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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
She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans.endal&s frustration.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. +It&s something I have had to work harder at./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. She ran her hand through her hair again. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. I&m completely lost.endal&s left shoulder. and since she was a writer herself./ %% e'tended her hand. I&d give anything to be able to do that. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair.endal emitted a dramatic groan. I might as well be reading a foreign language. +4ell. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't.endal. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker. +I&ve seen you around school.endal./ +.s. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from./ %% understood . +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ ./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously.endal confessed./ %% smiled. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. +I&m really sorry. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. +The soccer team and I go way back. ne't to the biography section. #veryone needs help now and then. is like that./ . right=/ . 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings.endal said 1uickly. +4ell. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. +I was just joking./ +Seriously though.s. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. :ueenie. I can actually read and write somewhat well./ she said breathlessly./ said %%. So. I&m %%. +I didn&t mean anything by that.sitting at the farthest table from the door. or when . though she couldn&t relate to it. 4hen we discuss a poem in class. ./ . I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. I tutor a lot of different people./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. It&s a completely different kind of reality./ said . +I&m sorry. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in./ . seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late. >ou&re . let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. go to class and pass a test without even studying./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended./ +It&s okay. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over . a little shamefully.endal nodded. right=/ . 0hin e'plains what a poem means. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now./ +That&s what I thought./ .y friend.
+%ust so we can read it together./ .& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. a famous sleep./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of. to break the ensuing awkward silence. long sleep. . not once look up for noon . +It isn&t as important as you might think. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ +It seems like a waste of time. like fruity or something. %% looked up from the page.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down./ +)m*thanks. See. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her.endal said./ %% rambled on. . Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet. ./ she said.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. bask centuries away .+)nfortunately./ +To bask centuries away./ said %%. An independent one. +So./ +5ood. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice. along with a few others for over an hour.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. +-kay. ./ +Thanks. +.endal was staring at her. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. . +I mean. she&s talking about death. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. long sleep. looking up from the book. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. fully aware that . 6ow you&re reading between the lines. though. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said./ She paused and looked up from the page. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ ./ They discussed the poem at length./ %% heard herself say. +>ou smell nice. . That makes no show for dawn. +A long. 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. pointing at the page.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. +8ead the last two lines. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally. I read this twice and I still don&t get it./ . There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from./ %% picked at the page with her fingers./ . you know./ she said./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. right= A long. +I don&t think that matters. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to. 4hy even write if you aren&t going to share your work with other people=/ +Some people don&t need approval from others in order to call themselves writers. It distracted her./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . stealing her attention away from the book momentarily./ said %%.
/ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to . though she could hear the television in the common room./ said .endal asked. %% stood still for half a second longer. we&re even then. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here./ she said finally. you know. as if she were keeping a secret. remember=/ +4ell./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . +6othing.endal.endal. laughing. -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said.endal accidentally brushed against her. . She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover.endal&s folder. >ou said it yourself. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face. . I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. slid her hat on backwards. . She blinked and looked away. +I&ll see you ne't session.c0arthy up close./ %% studied her. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. 2e said you were one of the best. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight./ +In what way=/ +4ell. +4hat=/ .endal said. She was more than beautiful.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background./ said %%. It was her turn to look away this time./ +"ossibly./ . e'cept I&ll be on time./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. recalling the tidbits of conversation./ she said.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt./ %% admitted. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head. 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 did I say=/ +6othing./ +I didn&t think that.endal . She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie.endal was staring at her again. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with .nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious. The dorm room was empty when %% entered. and the warm sensation she felt whenever . +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. +Same place. same time. for instance. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader. same time. letting the sound of . +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending. . It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor./ +>eah./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. +I should get back to my dorm. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave.
4ild nights. ' see it . 4hen %% opened her eyes. +4ild nights. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. 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. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry./ +6o. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed. +4hat=/ . 8ead it with more enthusiasm. fell out from between the pages. The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. sitting side by side.A number two pencil. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . . %% sat back and admired her work.endal raised her voice slightly. 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. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. Beyond your eyes. . 4ild nights. Sitting with her legs crossed. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. an image of . a feeling./ said %%. the writer inside of her had taken hold. a moment.endal asked. . She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal.endal appeared in %%&s mind. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. no./ %% looked at her skeptically.
/ %% watched closely as . It&s been two weeks of studying.endal sighed. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word. +#'cept this time./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. %% covered the page with her hands. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester./ said %%. 4as she at a party or something=/ +./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y./ %% shifted in her chair. . 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry./ %% insisted./ she said. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. studying.endal looked on in ama3ement./ %% forced a smile. +-kay. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. studying. As soon as she finished.endal&s eyes. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended. %% stood up and began clapping loudly./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them.&/ said .endal&s hand and pushed it away./ +I know. >ou&ll see. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me./ ./ said %%. they&ve been enjoyable. 4ere I with thee. give it a little more oomph.endal opened her mouth to begin. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. +4ow. done with the chart. Thanks to you. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy. haven&t they=/ . +4I7$ nights. done with the compass. +So back to those @wild nights.endal. that was much better.endal&s hand. 4hat do you think it means=/ .endal began reciting the poem. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . 4I7$ nights. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines./ . +>es. even though her stomach was in knots.endal laughed. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . she would have never dared to do what she had just done. slowly releasing .endal. studying. And it was all because of . +(utile the winds to a heart in port. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table./ %% said after a moment.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. her hair./ +$ickinson is the beginning. +See the difference=/ +>eah. wild night. studying. 9ut as soon as . She stood up firm and bellowed.endal asked. %% playfully grabbed hold of ./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. +See. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds./ %% held back her sigh of relief. +I&m just doing the poem justice.endal. e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair./ .endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask./ she said./ +Sure. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it.
She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go. . and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy./ %% began. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked./ +#'actly.endal&s eyes widened. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. +I do think it&s possible. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. +4ell.endal studied the words on the page. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up./ %% paused./ +And when she got there. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. She&s just e'pressing love. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say.&/ %% laughed./ She pointed to .endal might say in return./ she said finally. 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. but wild as in overwhelming. +7ook. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion./ :ueenie snorted./ They stared at one another./ ./ +8ight.endal&s heart. outside the boundaries of reality. CHAPTER $ +So. but paused for a moment. slightly afraid of what .+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. She read the poem over again. +>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. another woman. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing. . +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell./ +I don&t know. Instead they continued talking./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. pretending to buff her nails. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong. they&d have plenty of @wild nights. the winds were useless to her. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender.
/ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked.&/ +So. %% had considered it.+0ute. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. She&s nice. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome./ Ah./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. $uring her sophomore year. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. +6ot even close./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. She remained steadfast./ +>eah. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. (rom that point on./ +So=/ +So. she spotted ./ %% said. if you say so. . .endal . and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. 9ut %% knew this was different. and she longed to change the subject./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named . 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits./ %% warned. %% soon fell into a depression. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. +0an we talk about something else. An'iety itched in her stomach. >ou like her. That doesn&t mean I like her. too. +6o. %% made the mistake of telling . This is T2# .elly $ibble. peppering her eggs with hot sauce./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. I don&t know. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer.c0arthy. she&s*she&s different. In fact./ +-. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. +I don&t believe it./ +She&s not what she seems. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment.endal . the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. cocking her head to one side./ %% insisted.elly that she was gay and how she felt. but you used the word @nice. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive. I don&t even know her. and .elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. I happen to think she&s nice. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now.elly transferred to another school the following semester. and regain her sense of self. grimacing from the soreness./ she said.. +$on&t look at me like that. Though it was rumored that . 4ith :ueenie&s help. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity. yes.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. please=/ +(ine. I mean.
+Ahem.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them.endal sat down across from her. +#'cuse me. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as .. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. +$efinitely. and . cooked over-easy. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. :ueenie was giving her that look./ she retorted. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group. . and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. #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. a jacket and skirt combination.endal&s tray. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. 2er school uniform. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year.endal picked at her eggs. (eeling defeated. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. %%% ./ ./ . the drama club./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. +I eat. 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. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism. the art club. the 0ultural Awareness Society.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for.endal looked down at her runny eggs.endal was on a natural high. +At least I eat. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. (or once. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. %% had thought. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it. complemented with potatoes and bacon. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams./ 0hristine motioned to ./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel./ -f course I didn&t know that. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. I just choose to eat healthy. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only./ %% snapped out of her da3e. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. hung neatly at her hips.
+>ou have no luck with tutors at all. that&s it. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events./ +5od. (ive. and about her own response.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate.endal. That&s what a tutor does. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. about the feeling of their locked hands. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot. She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +.endal said 1uickly. and . +She&s gay.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her./ . ./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. +$on&t give her your phone number. or she might start te'ting you. I mean./ 0hristine advised./ . Three. +It&s %% something or other. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. 9ut if %% was gay. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished.endal had caught her staring./ .endal picked up a piece of bacon. She felt di33y and lightheaded. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . ./ +4ell./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. Two. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. +0&mon. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be.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. a lesbian./ +She helps me with homework. . (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. no. giving her knots in her stomach. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. 2e counted silently. She&s on the basketball team.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. I&d just be careful if I were you. look at your track record./ 0hristine continued. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her. I just never suspected./ she gasped. then the girl who spit when she talked. 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. :ueenie or something. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. CHAPTER & . (our. 9ut she had stared back at %%. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name. She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman./ +It&s so obvious. She had suspected that %% was different somehow.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand. So is half of the basketball team. +I&m not naAve. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. -ne.+Speaking of which.
which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus.yan&s soccer teammates. %ason. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. 2e had the perfect body.ya 9rooks. where true dedication and hard work could get you. Sweat began to form on his brow. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country.endal . There was one more thing he needed though. now stood over him.endal ./ . 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. #verything in his life was set to high standards. . 2e breathed heavily. 2e needed the perfect girl. +2ey. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come. beautiful./ %ason said. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. you know. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired.c0arthy=/ +>es. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. 2e had always set his goals high. 2e had the perfect reputation./ +. >ou up for it=/ -ne of .c0arthy= T2# . 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason.yan wanted someone less brainy.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts./ . This was his last season of his high school career. .endal . Then he sank to the ground. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat.c0arthy. +"erfect. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. from his grades to the girls he dated.c0arthy./ . a captain on the soccer team. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. and began to do sit ups. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e. popular. #ven for you. +$efinitely. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well.yan replied between reps. 7ack of confidence was the other. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection./ %ason said. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. Someone like . .yan sat up and smiled slyly. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities.endal . She didn&t have a boyfriend. but not too smart. 2e had to perform well. we&re thinking of having a party tonight. but he&d never admit that. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school.yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. +I told 0hristine. The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader.endal . one piece to make the pu33le complete. I think it&s time . likeable. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. . watching himself in the mirror.
a suburb of 8ichmond./ +4hatever you say./ he said. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. That. All it takes is a little bit of charm. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. 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.endal . of course.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. 9ut with a little convincing from . especially not . %% remembered the night clearly.onopoly. he&d learned to live with the situation. :ueenie&s mother. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. As far as %% knew. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. It would be an affair to remember. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. %% shook her head in disbelief. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother.rs. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%.c0arthy. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. 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. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far.c9ride. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. 2er mother also was a teacher. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. +7et&s go.+This is me you&re talking to. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. . It was early %une. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. Sometimes it was almost too much./ . She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. was not the reason. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. they eventually came around. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. 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. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. . buddy. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . She and her family were close. :ueenie promised. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay.
/ she continued. yet when she needed them the most. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. it&s not something anyone did. years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. %% had rushed after her. (inally. didn&t know the real her. 8oast beef and vegetables. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth.om. and when it was time to say the e'act words. to tell her family. and shook her head. even though I know you both will be disappointed. %% could see the concern in his e'pression./ Silence followed. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. the night had come. in her bed each night. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. I&d still be this way. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. $ifferent $aughters. all those boys around. +I know you are confused.+%osie. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. 2er mother remained composed. There was no plan. It was eating her alive. . 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase. it&s not that. her words coming slowly. I&ve always known. +6o. she couldn&t find them./ %% wanted to make her understand. but this might help.om. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. you can tell us anything. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. herself. +Something I am afraid to say. wide-eyed. the worry and the confusion. +I could check with the paper. being untrue to both herself and them. . it&s not that. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. It&s just something I am. Something that I have to say. I&ve known since the third grade. 4ith each passing day. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. hoping it would help her parents understand.om. %% remembered./ She handed over the book. +6o. %% grew increasingly reserved./ %% knew this./ %%&s eyes widened. eating dinner./ . She could barely swallow her potatoes. maybe an internship. She had always known this. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. so caring and so sincere. and knew there was no going back. no designated date or time. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. 2er father. +I have to tell you something. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart.
She wanted to get inside .endal danced her way in.aybe :ueenie was right.endal&s head. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. :ueenie. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. It wasn&t real./ +2ey./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. that she was a cheerleader. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. 2er father. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. who was set in his ways. %% craved more. As long as she had his love and support. %% had never known anyone like her. ./ . %% laughed. 2e said he loved her no matter what./ :ueenie said blandly. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. . %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional. Then again. . remained completely calm. she felt satisfied. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. on the other hand. and wished she were there to witness it. maybe this wasn&t real either.endal. like what was her biggest fear. #ventually her father had come to terms with it.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome. though he still held onto his own world views. %% had yet to learn anything more about . She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break./ she said proudly. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. Then her mind drifted again and . where would she go and why. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. and needed help with her schoolwork. This sparked an intense argument between them. and her father. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. was incredibly beautiful and popular. It&s nothing. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. and that was that. and they didn&t speak for days.endal besides the obvious. (or some reason./ +I know. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. +I&m having the time of my life. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. It was almost overwhelming. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. 2onest. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about .2er mother continued to cry. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty.
2e was cute. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. . . +7et&s move to the couch./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. I&ll see you Sunday. 2ave fun. Instinctively. this wasn&t a regular card game. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. I gotta go. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . silent. perfect for showing off his toned body.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand. It was a drinking card game. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on . She finally threw up her hands.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard. . +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins. the captain of the soccer team. +Too much. .endal. . +2ere. said. +Sure.yan motioned for her to join him. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. +./ .endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as ./ . who one by one left the room.endal finally won her first hand. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time.yan Stevens. . . why not.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest.yan.endal. She&d had previous brief conversations with . +2ey. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath. coded look with his friends. she was drunk./ he said sweetly. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him./ said .+7ook. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. +It&s an easy game. 9y the time . 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid. you.yan suggested. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. ./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in.yan. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. -f course. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes./ :ueenie said an'iously. She forced a smile. after they were alone. she began to think about . %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down.endal knew instantly who he was. The dorm room overflowed with people.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. .endal stood there with her hands on her hips.
