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by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Copyright 2012 by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Cover and Book Design: Publishing yndicate !dited by "heresa !lders Published by Publishing yndicate at #ash$ords Print !dition % B& '()*0*')+0,02*1*Digital !dition % B& '()*0*'*)+0,02*2*0 Library o. Congress Control &u#ber 2012'-0')) All rights reserved/ Thank you for downloading this free e-book. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Smashwords.com, where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support. Published in the 0nited tates by Publishing yndicate P1 Bo2 ,0( 1rangevale3 Cali.ornia '+,,2 http !!www."ublishingSyndicate.com This book is dedicated to the young poets and dreamers of the world.
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops all.” #mily $ickinson
“My river runs to thee: Blue sea, wilt welcome me ” The words lingered in %%&s ears, compelling her lips to move along the edges of the syllables. The coffee shop was bathed in dim light, e'cept for the spotlight that held the woman centered on stage as she captured the packed crowd with #mily $ickinson&s poetry. %% sat at a table off in a corner by herself, her cobalt blue journal opened wide. She glanced down at the pages of rhymes and rhythmic phrases she&d never once shared with another human being. Though she&d been attending The Spot&s (riday night open readings since her freshman year at private school, %% never before had come to fulfill a class assignment. That would have mi'ed business with pleasure. )nfortunately, that was what she was doing at this very moment* mi'ing business with pleasure. +,y river waits reply. -h sea, look graciously./ The woman reciting these words was %%&s creative writing teacher, ,rs. 0lark. She&d re1uired the class to attend a poetry reading dedicated to #mily $ickinson. -ne by one, other students took the stage to read a poem from $ickinson&s body of work. Thankfully, this wasn&t mandatory, so %% could sit 1uietly in the corner and blend in with the crowd, as if she weren&t even there. She was a fan of $ickinson, of course, but not enough of a fan to brave the stage and read a poem outloud to the audience. 2er stage fright always got the best of her. The host of the open reading, a short man wearing s1uare black-framed glasses who worked the coffee counter during the day, took the microphone and e'pressed his thanks for the large turnout. %% remembered he&d once taken her for a boy. Since she wore her hair cut short, with bleached-blond tips, usually board-stiff from gobs of gel, her soft tomboyish appearance confused him and he&d mistakenly called her +sir./ %% had simply blinked back at him. 2e&d immediately recogni3ed his mistake and offered her numerous apologies, along with a free cappuccino. She dismissed it as a misunderstanding, knowing he hadn&t done it on purpose. -thers had made far harsher comments about her ambiguous appearance before, and not one of those people had ever offered her a fresh cappuccino to save face. 4hen the winning performance of the night was announced, %% wasn&t the least bit surprised to see one of the students in her own writing class walk up on stage, smiling widely in her sunshine-colored get-up. 2er name was -livia. -livia 5reen. 6ow that&s a writer&s name, thought %%. ,uch more colorful than her own cow-milking farmhand name of %osephine %enkins. 4hen she was a child, she&d responded to everything from %osie to %o, but decided to call herself %% before she came to Sampson. She believed that going by her initials introduced
elements of curiosity and originality, themes she liked to showcase at the forefront of her personality. After she left the coffee house, %% shuffled along the broken sidewalk toward campus. As she walked her flip-flops, smacking against her heels, kept up a soothing beat. She reali3ed if she sped up just a bit, the beat would change. She tucked her journal under her left arm like a tightly kept secret. She wondered if she would ever muster up enough courage to step up on that stage and share such secrets with the world. Though she knew deep inside that she was as talented as the rest, a self-deprecating fear constantly gripped at her sides and held her back. A rumble echoed in the distance. The night&s predicted thunderstorm grew closer. %% leaned against a flickering lamppost, and then slid down to the sidewalk. 2er blueberry-colored sweatshirt itched against her back as she reached into her baggy shorts for her pen. She chewed on its end for a moment, as words played in her head. 7ightning flashed, making its mark on the sky. Then a thunderous crash shook the air. %% focused her attention back onto the blank page in her journal. She scratched out the words in her nearly illegible penmanship !"A# $%" &'M()" *$#+, T'%,, -%A&&-M'%. yet, undenia/ly T$#T-$-& *hen 'T #"A0H"& TH" H"A#T in my chest, causing 'T T$ ($-%+ *hen 'T T#A1")& TH" )'MB& of my /ody, causing TH"M T$ T#"MB)" *hen 'T &""(& into my mind, causing TH$-.HT& T$ &0ATT"# *hen 'T +*"))& in the pit of my stomach, causing 'T T$ &('% $%" &'M()" *$#+2 "%+)"&& "3'&T"%0" 0an4t ' 5ust "#A&" 'T !#$M M, M'%+ 8aindrops began to spot the page, smudging the ink. %% tilted her head, and with her eyes tightly shut let the water tickle her face. If she sat there long enough, she hoped the rain would wash away all of her fear. A smooth black 9,4 slowed and stopped at the curb beside her. Though the windows were tinted, %% knew who was behind the wheel. :ueenie ,c9ride, heiress to the throne of the ,c9ride #state, rolled down the window. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back into a baseball cap and her almond colored eyes were barely visible in the darkness. She happily wore her usual smug e'pression on her long face. It somehow lent her the appearance of a seasoned woman, someone aware of the comple'ities of life. ;nown in <irginia as the con1uerors of the cotton industry, the ,c9ride family could trace their lineage back to before the 0ivil 4ar. They owned a plantation where slaves once had worked their lands. :ueenie despised her family roots and everything they stood for. 2er revenge was to spend her parents& money as frivolously as possible. -f course, there was the added shock value of being a lesbian. It wasn&t the only thing that she and %% had in common, but it planted the seed from which their friendship grew. +4hat are you doing=/ :ueenie asked in an accusatory tone. +Are you finding yourself again=/ +I&m e'ercising my right of creative e'pression./ +0are if I interrupt=/
+$o I have a choice=/ +6ot if you want a ride back to school./ %% reluctantly closed her journal and climbed into the front seat. :ueenie hit a button on the radio that sent the Indigo 5irls blaring in surround sound. +6ew speakers,/ :ueenie yelled above the music, pointing to the back of the car. As they headed on to the school grounds, :ueenie began to sing. 4ithin seconds, %% joined in and their voices blended with the music. They entered the conservative bubble of Sampson Academy with :ueenie riding the high of buying her new state-of-the-art speakers at her parents& e'pense while %% tried desperately to erase the word fear from her mind.
4ith the rain falling outside her open window, ;endal ,c0arthy was finding it hard to concentrate on #mily $ickinson&s poetry. She lay on her stomach, staring at the words on the page as if they were written in 5reek. (or some reason, school was something that had never been easy for her. She had to study hard just to keep a 9 average. In public school, she&d coasted easily. )nfortunately, when she transferred to Sampson Academy during her freshman year, ;endal discovered she wasn&t prepared for the serious kind of studying that private high school courses re1uired. $uring the better part of her junior year, her grade point average slipped so low her parents had threatened to pull her out of Sampson altogether. If she wanted to graduate with the rest of her class, ;endal had no other choice but to seek help. 4ith a little tutoring on the side and an obligatory willingness to do her homework instead of partying, she managed to pull her grades back up. 2er hardest class this semester was 4omen&s 7iterature, and she&d decided to get some help after she received a low grade on an essay assignment. ;endal pulled her small frame off the bed and stood in front of the full-length mirror, which hung between the two single beds in her room. 2er hair was cut in a layered angle just below her neckline and was the color of auburn leaves preparing to fall. The greenish-blue tint of her eyes seemed to change color depending upon the way the light hit them. 2er face was heartshaped with a slight curve angling along her cheekbones. She was pretty and she&d always known she was pretty. 5ood genes her mother had told her, you were blessed with a good-looks gene. ;endal sighed. The fact that she was beautiful used to satisfy her. At one point it had been enough. 9ut she&d grown tired of it somewhere along the way. This was her senior year at Sampson and she felt as if something was missing, some unforgettable e'perience that would help her figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. A vacant space e'isted inside of her and nothing had been able to fill it, not cheerleading, not her friends, not her looks, not even her popularity. 6othing. She could hear the rest of the girls of $eacon 2all running around the dorm getting ready to venture out for the night. Their vivacious laughter only reminded her that she wouldn&t be joining them. Instead of partaking in common adolescent delin1uencies with the rest of the students at Sampson, she and some random tutor were going to be nose-deep in #mily $ickinson.
The door to her room swung open. 0hristine, her roommate and fellow cheerleader, barged in and s1uealed, +4e&re getting ready to go out. 0ome join./ ;endal hissed at the re1uest. +I probably shouldn&t show up late to a tutoring session,/ she said smartly. +>ou&re such a good student. >ou do know that ;yan is going to be at this party, right=/ +>es, you only told me a billion times at dinner./ +>ou sure you can&t skip this=/ +>es, so 1uit asking./ +(ine,/ 0hristine raised her hand into the air. +2appy studying, then. And um*don&t wait up for me./ ;endal fought the overwhelming urge to join everyone in the ne't room and fill her ears with the latest school gossip*until she spotted the open book out of the corner of her eye. 2er stomach turned with guilt. After gathering her things, she pulled #mily $ickinson off the bed and slid the book of poetry into her backpack. She left the dorm as fast as she could, knowing that if she lingered any longer she might get swept up in the commotion. The rain had slowed to a dri33le and the mild wind felt cool against her cheeks. She crossed the soggy lawn listening to the sounds of the campus come alive in the damp air. Sampson Academy was a small private high school with a small-town feel. It took only about five minutes to walk across the entire campus. ;endal took one last look across the 1uad toward her dorm and then up the road at ,arlon 2all, the dorm where the all the soccer players lived and where all her friends would be hanging out. She ga3ed longingly at the colonial building until she felt her backpack rub against her shoulder, reminding her that #mily $ickinson was waiting for her.
+A hundred and ten dollars for a new pair of 6ike shoes=/ %% dribbled the basketball between her legs. +I can&t believe you spent that much./ +Actually, I got a discount because I bought them online,/ :ueenie e'plained. She was standing under the basket waiting for %% to shoot the ball. +9esides, I needed to improve my vertical./ +The most technically advanced 6ikes couldn&t help you with your vertical./ %% knew full well that at si' feet tall, :ueenie didn&t need any help jumping in order to get a clear shot at the basket. +It&s my parents& money, so what do you care=/ +I don&t./ +5ood. Shoot the ball./ %% launched the ball into the air and it swished through the net. :ueenie caught it and passed it back. %% dribbled to the foul line, crossed over and shot again. The ball sank gracefully through the hoop. +0an&t stop me tonight./ she shouted, as she peeked at the clock on the wall. 2er heart sank instantly. +)h oh./ +4hat=/ :ueenie asked, as she laid the ball up easily against the backboard.
%% picked up her cell phone to check her calendar. +I completely forgot. I&m supposed to be tutoring at the library right now./ +So you&re late, don&t go./ %% already was sprawled on the floor, struggling to untie the knots in her shoes. +I can&t just skip it. )nlike you, I have to work for my money./ +I resent that,/ :ueenie said, s1uee3ing the basketball with both hands. +It takes hard work to ask my parents for money. It re1uires a certain skill, persistence and the wit of a seasoned con artist./ +-h, yeah, I&m sure it must be a struggle to go through life as a ,c9ride./ %% slid one leg into her warm-ups, trying to shove her things into her gym bag at the same time. :ueenie stepped over to let %% use her lanky frame for support. +I can&t help it if my parents are incredibly wealthy,/ she said. +At least I get to reap the benefits./ +7ucky you./ +So what illiterate soccer player are you tutoring tonight, anyway=/ %% slipped her flip-flops on and took the ball from :ueenie&s hands. +6o soccer player tonight. I drew the hot ticket in the lottery this time./ +0heerleader=/ %% nodded. +Seriously= 4ho=/ +6one other than the homecoming 1ueen herself, T2# ;endal ,c0arthy./ :ueenie raised an eyebrow. +4ell, then, you best get a move on. $on&t want to keep little ,iss ,c0arthy waiting./ +I&m sure she&s trembling with anticipation./ %% threw on her navy baseball cap and slung her gym bag over her shoulder. +$o me a favor and stay out of trouble tonight, will you= 4e have an early practice tomorrow./ +5ee, okay, ,om. I&ll be good, I promise./ %% ignored :ueenie&s retort and hurried out of the athletic center. It was a 1uarter past nine and she was supposed to have been at the library at e'actly ? p.m. to meet ;endal. She sped up her pace as she crossed the street and headed across the lawn. The rain-soaked grass dampened her socks and she wished she&d been wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops. -ther students passed her, giggling and laughing. The weekend had begun. ,aintaining a solid reputation had become an essential way of life at Sampson Academy. %% had yet to step foot into a soccer party, or even the boys& dormitory for that matter. She and her basketball teammates had formed their own cli1ue to help deal with the stereotypes that came with being female athletes at a private school full of over-privileged kids. $uring her freshman year, %% had entertained the idea of joining a few campus organi3ations because she longed to be a part of something other than basketball. 9ut :ueenie had steered her away from anything and everything superficial. So %% belonged to a group of non-conformists made up of straight-edged kids who neither drank nor smoked, nor cheated on tests. Some were athletes, some social outcasts, and some were studious kids who, like %%, just didn&t fit the so-called Sampson student profile. There was a certain pride in being part of that group, something that said, +I don&t need to fit in or be popular./ :ueenie had instilled that pride in %%, and she felt forever in :ueenie&s debt. The "age 7ibrary was 1uieter than the campus outside. As its air of calm eased into her ears, %% felt her body rela'. She searched around the room, filled with tables and countless rows of books. It wasn&t hard to spot ;endal. She was the only other student in the library and she was
endal&s frustration. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from. right=/ . right=/ .y friend. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over . +4ell. +I didn&t mean anything by that.endal. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out./ . +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. I can actually read and write somewhat well. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. +I&m really sorry. I&d give anything to be able to do that. +The soccer team and I go way back. I might as well be reading a foreign language. ./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in./ %% e'tended her hand. She ran her hand through her hair again. +I&ve seen you around school. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time./ +That&s what I thought. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. +I was just joking.endal nodded. +It&s something I have had to work harder at. So. is like that.sitting at the farthest table from the door. I tutor a lot of different people.endal&s left shoulder. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. +I&m sorry. or when . I&m %%. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. ne't to the biography section.endal confessed. a little shamefully.endal.s./ +Seriously though./ said %%.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. :ueenie./ %% understood ./ +./ said . +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. >ou&re ./ .endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously. and since she was a writer herself. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. go to class and pass a test without even studying. It&s a completely different kind of reality. I&m completely lost. +4ell. though she couldn&t relate to it. 4hen we discuss a poem in class./ ./ .endal emitted a dramatic groan.endal said 1uickly. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. #veryone needs help now and then.s. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now./ she said breathlessly. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table./ %% smiled. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans./ +I guess I never looked at it that way./ +It&s okay. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. 0hin e'plains what a poem means. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late.
long sleep. fully aware that . +It smells like strawberries or something like that. looking up from the book. +A long./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. +%ust so we can read it together. +I mean./ +It seems like a waste of time. .endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. along with a few others for over an hour./ They discussed the poem at length. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice./ . a famous sleep. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ %% picked at the page with her fingers./ . not once look up for noon .aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me./ %% rambled on. she&s talking about death. An independent one. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said./ +5ood. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. +8ead the last two lines. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. +.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. It distracted her. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid.endal said. though. There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves. pointing at the page. +So./ +To bask centuries away. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her./ She paused and looked up from the page. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell./ said %%. 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. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally. . . %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. See./ +Thanks.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. That makes no show for dawn./ said %%./ %% heard herself say. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. +>ou smell nice./ she said. . bask centuries away ./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ . (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously./ +)m*thanks. +It isn&t as important as you might think./ she said. 6ow you&re reading between the lines.+)nfortunately. to break the ensuing awkward silence. She was nervous for some reason and for a second she forgot why she was even in the library until she saw the book of poetry open in front of them. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily. long sleep.endal was staring at her./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. +I don&t think that matters.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. like fruity or something. .endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. . you know./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . %% looked up from the page. right= A long. +-kay. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others./ . Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet.
c0arthy up close. remember=/ +4ell. same time.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. . +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. +I&ll see you ne't session./ . She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal.endal.endal was staring at her again. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. same time. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. for instance. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. we&re even then./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to ./ +"ossibly. recalling the tidbits of conversation./ said %%./ +In what way=/ +4ell. -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. . She was more than beautiful. letting the sound of ./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that ./ said . +I should get back to my dorm. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love.endal .endal. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. 2e said you were one of the best./ she said finally. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing./ %% studied her.endal accidentally brushed against her. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar.endal asked./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though.endal&s folder. 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. +4hat=/ . It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen ./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. as if she were keeping a secret. and the warm sensation she felt whenever . +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. though she could hear the television in the common room. She blinked and looked away. you know. %% stood still for half a second longer. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor. laughing. +Same place.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background.endal said. ./ +>eah. The dorm room was empty when %% entered. +6othing. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience./ +I didn&t think that.nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. slid her hat on backwards. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head./ she said. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader. e'cept I&ll be on time. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here. >ou said it yourself./ %% admitted. . +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. It was her turn to look away this time.
sitting side by side.endal appeared in %%&s mind./ said %%. 4ild nights. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space./ %% looked at her skeptically. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. Beyond your eyes. +4hat=/ .A number two pencil. 4hen %% opened her eyes. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. . a moment. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . 4ild nights. Sitting with her legs crossed. an image of . ' see it . with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed.endal asked. a /reath A second to say the words that never leave your lips And then it4s gone )eaving /ehind a sensation Tingling in my heart )ingering in the air Ma6ing me wish That the moment never ended Ma6ing me hope To feel it again But ' imagine That ne7t time The words will flow The moment will last The /reathing will speed And emotions will reveal *hat lies patiently Beyond your eyes 4hen she finished. the writer inside of her had taken hold. fell out from between the pages./ +6o. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. . CHAPTER # +4ild nights. 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. %% sat back and admired her work. a feeling. no. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. +4ild nights. . %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh.endal raised her voice slightly. 8ead it with more enthusiasm.
studying./ %% held back her sigh of relief.endal asked. she would have never dared to do what she had just done. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying./ %% shifted in her chair. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended.endal looked on in ama3ement. %% stood up and began clapping loudly. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . 4hat do you think it means=/ . 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester. +>es.endal opened her mouth to begin. She stood up firm and bellowed./ said %%. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing.endal. slowly releasing . 9ut as soon as ./ said %%. wild night. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . haven&t they=/ .endal sighed. e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair. that was much better.endal&s eyes./ %% said after a moment. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury./ +I know.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. give it a little more oomph. +4I7$ nights. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. +See.endal began reciting the poem. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. +4ow./ . studying. done with the chart. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. 4as she at a party or something=/ +.&/ said .endal&s hand and pushed it away./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask. >ou&ll see./ she said.endal laughed./ %% watched closely as . +-kay. . +So back to those @wild nights. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word.endal&s hand. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. +#'cept this time./ %% insisted./ %% forced a smile. studying. they&ve been enjoyable./ +$ickinson is the beginning. her hair. %% playfully grabbed hold of . +I&m just doing the poem justice. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table. 4ere I with thee. As soon as she finished.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. done with the compass. even though her stomach was in knots.endal. Thanks to you. And it was all because of . +(utile the winds to a heart in port. 4I7$ nights. studying./ she said. +See the difference=/ +>eah. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry.endal./ +Sure. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy./ . %% covered the page with her hands./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. It&s been two weeks of studying./ .
/ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion./ +I don&t know./ :ueenie snorted. slightly afraid of what . a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. outside the boundaries of reality. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong./ They stared at one another. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender./ She pointed to . they&d have plenty of @wild nights. CHAPTER $ +So. but paused for a moment./ %% paused. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock./ she said finally. +7ook./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked.endal&s eyes widened./ +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./ %% began./ +And when she got there. She read the poem over again. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever.endal studied the words on the page. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. but wild as in overwhelming. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about.endal might say in return./ . 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. Instead they continued talking./ +#'actly. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. She&s just e'pressing love. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell. +I do think it&s possible. the winds were useless to her. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. . another woman.endal&s heart. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. pretending to buff her nails. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. . both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing. +4ell.&/ %% laughed.
/ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity. In fact. I don&t even know her.. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player.+0ute. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive./ %% insisted.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting./ %% said. Though it was rumored that . +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits.elly $ibble. cocking her head to one side. I mean./ +She&s not what she seems./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked./ %% warned. An'iety itched in her stomach. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. $uring her sophomore year.elly that she was gay and how she felt. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. She&s nice./ she said./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance. +6o. +$on&t look at me like that./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. %% had considered it. and . As she was about to respond with her own witty comment. That doesn&t mean I like her. please=/ +(ine./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. yes. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. >ou like her. I don&t know. %% soon fell into a depression. +0an we talk about something else. she spotted .endal . %% made the mistake of telling ./ +>eah. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. 4ith :ueenie&s help. if you say so. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. She remained steadfast.endal . +6ot even close.elly transferred to another school the following semester./ +So=/ +So. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. . This is T2# . (rom that point on.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. . and she longed to change the subject. I happen to think she&s nice./ Ah./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. grimacing from the soreness. and regain her sense of self. 9ut %% knew this was different. peppering her eggs with hot sauce./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. +I don&t believe it./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher.&/ +So.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now.c0arthy./ +-. but you used the word @nice. she&s*she&s different. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named . +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. too.
#very single girl at the table had looked at her as if she were an illegal immigrant who&d dared to cross the border without a valid passport. the drama club.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt.endal looked down at her runny eggs. the art club. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. +Ahem. +#'cuse me. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back. +$efinitely. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. hung neatly at her hips. (or once.endal&s tray. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only.endal sat down across from her. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. I just choose to eat healthy.. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. she finally understood what her teacher was talking about and was able to contribute to class discussions instead of doodling in her notebook like she had since the beginning of the semester. the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal picked at her eggs.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt./ 0hristine motioned to . cooked over-easy./ .endal was on a natural high./ -f course I didn&t know that. +I eat. :ueenie was giving her that look. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. +At least I eat. 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./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel. complemented with potatoes and bacon. %%% ./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. and . and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. (eeling defeated. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . 2er school uniform. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. %% had thought. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism./ she retorted./ ./ %% snapped out of her da3e. . the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. a jacket and skirt combination.
endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate./ +It&s so obvious.endal. Three. 9ut she had stared back at %%. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. 2e counted silently. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. She felt di33y and lightheaded. (our. I just never suspected. +0&mon. giving her knots in her stomach. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. She&s on the basketball team. I&d just be careful if I were you. no. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. >ou&ve probably seen her around school.endal said 1uickly. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. So is half of the basketball team. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session.endal picked up a piece of bacon./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. or she might start te'ting you.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand./ she gasped. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off./ +She helps me with homework./ +4ell. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. -ne. and about her own response. 9ut if %% was gay. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot./ 0hristine continued. She had suspected that %% was different somehow./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. +I&m not naAve. . look at your track record. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. +She&s gay. and ./ +5od. I mean./ . 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. a lesbian. +$on&t give her your phone number. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot.endal had caught her staring. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her. that&s it. That&s what a tutor does./ . +It&s %% something or other./ . :ueenie or something. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events.endal immediately thought of them sitting at the table in the library where she and %% usually shared a book of poetry and how she&d accidentally brushed up against %% on more than one occasion over the past couple of weeks. then the girl who spit when she talked. about the feeling of their locked hands. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . . .+Speaking of which. Two.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. CHAPTER & . (ive./ 0hristine advised.
This was his last season of his high school career. 2e breathed heavily. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus. +2ey. +"erfect./ ./ .yan sat up and smiled slyly. Someone like . plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. popular./ %ason said. #verything in his life was set to high standards. Sweat began to form on his brow. you know. beautiful. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team.ya 9rooks. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored.yan&s soccer teammates. There was one more thing he needed though. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. but he&d never admit that. #ven for you.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts.c0arthy= T2# . And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. %ason. but not too smart. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. 2e had always set his goals high. and began to do sit ups. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. ./ +. I think it&s time . and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. 2e had the perfect reputation. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. likeable.c0arthy=/ +>es. . She didn&t have a boyfriend. 2e had to perform well. +I told 0hristine. now stood over him. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason. where true dedication and hard work could get you. one piece to make the pu33le complete. 2e had the perfect body. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. +$efinitely./ . 2e needed the perfect girl. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about. . The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work./ %ason said. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country. watching himself in the mirror.endal . Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e.endal . 9ut he&d achieved a great deal.yan replied between reps. The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better. . 7ack of confidence was the other. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat.c0arthy. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror.endal . "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. a captain on the soccer team.yan wanted someone less brainy.endal .yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition.endal . >ou up for it=/ -ne of . A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. Then he sank to the ground. from his grades to the girls he dated.c0arthy.
2er mother also was a teacher. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. of course. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. 9ut with a little convincing from . they eventually came around. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. %% shook her head in disbelief. buddy. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. 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.c0arthy.+This is me you&re talking to. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place./ he said./ . . . by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. he&d learned to live with the situation. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. especially not . by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. was not the reason. It was early %une.endal . It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. That. :ueenie&s mother. :ueenie promised. About two years earlier her father had threatened to disown her after her mother caught :ueenie in the guest bedroom kissing a female member of the cleaning staff. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. She and her family were close.rs. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper.c9ride. 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./ +4hatever you say. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. a suburb of 8ichmond. %% remembered the night clearly. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. As far as %% knew. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. Sometimes it was almost too much. All it takes is a little bit of charm. +7et&s go.onopoly. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. It would be an affair to remember. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%.
years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. it&s not that. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk./ %% knew this. 2er father. it&s not that. %% remembered. it&s not something anyone did. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. I&d still be this way.om. %% grew increasingly reserved. +I know you are confused. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat./ She handed over the book. 4ith each passing day./ %%&s eyes widened. wide-eyed. even though I know you both will be disappointed.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. and shook her head. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. in her bed each night. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. +6o. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. the worry and the confusion. the night had come. +I have to tell you something.om./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. I&ve known since the third grade. and when it was time to say the e'act words. yet when she needed them the most. she couldn&t find them. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. didn&t know the real her. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. +Something I am afraid to say. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried./ . (inally. so caring and so sincere. to tell her family. +I could check with the paper. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. but this might help./ %% wanted to make her understand. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. Something that I have to say.om. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. all those boys around. She could barely swallow her potatoes. being untrue to both herself and them. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart.+%osie. It was eating her alive. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. 8oast beef and vegetables. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. I&ve always known. no designated date or time. her words coming slowly. herself. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. 2er mother remained composed. maybe an internship. +6o. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. . +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. She had always known this. eating dinner. It&s just something I am. %% had rushed after her. $ifferent $aughters. . hoping it would help her parents understand. and knew there was no going back. There was no plan. you can tell us anything. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. about two weeks after she@d arrived home./ Silence followed./ she continued.
and learned to look at %% through different eyes. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it.endal besides the obvious. :ueenie. that she was a cheerleader. 2er father. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. 2onest.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome./ +I know. . They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. It&s nothing. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. . was incredibly beautiful and popular. remained completely calm. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about .endal./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. %% craved more./ . like what was her biggest fear. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. +I&m having the time of my life. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. on the other hand. and needed help with her schoolwork. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. She wanted to get inside . she felt satisfied.endal danced her way in. though he still held onto his own world views. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. maybe this wasn&t real either. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again./ she said proudly.endal&s head. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. and wished she were there to witness it. (or some reason. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me./ :ueenie said blandly. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional. It wasn&t real./ +2ey. who was set in his ways. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. %% laughed. Then her mind drifted again and . Then again. As long as she had his love and support. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. and they didn&t speak for days. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. where would she go and why. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to.2er mother continued to cry. and that was that. . and her father. It was almost overwhelming. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society.aybe :ueenie was right. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. This sparked an intense argument between them. %% had yet to learn anything more about . +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. 2e said he loved her no matter what. %% had never known anyone like her. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television.
perfect for showing off his toned body. It was a drinking card game. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked. why not. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. -f course. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. . 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point.endal. she began to think about . %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down. +. .yan motioned for her to join him. +Too much. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. 9y the time . Instinctively. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on .yan Stevens. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. +7et&s move to the couch./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. +2ere.endal knew instantly who he was. . uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. .y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie./ . 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest./ said . this wasn&t a regular card game.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . I gotta go. 2e was cute. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. She&d had previous brief conversations with ./ . 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins.endal finally won her first hand. you. after they were alone. coded look with his friends. .+7ook. said. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. who one by one left the room.endal stood there with her hands on her hips.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him. she was drunk.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. the captain of the soccer team.endal. 2ave fun. . .yan. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. silent. +It&s an easy game. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. She forced a smile. .endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as .endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. +Sure. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid./ he said sweetly. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. .yan. +2ey.yan suggested. The dorm room overflowed with people.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. I&ll see you Sunday. She finally threw up her hands./ :ueenie said an'iously. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand.
shielding her eyes. She read some intriguing online articles./ . +I totally didn&t see you./ . making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. .c0arthy was an enigma. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. seeing no movement. )nable to distract herself from thinking of ./ he said. Stuck in thought. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. Then. 2is mind worked feverishly. I think it&s time we got to know each other better.endal .endal . a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her. 4hoa. beaming. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that. At first. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened.endal .endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'. +Are you okay=/ %% asked. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going./ . +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in .yan called after her. The truth was. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. . patting the cushion again. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks. leaning in closer. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. wait a second.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. +2ey. +I want to talk to you. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. She tingled with drunkenness. +0ome sit over here. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her.yan to inch up in his seat. Soon. I just do. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. turning and walking out of the room. +I don&t know. suddenly./ . and plowed forward over the grass. that&s three years too late. It bothered her to know that ./ 2e smiled widely.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms.patting the saggy cushion beside him./ . %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked. but the girl spun around. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# .c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room.endal.endal&s voice caused . And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm./ +4ell. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. +2i. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips./ said %%. She kept her head down. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her.endal told him.endal yelled. She stepped aside before they collided.
/ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah.endal. +I need to go home./ +-h. feeling as if .yan sitting on the ugly couch./ +I&ll walk you.endal./ said %%./ . +Are you cold=/ ./ +I can think of lots of other things to do./ +./ .endal rolled her eyes. and suddenly blurted out. making a face. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players.y little world=/ . +>eah. %% studied her. of course. once they reached the sidewalk. that&s the one. 6ot life./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. reaching forward and taking . then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town.endal broke into a fit of laughter./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk./ +4hatever. remember. . +I&m sorry for practically running into you./ %% told her./ +I&m serious.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet. +I love it there. +Thanks for walking me home. She turned around to get a look at her behind./ +It&s the grass.endal&s hands in hers. +7et me help you up. yeah. I&ve had a rough night./ . They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself./ %% maintained./ +"oetry is life. +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it. +I think I sat in something wet./ She pictured . They felt fro3en. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself. +5uys are such idiots. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her./ +If you are so against them. It&s a great place to go and just kick back./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with.endal stopped walking. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time.endal laughed again./ said .endal asked defensively./ +-kay. #very month or so they have a band come and play./ . even though she was shivering. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ said . 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. ./ %% said./ %% perked up. +It&s damp from the dew. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening. rather than at her. after a moment./ . #mily $ickinson. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol.endal shook her head. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library. It&s ridiculous.endal was looking through her. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started./ .aybe hoods should be banned as well.endal said.
+./ +I&m not afraid of you./ +6o. +9ut I don&t want to offend you.endal.endal flashed a 1uick smile. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so. I&ll understand.endal fidgeted. 2er stride was slight and unsteady./ It ama3ed %% that .endal hesitated. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%./ . 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. ending the lull in the conversation./ . .endal said. Then she thought of .endal insisted as she took a step toward %%. something ./ +-kay then./ +Ask away. then turned and walked toward the dorm./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind./ .endal had such a hard time saying the word. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness. +I was just curious. then paused briefly.endal had picked up on the first night they met. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen.endal said. She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. +0onsider yourself cultured then. +>ou are an incredible tutor. just because of rumors. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then./ said . In that moment./ . let alone get to know her. twisting her thumbs into her palms. I was just curious. right. like you before. . really. then yes. I&m fine. That certainly would have been awkward. well. +I want to ask you something. I&ve never known anyone who was. I am. 9ut she was kind and sincere. +I should go to bed. with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. it&s fine.yan again./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night./ %% didn&t press the issue. It wouldn&t bother me at all./ she said. I&m an open book. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. She played with her fingers./ %% told her. +6o. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm./ %% could only imagine what . rewording her 1uestion. 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. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. smug and moronic./ ./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back. She suddenly felt ashamed. +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of. She laughed out loud./ +4ell./ .endal&s roommate had said about her.
"uddles blocked her path. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. The streets are empty. e7cept for fog hovering a/ove the surface &mells of hot tar and muggy air fill my nostrils as #aindrops the si8e of mini water /alloons /ounce off My 5ac6et. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. ' stomp through them. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. and though she tried to avoid them. She gathered up her pen. The town was deserted. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. and began to scribble. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. . +It&s not that scary. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. The rain had ceased. along with her thoughts. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. -nce across the tracks. %% entered the center of town. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. She headed up the sidewalk.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. There was a bench on the sidewalk. Muddy puddles stand in my path. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. <irginia. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain.
what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. +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. 2ello. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. no.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich. but I&m not going to date someone . and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her.yan&s not only good looking. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about .endal sifted through her dresser drawers. #very time it rained. She decided that if . deep down. .endal said. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. please./ . I decided to leave.yan for a while. . +So=/ +So. like you weren&t in rare form either. then her true colors would already have shown./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. The heavy air turned light./ 0hristine replied.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. +I hate to break it to you. %% recalled . not looking for anything in particular.endal .endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . 9ut. 4hether good or bad./ +. +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. . she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. +It&s called a mask.endal was different.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. +-h. +. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. . I can honestly say that I wasn&t./ +)m.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich. 2er empty stomach grumbled. She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . +>ou look ridiculous.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips.endal. watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain. . 5ood different. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch. %% believed that . It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. +Tempting as it was. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment./ As she spoke .c0arthy. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. %% peered along the edges of the street. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn.endal. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon.
