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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
/ %% smiled. I&d give anything to be able to do that. I tutor a lot of different people. +The soccer team and I go way back. is like that. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked. +It&s something I have had to work harder at. 0hin e'plains what a poem means. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear. ne't to the biography section. though she couldn&t relate to it. +4ell.endal. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her./ %% understood .endal&s frustration./ +I guess I never looked at it that way. I&m %%.sitting at the farthest table from the door. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans.endal confessed. right=/ .endal. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. a little shamefully./ said %%. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. +I&m really sorry. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school. right=/ ./ +That&s what I thought.endal said 1uickly. +I&ve seen you around school. I can actually read and write somewhat well.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone.s.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously.endal emitted a dramatic groan.endal&s left shoulder./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. It&s a completely different kind of reality. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings./ .y friend. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . #veryone needs help now and then./ +Seriously though. +I didn&t mean anything by that. and since she was a writer herself. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker./ she said breathlessly. ./ . 4hen we discuss a poem in class. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject. +4ell. she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality. go to class and pass a test without even studying. I might as well be reading a foreign language. +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time./ said ./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended. or when ./ +It&s okay. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in.s./ %% e'tended her hand. :ueenie./ ./ +./ . +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. >ou&re . +I&m sorry. So. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. +I was just joking./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table. I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over .endal nodded. She ran her hand through her hair again. I&m completely lost.
endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat. long sleep. 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. pointing at the page. . 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me./ They discussed the poem at length. . my responses don&t even make up half a page. That makes no show for dawn. fully aware that . There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves./ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from. +. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice. along with a few others for over an hour. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote. ./ said %%.endal was staring at her. +It isn&t as important as you might think. right= A long. +So./ . 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know./ %% heard herself say./ +It seems like a waste of time./ +)m*thanks./ +Thanks. An independent one./ +To bask centuries away. +I mean. +I don&t think that matters. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. looking up from the book. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. a famous sleep./ %% rambled on. And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry. not once look up for noon . +A long./ . ./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ . bask centuries away . though. 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. you know. %% looked up from the page. like fruity or something./ said %%./ ./ she said. ./ she said.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. long sleep. to break the ensuing awkward silence. .endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. See. 6ow you&re reading between the lines./ +5ood. It distracted her. %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of.endal said.+)nfortunately.endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud./ She paused and looked up from the page. +-kay. +8ead the last two lines. she&s talking about death./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that . (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously. +%ust so we can read it together. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to. +>ou smell nice. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said.endal struggled to make sense of most of them. meaning a lot of the words that she uses aren&t meant to be taken literally.
c0arthy up close./ said .+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious./ +"ossibly. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. 2e said you were one of the best. letting the sound of . -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though./ %% studied her./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to .endal. laughing. same time. for instance. %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt. +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with ./ she said finally. She was more than beautiful.endal accidentally brushed against her. remember=/ +4ell. though she could hear the television in the common room./ +>eah.nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. as if she were keeping a secret.endal was staring at her again. in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. e'cept I&ll be on time.endal said.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. >ou said it yourself. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing. She blinked and looked away. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . admiring the child-like e'pression on her face./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. recalling the tidbits of conversation./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. . you know.endal . +I should get back to my dorm./ she said. ./ .endal. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight./ +In what way=/ +4ell. 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. +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. The dorm room was empty when %% entered. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie. . and the warm sensation she felt whenever .endal asked. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor. %% stood still for half a second longer./ %% admitted./ +I didn&t think that. same time. +6othing. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here. It was her turn to look away this time. +4hat=/ .ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending.endal&s folder.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. we&re even then. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head./ said %%. slid her hat on backwards. +Same place. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. . +I&ll see you ne't session.
sitting side by side. 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./ +6o. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space. 8ead it with more enthusiasm. fell out from between the pages./ %% looked at her skeptically. +4hat=/ . a moment. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. . 4hen %% opened her eyes. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. no. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. 4ild nights. +4ild nights. 4ild nights. an image of . . ' see it . . The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. a feeling. a /reath A second to say the words that never leave your lips And then it4s gone )eaving /ehind a sensation Tingling in my heart )ingering in the air Ma6ing me wish That the moment never ended Ma6ing me hope To feel it again But ' imagine That ne7t time The words will flow The moment will last The /reathing will speed And emotions will reveal *hat lies patiently Beyond your eyes 4hen she finished. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ .endal appeared in %%&s mind. the writer inside of her had taken hold.A number two pencil.endal asked. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh./ said %%. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed. Sitting with her legs crossed.endal raised her voice slightly. %% sat back and admired her work. Beyond your eyes.
+(utile the winds to a heart in port. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. +>es. 9ut as soon as ./ %% insisted./ %% held back her sigh of relief. +#'cept this time. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on ./ +$ickinson is the beginning. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem. studying. Thanks to you./ %% forced a smile./ ./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty. And it was all because of .&/ said . e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair./ %% shifted in her chair./ said %%. give it a little more oomph. As soon as she finished. 4I7$ nights.endal looked on in ama3ement. studying. 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them.endal&s eyes./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y. It&s been two weeks of studying. 4hat do you think it means=/ .endal opened her mouth to begin. %% playfully grabbed hold of . studying.endal&s hand./ she said.endal. 4as she at a party or something=/ +. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry. +I&m just doing the poem justice. +4ow. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . done with the chart. they&ve been enjoyable. +See the difference=/ +>eah. +-kay. +So back to those @wild nights. haven&t they=/ ./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. slowly releasing . 4ere I with thee./ %% watched closely as . that was much better./ +I know. even though her stomach was in knots.endal asked. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word. her hair. +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.endal sighed.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. >ou&ll see.endal./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me. wild night./ . 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together. %% covered the page with her hands. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. done with the compass./ %% said after a moment.endal. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy./ said %%.endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down. +See. %% stood up and began clapping loudly./ she said. studying./ .endal began reciting the poem. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester.endal laughed. . she would have never dared to do what she had just done. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines. She stood up firm and bellowed. +4I7$ nights.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask./ +Sure. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended.endal&s hand and pushed it away.
+4ell. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman.endal&s eyes widened. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. ./ %% began. another woman./ she said finally. She read the poem over again./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. but wild as in overwhelming. the winds were useless to her. pretending to buff her nails. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries./ They stared at one another./ %% paused./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. She&s just e'pressing love. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think.endal studied the words on the page.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about./ +8ight. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say. CHAPTER $ +So./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly.endal might say in return. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy. slightly afraid of what ./ :ueenie snorted. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. but paused for a moment. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen.&/ %% laughed. Instead they continued talking./ She pointed to . +7ook. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing.endal&s heart./ . outside the boundaries of reality. they&d have plenty of @wild nights. are you going to tell me or just sit there eating your eggs with that ridiculous grin on your face for the rest of breakfast=/ +4hat= I&m hungry. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender. So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong./ +#'actly./ +I don&t know. +I do think it&s possible. . +>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./ +And when she got there. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go.
/ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. and she longed to change the subject. $uring her sophomore year./ +So=/ +So. +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome. That doesn&t mean I like her. I happen to think she&s nice. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. An'iety itched in her stomach. This is T2# . . %% made the mistake of telling ./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into. >ou like her.&/ +So.c0arthy. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named ./ %% said./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest.endal . grimacing from the soreness. too.+0ute. +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer. She&s nice./ +-.. she&s*she&s different.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. I mean. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils. +I don&t believe it. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether.elly that she was gay and how she felt. She remained steadfast. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity./ Ah. yes.endal . +6o. +6ot even close. (rom that point on. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. %% had considered it. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits./ +>eah. +$on&t look at me like that. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now. .elly&s reaction was anything but comforting./ she said. peppering her eggs with hot sauce. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. if you say so./ +She&s not what she seems. I don&t know. +0an we talk about something else./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked. In fact. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. %% soon fell into a depression. The notorious $ibble Syndrome. but you used the word @nice.elly $ibble. please=/ +(ine. Though it was rumored that ./ %% warned. and . 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. 4ith :ueenie&s help./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher.elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. 9ut %% knew this was different. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. she spotted ./ %% insisted. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s. cocking her head to one side./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance. and regain her sense of self.elly transferred to another school the following semester. I don&t even know her. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious.
/ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. #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. Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could. .endal&s tray. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something./ .. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . %%% . a jacket and skirt combination./ . :ueenie was giving her that look. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. (eeling defeated.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only./ -f course I didn&t know that. cooked over-easy. and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back. 2er school uniform. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours. complemented with potatoes and bacon. I just choose to eat healthy. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams. +I eat. the drama club. 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. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group.endal sat down across from her. she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. +$efinitely./ 0hristine motioned to . +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. and . stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt.endal looked down at her runny eggs. %% had thought./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. the art club.endal picked at her eggs. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism. +#'cuse me./ %% snapped out of her da3e. (or once.endal was on a natural high. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. hung neatly at her hips. the 0ultural Awareness Society. She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel. -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. +At least I eat. +Ahem. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring./ she retorted.
endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. Two. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all. . . 0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell. and about her own response. 2e counted silently. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand. giving her knots in her stomach.endal had caught her staring. I mean. I just never suspected. -ne. :ueenie or something./ ./ +She helps me with homework. I&d just be careful if I were you. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. look at your track record. that&s it. then the girl who spit when she talked./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off. She had suspected that %% was different somehow.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her.+Speaking of which. 9ut if %% was gay./ +It&s so obvious. (ive. no. and . And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything. She&s on the basketball team. (our./ +5od. +I&m not naAve. +$on&t give her your phone number./ +4ell./ 0hristine&s eyes widened./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. +It&s %% something or other. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +.endal.endal picked up a piece of bacon. 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. 9ut she had stared back at %%. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events. She felt di33y and lightheaded./ she gasped.endal said 1uickly./ ./ 0hristine advised. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. +0&mon. CHAPTER & . So is half of the basketball team. +She&s gay. The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session. That&s what a tutor does. Three. or she might start te'ting you.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./ 0hristine continued./ . about the feeling of their locked hands. a lesbian. . She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her.
She was perfect for him*just the right si3e.endal . %ason. beautiful. from his grades to the girls he dated.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. we&re thinking of having a party tonight.endal . 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. 7ack of confidence was the other.yan sat up and smiled slyly./ +. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred. likeable. 2e needed the perfect girl. and began to do sit ups. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come.c0arthy=/ +>es. 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school. 2e breathed heavily. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. Sweat began to form on his brow. popular. 2e had the perfect body. now stood over him. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. where true dedication and hard work could get you. This was his last season of his high school career. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. but not too smart. #verything in his life was set to high standards. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat./ .endal ./ %ason said. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. . The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work. . 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. +2ey. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus.c0arthy.c0arthy= T2# . 2e had always set his goals high.yan replied between reps. I think it&s time . >ou up for it=/ -ne of . a captain on the soccer team. +$efinitely. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. 2e had to perform well. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well. one piece to make the pu33le complete.yan&s soccer teammates. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. 2e had the perfect reputation.endal . Someone like .yan wanted someone less brainy. A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. #ven for you. Then he sank to the ground./ %ason said./ . +I told 0hristine. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. . The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over.ya 9rooks. but he&d never admit that. you know. 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about./ . +"erfect. She didn&t have a boyfriend. There was one more thing he needed though.endal .yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. . someone smart enough to carry on a conversation.c0arthy. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. watching himself in the mirror.
and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. That. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. It was early %une. %% remembered the night clearly.endal . As far as %% knew. buddy. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. 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. of course. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. they eventually came around.c0arthy.onopoly.rs. :ueenie&s mother. . 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. 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. -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. She and her family were close. All it takes is a little bit of charm. a suburb of 8ichmond. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. . this was going to be the most outrageous of them all./ he said. Sometimes it was almost too much./ .c9ride. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of . CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. %% shook her head in disbelief. 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. he&d learned to live with the situation. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend./ +4hatever you say. was not the reason. +7et&s go. :ueenie promised. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend.+This is me you&re talking to. It would be an affair to remember. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. 2er mother also was a teacher. 9ut with a little convincing from . especially not . knowing how things in his life were working out so well.
%% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. . %% could see the concern in his e'pression.om. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. so caring and so sincere. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. and shook her head. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job. +I have to tell you something. being untrue to both herself and them. to tell her family. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in./ Silence followed. 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. she couldn&t find them. it&s not that. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act. 9ut it wasn&t a phase. Something that I have to say.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house./ ./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. in her bed each night. She could barely swallow her potatoes. the worry and the confusion. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. %% had rushed after her.om. +6o. 2er mother remained composed. and when it was time to say the e'act words. %% grew increasingly reserved./ she continued. hoping it would help her parents understand. . I&d still be this way. There was no plan. maybe an internship. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. the night had come. even though I know you both will be disappointed. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. $ifferent $aughters. 8oast beef and vegetables. It was eating her alive. I&ve always known. %% remembered./ %% knew this. (inally. yet when she needed them the most. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. wide-eyed. 4ith each passing day. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. it&s not that. She had always known this. and knew there was no going back. 2er father./ %%&s eyes widened./ %% wanted to make her understand. +I know you are confused. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. +6o. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. +Something I am afraid to say. no designated date or time. didn&t know the real her. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase.+%osie. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. all those boys around. It&s just something I am. her words coming slowly. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. you can tell us anything. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk./ She handed over the book.om. eating dinner. herself. +I could check with the paper. I&ve known since the third grade. but this might help. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. it&s not something anyone did./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth.
#ventually her father had come to terms with it. %% laughed. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again. where would she go and why. . Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. :ueenie./ +2ey. %% had never known anyone like her. It was almost overwhelming. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. She wanted to get inside ./ :ueenie said blandly. %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. who was set in his ways.endal&s head. though he still held onto his own world views. and that was that./ .nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. and her father. and needed help with her schoolwork. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions./ she said proudly. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. and if she could travel anywhere in the world. on the other hand. It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome. As long as she had his love and support. 2er father. she felt satisfied.aybe :ueenie was right. %% craved more. and wished she were there to witness it. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about . like what was her biggest fear. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. . (or some reason./ +I know. %% had yet to learn anything more about .2er mother continued to cry. It&s nothing. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. 2e said he loved her no matter what.endal. Then again. was incredibly beautiful and popular.endal danced her way in. and they didn&t speak for days. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. maybe this wasn&t real either. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular. +I&m having the time of my life. remained completely calm.endal besides the obvious. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. 2onest. Then her mind drifted again and ./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. . It wasn&t real. This sparked an intense argument between them. that she was a cheerleader.
