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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 really sorry./ +Seriously though. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious.s. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings./ +It&s okay./ ./ .endal. I&m %%. I&d give anything to be able to do that. go to class and pass a test without even studying. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. is like that. So.y friend. +I&ve seen you around school. +I&m sorry. >ou&re ./ said %%. :ueenie. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you./ .endal. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school.endal&s frustration.s./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. +I was just joking. . It&s a completely different kind of reality. 4hen we discuss a poem in class. or when . +It&s something I have had to work harder at. 0hin e'plains what a poem means./ %% understood . let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans./ said . Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. +The soccer team and I go way back./ . I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from. though she couldn&t relate to it. +4ell. #veryone needs help now and then. right=/ .endal emitted a dramatic groan. She ran her hand through her hair again. right=/ . and since she was a writer herself. I might as well be reading a foreign language. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. +I didn&t mean anything by that. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. ne't to the biography section.endal nodded. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late.endal said 1uickly. +4ell.endal confessed. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time./ she said breathlessly. I tutor a lot of different people. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in. a little shamefully. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ ./ +That&s what I thought. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. I&m completely lost./ +./ %% e'tended her hand./ %% smiled. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously.sitting at the farthest table from the door.endal&s left shoulder. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. I can actually read and write somewhat well. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over .endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone.
stealing her attention away from the book momentarily. though. .endal was staring at her./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ ./ . long sleep. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to./ +Thanks. you know. +I mean. .endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. +-kay.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me.+)nfortunately. looking up from the book. she&s talking about death. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. She was nervous for some reason and for a second she forgot why she was even in the library until she saw the book of poetry open in front of them.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. pointing at the page. +A long. . +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ +5ood./ +It seems like a waste of time. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. 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. As soon as their eyes met she looked away./ %% heard herself say. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of./ she said. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. . not once look up for noon ./ +)m*thanks./ +To bask centuries away. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. +>ou smell nice. . like fruity or something. ./ said %%./ . +I don&t think that matters. +. +8ead the last two lines./ said %%./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said./ %% rambled on. along with a few others for over an hour. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. bask centuries away ./ she said. There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves./ She paused and looked up from the page. fully aware that . 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. a famous sleep. It distracted her./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. long sleep. +It isn&t as important as you might think. That makes no show for dawn. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. right= A long.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. See./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . to break the ensuing awkward silence./ They discussed the poem at length.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. +%ust so we can read it together. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally. %% looked up from the page.endal said./ . +So. An independent one.
/ said %%. She blinked and looked away. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing./ she said finally. . ./ +I didn&t think that./ she said./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head.endal. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie.c0arthy up close./ %% studied her.endal was staring at her again. . The dorm room was empty when %% entered. e'cept I&ll be on time. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor. laughing./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though. 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 picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. . +4hat=/ ./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to .nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background./ +In what way=/ +4ell. though she could hear the television in the common room. It was her turn to look away this time. same time./ . >ou said it yourself./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . 2e said you were one of the best./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover./ %% admitted.endal said. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. same time. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face./ +"ossibly. slid her hat on backwards. +I should get back to my dorm. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor./ +>eah.endal accidentally brushed against her. +6othing.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. She was more than beautiful.endal asked./ said . I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. as if she were keeping a secret. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. you know.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. for instance. and the warm sensation she felt whenever . 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . we&re even then. +Same place.endal&s folder. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love. +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. %% stood still for half a second longer. remember=/ +4ell. +I&ll see you ne't session. letting the sound of .endal. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader.endal .endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said. recalling the tidbits of conversation. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here.
4ild nights. +4hat=/ ./ said %%. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . . fell out from between the pages. She whispered the poem out loud to herself in the safe confines of an empty room where she felt secure that no one else could hear her. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. +4ild nights./ %% looked at her skeptically. Sitting with her legs crossed. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. a moment.A number two pencil. %% sat back and admired her work. 4ild nights. ' see it . . a feeling./ +6o. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. an image of . sitting side by side. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. 8ead it with more enthusiasm. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. Beyond your eyes. . 4hen %% opened her eyes. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. a /reath A second to say the words that never leave your lips And then it4s gone )eaving /ehind a sensation Tingling in my heart )ingering in the air Ma6ing me wish That the moment never ended Ma6ing me hope To feel it again But ' imagine That ne7t time The words will flow The moment will last The /reathing will speed And emotions will reveal *hat lies patiently Beyond your eyes 4hen she finished. the writer inside of her had taken hold.endal raised her voice slightly. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed.endal appeared in %%&s mind. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry.endal asked. no.
haven&t they=/ ./ said %%. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy./ said %%. they&ve been enjoyable. +-kay. %% stood up and began clapping loudly. +#'cept this time./ she said. give it a little more oomph./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm.endal&s hand and pushed it away. her hair. 4ere I with thee./ %% insisted./ . 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. %% playfully grabbed hold of . +I&m just doing the poem justice. done with the compass./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph.endal looked on in ama3ement. +See the difference=/ +>eah./ she said. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. done with the chart. As soon as she finished./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty.endal&s hand. . that was much better. +4I7$ nights. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. +(utile the winds to a heart in port. >ou&ll see./ . +So back to those @wild nights. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me./ %% held back her sigh of relief. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. 4as she at a party or something=/ +. +>es. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines. studying. studying.endal. +4ow./ %% said after a moment.endal laughed. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds./ +$ickinson is the beginning. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. She stood up firm and bellowed. %% covered the page with her hands.endal opened her mouth to begin. And it was all because of ./ %% watched closely as . She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on .&/ said ./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y. 4hat do you think it means=/ .endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down./ +I know. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.endal asked.endal began reciting the poem. studying. e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair. wild night. studying.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. It&s been two weeks of studying. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem./ +Sure.endal sighed. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. 9ut as soon as . +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.endal&s eyes. even though her stomach was in knots. +See./ %% shifted in her chair. 4I7$ nights./ . Thanks to you. she would have never dared to do what she had just done. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together. slowly releasing . and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word.endal. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table./ %% forced a smile.endal.
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. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender.&/ %% laughed. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. She&s just e'pressing love. . the winds were useless to her. Instead they continued talking. another woman. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing./ They stared at one another. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go.endal&s heart. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen. She read the poem over again. CHAPTER $ +So. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock.endal studied the words on the page./ +8ight. +>ou don&t think it&s possible for a woman to feel that intensely about another woman= To feel that much in love=/ She looked along the bookshelves as she asked this./ +I don&t know./ +#'actly./ :ueenie snorted. .endal might say in return./ +And when she got there./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think. they&d have plenty of @wild nights./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. +4ell./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. slightly afraid of what ./ .endal&s eyes widened. outside the boundaries of reality. +7ook. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. but wild as in overwhelming./ she said finally. the @wildness& is describing what she felt./ She pointed to ./ %% began. pretending to buff her nails. +I do think it&s possible. but paused for a moment./ %% paused. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman.
/ %% said. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting./ +She&s not what she seems. please=/ +(ine. She&s nice. she spotted ./ +-./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance.&/ +So./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. I happen to think she&s nice. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. she&s*she&s different./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked. too. %% had considered it./ +So=/ +So. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy./ +>eah. I mean.elly $ibble. She remained steadfast.elly that she was gay and how she felt.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. An'iety itched in her stomach./ %% insisted. cocking her head to one side. I don&t even know her. and regain her sense of self. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity.c0arthy.+0ute. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. +I don&t believe it./ Ah. (rom that point on. %% soon fell into a depression. . This is T2# .endal . +0an we talk about something else. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. if you say so. yes. 9ut %% knew this was different. . +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. grimacing from the soreness. and she longed to change the subject./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits. Though it was rumored that . how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named . +6ot even close./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. +$on&t look at me like that. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious. >ou like her. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s.endal ./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. and . And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now.. peppering her eggs with hot sauce. %% made the mistake of telling .elly transferred to another school the following semester. I don&t know. but you used the word @nice. 4ith :ueenie&s help./ she said. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. +6o. That doesn&t mean I like her. $uring her sophomore year. In fact./ %% warned.
the 0ultural Awareness Society.. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt. and . %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it. and yet another table was reserved for the debating team.endal was on a natural high. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something./ -f course I didn&t know that. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism.endal looked down at her runny eggs. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess.endal picked at her eggs. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. she finally understood what her teacher was talking about and was able to contribute to class discussions instead of doodling in her notebook like she had since the beginning of the semester./ %% snapped out of her da3e. %% had thought. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears.endal sat down across from her. a jacket and skirt combination./ 0hristine motioned to . The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. +I eat. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail./ she retorted. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. :ueenie was giving her that look. +$efinitely. (or once. #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.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants./ . At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. cooked over-easy. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. hung neatly at her hips. the art club. complemented with potatoes and bacon. . +Ahem. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . %%% ./ . +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. +#'cuse me. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately.endal&s tray. 2er school uniform. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. +At least I eat. I just choose to eat healthy. the drama club./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel. (eeling defeated. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back.
0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. I mean. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. She had suspected that %% was different somehow. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off./ +It&s so obvious. +0&mon. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. She felt di33y and lightheaded. and about her own response. I&d just be careful if I were you. . giving her knots in her stomach./ 0hristine advised. then the girl who spit when she talked.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session.endal picked up a piece of bacon.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate.endal./ she gasped./ +She helps me with homework. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when .endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her. no. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. +I&m not naAve./ . did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. -ne. I just never suspected. That&s what a tutor does. Three. CHAPTER & ./ . look at your track record. Two. +She&s gay.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. So is half of the basketball team. (our.+Speaking of which. She&s on the basketball team.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand. .endal had caught her staring./ 0hristine continued. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events./ +4ell. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot. 9ut she had stared back at %%. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell./ +5od. 9ut if %% was gay. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. . She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. +It&s %% something or other. 2e counted silently.endal said 1uickly./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. that&s it. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. about the feeling of their locked hands. and ./ . (ive. +$on&t give her your phone number. a lesbian. :ueenie or something. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. or she might start te'ting you. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all.
Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. Then he sank to the ground. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. #verything in his life was set to high standards. popular. a captain on the soccer team.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. %ason. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat. 7ack of confidence was the other. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. I think it&s time .endal . from his grades to the girls he dated. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. 2e had always set his goals high.c0arthy. 2e had the perfect reputation. one piece to make the pu33le complete. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. #ven for you.c0arthy= T2# . 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. . 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored.yan wanted someone less brainy. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e.yan replied between reps. +I told 0hristine. . +$efinitely./ ./ +. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus. where true dedication and hard work could get you.yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. . a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason.yan&s soccer teammates. The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. Sweat began to form on his brow.c0arthy. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired. watching himself in the mirror. +2ey. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about.ya 9rooks. 2e breathed heavily. >ou up for it=/ -ne of .c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better.endal . now stood over him. She didn&t have a boyfriend. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. . and began to do sit ups. +"erfect. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. 2e had to perform well. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well.endal . beautiful. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. This was his last season of his high school career.endal . The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. 2e needed the perfect girl.yan sat up and smiled slyly. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. you know. but not too smart. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him./ %ason said. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. Someone like . likeable. There was one more thing he needed though.endal .c0arthy=/ +>es. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country. but he&d never admit that. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. 2e had the perfect body./ %ason said./ ./ .
It would be an affair to remember. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality.c9ride. All it takes is a little bit of charm. As far as %% knew. . She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place.endal .rs. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. 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. :ueenie&s mother. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. 9ut with a little convincing from . The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay./ . It was early %une. buddy./ +4hatever you say. one that the assembly of guests could never forget.c0arthy.+This is me you&re talking to.onopoly. of course. +7et&s go. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. . and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. they eventually came around. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. he&d learned to live with the situation. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. %% shook her head in disbelief. 2er mother also was a teacher. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. She and her family were close. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. Sometimes it was almost too much. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. %% remembered the night clearly. That. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo./ he said. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. 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. a suburb of 8ichmond. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. especially not . 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. was not the reason. The only thing that eased :ueenie&s mind about being home was the fact that she secretly had planned her biggest revenge on her family to date. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. :ueenie promised. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of .
didn&t know the real her. 8oast beef and vegetables. and knew there was no going back. all those boys around. +6o. eating dinner. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. %% grew increasingly reserved. %% had rushed after her. yet when she needed them the most. so caring and so sincere. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. +I know you are confused./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. 2er father. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her.om. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase.+%osie. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. hoping it would help her parents understand. I&ve always known. +I have to tell you something. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. +Something I am afraid to say. it&s not something anyone did. I&ve known since the third grade. $ifferent $aughters. herself. 2er mother remained composed. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. It was eating her alive. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before./ %% knew this. no designated date or time. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. %% remembered./ %%&s eyes widened.om./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. . It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. in her bed each night./ Silence followed. the night had come. but this might help. 4ith each passing day. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. +6o. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. and shook her head. maybe an internship. +I could check with the paper. you can tell us anything. the worry and the confusion./ she continued. . years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. it&s not that./ She handed over the book. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. being untrue to both herself and them. Something that I have to say. to tell her family. even though I know you both will be disappointed./ . and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. and when it was time to say the e'act words. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. There was no plan. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. her words coming slowly./ %% wanted to make her understand. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. wide-eyed. It&s just something I am. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. She could barely swallow her potatoes. (inally. I&d still be this way. she couldn&t find them.om. She had always known this. it&s not that.
like what was her biggest fear. +I&m having the time of my life. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. and her father. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. %% had yet to learn anything more about .endal danced her way in.aybe :ueenie was right. and wished she were there to witness it. She wanted to get inside . . on the other hand. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. and needed help with her schoolwork. #ventually her father had come to terms with it./ +2ey. :ueenie. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in./ +I know. that she was a cheerleader. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. Then again./ she said proudly./ :ueenie said blandly. where would she go and why. Then her mind drifted again and . remained completely calm. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. 2e said he loved her no matter what. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. %% laughed./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. As long as she had his love and support. It wasn&t real. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. 9ut it didn&t feel the same./ . (or some reason. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional. she felt satisfied.endal. %% had never known anyone like her.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. .aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome.2er mother continued to cry. though he still held onto his own world views.endal&s head. 2er father. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. .endal besides the obvious. This sparked an intense argument between them. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. maybe this wasn&t real either. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. was incredibly beautiful and popular. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. and that was that. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. It was almost overwhelming. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. and they didn&t speak for days. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. 2onest. It&s nothing. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. %% craved more. who was set in his ways. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about .
. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. It was a drinking card game.yan. 2e was cute.endal knew instantly who he was. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. 9y the time . grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. +It&s an easy game./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. silent. . . . who one by one left the room. said. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. She finally threw up her hands. The dorm room overflowed with people. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked.yan Stevens. perfect for showing off his toned body.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie./ said . +Sure. I gotta go.endal finally won her first hand.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as . +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. Instinctively. 2ave fun. after they were alone. she began to think about . this wasn&t a regular card game.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. . coded look with his friends. ./ . . +2ey. . sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point.yan motioned for her to join him.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. why not./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in.+7ook.endal. %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be.yan suggested./ . She forced a smile./ he said sweetly. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard.endal. +. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes.endal stood there with her hands on her hips.yan. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins. . 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. you. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him./ :ueenie said an'iously. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on . There were heavy penalties for losing a hand. -f course. +2ere. I&ll see you Sunday. she was drunk. She&d had previous brief conversations with . +7et&s move to the couch./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. +Too much. the captain of the soccer team. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year.
endal .endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'./ +4ell. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm.endal .endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her./ 2e smiled widely. At first. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# . She tingled with drunkenness. Stuck in thought. and plowed forward over the grass. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going. She kept her head down. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.endal . +I totally didn&t see you. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. +2i. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. turning and walking out of the room.endal. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs.yan called after her. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . I just do.patting the saggy cushion beside him. She stepped aside before they collided. wait a second. Soon. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open./ . the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. +2ey. I think it&s time we got to know each other better. 2is mind worked feverishly. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks.endal told him. )nable to distract herself from thinking of .yan to inch up in his seat. . .c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass.endal&s voice caused . shielding her eyes. It bothered her to know that . +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . +Are you okay=/ %% asked. The truth was. that&s three years too late. Then. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. seeing no movement. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. leaning in closer. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. beaming. +I want to talk to you./ . 4hoa./ .c0arthy was an enigma. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that. +0ome sit over here.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked. She read some intriguing online articles./ said %%. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. +I don&t know./ . She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. but the girl spun around.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms.endal yelled./ . suddenly. patting the cushion again./ he said. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room.
. It&s ridiculous./ said . feeling as if . +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with.endal laughed again.yan sitting on the ugly couch.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet./ +-h. and suddenly blurted out./ said . where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library. +I love it there.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. #very month or so they have a band come and play./ She pictured . +I think I sat in something wet.aybe hoods should be banned as well.endal said./ %% perked up./ %% told her. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her./ +I&m serious.endal asked defensively./ +If you are so against them./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. +Thanks for walking me home. +>eah. +I&m sorry for practically running into you. #mily $ickinson. that&s the one. +It&s damp from the dew. 6ot life. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry. They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. She turned around to get a look at her behind./ +It&s the grass./ %% said.endal was looking through her./ . It&s a great place to go and just kick back. %% studied her./ +. They felt fro3en./ +I&ll walk you./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah. making a face./ ./ ./ .endal. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening. ./ +"oetry is life. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself./ +-kay./ said %%. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself.y little world=/ . yeah.endal shook her head. after a moment. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol. reaching forward and taking ./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started.endal stopped walking. once they reached the sidewalk. of course.endal rolled her eyes. I&ve had a rough night.endal broke into a fit of laughter./ +I can think of lots of other things to do. +I need to go home. +Are you cold=/ . +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying.endal. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. even though she was shivering./ %% maintained. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. rather than at her. +7et me help you up./ ./ . >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it.endal&s hands in hers. +5uys are such idiots./ +4hatever. remember. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms.
she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness./ +-kay then./ %% told her. Then she thought of . she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. I&m an open book./ . then paused briefly. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah.yan again. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of. +I was just curious. it&s fine. +I want to ask you something. I&m fine./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind. She laughed out loud.endal said. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so.endal had such a hard time saying the word.endal&s roommate had said about her. twisting her thumbs into her palms./ . right./ she said. smug and moronic./ +I&m not afraid of you./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back./ ./ %% could only imagine what .endal. I&ll understand./ %% didn&t press the issue. She suddenly felt ashamed.endal flashed a 1uick smile. +>ou are an incredible tutor. +0onsider yourself cultured then. 2er stride was slight and unsteady. I&ve never known anyone who was./ said ./ +Ask away. like you before.endal fidgeted. +9ut I don&t want to offend you. rewording her 1uestion. 9ut she was kind and sincere. let alone get to know her. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%./ . %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm./ .+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular.endal hesitated. then turned and walked toward the dorm. really. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. It wouldn&t bother me at all. +I should go to bed./ +6o. 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. +./ +4ell. . She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. +6o. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door./ It ama3ed %% that . I was just curious. well. That certainly would have been awkward. ending the lull in the conversation.endal had picked up on the first night they met.endal said. just because of rumors. In that moment. . +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. something . I am. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%. then yes./ . She played with her fingers.
passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. and though she tried to avoid them. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. -nce across the tracks. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. She headed up the sidewalk. 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. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. "uddles blocked her path. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . . 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. The streets are empty./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. <irginia. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return. She gathered up her pen. %% entered the center of town. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. and began to scribble. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. There was a bench on the sidewalk. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. The town was deserted. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. The rain had ceased. ' stomp through them. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. along with her thoughts. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. +It&s not that scary. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. Muddy puddles stand in my path. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down.
please. +>ou look ridiculous. deep down. 2ello. like you weren&t in rare form either. I decided to leave./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide. . what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently.endal said. +It&s called a mask./ .endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. The heavy air turned light. watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment. %% believed that . 2er empty stomach grumbled. and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. She decided that if . but I&m not going to date someone .endal sifted through her dresser drawers.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up.endal.yan&s not only good looking. +. %% peered along the edges of the street.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise.yan for a while. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. 5ood different. 9ut. . . there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives./ As she spoke . not looking for anything in particular. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. +I hate to break it to you. . . %% recalled ./ +)m. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. +-h.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich.c0arthy./ 0hristine replied. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich.endal. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch./ +. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips. +Tempting as it was. +So=/ +So.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders. 4hether good or bad.endal was different. +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. +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. then her true colors would already have shown. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. no.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn. I can honestly say that I wasn&t.endal . #very time it rained.
9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year./ said :ueenie. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. +I won&t regret not hooking up with . . the couch monster. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning.endal. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . (un./ -verboard./ said 0hristine.yan.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. 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. +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. +4e are young. Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. +>ou should have seen my father.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat.yan&s a conceited moron. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. admiring the logo on the front. 9ut here they were. thought %%. After the game was over. She left ./ .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. #veryone knows that. +I know . CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family. she thought. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. . %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises.endal. finishing up on the treadmill.endal who was still spread out on the floor. .endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely./ +Trust me. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs./ she said.endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party. +I like to think I have higher standards than that./ said . They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. thank you. complaining that she was not having enough fun. +7ook. The last thing she needed was another party. The crowd of freshmen who fre1uented the athletic center was growing rapidly and was made up mostly of those unlucky individuals who had gained a few e'tra pounds and were desperately trying to reverse the effects of too many midnight pi33a runs. . she would change the subject. and tugged the back of . and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents. They practically flip the entire boat. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday./ 0hristine continued.
/ +These are the . but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. 6ot for me. She knew as soon as she said it. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. why not. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked.c9rides./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time./ %% added in an infomercial voice./ +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. +5ood./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. then. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. hoping that the topic of . the fanciest ballroom*ugh. but to wake them up./ %% responded. >eah. resting her head on one elbow.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. that&s all. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness. +I just need to do it. They cannot and will not hear me. +So. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. +I&m sorry./ +Sauna session and bacon. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook. she couldn&t tell for sure./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. They don&t know any other way./ (or a brief moment. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. Steam rose up around them. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them.endal would not come up./ she said gently. it makes me sick. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three./ . +I know. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell. I like the combination. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends./ :ueenie replied./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. +Sure. she shouldn&t have. the best caterer./ +6o. I&m not familiar with that particular saying. sending a burst of steam into the air./ %% managed between breaths. They need a wakeup call. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. not e'actly. +I bet we could just bring some in. +>ou know what they say./ +The ama3ing sauna. I guess. I ran into her on (riday night. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. with one more to go. It won&t matter.
endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and ./ %% scolded./ +-h. which made the library the only logical option. . +6o./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. but she asked me the 1uestion. she&s straight. +>ou&ll never believe this. I mean./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. . >ou always fall for the straight girls. +She was ./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat. she seemed okay with it. I caught myself. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home. +So. I literally ran into her./ :ueenie agreed. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special. yes. The gay 1uestion. nothing serious./ said %%./ +0ute. but she spun around and fell./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. +4hat=/ %% asked./ . silly.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ :ueenie started to say something else. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. ./ +4ell that didn&t take long./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now. +I told her the truth.endal&s engaging laughter./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small./ %% turned her head and muttered. 4e&ll see if she shows up. +It was bound to happen sooner than later. her cheeks dotted with sweat. (or crying out loud. +The 1uestion.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that . That&s all./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. . you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious. The 1uestion. it&s getting hot in here. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past./ +That&s priceless. Thankfully though. conservative southern town./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. and then stopped.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. +I just think you should be careful. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. no./ +$on&t do that. They were just little crushes. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. She asked me if I&m gay. +%ust tell me. +6othing./ %% said again./ +:ueenie.
I&m about to sweat away to nothing. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough. +I did mean half of what I said in there. Then./ +>ou have nothing to worry about./ :ueenie echoed. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction./ . There&s this energy between us. That&s something that isn&t going to change./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. you don&t. really. ./ +7ook. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead. +She&s not interested in me like that. I&ve been there. The whole thing is just ridiculous./ +That she is./ %% groaned./ :ueenie said pointedly./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. unabashed./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. +The least you can do is admit that much. isn&t going to happen. so I like her. +7et&s get out of here. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long./ +:ueenie. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. +>ou know how straight girls work. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. 9e careful./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel./ +6o. ./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt./ :ueenie continued. +I knew you liked her. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy . +I know you like her./ %% began to massage her forehead. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. I can&t e'plain./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers./ +Stick to what you know best. It&s called the science e'periment./ +I hardly even know her. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt./ said :ueenie. >ou&re being ridiculous./ :ueenie sat up. +I knew it. shielding her eyes./ +4hat do you want. +-kay. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end. +She&s a cheerleader after all. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. +It&s true. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. . 1uite frankly. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. after their curiosity wears off. +2ey./ +I don&t care what it&s called./ +"reposterous.iss . what they really want is a guy. but it ./ %% sighed.
It was because he was frustrated. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself./ +8ela'. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. ./ %% frowned. .c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night./ %ason warned as he watched .endal . his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. 2ey./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. it was also incredibly appealing. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. . .yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s.yan glared at him.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. %ason gritted his teeth. +It&s not without merit.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench. the lowest-seeded team in their division. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch. without the usual hint of golden brown that he&d achieved over the summer lifeguarding at the beach where his parents owned a summer home./ %ason concluded after a moment. +>ou don&t look so good. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. As a result. >ou know. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. And to make matters worse. +I&m fine. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians./ . . 2is skin was e'tremely pale.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. don&t push it./ %ason remarked.+>ou know. +I thought so.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up.yan from the bench beside him. It was true./ %ason laughed./ .yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. +2ey. +#ven for you. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong. 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. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. 2e looked absolutely horrible. 2e started working his triceps. they had lost the game. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned. 8ela'. +4hat&s your problem=/ . ./ :ueenie insisted. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. +Thought that she was out of your league. straightening up./ CHAPTER ./ . getting pummeled five to nothing.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying.yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber.yan said. +$id you hook up with her=/ .
/ . he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and . +6othing.endal had a reputation to uphold. Sure.yan&s salty mood. There&s no way she would turn him down. It was status. simultaneously knocking over a stack of books.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene. . that&s all. . popping Tylenol. +0atch you later then. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. as well. 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. Though his legs ached. And his guest was going to be .. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. And ./ +#'actly.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. both of them lying in agony. . 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. Though he had singled . 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. In times past ./ %ason said. 4ith that. .yan was confident that he would get another shot. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. not wanting to add to . picked up the weight and began lifting again./ +All right. 9ut today. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level. As a result.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.endal had to help her into bed. <ibrant shades of red./ said %ason. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. CHAPTER ! . 0hristine got home late. +I&ve got more work to do here. the legendary inviteonly soccer party. 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them.c0arthy. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. drinking refillable bottles of water.endal . he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor.T<&s The 8eal 4orld./ +I hear ya. ./ . Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. but there was something missing. he pushed through the pain.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk. . that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing./ he said between breaths. Something else was aching inside him.
9uilt back in the DHFFs. 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= . That. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. and the ne't thing she knew. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. 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. It was hands-on learning. .endal read the words. she was a part of the cheerleading team. So this is where %% likes to hang out. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. (or that reason. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. plus the beauty of the campus. .i'./ spelled out in big bold white letters. +fantasi3e reality. 8ather. #ducation was far more important. 0he' . where everyone knows your name and your business.endal&s parents. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. She finally felt like she belonged. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. She hated to disappoint her parents. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. Across the backdrop . where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand.endal thought./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. humming original songs about the meaning of life. 9e Somebody. To the right of the counter stood a stage. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. her father especially. . insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. . so you could sit in the palm. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. was why . . something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage.endal felt pressured to get good grades. she could see her at some sporting event. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher.
Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner.endal. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. She tingled in anticipation. And thick crust. afraid to disturb 0hristine. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . until that moment.. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse.endal slowly opened the door to her room. dramati3ing herself. -nce. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone.endal. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. +)ghhhh. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. %%% -nce back at the dorm. smartly. +(unny. It really was none of her business. I need some grease. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . it still provided a way to release her irritation. +I&m sorry. %%. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. it became obvious that her roommate was awake. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. And . she dropped the attitude./ 0hristine moaned. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. 6evertheless./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily.endal. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. I like thick crust. Although she knew they were dangerous. given to her by her older brother. +I like pi33a.endal paused.endal struck with reckless abandon. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation./ . There were other occasions where 0urious . thoughtfully. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into . as if were weighted down./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. . 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. and was reduced to a gooey. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. something happened all right.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time.endal returned. black mess in the middle of the living room floor.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. when she was about five. +>ou were saying*/ .endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below. 6o. many of which could be forgotten.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. ashy. 4ell. >ou know. 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. Though the incident had left her unharmed. . .
