached for the door. I&ll catch up with you. once he was back outside on the sidewalk.yan Stevens standing directly behind her. other girls. +-h.yan. she turned and ran. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . Then for some reason . barely acknowledging her presence. %% gave him a slight nod. right. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. +And I doubt she will any time soon.endal told you what happened. She had gone there. %% stared at him vacantly. They shuffled by her.endal was holding . She&s too much to deal with. +4ell. +>ou know./ said . +.yan held up a finger. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. 9esides. +I hope you treat her right. +>ou two make a cute couple. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. At that moment. %% almost called out to her./ ./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it.yan. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands./ %% stepped aside to let them pass. breaking into %%&s flashback. +6o. +I don&t think so./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. completely heartbroken. Save me a spot in line./ said his friend %ason.yan. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. completely out of breath and./ she said blandly.endal would be waiting./ said . 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. . %% 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 . She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground. who was standing beside him.yan echoed. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. 6amely you.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. telling him to wait a minute.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win./ +0ouple=/ .endal. +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . +2ey %ason./ +(ine by me. 9ut there was no masked man. she didn&t. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory.

right= About me. %ust as she was about to fall asleep. let me get this straight. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping./ +2ey.+6o./ %% smiled. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was. and her lower back ached. but I have to go./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah. you know. and smacked herself in the forehead. She flopped down and closed her eyes.yan e'plained. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time.yan called after her as she hurried down the street.yan struggled to recall the incident. +She was waiting for you./ . that&s good advice./ +>ou saw us=/ . she said she was e'pecting someone else.yan&s face./ +4ell. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. +I knew it. wait a minute./ ./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. >ou two were about to kiss. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up./ A warm./ she said suddenly. so I followed her.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight. CHAPTER "$ . I wish. +I wanted to know what was going on with her. . 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. Then it hit him./ he glanced around again. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you. +./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly.endal sat down on her new bed. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. +So. +I&m sorry. She didn&t. +4e talked about a few other things.endal mumbled./ +9ut I saw you together./ %%&s eyes danced around. and she basically put me in my place./ . the door to her room opened. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. +. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street.endal was holding onto your shoulders./ she said.endal didn&t want you there. even though it was still unmade./ . bouncing off the sidewalk. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. 7ike I said. too. the sky and ./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach./ .

ay I=/ ./ +That he did./ +>ou could have said something./ said .ya.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently. I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly. through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime. +. just for the record.aybe do a little studying.endal./ . +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know./ +.endal said dryly./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed./ ./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss. +I was in town earlier.endal flinched./ +That depends.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her./ +4ell. .yan a lecture. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge. I prefer to call him ./ said . the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. +7ooking for you.endal told her. +And. She stood up and began to pace around the room./ +That I did.ya./ +>ou and me both.yan the couch monster. +4hatever you have to say. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ +I didn&t know what to think./ +I was thinking we could go to the library. She was sitting up now. I guess I didn&t really believe it./ +4hat do you mean./ said a familiar voice./ %% e'plained. it looked much different through my eyes. and I ran into . )nlike ./ . +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself. +I just saw what I saw and ran. I&m ready./ +That is a mistake. I&m not captivated by his washboard abs./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. through my eyes./ %% insisted./ .yan Stevens./ +-nly./ +-h. +I mean that I did show up that night.endal snickered.endal./ She observed ./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +.endal&s eyes shot open.ya told me where you were. It doesn&t matter to me. and made a face. I&ll listen. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. +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./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did.+It&s not . +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something./ . And. +./ . +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen. only I showed up right when you were giving .endal&s new surroundings./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide. trying to make sense of what was happening.ya likes ./ +4hat=/ .yan=/ +That&s beside the point.

