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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
endal confessed./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject./ she said breathlessly.s. +I&m really sorry. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. a little shamefully./ +That&s what I thought. right=/ . +It&s something I have had to work harder at./ . 0hin e'plains what a poem means. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. I can actually read and write somewhat well. is like that. :ueenie. I&m %%. +4ell. 4hen we discuss a poem in class.endal&s left shoulder. I tutor a lot of different people. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. +I didn&t mean anything by that.endal emitted a dramatic groan.endal said 1uickly. I&d give anything to be able to do that. She ran her hand through her hair again. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. +I&ve seen you around school./ %% smiled. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously. #veryone needs help now and then./ %% e'tended her hand. or when . I might as well be reading a foreign language./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . It&s a completely different kind of reality. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. +I was just joking. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late.endal. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time./ %% understood . go to class and pass a test without even studying. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings. ne't to the biography section. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from./ ./ said %%. though she couldn&t relate to it. and since she was a writer herself. . +I&m sorry.endal. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table./ .sitting at the farthest table from the door. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. I&m completely lost.endal&s frustration. >ou&re .s. right=/ . +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. +The soccer team and I go way back. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair./ said ./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. +4ell./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear./ +Seriously though.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. So./ +It&s okay. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying./ . %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over .y friend./ +. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in.endal nodded.
Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. +A long.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. to break the ensuing awkward silence. though./ .+)nfortunately. right= A long. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice./ she said. +So./ +Thanks. +I mean. you know. +8ead the last two lines.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. See. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily. looking up from the book.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote./ said %%. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. bask centuries away . +-kay. +It smells like strawberries or something like that./ +5ood. 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./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . +.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. pointing at the page. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. An independent one. fully aware that ./ +)m*thanks. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. . . like fruity or something./ +To bask centuries away. long sleep. ./ +It seems like a waste of time./ said %%. +%ust so we can read it together./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of.endal was staring at her./ %% rambled on. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ . +>ou smell nice. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. That makes no show for dawn. long sleep. . . She was nervous for some reason and for a second she forgot why she was even in the library until she saw the book of poetry open in front of them. a famous sleep. she&s talking about death. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell./ She paused and looked up from the page. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. +It isn&t as important as you might think.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process.endal said. +I don&t think that matters.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me./ she said.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ ./ . %% looked up from the page. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously./ %% picked at the page with her fingers./ They discussed the poem at length. It distracted her. along with a few others for over an hour. . There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves. not once look up for noon ./ %% heard herself say.
+It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor. +I should get back to my dorm./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. though she could hear the television in the common room./ %% studied her./ said %%. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor. same time./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with .endal asked. for instance. remember=/ +4ell. . we&re even then.endal.endal said.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. %% stood still for half a second longer. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here. +Same place./ she said finally. >ou said it yourself. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. and the warm sensation she felt whenever .c0arthy up close. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head. The dorm room was empty when %% entered. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. . +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face.endal was staring at her again./ +I didn&t think that./ +>eah. laughing. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . It was her turn to look away this time. letting the sound of . +4hat=/ .+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background./ +In what way=/ +4ell. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious.nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better./ +"ossibly. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though./ %% admitted. as if she were keeping a secret.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending./ she said. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said. +I&ll see you ne't session./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to . . e'cept I&ll be on time. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave./ . slid her hat on backwards. recalling the tidbits of conversation. you know. . I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. She blinked and looked away./ said . 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. +6othing.endal accidentally brushed against her.endal. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love.endal&s folder.endal . She was more than beautiful. 2e said you were one of the best. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. same time.
/ said %%. ' see it .endal appeared in %%&s mind. She whispered the poem out loud to herself in the safe confines of an empty room where she felt secure that no one else could hear her. +4ild nights. +4hat=/ . a feeling. 8ead it with more enthusiasm./ %% looked at her skeptically. Beyond your eyes. sitting side by side. . fell out from between the pages. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . 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. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. a moment. . %% sat back and admired her work. . no. 4ild nights.endal raised her voice slightly. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. Sitting with her legs crossed. the writer inside of her had taken hold. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt.endal asked. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal./ +6o.A number two pencil. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. an image of . discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. 4ild nights. 4hen %% opened her eyes. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed.
wild night.endal.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night.endal opened her mouth to begin. studying. 4as she at a party or something=/ +. %% playfully grabbed hold of . The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word. %% stood up and began clapping loudly. they&ve been enjoyable. haven&t they=/ ./ %% held back her sigh of relief. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning./ +I know. +-kay. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying. +I&m just doing the poem justice. And it was all because of . 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together./ %% shifted in her chair. +4I7$ nights./ ./ said %%. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing./ she said. studying. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem./ +$ickinson is the beginning. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table. her hair./ she said. +So back to those @wild nights. she would have never dared to do what she had just done. done with the compass. >ou&ll see. 4hat do you think it means=/ ./ . +>es./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y. even though her stomach was in knots. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it.endal. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. 4I7$ nights. give it a little more oomph. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended./ %% forced a smile./ %% insisted.endal asked. +4ow.endal looked on in ama3ement./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. +See. done with the chart. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . +(utile the winds to a heart in port. %% covered the page with her hands.endal. that was much better.endal sighed.&/ said .endal&s hand and pushed it away.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. It&s been two weeks of studying.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask./ %% said after a moment.endal began reciting the poem. . +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. +See the difference=/ +>eah.endal&s eyes. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.endal&s hand.endal laughed./ +Sure. 4ere I with thee. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. studying. studying. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines./ said %%. +#'cept this time. As soon as she finished. e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair./ . you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. 9ut as soon as . Thanks to you./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty./ %% watched closely as . She stood up firm and bellowed. slowly releasing .
/ %% paused. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. She read the poem over again. slightly afraid of what . She&s just e'pressing love.&/ %% laughed. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. 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.endal&s heart. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. Instead they continued talking./ . +7ook. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion./ They stared at one another./ +8ight. outside the boundaries of reality./ %% began. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender./ +#'actly. they&d have plenty of @wild nights. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say. +4ell. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. +I do think it&s possible./ :ueenie snorted. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world./ +And when she got there. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. but wild as in overwhelming.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. the winds were useless to her./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. . It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong.endal studied the words on the page. +>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. pretending to buff her nails.endal&s eyes widened. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen. but paused for a moment. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team./ she said finally./ +I don&t know. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. another woman.endal might say in return. CHAPTER $ +So. ./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think./ She pointed to . So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever.
(rom that point on. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. but you used the word @nice. and she longed to change the subject./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. I mean./ she said./ +>eah. Though it was rumored that . grimacing from the soreness. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. 9ut %% knew this was different. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer. The notorious $ibble Syndrome.elly transferred to another school the following semester. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious. 4ith :ueenie&s help. $uring her sophomore year.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. +I don&t believe it. ./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. too.endal . she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named . and ./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. I happen to think she&s nice. %% had considered it./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity. In fact. >ou like her. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment./ +She&s not what she seems.c0arthy. She&s nice. yes. +0an we talk about something else. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. This is T2# . even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret./ %% said. she&s*she&s different. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. if you say so. She remained steadfast. That doesn&t mean I like her. peppering her eggs with hot sauce./ Ah. cocking her head to one side. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s./ %% insisted./ +So=/ +So. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning./ +-. +$on&t look at me like that. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. she spotted . %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into./ %% warned.. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway.+0ute.elly that she was gay and how she felt.&/ +So./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked. and regain her sense of self. . +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. I don&t even know her. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. +6o. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive.endal . %% soon fell into a depression. %% made the mistake of telling .c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance.elly $ibble. An'iety itched in her stomach. please=/ +(ine. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. I don&t know. +6ot even close.
/ %% snapped out of her da3e. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. :ueenie was giving her that look. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. a jacket and skirt combination. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. . The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams.endal was on a natural high. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table.endal looked down at her runny eggs. +$efinitely.endal sat down across from her. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only. (or once. (eeling defeated. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. complemented with potatoes and bacon.endal picked at her eggs. +#'cuse me. the drama club./ .ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. +At least I eat. the art club. cooked over-easy. %%% . so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. %% had thought. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. +Ahem. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt. the 0ultural Awareness Society. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. +I eat. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall./ . +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as .. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel./ 0hristine motioned to . %% 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.endal&s tray. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. 2er school uniform. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. hung neatly at her hips./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it./ she retorted. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. I just choose to eat healthy. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. #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. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. and ./ -f course I didn&t know that. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark.
everyone at this school thinks you&re hot. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. So is half of the basketball team. +I&m not naAve./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. +$on&t give her your phone number. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events.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. Two./ +It&s so obvious. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her./ . (ive. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. giving her knots in her stomach./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. . 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. . 9ut if %% was gay. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . +0&mon. (our./ +4ell. She&s on the basketball team. +She&s gay. She had suspected that %% was different somehow.endal. that&s it. She felt di33y and lightheaded. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. look at your track record./ +5od. 9ut she had stared back at %%. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all. and ./ +She helps me with homework.endal said 1uickly./ 0hristine continued.endal picked up a piece of bacon. Three. I mean. -ne. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session. no.endal had caught her staring. 2e counted silently.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her.+Speaking of which./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. :ueenie or something. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. or she might start te'ting you. about the feeling of their locked hands. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off. I just never suspected. then the girl who spit when she talked. That&s what a tutor does. and about her own response./ ./ 0hristine&s eyes widened./ 0hristine advised. a lesbian. I&d just be careful if I were you./ she gasped. +It&s %% something or other. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. .endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. CHAPTER & .endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach./ .
+I just think she&s a bit out of reach. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat./ . 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. #ven for you. from his grades to the girls he dated. one piece to make the pu33le complete. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work. you know. beautiful.yan&s soccer teammates.endal . This was his last season of his high school career. popular. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. . 2e had the perfect reputation. now stood over him. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus.yan sat up and smiled slyly. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred./ . She didn&t have a boyfriend. a captain on the soccer team. I think it&s time . we&re thinking of having a party tonight. The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over.yan replied between reps. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. 2e breathed heavily. Then he sank to the ground.c0arthy= T2# . where true dedication and hard work could get you. . Someone like . 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better. 7ack of confidence was the other. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. watching himself in the mirror. likeable.c0arthy. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. but not too smart. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated./ %ason said. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror.endal . #verything in his life was set to high standards. +I told 0hristine.endal . +"erfect./ %ason said. There was one more thing he needed though. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e.c0arthy. but he&d never admit that. %ason. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired./ +./ . 2e had to perform well.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. +$efinitely. >ou up for it=/ -ne of . +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about.endal .yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome.endal . Sweat began to form on his brow. +2ey. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. 2e needed the perfect girl. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. . and began to do sit ups. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection.yan wanted someone less brainy. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. 2e had the perfect body.c0arthy=/ +>es. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. . since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. 2e had always set his goals high.ya 9rooks.
when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. +7et&s go.c9ride. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly.c0arthy. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. They left the sweat-filled athletic center.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. 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. . #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. they eventually came around. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. That. he&d learned to live with the situation. %% remembered the night clearly. About two years earlier her father had threatened to disown her after her mother caught :ueenie in the guest bedroom kissing a female member of the cleaning staff. It was early %une. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay.+This is me you&re talking to./ he said. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . As far as %% knew. 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. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. . 2er mother also was a teacher. 9ut with a little convincing from . 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./ +4hatever you say. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. especially not . by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. a suburb of 8ichmond.endal . It would be an affair to remember.onopoly. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. was not the reason. buddy. of course. Sometimes it was almost too much. :ueenie&s mother./ .rs. She and her family were close. %% shook her head in disbelief. All it takes is a little bit of charm. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. :ueenie promised.
9ut it wasn&t a phase. .(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house.om. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. in her bed each night. $ifferent $aughters. +I have to tell you something. but this might help./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. 4ith each passing day. even though I know you both will be disappointed. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. and knew there was no going back. 2er father. +I know you are confused. It&s just something I am. There was no plan. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. you can tell us anything. it&s not something anyone did. all those boys around. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. 8oast beef and vegetables. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. didn&t know the real her. +6o. it&s not that.+%osie. %% had rushed after her. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. +I could check with the paper. I&ve known since the third grade. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay./ . She could barely swallow her potatoes. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. she couldn&t find them. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. the night had come. She had always known this. %% grew increasingly reserved. years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. wide-eyed. Something that I have to say./ She handed over the book. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act./ %%&s eyes widened. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. it&s not that. herself. %% remembered. the worry and the confusion./ she continued. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. 2er mother remained composed. no designated date or time.om. maybe an internship./ %% wanted to make her understand. and when it was time to say the e'act words. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. (inally. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. yet when she needed them the most. +6o./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. It was eating her alive./ Silence followed. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body.om. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. I&d still be this way. I&ve always known. %% could see the concern in his e'pression./ %% knew this. and shook her head. being untrue to both herself and them. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase. . clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. hoping it would help her parents understand. her words coming slowly. eating dinner. so caring and so sincere. +Something I am afraid to say. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. to tell her family.
+4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. +I&m having the time of my life. It was almost overwhelming./ she said proudly. remained completely calm. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. %% had yet to learn anything more about . on the other hand. She knew how much :ueenie envied her./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. though he still held onto his own world views.endal besides the obvious. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. 2er father. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. like what was her biggest fear. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. and wished she were there to witness it. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular./ . As long as she had his love and support./ +2ey. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. and they didn&t speak for days. It&s nothing. . They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages.endal danced her way in. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. who was set in his ways. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about . 9ut it didn&t feel the same. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. (or some reason. and that was that. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional. maybe this wasn&t real either. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. . %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction.endal. 2e said he loved her no matter what. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. %% craved more. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions./ :ueenie said blandly. %% had never known anyone like her. where would she go and why. She wanted to get inside . And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. Then her mind drifted again and . She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower./ +I know. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. .2er mother continued to cry. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again.aybe :ueenie was right. %% laughed.endal&s head. It wasn&t real. This sparked an intense argument between them. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. and her father.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. :ueenie. 2onest. Then again.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. was incredibly beautiful and popular. that she was a cheerleader. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. she felt satisfied. and needed help with her schoolwork.