+It&s an easy game. . said. I&ll see you Sunday. It was a drinking card game. the captain of the soccer team.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as . She finally threw up her hands. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. who one by one left the room. She&d had previous brief conversations with . +7et&s move to the couch. Instinctively./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. +2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand. +2ere. she began to think about ./ said . The dorm room overflowed with people. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards. .endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him./ :ueenie said an'iously.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard. perfect for showing off his toned body. +2ey. 2e was cute. silent.endal knew instantly who he was. this wasn&t a regular card game.yan. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. after they were alone. she was drunk.yan suggested. +.endal.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. -f course. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in.endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room.yan Stevens. with dimples that hung at the sides of his cheeks like half moons when he smiled. 9u33ing from the alcohol that pumped feverishly through her veins./ he said sweetly./ .yan.endal finally won her first hand.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest.endal. %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. . "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms. . I gotta go. . 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest.yan motioned for her to join him. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked. She forced a smile. . who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on ./ . you. . .endal stood there with her hands on her hips. +Sure. +Too much.+7ook.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. 2ave fun. . penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time.endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave. 9y the time . sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table. why not. coded look with his friends. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid.
a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.patting the saggy cushion beside him. +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. Stuck in thought. making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. +I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you./ said %%. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm.endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'. seeing no movement. +2ey. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. Soon. +I don&t know. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going. At first.endal ./ . . +2i. patting the cushion again.endal . She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. wait a second. Then.yan to inch up in his seat./ . +0ome sit over here.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms.endal. She read some intriguing online articles. She tingled with drunkenness. leaning in closer. It bothered her to know that .endal&s voice caused . The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# . they were worlds apart and nothing could change that.c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired./ 2e smiled widely.endal . she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks.yan called after her. +I want to talk to you. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . turning and walking out of the room.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. The truth was. I think it&s time we got to know each other better. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. shielding her eyes. that&s three years too late. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened.c0arthy was an enigma. 2is mind worked feverishly.endal yelled./ ./ +4ell. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs. ./ . as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked.endal told him. She kept her head down./ . suddenly. I just do. beaming. 4hoa./ he said. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating. and plowed forward over the grass. +I totally didn&t see you. She stepped aside before they collided. but the girl spun around.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her. +Are you okay=/ %% asked. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him.
yeah./ said ./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. and suddenly blurted out./ +4hatever./ +I&ll walk you./ . which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself./ said ./ . >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it. +Are you cold=/ ./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah.endal said./ +-kay. even though she was shivering./ . They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm. remember. +I need to go home./ +It&s the grass. #very month or so they have a band come and play./ ./ %% perked up. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying./ She pictured .endal. +>eah./ +-h. +It&s damp from the dew.endal laughed again.y little world=/ . . ./ +If you are so against them.endal asked defensively. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol. It&s a great place to go and just kick back./ said %%.endal stopped walking. rather than at her.endal./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. +5uys are such idiots. +I think I sat in something wet. It&s ridiculous. +I love it there. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry. She turned around to get a look at her behind. #mily $ickinson. 6ot life. +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with.yan sitting on the ugly couch. feeling as if . +7et me help you up. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time.aybe hoods should be banned as well. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms./ %% told her. that&s the one. %% studied her. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet.endal&s hands in hers./ . I&ve had a rough night. making a face./ +I&m serious. +I&m sorry for practically running into you. thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her. +Thanks for walking me home. reaching forward and taking ./ +. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started.endal was looking through her./ %% maintained.endal rolled her eyes. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library./ +"oetry is life.endal shook her head. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town./ %% said. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry./ +I can think of lots of other things to do. once they reached the sidewalk. +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. They felt fro3en. after a moment.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players.endal broke into a fit of laughter. of course./ .
/ ./ said . then paused briefly. well./ +Ask away.endal had such a hard time saying the word./ +I&m not afraid of you.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%.endal had picked up on the first night they met.endal fidgeted. +. 2er stride was slight and unsteady./ +-kay then. 9ut she was kind and sincere. really. She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%./ %% could only imagine what . +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of.endal. That certainly would have been awkward. it&s fine.endal flashed a 1uick smile. twisting her thumbs into her palms. She suddenly felt ashamed. +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. +>ou are an incredible tutor.yan again. let alone get to know her.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen./ . It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman. I&ll understand. ending the lull in the conversation. like you before. I&ve never known anyone who was. She laughed out loud. smug and moronic. I&m fine.endal hesitated. 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./ she said. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now. and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad.endal said./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. something ./ %% didn&t press the issue. +I should go to bed. just because of rumors. then yes. I&m an open book. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. +I was just curious. Then she thought of . +9ut I don&t want to offend you./ . . with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch./ . It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%. right. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so./ +4ell. +6o. rewording her 1uestion./ ./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind. . She played with her fingers.endal said./ +>ou don&t sound so sure.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular./ It ama3ed %% that . and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. +I want to ask you something. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then. then turned and walked toward the dorm.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah. It wouldn&t bother me at all. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. +0onsider yourself cultured then./ +6o. I am. I was just curious./ %% told her. In that moment.endal&s roommate had said about her./ . she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness.
and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm. and began to scribble. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. She gathered up her pen. and though she tried to avoid them. The rain had ceased. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. There was a bench on the sidewalk. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. The streets are empty. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. . +It&s not that scary. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. Muddy puddles stand in my path.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. ' stomp through them. She headed up the sidewalk. e7cept for fog hovering a/ove the surface &mells of hot tar and muggy air fill my nostrils as #aindrops the si8e of mini water /alloons /ounce off My 5ac6et. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. -nce across the tracks. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. %% entered the center of town. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. <irginia. along with her thoughts. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough. She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. "uddles blocked her path. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. The town was deserted.
endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. . #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich. +-h. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ ./ As she spoke . The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch.endal sifted through her dresser drawers. #very time it rained. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . . +Tempting as it was. she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich.yan&s not only good looking./ +. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives.yan for a while. .endal . although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay.endal. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn. as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver. I decided to leave. . +So=/ +So./ . +So %ason said you were alone in another room with .c0arthy. The heavy air turned light. deep down. like you weren&t in rare form either. +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. I can honestly say that I wasn&t. but I&m not going to date someone . +>ou look ridiculous. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke./ +)m. 9ut. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. %% recalled . She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. %% believed that .%% looked up at the sky and smiled. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. +I hate to break it to you. no. not looking for anything in particular. %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed. 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 was different. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon. She decided that if . then her true colors would already have shown.endal. . %% peered along the edges of the street. 2er empty stomach grumbled.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips. 2ello.endal said.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason. please. 5ood different.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. 4hether good or bad. +.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns./ 0hristine replied. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. +It&s called a mask.
she thought.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. . +I won&t regret not hooking up with . %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises.endal.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction. thought %%. ./ . Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. +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./ 0hristine continued. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year. and tugged the back of . The last thing she needed was another party./ -verboard. thank you. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money. the couch monster./ said :ueenie. +I know ./ said ./ said 0hristine. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. +4e are young.yan. 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. +I like to think I have higher standards than that.endal. complaining that she was not having enough fun. That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. . 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.yan&s a conceited moron. (un. +>ou should have seen my father. +7ook.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. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday./ +Trust me. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party./ she said. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. After the game was over. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted. She left . while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. #veryone knows that. finishing up on the treadmill. she would change the subject.endal who was still spread out on the floor. admiring the logo on the front./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . 9ut here they were. .endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. They practically flip the entire boat. (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%.endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely.
+I&m sorry. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat./ %% responded. I like the combination. +5ood. She knew as soon as she said it. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. They cannot and will not hear me. then. sending a burst of steam into the air. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. They need a wakeup call./ (or a brief moment. >eah. I ran into her on (riday night./ :ueenie replied. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell./ +6o. Steam rose up around them. she shouldn&t have. +I just need to do it./ +The ama3ing sauna. how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. but to wake them up. the fanciest ballroom*ugh. hoping that the topic of ./ +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. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. +>ou know what they say. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. the best caterer. +So. that&s all. 6ot for me./ %% managed between breaths. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. +I bet we could just bring some in./ she said gently./ +Sauna session and bacon. I&m not familiar with that particular saying.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding.endal would not come up.c9rides. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. why not. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones./ %% added in an infomercial voice. They don&t know any other way. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. she couldn&t tell for sure. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. I guess./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time. with one more to go./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. +Sure. +I know. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness. resting her head on one elbow./ +These are the . not e'actly. 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./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face./ ./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. It won&t matter. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends. it makes me sick. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was.
She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. . you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition.endal&s engaging laughter. . +%ust tell me./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip./ +:ueenie./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest./ +That&s priceless. no. silly. but she asked me the 1uestion. The 1uestion.+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that ./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. They were just little crushes. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat./ said %%. I mean. +She was ./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . I literally ran into her./ :ueenie agreed. The gay 1uestion./ %% scolded. Thankfully though./ +$on&t do that. 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now. >ou always fall for the straight girls. conservative southern town. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. +6o. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight. 4e&ll see if she shows up. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. +It was bound to happen sooner than later./ :ueenie started to say something else./ +-h. it&s getting hot in here. nothing serious. +The 1uestion./ %% said again./ +0ute. +6othing.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on. and then stopped. +>ou&ll never believe this. yes. (or crying out loud. which made the library the only logical option. +4hat=/ %% asked. I caught myself. . +I just think you should be careful.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special. +So./ +4ell that didn&t take long. . her cheeks dotted with sweat. +I told her the truth./ +Then I helped her up and walked her home.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways./ %% turned her head and muttered./ . so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything. She asked me if I&m gay./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. she seemed okay with it. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. That&s all./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are. she&s straight. but she spun around and fell./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls.
what they really want is a guy. after their curiosity wears off. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction. I&m about to sweat away to nothing. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough. +7et&s get out of here. +The least you can do is admit that much./ :ueenie echoed. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. The whole thing is just ridiculous. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. >ou&re being ridiculous./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes. so I like her./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face./ +That she is.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end./ :ueenie sat up.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. +I knew it./ +"reposterous. +She&s a cheerleader after all. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. really./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction. +2ey. Then. 1uite frankly. It&s called the science e'periment. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. ./ +Stick to what you know best. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body. 9e careful./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. +>ou know how straight girls work. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy .iss ./ +I don&t care what it&s called. they freak out and say they were just e'ploring that side of things and while it was fun and all. And I don&t want to let myself get hopeful about something that. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight./ +4hat do you want. ./ +:ueenie./ +I hardly even know her./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. There&s this energy between us./ :ueenie said pointedly./ . isn&t going to happen. +I knew you liked her. unabashed. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead./ :ueenie continued./ said :ueenie./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. shielding her eyes. +I did mean half of what I said in there. +-kay./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. I can&t e'plain. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. +I know you like her./ %% sighed. you don&t. but it . +She&s not interested in me like that. +It&s true. ./ %% began to massage her forehead. I&ve been there./ +7ook./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much. That&s something that isn&t going to change./ %% groaned. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious./ +6o.
2e was pushing himself to the limit. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea. +$id you hook up with her=/ .yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. >ou know. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. 2e looked absolutely horrible. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. +#ven for you./ %ason concluded after a moment.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night. +It&s not without merit.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench.+>ou know.endal . I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians.yan said. getting pummeled five to nothing./ . +2ey.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself./ :ueenie insisted. it was also incredibly appealing./ . Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned. 2e started working his triceps. . It was true. 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. straightening up. +>ou don&t look so good. don&t push it. 8ela'.aybe we could do like an undercover operation. +I&m fine.yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. . It was because he was frustrated. 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. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. +Thought that she was out of your league./ .yan grunted as he finished the last set of s1uats on his well-muscled legs that now shook more like 1uivering rubber. the lowest-seeded team in their division. ./ CHAPTER . 2is skin was e'tremely pale./ %ason laughed. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked. . . his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form. And to make matters worse. +4hat&s your problem=/ . they had lost the game. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. 2ey.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying. ./ +8ela'. After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch.yan from the bench beside him. As a result./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top. 7ately it seemed as if the entire soccer team was comprised of a group of underweight sissies who didn&t comprehend the meaning of teamwork or dedication.yan glared at him. +I thought so. %ason gritted his teeth. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit./ %ason warned as he watched . +Thought what=/ he asked firmly. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong./ %ason remarked./ %% frowned.
Though his legs ached. both of them lying in agony. drinking refillable bottles of water. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson. CHAPTER ! . #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated.yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. And . not wanting to add to . simultaneously knocking over a stack of books./ +I hear ya. the legendary inviteonly soccer party. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much. 9ut today.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated.aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net./ %ason said. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game. that&s all. It was status. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. .yan&s salty mood.endal would have been right there with 0hristine./ +All right. +It wouldn&t be any fun if she just gave in easily.endal out as the girl he most desperately wanted to be with during his last year at Sampson Academy. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene. Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. Sure.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level.yan was confident that he would get another shot. And his guest was going to be . . +6othing. Though he had singled . She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro. he pushed through the pain.endal had to help her into bed. 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. picked up the weight and began lifting again. As a result. but there was something missing./ +#'actly. .. <ibrant shades of red.endal had a reputation to uphold. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and .endal .yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room./ said %ason. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. There&s no way she would turn him down.yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face. +0atch you later then. . 9ut he knew he still had more work to do. In times past . .aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. . as well. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. Something else was aching inside him.c0arthy. popping Tylenol. +I&ve got more work to do here. especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors./ he said between breaths. 0hristine got home late./ . 4ith that./ .T<&s The 8eal 4orld. 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face.
where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. . +fantasi3e reality. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. That. was why . including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. (or that reason. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts.i'. plus the beauty of the campus. #ducation was far more important. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window. 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. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. . There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. To the right of the counter stood a stage.endal read the words. her father especially. where everyone knows your name and your business. . -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. She finally felt like she belonged. she could see her at some sporting event. humming original songs about the meaning of life. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college./ spelled out in big bold white letters. 8ather. . She hated to disappoint her parents. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped. and the ne't thing she knew. so you could sit in the palm. 9e Somebody. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. 0he' . So this is where %% likes to hang out. 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= .endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties.endal&s parents. -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college.endal thought.endal felt pressured to get good grades. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. It was hands-on learning. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. she was a part of the cheerleading team.9uilt back in the DHFFs. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates. Across the backdrop . big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time. . the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars.
but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse./ 0hristine moaned. I need some grease.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. She tingled in anticipation. And . +>ou were saying*/ . ashy. smartly. And thick crust. she dropped the attitude. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation.endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time.endal paused.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below.endal struck with reckless abandon. 4ell. The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. when she was about five. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . it became obvious that her roommate was awake. as if were weighted down. afraid to disturb 0hristine. it still provided a way to release her irritation. . black mess in the middle of the living room floor.endal. . +I&m sorry.. many of which could be forgotten. +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. thoughtfully. It really was none of her business. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead.endal. 6o. >ou know. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. until that moment. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. %%. and was reduced to a gooey. +(unny. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. 6evertheless.endal. %%% -nce back at the dorm. -nce. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. Though the incident had left her unharmed. but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. ./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . +)ghhhh.endal returned.endal slowly opened the door to her room. She wondered if %% knew about the contest. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into ./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. Although she knew they were dangerous. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. +I like pi33a. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library. There were other occasions where 0urious . +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ ./ . A nervous sensation erupted inside of her when she thought about the fact that she&d be seeing %% at the library in a couple of hours. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. I like thick crust. dramati3ing herself. given to her by her older brother. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. something happened all right. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames.
+"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.
+0ute. +9ut you&re not. how=/ %% shrugged./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence.aybe at first. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst .endal flinched. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then./ . has her own dreams. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page. standing up 1uickly.. 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 ./ said . and. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. +I&ll be right back./ said %%./ +>ou didn&t at all. and flipped it open close to the middle. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. +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.endal. but e'press it ill.iss. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. +This poem is like.endal flipped back her hair. . All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. totally awesome. it is. she accidentally knocked over her bag.any love well. +That&s pretty intense. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins. 2er journal spilled out. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all. like you said. but at the same time./ +I understand./ +$ifferent. feeling nervous and clumsy. and she tripped over it./ said %%./ %% said. As she pushed her chair back from the table. Then she&d set it right back down. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away. She reached for the journal. she wants him to know that though she is driven./ +>eah./ +4ow./ +. %ust one 1uick peek. In fact. the edges frayed and the binding worn. which had been resting on the floor.endal eyeballed the journal. >ou&re different. It looked pretty beat up. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily./ %% nudged her shoulder./ . she thought./ said . +4hoops./ They continued to regard one another.& See. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. +>ou just are./ she said.endal.