+"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.
aybe at first. 2er journal spilled out. +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./ . It appeared to be a poem titled (irst . +0ute. she wants him to know that though she is driven. standing up 1uickly. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. it is. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily. the edges frayed and the binding worn. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect../ said ./ she said. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know./ They continued to regard one another.any love well. +9ut you&re not./ +>eah. . As she pushed her chair back from the table. Then she&d set it right back down.endal. +I&ll be right back. feeling nervous and clumsy. She reached for the journal. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. totally awesome. and. afraid you4ll /rea6 *hispers reach my insides (ulling them into 6nots My flesh trem/les *ith each caress -ntil your lips find mine Timid at first touch . >ou&re different. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. In fact. she thought./ %% nudged her shoulder./ . +That&s pretty intense.& See. %ust one 1uick peek./ said %%. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins.endal flipped back her hair.iss./ +>ou didn&t at all. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all. +This poem is like./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. and flipped it open close to the middle. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you./ +$ifferent. +4hoops./ said . how=/ %% shrugged. which had been resting on the floor. but at the same time. It looked pretty beat up./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence./ +I understand.endal flinched. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then.endal./ %% said. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away.endal eyeballed the journal. +>ou just are. like you said./ +4ow./ +. she accidentally knocked over her bag./ said %%. but e'press it ill. and she tripped over it. has her own dreams.
yan said smoothly./ . anyway. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. 6ow. I haven&t heard anything at all./ +)m. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o.yan continued.yan the couch monster.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in .yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. and then shook her head apologetically.endal cursed her roommate under her breath. hoping he would take the hint and leave. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite./ . She 1uickly set the book down onto the table./ +-h. She had to read it again. 7ast year. ominous shadow. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. 9ack then . 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. >our journal was just lying there.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. +I&m honored./ . +It&s e'clusive.endal was lying./ he pressed on. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. . but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. +7isten. of course. I&m actually studying. just as if she were the person in the poem. +8eally I am./ +6ope. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party./ . +2ey. +4ell. he puts it so nicely./ she said instead. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid. . who she now thought of as . +I was there last year.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe.endal thought. 2aven&t heard a thing. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down.endal./ . and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead./ . hooked up with him. so .yan&s pond of smoothness. She and %ason had been dating ever since. was standing ne't to her chair.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence. she found it pathetic. no. . She just said you were in the library pretending to study. that . and who was going to be left out. 2e didn&t.y.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself./ . +0hristine said you were here..endal could feel the tingle on her skin./ he said with an overconfident grin. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited.yan Stevens. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples. looming over her like some creepy./ +I know what it is. I&m not pretending. so real. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. +I&m sorry./ ./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ ./ said .
/ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people. +8ight./ . +That&s not entirely true.aybe another night then./ %% swallowed again as ./ said .endal hadn&t picked up on it. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman. I&m one of the good girls./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing./ +(rom what I hear.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out.yan. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think./ %% jumped./ he mumbled finally and walked away. I think you should enter. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer./ she blurted./ +I guess so. +It was my first kiss./ . reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. ne't (riday. +It was incredible. she felt delighted that ./ %% reminded her. but not because poetry was personal. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked.endal shifted curiously in her seat.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand./ +It&s good to know that you have morals. really fun time with yours truly./ said . +I only read a little bit.yan=/ .endal or . She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. Instead. +8ight.endal had pinched her. simply was not there. That got e'tremely hot very fast. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list. rubbing her leg where . I don&t know what he&s thinking. +. +I was raised right. +I sort of forgot about it until now. +>ou&d miss a really.endal./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es. +6e't (riday. just as I described it. of what she might say. eager to change the subject.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her.endal watched as ./ . of what they might say. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. 2er face was still damp. It&s at that coffee shop you like. The Spot. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ ./ She swallowed hard. +So. though./ +4ell. Suddenly.yan considered their story.endal would think. If you&ll let me./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. +2e&s so full of himself.yan. And she was even more afraid of what ./ . is there something going on with him=/ %% asked. I made her promise to go with me.endal&s eyes lit up. +4ho= . so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. . I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. I&m sorry. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff. She sat down without glancing at either . and hoped . +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. She was afraid of their reaction.endal bit her lip. ./ %% approached the table at that moment. +I&d like to read some more./ said %%.endal e'claimed.+I&m sure you can get out of it.
/ she e'plained.endal so easily. And during the whole thing. I&ve never been on another stage since. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage. ./ +That is so sad./ %% closed her eyes. what= I&m not going up on stage./ +./ she said./ +So=/ +So.+So. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger. you&d never be able to give it up. So maybe you can practice with me./ +9ut it might. +It&s getting late. without enthusiasm. +>ou sound like my mother.yan./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ +-kay. 4riting is my life./ %% said 1uietly. embarrassed at what she was about to admit./ .endal momentarily. and then averted her eyes. I just don&t participate. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. I&m serious./ . that alone should tell you how important it is to you.endal hesitated then asked. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. . +They have one every (riday night./ +That would never happen.endal said./ said %% impatiently. about this poetry slam thingy. I might freak out and give up writing altogether./ . I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. +I ran off stage so fast./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to ./ +0ome on. And if something happened. +I have a fear of being on stage.endal debated the 1uestion. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. we had this talent contest one year at school. you know./ %% rolled her eyes. 4riting is my life.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder.endal said. I got on stage and played the only song I knew./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. I can&t take that risk./ . +9ut it&s different with this. desperately wanting to change the subject. I fro3e.endal had a hunch they were about . and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life. +See. if I got upset on stage. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. +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./ +4ell=/ +4ell./ %% said. I mean.aybe. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. I&m not ready. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway. And when the contest came up. +I suppose I should. everybody in the audience started to laugh. +It basically scarred me for life.
. 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. then instantly winced. that&s not going to happen./ +Sure. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over./ %% took a deep breath.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. +0ool. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that. She breathed hard and her hands shook. and some of the writing is ama3ing. though= I mean. and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. As they reached the front of the building. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest.endal./ . +4ould you still like to go. She would instantly sense what .endal back to her dorm. that&ll work.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. +That sounded really dumb. They left the library and %% offered to walk ./ %% paused and then plunged forward. +I&d like that a lot. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem. 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. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind.endal said casually. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder. . later.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. go with me= There are some great poets around here. fall air./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me./ ./ %% managed as she watched . her backpack pressed tightly against her chest. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp.endal was feeling. +>eah.endal asked./ +I&m glad. she would know./ she said. didn&t it=/ +Totally.endal teased. She collapsed backward against the closed door./ %% smiled. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said./ said . +2ey*/ %% looked up.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . She instantly looked away. though she knew e'actly what %% meant./ +0atch you later. +So. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way. >et. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm.
+I had an uninvited visitor. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly./ +7et me guess. 0hristine. +>ou didn&t. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . so 1uit freaking out. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life.endal entered their room. ./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent. +Tell me you said yes. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. +I&ve been te'ting you all night. with satisfaction./ .She sighed./ ./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. pacing frantically around the room. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room./ +I did. . +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. 9esides./ +I couldn&t care less. +I&m not turning into a lesbian. but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. smiling again. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. I&m afraid./ 0hristine gasped. +%ust something different. The thought of . counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious.endal watched her in amusement. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date. I already have plans./ +I said @no&./ . apparently not amused. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone./ 0hristine&s head shot up. paying rent for some crappy apartment. I&m not going to a gay club. +>ou&re going to a gay club. +6othing.endal answered. . 2ow was the library=/ +-h. the superficial status.endal replied. the empty conversations.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed./ . . isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying./ .yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . >our senior year. Somehow. very interesting./ +I guess. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious. still lost in a di33y ha3e.endal replied 1uickly.endal said.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly.endal.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. +4ill you rela'=/ she said./ . She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face.
+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. 4hen you do something. you in=/ :ueenie asked. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine./ %% said./ :ueenie said. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. >ou&re into someone you can&t have. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. And despised her for it. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that. there&s none of that./ +Thanks./ +6o=/ +6o. +I resent that. +%ust get in./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. it&s so obvious./ %% said plainly. my friend. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. +So.e= I do all right./ +It is./ +. your current situation. palms down and swept them to one side./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking. you do it one hundred percent. . 6o room to analy3e or obsess./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air./ +-h./ +$oes this certain woman happen to be the twenty-something college student who looks to you for a little e'citement in an otherwise dull e'istence=/ :ueenie grinned widely. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. and you are in so much turmoil over it that you had to write a poem about it in order to make yourself feel better. +%%. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. for e'ample./ +Spare me the theatrics. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing./ %% maintained. +4ith the women I see. +>ou know./ +. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ +"lease. get out and nobody gets hurt. The hopeless romantic never wins. Take. sourly. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery.y dilemma=/ +>es. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something.+>ou ama3e me./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders. really=/ They began to walk again./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. +I&m not looking for better right now. 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. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory.
+Studying. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football.yan and %ason were roommates. ./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. +6othing. and would eventually come over to the dark side.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find ./ %% replied dryly. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school./ %% said. -nce she reached the third floor. I&m going to pass on that one. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality. rounded the first corner. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath.usic boomed from an open door. . reading what looked like a te'tbook. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. 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. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air./ . 0hristine owes me big time. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you. She knocked slightly.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. she thought. and then pushed it open. even though no one was in the room. an actual lesbian. . . really. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with .endal was on her way./ she said. sensing %% was hiding something. in fact. +9usy=/ . Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight.yan was laying face down on his bed. . and . Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. +6othing at all./ %% said. but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club.endal asked when he looked up. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere.endal made a face.endal figured that . and also members of the basketball team.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. +I&ll be 1uick. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. motioning to the book. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. . . but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah.yan said. In fact.endal ne't (riday night.+I guess./ CHAPTER $ . %ust a cup of coffee.
+It&s okay.endal said hurriedly. I&ll probably be a little late. +2ave a seat./ .yan said. +-h. . This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. +I&m sorry=/ ./ +-kay=/ +4ell.yle&s room. +4ait. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here./ .yan said./ +>ou don&t have to leave. So. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. It took him a minute before he looked up. the one you were at the library with./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him. it&s okay.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say.endal asked. I&ve seen her play a couple of games./ +Sounds good. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do./ %ason said. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest.yan said.yan opened his mouth to respond. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked. already halfway out the door. and if you still haven&t asked anyone. +%ust as a friend./ she said. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball./ . not sure what to do with them./ . I&m out of there. and she&d severely misjudged him./ +4ell. +I&m not proud of it. +-f course./ . if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends./ %ason replied. feeling slightly better about the whole situation./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you./ .endal couldn&t believe it. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television.endal remained standing. +I&ll leave you two alone. +>eah. I was thinking about it.yan was staring at him. ./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game.endal said./ +6o. yeah.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards./ +I know./ +As a friend. She took a big breath. +I&ll see you (riday night then./ +4ell. of course. we can hang out and talk.yan repeated./ he finally said. +So. then I understand. you must think I&m a complete jerk.endal held her arms close to her sides. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over. but that&s basically it. and I wanted you to be my invite. +I&m just going to be a minute. Sure. So. She&s pretty good. +To say something like that. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. then I&d like to go./ . and reali3ed that . and then thought better of it. +I&ll watch the game in . so it&s all good. regretfully. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits./ ./ . my bad. +5o get @em./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team./ +%%=/ +>ea. you do have 1uite the reputation.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. shape or form. +I appreciate that. +I was ready for a break anyway. +-kay. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her. I haven&t asked anyone else yet./ ./ ./ 2e stood up and gave .
endal yawned. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth. She left the dorm feeling like a fool./ +I&m just speaking the truth./ ./ 0hristine said. she was going to have to do a far better job. +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. +>ou look horrible. That&s what I&m nervous about. In some ways. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. don&t. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%.endal looked up. she was afraid to try to study by herself.endal said. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . I&ve never met anyone like her before. It tasted like rubber. not just about school stuff./ . 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door./ She tried./ .+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday. enjoying a small side salad. +5ee. +4ell.r./ +I know. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered. She even told us which author./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal. 2er eyes were hollow./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if .s./ he said.endal told her. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. thanks. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. .endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. but she couldn&t help but smile. she&s cool. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help. you know=/ +8ight./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up. She&s so sweet and*/ . and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. 0hin ever did that. +I&m going to. ./ 0hristine added. .endal./ +4ell. +She&s so smart.yan was staring at her awkwardly. ever. I mean really smart./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. (riday. +4e&re just getting to know each other. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. +)m. She was sitting directly across from . +>eah. sunny day. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson.endal confirmed./ +So study./ . .
obviously offended.illigrew=/ +5ive me that. yawned./ +-h./ . 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her. +4ho in the world is Anne . but the rest of the dining hall was empty.endal study. too. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . but as far as literature was concerned. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner. really=/ +>es./ 0hristine demanded./ .endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her.endal said and snatched the folder back. very cute. +>es. I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. +#arth to ./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ .endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food./ .endal held back her tongue.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. it was empty. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. -ut with it. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table. )nfortunately. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. +>ou&re serious=/ +. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. That&s all the knowledge I need. 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. In a matter of minutes. . +0ome on. +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. +0ome on./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine./ +I know./ . let&s get out of here.endal laughed emphatically./ . . +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. .endal. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. +7et me see what you are studying right now. It&s a must./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business.endal said firmly./ . 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.y behind is sore from sitting./ . +>ou are a math guru.endal looked her up and down./ she said.
arch. . She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . %% bent over and clung to her knees./ 0oach 0ook hollered. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride. the whole team has to give me ten more. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. And that was all the reward she needed. much to the chagrin of her parental units. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. They had been wrong. 8unning just to run was pointless to her. %ust remember you have to be back by nine. +Thanks to you./ +(ine. %% didn&t know. %%./ +5ood./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. +4e&re sprinting./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes./ +>es. +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. +0ome on. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. and snorting. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. in any way. She needed something to give her a reason to run. as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country.endal shouted. shape or form. .endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch.endal e'haled loudly. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. despised running. +"oint guards lead from the front. +5ood finish. >ou know how . The team finished the sprints. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads./ +4ill you knock it off already. or whenever the basketball season was over. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. %%. like a basketball for instance./ 0oach 0ook noted. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. %enkins. +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. not goofing off.ya can get. +0aution. As much as she hated running. +4hatever.0hristine whistled loudly and said. I forgot. There needed to be some sort of object involved. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level./ 0hristine said. 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. I know how . of course. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. -kay*I&ll be back in time. on the other hand./ . not from the back.ya can get.c9ride./ +)gh. sucking in every breath./ .
+-kay. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. +Team./ :ueenie added. in fact. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. a couple. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. ladies. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. that&s what allows you to play your heart out./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. :ueenie. 8ather thin but muscular. 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. though./ +2ow sweet. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. so if the two of them were./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. The candlelight is optional. who also was rumored to be a lesbian./ 0oach 0ook barked. I am the one who is cooking tonight./ 0oach continued. it was definitely top secret. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. >ou freshmen have to get into shape./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. /2urry up and change. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game./ 0oach 0ook said. the lesbian team. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. 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. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. +It&s all about conditioning. 4henever they lost a game. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders./ +See you tomorrow. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. +0onditioning. that is. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore./ :ueenie said. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. After three years. +I&m starving. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. ladies. regardless of the score. +As a matter of fact./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. and leave it all on the floor./ 0oach 0ook stressed. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. 0oach 0ook ignored her.
In fact. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. She forced her attention away from . a side salad and a tall glass of milk. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. 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. %% winked at her. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. As she studied her tray. She dashed through the food line. I can&t think straight./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. bread. right./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. I&m seeing two of you right now./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. . She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before./ :ueenie huffed. I know. I&m confused.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her./ +-kay. +>eah. . the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. In fact. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw ./ +(ine. 2er cheeks were bulging. tossing everything in sight onto her tray. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it.endal and back to :ueenie. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. The rest of her table was empty./ +She did. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air./ +4ait a minute. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right.endal sitting there./ :ueenie said. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. chocolate pudding. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. that. +That was a close call. I was sitting there in silence./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. 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./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. 0oach and I see eye to eye now./ said %%.+I didn&t notice. +-h. $ean 2offman walks through the door. full of mashed potatoes. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. They sat with the other members of the basketball team. +That was no big deal.