+7et&s move to the couch. . 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins.endal. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on . who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke.endal. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind.+7ook./ :ueenie said an'iously. It was a drinking card game. she began to think about ./ he said sweetly. .endal finally won her first hand. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. coded look with his friends. . this wasn&t a regular card game. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. +2ere.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as . with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. 2e was cute. The dorm room overflowed with people. She forced a smile. Instinctively./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. she was drunk. . silent. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid./ . I&ll see you Sunday.endal knew instantly who he was. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. . +Sure.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room./ said .yan suggested. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked.yan. the captain of the soccer team. . 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest./ . +2ey. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. why not.yan. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. +./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. 2ave fun.yan motioned for her to join him. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. you./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. +Too much. 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . .endal stood there with her hands on her hips. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. who one by one left the room.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard. -f course. perfect for showing off his toned body. +It&s an easy game. She&d had previous brief conversations with . %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down. . 9y the time . There were heavy penalties for losing a hand. . after they were alone. She finally threw up her hands. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave.yan Stevens. I gotta go. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. said.
but the girl spun around. Stuck in thought. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that./ said %%. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . 4hoa. turning and walking out of the room. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. +Are you okay=/ %% asked.endal. . beaming. At first.endal .endal&s voice caused . revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. ./ . with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything./ . +2ey. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open.yan to inch up in his seat. I think it&s time we got to know each other better./ . 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. seeing no movement. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. shielding her eyes. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her. I just do. +2i. Then. suddenly. It bothered her to know that .patting the saggy cushion beside him. +I want to talk to you. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. +I don&t know. Soon./ he said.c0arthy was an enigma. +0ome sit over here./ +4ell. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going. She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. and plowed forward over the grass. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs./ 2e smiled widely. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . She read some intriguing online articles. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. leaning in closer. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked.yan called after her.endal told him. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. 2is mind worked feverishly. She stepped aside before they collided. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# .c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get .endal . +I totally didn&t see you. patting the cushion again. wait a second. The truth was.endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'./ . the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban.endal yelled. She kept her head down. that&s three years too late./ .endal .c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. She tingled with drunkenness.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm.
reaching forward and taking ./ .yan sitting on the ugly couch. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. after a moment./ +-h./ . They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm.endal. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it.endal laughed again.endal stopped walking./ She pictured ./ +4hatever.endal&s hands in hers. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol. 6ot life. remember. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. #mily $ickinson./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah./ said ./ +It&s the grass. and suddenly blurted out.endal./ +I can think of lots of other things to do. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town./ +If you are so against them.aybe hoods should be banned as well./ %% maintained.endal broke into a fit of laughter. that&s the one. It&s a great place to go and just kick back. She turned around to get a look at her behind. +>eah. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her. rather than at her. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with. +I love it there. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library. even though she was shivering./ ./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying. yeah./ %% perked up. They felt fro3en. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ . +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. +Are you cold=/ . +7et me help you up.endal said. making a face./ +I&ll walk you. I&ve had a rough night. ./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. +Thanks for walking me home. +5uys are such idiots./ %% said. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening./ +"oetry is life. of course.endal shook her head. %% studied her. It&s ridiculous./ said ./ said %%. #very month or so they have a band come and play. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started./ .+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. +I need to go home./ +. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet.y little world=/ ./ ./ %% told her. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry.endal was looking through her. +I&m sorry for practically running into you.endal asked defensively.endal rolled her eyes./ +I&m serious. once they reached the sidewalk. ./ +-kay. +I think I sat in something wet. feeling as if . +It&s damp from the dew.
It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends./ %% didn&t press the issue./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind./ +I&m not afraid of you.endal hesitated.endal flashed a 1uick smile. well. +. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. right. then turned and walked toward the dorm.endal fidgeted. She laughed out loud. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%./ . %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. I&m fine./ . let alone get to know her. That certainly would have been awkward. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad.endal said.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah.endal&s roommate had said about her.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. +9ut I don&t want to offend you.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%. +I was just curious./ she said. She played with her fingers. really. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. 9ut she was kind and sincere.endal./ ./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. like you before. I am. +>ou are an incredible tutor./ +Ask away. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. rewording her 1uestion. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then./ . +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of. ending the lull in the conversation. +6o./ %% told her. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness./ . She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. Then she thought of .yan again./ .endal had picked up on the first night they met. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman./ +-kay then. She suddenly felt ashamed. I&ve never known anyone who was. 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. I was just curious. 2er stride was slight and unsteady./ It ama3ed %% that . . I&ll understand.endal said. In that moment./ said . it&s fine. then yes. something . then paused briefly./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back. I&m an open book./ +6o. It wouldn&t bother me at all. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so./ %% could only imagine what . +I should go to bed. smug and moronic. just because of rumors.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. . +I want to ask you something.endal had such a hard time saying the word. +0onsider yourself cultured then./ +4ell. twisting her thumbs into her palms.
as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. "uddles blocked her path. The rain had ceased. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. ' stomp through them. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. 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. <irginia. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. and began to scribble.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. She headed up the sidewalk. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. She gathered up her pen. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. -nce across the tracks. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. Muddy puddles stand in my path. . There was a bench on the sidewalk. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. along with her thoughts. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. and though she tried to avoid them. The town was deserted. %% entered the center of town. The streets are empty. e7cept for fog hovering a/ove the surface &mells of hot tar and muggy air fill my nostrils as #aindrops the si8e of mini water /alloons /ounce off My 5ac6et. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. +It&s not that scary.
%%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. 4hether good or bad. like you weren&t in rare form either. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. %% believed that . The heavy air turned light. no./ +. #very time it rained. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. I decided to leave. deep down. . 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. 2er empty stomach grumbled.endal . she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . I can honestly say that I wasn&t. +Tempting as it was.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. . watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain./ . +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . 2ello. not looking for anything in particular. please. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives. +So=/ +So.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. +It&s called a mask. then her true colors would already have shown. +. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. +-h. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment./ 0hristine replied. +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 said. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. .aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street./ As she spoke ./ +)m.endal. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide.c0arthy.endal was different.endal sifted through her dresser drawers.yan&s not only good looking. . And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. %% recalled . +>ou look ridiculous. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. She decided that if .endal. %% peered along the edges of the street. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. 5ood different.yan for a while.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. . +I hate to break it to you. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with .endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. 9ut.
+I won&t regret not hooking up with . The last thing she needed was another party. finishing up on the treadmill. complaining that she was not having enough fun. thought %%. ./ said :ueenie. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. After the game was over. 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. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family.endal turned abruptly and began to rummage underneath her bed in hopes that 0hristine would go back to scanning the celebrity gossip columns in her maga3ines. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs. the couch monster.endal who was still spread out on the floor. admiring the logo on the front.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. 9ut here they were.endal.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. she would change the subject. thank you./ +Trust me. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises.endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. She left . Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . (un. +7ook. +I like to think I have higher standards than that. she thought./ 0hristine continued.endal./ said 0hristine.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction. . everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party. +4ho cares about standards= $o you honestly think that I&d be wasting my time with %ason if I were in college= I don&t think so. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. 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./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. . The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday./ -verboard. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately. ./ said . +I know .yan&s a conceited moron.yan. +4e are young. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. +>ou should have seen my father. #veryone knows that./ . another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning./ she said. They practically flip the entire boat. and tugged the back of .
It won&t matter. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. +I&m sorry.endal would not come up. the fanciest ballroom*ugh. +Sure./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. They cannot and will not hear me. +I bet we could just bring some in./ %% added in an infomercial voice./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. +>ou know what they say. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook./ +Sauna session and bacon./ +The ama3ing sauna. 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. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. +So./ +6o./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. I guess. I like the combination. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful./ ./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. +I just need to do it. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. >eah. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room./ she said gently.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. sending a burst of steam into the air. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them. why not. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love./ %% responded. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was. with one more to go. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. They don&t know any other way./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. +5ood. it makes me sick. They need a wakeup call./ +These are the ./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. 6ot for me. not e'actly./ (or a brief moment./ %% managed between breaths. the best caterer. but to wake them up.c9rides. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. then. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness. hoping that the topic of . +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. she couldn&t tell for sure. that&s all. +I know. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. Steam rose up around them./ +9ut haven&t you ever considered just taking your mom and dad aside and having an adult conversation with them=/ :ueenie lifted her feet off the treadmill. I&m not familiar with that particular saying. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. I ran into her on (riday night. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. resting her head on one elbow. she shouldn&t have./ :ueenie replied.
+The $ibble Syndrome was something special. silly.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ said %%./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious./ %% turned her head and muttered./ +-h. conservative southern town. +%ust tell me. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. 4e&ll see if she shows up. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. They were just little crushes. it&s getting hot in here. +I told her the truth. >ou always fall for the straight girls./ %% said again. (or crying out loud. +I just think you should be careful./ %% scolded. nothing serious. ./ . That&s all. +She was . everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. . but she spun around and fell./ +4ell that didn&t take long. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. Thankfully though./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat.endal&s engaging laughter. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. she&s straight. +6o. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. +6othing. +4hat=/ %% asked./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and ./ +$on&t do that. no. I caught myself. She asked me if I&m gay./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls. but she asked me the 1uestion. The 1uestion./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. +>ou&ll never believe this. I mean. and then stopped./ +That&s priceless. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. I literally ran into her. yes. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. +The 1uestion. she seemed okay with it./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. which made the library the only logical option. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. The gay 1uestion. ./ :ueenie started to say something else. her cheeks dotted with sweat./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. +So./ +:ueenie.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that ./ :ueenie agreed. ./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now./ +0ute./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. +It was bound to happen sooner than later.
>ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead./ %% sighed./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. +I did mean half of what I said in there. I&ve been there./ %% groaned. after their curiosity wears off. I&m about to sweat away to nothing. >ou&re being ridiculous. +7et&s get out of here. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy . +I know you like her./ +Stick to what you know best./ said :ueenie. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt./ +I hardly even know her. That&s something that isn&t going to change. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body./ +>ou have nothing to worry about./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much./ +I don&t care what it&s called./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. +I knew you liked her. ./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. shielding her eyes./ +7ook. ./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough. Then. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that./ +:ueenie.iss . so I like her. +I knew it.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. +2ey. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. 9e careful. but it . isn&t going to happen./ +That she is./ %% began to massage her forehead. you don&t./ +4hat do you want./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. what they really want is a guy. +She&s not interested in me like that. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face. . 1uite frankly. The whole thing is just ridiculous. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight./ . and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction. +The least you can do is admit that much. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all./ :ueenie sat up. +>ou know how straight girls work. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is./ :ueenie echoed. I can&t e'plain. +She&s a cheerleader after all. There&s this energy between us. >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. +-kay./ +"reposterous./ :ueenie said pointedly. really. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. It&s called the science e'periment. unabashed./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. +It&s true./ +6o. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long./ :ueenie continued. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious.
endal . +4hat&s your problem=/ ./ %ason laughed. +2ey. .c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night./ %ason remarked. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. getting pummeled five to nothing. 8ela'./ CHAPTER . . wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong.yan from the bench beside him. And to make matters worse. 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. they had lost the game. It was because he was frustrated. 2e was pushing himself to the limit./ :ueenie insisted. 7ately it seemed as if the entire soccer team was comprised of a group of underweight sissies who didn&t comprehend the meaning of teamwork or dedication.yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. It was true./ . .endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. +It&s not without merit. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. . . %ason gritted his teeth.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. +I thought so. . +>ou don&t look so good. +#ven for you. it was also incredibly appealing./ ./ .yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench. don&t push it. 2is skin was e'tremely pale. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself. As a result. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. 2e started working his triceps. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. +$id you hook up with her=/ .+>ou know.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned./ %ason warned as he watched . they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. +I&m fine./ %% frowned. 2e looked absolutely horrible. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians. straightening up./ %ason concluded after a moment.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. the lowest-seeded team in their division. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. 2ey. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch./ +8ela'. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright.yan said. his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. +Thought that she was out of your league.yan glared at him. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. >ou know.
yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. Something else was aching inside him.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. simultaneously knocking over a stack of books. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party./ .yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. 0hristine got home late. . so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. . both of them lying in agony.yan&s salty mood. There&s no way she would turn him down.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene. drinking refillable bottles of water. +6othing. And . Though his legs ached. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. not wanting to add to .T<&s The 8eal 4orld./ said %ason. that&s all.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much./ . 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them. . the legendary inviteonly soccer party. . . Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson. ./ +All right.endal had a reputation to uphold./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and .endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk./ +I hear ya.endal . 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. It was status. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. In times past . And his guest was going to be ./ +#'actly. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky./ %ason said. +I&ve got more work to do here. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. CHAPTER ! . 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. 4ith that. As a result. +0atch you later then. <ibrant shades of red. Sure. popping Tylenol. he pushed through the pain.c0arthy. as well. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. picked up the weight and began lifting again.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. but there was something missing. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor./ he said between breaths..aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for.yan was confident that he would get another shot.endal had to help her into bed. Though he had singled . 9ut today.
i'. 4ho knew such things e'isted in a town built around a soccer rivalry and the annual homecoming weekend packed with games and a lavish parade= . She finally felt like she belonged.endal thought. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. her father especially. She hated to disappoint her parents. Across the backdrop . All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies.endal felt pressured to get good grades. 0he' . . She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. 8ather. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. plus the beauty of the campus. humming original songs about the meaning of life. . It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. and the ne't thing she knew. where everyone knows your name and your business. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room. 9e Somebody. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. . At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. So this is where %% likes to hang out. 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. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out.endal&s parents. To the right of the counter stood a stage. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. . (or that reason. was why .9uilt back in the DHFFs. . She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. #ducation was far more important. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy.endal read the words. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college./ spelled out in big bold white letters.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. It was hands-on learning.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. she could see her at some sporting event. +fantasi3e reality. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. That. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. so you could sit in the palm. she was a part of the cheerleading team.
but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. It really was none of her business. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames.endal paused. She tingled in anticipation.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. until that moment. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner.endal. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. as if were weighted down. I need some grease. . -nce.endal. Although she knew they were dangerous. it still provided a way to release her irritation. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. something happened all right.. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. 6o. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. 6evertheless. +>ou were saying*/ . +(unny. afraid to disturb 0hristine. +I&m sorry. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into .endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. ashy. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . when she was about five. %%. >ou know. she dropped the attitude. many of which could be forgotten. And thick crust. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. given to her by her older brother. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . it became obvious that her roommate was awake.endal. There were other occasions where 0urious ./ . smartly. and was reduced to a gooey. . but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place.endal slowly opened the door to her room./ 0hristine moaned. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. thoughtfully. . dramati3ing herself. I like thick crust./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. A nervous sensation erupted inside of her when she thought about the fact that she&d be seeing %% at the library in a couple of hours. +I like pi33a.endal returned. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . %%% -nce back at the dorm. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. And . but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse. black mess in the middle of the living room floor. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. Though the incident had left her unharmed. +)ghhhh.endal struck with reckless abandon. 4ell. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk.