+$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her. 9ack then .endal was lying. 2e was there specifically to hit on her. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. who she now thought of as .endal cursed her roommate under her breath./ +-h. she found it pathetic.yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. looming over her like some creepy. +It&s e'clusive. 2ow wonderful= +4ell. ominous shadow.y. hooked up with him. +4ell. I haven&t heard anything at all. no.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down.yan the couch monster. She had to read it again. I&m not pretending./ he said with an overconfident grin. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. 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. that . +7isten. +I was there last year. anyway. She and %ason had been dating ever since. 7ast year. >our journal was just lying there./ . and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead./ . +8eally I am. 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid. 2aven&t heard a thing. . A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss./ ./ said .endal thought./ .yan continued. She just said you were in the library pretending to study. ./ . he puts it so nicely./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ ./ ./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it.endal could feel the tingle on her skin.endal. 6ow. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. of course. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite.yan Stevens. 2e didn&t. so .endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. and then shook her head apologetically../ he pressed on./ +I know what it is. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. +I&m sorry. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something./ ./ +)m./ she said instead.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe. so real. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in .endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence./ +6ope. and who was going to be left out.yan said smoothly. hoping he would take the hint and leave. +2ey. . +0hristine said you were here. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. I&m actually studying. was standing ne't to her chair.yan&s pond of smoothness. +I&m honored. just as if she were the person in the poem./ .
+I&m sure you can get out of it. just as I described it. +I sort of forgot about it until now. And she was even more afraid of what . +I only read a little bit. +It was incredible./ said %%. I made her promise to go with me./ %% swallowed again as ./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. +It was my first kiss. . That got e'tremely hot very fast./ %% reminded her. 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. If you&ll let me. I&m sorry. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. simply was not there./ said .yan=/ . so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red.yan. +.endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. +6e't (riday. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her./ +4ell.yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es.endal had pinched her.endal shifted curiously in her seat. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked.yan considered their story. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked. she felt delighted that ./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff. of what she might say./ . It&s at that coffee shop you like.yan. +>ou&d miss a really. I&m one of the good girls. eager to change the subject. ne't (riday. +8ight./ she blurted./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ . +4ho= . The Spot. +2e&s so full of himself./ . Suddenly. I don&t know what he&s thinking. +So. of what they might say. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday./ .endal e'claimed. She sat down without glancing at either . +I&d like to read some more./ ./ +I guess so.endal. rubbing her leg where ./ said .endal watched as ./ She swallowed hard. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer. +That&s not entirely true.endal or . It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. . Instead. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team.endal bit her lip. though.aybe another night then. +I was raised right. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list. and hoped ./ %% approached the table at that moment. really fun time with yours truly. She was afraid of their reaction./ he mumbled finally and walked away.endal&s eyes lit up.endal would think. +8ight./ +It&s good to know that you have morals.endal hadn&t picked up on it. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think./ %% jumped.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels./ +(rom what I hear. I think you should enter. 2er face was still damp./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people. but not because poetry was personal. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice.
+I suppose I should. I&m not ready./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life. I mean./ she said. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. without enthusiasm.endal had a hunch they were about ./ . +See. +They have one every (riday night./ . +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . I&m serious. 4riting is my life./ %% said 1uietly.endal momentarily./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that. I might freak out and give up writing altogether./ +So=/ +So./ +That is so sad. what= I&m not going up on stage. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it. desperately wanting to change the subject./ %% rolled her eyes. I can&t take that risk./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . that alone should tell you how important it is to you.endal said. 4riting is my life./ +That would never happen. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything.endal debated the 1uestion. And during the whole thing./ +4ell=/ +4ell./ said %% impatiently. +I have a fear of being on stage./ %% closed her eyes./ +9ut it might./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah./ she e'plained. about this poetry slam thingy./ +-kay./ +. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world. +It&s getting late. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head. we had this talent contest one year at school. everybody in the audience started to laugh.endal said./ .+So. +>ou sound like my mother. +It basically scarred me for life.aybe.yan. you know./ +0ome on. +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. And if something happened. and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage. And when the contest came up.endal hesitated then asked. if I got upset on stage.endal so easily. . I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger. I&ve never been on another stage since. I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song. I just don&t participate. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. and then averted her eyes. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time. 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 got on stage and played the only song I knew. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her./ . . +9ut it&s different with this. +I ran off stage so fast. embarrassed at what she was about to admit. So maybe you can practice with me. I fro3e. you&d never be able to give it up./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to ./ %% said.
endal teased. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack. didn&t it=/ +Totally. +That sounded really dumb. and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. +I&d like that a lot. though= I mean. +0ool./ said . She collapsed backward against the closed door.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. she would know.endal. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder./ %% took a deep breath. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. They left the library and %% offered to walk ./ +0atch you later.endal said casually. . then instantly winced. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ . go with me= There are some great poets around here. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest./ Their eyes locked for a moment and . +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. later. though she knew e'actly what %% meant. that&ll work. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem./ +Sure.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. She hadn&t felt like this since the time she kissed 9obby %enkins in si'th grade behind the jungle gym at the school playground.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms./ %% smiled./ +I&m glad. fall air. She instantly looked away. She breathed hard and her hands shook. %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way. As they reached the front of the building. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion./ %% managed as she watched . +>eah. >et./ %% paused and then plunged forward./ she said. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind.endal was feeling.endal back to her dorm. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over.. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp. She would instantly sense what . +So. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that./ ./ .endal asked. +4ould you still like to go. 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. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue. that&s not going to happen. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder. +2ey*/ %% looked up. and some of the writing is ama3ing. I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said.
. I&m afraid. +Tell me you said yes./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. +6othing. +I had an uninvited visitor. +%ust something different. smiling again. +4ill you rela'=/ she said. 0hristine./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face. The thought of . but it seemed to be permanently cemented there.endal entered their room./ 0hristine&s head shot up./ +I guess. so 1uit freaking out./ . I already have plans. 9esides. paying rent for some crappy apartment.She sighed./ +I did. . the superficial status.endal replied.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed./ ./ .endal answered. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief./ 0hristine gasped. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. very interesting./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent. still lost in a di33y ha3e. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again./ +I said @no&. .endal replied 1uickly./ +I couldn&t care less. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed. +I&m not turning into a lesbian. +>ou&re going to a gay club. CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. apparently not amused. +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only. >our senior year./ +7et me guess./ ./ . 2ow was the library=/ +-h. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life. with satisfaction.endal said. +I&ve been te'ting you all night.endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious. I&m not going to a gay club. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly.endal watched her in amusement.endal.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. +>ou didn&t. Somehow. . pacing frantically around the room. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious. the empty conversations./ .
+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.
my friend. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. +I&m not looking for better right now./ %% said plainly./ +-h./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. and you are in so much turmoil over it that you had to write a poem about it in order to make yourself feel better. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her./ :ueenie said. The hopeless romantic never wins. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression. And despised her for it. +%ust get in. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. 4hat did you have in mind=/ +A certain woman sent me a te't about an hour ago asking me to meet her at a certain club at a certain time./ +It is./ %% maintained. your current situation./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. +4ith the women I see./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. +>ou know./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking./ +$oes this certain woman happen to be the twenty-something college student who looks to you for a little e'citement in an otherwise dull e'istence=/ :ueenie grinned widely. I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine./ %% said. there&s none of that. Take./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best.e= I do all right. . +So.y dilemma=/ +>es./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. get out and nobody gets hurt./ +Spare me the theatrics.+>ou ama3e me. +I resent that. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. really=/ They began to walk again. it&s so obvious. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. 6o room to analy3e or obsess. for e'ample. actually. when you compare it with your current dilemma. you do it one hundred percent./ +. 4hen you do something. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something./ +Thanks. you in=/ :ueenie asked. sourly./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. >ou&re into someone you can&t have. palms down and swept them to one side./ +"lease./ +6o=/ +6o./ +. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life. +%%./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh.
0hristine owes me big time.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. It wasn&t even a date for that matter./ %% replied dryly. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you. in fact. +Studying. It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. In fact. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. +6othing at all.yan was laying face down on his bed.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find . reading what looked like a te'tbook. I&m going to pass on that one./ %% said. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. and . and would eventually come over to the dark side. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere. . rounded the first corner. an actual lesbian. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway. sensing %% was hiding something. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air. %ust a cup of coffee.endal ne't (riday night. and then pushed it open. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations.endal asked when he looked up./ %% said./ CHAPTER $ . %ason was sitting on a couch watching football.endal was on her way. She knocked slightly./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. holding her breath when she saw that the door to 8oom ID was open just a crack.endal walked along the sidewalk to the building where all the soccer players lived./ . . . She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with .endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally. -nce she reached the third floor. .+I guess. really. +6othing. she thought.usic boomed from an open door. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah./ she said.endal figured that . +9usy=/ . . and also members of the basketball team. +I&ll be 1uick.yan said. . but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club.endal made a face. . even though no one was in the room. motioning to the book.yan and %ason were roommates. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row.
/ . already halfway out the door.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards.yan said. She took a big breath. +-f course. +So.yan opened his mouth to respond./ %ason said./ he finally said. you do have 1uite the reputation. +I appreciate that. and she&d severely misjudged him. but that&s basically it. I&m out of there./ +I know.endal asked. and I wanted you to be my invite. we can hang out and talk. She&s pretty good. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you. +I&m just going to be a minute. not sure what to do with them. +-kay. +%ust as a friend. So. I&ll probably be a little late./ . I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do. I haven&t asked anyone else yet./ ./ . I&ve seen her play a couple of games. it&s okay. +I&ll watch the game in . by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way. regretfully.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. +4ait./ she said. +>ou must think I&m a slime ball./ +4ell. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits./ +-kay=/ +4ell.endal remained standing./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. +5o get @em./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him./ +>ou don&t have to leave. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over.+It&s okay. +To say something like that./ 2e stood up and gave .yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside. shape or form./ +Sounds good.yle&s room.endal said hurriedly. and reali3ed that . So./ +%%=/ +>ea. Sure. feeling slightly better about the whole situation. of course. I was thinking about it. and if you still haven&t asked anyone.yan said. my bad. you must think I&m a complete jerk. then I understand. +I was ready for a break anyway. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest./ . +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television. +-h. the one you were at the library with./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. then I&d like to go./ +4ell. .endal held her arms close to her sides./ .endal couldn&t believe it. +I&ll see you (riday night then. yeah. ./ +6o./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. so it&s all good./ ./ %ason replied. +I&ll leave you two alone. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her. and then thought better of it. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked. It took him a minute before he looked up./ .yan said./ ./ +As a friend.endal said. +2ave a seat. +I&m not proud of it.yan repeated. +>eah./ . That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. +I&m sorry=/ .yan was staring at him. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be./ .
/ .endal said. +She&s so smart. 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered. I mean really smart./ +I know. sunny day. She&s so sweet and*/ ./ he said. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. +5ee. 2er eyes were hollow./ She tried. .r. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on./ +So study. +4ell. +)m. That&s what I&m nervous about.endal confirmed. 0hin ever did that. In some ways. +9ut I think I need some e'tra help. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson./ . She even told us which author./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. . +4e&re just getting to know each other.endal yawned.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. enjoying a small side salad. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow. don&t. she was afraid to try to study by herself. .endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. thanks./ +I&m just speaking the truth. I&ve never met anyone like her before./ 0hristine added. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . So I guess I&ll see you (riday then. (riday.+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor.s. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin. 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3.endal told her./ . she was going to have to do a far better job./ +4ell./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if . 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. ever. +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked. .endal.endal looked up. +>ou look horrible. +>eah. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth. she&s cool. and she was sure the dark circles beneath them made her look like a football player on a bright. She was sitting directly across from ./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal. It tasted like rubber. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up./ 0hristine said. you know=/ +8ight. but she couldn&t help but smile. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester.yan was staring at her awkwardly. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%./ . not just about school stuff. +I&m going to. And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems.
& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food.endal said and snatched the folder back.endal looked her up and down. It&s a must.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner. +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. it was empty. 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class. +>es. .endal. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations. +0ome on. +4ho in the world is Anne .endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired. +>ou are a math guru. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight./ . . 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. +>ou&re serious=/ +. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table. and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping ./ ./ she said./ . )nfortunately./ +I know. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm./ . 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./ . I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine. very cute. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner. +0ome on. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment./ .endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go. -ut with it. obviously offended.illigrew=/ +5ive me that./ 0hristine demanded.y behind is sore from sitting./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table. but as far as literature was concerned. too.endal said firmly. . +#arth to . +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion. let&s get out of here. In a matter of minutes.endal study./ +-h./ .endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her. +7et me see what you are studying right now./ 0hristine tossed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail to show that she was ready to get down to business.endal laughed emphatically. but the rest of the dining hall was empty.endal held back her tongue. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. That&s all the knowledge I need. yawned. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. really=/ +>es.
-kay*I&ll be back in time. the whole team has to give me ten more. %enkins.endal e'haled loudly.endal shouted. 8unning just to run was pointless to her./ . as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. like a basketball for instance.ya can get.arch. . The team finished the sprints. despised running. not from the back. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. 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./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes. 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. of course. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. As much as she hated running. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row./ +(ine. >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality. . >ou know how . +0aution. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. +Thanks to you. . She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of ./ 0hristine said. much to the chagrin of her parental units./ . %ust remember you have to be back by nine. +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads. on the other hand. sucking in every breath./ +5ood.ya can get. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field./ +>es.c9ride. I forgot. She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus. I know how ./ +4ill you knock it off already. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. %% didn&t know./ 0oach 0ook hollered. shape or form./ +)gh. She needed something to give her a reason to run. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. And that was all the reward she needed. and snorting. or whenever the basketball season was over. +"oint guards lead from the front.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch. +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. %%. +5ood finish. +4hatever./ 0oach 0ook noted. %% bent over and clung to her knees. There needed to be some sort of object involved. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level. %%. They had been wrong.0hristine whistled loudly and said. +0ome on. +4e&re sprinting. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition. not goofing off. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. in any way.
a couple./ 0oach 0ook stressed. :ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore. the lesbian team. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. +It&s all about conditioning. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. it was definitely top secret. +Team. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. 0oach 0ook ignored her. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle./ +See you tomorrow. that&s what allows you to play your heart out. After three years. and leave it all on the floor. /2urry up and change. that is./ :ueenie said. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs. +I&m starving. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up. though. 8ather thin but muscular./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks./ 0oach 0ook said. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . they would spend the ne't practice running from one end of the court to the other until they dropped to the floor in e'haustion./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath./ +2ow sweet./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game./ 0oach 0ook barked. +0onditioning. regardless of the score. The candlelight is optional. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. so if the two of them were. +-kay./ :ueenie added. I am the one who is cooking tonight. in fact. 4henever they lost a game./ 0oach continued. ladies. ladies. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. :ueenie. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season. +As a matter of fact./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch.
full of mashed potatoes. ./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy. +>eah. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. 2er cheeks were bulging. the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar. +That was no big deal. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before./ :ueenie said. chocolate pudding. She forced her attention away from ./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. +That was a close call. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie. tossing everything in sight onto her tray. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. I can&t think straight. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly.endal and back to :ueenie./ said %%. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of her./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. that. They sat with the other members of the basketball team./ +4ait a minute. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw ./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. %% winked at her. . 2ave you two been bonding lately=/ +0an we get to the dining hall before we discuss the intricacies of my newfound relationship with 0oach= I need brain fuel. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air./ :ueenie huffed. I&m seeing two of you right now./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. Then they threw on some warm-up pants and their team sweatshirts before they hightailed it out of the athletic center and over to the dining hall. I was sitting there in silence. I&m confused. In fact./ +-kay. In fact. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray./ +(ine. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. As she studied her tray. bread.+I didn&t notice. The rest of her table was empty. $ean 2offman walks through the door./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. a side salad and a tall glass of milk. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. right. I know. She dashed through the food line./ +She did. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. +-h.endal sitting there. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it.