#veryone knows that. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday.endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. she would change the subject. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. she thought.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money.yan&s a conceited moron./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to .endal. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents. Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. thank you. 9ut here they were. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party. They practically flip the entire boat. +I like to think I have higher standards than that. the couch monster. +>ou should have seen my father. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning./ she said. finishing up on the treadmill./ . +7ook. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. +I won&t regret not hooking up with .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. (un. ./ -verboard. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs. thought %%.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. The last thing she needed was another party./ 0hristine continued. +4e are young.endal. .endal who was still spread out on the floor.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction./ said :ueenie. +I know ./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely. complaining that she was not having enough fun. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family. and tugged the back of . 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. . 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. After the game was over./ said 0hristine. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises. . +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.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. She left . another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t./ said . That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately.yan. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with 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./ +Trust me. admiring the logo on the front. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason.
the fanciest ballroom*ugh. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all./ . that&s all. They need a wakeup call. +I know. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook. why not. the best caterer. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. sending a burst of steam into the air. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was./ %% responded. +I bet we could just bring some in. +5ood. +>ou know what they say. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around./ +Sauna session and bacon. +Sure.c9rides./ +6o. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. I&m not familiar with that particular saying./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side./ :ueenie said into the heavy air./ :ueenie replied. +I&m sorry. I like the combination. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. but to wake them up. 6ot for me. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones./ +These are the ./ %% managed between breaths. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. I ran into her on (riday night. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. +I just need to do it. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. with one more to go.endal would not come up. not e'actly. +So. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. she couldn&t tell for sure./ %% added in an infomercial voice. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time./ +The ama3ing sauna. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. hoping that the topic of . then. They cannot and will not hear me. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. she shouldn&t have. It won&t matter. it makes me sick. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. They don&t know any other way. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. She knew as soon as she said it./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell./ +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. resting her head on one elbow./ (or a brief moment./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. I guess. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. Steam rose up around them.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness./ she said gently./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face. >eah.
which made the library the only logical option./ . her cheeks dotted with sweat./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. The gay 1uestion. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. but she asked me the 1uestion. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. conservative southern town. it&s getting hot in here./ %% turned her head and muttered./ %% scolded. . So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay./ +-h. and then stopped. +6othing./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls. +She was ./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and .endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. silly. +4hat=/ %% asked./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. >ou always fall for the straight girls. They were just little crushes. . 4e&ll see if she shows up. +>ou&ll never believe this. I mean./ +4ell that didn&t take long./ %% said again. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special./ +0ute. The 1uestion. .y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. she&s straight. no. +%ust tell me. That&s all. +So. I caught myself./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small./ +:ueenie.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. +I told her the truth./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home. +I just think you should be careful./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that . yes. She asked me if I&m gay. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything./ +$on&t do that. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now./ said %%. nothing serious./ :ueenie started to say something else.endal&s engaging laughter. +6o. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious. but she spun around and fell. +The 1uestion./ +That&s priceless./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. Thankfully though. +It was bound to happen sooner than later. ./ :ueenie agreed. I literally ran into her. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. she seemed okay with it. (or crying out loud.
/ +I don&t care what it&s called. +She&s not interested in me like that. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. +It&s true. ./ +7ook. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough. >ou&re being ridiculous. ./ ./ +Stick to what you know best. That&s something that isn&t going to change. so I like her./ +4hat do you want. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun./ said :ueenie. +2ey. what they really want is a guy. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. Then. after their curiosity wears off./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. +7et&s get out of here. The whole thing is just ridiculous. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that. . +-kay. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face. 9e careful./ %% groaned. +I knew you liked her. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy ./ %% sighed.iss ./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. +I know you like her.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. but it . There&s this energy between us. 1uite frankly. I&ve been there. really./ +6o. +I did mean half of what I said in there./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt./ %% began to massage her forehead. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body./ :ueenie continued./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction. It&s called the science e'periment. +The least you can do is admit that much. +She&s a cheerleader after all./ +>ou have nothing to worry about./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. you don&t. I&m about to sweat away to nothing./ :ueenie said pointedly./ :ueenie sat up. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead. I can&t e'plain./ +That she is./ :ueenie echoed./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end. shielding her eyes. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt./ +"reposterous./ +I hardly even know her. unabashed. isn&t going to happen. +I knew it./ +:ueenie. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. +>ou know how straight girls work.
endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. 2ey. getting pummeled five to nothing./ :ueenie insisted./ %ason remarked.yan said. 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.endal .yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber. +It&s not without merit. As a result. 2e was pushing himself to the limit./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top./ %ason warned as he watched . wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong./ %ason concluded after a moment. +2ey.yan glared at him.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit./ %% frowned./ %ason laughed.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. . 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. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself. straightening up. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. 2e looked absolutely horrible. .+>ou know.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. 2is skin was e'tremely pale. %ason gritted his teeth. +$id you hook up with her=/ . +I thought so. +>ou don&t look so good. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. it was also incredibly appealing. . his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. +4hat&s your problem=/ . the lowest-seeded team in their division.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. +#ven for you. >ou know. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. 8ela'. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians. 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. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. And to make matters worse. . like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. +Thought that she was out of your league. +I&m fine./ . 2e started working his triceps. It was because he was frustrated. don&t push it. ./ +8ela'. ./ CHAPTER . It was true. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders.yan from the bench beside him./ ./ . they had lost the game.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench.
yan was confident that he would get another shot.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. Something else was aching inside him. . 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. that&s all./ . 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. drinking refillable bottles of water./ %ason said.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. It was status. but there was something missing. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. +0atch you later then.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene.T<&s The 8eal 4orld. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and ./ +I hear ya.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. .yan&s salty mood. he pushed through the pain. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much./ he said between breaths. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor.. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk./ +All right. 0hristine got home late. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. CHAPTER ! . Sure. There&s no way she would turn him down. +6othing. . In times past . .endal had to help her into bed. not wanting to add to ./ said %ason. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. <ibrant shades of red. as well./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. 4ith that. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily. As a result./ . popping Tylenol.endal had a reputation to uphold. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro.endal . And . picked up the weight and began lifting again. Though he had singled . 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. . Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson. Though his legs ached. both of them lying in agony. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. simultaneously knocking over a stack of books. 9ut today./ +#'actly.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. . +I&ve got more work to do here. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. And his guest was going to be . the legendary inviteonly soccer party.c0arthy.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for.
9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop.endal thought. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. 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. her father especially. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. she was a part of the cheerleading team.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies.9uilt back in the DHFFs. It was hands-on learning. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. That.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. (or that reason. was why . To the right of the counter stood a stage. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars.endal&s parents. 8ather. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. she could see her at some sporting event. 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= . This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. 0he' . 9e Somebody. +fantasi3e reality.i'. . . She hated to disappoint her parents. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. Across the backdrop . where everyone knows your name and your business. . So this is where %% likes to hang out.endal felt pressured to get good grades. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. #ducation was far more important. . and the ne't thing she knew. .endal read the words./ spelled out in big bold white letters. She finally felt like she belonged. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. so you could sit in the palm. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. humming original songs about the meaning of life. plus the beauty of the campus.
+"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight.endal. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. given to her by her older brother. Although she knew they were dangerous. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames.endal slowly opened the door to her room. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. .endal. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. many of which could be forgotten. +(unny. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . She tingled in anticipation.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below.endal returned. +I&m sorry. ashy. I need some grease. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked .endal. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. . 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. 6evertheless. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. as if were weighted down. +)ghhhh. %%. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. something happened all right. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. There were other occasions where 0urious . smartly. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . -nce. dramati3ing herself. thoughtfully. +I like pi33a. %%% -nce back at the dorm. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. >ou know. . you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. 4ell. black mess in the middle of the living room floor. it still provided a way to release her irritation. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. Though the incident had left her unharmed. And thick crust. +>ou were saying*/ . I like thick crust. until that moment. when she was about five. afraid to disturb 0hristine. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night..endal paused. 6o. 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. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place.endal struck with reckless abandon./ 0hristine moaned. and was reduced to a gooey./ . Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. she dropped the attitude. It really was none of her business. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. it became obvious that her roommate was awake.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. And ./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into .endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk.
+"i33a, I was saying. 7et&s get some pi33a for dinner./ 0hristine sat up now, the prospect of food taking hold. She fiddled with her i"hone and started looking up the number for a local pi33a place. +And then we could rent a movie, some sappy romantic comedy or something./ +0an&t,/ said ;endal, without the least bit of regret. +I&ve got a tutoring session in the library. I&m going to eat at the dining hall, and then head straight over. ,aybe 7aurie will want to do pi33a./ 7aurie, another cheerleader who lived in their dorm, though slightly overweight, was 1uite proud of her junk food addiction. In fact, 7aurie let it be known that pi33a was one of the five important food groups, at least in her world. ;endal often wondered if 7aurie laundered money from the cheerleading fund and dues collection to buy the enormous amount of junk food and goodies that she kept stashed in her dorm room closet. #very time they hung out in 7aurie&s room, ;endal half e'pected to find cardboard bo'es full of -reo cookies, potato chips, candy bars and the like sitting somewhere amidst the clutter. +,ore tutoring with the lesbian=/ 0hristine asked. 2er tone brushed hard against ;endal&s ears. +4hy do you have to even bring that up=/ +9ecause she is./ +She has a name. It&s %%. ,aybe you should try using it./ +4hat is your deal= >ou&ve been acting strange ever since you started hitting the books so hard./ +I don&t have a deal. 4hat I do have is a tutoring session with a girl who&s kind of cool, and I think that maybe you should stop judging people when you don&t even know a thing about them./ 0hristine climbed out of bed, and evened out her pajama shorts. 2er lips were moving, and ;endal sensed that she was choosing her words carefully. +I know all I need to know about her,/ she said coolly. +And don&t forget, I know you, too./ She casually grabbed her robe off of the back of the door and pulled it on. As she was tying the knot around her waist, she looked up at ;endal. 2er eyes were icy. +I don&t know who you are trying to be lately, but it sure isn&t the ;endal ,c0arthy that I know./ She pulled the knot tighter and tossed ;endal one final cold look before she left the room. (uming, ;endal threw her books into her backpack. 4hat bothered her most was the fact that 0hristine somehow managed to sneak in the last word. +I know me,/ she said aloud in the vacant room, her voice overflowing with anger. +I know myself better than anyone, and I also know that for the past few years I haven&t been the real me./ In the middle of her monologue, she stepped on something s1uishy lying on the floor. She bent over, picked up the ice mask that 0hristine had been wearing, and threw it at her unmade bed. +>ou don&t know me at all,/ she spat. +So take your little beauty mask and shove it./
%% was at the library much earlier than she needed to be. She&d skipped going to the dining hall with :ueenie, afraid that she might get distracted or delayed by needless conversation. Instead, she enjoyed a healthy portion of ramen noodles, the chicken-flavored kind, and some crackers. She also took a long time to select an outfit. 6ormally she would go to the library wearing nothing more than jogging pants and a sweatshirt, but today she felt like raising the bar just a bit. She put on a pair of jeans and a vintage T-shirt from the 5ap. Instead of wearing her usual baseball cap, she decided to slather some gel in her hair and spike up the ends just so. She even sprayed on some cologne for good measure. 6ow she sat in the library at the same table ;endal and she had been at last time, her knees shaking slightly. #very so often, she caught a whiff of her own cologne and smiled. At the very least, she certainly smelled good. 2er cell phone bu33ed in her pocket. She took it out and read a te't message from :ueenie, +9eware of the science e'periment./ All %% could do was laugh. She stuffed her cell phone back in her pocket, and idly thumbed through a book of poetry she&d pulled off one of the shelves. She kept a watchful eye on the door as she reread each sentence. Somehow, she&d missed seeing ;endal storm her way into the library, and looked up only when the girl reached the table. ;endal&s bag of books landed on top of the table with a resounding thud. +2i,/ she said, her face e'pressionless. +)m, are you okay=/ %% asked cautiously. +,e= >eah. I&m fine./ She reached into her bag and pulled out the bag of 0he' ,i' she had bought earlier. +#'cept for the fact that I&ve just now reali3ed that I&ve wasted all my time here at Sampson on a group of girls who are mostly small-minded and lack any substance at all./ +That&s a bit harsh, don&t you think=/ ;endal slid down into the chair ne't to her. +6o. I think it&s dead on,/ she snapped. Then she slid the bag of 0he' ,i' over to %% who politely declined. ;endal shrugged and began snacking mindlessly. +I&ve known these girls for three years now and they don&t even have one small clue about who I really am./ She tucked her hair back behind her ears, which caused %% to look at her in ama3ement. +4ow, you have tiny ears./ +4hat=/ +>our ears. They&re tiny. And cute./ +>eah,/ ;endal said. +They&re small. So what=/ +6othing. I*I just noticed. That&s all./ %% instantly wished that she could censor her thoughts before they spilled out of her mouth without her consent. +)h, about your friends*is it possible that maybe you just haven&t let them in= >ou know, let them in to get to know the real you=/ +So it&s my fault=/ ;endal&s hand smacked her own chest. +Is that what you are saying=/ +I&m not pointing fingers,/ said %% 1uickly. +All I&m saying is that friendships involve at least two people, right= And each person has to give a little in order to get a little. If you don&t let them see the real you, how are they supposed to get to know the real you=/ ;endal halted her rant. She hadn&t thought of it that way. +It&s just an outside opinion, of course,/ said %%. +I get what you&re saying. I think I&m just frustrated with everything in my life now. 9efore it all made sense, but somewhere along the way I&ve changed and suddenly nothing makes any sense to me anymore./ +Trust me, I know the feeling./
+>ou do=/ +-f course I do. 9efore I accepted the fact that I was gay, everything in my life seemed simple. I had boyfriends and everything made sense. And then suddenly it all began to change. I wasn&t happy with anything anymore and I couldn&t understand why. Things that I once enjoyed became boring to me or unimportant./ %% looked down at her empty hands and then at ;endal. +9ut once I figured out the root of it, things began to fall into place again. 6ow I know that this is who I am and who I&m happy being. Things in my life make sense again./ +That must have been hard, holding something like that inside without telling anyone. ,y problem is that I don&t even know the root of why things have changed for me./ +4ell, I don&t think it&s because you are gay,/ %% said with a smirk. ;endal laughed. +6o, I don&t think so either./ Though lately she wasn&t so sure. +,aybe you are just changing as a person. It doesn&t have to be anything specific. 0ould be as simple as your outlook on life or what has become important to you now, as opposed to when you were a freshman. I think that when we get to college, we&ll do a lot of soul-searching and find out who we really are. >ou&re just getting a head start./ +I feel like I can really talk to you,/ ;endal said suddenly. +Sorry for going off like that. I know you&re my tutor, and not my counselor./ %% felt her face grow hot, and she knew she was blushing. She stared ahead, avoiding ;endal&s eyes. +I&m glad. It&s, uh, important to feel comfortable with your tutor./ ;endal repositioned her chair at the table and moved closer to %%. +-kay. I feel better. And I think I can actually concentrate on studying./ She un3ipped her backpack and took out a purple folder and a couple of books. +So, back to poetry. 7et&s do this one first./ She opened one of her book to a page marked with a yellow sticky note, and then slid the volume over to %%. %% regained her composure and looked down at the page. +A 7etter to $aphnis,/ she read. +Anne (inch was a talented woman./ +I&m sure she was. I think I prefer $ickinson, though./ +2ow come=/ +I don&t know. ,aybe because I finally understand her poetry now, and I don&t want to move on to other authors./ ;endal forced a laugh. +Stick to what you know, right=/ +I don&t think you&re giving yourself enough credit,/ %% reassured her, easing into a smile, admiring the dips along the edge of ;endal&s lips and how they were most visible whenever ;endal seemed self-conscious. +4hat=/ ;endal asked, nervously brushing a strand of hair from face. +6othing,/ said %%. They read the poem together as %% pointed out a few key lines to help ;endal make sense of the poem as a whole. +(inch was a true feminist, though she didn&t want that to override the fact that she was still deeply in love and could be in love, while still maintaining her sense of self. In this poem, she e'presses how, though it is difficult, one can still find a happy medium between being both a devoted lover and an opinionated woman at the same time./ +That must have been hard back then,/ ;endal said. +In those days most women gave up their dreams and ambitions to be housewives./ %%&s head bobbed in agreement, +#'actly. And in this poem, (inch makes it clear to her lover that she has no such plan in mind. She writes, @%udge not my passion, but my want of skill.
/ +$ifferent. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. it is./ said ./ +>ou didn&t at all. like you said. She reached for the journal./ said %%. she thought. the edges frayed and the binding worn./ +. +9ut you&re not. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. how=/ %% shrugged. standing up 1uickly.endal flinched. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all./ %% said. In fact. +That&s pretty intense. +>ou just are. she wants him to know that though she is driven./ said . All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. +ar6ness looms ' cannot see ' feel your /reath upon my s6in &par6ing a nervous warmth ' reach for you &liding my palm across your chee6 &o softly. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then. It looked pretty beat up. +4hoops. . +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. but e'press it ill. and flipped it open close to the middle. which had been resting on the floor./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. totally awesome./ . %ust one 1uick peek. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon./ .endal flipped back her hair.endal eyeballed the journal. feeling nervous and clumsy.endal. +0ute./ %% nudged her shoulder.aybe at first./ +I understand. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily.any love well./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders./ +>eah. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. 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 . but at the same time. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst .iss. +I&ll be right back. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ They continued to regard one another. Then she&d set it right back down. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. she accidentally knocked over her bag. and. +This poem is like./ she said.endal.& See./ said %%. and she tripped over it.. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins. As she pushed her chair back from the table. >ou&re different. 2er journal spilled out./ +4ow. has her own dreams.