+I don&t know. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open./ . the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. 4hoa.endal . And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm.patting the saggy cushion beside him.endal . 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. The truth was./ . )nable to distract herself from thinking of . and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him./ . wait a second. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. +I totally didn&t see you.yan called after her. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating./ he said. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks. .yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. turning and walking out of the room.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. I just do. Soon. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. At first.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. She kept her head down.yan to inch up in his seat. I think it&s time we got to know each other better./ . patting the cushion again./ 2e smiled widely. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. +2ey.endal .endal&s voice caused ./ said %%. . that&s three years too late. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . She stepped aside before they collided. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn.c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. leaning in closer.endal. She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. suddenly. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going. shielding her eyes. It bothered her to know that . as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . Then. Stuck in thought. +2i.endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'. +0ome sit over here. +Are you okay=/ %% asked. and plowed forward over the grass./ . +I want to talk to you. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs.endal told him. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that.endal yelled. She tingled with drunkenness. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. seeing no movement. She read some intriguing online articles. beaming. 2is mind worked feverishly. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# . but the girl spun around./ +4ell.c0arthy was an enigma.
endal asked defensively./ +I&m serious./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying.aybe hoods should be banned as well./ said ./ +./ . #very month or so they have a band come and play. +Thanks for walking me home./ +-h.endal./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. +It&s damp from the dew./ +4hatever. +>eah. It&s ridiculous.y little world=/ . +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight./ +-kay.yan sitting on the ugly couch. which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself. of course.endal said./ . The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. +Are you cold=/ . after a moment. %% studied her./ %% perked up. making a face. even though she was shivering. that&s the one. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself.endal was looking through her. . +I&m sorry for practically running into you. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it./ . +I think I sat in something wet./ She pictured . . her eyes glossed over from the alcohol./ +If you are so against them./ . 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. 6ot life. remember./ %% said. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening./ %% maintained.endal stopped walking. +I need to go home. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ . where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library./ +"oetry is life. once they reached the sidewalk.endal&s hands in hers. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her. #mily $ickinson. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started.endal broke into a fit of laughter. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry./ %% told her. They felt fro3en. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town. They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm./ +I&ll walk you./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah.endal rolled her eyes. +7et me help you up./ +I can think of lots of other things to do.endal shook her head.endal laughed again. reaching forward and taking . She turned around to get a look at her behind. and suddenly blurted out./ .aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet. yeah. feeling as if ./ said %%. I&ve had a rough night.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. +I love it there./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. rather than at her./ +It&s the grass. It&s a great place to go and just kick back.endal. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them./ said . +5uys are such idiots.
endal fidgeted. It wouldn&t bother me at all. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back. then yes./ %% didn&t press the issue. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman. ending the lull in the conversation. +I want to ask you something./ said . and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad. well./ .+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. +I was just curious./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind.endal had such a hard time saying the word. 9ut she was kind and sincere. right. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming./ +4ell./ +>ou don&t sound so sure. then paused briefly.yan again. She laughed out loud./ .ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. I am./ It ama3ed %% that . %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. really./ . with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch. +9ut I don&t want to offend you. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night.endal. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then. like you before. +0onsider yourself cultured then. That certainly would have been awkward. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. then turned and walked toward the dorm. I was just curious. In that moment.endal said. . +./ +-kay then. I&m an open book. I&ve never known anyone who was.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%. just because of rumors.endal flashed a 1uick smile. Then she thought of ./ +Ask away. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%.endal said./ she said. +>ou are an incredible tutor.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah.endal hesitated.endal had picked up on the first night they met./ +I&m not afraid of you./ . it&s fine. I&m fine. She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. rewording her 1uestion. twisting her thumbs into her palms./ . +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of. something ./ %% told her. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. 2er stride was slight and unsteady. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so./ . She played with her fingers. I&ll understand. let alone get to know her.endal&s roommate had said about her. She suddenly felt ashamed./ %% could only imagine what . 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. +6o. +I should go to bed./ +6o. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness. . smug and moronic.
She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. The rain had ceased. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. and began to scribble. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. There was a bench on the sidewalk.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. . 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. -nce across the tracks. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. Muddy puddles stand in my path. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. along with her thoughts. She headed up the sidewalk. She gathered up her pen. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return. The town was deserted. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. and though she tried to avoid them. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. %% entered the center of town. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. The streets are empty. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. "uddles blocked her path. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. +It&s not that scary. <irginia. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. ' stomp through them. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus.
no. She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . deep down. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. +. I can honestly say that I wasn&t.%% looked up at the sky and smiled.endal sifted through her dresser drawers. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. The heavy air turned light. like you weren&t in rare form either. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. 4hether good or bad. +>ou look ridiculous. . wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. +It&s called a mask. please.endal.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn.endal . %% believed that . She decided that if . +So=/ +So.yan&s not only good looking. . there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. %% recalled . The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich. %% peered along the edges of the street./ +. I decided to leave. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns. but I&m not going to date someone . but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich. 9ut. watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain.endal./ ./ +)m./ As she spoke . .aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about .endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips.endal said.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. 2er empty stomach grumbled. +Tempting as it was.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders.endal was different. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. #very time it rained. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon./ 0hristine replied. then her true colors would already have shown. 5ood different. +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . +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. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. ./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. not looking for anything in particular.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. 2ello. she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. +I hate to break it to you.yan for a while. . +-h. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch.c0arthy.
(un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%./ said :ueenie. and tugged the back of . They practically flip the entire boat. +I won&t regret not hooking up with ./ 0hristine continued. admiring the logo on the front. finishing up on the treadmill. The last thing she needed was another party. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. . and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family./ . +7ook. she would change the subject. She left . I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. +4e are young.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. . Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. After the game was over. .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.yan.endal. .endal who was still spread out on the floor. complaining that she was not having enough fun. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon./ +Trust me./ -verboard. thought %%.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. #veryone knows that. thank you.yan&s a conceited moron. 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. she thought./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely. +>ou should have seen my father. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money. the couch monster. The crowd of freshmen who fre1uented the athletic center was growing rapidly and was made up mostly of those unlucky individuals who had gained a few e'tra pounds and were desperately trying to reverse the effects of too many midnight pi33a runs.endal. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. +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 took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. 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. 9ut here they were. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party./ said 0hristine./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to ./ said . another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. +I like to think I have higher standards than that.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs./ she said. +I know . (un. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction.
/ :ueenie said into the heavy air. why not. They don&t know any other way./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. +5ood. +>ou know what they say. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. They need a wakeup call./ +Sauna session and bacon./ (or a brief moment./ %% responded.c9rides. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was. +I know. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. resting her head on one elbow. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. +Sure. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. that&s all./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. the best caterer. it makes me sick. the fanciest ballroom*ugh. but to wake them up./ +9ut haven&t you ever considered just taking your mom and dad aside and having an adult conversation with them=/ :ueenie lifted her feet off the treadmill. +I just need to do it. with one more to go. hoping that the topic of ./ . +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. >eah.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding.endal would not come up./ :ueenie replied. She knew as soon as she said it./ +6o. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. she shouldn&t have. 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 noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. 6ot for me. I ran into her on (riday night./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love./ she said gently. They cannot and will not hear me. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones./ +These are the . then. not e'actly. It won&t matter. sending a burst of steam into the air. I&m not familiar with that particular saying./ %% managed between breaths. I like the combination. +I bet we could just bring some in. she couldn&t tell for sure. I guess. Steam rose up around them./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. +I&m sorry. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face./ +The ama3ing sauna. +So. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked./ %% added in an infomercial voice.
/ +-h. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. she seemed okay with it. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition. The gay 1uestion./ +That&s priceless.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on./ . +She was . silly./ %% scolded. . 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. >ou always fall for the straight girls. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. (or crying out loud./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. +I told her the truth./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home. her cheeks dotted with sweat. +The 1uestion. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . .ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. I mean./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. no. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. They were just little crushes. +4hat=/ %% asked. +6o. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip. 4e&ll see if she shows up. +So./ :ueenie started to say something else. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are./ :ueenie agreed. she&s straight./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now./ +0ute. +It was bound to happen sooner than later./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. Thankfully though. +6othing. which made the library the only logical option. conservative southern town. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways./ said %%. +>ou&ll never believe this. ./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest. I caught myself. 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 . and then stopped. The 1uestion. nothing serious. She asked me if I&m gay. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay. but she asked me the 1uestion./ +4ell that didn&t take long. I literally ran into her./ %% said again. +I just think you should be careful./ %% turned her head and muttered. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. +%ust tell me./ +$on&t do that. That&s all. but she spun around and fell. so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything. yes. it&s getting hot in here./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls./ +:ueenie.endal&s engaging laughter. .
Then. There&s this energy between us. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. but it . right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious. The whole thing is just ridiculous. I can&t e'plain. +She&s a cheerleader after all./ :ueenie continued./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. It&s called the science e'periment. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. after their curiosity wears off. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. . +I did mean half of what I said in there. +It&s true. +I knew you liked her./ +:ueenie. 1uite frankly. unabashed. I&ve been there./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt./ :ueenie said pointedly. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. I&m about to sweat away to nothing./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. That&s something that isn&t going to change. +I know you like her./ :ueenie echoed.iss ./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. 9e careful./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes./ ./ +That she is. really./ %% groaned./ +I hardly even know her. +-kay. what they really want is a guy./ +I don&t care what it&s called. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. shielding her eyes./ +"reposterous.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. isn&t going to happen./ %% sighed. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction. ./ %% began to massage her forehead./ +Stick to what you know best. >ou&re being ridiculous. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy ./ +4hat do you want./ +6o./ said :ueenie. +She&s not interested in me like that.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end./ +7ook. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that. +The least you can do is admit that much. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. . +7et&s get out of here./ :ueenie sat up. +2ey. +>ou know how straight girls work. +I knew it. you don&t./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough. so I like her.
/ %ason concluded after a moment. 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. +I thought so. it was also incredibly appealing. . It was because he was frustrated.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night. +2ey./ :ueenie insisted.yan said. 8ela'.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. +>ou don&t look so good./ .yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber.+>ou know. 2ey./ +8ela'. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself. 2is skin was e'tremely pale. 2e started working his triceps. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders.yan from the bench beside him. It was true. And to make matters worse./ CHAPTER . After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch. they had lost the game. +4hat&s your problem=/ . +#ven for you./ . and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. As a result./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. . wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong. +Thought that she was out of your league. +I&m fine. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. 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. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. +$id you hook up with her=/ . don&t push it./ %ason remarked. getting pummeled five to nothing.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. . +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. 2e looked absolutely horrible. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. the lowest-seeded team in their division./ %ason laughed.endal . his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. .yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench./ . I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians./ %ason warned as he watched . like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it./ %% frowned. . They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. straightening up.yan glared at him. %ason gritted his teeth. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. >ou know. +It&s not without merit.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. .
she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. +0atch you later then. .aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor./ +All right. both of them lying in agony./ +#'actly. <ibrant shades of red.yan was confident that he would get another shot. that&s all. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game./ +I hear ya.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. simultaneously knocking over a stack of books. 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much. the legendary inviteonly soccer party. 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. 9ut today. 4ith that. +6othing. +I&ve got more work to do here. Though his legs ached. drinking refillable bottles of water. picked up the weight and began lifting again./ he said between breaths. Something else was aching inside him. Sure. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing./ %ason said.endal had to help her into bed. And . CHAPTER ! . She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. There&s no way she would turn him down.aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. ..endal . .endal had a reputation to uphold. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson./ . one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene./ . It was status. not wanting to add to . as well. . Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. .yan&s salty mood.c0arthy./ said %ason. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. he pushed through the pain.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. And his guest was going to be . In times past .endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. As a result. . 0hristine got home late. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength.T<&s The 8eal 4orld.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and . Though he had singled . but there was something missing. popping Tylenol.
9uilt back in the DHFFs. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies.endal felt pressured to get good grades. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. To the right of the counter stood a stage. . At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. humming original songs about the meaning of life.endal read the words. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. . .endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. +fantasi3e reality. The room to the left of the main counter was filled with artsy types of paintings on the wall and soft plushy couches scattered hapha3ardly across a gleaming maple floor.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. #ducation was far more important. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. She finally felt like she belonged. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. . This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. so you could sit in the palm. . So this is where %% likes to hang out. she could see her at some sporting event. -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. plus the beauty of the campus. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. she was a part of the cheerleading team. her father especially. 9e Somebody. (or that reason. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. It was hands-on learning. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. Across the backdrop . -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. 0he' . and the ne't thing she knew./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start.i'. was why . She hated to disappoint her parents.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. That.endal&s parents. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. 8ather. 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= ./ spelled out in big bold white letters.endal thought. where everyone knows your name and your business. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college.
+I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. And . it still provided a way to release her irritation. and was reduced to a gooey. Although she knew they were dangerous. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation.endal struck with reckless abandon. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames. >ou know. 6evertheless. -nce. . She tingled in anticipation. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below. 6o. ashy. +)ghhhh. I need some grease.endal paused. +>ou were saying*/ . smartly.endal returned.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. she dropped the attitude. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. until that moment. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. And thick crust. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . it became obvious that her roommate was awake. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. as if were weighted down./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. . many of which could be forgotten. %%. I like thick crust. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. +I like pi33a. It really was none of her business. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone.endal slowly opened the door to her room. Though the incident had left her unharmed. 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.endal. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into . dramati3ing herself.. black mess in the middle of the living room floor. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. something happened all right. %%% -nce back at the dorm. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. given to her by her older brother.endal. ./ 0hristine moaned. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. 4ell. but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. +I&m sorry./ . when she was about five. There were other occasions where 0urious .endal. afraid to disturb 0hristine. +(unny.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. thoughtfully.
+"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.
and.any love well. %ust one 1uick peek./ %% said. In fact. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then.endal flinched. >ou&re different. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. it is. but e'press it ill. +I&ll be right back. +This poem is like. and she tripped over it. feeling nervous and clumsy. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. Then she&d set it right back down.& See./ said ./ said %%. +0ute./ +4ow. she wants him to know that though she is driven. 2er journal spilled out. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst .iss. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away./ +$ifferent./ . but at the same time. +9ut you&re not. like you said. She reached for the journal. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. . I didn&t know what to e'pect either. she thought./ They continued to regard one another. she accidentally knocked over her bag./ +I understand./ .endal eyeballed the journal./ +>ou didn&t at all./ +>eah../ +. has her own dreams. totally awesome. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ %% nudged her shoulder. and flipped it open close to the middle. It looked pretty beat up.endal flipped back her hair. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily.endal. standing up 1uickly. which had been resting on the floor. As she pushed her chair back from the table./ said . She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. the edges frayed and the binding worn.endal. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. +>ou just are. how=/ %% shrugged.aybe at first. +That&s pretty intense. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were./ she said. +ar6ness looms ' cannot see ' feel your /reath upon my s6in &par6ing a nervous warmth ' reach for you &liding my palm across your chee6 &o softly./ said %%. 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 . +4hoops.