I&ve got a surprise for you.c9ride./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock./ she e'plained. well done. %%. +%%./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her./ . It was classic./ +-nly you. ./ ./ ./ %% reached her hand across the table./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. $o you want to study someplace else=/ . 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. +4ell done.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. we both turned our heads at the same time.endal confessed. did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ +4ell. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble./ %% pushed her tray aside. So I stood up and said. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. it&s okay. of course. As soon as she saw me there. +This kind of thing only happens to you. >ou should have seen the look on her face. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. +I guess I&ll be going now. then she assumed that 0oach was alone. +I know. without looking up. +So. indeed. %% looked on in wonder. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. +6ever a dull moment./ said %%. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. was @Sweetie./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair. +I need your help desperately.& Then I winked and walked out of the office./ :ueenie continued. +I mean.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door./ +So. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words. @It&s okay. >ou two kids have fun./ +So*/ %% said eagerly. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there. And at that e'act moment. 6ever a dull moment.&/ +6o way./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked.c0arthy right ne't to her. 0oach. I&m a complete mess. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her.endall said./ +6o. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes./ :ueenie leaned forward. my friend. we both were just sitting there not saying anything.endal ./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . +>ep./ +>es way. +I wouldn&t say that. +All over a stupid 1ui3.
/ +I was just leaving./ . +>ou remember our plans. miss=/ . .endal said politely. +4e&re closing./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow. +0ome on. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start./ . too./ . +And that will be enough. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. don&t you=/ +>es.endal suggested. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o./ +. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. I was just checking. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked.endal said eagerly./ They both stood up. +I can&t. and she enforces it./ %% returned./ %% returned. I have to be in my room by nine. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional./ +-kay.akes sense. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. I don&t. Thank you so much. She thought of ./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine. Then maybe we&d play better./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday. +Thank you./ ./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. +I owe you big time.ya. she&s the captain of the s1uad.endal said./ %% agreed. or that she liked the way %% smelled./ ./ . I have curfew tonight.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her. came up with it./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood. CHAPTER ( +A curfew. +The coffee shop. I&ll see you in an hour then. but it&s a good way to make sure everyone on the s1uad gets their homework done before the weekend and is rested for practice on (riday and the soccer game on Saturday./ .endal said adamantly.endal held her backpack to her chest./ . She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling. 0oach should give us a curfew.+>ou can come to my dorm room.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.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening. %% studied her e'pression.endal nodded. . I remember.
%ust sneak a few photos./ . +(or documentation./ +4ait./ +4hat=/ +0ome on./ she said. +-h. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand.endal walked into the room./ said %%./ the blonde said.endal . which was decorated a lot like the door to their room. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here. 2ave a seat. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. She often sat with . I&d 1uit. >ou sure are 1uick. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. +>ou need professional help. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff./ . +0ome on in.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed./ she said to the blonde./ +I know. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. %% thought as she knocked against . +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to . -ver ./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside.endal in the dining hall. +"edaling poetry. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. taking a handful from the bag. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America.c0arthy&s dorm room./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls./ :ueenie said./ %% responded and held up her notebook. +School spirit is a way of life. Interesting decor. +0heerleading. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. +If 0oach gave us a curfew. Sampson Academy paraphernalia. A rather thin blonde./ said . offering %% some 0he' . and little cheerleader cutouts. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. +Am I that transparent=/ . 4e can use this to our advantage./ +7et me guess. +That was my roommate.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. straight out of the pages of <ogue.endal&s dorm. -nly.endal&s door.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment./ %% started for the door. +(riendly people you got here.i' +I didn&t mean it like that. 0hristine. 0hristine. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# ./ %% backtracked. proudly.endal. +Thanks./ %% said./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out. . 6o wonder you&re a tutor. %% recogni3ed her. #ach door on ./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. right. +I&m sorry.+4hatever. opened the door./ %% stepped through the door and into the room.
and my other brother is twentyfive.endal thought for a moment. She leaned her back up against the comforter. setting her folder and her book in front of her. +-kay. but she was also proud to be a woman.ade 9y Another. but me they scorned&=/ .endal sat down ne't to her./ +So*what else=/ . +8ight there=/ +./ +I don&t even know who she is./ +That must have been hard. but I know it&s about this author at least. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked.y <erses 4ere . I mean. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. +I&ve never even heard of her before and I think that&s why I&m having such a hard time understanding the message that she was trying to get across in her poems. It wasn&t long before . . well aware of how little space remained between them. @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. See how she says.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family./ %% smiled mischievously.y oldest brother is in his late twenties./ +7ook here. . See. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. -ne of my favorites. but she loved every minute of it. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. after a moment./ said %%. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . +7ike*/ . +7ike what=/ %% asked. And even though men adored her poetry./ %% cleared her throat./ +9ut that&s not fair. +I don&t know. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on./ she said. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully. +It was . +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem.endal considered the words on the page./ +I think you&ll like . +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman.endal. yet awkward./ +It was. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor./ +-kay. +9ecause I was an afterthought. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. I had to do and learn a lot on my own./ . really young. trying to distract herself from the scent of .endal pointed to one of the poems.+I&d like to think there is. +That&s fair. . at this line in )pon Saying . It was flattering. +It&s a secret./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing.endal&s perfume./ she said. +So.illigrew./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her.endal let that idea marinate. She was more than happy to play along./ said .illigrew. $eal=/ . I was*une'pected. +Anne .
Instead. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. #aising my head high. #elief from my shoulders.endal shook her head. !reedom./ . +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for. .endal slumped back against the bed. and then stopped.unfortunate that the very same people. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so. Having the strength to stand./ +I would have never survived.endal read out loud. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like./ . Beyond the tears. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it./ +4hat did it feel like. 0ourage. The shallow dread ' left /ehind./ ./ . even though she kept writing for the rest of her life.endal. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell./ She slid the journal over to . )eaving me sta/le. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. . This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. +This e'plains it better than I can.ou gave me your hand without thought.ost of her work was discovered much later on./ %% closed the book in front of them. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. She disappeared for a bit. *ith this gesture you taught./ +To be out.endal asked. She read the rest of the poem in silence. for obvious reasons. #elease. who took it willingly. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. (ride.endal had seen before. men in this case. +2ere. she refused to compromise herself or her art. ./ said %%. She licked her thumb. !ree at last. ' /elieved in me. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then.
. . +It&s not even close. however. It didn&t matter.endal laughed. this was a huge compliment because it meant that . They were free to write whatever they wanted. And at that moment. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . bold letters written at the top landed on her desk.rs. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will./ said %%. 0lark was impressed. The only drawback was that the selected authors always were asked to stand up and read their work aloud in front of the entire class before a general discussion. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. a journal entry or a poem. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. She began flipping through the journal.rs. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. . And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. like many of her previous free writing efforts.rs./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse./ . whether it was the beginning of a novel. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. .y writing hardly compares to with hers. but. you know that= >ou pour everything. As soon as the class was seated.endal. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. That day. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. turned out to be today. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . And %% had written a poem.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. #veryone sat up straight. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. . The chatter ceased. +0lass. right. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. remember=/ +-h. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. possibly even a nervous breakdown. %% knew. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. at the same time. +>ou are an ama3ing writer./ said . a short story. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. )sually./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 0lark cleared her throat. She was one of a kind. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. -n occasion. 0lark. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it./ +0ome on. It&s like $ickinson.rs. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod.rs. +I forgot about that part.
rs. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last./ . The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended.ay I go to the restroom=/ . It&s yours to share. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. . and again no sound emerged.rs. +. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. %% tiptoed in.rs. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air.rs. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. Instead. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . %% felt as though she was under a microscope. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. It deserves to be shared with the class./ +9ecause that would be a shame.rs. She trembled as she stood. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. She&d written the first line on a whim. unable to move. so I decided to leave class. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. And that wasn&t going to happen. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. +>ou might want to stand up. +%%*are you okay=/ ./ %% managed. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. %% was the e'act opposite. She knew . It&s yours. +And speak up a bit. the building for #nglish classes. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. 0lark nodded. and then cringed when she heard . 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone./ . her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. who liked cheerleading and boys. ma&am.rs. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class.rs. hoping for some closure. +%%./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly. not ever. 0lark asked. She glanced from face to face in a panic. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. but no audible words came out. shuffling through papers on her desk. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom. did it=/ +6o. She tried to speak once more./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. +I didn&t feel good. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands.like her./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read. 0lark&s nasal voice. 2er lips moved slowly. Their relationship had suffered because of it. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom. mouthing the first line. signaling that her class had ended. 0lark./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. and %% bolted from the room. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out.rs. 6ot now. 0lark advised. And the class deserves to hear it. She breathed heavily. Instead. she sat down on a nearby bench. 0lark was still in the room.
/ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. I just have a lot on my mind. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . +I&m just checking in. on the basketball court. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane. 0lark called after her./ %% leaned against her locker. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. what good is art for that matter./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room. 4atch and learn. rela'. say. :ueenie. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. +Touchy. +6ice job.endal was only a few hours away. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy./ +I&m not doing this to be mean.rs. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning.endal has nothing to do with it. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. And she was flattered that . )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded./ +All right./ +. offering criticism of their work. %%. +I&ll read it on .aybe she did. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. and taking in criticism of your own. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. 4atch and learn. +I can&t force you to read it. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing./ she said. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are./ ./ %% replied dryly./ %% reasoned. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud.rs. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. %% couldn&t concentrate./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices./ . as usual.onday.rs. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender.rs./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. )nlike %%.. It didn&t mean that the thought of having to share her work in front of the entire class still didn&t scare her to death.aybe she wanted it that way. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. +2ey./ +. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. +I&m sorry. and not because of the sweat. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. aren&t we=/ . if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. had another outstanding practice. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. and removed her glasses from her face. . +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer.onday. flubbed numerous breakaway layups and had the ball stolen right from her hands three times in a row by an over3ealous freshman eager to make it into the starting lineup. ladies. She understood. just as your basketball coach believes in you. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound.
+I e'pect more from you. +$on&t worry about 0oach. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. I need you to play with confidence. +6o./ she replied. who stifled a laugh. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es./ +>ou are the starting point guard. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. +5ood. And you two are my senior captains.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them./ %% snapped. %%./ She barked from the doorway./ . >our non-date with the non-lesbian. %%. >ou better get your game in gear. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. I don&t start players who perform like that. a big part of it. +>ou know me./ +I&m busy tonight. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years. +$on&t do anything stupid. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. 0oach. 0oach. +%enkins. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. >ou brought :ueenie to the team./ %% acknowledged. She was already showered and dressed. +./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground./ Ignoring that comment. +I didn&t play well at all. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. >ou are the floor general. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. playing with her i"hone. And the point is that you played horribly today./ she said. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. 0oach is like your best friend now./ Apparently./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm. +Says you. +#asy for you to say. %ust what I need. carrying a rose./ %% said./ 0oach 0ook said. +"eachy. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk./ :ueenie said. 0oach. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. %% thought. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. remember=/ +-h. %% thought. sitting on a locker room bench. right. -nce in the confines of her office./ +I know./ she said.
/ She went back to studying herself in the mirror. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room.yan as friends./ . it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit. I&m only going to this party tonight with . admiring her jeans.endal. it&s the truth. She stood up and grabbed ./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive. It was as simple as that. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt. that&s gross.%%% . She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine. +I have no idea. +I promise. pulling it back and swinging it forward. "ersonally. and./ .endal said. +(or the umpteenth time.yan. 0learly. wondering about her outfit. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for . she hadn&t been thinking of ./ .endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s./ +8ight. stomach-first./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked.endal ran her long fingers through her hair. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine.endal groaned. as a result. +0hristine. thought . a slimming red graphic T-shirt. +I thought I looked good. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . She wanted to go to The Spot. +(lattered= ./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser.endal by the arms. She&d been thinking of %%. She wanted to try something different. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her./ . I&d be creeped out.endal shrugged. . I&m just asking./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight.endal had chosen./ 0hristine smiled wryly. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill.endal. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ . She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. I&ve never been to one before. She stood facing the doorway. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets./ 6ot again./ +>ou do./ +I already told you I&d be there. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . +(ine. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her.endal asked./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ .endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late./ 0hristine held out her pinky. As my roommate. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ . +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know.endal spun around.yan&s benefit. mulling over which way accented her features better. teammate and confidante.
At that moment. +I like you without a hat better. Then she batted her eyes at .0hristine reluctantly stepped aside. she reali3ed what she&d said./ %% blurted out. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack.endal enjoyed the most. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe. +There&s something you don&t see every day. . pointing at %%&s backside. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. just in case . as well. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. it couldn&t get much worse. 9ut she hadn&t. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . After a minute.endal said. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . And that was the side she thought .endal asked./ . Then she stood up./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands./ . she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side. the doors swung open and in walked . After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked./ she said./ she said.endal had tried to call or send her a te't./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder.endal smiled. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap.endal. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. And I like to carry my journal with me./ +4ow. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to . >ou look ama3ing. too./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge./ . +8ight. +I mean*you look nice and everything. She 1uickly stood up straight. she sat down again. who started laughing. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good.endal. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. +>ou look ridiculous. +>ou&re right. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. admiring %%&s outfit.endal said. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. Then she checked her cell phone. but resisted./ she said. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. In the end. +5o ahead. -nce the words left her lips. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. I think. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. leaned over and tried to rub it out. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. %%&s head snapped up. She crossed her legs. pointing at the backpack.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge.
some staring at them in wonderment. They didn&t seem to bother . I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track./ +She doesn&t like me very much.endal responded blandly. The looks didn&t bother %%. She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked. +I wouldn&t worry about it.endal much./ . The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress . +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ .They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus. +I don&t know./ %% struggled to e'plain. but .endal had grabbed it first. and neither of them held back. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy. and laughed. unsure of how to respond./ . either. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. too.e./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk. A roving waitress appeared. She reached for the doorknob./ +./ . She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman. The more she thought about it. and %% assumed that . That&s all./ said . She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know.endal asked.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever./ . hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. They sat in the corner near the window. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room./ +4hat did she say= ./ . +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. Several students crossed their path. with %% directly on her heels. +0hristine doesn&t know you. They talked about anything and everything they could. +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity./ %% said. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. smiling.endal confessed. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. +-nce.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you. genuinely interested.endal said.endal laughed nervously. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. ./ %% said.endal. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. +)neventful.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. and then looked away. and both %% and .