/ she said instead.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. +4ell./ .endal was lying./ ./ . she found it pathetic./ . It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples./ he pressed on. so real./ +)m. 7ast year. and then shook her head apologetically.endal cursed her roommate under her breath./ +-h. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid./ . and I was wondering if it was poetry or something. hooked up with him./ . +It&s e'clusive. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. was standing ne't to her chair. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. 2e didn&t. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. I&m actually studying. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead. +8eally I am. just as if she were the person in the poem. I haven&t heard anything at all./ said ./ he said with an overconfident grin. +I was there last year. >our journal was just lying there. 2aven&t heard a thing. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o./ +I know what it is. no. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. +0hristine said you were here. I&m not pretending. +2ey. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. so .y.yan the couch monster. and who was going to be left out. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night.yan continued. of course./ .endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in . .endal thought. who she now thought of as ..yan said smoothly.yan Stevens.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. 9ack then .endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite. +I&m sorry.yan&s pond of smoothness. 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.endal. ominous shadow./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it. . She just said you were in the library pretending to study. he puts it so nicely./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ . . hoping he would take the hint and leave. She and %ason had been dating ever since. that . 6ow.endal could feel the tingle on her skin. anyway./ ./ +6ope. +I&m honored. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. She had to read it again. +7isten. looming over her like some creepy.
though. +That&s not entirely true./ %% swallowed again as . Instead. 2er face was still damp./ +It&s good to know that you have morals.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand./ %% approached the table at that moment.endal bit her lip./ ./ . really fun time with yours truly. ./ she blurted./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list.yan=/ .endal had pinched her. And she was even more afraid of what . +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked./ said %%. . +4ho= . +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. +>ou&d miss a really.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out. +So. That got e'tremely hot very fast./ said . reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. +8ight./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff.endal&s eyes lit up. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in./ %% jumped.endal would think. but not because poetry was personal. Suddenly. +It was incredible. +It was my first kiss. If you&ll let me. She sat down without glancing at either ./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people./ . I made her promise to go with me. I think you should enter. The Spot. she felt delighted that ./ She swallowed hard./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks.endal or . so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. simply was not there.yan. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels. of what she might say. I&m one of the good girls.endal shifted curiously in her seat./ +I guess so. rubbing her leg where .endal watched as . +I sort of forgot about it until now. of what they might say./ he mumbled finally and walked away./ %% reminded her.endal e'claimed. I don&t know what he&s thinking.yan considered their story. I&m sorry. +2e&s so full of himself. +I was raised right. and hoped . +I&d like to read some more. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. It&s at that coffee shop you like. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked./ said . It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think.endal.yan. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. +I only read a little bit. She was afraid of their reaction. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ ./ +4ell.aybe another night then./ . his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman.endal hadn&t picked up on it. ne't (riday. +6e't (riday. eager to change the subject.+I&m sure you can get out of it./ +(rom what I hear. +. just as I described it. +8ight. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es.
+>ou sound like my mother. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. And when the contest came up./ she e'plained. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that./ %% said 1uietly. everybody in the audience started to laugh. +9ut it&s different with this. embarrassed at what she was about to admit. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. and then averted her eyes./ +So=/ +So. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. And during the whole thing. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song.yan. I just don&t participate. desperately wanting to change the subject. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at .aybe. I mean. I fro3e.endal momentarily./ +-kay. +They have one every (riday night. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder./ %% closed her eyes. ./ +That would never happen. if I got upset on stage. you&d never be able to give it up./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head./ ./ +4ell=/ +4ell.endal said. So maybe you can practice with me. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway. She glanced at her cell phone and saw that 0hristine had sent her nearly a do3en te'ts since she&d arrived at the library.endal said./ %% said./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. I got on stage and played the only song I knew. +I suppose I should./ said %% impatiently./ +. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. I&m serious.endal debated the 1uestion. . +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people./ %% rolled her eyes. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world. +I have a fear of being on stage. I&ve never been on another stage since. 4riting is my life./ ./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah.endal so easily.endal had a hunch they were about . She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to . we had this talent contest one year at school./ +0ome on. you know. And if something happened. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it. without enthusiasm. that alone should tell you how important it is to you. I might freak out and give up writing altogether. I can&t take that risk./ . +It basically scarred me for life.endal hesitated then asked./ +That is so sad./ . 4riting is my life. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything./ +9ut it might. I&m not ready. +I ran off stage so fast. what= I&m not going up on stage. +It&s getting late. +See. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright.+So./ she said./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. about this poetry slam thingy. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage.
As they reached the front of the building. +I&d like that a lot. She would instantly sense what .endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder.endal closed the door behind her without looking back.. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . that&ll work. +>eah. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind./ +0atch you later. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. . and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home./ . didn&t it=/ +Totally. she would know. fall air. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem.endal said casually.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. +2ey*/ %% looked up. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack./ %% took a deep breath./ %% smiled. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that./ %% paused and then plunged forward.endal asked. 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. then instantly winced. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way. later. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest. though= I mean. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest./ she said.endal was feeling.endal teased. +So. and some of the writing is ama3ing. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder./ +I&m glad./ %% managed as she watched . +That sounded really dumb. +0ool. She instantly looked away. She breathed hard and her hands shook. 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./ +Sure. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion. They left the library and %% offered to walk . She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. go with me= There are some great poets around here.endal./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . >et.endal back to her dorm. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . that&s not going to happen. She collapsed backward against the closed door. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. +4ould you still like to go. though she knew e'actly what %% meant./ . +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah./ said .
. . +>ou&re going to a gay club. with satisfaction. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. 9esides. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief./ ./ +7et me guess./ +I guess. the superficial status.endal said. still lost in a di33y ha3e./ ./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . but it seemed to be permanently cemented there.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. +6othing./ . 0hristine.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. paying rent for some crappy apartment./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent. smiling again. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. .endal replied. +I&ve been te'ting you all night./ +I couldn&t care less./ +I said @no&. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. pacing frantically around the room. +%ust something different. Somehow.endal replied 1uickly. the empty conversations./ 0hristine&s head shot up./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. >our senior year. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly./ +I did.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. I already have plans. I&m afraid. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly.endal entered their room. +I&m not turning into a lesbian. apparently not amused. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. so 1uit freaking out. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious./ . or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date. +I had an uninvited visitor. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . very interesting.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life./ .She sighed.endal watched her in amusement. . +Tell me you said yes. +4ill you rela'=/ she said. 2ow was the library=/ +-h.endal. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed. The thought of ./ ./ 0hristine gasped. I&m not going to a gay club.endal answered. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. +>ou didn&t.
+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.
+>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best. get out and nobody gets hurt. my friend. 6o room to analy3e or obsess. when you compare it with your current dilemma. >ou&re into someone you can&t have. And despised her for it. +%ust get in. +So./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders. ./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. you in=/ :ueenie asked.+>ou ama3e me./ +"lease./ +It is. it&s so obvious. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. you do it one hundred percent.e= I do all right. actually./ +. for e'ample./ +Spare me the theatrics./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. +4ith the women I see. 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. The hopeless romantic never wins./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships./ +6o=/ +6o. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. Take./ %% said. 4hen you do something./ +-h. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery. +%%. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. +I&m not looking for better right now. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. there&s none of that./ +Thanks. +I resent that. your current situation. sourly./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her.y dilemma=/ +>es. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. 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./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. +>ou know./ +$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./ %% maintained./ +. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life./ :ueenie said. really=/ They began to walk again. palms down and swept them to one side. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something./ %% said plainly. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently.
and then pushed it open. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. +Studying./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. even though no one was in the room.yan and %ason were roommates./ %% replied dryly. and also members of the basketball team. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. really.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. +6othing at all. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. +9usy=/ . She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with . . +I&ll be 1uick./ she said.yan said. -nce she reached the third floor. sensing %% was hiding something. I&m going to pass on that one. . +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it.usic boomed from an open door. 0hristine owes me big time. It wasn&t even a date for that matter./ . she thought. . :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. She knocked slightly. .endal ne't (riday night. but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club. %ust a cup of coffee. rounded the first corner. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway.+I guess. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. in fact.yan was laying face down on his bed./ %% said.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. . Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school. an actual lesbian. and would eventually come over to the dark side. .endal made a face. +6othing. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. In fact.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived. . Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight.endal figured that . but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin.endal was on her way./ %% said. motioning to the book.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. and .endal entered the dorm on a mission to find .endal asked when he looked up. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality./ CHAPTER $ . holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. reading what looked like a te'tbook. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally.
my bad.yan was staring at him. +4ait. the one you were at the library with. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. +-f course. I was thinking about it. then I&d like to go. +I&ll see you (riday night then./ 2e stood up and gave . I&m out of there. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do.endal couldn&t believe it. and reali3ed that . +I was ready for a break anyway. Sure. She took a big breath. +To say something like that. and then thought better of it./ +-kay=/ +4ell.yan repeated. but that&s basically it. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television.yan said./ he finally said./ .endal said.yan opened his mouth to respond. +I&m not proud of it. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. and if you still haven&t asked anyone. +I&m sorry=/ ./ . already halfway out the door. So. of course. +So. I haven&t asked anyone else yet. you do have 1uite the reputation./ ./ she said./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team./ +I know. regretfully. It took him a minute before he looked up. +%ust as a friend./ +%%=/ +>ea. shape or form. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards./ ./ . +2ave a seat./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else./ +4ell. . So. feeling slightly better about the whole situation./ +6o./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him./ +Sounds good. +I appreciate that./ .yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. +-h./ +As a friend./ %ason said. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest. I&ve seen her play a couple of games. +I&ll leave you two alone. it&s okay. not sure what to do with them. +I&ll watch the game in ./ .endal asked.+It&s okay. She&s pretty good.yle&s room. and she&d severely misjudged him./ .yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. +5o get @em. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked. you must think I&m a complete jerk./ +4ell. +-kay. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball. +I&m just going to be a minute.endal said hurriedly. ./ +>ou don&t have to leave./ ./ %ason replied. we can hang out and talk. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her./ . by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. then I understand./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game.endal held her arms close to her sides.endal remained standing. so it&s all good. yeah. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends. and I wanted you to be my invite. I&ll probably be a little late. +>eah./ .yan said.yan said.
but she couldn&t help but smile.endal yawned. you know=/ +8ight. I mean really smart./ +I know. +I&m going to. . and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. In some ways. she was afraid to try to study by herself. She was sitting directly across from . ever. she&s cool./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. That&s what I&m nervous about./ 0hristine said. . she was going to have to do a far better job. (riday. +>eah.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night./ +So study. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up./ 0hristine added. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. not just about school stuff. +>ou look horrible. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday.endal confirmed. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. .endal said. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems./ She tried.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. I&ve never met anyone like her before./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor. She even told us which author. don&t. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered. +4e&re just getting to know each other.endal looked up. She&s so sweet and*/ . +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . enjoying a small side salad. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. It tasted like rubber.endal. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help. +5ee. 2er eyes were hollow. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. . thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. thanks. sunny day./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . She left the dorm feeling like a fool./ +I&m just speaking the truth./ ./ ./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal./ +4ell./ . She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth./ he said. 0hin ever did that. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. +She&s so smart.yan was staring at her awkwardly. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. +4ell./ .endal told her.r.s. +)m.
+0ome on. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . but as far as literature was concerned./ ./ +-h. +#arth to .y behind is sore from sitting. . . +>ou are a math guru.endal looked her up and down./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair. but the rest of the dining hall was empty. really=/ +>es. it was empty. let&s get out of here. 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.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table./ .endal study. yawned./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. obviously offended.endal held back her tongue. +7et me see what you are studying right now.endal said and snatched the folder back. In a matter of minutes./ .endal. +0ome on. +4ho in the world is Anne . +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. She shuffled through it for her notebook as she watched the rest of the girls at the table start to pack up their things and head back to the dorm. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. +>es. too.illigrew=/ +5ive me that./ ./ .endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her. +>ou&re serious=/ +./ +I know. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner.endal said firmly.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine./ . very cute. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table. It&s a must. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business./ 0hristine demanded.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go. )nfortunately.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. 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. -ut with it. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class./ she said. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight.endal laughed emphatically./ . That&s all the knowledge I need. .& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food.
/ 0oach 0ook noted. +4hatever. There needed to be some sort of object involved. sucking in every breath. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. +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. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field./ +(ine. %ust remember you have to be back by nine. +5ood finish. 8unning just to run was pointless to her. She needed something to give her a reason to run. -kay*I&ll be back in time. %%. They had been wrong.arch. . +"oint guards lead from the front. The team finished the sprints./ +5ood. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. As much as she hated running. not from the back./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes. and snorting. on the other hand. +0ome on./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. of course. shape or form./ . 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running./ +)gh./ +4ill you knock it off already./ +>es.endal shouted./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. +4e&re sprinting. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride. I know how . >ou know how . . 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. . +0aution./ 0hristine said. +Thanks to you. in any way. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. And that was all the reward she needed. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. %% bent over and clung to her knees. 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.0hristine whistled loudly and said.ya can get. much to the chagrin of her parental units./ .ya can get. not goofing off. %% didn&t know. the whole team has to give me ten more./ 0oach 0ook hollered. or whenever the basketball season was over. despised running.endal e'haled loudly. %%. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. like a basketball for instance. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads. I forgot. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. %enkins.c9ride.
a couple. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall. /2urry up and change. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders. That&s what matters in those last five minutes./ :ueenie added. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. 8ather thin but muscular. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side. +Team. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. regardless of the score. and leave it all on the floor. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. I am the one who is cooking tonight. 0oach 0ook ignored her./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play./ 0oach 0ook barked. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . +Is the missus waiting for you at home./ :ueenie said. though. :ueenie. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. 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. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. the lesbian team. that is./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. ladies. +I&m starving./ 0oach 0ook said./ 0oach 0ook stressed. +0onditioning. After three years. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. it was definitely top secret. The candlelight is optional. 4henever they lost a game. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. +It&s all about conditioning.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. so if the two of them were. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. +-kay./ +4hat are your plans for dinner./ +2ow sweet. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. ladies. in fact./ 0oach continued. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore./ +See you tomorrow. +As a matter of fact. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland.
+4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. I can&t think straight. bread. They sat with the other members of the basketball team./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. $ean 2offman walks through the door. In fact./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket./ said %%./ +(ine. chocolate pudding. I&m confused./ +4ait a minute. .endal and back to :ueenie./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. I&m seeing two of you right now. 2er cheeks were bulging. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. . 0oach and I see eye to eye now.+I didn&t notice. +That was no big deal. that. tossing everything in sight onto her tray. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. %% winked at her. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . She forced her attention away from . +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. right. In fact. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy./ :ueenie said. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. As she studied her tray./ :ueenie huffed. The rest of her table was empty. She dashed through the food line. 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. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone.endal sitting there. +That was a close call. I know./ +She did. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. +-h. full of mashed potatoes./ +-kay./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. I was sitting there in silence. Then they threw on some warm-up pants and their team sweatshirts before they hightailed it out of the athletic center and over to the dining hall. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. +>eah./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it.
did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. +I mean. I&m a complete mess. +All over a stupid 1ui3./ %% pushed her tray aside.c9ride.endal confessed./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair. +4ell done./ +4ell./ :ueenie continued. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. +I know./ +6o. +I guess I&ll be going now. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words. It was classic. $o you want to study someplace else=/ ./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble./ . +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. it&s okay./ +So./ +-nly you. my friend. So I stood up and said.endall said. was @Sweetie. we both were just sitting there not saying anything./ :ueenie leaned forward./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . without looking up. well done. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. 6ever a dull moment.& Then I winked and walked out of the office. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door. +6ever a dull moment./ . we both turned our heads at the same time. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there. of course. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. @It&s okay./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her. 0oach./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. +>ep./ +So*/ %% said eagerly.c0arthy right ne't to her. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. %%./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. >ou should have seen the look on her face./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. +I need your help desperately.endal . >ou two kids have fun. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes. then she assumed that 0oach was alone./ %% reached her hand across the table. %% looked on in wonder./ said %%./ . +I wouldn&t say that. +%%. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you. +This kind of thing only happens to you. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her./ +>es way. . I&ve got a surprise for you. As soon as she saw me there. +So./ she e'plained./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. And at that e'act moment. indeed.&/ +6o way.
endal nodded./ +. . or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me./ ./ . She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. +And that will be enough. 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.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening. I have curfew tonight./ ./ %% returned. I have to be in my room by nine.+>ou can come to my dorm room.ya.endal suggested./ +I was just leaving. miss=/ ./ . 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. +The coffee shop. I was just checking./ .endal said./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday./ . +0ome on. or that she liked the way %% smelled. I don&t.endal said adamantly. She thought of . thinking a neutral setting would be more professional. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday.akes sense. and she enforces it.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. +4e&re closing. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood./ %% returned./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. +I owe you big time. Then maybe we&d play better. 0oach should give us a curfew. +I can&t. she&s the captain of the s1uad.endal held her backpack to her chest.endal said eagerly. +Thank you./ . >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o. +>ou remember our plans. I remember. CHAPTER ( +A curfew. don&t you=/ +>es./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly./ %% agreed./ ./ They both stood up. came up with it./ +-kay. too.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her. Thank you so much. I&ll see you in an hour then. . %% studied her e'pression.endal said politely.
endal.+4hatever. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. I&d 1uit./ she said to the blonde.i' +I didn&t mean it like that. proudly. She often sat with ./ :ueenie said./ +4ait. taking a handful from the bag. 0hristine. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America./ said . +If 0oach gave us a curfew. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand.endal . +School spirit is a way of life./ she said. 2ave a seat.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. -ver . +That was my roommate. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment./ ./ %% said./ +I know.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%. %ust sneak a few photos. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to ./ said %%./ %% responded and held up her notebook./ +7et me guess. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. Interesting decor./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her.endal&s door. offering %% some 0he' . -nly.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. and little cheerleader cutouts. +Am I that transparent=/ . +-h. right. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite. 6o wonder you&re a tutor./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. +I&m sorry. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. +0ome on in.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. Sampson Academy paraphernalia./ %% backtracked. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff. +(or documentation./ the blonde said. #ach door on . >our cell phone takes crappy pictures.endal walked into the room.endal&s dorm./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. A rather thin blonde./ . opened the door. 0hristine. >ou sure are 1uick. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. %% recogni3ed her.endal in the dining hall. +Thanks.c0arthy&s dorm room./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. 4e can use this to our advantage. +0heerleading. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . ./ %% started for the door. straight out of the pages of <ogue. +"edaling poetry. +>ou need professional help. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. +(riendly people you got here. %% thought as she knocked against . +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since.
