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