/ he pressed on./ ./ .endal was lying. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. and who was going to be left out. and then shook her head apologetically.yan Stevens./ said . +0hristine said you were here.endal. I&m actually studying. she found it pathetic. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss.endal thought. >our journal was just lying there. hooked up with him.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. +8eally I am. just as if she were the person in the poem. 2aven&t heard a thing. +I&m sorry. hoping he would take the hint and leave./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ . and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead.endal cursed her roommate under her breath. I&m not pretending./ he said with an overconfident grin./ .endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in . 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid. 9ack then . he puts it so nicely. that . She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. anyway. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. 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 could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. She just said you were in the library pretending to study. . 6ow. She and %ason had been dating ever since. 7ast year./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite.yan&s pond of smoothness./ she said instead. looming over her like some creepy. . A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. so real. so . +I&m honored. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples. +7isten. +I was there last year. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. I haven&t heard anything at all.yan said smoothly. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party./ .y./ +I know what it is../ . . 2e didn&t. of course./ .endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her./ .endal could feel the tingle on her skin. who she now thought of as . ominous shadow.yan continued.yan the couch monster./ . +4ell. +It&s e'clusive. +2ey./ +-h./ +)m. She had to read it again. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something./ +6ope. was standing ne't to her chair.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence. no.
And she was even more afraid of what ./ %% jumped. It&s at that coffee shop you like. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think./ +I guess so. but not because poetry was personal. +2e&s so full of himself./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks.endal e'claimed./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people.endal had pinched her. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday. and hoped .yan./ +4ell.endal or .endal hadn&t picked up on it./ ./ %% approached the table at that moment./ +It&s good to know that you have morals.yan=/ .endal bit her lip.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand. of what she might say. +So./ she blurted./ . his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman. +I only read a little bit. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. She sat down without glancing at either ./ said . +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es./ +(rom what I hear. +It was my first kiss. . is there something going on with him=/ %% asked. of what they might say. I&m one of the good girls. just as I described it. ne't (riday. +I sort of forgot about it until now./ . she felt delighted that . I&m sorry. +>ou&d miss a really. though. +I was raised right./ he mumbled finally and walked away./ said %%. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ . She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. eager to change the subject. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked./ %% swallowed again as . I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team.aybe another night then.endal./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. +That&s not entirely true. +8ight.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. The Spot.endal would think. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list. +I&d like to read some more.+I&m sure you can get out of it. 2er face was still damp. I don&t know what he&s thinking. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. really fun time with yours truly. +6e't (riday. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff. simply was not there. I think you should enter./ %% reminded her. If you&ll let me.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out. +It was incredible. Instead.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her. +4ho= . +./ said ./ She swallowed hard. Suddenly. I made her promise to go with me. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels. ./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing.endal watched as ./ .yan. She was afraid of their reaction. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red.yan considered their story.endal shifted curiously in her seat. +8ight. That got e'tremely hot very fast.endal&s eyes lit up. rubbing her leg where .
/ said %% impatiently. . +>ou sound like my mother./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that. about this poetry slam thingy. what= I&m not going up on stage.aybe. I&m serious.endal had a hunch they were about . and then averted her eyes. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ %% said./ +That would never happen./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at .endal said. +They have one every (riday night. And if something happened. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying.endal hesitated then asked. I&m not ready./ . +It basically scarred me for life./ +. And during the whole thing. that alone should tell you how important it is to you. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to .endal so easily. you know. So maybe you can practice with me. +See. +I ran off stage so fast. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. And when the contest came up./ %% said 1uietly./ . I got on stage and played the only song I knew. I mean. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time./ +-kay. 4riting is my life. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder./ . we had this talent contest one year at school. I fro3e. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. I&ve never been on another stage since. +I have a fear of being on stage. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright.endal momentarily. everybody in the audience started to laugh. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger./ +4ell=/ +4ell. 4riting is my life. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world./ +0ome on./ %% rolled her eyes. I can&t take that risk. I might freak out and give up writing altogether.+So. I just don&t participate. +It&s getting late. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage./ %% closed her eyes./ +9ut it might.endal said. +I suppose I should./ she e'plained. without enthusiasm./ +That is so sad.endal debated the 1uestion. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head. +9ut it&s different with this. . you&d never be able to give it up.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. desperately wanting to change the subject. She glanced at her cell phone and saw that 0hristine had sent her nearly a do3en te'ts since she&d arrived at the library. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway./ she said.yan./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. embarrassed at what she was about to admit./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life. if I got upset on stage./ . Are you going back to your dorm=/ ./ +So=/ +So.
/ +I&m glad. though she knew e'actly what %% meant./ %% smiled. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. +I&d like that a lot./ Their eyes locked for a moment and ./ +0atch you later. . +2ey*/ %% looked up. +0ool./ .endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm.endal said casually./ she said. later. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion. +So.endal. go with me= There are some great poets around here. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. and some of the writing is ama3ing. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah. I&ll meet you out here after I get out of practice=/ +2ow about I meet you in the school lounge instead= 4e could walk over from there. +That sounded really dumb. As they reached the front of the building.. though= I mean.endal teased. +4ould you still like to go. 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.endal back to her dorm. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder./ said . >et.endal was feeling./ %% paused and then plunged forward. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem. that&s not going to happen. She instantly looked away. She collapsed backward against the closed door./ . +>eah./ +Sure. that&ll work. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder. fall air.endal asked. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said. she would know. They left the library and %% offered to walk . then instantly winced./ %% took a deep breath./ %% managed as she watched . and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind. She breathed hard and her hands shook. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. didn&t it=/ +Totally.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. She would instantly sense what .
./ . I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. +I&m not turning into a lesbian./ 0hristine&s head shot up.She sighed. she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. with satisfaction./ 0hristine gasped.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. 2ow was the library=/ +-h. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about./ +I said @no&. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life. I&m afraid. +I&ve been te'ting you all night. paying rent for some crappy apartment. the empty conversations./ . +4ill you rela'=/ she said. +6othing. . I&m not going to a gay club. apparently not amused./ ./ +I couldn&t care less./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . so 1uit freaking out.endal entered their room. Somehow. very interesting. +>ou&re going to a gay club.endal watched her in amusement. . but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly./ . >our senior year.endal replied 1uickly. +%ust something different. 9esides.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties. 0hristine. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. smiling again./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent./ . +Tell me you said yes./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. +I had an uninvited visitor. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. The thought of . CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as .endal replied./ +7et me guess. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. +>ou didn&t.endal. I already have plans.endal said. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. still lost in a di33y ha3e. the superficial status. pacing frantically around the room. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face.endal answered./ +I guess./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. ./ +I did./ . as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date.
+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.
+I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. And despised her for it./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air./ :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./ +-h. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. my friend. +%%. 4hat did you have in mind=/ +A certain woman sent me a te't about an hour ago asking me to meet her at a certain club at a certain time. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. 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. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ +. 6o room to analy3e or obsess. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life./ %% said plainly. +I&m not looking for better right now./ +Spare me the theatrics. sourly./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders.e= I do all right./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking. +So. +I resent that. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. >ou&re into someone you can&t have./ +$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. +4ith the women I see. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something.+>ou ama3e me. 4hen you do something. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression. get out and nobody gets hurt. you in=/ :ueenie asked./ +./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm./ +Thanks./ %% said. ./ %% maintained. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best. Take./ +"lease. it&s so obvious. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. +%ust get in. really=/ They began to walk again. your current situation. actually./ +It is. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. The hopeless romantic never wins. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery. there&s none of that./ +6o=/ +6o.y dilemma=/ +>es. for e'ample. palms down and swept them to one side./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships./ :ueenie said. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. you do it one hundred percent.
Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. +6othing at all. +6othing. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. reading what looked like a te'tbook. %ust a cup of coffee. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. in fact. . an actual lesbian. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. ./ %% replied dryly.usic boomed from an open door. motioning to the book. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with . and . 0hristine owes me big time./ she said./ %% said. . . and then pushed it open. even though no one was in the room. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. and also members of the basketball team.endal was on her way. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway./ CHAPTER $ . reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally.+I guess. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. . Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air.yan was laying face down on his bed. she thought. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. +Studying.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. . I&m going to pass on that one.endal asked when he looked up. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it.endal made a face. -nce she reached the third floor. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. +I&ll be 1uick. . but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club. sensing %% was hiding something. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find .yan and %ason were roommates. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . +9usy=/ . and would eventually come over to the dark side./ %% said. really. In fact. rounded the first corner. She knocked slightly.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her.endal figured that .endal ne't (riday night./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates.yan said./ .endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack.
+5o get @em. +-kay./ %ason said./ . then I&d like to go.yan was staring at him. +%ust as a friend./ he finally said. +4ait. and she&d severely misjudged him. I&m out of there./ +4ell. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits./ . of course.endal couldn&t believe it.endal said. She took a big breath. It took him a minute before he looked up. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television./ +Sounds good. you do have 1uite the reputation. +I&m just going to be a minute. +So./ . 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over. +I appreciate that. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked./ . regretfully. then I understand./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. She&s pretty good. +>eah. and if you still haven&t asked anyone./ .+It&s okay. and then thought better of it.yle&s room./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team.yan said.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. +I&ll see you (riday night then.endal asked./ %ason replied. I&ve seen her play a couple of games./ she said. +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. it&s okay./ . you must think I&m a complete jerk. +I was ready for a break anyway.yan said. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends./ +-kay=/ +4ell./ . #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest. so it&s all good. yeah./ +>ou don&t have to leave. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do./ +6o. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you. my bad. not sure what to do with them.endal remained standing. +-h. I&ll probably be a little late. shape or form. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. +2ave a seat./ . +-f course. I was thinking about it.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be.yan repeated./ ./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him. So. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say./ +As a friend./ +4ell. +I&ll leave you two alone. +I&m sorry=/ . but that&s basically it. +I&ll watch the game in . +>ou must think I&m a slime ball. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her./ +I know.endal said hurriedly.yan opened his mouth to respond. Sure.yan said.endal held her arms close to her sides. . I haven&t asked anyone else yet./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. +I&m not proud of it. already halfway out the door. So. . we can hang out and talk./ 2e stood up and gave ./ . and I wanted you to be my invite.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards. feeling slightly better about the whole situation. the one you were at the library with. +To say something like that./ +%%=/ +>ea./ . and reali3ed that .
+4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked.endal yawned. +4e&re just getting to know each other. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. but she couldn&t help but smile. I&ve never met anyone like her before./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin./ . +9ut I think I need some e'tra help. she was afraid to try to study by herself. . 0hin ever did that./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal. don&t.endal confirmed.s./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. +)m./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . She was sitting directly across from . In some ways.yan was staring at her awkwardly. you know=/ +8ight. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber./ 0hristine added.endal. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. she&s cool. I mean really smart. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday. +I&m going to. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. +5ee. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson./ +I&m just speaking the truth. +4ell. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered./ he said.endal told her. That&s what I&m nervous about. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. It tasted like rubber./ +I know./ . . The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on. She even told us which author. +She&s so smart./ +So study.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night./ . (riday. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. sunny day.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. ever. not just about school stuff. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth.endal looked up. 2er eyes were hollow. She&s so sweet and*/ . +>eah./ 0hristine said.r. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. ./ She tried. ./ +4ell.endal said. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . thanks./ . enjoying a small side salad. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor. +>ou look horrible. she was going to have to do a far better job.
illigrew=/ +5ive me that. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food. obviously offended. +7et me see what you are studying right now. )nfortunately./ +I know.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired./ she said.endal held back her tongue. +#arth to . She looked hopefully over at the basketball table. but as far as literature was concerned./ ./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . very cute./ . . 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. yawned.endal study. +>ou&re serious=/ +. but the rest of the dining hall was empty. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner.endal.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her. +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer./ 0hristine demanded. let&s get out of here. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is./ . she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair. really=/ +>es.endal laughed emphatically./ . +4ho in the world is Anne . I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements./ +-h. +>ou are a math guru. In a matter of minutes. +0ome on. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. +>es. it was empty. It&s a must./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine.endal said and snatched the folder back. That&s all the knowledge I need. -ut with it. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm.endal looked her up and down. so she sei3ed the opportunity to shove a big spoonful of mashed potatoes into her mouth and swallow it down before her stomach changed its mind. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping ./ . too. ./ . +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class. .endal said firmly./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment.y behind is sore from sitting.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. +0ome on.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go./ .
As much as she hated running. and snorting. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row./ . %%./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes.endal e'haled loudly. >ou know how . the whole team has to give me ten more.ya can get. They had been wrong. . as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. much to the chagrin of her parental units.arch. +0ome on. I forgot./ +>es. not from the back. in any way. -kay*I&ll be back in time. . 8unning just to run was pointless to her. +4e&re sprinting. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. The team finished the sprints. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field. I know how ./ +5ood. not goofing off./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads.endal shouted. She needed something to give her a reason to run.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. And that was all the reward she needed. +5ood finish. or whenever the basketball season was over.c9ride.0hristine whistled loudly and said. +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. There needed to be some sort of object involved./ +(ine./ 0hristine said. +Thanks to you./ 0oach 0ook hollered. 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. like a basketball for instance. despised running. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. %enkins. %%. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. %% didn&t know./ . +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride./ 0oach 0ook noted. +"oint guards lead from the front. %% bent over and clung to her knees. +4hatever. on the other hand.ya can get. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. of course. 4e&ve got curfew tonight./ +)gh. %ust remember you have to be back by nine./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. sucking in every breath. shape or form./ +4ill you knock it off already. +0aution. .
then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. The candlelight is optional./ :ueenie added. though. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall. the lesbian team. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. +It&s all about conditioning./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. /2urry up and change. they would spend the ne't practice running from one end of the court to the other until they dropped to the floor in e'haustion. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. +As a matter of fact. +0onditioning. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. +-kay. +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. I am the one who is cooking tonight. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie./ 0oach continued. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. a couple. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks./ 0oach 0ook said. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. it was definitely top secret.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. 4henever they lost a game. so if the two of them were. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side. ladies./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. +I&m starving. regardless of the score./ +2ow sweet. 0oach 0ook ignored her. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. After three years. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. and leave it all on the floor. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity./ +4hat are your plans for dinner./ +See you tomorrow./ :ueenie said. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland./ 0oach 0ook stressed./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. +Team. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. :ueenie. in fact. ladies. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it./ 0oach 0ook barked. that is.
endal sitting there. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. bread. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. In fact. . +>eah. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. She dashed through the food line./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. ./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. I know. 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. tossing everything in sight onto her tray. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray. chocolate pudding. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. In fact. She forced her attention away from . %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. full of mashed potatoes./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. %% winked at her. The rest of her table was empty. +That was no big deal.+I didn&t notice. They sat with the other members of the basketball team.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her./ +She did./ +4ait a minute./ +-kay. I can&t think straight. As she studied her tray. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. right. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. +-h. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone./ +(ine./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. I&m seeing two of you right now.endal and back to :ueenie. 2er cheeks were bulging. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. that. 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./ :ueenie said./ :ueenie huffed. I&m confused. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. I was sitting there in silence. +That was a close call. $ean 2offman walks through the door. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it./ said %%. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead.
of course. was @Sweetie. >ou two kids have fun./ . did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. +This kind of thing only happens to you. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. And at that e'act moment. So I stood up and said./ +So*/ %% said eagerly. +%%./ :ueenie continued. +I wouldn&t say that./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked./ +-nly you. +I guess I&ll be going now. my friend. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office.& Then I winked and walked out of the office. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. +>ep./ %% reached her hand across the table./ %% pushed her tray aside. +So./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. well done. then she assumed that 0oach was alone. +6ever a dull moment./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw ./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. it&s okay.c0arthy right ne't to her./ :ueenie leaned forward.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. 6ever a dull moment. +All over a stupid 1ui3. 0oach. +4ell done. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes./ +6o. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. we both turned our heads at the same time. we both were just sitting there not saying anything. indeed./ she e'plained.&/ +6o way./ +4ell. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. %% looked on in wonder./ +So.endal . . +I know. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you. $o you want to study someplace else=/ ./ said %%. I&m a complete mess. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her.endall said. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words. I&ve got a surprise for you. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble./ +>es way.c9ride. As soon as she saw me there. %%. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ . +I mean. It was classic. without looking up. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside. >ou should have seen the look on her face. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. @It&s okay./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her.endal confessed./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. +I need your help desperately./ . she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair.