/ she said.endal thought for a moment.y oldest brother is in his late twenties.endal pointed to one of the poems. I had to do and learn a lot on my own./ +That must have been hard. +It&s a secret. I was*une'pected. +It was . who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked./ +7ook here. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family. but she was also proud to be a woman. I mean. +9ecause I was an afterthought. setting her folder and her book in front of her. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention. at this line in )pon Saying . See how she says./ +So*what else=/ .endal considered the words on the page.y <erses 4ere . and my other brother is twentyfive.endal sat down ne't to her. +I don&t know. See.endal. but I know it&s about this author at least. +8ight there=/ +. +That&s fair. -ne of my favorites. And even though men adored her poetry. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. trying to distract herself from the scent of . ./ +It was.illigrew. +So./ she said. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer. It wasn&t long before .ade 9y Another.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. after a moment. yet awkward./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing.+I&d like to think there is./ +I think you&ll like .endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully.endal&s perfume./ +4hy is it a secret=/ ./ +-kay. well aware of how little space remained between them. She was more than happy to play along. It was flattering. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. +-kay. +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. but me they scorned&=/ . and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor./ %% smiled mischievously./ +I don&t even know who she is./ +9ut that&s not fair. She leaned her back up against the comforter./ said .illigrew. .endal let that idea marinate. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem. +Anne . +7ike what=/ %% asked. $eal=/ . She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along./ ./ %% cleared her throat. @my numbers they admired. really young./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. +7ike*/ . but she loved every minute of it. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once./ said %%. . but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed.
unfortunate that the very same people. . 0ourage. She read the rest of the poem in silence. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. (ride. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for.endal had seen before. #aising my head high. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. Instead.ou gave me your hand without thought. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like.endal shook her head. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. Having the strength to stand./ . she refused to compromise herself or her art. ./ +To be out. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so./ . ' /elieved in me. +2ere. for obvious reasons.endal read out loud. Beyond the tears. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then. and then stopped. #elief from my shoulders./ said %%. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world.endal slumped back against the bed. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide. +This e'plains it better than I can. men in this case. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain.endal asked.ost of her work was discovered much later on. !reedom./ +I would have never survived./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. She licked her thumb. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself.endal. )eaving me sta/le./ . #elease. *ith this gesture you taught./ %% closed the book in front of them./ +4hat did it feel like. who took it willingly./ . !ree at last. . She disappeared for a bit./ She slid the journal over to .
Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. That day.endal. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class.rs. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . And %% had written a poem. It didn&t matter. a short story.y writing hardly compares to with hers. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. . and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. +0lass. #veryone sat up straight. right. a journal entry or a poem. 0lark cleared her throat. As soon as the class was seated.rs. %% knew. 0lark. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. The chatter ceased. +I forgot about that part. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. whether it was the beginning of a novel. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though.rs. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. ./ said . This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will.rs./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. -n occasion. .rs. )sually./ said %%. 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. They were free to write whatever they wanted. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. And at that moment. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. 0lark was impressed. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . possibly even a nervous breakdown. turned out to be today./ . +>ou are an ama3ing writer. . I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here./ +0ome on. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. It&s like $ickinson. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. like many of her previous free writing efforts. +It&s not even close.endal laughed. at the same time. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem.. remember=/ +-h. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. however. this was a huge compliment because it meant that . She began flipping through the journal. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. She was one of a kind./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. but. you know that= >ou pour everything.
The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended.ay I go to the restroom=/ .rs. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last. hoping for some closure. not ever./ . +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. She trembled as she stood. 0lark. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. did it=/ +6o. +%%. who liked cheerleading and boys. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . signaling that her class had ended. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read.rs. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. And that wasn&t going to happen. +I didn&t feel good./ +9ecause that would be a shame. She tried to speak once more.rs. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. +>ou might want to stand up. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach.rs. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out.rs. 0lark&s nasal voice. 6ot now. so I decided to leave class. 0lark nodded. Instead. and %% bolted from the room. She glanced from face to face in a panic./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out. . She knew .like her. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. shuffling through papers on her desk. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. +. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. It&s yours to share. unable to move. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. 0lark asked. 0lark was still in the room. Instead. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. She breathed heavily. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom.rs. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. mouthing the first line. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. and again no sound emerged.rs. She&d written the first line on a whim. she sat down on a nearby bench. but no audible words came out. Their relationship had suffered because of it. And the class deserves to hear it.rs./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. +And speak up a bit. ma&am. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. It&s yours. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal./ %% managed. and then cringed when she heard ./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. the building for #nglish classes. +%%*are you okay=/ ./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly. 2er lips moved slowly. It deserves to be shared with the class. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. %% was the e'act opposite. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. 0lark advised./ . %% tiptoed in.
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./ %% reasoned. +I&m sorry./ . She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. 4atch and learn.rs. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. %% couldn&t concentrate. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as./ she said. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded./ +All right. %%.rs. rela'.aybe she did. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. :ueenie. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . and not because of the sweat. 4atch and learn. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . 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. on the basketball court. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are.onday. just as your basketball coach believes in you./ ./ +.endal has nothing to do with it./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. +I&m just checking in./ +. had another outstanding practice. +2ey. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy./ %% leaned against her locker. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. +I can&t force you to read it../ +I&m not doing this to be mean. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing. offering criticism of their work. +I&ll read it on . 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest.endal was only a few hours away. +6ice job./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. )nlike %%. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. as usual./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room./ %% replied dryly. and taking in criticism of your own. what good is art for that matter. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. 0lark called after her.rs. And she was flattered that . She understood. aren&t we=/ . To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. say. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game.aybe she wanted it that way. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. I just have a lot on my mind. +Touchy. . and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing.rs. and removed her glasses from her face. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work.onday. ladies.
+%enkins. 0oach. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. %ust what I need. And the point is that you played horribly today./ She barked from the doorway. %% thought. +./ she said. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. And you two are my senior captains.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie. playing with her i"hone./ %% snapped./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. +"eachy. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years. %%. 0oach is like your best friend now. >ou better get your game in gear. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. +#asy for you to say. I need you to play with confidence./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm. 0oach. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. %%./ she said. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. -nce in the confines of her office./ Apparently. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. +>ou know me./ %% acknowledged. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. carrying a rose./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her./ +I know. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off./ +I&m busy tonight./ 0oach 0ook said. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. +$on&t worry about 0oach. 0oach. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. %% thought./ :ueenie said. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk./ Ignoring that comment. who stifled a laugh. She was already showered and dressed./ . +$on&t do anything stupid./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement./ +>ou are the starting point guard. I don&t start players who perform like that.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. +I didn&t play well at all. +Says you. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball./ she replied. >ou are the floor general./ %% said. +5ood. >ou brought :ueenie to the team. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. right. a big part of it. +I e'pect more from you. sitting on a locker room bench. +6o. remember=/ +-h. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es.
She wanted to try something different. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ . +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ ./ +8ight. I&d be creeped out. +I promise.endal shrugged. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her. wondering about her outfit./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. +(ine. She&d been thinking of %%. teammate and confidante./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser. +0hristine. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked. stomach-first. She stood up and grabbed ./ 0hristine held out her pinky. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room./ . that&s gross. She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. +(or the umpteenth time.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her.yan.endal ran her long fingers through her hair.endal had chosen. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit. I&m only going to this party tonight with . As my roommate. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . it&s the truth./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight./ +I already told you I&d be there.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. "ersonally. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive./ . as a result.yan&s benefit. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror. She wanted to go to The Spot./ 6ot again. admiring her jeans.endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror.endal by the arms. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ . It was as simple as that. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. She stood facing the doorway. 0learly. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s. I&ve never been to one before./ +>ou do./ 0hristine smiled wryly./ . +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. I&m just asking./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine. .endal. she hadn&t been thinking of . mulling over which way accented her features better. and. pulling it back and swinging it forward. thought .endal asked. a slimming red graphic T-shirt.endal said. +(lattered= . she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for .%%% . +I have no idea. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. +I thought I looked good.endal spun around.endal.endal groaned. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets./ .yan as friends.
she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. And that was the side she thought . Then she checked her cell phone.endal.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. +I mean*you look nice and everything. +There&s something you don&t see every day./ %% blurted out. Then she batted her eyes at . licked her thumb and ran it over the mark./ +4ow. as well. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. >ou look ama3ing. she sat down again./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair./ . leaned over and tried to rub it out.endal enjoyed the most. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her.endal had tried to call or send her a te't. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe. too.endal said. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. At that moment. %%&s head snapped up. After a minute. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. pointing at %%&s backside. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts. +8ight. admiring %%&s outfit. She bent down as far as she could without falling over.endal. I think. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. it couldn&t get much worse. . the doors swung open and in walked ./ ./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to . who started laughing. but resisted. +>ou&re right. 9ut she hadn&t. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing./ .endal smiled. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside. And I like to carry my journal with me. she reali3ed what she&d said. pointing at the backpack. She crossed her legs.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors./ she said. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. -nce the words left her lips.endal asked./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ ./ she said. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start. +I like you without a hat better. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ ./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. Then she stood up.endal said. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . +>ou look ridiculous. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. just in case ./ she said. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. In the end.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. +5o ahead. She 1uickly stood up straight.
Several students crossed their path. +-nce. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. too. They talked about anything and everything they could. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. They sat in the corner near the window. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch.e. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you./ +4hat did she say= . +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress . She reached for the doorknob. unsure of how to respond. They didn&t seem to bother . The more she thought about it. +0hristine doesn&t know you. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before./ said . +I have no athletic ability whatsoever. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. and laughed./ ./ %% said.endal laughed nervously. and %% assumed that . during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman./ %% said./ . +)neventful.endal said. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong./ +.endal asked.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. +I don&t know. +I wouldn&t worry about it. and both %% and . She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. genuinely interested. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. .endal had grabbed it first. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ . She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. The looks didn&t bother %%. smiling. and then looked away. A roving waitress appeared. and neither of them held back. some staring at them in wonderment.endal. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy./ . That&s all./ . the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table.endal responded blandly./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk./ +She doesn&t like me very much.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. but . +2ow was your day=/ %% asked.endal confessed. with %% directly on her heels.endal much./ ./ %% struggled to e'plain. either.
+There&s so much more to you. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart.endal continued. not the younger me that was insecure and confused. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all./ %% professed. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here. It was so embarrassing./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly./ +I&m sorry. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be. clearly offended. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do. +>ou&re joking. I became that. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. It came down past my shoulders. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . and tried to fit in./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. I panicked and ran off stage./ +4ow.%% laughed. 9ut back then I acted different./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips. I have no idea who I am. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change./ . how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different./ ./ +>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.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. +It was awkward to say the least. I wore make-up./ . I played the role. And when I show them the pictures./ %% offered. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. the real me. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains. I&m the same. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there./ %% recalled the day of the pageant./ +9efore I met you./ +I know what that&s like. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. . And because I knew that everyone thought that. I have to see those pictures./ +9ut you are changing. I want you to know me as I am now. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. +I&m still playing the same role now./ +I&m 1uite serious actually.endal straightened up. 7ook at 0hristine. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. you don&t. I was just like her./ . 4hen it came to the talent portion. +I didn&t know./ +6o./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life. 9ut forget about me. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been./ said %% honestly. and my hair was long.
9ut here she was with %% instead.endal asked.endal. It&s (riday night. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once./ ./ %% considered the offer. +>ou think I&m smart=/ ./ she agreed.+>ou aren&t anything like her. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me./ +>ou don&t owe me anything.onday./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know./ +Speaking of $ickinson. She was supposed to te't 0hristine.endal glanced at her cell phone. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. +Then let&s go someplace else./ +I know a place. +-kay. you&re kind.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam./ ./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret.endal had to choose that one.other . so that makes it a secret.endal stood up and tugged %%. then meet up with her at the soccer party. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful.endal asked./ +4hat if I helped you=/ . . +6ot here.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said./ %% told her. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit. I need someplace private./ %% paused. >ou showed me your favorite hangout. -f all the poems in her journal. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to ./ .endal said adamantly. I&ve never told anyone that before. you owe me a poem./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on . +4hat&s . . who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. looking around. I feel like I owe you or something.endal. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. and if I don&t read it. There are so many things about you that ama3e me.ay I about=/ . just to be sure. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. That is. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it./ said . you&re smart.endal asked./ %% wasn&t about to argue. ./ +I have to do this by ./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. after skimming through the pages. +0ome on. then she&s going to lower my grade. almost taking her by the hand. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours. %% rolled her eyes./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all./ %% panicked. if you&ll let me.
yan said miserably. +I don&t know where she is. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come./ . Apparently. She ditched an invite-only soccer party.yan.4ithout saying a word./ 2e raised an eyebrow at .yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. +7et me try and call her./ he said./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason.endal. impatiently./ said 0hristine. .yan.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend.yan out of the room. +>ou&ve got issues. +4hy don&t you go find out. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . 2e stood up./ %ason had heard enough. The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance./ he said. ./ +I&ve got issues=/ . sounding frustrated. This girl is cra3y./ said . %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire. who finally took the hint./ . she&s going to regret it. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight./ she whispered under her breath. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. 7et&s go. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked. +Seriously. +6o way. aside from winter formal. She&s been acting so strange lately. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. who now glared at . +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester.yan that meant wearing black slacks. and closed the door behind him./ said 0hristine. as he nudged . and stood up instantly to look out the window. (or . +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps./ 2e turned to 0hristine. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. I&m the best looking guy on campus. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands.yan pressed. +6ever mind. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. +I don&t know. +If you don&t come tonight./ %ason offered.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . She smiled eagerly at %%. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch. +0ome on.yan./ +I&m going to regret it. waiting for . +She should be here with me.yan shot back. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. 9ut she clearly was distracted. as she held up her i"hone. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts. 2e was still sitting on the couch. she&ll come. dude=/ he grumbled. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie. +She&s probably on her way here right now.
They huddled together. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached./ +That&s pretty clever.endal left the coffee shop./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it./ . we were fair game. illuminating the spot. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. +0ome here often=/ %% asked.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. I even slept out here once or twice. with . the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls.endal grabbed the blanket. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. and grab us. I didn&t want that happening to me. I had all my routes mapped carefully.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. >es./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad. %% and . and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. dining hall.endal told her. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot. 6o one ever found me here. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. So./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad./ . %% sat down beside her. +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. +This hiding spot was so good. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. the side to the bleachers being left open. come on. and were completely hidden by the tarp. . . +It was fun at the time. That included the library. . wait until we came out. she&d stuffed a flashlight./ said %%. "erched up high on a platform. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion.endal sighed. and after classes to read or do homework. unfolded and spread it out. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. they&d watch us go into some place.endal argued. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry. See. eyeing the flashlight. 9ut that never worked either. And follow she did. urging %% to follow.endal crept under the bleachers. even though she already knew the answer. +I found this spot during my freshman year. 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./ +-h./ she said. +)ntil it gets too cold. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides.CHAPTER !! %% and ./ +I&m full of surprises. In the middle of the blanket. and classroom buildings./ ./ . as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. she&d gone through ha3ing. She turned it on.
/ . I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke.+-kay.endal ordered. but she didn&t care. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself./ . I&m being honest./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. "oetry is personal.endal said. +And read it to me as if you were in class. +Are we going to talk about your poem.endal replied./ . 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit./ %% gladly rejoined . a nervous habit over which she&d little control./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. +4hy=/ +4ell.endal on the blanket./ +>eah./ +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. +I feel stupid./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you./ +>es./ ./ +Trust me. +7et&s talk about the poem. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff.endal played with her fingers. opened her mouth wide and said. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there./ +5ood. +>ou keep saying that. And that was $ickinson&s poem. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. I&m just trying to help here. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face./ +6o. That&s not the problem./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself./ %% admitted./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. or what=/ %% blinked twice. relieved to be out of the spotlight. It is. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion./ +I do not./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ said %%. I don&t. you do. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason. for starters.endal glowered at her. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place. She cleared her throat. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. but that was different. >ou know that. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. you got me there. +9ecause I was trying to make a point. +2ey./ . She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem. +I can&t. It has to be./ . I&m honest and upfront about myself. my therapist=/ %% snorted. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot.
#ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection.endal had dared to picture a different ending. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm./ +>es.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now./ %% hid her face with her hands. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. +I&m never going to be able to do this by ./ . with regret. . That was it. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . Some people may not respond in the best way. you still did it. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer. not her coach. +I never thought of it that way.endal fall for her even more. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well.endal reassured her. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else./ . %% had never heard anybody./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. That was how the night had ended.endal had seen %% without her confident grin.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. wondering where in the world she was./ . but I bet most people will. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face./ +It&s the same principal.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine.endal took it. and yet it carried so much weight. It&s the same with your writing. +I believe in you.endal&s cell phone rang./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. +4hy=/ %% asked. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive./ +4ow. It confused her to the core. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. or even her parents. %% had offered . you will. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm./ +9ut that&s ridiculous.endal weak in the knees if she . eyes that made . It was the simplest of phrases. Some people may not like it. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality. e'posed.endal maintained. startling them both./ It was the first time ./ . she saw . And it only made .endal laid her hand over %%&s . +>our writing is ama3ing.onday. . %% was vulnerable. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . +And you make it hard not to. In her imagination . and gave %% one in return. as .endal had said. and fell over on her back. say those words to her before./ +Argh. and spoke through her fingers./ 4hen %% looked up.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again./ %% said. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue.
with . +4ell*/ 0hristine said. +I&m really sorry.e. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts.endal huffed.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. In fact. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track./ 0hristine spat. >ou can come if you want to. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. .stared at them long enough. . a definition to describe the feeling. irritating. She needed a word. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. . to let her e'plain. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips. to give it a name so that she could understand it better./ 4orking out was not something .endal didn&t know how to e'plain it.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run./ 0hristine sang. She&d even dreamt about it the following night./ she said. +I am way beyond mad. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. and yet oddly comforting. +I just lost track of time.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. she stood up and stretched. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center. e'cept. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted.endal jogging behind her to keep up. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. +I&m waiting. That thought alone frightened her deeply. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth.endal begged. +(ine. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight./ They walked briskly. 0hristine reluctantly obliged./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face. +. 4hen their pace slowed.endal found the tapping distracting. She and .endal didn&t know what to say.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine. . 0hristine&s only response was. . or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year. I wanted to help her out./ . and only her imagination./ . She burst from the locker room. and probably to make her suffer.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . and then %% had this problem she needed help with. yet . still tapping.endal found herself pouting.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. . the gentleness of her touch./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking./ she said as genuinely as possible. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . +7et&s wait until we get to the track./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement. and .endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. before transferring to Sampson. -nce she finished tying her sneakers. Saturday might as well have been a pause.endal organi3ed her thoughts. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. +I need to work out. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . . +-kay*I know*you&re mad.
)nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear./ It was as if . They didn&t want you to know./ 0hristine shouted. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. and they&re starting to talk. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately./ 0hristine told her. +It&s the truth.+. she had her frustrations.endal./ .endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. +That&s cra3y. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. but your priorities are all messed up. >es./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. It was supposed to be a secret. . a little too loudly. . +>ou know how these things go down. >ou went back on a sacred oath. and yes./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore./ She leaned in and whispered. or if she was just really upset by what . do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ ./ +6o. +I just don&t see what the big deal is. noted where she was.endal&s face./ 0hristine shouted again. She spotted %%. you pinky swore with me. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. nor bearing the school colors. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. +And you know what that means.endal asked.endal screamed. +>ou have no idea what this means. +They are having a meeting. . 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. 2er face contorted./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. she had her complaints. and wondered if %% had been one of them.endal felt amused. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. and . She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction./ .endal. +4hat are we./ 0hristine screamed. +>ou are infuriating. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. in first grade=/ she asked./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. "eople are starting to wonder about you./ The color instantly drained from . That&s what it means. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. I don&t know. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. They turned to each other and giggled.endal flung her hands to her hips. and continued with her rant.endal had said. #ither way. offering a full view of the courts below.
F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. 2er eyes instantly softened./ . 9ut for some reason./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her. no matter how good you were. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. 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. but if you skip that. . you had no shot at making the s1uad. 7ast year. by way of her K. as it sometimes happens. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. and smartest students on campus. and her participation in student government activities. the most athletic. 9ut.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. then you can come. She&d have to start over. She had 3ero athletic ability. . +or how do you e'pect me to vouch for you=/ If you continue to hang around her no one is going to believe me.endal felt small and shallow. as if she were a freshman. popular. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. unanimous vote. I&ll vouch for you. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. be it academic or otherwise. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. She&d seen how these things had gone down./ 0hristine said plainly. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. 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./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. She&d been the e'ception to the rule.endal&s hands. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold./ 0hristine said. she did care. Standing there in the athletic center. or you either for that matter. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships.. Suddenly. her involvement in the drama club. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. +Tomorrow night. at the school lounge.endal had been lucky.L 5"A. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. $on&t even mention what I said. +It&s only going to be a discussion. unsurprising. . +4hen&s the meeting=/ ./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for ./ +5et another one. it did matter. cast aside.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. She was dismissed. Aside from being pretty and popular.endal shouldn&t have cared. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. She&d judged people. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. It shouldn&t have mattered. prettiest. (or some reason./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition. They went after only the most involved. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. nothing final.endal asked. )nless you carried at least a K. . one that she couldn&t put her finger on. and she&d been happy doing it.
she might not like it so much. +$on&t you think=/ +6o.endal and her roommate arguing. :ueenie loved.endal at all on Saturday. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. There were other. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then. and :ueenie would love it. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. things on her mind. Time was running out.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. I don&t./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. in 1uotes with her fingers. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . noting :ueenie&s smirking face. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. more important. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%. and she didn&t care now.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. It was discouraging. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class./ . %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion./ :ueenie said. :ueenie said. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. +. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet.endal .c0arthy. In the meantime. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and ./ she said without looking away. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. She hadn&t heard from . which wasn&t much at all. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. +. +That&s awesome. nor would she ever critici3e her work.. +8umors are starting to circulate. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. study session. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. I&m talking about T2# . to say the least.endal glanced toward the basketball team again. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. +-kay.
she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. and it&s never going to happen. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe./ +That&s absurd. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card./ :ueenie stood up. that&s the point. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. +And you&re wrong about her. when she was all %% could think about. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later. I hate watching you go through this. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. %%./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. The deal was sealed. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. she&s going to stop talking to you./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show./ said %%. -nce . really I do. +All right./ she confessed. the playful smirk gone from her face. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. right=/ +8ight. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. +This is reality. %% e'tended her hand. :ueenie shook it. a lump forming in her throat./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have./ +I appreciate what you&re saying. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. +It isn&t a game./ %% maintained. %%.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think./ +(ine. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now./ %% resisted the urge to argue. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her./ :ueenie said./ %% said. I&m in love with the girl. +9ecause you never learn./ +She&s not like that. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o./ %% warned. It&s a fantasy. +I know you&re in love with her. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was ./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you.endal. 9ut you&re wrong this time. once she reali3es the weight of it. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with .
popped the top. +0ome in.ya 9rooks.sprawled out on the couch watching television.ya was sweet and understanding.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. and sat down./ . . which made her easy to talk to.ya said warmly./ . .ya burst out laughing.endal.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. It was her life. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two. and about little else./ +She did. wearing a pair of bo'ers. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. Their conversations were few and far between. +#'cuse me. It was all she ever talked about. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. she knew how to play the game when it mattered. 9ut as sweet as she was./ . wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ .endal braced herself. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . and passed it over before taking one for herself. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie.ya&s door. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand. though. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. a true humanitarian. She opened the door and saw . watch out. avoiding soccer parties and such.ya was alone.endal heard from beyond the peephole.ya said./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. +Sure./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. She motioned to the bed./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. . letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. and then knocked on . And not once did :ueenie say. surprised. +6othing much. and hanging out with certain people. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. who released one can./ CHAPTER !$ .ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad.endal replied evenly. I thought . They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. >ou know. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately.endal. and added. She was compassionate and charitable. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading./ :ueenie burped. +I told you so. have a seat./ ./ . She had little in common with . +. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. . we have noticed. an open te'tbook in her lap. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. +. asking for permission to sit down. As far as your behavior.
make it mandatory.endal remembered a tall.ya&s book dropped from her lap. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too./ ./ . I guess. +I mean. +#ver since I met her. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own.endal said 1uickly. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. took . at this point in my life. And I try to stop the feelings. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es.endal hurried to e'plain. I&ve been all over the place. I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. ./ +. They sat down. then I had to stop spending time with %%. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. .ya stood up. I didn&t know what to do. too.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. because of %%.ya laughed. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. It has straight members. or think I might want to . +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay. I&ve never met anyone like her before. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ . 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know./ . but that&s basically about it. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. And white members. recalling meeting . in any way. shape or form. Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. not that I know of./ .endal nodded.ya asked.endal.endal walked across the room. and we wanted to throw you a party. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea. And I know she&s a girl.sociali3e as much. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. +6ot that I am./ ./ +A gay one=/ .endal replied. side by side. a woman. the thought has crossed my mind. but if .endal cursed 0hristine under her breath. silly. It&s a regular fraternity. if I met someone. And black members.et who=/ +%%./ +I don&t believe this.endal stood up. And he&s even in a fraternity. ./ .ya&s eyes./ . +I need to figure out my feelings for %%.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad. but she&d certainly implied that . +I don&t know./ +. +6o. +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ ./ She smiled. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way./ +That&s it=/ . +>es. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. it&s not a gay fraternity./ +4hat&s going on=/ ./ . +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. .
/ said .ya asked. and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. . (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her. +$on&t worry./ +5ood. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. . I plan on having a little talk with her.endal couldn&t decide which one. She remembered that poem now. Then . 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. .endal a slight hug and added. 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.endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her. +I underestimated you. just let me know. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts.ya. She knew that poem.ya. 4hen she opened her eyes.endal&s appetite for revenge..c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. +If you ever need to talk more about this. yet for some reason . and had been since the first time she&d studied it. . everything is perfect. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy ./ .endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. That would have been awkward. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session./ she said.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. %%% ./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. She sat down. +Is everything okay=/ .yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. and rested her finger on a single line. as she sat beside . turned and said. +In fact. Somewhere along the road .endal thought about the poem./ +I might take you up on that./ . stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the . #verything is more than okay. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it./ Although . She flipped opened the book. +>es. She paused in the threshold. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. the words that were branded in her brain. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. leaned up against the bark. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s.endal . 9ut with .endal headed for the door. she saw the words of the poem before her. It meant something.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem.endal initially agreed not to see %%.ya gave . closed her eyes. the slight hint of wickedness in .
And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. And they hadn&t worked. which meant that the chosen pair. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it.endal&s tutor. one other girl that . acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. though. . the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite. things that she&d thought . There was one other person. It made no sense. . who would be anointed . the fountain had been shut off. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . It just stood there. And when he finally thought he had made a dent.endal. It sucked the life right out of her. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. for that matter. without water. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . lifeless. when winter thawed. .aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . rhyme nor reason.endal better than she actually did.endal&s mind about him. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . the cement structure was depressing. If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . 9y itself. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. he needed a new game plan. taking up space. the girl on the basketball team. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on.yan. that whole approach had been pointless. every spring. She just might let him in.endal would respond to. she&d stood him up anyway. 2e had acted like such a fool.ing and :ueen. It had no purpose. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple.endal would respond to.yan had seen . To . was just around the corner. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. Then.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. .yan many things about .endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. 4hat better way to get to .endal hanging around with over the past month. attained a status far higher than everyone else. . the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad. #ven its soft blue color had faded. it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. which left it looking gray. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. The one he had hatched originally was not working. as well as fall semester. only larger and more upscale. 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.endal would be his 1ueen.endal just might bend. %% sat there. 4ell. Apparently. The end of the soccer season. at least for the rest of the winter. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. the fountain couldn&t go on living. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys.
%% had never asked her why. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. isn&t it=/ %% asked./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . though. I guess not. She walked over and sat down on the bench. she refused to be like :ueenie./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. a wide grin on her face./ +4here=/ +I called a few people.endal never even looked in her direction./ %% frowned. 9ut . for whatever reason.6othing mattered to her. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. +It&s just the way you deal with things./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. It didn&t help that she saw . my friend. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. . +7et&s go. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about ./ +Say no more. 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. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. . #ver since . she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. .endal practically everywhere she went./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. She did care. not basketball.endal all along. #ither way. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. turning back to face the fountain./ :ueenie returned. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. +4henever something like this happens. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. to not let herself get attached. you go off to find yourself. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. it&s not pathetic. +It&s pathetic. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. %% shook her head in disappointment.aybe she needed to not care. in fact. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. +6o. not even her writing./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. +6o. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic. possibly by a former girlfriend./ The voice rose from behind.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. hands in her pockets.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. 4hat made it all worse.
who called her by name once he saw her. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs./ %% said. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. She didn&t have a choice. 9y the time they arrived at the club. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. %% had agreed on the spot. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. +I swear.%% nodded./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. At least./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. since the bass had been turned up so loud.rs. 0lark out in the hall. though. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt./ :ueenie shook her head. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. +She&s with me. She had gotten an e'tension. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia./ %% regarded her clothes. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. 2e watched %% suspiciously. At the end of the semester. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. +It&s going to be a great night. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. she&d asked to speak to . 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. +>ou are.rs. she hoped she would be able to./ said :ueenie. Somehow it had worked because . There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that./ :ueenie teased. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. . +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. +So it&s settled then. And in a state of panic. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks./ :ueenie told him. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read./ She yanked %% off the bench.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. 9efore they left the dorm. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension. I feel like I&m with someone famous./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery.rs. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . . during e'ams. +It&s fine. +4e&re going out. She even had taken time to do her hair. She was also in with the bouncer.
endal. An hour later. %% was ready to leave the club. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. walked down a narrow corridor and out into an open space that was packed wall to wall with every type of lesbian you could possibly imagine. %% was still leaning against the wall./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. +>ou look ridiculous. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . which was 1uite hard to do. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. +I&m not ready to go yet. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening./ %% frowned. %% glared at her./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. and you could almost see the walls shaking. At that point. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. .m. though she was standing right in front of her. +$o whatever you want./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting./ she sputtered./ :ueenie yelled. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. +7et&s go dance. %% took off through the crowd. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. +I&m leaving. +. She stomped down a narrow corridor.. +4hy=/ she asked. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. since she had none. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas.e= At least I move to the beat. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. She offered to buy %% a soda./ %% shouted. Sure. 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.They reached the second floor landing. %% once again made her way through the crowd. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. I&m kind of in the middle of something. +9ecause I&m ready to go. +:ueenie. she was cute enough. The music was deafening. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. It was almost K p. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered.
+4ait a minute. now you know what happened to me last night. eyes fi'ed on the television.c9ride=/ . by the way. I walked across them anyway./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. And in hindsight. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. so %% crawled into bed. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie ./ :ueenie said./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much. it looked like more than @not much was going on. if you hadn&t gone out./ :ueenie shrugged. And. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. +I should have never gone out. The two of them slept until after noon. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. after the club closed we went our separate ways. %% nodded. After she finally got down from the fire escape. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of .ung "ao chicken. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. :ueenie still wasn&t home. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. either. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. and random individuals lurking about. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it./ +Trust me./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. I managed to land on my feet somehow. and then I lost interest./ +There&s nothing to tell. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. +I mean. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. it was considerably amusing./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape./ +$o tell. seriously. . and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels./ +9ut. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting./ %% shook her head from side to side. 9ut when %% told her story. and they fell from underneath me. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. broken beer bottles. The night had been a complete and utter failure.y story isn&t half as good as yours. +(rom my perspective. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. she&d taken a cab back to school. +So. and I felt*used./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint.&/ %% pressed. which cost me twenty-five bucks. +(unny. really./ %% sipped her soda./ :ueenie repeated.
+$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. +4e said this weird goodbye. And thankfully. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. +And you know what she said to me= She said. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside. @I&m not into that.& So I said./ she said./ . +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. and rubbed her temples./ %% scratched her head. It&s me. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone./ +:ueenie. you can talk to me. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. I don&t know. and that&s it. +I think I just wondered*for a very. like I suddenly grew a conscience. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. So./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either./ :ueenie said finally./ :ueenie said. very. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed./ +It passed=/ +>es. I don&t think that&s it. 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. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. It passed. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much./ %% began. +6ope. . +-kay. +%ust like that./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. Try this one on for si3e. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard./ +4ait a minute.&/ +And that bothered you because . +That&s my line. She circled the room. It was something that started with an @S&. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. %% paused. 4hat happened=/ +#h. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. . @not into what=& And she said. I don&t know. >ou had a moment of guilt. >ou felt the need for something more. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes. @relationships./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. 9oth./ %% told her./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. seriously. something a bit more real. The moment passed./ +I don&t know what it is./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. and stood up. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something.:ueenie turned off the television. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. +Something is obviously bothering you. +-kay.
/ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth./ %% picked up her fork again. And so do you. :ueenie sat across from her. +I figure. +It really isn&t that big of a deal./ +I&m not that bad. +I can&t help it. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level./ Though she didn&t admit it. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach.endal.%% threw her hands up in the air. +I need energy for the game. +I feel like I am going to throw up. +>ou get nervous about everything. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. >ou are that bad. Someone who opens herself up to people. +9esides./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. And I&m not depressed. I don&t know. playing in basketball games. taking e'ams. %%. between ample gulps of milk. I just get a little an'ious now and then. this time with determination. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt./ %% said enviously. +I&m hungry. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations. graduating from high school./ :ueen returned. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked./ +Trust me.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant. +That&s just part of your character. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ . I get nervous. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls./ +It&s just a game. ./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. After all./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. I suppose. she&d been right about ./ +It&s all trivial. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. I reali3ed who I was talking to./ +I know. She sat in the dining hall. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella./ :ueenie said./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible.