+"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 $ickinson, though./ +2ow come=/ +I don&t know. ,aybe because I finally understand her poetry now, and I don&t want to move on to other authors./ ;endal forced a laugh. +Stick to what you know, right=/ +I don&t think you&re giving yourself enough credit,/ %% reassured her, easing into a smile, admiring the dips along the edge of ;endal&s lips and how they were most visible whenever ;endal seemed self-conscious. +4hat=/ ;endal asked, nervously brushing a strand of hair from face. +6othing,/ said %%. They read the poem together as %% pointed out a few key lines to help ;endal make sense of the poem as a whole. +(inch was a true feminist, though she didn&t want that to override the fact that she was still deeply in love and could be in love, while still maintaining her sense of self. In this poem, she e'presses how, though it is difficult, one can still find a happy medium between being both a devoted lover and an opinionated woman at the same time./ +That must have been hard back then,/ ;endal said. +In those days most women gave up their dreams and ambitions to be housewives./ %%&s head bobbed in agreement, +#'actly. And in this poem, (inch makes it clear to her lover that she has no such plan in mind. She writes, @%udge not my passion, but my want of skill.
endal eyeballed the journal. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then. +That&s pretty intense. She reached for the journal./ she said. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. which had been resting on the floor. It looked pretty beat up. afraid you4ll /rea6 *hispers reach my insides (ulling them into 6nots My flesh trem/les *ith each caress -ntil your lips find mine Timid at first touch ./ +>ou didn&t at all. As she pushed her chair back from the table. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. and./ They continued to regard one another./ +$ifferent./ said . but at the same time. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst . She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. +4hoops.endal./ +>eah. I didn&t know what to e'pect either./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. Then she&d set it right back down.aybe at first. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page. and she tripped over it. but e'press it ill./ +I understand. standing up 1uickly. 2er journal spilled out. she wants him to know that though she is driven. it is./ . the edges frayed and the binding worn.endal flipped back her hair. ./ %% nudged her shoulder. +This poem is like. feeling nervous and clumsy. like you said. +0ute./ +4ow. totally awesome. +I&ll be right back./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. +>ou just are. has her own dreams. %ust one 1uick peek.any love well. and flipped it open close to the middle.endal flinched. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen.& See./ said %%./ +.iss.. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins. +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. +9ut you&re not. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all./ said .endal./ ./ said %%. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. how=/ %% shrugged. >ou&re different. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily. In fact./ %% said. she accidentally knocked over her bag. she thought.
/ +)m. >our journal was just lying there. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. and who was going to be left out.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence./ . just as if she were the person in the poem. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. +7isten.y.yan&s pond of smoothness. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid./ .yan Stevens. 9ack then . no. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. 2e didn&t./ . She had to read it again. 2ow wonderful= +4ell.endal cursed her roommate under her breath.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. . 6ow. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. +It&s e'clusive. . looming over her like some creepy. +0hristine said you were here. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. that ./ +I know what it is.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down. hoping he would take the hint and leave./ . I&m actually studying. I haven&t heard anything at all. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. +2ey. ominous shadow. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite.endal. of course.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. anyway. .endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. 7ast year. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited./ he pressed on. who she now thought of as ./ said ./ . he puts it so nicely.endal thought. She just said you were in the library pretending to study./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it./ +6ope./ ./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ .yan said smoothly. she found it pathetic. and then shook her head apologetically. +4ell. so real.yan continued. so .endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in ../ she said instead. hooked up with him. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. +I was there last year./ he said with an overconfident grin.yan the couch monster. +I&m sorry./ ./ +-h.endal was lying. +8eally I am. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. 2aven&t heard a thing./ .endal could feel the tingle on her skin. She and %ason had been dating ever since. was standing ne't to her chair. I&m not pretending. I swear I wouldn&t have read it if I&d known it was personal or*+ She stopped talking as soon as she looked up. +I&m honored.
/ she blurted./ said %%. +I sort of forgot about it until now. though./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked./ %% swallowed again as . +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ . +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es. +That&s not entirely true. +It was incredible./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff./ . his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman. +8ight. . she felt delighted that . +4ho= ./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen./ %% approached the table at that moment. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. +I&d like to read some more./ ./ %% jumped.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her. +. The Spot./ he mumbled finally and walked away.endal or . +It was my first kiss.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out.yan=/ .+I&m sure you can get out of it./ +(rom what I hear. I don&t know what he&s thinking. of what they might say.yan considered their story. and hoped ./ +It&s good to know that you have morals./ .endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand.endal bit her lip. If you&ll let me. rubbing her leg where .endal watched as .endal&s eyes lit up./ %% reminded her. Instead. I think you should enter. simply was not there./ said . It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. . I&m one of the good girls./ +I guess so. just as I described it. 2er face was still damp. +So. but not because poetry was personal. I made her promise to go with me. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg.yan. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list.endal. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think./ . It&s at that coffee shop you like. really fun time with yours truly.yan. And she was even more afraid of what .endal e'claimed. That got e'tremely hot very fast. +8ight.aybe another night then. ne't (riday.endal hadn&t picked up on it. +>ou&d miss a really./ said ./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people.endal had pinched her. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer.endal would think. She sat down without glancing at either . +I was raised right. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. +2e&s so full of himself. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. +6e't (riday. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. I&m sorry. eager to change the subject. She was afraid of their reaction. +I only read a little bit.endal shifted curiously in her seat. of what she might say. Suddenly. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels./ +4ell./ She swallowed hard. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday.
/ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life.aybe. 4riting is my life./ +That is so sad. +See. I&m serious. if I got upset on stage.endal said./ she e'plained. I fro3e. . She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to ./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. . +I ran off stage so fast. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything. I just don&t participate. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage. you&d never be able to give it up. desperately wanting to change the subject. without enthusiasm. I can&t take that risk./ %% closed her eyes. 4riting is my life./ ./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that./ +That would never happen./ %% said.yan.endal had a hunch they were about . and then averted her eyes./ .endal hesitated then asked. I mean./ . +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time./ +0ome on./ %% rolled her eyes. And during the whole thing. +They have one every (riday night./ +So=/ +So. And when the contest came up. +It&s getting late./ +4ell=/ +4ell./ +-kay. And if something happened.endal momentarily. everybody in the audience started to laugh. +I have a fear of being on stage. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. She glanced at her cell phone and saw that 0hristine had sent her nearly a do3en te'ts since she&d arrived at the library. I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day./ +. you know. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head./ +9ut it might. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. I might freak out and give up writing altogether./ said %% impatiently. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her./ she said. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song. embarrassed at what she was about to admit. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway. +9ut it&s different with this. I got on stage and played the only song I knew.endal said. So maybe you can practice with me.endal debated the 1uestion. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger. about this poetry slam thingy. +It basically scarred me for life. +>ou sound like my mother. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah.endal so easily. we had this talent contest one year at school. what= I&m not going up on stage./ .+So. +I suppose I should./ %% said 1uietly. I&m not ready. that alone should tell you how important it is to you. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. I&ve never been on another stage since.
She breathed hard and her hands shook. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way./ she said. She would instantly sense what . and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home.endal was feeling. 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./ %% paused and then plunged forward. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ ./ said ./ . that&s not going to happen./ +Sure./ +I&m glad. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah./ +0atch you later. +>eah./ %% managed as she watched .endal. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest. +I&d like that a lot. didn&t it=/ +Totally./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . go with me= There are some great poets around here. . this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. +0ool. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest.endal said casually. and some of the writing is ama3ing.. As they reached the front of the building. +4ould you still like to go. fall air.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. +That sounded really dumb. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me.endal back to her dorm. She instantly looked away. that&ll work. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said. >et. She collapsed backward against the closed door. though she knew e'actly what %% meant. later. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue.endal teased. she would know. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ ./ ./ %% smiled. though= I mean.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem. +2ey*/ %% looked up. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. 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. +So.endal asked.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that./ %% took a deep breath. then instantly winced. They left the library and %% offered to walk . The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind.
more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly./ . Somehow. ./ . +4ill you rela'=/ she said./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. +%ust something different. +Tell me you said yes./ +I guess. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time./ 0hristine grabbed hold of .endal watched her in amusement. but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. . +I had an uninvited visitor. paying rent for some crappy apartment. +I&m not turning into a lesbian./ +I couldn&t care less.endal entered their room.endal./ . +6othing./ +7et me guess.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly. the empty conversations.endal replied 1uickly. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone. 0hristine. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia. .endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. I already have plans. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. +>ou&re going to a gay club. still lost in a di33y ha3e. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . I&m afraid. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. very interesting. . 9esides./ 0hristine&s head shot up. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian./ 0hristine gasped. +>ou didn&t. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. the superficial status./ +I said @no&.endal answered. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying. 2ow was the library=/ +-h. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face. I&m not going to a gay club./ . so 1uit freaking out. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend./ . >our senior year./ +I did. smiling again. pacing frantically around the room./ .endal replied.endal said. apparently not amused. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. +I&ve been te'ting you all night. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. The thought of .She sighed. with satisfaction.
+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.
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. +>ou know./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that./ %% said. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. +%%. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ %% maintained. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression.y dilemma=/ +>es. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself./ +6o=/ +6o. 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. it&s so obvious. 4hen you do something. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. +I resent that.e= I do all right. . +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. my friend. And despised her for it. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something. The hopeless romantic never wins. really=/ They began to walk again. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem./ +$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./ +It is./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air./ +Spare me the theatrics. actually./ +-h./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing./ +./ +"lease. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. for e'ample. Take. +I&m not looking for better right now./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. you do it one hundred percent. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. get out and nobody gets hurt./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking.+>ou ama3e me. >ou&re into someone you can&t have. +4ith the women I see. your current situation./ :ueenie said. +%ust get in. sourly. you in=/ :ueenie asked./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. there&s none of that. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery. 6o room to analy3e or obsess./ +Thanks. palms down and swept them to one side. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh./ +./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. +So./ %% said plainly.
. 0hristine owes me big time. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked./ she said. %ust a cup of coffee. .endal was on her way./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates.+I guess. I&m going to pass on that one. It wasn&t even a date for that matter./ %% said. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. sensing %% was hiding something. In fact. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet.yan and %ason were roommates. . rounded the first corner. and would eventually come over to the dark side.endal made a face. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. in fact.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. +9usy=/ . ./ . and also members of the basketball team.endal ne't (riday night.endal figured that . +Studying. . She knocked slightly. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality. even though no one was in the room. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. an actual lesbian. +I&ll be 1uick. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find . she thought. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . . she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. +6othing at all. reading what looked like a te'tbook. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with ./ %% replied dryly. -nce she reached the third floor. motioning to the book. +6othing. and . :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you.endal asked when he looked up. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath./ CHAPTER $ .yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all.yan said.yan was laying face down on his bed. really.usic boomed from an open door./ %% said. but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club. and then pushed it open. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. .endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived.
She&s pretty good. +To say something like that./ he finally said. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. and she&d severely misjudged him. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him.endal said./ +4ell./ . it&s okay. feeling slightly better about the whole situation. I&ve seen her play a couple of games./ . +4ait. not sure what to do with them. but that&s basically it. +-f course./ .yle&s room. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. yeah. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do. already halfway out the door. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. the one you were at the library with. I was thinking about it. you do have 1uite the reputation.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. I&m out of there. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends. we can hang out and talk. . So. and I wanted you to be my invite. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television. +I appreciate that.yan repeated./ %ason said. and then thought better of it. +I&ll watch the game in . and if you still haven&t asked anyone. you must think I&m a complete jerk. +I&m not proud of it. shape or form.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside./ she said. my bad.endal said hurriedly. regretfully. +%ust as a friend. +>eah./ +4ell. +I&m sorry=/ . +So./ +-kay=/ +4ell./ . +I&ll leave you two alone.endal asked./ +As a friend. +5o get @em./ . +I was ready for a break anyway.yan opened his mouth to respond. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked.endal held her arms close to her sides. I&ll probably be a little late. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way.endal couldn&t believe it./ +>ou don&t have to leave./ %ason replied. So. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest.endal remained standing. She took a big breath. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. ./ ./ +6o. of course. then I understand./ ./ +I know.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards./ . +2ave a seat.+It&s okay. then I&d like to go./ . I haven&t asked anyone else yet./ 2e stood up and gave . +-h. +I&m just going to be a minute. and reali3ed that . I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you.yan said. It took him a minute before he looked up./ . so it&s all good. +I&ll see you (riday night then./ +Sounds good./ .yan was staring at him./ +%%=/ +>ea. Sure.yan said. +-kay.yan said.
.yan was staring at her awkwardly./ She tried./ +I know. She&s so sweet and*/ . +9ut I think I need some e'tra help./ . she was going to have to do a far better job. . .r. ever. . She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. thanks. +I&m going to. you know=/ +8ight. +>ou look horrible./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if ./ 0hristine said. (riday. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . 0hin ever did that. but she couldn&t help but smile. She was sitting directly across from . 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday. That&s what I&m nervous about./ .endal yawned./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal./ +I&m just speaking the truth. enjoying a small side salad./ he said. +>eah.endal said. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. +5ee. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then.s. she&s cool. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems.endal confirmed. sunny day. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered./ 0hristine added. I&ve never met anyone like her before. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor. I mean really smart. +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked./ .arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door.endal looked up. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. +4e&re just getting to know each other. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. +She&s so smart. not just about school stuff./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. she was afraid to try to study by herself. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. +)m./ +So study./ .endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. 2er eyes were hollow. In some ways./ +4ell. don&t.endal. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up. It tasted like rubber. +4ell. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. She even told us which author. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night.endal told her.
+0ome on. +4ho in the world is Anne . 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. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . very cute.illigrew=/ +5ive me that.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner. It&s a must.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. That&s all the knowledge I need./ +-h.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. )nfortunately.endal held back her tongue.endal looked her up and down./ . In a matter of minutes.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her. +#arth to ./ .endal said firmly. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class. . yawned. let&s get out of here./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair./ ./ . really=/ +>es. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table./ 0hristine demanded. -ut with it./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment.endal study. +>ou&re serious=/ +. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. +0ome on.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go. but as far as literature was concerned.endal. too. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements.endal laughed emphatically./ she said. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner. +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table./ . +7et me see what you are studying right now. ./ +I know. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her. but the rest of the dining hall was empty. .y behind is sore from sitting.endal said and snatched the folder back./ .+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. +>ou are a math guru. obviously offended. it was empty. +>es. 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./ .
as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country./ 0oach 0ook noted. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads.endal e'haled loudly. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. %% bent over and clung to her knees.0hristine whistled loudly and said./ 0oach 0ook hollered. +0ome on. despised running. As much as she hated running. shape or form./ +4ill you knock it off already. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row./ 0oach 0ook bellowed./ +>es. and snorting./ +5ood.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. sucking in every breath. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. not goofing off. . . 8unning just to run was pointless to her./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court./ . +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. %% didn&t know. much to the chagrin of her parental units. They had been wrong. And that was all the reward she needed./ +)gh. %ust remember you have to be back by nine.ya can get. There needed to be some sort of object involved. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . 4e&ve got curfew tonight. like a basketball for instance. +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./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes.ya can get. +Thanks to you. The team finished the sprints. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. +"oint guards lead from the front./ +(ine. >ou know how . and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. She needed something to give her a reason to run. %enkins. +0aution. +4hatever. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. . I forgot. or whenever the basketball season was over.endal shouted. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. %%. +4e&re sprinting. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus. the whole team has to give me ten more./ . 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. +5ood finish.arch. %%. not from the back. on the other hand./ 0hristine said. in any way. -kay*I&ll be back in time. of course.c9ride. I know how .