/ %% agreed. +The coffee shop./ %% returned./ ./ . too./ .+>ou can come to my dorm room./ %% returned. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday. I was just checking. she&s the captain of the s1uad. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me./ . came up with it. +>ou remember our plans. +And that will be enough./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood. or that she liked the way %% smelled. +I owe you big time.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday./ .endal held her backpack to her chest./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm./ +I was just leaving. +I can&t./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start.endal said politely. I have curfew tonight./ . don&t you=/ +>es.akes sense. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o. +0ome on./ +. and she enforces it. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked.ya. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. CHAPTER ( +A curfew.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her.endal said eagerly.endal said adamantly.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.endal said./ . 0oach should give us a curfew.endal suggested. Then maybe we&d play better. I&ll see you in an hour then./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow. miss=/ .endal nodded. Thank you so much./ . . +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. She thought of . I remember. %% studied her e'pression. but it&s a good way to make sure everyone on the s1uad gets their homework done before the weekend and is rested for practice on (riday and the soccer game on Saturday./ +-kay. I don&t. I have to be in my room by nine. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous./ They both stood up. +Thank you. +4e&re closing. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional. .
right. I&d 1uit. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff. +I&m sorry. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite. 0hristine.endal in the dining hall. opened the door. +"edaling poetry./ +4hat=/ +0ome on./ %% said./ %% responded and held up her notebook./ the blonde said.endal&s door.endal . +There&s a lot of school spirit in here. +School spirit is a way of life. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to . +If 0oach gave us a curfew. %% recogni3ed her. straight out of the pages of <ogue. Sampson Academy paraphernalia. +Thanks. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. +0ome on in.c0arthy&s dorm room. Interesting decor. >ou sure are 1uick.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors. -ver . >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow.i' +I didn&t mean it like that./ . which was decorated a lot like the door to their room. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. and little cheerleader cutouts./ said %%. proudly. %ust sneak a few photos./ said .ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. %% thought as she knocked against . +-h./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. She often sat with . . $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand./ %% started for the door. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life./ :ueenie said. A rather thin blonde.endal&s dorm.endal. +Am I that transparent=/ ./ . taking a handful from the bag. 4e can use this to our advantage.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos./ %% backtracked./ she said to the blonde./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her./ +4ait. +(or documentation. #ach door on .endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. +(riendly people you got here. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment. +>ou need professional help./ she said. 2ave a seat. offering %% some 0he' ./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. 6o wonder you&re a tutor. 0hristine. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out./ +I know. +That was my roommate. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this.endal walked into the room. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# . -nly./ +7et me guess. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America. +0heerleading. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her.+4hatever./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%.
. +It&s a secret.ade 9y Another. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked.y <erses 4ere . She leaned her back up against the comforter./ +It was./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . She was more than happy to play along. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position.illigrew. I mean. +8ight there=/ +. -ne of my favorites. +-kay. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. +7ike what=/ %% asked.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write./ said %%. +I don&t know. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know. +9ecause I was an afterthought.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along. well aware of how little space remained between them.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer./ +I think you&ll like . See. yet awkward. but me they scorned&=/ . +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./ %% cleared her throat. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem.endal thought for a moment./ she said./ she said. +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family.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. but she loved every minute of it./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. @my numbers they admired. .endal considered the words on the page.+I&d like to think there is./ +So*what else=/ .endal pointed to one of the poems. $eal=/ .endal&s perfume. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention. but she was also proud to be a woman. See how she says./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. trying to distract herself from the scent of . +It was . I had to do and learn a lot on my own.y oldest brother is in his late twenties.endal./ said ./ +7ook here.illigrew. +7ike*/ . and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me.endal sat down ne't to her./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor. And even though men adored her poetry. and my other brother is twentyfive.endal let that idea marinate./ %% smiled mischievously./ +I don&t even know who she is. but I know it&s about this author at least. but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed. at this line in )pon Saying . She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. after a moment. +Anne ./ +That must have been hard. setting her folder and her book in front of her. +So. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully./ +9ut that&s not fair./ . really young. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. +That&s fair. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. It was flattering./ +-kay. It wasn&t long before . I was*une'pected. .
/ +4hat did it feel like.endal. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life. !reedom. .unfortunate that the very same people./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell.endal slumped back against the bed. *ith this gesture you taught./ %% closed the book in front of them. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside. #aising my head high. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for. She read the rest of the poem in silence. +This e'plains it better than I can. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so./ +To be out. she refused to compromise herself or her art. ' /elieved in me./ She slid the journal over to ./ . with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide.endal read out loud. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied.endal shook her head. . she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then./ said %%. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. for obvious reasons. #elief from my shoulders. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. Having the strength to stand. and then stopped. She disappeared for a bit. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all.endal had seen before. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. She licked her thumb. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. ./ . +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain./ ./ +I would have never survived. And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. The shallow dread ' left /ehind. !ree at last. +2ere. )eaving me sta/le. who took it willingly. #elease. (ride.ost of her work was discovered much later on. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it.ou gave me your hand without thought. men in this case. Beyond the tears. Instead.endal asked./ . 0ourage.
I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. a short story. turned out to be today./ +It&s not like $ickinson.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem./ +0ome on. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. . She began flipping through the journal. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . As soon as the class was seated.rs. like many of her previous free writing efforts. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. ./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. She was one of a kind. 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. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. +It&s not even close. And at that moment. It didn&t matter. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. 0lark cleared her throat. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. possibly even a nervous breakdown. 0lark was impressed. She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. -n occasion.rs. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar.endal. +0lass. this was a huge compliment because it meant that . She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. you know that= >ou pour everything. whether it was the beginning of a novel.endal laughed.rs. 0lark.y writing hardly compares to with hers./ said %%. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. %% knew. remember=/ +-h. They were free to write whatever they wanted. +I forgot about that part. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room./ ./ said . 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. That day. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. It&s like $ickinson. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though. And %% had written a poem. The chatter ceased. right. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. however. a journal entry or a poem. #veryone sat up straight. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. but.. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. . +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret.rs. at the same time. )sually. .rs. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. were overshadowed by the work of someone else./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse.
She knew . 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match./ %% managed. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. not ever. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone.rs. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. and %% bolted from the room. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. she sat down on a nearby bench. ma&am. Their relationship had suffered because of it. It deserves to be shared with the class. She glanced from face to face in a panic. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up.rs. 6ot now. 0lark nodded. 2er lips moved slowly. so I decided to leave class. slinging her backpack over her shoulder. +%%*are you okay=/ . 0lark was still in the room. but no audible words came out. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. She waited until students began to file out the front doors./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read. shuffling through papers on her desk. 0lark advised./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ .ay I go to the restroom=/ .rs. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. 0lark. And the class deserves to hear it. It&s yours. who liked cheerleading and boys. %% was the e'act opposite. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. She&d written the first line on a whim. +>ou might want to stand up. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands./ . +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. And that wasn&t going to happen. 0lark asked. unable to move. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. Instead. Instead. and then cringed when she heard .rs. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. +I didn&t feel good. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom.rs.like her. the building for #nglish classes. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. mouthing the first line. . taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last.rs./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. hoping for some closure.rs./ +9ecause that would be a shame. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. and again no sound emerged. %% tiptoed in. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out. did it=/ +6o. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. +%%. +And speak up a bit. signaling that her class had ended./ . 0lark&s nasal voice. It&s yours to share. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. +. She trembled as she stood. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at ./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly. She breathed heavily. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended.rs. She tried to speak once more.
what good is art for that matter. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. just as your basketball coach believes in you./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. +2ey./ she said.. +I&ll read it on . 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are. and not because of the sweat. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning. 4atch and learn./ +. as usual./ +All right. and removed her glasses from her face. :ueenie. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . had another outstanding practice. And she was flattered that . )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say.onday./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy. rela'. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. 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./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. 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./ .rs. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. +I can&t force you to read it./ +. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates.aybe she did. +Touchy. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane. +6ice job. I just have a lot on my mind.rs.endal was only a few hours away. and taking in criticism of your own. She understood. aren&t we=/ . say. +I&m sorry. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better. )nlike %%. 4atch and learn. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud./ %% reasoned. +9e prepared to have another go at it on .rs.rs. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential./ %% replied dryly. +I&m just checking in. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity.endal has nothing to do with it. ./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room. ladies.aybe she wanted it that way.onday./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. %%./ . %% couldn&t concentrate. offering criticism of their work. 0lark called after her. on the basketball court./ %% leaned against her locker. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work.
I need you to play with confidence. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. %%./ she said. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. %ust what I need. +6o./ Ignoring that comment. %% thought. And you two are my senior captains. 0oach is like your best friend now. remember=/ +-h. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. right. %%. >ou brought :ueenie to the team. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. 0oach./ %% snapped. a big part of it./ %% acknowledged./ she said. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. I don&t start players who perform like that. >ou are the floor general. >ou better get your game in gear./ %% said. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. -nce in the confines of her office. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years. +%enkins. 0oach.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond./ +I know./ :ueenie said. who stifled a laugh. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off. +"eachy. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. +>ou know me./ Apparently. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her./ 0oach 0ook said. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. She was already showered and dressed. %% thought./ +I&m busy tonight. 0oach. playing with her i"hone. sitting on a locker room bench. +./ She barked from the doorway. +So I&m going to get straight to the point./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm./ . +I e'pect more from you. +#asy for you to say. +$on&t worry about 0oach. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. carrying a rose.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. +Says you./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them./ +>ou are the starting point guard. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es. And the point is that you played horribly today./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement./ she replied. +I didn&t play well at all. +5ood. +$on&t do anything stupid.
+(lattered= . a slimming red graphic T-shirt.endal groaned. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening. I&m only going to this party tonight with .endal. I&ve never been to one before. As my roommate. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for . pulling it back and swinging it forward. 0learly.endal shrugged. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. I&d be creeped out./ +I already told you I&d be there. She wanted to go to The Spot. +(ine. "ersonally. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt.yan./ . admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ . stomach-first. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine.endal said.endal asked. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as ./ +8ight./ . 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed.yan as friends./ . she hadn&t been thinking of .endal ran her long fingers through her hair. +I have no idea.endal. teammate and confidante. She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans./ +>ou do. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets. +(or the umpteenth time. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s. it&s the truth./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight./ 0hristine smiled wryly. +I thought I looked good. .endal had chosen. +I promise. I&m just asking. admiring her jeans./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ .yan&s benefit.endal spun around. that&s gross./ . +0hristine. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ . as a result. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser./ 0hristine held out her pinky. It was as simple as that.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her.%%% ./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror.endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror./ 6ot again. wondering about her outfit. She stood up and grabbed . thought . +"romise me you&ll be there tonight. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit .endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. and.endal by the arms. She wanted to try something different. She&d been thinking of %%. She stood facing the doorway. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know. mulling over which way accented her features better.
+9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. but resisted. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good./ +4ow.endal said./ she said.endal. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside.endal.endal asked. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. +>ou&re right.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. who started laughing. %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. Then she checked her cell phone. admiring %%&s outfit. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. She crossed her legs. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. +There&s something you don&t see every day. leaned over and tried to rub it out. just in case . she reali3ed what she&d said. >ou look ama3ing./ . and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts. pointing at the backpack. . 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. too. the doors swung open and in walked ./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . +8ight. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. And I like to carry my journal with me.endal smiled. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. she sat down again. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. +5o ahead. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. pointing at %%&s backside./ she said. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack.endal had tried to call or send her a te't. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to ./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start. In the end. it couldn&t get much worse. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so./ ./ ./ she said. %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots. -nce the words left her lips. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring.endal enjoyed the most. She 1uickly stood up straight.endal said. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . +I mean*you look nice and everything.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. %%&s head snapped up. And that was the side she thought . as well. After a minute. +>ou look ridiculous. Then she batted her eyes at . At that moment. Then she stood up. +I like you without a hat better./ %% blurted out. I think. 9ut she hadn&t. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid.
and neither of them held back. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked. +)neventful. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left.endal responded blandly. with %% directly on her heels. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus./ ./ %% said./ said . +-nce. smiling. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ ./ +She doesn&t like me very much. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress . .endal. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be./ .endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. too. They talked about anything and everything they could. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman.endal confessed./ . and laughed. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. The looks didn&t bother %%. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track. They didn&t seem to bother . and then looked away.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. genuinely interested. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. Several students crossed their path. and both %% and ./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk.e. either. +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. They sat in the corner near the window.endal had grabbed it first./ ./ %% struggled to e'plain. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong.endal said. unsure of how to respond. She reached for the doorknob./ +4hat did she say= .endal asked.endal laughed nervously.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. A roving waitress appeared.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. The more she thought about it. afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately./ +. +0hristine doesn&t know you. and %% assumed that . +I have no athletic ability whatsoever. but . That&s all./ ./ %% said.endal much. +I don&t know. +I wouldn&t worry about it. She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. some staring at them in wonderment.
/ +I&m 1uite serious actually. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. It came down past my shoulders./ ./ . I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. I panicked and ran off stage.%% laughed. It was so embarrassing. +>ou&re joking. the real me. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. 7ook at 0hristine./ %% offered. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. you don&t.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. and tried to fit in./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life./ +I know what that&s like./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different. clearly offended./ .endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief. I&m the same./ . 4hen it came to the talent portion. 9ut forget about me. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant. I wore make-up./ +6o. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place. +I didn&t know. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do./ +9ut you are changing./ %% professed. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home.endal straightened up. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be. I was just like her. ./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically./ +9efore I met you. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me. not the younger me that was insecure and confused. I want you to know me as I am now./ +4ow. and my hair was long. I played the role./ +I&m sorry. 9ut back then I acted different. I became that. +There&s so much more to you./ +>ou said you felt uncomfortable in your own skin= Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in mine that I wish I could be someone completely different for a day just to see how it would feel. +I&m still playing the same role now. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart./ %% recalled the day of the pageant./ said %% honestly. +It was awkward to say the least.endal continued. I have to see those pictures. I have no idea who I am./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . And when I show them the pictures. And because I knew that everyone thought that. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me.