each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it.c9ride with her parents in tow. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. and nothing could stop them. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. %% didn&t dare deny it. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson.c9ride. performed only when her parents were around. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room.+Studying=/ +>eah. +Thought so. #ach was notable for a different reason. and re1uest a roommate change. Somehow./ . -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. The day she&d met :ueenie./ said :ueenie. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. The two became inseparable after that. before classes began.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best./ +0ome on. in walked :ueenie . +I&m :ueenie . She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler.endal said. . you know that=/ At that moment. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. The championship game went . tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. right down to her socks. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars./ +That&s right. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. the one and only. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life./ %% had said. her life was forever changed. And that was a moment worth remembering. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. They had both arrived a week early. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. The first was the day she met :ueenie. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. making it to the state championships. 4e&re going to take this school by storm./ she eventually told %%. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. They were going to take the campus by storm. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. 9ut %% resisted.

A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. she saw . such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. . 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. you know= Two girls holding hands. and all. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ ./ said %%. And since e'ams were right around the corner. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. facing %% who lagged behind her. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. The room was no bigger than a closet.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. The walls were soundproof.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. staring is rude. As she made her way toward the biographies section.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand.endal replied./ +-h. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. %% had to ask./ . and as they stepped aside they studied . +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision.into double overtime.endal rounded a corner. and desperately tried to calm her nerves./ . with a playful smile. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet./ . and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door. %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. once they were inside. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door./ +$oesn&t bother me much. $uring e'ams. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. since she&d made the winning basket.endal replied. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. She watched with anticipation as . and tackling her to the floor. they were e'tremely hard to come by. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked. seating three or four people at the most. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. eyeing the key. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. chasing her down. -nce ./ she said. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. 4hen %% reached the landing. +I&m obviously used to it by now.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. she knew the smell of . study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. +I&m learning as I go along. +I&m just having a little fun. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. %% gulped. her heart sped up e'citedly.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. +9esides. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided.

+>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. it knocked the breath straight out of her./ she managed./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off./ +I am.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her.endal or across from her. 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.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed.endal shot her a look. %%. you&re a girl and that complicated things. She pointed at the cover. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key. +9ut. +It&s a learning process. +I was so confused. waiting for me to lug her to class. All I see you doing is talking. 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. +Interested in you=/ . +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore.endal played with the key.endal shook her head and laughed. +8ela'.endal ordered. "age DEP./ she said. +I thought you said you were ready to listen. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. +#verything that was right in front of me. +This=/ She held it up.endal finished.endal looked at her that way.endal sighed./ +0heerleading connections. +>es. that&s all. She patted the open seat ne't to her. +The interest never went away./ . 4hen ./ ./ +4ell./ +Sit down. I didn&t . -nly. +I used to hate her. %% remained standing. really=/ ./ ./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly.endal. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. +4hat did you mean back on the steps. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. . unable to speak./ +-h./ +I have my ways./ said . ./ She looked up at %%./ ./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. She decided to test the waters first. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. I don&t see you listening. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her.endal began. +She used to torment me at night.endal confessed.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ ./ . +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. her nerves getting the better of her. I should have known. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right. %% nodded. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to ./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ .endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear.

endal. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you.endal./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye./ said ./ said . %%% 7ater./ said %%. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings./ . 4I7$ nights. 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. That&s why I avoided you. and especially not 0hristine. All I know is that I want to be around you. not my friends.endal . she sei3ed the moment. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me.endal softly. 9ut that isn&t the case. +I finally get it./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before.c0arthy. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart./ said . she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. no matter what anyone else thought. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . +>ou are way too humble. The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. +I finally get the meaning behind it. even when I didn&t know myself.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. +I knew you were going to say that. +>ou don&t have to say anything. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed./ She pointed to the page.endal in the eyes. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. still unable to look . It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. Instead./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. when %% was lying in bed that night.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. That&s why I stood you up. and how you helped me change my perspective. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. not the s1uad./ . 4ild nights. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that. . suddenly made no sense at all./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit. And that&s you.