&/ +6o way./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . it&s okay. +So./ +So*/ %% said eagerly. +I guess I&ll be going now. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there. As soon as she saw me there. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble. %%./ +So.endal confessed. +This kind of thing only happens to you./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. >ou should have seen the look on her face. +6ever a dull moment. >ou two kids have fun. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words. we both were just sitting there not saying anything. +>ep. +%%. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside./ said %%./ +>es way. +I mean.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. I&ve got a surprise for you.c9ride. my friend. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you./ she e'plained./ +-nly you./ +4ell. was @Sweetie. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. +I know. +4ell done. . +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ %% reached her hand across the table. @It&s okay. we both turned our heads at the same time. well done. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair.endall said. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock./ . 0oach. +All over a stupid 1ui3./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray./ ./ :ueenie continued. It was classic. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things./ . I&m a complete mess. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door./ :ueenie leaned forward. then she assumed that 0oach was alone.& Then I winked and walked out of the office. And at that e'act moment. did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. %% looked on in wonder. $o you want to study someplace else=/ . without looking up./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something.endal . So I stood up and said. +I wouldn&t say that.c0arthy right ne't to her. 6ever a dull moment.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked./ :ueenie took a sip of milk. +I need your help desperately./ %% pushed her tray aside. indeed./ +6o. of course.
yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening.endal suggested. +4e&re closing./ +. she&s the captain of the s1uad./ . or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. I remember./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. 0oach should give us a curfew./ %% returned. I have curfew tonight. +I owe you big time. I have to be in my room by nine. CHAPTER ( +A curfew. don&t you=/ +>es.endal said./ ./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood./ %% agreed. %% studied her e'pression.endal said politely. She thought of ./ %% returned. I&ll see you in an hour then./ . I don&t. +The coffee shop.+>ou can come to my dorm room. or that she liked the way %% smelled./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly. Then maybe we&d play better. +I can&t. ./ . ./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine. +>ou remember our plans./ They both stood up. miss=/ . +And that will be enough. but it&s a good way to make sure everyone on the s1uad gets their homework done before the weekend and is rested for practice on (riday and the soccer game on Saturday./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow./ . thinking a neutral setting would be more professional. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous. +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm. and she enforces it.endal said eagerly.endal said adamantly. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling./ +I was just leaving.endal held her backpack to her chest. came up with it./ . +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start. +Thank you.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 stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her.ya./ +-kay. Thank you so much. too.endal nodded./ .akes sense. I was just checking. She even comes around to check and make sure we are there. +0ome on./ . +4hat about the library=/ %% asked.
A rather thin blonde.+4hatever. I&d 1uit. 0hristine./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. +0heerleading. opened the door.endal.endal in the dining hall. -ver ./ said . offering %% some 0he' . I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors./ +4ait. She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite./ %% responded and held up her notebook. +(or documentation. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here./ she said to the blonde./ :ueenie said. +If 0oach gave us a curfew./ %% started for the door. which was decorated a lot like the door to their room./ +7et me guess. Interesting decor. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her. +0ome on in.endal walked into the room. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this. . +"edaling cookies=/ she asked. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. -nly./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since./ she said./ said %%. taking a handful from the bag. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America. 0hristine. +That was my roommate.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos. +I&m sorry. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# ./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. She often sat with . Sampson Academy paraphernalia. %% thought as she knocked against ./ %% said. +>ou need professional help.endal&s dorm. +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to . right.endal .endal&s door. +-h. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures./ the blonde said. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow. >ou sure are 1uick./ . #ach door on .i' +I didn&t mean it like that.c0arthy&s dorm room. +School spirit is a way of life. 4e can use this to our advantage. straight out of the pages of <ogue./ +I know./ %% backtracked./ . +Thanks. %% recogni3ed her. +"edaling poetry. and little cheerleader cutouts./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. +(riendly people you got here. 6o wonder you&re a tutor.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed. proudly.ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. +Am I that transparent=/ . 2ave a seat. %ust sneak a few photos./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%.
endal pointed to one of the poems. It wasn&t long before . I had to do and learn a lot on my own. but me they scorned&=/ ./ +So*what else=/ . but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed.endal considered the words on the page./ she said. . but she was also proud to be a woman. yet awkward./ +I think you&ll like ./ .y oldest brother is in his late twenties./ +9ut that&s not fair. +8ight there=/ +. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully./ +It was. and my other brother is twentyfive.illigrew.endal thought for a moment. +It&s a secret. +So. I mean.illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write./ %% smiled mischievously. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. +I don&t know./ +I don&t even know who she is. +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman.endal sat down ne't to her. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on.endal turned her head and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue like she had the other night when they stood outside of her dorm talking. See. +That&s fair.y <erses 4ere . +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family.ade 9y Another.endal. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. ./ said . at this line in )pon Saying . +Anne . really young. +7ike what=/ %% asked./ +That must have been hard. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention. She was more than happy to play along. +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem./ +7ook here. +9ecause I was an afterthought. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. $eal=/ . but I know it&s about this author at least./ %% cleared her throat. She leaned her back up against the comforter. -ne of my favorites.+I&d like to think there is. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman. +It was . +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./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. @my numbers they admired./ she said.illigrew./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. See how she says. +-kay./ +4hy is it a secret=/ ./ said %%.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along. +7ike*/ . after a moment. .endal let that idea marinate. I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. And even though men adored her poetry. well aware of how little space remained between them. I was*une'pected. It was flattering./ +-kay./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor.illigrew was not only proud to be a writer. setting her folder and her book in front of her. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know.endal&s perfume. trying to distract herself from the scent of . but she loved every minute of it.
#aising my head high. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide. #elief from my shoulders. and then stopped. She disappeared for a bit. +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then./ . men in this case. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . who took it willingly. This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside./ %% closed the book in front of them. *ith this gesture you taught./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell./ . She read the rest of the poem in silence./ +I would have never survived.endal had seen before. Instead. Beyond the tears.endal shook her head.unfortunate that the very same people. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like.ou gave me your hand without thought.endal asked./ She slid the journal over to .ost of her work was discovered much later on. 0ourage./ . She licked her thumb./ +To be out. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. #elease./ +4hat did it feel like. she refused to compromise herself or her art. )eaving me sta/le. +2ere. a life9long lesson ' am normal after all. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so./ said %%. !ree at last./ . (ride. . And being closeted is the worst thing in the world. . as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied.endal read out loud. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were. even though she kept writing for the rest of her life.endal. !reedom. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for. for obvious reasons.endal slumped back against the bed. ' /elieved in me. Having the strength to stand. +This e'plains it better than I can. . The shallow dread ' left /ehind. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain.
The chatter ceased. She was one of a kind. this was a huge compliment because it meant that ./ . 0lark. . +I forgot about that part. possibly even a nervous breakdown. 0lark cleared her throat. a short story. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. They were free to write whatever they wanted.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. And %% had written a poem. )sually.rs. +It&s not even close. however. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom. +0lass. turned out to be today. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it./ +0ome on. It didn&t matter./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class.rs.. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment. #veryone sat up straight. 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. 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. like many of her previous free writing efforts. It&s like $ickinson. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. at the same time. .rs. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big. -n occasion. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class./ +It&s not like $ickinson. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment. whether it was the beginning of a novel.rs. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just ./ said . It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long. but. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room.endal. As soon as the class was seated. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though.endal laughed. 0lark was impressed. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on . . remember=/ +-h. right.y writing hardly compares to with hers. That day. you know that= >ou pour everything. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. She began flipping through the journal./ said %%.rs. a journal entry or a poem. %% knew. . And at that moment.
/ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. She&d written the first line on a whim.rs. so I decided to leave class. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly. and then cringed when she heard . It&s yours to share. The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended. And that wasn&t going to happen. 0lark advised. She tried to speak once more. who liked cheerleading and boys. did it=/ +6o. 0lark&s nasal voice. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom. Their relationship had suffered because of it. She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach.rs.rs. She knew ./ +9ecause that would be a shame. . 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. +./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read.rs. 0lark nodded. +%%. and again no sound emerged./ %% managed. mouthing the first line. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out.rs. +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. %% was the e'act opposite./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations.like her. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time. +>ou might want to stand up. she sat down on a nearby bench. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. signaling that her class had ended. the building for #nglish classes. +I didn&t feel good. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air. but no audible words came out./ . 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all. She glanced from face to face in a panic. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at ./ . slinging her backpack over her shoulder./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ . +And speak up a bit.rs. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. She trembled as she stood. ma&am. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. It deserves to be shared with the class. She breathed heavily. 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. hoping for some closure. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up.rs. unable to move. 0lark. And the class deserves to hear it. It&s yours. Instead. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. not ever. 2er lips moved slowly. shuffling through papers on her desk.ay I go to the restroom=/ . 6ot now. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom. +%%*are you okay=/ . 0lark was still in the room.rs. 0lark asked. %% tiptoed in. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. and %% bolted from the room. Instead.
>ou&ve been out of it since this morning.. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. 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. 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. and removed her glasses from her face. aren&t we=/ . 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better.onday./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room. say. The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded. had another outstanding practice. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity./ +. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . +2ey./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead.rs. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. And she was flattered that .endal has nothing to do with it./ +All right. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing./ ./ %% reasoned. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane./ %% replied dryly. 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing.rs. offering criticism of their work. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. :ueenie. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud./ . I just have a lot on my mind.aybe she wanted it that way. She understood. +I&m sorry. )nlike %%. +I&m just checking in. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . ladies. rela'. if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. and taking in criticism of your own.rs. +I&ll read it on . %% couldn&t concentrate. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound. 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. +I can&t force you to read it. 0lark called after her. what good is art for that matter.onday./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. ./ +. just as your basketball coach believes in you. and not because of the sweat. 4atch and learn. %%./ she said./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. +Touchy./ %% leaned against her locker.rs. on the basketball court./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. as usual. I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. 4atch and learn.endal was only a few hours away. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work. +6ice job.aybe she did.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices.
She was already showered and dressed. %%. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. >ou are the floor general. playing with her i"hone. +$on&t worry about 0oach. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. I don&t start players who perform like that./ Apparently. +6o./ she said. carrying a rose. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow. >ou better get your game in gear. +5ood. remember=/ +-h. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. +I didn&t play well at all. +>ou know me./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm./ Ignoring that comment. sitting on a locker room bench. %% thought. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. >ou brought :ueenie to the team./ 0oach 0ook said. +%enkins. 0oach./ she said. +I e'pect more from you. right. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week./ +>ou are the starting point guard. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es. +$on&t do anything stupid. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them./ +I know./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her. +"eachy./ :ueenie said./ %% snapped. who stifled a laugh. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. %% thought. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie./ She barked from the doorway./ %% acknowledged. And you two are my senior captains. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. 0oach. %%. -nce in the confines of her office. I need you to play with confidence./ +I&m busy tonight. And the point is that you played horribly today. 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. 0oach. +#asy for you to say./ %% said. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. a big part of it. +. %ust what I need./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. 0oach is like your best friend now. +Says you./ ./ she replied. do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years.
+So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. I&m just asking. +I thought I looked good. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked.endal asked. she hadn&t been thinking of . thought .endal groaned./ 6ot again. +I can&t believe you are going to go with her. mulling over which way accented her features better./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o./ . She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for .endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. a slimming red graphic T-shirt.endal said. wondering about her outfit. I&ve never been to one before. and. ./ +8ight./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. It was as simple as that. She wanted to go to The Spot.endal ran her long fingers through her hair. stomach-first. 0learly. She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as .endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her. "ersonally./ +I already told you I&d be there./ 0hristine held out her pinky. it&s the truth. +(ine. She wanted to try something different. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed. +(or the umpteenth time. She stood up and grabbed . +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ .endal spun around. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine. as a result./ .yan as friends. +I promise. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit . I&m only going to this party tonight with . teammate and confidante. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. She&d been thinking of %%. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening. pulling it back and swinging it forward./ +>ou do.yan&s benefit./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ . it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit.endal by the arms. It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets. +0hristine.%%% . that&s gross. +"romise me you&ll be there tonight./ . admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to./ 0hristine smiled wryly. +I have no idea./ .yan. She stood facing the doorway. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ .endal had chosen. +(lattered= .endal shrugged.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. admiring her jeans.endal. As my roommate. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know.endal. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser. I&d be creeped out.
%%&s palms had been sweaty all day. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack. I think.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder./ . -nce the words left her lips. leaned over and tried to rub it out. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly./ she said. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge./ %% blurted out. too. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. . she sat down again./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side.endal said. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring.endal asked. %%&s head snapped up. the doors swung open and in walked . 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far. And that was the side she thought . She crossed her legs. Then she stood up.endal said. After a minute.endal enjoyed the most. she reali3ed what she&d said. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to . pointing at %%&s backside./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start.endal. as well. admiring %%&s outfit. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts. And I like to carry my journal with me. +>ou&re right. but resisted. it couldn&t get much worse. then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide./ .0hristine reluctantly stepped aside. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so. +I mean*you look nice and everything. +5o ahead.endal./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair. just in case .endal had tried to call or send her a te't./ +4ow. Then she batted her eyes at . %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. >ou look ama3ing. She bent down as far as she could without falling over. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe. +There&s something you don&t see every day. who started laughing. 9ut she hadn&t. +8ight./ she said./ she said. +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took .endal smiled. pointing at the backpack. you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good. +>ou look ridiculous. She 1uickly stood up straight./ . Then she checked her cell phone. +I keep some of my favorite books in here.endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. At that moment. In the end. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. +I like you without a hat better. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots.
endal. hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever. too. smiling. Several students crossed their path. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. +2ow was your day=/ %% asked. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman. with %% directly on her heels. +)neventful. I tripped over my own two feet and knocked the runner in the lane beside me off the track. +4hat&s so funny=/ +I was just thinking of something 0hristine had said before I left. genuinely interested./ %% said. and laughed. and both %% and . +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity./ +./ said .endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful. She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together./ . . The looks didn&t bother %%. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company. +0hristine doesn&t know you. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them.endal said./ +She doesn&t like me very much. A roving waitress appeared./ . at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. That&s all.endal asked.endal responded blandly. They sat in the corner near the window. either. +7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong.e. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you.endal laughed nervously. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy. +-nce. some staring at them in wonderment. and then looked away./ +4hat did she say= . does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now.endal flashed %% a knowing smile./ %% struggled to e'plain.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. unsure of how to respond. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress .endal much. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ .endal had grabbed it first./ %% said.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus. They didn&t seem to bother .endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table.endal confessed./ . but . The more she thought about it. and %% assumed that . I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. +I wouldn&t worry about it. and neither of them held back./ . They talked about anything and everything they could. 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. +I don&t know. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. She reached for the doorknob. afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk./ . giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before.