/ +9ut you are changing./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do. I want you to know me as I am now. and my hair was long. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. I played the role.endal continued./ .y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home.endal straightened up. +It was awkward to say the least. I&m the same. and tried to fit in.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. I panicked and ran off stage. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be./ +4ow. +I didn&t know. +>ou&re joking. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. And because I knew that everyone thought that. +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./ +9efore I met you. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me. I have to see those pictures./ %% professed. It came down past my shoulders./ +>ou said you felt uncomfortable in your own skin= Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in mine that I wish I could be someone completely different for a day just to see how it would feel. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me. . It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. I have no idea who I am. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. clearly offended./ %% offered. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different. I was just like her./ ./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now./ +I&m sorry. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ ./ ./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly. +There&s so much more to you./ ./ %% recalled the day of the pageant./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise. 9ut forget about me./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief.%% laughed. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. It was so embarrassing. the real me. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life. And when I show them the pictures. not the younger me that was insecure and confused./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here./ said %% honestly. you don&t. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change. 4hen it came to the talent portion. +I&m still playing the same role now. I became that. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life./ +6o. 7ook at 0hristine. I wore make-up. 9ut back then I acted different./ +I know what that&s like.
%% rolled her eyes. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours.onday. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. +4hat&s ./ %% considered the offer. . you owe me a poem. +>ou think I&m smart=/ . +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. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful. That is./ %% paused.endal asked./ .endal had to choose that one. She was supposed to te't 0hristine./ %% panicked.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%./ +>ou don&t owe me anything./ +I know a place. I&ve never told anyone that before. just to be sure. >ou showed me your favorite hangout. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now./ %% wasn&t about to argue.endal.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said. +Then let&s go someplace else.endal said adamantly. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. +6ot here.endal./ said . and if I don&t read it./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. you&re smart. There are so many things about you that ama3e me.endal asked. -f all the poems in her journal. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. after skimming through the pages. if you&ll let me. so that makes it a secret. then meet up with her at the soccer party. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed./ +Speaking of $ickinson./ +4hat if I helped you=/ ./ . +0ome on. I need someplace private./ .+>ou aren&t anything like her.ay I about=/ . It&s (riday night.endal stood up and tugged %%. 9ut here she was with %% instead. . then she&s going to lower my grade./ +I have to do this by . The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. you&re kind.endal asked. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. almost taking her by the hand. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me.other ./ %% told her./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on . I feel like I owe you or something.endal glanced at her cell phone. looking around./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. +-kay. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing./ she agreed. .
dude=/ he grumbled./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. +6ever mind.yan.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend./ she whispered under her breath. She&s been acting so strange lately./ +I&m going to regret it.yan pressed. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps./ he said. who finally took the hint.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. +Seriously. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance./ said ./ %ason had heard enough. 9ut she clearly was distracted./ +I&ve got issues=/ ./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . She smiled eagerly at %%./ . %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands. +0ome on.yan said miserably. impatiently. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian./ said 0hristine. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. she&ll come. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight. This girl is cra3y. . +I don&t know where she is. 2e was still sitting on the couch. . and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire./ 2e raised an eyebrow at ./ 2e turned to 0hristine. as she held up her i"hone. +7et me try and call her. 7et&s go. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out.4ithout saying a word.endal. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come.yan shot back. as he nudged . 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button. +She&s probably on her way here right now. sounding frustrated. and closed the door behind him. she&s going to regret it. Apparently. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. +She should be here with me. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts.yan. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . waiting for ./ he said. +4hy don&t you go find out. 2e stood up. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet.yan. She ditched an invite-only soccer party./ said 0hristine.yan that meant wearing black slacks. +If you don&t come tonight. I&m the best looking guy on campus. aside from winter formal. +>ou&ve got issues.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. +I don&t know.yan out of the room. who now glared at . +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked. and stood up instantly to look out the window./ %ason offered. (or . a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. +6o way./ .
/ . unfolded and spread it out. and after classes to read or do homework.endal sighed.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air.endal left the coffee shop. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. 9ut that never worked either. +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night.endal grabbed the blanket. and were completely hidden by the tarp. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. . as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house./ said %%. 6o one ever found me here. +0ome here often=/ %% asked. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way./ . with . I was so scared every time I walked across campus. +)ntil it gets too cold. And follow she did.endal argued. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me.endal crept under the bleachers. . See. "erched up high on a platform./ +I&m full of surprises. the side to the bleachers being left open./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. we were fair game. she&d stuffed a flashlight. They huddled together. urging %% to follow. dining hall. and classroom buildings. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. . In the middle of the blanket. illuminating the spot./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. +I found this spot during my freshman year. +It was fun at the time. So. >es./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life./ . they&d watch us go into some place./ .endal told her. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. come on. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. I didn&t want that happening to me. 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. wait until we came out. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. eyeing the flashlight./ she said./ +That&s pretty clever. I even slept out here once or twice. She turned it on. +This hiding spot was so good. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall./ +-h. even though she already knew the answer.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. she&d gone through ha3ing./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. I had all my routes mapped carefully. %% and . That included the library. and grab us. %% sat down beside her. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad.CHAPTER !! %% and . and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion.
a nervous habit over which she&d little control. +>ou keep saying that. That&s not the problem. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good./ +5ood. my therapist=/ %% snorted. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. She cleared her throat. It has to be. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot.endal said./ . because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. or what=/ %% blinked twice. you do./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward. +And read it to me as if you were in class. "oetry is personal. you got me there. It is.endal ordered. opened her mouth wide and said. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face. relieved to be out of the spotlight./ ./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you. +I feel stupid./ +>es./ +I do not. +4hy=/ +4ell./ +>eah. +7et&s talk about the poem. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem./ . I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion. I&m being honest. And that was $ickinson&s poem. +9ecause I was trying to make a point. for starters./ %% admitted.endal on the blanket.endal played with her fingers./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. but that was different. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. I&m hoping it&s a good thing./ +Trust me. I don&t. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself.endal glowered at her./ %% gladly rejoined .+-kay./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it. +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./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. but she didn&t care./ +6o./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff./ ./ ./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke. I&m just trying to help here. >ou know that. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. +I can&t./ said %%. +2ey./ . 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit.endal replied. I&m honest and upfront about myself. +Are we going to talk about your poem.
endal had said.onday./ 4hen %% looked up. +And you make it hard not to. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. wondering where in the world she was.endal took it. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . %% had offered . +I believe in you. %% had never heard anybody. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else. %% was vulnerable.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again. startling them both.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. .endal weak in the knees if she . +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well. and fell over on her back. say those words to her before./ . +I never thought of it that way. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. In her imagination ./ . without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm. eyes that made . +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . Some people may not like it.endal had dared to picture a different ending. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face./ ./ +It&s the same principal.endal reassured her./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. +>our writing is ama3ing. and gave %% one in return. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. not her coach. It&s the same with your writing./ %% hid her face with her hands./ %% said. as . +4hy=/ %% asked./ +4ow. she saw .endal had seen %% without her confident grin.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. . 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way.endal fall for her even more.endal&s cell phone rang.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways./ .endal maintained. Some people may not respond in the best way. and spoke through her fingers./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue. e'posed. you will./ +>es. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile./ +Argh. with regret./ It was the first time . you still did it. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer. but I bet most people will. That was how the night had ended. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm. And it only made . and yet it carried so much weight. or even her parents. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense. It was the simplest of phrases. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now./ +9ut that&s ridiculous. +I&m never going to be able to do this by . That was it. It confused her to the core.endal laid her hand over %%&s .
She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. +I&m waiting. She burst from the locker room. a definition to describe the feeling.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine. +4e were talking at the coffee shop./ 0hristine sang. before transferring to Sampson. +4ell*/ 0hristine said. +-kay*I know*you&re mad. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it.endal didn&t know what to say. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. >ou can come if you want to. with ./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking./ They walked briskly. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. to let her e'plain. and . and only her imagination. +I need to work out.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. 0hristine&s only response was.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. +I am way beyond mad. irritating. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of .endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her./ she said as genuinely as possible. +I&m really sorry. and probably to make her suffer. That thought alone frightened her deeply.endal jogging behind her to keep up. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. In fact. . . She needed a word. the gentleness of her touch. ./ 4orking out was not something .endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. and yet oddly comforting./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. +. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again. still tapping. +(ine.endal begged. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center.endal found herself pouting. +I just lost track of time. +7et&s wait until we get to the track.endal huffed. she stood up and stretched.e. ./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face./ 0hristine spat. yet . .endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker./ . +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. 0hristine reluctantly obliged.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted./ . -nce she finished tying her sneakers. and then %% had this problem she needed help with.endal organi3ed her thoughts. She and . >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth.endal found the tapping distracting. 4hen their pace slowed. to give it a name so that she could understand it better.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run. . scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. . already out of breath as they made their way around the track. Saturday might as well have been a pause. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips. e'cept. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . I wanted to help her out. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year.stared at them long enough./ she said. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight.
"eople are starting to wonder about you.endal flung her hands to her hips./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. That&s what it means./ +6o. ./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. you pinky swore with me./ . +>ou are infuriating. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad.endal. and they&re starting to talk. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad./ It was as if . and wondered if %% had been one of them. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know.endal had said. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore. offering a full view of the courts below. she had her frustrations. 2er face contorted.endal./ 0hristine told her. . The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. and yes.endal asked.+. noted where she was. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ . +It&s the truth. >es./ 0hristine shouted. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. +>ou know how these things go down. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately./ She leaned in and whispered. They turned to each other and giggled./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. #ither way./ 0hristine shouted again. +And you know what that means.endal screamed. They didn&t want you to know. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. >ou went back on a sacred oath. . +4hat are we. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay.endal felt amused. +They are having a meeting. but your priorities are all messed up. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. in first grade=/ she asked. nor bearing the school colors./ 0hristine screamed. and . and continued with her rant. a little too loudly. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in./ The color instantly drained from . +>ou have no idea what this means./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug. she had her complaints. or if she was just really upset by what ./ . It was supposed to be a secret. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. She spotted %%. +That&s cra3y./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. I don&t know. +I just don&t see what the big deal is./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay.endal&s face./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream.
cast aside. nothing final. Aside from being pretty and popular.endal asked. They went after only the most involved. as if she were a freshman. and she&d been happy doing it. . %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation.. unsurprising. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more.endal&s hands. Suddenly.endal had been lucky. or you either for that matter. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . it did matter./ 0hristine said plainly. 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. the most athletic. )nless you carried at least a K. . and smartest students on campus. prettiest. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her. but if you skip that. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. She&d judged people. at the school lounge. (or some reason. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. She&d seen how these things had gone down. Standing there in the athletic center. . 9ut for some reason. her involvement in the drama club./ +5et another one. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. she did care. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. She had 3ero athletic ability.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. It shouldn&t have mattered. no matter how good you were. She&d have to start over. 7ast year. +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.L 5"A. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. I&ll vouch for you./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition. you had no shot at making the s1uad./ +4hat= She&s my tutor.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. +It&s only going to be a discussion. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. 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. She was dismissed. +Tomorrow night. and her participation in student government activities. unanimous vote. popular. She&d been the e'ception to the rule. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went.endal shouldn&t have cared.endal felt small and shallow. then you can come. one that she couldn&t put her finger on./ 0hristine said./ . by way of her K. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. as it sometimes happens. 2er eyes instantly softened. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. . be it academic or otherwise. 9ut. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. $on&t even mention what I said. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships.
as :ueenie looked on in amusement. In the meantime. more important. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense. :ueenie said. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now. It was discouraging./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle.endal and her roommate arguing. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. +8umors are starting to circulate. +That&s awesome./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. things on her mind.endal .endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. and she didn&t care now. in 1uotes with her fingers. +$on&t you think=/ +6o. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. :ueenie loved. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. +-kay. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. nor would she ever critici3e her work. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion.endal glanced toward the basketball team again. I don&t. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. which wasn&t much at all. +.endal at all on Saturday. There were other. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. +./ she said without looking away. Time was running out. she might not like it so much. study session./ :ueenie said. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her.c0arthy. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. and :ueenie would love it. 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&m talking about T2# . She hadn&t heard from ./ ./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. to say the least. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines..
/ she confessed./ +She&s not like that. 9ut you&re wrong this time./ :ueenie said./ %% said. +It isn&t a game. %%. really I do. when she was all %% could think about. +I know you&re in love with her. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. It&s a fantasy./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. and it&s never going to happen. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later./ :ueenie stood up. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. %% e'tended her hand./ +(ine. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. right=/ +8ight. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . +And you&re wrong about her. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. a lump forming in her throat./ +I appreciate what you&re saying. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour./ +That&s absurd./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since. +This is reality./ %% resisted the urge to argue./ %% maintained. -nce .endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . once she reali3es the weight of it. +9ecause you never learn. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. %%. that&s the point.endal./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show. I&m in love with the girl. +All right./ %% warned. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe.+I&m not playing this game with you right now./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you./ said %%. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late. she&s going to stop talking to you. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. I hate watching you go through this. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else. the playful smirk gone from her face. :ueenie shook it. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. The deal was sealed.
asking for permission to sit down. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. +0ome in. avoiding soccer parties and such. and hanging out with certain people./ +She did. have a seat. . mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not.endal heard from beyond the peephole. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ .sprawled out on the couch watching television. +6othing much.endal replied evenly.ya 9rooks. and about little else. It was her life. and then knocked on . a true humanitarian.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. surprised. She was compassionate and charitable. It was all she ever talked about. +./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a.ya&s door. we have noticed.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . She motioned to the bed. who released one can. As far as your behavior. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading.endal./ . an open te'tbook in her lap. +I wasn&t e'pecting you.endal braced herself. which made her easy to talk to./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. . +#'cuse me. I thought . %% took a long sip from the can in her hand. and sat down. watch out. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly.endal.ya said. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. >ou know. . popped the top. She opened the door and saw . 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately.ya burst out laughing. wearing a pair of bo'ers. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . +I told you so. letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed./ . and added./ CHAPTER !$ . She had little in common with . but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting./ :ueenie burped. . +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately. and passed it over before taking one for herself. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie.ya said warmly./ . though. And not once did :ueenie say.ya was sweet and understanding. wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. +Sure./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts./ . It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. +. 9ut as sweet as she was. she knew how to play the game when it mattered.ya was alone. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad./ . Their conversations were few and far between.
ya asked. in any way. make it mandatory.endal said 1uickly. the thought has crossed my mind. It has straight members.endal replied. took ./ . 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. And he&s even in a fraternity. not that I know of./ ./ +I don&t believe this. I didn&t know what to do. . are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. +>es. side by side.ya&s eyes. And I try to stop the feelings./ +. .sociali3e as much./ +4hat&s going on=/ . . if I met someone. because of %%. shape or form. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. silly.endal remembered a tall./ . . I&ve been all over the place.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad.endal walked across the room. recalling meeting . So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way.endal stood up.ya laughed. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know.ya&s book dropped from her lap. +#ver since I met her. +I mean. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. I&ve never met anyone like her before. then I had to stop spending time with %%. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting./ .endal cursed 0hristine under her breath./ She smiled./ . or think I might want to . It&s a regular fraternity. And white members./ +. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. And black members. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston./ . They sat down. I guess. Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do.et who=/ +%%. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop. a woman.endal hurried to e'plain. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ . And I know she&s a girl./ +That&s it=/ . 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. it&s not a gay fraternity. +6ot that I am. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea./ +A gay one=/ . at this point in my life.endal nodded. too. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. but if . +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ ./ . and we wanted to throw you a party. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too. I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. but that&s basically about it. +I don&t know./ .endal. but she&d certainly implied that . +I need to figure out my feelings for %%.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed.ya stood up. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es. +6o.
Somewhere along the road . She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. It meant something. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the . After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. She flipped opened the book.endal a slight hug and added. the words that were branded in her brain.yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head.endal ./ +5ood. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s.endal&s appetite for revenge.endal headed for the door./ said .c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. turned and said. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all.endal thought about the poem. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. closed her eyes. I plan on having a little talk with her. Then . as she sat beside .endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk.. and had been since the first time she&d studied it. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. and rested her finger on a single line.ya gave . especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. That would have been awkward./ . just let me know./ . +Is everything okay=/ .ya asked. +In fact. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. She sat down.endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her. She knew that poem.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy . she saw the words of the poem before her. yet for some reason . 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 remembered that poem now.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. +>es. She paused in the threshold. . +If you ever need to talk more about this. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do./ +I might take you up on that.endal initially agreed not to see %%. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. 4hen she opened her eyes. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. . stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening. %%% . her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do.ya.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself.ya. +I underestimated you. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped.endal couldn&t decide which one.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session. leaned up against the bark./ she said. +$on&t worry./ Although . everything is perfect. . 9ut with . . #verything is more than okay. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. the slight hint of wickedness in .
library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. taking up space.endal hanging around with over the past month. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. though.endal would be his 1ueen. for that matter.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. %% sat there.endal just might bend. things that she&d thought . which left it looking gray. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. which meant that the chosen pair. It sucked the life right out of her. And when he finally thought he had made a dent. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. only larger and more upscale. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about.endal would respond to. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. Then. #ven its soft blue color had faded. . It had no purpose. . he needed a new game plan. 9y itself. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. 4hat better way to get to . get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. 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 . It made no sense. she&d stood him up anyway. was just around the corner.endal better than she actually did. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. 2e had acted like such a fool.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. And they hadn&t worked. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. 4ell.endal&s mind about him.yan many things about . It just stood there. rhyme nor reason. as well as fall semester. the fountain couldn&t go on living. the fountain had been shut off. the girl on the basketball team.yan had seen . the cement structure was depressing. There was one other person. . playing the sweet and sensitive guy. the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite.endal&s tutor.endal. when winter thawed. Apparently. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . . . lifeless. at least for the rest of the winter. The end of the soccer season. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it.ing and :ueen. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad. The one he had hatched originally was not working. one other girl that . every spring. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. She just might let him in. To . that whole approach had been pointless.endal would respond to.aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back.yan. attained a status far higher than everyone else. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . without water.
possibly by a former girlfriend.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way./ +Say no more. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. %% shook her head in disappointment.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things.6othing mattered to her.endal practically everywhere she went. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . you go off to find yourself. She walked over and sat down on the bench. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. I guess not./ The voice rose from behind. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. +7et&s go. . %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. +6o. +4henever something like this happens. 4hat made it all worse. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. 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. turning back to face the fountain. she refused to be like :ueenie. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. it&s not pathetic./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. in fact.endal all along. though./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. +6o./ +4here=/ +I called a few people.endal never even looked in her direction. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. a wide grin on her face./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. +It&s pathetic. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. not basketball. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. It didn&t help that she saw . 9ut ./ %% frowned. She did care./ :ueenie returned. my friend. #ither way. . She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. for whatever reason.aybe she needed to not care. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. hands in her pockets. . isn&t it=/ %% asked. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . #ver since . She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. +It&s just the way you deal with things. not even her writing. %% had never asked her why. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. to not let herself get attached.
#very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. she&d asked to speak to . 2er ears were ringing from the stereo./ %% regarded her clothes./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs./ %% said. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. I feel like I&m with someone famous. She didn&t have a choice. At the end of the semester.rs. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. +It&s fine. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. +So it&s settled then. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. She had gotten an e'tension. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild.%% nodded. who called her by name once he saw her. 9efore they left the dorm. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that. +>ou are. during e'ams./ She yanked %% off the bench. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. 0lark out in the hall./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks./ :ueenie teased. +I swear. though.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9./ said :ueenie. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. +4e&re going out. +She&s with me./ :ueenie told him. %% had agreed on the spot. +It&s going to be a great night.rs. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension./ :ueenie shook her head. since the bass had been turned up so loud. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. She was also in with the bouncer. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. she hoped she would be able to. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. And in a state of panic./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. . 2e watched %% suspiciously.rs. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. Somehow it had worked because . though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. 9y the time they arrived at the club. At least. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. . She even had taken time to do her hair. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was.
%% glared at her. . The music was deafening. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. and pushed %% to the side. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. +I&m not ready to go yet. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw../ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. %% once again made her way through the crowd. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. +. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. +I&m leaving. She offered to buy %% a soda. and you could almost see the walls shaking. she was cute enough. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. It was almost K p. %% took off through the crowd. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t ./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm./ :ueenie yelled. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else.e= At least I move to the beat. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. though she was standing right in front of her. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. I&m kind of in the middle of something./ she sputtered. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. +9ecause I&m ready to go. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening./ %% frowned. since she had none. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. which was 1uite hard to do. %% was still leaning against the wall. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. +>ou look ridiculous.m. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her./ %% shouted. At that point. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. walked down a narrow corridor and out into an open space that was packed wall to wall with every type of lesbian you could possibly imagine. +:ueenie. %% was ready to leave the club.endal. +7et&s go dance. +$o whatever you want. Sure. An hour later. She stomped down a narrow corridor. +4hy=/ she asked. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement.They reached the second floor landing.
+I should have never gone out. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later./ :ueenie repeated. it was considerably amusing. after the club closed we went our separate ways. I managed to land on my feet somehow.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. After she finally got down from the fire escape.y story isn&t half as good as yours. And. and I felt*used./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. eyes fi'ed on the television. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. now you know what happened to me last night. which cost me twenty-five bucks. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. And in hindsight./ :ueenie said. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it./ %% shook her head from side to side. +(unny. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. she&d taken a cab back to school. if you hadn&t gone out. +I mean./ :ueenie shrugged. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. and random individuals lurking about. either./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie . +(rom my perspective. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. +4ait a minute. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. %% nodded. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. and then I lost interest./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. I walked across them anyway. :ueenie still wasn&t home. seriously. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened./ +9ut. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. it looked like more than @not much was going on. so %% crawled into bed. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. really./ +$o tell. by the way. broken beer bottles. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. 9ut when %% told her story./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice./ %% sipped her soda. The night had been a complete and utter failure. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up.c9ride=/ .ung "ao chicken. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions./ +Trust me./ +There&s nothing to tell. . +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it.&/ %% pressed. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. +So. and they fell from underneath me. The two of them slept until after noon.
and that&s it. +I think I just wondered*for a very. and stood up. The moment passed. @relationships. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. I don&t know. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second.&/ +And that bothered you because . +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. 4hat happened=/ +#h. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. >ou felt the need for something more. +And you know what she said to me= She said. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular./ :ueenie said finally. something a bit more real. And thankfully. %% paused. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much. +%ust like that./ %% told her. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone. Try this one on for si3e. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. +4e said this weird goodbye. @not into what=& And she said. and rubbed her temples. She circled the room./ :ueenie said. +That&s my line. . . or through the eyes of some of the girls you hook up with and leave hanging= >ou felt how they feel after you cast them aside. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. 9oth.& So I said. It passed./ +4ait a minute. @I&m not into that. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing./ +I don&t know what it is. you can talk to me./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned.:ueenie turned off the television./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. I don&t think that&s it. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning. +Something is obviously bothering you. +-kay./ she said./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner./ +It passed=/ +>es. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. >ou had a moment of guilt. +-kay. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down./ . (ive seconds ago you had a conscience./ +:ueenie. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. It&s me. very. So. It was something that started with an @S&. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard./ %% scratched her head. like I suddenly grew a conscience. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either./ %% began. I don&t know. +6ope. seriously. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed.
+It really isn&t that big of a deal. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations. After all./ +It&s all trivial. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter. +I feel like I am going to throw up. +I&m hungry. this time with determination. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. +>ou get nervous about everything. She sat in the dining hall. taking e'ams. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. Someone who opens herself up to people. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. And so do you.%% threw her hands up in the air. And I&m not depressed./ :ueenie said./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ ./ +It&s just a game./ %% picked up her fork again. I just get a little an'ious now and then. +9esides. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. graduating from high school./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. between ample gulps of milk./ +I&m not that bad. playing in basketball games. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. %%. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked./ :ueen returned./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. +That&s just part of your character. I don&t know./ %% said enviously. I suppose. +I can&t help it. +I figure. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee./ Though she didn&t admit it. .endal./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. she&d been right about . as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. >ou are that bad. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. +I need energy for the game.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant./ +Trust me. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. :ueenie sat across from her./ +I know./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. I reali3ed who I was talking to./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. I get nervous./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other.
:ueenie. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . 9ut just hear me out. be-all for you./ %% glared at her./ said %%. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose./ +7isten. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. +>es. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. this time you are actually making sense. on paper or otherwise./ %% said./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. It&s part of the game you&re in. :ueenie. If %% didn&t know any better. +I was being serious. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort./ +>ou know./ +. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating.aybe. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. 9ut she did know better. or belittling them every chance you get. %% waited patiently for her to respond. and do it. +0ome on./ +That&s fine. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. >ou know my parents. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years./ %% started her response. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. you know you can do it. rather than taking advice yourself. for instance. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over. %%. >ou never let it rest. >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. sliding her plate aside. She gave :ueenie a long look. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. you know you want to do it.+6ot in the big scheme of things./ +Take your stage fright. +>es=/ +>es./ +So am I./ :ueenie said at last. There is one thing that I am afraid of./ :ueenie smiled. I&m listening./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. I don&t want to be anything like them. but you don&t really know my parents. $eep inside. and stared up at the ceiling./ +-kay./ said :ueenie. $eep inside. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. >ou&re a writer.
+I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es. but I&m still not following you. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say./ %% cocked her head to one side./ +Trust me.yan e'plained./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. a shadow fell over the table. +True./ %% hated the fact that he was right./ . and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. And this would help me out a lot./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed.maybe. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride./ ./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. +7isten./ he smiled devilishly. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond. +0ome on. %% thought. +There&s no common ground./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team.endal .c0arthy. I just need you to say a few nice things about me. It was empty. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction./ +9ut I hardly know you. +I need you to do something for me. +It&s important.yan asked. +4ho is this creep=/ .yan Stevens loomed over them. uninvited. right=/ +>ou could say that. and.yan sat down across from %%. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater. ignoring :ueenie altogether./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person. I&m popular. keeping his eyes planted on %%. . +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school./ . you might be able to find common ground you can share with them. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. I know you&re tight with her. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. I&m going to go to law school. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test./ he said.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep.yan leaned in and whispered. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not./ :ueenie volunteered. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. if you just talked to them. if you know what I mean. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. and gave up her seat. +I said I need you to do something for me./ ./ +>ou&re friends with . +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. +0an I talk to you=/ .
I can&t help you./ +4e aren&t best friends. whether by te't or by phone. After the game.ary.%% sat there./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me./ . 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did.endal didn&t listen to them. %% had secured her starting position. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. as she was making her way to the locker room. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. So %% figured their friendship./ +4ait*/ . I was her tutor./ And so it was official.endal had stood %% up. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game. ladies. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . but you also played with heart. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. %% had played well.endal. +I&ve got a game to get to. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away.endal . The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate./ %% stared at his hand until he let go.yan called after her as she walked away. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd./ +4hy not=/ . :ueenie had played superbly. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. I can&t help you. >ou not only played with skill. They hadn&t spoken since . was over. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. +That&s it=/ . laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact./ she said./ she told him sharply. too. too close for %%&s liking. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and ./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. . according to 0oach 0ook.yan practically whined. 4e aren&t even friends. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying.c0arthy was doing there. I can appreciate your interest in . That&s it. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. 4e don&t even talk anymore. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. +I&m sorry. +7ook. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. There was no apology. or whatever it was. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands. entirely confused.
/ ./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight./ :ueenie declared. +5reat game.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. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym. three./ %% whispered. as she fle'ed her arms./ %% replied as evenly as possible./ :ueenie said./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. Then it&s always short and sweet.endal was still sitting on the bleachers. ladies. she knew why. we won a game. +She just rambles when she&s happy.endal halfway or stay where she was.endal took in the empty gym. +./ They left the locker room together. it&s a different story. debating whether or not she should meet . And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on./ /That&s very true. +5ive me a moment. :ueenie hesitated. >ou&re really good. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. . +"lease=/ +-kay. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. +I&m ready. -ne.an. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. 5reat team effort. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. would you=/ +.nocked me around= I&m all muscle. I want team on three./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. 0oach left the room./ +It&s about time. I&m glad we won though. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. +It was e'citing and fun to watch. #veryone else followed suit. when she noticed that ./ . you wouldn&t know. 9y the way. +4hen we lose. two./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. I stink. 9y the time she made up her mind./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me./ %% yawned and stretched. I&ll see you back at the dorm. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to. +I can hold my own.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle./ %% said.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side. as she pulled on her warm-ups./ +>ou know what they say./ +Thanks./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. +5reat team effort tonight. there&s a first time for everything./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. As soon as she saw .
I guess he likes you a lot. I don&t./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. That&s the problem./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. :ueenie warned me. Instead. you know. (or avoiding you. 5uess you proved her right.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. +I know how it looked. you do. I know you&ll do well. +I thought I knew you. she decided to walk away./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e./ %% took a giant step backwards. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much./ she said. And I stuck up for you. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all./ she said. she wondered if she&d made the right decision./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor. +She said you&d stop talking to me./ . Apparently he thought we were good friends or something.endal closed her eyes. It is what it is.endal cringed.endal pleaded./ +>es./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything./ . +I came here to apologi3e. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class.endal.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her.yan Stevens is head over heels for you. 2e&s perfect for you. I don&t know you at all./ +I didn&t freak out./ said . +9ut it&s not what you think. and you should probably know that ./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. +2ey. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve. CHAPTER "* ./ +6o. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ ./ . .endal interrupted./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder. 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. +>ou know me. against her better judgment.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game./ +>ou know. +I&m glad you came to the game. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester. 9ut when . +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. to e'plain what happened. +-h.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm. . I said you&d never do anything like that. 4anted me to put in a good word for him./ .aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for./ she said roughly./ . look. as you put it.
+I. you behind the couch.endal. . . +I was*I&m not here for the meeting./ . +I already know what you think of me.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. I wasn&t . as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. 9ut you&ve got it wrong. +>ou&ve got five minutes. (rom where she hid.endal=/ +4ell*/ . a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. To . She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air./ The entire group looked at her strangely. +4hat&s your name=/ +.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. +2ey. talking on her cell phone. #veryone. take your time. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors. +And you are=/ . .endal*/ +2ello./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. shuffling through its contents. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. 9ut look. and then looked back at . . . :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. . She was dressed as if she were going out downtown. then crossed her arms over her chest.endal approached her slowly. %ust give me five minutes.endal. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. ./ . earlier today I dropped some change in the couch.endal. 4hen she stood up.endal insisted. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group.endal gave a slight and awkward wave./ The president pointed a finger. please say hello to . +It&s important. +See. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence./ the president said patiently. in faded jeans. I found it.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge. races and religious beliefs. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand.endal heard a voice ask. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. +It&s okay./ . She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. ./ +2ello./ the students said in unison. +Sorry to interrupt.endal stood slowly.eet me in five minutes instead.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. >eah./ +(ive minutes is all I need. :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. +>es. I. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand.endal. . really. .endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins.endal said.
endal walk away. I don&t even know what I&m saying. Tell her to meet me there in an hour. (riends./ ./ +So. but ./ . I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. +4hy did you suddenly stop talking to her= And why did you do e'actly what I said you&d do=/ +9ecause I was confused./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. . She&ll know where I&m talking about. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer.endal=/ %ason asked . but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. no matter what people think or what people say or . 6o. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away. I&m not downtown yet. ./ She laughed in spite of herself. until her silhouette faded into the night. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. See you in when you get here. I&m serious. It&s important.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. I want to talk to her more. she could still see . +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself.eet me in the school lounge. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. -kay.endal hugged herself to keep warm. Something came up. It&s me. I&m not going anywhere yet. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door. School. . This time. +9esides. as if her words were left suspended in air.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. . and continued to watch her from afar./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. let me guess. And there&s more to be said. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. In fact./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. I already tried talking to her. and that didn&t go so well. ./ . All of it./ +. I thought I&d try a different approach. then she&ll come meet me. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly.endal declared. >es. +%%. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over.endal striding along the sidewalk. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. I want to*I don&t know. %%% +So what happened with . I want to do the e'act opposite. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. I&m still confused. I knew she was mad at me. It distracted her for a moment.yan as they left the athletic center./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone.going to stop talking to %%. #verything. And I needed some space to think about my confusion. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . +This is so new to me. I want to*spend more time with her. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it.endal e'plained./ . I haven&t even made it off campus. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened.
+4hat= >ou can never tell these days.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out.aybe she&s just not into guys./ . +-h*right. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet. +Take this for me. while making 1uotes with his fingers./ ./ . It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass. A devilish smile broke out on his face.yan waved his hand into the air. I forgot about that. ./ he said.c0arthy that. +4hat. $oes it matter=/ ./ +.yan said. and then to a figure approaching the soccer field./ he said 1uietly. She said . +5et it=/ +$ude.aybe you just need a different approach. okay. +I don&t know.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back.yan said. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors./ +I doubt that./ +I tried a different approach.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on. Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up./ e'ploring my options.yan rolled his eyes. seriously.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek.+6o. +I think it is./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. does she know if . +Shut up. +It does now.an./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. +She said she hardly even knows .c0arthy this and . 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. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away. 8emember= She stood me up. And I can&t figure out why. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else.an. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans. >ou know./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness. maybe she&s tutoring ./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ +6o.endal in more subjects than one./ +I don&t get it. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl./ %ason stopped walking. Then it was all . isn&t that*/ ./ .endal ./ %ason bit down on his laughter.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. rela'. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason.endal ./ %ason snickered. the one that you talked to. +I don&t know./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ . +2ey./ .yan looked up. +9ut I&m going to follow her. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean.yan answered. +./ . 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered./ +So=/ +So. The whole sensitive guy routine. I&m just. +It bombed. +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud.
't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. Thoughts reel.endal. &ometimes it helps. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. static feelings. She reread the words 1uickly.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. Sure. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. so to spea6. Heart open. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. +I&m not sure. The first time she . strength. mind /lea6. . +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. only this time she hadn&t let it take over. .. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. But it4s 5ust a moment. to relieve in itself The pain. *ant to &ometimes ' do. erratic. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . &o real. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. &omewhere. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. '4m wea6. And move on. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. The $ibble Syndrome had hit.
/ :ueenie whispered back. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt./ :ueenie sat up straight./ %% looked around the room./ +:ueenie. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously./ +>ou give up too easily.c9ride&s. It was therapy. %% had been able to do it all by herself. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. every word. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh.endal. perhaps=/ +6ice try. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. even basketball. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie./ They watched together as a tiny. unassuming. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. It made sense. closed the journal. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. every rhythmic phrase. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to./ %% said evenly. stage fright.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. . 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. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. She spoke about tolerance. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance.c0arthy. A meeting of some sort was taking place. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression./ +6one other than T2# . knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it.endal . care of the . +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. dark-skinned girl. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. This time. 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. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. and tucked it neatly under her pillow./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. I forgot. with glasses too big for her face. right. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . or lack thereof. took the podium./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. +7istening. %% knew that now. %% 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. As she reached for her baseball cap.
So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason./ :ueenie admitted. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. +And she wants to tell you herself.c0arthy once and for all. I still don&t understand./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About . ./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. I&m heading back to the dorm./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# ./ %% sat down again. of course. she took a deep breath. +6o./ +She likes you./ said %%. The nerve of some people. you should know that . 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. (or some reason. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. save your breath. +-kay. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations.+That&s right./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. taps me on the shoulder.endal. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. +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. in hopes that I might go speak to her. 4as. +This is a big deal for me. she likes spending time with you.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. I&ve got two. I&m talking on my i"hone outside. 4hen she reopened them.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you./ :ueenie closed her eyes. +4onderful. I&ve got three words for you. #njoy the rest of your. and says she needs to talk to me.endal . +6ow. and I don&t want to know. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services./ :ueenie continued. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. It doesn&t happen too often. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant.iss ./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly./ +4hich are*=/ +I. I got the impression that she even missed you. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. if you&ll e'cuse me. 4rong./ %% stood up. +5ood./ %% cleared her throat. I asked. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. She could only nod. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all . three. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. she took another deep breath.
/ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. +%ust when I&m over the girl./ She pointed at %%. +0all me if you need to. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to. CHAPTER "! . my friend. you turn around and tell me this. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends./ said %%./ %% yelled again./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. I mean. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. +I was wrong about her. 4alking through them would be the easy part. . This is me you&re talking to. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you./ %% yelled. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. :ueenie ./ :ueenie continued./ :ueenie whispered. you might hear her say it for yourself. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. +>ou must be rubbing off on me. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. The hard part was to choose which doors. I think she really cares about you.endal supposedly was waiting./ +That&s up to you. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'.+9asically. I&m talking @like like. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. I did my part. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall./ +I know. She grabbed her baseball cap back. you&ve got a small head./ +And I appreciate that. come on. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. Then I&m heading downtown. +It was obvious./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having./ +Thanks./ +I can&t believe this. >ou have to believe me./ +I can&t believe this./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head. +%%.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together./ %% whispered in return. she couldn&t tell. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. and slammed it down on her head. She&s not like I thought she was.c9ride. +. And if you get off your high horse and remove the @but I&ve still got my pride& plugs that you&ve stuck into your ears for just one second. >ou were right. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation.an.
yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness./ .endal pointed a hard finger at him. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it. 4e could take this school by storm. +I apologi3e for standing you up. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them. didn&t you= 2ow sad./ . +It&s cold out here. >ou are the biggest self-centered. if you must know.endal laughed sweetly at him. "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ ./ . %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story./ he confessed. +"lease. +4ould this so-called friend be the tutor you&ve been spending so much time with lately=/ +2ave you hired a private investigator or has 0hristine been filling your ears with gossip again=/ ./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. She crossed her arms in frustration.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her. +#ither way.endal told him at once. right=/ +It was a girl. well.yan stared down at the blanket./ +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./ +A friend=/ . +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me.endal as she scanned the darkness. +Think about it. just go. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon. you&re pathetic. well. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. egotistical moron I&ve ever met.yan returned. eh=/ +That&s none of your business.endal&s sweet smile soured instantly. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more. It&s been said./ . And in the end./ said . +>ou just can&t take no for an answer./ 2e winked at her. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. +That seat is reserved for someone else. If :ueenie had come through for her./ . pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school.yan forced a laugh./ +4ith some other guy.endal&s protest. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up. 4e&d make a great couple. worried that %% would arrive at any second. +4ell. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go. +4hat do we have here=/ .endal looked at him with distaste. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic./ . +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ ./ +Some friends come with benefits. 2is charisma had melted away./ . A friend.endal spat. I&ve never even entertained the thought./ +"athetic=/ . I found a much better way to spend my night./ +7ook. 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. +6ice little set up you got here. 4e have so much in common. casting a dim beam over the blanket./ 2e approached the blanket.
/ she said./ . I&m in no position to tell you what to do. 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./ he told her. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. but there was no one there. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway./ he e'plained. I take care of myself physically./ . +It isn&t worth it.endal&s own eyes softened. +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. +They&re his rules.yan stood up. anymore. $o you really want to be the same person in college as you are now= >ou&re going to meet a whole new set of people and friends. it turns people off. so I&m supposed to get all the girls.+4ell. what am I doing wrong=/ .endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps.yan asked./ he said./ .endal approached him. She suddenly felt sorry for him. I get good grades. they might respect you more.endal stared at him firmly./ +6ot everything./ +So it&s true. setting her hands on his shoulders./ 2e looked at her./ +I can be a nice guy. +Then tell me. ./ ./ said . not mine. +I&m the captain of the soccer team. then.yan said 1uickly. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you.yan maintained. And apparently you aren&t being yourself. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. desperation in his eyes. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o. +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me. now you know. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not.endal. >ou really are a lesbian=/ ./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. . 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives. +I don&t know what I am.endal continued. It&s not about what you do./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . I&ve done everything right.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. no matter what other people think. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side. She peered into the shadows.y father&s in the military. . isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. I guess not. +That&s the real point of going off to college. >ou act so conceited. >ou might as well let them see the real you. +9efore you met who=/ .yan didn&t answer. +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=/ +. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ ./ +. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah./ +7ook. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school. -nce we graduate. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors. It&s about who you are.
I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone. +6o. 6ew living space./ . +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school. Steadying the crates in her arms. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. . I said I was sorry a billion times.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. She had decided to move in with .ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . .endal replied. +>ou&ve changed. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to .endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other.endal said./ She pushed past 0hristine. +If it were me.ya&s room if you want. +I&ve already been scolded by . +6ope. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. 7ook.ya the week before.c0arthy. I&m not doing anything. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since ./ . +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. ready to be carried away to some other closet. and it&s important to me.+It doesn&t matter. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand.endal./ +. It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well. 6ew semester.endal agreed. +5o look in the mirror./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . but . really. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same. you know that=/ +I have changed. I think you got off easy. She turned her back and resumed packing. 2e stared at it blankly. +Then you&ll see what I mean. It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night./ +>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. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere.endal had started packing. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. and then took it in his hand. +I&m just saying I know how you feel.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new.endal knew she&d done that all by herself. 6ew classes.ya&s room. I can&t understand./ . 2er clothes were spread across her bed. and*/ +I can do it by myself. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead.endal . +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to .endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to .yan leaned forward to hug her./ ./ As ./ ./ she advised. 6ew . +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything./ she said.
/ +8ight../ +"ositive=/ +. I know she feels bad about it. 9ut. neither. 6ew semester. +6ot much.endal.endal replied apologetically. +I can do it. nothing.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet./ . The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles.ya asked gently. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. she sure was an attractive scapegoat./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= .ya asked./ .endal snatched the book away from ./ . +%ust a few more crates and my clothes./ +Are you sure=/ +>es./ she said.aybe./ .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 %%.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it.ya sat down on her bed. I&m sorry. it&s not./ +I have plenty of room. +./ +5ood.endal had waited in the cold. +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ . 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. +Is it possible. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation./ . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that. And she never showed up. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything. 6ew things to come. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book. She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly. +2onest. She does feel bad about what she did. reluctantly.endal admitted. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance./ ./ +It&s okay./ +So what now=/ +6ow. 7etting me move in here is help enough./ . +That&s what she feels bad about.endal. +I&m a little on edge still. +I know./ . +Time to move on. things change.endal frowned. as .endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor./ . 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible./ +7et me help you.ya helped .e./ .endal entered her room./ said ./ +Such as*/ +4ell.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others. It&s not a big deal at all. +6o./ said ./ +If it&s any consolation.
in search of inspiration for writing. +I&m not into girls now./ .ya blushed.endal./ +4ell. jockish sort of look. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach./ . +.endal&s hand. I have to do it soon. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. I forgot. +2e&d never say yes./ . and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals.yan Stevens needs in his life. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen./ +-h.endal burst out laughing./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. had led her nowhere in particular. I can promise you that.endal asked./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. >ou name it*it&s on here. ./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl ./ . here&s a list of possible venues. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here. and took . +4hat=/ . +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl.endal returned.endal smiled wickedly./ +>ou like . 2e&d be nuts not to say yes./ . +0ome on./ . -therwise he might ask somebody else. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him. debating whether or not to go in./ . And apparently she&s not into me.e= I couldn&t./ .ya jumped up off the bed. +(or instance. +. >et she continued to linger.yan./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +. +8eally= I thought .y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in. 2er stroll. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. listening to successful./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot.yan would have asked you for sure. +Then you can help me think of what to say to ./ she said.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her./ +(orgot what. and began sifting through some papers./ +>ou&re into girls now. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team.ya cooed like a little school girl.ya answered. +4hat&s that=/ . I understand./ . I happen to think . She picked up the binder and showed it to ./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. if you like that meathead. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything.ya teased./ . finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine.+It&s okay.ya asked innocently./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then.endal said. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal. certainly lacked appeal.yan is cute. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me.
/ %% stepped aside to let them pass./ she said. completely heartbroken. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. +-h.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. completely out of breath and. right./ . more significantly.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. %% almost called out to her. +6o. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then.The sun had just settled in for the night. and then turned abruptly toward %%. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure .yan.endal was holding . +. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. +I hope you treat her right. Then for some reason . %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win./ she said blandly. %% 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 . Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly./ said . She&s too much to deal with. +>ou know. I&ll catch up with you. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window.yan&s shoulders gently. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. 6amely you./ he whispered./ said his friend %ason./ said .endal.yan echoed./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. They shuffled by her. She had gone there./ As he turned and reached for the door. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. Instead.endal would be waiting./ said . +2ey %ason.endal told you what happened. +I thought she&d tell you. Save me a spot in line./ +0ouple=/ .yan Stevens standing directly behind her. +>ou two make a cute couple. %% gave him a slight nod. +4ell. she turned and ran. At that moment. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . 9esides./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . other girls. telling him to wait a minute./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground.yan. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . %% stared at him vacantly. +I don&t think so.yan held up a finger./ +(ine by me. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . who was standing beside him. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. And when she finally stopped running. +And I doubt she will any time soon. she didn&t. breaking into %%&s flashback. . barely acknowledging her presence.yan. 9ut there was no masked man.
/ %%&s eyes danced around. %ust as she was about to fall asleep. +I wanted to know what was going on with her./ she said. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a. CHAPTER "$ . Then it hit him. She flopped down and closed her eyes. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. I wish. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up. 7ike I said. >ou two were about to kiss./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly. she said she was e'pecting someone else./ A warm. right= About me. you know. so I followed her./ . +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time. even though it was still unmade./ he glanced around again./ ./ .endal sat down on her new bed./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. the sky and . +./ %% smiled.yan e'plained./ she said suddenly. and smacked herself in the forehead. and she basically put me in my place./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was./ +4ell. . and her lower back ached./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. wait a minute./ +9ut I saw you together./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah. +4e talked about a few other things.yan called after her as she hurried down the street.endal didn&t want you there. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping.endal was holding onto your shoulders. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. +I knew it.endal mumbled. +.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued./ .yan struggled to recall the incident. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. bouncing off the sidewalk. that&s good advice. let me get this straight. She didn&t.yan&s face. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side./ +>ou saw us=/ . +She was waiting for you.+6o. but I have to go. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street. the door to her room opened. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed./ ./ +2ey./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. +I&m sorry. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you. too. +So.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight.
endal told her./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed./ +That is a mistake.ya.ya.ya told me where you were. just for the record. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know./ . I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly.ay I=/ ./ +I didn&t know what to think. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth.endal./ +-nly. And. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did./ +I was thinking we could go to the library. +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.+It&s not . She stood up and began to pace around the room./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands. +I mean that I did show up that night./ . and I ran into .endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently./ . +>ou can e'plain everything to me now./ +./ ./ +>ou could have said something. through my eyes. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge./ +>ou and me both. It doesn&t matter to me. . I&m not captivated by his washboard abs. I guess I didn&t really believe it./ ./ said a familiar voice. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ +That depends./ +4hat do you mean./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. I&ll listen. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that.endal.ya likes ./ +4hat=/ ./ %% insisted./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide. trying to make sense of what was happening. +. it looked much different through my eyes. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ said . I&m ready./ +That I did./ +That he did./ +4ell./ %% e'plained. +./ +-h.endal&s eyes shot open./ said .yan the couch monster. )nlike . and made a face.endal snickered./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +.aybe do a little studying. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her. I prefer to call him ./ She observed .yan a lecture. only I showed up right when you were giving . +I just saw what I saw and ran. +And. +7ooking for you.endal flinched.endal&s new surroundings./ .yan Stevens.yan=/ +That&s beside the point. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'.endal said dryly. She was sitting up now. +4hatever you have to say. +I was in town earlier.
each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. %% didn&t dare deny it. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. The first was the day she met :ueenie. +I&m :ueenie . +Thought so./ she eventually told %%. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. the one and only. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. They were going to take the campus by storm.c9ride. The championship game went . to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. performed only when her parents were around. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply.+Studying=/ +>eah. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. before classes began. right down to her socks. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. and re1uest a roommate change./ %% had said. making it to the state championships. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. The day she&d met :ueenie. in walked :ueenie .c9ride with her parents in tow. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her./ said :ueenie. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. They had both arrived a week early. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction./ +That&s right. you know that=/ At that moment. 9ut %% resisted. And that was a moment worth remembering. and nothing could stop them./ +0ome on. . :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet./ . her life was forever changed.endal said. Somehow. #ach was notable for a different reason. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. The two became inseparable after that. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year.
made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired./ +-h. The room was no bigger than a closet. and all. She watched with anticipation as .into double overtime./ she said. %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. %% had to ask. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us./ said %%. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. 4hen %% reached the landing./ +$oesn&t bother me much. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. she knew the smell of . -nce . She scanned the second floor 1uickly. they were e'tremely hard to come by. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided. eyeing the key. %% gulped. +I&m obviously used to it by now. facing %% who lagged behind her.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. and tackling her to the floor. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. her heart sped up e'citedly. once they were inside. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. with a playful smile. she saw ./ . you know= Two girls holding hands. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked.endal rounded a corner. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door./ . staring is rude.endal replied. seating three or four people at the most. The walls were soundproof. And since e'ams were right around the corner.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. .endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. since she&d made the winning basket. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. $uring e'ams. +I&m just having a little fun. +9esides. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards./ . %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. +I&m learning as I go along.endal replied. chasing her down. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. As she made her way toward the biographies section. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. and as they stepped aside they studied . such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand.
when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her.endal looked at her that way. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. +I know I&m supposed to be listening. +8ela'. +This=/ She held it up./ +0heerleading connections./ +-h. She patted the open seat ne't to her.endal shook her head and laughed./ +I am. +I thought you said you were ready to listen./ she managed./ . you&re a girl and that complicated things. She pointed at the cover./ +4ell./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. . waiting for me to lug her to class.endal played with the key. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. %%.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her./ . +I was so confused. I should have known./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. +#verything that was right in front of me./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly./ +I have my ways. %% remained standing. it knocked the breath straight out of her.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . that. -nly.endal ordered.endal sighed. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her. "age DEP. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning./ .endal shot her a look. +She used to torment me at night. %% nodded. that&s all. +4hat did you mean back on the steps. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench./ .endal began./ +Sit down. +It&s a learning process. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. +I used to hate her. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. +The interest never went away. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. really=/ . +9ut.endal confessed. I didn&t .endal finished./ She looked up at %%./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ . 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. She decided to test the waters first. unable to speak. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore./ said . All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key. +>es. All I see you doing is talking. 4hen .endal. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for.endal or across from her. her nerves getting the better of her. . I don&t see you listening./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed./ . +Interested in you=/ ./ she said. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to .
I didn&t want to stop seeing you but at the same time I didn&t want to lose my friends and everything I had built at Sampson over the past few years. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally./ said %%.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. not my friends. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. 4I7$ nights.endal softly. The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. and especially not 0hristine. suddenly made no sense at all. still unable to look . It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. And that&s you. 9ut that isn&t the case. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed .c0arthy. and how you helped me change my perspective. That&s why I stood you up. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. 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. she sei3ed the moment. +I knew you were going to say that. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. +I finally get the meaning behind it. no matter what anyone else thought. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. +>ou are way too humble. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that./ ./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit.endal. +>ou don&t have to say anything. 4ild nights. Instead./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently./ She pointed to the page.endal in the eyes./ said . she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants.endal . It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me.endal./ ./ said . +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. . when %% was lying in bed that night. +I finally get it.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. %%% 7ater. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before. even when I didn&t know myself. not the s1uad. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. That&s why I avoided you./ said . All I know is that I want to be around you.
/ :ueenie said./ +>ou would. If %% could study for it. and it was hardly an e'am.endal . +2ow do you do that=/ she asked. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. scattering notes and papers everywhere. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading. She had gone over it again and again. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic./ She hopped up on %%&s bed./ +Thanks.rs. she could read them as they floated by. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know./ +It&s my pleasure.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ +>ou know./ +So where is T2# . +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. I hate to admit it. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. +6o. no. I&m going to lose it. which she already was an e'pert at. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me./ %% marveled at :ueenie. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write./ She paused momentarily./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. I was wrong about her. +%ust what the doctor ordered. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. and worn folders spread out in front of her. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand. 4e&re naturally gifted. she would. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. but she&s pretty cool./ +4ait a second./ +Thank 5od for that. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. scattered papers. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. +I just can. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them. The poem that . +I need it.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak./ :ueenie said honestly. 4hen she closed her eyes. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. I won&t take your charity.
/ :ueenie insisted. 9ut if you never take that chance. devilishly-motivated./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously.y sister is taking that risk./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. you can be cynical sometimes. I&m so proud. +4ell. so nobody else at her table could . and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. +"erhaps. +I&m sorry. shifting her position every other minute. morally-sound young woman.+I&m serious. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. not to mention childish./ +It happens to the best of us. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big. besides all of that. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. but I think you might be right. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. I&m not sure what&s going on with me. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted./ +./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all.c9ride family soon enough. To take a risk like that. 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. . I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best./ +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. thing to do=/ +>es./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem. but we all can. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. thankfully. +4ell-adjusted= "lease./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. you&ll never know the difference between the two. +Are you okay=/ she asked. 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 think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. 7et&s not go overboard here. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. She&s putting her all into someone. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself./ +Sure.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall./ :ueenie sighed./ +2ey. It&s something special. The lighting was dim. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving.
yan even had a choice in the matter.y.ya asked./ he mumbled./ :ueenie replied.ya=/ %% asked. 5ood luck. 2onestly. ladies. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie. +-h. . I bet they&ll even dub you . as he rubbed the sore spot.endal and %% shot her a warning look. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked ./ +2ey.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table.ya elbowed him gently in the gut.yan fidget until . you two make 1uite the darling couple.endal&s hand shot up in the air. +4e just came over to wish you good luck.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad. And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth.ya in the school paper. +./ +4ell. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. and watched .yan Stevens behind her.atie 2olmes of this school. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine./ %% forced a laugh. stop. She was sitting beside %%. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. +She&s fine./ %% smiled politely. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak./ said :ueenie confidently. as she slapped ./ ./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. +Are they together=/ %% asked.endal. that would totally rock. +I must say. +2ow about. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing. genuinely serious. 9oth ./ +Isn&t that . 2er mouth was already off and running.endal asked.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic ./ :ueenie smirked. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and ./ +>ou think so=/ .ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. right. yeah. for that matter. %% ignored her and took in the crowd./ :ueenie remarked. +2ey./ ./ ./ said :ueenie.endal slipped in through tight lips./ +And without baseball metaphors. She grabbed hold of ./ +-h. . girl. %% nodded in return. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well.ya. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support. She gave .yan&s hand.see that she wasn&t only pale. . +I guess so.ore than usual. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. +7ook at her. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal. I don&t think ./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt./ %% grumbled. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out. but it was too late. +>ou okay=/ ./ +2ey. +)h.endal. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year.
as every person in the entire room stared at her. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. +I think I&m going to be sick. 0hairs shifted. %% stood there./ said :ueenie. +%ust look at her. +. +>ou don&t look so good. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition. and she began to hyperventilate./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees./ .endal suggested. She felt . +%%./ said :ueenie.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block ./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair. +2e looked absolutely miserable.rs.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. that&s all. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while.ya&s a sweetheart.endal. The damp taste in her mouth went dry. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. we better find a seat before they&re all taken. At this point she was seeing everything double. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back./ said . 0lark take the stage.ya looked in her direction. yeah.endal maintained. . +I&ll go get you some water. +Are you nervous at all=/.e=/ %% pointed at her chest./ . and I&d have to start calling names.endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd. +>ou know. and turned her head swiftly as soon as .rs. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. She&s a girl who knows what she wants./ said %%./ added :ueenie. +4ell.ya shifted. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. And it&ll do ./ :ueenie offered in return. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. she&s not nervous at all.rs./ %% scowled at :ueenie. She yanked . he sure is a lucky guy.ya&s a little*particular. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink. +2ey. 0lark&s hand./ %% gulped.endal. +2ey. +. +6ot at all./ +-h. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. +Take deep breaths. 0lark&s voice from her ears.+0ut it out./ %% announced. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . hard. She&s as steady as a rock. She shrugged her shoulders back at them./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . She felt . +That . 0lark shouted into the microphone.yan./ . +Thanks for the water.rs. In an instant./ said ./ %% mouthed. +She&s just psyching herself up. +At least you&ve got your color back.ya asked. +. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side./ she hissed at :ueenie./ .
endal and :ueenie in the corner. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. of course. 0lark. settling on . @. +I wrote this for class*well.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. She accepted our fate. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet.endal. :ueenie. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. +4henever you&re ready. And these are the words that ended up on the page. and they kept coming. She often wondered who I was inside. They stopped about halfway around the track. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. tiger. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. %%. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. >et. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. She cringed at my defiance. I accepted our gender. It was the final signal that there was no going back. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. Together. 2er shoulders straightened. I suppose you could say I wrote it./ CHAPTER ") . we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. 4e found a common strand. who held her breath in anticipation. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . the best writer in class./ said . %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. until they blended together into a sea of colors. The words just kept flowing from my pen. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. +She tied my hair in ribbons.rs. I boasted that I was her only daughter. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. I untied them and my hair ran wild. one after the other. I cringed at her reluctance. I took it off and basked naked in the sun. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed.other . which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress.
/ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson. by the way. 4e&re pretty popular in this area./ +6ice to meet you. a biography of #mily $ickinson. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band. +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. A $rummer and (our 5uys. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans./ +0lever./ She pointed to his maroon T-shirt which had a white heart on the front of it with the phrase +I like you/ printed on it. ./ +So listen. isn&t it=/ he grinned. you should stick around and check her out.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night.endal./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es./ +8eally=/ 2e paused. After you&re done playing.endal e'tended her hand to him. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger. . +I&m sorry. >ou should read some her work./ +. It&s ama3ing. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything./ +Agreed. by the way.aybe I will. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again. +0lever. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I. She smiled momentarily. he was standing right in front of her. +I&m . +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./ +5uess not./ +Speaking of T-shirts. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end.y name is 9rad./ ./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating./ +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./ +She was a poet./ . +4e&re called 0andy 2earts. while chomping on a piece of gum.endal./ ./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or. +#very (riday night. +0ome here often=/ he asked./ ..endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. actually.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from ./ 9rad said. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend./ she said politely./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ she said as nicely as possibly. actually. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. .endal smiled.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage. . +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you.endal.endal teased./ . +TouchM.
would she=/ +6o./ +-omph=/ . no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. laughed and cleared her throat. signaling that spring had arrived at last.+. As . as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride . enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers./ . +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot.endal. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. ./ +6ever hurts to ask. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance.endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for. She looked out of the adjacent window.aybe I will. a person that . once she reached the table.endal played along./ said %%. +4I7$ nights./ +That was much better.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. 8ecently./ +4ill do. Since then. % % % THE E+D % % % ./ %% teased. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. #verything around her felt fresh and new. #ventually. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond. 4I7$ nights. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. +I don&t think so. he stopped suddenly. oomph.endal stood up. As for .ollow -ueenie and ./ . -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. . +She might change her mind after she hears you play. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine./ said ./ . +6ot at all. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high.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. +>eah.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand.endal. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as .endal.endal laughed. a new and confident %% was born. she wanted to become a teacher. 4ere I with thee.endal sat back down.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before.. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away.&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night./ As 9rad turned to leave. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier./ said ./ +Stick around after your set.
by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.or#ation and e2cerpts .ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories . and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# . you are under age 2.or her anthology My Story is Out %.
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