She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . I need someplace private. then meet up with her at the soccer party. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once./ . you owe me a poem. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret./ +I have to do this by ./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know./ %% wasn&t about to argue.other ./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on ./ %% considered the offer. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. just to be sure. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue.endal. +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it. I&ve never told anyone that before. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for./ . She was supposed to te't 0hristine./ she agreed.+>ou aren&t anything like her./ . ./ +Speaking of $ickinson. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning.endal stood up and tugged %%./ %% told her. so that makes it a secret.onday./ +>ou don&t owe me anything.endal asked. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine./ %% panicked.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%.ay I about=/ .endal./ +I know a place.endal asked./ %% paused. you&re smart. >ou showed me your favorite hangout. 9ut here she was with %% instead.endal said adamantly. There are so many things about you that ama3e me. %% rolled her eyes./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can. you&re kind.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said. I feel like I owe you or something. . +6ot here. +4hat&s . It&s (riday night. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much. +0ome on. +>ou think I&m smart=/ . +-kay. -f all the poems in her journal. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed.endal glanced at her cell phone./ +4hat if I helped you=/ . >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me./ said . if you&ll let me./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. then she&s going to lower my grade. +Then let&s go someplace else. That is. . almost taking her by the hand. and if I don&t read it. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. looking around. after skimming through the pages.endal asked.endal had to choose that one./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all.
yan shot back. +7et me try and call her. +She should be here with me./ %ason had heard enough.yan pressed. 2e was still sitting on the couch. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. (or .yan that meant wearing black slacks. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. ./ he said. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire.yan. waiting for .endal. I&m the best looking guy on campus. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. +She&s probably on her way here right now. +I don&t know where she is. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian. She smiled eagerly at %%. 7et&s go. She&s been acting so strange lately. This girl is cra3y./ %ason offered./ 2e turned to 0hristine. who now glared at . +6ever mind. +>ou&ve got issues. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch./ said . as he nudged . +If you don&t come tonight./ said 0hristine. and stood up instantly to look out the window. dude=/ he grumbled.yan. +6o way.yan out of the room. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts.yan said miserably./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance./ .endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. +Seriously./ +I&m going to regret it. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button./ she whispered under her breath.4ithout saying a word. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps. +4hy don&t you go find out. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie. 2e stood up./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when .yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend. 9ut she clearly was distracted. impatiently./ . aside from winter formal./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed./ +I&ve got issues=/ . +I thought you said she was coming tonight. and closed the door behind him. +I don&t know. as she held up her i"hone.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. she&ll come. . +0ome on./ said 0hristine. who finally took the hint. Apparently./ he said. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight. she&s going to regret it. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie.yan. sounding frustrated. She ditched an invite-only soccer party.
. +I found this spot during my freshman year./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad. I didn&t want that happening to me.endal sighed. wait until we came out. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion./ she said. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad. and classroom buildings. she&d gone through ha3ing. she&d stuffed a flashlight. come on. . +This hiding spot was so good. and were completely hidden by the tarp.endal grabbed the blanket. illuminating the spot. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me. %% and .endal argued. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. . push-ups and sit-ups on the spot. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it. urging %% to follow./ said %%. And follow she did. unfolded and spread it out. %% sat down beside her./ +That&s pretty clever. +0ome here often=/ %% asked. 6o one ever found me here. 9ut that never worked either. So. and grab us.endal crept under the bleachers. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. In the middle of the blanket.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night.endal told her.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. even though she already knew the answer. That included the library. >es. "erched up high on a platform.CHAPTER !! %% and ./ +I&m full of surprises. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. I had all my routes mapped carefully. dining hall. See./ ./ +-h. with . They huddled together. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. She turned it on.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field.endal left the coffee shop. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. we were fair game. and after classes to read or do homework./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. they&d watch us go into some place. +It was fun at the time. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet./ . eyeing the flashlight./ ./ . the side to the bleachers being left open. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. 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. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. I even slept out here once or twice. +)ntil it gets too cold.
She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. That&s not the problem. +7et&s talk about the poem. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place./ +6o. And that was $ickinson&s poem. for starters./ %% gladly rejoined ./ %% admitted. >ou know that. +I feel stupid./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away. +2ey./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke.endal played with her fingers./ said %%./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you./ +Trust me.endal replied. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. It is. +>ou keep saying that. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face.endal ordered./ . what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. I&m being honest. relieved to be out of the spotlight. +Are we going to talk about your poem. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. my therapist=/ %% snorted. +And read it to me as if you were in class./ . 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit.+-kay./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met. I don&t./ +>eah. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this./ +I do not./ +>es. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion.endal said. a nervous habit over which she&d little control. you got me there.endal glowered at her. opened her mouth wide and said. +4hy=/ +4ell./ ./ +5ood. "oetry is personal. you do. It has to be. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason. +9ecause I was trying to make a point./ +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./ . I&m just trying to help here.endal on the blanket. I&m honest and upfront about myself. or what=/ %% blinked twice./ . but that was different./ . +I can&t. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. but she didn&t care. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. She cleared her throat.
you still did it. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. but I bet most people will. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. with regret./ . %% had never heard anybody.endal had said. wondering where in the world she was.endal fall for her even more. That was how the night had ended. +I never thought of it that way. %% had offered .onday./ It was the first time . And it only made . and spoke through her fingers. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm. And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people./ +Argh.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes. It confused her to the core. you will. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face./ 4hen %% looked up./ +9ut that&s ridiculous.endal&s cell phone rang. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when .endal maintained./ %% hid her face with her hands. +4hy=/ %% asked.endal took it.endal reassured her. e'posed. Some people may not like it./ . and fell over on her back. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense./ +4ow. eyes that made ./ .endal had dared to picture a different ending.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue./ +It&s the same principal. +And you make it hard not to. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else.endal had seen %% without her confident grin.endal laid her hand over %%&s . +>our writing is ama3ing. +I&m never going to be able to do this by ./ %% said. %% was vulnerable. say those words to her before. as . . +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. she saw ./ +>es. . neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. startling them both. not her coach. and gave %% one in return. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. It was the simplest of phrases. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. and yet it carried so much weight. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. That was it. or even her parents. +I believe in you.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her./ . In her imagination . It&s the same with your writing.endal weak in the knees if she .endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm. Some people may not respond in the best way. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way.
. +-kay*I know*you&re mad.endal jogging behind her to keep up. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. . In fact. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . still tapping. and yet oddly comforting./ she said.endal found herself pouting. +I&m waiting. . and probably to make her suffer. and ./ 0hristine sang. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts. Saturday might as well have been a pause. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted. the gentleness of her touch. She burst from the locker room. . .endal organi3ed her thoughts.endal found the tapping distracting. +I&m really sorry. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . 0hristine&s only response was. to give it a name so that she could understand it better./ . -nce she finished tying her sneakers.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine.stared at them long enough. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year./ 0hristine spat. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. and only her imagination. >ou can come if you want to. I wanted to help her out.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. yet . to let her e'plain. and then %% had this problem she needed help with.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. +I need to work out.e. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker. She and .endal begged. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. +(ine. 4hen their pace slowed. +7et&s wait until we get to the track. before transferring to Sampson. ./ They walked briskly. e'cept. with . getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. irritating./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. +./ 4orking out was not something ./ she said as genuinely as possible. she stood up and stretched. She needed a word. +0an you*slow down* please=/ .endal didn&t know what to say. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited. +I am way beyond mad. a definition to describe the feeling.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking. That thought alone frightened her deeply. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. .endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis.endal huffed. +I just lost track of time.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips./ . +4ell*/ 0hristine said.
+4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. "eople are starting to wonder about you. +It&s the truth./ 0hristine told her./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged.endal&s face. +They are having a meeting. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately./ 0hristine shouted again./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. +And you know what that means. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad./ The color instantly drained from . +>ou are infuriating. offering a full view of the courts below. +4hat are we. in first grade=/ she asked./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in. but your priorities are all messed up.endal./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream. you pinky swore with me./ . she had her frustrations. +That&s cra3y./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know./ 0hristine screamed. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye.endal felt amused./ 0hristine shouted. She spotted %%. . bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ . I don&t know. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately./ She leaned in and whispered./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. or if she was just really upset by what .endal asked. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face. a little too loudly. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad. and they&re starting to talk. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. and wondered if %% had been one of them.endal screamed. . +>ou know how these things go down. .endal had said. and yes.endal flung her hands to her hips. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. That&s what it means. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. >es.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. 2er face contorted.endal. +>ou have no idea what this means./ It was as if . she had her complaints. #ither way. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. and continued with her rant. and ./ +6o.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. >ou went back on a sacred oath. +I just don&t see what the big deal is. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. noted where she was. It was supposed to be a secret.+. nor bearing the school colors. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction./ . 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. They didn&t want you to know. They turned to each other and giggled.
She&d been the e'ception to the rule. )nless you carried at least a K.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation./ . that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. (or some reason. 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. 9ut.endal asked. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. you had no shot at making the s1uad. 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. It shouldn&t have mattered. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . be it academic or otherwise. and smartest students on campus. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships.endal had been lucky. She&d judged people. +or how do you e'pect me to vouch for you=/ If you continue to hang around her no one is going to believe me. (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her./ 0hristine said.endal felt small and shallow. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. ./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . and she&d been happy doing it./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. then you can come. nothing final. $on&t even mention what I said./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. she did care. 9ut for some reason. as it sometimes happens./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition.. or you either for that matter. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities.endal knew e'actly how these things went down. by way of her K. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. as if she were a freshman. popular. unsurprising. 7ast year.L 5"A. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. +It&s only going to be a discussion. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. . one that she couldn&t put her finger on. She was dismissed. at the school lounge. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. cast aside. She&d seen how these things had gone down. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. no matter how good you were. and her participation in student government activities. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. but if you skip that. +Tomorrow night. 2er eyes instantly softened.endal shouldn&t have cared. I&ll vouch for you. it did matter. Suddenly./ +5et another one. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. her involvement in the drama club. . They went after only the most involved. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. She&d have to start over. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. unanimous vote. prettiest. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. Aside from being pretty and popular.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. Standing there in the athletic center. She had 3ero athletic ability./ 0hristine said plainly. .endal&s hands. the most athletic.
In the meantime. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. +$on&t you think=/ +6o. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. more important. +. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%./ she said without looking away. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense.endal and her roommate arguing. :ueenie loved. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. +That&s awesome./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening.endal at all on Saturday. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie.endal . she might not like it so much. and she didn&t care now. I don&t.c0arthy. It was discouraging.. -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. :ueenie said. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. which wasn&t much at all./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . There were other. to say the least. Time was running out. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. nor would she ever critici3e her work. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. in 1uotes with her fingers./ . 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. and :ueenie would love it. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. She hadn&t heard from . +-kay. +. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%./ :ueenie said. I&m talking about T2# .y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. +8umors are starting to circulate. study session.endal glanced toward the basketball team again. things on her mind.
/ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford./ %% warned. right=/ +8ight. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. :ueenie shook it. +9ecause you never learn. when she was all %% could think about. really I do. +It isn&t a game. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else. The deal was sealed. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o.endal. +All right. she&s going to stop talking to you./ :ueenie said.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. and it&s never going to happen. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her./ %% resisted the urge to argue./ +She&s not like that. -nce . %%. %% e'tended her hand./ +(ine. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place./ said %%. once she reali3es the weight of it./ %% maintained. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. +And you&re wrong about her. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . that&s the point. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead./ +That&s absurd./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show. I hate watching you go through this./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you./ she confessed. %%. +This is reality./ :ueenie stood up. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . +I know you&re in love with her. 9ut you&re wrong this time. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour./ %% said. I&m in love with the girl./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. a lump forming in her throat. the playful smirk gone from her face. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since./ +I appreciate what you&re saying. It&s a fantasy.
and sat down.endal replied evenly. popped the top. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night. 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.ya&s door. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked.ya was sweet and understanding. an open te'tbook in her lap. +0ome in. . who released one can.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. though. she knew how to play the game when it mattered. asking for permission to sit down. surprised. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad. which made her easy to talk to. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . watch out. . 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately. . and passed it over before taking one for herself. +I told you so. I thought ./ CHAPTER !$ . avoiding soccer parties and such. +. She motioned to the bed./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. and hanging out with certain people./ :ueenie burped./ .endal heard from beyond the peephole. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. She had little in common with ./ +She did. She was compassionate and charitable. As far as your behavior./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. have a seat. 9ut as sweet as she was. a true humanitarian. >ou know. wearing a pair of bo'ers. and then knocked on . +6othing much. +.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair.endal braced herself. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport.sprawled out on the couch watching television. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading./ . +#'cuse me./ . Their conversations were few and far between. And not once did :ueenie say./ .endal. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . She opened the door and saw . letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. and added.endal./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell.ya 9rooks. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie. +Sure. we have noticed. and about little else. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand.ya burst out laughing.ya was alone./ . It was all she ever talked about. .ya said.ya said warmly. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. It was her life.
recalling meeting .endal hurried to e'plain. but she&d certainly implied that . make it mandatory. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. I&ve never met anyone like her before./ .endal said 1uickly. not that I know of. silly./ . took . +I don&t know. .ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. but that&s basically about it. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way.ya stood up.endal replied. +#ver since I met her. I&ve been all over the place. it&s not a gay fraternity. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. then I had to stop spending time with %%. the thought has crossed my mind./ She smiled./ +./ +.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. It has straight members. And black members. +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%. +I mean. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. . side by side. because of %%. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea./ . I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad.endal nodded. .endal walked across the room./ ./ +A gay one=/ . +6o. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own./ .endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad./ +That&s it=/ . And he&s even in a fraternity./ +4hat&s going on=/ . +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ ./ . The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too.ya&s eyes.endal. and we wanted to throw you a party.ya laughed.endal stood up. shape or form. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . And I know she&s a girl. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es. It&s a regular fraternity. if I met someone. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. And white members. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath. in any way. I didn&t know what to do. They sat down.endal remembered a tall.et who=/ +%%./ +I don&t believe this. or think I might want to . at this point in my life. . but if . +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay.ya&s book dropped from her lap. +6ot that I am. I guess.ya asked. too. a woman. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. +>es. And I try to stop the feelings. or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ .sociali3e as much./ ./ . but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop.
a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. just let me know. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego./ +5ood. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. She flipped opened the book. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do. leaned up against the bark.yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head. +$on&t worry. +If you ever need to talk more about this. She sat down. She paused in the threshold. turned and said. She remembered that poem now. +Is everything okay=/ .endal thought about the poem.endal a slight hug and added. .ya gave .ya asked. she saw the words of the poem before her.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy . feeling more relieved than she could have hoped. yet for some reason .ya. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense. as she sat beside . She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. +>es. 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. 4hen she opened her eyes./ . 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. 9ut with . +In fact. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. It meant something.endal couldn&t decide which one.endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours. the words that were branded in her brain. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. 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 . I plan on having a little talk with her. and rested her finger on a single line. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it.endal&s appetite for revenge. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her.c0arthy it seemed almost impossible./ said . and Sunday turned into Sunday evening. .endal headed for the door. +I underestimated you.ya.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session./ +I might take you up on that. closed her eyes./ she said. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. %%% . Somewhere along the road ./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. She knew that poem. and had been since the first time she&d studied it.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. . the slight hint of wickedness in .endal . everything is perfect. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. That would have been awkward..endal initially agreed not to see %%.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. #verything is more than okay./ ./ Although . and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. . Then .
yan many things about .ing and :ueen. 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. 4ell. things that she&d thought .library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. which left it looking gray. who would be anointed . If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . without water. one other girl that . 9y itself. Apparently. she&d stood him up anyway.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. And they hadn&t worked. To . At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . while students wandered by and paid it no attention.yan. It had no purpose. the girl on the basketball team. 4hat better way to get to . the fountain had been shut off. Then. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. that whole approach had been pointless. attained a status far higher than everyone else. It made no sense. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. lifeless. 2e had acted like such a fool. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal.endal hanging around with over the past month.endal better than she actually did. which meant that the chosen pair. It just stood there. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life.endal would respond to. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about.endal would respond to. at least for the rest of the winter.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. every spring. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. . In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . taking up space. when winter thawed. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. the fountain couldn&t go on living. though. She just might let him in.endal just might bend. There was one other person. .endal&s mind about him. he needed a new game plan. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. %% sat there. The one he had hatched originally was not working.endal&s tutor. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. . It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. for that matter. .yan had seen . it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal.aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. #ven its soft blue color had faded. rhyme nor reason. It sucked the life right out of her.endal. the cement structure was depressing. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. And when he finally thought he had made a dent. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad. as well as fall semester. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it. only larger and more upscale. . the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite. The end of the soccer season. was just around the corner. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy .endal would be his 1ueen.
/ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. +4henever something like this happens. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships./ :ueenie returned./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. She walked over and sat down on the bench. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. you go off to find yourself.aybe she needed to not care./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. not basketball. +6o. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. %% had never asked her why. it&s not pathetic. I guess not. %% shook her head in disappointment./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. #ither way. +6o. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic./ %% frowned. +It&s pathetic. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. 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. a wide grin on her face. though. #ver since ./ The voice rose from behind./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. .endal all along. +7et&s go. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. possibly by a former girlfriend. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. in fact. not even her writing. to not let herself get attached. isn&t it=/ %% asked. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about ./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered./ +Say no more. for whatever reason.endal never even looked in her direction.6othing mattered to her. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. . . +It&s just the way you deal with things. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things./ +4here=/ +I called a few people.endal practically everywhere she went. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. It didn&t help that she saw . hands in her pockets. She did care. she refused to be like :ueenie. 4hat made it all worse. my friend. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. turning back to face the fountain. 9ut . It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not.
:ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. +It&s fine. +I swear./ :ueenie told him. At least. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. ./ She yanked %% off the bench. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home.rs. She was also in with the bouncer. 2e watched %% suspiciously. She had gotten an e'tension. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. she hoped she would be able to./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester. She didn&t have a choice. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. who called her by name once he saw her. 9y the time they arrived at the club. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. At the end of the semester. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. she&d asked to speak to ./ said :ueenie. Somehow it had worked because . +It&s going to be a great night. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. during e'ams. since the bass had been turned up so loud. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . I feel like I&m with someone famous. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. +She&s with me./ :ueenie shook her head. And in a state of panic. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. +So it&s settled then./ %% said. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. +4e&re going out.rs.%% nodded./ %% regarded her clothes. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. though. .rs. She even had taken time to do her hair. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. %% had agreed on the spot. +>ou are. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. 9efore they left the dorm. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt./ :ueenie teased. 0lark out in the hall.
and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. . %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. I&m kind of in the middle of something. +$o whatever you want. An hour later. +>ou look ridiculous. At that point. %% once again made her way through the crowd. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. since she had none./ %% shouted. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape. walked down a narrow corridor and out into an open space that was packed wall to wall with every type of lesbian you could possibly imagine. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn./ %% frowned.They reached the second floor landing. she was cute enough. %% was ready to leave the club. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. and pushed %% to the side. %% took off through the crowd. +7et&s go dance. The music was deafening. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out.m. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late. %% was still leaning against the wall./ :ueenie yelled. +I&m leaving. +:ueenie. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. which was 1uite hard to do. %% glared at her. +9ecause I&m ready to go. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. Sure. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction.e= At least I move to the beat.endal. though she was standing right in front of her. It was almost K p. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. +I&m not ready to go yet. +. She offered to buy %% a soda. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. and you could almost see the walls shaking. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor../ she sputtered./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered. +4hy=/ she asked. She stomped down a narrow corridor. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t .
:ueenie still wasn&t home. after the club closed we went our separate ways./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. +So. by the way. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing. +(unny. . it was considerably amusing. and I felt*used. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. 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. %% nodded. either./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. so %% crawled into bed. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie ./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice./ :ueenie shrugged. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. she&d taken a cab back to school. if you hadn&t gone out./ +9ut.ung "ao chicken./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked./ :ueenie said. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. which cost me twenty-five bucks. I managed to land on my feet somehow. And. eyes fi'ed on the television./ %% shook her head from side to side. broken beer bottles. +4ait a minute./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened. The two of them slept until after noon. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told.&/ %% pressed. +I mean. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es./ +$o tell. and then I lost interest. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it./ :ueenie repeated. 9ut when %% told her story. The night had been a complete and utter failure./ +Trust me. and random individuals lurking about. I walked across them anyway. And in hindsight.y story isn&t half as good as yours. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm./ %% sipped her soda. seriously. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. and they fell from underneath me.c9ride=/ ./ +There&s nothing to tell. really.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. now you know what happened to me last night. it looked like more than @not much was going on. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape. +(rom my perspective. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. +I should have never gone out. After she finally got down from the fire escape.
/ +4ait a minute. So. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone. >ou had a moment of guilt./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. like I suddenly grew a conscience./ +It passed=/ +>es. @I&m not into that./ she said. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. +Something is obviously bothering you. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes.:ueenie turned off the television. @not into what=& And she said. It&s me. and that&s it. +%ust like that. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat./ +I don&t know what it is.&/ +And that bothered you because . +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning./ :ueenie said finally. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. I don&t know. +-kay. +6ope. It was something that started with an @S&. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. +That&s my line. 9oth. very./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can.& So I said. And thankfully./ . >ou felt the need for something more. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience. The moment passed./ +:ueenie. I don&t think that&s it. +4e said this weird goodbye. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. @relationships. She circled the room. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped. %% paused./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. +-kay./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. something a bit more real. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down./ %% began. I don&t know. It passed. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. you can talk to me. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. ./ :ueenie said. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard. +And you know what she said to me= She said. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside. or through the eyes of some of the girls you hook up with and leave hanging= >ou felt how they feel after you cast them aside./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. and rubbed her temples. 4hat happened=/ +#h. and stood up./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much. seriously. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. ./ %% scratched her head. +I think I just wondered*for a very. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. Try this one on for si3e./ %% told her.
+I figure. I just get a little an'ious now and then. between ample gulps of milk. +>ou get nervous about everything. %%. +I can&t help it. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella./ :ueen returned./ +Trust me. +That&s just part of your character. graduating from high school. taking e'ams. Someone who opens herself up to people. +I need energy for the game. And I&m not depressed. comfortably stuffing her face as usual./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me./ %% picked up her fork again. I reali3ed who I was talking to.%% threw her hands up in the air./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ ./ +It&s just a game./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations. >ou are that bad. +I feel like I am going to throw up. +9esides./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. I suppose. playing in basketball games. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. +It really isn&t that big of a deal.endal. :ueenie sat across from her.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant. After all. ./ Though she didn&t admit it./ %% said enviously. 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. this time with determination. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt./ :ueenie said./ +I know. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. I don&t know./ +I&m not that bad./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. she&d been right about . She sat in the dining hall./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. I get nervous./ +It&s all trivial. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. +I&m hungry./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple. And so do you. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide.
+9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. >ou know my parents. this time you are actually making sense. sliding her plate aside. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. be-all for you. you know you can do it./ +>ou know./ +So am I. or belittling them every chance you get./ +Take your stage fright./ said :ueenie. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over. +>es./ %% started her response. for instance. :ueenie. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. >ou never let it rest. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort./ said %%. $eep inside. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on./ +That&s fine. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. +>es=/ +>es./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. >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. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff.aybe./ %% said.+6ot in the big scheme of things./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. but you don&t really know my parents. There is one thing that I am afraid of. >ou&re a writer. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. you know you want to do it. %% waited patiently for her to respond. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. I don&t want to be anything like them. rather than taking advice yourself./ :ueenie smiled. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%. I&m listening. %%./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. and stared up at the ceiling. She gave :ueenie a long look. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . 9ut she did know better./ %% glared at her. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so./ +-kay. and do it. If %% didn&t know any better. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air./ +./ +7isten. +I was being serious. :ueenie. +0ome on./ :ueenie said at last. $eep inside. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. on paper or otherwise. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. It&s part of the game you&re in./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. 9ut just hear me out.
keeping his eyes planted on %%.maybe./ %% cocked her head to one side. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get.yan leaned in and whispered./ he smiled devilishly. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride. I just need you to say a few nice things about me. right=/ +>ou could say that. if you just talked to them./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. +There&s no common ground.yan asked. if you know what I mean. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them. a shadow fell over the table. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say. I&m going to go to law school. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. and./ .yan Stevens loomed over them.yan e'plained. I&m popular. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. +True. +I said I need you to do something for me. but I&m still not following you. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. +7isten./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. +I need you to do something for me./ +9ut I hardly know you. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table. +0ome on. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her. It was empty./ +Trust me./ . +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned./ . +4ho is this creep=/ . who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. ignoring :ueenie altogether./ he said. And this would help me out a lot.yan sat down across from %%./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. +It&s important./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not./ %% hated the fact that he was right./ :ueenie volunteered. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test.c0arthy. +0an I talk to you=/ ./ . and gave up her seat./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es./ +>ou&re friends with . . %% thought. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis.endal ./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond. uninvited. I know you&re tight with her.
too close for %%&s liking. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. I can&t help you./ she said. 4e don&t even talk anymore. ladies.c0arthy was doing there. 4e aren&t even friends. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate./ %% stared at his hand until he let go. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . After the game. I can&t help you. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. too. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. >ou not only played with skill.%% sat there. +7ook. +I&ve got a game to get to. whether by te't or by phone. I was her tutor. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. So %% figured their friendship. . That&s it./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and ./ she told him sharply./ And so it was official. They hadn&t spoken since . or whatever it was.endal didn&t listen to them. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight. but you also played with heart. %% had secured her starting position./ +4e aren&t best friends./ +4hy not=/ ./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game.endal had stood %% up.endal. according to 0oach 0ook. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. +I&m sorry. +That&s it=/ ./ .endal . They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact. as she was making her way to the locker room. was over. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. :ueenie had played superbly.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. I can appreciate your interest in ./ +4ait*/ . entirely confused. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said.ary. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming.yan practically whined. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. There was no apology. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying.yan called after her as she walked away. %% had played well. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands.
you wouldn&t know./ %% whispered. .endal halfway or stay where she was. 9y the way. two. Then it&s always short and sweet./ %% said./ They left the locker room together. 0oach left the room./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose. ladies. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening./ :ueenie said. I stink. +I can hold my own. we won a game.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time.endal took in the empty gym./ +It&s about time. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. As soon as she saw ./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on. as she pulled on her warm-ups. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before.endal was still sitting on the bleachers. it&s a different story./ +>ou definitely played well tonight./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went./ +>ou know what they say. I want team on three.an.nocked me around= I&m all muscle. +"lease=/ +-kay. would you=/ +. >ou&re really good. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me.0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle. 5reat team effort./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance. -ne./ ./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to. +I&m ready. :ueenie hesitated. I&m glad we won though. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. I&ll see you back at the dorm. there&s a first time for everything. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. #veryone else followed suit. as she fle'ed her arms. +She just rambles when she&s happy. +5reat game./ %% replied as evenly as possible./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended. +It was e'citing and fun to watch. debating whether or not she should meet . +4hen we lose. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side. +5reat team effort tonight./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. when she noticed that . three./ :ueenie declared./ %% yawned and stretched. +5ive me a moment./ . she knew why. +./ /That&s very true. 9y the time she made up her mind.endal already stood in front of her. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around./ +Thanks.
endal pleaded. That&s the problem.endal closed her eyes. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class./ ./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school./ . +>ou know me. 2e&s perfect for you. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up. It is what it is. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something. against her better judgment. I know you&ll do well.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%./ +>ou know./ +>es./ +6o. you do.yan Stevens is head over heels for you. I don&t./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah./ . 9ut when ./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance.endal cringed. you know.endal. I don&t know you at all./ %% took a giant step backwards./ she said. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e./ she said. +I&m glad you came to the game./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. +She said you&d stop talking to me. I guess he likes you a lot. +I came here to apologi3e./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets. 4anted me to put in a good word for him.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. I said you&d never do anything like that. she wondered if she&d made the right decision./ said . as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her./ ./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. . 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./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today.endal interrupted. CHAPTER "* . look. 5uess you proved her right./ +I didn&t freak out. and you should probably know that . +9ut it&s not what you think. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ . 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. +-h. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. (or avoiding you.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. . :ueenie warned me. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester. to e'plain what happened. Instead. And I stuck up for you. +I know how it looked. +2ey. as you put it. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve./ she said roughly. she decided to walk away. +I thought I knew you./ .