/ .y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly./ +>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. +There&s so much more to you. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin. . And when I show them the pictures.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief./ %% offered. and my hair was long. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant./ +4ow. I&m the same./ ./ %% professed. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. It came down past my shoulders.endal continued. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. +I didn&t know./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. It was so embarrassing. I wore make-up. you don&t. and tried to fit in.endal straightened up./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. clearly offended./ +6o. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. I panicked and ran off stage. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. I played the role. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains. +>ou&re joking. 9ut back then I acted different. 7ook at 0hristine. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life.%% laughed. And because I knew that everyone thought that. I want you to know me as I am now./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here./ +9efore I met you./ +9ut you are changing./ . +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. I have no idea who I am. the real me./ +I know what that&s like. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do./ said %% honestly. I was just like her. I have to see those pictures./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place. +It was awkward to say the least. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips. 9ut forget about me. +I&m still playing the same role now. I became that./ +I&m sorry. not the younger me that was insecure and confused. 4hen it came to the talent portion./ ./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be. "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 was supposed to te't 0hristine. 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. if you&ll let me./ said . I feel like I owe you or something.endal stood up and tugged %%./ +I know a place. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know.endal glanced at her cell phone.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said./ +Speaking of $ickinson. and if I don&t read it./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can./ +4hat if I helped you=/ . almost taking her by the hand. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. you owe me a poem./ %% panicked./ . +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it./ . +Then let&s go someplace else. and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. +4hat&s . I need someplace private.endal asked.onday.endal. after skimming through the pages. +6ot here./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on . +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much./ .endal asked. +0ome on. %% rolled her eyes.endal said adamantly./ %% told her./ %% paused. just to be sure. +>ou think I&m smart=/ ./ +I have to do this by . who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. then meet up with her at the soccer party. There are so many things about you that ama3e me./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful. I&ve never told anyone that before./ %ust before they left the coffee shop. >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me. . +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e. so that makes it a secret. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine. >ou showed me your favorite hangout./ +>ou don&t owe me anything. It&s (riday night. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret./ %% wasn&t about to argue. then she&s going to lower my grade. . +#mily $ickinson would be impressed.ay I about=/ . -f all the poems in her journal. you&re kind. 9ut here she was with %% instead. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit. looking around.+>ou aren&t anything like her.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%. That is.other ./ she agreed. you&re smart. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for. +-kay./ %% considered the offer. .endal asked.endal.endal had to choose that one.
%ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed. 2e stood up./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts. +Seriously. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button. aside from winter formal.yan said miserably./ he said.yan. She smiled eagerly at %%./ %ason had heard enough./ +I&ve got issues=/ . +She should be here with me.4ithout saying a word. I&m the best looking guy on campus./ said 0hristine. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when . +7et me try and call her. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. +I wasted thirty bucks on this tie.yan. he had gotten all dressed up for nothing.yan./ %ason offered. and closed the door behind him. as she held up her i"hone.yan shot back. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. This girl is cra3y. .yan that meant wearing black slacks. +>ou&ve got issues. she&s going to regret it./ he said./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ ./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . 2e was still sitting on the couch. +0ome on. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. impatiently. who now glared at . who finally took the hint. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. +6o way. sounding frustrated./ +I&m going to regret it. and stood up instantly to look out the window. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian.endal. 7et&s go./ 2e turned to 0hristine. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked./ ./ . as he nudged . The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance. +I don&t know where she is. +I don&t know./ said .yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend./ said 0hristine./ she whispered under her breath. +She&s probably on her way here right now. +If you don&t come tonight. . +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. she&ll come. She ditched an invite-only soccer party.yan pressed. +6ever mind. (or . Apparently. +4hy don&t you go find out.yan out of the room. dude=/ he grumbled. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps. She&s been acting so strange lately. waiting for . 9ut she clearly was distracted.
They couldn&t keep us from going to class either. . ./ she said.endal grabbed the blanket. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. %% sat down beside her. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot.CHAPTER !! %% and . and after classes to read or do homework. wait until we came out. ./ . she&d stuffed a flashlight. "erched up high on a platform. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. 6o one ever found me here. come on. +)ntil it gets too cold. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way. and were completely hidden by the tarp. >es. In the middle of the blanket. +I found this spot during my freshman year. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints. 9ut that never worked either. they&d watch us go into some place. I even slept out here once or twice. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad./ +-h./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars. and classroom buildings.endal sighed./ . +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night./ . +0ome here often=/ %% asked./ +I&m full of surprises. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. %% and . with . the side to the bleachers being left open. she&d gone through ha3ing./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry.endal crept under the bleachers.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. and grab us. She turned it on. that it got to the point where they&d all eat with me in the dining hall so that they could grab me as soon as I walked outside. I had all my routes mapped carefully. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. urging %% to follow.endal left the coffee shop. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall./ said %%. So. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. And follow she did. That included the library./ . +It was fun at the time.endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. I didn&t want that happening to me. +This hiding spot was so good. illuminating the spot. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me. we were fair game. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. unfolded and spread it out. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. even though she already knew the answer./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. dining hall./ +That&s pretty clever. eyeing the flashlight.endal told her./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. See.endal argued. They huddled together. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around.
I&m honest and upfront about myself.endal ordered. +7et&s talk about the poem. 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that./ ./ +>eah./ %% admitted. +2ey. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. +I feel stupid. what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good. I&m just trying to help here. That&s not the problem./ +>es. +Are we going to talk about your poem./ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it./ +6o. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself./ . +>ou keep saying that./ . relieved to be out of the spotlight. +9ecause I was trying to make a point. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot. but that was different./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ . I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. for starters. I&m being honest. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. "oetry is personal. opened her mouth wide and said. my therapist=/ %% snorted./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke. +I can&t. I don&t. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion./ . +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away./ said %%./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met./ . a nervous habit over which she&d little control. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem./ +5ood.endal on the blanket. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem./ +Trust me./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you. +4hy=/ +4ell. you got me there./ +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 hoping it&s a good thing.+-kay. It has to be.endal said./ %% gladly rejoined .endal glowered at her. It is.endal replied. but she didn&t care. or what=/ %% blinked twice. +And read it to me as if you were in class. >ou know that. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself. She cleared her throat. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face. you do./ +I do not. And that was $ickinson&s poem.endal played with her fingers.
/ . you will. +I believe in you./ . %% was vulnerable. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive.endal had seen %% without her confident grin.endal took it. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. +I&m never going to be able to do this by . wondering where in the world she was. eyes that made .endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. with regret. %% had never heard anybody. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening. That was it.endal reassured her. Some people may not respond in the best way.endal weak in the knees if she . 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways. #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection. That was how the night had ended. as . . %% had offered .endal laid her hand over %%&s ./ . startling them both./ +>es./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur./ +It&s the same principal. 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way. and gave %% one in return. +>our writing is ama3ing. not her coach. or even her parents.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again.endal&s cell phone rang.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes.endal had dared to picture a different ending.endal had said. . In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer.endal maintained. and yet it carried so much weight. +I never thought of it that way. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else. and fell over on her back. and spoke through her fingers. +4hy=/ %% asked. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated.endal fall for her even more.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm./ %% hid her face with her hands. +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well. +I&ve got to get back to the dorm. It was the simplest of phrases. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense. It confused her to the core.onday. 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. It&s the same with your writing. They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as ./ +9ut that&s ridiculous./ %% said. you still did it./ . And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people./ 4hen %% looked up. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her. In her imagination ./ It was the first time . say those words to her before./ +4ow. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. Some people may not like it. And it only made . e'posed. but I bet most people will. She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face. she saw . +And you make it hard not to./ +Argh. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when .
and . irritating. she stood up and stretched. 0hristine reluctantly obliged./ she said. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited.endal didn&t know what to say. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. .ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ . +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. That thought alone frightened her deeply. . and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. +I need to work out./ They walked briskly. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker. 4hen their pace slowed. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of . . +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. +4ell*/ 0hristine said. +./ 4orking out was not something . before transferring to Sampson.endal jogging behind her to keep up. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way. She burst from the locker room.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. yet .endal didn&t know how to e'plain it.endal huffed. and only her imagination. .endal found herself pouting. So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead./ 0hristine sang. In fact. +-kay*I know*you&re mad.endal begged. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips. with . +7et&s wait until we get to the track. still tapping.stared at them long enough. +I&m really sorry. +I&m waiting. a definition to describe the feeling.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. to give it a name so that she could understand it better./ . Saturday might as well have been a pause.endal organi3ed her thoughts./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement.endal found the tapping distracting. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd.e./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run./ . . She&d even dreamt about it the following night. 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. the gentleness of her touch.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center./ she said as genuinely as possible. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging. 0hristine&s only response was. +(ine. +I am way beyond mad. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again. and then %% had this problem she needed help with. e'cept. and yet oddly comforting. . scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. +I just lost track of time. She needed a word. +0an you*slow down* please=/ .endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis. >ou can come if you want to. I wanted to help her out.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center. She and . -nce she finished tying her sneakers./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face./ 0hristine spat. +4e were talking at the coffee shop. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year. to let her e'plain. and probably to make her suffer. . getting ready to walk a few laps around the track.
+>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. offering a full view of the courts below. +They are having a meeting. >ou went back on a sacred oath. +>ou are infuriating. and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face. #ither way.endal.endal screamed. +I just don&t see what the big deal is. +>ou know how these things go down. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. They didn&t want you to know./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. a little too loudly. and they&re starting to talk. +That&s cra3y./ It was as if ./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in.endal&s face. and . Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added. . in first grade=/ she asked. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay./ . They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. +>ou have no idea what this means./ 0hristine told her./ The color instantly drained from . it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason./ 0hristine shouted again. "eople are starting to wonder about you. +It&s the truth.endal felt amused./ 0hristine screamed. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. >es. but your priorities are all messed up. and wondered if %% had been one of them./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore.endal had said. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad./ +6o.endal. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction. +4hat are we. 2er face contorted.endal asked./ 0hristine shouted. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. or if she was just really upset by what . noted where she was./ . 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. . and yes. nor bearing the school colors./ She leaned in and whispered. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. I don&t know.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain. she had her frustrations. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ ./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore. and continued with her rant./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream. They turned to each other and giggled.endal flung her hands to her hips. she had her complaints. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye.+. That&s what it means. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. +And you know what that means. . She spotted %%. you pinky swore with me./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. It was supposed to be a secret. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center.
. She&d been the e'ception to the rule. . and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. She was dismissed. She&d seen how these things had gone down. you had no shot at making the s1uad. it did matter. cast aside. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. She felt her chest e'pand with panic. Suddenly. prettiest./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%. She&d have to start over.endal shouldn&t have cared. as it sometimes happens. Standing there in the athletic center. Aside from being pretty and popular. 9ut. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. (or some reason. They went after only the most involved. or you either for that matter. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. 9ut for some reason../ 0hristine said. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying.L 5"A./ +5et another one. and smartest students on campus. at the school lounge. by way of her K. It shouldn&t have mattered.endal asked. then you can come. one that she couldn&t put her finger on. no matter how good you were. and she&d been happy doing it. $on&t even mention what I said. she did care. the most athletic./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for . and her participation in student government activities.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. I&ll vouch for you. +It&s only going to be a discussion. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. 7ast year.endal felt small and shallow. unsurprising. be it academic or otherwise./ 0hristine said plainly. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. +Tomorrow night. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships. She had 3ero athletic ability. her involvement in the drama club. +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. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. popular.endal knew e'actly how these things went down./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition. and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. 2er eyes instantly softened. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. unanimous vote. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring.endal had been lucky. +4hen&s the meeting=/ . and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more. . 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day./ . (or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her. as if she were a freshman. She&d judged people./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. 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.endal&s hands. . )nless you carried at least a K. 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. but if you skip that. nothing final.
I&m talking about T2# . -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. in 1uotes with her fingers. In the meantime. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. +8umors are starting to circulate. It was discouraging. %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. and she didn&t care now./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle./ she said without looking away./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and . and :ueenie would love it.c0arthy. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. 2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion. 6ot like a classroom of strangers. Time was running out.endal glanced toward the basketball team again.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%. more important. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen . to say the least. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders. There were other. She hadn&t heard from .y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. I don&t. she might not like it so much. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. +-kay.endal and her roommate arguing. noting :ueenie&s smirking face.endal at all on Saturday. +./ :ueenie said./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense. +./ . which wasn&t much at all. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip. things on her mind.endal . #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. +$on&t you think=/ +6o. :ueenie said. +That&s awesome. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. study session./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. nor would she ever critici3e her work. :ueenie loved.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet.. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem.
It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. 9ut you&re wrong this time. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. really I do. because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. %%. she&s going to stop talking to you. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. +It isn&t a game. +9ecause you never learn./ she confessed. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since./ +She&s not like that. -nce ./ +(ine. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was . because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. that&s the point. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. %% e'tended her hand./ said %%./ :ueenie stood up. It&s a fantasy. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe. +All right. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. %%. +And you&re wrong about her.endal. and it&s never going to happen. :ueenie shook it./ :ueenie said. +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late./ %% said. once she reali3es the weight of it. the playful smirk gone from her face. +This is reality./ +That&s absurd. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. I&m in love with the girl. The deal was sealed. +I know you&re in love with her. right=/ +8ight.+I&m not playing this game with you right now. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think./ +I appreciate what you&re saying./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with ./ %% resisted the urge to argue./ %% warned. a lump forming in her throat. when she was all %% could think about. 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./ %% maintained.