She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders. 8ather thin but muscular. :ueenie. +Team. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. though. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. After three years./ +See you tomorrow. ladies./ +2ow sweet. 0oach 0ook ignored her. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. The candlelight is optional. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. it was definitely top secret./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. 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. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. and leave it all on the floor. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. +0onditioning. the lesbian team. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. that is. +As a matter of fact. ladies. That&s what matters in those last five minutes./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. in fact. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland./ 0oach 0ook said. a couple. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. +-kay./ 0oach continued. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall./ :ueenie added. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ ./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. 4henever they lost a game. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. that&s what allows you to play your heart out./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. /2urry up and change. so if the two of them were./ 0oach 0ook stressed./ 0oach 0ook barked. I am the one who is cooking tonight. +It&s all about conditioning. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side./ :ueenie said. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. regardless of the score. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. +I&m starving.
As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. Then they threw on some warm-up pants and their team sweatshirts before they hightailed it out of the athletic center and over to the dining hall.+I didn&t notice. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. I was sitting there in silence. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. $ean 2offman walks through the door. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. 2er cheeks were bulging./ :ueenie huffed. that. +That was no big deal.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her. %% winked at her. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray.endal sitting there. 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. bread. . I know. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. I&m seeing two of you right now.endal and back to :ueenie. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening./ +(ine. She dashed through the food line./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic./ :ueenie said./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. As she studied her tray. I can&t think straight. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. In fact. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . tossing everything in sight onto her tray. chocolate pudding. She forced her attention away from ./ +She did. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it. right. +-h./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. . I&m confused./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. In fact. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me./ said %%. +>eah. They sat with the other members of the basketball team./ +-kay. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. The rest of her table was empty. +That was a close call./ +4ait a minute. full of mashed potatoes.
/ . I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her./ +6o. +>ep. was @Sweetie./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray. we both were just sitting there not saying anything./ she e'plained. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes. +I wouldn&t say that./ +>es way. we both turned our heads at the same time. +This kind of thing only happens to you. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble. >ou should have seen the look on her face./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw .& Then I winked and walked out of the office. 6ever a dull moment. >ou two kids have fun.endal confessed. then she assumed that 0oach was alone./ . I&ve got a surprise for you. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there./ +So./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair./ +So that&s where the wink comes in.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. +I mean. my friend. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. +So./ :ueenie continued./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ +-nly you. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. %% looked on in wonder. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. %%.endal . it&s okay.c9ride. +%%. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door. +I know.&/ +6o way./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked./ +4ell. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. without looking up. So I stood up and said. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her. +I need your help desperately.endall said. +I guess I&ll be going now. 0oach. It was classic./ +So*/ %% said eagerly. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. +6ever a dull moment. . did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. indeed. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table./ said %%. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. I&m a complete mess. of course.c0arthy right ne't to her. As soon as she saw me there./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. well done./ %% pushed her tray aside. And at that e'act moment. $o you want to study someplace else=/ ./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things./ %% reached her hand across the table./ :ueenie leaned forward. @It&s okay./ . +All over a stupid 1ui3. +4ell done.
+9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. or that she liked the way %% smelled./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow.endal held her backpack to her chest./ %% agreed. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling. came up with it. I have curfew tonight. miss=/ . +I can&t./ ./ +-kay./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday.endal nodded.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening. Thank you so much. 0oach should give us a curfew./ . %% studied her e'pression. I was just checking. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. +I owe you big time./ +I was just leaving. I remember. I have to be in my room by nine./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly./ ./ .ya./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm.endal suggested.akes sense. I don&t. +And that will be enough./ They both stood up. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked. she&s the captain of the s1uad.endal said. Then maybe we&d play better. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. CHAPTER ( +A curfew. . +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday. +4e&re closing.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her.endal said politely. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o. don&t you=/ +>es./ ./ %% returned.+>ou can come to my dorm room./ . I&ll see you in an hour then.endal said adamantly./ +. +The coffee shop./ .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. and she enforces it. She thought of ./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine.endal said eagerly. too. . +>ou remember our plans. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional./ . +0ome on./ %% returned. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood. 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. +Thank you.
2ave a seat.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors.endal ./ %% responded and held up her notebook. +(or documentation. +School spirit is a way of life.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. right. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff./ +I know. offering %% some 0he' ./ the blonde said. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals./ +7et me guess./ she said. -ver . +I&m sorry./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. #ach door on .endal&s door. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. 0hristine.i' +I didn&t mean it like that. >ou sure are 1uick./ %% backtracked. +That was my roommate. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life. and little cheerleader cutouts. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room./ . +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to . she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. She often sat with .endal walked into the room.endal in the dining hall. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite./ %% started for the door. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment.endal.c0arthy&s dorm room./ +4ait. +"edaling poetry. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. 0hristine. %% recogni3ed her. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here. +If 0oach gave us a curfew./ said . 4e can use this to our advantage. +-h. +(riendly people you got here. -nly. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . proudly. +Thanks. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. . Sampson Academy paraphernalia. opened the door./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%. +0ome on in. %% thought as she knocked against . I&d 1uit./ said %%. %ust sneak a few photos.+4hatever./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. +0heerleading./ :ueenie said. Interesting decor. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand. +>ou need professional help. +Am I that transparent=/ ./ . A rather thin blonde. straight out of the pages of <ogue./ %% said. 6o wonder you&re a tutor.endal&s dorm./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her./ she said to the blonde. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. taking a handful from the bag.
but me they scorned&=/ . +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem. well aware of how little space remained between them./ %% cleared her throat. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. really young./ %% smiled mischievously.+I&d like to think there is. @my numbers they admired. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention. . but she was also proud to be a woman./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor. at this line in )pon Saying . +7ike*/ . See. See how she says. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. +-kay./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. yet awkward./ . setting her folder and her book in front of her. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family. -ne of my favorites.ade 9y Another. but she loved every minute of it. +Anne ./ +I don&t even know who she is.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman. It wasn&t long before ./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. I mean. And even though men adored her poetry./ +7ook here.endal&s perfume. +It was ./ +That must have been hard.y oldest brother is in his late twenties./ +9ut that&s not fair.illigrew. She was more than happy to play along. but I know it&s about this author at least. after a moment. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. It was flattering. +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./ said . +8ight there=/ +./ she said. . She leaned her back up against the comforter.endal turned her head and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue like she had the other night when they stood outside of her dorm talking.y <erses 4ere . +7ike what=/ %% asked. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman./ +So*what else=/ . I was*une'pected. +9ecause I was an afterthought.endal let that idea marinate. trying to distract herself from the scent of ./ +It was. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once./ +4hy is it a secret=/ .illigrew was not only proud to be a writer./ said %%.endal considered the words on the page. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. +So. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed.endal pointed to one of the poems. +I don&t know.illigrew. I had to do and learn a lot on my own. +That&s fair.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along. +It&s a secret.endal thought for a moment. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. $eal=/ ./ +I think you&ll like . and my other brother is twentyfive.endal.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write.endal sat down ne't to her. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked./ she said. ./ +-kay.
. who took it willingly.endal asked./ +To be out. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside.ost of her work was discovered much later on. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so./ +I would have never survived. +2ere. Instead. !reedom. for obvious reasons. *ith this gesture you taught./ . with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide. and then stopped./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell. Beyond the tears. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain.endal slumped back against the bed. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it./ . without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. Having the strength to stand. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . +This e'plains it better than I can. . or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. 0ourage. She licked her thumb.ou gave me your hand without thought.unfortunate that the very same people. (ride.endal read out loud. she refused to compromise herself or her art. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life. )eaving me sta/le. She disappeared for a bit. 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. #aising my head high./ +4hat did it feel like. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then./ ./ said %%. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. She read the rest of the poem in silence. !ree at last.endal shook her head. ' /elieved in me. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for.endal./ ./ She slid the journal over to . ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. .endal had seen before. #elief from my shoulders. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like. #elease. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes.
+I forgot about that part. at the same time. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. however. .rs.rs. It&s like $ickinson. turned out to be today. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. As soon as the class was seated. %% knew. right. And %% had written a poem./ . and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just ./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. whether it was the beginning of a novel. +It&s not even close. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . It didn&t matter. The chatter ceased. possibly even a nervous breakdown. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. -n occasion. .rs. a journal entry or a poem. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you./ said . you know that= >ou pour everything. 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. And at that moment. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 0lark was impressed.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. She was one of a kind. ./ +0ome on.rs. She began flipping through the journal. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. 0lark cleared her throat. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. 0lark. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse.y writing hardly compares to with hers. #veryone sat up straight. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. this was a huge compliment because it meant that .rs. like many of her previous free writing efforts. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. They were free to write whatever they wanted.endal. That day. )sually. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. . hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. a short story.. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. +0lass. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. remember=/ +-h./ said %%. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. but.endal laughed. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here.
0lark asked. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out.rs./ .rs. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. and again no sound emerged. +I didn&t feel good. 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. ma&am. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. 0lark was still in the room. Their relationship had suffered because of it. She tried to speak once more. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. not ever. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. who liked cheerleading and boys./ .rs. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. signaling that her class had ended. 0lark advised.like her. She&d written the first line on a whim. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at .rs. 6ot now. 2er lips moved slowly./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ ./ %% managed. She trembled as she stood. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. And the class deserves to hear it. It&s yours. It deserves to be shared with the class. 0lark nodded. hoping for some closure. +And speak up a bit. the building for #nglish classes. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands.ay I go to the restroom=/ . She knew ./ +9ecause that would be a shame. Instead. +>ou might want to stand up./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. and then cringed when she heard . . 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. unable to move. so I decided to leave class. and her tongue stuck to her teeth.rs. and %% bolted from the room.rs. +%%. 0lark. And that wasn&t going to happen. +. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom.rs. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. %% was the e'act opposite. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. 0lark&s nasal voice. shuffling through papers on her desk. She breathed heavily. Instead. She glanced from face to face in a panic. It&s yours to share. did it=/ +6o.rs. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. but no audible words came out. mouthing the first line./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom. she sat down on a nearby bench. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. %% tiptoed in. +%%*are you okay=/ .
/ %% replied dryly. just as your basketball coach believes in you. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing. say. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as.rs. +I&m sorry.onday. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential.aybe she wanted it that way. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound.rs. on the basketball court. 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./ she said. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation./ +. +I can&t force you to read it.onday. +6ice job. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud./ +All right. 0lark called after her. %% couldn&t concentrate..endal was only a few hours away./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say.rs. offering criticism of their work./ . +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing.rs. ./ . and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. rela'./ %% leaned against her locker. 4atch and learn./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. had another outstanding practice. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. and taking in criticism of your own. and not because of the sweat. +I&ll read it on . +2ey./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +./ %% reasoned.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning. flubbed numerous breakaway layups and had the ball stolen right from her hands three times in a row by an over3ealous freshman eager to make it into the starting lineup. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . %%. ladies. aren&t we=/ . +I&m just checking in. as usual./ +./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. 4atch and learn. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. And she was flattered that . The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy. and removed her glasses from her face. )nlike %%. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. I just have a lot on my mind. +Touchy. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing.endal has nothing to do with it. +9e prepared to have another go at it on ./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. She understood. what good is art for that matter.aybe she did. :ueenie.
%% thought. -nce in the confines of her office./ +I know. +I e'pect more from you. +$on&t do anything stupid. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. %%. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. I don&t start players who perform like that./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow./ Apparently. +"eachy./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them./ she said. She was already showered and dressed. %%. right. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years./ %% snapped. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. +#asy for you to say. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off. And the point is that you played horribly today. +$on&t worry about 0oach. 0oach. 0oach is like your best friend now. >ou are the floor general./ +>ou are the starting point guard./ she said./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es./ 0oach 0ook said. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. 0oach. And you two are my senior captains. carrying a rose./ she replied. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. >ou brought :ueenie to the team./ +I&m busy tonight. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. +%enkins. +5ood. +I didn&t play well at all. who stifled a laugh./ %% acknowledged./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one./ Ignoring that comment. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. I need you to play with confidence. a big part of it. >ou better get your game in gear. +Says you. +>ou know me.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie./ :ueenie said. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. +6o./ %% said. +./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. %ust what I need. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. 0oach. remember=/ +-h. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. playing with her i"hone./ She barked from the doorway./ . as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. sitting on a locker room bench. %% thought.
she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . +0an I go now= I&m going to be late.yan&s benefit. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . admiring her jeans. As my roommate. +I have no idea. She&d been thinking of %%.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her./ . a slimming red graphic T-shirt. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ . +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her. she hadn&t been thinking of ./ . pulling it back and swinging it forward. She wanted to go to The Spot. +(lattered= . "ersonally./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening. +(ine. I&m just asking. it&s the truth. +I thought I looked good.endal said.endal./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill.endal groaned. I&ve never been to one before. thought ./ +8ight./ 0hristine held out her pinky. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt.endal asked./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. She stood facing the doorway. +(or the umpteenth time. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s.%%% . stomach-first. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked. She wanted to try something different. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit./ +I already told you I&d be there./ +>ou do. I&d be creeped out.endal./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight. that&s gross.yan. teammate and confidante./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ . I&m only going to this party tonight with .endal shrugged./ 6ot again. +I promise.endal had chosen. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ . 0learly./ . +0hristine./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser./ 0hristine smiled wryly.endal ran her long fingers through her hair.endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets.yan as friends. wondering about her outfit. .endal by the arms. as a result. She stood up and grabbed . mulling over which way accented her features better. and. She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans./ . 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. It was as simple as that.endal spun around. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for .
I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. . and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . pointing at %%&s backside.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. just in case . +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. leaned over and tried to rub it out. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. After a minute. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair./ she said./ .endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. %%&s head snapped up. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. Then she stood up. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe./ %% blurted out. She crossed her legs. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good.endal said. 9ut she hadn&t. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. but resisted.endal had tried to call or send her a te't.endal enjoyed the most. +I like you without a hat better. In the end. +8ight. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide./ . +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. who started laughing. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. >ou look ama3ing. as well./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side./ she said./ . %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. +5o ahead.endal asked. she reali3ed what she&d said. +>ou look ridiculous. -nce the words left her lips.endal smiled. Then she checked her cell phone. pointing at the backpack. +>ou&re right./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. And that was the side she thought . +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her./ +4ow.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start.endal./ she said. At that moment. too. it couldn&t get much worse. admiring %%&s outfit.endal said. She 1uickly stood up straight. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. And I like to carry my journal with me. Then she batted her eyes at .endal. the doors swung open and in walked . licked her thumb and ran it over the mark./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to .0hristine reluctantly stepped aside. +There&s something you don&t see every day. she sat down again. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. +I mean*you look nice and everything. I think.
+I have no athletic ability whatsoever. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. She reached for the doorknob./ . let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. smiling. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track.endal. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong. either. Several students crossed their path./ . +0hristine doesn&t know you. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. with %% directly on her heels. and both %% and ./ +4hat did she say= ./ %% said./ . She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left.endal responded blandly. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked.endal said. and laughed.endal much. The more she thought about it. +I wouldn&t worry about it.endal laughed nervously. genuinely interested.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. unsure of how to respond. and then looked away. +I don&t know.endal confessed. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful./ . afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately.endal had grabbed it first. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them./ said . and neither of them held back. +-nce. too. and %% assumed that . some staring at them in wonderment. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. . does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. They talked about anything and everything they could. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. A roving waitress appeared. +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk.endal asked./ +. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together./ %% struggled to e'plain. but .endal flashed %% a knowing smile. That&s all. They didn&t seem to bother . Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress . They sat in the corner near the window. +)neventful.e. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ ./ +She doesn&t like me very much./ . 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you./ %% said. The looks didn&t bother %%.