She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. you behind the couch. (rom where she hid.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. +And you are=/ . she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch. and then looked back at .endal. I found it. . :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. To . +It&s okay.endal./ the president said patiently.endal.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge.endal heard a voice ask. 9ut you&ve got it wrong.endal insisted./ +2ello. races and religious beliefs. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. in faded jeans.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers.endal said./ the students said in unison. +>ou&ve got five minutes. earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. +It&s important. I. . +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight.endal stood slowly. +I already know what you think of me./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. She was dressed as if she were going out downtown. .endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover./ +(ive minutes is all I need. .endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch.endal.endal=/ +4ell*/ . +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked./ .eet me in five minutes instead. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society.endal approached her slowly./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket./ The president pointed a finger./ The entire group looked at her strangely. +2ey.endal gave a slight and awkward wave. #veryone. . 9ut look. 4hen she stood up. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors./ . then crossed her arms over her chest. please say hello to . .endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. I wasn&t . talking on her cell phone. . take your time. +See. shuffling through its contents. +I. %ust give me five minutes./ . really. +4hat&s your name=/ +. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room. . >eah. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting. +Sorry to interrupt. +>es.endal*/ +2ello. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. . .
but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. I&m serious. she could still see .going to stop talking to %%.eet me in the school lounge. no matter what people think or what people say or . . admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. and continued to watch her from afar. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away. #verything. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . I want to*spend more time with her. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings. +%%. but . +9esides. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. School. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened./ . It&s me. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. All of it.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season.yan as they left the athletic center.eet you where=/ +At my special spot./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. I thought I&d try a different approach./ . I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. %%% +So what happened with . I&m still confused. I&m not downtown 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. . >es. And there&s more to be said. I already tried talking to her. See you in when you get here./ . let me guess.endal striding along the sidewalk. This time. -kay./ +. I don&t even know what I&m saying. 6o. and that didn&t go so well. It distracted her for a moment. . as if her words were left suspended in air. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. I&m not going anywhere yet. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. I haven&t even made it off campus. I knew she was mad at me. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it.endal walk away. I want to do the e'act opposite./ +So.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. And I needed some space to think about my confusion.endal hugged herself to keep warm. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. ./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. Tell her to meet me there in an hour.endal e'plained. She&ll know where I&m talking about. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain.endal declared. I want to talk to her more. I want to*I don&t know. . +This is so new to me. then she&ll come meet me. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear./ She laughed in spite of herself./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day.endal=/ %ason asked . It&s important. until her silhouette faded into the night. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged./ . In fact. (riends. Something came up.
isn&t that*/ ./ %ason snickered.endal . +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud./ +. +9ut I&m going to follow her./ .yan waved his hand into the air./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness.an./ +6o. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered. +I think it is. +5et it=/ +$ude.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason. And I can&t figure out why. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean. +2ey. +Take this for me.yan rolled his eyes. She said .an./ +I doubt that.yan looked up./ . +4hat. +-h*right.yan answered./ . ./ he said 1uietly. okay./ e'ploring my options. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge.endal in more subjects than one. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass./ +4hat are you going to do=/ . +. +She said she hardly even knows . +It bombed. maybe she&s tutoring . The whole sensitive guy routine. does she know if . 8emember= She stood me up.c0arthy this and . while making 1uotes with his fingers. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team.endal ./ +I tried a different approach. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party. $oes it matter=/ . Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up./ . rela'.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out./ . +Shut up.aybe you just need a different approach.yan said. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl.+6o./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days.c0arthy that./ +So=/ +So. They watched together as the figure took a sharp left off the cement path that led to the soccer field and cut over to the bleachers. +I don&t know. I&m just./ %ason bit down on his laughter. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet./ . +I&m thinking about asking somebody else./ he said./ %ason stopped walking./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ . and then to a figure approaching the soccer field.aybe she&s just not into guys.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back. A devilish smile broke out on his face. the one that you talked to.yan said. >ou know./ +I don&t get it.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on. +I don&t know./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +. +It does now. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason. seriously. I forgot about that. Then it was all .endal and that she&s just one of her tutors.
The $ibble Syndrome had hit. +I&m not sure. Thoughts reel. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. . CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. strength. only this time she hadn&t let it take over. &o real. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel.. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. *ant to &ometimes ' do. Heart open. . '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. to relieve in itself The pain. static feelings. &omewhere. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. erratic. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. so to spea6. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. The first time she . Sure. )et4s not /eat around the /ush.endal. mind /lea6. &ometimes it helps. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. '4m wea6. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. But it4s 5ust a moment. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . And move on. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . She reread the words 1uickly.
%% had been able to do it all by herself. took the podium./ +:ueenie. +7istening. As she reached for her baseball cap. with glasses too big for her face.c9ride&s./ +6one other than T2# .was struck by the $ibble Syndrome.endal. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. It made sense. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. It was therapy. %% 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. %% knew that now. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance. even basketball. closed the journal./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie./ +>ou give up too easily. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered./ :ueenie sat up straight. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place.endal . +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. dark-skinned girl. She spoke about tolerance./ :ueenie whispered back. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. care of the . This time. right./ They watched together as a tiny. only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. perhaps=/ +6ice try. at Sampson and how it was the responsibility of the 0ultural Awareness Society to help spread understanding and acceptance of all cultures around campus through activities and school-wide functions. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. . I forgot./ %% looked around the room. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. unassuming. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. stage fright./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. or lack thereof. A meeting of some sort was taking place.c0arthy. every word. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. every rhythmic phrase. 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. and tucked it neatly under her pillow./ %% said evenly.
taps me on the shoulder. she took a deep breath. +-kay. It doesn&t happen too often./ %% cleared her throat. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. and says she needs to talk to me. I&m talking on my i"hone outside. I still don&t understand. I&ve got three words for you./ +She likes you. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked. I got the impression that she even missed you.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly.iss . She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. (or some reason./ %% sat down again./ :ueenie closed her eyes. I&m heading back to the dorm. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all . +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. +6ow./ %% stood up. +This is a big deal for me. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. you should know that . +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. +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./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. #njoy the rest of your. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. 4as. three. and I don&t want to know.c0arthy once and for all. of course. +6o. if you&ll e'cuse me. 4rong. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation./ said %%./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. in hopes that I might go speak to her./ :ueenie admitted. . She could only nod. 4hen she reopened them. +And she wants to tell you herself. The nerve of some people. +5ood. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About ./ +4hich are*=/ +I.+That&s right.endal./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused./ :ueenie continued. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . +4onderful. I asked. save your breath.endal . uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. I&ve got two./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. she likes spending time with you. she took another deep breath.
There were three sets of doors to the school lounge. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug. 4alking through them would be the easy part.endal supposedly was waiting./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap./ +I can&t believe this./ said %%./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. you turn around and tell me this. +It was obvious./ +And I appreciate that. come on. +0all me if you need to./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all./ %% whispered in return. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. +>ou must be rubbing off on me./ %% yelled again.+9asically. you&ve got a small head. +I was wrong about her. The hard part was to choose which doors. and slammed it down on her head. Then I&m heading downtown. +%ust when I&m over the girl./ +That&s up to you. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to. I think she really cares about you. +%%. you might hear her say it for yourself.c9ride. she couldn&t tell. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. >ou have to believe me. +. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends. I&m talking @like like. :ueenie .& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like. my friend. >ou were right. She&s not like I thought she was./ :ueenie whispered. . This is me you&re talking to. I mean. 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. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . CHAPTER "! . +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions./ She pointed at %%./ +I know. I did my part. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder./ :ueenie continued. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation.an./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head./ +I can&t believe this. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having./ %% yelled. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. She grabbed her baseball cap back./ +Thanks. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up.
4e&d make a great couple. casting a dim beam over the blanket. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. +That seat is reserved for someone else. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me.yan stared down at the blanket./ said . +4ell./ .yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness.endal laughed sweetly at him./ +7ook./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. +"lease. 4e have so much in common./ +Some friends come with benefits. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more./ .yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. just go. eh=/ +That&s none of your business. +4hat do we have here=/ . if you must know. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go./ +"athetic=/ . and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon./ 2e approached the blanket./ +4ith some other guy.endal looked at him with distaste./ .endal&s sweet smile soured instantly./ +A friend=/ . worried that %% would arrive at any second. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ . I&ve never even entertained the thought. And in the end./ 2e winked at her. "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ he confessed. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up./ . It&s been said. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. you&re pathetic. +#ither way. +4ould this so-called friend be the tutor you&ve been spending so much time with lately=/ +2ave you hired a private investigator or has 0hristine been filling your ears with gossip again=/ . +>ou just can&t take no for an answer. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic./ . >ou are the biggest self-centered. +Think about it. right=/ +It was a girl. +6ice little set up you got here./ +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. didn&t you= 2ow sad. +It&s cold out here. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it.endal&s protest.endal pointed a hard finger at him.yan forced a laugh./ .endal told him at once. 2is charisma had melted away. 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. well./ . $on&t you get it= I don&t like you.endal spat. %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story.endal as she scanned the darkness. egotistical moron I&ve ever met. A friend.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . well. She crossed her arms in frustration. +I apologi3e for standing you up.yan returned. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip./ . I found a much better way to spend my night. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them. If :ueenie had come through for her. 4e could take this school by storm.
yan said 1uickly./ said ./ +6ot everything. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. not mine. $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./ +7ook./ 2e looked at her. now you know. anymore. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like./ he e'plained. 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. I&ve done everything right./ .+4ell. desperation in his eyes. +They&re his rules. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. >ou act so conceited. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o. no matter what other people think.yan stood up.yan asked. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. . +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore./ . +4here did you get all of these ridiculous rules from= Is there some book out there that states what guys should or shouldn&t be=/ +. it turns people off. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah. but there was no one there. setting her hands on his shoulders. -nce we graduate. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ .endal approached him./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . I take care of myself physically.yan didn&t answer. +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me.endal continued. . I&m in no position to tell you what to do. +That&s the real point of going off to college.endal. She peered into the shadows. . his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives. >ou might as well let them see the real you. It&s about who you are. they might respect you more./ +So it&s true.yan maintained. +9efore you met who=/ . +I don&t know what I am.endal stared at him firmly. It&s not about what you do. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. +Then tell me. then. She suddenly felt sorry for him. +I&m the captain of the soccer team. what am I doing wrong=/ . +It isn&t worth it./ +I can be a nice guy./ he told her./ she said. And apparently you aren&t being yourself./ ./ he said.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then./ . I get good grades./ +.y father&s in the military. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps.endal&s own eyes softened./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. I guess not. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not. +Then why do you act like such a jerk most of the time=/ +I guess I always thought that&s how I was supposed to act. >ou really are a lesbian=/ .
endal replied. 7ook.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything. and then took it in his hand. I&m not doing anything.ya&s room./ .endal. +I&m just saying I know how you feel.endal . It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night. 2er clothes were spread across her bed.endal knew she&d done that all by herself. I said I was sorry a billion times.ya the week before. I can&t understand. 6ew living space. I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . 6ew classes. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded. Steadying the crates in her arms. you know that=/ +I have changed. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to ./ ./ she advised.c0arthy. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. 6ew .endal agreed. . After reali3ing she was getting nowhere./ ./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand. It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new./ As ./ she said.ya&s room if you want. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to .ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school. +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered.endal had started packing. but . +Then you&ll see what I mean. She had decided to move in with . 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same./ +.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on. . +6o. +I&ve already been scolded by .+It doesn&t matter. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. +6ope. ready to be carried away to some other closet. I think you got off easy.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates./ She pushed past 0hristine. 6ew semester. She turned her back and resumed packing. really. +>ou&ve changed. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether.endal said./ +>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./ ./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as ./ . and it&s important to me.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since .yan leaned forward to hug her. 2e stared at it blankly. +5o look in the mirror. and*/ +I can do it by myself. +If it were me.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other.
endal replied apologetically. 7etting me move in here is help enough./ +5ood. She does feel bad about what she did. 6ew things to come./ .endal had waited in the cold. +. +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible./ said ./ +So what now=/ +6ow. as . reluctantly.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly. And she never showed up. things change.endal entered her room. +6ot much. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others./ . +I can do it. it&s not. +2onest. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets. I know she feels bad about it./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know.endal snatched the book away from . +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ .ya asked gently. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible./ +I have plenty of room. +I&m a little on edge still. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles. +That&s what she feels bad about. I&m sorry./ +"ositive=/ +.aybe it has less to do with 0hristine and more with the fact that I know I&m the one who messed things up with %%. +I know. +Time to move on./ .endal admitted. nothing./ ..endal stacked the empty crates in the closet./ .ya helped . 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. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book./ .endal frowned./ +If it&s any consolation.endal./ +Are you sure=/ +>es./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= ./ +7et me help you. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes.ya sat down on her bed. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation./ +8ight. she sure was an attractive scapegoat.endal. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor. She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once./ +Such as*/ +4ell./ . +Is it possible.ya asked./ she said./ +It&s okay.e. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything.aybe./ said .ya as soon as she saw her looking at it. +6o./ . neither. It&s not a big deal at all.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor./ ./ . 6ew semester./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . 9ut. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year.
/ . I can promise you that. +I&m not into girls now. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen./ +-h.ya teased. >ou name it*it&s on here. I happen to think .ya jumped up off the bed./ +4ell. If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him. >et she continued to linger. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in.+It&s okay.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her.yan would have asked you for sure. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal. certainly lacked appeal. jockish sort of look.endal&s hand.endal asked.endal smiled wickedly. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute.e= I couldn&t./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke./ . I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything.ya blushed./ +>ou&re into girls now. +0ome on. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me. I have to do it soon. and took . I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. -therwise he might ask somebody else. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem. She picked up the binder and showed it to ./ ./ she said.yan is cute. here&s a list of possible venues. +4hat=/ .yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. ./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo./ . 2er stroll./ .yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous.ya answered./ +>ou like ./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +. if you like that meathead. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. +4hat&s that=/ . and began sifting through some papers.endal returned.ya asked innocently./ . I understand./ ./ +(orgot what. +8eally= I thought ./ . +Then you can help me think of what to say to .endal burst out laughing. had led her nowhere in particular. +(or instance. I forgot.yan Stevens needs in his life. +.endal said./ . +.yan. +2e&d never say yes. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. listening to successful. debating whether or not to go in.endal. in search of inspiration for writing. And apparently she&s not into me.ya cooed like a little school girl. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team./ ./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl .
Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. %% 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 . telling him to wait a minute./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground.The sun had just settled in for the night. who was standing beside him. +2ey %ason./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. more significantly.yan&s shoulders gently.endal would be waiting. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. +>ou know. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. +And I doubt she will any time soon. and then turned abruptly toward %%. Save me a spot in line. +-h./ said ./ .endal told you what happened.yan held up a finger. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . breaking into %%&s flashback. +I don&t think so./ +(ine by me.yan. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. +I thought she&d tell you. And when she finally stopped running. 9ut there was no masked man. Instead. barely acknowledging her presence. completely out of breath and./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. +4ell. At that moment. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . but muffled her words before they left her mouth./ %% stepped aside to let them pass./ said his friend %ason./ said . 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure . +I hope you treat her right.yan. she didn&t. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her./ said . And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. +6o. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then. %% stared at him vacantly.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me.yan Stevens standing directly behind her.yan echoed. They shuffled by her. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win./ As he turned and reached for the door./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. She had gone there.endal. 6amely you. right. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. +.yan. she turned and ran.yan glanced inside the coffee shop. ./ she said blandly. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see ./ she said. %ason was inching closer to the front of the line./ he whispered./ +0ouple=/ . under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory. +>ou two make a cute couple. %% almost called out to her. %% gave him a slight nod. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. completely heartbroken. I&ll catch up with you. +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . 9esides. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other.endal was holding .yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. other girls. Then for some reason . She&s too much to deal with.
+./ %% smiled. wait a minute. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side. I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. the door to her room opened. I wish. +.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight./ she said suddenly. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. . 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. let me get this straight. bouncing off the sidewalk. +4e talked about a few other things./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. and smacked herself in the forehead. >ou two were about to kiss. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a.endal was holding onto your shoulders. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it./ ./ %%&s eyes danced around. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. +I wanted to know what was going on with her./ ./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you. and her lower back ached. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. +She was waiting for you./ +4ell./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued.endal didn&t want you there.yan struggled to recall the incident. +So./ +9ut I saw you together. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you. +I&m sorry./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. so I followed her.endal sat down on her new bed./ . >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up. 7ike I said. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping. +I knew it. you know. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. that&s good advice. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy.yan&s face. the sky and . %ust as she was about to fall asleep. and she basically put me in my place./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground.endal mumbled./ she said./ +2ey./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was. She flopped down and closed her eyes. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. +I am such a complete and utter idiot. too. CHAPTER "$ . +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time./ .yan called after her as she hurried down the street./ +>ou saw us=/ . She didn&t. she said she was e'pecting someone else. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street./ he glanced around again.yan e'plained. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. but I have to go. right= About me./ ./ A warm. Then it hit him.+6o. even though it was still unmade. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out.
+. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself./ said .endal said dryly. through my eyes./ . +And. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge./ . I&ll listen./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed.ya likes .endal told her.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder./ +That depends./ %% e'plained. She stood up and began to pace around the room./ %% insisted. +I just saw what I saw and ran.yan a lecture. +I mean that I did show up that night.endal&s new surroundings. and made a face.endal snickered. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her./ . +. I&m not captivated by his washboard abs./ ./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide./ +I was thinking we could go to the library.ya told me where you were. I prefer to call him .+It&s not ./ +-nly.yan Stevens. +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. only I showed up right when you were giving . +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen. through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ +That he did./ +./ +That is a mistake. And.endal./ +4hat=/ ./ +>ou could have said something./ +>ou and me both. She was sitting up now. trying to make sense of what was happening./ ./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +./ +4ell.endal flinched. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something./ said a familiar voice. It doesn&t matter to me. and I ran into .endal&s eyes shot open./ +-h. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ She observed . I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly.endal. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know.ya.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently. I&m ready.aybe do a little studying. it looked much different through my eyes./ +I didn&t know what to think.yan=/ +That&s beside the point. I guess I didn&t really believe it./ +That I did. +I was in town earlier. just for the record. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. +7ooking for you./ ./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did.yan the couch monster. +>ou can e'plain everything to me now./ said .ay I=/ . ./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands./ +4hat do you mean. +4hatever you have to say.ya. )nlike .
There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior.endal said./ +That&s right. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. before classes began. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head./ %% had said. performed only when her parents were around. 9ut %% resisted. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. making it to the state championships./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life.c9ride with her parents in tow.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. the one and only. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction./ +0ome on. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. The first was the day she met :ueenie. +Thought so. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. They had both arrived a week early. . +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. right down to her socks. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. The day she&d met :ueenie. +I&m :ueenie . The two became inseparable after that. you know that=/ At that moment. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. The championship game went . She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. #ach was notable for a different reason. her life was forever changed. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. 4e&re going to take this school by storm./ . In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude./ said :ueenie. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. %% didn&t dare deny it. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. Somehow. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. And that was a moment worth remembering.+Studying=/ +>eah. and nothing could stop them. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. in walked :ueenie ./ she eventually told %%. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. They were going to take the campus by storm. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students.c9ride. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. and re1uest a roommate change.
and all.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky./ . and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. with a playful smile. facing %% who lagged behind her.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand. +I&m learning as I go along. As she made her way toward the biographies section. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement./ . She watched with anticipation as . once they were inside.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided. eyeing the key.endal replied. 4hen %% reached the landing. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. %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.endal replied. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired./ said %%. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before. who had broken free from the defense under the basket./ +-h. $uring e'ams. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. %% had to ask. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door.into double overtime. The room was no bigger than a closet. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. staring is rude. . -nce . Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. she knew the smell of . %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. +9esides. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked. they were e'tremely hard to come by. you know= Two girls holding hands. and as they stepped aside they studied .endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center. The walls were soundproof./ she said. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. chasing her down.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. And since e'ams were right around the corner. since she&d made the winning basket.endal rounded a corner. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't./ . +I&m just having a little fun. and tackling her to the floor. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. %% knew something incredible was about to happen. The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. her heart sped up e'citedly./ +$oesn&t bother me much. %% gulped. seating three or four people at the most. +I&m obviously used to it by now. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . she saw .
4hen . +I know I&m supposed to be listening. +It&s a learning process./ +-h./ . +4hat did you mean back on the steps. +She used to torment me at night. really=/ . She patted the open seat ne't to her. unable to speak. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her. +The interest never went away.endal or across from her./ . I should have known. that./ . It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. She decided to test the waters first. +I thought you said you were ready to listen./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly.endal began. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore./ she managed. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es. waiting for me to lug her to class.endal played with the key. that&s all.endal shook her head and laughed. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry.endal ordered. it knocked the breath straight out of her.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. +This=/ She held it up. +>es. -nly.endal sighed. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. you&re a girl and that complicated things./ said . "age DEP. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key.endal looked at her that way.endal finished. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed./ She looked up at %%.endal confessed./ . ./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. +Interested in you=/ ./ +I am. %%. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. %% nodded. I don&t see you listening. +I used to hate her./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms./ . . not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . +I was so confused. %% remained standing. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. I didn&t . +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right. +9ut.endal.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her./ +4ell./ she said. +8ela'./ +I have my ways.endal shot her a look. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. She pointed at the cover. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. All I see you doing is talking./ +0heerleading connections./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her. her nerves getting the better of her./ +Sit down. +#verything that was right in front of me.
The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights./ She pointed to the page. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep.endal softly. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that. not the s1uad. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. All I know is that I want to be around you. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you. when %% was lying in bed that night. she sei3ed the moment. 4ild nights. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. +I finally get the meaning behind it. 9ut that isn&t the case. and especially not 0hristine. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me. And that&s you. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. not my friends. I didn&t want to stop seeing you but at the same time I didn&t want to lose my friends and everything I had built at Sampson over the past few years. even when I didn&t know myself. %%% 7ater. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. That&s why I stood you up. 4I7$ nights. +>ou don&t have to say anything. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . still unable to look . The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. . I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart./ . and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. no matter what anyone else thought./ said . It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . suddenly made no sense at all./ said %%. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye.endal.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before./ ./ said ./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. +I knew you were going to say that./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit.endal .endal. That&s why I avoided you. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. +>ou are way too humble. +I finally get it. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you.c0arthy./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. Instead. and how you helped me change my perspective./ said .endal in the eyes.
+2ow do you do that=/ she asked./ +>ou know./ %% marveled at :ueenie. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. +I just can. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. She had gone over it again and again. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak.rs./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. scattering notes and papers everywhere./ +Thank 5od for that./ :ueenie said./ +So where is T2# . +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. I hate to admit it. no. +%ust what the doctor ordered. 4e&re naturally gifted./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading./ She hopped up on %%&s bed. +6o.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. I won&t take your charity. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books. but she&s pretty cool.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper./ +It&s my pleasure./ +Thanks.endal ./ She paused momentarily. If %% could study for it. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear. she could read them as they floated by./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. I was wrong about her. I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me. The poem that . 4hen she closed her eyes. she would. I&m going to lose it. scattered papers./ :ueenie said honestly. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. and worn folders spread out in front of her. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her. which she already was an e'pert at. and it was hardly an e'am. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. +I need it. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ ./ +4ait a second. %% had scribbled notes in between the lines of the poem to indicate where she should pause or add a slight inflection to her voice. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately./ +>ou would. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence.
I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all./ +If I&ve learned anything from you over the past three years it&s that sometimes your heart is going to get broken and sometimes it isn&t. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. +4ell. shifting her position every other minute. 9ut if you never take that chance./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. +I&m sorry. I&m not sure what&s going on with me. besides all of that./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all. +Are you okay=/ she asked. I still plan on making a colossal splash into my parent&s pool of normalcy by declaring my homose'uality to the rest of the . +4ell-adjusted= "lease. 7et&s not go overboard here. . morally-sound young woman. It&s something special./ :ueenie insisted. thankfully. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall. not to mention childish. 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./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. devilishly-motivated. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. so nobody else at her table could . thing to do=/ +>es. +"erhaps. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving./ :ueenie sighed. you&ll never know the difference between the two./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously./ +It happens to the best of us. The lighting was dim. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best.+I&m serious. but we all can. but I think you might be right. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door./ +Sure./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem.c9ride family soon enough. She&s putting her all into someone. I&m so proud. you can be cynical sometimes.y sister is taking that risk. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. To take a risk like that./ +./ +2ey.
I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad. that would totally rock./ %% forced a laugh. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something./ said :ueenie. as he rubbed the sore spot.yan fidget until . I bet they&ll even dub you ./ . +. girl. . for that matter. and watched . +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year.ya elbowed him gently in the gut. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here./ :ueenie remarked. %% ignored her and took in the crowd./ %% smiled politely. She grabbed hold of . +7ook at her. yeah. 5ood luck. 2er mouth was already off and running./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors.yan even had a choice in the matter./ +>ou think so=/ . And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal.endal. She was sitting beside %%.endal asked. ladies. She gave ./ ./ +2ey./ said :ueenie confidently. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support./ ./ +4ell.endal. genuinely serious. 2onestly./ +And without baseball metaphors.see that she wasn&t only pale./ :ueenie replied. .yan Stevens behind her. +>ou okay=/ . stop.ya.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er.endal and %% shot her a warning look. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. +2ey./ +-h.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and .y. +4e just came over to wish you good luck. you two make 1uite the darling couple. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak.ya=/ %% asked. .endal slipped in through tight lips. +)h./ he mumbled. +2ow about./ +2ey.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. %% nodded in return. +I must say. but it was too late. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt.atie 2olmes of this school. +-h. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing. right. +I guess so./ %% grumbled./ +Isn&t that . I don&t think .yan&s hand. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked .ya asked. as she slapped .ya in the school paper. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. +Are they together=/ %% asked.endal&s hand shot up in the air./ :ueenie smirked. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine. +She&s fine. 9oth .ore than usual.
/ . +. +.endal suggested.ya shifted. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first./ .ya looked in her direction. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter. She shrugged her shoulders back at them. and I&d have to start calling names. +Take deep breaths. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. +2ey.ya&s a sweetheart./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. +I think I&m going to be sick./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . she&s not nervous at all. In an instant. 0lark take the stage. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in .endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign. and she began to hyperventilate. +At least you&ve got your color back. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. +I&ll go get you some water./ . that&s all./ . 0hairs shifted. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head. 0lark shouted into the microphone./ +-h. +>ou don&t look so good.rs. +2ey./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees. +6ot at all./ said %%. yeah. +>ou know. hard. and turned her head swiftly as soon as .rs.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block . %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while./ %% announced. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. +%ust look at her. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition.endal.ya&s a little*particular.+0ut it out. She&s as steady as a rock. 0lark&s voice from her ears./ said :ueenie./ %% gulped./ %% scowled at :ueenie.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd. +. as every person in the entire room stared at her. 0lark&s hand. She felt . +%%. The damp taste in her mouth went dry. he sure is a lucky guy. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell.yan. +Thanks for the water.endal. +2e looked absolutely miserable.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. +4ell./ added :ueenie. %% stood there./ she hissed at :ueenie. .endal maintained. +That . At this point she was seeing everything double.rs.ya asked./ :ueenie offered in return./ said :ueenie.e=/ %% pointed at her chest. we better find a seat before they&re all taken. +She&s just psyching herself up. She&s a girl who knows what she wants. She yanked ./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at ./ %% mouthed.rs. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. She felt . +Are you nervous at all=/./ said ./ said . And it&ll do .
and they kept coming. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. I untied them and my hair ran wild. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. I cringed at her reluctance. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. +She tied my hair in ribbons. the best writer in class. 0lark. who held her breath in anticipation. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. +4henever you&re ready. I accepted our gender. She cringed at my defiance./ CHAPTER ") . She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. %%. +I wrote this for class*well.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. settling on .endal. It was the final signal that there was no going back. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. of course. >et./ said .endal and :ueenie in the corner. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. I took it off and basked naked in the sun. Together. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. 2er shoulders straightened. The words just kept flowing from my pen. tiger. She accepted our fate. :ueenie. one after the other. until they blended together into a sea of colors. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. I suppose you could say I wrote it. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. 4e found a common strand. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. She often wondered who I was inside. They stopped about halfway around the track. And these are the words that ended up on the page. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed.rs.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. I boasted that I was her only daughter. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. @.other . She remembered days of girlie pom-poms.
/ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you./ ./ +5uess not. +0ome here often=/ he asked. ./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating.endal./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him. +I&m ./ . by the way./ 9rad said. isn&t it=/ he grinned. by the way. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson.endal./ +She was a poet. 4e&re pretty popular in this area. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end. It&s ama3ing. . +#very (riday night. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up.endal. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. he was standing right in front of her.y name is 9rad. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him./ +6ice to meet you./ +. After you&re done playing. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend./ .aybe I will./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. while chomping on a piece of gum. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans. a biography of #mily $ickinson./ +0lever.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with. She smiled momentarily../ +8eally=/ 2e paused. >ou should read some her work./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those.endal teased. +TouchM.endal smiled. . ./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger./ she said as nicely as possibly./ she said politely. +0lever./ ./ ./ +Speaking of T-shirts./ +So listen./ 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.endal e'tended her hand to him. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band. actually. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I./ +Agreed. +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.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from . and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage. you should stick around and check her out. +I&m sorry. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. A $rummer and (our 5uys. +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her. actually.
8ecently. Since then.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand. once she reached the table. laughed and cleared her throat. would she=/ +6o. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go.endal. As . +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time./ . #ventually./ +4ill do. oomph. +4I7$ nights. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. .&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night.aybe I will. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree.ollow -ueenie and ./ .endal sat back down. a new and confident %% was born.endal. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. +>eah. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud. +I don&t think so./ said %%. She looked out of the adjacent window.endal played along. % % % THE E+D % % % . +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. a person that ./ %% teased. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond./ . . +6ot at all. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers. as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride ./ said ./ +6ever hurts to ask. As for . #verything around her felt fresh and new.endal laughed. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot./ said ./ As 9rad turned to leave. 4I7$ nights. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. 4ere I with thee. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked./ +-omph=/ .endal. +She might change her mind after she hears you play.endal stood up./ +That was much better.. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights. he stopped suddenly. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away.endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. she wanted to become a teacher. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad./ +Stick around after your set.+. signaling that spring had arrived at last.endal looked on as 9rad crept back to the stage and traded barbs with his band mates about how he had just been shot down.
ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .or#ation and e2cerpts .by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in. and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# . you are under age 2.or her anthology My Story is Out %.