+I told you so. She motioned to the bed. asking for permission to sit down. >ou know. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately./ . letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. It was her life. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately./ +She did.ya was sweet and understanding. avoiding soccer parties and such. . They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation. surprised. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . . a true humanitarian. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . she knew how to play the game when it mattered.endal heard from beyond the peephole. wearing a pair of bo'ers. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. and hanging out with certain people. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night.endal. and added. and sat down. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. I thought . +I was actually going to come to address some things myself./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts. . +#'cuse me./ . aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. who released one can. She was compassionate and charitable. She had little in common with . and then knocked on . 9ut as sweet as she was.ya 9rooks. +Sure.ya&s door. +6othing much. but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading.ya burst out laughing. And not once did :ueenie say. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. which made her easy to talk to./ . It was all she ever talked about./ . and passed it over before taking one for herself. watch out. %% took a long sip from the can in her hand. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . +./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell. She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie./ . though. . Their conversations were few and far between. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned. %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word.sprawled out on the couch watching television.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. have a seat. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets.ya was alone. As far as your behavior.endal replied evenly. +0ome in./ CHAPTER !$ ./ :ueenie burped. +. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. and about little else.ya said warmly. popped the top. we have noticed.endal.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad.ya said.endal braced herself. She opened the door and saw . 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. an open te'tbook in her lap.
shape or form.ya&s eyes. side by side. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. it&s not a gay fraternity./ . but she&d certainly implied that . She pulled at her fingers and avoided ./ . +#ver since I met her./ .endal remembered a tall./ +./ . if I met someone. silly.ya stood up. and we wanted to throw you a party. I&ve been all over the place. I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. They sat down./ +4hat&s going on=/ . then I had to stop spending time with %%. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party. a woman. I didn&t know what to do. because of %%.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. And I know she&s a girl.ya asked. Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. not that I know of. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with./ . . unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. at this point in my life.ya&s book dropped from her lap. I guess./ +That&s it=/ . or think I might want to .endal. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way. And black members. +I don&t know./ ./ +. +6ot that I am. +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay.endal hurried to e'plain. the thought has crossed my mind. I&ve never met anyone like her before. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop.endal nodded. recalling meeting . .endal stood up. too./ +I don&t believe this./ . or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ . +6o. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting. It has straight members. make it mandatory.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. took .endal walked across the room.endal replied. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too. It&s a regular fraternity./ She smiled. +>es. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ . So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way.ya laughed.sociali3e as much./ . . +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es./ +A gay one=/ . And he&s even in a fraternity. And white members. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es.endal cursed 0hristine under her breath. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know. but that&s basically about it. . in any way.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own.et who=/ +%%. The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston.endal said 1uickly. +I mean. And I try to stop the feelings. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%. but if .
the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. I plan on having a little talk with her. 4hen she opened her eyes. the words that were branded in her brain. +Is everything okay=/ ./ .endal initially agreed not to see %%. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do.endal headed for the door. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. +If you ever need to talk more about this. the slight hint of wickedness in . #verything is more than okay. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. just let me know. She remembered that poem now. and had been since the first time she&d studied it. She paused in the threshold.endal thought about the poem. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. she saw the words of the poem before her. She knew that poem.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. leaned up against the bark. as she sat beside . and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling.ya asked. She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. closed her eyes. . especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her.ya&s voice was enough to satisfy .c0arthy it seemed almost impossible.ya. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. . She flipped opened the book./ +And I underestimated 0hristine.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. %%% . And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. yet for some reason . 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s./ +5ood. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped. everything is perfect. #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down./ +I might take you up on that.endal a slight hug and added. and rested her finger on a single line. It meant something./ said . She sat down. 9ut with . turned and said. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. +>es. . 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. She hadn&t shown any interest in him that night at the soccer party when the two of them were left alone in a room. That would have been awkward. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort./ she said. 5etting a girl had never been this hard. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do.endal&s appetite for revenge./ .endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session.ya.endal ./ Although .. +$on&t worry. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the .endal couldn&t decide which one.yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head. Then . +In fact.ya gave . Somewhere along the road . . +I underestimated you.endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening.
9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit. the fountain couldn&t go on living. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal. taking up space. #ven its soft blue color had faded.endal&s mind about him. Then. At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . The one he had hatched originally was not working. . it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. 9y itself. every spring. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. 2e had acted like such a fool. only larger and more upscale. the cement structure was depressing.endal would respond to. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. rhyme nor reason. It had no purpose. There was one other person.yan many things about .endal just might bend. lifeless. To . It sucked the life right out of her.endal&s tutor. as well as fall semester.yan had seen .ing and :ueen. she&d stood him up anyway. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. And they hadn&t worked. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy . things that she&d thought . In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and . get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. for that matter. . Apparently. The end of the soccer season. that whole approach had been pointless. And when he finally thought he had made a dent. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad.yan was determined to be one of the chosen. which meant that the chosen pair. the fountain had been shut off.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys. 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. 4hat better way to get to . one other girl that . And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about. though. . without water.endal hanging around with over the past month. who would be anointed . 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. which left it looking gray. playing the sweet and sensitive guy. at least for the rest of the winter. 4ell. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. %% sat there.endal. attained a status far higher than everyone else.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. when winter thawed. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it. was just around the corner. She just might let him in.endal would respond to.yan.endal would be his 1ueen. the girl on the basketball team.endal better than she actually did. It just stood there. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. while students wandered by and paid it no attention.aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. . It made no sense. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . 9ut in order to achieve that goal. %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. . he needed a new game plan. the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite.
/ +Say no more. +7et&s go. she refused to be like :ueenie./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly.endal all along. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue. 4hat made it all worse. 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. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. in fact. +It&s pathetic. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . for whatever reason. It didn&t help that she saw . my friend. turning back to face the fountain. . it&s not pathetic. not basketball. She did care. . it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor. 9ut %% knew that was impossible. %% had never asked her why.6othing mattered to her. ./ %% frowned. 9ut . #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. +4henever something like this happens. #ver since . +6o.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie./ :ueenie returned. you go off to find yourself./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. to not let herself get attached. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it. +6o. #ither way.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session. not even her writing.endal practically everywhere she went. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. I guess not. was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there. isn&t it=/ %% asked./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown./ The voice rose from behind. though./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. a wide grin on her face. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. %% shook her head in disappointment.endal never even looked in her direction.eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. She walked over and sat down on the bench. possibly by a former girlfriend.aybe she needed to not care. hands in her pockets. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. +It&s just the way you deal with things./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class.
#ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant. +4e&re going out. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last .4 with a few other members of the basketball team. %% had agreed on the spot. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. 2e watched %% suspiciously. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs. At the end of the semester. I feel like I&m with someone famous. . She even had taken time to do her hair. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. she&d asked to speak to . though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. 0lark out in the hall. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension./ %% regarded her clothes.rs. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. she hoped she would be able to. +>ou are. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. +I swear./ %% said. +Sometimes when I&m out with you.rs. She was also in with the bouncer. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that./ said :ueenie. 9efore they left the dorm. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. +So it&s settled then. 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected.%% nodded. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&./ :ueenie told him. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. And in a state of panic. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye./ She yanked %% off the bench. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. 9y the time they arrived at the club. She had gotten an e'tension./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. though.rs. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans./ :ueenie shook her head. during e'ams. At least. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. . +It&s going to be a great night. +She&s with me. 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. who called her by name once he saw her. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester./ :ueenie teased. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. Somehow it had worked because . They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. since the bass had been turned up so loud. She didn&t have a choice. +It&s fine.
but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . %% was still leaning against the wall./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. she was cute enough. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times. %% glared at her. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor.. and pushed %% to the side. +I&m not ready to go yet. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw./ %% frowned. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again./ :ueenie yelled. +9ecause I&m ready to go. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape. She stomped down a narrow corridor.endal. %% took off through the crowd. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. She offered to buy %% a soda. The music was deafening. +:ueenie.m. +4hy=/ she asked./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. Sure./ %% shouted. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her.They reached the second floor landing. 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. which was 1uite hard to do. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. and you could almost see the walls shaking. though she was standing right in front of her. she&d forgotten that %% was even there. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. +>ou look ridiculous. An hour later. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening. since she had none. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas. +I&m leaving. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. +$o whatever you want. It was almost K p. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. At that point. +.e= At least I move to the beat. I&m kind of in the middle of something. +7et&s go dance. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. %% was ready to leave the club. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. %% once again made her way through the crowd. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape./ she sputtered. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. .
+I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it. really. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. And in hindsight./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked. broken beer bottles./ %% sipped her soda. +4ait a minute./ :ueenie repeated. . and I felt*used./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. it was considerably amusing. The night had been a complete and utter failure./ +$o tell./ %% shook her head from side to side./ +Trust me. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. and then I lost interest./ :ueenie said. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing. And. after the club closed we went our separate ways./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of . she&d taken a cab back to school. now you know what happened to me last night.&/ %% pressed./ :ueenie shrugged./ +There&s nothing to tell. seriously./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. 9ut when %% told her story. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. by the way. and they fell from underneath me. I walked across them anyway. I managed to land on my feet somehow. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. +I should have never gone out. %% nodded. eyes fi'ed on the television. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. if you hadn&t gone out./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape.ung "ao chicken./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. which cost me twenty-five bucks. The two of them slept until after noon. +So. +(rom my perspective. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es. either./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much. and random individuals lurking about. it looked like more than @not much was going on. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. so %% crawled into bed./ +9ut. +(unny. :ueenie still wasn&t home. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. +I mean. After she finally got down from the fire escape. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm.y story isn&t half as good as yours. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie .c9ride=/ .
+-kay. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. And thankfully. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. you can talk to me. I don&t think that&s it. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard. +-kay./ She stopped circling and glared at %%./ +:ueenie./ . and rubbed her temples. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it./ %% began. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. She circled the room./ she said. @not into what=& And she said. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped./ :ueenie said finally. 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. +6ope. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat./ %% scratched her head./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. +Something is obviously bothering you. The moment passed. ./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either. and stood up. Try this one on for si3e. 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.&/ +And that bothered you because . you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. that girl&s response brought me back to reality. >ou had a moment of guilt. 4hat happened=/ +#h. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. @I&m not into that. @relationships. seriously. . It was something that started with an @S&. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down. and that&s it./ :ueenie said. %% paused. +4e said this weird goodbye. I don&t know. +That&s my line./ +I don&t know what it is./ +It passed=/ +>es. something a bit more real. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. So.:ueenie turned off the television. >ou felt the need for something more. very. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much. It&s me./ %% told her. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside. I don&t know. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. 9oth./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone. +I think I just wondered*for a very./ +4ait a minute. like I suddenly grew a conscience. +%ust like that. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. +And you know what she said to me= She said.& So I said. It passed./ +That girl=/ %% cringed.
+I can&t help it./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls. +I feel like I am going to throw up. +I figure. I just get a little an'ious now and then./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. +>ou get nervous about everything. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. After all./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. taking e'ams. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. She sat in the dining hall. %%. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. graduating from high school. >ou are that bad. And so do you./ +Trust me. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. I suppose. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. +9esides./ :ueen returned./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. I reali3ed who I was talking to./ +I know./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ . forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations. between ample gulps of milk. she&d been right about ./ +I&m not that bad. +It really isn&t that big of a deal. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant. Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall./ %% picked up her fork again./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. Someone who opens herself up to people. this time with determination. I get nervous. And I&m not depressed. hey*it&s safer doing things my way. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked./ +It&s just a game.endal. playing in basketball games. +I&m hungry. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. I don&t know. :ueenie sat across from her./ +It&s all trivial./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked.%% threw her hands up in the air. . what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt./ Though she didn&t admit it. +That&s just part of your character./ :ueenie said. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter. +I need energy for the game./ %% said enviously.
Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . %%./ +>ou know. rather than taking advice yourself. be-all for you. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. on paper or otherwise. sliding her plate aside. this time you are actually making sense.aybe. :ueenie. +0ome on. >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. 9ut she did know better. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over.+6ot in the big scheme of things./ :ueenie said at last. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn./ +. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. I don&t want to be anything like them. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating./ +That&s fine. you know you want to do it. and do it./ %% glared at her./ said %%. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. :ueenie. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air. but you don&t really know my parents./ :ueenie smiled./ said :ueenie./ +-kay. She gave :ueenie a long look. +I was being serious./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. or belittling them every chance you get. +>es=/ +>es./ %% started her response. 9ut just hear me out. >ou never let it rest. for instance./ +Take your stage fright./ %% said. and stared up at the ceiling. %% waited patiently for her to respond./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on. There is one thing that I am afraid of. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. >ou know my parents. $eep inside. +>es. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. If %% didn&t know any better. you know you can do it. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so./ +So am I. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. I&m listening. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle. $eep inside./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. It&s part of the game you&re in./ +7isten. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose. >ou&re a writer. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again.
which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater.maybe./ . 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her.yan e'plained./ he said./ +Trust me. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction. +0ome on. +0an I talk to you=/ . uninvited. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue. right=/ +>ou could say that. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned. And this would help me out a lot.yan leaned in and whispered. +I need you to do something for me. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. and. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis. +It&s important./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. I know you&re tight with her. +4ho is this creep=/ . I&m popular./ . but I&m still not following you. if you just talked to them. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. and gave up her seat./ %% cocked her head to one side. %% thought. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed.c0arthy./ :ueenie volunteered. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get./ +9ut I hardly know you./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond.yan asked./ . +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person. I&m going to go to law school. ignoring :ueenie altogether. +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school. +7isten./ +>ou&re friends with .endal .yan Stevens loomed over them. a shadow fell over the table. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them. +I said I need you to do something for me. +True./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table./ ./ %% hated the fact that he was right./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. . She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. +There&s no common ground. if you know what I mean. I just need you to say a few nice things about me. It was empty./ he smiled devilishly./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. keeping his eyes planted on %%. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up.yan sat down across from %%.
There was no apology. well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points./ %% stared at his hand until he let go. >ou not only played with skill./ And so it was official. as she was making her way to the locker room. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and . and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had./ +4hy not=/ . too. +That&s it=/ ./ ./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me. +7ook. too close for %%&s liking. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate. %% had played well.yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. I can&t help you. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands. I was her tutor. +I&m sorry.endal . :ueenie had played superbly. 4e don&t even talk anymore. entirely confused. ./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game.%% sat there. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love.yan called after her as she walked away./ +4ait*/ . %% had secured her starting position. They hadn&t spoken since . 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. according to 0oach 0ook. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points./ she said. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . was over. or whatever it was. +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. After the game.endal had stood %% up.c0arthy was doing there. whether by te't or by phone. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again. That&s it. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. So %% figured their friendship. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. but you also played with heart. 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight./ she told him sharply. ladies./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. I can appreciate your interest in . +>ou two seem like best friends or something.ary./ +4e aren&t best friends. 4e aren&t even friends. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted.endal didn&t listen to them. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact.yan practically whined.endal. +I&ve got a game to get to. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. I can&t help you.
/ %% whispered. it&s a different story. +5reat team effort tonight. +./ . :ueenie hesitated./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore. ./ %% said.endal was still sitting on the bleachers./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks./ :ueenie declared. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening. there&s a first time for everything.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to.nocked me around= I&m all muscle. I&ll see you back at the dorm. >ou&re really good./ %% replied as evenly as possible. when she noticed that . +She just rambles when she&s happy. 9y the time she made up her mind. I&m glad we won though.an. two./ They left the locker room together. I want team on three. +It was e'citing and fun to watch. I stink. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on./ %% yawned and stretched.endal halfway or stay where she was. we won a game. 0oach left the room. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym./ +>ou know what they say. as she pulled on her warm-ups. +5reat game./ +It&s about time. 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side.endal already stood in front of her./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance. debating whether or not she should meet .0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. you wouldn&t know. ladies. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out./ ./ /That&s very true. As soon as she saw . Then it&s always short and sweet. 9y the way./ :ueenie said./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. +I can hold my own. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me. she knew why. 5reat team effort. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose.endal took in the empty gym. +4hen we lose. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. #veryone else followed suit. +I&m ready. would you=/ +. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself./ +Thanks. +5ive me a moment. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. three. +"lease=/ +-kay. as she fle'ed her arms./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms. -ne.
aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. I don&t know you at all. you know./ . :ueenie warned me. +>ou know me. CHAPTER "* . I said you&d never do anything like that./ she said. I guess he likes you a lot. 9ut when .endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond./ she said./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up. +I thought I knew you./ .endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her. as you put it./ +>es. look. 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. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything. (or avoiding you. she wondered if she&d made the right decision. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester./ +>ou know./ . +9ut it&s not what you think. I know you&ll do well./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder./ .yan Stevens is head over heels for you. against her better judgment. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ .endal interrupted. and you should probably know that . And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much. It is what it is./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today. +-h.endal cringed./ . +I&m glad you came to the game.endal pleaded.endal closed her eyes. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something. That&s the problem.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm. . +I came here to apologi3e./ +6o. Instead./ said . ./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. +I know how it looked. you do. +2ey. +She said you&d stop talking to me. 4anted me to put in a good word for him./ %% took a giant step backwards. I don&t./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. And I stuck up for you.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for./ +I didn&t freak out. 5uess you proved her right. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school.endal./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets./ she said roughly. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%. 2e&s perfect for you./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. she decided to walk away. to e'plain what happened.
endal stood slowly./ the president said patiently. . ./ . 9ut look. I wasn&t . +Sorry to interrupt.endal. races and religious beliefs. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. . They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society. (rom where she hid.endal./ The entire group looked at her strangely. in faded jeans.endal said.endal insisted. +I.endal approached her slowly. I found it. +>es. talking on her cell phone. take your time. +See.endal*/ +2ello.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover.endal gave a slight and awkward wave. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie./ the students said in unison. you behind the couch. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. . +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. She was dressed as if she were going out downtown.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. #veryone.eet me in five minutes instead. +It&s okay. then crossed her arms over her chest./ +(ive minutes is all I need. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. I. 9ut you&ve got it wrong. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'.endal. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket.endal=/ +4ell*/ . earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. . really. To ./ The president pointed a finger. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins./ ./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. +I was*I&m not here for the meeting. >eah. and tapped her gently on the shoulder. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up.endal heard a voice ask. +I already know what you think of me. please say hello to . :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors. +2ey.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. %ust give me five minutes. +And you are=/ . ./ .endal. . . . +4hat&s your name=/ +. 4hen she stood up. shuffling through its contents.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. +It&s important. +>ou&ve got five minutes./ +2ello. and then looked back at . She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room.4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. . She kept checking her watch after every other sentence.