:ueenie. rather than taking advice yourself. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. %% waited patiently for her to respond. If %% didn&t know any better./ :ueenie said at last. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose./ +So am I. +>es=/ +>es. $eep inside. It&s part of the game you&re in. on paper or otherwise./ %% started her response. $eep inside./ %% glared at her. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to./ +>ou know. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort. for instance. I&m listening. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. this time you are actually making sense. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice.aybe. >ou&re a writer. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. %%./ +. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on. >ou never let it rest. 9ut she did know better./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again. you know you want to do it./ +That&s fine./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%. There is one thing that I am afraid of. I don&t want to be anything like them. be-all for you. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not./ +Take your stage fright./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button./ said %%. +0ome on. and do it. She gave :ueenie a long look./ :ueenie smiled. >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. and stared up at the ceiling. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air./ +7isten. but you don&t really know my parents. +I was being serious./ %% said. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years./ +-kay./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. you know you can do it. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. or belittling them every chance you get. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. sliding her plate aside. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating. :ueenie. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. +>es. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when ./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over./ said :ueenie. >ou know my parents.+6ot in the big scheme of things. 9ut just hear me out.
+4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. +There&s no common ground. And this would help me out a lot./ . and. +It&s important.yan e'plained. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time.yan leaned in and whispered. %% thought. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater./ +>ou&re friends with ./ ./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond./ . +I need you to do something for me. +7isten./ +Trust me./ %% cocked her head to one side. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis./ . and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue.yan asked. It was empty. I just need you to say a few nice things about me./ +9ut I hardly know you./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. +4ho is this creep=/ . +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned. right=/ +>ou could say that.yan sat down across from %%.yan Stevens loomed over them./ he smiled devilishly. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test. ignoring :ueenie altogether. .c0arthy. +0an I talk to you=/ . uninvited. if you just talked to them./ :ueenie volunteered. a shadow fell over the table. +I said I need you to do something for me. if you know what I mean. but I&m still not following you. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. +True. and gave up her seat. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. I&m popular./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride. I&m going to go to law school.maybe. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. +0ome on. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. keeping his eyes planted on %%. I know you&re tight with her./ %% hated the fact that he was right./ he said. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep.endal .
The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. +I&ve got a game to get to. I can&t help you./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying./ +4ait*/ . whether by te't or by phone. %% had secured her starting position. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. too close for %%&s liking. as she was making her way to the locker room. . +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. +That&s it=/ . +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season.ary. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. 4e don&t even talk anymore. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. %% had played well. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. After the game./ .yan called after her as she walked away. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. 4e aren&t even friends. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and . I was her tutor.endal didn&t listen to them./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. :ueenie had played superbly. So %% figured their friendship. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game./ +4hy not=/ .endal./ she said. They hadn&t spoken since ./ +4e aren&t best friends. according to 0oach 0ook./ she told him sharply. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. I can appreciate your interest in . +6ow that&s the %% I know and love.endal had stood %% up. was over. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate.endal . too.c0arthy was doing there. There was no apology. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. entirely confused./ %% stared at his hand until he let go. >ou not only played with skill. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. I can&t help you. +7ook.yan practically whined. +I&m sorry.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. ladies. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to.%% sat there./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact. That&s it. or whatever it was. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. but you also played with heart./ And so it was official. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands.
there&s a first time for everything.endal halfway or stay where she was. debating whether or not she should meet . That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. +She just rambles when she&s happy. I&ll see you back at the dorm. :ueenie hesitated./ %% replied as evenly as possible. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym.endal took in the empty gym.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle./ +It&s about time. as she pulled on her warm-ups./ :ueenie said./ They left the locker room together. +4hen we lose./ %% yawned and stretched./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks./ . it&s a different story./ +Thanks. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side. three./ /That&s very true. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. ladies. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. I want team on three./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. #veryone else followed suit. 9y the way. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. you wouldn&t know. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. as she fle'ed her arms.endal was still sitting on the bleachers./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. +. would you=/ +.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. +5reat team effort tonight./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around./ +>ou know what they say. 9y the time she made up her mind. +It was e'citing and fun to watch./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance. -ne. she knew why.an. +5ive me a moment. Then it&s always short and sweet. +"lease=/ +-kay. 5reat team effort. when she noticed that . As soon as she saw ./ :ueenie declared. I&m glad we won though. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself./ %% whispered. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on./ %% said.nocked me around= I&m all muscle./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. +5reat game. >ou&re really good. we won a game. I stink. +I&m ready./ . floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended. .endal already stood in front of her. two. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. 0oach left the room. +I can hold my own.
/ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. CHAPTER "* . That&s the problem. It is what it is. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester./ she said. 5uess you proved her right. 2e&s perfect for you.endal closed her eyes.yan Stevens is head over heels for you. +I know how it looked. +She said you&d stop talking to me. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e./ +>ou know. +2ey.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. +I thought I knew you./ +>es. I don&t./ . +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class.endal pleaded./ she said./ said . you do. :ueenie warned me./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. (or avoiding you./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. you know. look. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything. +I came here to apologi3e.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm./ . Instead.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. I guess he likes you a lot. +>ou know me. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space. And I stuck up for you. she wondered if she&d made the right decision. I know you&ll do well. +I&m glad you came to the game./ +I didn&t freak out./ .endal. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. she decided to walk away./ +6o. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor. and you should probably know that . And I&m sure all of your friends would approve.endal interrupted./ ./ %% took a giant step backwards. . Apparently he thought we were good friends or something. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. 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.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. +-h. to e'plain what happened./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. against her better judgment. +9ut it&s not what you think. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ . I don&t know you at all. ./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder./ . +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school. 4anted me to put in a good word for him./ she said roughly.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for. as you put it. I said you&d never do anything like that. 9ut when .endal cringed.
2is eyes were warm and welcoming./ The president pointed a finger. +2ey. in faded jeans. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. +4hat&s your name=/ +. . I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. +Sorry to interrupt.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch.endal said.endal stood slowly.endal insisted.eet me in five minutes instead.endal*/ +2ello./ The entire group looked at her strangely. you behind the couch. +It&s important. talking on her cell phone. +It&s okay./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear./ . .endal approached her slowly. . I. . take your time. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society. and then looked back at . :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. and tapped her gently on the shoulder.endal. please say hello to . intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch./ +(ive minutes is all I need. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors. . I found it. +I. I wasn&t . earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. +>es. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. +See. . gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie.endal. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. . 4hen she stood up. really. .endal.endal gave a slight and awkward wave.endal.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her.endal heard a voice ask.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. +I already know what you think of me. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. %ust give me five minutes./ +2ello. +>ou&ve got five minutes. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. #veryone. She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room./ . +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. 9ut you&ve got it wrong. (rom where she hid. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting. >eah./ the president said patiently. 9ut look. ./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors.endal=/ +4ell*/ . . +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. +And you are=/ . then crossed her arms over her chest. shuffling through its contents./ the students said in unison./ . races and religious beliefs. To . She was dressed as if she were going out downtown.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover.
I&m still confused./ +So. but .endal e'plained.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. This time. until her silhouette faded into the night. School. then she&ll come meet me. >es. Something came up. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. ./ She laughed in spite of herself. It distracted her for a moment. #verything. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. (riends. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. I&m serious. .endal striding along the sidewalk./ . I don&t even know what I&m saying. .endal hugged herself to keep warm. let me guess. I want to talk to her more. All of it. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. as if her words were left suspended in air. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings.endal declared. I already tried talking to her.yan as they left the athletic center. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. And there&s more to be said. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door.endal=/ %ason asked .eet me in the school lounge. It&s me. ./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. -kay. +This is so new to me. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. she could still see .yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season.going to stop talking to %%. I thought I&d try a different approach./ ./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. +9esides./ . ./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. I want to do the e'act opposite. and that didn&t go so well./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. She&ll know where I&m talking about.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. I knew she was mad at me. I&m not going anywhere yet. +4hy did you suddenly stop talking to her= And why did you do e'actly what I said you&d do=/ +9ecause I was confused./ . 6o. %%% +So what happened with . +%%. In fact. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it./ +. I haven&t even made it off campus. no matter what people think or what people say or . I&m not downtown yet. Tell her to meet me there in an hour. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. I want to*spend more time with her./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. See you in when you get here. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. and continued to watch her from afar. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened. I want to*I don&t know. It&s important.endal walk away. And I needed some space to think about my confusion. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away.
+4hat. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge.aybe you just need a different approach./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ e'ploring my options./ . okay. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason./ .yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. rela'. isn&t that*/ ./ %ason stopped walking./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans. And I can&t figure out why.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors.an.endal in more subjects than one./ +I don&t get it.yan said./ %ason snickered.+6o./ %ason bit down on his laughter.an. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on. I&m just. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party./ . +I don&t know./ he said./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. She said . +She said she hardly even knows .c0arthy this and . 8emember= She stood me up. +Take this for me. the one that you talked to.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. +2ey.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass.yan waved his hand into the air. while making 1uotes with his fingers./ +So=/ +So. +-h*right.yan rolled his eyes. +I don&t know. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else./ +I doubt that. +9ut I&m going to follow her.c0arthy that.endal ./ +I tried a different approach. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet. seriously.yan said. They watched together as the figure took a sharp left off the cement path that led to the soccer field and cut over to the bleachers. >ou know. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team. +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud. A devilish smile broke out on his face. +It does now.yan looked up./ . +It bombed./ +6o. +5et it=/ +$ude. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days./ . +I think it is. Then it was all . $oes it matter=/ . Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up. .aybe she&s just not into guys. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back.yan answered./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ . does she know if .endal . +./ he said 1uietly. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean. +Shut up./ +. and then to a figure approaching the soccer field./ . maybe she&s tutoring . I forgot about that./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. The whole sensitive guy routine.
static feelings. She reread the words 1uickly. *ant to &ometimes ' do. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. strength. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. +I&m not sure. &o real. '4m wea6. The first time she . Heart open. . Sure. But it4s 5ust a moment.endal. Thoughts reel. And move on. &omewhere. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. &ometimes it helps. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . mind /lea6. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . only this time she hadn&t let it take over. to relieve in itself The pain. so to spea6. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. erratic. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. . ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it.. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all.
knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to./ +6one other than T2# .endal./ They watched together as a tiny. %% 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. 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.c9ride&s. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. As she reached for her baseball cap./ +:ueenie./ :ueenie sat up straight. It was therapy. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. . stage fright. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. with glasses too big for her face.endal . 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. %% had been able to do it all by herself./ :ueenie whispered back. dark-skinned girl. unassuming. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. every word. %% knew that now. 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. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h./ %% looked around the room. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. took the podium. closed the journal. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance. +7istening. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. every rhythmic phrase. care of the . "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . and tucked it neatly under her pillow./ %% said evenly. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. perhaps=/ +6ice try. This time. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. She spoke about tolerance. or lack thereof./ +>ou give up too easily. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. right. I forgot. even basketball. It made sense. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society.c0arthy. A meeting of some sort was taking place.
I still don&t understand.endal. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. I&m heading back to the dorm./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. +And she wants to tell you herself.iss . 4as. . I&ve got three words for you.endal ./ +4hich are*=/ +I. you should know that . if you&ll e'cuse me. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly./ :ueenie continued./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. She could only nod. 4rong. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all .+That&s right. she took a deep breath. It doesn&t happen too often./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step.c0arthy once and for all. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. taps me on the shoulder. +-kay. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. (or some reason. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. +5ood. save your breath. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. and I don&t want to know. +6o.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About . of course./ %% sat down again./ said %%./ :ueenie closed her eyes./ %% stood up. in hopes that I might go speak to her./ %% cleared her throat.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. she likes spending time with you. +6ow. #njoy the rest of your. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . +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. The nerve of some people./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. I&ve got two. and says she needs to talk to me. I asked. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. three. +4onderful./ :ueenie admitted. 4hen she reopened them./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. I&m talking on my i"hone outside. I got the impression that she even missed you./ +She likes you. she took another deep breath. +This is a big deal for me. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story.
There were three sets of doors to the school lounge./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having. I mean. I&m talking @like like. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where ./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends. she couldn&t tell.an./ +I can&t believe this./ +That&s up to you. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. This is me you&re talking to. >ou have to believe me. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all./ %% whispered in return./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body./ %% yelled. :ueenie .+9asically. you might hear her say it for yourself./ +And I appreciate that. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories./ :ueenie whispered. She grabbed her baseball cap back.endal supposedly was waiting. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug.c9ride. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. 4alking through them would be the easy part. ./ +Thanks./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. my friend. Then I&m heading downtown. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. +%%.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field./ +I can&t believe this./ %% yelled again. +I was wrong about her. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to./ :ueenie continued. The hard part was to choose which doors. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot./ +I know. I think she really cares about you. +0all me if you need to./ said %%. I did my part. you&ve got a small head. >ou were right. +%ust when I&m over the girl. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain./ She pointed at %%. you turn around and tell me this. +. CHAPTER "! . 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. +It was obvious. and slammed it down on her head./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation. come on. She&s not like I thought she was./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head. 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 are the biggest self-centered. casting a dim beam over the blanket. worried that %% would arrive at any second. +4hat do we have here=/ .endal spat./ +4ith some other guy. eh=/ +That&s none of your business.endal&s protest. +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=/ . well.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . 4e&d make a great couple. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school./ . +I apologi3e for standing you up. +4ell.yan returned./ +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. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it. I found a much better way to spend my night. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic./ .endal pointed a hard finger at him.yan stared down at the blanket. 2is charisma had melted away.yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness. It&s been said.endal&s sweet smile soured instantly./ +"athetic=/ . +It&s cold out here./ . 4e could take this school by storm. 2ave you ever noticed why the girls you hook up with suddenly stop talking to you= -r did you actually think that you were the one playing them=/ +I*/ +-h*you did. 4e have so much in common./ 2e approached the blanket. +"lease.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up./ ./ . +6ice little set up you got here./ +A friend=/ . The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon. if you must know./ +7ook.endal laughed sweetly at him./ said . didn&t you= 2ow sad. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more. %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story./ 2e winked at her./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret./ ./ he confessed. And in the end. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip. egotistical moron I&ve ever met./ +Some friends come with benefits. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ . If :ueenie had come through for her. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me./ .endal told him at once. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. well. +Think about it. I&ve never even entertained the thought.endal looked at him with distaste. +#ither way. A friend.yan forced a laugh. you&re pathetic. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them./ . just go.endal as she scanned the darkness. +That seat is reserved for someone else. "erfect for a secret rende3vous. She crossed her arms in frustration. right=/ +It was a girl. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing.
it turns people off./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ ./ +7ook./ 2e looked at her.yan didn&t answer. It&s about who you are.endal stared at him firmly. >ou really are a lesbian=/ . +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. desperation in his eyes. +Then tell me. I guess not.endal approached him. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors.yan stood up.endal&s own eyes softened./ he told her. . his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. not mine. It&s not about what you do.endal continued. >ou act so conceited. $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. setting her hands on his shoulders. . >ou might as well let them see the real you. ./ +6ot everything. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school. +They&re his rules. what am I doing wrong=/ . -nce we graduate. +I&m the captain of the soccer team./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. She suddenly felt sorry for him. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school.yan said 1uickly. +Then why do you act like such a jerk most of the time=/ +I guess I always thought that&s how I was supposed to act. +I don&t know what I am. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives./ said .yan asked.y father&s in the military. And apparently you aren&t being yourself. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are./ +So it&s true. I&ve done everything right. they might respect you more./ . anymore./ .+4ell.yan maintained. but there was no one there./ . no matter what other people think.endal. I&m in no position to tell you what to do. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. +It isn&t worth it./ he e'plained. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. I get good grades.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. I take care of myself physically. now you know. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. She peered into the shadows. +That&s the real point of going off to college./ . +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. +4here did you get all of these ridiculous rules from= Is there some book out there that states what guys should or shouldn&t be=/ +. then. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o./ +I can be a nice guy. +9efore you met who=/ . 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ .endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. 4ho&s going to brag ten years from now that they were on the soccer team or the cheerleading s1uad at Sampson Academy= I&m not./ she said./ he said. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah./ +.
/ She pushed past 0hristine.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm. 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. I think you got off easy.endal .endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. really./ +.endal knew she&d done that all by herself.endal agreed. 6ew semester. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff./ . It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well.endal replied. 2e stared at it blankly. 6ew classes.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. I&m not doing anything. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. +If it were me. 6ew . +6o.endal had started packing. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back./ ./ As . you know that=/ +I have changed. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. and*/ +I can do it by myself.yan leaned forward to hug her. . calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered. 7ook. +I&m just saying I know how you feel./ she said. +>ou&ve changed. She had decided to move in with . I can&t understand. Steadying the crates in her arms./ ./ .endal said. and it&s important to me.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. +6ope. +5o look in the mirror. +I&ve already been scolded by . and then took it in his hand. I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.ya&s room.ya&s room if you want. She turned her back and resumed packing./ she advised./ . she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to ./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand.c0arthy. +Then you&ll see what I mean.+It doesn&t matter. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . . but . I said I was sorry a billion times. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same. 2er clothes were spread across her bed. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since .ya the week before. +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./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . 6ew living space.endal.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. ready to be carried away to some other closet. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything.
9ut. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation. +6o. reluctantly. +That&s what she feels bad about./ .e. she sure was an attractive scapegoat./ +5ood. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. +I can do it.endal entered her room.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it./ . She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once. I&m sorry./ she said./ +I have plenty of room./ +Such as*/ +4ell.endal admitted./ +It&s okay. sitting on top of a damp blanket and flicking the flashlight off and on for almost two hours before she&d finally given up hope.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor.endal frowned. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles. +2onest./ ./ said ./ +So what now=/ +6ow. +Is it possible./ ./ +If it&s any consolation.endal snatched the book away from .ya helped . +I&m a little on edge still./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything.endal had waited in the cold. +Time to move on./ +8ight.ya asked gently. things change.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= .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 %%./ +7et me help you.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it./ +Are you sure=/ +>es.ya sat down on her bed.aybe./ . It&s not a big deal at all. +I know. as ./ said .. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year.endal. And she never showed up. nothing. +6ot much./ ./ . I know she feels bad about it. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes. 7etting me move in here is help enough. +. She does feel bad about what she did. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible./ . as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others./ +"ositive=/ +. 6ew semester. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . neither.endal.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor. it&s not./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance.ya asked. +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly. +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ . She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem./ . 6ew things to come.endal replied apologetically./ .