And when I show them the pictures.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home. 9ut forget about me. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson./ . I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise. . I was just like her./ said %% honestly. I have to see those pictures. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. I want you to know me as I am now. +>ou&re joking. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. and my hair was long. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me. 7ook at 0hristine. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. I&m the same. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change. I wore make-up.endal continued./ +9ut you are changing. the real me./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different. you don&t./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips./ %% professed./ +I know what that&s like. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. And because I knew that everyone thought that. 4hen it came to the talent portion. 9ut back then I acted different.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling./ +9efore I met you./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically./ %% offered. I played the role./ +I&m 1uite serious actually./ . It was so embarrassing./ +4ow. I have no idea who I am. I panicked and ran off stage./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here. +I didn&t know. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. +I&m still playing the same role now./ . +There&s so much more to you./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. I became that. It came down past my shoulders./ +6o./ . not the younger me that was insecure and confused. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. and tried to fit in.%% laughed. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life. +It was awkward to say the least.endal straightened up./ +>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. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place./ +I&m sorry. clearly offended.
looking around. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit.other .endal said adamantly.endal stood up and tugged %%. She was supposed to te't 0hristine./ +4hat if I helped you=/ ./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. .endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said.endal asked. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. if you&ll let me./ . +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. +0ome on. ./ +I know a place. 9ut here she was with %% instead. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for. and if I don&t read it./ %% considered the offer./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful./ +>ou don&t owe me anything./ said .onday. That is./ %% paused./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. I feel like I owe you or something. then meet up with her at the soccer party./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on ./ . who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning./ +I have to do this by . so that makes it a secret.ay I about=/ ./ %% wasn&t about to argue. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much.endal. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue.endal had to choose that one. you&re kind. There are so many things about you that ama3e me./ %% panicked. %% rolled her eyes. almost taking her by the hand./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. +6ot here. ./ +Speaking of $ickinson. then she&s going to lower my grade./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can.endal asked.endal. after skimming through the pages. >ou showed me your favorite hangout. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. +4hat&s ./ she agreed. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . you&re smart./ %% told her. +-kay. just to be sure. It&s (riday night. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. -f all the poems in her journal.endal asked./ .endal glanced at her cell phone. I&ve never told anyone that before. +>ou think I&m smart=/ . +Then let&s go someplace else.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%.+>ou aren&t anything like her. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me. you owe me a poem. I need someplace private.
and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire./ he said./ said 0hristine. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. She ditched an invite-only soccer party. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . aside from winter formal./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. +She should be here with me. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. +I thought you said she was coming tonight.yan./ . +>ou&ve got issues. +6ever mind. who now glared at . 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button. as she held up her i"hone./ +I&ve got issues=/ . I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian. The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance. as he nudged .4ithout saying a word. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. and closed the door behind him. waiting for .endal.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. she&s going to regret it.yan out of the room. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie./ said . Apparently. +6o way. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight.yan./ he said./ +I&m going to regret it. 2e stood up. +7et me try and call her. +I don&t know./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. +0ome on. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. (or . who finally took the hint. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands. sounding frustrated./ she whispered under her breath. she&ll come. %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed.yan shot back.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. +She&s probably on her way here right now.yan pressed. 7et&s go.yan.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ ./ %ason offered. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. I&m the best looking guy on campus. She&s been acting so strange lately. .yan said miserably. This girl is cra3y. 9ut she clearly was distracted./ 2e turned to 0hristine. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked.yan that meant wearing black slacks./ . +If you don&t come tonight. and stood up instantly to look out the window./ %ason had heard enough. +I don&t know where she is. +4hy don&t you go find out. dude=/ he grumbled. +Seriously./ said 0hristine. impatiently. . 2e was still sitting on the couch. She smiled eagerly at %%. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch.
"erched up high on a platform. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. and were completely hidden by the tarp. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me. the side to the bleachers being left open. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. .endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. and grab us. 9ut that never worked either. unfolded and spread it out. with ./ .endal left the coffee shop./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it./ . even though she already knew the answer. +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night. . I even slept out here once or twice. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. They huddled together.endal told her. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside./ +-h. wait until we came out. See. urging %% to follow. come on. that it got to the point where they&d all eat with me in the dining hall so that they could grab me as soon as I walked outside. I didn&t want that happening to me. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry./ .endal crept under the bleachers. and after classes to read or do homework. +I found this spot during my freshman year. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. +)ntil it gets too cold.endal sighed. ./ said %%. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. +It was fun at the time.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. That included the library./ +That&s pretty clever. >es. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot./ . +0ome here often=/ %% asked. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad. +This hiding spot was so good. 6o one ever found me here. %% and ./ +I&m full of surprises. she&d stuffed a flashlight. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. she&d gone through ha3ing. I had all my routes mapped carefully. She turned it on. In the middle of the blanket. illuminating the spot. we were fair game. dining hall. %% sat down beside her. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. and classroom buildings. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. they&d watch us go into some place.CHAPTER !! %% and . and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school./ she said.endal grabbed the blanket. eyeing the flashlight.endal argued. And follow she did. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. So./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad.
It has to be. It is./ ./ +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./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself./ said %%. +Are we going to talk about your poem. +4hy=/ +4ell. +2ey./ +Trust me. my therapist=/ %% snorted. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. but that was different. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. That&s not the problem.endal ordered./ +I do not./ . what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. a nervous habit over which she&d little control./ +5ood. She cleared her throat. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. +I can&t. +>ou keep saying that. I&m just trying to help here. for starters. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face.endal replied. or what=/ %% blinked twice./ %% gladly rejoined . +9ecause I was trying to make a point. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself. you do./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you.endal glowered at her. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot. opened her mouth wide and said. I don&t./ +6o. I&m honest and upfront about myself.endal said. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. you got me there. +And read it to me as if you were in class. +7et&s talk about the poem. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion./ ./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable./ +>es. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason./ .endal on the blanket. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem. but she didn&t care. +I feel stupid./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. I&m being honest.+-kay./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it.endal played with her fingers./ . relieved to be out of the spotlight. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place./ +>eah./ . 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit. >ou know that. "oetry is personal./ %% admitted. And that was $ickinson&s poem./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke.
7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. +4hy=/ %% asked. you still did it. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . +>our writing is ama3ing. That was it. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm. ./ +Argh. It&s the same with your writing. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. wondering where in the world she was. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. or even her parents. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face. you will./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else.endal had said. +I never thought of it that way. %% was vulnerable./ %% hid her face with her hands./ %% said. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. And it only made . and gave %% one in return. Some people may not respond in the best way.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again./ It was the first time ./ +>es. eyes that made . e'posed.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine./ . It was the simplest of phrases. That was how the night had ended. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm. . but I bet most people will.endal&s cell phone rang. startling them both.endal maintained. she saw . In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer.endal laid her hand over %%&s . %% had never heard anybody. In her imagination .endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way./ +It&s the same principal. +I believe in you. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive./ . +And you make it hard not to. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. and fell over on her back./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes.endal had dared to picture a different ending.endal weak in the knees if she . say those words to her before./ 4hen %% looked up. It confused her to the core. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well.endal took it.onday. and spoke through her fingers. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile.endal reassured her./ . She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue./ +4ow./ . as . with regret. and yet it carried so much weight. not her coach.endal fall for her even more./ +9ut that&s ridiculous. +I&m never going to be able to do this by .endal had seen %% without her confident grin. %% had offered . Some people may not like it.
0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . +7et&s wait until we get to the track. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted. .endal found the tapping distracting. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . already out of breath as they made their way around the track. and then %% had this problem she needed help with./ 0hristine spat. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts. .endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. >ou can come if you want to.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. That thought alone frightened her deeply. the gentleness of her touch. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. She and . The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run. . I wanted to help her out. +./ she said. to let her e'plain. +4ell*/ 0hristine said. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. She needed a word. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . +(ine. ./ .endal organi3ed her thoughts. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. +I just lost track of time. Saturday might as well have been a pause. .stared at them long enough.endal huffed.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it. still tapping. irritating./ 4orking out was not something . tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker.endal jogging behind her to keep up.endal didn&t know what to say. and probably to make her suffer. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. she stood up and stretched.endal found herself pouting./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking./ They walked briskly. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. before transferring to Sampson. e'cept. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again.endal begged. with . +I&m waiting. yet . +-kay*I know*you&re mad. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. +I need to work out. a definition to describe the feeling. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. to give it a name so that she could understand it better.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. +I&m really sorry. 4hen their pace slowed. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. +I am way beyond mad. . 0hristine&s only response was./ she said as genuinely as possible. She burst from the locker room. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. In fact. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. and yet oddly comforting./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement. . -nce she finished tying her sneakers. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. and only her imagination. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips.e./ . and .endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her./ 0hristine sang. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real.
a little too loudly. 2er face contorted. nor bearing the school colors. +That&s cra3y. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore.endal.endal had said./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear.endal asked.endal&s face. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay./ It was as if . She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately.endal screamed. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. They didn&t want you to know. . bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. and . in first grade=/ she asked. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. +I just don&t see what the big deal is. and continued with her rant.endal.endal felt amused./ 0hristine told her. +They are having a meeting./ +6o./ 0hristine screamed. They turned to each other and giggled. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. I don&t know./ . >es. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. she had her frustrations./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. . but your priorities are all messed up./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. It was supposed to be a secret.+. She spotted %%./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. ./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. she had her complaints. +>ou are infuriating. +>ou know how these things go down./ 0hristine shouted again. That&s what it means. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. offering a full view of the courts below. >ou went back on a sacred oath.endal flung her hands to her hips./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest./ ./ 0hristine shouted. and yes. #ither way. or if she was just really upset by what . +>ou have no idea what this means. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. and they&re starting to talk. you pinky swore with me. and wondered if %% had been one of them. noted where she was./ The color instantly drained from ./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. +It&s the truth. "eople are starting to wonder about you. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ . That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore. +4hat are we. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. +And you know what that means./ She leaned in and whispered.
She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year.L 5"A. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad.. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. or you either for that matter./ 0hristine said plainly. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . +or how do you e'pect me to vouch for you=/ If you continue to hang around her no one is going to believe me.endal felt small and shallow./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. 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.endal shouldn&t have cared. as it sometimes happens. and her participation in student government activities. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. no matter how good you were. the most athletic. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. cast aside. as if she were a freshman./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. She&d judged people. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation.endal&s hands. be it academic or otherwise. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. 9ut for some reason. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships. it did matter. her involvement in the drama club. Suddenly. She was dismissed. . (or some reason./ 0hristine said./ .endal had been lucky. . +It&s only going to be a discussion. ./ +5et another one. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. prettiest./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. and smartest students on campus. She&d have to start over. +Tomorrow night. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. She had 3ero athletic ability. Aside from being pretty and popular. one that she couldn&t put her finger on. by way of her K. 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. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. then you can come. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. unsurprising. and she&d been happy doing it. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . popular. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. Standing there in the athletic center. It shouldn&t have mattered.endal asked. 2er eyes instantly softened. but if you skip that. 7ast year. $on&t even mention what I said. 9ut. she did care. I&ll vouch for you. at the school lounge. She&d seen how these things had gone down.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. . nothing final. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. She&d been the e'ception to the rule. you had no shot at making the s1uad. unanimous vote. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. They went after only the most involved. )nless you carried at least a K.
#very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. and :ueenie would love it./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. Time was running out./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%.c0arthy.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field.endal at all on Saturday.endal and her roommate arguing. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. nor would she ever critici3e her work. +-kay. :ueenie loved. I don&t./ :ueenie said. It was discouraging./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you.endal . %% could probably scribble out the alphabet. +. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. things on her mind. which wasn&t much at all. study session./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. In the meantime. +./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. +8umors are starting to circulate.endal glanced toward the basketball team again./ . 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . +$on&t you think=/ +6o. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now. I&m talking about T2# .y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. to say the least. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. +That&s awesome. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room.. She hadn&t heard from .y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. more important. :ueenie said. There were other. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then./ she said without looking away. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. and she didn&t care now. she might not like it so much. in 1uotes with her fingers.
endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think./ :ueenie said. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head./ +That&s absurd. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later.endal. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late./ she confessed. the playful smirk gone from her face. It&s a fantasy. that&s the point. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. she&s going to stop talking to you. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. %% e'tended her hand. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . +It isn&t a game. %%. really I do. 9ut you&re wrong this time. :ueenie shook it. when she was all %% could think about. +9ecause you never learn. and it&s never going to happen. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. right=/ +8ight. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else. %%. +All right. 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./ +She&s not like that./ %% said. I&m in love with the girl. +This is reality. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. The deal was sealed. +And you&re wrong about her. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with ./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. +I know you&re in love with her. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone./ %% warned. -nce . a lump forming in her throat./ :ueenie stood up. once she reali3es the weight of it./ +(ine./ +I appreciate what you&re saying./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour./ %% resisted the urge to argue./ said %%. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. I hate watching you go through this./ %% maintained.
/ . surprised. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. It was all she ever talked about. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. >ou know. wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. And not once did :ueenie say. and passed it over before taking one for herself./ +She did. and added. letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. +I told you so. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting. +. She was compassionate and charitable. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport.ya was sweet and understanding. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad./ . though.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly./ . As far as your behavior. She motioned to the bed. . . She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. have a seat. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a.sprawled out on the couch watching television. which made her easy to talk to. It was her life. and about little else. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. asking for permission to sit down. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately.endal.endal replied evenly./ :ueenie burped. and hanging out with certain people.endal. +Sure. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately./ CHAPTER !$ . a true humanitarian. She opened the door and saw . . %% took a long sip from the can in her hand. an open te'tbook in her lap.ya said. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . and sat down. popped the top.ya&s door. +. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. watch out.endal braced herself./ . and then knocked on .endal heard from beyond the peephole. she knew how to play the game when it mattered.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. +#'cuse me. +6othing much. Their conversations were few and far between. we have noticed.ya said warmly. . I thought . +0ome in.ya burst out laughing.ya 9rooks./ . 9ut as sweet as she was. She had little in common with . who released one can. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. avoiding soccer parties and such.ya was alone. wearing a pair of bo'ers. +I wasn&t e'pecting you.
side by side. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%. and we wanted to throw you a party. if I met someone.ya asked. then I had to stop spending time with %%./ +I don&t believe this. too./ . I guess. +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay. the thought has crossed my mind.endal said 1uickly. . a woman. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. +I don&t know. +I mean./ . it&s not a gay fraternity. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. not that I know of. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man.et who=/ +%%. make it mandatory./ . Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ ./ . It has straight members. And he&s even in a fraternity.sociali3e as much. shape or form. or think I might want to . So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way. +>es. And I try to stop the feelings. .ya laughed. +6o. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own. at this point in my life. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way./ +4hat&s going on=/ . . because of %%. recalling meeting .endal nodded. I didn&t know what to do. She pulled at her fingers and avoided .endal hurried to e'plain.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year./ +. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too.ya&s book dropped from her lap. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are./ +A gay one=/ .endal remembered a tall.ya stood up./ +. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. +#ver since I met her. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop. And white members. +6ot that I am. And I know she&s a girl. in any way. And black members. ./ She smiled. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party./ . I&ve been all over the place.ya&s eyes. It&s a regular fraternity.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad./ ./ +That&s it=/ ./ .endal stood up. +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ ./ . but she&d certainly implied that . +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea. but if . I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad.endal walked across the room. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston.endal. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know.endal replied. silly. took . +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. but that&s basically about it. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. I&ve never met anyone like her before. They sat down.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath.