I won&t take your charity. 4hen she closed her eyes./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then./ She hopped up on %%&s bed.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. +I need it. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead./ +>ou know. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books. 4e&re naturally gifted. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. and worn folders spread out in front of her.endal . she could read them as they floated by. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we no./ +Thank 5od for that. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation./ :ueenie said honestly. +%ust what the doctor ordered./ +It&s my pleasure. she would. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. scattered papers./ +4ait a second. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. She had gone over it again and again. I&m going to lose it./ She paused momentarily. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me. but she&s pretty cool./ +>ou would. I was wrong about her. scattering notes and papers everywhere. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning./ %% marveled at :ueenie. If %% could study for it. +6o. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright./ :ueenie said./ +Thanks. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them./ +So where is T2# . +2ow do you do that=/ she asked. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic. which she already was an e'pert at./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker. and it was hardly an e'am./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach. +I just can. I hate to admit it./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear. The poem that .

and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. 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. +4ell-adjusted= "lease. not to mention childish. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big. shifting her position every other minute. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be.y sister is taking that risk. I&m so proud. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door.c9ride family soon enough. To take a risk like that.+I&m serious./ +. so nobody else at her table could . +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. 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 . I&m not sure what&s going on with me. but I think you might be right. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously./ +It happens to the best of us. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. +Are you okay=/ she asked. thankfully. you can be cynical sometimes./ +Sure. morally-sound young woman. devilishly-motivated. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself./ +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. It&s simply a 1uestion of when./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. +4ell.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. but we all can./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. thing to do=/ +>es. 7et&s not go overboard here. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. She&s putting her all into someone./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem. The lighting was dim. +I&m sorry. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. It&s something special./ +2ey./ :ueenie insisted. 9ut if you never take that chance. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. ./ :ueenie sighed./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all. besides all of that. +"erhaps. you&ll never know the difference between the two.

/ +2ey./ %% forced a laugh./ . 2onestly. And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth. +2ey./ .endal./ %% smiled politely. that would totally rock. +I must say.endal slipped in through tight lips. 5ood luck./ +Isn&t that .see that she wasn&t only pale. +She&s fine. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. genuinely serious. +4e just came over to wish you good luck./ :ueenie smirked.yan&s hand.atie 2olmes of this school. I don&t think .ya.ya asked. right./ +>ou think so=/ ./ :ueenie remarked.yan even had a choice in the matter. +2ow about. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad./ said :ueenie confidently.yan fidget until . And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something.endal.endal asked. +I guess so. .yan Stevens behind her./ +2ey.y. ladies. +. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well. She grabbed hold of ./ +-h. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret.ore than usual. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked . +)h. She gave . for that matter. you two make 1uite the darling couple. %% nodded in return.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine.ya elbowed him gently in the gut. 9oth ./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors.endal and %% shot her a warning look. . She was sitting beside %%. yeah. I bet they&ll even dub you . +-h./ +4ell. as she slapped .ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt./ said :ueenie. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. and watched ./ he mumbled.ya in the school paper. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support./ %% grumbled. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and . . I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here./ .ya=/ %% asked./ :ueenie replied./ +And without baseball metaphors.endal&s hand shot up in the air. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . stop. %% ignored her and took in the crowd. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing. but it was too late. +Are they together=/ %% asked. as he rubbed the sore spot. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year. +>ou okay=/ . +7ook at her. 2er mouth was already off and running. girl.