/ +So./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. . but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. then she&ll come meet me. All of it.endal hugged herself to keep warm. And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her./ . +This is so new to me. +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. I want to talk to her more. no matter what people think or what people say or ./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. And there&s more to be said./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. It&s important. I&m not downtown yet.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. . -kay. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened.going to stop talking to %%. :ueenie stood firm as she watched . . And I needed some space to think about my confusion. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. I&m serious. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. I&m still confused.endal e'plained.endal striding along the sidewalk. I&m not going anywhere yet. This time.endal walk away. I want to do the e'act opposite. 6o. I haven&t even made it off campus. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself./ She laughed in spite of herself./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged.endal=/ %ason asked .endal declared. I want to*I don&t know. %%% +So what happened with . +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door./ . +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings. I thought I&d try a different approach. I want to*spend more time with her. It&s me. In fact. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away. let me guess. and continued to watch her from afar. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. until her silhouette faded into the night. Something came up. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. (riends. She&ll know where I&m talking about. It distracted her for a moment. #verything. I already tried talking to her. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. School. . Tell her to meet me there in an hour. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%./ +. she could still see .yan as they left the athletic center.eet me in the school lounge. See you in when you get here. as if her words were left suspended in air. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it./ . >es./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. . +9esides./ . but . I knew she was mad at me. +%%. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. I don&t even know what I&m saying. and that didn&t go so well.
+4hat.an./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ ./ +./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ . +2ey. +Take this for me.endal ./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +./ +I don&t get it. +. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl. 8emember= She stood me up./ +I tried a different approach./ ./ . I forgot about that.aybe she&s just not into guys. does she know if ./ .an.endal in more subjects than one.c0arthy that./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness.yan waved his hand into the air. the one that you talked to./ %ason bit down on his laughter. +I don&t know. while making 1uotes with his fingers./ %ason stopped walking. +I don&t know. maybe she&s tutoring . She said ./ he said 1uietly./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason./ +6o.+6o. It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back.yan looked up. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party. $oes it matter=/ ./ %ason snickered. +I&m thinking about asking somebody else. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason. %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge. Then it was all . A devilish smile broke out on his face.aybe you just need a different approach. +I think it is. +It does now. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet.yan said.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek.c0arthy this and ./ e'ploring my options. >ou know. rela'.yan answered./ ./ +I doubt that. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team./ .endal and that she&s just one of her tutors. And I can&t figure out why. +She said she hardly even knows . The whole sensitive guy routine. seriously.endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on.yan said. +5et it=/ +$ude. +It bombed. 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. +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans./ +So=/ +So. Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up.yan fi'ed his eyes on him. +9ut I&m going to follow her. I&m just.endal . +-h*right. +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean. isn&t that*/ . okay./ he said.endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out.yan rolled his eyes. . and then to a figure approaching the soccer field. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered. +Shut up.
And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. only this time she hadn&t let it take over. Heart open. +I&m not sure. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it. strength.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. &o real. Thoughts reel. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. But it4s 5ust a moment. . CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. static feelings. +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. . erratic. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. *ant to &ometimes ' do. &ometimes it helps. She reread the words 1uickly.. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . The first time she . &omewhere.endal. mind /lea6. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. Sure. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. so to spea6. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. And move on. '4m wea6. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment . to relieve in itself The pain.
even basketball. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. %% had been able to do it all by herself. I forgot. It made sense. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it./ %% said evenly. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone./ +6one other than T2# . %% knew that now. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. right. +7istening. dark-skinned girl./ +:ueenie. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. with glasses too big for her face./ :ueenie sat up straight. %% 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. She spoke about tolerance. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point./ +>ou give up too easily. she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered. This time.c9ride&s. perhaps=/ +6ice try.endal . only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. every word. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself. As she reached for her baseball cap./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. every rhythmic phrase. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. took the podium. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place. It was therapy. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. stage fright. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting. A meeting of some sort was taking place. care of the . unassuming./ %% looked around the room. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. or lack thereof./ :ueenie whispered back. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective ./ They watched together as a tiny. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. . 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. 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. closed the journal. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened.endal.c0arthy. :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h.
endal. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. 4hen she reopened them. she took another deep breath.+That&s right. (or some reason. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all ./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About .c0arthy once and for all./ :ueenie admitted. +And she wants to tell you herself. +5ood. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. of course. you should know that . +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. and I don&t want to know./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused./ +She likes you. I&m heading back to the dorm. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. in hopes that I might go speak to her. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason. 4as. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. save your breath.endal .iss . +4onderful. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. I got the impression that she even missed you. three. I&ve got two. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . and says she needs to talk to me. It doesn&t happen too often. +This is a big deal for me. I&ve got three words for you. 4rong. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations./ %% stood up./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever./ +4hich are*=/ +I./ %% cleared her throat. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say. I&m talking on my i"hone outside./ :ueenie continued./ said %%. she took a deep breath. +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. She could only nod. she likes spending time with you.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. I still don&t understand. if you&ll e'cuse me. . +6o. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. #njoy the rest of your. taps me on the shoulder. I asked./ %% sat down again. +6ow. +-kay./ :ueenie closed her eyes. The nerve of some people. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step.
. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories.endal supposedly was waiting. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to. +0all me if you need to. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation./ +I can&t believe this./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap./ +That&s up to you. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. my friend. +I was wrong about her. you might hear her say it for yourself. you turn around and tell me this./ +I can&t believe this. I think she really cares about you. +%ust when I&m over the girl. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug.+9asically. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'./ +I know. I&m talking @like like.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like./ said %%./ %% yelled again./ %% yelled. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. This is me you&re talking to. I did my part. She&s not like I thought she was. and slammed it down on her head. you&ve got a small head. And if you get off your high horse and remove the @but I&ve still got my pride& plugs that you&ve stuck into your ears for just one second. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain. 4alking through them would be the easy part.c9ride./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. she couldn&t tell. +>ou must be rubbing off on me. >ou have to believe me. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart./ %% whispered in return. >ou were right./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body. Then I&m heading downtown. :ueenie . I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. I mean. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge. +It was obvious. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all. +. She grabbed her baseball cap back. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone./ She pointed at %%. +%%./ +Thanks. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together.an./ +And I appreciate that./ :ueenie said as she leaned over and snatched the baseball cap off %%&s head and placed it backwards on her own head. I can tell when a girl wants to be more than just friends./ :ueenie continued./ :ueenie whispered. come on. The hard part was to choose which doors. CHAPTER "! .
and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon./ .yan forced a laugh. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more.yan returned. If :ueenie had come through for her./ +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./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret./ +7ook. egotistical moron I&ve ever met.endal as she scanned the darkness. A friend.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself. +#ither way. +It&s cold out here./ +A friend=/ ./ . "erfect for a secret rende3vous./ . worried that %% would arrive at any second. you&re pathetic. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you. +4ell. eh=/ +That&s none of your business. +That seat is reserved for someone else.endal pointed a hard finger at him. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. right=/ +It was a girl. +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me./ said . well. +4hat do we have here=/ . 2is charisma had melted away. 4e&d make a great couple. if you must know. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it. I found a much better way to spend my night./ +Some friends come with benefits. The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up. 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.endal looked at him with distaste.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . well. >ou are the biggest self-centered. I&ve never even entertained the thought./ +"athetic=/ ./ ./ ./ . +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip./ he confessed. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ .yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go. casting a dim beam over the blanket./ 2e approached the blanket. +I apologi3e for standing you up. +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing./ .endal&s sweet smile soured instantly.yan stared down at the blanket. +"lease.endal spat. +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=/ . just go. She crossed her arms in frustration./ +4ith some other guy.endal&s protest.endal laughed sweetly at him. +6ice little set up you got here. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer. didn&t you= 2ow sad./ . +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you. %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. 4e have so much in common. +Think about it. It&s been said./ 2e winked at her.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her.endal told him at once. And in the end. 4e could take this school by storm.
-nce we graduate. isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. desperation in his eyes.yan stood up. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. It&s not about what you do./ said ./ . +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure.endal. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school. 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.yan maintained. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school. +9efore you met who=/ . what am I doing wrong=/ . it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. +Then tell me. I&m in no position to tell you what to do. they might respect you more./ +7ook. anymore. She suddenly felt sorry for him.endal&s own eyes softened.endal continued./ he e'plained. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors. She peered into the shadows. +They&re his rules./ +6ot everything. I take care of myself physically. I get good grades. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you. I guess not./ +. it turns people off. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ .yan said 1uickly. +I&m the captain of the soccer team. +That&s the real point of going off to college.endal stared at him firmly./ 2e looked at her. $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. +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. no matter what other people think. +I don&t know what I am. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like./ .aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then./ he told her. And apparently you aren&t being yourself. >ou act so conceited./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ . setting her hands on his shoulders. +It isn&t worth it. but there was no one there./ ./ she said./ +So it&s true.+4ell. . +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. >ou might as well let them see the real you.yan didn&t answer. >ou really are a lesbian=/ . then. now you know. not mine.y father&s in the military. +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives. +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=/ +. I&ve done everything right./ . +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah.yan asked.endal approached him.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side./ +I can be a nice guy. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. . . It&s about who you are./ he said. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o.
7ook.endal./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as . and it&s important to me./ . After reali3ing she was getting nowhere. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new.+It doesn&t matter./ . +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since .endal replied. I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates./ As . 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded./ she advised. +If it were me. I can&t understand.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm./ . +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered.endal said.c0arthy.ya the week before. She had decided to move in with ./ She pushed past 0hristine. calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . 2e stared at it blankly.endal . Steadying the crates in her arms. +5o look in the mirror. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally.endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night. ready to be carried away to some other closet.ya&s room. +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same.endal had started packing./ +. I&m not doing anything. . +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything. and*/ +I can do it by myself. 2er clothes were spread across her bed.ya&s room if you want. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined. 6ew classes.yan leaned forward to hug her. I said I was sorry a billion times./ . +I&m just saying I know how you feel. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay. It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . +6o.endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to . +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to . you know that=/ +I have changed. 6ew semester.endal agreed. I think you got off easy./ +>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. . +6ope. really.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead./ . She turned her back and resumed packing. and then took it in his hand. but . 6ew living space. +>ou&ve changed. +Then you&ll see what I mean./ she said.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. +I&ve already been scolded by . I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether.endal knew she&d done that all by herself./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand. 6ew .
ya helped ./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance. +6ot much.endal entered her room.endal stacked the empty crates in the closet./ +8ight. neither. I know she feels bad about it./ said . 6ew semester./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly.endal replied apologetically. nothing. 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.e./ +So what now=/ +6ow. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ ./ +"ositive=/ +./ ./ she said.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor. 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible. +6o. +2onest./ +It&s okay.ya sat down on her bed./ . 7etting me move in here is help enough. +I know. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others. She does feel bad about what she did. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= ./ . +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes./ ./ +5ood./ . She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem.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./ .aybe.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it. reluctantly. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book./ +If it&s any consolation./ .. +I&m a little on edge still.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 %%./ ./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know. +Is it possible./ ./ +7et me help you./ said . And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. +Time to move on.endal. it&s not.ya asked.endal admitted.endal frowned./ +I have plenty of room.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it. I&m sorry.ya asked gently./ +Are you sure=/ +>es. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation. as . I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets.endal. +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that. It&s not a big deal at all. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible.endal snatched the book away from . +That&s what she feels bad about. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles. 6ew things to come.endal had waited in the cold. things change. 9ut./ . +I can do it. she sure was an attractive scapegoat. And she never showed up.
I forgot.yan Stevens needs in his life./ ./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot. and began sifting through some papers. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes./ . and took . here&s a list of possible venues. 2er stroll./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl . If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team. +(or instance. if you like that meathead.ya teased. I happen to think .endal. -therwise he might ask somebody else.ya asked innocently. +0ome on./ +>ou&re into girls now./ she said. +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.endal asked. +I&m not into girls now.ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her./ . And apparently she&s not into me. +.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon. +2e&d never say yes. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine. listening to successful. in search of inspiration for writing.e= I couldn&t. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. I understand./ +-h.ya jumped up off the bed. I can promise you that./ . I have to do it soon./ .y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in.endal&s hand./ +>ou like ./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute. >et she continued to linger./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke. debating whether or not to go in. jockish sort of look.endal smiled wickedly.ya answered./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then. .yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. had led her nowhere in particular. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal. certainly lacked appeal./ . >ou name it*it&s on here.endal returned. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here.+It&s okay. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything. +8eally= I thought ./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +./ ./ ./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo./ ./ +(orgot what.yan is cute.ya cooed like a little school girl. +.yan. +Then you can help me think of what to say to . She picked up the binder and showed it to . +4hat&s that=/ .ya blushed. +4hat=/ .endal said./ . imaginative writers spew out poem after poem.yan would have asked you for sure.endal burst out laughing./ +4ell.
Save me a spot in line. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . At that moment. +4ell.yan Stevens standing directly behind her./ said .yan&s shoulders gently. +I don&t think so./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other.yan held up a finger./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then. completely heartbroken./ %% stepped aside to let them pass. barely acknowledging her presence./ said his friend %ason./ she said. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. +>ou two make a cute couple. the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands./ said . . %% stared at him vacantly. +2ey %ason.yan echoed./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground./ As he turned and reached for the door./ +0hicks=/ +>eah. she didn&t. 9ut there was no masked man. She had gone there. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. +I thought she&d tell you. +And I doubt she will any time soon. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. %% gave him a slight nod. who was standing beside him. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together. and then turned abruptly toward %%.yan. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. more significantly. 9esides. %% almost called out to her. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ . +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ . +>ou know. +6o. Then for some reason . +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. +-h. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it./ +(ine by me. She&s too much to deal with. 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure . +. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed.endal told you what happened. And when she finally stopped running./ he whispered. +I hope you treat her right. she turned and ran.yan. 6amely you. other girls. They shuffled by her. I&ll catch up with you.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway./ said . she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory.endal./ . %% 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 .endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me./ +0ouple=/ . %ason was inching closer to the front of the line. breaking into %%&s flashback. completely out of breath and.endal was holding . telling him to wait a minute. Instead.yan glanced inside the coffee shop.endal would be waiting. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her. +4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about .yan.The sun had just settled in for the night. right./ she said blandly.
+I wanted to know what was going on with her. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. and she basically put me in my place. CHAPTER "$ . bouncing off the sidewalk./ . I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out. >ou two were about to kiss. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. +She was waiting for you. She didn&t. the door to her room opened. ./ %%&s eyes danced around. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. and smacked herself in the forehead.yan&s face. +./ +9ut I saw you together.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued.yan e'plained./ . wait a minute. even though it was still unmade./ . %ust as she was about to fall asleep.+6o./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. too. 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah. +4e talked about a few other things./ . I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting. 7ike I said. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street. +So./ +4ell./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly. so I followed her./ . +I am such a complete and utter idiot. let me get this straight./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. +. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up./ he glanced around again./ she said.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight.endal was holding onto your shoulders./ +>ou saw us=/ ./ she said suddenly. that&s good advice. Then it hit him./ +2ey. she said she was e'pecting someone else. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping./ %% smiled.endal mumbled. but I have to go.endal sat down on her new bed. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. I wish. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand.yan struggled to recall the incident. you know. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly. +I knew it./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. +I&m sorry./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. She flopped down and closed her eyes. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time.endal didn&t want you there. right= About me. and her lower back ached. the sky and .yan called after her as she hurried down the street. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side./ A warm.
)nlike . I&m ready./ +4hat=/ .endal&s eyes shot open./ +-nly. and I ran into ./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands. 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge./ +I didn&t know what to think. I prefer to call him ./ +That I did.endal&s new surroundings. +. trying to make sense of what was happening. +7ooking for you. +And./ said .yan=/ +That&s beside the point./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss. through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did.endal flinched./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide.yan the couch monster. I&ll listen./ She observed . +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know./ %% e'plained. +I have to say I like this room much better than your last. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth./ +. it looked much different through my eyes./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed.ya likes ./ .endal./ +>ou could have said something. and made a face./ said a familiar voice./ +That depends.ya. I guess I didn&t really believe it.endal snickered. only I showed up right when you were giving . She stood up and began to pace around the room. the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ +>ou and me both. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen./ said . .endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently./ +I was thinking we could go to the library./ .yan a lecture.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her.endal. +4hatever you have to say.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. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself.ay I=/ ./ %% insisted./ +4hat do you mean. just for the record. She was sitting up now.endal said dryly. through my eyes./ +4ell. +I was in town earlier.aybe do a little studying./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +./ . +>ou can e'plain everything to me now.ya. And./ +-h. I&m not captivated by his washboard abs.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder.ya told me where you were.+It&s not . I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that. +I mean that I did show up that night. +I just saw what I saw and ran./ . It doesn&t matter to me. +./ ./ +That he did./ +That is a mistake.endal told her./ .
The first was the day she met :ueenie. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet.c9ride with her parents in tow. 9ut %% resisted. you know that=/ At that moment./ +That&s right. and re1uest a roommate change. right down to her socks. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. +I&m :ueenie . Somehow./ +0ome on. #ach was notable for a different reason. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room.c9ride. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year. And that was a moment worth remembering. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. %% didn&t dare deny it. performed only when her parents were around. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. +Thought so./ she eventually told %%./ said :ueenie. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. her life was forever changed. making it to the state championships. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it.endal said. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation. The day she&d met :ueenie. %%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about. and nothing could stop them. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. The championship game went . in walked :ueenie . tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life./ %% had said. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. . They were going to take the campus by storm. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. The two became inseparable after that. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up.+Studying=/ +>eah. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction. They had both arrived a week early./ . She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. before classes began. the one and only.
endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. . such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. As she made her way toward the biographies section. 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided./ +-h. and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. and all. +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked./ . %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 looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement. eyeing the key. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms. and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. once they were inside. she saw . %% had to ask. her heart sped up e'citedly. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked.endal rounded a corner. +9esides. with a playful smile. She watched with anticipation as . And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory. and desperately tried to calm her nerves.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't. facing %% who lagged behind her. staring is rude. and as they stepped aside they studied .endal replied. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center./ +I don&t see what the big deal is. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. +I&m obviously used to it by now. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. +I&m just having a little fun. The room was no bigger than a closet. seating three or four people at the most./ she said. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . The walls were soundproof. and tackling her to the floor. since she&d made the winning basket. %% knew something incredible was about to happen.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand./ +$oesn&t bother me much.into double overtime. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. %% gulped. you know= Two girls holding hands. -nce ./ said %%. they were e'tremely hard to come by.endal replied. $uring e'ams. 4hen %% reached the landing. It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. And since e'ams were right around the corner. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door. she knew the smell of . chasing her down./ . The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. +I&m learning as I go along./ .
/ She looked up at %%. I didn&t . %% remained standing./ said .endal returned her attention to the book in front of her./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off./ she managed. . can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . +4hat did you mean back on the steps. +>es. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me.endal finished. +9ut./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here.endal./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed. All I see you doing is talking./ +I have my ways. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. waiting for me to lug her to class.endal ordered. +#verything that was right in front of me. She patted the open seat ne't to her. +It&s a learning process. +I know I&m supposed to be listening.endal confessed. It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore./ . %%.endal began./ . +I was so confused. it knocked the breath straight out of her. unable to speak.endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench.endal or across from her. that&s all.endal looked at her that way. +This=/ She held it up. +8ela'. -nly. +I thought you said you were ready to listen.endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her. +I used to hate her. her nerves getting the better of her.endal shook her head and laughed. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow. I should have known./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ . 4hen ./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms.endal shot her a look./ +I am. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es.endal sighed. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right./ +Sit down. +The interest never went away. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. really=/ . She pointed at the cover./ +4ell. +Interested in you=/ ./ ./ +0heerleading connections. I don&t see you listening. you&re a girl and that complicated things. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to . ./ ./ she said. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her./ +-h. She decided to test the waters first. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for. %% nodded./ . "age DEP. +She used to torment me at night.endal played with the key. that.
It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind.endal. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . That&s why I avoided you. and especially not 0hristine. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. Instead./ ./ said %%./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit.endal./ said .endal ./ She pointed to the page. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. and how you helped me change my perspective. still unable to look . 4I7$ nights. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants. The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights. That&s why I stood you up. All I know is that I want to be around you.& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you./ . no matter what anyone else thought. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. not my friends. +I knew you were going to say that. And that&s you.c0arthy./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. 9ut that isn&t the case. suddenly made no sense at all. +>ou don&t have to say anything. %%% 7ater.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her. when %% was lying in bed that night./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. not the s1uad. +I finally get it. she sei3ed the moment. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. 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.endal softly./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined. +>ou are way too humble. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently.endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed./ said . even when I didn&t know myself. 4ild nights. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you./ said .endal in the eyes. +I finally get the meaning behind it. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings. leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. .
she could read them as they floated by. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . I deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me./ +4ait a second. but she&s pretty cool. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her./ +>ou know. I won&t take your charity. +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening./ +It&s my pleasure. %% 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 swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand. She had gone over it again and again./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker./ She paused momentarily./ +>ou would./ +Thanks. 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. she would.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear. +2ow do you do that=/ she asked. +I just can. +I need it. The poem that ./ +So where is T2# . so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. scattered papers. no./ +Thank 5od for that. +6o. and worn folders spread out in front of her. +She&s probably finishing up her 4omen&s 7iterature e'am as we speak. 9ut how can you study for a poetry reading= The worst thing anyone could do is panic.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. 4hen she closed her eyes. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright./ She hopped up on %%&s bed.endal . +%ust what the doctor ordered. which she already was an e'pert at. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. I was wrong about her./ :ueenie said honestly. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large. I hate to admit it. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning. scattering notes and papers everywhere./ %% marveled at :ueenie. 4e&re naturally gifted. If %% could study for it. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed.rs./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation./ :ueenie said. and it was hardly an e'am. I&m going to lose it./ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading.
/ +Sure./ +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. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor. I&m not sure what&s going on with me./ +.c9ride family soon enough./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. 7et&s not go overboard here. 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 . thankfully. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big. devilishly-motivated./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously. so nobody else at her table could . I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all. ./ :ueenie sighed. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall. +4ell-adjusted= "lease./ +It happens to the best of us. +I&m sorry. you can be cynical sometimes. It&s something special. +"erhaps. +4ell. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be./ :ueenie insisted. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. morally-sound young woman. but we all can. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. then longingly at a collage of photos arranged on the corkboard hanging on the back of their door. and that&s something that deserves to be celebrated. but I think you might be right.+I&m serious. 9ut if you never take that chance. She&s putting her all into someone. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. scary lesbian& secret during my maid of honor speech at my sister&s wedding=/ +2ow could I forget= It&s the only reason I&m going to the wedding. I&m so proud. 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. thing to do=/ +>es./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem. The lighting was dim./ +2ey.y sister is taking that risk. shifting her position every other minute. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. not to mention childish./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. besides all of that. +Are you okay=/ she asked.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. To take a risk like that. you&ll never know the difference between the two. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders.
She gave .ya=/ %% asked.endal slipped in through tight lips. I don&t think . an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out.endal. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing. right.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table. genuinely serious./ +2ey. girl. +4e just came over to wish you good luck./ +4ell. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt./ %% forced a laugh. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine. +Are they together=/ %% asked. 5ood luck. but it was too late. +7ook at her. +I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year./ %% grumbled.ya asked. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie./ :ueenie smirked. 2onestly. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to . +2ow about.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. stop. +I guess so. %% nodded in return.endal asked. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked .endal. that would totally rock. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park. +>ou okay=/ . yeah./ . And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something. +)h.yan Stevens behind her. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something./ said :ueenie confidently./ ./ %% smiled politely./ . +-h.endal&s hand shot up in the air. I bet they&ll even dub you .ya.yan even had a choice in the matter. She grabbed hold of ./ he mumbled.ya elbowed him gently in the gut. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal.see that she wasn&t only pale. you two make 1uite the darling couple./ +-h.ya in the school paper.yan fidget until . +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and . She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. . She was sitting beside %%.ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . and watched ./ +And without baseball metaphors. ladies. 9oth ./ said :ueenie.y.atie 2olmes of this school./ :ueenie replied./ +2ey. +2ey.endal and %% shot her a warning look. %% ignored her and took in the crowd./ :ueenie remarked. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors./ +>ou think so=/ . as he rubbed the sore spot. .yan&s hand. +. . +She&s fine. 2er mouth was already off and running. +I must say. but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well./ +Isn&t that . as she slapped .ore than usual. for that matter. And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth.
endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign./ . +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . he sure is a lucky guy. +Take deep breaths. +%%.rs./ . as she felt sweat break out over her entire body./ said . and she began to hyperventilate. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips./ said :ueenie.endal suggested. In an instant./ said . At this point she was seeing everything double./ :ueenie offered in return. +>ou know. as every person in the entire room stared at her. +2ey. +That . 0lark&s voice from her ears. +2ey.rs. :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head.rs. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd. . (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. And it&ll do ./ %% mouthed. +.endal maintained./ %% scowled at :ueenie./ she hissed at :ueenie. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter.ya looked in her direction. She felt ./ added :ueenie. 0lark&s hand.yan. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell./ . +I think I&m going to be sick. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading. She felt ./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees. that&s all.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm.rs./ said :ueenie. +At least you&ve got your color back. +>ou don&t look so good. She shrugged her shoulders back at them. hard.ya asked./ %% announced. +2e looked absolutely miserable. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. She&s a girl who knows what she wants.ya shifted. and turned her head swiftly as soon as . She&s as steady as a rock. +.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while.endal. +6ot at all.e=/ %% pointed at her chest.ya&s a little*particular.endal.+0ut it out. she&s not nervous at all. +I&ll go get you some water. +4ell. 0hairs shifted. %% stood there. 0lark shouted into the microphone. The damp taste in her mouth went dry./ said %%. and I&d have to start calling names. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop.ya&s a sweetheart. we better find a seat before they&re all taken. +Thanks for the water. yeah. +. She yanked . kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition. +Are you nervous at all=/./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair./ %% gulped.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block ./ ./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. +She&s just psyching herself up./ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . +%ust look at her./ +-h. 0lark take the stage. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back.
+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd. +She tied my hair in ribbons. Together. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. >et. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. It was the final signal that there was no going back. :ueenie. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. 4e found a common strand. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. 0lark. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed. They stopped about halfway around the track. She often wondered who I was inside. until they blended together into a sea of colors.other . the best writer in class. %%./ said . She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. She accepted our fate. I suppose you could say I wrote it. I untied them and my hair ran wild. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. And these are the words that ended up on the page. one after the other. of course. 2er shoulders straightened. @. tiger. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. +4henever you&re ready. settling on . +I wrote this for class*well. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to . somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. I cringed at her reluctance. and they kept coming. I boasted that I was her only daughter. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. who held her breath in anticipation. The words just kept flowing from my pen.rs./ CHAPTER ") . I took it off and basked naked in the sun./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. She cringed at my defiance. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold.endal. I accepted our gender.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there.endal and :ueenie in the corner.
/ . while chomping on a piece of gum./ +5uess not.endal. +So what brings you here on a (riday night= I thought Sampson Academy was a party school=/ +This is our favorite place to hang out./ +She was a poet.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage./ she said politely../ she said as nicely as possibly. It&s ama3ing. .ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from ./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or. After you&re done playing./ +6ice to meet you. +#very (riday night. 4e&re pretty popular in this area. +TouchM. isn&t it=/ he grinned./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating. . and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her./ 9rad said./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band./ +0lever. actually. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I. . +0lever.aybe I will. a biography of #mily $ickinson.endal teased.endal e'tended her hand to him./ +. actually./ . +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything. >ou should read some her work./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. 2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him./ +So listen./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger./ . +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry./ +8eally=/ 2e paused./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts./ +Agreed. +I&m . 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him. you should stick around and check her out. +0ome here often=/ he asked. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up./ +Speaking of T-shirts./ ./ .endal.y name is 9rad. A $rummer and (our 5uys. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans./ 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. he was standing right in front of her.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title. She smiled momentarily. +I&m sorry.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her. by the way. . would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass.endal smiled.endal. by the way. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end.
She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . As for . #ventually./ . as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride .endal.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. She looked out of the adjacent window. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand.endal stood up. +6ot at all. would she=/ +6o. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond. a person that .endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. signaling that spring had arrived at last.ollow -ueenie and . 4I7$ nights. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot./ +4ill do. she wanted to become a teacher. +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights./ said ./ +Stick around after your set./ +-omph=/ . oomph. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud.+. a new and confident %% was born.endal. #verything around her felt fresh and new. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked. As ./ . she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. laughed and cleared her throat.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. . he stopped suddenly.endal. % % % THE E+D % % % ./ %% teased.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment./ +6ever hurts to ask./ . %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot./ said . +She might change her mind after she hears you play. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore./ said %%.endal played along. +4I7$ nights. Since then. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers. . 8ecently. 4ere I with thee.aybe I will. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. +I don&t think so./ As 9rad turned to leave. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go..&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for. +>eah. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before.endal laughed. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that.endal sat back down. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. once she reached the table./ +That was much better.
by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in.or#ation and e2cerpts .or her anthology My Story is Out %. 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.ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories .