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