. just let me know. +I underestimated you.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. +$on&t worry. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. 5etting a girl had never been this hard..endal thought about the poem. +Is everything okay=/ .ya. She sat down. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. +If you ever need to talk more about this. .endal a slight hug and added. She knew that poem.endal headed for the door. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do./ . as she sat beside .endal&s appetite for revenge. yet for some reason .endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s.ya asked. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening./ +5ood.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy . She flipped opened the book. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. I plan on having a little talk with her. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares.endal . 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 saw the words of the poem before her. %%% . 9ut with . everything is perfect.c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the . 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. Somewhere along the road . turned and said. and rested her finger on a single line. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped. . 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. +In fact./ she said.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all./ Although .endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session.endal initially agreed not to see %%. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her. It meant something. and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. #verything is more than okay. She paused in the threshold. the words that were branded in her brain. Then . She remembered that poem now. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. and had been since the first time she&d studied it.endal couldn&t decide which one. closed her eyes. . 4hen she opened her eyes. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. leaned up against the bark. +>es. 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. the slight hint of wickedness in . That would have been awkward.yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head./ said . It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do.ya gave .ya./ +I might take you up on that./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts.
The one he had hatched originally was not working. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. . . at least for the rest of the winter. as well as fall semester. attained a status far higher than everyone else. the fountain had been shut off. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. Apparently. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about. 9y itself. the girl on the basketball team. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. 2e had acted like such a fool. taking up space. one other girl that .aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back.yan had seen . It had no purpose.endal would be his 1ueen. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad.endal&s mind about him. when winter thawed. who would be anointed . It left her in a complete and utter da3e. that whole approach had been pointless.endal would respond to.ing and :ueen. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . The water was the fountain&s life source and without it. the fountain couldn&t go on living. . It sucked the life right out of her.endal&s tutor.yan. .endal better than she actually did. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on.endal hanging around with over the past month.endal. lifeless. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew .endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. The end of the soccer season. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. It just stood there. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . though.endal just might bend. she&d stood him up anyway. which left it looking gray. Then. every spring. the cement structure was depressing. %% sat there. . 4hat better way to get to . If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . which meant that the chosen pair. without water.endal would respond to. it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. he needed a new game plan.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. It made no sense. 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. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. To . And they hadn&t worked. She just might let him in. rhyme nor reason.yan many things about . 4ell. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. #ven its soft blue color had faded. only larger and more upscale. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. for that matter. And when he finally thought he had made a dent. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. was just around the corner. 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. things that she&d thought .
for whatever reason. . %% shook her head in disappointment. +4henever something like this happens. in fact./ %% frowned. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. #ver since . -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. hands in her pockets./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do.aybe she needed to not care. though. she refused to be like :ueenie. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. a wide grin on her face. #ither way. +6o.endal all along./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. 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. . And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. +It&s pathetic.endal never even looked in her direction.endal practically everywhere she went. She walked over and sat down on the bench. 9ut . +7et&s go. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . possibly by a former girlfriend.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor./ +Say no more. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. it&s not pathetic. you go off to find yourself. not even her writing. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. not basketball. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. +6o./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic./ :ueenie returned. It didn&t help that she saw ./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. %% had never asked her why. She did care. to not let herself get attached. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. turning back to face the fountain. isn&t it=/ %% asked. my friend. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . She hadn&t written anything for at least a week.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. I guess not.6othing mattered to her. ./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. 4hat made it all worse./ The voice rose from behind. +It&s just the way you deal with things.
She was also in with the bouncer. +>ou are. during e'ams. +It&s going to be a great night.rs. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. 2e watched %% suspiciously. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. Somehow it had worked because . At least. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. she hoped she would be able to. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that./ :ueenie teased. who called her by name once he saw her. She had gotten an e'tension. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks./ %% regarded her clothes. %% had agreed on the spot. +It&s fine.rs. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond.%% nodded. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. She even had taken time to do her hair./ :ueenie told him. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. +Sometimes when I&m out with you.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. she&d asked to speak to . +She&s with me. . 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. since the bass had been turned up so loud./ :ueenie shook her head. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs.rs. though. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. 9efore they left the dorm. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. And in a state of panic. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. At the end of the semester./ She yanked %% off the bench./ %% said. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild./ said :ueenie. She didn&t have a choice. +4e&re going out.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. +I swear. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. . +So it&s settled then. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. I feel like I&m with someone famous. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. 9y the time they arrived at the club. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. 0lark out in the hall./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last .
eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. %% glared at her. %% was still leaning against the wall. The music was deafening./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening. I&m kind of in the middle of something. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. %% took off through the crowd.. +I&m not ready to go yet. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. She offered to buy %% a soda. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself./ %% shouted./ she sputtered. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. and you could almost see the walls shaking. An hour later./ %% frowned.They reached the second floor landing. +4hy=/ she asked. she was cute enough. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor.e= At least I move to the beat. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. She stomped down a narrow corridor. +7et&s go dance. +9ecause I&m ready to go. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late./ :ueenie yelled. which was 1uite hard to do. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. though she was standing right in front of her. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. since she had none. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. %% was ready to leave the club. +$o whatever you want. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. +I&m leaving. +:ueenie. %% once again made her way through the crowd. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. and pushed %% to the side. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . walked down a narrow corridor and out into an open space that was packed wall to wall with every type of lesbian you could possibly imagine./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. . At that point. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. It was almost K p. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her.endal. Sure. +. +>ou look ridiculous.m.
>ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie . it looked like more than @not much was going on. +(unny. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. and then I lost interest. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. 9ut when %% told her story./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels./ +There&s nothing to tell. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. :ueenie still wasn&t home. ./ %% sipped her soda. %% nodded. and they fell from underneath me. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. so %% crawled into bed. +I should have never gone out. if you hadn&t gone out. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. now you know what happened to me last night. it was considerably amusing. she&d taken a cab back to school. +(rom my perspective.c9ride=/ . you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. +4ait a minute. and random individuals lurking about. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground./ +$o tell. After she finally got down from the fire escape.y story isn&t half as good as yours. I managed to land on my feet somehow. which cost me twenty-five bucks./ +Trust me. broken beer bottles. after the club closed we went our separate ways. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. seriously. And in hindsight./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. I walked across them anyway./ +9ut. and I felt*used./ :ueenie repeated./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. The night had been a complete and utter failure. either./ %% shook her head from side to side./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. The two of them slept until after noon.&/ %% pressed. really.ung "ao chicken. +So. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it. And. eyes fi'ed on the television. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs./ :ueenie shrugged./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. by the way. +I mean./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm./ :ueenie said.
/ . +4e said this weird goodbye. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. It passed. +-kay. +And you know what she said to me= She said. >ou felt the need for something more. and that&s it. very./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. +%ust like that. >ou had a moment of guilt. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside./ :ueenie said. something a bit more real. and rubbed her temples. and stood up./ She stopped circling and glared at %%./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. It&s me. %% paused. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes. 9oth. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. It was something that started with an @S&. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can./ :ueenie said finally. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone./ %% began. +Something is obviously bothering you. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. 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./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience. seriously./ +4ait a minute. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. Try this one on for si3e. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. . And thankfully.& So I said./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. +That&s my line. +-kay./ %% scratched her head. The moment passed. @relationships. I don&t know. I don&t know. I don&t think that&s it./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. like I suddenly grew a conscience. @not into what=& And she said. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard. 4hat happened=/ +#h. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped. @I&m not into that. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. So. . +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. you can talk to me. She circled the room. +6ope. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much.:ueenie turned off the television./ %% told her. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. that girl&s response brought me back to reality.&/ +And that bothered you because ./ she said./ +It passed=/ +>es. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something./ +I don&t know what it is./ +:ueenie. +I think I just wondered*for a very. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down.
So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. +That&s just part of your character. . graduating from high school. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible.endal. And I&m not depressed. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. I reali3ed who I was talking to./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter./ :ueenie said. +I feel like I am going to throw up./ %% picked up her fork again. +>ou get nervous about everything.%% threw her hands up in the air./ +I&m not that bad./ +Trust me./ +It&s just a game. +9esides. she&d been right about . :ueenie sat across from her./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. Someone who opens herself up to people. I suppose. She sat in the dining hall. %%./ %% said enviously. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee./ +I know./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. I get nervous. +I need energy for the game./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. playing in basketball games. I just get a little an'ious now and then. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. +I&m hungry. between ample gulps of milk./ +It&s all trivial. taking e'ams. +I figure. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall. +I can&t help it. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. And so do you./ Though she didn&t admit it. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter. +It really isn&t that big of a deal. this time with determination./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ ./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls./ :ueen returned. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. I don&t know. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. >ou are that bad. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. After all.
rather than taking advice yourself./ %% glared at her./ said %%. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. sliding her plate aside. It&s part of the game you&re in. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating./ %% started her response. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again. +>es. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. for instance. >ou&re a writer. She gave :ueenie a long look. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. I don&t want to be anything like them. 9ut she did know better./ :ueenie smiled. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. 9ut just hear me out. but you don&t really know my parents. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort. >ou think I care if 0oach chews me out for missing a shot that would have won us a game= There&s always going to be another game. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. I&m listening. you know you want to do it. +4hat you really are afraid of is success./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. >ou never let it rest. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%./ +Take your stage fright. +>es=/ +>es. %% waited patiently for her to respond./ :ueenie said at last. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. this time you are actually making sense. or belittling them every chance you get./ +-kay./ +>ou know. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . :ueenie. be-all for you. and do it. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over. There is one thing that I am afraid of./ +./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. >ou know my parents./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. and stared up at the ceiling. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on./ +That&s fine. :ueenie. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. If %% didn&t know any better. on paper or otherwise. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. +I was being serious. +0ome on. %%.aybe./ %% said.+6ot in the big scheme of things./ +So am I./ +7isten. you know you can do it./ said :ueenie. $eep inside. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. $eep inside.
c0arthy. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction./ %% hated the fact that he was right. uninvited. %% thought. +True./ . And this would help me out a lot./ %% cocked her head to one side.maybe. +0ome on. +0an I talk to you=/ . +4ho is this creep=/ . and. +7isten. right=/ +>ou could say that. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. if you just talked to them. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her./ he said.yan Stevens loomed over them. but I&m still not following you.yan asked. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them. if you know what I mean. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned./ . 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up. ignoring :ueenie altogether.endal . +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. I know you&re tight with her. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride./ . I just need you to say a few nice things about me. +I said I need you to do something for me. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es./ :ueenie volunteered.yan sat down across from %%./ +9ut I hardly know you. It was empty. . +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. +I need you to do something for me. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater. keeping his eyes planted on %%. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. and gave up her seat. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get./ . +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school./ he smiled devilishly. I&m going to go to law school.yan e'plained./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. +It&s important./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. +There&s no common ground./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. a shadow fell over the table.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep.yan leaned in and whispered. I&m popular. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis./ +>ou&re friends with ./ +Trust me./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone.
endal . I can&t help you. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close.yan practically whined. I can&t help you.c0arthy was doing there. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. as she was making her way to the locker room. +That&s it=/ . %% had played well. too close for %%&s liking. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. +>ou two seem like best friends or something.yan called after her as she walked away. but you also played with heart.endal./ she said. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and ./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. too./ +4ait*/ . That&s it. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on./ she told him sharply. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. whether by te't or by phone. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate. 4e don&t even talk anymore. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying. +7ook. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. was over. .yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. After the game. +I&m sorry./ %% stared at his hand until he let go. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. 4e aren&t even friends. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. +I&ve got a game to get to. I was her tutor. >ou not only played with skill. entirely confused. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival./ +4hy not=/ . she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. There was no apology./ And so it was official.endal didn&t listen to them.ary. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game./ . 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. ladies. I can appreciate your interest in . They hadn&t spoken since .endal had stood %% up.%% sat there. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. %% had secured her starting position. So %% figured their friendship. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands. or whatever it was. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. according to 0oach 0ook. :ueenie had played superbly./ +4e aren&t best friends.
:ueenie hesitated. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me./ %% whispered./ +>ou know what they say. 5reat team effort./ /That&s very true. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. +It was e'citing and fun to watch. you wouldn&t know. I want team on three. -ne. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on./ ./ . it&s a different story. +4hen we lose. as she pulled on her warm-ups.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle.an./ %% replied as evenly as possible. +. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out./ :ueenie said. when she noticed that . +I&m ready./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. we won a game. >ou&re really good. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening./ +It&s about time.endal already stood in front of her./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore.nocked me around= I&m all muscle./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. 9y the way. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet.endal took in the empty gym. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. +"lease=/ +-kay./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance./ %% yawned and stretched. she knew why./ %% said./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time./ They left the locker room together.endal was still sitting on the bleachers. +5ive me a moment. two.endal halfway or stay where she was. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around. ladies. would you=/ +. As soon as she saw ./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. ./ +Thanks. debating whether or not she should meet ./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. as she fle'ed her arms. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. there&s a first time for everything. 0oach left the room. Then it&s always short and sweet. #veryone else followed suit./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended. 9y the time she made up her mind. I&m glad we won though. +5reat team effort tonight. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. three./ :ueenie declared. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side. I stink. +5reat game. +She just rambles when she&s happy. I&ll see you back at the dorm. +I can hold my own.
9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. she wondered if she&d made the right decision.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. :ueenie warned me./ . +I know how it looked. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class./ .endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her. why did you wait so long to talk to me= I&ve seen you around campus and you acted as if I wasn&t there./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. you do.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm. +9ut it&s not what you think. And I stuck up for you./ she said roughly. I know you&ll do well. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve./ +6o. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. 9ut when . to e'plain what happened. as you put it. you know. ./ . +2ey. I guess he likes you a lot. Instead. I don&t. 4anted me to put in a good word for him. she decided to walk away. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. That&s the problem. +She said you&d stop talking to me./ +>ou know. CHAPTER "* . against her better judgment./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e./ +>es./ +I didn&t freak out.yan Stevens is head over heels for you./ she said.endal closed her eyes. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something./ %% took a giant step backwards.endal pleaded.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for. +I thought I knew you. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor. +I came here to apologi3e./ . I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. ./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up.endal interrupted.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%./ said ./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah./ ./ she said. +I&m glad you came to the game. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space.endal cringed. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. I don&t know you at all. 2e&s perfect for you. look. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ . It is what it is. and you should probably know that . +5ood luck with the rest of your semester./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. +>ou know me./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder.endal. 5uess you proved her right. (or avoiding you. I said you&d never do anything like that. +-h.
4hen she stood up. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. . +>ou&ve got five minutes. +4hat&s your name=/ +.endal gave a slight and awkward wave./ .endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. +>es. +It&s okay./ ./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. . +2ey.endal. She was dressed as if she were going out downtown.endal insisted. 9ut look. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. ./ +(ive minutes is all I need. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch.endal=/ +4ell*/ . +See. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. races and religious beliefs./ +2ello. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. #veryone. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. To . . 9ut you&ve got it wrong. then crossed her arms over her chest.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. (rom where she hid. I wasn&t . They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society./ The entire group looked at her strangely. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket./ the students said in unison./ the president said patiently. %ust give me five minutes. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. take your time./ . as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover. talking on her cell phone. earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group.endal*/ +2ello.endal.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. +And you are=/ .endal heard a voice ask. +It&s important. >eah. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. please say hello to . really./ The president pointed a finger.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. and then looked back at . +Sorry to interrupt. I. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside.endal stood slowly.eet me in five minutes instead. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors. . :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. shuffling through its contents. . in faded jeans. +I.endal said. . .endal approached her slowly. I found it. . +I already know what you think of me.endal. you behind the couch. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. .endal.
6o. In fact. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. >es. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. no matter what people think or what people say or . -kay./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder./ . I thought I&d try a different approach.eet you where=/ +At my special spot.endal hugged herself to keep warm. ./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day.endal striding along the sidewalk. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. It&s important. School. I want to do the e'act opposite. I haven&t even made it off campus. I want to talk to her more./ . >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. And I needed some space to think about my confusion.endal walk away. and continued to watch her from afar./ +So. +%%. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. +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. but . If she&s really interested in what I have to say. +This is so new to me. .endal declared.endal e'plained. I&m serious. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her./ +.endal=/ %ason asked . pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. #verything. Tell her to meet me there in an hour./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. I&m not downtown yet./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. and that didn&t go so well. Something came up./ . And there&s more to be said. This time. It distracted her for a moment. until her silhouette faded into the night. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away./ She laughed in spite of herself. then she&ll come meet me. I already tried talking to her. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. she could still see .yan as they left the athletic center. . I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. . I want to*I don&t know. I&m not going anywhere yet. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened. It&s me. +9esides./ . All of it. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . I&m still confused. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. See you in when you get here./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. I want to*spend more time with her. I don&t even know what I&m saying. I knew she was mad at me. let me guess. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. as if her words were left suspended in air. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. She&ll know where I&m talking about. %%% +So what happened with . (riends.eet me in the school lounge. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door. .going to stop talking to %%.
endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days. isn&t that*/ . The whole sensitive guy routine./ .endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out. does she know if . +4hat. +I think it is. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else.yan looked up./ +So=/ +So./ . seriously./ e'ploring my options./ . and then to a figure approaching the soccer field. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason. And I can&t figure out why./ %ason bit down on his laughter. A devilish smile broke out on his face. rela'.an. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass.+6o.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. +Shut up. I forgot about that.yan rolled his eyes. +5et it=/ +$ude. I&m just. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness. $oes it matter=/ ./ +I don&t get it.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors. She said . while making 1uotes with his fingers./ %ason stopped walking.an./ . %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge./ +I doubt that./ +. +2ey. maybe she&s tutoring . 8emember= She stood me up. +9ut I&m going to follow her. +I don&t know.aybe you just need a different approach.c0arthy that. +./ he said. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet./ . +It does now./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ he said 1uietly.yan waved his hand into the air. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team.yan said.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl. +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud. +It bombed. the one that you talked to./ +I tried a different approach./ %ason snickered.c0arthy this and . 4inter formal was only a few weeks away.endal .endal .endal in more subjects than one./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. 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.aybe she&s just not into guys. +She said she hardly even knows . Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ . ./ . 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered. Then it was all .yan answered. >ou know. +I don&t know./ +6o. okay.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back.yan said. +Take this for me. +-h*right.
&o real. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. The $ibble Syndrome had hit.. Heart open. erratic. &ometimes it helps. mind /lea6. *ant to &ometimes ' do. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. so to spea6. Sure. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. . static feelings. strength. . to relieve in itself The pain. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . Thoughts reel. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. And move on. +I&m not sure. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment .endal. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. The first time she . only this time she hadn&t let it take over. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. '4m wea6. But it4s 5ust a moment. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. She reread the words 1uickly. &omewhere.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
/ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation.c0arthy.endal . I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . . All the things that had sent her thoughts reeling over the past month inspired her to write the poem that had just oo3ed out of her like sweat from her pores and landed on the page. As she reached for her baseball cap. stage fright./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. It made sense. She spoke about tolerance. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered.c9ride&s. A meeting of some sort was taking place. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. every word. every rhythmic phrase. care of the . right. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. took the podium. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. It was therapy. This time. I forgot. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. perhaps=/ +6ice try. 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. %% knew that now. with glasses too big for her face. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. or lack thereof. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt./ %% said evenly. dark-skinned girl. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society./ +>ou give up too easily. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses./ +:ueenie.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. unassuming. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously./ %% looked around the room. even basketball. %% was even more curious when she spotted :ueenie sitting on a cushioned chair in the corner of the school lounge that normally was reserved for reading or studying. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. closed the journal./ :ueenie whispered back. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium.endal. %% had been able to do it all by herself. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. +7istening./ +6one other than T2# ./ :ueenie sat up straight. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h./ They watched together as a tiny.
and I don&t want to know. +4onderful. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. It doesn&t happen too often. I&ve got two. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. taps me on the shoulder. +And she wants to tell you herself./ +She likes you. if you&ll e'cuse me. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . I got the impression that she even missed you. +6ow./ +4hich are*=/ +I./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. she likes spending time with you. in hopes that I might go speak to her./ said %%./ :ueenie admitted. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. 4hen she reopened them. save your breath. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened.c0arthy once and for all. I&ve got three words for you. I&m heading back to the dorm. +6o. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. 4as./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. +-kay. and says she needs to talk to me./ %% cleared her throat. She could only nod. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. 4rong. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. +This is a big deal for me. three. I asked.endal. I still don&t understand. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. of course.endal . she took another deep breath. #njoy the rest of your./ %% sat down again. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. (or some reason. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. she took a deep breath. you should know that .iss . waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About .+That&s right. +5ood./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused./ %% stood up. I&m talking on my i"hone outside./ :ueenie closed her eyes. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all . The nerve of some people./ :ueenie continued. +As much as I appreciate your confession and the fact that you were even able to get those three little words out of your mouth. .
you turn around and tell me this. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . come on./ +I know. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. +. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. +%ust when I&m over the girl. This is me you&re talking to./ +And I appreciate that.c9ride./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. Then I&m heading downtown. my friend.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together.an. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. CHAPTER "! . Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories. . +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. I mean. +It was obvious./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions./ +That&s up to you. >ou have to believe me./ +Thanks. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to. +%%.+9asically. >ou were right. I think she really cares about you./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body. you&ve got a small head./ :ueenie continued. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge./ :ueenie whispered. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field./ %% whispered in return. you might hear her say it for yourself./ She pointed at %%. and slammed it down on her head. The hard part was to choose which doors. +0all me if you need to./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head./ said %%. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug. She grabbed her baseball cap back. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. +>ou must be rubbing off on me.endal supposedly was waiting./ %% yelled. I did my part./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. 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. I&m talking @like like./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap./ +I can&t believe this. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'. +I was wrong about her. She&s not like I thought she was. she couldn&t tell. :ueenie . I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her./ +I can&t believe this. 4alking through them would be the easy part./ %% yelled again.
yan forced a laugh. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. A friend.endal as she scanned the darkness. 4e could take this school by storm.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. worried that %% would arrive at any second. I&ve never even entertained the thought. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer.endal laughed sweetly at him. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. didn&t you= 2ow sad. you&re pathetic./ +"athetic=/ . well. +That seat is reserved for someone else.endal looked at him with distaste. 2is charisma had melted away. +4hat do we have here=/ . that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter./ .endal spat. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic./ +4ith some other guy. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon. 4e&d make a great couple. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it./ said ./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me./ +A friend=/ .yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story./ .endal pointed a hard finger at him.yan stared down at the blanket. +Think about it. 4e have so much in common.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her. +#ither way. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them./ he confessed. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go. +"lease. She crossed her arms in frustration./ . +6ice little set up you got here. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more. It&s been said. +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=/ .endal&s protest. +4ell.endal&s sweet smile soured instantly./ . "erfect for a secret rende3vous. eh=/ +That&s none of your business. well. I found a much better way to spend my night. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up./ +7ook./ ./ +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. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing./ 2e approached the blanket./ . right=/ +It was a girl. If :ueenie had come through for her./ ./ +Some friends come with benefits. 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.yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness. >ou are the biggest self-centered. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip. egotistical moron I&ve ever met./ 2e winked at her. if you must know. casting a dim beam over the blanket. +I apologi3e for standing you up.endal told him at once. +It&s cold out here.yan returned./ . +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ . And in the end. just go.
+I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me. anymore. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. they might respect you more./ +6ot everything. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o. I&m in no position to tell you what to do. >ou act so conceited. not mine. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives./ +7ook./ she said. She suddenly felt sorry for him. now you know.y father&s in the military. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not. And apparently you aren&t being yourself. it turns people off. I get good grades. desperation in his eyes. no matter what other people think. -nce we graduate./ said ./ +. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors. +They&re his rules.endal.yan stood up. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. setting her hands on his shoulders./ +I can be a nice guy. $o you really want to be the same person in college as you are now= >ou&re going to meet a whole new set of people and friends. +It isn&t worth it./ . or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. >ou really are a lesbian=/ . his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket.yan maintained. . +I&m the captain of the soccer team. I take care of myself physically. +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=/ +. +That&s the real point of going off to college. >ou might as well let them see the real you.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side. so I&m supposed to get all the girls.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. what am I doing wrong=/ ./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you./ 2e looked at her.yan said 1uickly.endal stared at him firmly./ . I guess not./ +So it&s true. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school. +Then tell me./ he said. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ ./ he told her. +I don&t know what I am./ he e'plained.endal approached him. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. She peered into the shadows. but there was no one there. . +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.endal&s own eyes softened. It&s about who you are. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah. I&ve done everything right./ .+4ell./ .endal continued.yan didn&t answer. It&s not about what you do.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. +9efore you met who=/ . . That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . then.yan asked. 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. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school.
4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school.endal./ . 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined./ +>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.endal said.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest./ she advised. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since . I can&t understand./ +. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered.yan leaned forward to hug her. and then took it in his hand. I&m not doing anything.c0arthy. 6ew semester. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same. and*/ +I can do it by myself. 6ew . She had decided to move in with ./ ./ . 6ew classes.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . I think you got off easy.ya the week before.ya&s room if you want. +6ope.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. I said I was sorry a billion times.endal replied.ya&s room. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. 2e stared at it blankly. you know that=/ +I have changed. 2er clothes were spread across her bed. ready to be carried away to some other closet. +5o look in the mirror. It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night.endal had started packing. 7ook. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to . It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well. +I&ve already been scolded by ./ she said. ./ .ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm.endal knew she&d done that all by herself.endal agreed. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . really. +I&m just saying I know how you feel. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere. +6o./ As . +If it were me./ .endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back.+It doesn&t matter./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ ./ She pushed past 0hristine. but . She turned her back and resumed packing. . I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.endal . +>ou&ve changed. and it&s important to me./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new. Steadying the crates in her arms. +Then you&ll see what I mean. 6ew living space.
reluctantly. neither.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it./ . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that.ya sat down on her bed./ +If it&s any consolation./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it./ +I have plenty of room. sitting on top of a damp blanket and flicking the flashlight off and on for almost two hours before she&d finally given up hope.endal entered her room. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets. +I can do it.endal snatched the book away from .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 %%. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book. +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ ./ +7et me help you. +Time to move on.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem.ya helped ./ said . She does feel bad about what she did./ . 7etting me move in here is help enough.ya asked gently./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= .endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor. +2onest. nothing. It&s not a big deal at all. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles. She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once. +That&s what she feels bad about. things change. she sure was an attractive scapegoat. +6ot much./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . I know she feels bad about it./ +Are you sure=/ +>es. +I know. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know.aybe./ . +Is it possible. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others./ +8ight. +6o. 6ew semester. +./ .endal replied apologetically.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor.endal had waited in the cold. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. And she never showed up. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything./ ./ she said. 6ew things to come.endal. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation./ +Such as*/ +4ell./ .endal frowned./ +"ositive=/ +. +I&m a little on edge still./ +It&s okay./ ./ ./ +So what now=/ +6ow./ +5ood. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible. 9ut./ said ..e. I&m sorry.endal admitted.endal./ .ya asked. as ./ . +%ust a few more crates and my clothes. it&s not.
/ . +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach./ +>ou&re into girls now./ .ya cooed like a little school girl.endal&s hand. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop.yan Stevens needs in his life. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team. jockish sort of look./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. and took . I can promise you that./ .endal said./ . +4hat=/ .yan would have asked you for sure.endal returned.endal smiled wickedly.ya teased./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem. >ou name it*it&s on here.endal. +. had led her nowhere in particular. and began sifting through some papers./ . If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him./ . I happen to think . She picked up the binder and showed it to ./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me. in search of inspiration for writing. +4hat&s that=/ .ya blushed. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. certainly lacked appeal./ she said. +I&m not into girls now. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure.endal burst out laughing. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. +0ome on. +Then you can help me think of what to say to . +.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in. 2er stroll./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +.+It&s okay./ . I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here./ +4ell. +2e&d never say yes. . +(or instance.ya asked innocently.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon.endal asked./ ./ +-h.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. >et she continued to linger. listening to successful.ya answered./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl . debating whether or not to go in. I have to do it soon./ . She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen. if you like that meathead.yan is cute. +8eally= I thought ./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes. here&s a list of possible venues.ya jumped up off the bed. I understand.e= I couldn&t. -therwise he might ask somebody else.yan./ +(orgot what./ +>ou like ./ . And apparently she&s not into me. I forgot.
+4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . 9ut there was no masked man. breaking into %%&s flashback. +I thought she&d tell you. At that moment. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks./ said .yan held up a finger. %% stared at him vacantly. Save me a spot in line. Then for some reason .The sun had just settled in for the night. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss./ said . +2ey %ason. . +4ell.yan.endal told you what happened. 9esides. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her. more significantly. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. other girls. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. she didn&t. She had gone there./ said his friend %ason.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. They shuffled by her. And when she finally stopped running. %% 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 .yan.yan./ +0ouple=/ .yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway./ As he turned and reached for the door. 6amely you./ he whispered. %% gave him a slight nod.endal. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. barely acknowledging her presence. +And I doubt she will any time soon. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. and then turned abruptly toward %%.endal was holding . simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. +>ou two make a cute couple. +>ou know. +I don&t think so. right. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite./ %% stepped aside to let them pass. +-h. completely heartbroken. +6o.yan echoed. who was standing beside him. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then. she turned and ran./ she said./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. telling him to wait a minute. %% almost called out to her. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. +./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure .yan Stevens standing directly behind her./ +(ine by me. I&ll catch up with you. Instead./ said . completely out of breath and. She&s too much to deal with. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together.yan&s shoulders gently./ . +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ .endal would be waiting. +I hope you treat her right./ she said blandly./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground.
And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time. right= About me.+6o./ +2ey. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. +So./ %%&s eyes danced around./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was.yan&s face./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you.yan e'plained. but I have to go. +I&m sorry.endal was holding onto your shoulders. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side. CHAPTER "$ . I wish. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out. wait a minute. She flopped down and closed her eyes. +I knew it. She didn&t. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. that&s good advice. so I followed her.yan struggled to recall the incident. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs./ he glanced around again. and smacked herself in the forehead.endal mumbled. +I wanted to know what was going on with her./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. Then it hit him. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. . 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. you know. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street./ she said./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a./ . 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. +./ +9ut I saw you together. the sky and . +.yan called after her as she hurried down the street./ . let me get this straight. even though it was still unmade. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach./ %% smiled. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. 7ike I said./ A warm./ . and she basically put me in my place./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. the door to her room opened./ she said suddenly. she said she was e'pecting someone else. and her lower back ached. bouncing off the sidewalk. %ust as she was about to fall asleep.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight./ +4ell. >ou two were about to kiss. too./ .endal didn&t want you there. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. +She was waiting for you./ . +4e talked about a few other things.endal sat down on her new bed./ +>ou saw us=/ .
+7ooking for you. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last./ . +./ +That he did.ya.endal&s eyes shot open. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now.endal snickered./ +. +4hatever you have to say./ +I didn&t know what to think./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. +I just saw what I saw and ran.+It&s not . the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself. and I ran into ./ said ./ +>ou could have said something. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something./ %% insisted./ .yan=/ +That&s beside the point./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +.yan a lecture. through my eyes./ +That depends./ ./ +-nly./ . +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view. it looked much different through my eyes./ +I was thinking we could go to the library./ She observed .ya told me where you were.ya likes .endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth.endal.endal said dryly. +I was in town earlier./ +>ou and me both./ +That I did. just for the record./ +4hat=/ ./ %% e'plained./ +That is a mistake. I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly.endal&s new surroundings. +. It doesn&t matter to me. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen. She stood up and began to pace around the room. I&m ready. I guess I didn&t really believe it.endal told her. +I mean that I did show up that night. And.endal flinched.ya./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands.endal. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss. through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ said ./ said a familiar voice. I&ll listen. I prefer to call him ./ .yan the couch monster. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know. +And.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her.yan Stevens. trying to make sense of what was happening.ay I=/ ./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did./ +4ell. +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&m not captivated by his washboard abs. )nlike ./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that./ +4hat do you mean. She was sitting up now./ +-h.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently.aybe do a little studying. and made a face. only I showed up right when you were giving . .
the one and only. . %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. +I&m :ueenie . She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. and re1uest a roommate change. you know that=/ At that moment. right down to her socks. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. The day she&d met :ueenie. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation.c9ride with her parents in tow. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. They had both arrived a week early. The championship game went ./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it./ +That&s right. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. making it to the state championships. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. #ach was notable for a different reason. in walked :ueenie . performed only when her parents were around./ %% had said.endal said./ +0ome on. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. The two became inseparable after that. before classes began.+Studying=/ +>eah. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. Somehow. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. and nothing could stop them. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. They were going to take the campus by storm. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. her life was forever changed.c9ride. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. The first was the day she met :ueenie. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up./ said :ueenie. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. +Thought so./ . And that was a moment worth remembering. 9ut %% resisted./ she eventually told %%. %% didn&t dare deny it. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson.
made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired.into double overtime.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. she saw ./ said %%. and tackling her to the floor./ she said. +I&m just having a little fun. %% had to ask. The walls were soundproof./ . +9esides.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. And since e'ams were right around the corner. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. and as they stepped aside they studied . +This kind of studying needs to be done in private./ +$oesn&t bother me much. 4hen %% reached the landing. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. since she&d made the winning basket. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. +I&m obviously used to it by now. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. her heart sped up e'citedly. %% knew something incredible was about to happen./ +-h. %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. chasing her down. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us. As she made her way toward the biographies section./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. -nce .endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. The room was no bigger than a closet. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. you know= Two girls holding hands. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided.endal rounded a corner. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards.endal replied. she knew the smell of . so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. . once they were inside. %% gulped. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before. and all. they were e'tremely hard to come by. facing %% who lagged behind her. seating three or four people at the most./ . with a playful smile. $uring e'ams. +I&m learning as I go along. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. staring is rude.endal replied. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. eyeing the key./ . She watched with anticipation as .
I should have known./ said ./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. really=/ .endal confessed. +Interested in you=/ . I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. +The interest never went away. +It&s a learning process. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. "age DEP. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. ./ +I have my ways. %% remained standing.endal finished. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her./ .endal shook her head and laughed./ . waiting for me to lug her to class. I don&t see you listening./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly. She patted the open seat ne't to her. +I thought you said you were ready to listen. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . +I used to hate her./ ./ +I am. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. All I see you doing is talking.endal looked at her that way.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her./ . that&s all. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. you&re a girl and that complicated things. -nly./ +-h. +I was so confused. I didn&t .endal began. that. ./ she managed. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es. +#verything that was right in front of me.endal sighed. +She used to torment me at night./ She looked up at %%.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ ./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. it knocked the breath straight out of her.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. +I know I&m supposed to be listening. +9ut. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right. her nerves getting the better of her.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her.endal or across from her.endal shot her a look./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore./ +Sit down. +4hat did you mean back on the steps. +This=/ She held it up. %%. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. 4hen . she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for.endal played with the key. 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around./ she said. unable to speak. She pointed at the cover./ +0heerleading connections. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key. She decided to test the waters first.endal ordered. +>es./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ . +8ela'./ +4ell./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. %% nodded.endal.
And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. +I finally get the meaning behind it. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. +>ou are way too humble.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before. All I know is that I want to be around you./ . The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling. The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. %%% 7ater.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently. even when I didn&t know myself.endal in the eyes. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently.endal softly. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. +>ou don&t have to say anything. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. I didn&t want to stop seeing you but at the same time I didn&t want to lose my friends and everything I had built at Sampson over the past few years. 4I7$ nights./ ./ She pointed to the page./ said . +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. And that&s you./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously.c0arthy. That&s why I stood you up.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. not the s1uad. . +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time./ said . Instead. she sei3ed the moment. +I finally get it./ said %%.endal. 9ut that isn&t the case. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. not my friends. suddenly made no sense at all. That&s why I avoided you.endal./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. +I knew you were going to say that. 4ild nights. no matter what anyone else thought.endal . each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . 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. and how you helped me change my perspective. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# ./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants. when %% was lying in bed that night./ said . and especially not 0hristine.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. still unable to look . and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that.
She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then.rs. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks./ +>ou know./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker. 4e&re naturally gifted. but she&s pretty cool. +I just can. no./ +So where is T2# . scattered papers. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading./ +Thanks. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand./ :ueenie said honestly./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation./ %% marveled at :ueenie. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. I hate to admit it. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak. +6o.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books.endal . 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. +2ow do you do that=/ she asked. and worn folders spread out in front of her. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence./ She hopped up on %%&s bed. I was wrong about her. she would. She had gone over it again and again. scattering notes and papers everywhere. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. which she already was an e'pert at. she could read them as they floated by./ +Thank 5od for that. I&m going to lose it. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. The poem that .CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. 4hen she closed her eyes./ She paused momentarily. and it was hardly an e'am. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic. I won&t take your charity. +I need it. If %% could study for it. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. +%ust what the doctor ordered./ +It&s my pleasure./ +>ou would. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening./ :ueenie said. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead./ +4ait a second.
/ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall. +I&m sorry. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. 9ut if you never take that chance. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. +Are you okay=/ she asked. I&m not sure what&s going on with me. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. devilishly-motivated. thankfully. +4ell-adjusted= "lease./ +./ +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. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big./ +2ey. you can be cynical sometimes.c9ride family soon enough. 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 . but I think you might be right. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself.y sister is taking that risk. not to mention childish. 7et&s not go overboard here./ +Sure. +4ell./ :ueenie insisted. so nobody else at her table could . you&ll never know the difference between the two. besides all of that. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor. The lighting was dim.+I&m serious. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. I&m so proud. thing to do=/ +>es. . shifting her position every other minute. To take a risk like that. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. 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./ +It happens to the best of us. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. It&s something special. morally-sound young woman. but we all can. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot./ :ueenie sighed. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. +"erhaps. She&s putting her all into someone.
/ +4ell. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing./ :ueenie replied./ %% forced a laugh. you two make 1uite the darling couple.endal&s hand shot up in the air. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal./ . 5ood luck.yan&s hand. but it was too late. I bet they&ll even dub you . +4e just came over to wish you good luck.atie 2olmes of this school.endal.ya in the school paper. +)h. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. ladies.yan even had a choice in the matter./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. and watched ./ +>ou think so=/ . right. She was sitting beside %%. +7ook at her./ said :ueenie./ said :ueenie confidently./ :ueenie smirked. +She&s fine. +./ +Isn&t that ./ .see that she wasn&t only pale. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well. And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth. .yan Stevens behind her.endal asked. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad.endal. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to ./ +-h. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table. . genuinely serious./ he mumbled. yeah. as he rubbed the sore spot. +Are they together=/ %% asked. +I guess so. 2onestly./ %% grumbled.ya elbowed him gently in the gut. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie./ +2ey.endal and %% shot her a warning look. girl. %% nodded in return./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt. She grabbed hold of . She gave .ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . 9oth . %% ignored her and took in the crowd. stop.endal slipped in through tight lips.ore than usual. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year. .ya asked. +2ey. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked . she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine. +2ow about.y. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support. I don&t think ./ +And without baseball metaphors. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and . for that matter. that would totally rock./ .yan fidget until . she&s ready to knock this one out of the park./ %% smiled politely. +>ou okay=/ . 2er mouth was already off and running./ +2ey. +-h. as she slapped .ya.ya=/ %% asked./ :ueenie remarked. +I must say. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here.
he sure is a lucky guy. as every person in the entire room stared at her./ %% announced./ %% scowled at :ueenie./ .ya&s a sweetheart. +Thanks for the water. The damp taste in her mouth went dry.rs. +%%./ said :ueenie. She&s as steady as a rock. She felt .rs. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd.ya looked in her direction.ya shifted. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head./ said %%. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. 0hairs shifted. we better find a seat before they&re all taken./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . +4ell. that&s all. +. +I think I&m going to be sick. She shrugged her shoulders back at them. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. +6ot at all. . She felt .endal. and turned her head swiftly as soon as . as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side.+0ut it out./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees./ . +I&ll go get you some water. +. 0lark take the stage.e=/ %% pointed at her chest.endal maintained. +That ./ said . +2ey. and I&d have to start calling names. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading.ya&s a little*particular. +>ou don&t look so good. 0lark shouted into the microphone. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink./ said . And it&ll do . In an instant./ :ueenie offered in return. +Take deep breaths. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. +>ou know.endal suggested. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in .yan.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block .ya asked. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first./ she hissed at :ueenie. +%ust look at her. 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. 0lark&s hand. +At least you&ve got your color back. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. +Are you nervous at all=/.rs. she&s not nervous at all.endal. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb.rs./ . She&s a girl who knows what she wants. She yanked . %% stood there. and she began to hyperventilate./ %% mouthed. 0lark&s voice from her ears. +2e looked absolutely miserable./ %% gulped./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . +2ey. At this point she was seeing everything double./ +-h. yeah. hard./ .yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while./ said :ueenie.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. +. +She&s just psyching herself up./ added :ueenie.
which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. +4henever you&re ready. She accepted our fate. @. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. 2er shoulders straightened. They stopped about halfway around the track. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. who held her breath in anticipation. of course. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. I suppose you could say I wrote it.endal and :ueenie in the corner. until they blended together into a sea of colors. one after the other. I cringed at her reluctance. +I wrote this for class*well. And these are the words that ended up on the page. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. and they kept coming. It was the final signal that there was no going back. %%. She cringed at my defiance./ CHAPTER ") . somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. I boasted that I was her only daughter. She often wondered who I was inside. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. I took it off and basked naked in the sun. >et. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. 0lark./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. The words just kept flowing from my pen. I accepted our gender. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed./ said . settling on . +She tied my hair in ribbons. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. the best writer in class. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. Together. 4e found a common strand. :ueenie. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . smiling supportively at her from the back of the room.rs.endal. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. I untied them and my hair ran wild. She forced a cotton shirt over my head.other . tiger.
while chomping on a piece of gum./ +6ice to meet you. +TouchM. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. by the way./ +So listen. ./ +She was a poet.endal e'tended her hand to him./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger./ +0lever. isn&t it=/ he grinned. She smiled momentarily. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend.aybe I will. +I&m ./ 9rad said./ +Agreed. .endal./ she said as nicely as possibly.y name is 9rad. by the way. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I./ +./ +8eally=/ 2e paused./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band. After you&re done playing. .endal smiled./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end./ she said politely. . +0lever. you should stick around and check her out. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson.. 4e&re pretty popular in this area.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night./ 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./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es./ . It&s ama3ing.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him.endal teased./ +Speaking of T-shirts./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or./ ./ .endal. >ou should read some her work. +I&m sorry. actually. +0ome here often=/ he asked. A $rummer and (our 5uys./ . +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. +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. he was standing right in front of her.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts. +#very (riday night.endal. actually. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up./ +5uess not. a biography of #mily $ickinson. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you./ .
/ . As ./ +Stick around after your set./ +-omph=/ . 8ecently. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked. oomph. she wanted to become a teacher. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. #ventually. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier.aybe I will.endal sat back down. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride . She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. +>eah. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot. +4I7$ nights. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. would she=/ +6o.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine.endal stood up./ said . no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. 4I7$ nights. 4ere I with thee. +6ot at all. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. She looked out of the adjacent window./ +4ill do.&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night. .endal laughed. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers. a new and confident %% was born.endal played along./ %% teased.+. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud./ said %%. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. once she reached the table. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away.ollow -ueenie and . 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. he stopped suddenly. laughed and cleared her throat./ +That was much better.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand./ .endal. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . +She might change her mind after she hears you play./ said . signaling that spring had arrived at last./ .endal. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond. As for . % % % THE E+D % % % ..endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. a person that . ./ As 9rad turned to leave. Since then. +I don&t think so.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./ +6ever hurts to ask.endal. #verything around her felt fresh and new.
you are under age 2. 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# .by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .or her anthology My Story is Out %.or#ation and e2cerpts .
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