/ +(orgot what./ ./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. had led her nowhere in particular./ . +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. in search of inspiration for writing. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her.endal smiled wickedly.endal returned.yan Stevens needs in his life./ .+It&s okay.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. I forgot.ya asked innocently.yan is cute./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot. . And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop.ya teased./ ./ .yan would have asked you for sure./ she said./ . jockish sort of look.e= I couldn&t. +. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team. +. +Then you can help me think of what to say to ./ +>ou&re into girls now. listening to successful./ . I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything. And apparently she&s not into me. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach./ . finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine. I understand.yan. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. here&s a list of possible venues.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in. and took . +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal. 2er stroll./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen.endal burst out laughing. +(or instance./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. She picked up the binder and showed it to . >et she continued to linger.ya blushed. I can promise you that. I happen to think . +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. +8eally= I thought ./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl ./ +4ell./ +-h./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +.endal asked. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him.endal&s hand.endal said./ +>ou like .endal. debating whether or not to go in.ya cooed like a little school girl. -therwise he might ask somebody else. +I&m not into girls now. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem. >ou name it*it&s on here./ . +4hat&s that=/ . +0ome on. +4hat=/ . I have to do it soon. if you like that meathead.ya answered. certainly lacked appeal. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes. +2e&d never say yes. and began sifting through some papers./ .ya jumped up off the bed.
9ut there was no masked man./ said his friend %ason.endal would be waiting. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure . And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. I&ll catch up with you. %% recalled the e'citement she felt flowing through her when she&d left the school lounge and headed down campus to the soccer field where :ueenie had said . . she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory./ he whispered. +>ou know. 9esides.yan echoed. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. +I don&t think so.yan. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . right.yan held up a finger. telling him to wait a minute./ she said. %% almost called out to her./ said .endal told you what happened. +>ou two make a cute couple. +-h./ +0ouple=/ .The sun had just settled in for the night. %% stared at him vacantly. At that moment. +I hope you treat her right. Then for some reason .yan&s shoulders gently. She&s too much to deal with. barely acknowledging her presence.yan. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss.yan./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. And when she finally stopped running. she didn&t./ said .endal. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window. +And I doubt she will any time soon./ she said blandly. and then turned abruptly toward %%. 6amely you./ As he turned and reached for the door.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. who was standing beside him. +6o. once he was back outside on the sidewalk.endal was holding . under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . more significantly. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. other girls. Save me a spot in line.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her. +2ey %ason. +4ell. completely out of breath and.yan Stevens standing directly behind her./ ./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . she turned and ran. +I thought she&d tell you./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground./ +(ine by me. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm./ %% stepped aside to let them pass./ said . and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win. %% gave him a slight nod. breaking into %%&s flashback. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. +./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. They shuffled by her. She had gone there.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. completely heartbroken. Instead. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then.
that&s good advice. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping. the sky and ./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you./ +4ell. ./ .+6o./ .yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued. She flopped down and closed her eyes. too. +4e talked about a few other things./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah. +I wanted to know what was going on with her. bouncing off the sidewalk. and smacked herself in the forehead. 7ike I said. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand.yan e'plained. Then it hit him./ ./ A warm. wait a minute. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. +I&m sorry. +. let me get this straight./ she said. She didn&t./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was./ ./ +2ey.yan&s face. >ou two were about to kiss. but I have to go./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly. even though it was still unmade.endal was holding onto your shoulders./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. +She was waiting for you.endal sat down on her new bed.yan struggled to recall the incident. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. CHAPTER "$ ./ she said suddenly./ %%&s eyes danced around. and her lower back ached. %ust as she was about to fall asleep./ . you know./ %% smiled. I wish. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up. +I knew it. and she basically put me in my place. the door to her room opened. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting./ he glanced around again. right= About me. so I followed her. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street. she said she was e'pecting someone else.yan called after her as she hurried down the street. +So.endal didn&t want you there. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out./ +9ut I saw you together./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you./ +>ou saw us=/ . +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs.endal mumbled. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. +.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight.
ya likes . I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly./ +And that you basically told him to get lost./ +I was thinking we could go to the library. +4hatever you have to say. +I mean that I did show up that night./ %% e'plained. and made a face. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now. I guess I didn&t really believe it.endal.yan Stevens.endal told her. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view. )nlike ./ She observed .aybe do a little studying.endal. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know. +7ooking for you./ +That is a mistake. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. ./ +4ell.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth.+It&s not . trying to make sense of what was happening. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge.endal&s new surroundings. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something.ya.endal flinched./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed./ .endal nodded and %% sat down beside her. and I ran into ./ +4hat=/ ./ +I didn&t know what to think./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands. +I just saw what I saw and ran. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss./ +-nly. only I showed up right when you were giving . +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen. She was sitting up now. And. +And./ +That I did.yan a lecture./ +>ou and me both./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +./ +That he did. just for the record.endal&s eyes shot open. it looked much different through my eyes./ +4hat do you mean./ +>ou could have said something. +./ .ya.ay I=/ .endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently./ said ./ said a familiar voice. I&ll listen. I&m ready. through my eyes./ said . through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ .yan the couch monster. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that. +I was in town earlier./ ./ .endal said dryly./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide./ +-h.endal snickered. It doesn&t matter to me./ +That depends./ %% insisted. +.yan=/ +That&s beside the point. She stood up and began to pace around the room. +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./ +.ya told me where you were./ . I prefer to call him . I&m not captivated by his washboard abs.
:ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet./ %% had said. They had both arrived a week early. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. And that was a moment worth remembering. The two became inseparable after that. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded./ +That&s right. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson.endal said. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. The day she&d met :ueenie./ she eventually told %%. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. making it to the state championships. 9ut %% resisted. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. her life was forever changed./ . right down to her socks. the one and only. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. %% didn&t dare deny it. and re1uest a roommate change.c9ride with her parents in tow. Somehow. and nothing could stop them. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. The championship game went . %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. before classes began. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. #ach was notable for a different reason. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. +I&m :ueenie . +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. you know that=/ At that moment. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. The first was the day she met :ueenie. +Thought so. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. They were going to take the campus by storm. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about./ said :ueenie. .c9ride./ +0ome on.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. performed only when her parents were around./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. in walked :ueenie .+Studying=/ +>eah.
into double overtime. staring is rude. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. once they were inside. her heart sped up e'citedly. chasing her down. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement./ . %% had to ask.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door./ +-h. with a playful smile.endal replied. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes.endal replied. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. 4hen %% reached the landing.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. The room was no bigger than a closet.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. +I&m obviously used to it by now. +I&m learning as I go along. $uring e'ams. they were e'tremely hard to come by. and tackling her to the floor. she saw . She scanned the second floor 1uickly. .endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. she knew the smell of .endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand./ . trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. The walls were soundproof. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. since she&d made the winning basket. eyeing the key. %% gulped. +I&m just having a little fun. As she made her way toward the biographies section. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. And since e'ams were right around the corner. and all. seating three or four people at the most. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. She watched with anticipation as . -nce . A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided./ +$oesn&t bother me much. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. and as they stepped aside they studied . +9esides. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked.endal rounded a corner./ she said. facing %% who lagged behind her. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. you know= Two girls holding hands./ said %%./ . +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . %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. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us.
+9ut. really=/ . +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for./ +0heerleading connections./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . +8ela'.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. +#verything that was right in front of me./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed./ she said. +This=/ She held it up.endal finished. +I know I&m supposed to be listening./ said .endal began. I don&t see you listening. +The interest never went away. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry./ +I am./ She looked up at %%. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her. it knocked the breath straight out of her. +She used to torment me at night. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. ./ +Sit down. I didn&t ./ +4ell. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key.endal shot her a look./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ +I have my ways. -nly. . She decided to test the waters first. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. unable to speak. I should have known.endal confessed./ . She patted the open seat ne't to her. +I was so confused.endal shook her head and laughed. "age DEP. +>es./ . you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. +Interested in you=/ ./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her. +4hat did you mean back on the steps./ . All I see you doing is talking./ .endal sighed. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right. She pointed at the cover. %%./ . her nerves getting the better of her. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es.endal./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here.endal or across from her. that. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore.endal looked at her that way. waiting for me to lug her to class. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. %% nodded.endal ordered. +I thought you said you were ready to listen.endal played with the key. %% remained standing.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her. you&re a girl and that complicated things. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for. +I used to hate her. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. that&s all./ +-h./ she managed./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. +It&s a learning process. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. 4hen .
suddenly made no sense at all. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed ./ She pointed to the page./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously.endal softly. even when I didn&t know myself./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before. not my friends.endal . And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. 4I7$ nights. she sei3ed the moment. +I finally get the meaning behind it./ . and how you helped me change my perspective.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed. +>ou don&t have to say anything.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her./ said . not the s1uad. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. and especially not 0hristine.endal. Instead. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . #verything that had made perfect sense to me before./ said %%. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. +I finally get it. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. And that&s you. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants. +>ou are way too humble.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. no matter what anyone else thought. All I know is that I want to be around you. when %% was lying in bed that night.c0arthy./ said . 4ild nights. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling.endal in the eyes.endal. That&s why I avoided you. 9ut that isn&t the case./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you./ said . and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. . leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. 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 I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. still unable to look . The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. +I knew you were going to say that. That&s why I stood you up. %%% 7ater./ . each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet.
I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. which she already was an e'pert at./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. +%ust what the doctor ordered. +6o./ %% marveled at :ueenie. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. but she&s pretty cool./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. she could read them as they floated by. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . 4hen she closed her eyes.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed.endal . I was wrong about her. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. I&m going to lose it. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear./ +So where is T2# . scattered papers. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books./ +Thanks./ +>ou know. +2ow do you do that=/ she asked. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. she would. 4e&re naturally gifted. If %% could study for it. scattering notes and papers everywhere./ +4ait a second. +I just can./ She hopped up on %%&s bed. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks./ She paused momentarily./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak. +I need it./ +It&s my pleasure. She had gone over it again and again./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading. and it was hardly an e'am./ :ueenie said. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. and worn folders spread out in front of her.rs. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. The poem that . I won&t take your charity. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. I hate to admit it./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest./ +>ou would. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic./ +Thank 5od for that. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them. no./ :ueenie said honestly.
thing to do=/ +>es. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself. not to mention childish./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem. but I think you might be right. 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&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. 9ut if you never take that chance. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. +4ell-adjusted= "lease. shifting her position every other minute. To take a risk like that. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big./ +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. +4ell. .c9ride family soon enough. I&m so proud. but we all can. +Are you okay=/ she asked./ :ueenie insisted./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie./ +It happens to the best of us./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. The lighting was dim./ +2ey./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. you&ll never know the difference between the two. besides all of that. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief./ :ueenie sighed. It&s something special. 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. She&s putting her all into someone. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall. 7et&s not go overboard here. morally-sound young woman. so nobody else at her table could . you can be cynical sometimes.y sister is taking that risk. +"erhaps. devilishly-motivated. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. thankfully. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone.+I&m serious. +I&m sorry. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. I&m not sure what&s going on with me./ +Sure./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor./ +. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best.
+)h. +I guess so./ %% grumbled. as she slapped . And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth./ said :ueenie. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. 2er mouth was already off and running. that would totally rock. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support./ %% forced a laugh. you two make 1uite the darling couple./ . +2ey.yan&s hand. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er./ :ueenie smirked. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal. . afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak.ore than usual. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine.endal and %% shot her a warning look. +2ow about. %% ignored her and took in the crowd.see that she wasn&t only pale./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. 9oth . but it was too late. ladies. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year./ +2ey.y.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret.ya./ said :ueenie confidently. 5ood luck. .atie 2olmes of this school. I bet they&ll even dub you . genuinely serious. yeah./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt./ .endal slipped in through tight lips.endal asked. %% nodded in return.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table. +>ou okay=/ .yan Stevens behind her. +Are they together=/ %% asked./ +And without baseball metaphors. 2onestly.endal. and watched ./ %% smiled politely. She grabbed hold of ./ +Isn&t that .ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way.endal&s hand shot up in the air. +7ook at her. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad.ya asked. as he rubbed the sore spot./ :ueenie replied.ya in the school paper./ +4ell. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something. She gave .yan fidget until . +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and ./ he mumbled.ya elbowed him gently in the gut. +I must say. . +-h. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked ./ +2ey.endal. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing.ya=/ %% asked. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. for that matter. +./ . an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out. +She&s fine. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . girl.yan even had a choice in the matter./ +>ou think so=/ . right. She was sitting beside %%. I don&t think ./ :ueenie remarked. stop. +4e just came over to wish you good luck.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well./ +-h.
endal./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees./ said . +6ot at all. +That . as every person in the entire room stared at her. +At least you&ve got your color back. %% stood there.rs. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. +4ell.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. +.rs. She&s a girl who knows what she wants./ . 0lark&s voice from her ears.e=/ %% pointed at her chest. She felt .endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block .ya&s a little*particular. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter.ya&s a sweetheart. that&s all. +She&s just psyching herself up. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . She yanked ./ she hissed at :ueenie. .rs. And it&ll do . and she began to hyperventilate. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two.endal suggested./ ./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair.yan./ %% scowled at :ueenie./ %% announced./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . he sure is a lucky guy. In an instant. and I&d have to start calling names. 0lark take the stage.ya asked. She felt .ya shifted. yeah. +I&ll go get you some water. The damp taste in her mouth went dry.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while./ added :ueenie./ :ueenie offered in return. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back. 0hairs shifted. +Are you nervous at all=/. we better find a seat before they&re all taken./ %% gulped. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell. she&s not nervous at all./ +-h. +. She shrugged her shoulders back at them. +>ou don&t look so good./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . +%ust look at her. 0lark shouted into the microphone. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition.endal. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. +>ou know. +%%.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd.+0ut it out./ .ya looked in her direction.endal maintained. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. +I think I&m going to be sick. 0lark&s hand. +2ey./ ./ said :ueenie. +./ said . hard. +2ey./ said %%. She&s as steady as a rock. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading./ said :ueenie. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. At this point she was seeing everything double. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. +2e looked absolutely miserable. +Take deep breaths.rs. and turned her head swiftly as soon as . %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink./ %% mouthed.endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. +Thanks for the water. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head.
+4henever you&re ready. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. 2er shoulders straightened. I boasted that I was her only daughter. They stopped about halfway around the track. 4e found a common strand. I suppose you could say I wrote it. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. who held her breath in anticipation. Together. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. I accepted our gender. She often wondered who I was inside. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. I took it off and basked naked in the sun./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. of course. @.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. and they kept coming./ said . >et. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. I cringed at her reluctance. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. The words just kept flowing from my pen. somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. :ueenie.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to .endal. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. And these are the words that ended up on the page. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. +She tied my hair in ribbons. settling on . one after the other. until they blended together into a sea of colors. %%. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. She cringed at my defiance.endal and :ueenie in the corner. +I wrote this for class*well. the best writer in class.rs.other . and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone./ CHAPTER ") . 0lark. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. She accepted our fate. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. tiger. It was the final signal that there was no going back. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. I untied them and my hair ran wild.
endal teased. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass.endal.y name is 9rad. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band. . by the way.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. It&s ama3ing. actually./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you. a biography of #mily $ickinson. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es./ +0lever./ +. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her. After you&re done playing.. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans.endal e'tended her hand to him. by the way./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating./ . +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend./ +6ice to meet you. and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. +0lever. 4e&re pretty popular in this area. +#very (riday night. She smiled momentarily.endal smiled. isn&t it=/ he grinned. he was standing right in front of her./ +Agreed. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end. +I&m sorry.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage. +0ome here often=/ he asked. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. . +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.endal.aybe I will./ ./ +5uess not./ ./ +So listen.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night. ./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those. >ou should read some her work./ 9rad said./ +She was a poet. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I. while chomping on a piece of gum./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him./ +8eally=/ 2e paused./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with. +TouchM./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger. ./ she said politely.endal./ 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./ ./ she said as nicely as possibly. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up. actually. A $rummer and (our 5uys./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then./ +Speaking of T-shirts./ . +I&m . you should stick around and check her out.
+%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. 4I7$ nights. a person that . she wanted to become a teacher. 8ecently. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. #ventually. a new and confident %% was born.endal stood up..&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . would she=/ +6o. ./ +-omph=/ . +>eah./ ./ .endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand. +She might change her mind after she hears you play.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride . #verything around her felt fresh and new. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for./ said %%. signaling that spring had arrived at last. % % % THE E+D % % % ./ . That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud. oomph. As for . he stopped suddenly.aybe I will. She looked out of the adjacent window./ As 9rad turned to leave. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot.endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. +4I7$ nights. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond.endal.endal laughed.endal. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. once she reached the table. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. Since then. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad.+./ +That was much better.endal./ +4ill do. ./ +Stick around after your set. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot.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./ said . -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away. laughed and cleared her throat.endal sat back down. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. 4ere I with thee. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers./ said . +6ot at all.endal played along. As . +I don&t think so./ %% teased.ollow -ueenie and ./ +6ever hurts to ask.
you are under age 2.ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .or her anthology My Story is Out %.by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in. and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# .or#ation and e2cerpts .
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