/ %% gulped./ said %%. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while. She&s a girl who knows what she wants./ added :ueenie. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . +Are you nervous at all=/.yan. %% stood there. he sure is a lucky guy. . +I&ll go get you some water. 0hairs 0lark shouted into the microphone. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips./ said . In an instant. she&s not nervous at all. yeah./ said :ueenie.+0ut it out. +./ :ueenie offered in return. +At least you&ve got your color back./ she hissed at :ueenie. And it&ll do . and turned her head swiftly as soon as . +./ %% mouthed./ +-h.endal. +4ell.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block . 0lark&s voice from her ears. and she began to hyperventilate.endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign. +2ey. She shrugged her shoulders back at and I&d have to start calling names. +Take deep breaths.endal suggested. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. She felt . She&s as steady as a rock.ya %% announced. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head.ya&s a little*particular. 0lark&s hand./ said . as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back. +>ou don&t look so good.endal. hard. +>ou know. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. as every person in the entire room stared at her. +%ust look at her. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. The damp taste in her mouth went dry. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition. +%%. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb./ . +I think I&m going to be sick./ said :ueenie.ya looked in her direction. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first.ya&s a sweetheart./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at ./ %% scowled at :ueenie. 0lark take the stage. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. She yanked .ya shifted. that&s all. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop./ . She felt . +2ey. At this point she was seeing everything double. +Thanks for the water./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . +She&s just psyching herself up. +. +6ot at +That .e=/ %% pointed at her chest. +2e looked absolutely miserable.endal maintained. we better find a seat before they&re all taken./ ./ .

and focused on the ones she didn&t know. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. :ueenie.other . She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the 0lark. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. I took it off and basked naked in the sun. tiger. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. The words just kept flowing from my pen. It was the final signal that there was no going back. They stopped about halfway around the track. the best writer in class. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . and they kept coming. +She tied my hair in ribbons. And these are the words that ended up on the page. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. I cringed at her reluctance. @. +4henever you&re ready. who held her breath in anticipation./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. 4e found a common strand. until they blended together into a sea of colors. I untied them and my hair ran wild. 2er shoulders straightened. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone.endal./ CHAPTER ") . >et.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em./ said . Together. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. one after the other. she lifted her eyes to the crowd.endal and :ueenie in the corner. She often wondered who I was inside. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. %%. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. +I wrote this for class*well. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. She accepted our fate. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. I suppose you could say I wrote it. settling on . was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. I boasted that I was her only daughter. of course. I accepted our gender. She cringed at my defiance.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited.

/ .endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage.endal. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass./ She pointed to his maroon T-shirt which had a white heart on the front of it with the phrase +I like you/ printed on it. . ./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those./ . isn&t it=/ he grinned./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you. +0lever./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts./ +0lever./ 9rad said./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating./ +./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger. +I&m sorry.endal smiled. a biography of #mily $ickinson. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson./ +She was a poet.y name is 9rad. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es. by the way./ ./ +6ice to meet you.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . 4e&re pretty popular in this area. After you&re done playing./ she said politely. A $rummer and (our 5uys. actually. She smiled momentarily.endal. . +TouchM. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band./ +Speaking of T-shirts. by the way./ +8eally=/ 2e paused.aybe I will.endal e'tended her hand to him. +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry./ she said as nicely as possibly. +0ome here often=/ he asked.endal. while chomping on a piece of gum.endal teased. actually. he was standing right in front of her.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night. you should stick around and check her out. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again. +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. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him./ +So listen. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I. +I&m . +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans./ +5uess not./ . >ou should read some her work. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ +Agreed.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or./ .. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend. It&s ama3ing. . and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. +#very (riday night.

The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. She looked out of the adjacent window./ . She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. % % % THE E+D % % % .endal played along. +>eah. oomph. +6ot at all. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond.aybe I will. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . #verything around her felt fresh and new. she wanted to become a teacher. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore.endal. he stopped suddenly. 4ere I with thee./ said . as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride . would she=/ +6o./ +6ever hurts to ask. Since then.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment./ ./ said . 4I7$ nights. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. As for . #ventually. +I don&t think so.endal laughed.endal sat back down. 8ecently../ said %%. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night. .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./ +That was much better.+.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. once she reached the table. . she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for./ As 9rad turned to leave. laughed and cleared her throat. a new and confident %% was born. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked./ +Stick around after your set. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot.endal. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud.ollow -ueenie and ./ +-omph=/ .endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away.endal. As .endal stood up./ %% teased. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. a person that ./ +4ill do./ . +She might change her mind after she hears you play. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. signaling that spring had arrived at last.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand. +4I7$ nights. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high.

you are under age 2.or her anthology My Story is Out %.or#ation and e2cerpts . and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# .ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful