This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Copyright 2012 by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Cover and Book Design: Publishing yndicate !dited by "heresa !lders Published by Publishing yndicate at #ash$ords Print !dition % B& '()*0*')+0,02*1*Digital !dition % B& '()*0*'*)+0,02*2*0 Library o. Congress Control &u#ber 2012'-0')) All rights reserved/ Thank you for downloading this free e-book. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Smashwords.com, where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support. Published in the 0nited tates by Publishing yndicate P1 Bo2 ,0( 1rangevale3 Cali.ornia '+,,2 http !!www."ublishingSyndicate.com This book is dedicated to the young poets and dreamers of the world.
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops all.” #mily $ickinson
“My river runs to thee: Blue sea, wilt welcome me ” The words lingered in %%&s ears, compelling her lips to move along the edges of the syllables. The coffee shop was bathed in dim light, e'cept for the spotlight that held the woman centered on stage as she captured the packed crowd with #mily $ickinson&s poetry. %% sat at a table off in a corner by herself, her cobalt blue journal opened wide. She glanced down at the pages of rhymes and rhythmic phrases she&d never once shared with another human being. Though she&d been attending The Spot&s (riday night open readings since her freshman year at private school, %% never before had come to fulfill a class assignment. That would have mi'ed business with pleasure. )nfortunately, that was what she was doing at this very moment* mi'ing business with pleasure. +,y river waits reply. -h sea, look graciously./ The woman reciting these words was %%&s creative writing teacher, ,rs. 0lark. She&d re1uired the class to attend a poetry reading dedicated to #mily $ickinson. -ne by one, other students took the stage to read a poem from $ickinson&s body of work. Thankfully, this wasn&t mandatory, so %% could sit 1uietly in the corner and blend in with the crowd, as if she weren&t even there. She was a fan of $ickinson, of course, but not enough of a fan to brave the stage and read a poem outloud to the audience. 2er stage fright always got the best of her. The host of the open reading, a short man wearing s1uare black-framed glasses who worked the coffee counter during the day, took the microphone and e'pressed his thanks for the large turnout. %% remembered he&d once taken her for a boy. Since she wore her hair cut short, with bleached-blond tips, usually board-stiff from gobs of gel, her soft tomboyish appearance confused him and he&d mistakenly called her +sir./ %% had simply blinked back at him. 2e&d immediately recogni3ed his mistake and offered her numerous apologies, along with a free cappuccino. She dismissed it as a misunderstanding, knowing he hadn&t done it on purpose. -thers had made far harsher comments about her ambiguous appearance before, and not one of those people had ever offered her a fresh cappuccino to save face. 4hen the winning performance of the night was announced, %% wasn&t the least bit surprised to see one of the students in her own writing class walk up on stage, smiling widely in her sunshine-colored get-up. 2er name was -livia. -livia 5reen. 6ow that&s a writer&s name, thought %%. ,uch more colorful than her own cow-milking farmhand name of %osephine %enkins. 4hen she was a child, she&d responded to everything from %osie to %o, but decided to call herself %% before she came to Sampson. She believed that going by her initials introduced
elements of curiosity and originality, themes she liked to showcase at the forefront of her personality. After she left the coffee house, %% shuffled along the broken sidewalk toward campus. As she walked her flip-flops, smacking against her heels, kept up a soothing beat. She reali3ed if she sped up just a bit, the beat would change. She tucked her journal under her left arm like a tightly kept secret. She wondered if she would ever muster up enough courage to step up on that stage and share such secrets with the world. Though she knew deep inside that she was as talented as the rest, a self-deprecating fear constantly gripped at her sides and held her back. A rumble echoed in the distance. The night&s predicted thunderstorm grew closer. %% leaned against a flickering lamppost, and then slid down to the sidewalk. 2er blueberry-colored sweatshirt itched against her back as she reached into her baggy shorts for her pen. She chewed on its end for a moment, as words played in her head. 7ightning flashed, making its mark on the sky. Then a thunderous crash shook the air. %% focused her attention back onto the blank page in her journal. She scratched out the words in her nearly illegible penmanship !"A# $%" &'M()" *$#+, T'%,, -%A&&-M'%. yet, undenia/ly T$#T-$-& *hen 'T #"A0H"& TH" H"A#T in my chest, causing 'T T$ ($-%+ *hen 'T T#A1")& TH" )'MB& of my /ody, causing TH"M T$ T#"MB)" *hen 'T &""(& into my mind, causing TH$-.HT& T$ &0ATT"# *hen 'T +*"))& in the pit of my stomach, causing 'T T$ &('% $%" &'M()" *$#+2 "%+)"&& "3'&T"%0" 0an4t ' 5ust "#A&" 'T !#$M M, M'%+ 8aindrops began to spot the page, smudging the ink. %% tilted her head, and with her eyes tightly shut let the water tickle her face. If she sat there long enough, she hoped the rain would wash away all of her fear. A smooth black 9,4 slowed and stopped at the curb beside her. Though the windows were tinted, %% knew who was behind the wheel. :ueenie ,c9ride, heiress to the throne of the ,c9ride #state, rolled down the window. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back into a baseball cap and her almond colored eyes were barely visible in the darkness. She happily wore her usual smug e'pression on her long face. It somehow lent her the appearance of a seasoned woman, someone aware of the comple'ities of life. ;nown in <irginia as the con1uerors of the cotton industry, the ,c9ride family could trace their lineage back to before the 0ivil 4ar. They owned a plantation where slaves once had worked their lands. :ueenie despised her family roots and everything they stood for. 2er revenge was to spend her parents& money as frivolously as possible. -f course, there was the added shock value of being a lesbian. It wasn&t the only thing that she and %% had in common, but it planted the seed from which their friendship grew. +4hat are you doing=/ :ueenie asked in an accusatory tone. +Are you finding yourself again=/ +I&m e'ercising my right of creative e'pression./ +0are if I interrupt=/
+$o I have a choice=/ +6ot if you want a ride back to school./ %% reluctantly closed her journal and climbed into the front seat. :ueenie hit a button on the radio that sent the Indigo 5irls blaring in surround sound. +6ew speakers,/ :ueenie yelled above the music, pointing to the back of the car. As they headed on to the school grounds, :ueenie began to sing. 4ithin seconds, %% joined in and their voices blended with the music. They entered the conservative bubble of Sampson Academy with :ueenie riding the high of buying her new state-of-the-art speakers at her parents& e'pense while %% tried desperately to erase the word fear from her mind.
4ith the rain falling outside her open window, ;endal ,c0arthy was finding it hard to concentrate on #mily $ickinson&s poetry. She lay on her stomach, staring at the words on the page as if they were written in 5reek. (or some reason, school was something that had never been easy for her. She had to study hard just to keep a 9 average. In public school, she&d coasted easily. )nfortunately, when she transferred to Sampson Academy during her freshman year, ;endal discovered she wasn&t prepared for the serious kind of studying that private high school courses re1uired. $uring the better part of her junior year, her grade point average slipped so low her parents had threatened to pull her out of Sampson altogether. If she wanted to graduate with the rest of her class, ;endal had no other choice but to seek help. 4ith a little tutoring on the side and an obligatory willingness to do her homework instead of partying, she managed to pull her grades back up. 2er hardest class this semester was 4omen&s 7iterature, and she&d decided to get some help after she received a low grade on an essay assignment. ;endal pulled her small frame off the bed and stood in front of the full-length mirror, which hung between the two single beds in her room. 2er hair was cut in a layered angle just below her neckline and was the color of auburn leaves preparing to fall. The greenish-blue tint of her eyes seemed to change color depending upon the way the light hit them. 2er face was heartshaped with a slight curve angling along her cheekbones. She was pretty and she&d always known she was pretty. 5ood genes her mother had told her, you were blessed with a good-looks gene. ;endal sighed. The fact that she was beautiful used to satisfy her. At one point it had been enough. 9ut she&d grown tired of it somewhere along the way. This was her senior year at Sampson and she felt as if something was missing, some unforgettable e'perience that would help her figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. A vacant space e'isted inside of her and nothing had been able to fill it, not cheerleading, not her friends, not her looks, not even her popularity. 6othing. She could hear the rest of the girls of $eacon 2all running around the dorm getting ready to venture out for the night. Their vivacious laughter only reminded her that she wouldn&t be joining them. Instead of partaking in common adolescent delin1uencies with the rest of the students at Sampson, she and some random tutor were going to be nose-deep in #mily $ickinson.
The door to her room swung open. 0hristine, her roommate and fellow cheerleader, barged in and s1uealed, +4e&re getting ready to go out. 0ome join./ ;endal hissed at the re1uest. +I probably shouldn&t show up late to a tutoring session,/ she said smartly. +>ou&re such a good student. >ou do know that ;yan is going to be at this party, right=/ +>es, you only told me a billion times at dinner./ +>ou sure you can&t skip this=/ +>es, so 1uit asking./ +(ine,/ 0hristine raised her hand into the air. +2appy studying, then. And um*don&t wait up for me./ ;endal fought the overwhelming urge to join everyone in the ne't room and fill her ears with the latest school gossip*until she spotted the open book out of the corner of her eye. 2er stomach turned with guilt. After gathering her things, she pulled #mily $ickinson off the bed and slid the book of poetry into her backpack. She left the dorm as fast as she could, knowing that if she lingered any longer she might get swept up in the commotion. The rain had slowed to a dri33le and the mild wind felt cool against her cheeks. She crossed the soggy lawn listening to the sounds of the campus come alive in the damp air. Sampson Academy was a small private high school with a small-town feel. It took only about five minutes to walk across the entire campus. ;endal took one last look across the 1uad toward her dorm and then up the road at ,arlon 2all, the dorm where the all the soccer players lived and where all her friends would be hanging out. She ga3ed longingly at the colonial building until she felt her backpack rub against her shoulder, reminding her that #mily $ickinson was waiting for her.
+A hundred and ten dollars for a new pair of 6ike shoes=/ %% dribbled the basketball between her legs. +I can&t believe you spent that much./ +Actually, I got a discount because I bought them online,/ :ueenie e'plained. She was standing under the basket waiting for %% to shoot the ball. +9esides, I needed to improve my vertical./ +The most technically advanced 6ikes couldn&t help you with your vertical./ %% knew full well that at si' feet tall, :ueenie didn&t need any help jumping in order to get a clear shot at the basket. +It&s my parents& money, so what do you care=/ +I don&t./ +5ood. Shoot the ball./ %% launched the ball into the air and it swished through the net. :ueenie caught it and passed it back. %% dribbled to the foul line, crossed over and shot again. The ball sank gracefully through the hoop. +0an&t stop me tonight./ she shouted, as she peeked at the clock on the wall. 2er heart sank instantly. +)h oh./ +4hat=/ :ueenie asked, as she laid the ball up easily against the backboard.
%% picked up her cell phone to check her calendar. +I completely forgot. I&m supposed to be tutoring at the library right now./ +So you&re late, don&t go./ %% already was sprawled on the floor, struggling to untie the knots in her shoes. +I can&t just skip it. )nlike you, I have to work for my money./ +I resent that,/ :ueenie said, s1uee3ing the basketball with both hands. +It takes hard work to ask my parents for money. It re1uires a certain skill, persistence and the wit of a seasoned con artist./ +-h, yeah, I&m sure it must be a struggle to go through life as a ,c9ride./ %% slid one leg into her warm-ups, trying to shove her things into her gym bag at the same time. :ueenie stepped over to let %% use her lanky frame for support. +I can&t help it if my parents are incredibly wealthy,/ she said. +At least I get to reap the benefits./ +7ucky you./ +So what illiterate soccer player are you tutoring tonight, anyway=/ %% slipped her flip-flops on and took the ball from :ueenie&s hands. +6o soccer player tonight. I drew the hot ticket in the lottery this time./ +0heerleader=/ %% nodded. +Seriously= 4ho=/ +6one other than the homecoming 1ueen herself, T2# ;endal ,c0arthy./ :ueenie raised an eyebrow. +4ell, then, you best get a move on. $on&t want to keep little ,iss ,c0arthy waiting./ +I&m sure she&s trembling with anticipation./ %% threw on her navy baseball cap and slung her gym bag over her shoulder. +$o me a favor and stay out of trouble tonight, will you= 4e have an early practice tomorrow./ +5ee, okay, ,om. I&ll be good, I promise./ %% ignored :ueenie&s retort and hurried out of the athletic center. It was a 1uarter past nine and she was supposed to have been at the library at e'actly ? p.m. to meet ;endal. She sped up her pace as she crossed the street and headed across the lawn. The rain-soaked grass dampened her socks and she wished she&d been wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops. -ther students passed her, giggling and laughing. The weekend had begun. ,aintaining a solid reputation had become an essential way of life at Sampson Academy. %% had yet to step foot into a soccer party, or even the boys& dormitory for that matter. She and her basketball teammates had formed their own cli1ue to help deal with the stereotypes that came with being female athletes at a private school full of over-privileged kids. $uring her freshman year, %% had entertained the idea of joining a few campus organi3ations because she longed to be a part of something other than basketball. 9ut :ueenie had steered her away from anything and everything superficial. So %% belonged to a group of non-conformists made up of straight-edged kids who neither drank nor smoked, nor cheated on tests. Some were athletes, some social outcasts, and some were studious kids who, like %%, just didn&t fit the so-called Sampson student profile. There was a certain pride in being part of that group, something that said, +I don&t need to fit in or be popular./ :ueenie had instilled that pride in %%, and she felt forever in :ueenie&s debt. The "age 7ibrary was 1uieter than the campus outside. As its air of calm eased into her ears, %% felt her body rela'. She searched around the room, filled with tables and countless rows of books. It wasn&t hard to spot ;endal. She was the only other student in the library and she was
I don&t understand where everybody&s coming from. +I feel like I don&t understand what any of these authors are saying. 7iterature and poetry always had been easy for her. +The soccer team and I go way back./ %% e'tended her hand.endal confessed. let&s take a look at the poem you have to write about for tomorrow&s class. and that she should start getting in the habit of studying now. 4hen we discuss a poem in class./ +It&s okay. So. :ueenie would be rolling her eyes so far to the side of her head that they&d practically pop out of her ear./ There was an edge to her voice she hadn&t 1uite intended.endal reached across the table and shook her hand cautiously. go to class and pass a test without even studying.endal./ %% smiled. +I didn&t mean anything by that./ ./ . though she couldn&t relate to it. +I bet you&re not surprised to be tutoring a cheerleader. 0hin e'plains what a poem means./ %% understood . >ou&re . or when ./ said %%. seemingly unconcerned with the fact that %% had been late. something she often did when she was stuck on what to say ne't. +4ell. +>ou&re my tutor=/ she asked./ %% cracked a confident smile and pulled out a chair to sit down. I&d give anything to be able to do that. I tutor a lot of different people. right=/ .s. +I was just joking. it&s good you are learning how to study and put the work in.endal&s left shoulder. a little shamefully. +9ut I always tell her that college isn&t as easy as high school./ +That&s what I thought. right=/ . I might as well be reading a foreign language. +4hat= $on&t I look the part=/ +I guess I was e'pecting someone who looked a little more*studious. 0hin has her students write a one-page response to readings. I can actually read and write somewhat well. #veryone needs help now and then. and since she was a writer herself. +I&m sorry./ +I guess I never looked at it that way./ . don&t let my jock e'terior fool you. I&m %%. %% promptly removed her hat and ran her hand through her short hair. Some are soccer players and others are just regular students who are having trouble grasping a subject./ she said breathlessly.endal.endal stopped te'ting and looked up from her cell phone. +I&m really sorry. ne't to the biography section. I have friends who can wake up after a late night out. She ran her hand through her hair again. . It&s a completely different kind of reality. +It&s something I have had to work harder at. is like that. +So*what seems to be the problem with 4omen&s 7iterature=/ . +I was shooting hoops in the athletic center and lost track of time. >ou must get us and the soccer team all of the time. %% walked up behind her and set her bag down on the table.endal&s frustration./ +Seriously though. >ou&ll be much more prepared ne't year in college. +4ell.endal nodded. I&m completely lost./ +I&ve always had trouble in school. %% reali3ed she&d started to sound like a motivational speaker./ . +I&ve seen you around school. %% suddenly imagined :ueenie&s image appearing over . she had little trouble comprehending abstract ideas or appreciating originality.endal said 1uickly. :ueenie. She was dressed casually in a pale pink hoodie and jeans.y friend.endal emitted a dramatic groan./ said ./ +.sitting at the farthest table from the door.s.
/ +That&s kind of depressing that she wasn&t discovered until after her death./ They discussed the poem at length.aybe it&s better if you sit ne't to me. though. It distracted her. 4as she afraid to share her work or something=/ +I don&t know. to break the ensuing awkward silence. . +>ou smell nice. ./ . looking up from the book. +It smells like strawberries or something like that. There are plenty of talented writers out there who prefer to keep their poetry to themselves.+)nfortunately. but found comfort in %%&s encouragement. 6ow you&re reading between the lines. a famous sleep./ +To bask centuries away./ said %%.endal switched chairs and accidentally brushed her leg against %%&s in the process. $ickinson wrote ambiguously because that&s just the way she wrote.& because it wasn&t until after her death that her talent for poetic e'pression was discovered and ultimately became respected by others. you know. +So. She never intended them to be published because she was afraid that readers would interpret them in ways she didn&t want them to./ +5ood. See. 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. not once look up for noon ./ she said. As soon as their eyes met she looked away. my responses don&t even make up half a page./ +It seems like a waste of time. +%ust so we can read it together. . An independent one. That makes no show for dawn. +8ead the last two lines./ %% heard herself say. .endal bit back her words and proceeded to read the ne't few lines out loud. %% looked up from the page. +-kay./ %% picked at the page with her fingers. I read this twice and I still don&t get it. long sleep. yet something sweet lingered in the air around them. fully aware that . +I mean. +I don&t think that matters./ +>ou mean what she&s saying in the poem isn&t really what people think she&s saying=/ +Sort of. +A long.endal was staring at her. +Is that about a nap=/ +4ell. like fruity or something. more like the kind of nap you don&t wake up from./ She paused and looked up from the page.endal repositioned her body in the chair and cleared her throat.endal said. Some scholars tend to refer to her as a @private poet. 9y stretch of limb or stir of lid. wincing when she reali3ed what she&d said./ said %%./ she said. She knew what the poems meant and that was all that mattered to her. . And that&s one of the keys to reading poetry./ %% rambled on. (irst off*the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes ambiguously./ +All that I&m saying is*/ +0an we get back to the poem=/ ./ +Thanks. right= A long. pointing at the page.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. She was nervous for some reason and for a second she forgot why she was even in the library until she saw the book of poetry open in front of them. stealing her attention away from the book momentarily. +I mean *your shampoo*it smells nice./ +)m*thanks. long sleep.endal wouldn&t be able to look at it upside down. along with a few others for over an hour. +It isn&t as important as you might think. . %% followed the lines of the poem with her inde' finger. she&s talking about death. +. bask centuries away ./ ./ %% turned the book around to face her and noticed that .
/ +"ossibly.endal. for instance. +9ut no more than what you thought about me when I first got here./ said . you know. and climbed onto her top bunk without saying goodnight. as if she were keeping a secret.endal . same time. She ran her hand underneath her pillow and pulled out another journal. +I&ll see you ne't session. 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./ +>eah.c0arthy up close./ she said finally.endal looked over the scribbles in her notebook. She blinked and looked away./ %% studied her.nowing where authors came from and what they&re about can help you understand their writing better. and the warm sensation she felt whenever .endal said./ %% began to pack up her things and pointed to . -nly she wrote about it as a thing to be felt and not just a thing to be said./ %% admitted.endal was staring at her again. . laughing. +It&s easy to see why you&re such a good tutor.endal&s folder. and then checked around and under the table making sure she hadn&t forgotten anything. e'cept I&ll be on time. ./ She slowly packed the rest of her things into her gym bag. slid her hat on backwards.endal asked. I learned more about #mily $ickinson in the last hour than I have my entire life. The dorm room was empty when %% entered.endal. +4hat=/ . in a way most people never let themselves e'perience. +>ou were highly recommended to me by my advisor./ +In what way=/ +4ell. I&ve got some reading to do and we have an early practice tomorrow. She knew that :ueenie probably was watching a movie. letting the sound of . She was more than beautiful. She picked up her cell phone and added the date in her calendar. +4hat did I say=/ +6othing. admiring the child-like e'pression on her face. 6ot wanting to be interrogated about what happened during her tutoring session with . %% stood still for half a second longer. recalling the tidbits of conversation. same time./ She closed the book and tapped at the cover. +Are you kidding= I think I actually have enough to write at least five pages./ said %%./ It didn&t take %% long to notice that . %% 1uietly changed into a pair of bo'er shorts and a T-shirt./ +I didn&t think that. +I think you&ve got a good amount of notes to write your one-page response for your class tomorrow. .endal accidentally brushed against her. . though she could hear the television in the common room. +6othing. you were e'pecting someone a bit more studious./ she said. >ou said it yourself. She walked back to her dorm room reliving each moment of their interaction in her head. remember=/ +4ell./ +I&m sure you had some preconceived notions though. 2e said you were one of the best. we&re even then.ost tutors I&ve had come off sounding condescending. It&s as if they assume I&m an idiot because I&m a cheerleader.+It might help if you learned a little bit about $ickinson&s background./ . +Same place. one of the themes $ickinson often writes about is love.endal&s laughter sweep over her before she turned to leave. +I should get back to my dorm. She and :ueenie roomed together and shared a suite with two other members of the basketball team. "oetry gave her a way to e'plore the feeling of love to the fullest e'tent. It was then that she reali3ed she&d never really seen . It was her turn to look away this time.
%% sat back and admired her work. Beyond your eyes./ %% looked at her skeptically. CHAPTER # +4ild nights. She whispered the poem out loud to herself in the safe confines of an empty room where she felt secure that no one else could hear her. an empty room in which the thoughts inside could move about freely 4hile a sense of 1uiet draped over her like a 1uilt. a feeling.endal asked. 4ild nights. an image of . The picture seemed as real as if they were still together in the library. sitting side by side. 4hen %% opened her eyes. +$o you even reali3e what $ickinson is writing about here=/ +A wild night=/ . +4hat=/ . the writer inside of her had taken hold. %% closed her eyes and breathed in long and heavy before she e'haled an e1ually long sigh. ./ +6o. a moment.A number two pencil./ said %%. discussing the intricacies of #mily $ickinson&s poetry. with its end chewed ragged and sides hapha3ardly gnawed. She scrawled words rapidly across the blank pages of her journal. fell out from between the pages. Sitting with her legs crossed. ' see it . 8ead it with more enthusiasm. a /reath A second to say the words that never leave your lips And then it4s gone )eaving /ehind a sensation Tingling in my heart )ingering in the air Ma6ing me wish That the moment never ended Ma6ing me hope To feel it again But ' imagine That ne7t time The words will flow The moment will last The /reathing will speed And emotions will reveal *hat lies patiently Beyond your eyes 4hen she finished. no. 4ild nights. She did this for a few minutes to clear the clouds in her head until nothing remained but a clear white space.endal appeared in %%&s mind. .endal raised her voice slightly. . +4ild nights.
And it was all because of .endal began reciting the poem./ %% shifted in her chair. +See the difference=/ +>eah. Thanks to you. It&s been two weeks of studying. and the way her nose twitched when she shouted a word.endal laughed./ . 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. +(utile the winds to a heart in port./ %% held back her sigh of relief. As soon as she finished.endal./ +I know I&m lacking enthusiasm. %% playfully grabbed hold of .endal./ said %%./ +-omph=/ +>eah*oomph. slowly releasing .endal blushed with embarrassment and pulled at %%&s arms to get her to sit back down.&/ said . she would have never dared to do what she had just done. studying. 6either of them let go and their hands stayed locked together.endal&s hand and pushed it away. +$o you mind if I try again=/ +5o for it. wild night. +#'cept this time. done with the compass. %% covered the page with her hands./ she said.endal. She suddenly forgot all about those wild nights in the poem and focused in on . they&ve been enjoyable. 4as she at a party or something=/ +. +>es. +So back to those @wild nights. +-kay./ said %%./ %% watched closely as . 4I7$ nights. The truth was that the past two weeks had been the most enjoyable days she had ever e'perienced at Sampson Academy. 4ere I with thee./ %% insisted./ %% said after a moment. studying. studying. 9ut as soon as . %% stood up and began clapping loudly. #mily $ickinson is just the beginning. +I&m still getting used to this whole poetry thing. It&s just that I haven&t had any @wild nights& myself since you started tutoring me. 9ut I&m more impressed with the way you read it than I am with the poem. . +I&m just doing the poem justice. you know= 4e&re also studying other authors this semester./ %% glanced around to make sure that the library was empty./ +$ickinson is the beginning. 4hat do you think it means=/ . +9ut they&ve been an enjoyable two weeks of studying.endal&s eyes. that was much better. Then she grabbed the poetry book and pushed her chair away from the table. done with the chart. She stood up firm and bellowed. +It&s from $ickinson that all those other authors stem./ . +See./ +Sure.endal smiled as if she were glad that %% cared enough to ask.+The way you read it you&d think the poem was about a boring night. +I&m giving it the enthusiasm that $ickinson intended./ . 2ad there been a single soul sitting anywhere near them. haven&t they=/ . +4ow.endal&s hand. >ou&ll see.endal sighed. 9ut she had to in order to get her point across about $ickinson&s poetry./ she said. give it a little more oomph. her hair. +4I7$ nights. even though her stomach was in knots. +)m*can we go over the middle stan3a again=/ . +4hat=/ +I can&t help you with this if you aren&t willing to at least try and look between the lines.endal opened her mouth to begin.endal looked on in ama3ement./ +I know.endal asked./ %% forced a smile. studying. pretending she hadn&t noticed that they had been holding hands for a full thirty seconds./ +So she&s talking about a cra3y. e'asperation filling her voice as she sank back down into her chair.
CHAPTER $ +So. a lot of her love poems are not e'clusively heterose'ual. not sure how to phrase the rest of what she wanted to say. +I think love has a way of crossing all boundaries. the @wildness& is describing what she felt. She didn&t need them because her heart knew which way to go./ :ueenie curled her fingers and ran them across her shirt. It knew how to get her to her loved one because the connection between them was so strong./ :ueenie snorted. I kept my mouth shut and didn&t mention your numerous little tutoring dates with the homecoming 1ueen to anyone else on the team. slightly afraid of what ./ +A woman=/ %% continued slowly.+I think that it means that because she was so deeply in love./ +I don&t know. She&s just e'pressing love. Instead they continued talking. and certainly outside the confinement of Sampson Academy./ +8ight.&/ %% laughed. A comfortable silence lingered around them and even though their hour of studying was up. . pretending to buff her nails./ She pointed to . So was the compass and the map or chart or whatever. 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. the winds were useless to her.endal&s eyes widened. +4ell. That still doesn&t mean she&s talking about another woman. +4hat do you mean=/ +Some people seem to think./ +#'actly./ +>our talent for persuasion astonishes me. outside the boundaries of reality. +I do think it&s possible. +It&s been said that $ickinson might have been in love with a close friend.endal&s heart. And in this one she doesn&t specifically address gender.endal might say in return. +6ot wild as in cra3y silly. +7ook./ They stared at one another./ she said finally. both well aware that they were thinking e'actly the same thing. +>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. but wild as in overwhelming. She read the poem over again./ %% began./ . another woman.endal studied the words on the page. . though her mind drifted to thoughts of how she&d been thinking about %% far too often lately. It&s unlike anything I&ve ever seen. neither mentioned the time or dared to glance at the clock. they&d have plenty of @wild nights./ %% paused./ +And when she got there. +She must have been head over heels for the guy she was writing about. but paused for a moment. I think that kind of devotion earns me a complete and detailed account of the evenings in 1uestion./ +2ow do you know it was a guy=/ %% asked. flipping through the pages of $ickinson&s lyrics as if they were taking a journey through another world. +8emember when I told you that $ickinson believed that love should truly be felt= 4ell.
I don&t even know her. she&d developed an obsession with a girl in one of her classes named .elly had transferred because her parents had wanted her closer to home. if you say so.c0arthy walking across the cafeteria towards the cheerleading table in the corner. +6ot even close. she and :ueenie had dubbed any serious crush that left their minds senselessly wandering as the $ibble Syndrome. 9ut :ueenie knew her too well. and if she were hiding something it would be completely obvious./ +-. +6o. +Then why are you getting all defensive=/ +I&m not getting defensive.elly transferred to another school the following semester. 4ith :ueenie&s help.+0ute./ Ah./ +6ice=/ :ueenie&s jaw fell nearly to the table. and .elly $ibble./ %%&s voice jumped at least an octave higher. but you used the word @nice./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and folded her arms satisfyingly across her chest. grimacing from the soreness. I mean. She remained steadfast. 9ut don&t come crying to me when the $ibble Syndrome hits. please=/ +(ine./ %% immediately shook her head in defiance. she was downright appalled and stopped speaking to %% altogether. An'iety itched in her stomach.endal . and she longed to change the subject. $uring her sophomore year. . +0oach must have had something rather large and obtrusive stuck up her butt this morning. %% somehow managed to climb up from the hole she&d sunk into./ +I don&t know why you&re so intrigued anyway. %% made the mistake of telling . +It&s not the $ibble Syndrome.elly&s reaction was anything but comforting. . %% had considered it. +>ou always jump to conclusions like this because it gives you something to talk about. She&s nice./ :ueenie began to rub her left shoulder with purpose..elly that she was gay and how she felt. Though it was rumored that . >ou like her. %% suspected that she was an integral reason for the transfer.c0arthy. I happen to think she&s nice. (rom that point on. +I don&t believe it. +0an we talk about something else. That doesn&t mean I like her. +She&s not materialistic and stuck up like the rest of her cheerleading counterparts=/ +She&s./ she said. %% soon fell into a depression./ %% said. In fact. and regain her sense of self. even though she knew that :ueenie had guessed her secret. yes./ +>eah./ +8eally=/ :ueenie asked./ %% warned. the most popular girl at Sampson Academy. peppering her eggs with hot sauce. how many sprints can one person run in a two-hour span=/ %% nearly snorted orange juice through her nostrils./ +So=/ +So./ :ueenie slapped her hands down flat on the table. +Are you kidding me= This isn&t like you&re tutoring the alphabet to some spoiled soccer player. She fell so hard for her that it finally caused her to confront her feelings head on. And you&ve been tutoring her for a couple of weeks now. I&m bursting with fruit-flavored curiosity. she spotted . she&s*she&s different. As she was about to respond with her own witty comment. cocking her head to one side./ %% insisted. +$on&t look at me like that. 9ut %% knew this was different. This is T2# . The notorious $ibble Syndrome.&/ +So./ +She&s not what she seems. +:uit trying to stall by flattering me. too.endal . I don&t know.
The soccer players sat at the longest table near the front of the dining hall. +#'cuse me./ +I can&t help it if I burn through food like it&s jet fuel. +I eat. cooked over-easy. +Are you going to the soccer party tonight=/ 0hristine asked as . -ne senior had even gone so far as to remark.ost of the tables in the cafeteria were unofficially spoken for./ +I can&t believe you can eat all of that greasy mess. the art club. complemented with potatoes and bacon. +#'cuse me if I&m not lucky enough to have your turbo metabolism./ %% snapped out of her da3e. +At least I eat. +Ahem.endal was on a natural high. %% had wanted to spit those very words back out at her but swallowed them instead. There was no neon sign or illuminated billboard advertising that fact. the 0hristian society and whatever other clubs remained on campus. 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./ 0hristine grabbed her spoon and licked the yogurt off of it.endal sat down across from her. stirring granola into her own cup of yogurt./ . (eeling defeated. +I&m so glad I decided to get a tutor for 4omen&s 7iterature. hung neatly at her hips. The remaining tables were filled accordingly with members of other athletic teams. She actually had begun to enjoy her 4omen&s 7iterature class since she&d decided to get some tutoring. %% remembered when she mistakenly had sat down at the cheerleading table her freshman year. Sitting at the wrong table constituted a big no-no at Sampson Academy. while the boy&s basketball team sat directly behind them. :ueenie was giving her that look. a jacket and skirt combination. but you do know that this table is for cheerleaders only. and .endal looked down at her runny eggs./ 0hristine motioned to . She then eyed 0hristine&s yogurt. 2er hair just barely reached into a ponytail. I just choose to eat healthy.. 2er school uniform. %% and her teammates sat at their designated table near the salad bar. so she tucked the loose strands behind her ears. %% had thought./ . . Students who didn&t belong to a particular group bonded together and sei3ed whatever open tables they could.endal&s tray. (or once. +$efinitely. The Academy&s uniform policy re1uired that girls wear either a black skirt or a pair of khaki pants during class hours./ she retorted. the one that %%&s mother used to give her when she knew she was hiding something. %%% . she&d scraped together what remained of her pride and moved to another table. I think I&ve earned it after all the e'tra work I&ve been doing lately. +0ould you be staring any harder=/ +0ould you be any more annoying=/ %% shot back.endal picked at her eggs. the drama club. and yet another table was reserved for the debating team. #very single girl at the table had looked at her as if she were an illegal immigrant who&d dared to cross the border without a valid passport. the 0ultural Awareness Society./ -f course I didn&t know that. At the ne't table sat the students in the academic achievement group.endal had noticed that %% always opted for the pants.
0hristine began to gossip with the other girls at their table as if nothing had happened. then Asian acne boy and now to top it off./ 0hristine continued./ 0hristine&s eyes widened. I&d just be careful if I were you. . She thought of how %% had mentioned that $ickinson could have been in love with another woman. +I&m not naAve.endal had caught her staring.endal said 1uickly.endal practically threw the piece of bacon back down on her plate. a lesbian. when they talked about $ickinson&s +wild nights/ and who she might have been writing about. She thought about the 1uestions %% had asked her. So is half of the basketball team.endal picked up a piece of bacon. +0&mon. that&s it.endal immediately thought of them sitting at the table in the library where she and %% usually shared a book of poetry and how she&d accidentally brushed up against %% on more than one occasion over the past couple of weeks./ 0hristine hacked and coughed as if she was about to spit her yogurt back up. about the feeling of their locked hands. I mean. you seriously didn&t know= I swear it ama3es me how naAve you can be. She had suspected that %% was different somehow. or she might start te'ting you. 2e counted silently. 9ut she had stared back at %%. And make sure that you don&t sit too close to her or anything./ 0hristine advised. I just never suspected.+Speaking of which./ +4ell. >ou&ve probably seen her around school. and . She&d even smiled back in a way that was more than friendly./ +5od. . +She&s gay.endal. She felt di33y and lightheaded. Three./ . +4hat do you mean=/ +4ell.endal felt a sourness growing in her stomach. That&s what a tutor does. The conversation eventually swung to the coming evening events. then the girl who spit when she talked. (ive. look at your track record. especially the way she paused in mid-conversation around her or when . +It&s %% something or other./ +It&s so obvious. CHAPTER & ./ ./ +She helps me with homework. . The appetite she&d been bragging about moments earlier had completely vanished. :ueenie or something. +$on&t give her your phone number. -ne./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +. who did you land this time= I hope it wasn&t that Asian kid with the horrible acne again. giving her knots in her stomach. +4ill you stop it=/ +4hat= I&m sure she thinks you&re hot.yan Stevens grunted as he lifted the fifty-pound barbell with his left hand. did that mean that she*= +2as she hit on you yet=/ 0hristine prodded. She hangs around with that rich girl with the weird name. She&s on the basketball team.endal pretended to listen while a strange curiosity engulfed her. and about her own response. +>ou have no luck with tutors at all./ she gasped. (irst you get that weird guy with the la3y eye. (our. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she thought about their last tutoring session. Two. everyone at this school thinks you&re hot. 9ut if %% was gay./ She spooned out the rest of her yogurt with her inde' finger and licked it off./ . no.
c0arthy./ %ason said. but not too smart. +She&s going to get all the girls from the cheerleading s1uad to come./ . 2e had the perfect reputation. It seemed only natural that he partner up with someone from the cheerleading team. but seriously lacking in the area of intelligence. She didn&t have a boyfriend. There was one more thing he needed though. but he&d never admit that. and she would be somewhat of a challenge for him. 2aving a military captain for a father was part of the reason./ %ason said. The sandy hair that normally hung just above his eyes was held back now by a black bandana. +I just think she&s a bit out of reach. we&re thinking of having a party tonight.c0arthy and I get to know each other a little better. Someone who would be willing to let him control the reigns of the relationship and steer it in the direction he desired. plus she had a reputation for being e'tremely headstrong and opinionated./ . A tattoo of barbwire circled his left leg around the calf muscle. a captain on the soccer team. 2e picked up the barbell with his right hand and repeated the reps. and began to do sit ups. She was perfect for him*just the right si3e. now stood over him./ . 2e couldn&t believe that the soccer season already was half over. This was his last season of his high school career. +$efinitely. 2e often spotted her in the library being tutored.endal . 2e and his teammates were the most popular students in the entire school.yan wanted someone less brainy. since other guys at Sampson were most likely interested in her as well.yan sat up and smiled slyly. 9ut he found her to be slightly heftier than he preferred.endal . Si'ty minutes on the treadmill had drenched his friend&s shirt with sweat. beautiful. from his grades to the girls he dated. The image in the mirror reflected his obsession with perfection. The weight gain supplement that his coach had advised him to take was beginning to work. Someone like . #verything in his life was set to high standards.endal . >ou up for it=/ -ne of . The obvious choice would be the head cheerleader. 2e had to perform well. where true dedication and hard work could get you. 2e needed the perfect girl.c0arthy. 2e had the perfect body. 7ack of confidence was the other.endal .ya 9rooks. Then he sank to the ground.2is tanned torso was covered with a black muscle shirt and he wore a pair of matching black mesh shorts. 4hat&s the big deal=/ +6othing. likeable. a complete mass of toned muscle and definition. 2e had the perfect grade point average and already had been accepted into one of the top pre-law programs in the country.endal ./ +.c0arthy= T2# . 2e had to show the underclassmen what Sampson soccer was about. someone smart enough to carry on a conversation. 2e breathed heavily. "ushing to the top had grown into an inescapable addiction. one piece to make the pu33le complete. popular. Tired of dating the same old blondes with incredible looks but 3ero personalities. 2e had always set his goals high.c0arthy=/ +>es.yan&s soccer teammates.yan replied between reps. . #ven for you. %ason. +I told 0hristine. And the diamond-studded earrings in his ears sparkled in the weight room lights. . I think it&s time . +2ey. you know. +"erfect.yan had finally decided it was time to find someone more wholesome. . Sweat began to form on his brow. watching himself in the mirror. 9ut he&d achieved a great deal. which was made up of the prettiest girls on campus. 2is unconsciously shook his head at the mirror. .
and by spending her parents& money as though she were playing a mean game of .onopoly. :ueenie promised.yan climbed to his feet and fle'ed in front of the mirror. 9ut with a little convincing from . %% remembered the night clearly. by spending a summer in a juvenile detention hall for stealing from a high-end fashion bouti1ue fre1uented by her mother. they eventually came around. and her father sold advertising space for a local paper. They left the sweat-filled athletic center. and had replayed it in her mind repeatedly. . She and her family were close./ +4hatever you say. both of their bodies pumping from endorphins and high e'pectations for the weekend. buddy.endal . -f all the stunts :ueenie had ever pulled. All it takes is a little bit of charm. As far as %% knew. 2er parents lived only half an hour away in the affluent 8olling 2ills. She&d just finished her sophomore year at Sampson Academy and was in search of a summer job. knowing how things in his life were working out so well. and she couldn&t imagine how anything could be harder.rs.c9ride. when she first disclosed her devious little plan to %%. was not the reason. and her mother was forcing her to attend a bridal shower for her older sister. by hanging with what they considered was the wrong crowd. 9ut no girl in her right mind would turn him down./ he said./ . 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. The only thing he was missing was a girlfriend. CHAPTER ' %% sat in her room listening to some soft 8B9 on her stereo. It would be an affair to remember. Sometimes it seemed as though :ueenie lived inside a movie script rather than in reality. #ven though %%&s own family initially had a hard time accepting the news when she told them that she was gay. . Sometimes it was almost too much. That.+This is me you&re talking to. 2er older brother recently had graduated from college and taught math at a local high school. a few compliments and the rest just falls into place. father and sister were the only ones who were aware of her se'ual orientation. this was going to be the most outrageous of them all. 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. It was early %une. especially not . %% shook her head in disbelief. one that the assembly of guests could never forget. 2er parents had remained 1uiet that week. It was the most difficult thing she&d done in her short life thus far. She&d succeeded plenty of times before by getting kicked out of three other private schools. he&d learned to live with the situation. :ueenie had gone home for the weekend. 9ut :ueenie was planning her biggest production yet.c0arthy. It seemed as though :ueenie&s main goal in life was to antagoni3e her parents. 2er mother also was a teacher. +7et&s go. a suburb of 8ichmond. of course. :ueenie&s mother. At her sister&s wedding reception she would announce in her maid of honor speech that she was gay. 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.
There was no plan. and shook her head.om. It was the actual act of telling that was so hard. . being untrue to both herself and them./ she continued. %% grew increasingly reserved. $ifferent $aughters.+%osie. you can tell us anything. but this might help. the worry and the confusion. %% remembered. 4ith each passing day. her words coming slowly./ 2er father set down his fork and eyed her mother. +Are you upset that you haven&t found a job yet=/ asked her father. It was eating her alive. wide-eyed./ Silence followed./ %% wanted to make her understand. 8oast beef and vegetables. to tell her family. The feeling kept swelling until it became too big for her body. all those boys around. I&ve known since the third grade. didn&t know the real her./ %% swallowed the potatoes that had turned to mush from sitting in her mouth. She had always known this. and then her mother&s tears began to flow as she stood up and left the room. 2er mother remained composed. wishing her mother would find the courage to read it. the night had come. but how could she make someone understand something that took she. +4as it something I did=/ her mother cried. 2er mother still hung on to the hope that she&d outgrow this so-called tomboy phase.om. %% had rushed after her. (inally. hoping it would help her parents understand. and when it was time to say the e'act words. even though I know you both will be disappointed. 2er head constantly spun with the anticipated conversation. %% had always ama3ed herself with how easily words came to her. until she had no other choice but to let it out from inside of her so that she could breathe easily once again. she knew she was going to have to tell them the truth. . in her bed each night. She felt as if she&d been carrying on an act.om. yet when she needed them the most. I&d still be this way. so caring and so sincere. +I could check with the paper. they fell from her lips effortlessly +I&m gay. years to come to terms with completely= +The neighborhood we raised you in. 2er father./ . when she reali3ed she still had the ability to talk. no designated date or time. about two weeks after she@d arrived home. She and her parents sat at the kitchen table. Something that I have to say. herself. +I know you are confused. She could barely swallow her potatoes. +6o. 9ut it wasn&t a phase./ She handed over the book. maybe an internship. It&s just something I am.(rom the moment %% had stepped into the house. 2er feeling of dread had grown so massive it was filling up her throat. I&m sure I could get you a part-time writing job./ %% knew this. She felt the words begin to climb up her throat./ %%&s eyes widened. +I know*/ +4hat is it %o-%o-9ear=/ 2er father&s use of her pet name tore at her heart. %% held back her tears until they spilled from her eyes. from the moment she awoke each morning until she lay awake. whom she loved and respected more than anyone else in her life. maybe if there had been more girls to play with you*/ +. I&ve always known. +$o you miss school=/ her mother asked. it&s not something anyone did. and knew there was no going back. +6o. +I have to tell you something. +4hy are you so 1uiet=/ her mother had asked. +Something I am afraid to say. it&s not that. clutching a book she&d purchased a year before. %% could see the concern in his e'pression. she couldn&t find them. it&s not that. eating dinner.
and if she could travel anywhere in the world. +4hy am I thinking about her=/ %% asked aloud. on the other hand. to be able to ask her more meaningful 1uestions. She wondered if :ueenie was causing a stir at her sister&s wedding shower. that she was a cheerleader. +2ow&s the wedding shower=/ %% asked. and wished she were there to witness it. %% craved more. .endal&s head. she felt satisfied. A moment later the phone rang twice to signal an off-campus call. :ueenie.aybe :ueenie was right. She even read the book and announced it formally when %% came home for 0hristmas break. Though they had interacted on more than a few occasions. She knew how much :ueenie envied her. . 2onest. I just don&t want to see you go through something like that again./ +I know. and they didn&t speak for days. She&d even been able to share with them her past crushes and insecurities.aybe this was another case of the $ibble Syndrome. +4hat&s on=/ +6othing in particular./ %%&s finger robotically hit the channel button on the remote control. It wasn&t real./ she said proudly. (or some reason.endal danced her way in.endal besides the obvious. their conversations had been limited to poetry and the brilliance of #mily $ickinson. though he still held onto his own world views. They had been watching a documentary on same-se' marriages. It&s nothing. As long as she had his love and support. And it came to fruition a few months later when she was about to leave for her junior year at Sampson Academy. where would she go and why. She wanted to get inside . maybe this wasn&t real either.2er mother continued to cry. #ventually her father had come to terms with it. . like what was her biggest fear. +I finished the lesbian book you gave me. e'pressed outrage at the idea and vowed never to condone it. Then again. It was almost overwhelming. 2e said he loved her no matter what.nowing that her friend :ueenie had never e'perienced such love from her own family somehow made %% feel guilty. +4hat are you doing=/ +4atching television. and needed help with her schoolwork. %% had never known anyone like her. %% turned off the stereo and flipped on the television for distraction. remained completely calm. Then her mind drifted again and . mourning the loss of the girly daughter image she still clung to. 2er father. %% had yet to learn anything more about . It was an incredible feeling to find that her parents& love was so unconditional./ +2ey. and longed to have the same kind of relationship with her own parents. was incredibly beautiful and popular. 9ut it didn&t feel the same. which %% accepted because she knew she could not change his entire outlook on life and society. +I&m having the time of my life.endal. and her father. who was set in his ways. This sparked an intense argument between them. and that was that. The $ibble Syndrome was more of an obsession kind of thing. Something told her that it was :ueenie checking in. %% laughed. I&m sorry I gave you a hard time about . She could hear the sounds of conversation fluttering in the background. and learned to look at %% through different eyes. 2er mother eventually finished mourning the loss of the daughter she&d thought she known./ :ueenie said blandly./ . %% knew he was putting on a front to hide his disappointment.
+2ow much did she have to drink=/ %ason asked.endal remained seated in her hard metal chair as . .endal couldn&t resist flirting a little with . Instinctively. 0hristine&s limp body fell directly into his arms and she clung to his chest. I&ll see you Sunday./ . %ason picked 0hristine up and took her to another room so that she could lie down.yan Stevens. ./ said .endal pushed through the adjoining door and found four more guys in the ne't room. 9y the time . after they were alone.yan./ 0hristine managed to say as she s1uinted upward to focus on the face in front of her. 2is hair was mussed and he wore a polo shirt fitted close to his chest. +2ey. The dorm room overflowed with people. 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. 2er evening was pretty much a bust at this point. grimacing from the stench of 0hristine&s breath.endal finally won her first hand.yan motioned for her to join him. I gotta go. #ventually he e'changed a sort of secret. yet here he was asking her to sit and play cards.yan. "illow-white stuffing protruded from tears in each of the arms.endal&s nerves by the time they got to the soccer party. penalties that involved downing a lot of beer in a very short time. . ./ he said sweetly. It was a drinking card game. as if a remote switch flipped on inside her mind.endal knew instantly who he was. why not. said./ . +It&s an easy game. you./ %% hung up the phone and turned off the television. She&d had previous brief conversations with .endal. I want to get in a few good barbs while I still can. 2ave fun. perfect for showing off his toned body./ :ueenie said an'iously.endal stood there with her hands on her hips. 2e stood up and walked over to a sofa upholstered in plaid./ and took the empty seat as the dealer dealt her in. She forced a smile. There were heavy penalties for losing a hand. silent.endal looked away once she reali3ed she&d been staring a little too hard.endal gladly let %ason take over the reins of keeping 0hristine entertained once they found him in someone else&s dorm room playing cards. she was drunk.endal said as she handed 0hristine over to him. . +Sure. who hardly ever drank anything besides $iet 0oke. -f course. she began to think about . +7et&s move to the couch. this wasn&t a regular card game. CHAPTER ( 0hristine already was getting on .yan suggested. who one by one left the room. .+7ook. 2e was the only guy at Sampson who had never once looked her way since freshman year. . coded look with his friends. . She finally threw up her hands. sitting in folding chairs around a wobbly metal card table.y sister just opened up a gift and it&s some racy lingerie. It was obviously a much smaller si3e than it needed to be. She let the 1uiet seep in around her and closed her eyes. +4ant to play=/ one of them asked. +Too much. 2e was cute. uncertain if she wanted to stay or leave.endal. the captain of the soccer team. +2ere. +.
+I guess it just took me three years to get up the courage to talk to you. The girl&s head popped up and wobbled a bit before %% recogni3ed that it was none other than T2# .c0arthy sitting in front of her on the damp grass. she felt a slight panic travel along the edge of her limbs. a girl stumbled out of what seemed like midair in front of her.patting the saggy cushion beside him. revealing a perfect row of ivory beneath full lips. Soon. +I don&t know.yan rolled back his bulky shoulders. %%% The hood of %%&s sweatshirt was draped over her head as she walked back from the library. as he tried to formulate a plan on how to get . +0ome sit over here. She and %% had nothing in common and their contradictions went far beyond se'ual orientation. .endal was probably there in the middle of the mi'. 2is mind worked feverishly.endal told him. but the girl spun around.c0arthy was an enigma./ . 9ut reading on the Internet for an hour made her tired. I think it&s time we got to know each other better./ . She read some intriguing online articles. She stepped aside before they collided. The sounds of a nearby soccer party were alive and irritating./ said %%. she&d gone to the library to get a jumpstart on a paper that was due in a few weeks. 4hoa. +I totally didn&t see you.endal&s voice caused ./ ./ 2e smiled widely. Stuck in thought. +Are you okay=/ %% asked.yan called after her.endal . %% couldn&t clearly see where she was going./ . +>ou&ve known who I was for the past three years and now you suddenly want to get to know me=/ The sharpness in . making her wish she hadn&t worn shorts. she found herself straining to keep her eyes open. 2e remained seated on the beat-up couch trying to make sense of what had just happened. A crisp -ctober bree3e tickled her bare legs. It bothered her to know that . and plowed forward over the grass. they were worlds apart and nothing could change that. suddenly. the girl sat up with her head still hanging down and her hands wrapped around it like a turban. +2i. )nable to distract herself from thinking of . %% pushed the hood off her head and looked sideways at the body slumped on the lawn.endal studied him for a moment until her curiosity got the best of her.endal yelled. tripped over her own feet and tumbled to the ground. beaming.c0arthy off of her high horse and into his arms. leaning in closer. And before she had a chance to look up to see e'actly where she was in relation to her dorm. and they&d provided a definite diversion for her.endal . At first. wait a second.endal. that&s three years too late.yan to inch up in his seat. She tingled with drunkenness. The truth was. +4hy do you want to talk to me all of a sudden=/ she asked.endal . . shielding her eyes./ he said./ +4ell. patting the cushion again. turning and walking out of the room. +I want to talk to you./ . with her hood sheltering her head and her eyes from everything. Then. I just do. and %% pictured the scene of girls and boys stuffed shoulder to shoulder in an overcrowded dorm room. and a part of her practically pleaded to walk over and snuggle up beside him. seeing no movement. She kept her head down. +2ey.
endal rolled her eyes.endal./ %% maintained. after a moment. +I know I&m making a complete fool of myself. 7ife is a lot like reading poetry./ %% said. +I need to go home.endal. . +>ou&d think the soccer team ran the school with what they get away with./ +"oetry is life./ . thinking of the atmosphere of the coffee shop around her. and suddenly blurted out. +>eah./ ./ +. feeling as if . of course. +5uys are such idiots./ +4hatever./ said %%. making a face. +-therwise people run into you from out of nowhere. +I&m sorry for practically running into you. reaching forward and taking . +I love it there. I&ve had a rough night. +It&s damp from the dew./ . 6ot life./ +I can think of lots of other things to do. +>ou&re tutoring me in poetry.+I guess it should be a rule to wear reflective clothing when walking around campus at night./ +-kay. The secluded world of Sampson cheerleaders and soccer players. #mily $ickinson.aybe you haven&t had a chance to e'plore anything outside of your little world yet. +Are you cold=/ ./ +7ike what= Studying on a (riday night=/ +I do have a life outside of studying./ said .endal was looking through her. They felt fro3en.endal asked defensively. 6o other group on campus would be able to have parties in their dorms. her eyes glossed over from the alcohol. It&s a great place to go and just kick back. It made %% want to turn around to see if anybody was standing behind them./ +2ave you ever gone to The Spot=/ +The coffee shop in town=/ +>eah. 4e don&t want any more collisions happening. then why do you go=/ +9ecause there isn&t anything much else to do at this school or in this tiny town./ +2ave fun at the soccer party tonight=/ +6ot really. and then stopped as instantly as she&d started. >ou have to read between the lines to really get something out of it. +So let me just apologi3e ahead of time. +I think I sat in something wet. yeah.endal laughed again. +9ut that&s just what I felt like doing tonight. #very month or so they have a band come and play. +7et me help you up. that&s the one./ .endal&s hands in hers./ +If you are so against them./ said . +Thanks for walking me home./ +I&ll walk you. once they reached the sidewalk. They were in front of her dormitory and she was hugging herself to keep warm./ .y little world=/ . which %% suspected was more the result of too much alcohol than the joke itself.yan sitting on the ugly couch./ +I&m serious. %% studied her. It&s ridiculous.endal stopped walking./ +-h. She turned around to get a look at her behind.endal said.endal shook her head. where do you go for fun then= 9esides the library. rather than at her. . even though she was shivering./ %% told her./ +It&s the grass./ %% led the way from the grass onto a dirt path that connected with the sidewalk. remember./ She pictured ./ .endal broke into a fit of laughter./ %% perked up.aybe hoods should be banned as well.
endal hesitated. Then she thought of . She understood because she was beginning to feel the same way about %%. really./ +-kay then. twisting her thumbs into her palms. let alone get to know her. I&ve never known anyone who was. +Are you=/ +4ould it bother you if I said yes=/ +I don&t think so.y friend 0hristine told me that you wereCthat you areC/ +5ay=/ +>eah./ +So it&s true= >ou&re gay=/ %% took a step back.endal said. It was one of the things that she enjoyed about %%. smug and moronic./ said ./ It ama3ed %% that . just because of rumors.endal flashed a 1uick smile.endal&s roommate had said about her.yan again. 9ut at least she didn&t run away screaming. then turned and walked toward the dorm. it&s fine./ +Ask away. well./ %% told her.endal. She laughed out loud./ ./ %% didn&t press the issue./ Thoughts of her conversation with 0hristine in the cafeteria that morning traveled across her mind./ . with his hand gently patting the cushion on that disgusting couch. she turned back to see %%&s silhouette blending in with the darkness.ost of the cheerleaders at Sampson never took the time to even acknowledge her presence. 9ut she was kind and sincere. +>ou are an incredible tutor./ . a change that she hadn&t even known she&d wanted to happen. right. +I should go to bed.endal said. +I was just curious. ./ . In that moment. something . she understood e'actly how #mily $ickinson could have been writing about another woman.+4here did that little pearl of wisdom come from=/ +6owhere in particular. +0onsider yourself cultured then. %ust before she crossed the threshold of the door. 2er stride was slight and unsteady. I&m fine. I&m an open book./ she said. +I&m not going to hit on you if that&s what you are afraid of. then yes. +If you aren&t comfortable with me tutoring you now./ +4ell. +I want to ask you something. %% shoved both of her hands into the pockets of her shorts to keep them warm. She played with her fingers. She suddenly felt ashamed. That certainly would have been awkward.endal fidgeted. They stood in silence as the sounds of the wind and the late night babble of students wandering home from a night out blended into one another and circled around them./ +6o.endal insisted as she took a step toward %%./ +>ou don&t sound so sure./ +I&m not afraid of you. I was just curious./ . +(or a little #mily $ickinson=/ +#mily $ickinson. I&ll understand. like you before. rewording her 1uestion. and fighting the overwhelming urge to stay there talking to %% for the rest of the night. It was a refreshing change from her own circle of friends. +6o./ . and instead let her eyes wander off in the direction of the 1uad. +9ut I don&t want to offend you. +I&ll see you ne't tutoring session then. +.endal had picked up on the first night they met. I am. then paused briefly. . It wouldn&t bother me at all.endal had such a hard time saying the word./ %% could only imagine what . ending the lull in the conversation.
-nce across the tracks. both of her sneakers ended up soaked with murky water. The water shot out in every direction including straight up into the air and all over her. 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. and though she tried to avoid them. which the train tracks bisected on the west side of the campus. The streets are empty. passing by The Spot and several small craft shops. sending thic6 muddy splashes &cattering in all directions. but thunder still echoed somewhere in the background. ' never noticed that ' was soa6ing wet. Muddy puddles stand in my path. as if Ashland had somehow gotten stuck there. The earth has /een turned over And sha6en li6e a snow glo/e . She crossed the railroad tracks that ran directly through the school grounds. but finally decided to go for a walk to break her cabin fever. leaving no trace as to where they have fallen. ' stomp through them. 2er waterproof windbreaker protected her sacred journal from getting wet. /egging me to ta6e a swim 'nstead. Spending too much time in a tiny enclosed dorm room sometimes made her feel as though she were suffocating. . %% strode across the campus admiring the colonial-era buildings and classic architecture. %% entered the center of town. %% had the urge to sit down and get the words that were now flowing through her mind down on paper. along with her thoughts. She headed up the sidewalk.ray powder spec6les the s6y )eaving a colorless image. The rain had ceased. Those tracks had created a Sampson Academy commencement ceremony tradition. "uddles blocked her path. and %% felt as if everyone was hiding from the storm./ she called out and jumped feet first into the ne't puddle. its green paint chipped from years from wind and rain. and began to scribble. withdrawing her journal from an inside pocket. students and guests yelling +choo-choo/ as loud as possible. There was a bench on the sidewalk. The town was deserted. %% wiped the water droplets from the seat as best she could. She pulled her large windbreaker down over her behind and sat down. <irginia. There was the old gas station with its retro-style gas pumps that reminded her of the D?EFs.CHAPTER ) A huge gray mass had stretched itself over Sampson Academy and the town of Ashland. 4ith her poetry journal hidden inside her jacket and a pen in her pocket. Tradition has it that good luck was bestowed upon the graduating class if the train&s engineer laid on the horn in return. %% had spent the rainy morning watching movies with her suitemates. #very commencement speaker throughout Sampson&s history had his or her speech disrupted by a train. She gathered up her pen. #ach disruption was met with the attending parents. +It&s not that scary. The annual ceremony was held on (orrest 7awn. but the ground was wet and she was already wet enough.
then her true colors would already have shown. 2er jaw barely moved when she spoke. what=/ 0hristine sat up impatiently. The Spot would be the perfect place to warm up and get a sandwich. I can honestly say that I wasn&t. +So=/ +So. but I&m not going to date someone . +Tempting as it was. . as a cool bree3e swept by causing %% to shiver.endal noticed how annoying the word +hello/ sounded as it left her lips.endal. although she knew that many of her classmates assumed she was gay. +It&s called a mask. %% looked cautiously up at the sky as she crossed the street. #very time it rained. including random encounters with cheerleaders on private school library lawns./ 0hristine replied. %% peered along the edges of the street. After the slea3e ball made it clear that all he wanted to do was hook up. 5ood different.endal had finally asked her about her se'ual orientation last night. not looking for anything in particular.endal&s goofy stare while sprawled on the damp lawn.endal really were as shallow as the other cheerleaders. seriously=/ 0hristine&s arms spread wide.endal sifted through her dresser drawers.endal said. please. no. 9ut.yan for a while. %% believed that . 4hether good or bad./ As she spoke . %% recalled . #ven if the two lived in two very different worlds. The dampness of her socks made her ankles begin to itch. deep down. 2er empty stomach grumbled.endal was different. .yan&s not only good looking. 2ello.aybe with some food in her stomach she could think more clearly about . watching an occasional car cross the tracks and listening to the water as it danced down the pavement and trickled into a nearby drain. +-h.endal. . +.endal . +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. 2er long blonde hair was pulled back and tied with a pale pink ribbon. she felt as if everything were calm and peaceful.c0arthy. It was something she hadn&t e'pected to happen so soon.endal was now aware of a part of her that %% didn&t advertise. And that was part of why %% was attracted to her. #ven if that wasn&t e'actly the way she was feeling at that very moment. there was a specific reason behind the events that shaped everyone&s lives. I decided to leave. The heavy air turned light. and tossed her i"hone to the side as if she were annoyed that no one had been te'ting her. wearing a dark green facial mask that was hardening. . %%% +4hat happened to you last night=/ 0hristine lay stomach-down on her bed./ +. 4hat happened= $id you kiss him=/ . like you weren&t in rare form either. She decided that if . +I hate to break it to you.endal slammed her sock drawer shut and turned around. +>ou look ridiculous./ +)m./ (or the first time since she&d known 0hristine. She&d grown accustomed to the fact that everything happened for a reason.aybe she could figure out the real reason she was interested in a girl who couldn&t possibly return the same feelings.%% looked up at the sky and smiled. She was more likely to get struck by lightning than have any kind of relationship with . +So %ason said you were alone in another room with . but he&s the captain of the soccer team and he&s rich./ . .
(un. I just don&t want you to regret not having a good time before college. CHAPTER * :ueenie had spent practically the entire workout talking about her family. +>ou know how my family can go a little overboard with money. she thought.yan. Then there were the regulars who walked along the track or did the Stair. They&d be cheering on the soccer players that afternoon. she would change the subject. . 9ut here they were./ 0hristine tried to smile or respond in some fashion but her mouth couldn&t move because the mask had hardened completely. the couch monster. another reason for 0hristine to nag her the ne't morning. +7ook. They practically flip the entire boat. +I like to think I have higher standards than that./ . . ./ said . That was the kind of fun she found herself craving lately. +I know . +4ho cares about standards= $o you honestly think that I&d be wasting my time with %ason if I were in college= I don&t think so.endal 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 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. another reason to go on pretending she was something she wasn&t.yan&s a conceited moron. They&d taken the freedom of private school for granted.endal.endal&s shirt until she emerged from underneath her bed.endal. -ther members of the boys& and girls& basketball teams were finishing up their workouts for preseason. complaining that she was not having enough fun. . +4e are young. The last thing she needed was another party. +>ou should have seen my father. while the soccer players were working hard to keep themselves at the top of their game for the playoffs. everyone else on the s1uad would start getting ready for another soccer party./ she said. She left . admiring the logo on the front.aster for hours while barely breaking a sweat. 9ut I also know that you have been studying like cra3y the past couple of weeks and it&s our senior year./ said 0hristine.just because he&s the captain of the soccer team and has money. and :ueenie was still ranting about her parents./ 0hristine continued. The athletic center was unusually packed for a Sunday. 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. and tugged the back of .endal lying on her back staring up at the ceiling while she went to wash her face and get dressed in her cheerleading uniform.endal longed to lock herself in her room and avoid any and all human interaction./ +Trust me. thought %%.endal who was still spread out on the floor./ said :ueenie./ -verboard.endal took a look at her cheerleading skirt and top. After the game was over. %% figured that once they were finished with bicep and chest e'ercises. finishing up on the treadmill./ She climbed off the bed and slid down ne't to . (un was reading #mily $ickinson and laughing with %%. +I won&t regret not hooking up with . #veryone knows that. thank you.
the fanciest ballroom*ugh. that&s all.+2e&s buying the best of everything for my sister&s wedding. why not. +So. 6ot for me./ -nce in the enclosed steam-stilted walls of the sauna. I&m not familiar with that particular saying. +>ou know what they say. sending a burst of steam into the air. %% felt that :ueenie finally could unwind. +Sure. she couldn&t tell for sure./ :ueenie replied. +And the cheerleading 1ueen=/ 5reat. They don&t know any other way./ +So I take it that the plan to bust up the reception is still on. I guess. She stepped off of her treadmill and wiped the sweat off her forehead with the towel that hung on the side bar. 4eddings in springtime bring forth love. not e'actly. +I just need to do it. +Sauna session=/ :ueenie asked. +I bet we could just bring some in./ ./ +>ou haven&t talked to her since your last tutoring session=/ +4ell./ (or a brief moment./ :ueenie said into the heavy air. I like the combination./ %% managed between breaths. Sometimes I just think you should try a different approach with them. happiness and gay daughters who want to confess their forbidden lives to their hypocritical and e'tremely dysfunctional high-society family and friends./ %% breathed heavily as they hit mile three. They cannot and will not hear me.c9rides. I could talk and talk @til I run out of air. it makes me sick./ +4ho wouldn&t= >ou can cook yourself and your bacon at the same time./ +6o. She knew as soon as she said it. +#at and instantly sweat away the calories. >eah./ +9ut haven&t you ever considered just taking your mom and dad aside and having an adult conversation with them=/ :ueenie lifted her feet off the treadmill. she shouldn&t have./ +Sauna session and bacon. then./ %% responded. resting them on the sides as the motori3ed track moved between them. but to wake them up. with one more to go. She fi'ed her eyes on %%. %% tossed a cup of water onto the stones. but because of the sweat on her friend&s forehead and face./ she said gently.endal would not come up. +I&m sorry. They need a wakeup call. the best caterer. hoping that the topic of . how was your weekend=/ +)neventful. She&d been high-strung and agitated ever since she&d returned from her weekend visit with her parents and the wedding shower madness./ %% added in an infomercial voice. I ran into her on (riday night./ +The ama3ing sauna. +I know. %% thought that maybe she saw tears forming in :ueenie&s eyes. +The only thing they know how to do is throw money around. +I feel like a slab of bacon in here sometimes. She noticed that :ueenie wasn&t breathing heavily at all. %% thought to herself as she tossed more water onto the stones. releasing a si33ling sound in that enveloped the room. It won&t matter. resting her head on one elbow. wiping her face with the front of her T-shirt before %% could say anything else. +5ood./ +These are the ./ The si33ling ceased and :ueenie rolled over onto her side. slap it down on the bench and watch it cook. Steam rose up around them. +8eally=/ %% felt her mouth go drier than it already was.
/ +Then I helped her up and walked her home. +6othing. That&s all. you automatically belonged to the rainbow coalition./ +And did she run away screaming=/ +Thankfully. (or crying out loud. conservative southern town./ +:ueenie./ +Is she still going to let you tutor her=/ +4e&re supposed to meet tonight./ %% scolded. The gay 1uestion. the other girls you had crushes on were fortunate enough to be spared your obsessive ways. Thankfully though. and then stopped. +It was bound to happen sooner than later./ +6o= $o you really want me to recite the list of names=/ +-kay. +She was ./ %% said again. but she asked me the 1uestion. you&d think you&d be a little more able to pick up on the obvious. +4hich is precisely what I am asking you. she seemed okay with it./ +-h.endal&s engaging laughter. . . +%ust tell me. I mean. 4e&ll see if she shows up. which made the library the only logical option./ +4ell that didn&t take long./ +I don&t always fall for straight girls. She asked me if I&m gay. The 1uestion. .+4here= At the library=/ :ueenie knew %% would never set foot in a soccer party and that . so what= It&s not like it&s a habit or anything. she&s straight./ She could feel the underside of her knees collecting sweat./ %% turned her head and muttered. +8ight on the lawn in front of the library. +I just think you should be careful. +So./ %% recalled the ensuing conversation and . +The 1uestion./ +$on&t do that. +6o./ :ueenie started to say something else. what did you say=/ :ueenie asked. everyone on campus thinks that the entire women&s basketball team is gay./ :ueenie chewed her lower lip.ost people at Sampson Academy assumed that if you were a girl who was involved in sports. +4hat=/ %% asked. ./ +4hat 1uestion=/ :ueenie was sitting up now. +I told her the truth. no./ :ueenie agreed. 4hat 1uestion=/ +>ou know. So I&ve been attracted to a few straight girls in the past./ +Aren&t we=/ This was one of the unfortunate conse1uences of attending a private school in the middle of a small. She was coming home from a soccer party and I think she&d had too much to drink or something. for someone as 1uick-witted as you are./ +That&s priceless./ %% sat up and hugged her knees to her chest./ said %%. I caught myself. yes. it&s getting hot in here. +#'cept for the $ibble Syndrome of course. They were just little crushes. nothing serious.endal was e1ually unlikely to set foot into the athletic center. I literally ran into her./ . 8emember=/ +"recisely my point. +>ou&ll never believe this./ +0ute. >ou always fall for the straight girls. but she spun around and fell. her cheeks dotted with sweat. +The $ibble Syndrome was something special.y hood was up so I never saw her and we almost collided head-on. silly.
/ +I hardly even know her. drawn-out breath to fill her lungs before she went over to the sink and splashed cold water on her hot sticky face. That&s something that isn&t going to change. shielding her eyes. I&m about to sweat away to nothing. . 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. . +It&s true./ said :ueenie. >ou follow that emotional lump in the center of your chest instead./ %% sighed. 1uite frankly. +-kay./ +I don&t care what it&s called. right= 5irls like us intrigue them and they get curious. 9e careful./ %% groaned./ said :ueenie as she wiped off her legs with a towel. >ou&re being ridiculous. It&s called the science e'periment./ +>ou have nothing to worry about. +She&s not interested in me like that./ +"reposterous. isn&t going to happen. I just don&t want to see you get used or hurt. +I did mean half of what I said in there. +>ou know how straight girls work./ %% began to massage her forehead. She lifted up her legs and stretched out her sweat-saturated body.+9ut my point is that I don&t think this is just a little crush that you&ve got going on here. +I&m not just making this up for your amusement./ +6o./ They lifted themselves off of the benches and opened the sauna door. +I knew it./ %% said as she wiped her face with her shirt before she slipped on her sweatshirt. really. you don&t./ +Are you ready to get out of here=/ %% asked while tying up the laces of her sneakers. a medal=/ +6ah*the simple thrill of being right is satisfaction enough./ :ueenie said pointedly. clasped her hands together and pointed her jointed fingers in %%&s direction./ %% stopped talking as soon as she reali3ed she had said too much. I can&t e'plain./ :ueenie continued. +She&s a cheerleader after all. +-r are you just going to sit there antagoni3ing me. A straight girl can&t be anything but straight. I&ve been the science e'periment before and it&s not fun. >ou don&t think with your head in these situations. And don&t get wrapped up in something just to satisfy .iss . +The least you can do is admit that much. +I know you like her. but it . +7et&s get out of here./ +4hat do you want. I&ve been there./ :ueenie echoed. after their curiosity wears off. so I like her. +I knew you liked her./ %%&s hand dropped swiftly from her eyes./ +:ueenie. and I think this situation has the potential to go in that direction./ +That she is. The coolness of the locker room air embraced them and %% took a long. +2ey./ :ueenie sat up./ +7ook./ . unabashed./ +Stick to what you know best. There&s this energy between us. Then./ +I&ll just stick to the tutoring. ./ +2ow do you know=/ +I just know. So what= She&s beautiful and smart and there&s something special about her and I want to find out what it is. what they really want is a guy. The whole thing is just ridiculous.c0arthy&s curiosity because it&ll come back to bite you in the end.
yan immediately dropped the weight from his hand and stood up. 2ey. 2is eyes had grown gloomy and gray. and he bore a fresh scratch just above his left cheek from having been elbowed in the face while trying to head the ball. . 2e looked absolutely horrible. .yan glared at him. I bet any one of these so-called cheerleading camps is a breeding ground for closet lesbians. getting pummeled five to nothing. It was because he was frustrated. straightening up.yan picked up two dumbbells and knelt down on a bench. don&t push it.yan lunged forward and pushed %ason in the chest. As a result. .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./ +8ela'. It&s obvious that you didn&t get anywhere with her. +4hat&s your problem=/ .+>ou know. 2e was pushing himself to the limit. +Thought what=/ he asked firmly./ %ason laughed. %ason gritted his teeth.aybe we could do like an undercover operation./ %ason warned as he watched . 9ut it wasn&t because he was tired. They had traveled across the state to play 0artwright. 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. +4ho said she&s out of my league=/ +$ude. 2e started working his triceps.endal was playing hard to get and while it was a tad annoying./ 2e breathed in hard and wiped the sweat away from his forehead with the bottom of his muscle tank top./ . +2ey. 8ela'./ :ueenie insisted. +>ou&re going to hurt yourself./ . +I&m fine./ %ason remarked.yan reali3ed that he was going to have to step up his game just a little bit. Then he studied himself in the mirror and frowned. they are the most closeted of them all*cheerleaders. like research or something= 4e can pretend we&re writing a paper about it. . it was also incredibly appealing./ . >ou know. +So what happened (riday night=/ %ason asked./ %% frowned. +>ou don&t look so good. They had been outplayed and outmatched by a less talented team. 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. And to make matters worse. . +It&s not without merit. 2is skin was e'tremely pale. +I thought so. +$id you hook up with her=/ . After she&d left him sitting alone on that couch.c0arthy had snubbed him completely on (riday night.yan took a step closer so that his nose was about an inch away from %ason&s. It was true. +Thought that she was out of your league.yan said. they had lost the game. +4hat= 4e can at least e'plore the idea.endal . . +#ven for you. wondering what in the world he could have possibly done wrong./ %ason concluded after a moment./ CHAPTER . his eyes glued to the mirror so that he could observe his form.yan from the bench beside him.
yan glared hard as he tried to think of a good reason to get in %ason&s face.yan&s stomach was growling so loudly that it seemed to be echoing throughout the entire workout room. Though he had singled . 9ut he knew he still had more work to do./ ./ +I hear ya. She had stumbled into the room and fallen onto the floor.and watching endless hours of 7ifetime television. There&s no way she would turn him down./ .aybe he would even head over to the soccer field and take a few shots on net. that&s all. And his guest was going to be . simultaneously knocking over a stack of books.endal had gotten up early and gone for a walk./ he said between breaths. As a result. but there was something missing. She looked like a female version of a modern day Gorro.endal had done a good job of avoiding the weekend soccer party scene. +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. 9ut he also knew that it wasn&t the feelings he was supposed to have for them.endal had to help her into bed. he pushed through the pain. drinking refillable bottles of water.yan was confident that he would get another shot. . Something else was aching inside him. 2is stamina had weakened early during yesterday&s game.endal would have been right there with 0hristine. #ach player was allowed to invite one guest. both of them lying in agony.yan&s salty mood./ +>ou almost done= I&m hungry. And . 0hristine got home late. the legendary inviteonly soccer party. ./ said %ason. she was pretty and probably the best-looking girl on campus. 4ith that. he wasn&t even sure he liked her that much. .yan began to work on stretches with his arms and legs. +6othing. +0atch you later then.. She had feigned sickness on Saturday evening and spent the night watching reruns and ./ +#'actly.endal had a reputation to uphold. he centered his thoughts on ne't weekend&s party. 0hristine spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon wearing a bluecolored cold pack with eye-holes cut out over her face. CHAPTER ! .aybe one day he&d meet a girl he actually cared for. +She&s just going to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated./ +All right. Sometimes it ama3ed her how beautiful Sampson Academy was. so he was determined to work out longer to build up more endurance and strength. orange and yellow were scattered amongst the branches reaching high into the sky. In times past . especially in fall when the leaves had begun to change colors. 4henever he thought back to the list of girls he dated. not wanting to add to . . <ibrant shades of red. one he&d want to get to know on a deeper level. . Though his legs ached./ %ason said.T<&s The 8eal 4orld. picked up the weight and began lifting again.endal . as well. And this time he was going to convince her to give in to him. Invite-only was a gathering of all the <I" students at Sampson. that seemed to be the prevailing issue*something was always missing. popping Tylenol.c0arthy. It was status. 2e stood face to face with him a moment longer before he bent over. 9ut today. +I&ve got more work to do here. . Sure.
So this is where %% likes to hang out. .i'. She hated to disappoint her parents. This wasn&t the type of place she would have initially guessed that %% would go to on a (riday night. humming original songs about the meaning of life. 9ut here was her hangout*a sweet and inviting coffee shop. . she was a part of the cheerleading team. where everyone knows your name and your business. 9ut the appeal of friendships and social interaction sort of swept her up and spit her out. Across the backdrop . It was hands-on learning. . -ne foamy apple-red chair off in the corner was built in the shape of a giant hand. At first she hated Sampson because she felt so out of place. +fantasi3e reality. She hadn&t planned on getting involved in any school activities. She passed by The Spot and peered into the window.endal felt pressured to get good grades. She finally felt like she belonged.endal had been attracted to the school in the first place. and overbearing drunkards challenged one another to games of pool and darts. They were afraid that if she attended a public high school she would be on the fast track to community college. insisted that she go to Sampson so that she could get into a good college. This was because of the small student population and ensuring that all of the classes had at most fifteen students to one teacher. big enough to accommodate just two to three people at a time.endal always thought the school motto should be*Sampson Academy. <otive candles floated in bowls of water at the center of each table. or maybe a local sports bar where #S"6 played on ten different television sets. ./ That was the school motto*Sampson Academy. plus the beauty of the campus. something of a hidden treasure where she probably spent her time having intellectual conversations with eccentric people. 9e Somebody. and the ne't thing she knew. was why . They invited her to sit with them at their table in the cafeteria and to social gatherings and soccer parties. It didn&t matter to her parents that the tuition bill left them financially strapped./ spelled out in big bold white letters. her father especially. 0he' . That. including tampons and a few snack items such as 8eese&s "eanut 9utter 0ups and her one major food addiction. 8ather. like a hockey game with a bunch of her basketball teammates.endal&s parents.endal&s walk had led her into town to buy some essentials. All of the buildings were named after local heroes and students who had gone on to become +somebodies. 9ay windows sat atop four-story buildings fronted by circular porches. she could see her at some sporting event. . -ther factors included Sampson&s unblemished academic reputation and its ability to prepare students for college. #ducation was far more important.endal read the words. She pictured the place filled with random vagabonds and folk singers on the center stage. The room to the left of the main counter was filled with artsy types of paintings on the wall and soft plushy couches scattered hapha3ardly across a gleaming maple floor. the campus consisted of colonial buildings made of brick and grand white pillars. where every student could get to know his or her teachers on a personal basis. There were a few round tables in front of the stage and set off to the back of the room.9uilt back in the DHFFs. The other cheerleaders had taken a liking to her right from the start. so you could sit in the palm. a very small stage that featured a solid black backdrop with a single brown bar stool in the center. (or that reason.endal thought. To the right of the counter stood a stage. 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 slowly opened the door to her room. something happened all right. I need some grease. who she sometimes alluded to as Sleeping 9eauty. but each satisfying an overwhelming urge to see just what would happen or to simply find out the truth.endal&s curiosity was something that she always had a hard time controlling. given to her by her older brother.endal. ashy. She wondered if %% knew about the contest./ 0hristine dropped her hand to her side heavily. %%. +(unny. Although she knew they were dangerous. It really was none of her business. Although she recogni3ed her passive-aggressive manner. you know=/ 0hristine pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. it still provided a way to release her irritation. 2er mom&s favorite bag had gone up in flames.endal returned. she dropped the attitude. She felt slightly ashamed for being so blunt and asking %% about her se'ual orientation. She tingled in anticipation. 6e't to the open sign was a poster that read. %%% -nce back at the dorm. I like thick crust. Though the incident had left her unharmed. +4hat do you think about pi33a=/ . +I think this is the worst possible hangover I&ve ever had. when she was about five. the perfect combination of cheese and sauce. afraid to disturb 0hristine. it became obvious that her roommate was awake. There were other occasions where 0urious . The entire matchbook caught on fire and in a panic she&d dropped it into the bottom of the purse. 9ut as soon as she spied 0hristine&s body. curled up in a fetal position and clutching her i"hone. she desperately wanted to see what would happen if she struck one really fast. +I&m sorry. but she was irritated at watching 0hristine wasting the day in bed. And thick crust. 6evertheless. >ou know. black mess in the middle of the living room floor./ . And . but I think I like it best when it&s just cheese.endal hadn&t thought about her conversation with %% since (riday night. +)ghhhh. +I like pi33a. who busied herself sifting through the pile of books on her desk. 4ell.endal struck with reckless abandon. and was reduced to a gooey. 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. +"oetry Slam #very (riday 6ight. >ou know what I need=/ +Alcoholics Anonymous=/ asked . . but 0hristine had planted all of those thoughts in her head in the first place. . .. +>ou were saying*/ . smartly. +Is there a particular reason why you&re being such a sarcastic snot right now=/ 2er eyes bore into .endal grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and checked the time. 6o. thoughtfully. That&s e'actly why she&d asked %% about her se'ual orientation.endal took a step back from the window and glanced at the hours posted below./ 0hristine moaned. until that moment. In just a few more hours they would be meeting at the library.endal paused. many of which could be forgotten./ The first pri3e winner won fifty dollars and publication in a local writing maga3ine called &cattered Thoughts. as if were weighted down. she would be scarred for the rest of her young life with the nickname 0urious . dramati3ing herself. -nce.endal. 6ormally sarcasm wasn&t something she played at. she&d found a book of matches in her mother&s purse.endal.
+"i33a, I was saying. 7et&s get some pi33a for dinner./ 0hristine sat up now, the prospect of food taking hold. She fiddled with her i"hone and started looking up the number for a local pi33a place. +And then we could rent a movie, some sappy romantic comedy or something./ +0an&t,/ said ;endal, without the least bit of regret. +I&ve got a tutoring session in the library. I&m going to eat at the dining hall, and then head straight over. ,aybe 7aurie will want to do pi33a./ 7aurie, another cheerleader who lived in their dorm, though slightly overweight, was 1uite proud of her junk food addiction. In fact, 7aurie let it be known that pi33a was one of the five important food groups, at least in her world. ;endal often wondered if 7aurie laundered money from the cheerleading fund and dues collection to buy the enormous amount of junk food and goodies that she kept stashed in her dorm room closet. #very time they hung out in 7aurie&s room, ;endal half e'pected to find cardboard bo'es full of -reo cookies, potato chips, candy bars and the like sitting somewhere amidst the clutter. +,ore tutoring with the lesbian=/ 0hristine asked. 2er tone brushed hard against ;endal&s ears. +4hy do you have to even bring that up=/ +9ecause she is./ +She has a name. It&s %%. ,aybe you should try using it./ +4hat is your deal= >ou&ve been acting strange ever since you started hitting the books so hard./ +I don&t have a deal. 4hat I do have is a tutoring session with a girl who&s kind of cool, and I think that maybe you should stop judging people when you don&t even know a thing about them./ 0hristine climbed out of bed, and evened out her pajama shorts. 2er lips were moving, and ;endal sensed that she was choosing her words carefully. +I know all I need to know about her,/ she said coolly. +And don&t forget, I know you, too./ She casually grabbed her robe off of the back of the door and pulled it on. As she was tying the knot around her waist, she looked up at ;endal. 2er eyes were icy. +I don&t know who you are trying to be lately, but it sure isn&t the ;endal ,c0arthy that I know./ She pulled the knot tighter and tossed ;endal one final cold look before she left the room. (uming, ;endal threw her books into her backpack. 4hat bothered her most was the fact that 0hristine somehow managed to sneak in the last word. +I know me,/ she said aloud in the vacant room, her voice overflowing with anger. +I know myself better than anyone, and I also know that for the past few years I haven&t been the real me./ In the middle of her monologue, she stepped on something s1uishy lying on the floor. She bent over, picked up the ice mask that 0hristine had been wearing, and threw it at her unmade bed. +>ou don&t know me at all,/ she spat. +So take your little beauty mask and shove it./
%% was at the library much earlier than she needed to be. She&d skipped going to the dining hall with :ueenie, afraid that she might get distracted or delayed by needless conversation. Instead, she enjoyed a healthy portion of ramen noodles, the chicken-flavored kind, and some crackers. She also took a long time to select an outfit. 6ormally she would go to the library wearing nothing more than jogging pants and a sweatshirt, but today she felt like raising the bar just a bit. She put on a pair of jeans and a vintage T-shirt from the 5ap. Instead of wearing her usual baseball cap, she decided to slather some gel in her hair and spike up the ends just so. She even sprayed on some cologne for good measure. 6ow she sat in the library at the same table ;endal and she had been at last time, her knees shaking slightly. #very so often, she caught a whiff of her own cologne and smiled. At the very least, she certainly smelled good. 2er cell phone bu33ed in her pocket. She took it out and read a te't message from :ueenie, +9eware of the science e'periment./ All %% could do was laugh. She stuffed her cell phone back in her pocket, and idly thumbed through a book of poetry she&d pulled off one of the shelves. She kept a watchful eye on the door as she reread each sentence. Somehow, she&d missed seeing ;endal storm her way into the library, and looked up only when the girl reached the table. ;endal&s bag of books landed on top of the table with a resounding thud. +2i,/ she said, her face e'pressionless. +)m, are you okay=/ %% asked cautiously. +,e= >eah. I&m fine./ She reached into her bag and pulled out the bag of 0he' ,i' she had bought earlier. +#'cept for the fact that I&ve just now reali3ed that I&ve wasted all my time here at Sampson on a group of girls who are mostly small-minded and lack any substance at all./ +That&s a bit harsh, don&t you think=/ ;endal slid down into the chair ne't to her. +6o. I think it&s dead on,/ she snapped. Then she slid the bag of 0he' ,i' over to %% who politely declined. ;endal shrugged and began snacking mindlessly. +I&ve known these girls for three years now and they don&t even have one small clue about who I really am./ She tucked her hair back behind her ears, which caused %% to look at her in ama3ement. +4ow, you have tiny ears./ +4hat=/ +>our ears. They&re tiny. And cute./ +>eah,/ ;endal said. +They&re small. So what=/ +6othing. I*I just noticed. That&s all./ %% instantly wished that she could censor her thoughts before they spilled out of her mouth without her consent. +)h, about your friends*is it possible that maybe you just haven&t let them in= >ou know, let them in to get to know the real you=/ +So it&s my fault=/ ;endal&s hand smacked her own chest. +Is that what you are saying=/ +I&m not pointing fingers,/ said %% 1uickly. +All I&m saying is that friendships involve at least two people, right= And each person has to give a little in order to get a little. If you don&t let them see the real you, how are they supposed to get to know the real you=/ ;endal halted her rant. She hadn&t thought of it that way. +It&s just an outside opinion, of course,/ said %%. +I get what you&re saying. I think I&m just frustrated with everything in my life now. 9efore it all made sense, but somewhere along the way I&ve changed and suddenly nothing makes any sense to me anymore./ +Trust me, I know the feeling./
+>ou do=/ +-f course I do. 9efore I accepted the fact that I was gay, everything in my life seemed simple. I had boyfriends and everything made sense. And then suddenly it all began to change. I wasn&t happy with anything anymore and I couldn&t understand why. Things that I once enjoyed became boring to me or unimportant./ %% looked down at her empty hands and then at ;endal. +9ut once I figured out the root of it, things began to fall into place again. 6ow I know that this is who I am and who I&m happy being. Things in my life make sense again./ +That must have been hard, holding something like that inside without telling anyone. ,y problem is that I don&t even know the root of why things have changed for me./ +4ell, I don&t think it&s because you are gay,/ %% said with a smirk. ;endal laughed. +6o, I don&t think so either./ Though lately she wasn&t so sure. +,aybe you are just changing as a person. It doesn&t have to be anything specific. 0ould be as simple as your outlook on life or what has become important to you now, as opposed to when you were a freshman. I think that when we get to college, we&ll do a lot of soul-searching and find out who we really are. >ou&re just getting a head start./ +I feel like I can really talk to you,/ ;endal said suddenly. +Sorry for going off like that. I know you&re my tutor, and not my counselor./ %% felt her face grow hot, and she knew she was blushing. She stared ahead, avoiding ;endal&s eyes. +I&m glad. It&s, uh, important to feel comfortable with your tutor./ ;endal repositioned her chair at the table and moved closer to %%. +-kay. I feel better. And I think I can actually concentrate on studying./ She un3ipped her backpack and took out a purple folder and a couple of books. +So, back to poetry. 7et&s do this one first./ She opened one of her book to a page marked with a yellow sticky note, and then slid the volume over to %%. %% regained her composure and looked down at the page. +A 7etter to $aphnis,/ she read. +Anne (inch was a talented woman./ +I&m sure she was. I think I prefer $ickinson, though./ +2ow come=/ +I don&t know. ,aybe because I finally understand her poetry now, and I don&t want to move on to other authors./ ;endal forced a laugh. +Stick to what you know, right=/ +I don&t think you&re giving yourself enough credit,/ %% reassured her, easing into a smile, admiring the dips along the edge of ;endal&s lips and how they were most visible whenever ;endal seemed self-conscious. +4hat=/ ;endal asked, nervously brushing a strand of hair from face. +6othing,/ said %%. They read the poem together as %% pointed out a few key lines to help ;endal make sense of the poem as a whole. +(inch was a true feminist, though she didn&t want that to override the fact that she was still deeply in love and could be in love, while still maintaining her sense of self. In this poem, she e'presses how, though it is difficult, one can still find a happy medium between being both a devoted lover and an opinionated woman at the same time./ +That must have been hard back then,/ ;endal said. +In those days most women gave up their dreams and ambitions to be housewives./ %%&s head bobbed in agreement, +#'actly. And in this poem, (inch makes it clear to her lover that she has no such plan in mind. She writes, @%udge not my passion, but my want of skill.
/ ./ +$ifferent./ +I understand./ +>ou&re not at all what I thought you were. It looked pretty beat up./ %% said. She plucked up the journal and set it on the table before she walked away.endal flipped back her hair./ said . feeling nervous and clumsy.endal. totally awesome./ said %%. %ust one 1uick peek.endal.endal flinched.endal eyeballed the journal. She sneaked a peek to make sure %% wasn&t anywhere in sight before she began to read with reckless abandon. 2er eyes 1uickly scanned the words scribbled across the page./ she said. has her own dreams. but at the same time. and she tripped over it./ They continued to regard one another. +ar6ness looms ' cannot see ' feel your /reath upon my s6in &par6ing a nervous warmth ' reach for you &liding my palm across your chee6 &o softly./ said . +That&s pretty intense. It appeared to be a poem titled (irst . like you said. +>ou just are./ +>ou didn&t at all./ . she wants him to know that though she is driven. +0ute.iss. and flipped it open close to the middle. she thought./ said %%. As she pushed her chair back from the table. I didn&t know what to e'pect either. 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 . .& See. 2er journal spilled out. +4hoops.. Then she&d set it right back down./ +>eah. %ust don&t start saying totally every other sentence. +4hen I found out I was tutoring you. how=/ %% shrugged. it is./ +. All I knew was that you were popular and last year&s homecoming 1ueen. that doesn&t mean she can&t love him with all that she has. until %%&s knee once again began to shake involuntarily. I guess I didn&t know what to e'pect. +This poem is like./ %% nudged her shoulder. she loves him more fully than some women who have no ambition at all. +I&ll be right back. which had been resting on the floor./ +And that I was probably just like all the other cheerleaders. She reached for the journal.aybe at first. She could feel her famous li1uid curiosity pumping through her veins. +4hat did you think=/ +I don&t know. +I hope I didn&t sound like a ditsy cheerleader just then. In fact. she accidentally knocked over her bag. >ou&re different. standing up 1uickly. but e'press it ill. +9ut you&re not.any love well. and./ +4ow. the edges frayed and the binding worn.
+7isten.yan Stevens. he puts it so nicely. hoping he would take the hint and leave.endal thought.yan continued.rowing hungry with each 6iss My mind races %o clear thoughts.endal had been impressed by 0hristine&s persistence. +#ach member of the soccer team invites a girl to come to the party. just as if she were the person in the poem.endal was lying. +I was there last year./ she said instead./ ./ .endal. It was as if he wasn&t used to handling a few ripples.yan said smoothly./ he pressed on. I haven&t heard anything at all. and the ne't day he dumped his original invite to invite 0hristine instead. #veryone was te'ting about who was going to get invited.endal cursed her roommate under her breath./ . looming over her like some creepy.endal could feel the tingle on her skin.yan&s pond of smoothness. +I&m sorry.y. A day before the party she&d tracked %ason down. anyway. +>ou&ve probably heard that the team is having our legendary invite-only party ne't (riday night. and I was wondering if it was poetry or something./ +0hristine= 8eally=/ . 5ust di88iness 'nto you ' slowly melt The images were so vivid.endal shuffled a few loose papers in front of her and started to write something down. because it was all any of her friends could talk about lately. +I came here because I wanted to let you know that I want you to be my invite. ominous shadow. but I have this thing ne't (riday that I can&t miss. who she now thought of as . >our journal was just lying there. +4ell. 2e was there specifically to hit on her.endal could feel his supposedly innocent brown eyes e'amining her thoroughly from head to toe../ .yan wasn&t carrying a backpack. I&m not pretending. she found it pathetic./ said . 2aven&t heard a thing. and then shook her head apologetically. 2e didn&t. no. She 1uickly set the book down onto the table. I&m actually studying. She and %ason had been dating ever since./ +6ope. and who was going to be left out./ he said with an overconfident grin. +I&m honored. 6ow. She was about halfway through when she felt someone leaning over her./ . so ./ +-h. 2ow wonderful= +4ell.yan the couch monster. +$id she mention I had a tutoring session=/ +6o. 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. +8eally I am. . that . 9ack then ./ +8eally= #veryone&s talking about it. +0hristine said you were here.endal knew he had no intention of actually studying himself. hooked up with him./ . +2ey./ +I know what it is. She had to read it again. of course./ . so real./ +)m. . . was standing ne't to her chair. 0hristine almost had a nervous breakdown when she reali3ed that she hadn&t been invited. +It&s e'clusive. She just said you were in the library pretending to study./ . 7ast year.endal could tell that she was throwing a huge rock in .
I don&t know what he&s thinking. The Spot. .endal leaned in so close that %% could feel the warmth of her breath. She was afraid of their reaction./ +That&s because he hooks up with anything that walks. simply was not there. She heard a tinge of jealously in her voice. I think you should enter./ said %%. is there something going on with him=/ %% asked./ .yan studied %% carefully before he resumed his failing attempt to ask her out./ . +>ou&d miss a really. +8ight.endal./ She swallowed hard. +So./ %% reminded her.endal e'claimed.endal would think. +0an I ask what you thought about it=/ .endal bit her lip. so now her moist face was a nice shade of pinkish-red. ne't (riday. and hoped ./ said ./ %% 1uietly reali3ed that any humiliation she&d e'pected to feel if anyone ever laid eyes on her writing. I&m one of the good girls.+I&m sure you can get out of it.endal had pinched her. Suddenly.endal&s eyes lit up.aybe another night then. his @to date& list is a lot shorter now than it was when he was a freshman. I&m not going to fall all over him just because he happens to be the captain of the soccer team. +It was my first kiss. she felt delighted that . Instead. really fun time with yours truly./ (or some reason it was hard for %% to share her poetry with other people. of what she might say. That got e'tremely hot very fast./ said ./ +4ell./ %% swallowed again as . of what they might say.yan=/ . And she was even more afraid of what . +.yan./ she blurted. +2e&s so full of himself. I&m sorry. +6e't (riday. +4ho= ./ %% approached the table at that moment. She sat down without glancing at either . eager to change the subject./ he mumbled finally and walked away.endal shifted curiously in her seat. rubbing her leg where . 2e put his hands on the table and leaned in. So she&d tried to stick her face under the blow dryer./ . +I promised %% I&d be at the poetry slam contest at The Spot ne't (riday. +I was raised right.endal dismissed him with a simple wave of her hand. +That&s not entirely true. just as I described it./ %% jumped. +I only read a little bit./ She tapped %%&s journal with the tip of her pen. +I read the one about someone&s first kiss. +8ight.endal watched as . though.endal hadn&t picked up on it. it seems I&m high on his @to date& list. It was hard because she was afraid of what people would think.yan.endal or ./ . +It was incredible.yan considered their story. +4as that *about another woman=/ +>es. +I sort of forgot about it until now. It was just sitting there and I took the opportunity to read it. If you&ll let me. because she&d splashed water on it before reali3ing that the bathroom was out of paper towels./ +I guess so./ +>ou&ve never even read my stuff. . 2er face was still damp. but not because poetry was personal. It&s at that coffee shop you like. reaching over to pinch %%&s leg. +4hat was that about= And what poetry contest=/ %% asked./ +(rom what I hear. +I&d like to read some more./ +It&s good to know that you have morals. I made her promise to go with me.endal had wanted to dip into that side of her.
because I kept playing the wrong notes and about halfway through the song. I&m serious. I got on stage and played the only song I knew./ +. +See. I almost ran into the wall in the hallway./ %% closed her eyes. remembering the harsh sound of the contemptuous laughter that circled through the auditorium around her. +It&s getting late./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah./ . without enthusiasm. about this poetry slam thingy./ she e'plained. +It basically scarred me for life./ said %% impatiently./ +So=/ +So. 4riting is my life. everybody in the audience started to laugh. I fro3e. I&ve never been on another stage since. I&m not ready. Are you going back to your dorm=/ . and that no matter what happens while you are up on stage. and then averted her eyes. So maybe you can practice with me.+So. 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. and I thought I was the best sa'ophone player in the world./ +That is so sad./ +9ut it might./ +That&s the second time you&ve said that./ +-kay. I can&t take that risk./ %% forced a laugh as she opened her eyes again. you know. I&m interested in your poetry and you need to practice sharing it./ %% said./ +4ell=/ +4ell. +I ran off stage so fast./ %% rolled her eyes./ she said./ . I never played the sa'ophone ever again after that day. +>ou have a gift and you should be able to share it with other people./ +That would never happen. I mean. +9ut it&s different with this. if I got upset on stage. we had this talent contest one year at school.endal debated the 1uestion. +>ou sound like my mother. +I have a fear of being on stage.endal hesitated then asked.endal momentarily. +5ood thing I don&t plan on having a career in acting or anything.endal said. I just don&t participate.endal had a hunch they were about . +I suppose I should./ +0ome on./ %% said 1uietly./ +Said what=/ +That writing is your life. +I go to open readings and poetry contests all of the time./ +4hy not=/ %% looked at . what= I&m not going up on stage./ . +$on&t you think it&s time to confront that fear=/ +I&m trying. She never thought she could have revealed something so personal to . embarrassed at what she was about to admit. I used to play the sa'ophone when I was younger.yan. releasing her hand from %%&s shoulder. maybe like ten or so*/ +The sa'ophone=/ +I&m e'plaining to you why I have stage fright. you&d never be able to give it up. And during the whole thing. 4riting is my life. .endal so easily. that alone should tell you how important it is to you. And if something happened.endal put her hand on %%&s shoulder. . I might freak out and give up writing altogether./ . And when the contest came up. desperately wanting to change the subject.aybe. +I&m just saying that maybe we could work on it. I wouldn&t joke about a thing like that. Are you going to do it=/ %% shook her head.endal said. +They have one every (riday night.
She instantly looked away. +0ool. though she knew e'actly what %% meant. then instantly winced. and some of the writing is ama3ing. and clicked the roof of her mouth with her tongue.endal closed the door behind her without looking back. her backpack pressed tightly against her chest. 4as this it= 4as this the feeling of a +wild night=/ .endal back to her dorm./ %% managed as she watched ./ %% paused and then plunged forward. +2ey*/ %% looked up. She breathed hard and her hands shook. +>ou are the only person who&s ever read it besides me. >et./ . though= I mean. this was no boy she was getting all worked up over. +4ould you still like to go. fall air. . %% turned and asked one of the 1uestions she&d been pondering along the way.endal said casually. She collapsed backward against the closed door.endal asked. didn&t it=/ +Totally./ +0atch you later. that&ll work. She raised her hands and rubbed them against her eyes before she silently cursed into the crisp./ Their eyes locked for a moment and ./ %% took a deep breath. 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. +>ou participating in the poetry contest=/ +>eah.endal walk down the cement path and through the front door of her dorm. She would instantly sense what ./ +Sure./ she said. As they reached the front of the building. +>eah. +So. +Thanks for not getting mad at me for reading your poem.endal shoved her phone into her purse and watched as %% slid her poetry book into her backpack.endal felt an electric sensation travel the length of her arms. It might help you with class and*/ +I&d like that./ . +That sounded really dumb..endal.endal teased./ said . I want you to know that I really did like it and I meant everything I said./ +I&m glad. The poem she read in %%&s journal was still fresh in her mind. %% shifted her backpack from her left to her right shoulder. +4ere you serious about ne't (riday night=/ +Serious about what=/ . she would know. She felt a pang of guilt erupt in her chest. +I&d like that a lot. She was fearful that if %% even glimpsed over her shoulder. They left the library and %% offered to walk . later. and it was the only thing she had thought about during the entire walk home. 4hat in the world was she getting herself into= %%% -nce in the confines of the dorm. that&s not going to happen.endal was feeling. 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. go with me= There are some great poets around here. 2er entire body trembled and shivered with confusion./ %% smiled.
she managed to peel herself away from the door and headed down the hallway to her room. >our senior year. +>ou&re going to a gay club. and figuring out what in the world I want to do with the rest my life. The thought of ./ 0hristine gasped. with satisfaction. the whole thing=/ +4hy on earth would I be sick of it=/ 0hristine asked in disbelief. +6othing./ ./ . . still lost in a di33y ha3e. remember= I couldn&t e'actly play with my cell phone the entire time. I&m not going to a gay club.yan came bustling in and asked me to the e'clusive soccer party ne't weekend. isn&t she=/ 0hristine was up off her bed./ . smiling again. but it seemed to be permanently cemented there. I&m just*don&t you ever get sick of it=/ +Sick of what=/ +Sick of the soccer parties.endal= "lease tell me you&re delirious.endal shook free of 0hristine&s grip and flopped down on her bed. She tried desperately to wipe the smile from her face.yan the couch monster hulking over her made her cringe. +I&m not turning into a lesbian. +4ill you rela'=/ she said. Somehow. 0hristine. +>ou didn&t. . +>ou just passed on an invitation to one of the hottest parties of the year. I&m afraid. very interesting./ . CHAPTER # +4hat on earth are you smiling about=/ 0hristine asked as . +Tell me you said yes. +%ust something different. 0hristine returned her attention to her i"hone./ 0hristine&s head shot up. 2ow come you didn&t respond=/ +I was studying./ .endal replied 1uickly. more tutoring=/ +6ot e'actly./ +I couldn&t care less. 9esides. I already have plans. counting down the days in her head until she&d see %% again. I&m getting my fill because ne't year I&ll be working my butt off at college./ +8eally= 4ho=/ +$on&t play innocent.endal replied. the superficial status. so 1uit freaking out. .endal said. paying rent for some crappy apartment. 2ow was the library=/ +-h./ 0hristine grabbed hold of . ./ +I guess. aren&t you=/ +4hat= 6o. +I don&t have amnesia and I&m not delirious.endal watched her in amusement./ +Are you nuts= It&s invite-only./ +7et me guess./ +I said @no&./ .endal&s shoulders and held on to them tightly. +I&ve been te'ting you all night.endal answered. as if I&d somehow be privileged to be his date.She sighed./ +I did.endal entered their room. +This is what going to a private school like Sampson is all about. pacing frantically around the room./ +She&s turning you into a lesbian. apparently not amused. or that you&ve suddenly caught amnesia.endal. the empty conversations. +I had an uninvited visitor.
+I get it,/ ;endal said and flopped down on her back. +I understand all about the high school e'perience. I just think I&ve gotten my fill already. I&m ready to start figuring out who I am. I&m ready to grow up a little bit. Is that so hard to understand=/ 0hristine folded her arms across her chest, +Are you taking some philosophy course this semester that I don&t know about=/ ;endal plucked a stuffed teddy bear off the side of her bed that she&d owned since she was five, and shoved its tiny head into her mouth. Then she screamed in muffled frustration. +Something is seriously going on with you,/ 0hristine observed. She sat down on the bed ne't to ;endal and gently removed the bear from her mouth. +2e genuinely likes you, you know=/ +4ho=/ +;yan. 2e came here before I sent him to the library telling me how much he really likes you and how he wanted to ask you to the party so that he could get to know you better. That&s the only reason I told him where you were./ +All he wants to know is how my body looks without any clothes on,/ ;endal said bitterly. +And then show me off like a trophy around school./ +-kay, I admit that ;yan doesn&t have the greatest history when it comes to dating girls at school. 9ut, that being said, he seemed really interested in you as a person. $oesn&t that intrigue you in the least=/ +6ot in the least,/ ;endal returned. +7ike I said, I have plans./ +To do what=/ +To do something else./ +4hat is it, some top-secret mission that you can&t share with me= 4ho are you, 9at 4oman=/ 0hristine threw ;endal&s bear down on the bed. It bounced near the edge and rolled over onto the floor. +I&m supposedly your best friend./ +4hy are you so interested in my plans anyway=/ +9ecause, I want to know what could possibly be better than an invite-only soccer party with a bevy of frosty beverages and yours truly=/ To some degree ;endal understood why 0hristine was getting so upset. 9ut after three years of doing the same thing over and over again, she downright craved something different. +There&s this poetry contest at that little coffee shop in town that I want to go to./ +"oetry=/ +>es./ 0hristine chewed on the tip of her tongue before she flung her hands up and shrieked, +Seriously, ;endal=/ +4hat is the big deal= Is it really that terrible that I want to culture myself just a little bit=/ 0hristine sucked in a short breath. +(ine. $o your little poetry thingy. 0ulture yourself and all that mess. 9ut make room for a little fun and e'citement, will you= I&m sure it doesn&t last all night. >ou can just te't me when it&s finished, and come meet us after. $eal=/ +I don&t know./ +;endal, please= It&s our last year together. It would mean a lot to me./ +-kay./ ;endal gave up. She hated being put on the spot, especially by 0hristine, whose giant sapphire eyes reminded her of a child on the verge of a tantrum. +>es./ 0hristine flung herself forward and wrapped her arms around ;endal. +>ou won&t regret it. It&s going to be so much fun./
8ight, ;endal thought. She was already regretting it because now she had to find ;yan the couch monster, and tell him that she would like to be his invite at the party on (riday after all. -f course, she would have to lay down some very strict ground rules. )nfortunately, ;endal didn&t think that would keep ;yan from trying to make a move on her.
%% was in the school lounge sitting on one of the itchy cushioned chairs that was spacious enough to seat three people happily. She was sprawled out with her legs hanging over the sides, and her head resting comfortably on the opposite arm. Sitting nearly upside down, she held her journal tight against her legs while she scribbled intensely against the page. 2er headphones were plastered to her ears, blaring music so deafening that she couldn&t possibly hear if anybody walked by. She&d just written another poem. It had been fresh on her mind when she&d left ;endal in front of the dorm, and she&d wanted to write it down before she forgot it. The halfway point to her dorm was the school lounge, which now was comfortably deserted. Since it was Sunday night, everyone was either watching television in their dorm rooms or in the library doing homework. As for those few students who took to partying no matter what day of the week it was, the last place they would care to go was the school lounge. %% reread the words she&d just scrawled onto the page. “)ately ' find My heart and my mind disagree $ne so rational, the other so free $ne that has /een /ro6en, /ut continues to heal The other unspo6en, than6ful it can4t feel +ifferent entities, yet tied so tight Both content to do what is right But how can they /oth agree $n a concept that historically Has caused them to clash )ashing out feelings and thoughts $ne ought to /e felt and not heard The other mentally spews words Both causing a tornado to spin me around +o ' follow the cloud $r 6eep my feet firmly planted on the ground An everlasting de/ate for all of time +o ' follow my heart $r do ' fol . . .” 9efore %% could finish the last line, somebody tore the journal from her hands. She stared in awe as :ueenie began to dance around the chair with the notebook dangling from her fingers. 2er mouth was moving, but because %% had her headphones turned up so loud, she couldn&t hear what :ueenie was saying.
%% struggled to untwist herself, finally rolling over onto the floor. She tore her headphones from her ears only to hear :ueenie reciting the new poem in a very obno'ious, fake Shakespearian voice. %% glowered at her and climbed to her feet. The chair was the only thing that separated them. +5ive it back,/ she demanded. +$o I follow the cloud=/ :ueenie read, gesturing upward dramatically. +I said give it back./ +-r keep my feet firmly planted=/ :ueenie stomped. +:ueenie./ %% took off around the chair, chasing :ueenie through the lounge. Somehow :ueenie managed to keep reading the poem as she ran, determined to keep out of %%&s reach. +A6 #<#87ASTI65*/ she bellowed, as she ducked around a couch and then hopped up on a table as if it were a stage. %% stood before her, panting like a rabid dog. She reached over and tugged on :ueenie&s pant leg. :ueenie stared down at her. +#'cuse me. I&m in the middle of a performance here. $o you mind=/ +5ive it back,/ %% pleaded. +Autographs will be available afterwards in the lobby, thank you./ :ueenie shook her leg free of %%&s grip. Then she put one foot graciously in front of the other and regained her stance. 2er free hand reached high into the air as she angled her face to the make-believe crowd. +An everlasting debate for all of time,/ she roared. +$o I follow my heart= -r do I fol*= -r do I follow my mind= Is that what you were going to write=/ +>es,/ %% whispered miserably. +$o I follow my heart. -r do I follow my mind./ yelled :ueenie. 4hen she finished the last word, she bowed her head to an imaginary array of applause. +Are you through embarrassing me=/ +I think so,/ said :ueenie, tossing the journal to %%. She hopped off the table and straightened her shirt. +>ou know,/ %% gritted her teeth. +Sometimes words fail to describe the distaste I have for you./ +"lease. >ou&re a poet./ :ueenie patted her confidently on the back. +I&m sure you could think of a few./ +4hat do you want=/ +I was bored, so I came looking for you. >ou weren&t in the library so this was my ne't best guess./ +>ou are a true detective./ :ueenie pointed to the journal, +4as that little poem there about the homecoming 1ueen=/ +6o./ +6o=/ +4ell, maybe a little bit. 9ut it&s a more general pondering than anything else./ +>ou&re really conflicted, aren&t you=/ %% gave :ueenie the harshest look she could muster. +And you don&t really want to talk about it either=/ +6o, I don&t,/ said %% as she walked over to the chair she&d been sitting in and picked up her book bag from the floor. +$on&t you have homework to do or something=/ +(inished it,/ :ueenie said proudly.
I told her I&d be there with a certain friend of mine. +%ust get in. 5et it=/ +>ou make it sound like a bank robbery./ +6o=/ +6o. palms down and swept them to one side./ +./ +$oes this certain woman happen to be the twenty-something college student who looks to you for a little e'citement in an otherwise dull e'istence=/ :ueenie grinned widely. +4ith the women I see. for e'ample. get out and nobody gets hurt./ +-h. you in=/ :ueenie asked. %% believed that :ueenie might have a photographic memory or something. >ou&re into someone you can&t have. when you compare it with your current dilemma./ +"lease./ +>ou&re into empty relationships instead= Sounds so appealing. your current situation. +I&m in the prime of my life and I&m not into that hopeless romantic stuff like you are. +I resent that. 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. +for someone who is constantly giving me advice on my love life./ %% flung her backpack over her shoulders./ %% maintained./ %% said./ +That&s not why I wrote that poem./ +>ou date women who aren&t interested in relationships. Take. +%%.+>ou ama3e me./ +. +>ou know. +I&m not looking for better right now. And despised her for it. my friend.e= I do all right. 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./ +Spare me the theatrics./ +Thanks. And obsessing over straight girls is something you do best. The hopeless romantic never wins./ :ueenie was one of those annoyingly gifted people who hardly ever studied yet seemed to retain information almost instantly after reading something only once. Is this so-called adventure going to get me into trouble=/ :ueenie pressed her palm to her chest innocently. there&s none of that. 4hen you do something. you really aren&t doing too well in that particular area yourself. +I know she&s all you have been thinking about since you met her. +So./ They reached the concrete path that lead up to the steps of their dorm. really=/ They began to walk again./ :ueenie said./ %% said plainly. . sourly. you do it one hundred percent. tossed her head back and pretended to laugh. actually./ +And the problem is=/ +The problem is that you deserve better than that. as they walked out of the school lounge and onto the fading green lawn that led directly to their dormitory. it&s so obvious./ +It is./ :ueenie immediately stopped walking. +I wrote it for the simple pleasure of creative e'pression. 6o room to analy3e or obsess./ :ueenie placed her hands forward in the air. +>ou up for an adventure=/ +$epends.y dilemma=/ +>es.
+Studying. Ale' was gay and Sarah was straight. In fact. sensing %% was hiding something. They knew all about the soccer parties and celebrations. I&m going to pass on that one. %ust a cup of coffee./ ./ %% said. and would eventually come over to the dark side.yan would be in his room sweating with anticipation. and .yan was laying face down on his bed. She knocked slightly. She reached the stairs and took a deep breath. +Is anyone else coming=/ +I&ll see if Ale' and Sarah are up to it./ %% replied dryly. but chose to look the other way since Sampson Academy had won the state championship three years in a row. It wasn&t even a date for that matter. . 0hristine owes me big time. She wasn&t about to tell :ueenie that she already had a tentative date with . . It was located on the opposite end of the school from her dorm and close to the edge of the campus. The school administration gave the soccer team a lot more leeway than they did other students. %ason was sitting on a couch watching football. reading what looked like a te'tbook./ %% said. motioning to the book. . +6othing. She peeked into the room and saw dark stains of 5od-knows-what scattered all over the carpet. It&s ama3ing the freedom a winning record could buy you.endal got the feeling that he was trying to make a good impression on her. . but that never deterred her from going out to a gay club.endal made a face. Something that smelled of pepperoni and cheap cologne hung in the air. which considerably hindered her odds of finding a suitable romantic companion. Anybody else who dared to throw a party risked getting caught and being suspended or thrown out of school. :ueenie liked to refer to the gay community as the dark side because it got under her parents& skin. +4ant to call the cheerleading 1ueen to see if she would like to go as well=/ +>eah. she entered the hallway and saw empty pi33a bo'es and garbage bags everywhere./ Ale' and Sarah were %%&s suitemates. rounded the first corner. +9usy=/ . in fact.+I guess.endal ne't (riday night. She continued to walk to the end of the hallway.usic boomed from an open door.endal entered the dorm on a mission to find . . 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.endal figured that . . and then pushed it open.yan and tell him that she would go to his stupid party ne't (riday night after all. . +I&ll be 1uick.endal asked when he looked up. and also members of the basketball team. +4hat are you smiling about=/ :ueenie asked. really. an actual lesbian. she thought. even though no one was in the room. +6othing at all.endal was on her way. A night out with :ueenie always proved to be a good distraction from reality.yan and %ason were roommates./ CHAPTER $ . -nce she reached the third floor./ she said.yan said. but not before 0hristine had called ahead to inform %ason that . reminding herself not to touch anything accidentally. :ueenie claimed that Sarah was just in denial and that someday she&d reali3e that she was. Sarah seemed to have more gay friends than straight friends.
/ . and reali3ed that . it&s okay. +>eah.yan said.yan said. I haven&t asked anyone else yet./ 2e looked over at %ason who appeared to be engrossed in the football game. . already halfway out the door. and if you still haven&t asked anyone./ she said. +%ust as a friend./ .yan was staring at him. . +I&m going to that first and then I&m coming here. and I wanted you to be my invite. +I&m not proud of it. So./ +>ou don&t have to leave. +-kay. shape or form. we can hang out and talk. if the only way you&ll feel comfortable around me is by telling me that you just want to go as friends.yan a slight punch in the arm as if to say. +I&ll leave you two alone. then I understand./ +-kay=/ +4ell./ ./ She was secretly hoping that he&d already asked someone else. If your hands start drifting anywhere I view as off limits. and she&d severely misjudged him. you must think I&m a complete jerk. I&m out of there. +I&ll watch the game in .endal said hurriedly. +So. the one you were at the library with. but that&s basically it./ %ason said./ +Sounds good./ . 2e plopped down on the couch and turned off the television. It took him a minute before he looked up. So.endal asked. by friends I mean that you shouldn&t plan on making a pass at me in any way./ +4ell./ 2e stood up and gave . +>ou must think I&m a slime ball. then I&d like to go.endal said. I guess I&ll just have to prove to you that I&m genuinely interested in you. +4ait. I&ll probably be a little late./ ./ ./ ./ . +I&m just going to be a minute.yan said.yan repeated.endal decided to point out the stipulations because there was still a hope that he might change his mind afterwards. +2ave a seat. my bad./ . feeling slightly better about the whole situation. She took a big breath. of course.yan hopped off the bed and threw the book aside./ +As a friend. yeah.yle&s room. Sure./ ./ 2e nodded at them and closed the door behind him. +I&m sorry=/ .+It&s okay. +-f course. That was the last thing she&d e'pected him to say. 2e tapped his hand on his knee as if he were mulling it over. and then thought better of it. +I appreciate that.endal remained standing. +5o get @em. +-h. you know that invite party you were talking about the other night=/ she asked./ +I didn&t know you were good friends with that girl from the basketball team. so it&s all good./ +I know.endal couldn&t believe it. I&ve seen her play a couple of games. +I&ll see you (riday night then./ he finally said. #ither he was an e'tremely good actor or he was actually earnest. I was thinking about it. +I was ready for a break anyway. This was more uncomfortable than she&d imagined it would be. you do have 1uite the reputation./ . not sure what to do with them. regretfully./ +%%=/ +>ea. She&s pretty good.endal held her arms close to her sides./ %ason replied./ +4ell. 2e rose to his feet and opened the door for her.yan opened his mouth to respond./ +6o. I thought you had that poetry thing or something on (riday=/ +I do. +To say something like that.
And she&d been making some major progress that she didn&t want to mess up.endal. 9ut thankfully she told us there was going to be a 1ui3. she was afraid to try to study by herself. She&s so sweet and*/ .+She&s my 4omen&s 7iterature tutor. +>ou look horrible. >ou were tossing all around and kept mumbling something about #mily $ickinson. not just about school stuff.endal yawned. +>eah. but she couldn&t help but smile. So I guess I&ll see you (riday then./ . . +9ut I think I need some e'tra help./ .endal said. at least your teacher informed you of the pop 1ui3. +5ee. +I&m going to.endal confirmed. she&s cool. +4e&re just getting to know each other. don&t./ +"roblem=/ +I didn&t sleep well last night. ever. In some ways.endal looked up./ +I know. She picked at the food on her plate and shoved a piece of roast turkey into her mouth. +4ell. 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 . And of course he chooses the most complicated math problems. .yan was staring at her awkwardly. The only problem is that she didn&t tell us what poem it was going to be on./ 0hristine said. 4hat if anyone found out= 4hat in the world would she do then= CHAPTER & . It tasted like rubber. thinking about how closely one lump resembled %ustin 9ieber. you know=/ +8ight. thanks. (riday./ +So study. That&s what I&m nervous about. enjoying a small side salad./ .endal told her./ he said.arks just whips out a 1ui3 as soon as we walk through the door. sunny day. I&ve never met anyone like her before./ She was eager to get in touch with %% for an emergency tutoring session because this 1ui3 was a big deal./ . 2ow could a single subject torment her so much= She wondered./ +4ell.endal sat staring at her mashed potatoes in the dining hall on Thursday night. +I have a pop 1ui3 in my 4omen&s 7iterature class tomorrow./ +I think I&d have a heart attack if ./ 0hristine added. +4hat&s eating you=/ 0hristine asked./ +I&m just speaking the truth. she was going to have to do a far better job. If she&d planned on hiding her growing feelings for %%. She hadn&t slept at all last night because she&d had a frightening nightmare about her 4omen&s 7iterature class. She even told us which author. +)m. . 9ut the truth was she wanted an e'cuse to see %% again before (riday. She left the dorm feeling like a fool. 0hin ever did that./ She tried. 2er eyes were hollow. +She&s so smart.r. She needed a good grade to help boost her average for the semester. I mean really smart.s./ she said after spitting the meat out into a napkin.
+4ho in the world is Anne . 0hristine inspected the notebook in front of her.& I&m starting to smell like dining hall food./ 0hristine demanded. )nfortunately. her idea of a classic novel was Twilight. She knew 0hristine was e'tremely smart when it came to solving 1uadratic e1uations./ . I had to take my fair share of #nglish class re1uirements. +>es.+7ast minute tutoring session=/ 0hristine in1uired./ +-h./ +I know./ 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. +The idea of you tutoring me on an #nglish class. . obviously offended.endal planted her eyes at her notes instead. +0ome on.endal looked around the dining hall as she shoved her notebook over to 0hristine. but it&s 1uiet here now and*+ +And you want to wait and see if your girlfriend shows up=/ +0ute. 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./ she said. but the rest of the dining hall was empty.endal=/ +4hat=/ +I said @let&s go.endal held back her tongue. very cute. she and 0hristine were the only people left at the cheerleaders& table./ . -ut with it. .endal study. 2er stomach seemed to settle for a moment. She looked hopefully over at the basketball table.endal said and snatched the folder back./ . really=/ +>es./ +4hy can&t I just help you=/ . it was empty.endal./ . It&s a must./ +4hat&s the big deal=/ +0hristine. +I think I&m going to stay here just a little bit longer. let&s get out of here. so she sei3ed the opportunity to shove a big spoonful of mashed potatoes into her mouth and swallow it down before her stomach changed its mind. e'cept for a speckling of students who had decided to grab a late dinner. +4hat= I just asked a simple 1uestion.endal said firmly. +0ome on.endal slid her tray aside and rested her backpack on the table. +Are you serious= (or what= >ou can study at the dorm./ . +>ou&re serious=/ +. yawned.endal looked her up and down.y behind is sore from sitting. +>ou are a math guru./ +2ow can you help me understand her poetry when you have no idea who she is=/ 0hristine slouched in her chair. +7et me see what you are studying right now. That&s all the knowledge I need.endal pretended to be engrossed in the pages of notes in front of her./ .illigrew=/ +5ive me that. too. 4hat do you know about women&s poetry and literature=/ +I happen to be one*a woman that is. +4hat&s so funny=/ 0hristine asked. The soccer team was just coming in for dinner./ . and picked up her i"hone as if she&d suddenly grown bored with the idea of helping . In a matter of minutes. +#arth to . but as far as literature was concerned. .
%% didn&t know./ +>es. winning numerous accolades and praises from area sportswriters who predicted she would go on to compete at the $ivision I level.endal retuned her voice to its normal pitch./ +(ine. +0ome on. the whole team has to give me ten more. +"oint guards lead from the front. She looked over at :ueenie who was mouthing what 0oach had just said. I forgot. +0aution. +5ood finish. I know how ./ 0oach 0ook hollered. +4e&re sprinting. in any way. +4hatever. The team finished the sprints./ %% gave :ueenie her best +nice going/ eyes./ . 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. They had been wrong./ 0oach 0ook bellowed. sucking in every breath. %enkins. A couple of other dining hall stragglers at a nearby table turned their heads. +I&m just going to look this over for a few minutes and then I&ll head back to the dorm. and could 1uite possibly give a ga3elle a run for its money in an open field.ya can get. but :ueenie just stuck out her tongue and took off running./ +4ill you knock it off already. like a basketball for instance.endal shouted./ %% grimaced as she bent down to swipe the painted black line that gleamed at the baseline of the basketball court. %ust remember you have to be back by nine. shape or form. or whenever the basketball season was over. . >ou are now walking a fine line between heterose'uality and homose'uality.0hristine whistled loudly and said. There needed to be some sort of object involved. >ou know how . She was always ama3ed at how :ueenie could just go for a run around campus./ 0hristine said. as :ueenie had chosen to play basketball during her senior year at Sampson instead of running cross-country. despised running. %%. The last thing I&d want is for you to not to be able to cheer on Saturday. 4hether :ueenie missed running competitively or not. As much as she hated running. ./ 0oach 0ook noted. .arch. not goofing off. %% bent over and clung to her knees. %%. 8unning just to run was pointless to her. 0oach 0ook believed it was the best way to get into top condition.c9ride. not from the back. And that was all the reward she needed. much to the chagrin of her parental units. She usually led the pack because of her lengthy stride. She needed something to give her a reason to run.endal e'haled loudly. It also helped that she&d been a top performer in cross country for three years in a row. She ran them into the ground from late September to the middle of . +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.ya can get. -kay*I&ll be back in time. and snorting. of course. and chalk up about five miles as if it were nothing. 4e&ve got curfew tonight. +Thanks to you./ +5ood./ . 9ut she figured that :ueenie cared more about infuriating her parents than she did about her athletic prowess. on the other hand./ +)gh.
:ueenie said it was just a matter of time before 0oach 0ook admitted to belonging on the +dark side. the lesbian team. :ueenie. She suddenly wondered how many warm-up suits 0oach 0ook had in her closet at home. +7ooks like you&ll still make it to the dining hall if you hurry it up.It didn&t matter how worn out the team was. She knew that 0oach 0ook lived with the $ean of Students. +#njoy the delicacies of the dining hall. 2er salt and pepper hair was just a snip away from being classified as a mullet. She watched 0oach 0ook pace two steps to the left and two steps to the right in her electric-green warm-up suit. +0onditioning./ +2ow sweet. 4henever they lost a game. though./ :ueenie added./ 9ut %% wasn&t so sure./ She believed that all games were decided within the last five minutes of play. /2urry up and change. The rest of the team huddled together and put their hands into the middle of the circle. +That&s why you&ve been running so much these past few weeks. so if the two of them were./ 0oach 0ook barked./ 4ith that she winked at :ueenie. ladies. %% stood up and held her hands behind her head to clear her lungs./ +See you tomorrow. +And why you will continue to run hard for the rest of the season. +I&m starving. having prepared a nice candlelight dinner=/ 0oach 0ook drew in a patient breath. >ou freshmen have to get into shape. on the weekends she often could be spotted striding along the country roads of Ashland that stretched for miles through endless acres of farmland. I am the one who is cooking tonight. they always started with sprints and ended with sprints. I have to get home and start on some grilled chicken./ +4hat was that about=/ +4hat was what about=/ +The wink. %% was sure that she could recite word for word at least ten of those so-called pep talks. 0oach=/ :ueenie asked. regardless of the score. that&s what allows you to play your heart out./ 0oach continued. She was so above :ueenie&s remarks that she merely brushed them off her shoulders./ :ueenie said. a couple. +Is the missus waiting for you at home. +As a matter of fact./ 0oach 0ook stressed. that is. and leave it all on the floor. it was definitely top secret. 4hy did 0oach wink at you=/ . ladies. and you upper classmen should be taking these fresh fish under your wings and training them outside of practice. It&s always the team that&s in better shape that wins the game. 0onnie 0ook was a fascinating woman. That&s what matters in those last five minutes. 0oach 0ook ignored her. in fact. After three years. as she and %% dragged their aching bodies back to the locker room. then clasped her hands together and stole a 1uick glance at her watch. 9ut 0oach 0ook never talked about it. +Team. +It&s all about conditioning. The candlelight is optional. It seemed as if it was all she ever wore. 8ather thin but muscular./ +4hat are your plans for dinner. never missed an opportunity to tease 0oach 0ook about her se'ual ambiguity. who also was rumored to be a lesbian. +-kay./ It was the same little talk she always gave at the end of practices during the season. It was also rumored that 0oach 0ook was part of the team. they would spend the ne't practice running from one end of the court to the other until they dropped to the floor in e'haustion./ 0oach 0ook said.
. In fact. +So=/ :ueenie looked at her blankly.endal and back to :ueenie. In fact. %% winked at her. +Sort of mouthed off= :ueenie./ +4ait a minute. I can&t think straight. :ueenie was 1uite content with her amply stocked tray./ said %%. They sat with the other members of the basketball team. +-h. I know. I&m confused. And just as I&m about to apologi3e. you told her to take her whistle and shove it up her*/ +I know. As soon as %% sat down she glanced at the cheerleading table. a side salad and a tall glass of milk./ %% stirred her tomato soup with the crust from her grilled cheese. I&m seeing two of you right now./ :ueenie huffed./ +>ou told me she yelled at you pretty hard after practice. 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. +9ut 1uit being so dramatic. that. swallowing her food and waving her hand in the air. %% opted for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. tossing everything in sight onto her tray./ +(ine. 0oach and I see eye to eye now. +That was a close call. I was sitting there in silence./ %% gave :ueenie a slight shove. 0oach usually closes the door when she&s yelling at someone./ +She did. will you=/ +4hy= I&m so good at it./ +-kay.+I didn&t notice. which consisted of a healthy portion of mashed potatoes and turkey slopped with gravy./ +2ow so=/ +8emember yesterday when I sort of mouthed off to her=/ %% remembered all right. full of mashed potatoes./ :ueenie said. She&d never seen 0oach turn that shade of purple before. They somehow managed to slide through the doors just as the head chef was locking up for the evening.endal sitting there.endal appeared to be engrossed in the papers in front of 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. +That was no big deal. As she studied her tray. who were all busy eating while simultaneously complaining about the e'cessive amount of sprints 0oach 0ook had been forcing them to run. 2er heart fluttered the second she saw . +>eah. +4hy is she so friendly with you all of a sudden=/ +After she was done yelling at me. bread. She forced her attention away from ./ They rushed to peel the sweaty clothes off of their bodies and toss them into the laundry basket. she suddenly wished she were eating 0oach 0ook&s grilled chicken instead. She dashed through the food line. The rest of her table was empty. $ean 2offman walks through the door. . the whole dining hall was practically empty e'cept for a few soccer players lingering by the dessert bar./ %% recalled the time she got verbally blasted for having seven turnovers in one game last year. 2er cheeks were bulging. right. chocolate pudding.
/ %% pushed her tray aside. she was carrying a rose and the first thing she said. I&m sure if she saw the door open and didn&t hear anything inside.c9ride. 0oach. my friend. +I mean./ :ueenie shook %%&s hand with pride and leaned back in her chair. then she assumed that 0oach was alone./ +4ell./ ./ +6o.endal confessed. +I have a pop 1ui3 tomorrow and I wanted to brush up on a few things. . and I think she just forgot to close the door behind her. we both were just sitting there not saying anything. was @Sweetie./ +>ou waited for me=/ %% asked. I&m a complete mess. >ou should have seen the look on her face.endal barely even noticed :ueenie. +4ell done. I&ve got a surprise for you./ +So*/ %% said eagerly. She immediately slid into the vacated seat and dumped her books and folder onto the table. +I guess I&ll be going now.+She was so angry with me that she was already yelling when we walked into her office. +9ut I&d say that I&ve at least got some leeway now as far as teasing goes. %%. And at that e'act moment. @It&s okay. 9ut*/ %% pointed at the clock. did she admit it then= $id she finally admit to being gay=/ +She tried to play it off like it was nothing. +They&ll probably kick us out of here in the ne't ten minutes. I figured you&d be catching a late dinner because of basketball practice so I waited for you. As soon as she saw me there. +>ep. she tried to hide the rose behind her back and kept stumbling over her words.endal ./ :ueenie stood up to stretch before picking up her tray./ %% reached her hand across the table. %% looked on in wonder. +I wouldn&t say that. well done. it&s okay. we both turned our heads at the same time.& Then I winked and walked out of the office./ ./ said %%./ . It was classic. of course./ +I can&t believe that $ean 2offman was dumb enough to bring a rose to 0oach&s office./ %% was about to stand up to dispose of her tray when suddenly she saw . +I need your help desperately. without looking up. +All over a stupid 1ui3. $o you want to study someplace else=/ .endall said. So I stood up and said./ +I guess it&s like our new lesbian secret sign or something. if they were trying to keep their relationship such a secret. indeed. +%%. you&d think that they&d be a little more careful./ :ueenie leaned forward. +So as $ean 2offman was walking through the door. and I don&t think $ean 2offman reali3ed anyone else was in there./ +So that&s where the wink comes in. +I know. 6ever a dull moment. what now= >ou basically can say whatever you want to her without getting into trouble./ +-nly you./ +4hat did 0oach do=/ +She stood up and pushed the dean right out of there and closed the door behind her./ :ueenie took a sip of milk./ she e'plained./ +>es way. +So.&/ +6o way. +This kind of thing only happens to you. +6ever a dull moment./ :ueenie continued./ +So. >ou two kids have fun.c0arthy right ne't to her.
/ . +4e&re closing.endal said./ . +>ou remember our plans.endal suggested./ +.ya. +4hat about the library=/ %% asked. and she enforces it. thinking a neutral setting would be more professional./ . Then maybe we&d play better./ %% returned. +And that will be enough. +Thank you. 0oach should give us a curfew./ +4hat happens if you&re not there=/ +4e don&t get to participate in practice on (riday afternoon or the game on Saturday. came up with it. +The cheerleading s1uad has a curfew=/ +$on&t start. +I can&t./ :ueenie asked with a raised eyebrow. miss=/ ./ +So=/ +So I&ll come to your dorm./ +I was just leaving. 4as it obvious that she liked the way %% smiled awkwardly whenever she was nervous.yan and how she was meeting up with him at the soccer party later on that same evening./ .akes sense. don&t you=/ +>es./ %% returned. She thought of . She even comes around to check and make sure we are there./ +0urfew=/ +I know it sounds silly. I remember. I was just checking.+>ou can come to my dorm room. +0ome on. She wondered if %% could sense how she was feeling. I have to be in my room by nine. or that she liked the way %% smelled./ +4hat time=/ +2ow about in an hour=/ +(ine. I have curfew tonight. I don&t.endal said eagerly. +9ut I need to go back to my dorm and shower first. Thank you so much.endal stared up into the eyes of the sweaty line cook standing before her. ./ %% agreed.endal said politely.endal nodded. +I owe you big time. %% studied her e'pression.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. too. or how cute it was the way %% tripped over her words whenever* +#'cuse me. +The coffee shop./ +-kay.endal held her backpack to her chest./ 2ow could she forget= +5ood. . 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./ . +%ust remember to keep our date on (riday./ ./ They both stood up. I&ll see you in an hour then./ . she&s the captain of the s1uad.endal said adamantly. >ou don&t think it&s funny at all=/ +6o./ . CHAPTER ( +A curfew.
/ :ueenie said. opened the door. 2er flowered bedspread was covered with stuffed animals. I switched to basketball from cross country to get away from that stuff./ +4ait. +School spirit is a way of life. 2ave a seat. -nly.endal walked into the room. $o you know that=/ :ueenie eyed the object in her hand. straight out of the pages of <ogue.endal&s floor was decorated with the school colors./ she said to the blonde./ said %%.c0arthy&s dorm room./ the blonde said. you&re going where no one on this campus has gone before*T2# ./ +7et me guess. right. +I&m sorry.endal./ :ueenie sprung up from the couch and thrust her i"hone at %%. I&m not about to let basketball impede my social life. +>ou need professional help./ +I know.endal&s dorm. 4e can use this to our advantage.endal asked as she plopped down on her bed./ %% responded and held up her notebook. %% could tell her words were less than heartfelt. +I&ve been regretting your decision ever since. A rather thin blonde. 0hristine. She&s taking a class in attitude adjustment. #ach door on . +4hat did I say=/ %%% %% walked swiftly across campus to ./ +4hat=/ +0ome on. +-h. as soon as 0hristine had left the door room and closed the door behind her./ . %ust sneak a few photos./ %% shoved the i"hone back at her. %% recogni3ed her. +0ome on in./ %% started for the door./ %% took in the entire room and eyed the posters of popular musicians that papered the walls.endal&s door./ %% backtracked. %% thought as she knocked against . +(or documentation. +0heerleading. 6o wonder you&re a tutor. +"edaling poetry. >ou sure are 1uick. +There&s a lot of school spirit in here./ %% stepped through the door and into the room. -ver . +(riendly people you got here. offering %% some 0he' . +If 0oach gave us a curfew.endal&s bed was a spread of family photos./ The blonde forced a smile and moved aside. +That was my roommate./ said . +Am I that transparent=/ . which was decorated a lot like the door to their room. and little cheerleader cutouts. +This could be the room of any popular girl in America. +Thanks. Sampson Academy paraphernalia. >our cell phone takes crappy pictures. She often sat with .i' +I didn&t mean it like that. +"edaling cookies=/ she asked.endal in the dining hall. she didn&t mean it the way that it had come out.endal ./ . She caught a glimpse of the adjoining suite. Interesting decor. proudly. +I just think there&s more depth to you than this./ %% said. 0hristine. >ou&re also on the s1uad=/ +4ow./ she said.+4hatever. taking a handful from the bag. .ost of the cheerleaders lived in the same dormitory. I&d 1uit.
/ . +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./ +That must have been hard./ +In what way=/ %% sat down on the bed beside her. at this line in )pon Saying . +2ow about we make a deal then= #very time I let you read a poem. but she was also proud to be a woman. but me they scorned&=/ .endal let that idea marinate. well aware of how little space remained between them./ +-kay. yet awkward.endal pointed to one of the poems.ade 9y Another.y parents were done raising children by the time I came along. . I think that&s why I always feel a step behind. I was*une'pected. +So. . +Anne .illigrew. $eal=/ . +4hy&s that=/ +9ecause she was a strong woman. +-kay./ %% slid off of the bed and down onto the floor.endal.y oldest brother is in his late twenties. It wasn&t long before .illigrew believed that it was the 5reek gods who gave women the power and will to write./ said .+I&d like to think there is. setting her folder and her book in front of her. but I know it&s about this author at least./ +It was./ said %%. She wasn&t used to someone wanting to get to know more about her than what she presented. She leaned her back up against the comforter. +I don&t want to tell you everything at once. bumping her shoulder as she settled into position. And even though men adored her poetry. +That&s fair. +7ike what=/ %% asked./ +I think you&ll like .illigrew was not only proud to be a writer. trying to distract herself from the scent of . See how she says. I mean. +8ight there=/ +. who&s the pop 1ui3 on=/ she asked. -ne of my favorites./ %% cleared her throat./ +4hy is it a secret=/ . but she loved every minute of it./ +8eally= She&s ama3ing. . +7ike the fact that I&m the youngest in my family. I don&t know what poem the 1ui3 is going to be on. you reveal something to me about yourself that I don&t know.endal sat down ne't to her. She was more than happy to play along. +I don&t know. I had to do and learn a lot on my own. and my brothers either didn&t have or didn&t want to make the time to play with me or be there for me. She wasn&t used to this kind of attention./ +7ook here. It was flattering.endal&s perfume./ she said. +It was . See. and my other brother is twentyfive. +It&s a secret. +7ike*/ . but didn&t bless them with the opportunity to be recogni3ed. @my numbers they admired.endal leaned closer to %% and whispered playfully. really young. +9ecause I was an afterthought./ +9ut that&s not fair.illigrew./ +So*what else=/ .endal considered the words on the page./ %% smiled mischievously. after a moment.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. she wasn&t accepted as a real writer because she was a woman.y <erses 4ere .endal thought for a moment./ she said./ +I don&t even know who she is.
or at least I wouldn&t have wanted to for fear of persecution. ' /elieved in me. The shallow dread ' left /ehind./ She slid the journal over to . a life9long lesson ' am normal after all.endal read out loud.unfortunate that the very same people.endal shook her head.ost of her work was discovered much later on. +This e'plains it better than I can./ +4hat did it feel like. She licked her thumb. ' loo6ed inside and saw myself. and paged through it until she found what she&d been looking for./ . +I wouldn&t have been able to come out back then. Beyond the tears. !ree at last. +I can&t imagine what it must have been like.endal. 0ourage. She disappeared for a bit. as if she was the one whose freedom of e'pression had been so rudely denied. +$o most of her poems talk about the struggle of being a woman in those times=/ +I&d say so./ . This /oulder that ' was a/le to push aside./ +I would have never survived. men in this case./ said %%. . *ith this gesture you taught./ %% closed the book in front of them. Having the strength to stand. she refused to compromise herself or her art. Instead. #elease. (ride. #aising my head high./ . and then stopped. who took it willingly./ +To be out. +So many restrictions*women not being able to be who they really were./ +4hat did she do about it=/ +4ell. #elief from my shoulders. without hesitation ' see clear s6ies. +2ere. . who helped circulate her writing also ended up taking credit for it. )eaving me sta/le. . And being closeted is the worst thing in the world.endal slumped back against the bed. she dug her hand into her backpack and retrieved the tattered journal that . even though she kept writing for the rest of her life.endal asked. )oo6ing past the fear in my eyes. with the sensation That ' have nothing to hide./ . She read the rest of the poem in silence.ou gave me your hand without thought. +when you came out= 2ow did it feel to finally be able to tell people=/ %% opened her mouth to e'plain. !reedom. for obvious reasons.endal had seen before.
but.rs. +0lass. and how her mother had always wanted a daughter who was just . She&d been thinking of her relationship with her mother. were overshadowed by the work of someone else. hunting for another poem when %% pulled it gently from her hands. %% knew. 0lark gave %% an encouraging nod. I bet you wrote about @wild nights& somewhere in here. It&s like $ickinson./ +It&s not like $ickinson. 0lark cleared her throat.y writing hardly compares to with hers. She knew even before the simple white sheet of paper with the title of her poem in big.rs. however. And there wasn&t anything she could do about it. turned out to be today. The chatter ceased. +I forgot about that part. +It&s not even close.rs. at the same time. . It was her obligatory signal that she was about to start class. this was a huge compliment because it meant that ./ . +4hat=/ +>ou owe me a secret. . like many of her previous free writing efforts. Students were to use the last fifteen minutes to write whatever popped into their heads. and she was hit with the urge to run to the bathroom.endal&s eyes grew as she finished reading the last line of the poem. And at that moment. This poem had flown effortlessly from her pen as if by its own will. 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. )sually. . a short story. so impressed in fact that she wanted to share the work with the rest of the class. a journal entry or a poem.. As soon as the class was seated. It didn&t matter. 2er stomach curled itself up into a ball. She began flipping through the journal. you know that= >ou pour everything.rs. 0lark surprised the class by handing out copies of someone&s work from a previous assignment./ CHAPTER ) %%&s creative writing class was going to end up giving her an ulcer or worse. 0lark. That day./ (ree writing was done before the close of every class. She hoped that she&d be able to keep flying just under the radar. And %% had written a poem. And all eyes were focused at the front of the room. today I would like to start off by discussing a poem that was handed in last (riday as part of your free writing assignment./ +0ome on. 9efore %% could escape the claustrophobic classroom walls. +>ou are an ama3ing writer. They were free to write whatever they wanted. remember=/ +-h. right. It wasn&t just a few scribbled lines though.endal. %% dreaded the day that her work would be shared with the class. It soon became apparent that %% could fly under the radar for only so long./ said %%. She was one of a kind. . #veryone sat up straight. -n occasion.endal laughed. bold letters written at the top landed on her desk. the one that had provoked countless nightmares in which %% awoke from a dead sleep drenched in sweat with her heart racing. possibly even a nervous breakdown. every emotion into words so it&s like I&m right there e'periencing it with you. turning in assignments that made a positive impression on .rs./ said . 0lark was impressed. whether it was the beginning of a novel.
rs.rs. did it=/ +6o. It deserves to be shared with the class. 0lark would be wondering where she&d gone. the building for #nglish classes.rs. %% was the e'act opposite. %% felt as though she was under a microscope. She&d written the first line on a whim. shuffling through papers on her desk. +%%. She knew . 0lark tapped the stack of papers at her desk. and her tongue stuck to her teeth. She looked down at the flimsy paper in her hands. 0lark&s nasal voice. And that wasn&t going to happen. It&s yours. She breathed heavily. -nly she didn&t head to the restroom. +And speak up a bit. her eyes darting around the room so fast that she felt di33y. +. she sat down on a nearby bench. Their relationship had suffered because of it. ma&am. she stood up and walked back inside to retrieve her belongings from the classroom.like her./ +This didn&t have anything to do with me asking you to read your poem in front of the class.rs. +Are you okay= 4here did you go=/ %% straightened up. She waited until students began to file out the front doors. 6ot now. +%%*are you okay=/ . and again no sound emerged. She trembled as she stood. 4hen the last couple of students trickled out./ %%&s legs were like two masses of jelly. because %% felt that she&d never lived up to her mother&s e'pectations. slinging her backpack over her shoulder./ %% managed. . The result was a poem that was far more personal than she&d originally intended. +this is by far one of the best poems I have read in a long time./ . She felt the sweat gather under her arms and the nausea swell in her stomach. 4ith all those eager eyes upon her. but no audible words came out. It&s yours to share. 0lark nodded. +I didn&t feel good. And the class deserves to hear it. 0lark advised./ +Are you feeling better now=/ +>es. 2er mouth was as dry as a stale piece of bread. who liked cheerleading and boys. but she also knew that if she went back to class she&d have to read the poem to everyone. She&d wanted a daughter who was girly./ . +I&m*I&m not feeling so well. +>ou might want to stand up. %% tiptoed in. and %% bolted from the room. not ever./ +>ou mean you didn&t read it or discuss it after I left=/ +It&s not my poem to read. 4hen her heartbeat returned to normal. hoping for some closure. 0lark. -f all the writing I go through day in and day out. Instead.rs. she ran through the front doors of the classroom building and burst out into the open air.rs.rs. 2er lips moved slowly. unable to move. taking in each breath slowly and releasing it more slowly than the last. %% sat contentedly on the wooden bench. 0lark asked. She tried to speak once more. would you stand up please and read your poem for the class=/ %% stared up at . signaling that her class had ended. 0lark was still in the room. Instead.ay I go to the restroom=/ . 2er heart sped up to a pace that the rest of her body couldn&t possibly match. She glanced from face to face in a panic. so I decided to leave class. mouthing the first line./ +9ut*what if I&m not e'actly comfortable with*what if I don&t want to share it=/ ./ +9ecause that would be a shame. and then cringed when she heard .rs. admiring the fresh landscaping along the stone path that led up to 2eath 2all.
rs. >ou&ve been out of it since this morning.endal has nothing to do with it. %% couldn&t concentrate. 2ow else do you e'pect to grow as a writer=/ +#mily $ickinson never shared her work.rs.endal was only a few hours away. To shine in the spotlight because I believe in your talent. 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. I just have a lot on my mind. +2ey.aybe she wanted it that way./ . 4atch and learn. and not because of the sweat. just as your basketball coach believes in you. and %% ruined a golden opportunity to teach the freshmen about what it took to start for the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets basketball team. +And $ickinson died without ever reali3ing her true potential. She understood. ladies. +I&ll read it on . The locker room afterwards was e'tra stuffy./ :ueenie peeled the headband from her forehead. 2er teacher&s words stopped %% at the threshold. )nlike %%. She missed easy shots from the elbow of the lane. +I&m just checking in. 0lark called after her./ %% muttered and walked toward the classroom door.rs./ %% reasoned.c9ride/ and +That&s how a starter practices. :ueenie./ +All right. )nderstand the correlation=/ %% nodded.onday. 9ut that didn&t mean she liked the idea any better./ +. +Touchy./ +I&m not doing this to be mean. +9ut I will ask you this*what good is writing. offering criticism of their work. 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./ . if you can&t share it with the world= "art of this class involves active participation. CHAPTER !* "ractice that afternoon felt like it lasted an eternity. +6ice job. as usual. +I&m doing this because I think you are a very talented writer. on the basketball court.rs. had another outstanding practice. +I&d hate to have to lower your grade simply because you refused to read your poem out loud.aybe she did. rela'. what good is art for that matter. and taking in criticism of your own.. say. 4atch and learn. 9ut you&re not as confident in your writing as you are. . 0lark rela'ed back in her chair and gently folded her arms across her chest. garnering such comments from 0oach 0ook as. 0lark had taken such an interest in her writing./ +.onday. +9e prepared to have another go at it on . I&m giving you an opportunity to take a last-second shot and win the game. 0oach 0ook had finally incorporated a ball into practice. +I can&t force you to read it./ :ueenie held up her hands in surrender. +I&m sorry. 0lark made a slight clicking tsk-tsk sound. +That&s something I would e'pect 0oach to say. %%. aren&t we=/ ./ +4here was your head today=/ :ueenie asked as soon as they reached the locker room./ %% replied dryly./ %% leaned against her locker./ +7ike cheerleading 1ueens and dates at coffee shops=/ +. And by participation I mean interacting with your classmates. She kept thinking about her writing class and the fact that her date with . 9ut is that what you want=/ %% said nothing./ she said. And she was flattered that . and removed her glasses from her face.
+#asy for you to say. She was already showered and dressed. +>ou&ve been a part of this team for three years./ :ueenie punched %% lightly in the arm. feeling even worse than she&d felt earlier that morning when she&d abandoned her writing class. +6o. +"eachy. +%enkins. a big part of it. playing with her i"hone./ %% acknowledged. %%./ +I know. :ueenie asked if %% wanted to join her for dinner in downtown 8ichmond. 0oach./ . do I=/ %% lowered her eyes to the ground. +$o I make myself clear=/ +>es./ %% said./ 0oach 0ook said. you&re not the only one who e'pects more from me./ Ignoring that comment. +$on&t worry about 0oach. And the point is that you played horribly today. %ust what I need. %% thought. >our non-date with the non-lesbian. >ou brought :ueenie to the team. 2ow do you e'pect to lead the team during a game when you can&t even be a leader during practice=/ %% opened her mouth to respond but 0oach 0ook cut her off./ she said./ %% arose from her chair and e'ited the office. right./ she said./ %% snapped. >ou are the floor general./ She barked from the doorway./ :ueenie said./ +$idn&t play well= That&s an understatement. as her feathered hair flapped in the bree3e coming from the fan on her desk. >ou better get your game in gear. At that moment she felt the urge to wink at 0oach 0ook just to see what she would say. +I didn&t play well at all. +$on&t do anything stupid. I&d hate to have to start a freshman in your place for our very first game of the season. +So I&m going to get straight to the point. %% remembered :ueenie&s story about $ean 2offman walking in./ Apparently. +I think it&s about time I charged up my father&s credit card.%% was about to confide in :ueenie about what had happened earlier during writing class when 0oach 0ook loudly cleared her throat behind them. 0oach is like your best friend now./ +>ou can be such a jerk with them. And you two are my senior captains. +5ood. sitting on a locker room bench. +Says you. carrying a rose. I don&t have to remind you of what it takes to be a starter for this team. -nce in the confines of her office./ +I&m busy tonight. I don&t start players who perform like that. +They just paid the last balance off earlier this week. +>ou know me. 0oach 0ook closed the door tightly behind them. %%. So sorry I can&t be a fly on the wall for that one. I don&t like to kid around when it comes to basketball. 0oach./ %% felt 0oach 0ook&s eyes 3ero in on her. +#verything okay=/ :ueenie asked. %% thought. who stifled a laugh. 0oach./ +>ou are the starting point guard.ay I see you for a moment=/ %% cast her eyes at :ueenie. +I e'pect more from you. +. remember=/ +-h. I need you to play with confidence. +I hope that you get over whatever was ailing you today and come ready to play tomorrow./ she replied.
It was the way the members of the cheerleading s1uad sealed all of their most sacred promises and secrets. stomach-first. +So*what are you going to do if she makes a pass at you=/ 0hristine asked still staring at the pages of her maga3ine. and./ She sneaked a look at the clock on her dresser./ +>ou do./ 0hristine held out her pinky. +0hristine. a slimming red graphic T-shirt. +0an I go now= I&m going to be late. +(ine. that&s gross. She stood up and grabbed . She casually flipped through the pages of one of her many maga3ines as . 4hy do I have to promise=/ +9ecause I&m asking you to. linking her pinky with 0hristine&s. as a result. +I promise. +(or the umpteenth time.endal spun around.yan&s benefit. it&s the truth. and a matching red hooded sweatshirt. I&m just asking.endal stood in front of the floor-length mirror. it had taken much longer than she&d anticipated to pick out an outfit. She wanted to go to The Spot./ +8ight. +4hat&s wrong with what I&m wearing=/ .yan as friends.endal by the arms.endal couldn&t help smiling at the thought of %% flirting with her. she hadn&t been thinking of . +I can&t believe you are going to go with her./ +0reeped out= Isn&t that a bit dramatic=/ +6o. 9ut maybe you should wear something a little se'ier for . admiring her jeans. .endal.endal continued to scrutini3e her own appearance. she wasn&t a fan of the outfit ./ ./ . As my roommate. admiring her backside when 0hristine came into the room. I&d be creeped out.endal groaned. +I have no idea. +So how long is that poetry thing going to last again=/ .endal shrugged./ .endal ran her long fingers through her hair. thought . +"romise me you&ll be there tonight.endal asked. "ersonally. I&m only going to this party tonight with ./ 6ot again. pulling it back and swinging it forward. She&d been thinking of %%. +I thought I looked good./ 0hristine smiled wryly. She&d been over it a billion and one times with 0hristine./ ./ 0hristine shuddered as if the thought of another woman making a pass at her would make her severely ill. She stood facing the doorway. teammate and confidante.endal./ +4hy is it gross= It&s just one person finding another person attractive.endal said. It was as simple as that. 0learly./ +>ou wouldn&t be flattered at all=/ ./ +4hat=/ +"romise me you&ll come to the party tonight. She&d decided on a pair of hip-hugger jeans. +4hy would you even ask that=/ +I don&t know. 0hristine flopped down on top of her bed. wondering about her outfit. I&ve never been to one before. She wanted to try something different. +>ou&re wearing that=/ 0hristine asked. 4hen she&d gotten dressed that evening./ +I already told you I&d be there. +(lattered= .%%% ./ She went back to studying herself in the mirror.endal had chosen. mulling over which way accented her features better.yan.
/ she said./ .endal asked. And that was the side she thought .endal whether %% was sitting or standing when she walked through the doors. She bent down as far as she could without falling over./ . you know=/ +>ou clean up pretty good. She continued to wipe them on her shorts and jumped every time someone entered the lounge. Then she checked her cell phone.endal had tried to call or send her a te't. it couldn&t get much worse. I never know when I&ll be hit with something inspiring. It had been 1uite the dilemma whether to use gel in her hair or wear a baseball cap. I think. In the end. +8ight. but resisted./ CHAPTER ! %% sat down in a chair in the school lounge. admiring %%&s outfit. just in case . +>ou&re right. too.0hristine reluctantly stepped aside./ +4ow. licked her thumb and ran it over the mark. then the rest of the evening would go just as smoothly. It probably didn&t matter one way or another to . . +I was*uh*there was something on my shoe.endal&s purse and swung it over her shoulder. %% adjusted her shirt and picked up her backpack.endal said. 9ut considering the way her day had unfolded so far./ +#ver hear of a purse=/ . 9ut for some reason %% thought that if she gave a good impression right from the start./ she said. leaned over and tried to rub it out./ . %%&s palms had been sweaty all day. who started laughing. the doors swung open and in walked . %%&s head snapped up. Then she batted her eyes at . then slumped back in the chair and spread her legs wide. +I like you without a hat better. Then she stood up.endal enjoyed the most. 9ut she hadn&t. After reali3ing how ridiculous she looked.endal said. >ou look ama3ing. she sat down again. -nce the words left her lips./ She snatched the purse back from %%&s hands. +>ou ready=/ +$o you take that thing everywhere=/ . +0an you imagine me carrying one of those=/ %% took . %% noticed a black mark near the heel of her shoe.endal./ She had the sudden urge to reach out and touch %%&s hair. The baby blue polo shirt she&d chosen to wear was tucked in just so./ %% blurted out. +That&s e'actly what I thought you were doing. and she&d even ironed it before putting it on. +There&s something you don&t see every day. as well. +9ut don&t do anything I wouldn&t do. she reali3ed what she&d said. she&d decided that by not wearing a hat she would be showing off her softer side./ she said.endal. +5o ahead. she stood up again and leaned strategically against the chair. After a minute. silently cursing herself for sounding so stupid. +>ou look ridiculous.endal smiled. %% shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her cargo shorts and studied her fresh white pair of Adidas sneakers for scuffs. pointing at %%&s backside. pointing at the backpack. +I keep some of my favorite books in here. And I like to carry my journal with me. She 1uickly stood up straight. +4hat= This=/ %% held the backpack in front of her. +I mean*you look nice and everything. She crossed her legs. At that moment. and wiped her hand on the back of her shorts.endal held up her small white bag sprinkled with red polka dots.
+7et&s just say that everything today that could have gone wrong did go wrong. giving off a sensation she hadn&t recalled ever feeling before. but .endal. . +6ow you&ve sparked my curiosity. +)neventful. +I don&t know. Their hands closed on top of one another&s and remained clasped longer than they needed to be. too. +0hristine doesn&t know you. and laughed. A roving waitress appeared./ %% struggled to e'plain.endal with their tapestry of words while %% sat 1uietly at their table. 9ut suddenly I feel a lot better. and %% assumed that .endal responded blandly. The looks didn&t bother %%. +I have no athletic ability whatsoever. let alone appearing to enjoy one another&s company.endal asked. The last thing she wanted was a bunch of talented poets who lacked stage fright to impress . +2ow was your day=/ %% asked./ %% said.endal said./ +4hat did she say= . She&d grown accustomed to the glares and stares she and :ueenie often garnered whenever they were out in public together. 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. +4hat time is the poetry slam=/ . afraid her e'pression would reveal everything she&d been feeling lately. Several students crossed their path./ said . They talked about anything and everything they could./ . She reached for the doorknob. It wasn&t often that a cheerleader and a member of the girl&s basketball team were seen walking anywhere together at Sampson Academy.endal laughed nervously.endal had grabbed it first.endal much./ . 2er hand still burned from %%&s touch. with %% directly on her heels. and neither of them held back. unsure of how to respond./ %% said. the more confused she&d became over how another girl could make her feel this way. She recalled 0hristine&s comment about being hit on by a woman.endal flashed %% a knowing smile. +-nce./ +./ %% nonchalantly kicked the curb as they stepped up onto the sidewalk. +>ours=/ +>ou don&t want to know.endal had grown used to people looking at her simply because she was beautiful./ . hoping the stage would remain empty as long as possible./ . She walked into the coffee shop in a ha3e. and both %% and ./ +She doesn&t like me very much.endal confessed.They walked side by side across the 1uad to the edge of the campus. some staring at them in wonderment. The more she thought about it. genuinely interested. +I was*I wanted to get the door for you. either. lingering on the sidewalk as the night wrapped itself around them. I&m glad you asked me to come with you tonight. does she=/ They were in front of the coffee shop now.ake sure to carry a can of mace=/ +6ot 1uite. smiling.endal ordered hot chocolate before embarking on a spirited conversation that carried on effortlessly over the ne't couple of hours. at a secluded table that offered a full view of the stage in the back of the room. during a tryout for the IF-yard dash. and then looked away. They sat in the corner near the window./ . +I wouldn&t worry about it.e. That&s all. They didn&t seem to bother .
I became that. people who know me as I am now don&t believe that it&s me. and my hair was long.%% laughed. +I didn&t know. clearly offended./ +>ou=/ %% asked skeptically. So what if I&m popular= So what if I was homecoming 1ueen last year= It means nothing to me./ +4ow. I wore make-up./ ./ +>ou have pictures=/ +Sure do./ %% offered. I&ll probably go off to college and fit the same mold as I did in high school. +I&m still playing the same role now. +>ou&re joking./ +I&m 1uite serious actually. and tried to fit in. It was tough e'plaining that I was the same person inside that I had always been. I have to see those pictures. the real me. what about you= I can&t believe you were in a beauty pageant./ +4as that hard=/ +Incredibly.endal sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling./ +Same= 2ow=/ +"ersonality wise. I admire you so much because you know who you are and you know what you want out of life. not the younger me that was insecure and confused. And it&s sad that after three years I don&t feel like I&ve changed at all. I have no idea who I am. And because I knew that everyone thought that./ +6o. +$id you win=/ +I didn&t even come close. I was very uncomfortable in my own skin.y mom had one framed and it&s still sitting on the fireplace mantle at home./ +9ut you are changing. 9ut forget about me./ ./ %% recalled the day of the pageant. It came down past my shoulders./ +>ou said you felt uncomfortable in your own skin= Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in mine that I wish I could be someone completely different for a day just to see how it would feel. +4hat*you think I have it easy=/ . ./ +9efore I met you. +It was probably the hardest thing I&ve had to do in my life so far. +I&m so sick of everyone thinking that just because I have a pretty face that I must have it easy in life./ +I didn&t mean to*/ +4hen I first came here. I played the role. +It was awkward to say the least. "eople who are closed-minded are the ones who don&t change. how she&d been dressed in a nice gown and felt so out of place. It was so embarrassing./ +$id you look that different=/ +Totally different./ ./ +I know what that&s like. I was just like her. It&s like she&s holding on to something I used to be./ . you don&t. +I told them after my sophomore year at Sampson. I bet she&ll be the same person in college as she is now.endal continued. 9ut back then I acted different./ +I&m sorry. I panicked and ran off stage. And when I show them the pictures. I want you to know me as I am now./ said %% honestly. 7ook at 0hristine. +everyone assumed that I was this pretty girl with no brains./ %% professed. >ou&re so open and willing to put yourself out there. +There&s so much more to you. I played the pretty girl who wasn&t smart. I&m the same. 4hen it came to the talent portion./ +$o your parents know about you=/ +>ou mean*do they know that I&m gay=/ %% licked her lips.endal straightened up.endal shifted in her chair and placed both hands face down on the coffee table in disbelief.
/ +I know a place. It&s (riday night./ +$on&t you want to stay and watch the poetry slam=/ +I&d rather help you instead. . and then decided to just let everything spill out all at once. then she&s going to lower my grade. >ou&re not only incredibly beautiful. you&re kind. +>ou think I&m smart=/ . -f all the poems in her journal.endal had to choose that one. you&re open-minded and you&re a free spirit./ %ust before they left the coffee shop.endal&s face that she reali3ed what she&d said./ +>ou don&t owe me anything. +I think you&re smarter than you reali3e./ It was only after %% saw the grateful e'pression on . almost taking her by the hand.endal asked. looking around. if you&ll let me.endal motioned to the journal and handed it back to %%. +#mily $ickinson would be impressed. I need someplace private. I&ve never told anyone that before./ %% wasn&t about to argue. She was supposed to te't 0hristine. and if I don&t read it.endal said adamantly. 6ow it&s time for me to show you mine./ %% paused. you owe me a poem./ ./ . +>ou&ve really opened my eyes to poetry in such a way that I actually enjoy it./ %% told her./ +4hat are you going to do=/ +I don&t know. you&re smart./ +4hat if I helped you=/ . The coffee shop was packed with people getting ready to participate in the poetry slam. +2ow=/ +>ou can practice with me. so that makes it a secret.+>ou aren&t anything like her. . 2ow am I going to get over a lifetime of stage fright in only two days=/ +4e&ll start now. +-kay. There are so many things about you that ama3e me.onday.endal glanced at her cell phone. Things you don&t give yourself enough credit for. then meet up with her at the soccer party. +9ut where can we go= I don&t want to go to back to my dorm or yours./ +Speaking of $ickinson. who flipped it open with the bright-eyed anticipation of a kid on 0hristmas morning. +2ow do you figure that=/ +I told you a secret./ +4hich was*/ +4hich was about how I feel like I haven&t changed at all.endal stood up and tugged %%. +6ot here./ %% considered the offer. only I don&t want to read it because of my stage fright issue. >ou showed me your favorite hangout.ay I about=/ . I feel like I owe you or something./ +Still*I&d like to help you if I can. +That&s the poem that I submitted in writing class that my teacher wants me to read out loud because she likes it so much. +0ome on. 9ut here she was with %% instead./ +I have to do this by .endal asked./ she agreed.endal.endal./ . That is./ %% panicked. %% rolled her eyes.endal asked./ said .other . just to be sure. She fished out her journal from her backpack and slid it across the table to . . >ou can read your poem out loud in front of me. +Then let&s go someplace else. +4hat&s . +4hat&s wrong=/ +It&s nothing. after skimming through the pages.
+I wasted thirty bucks on this tie./ said . This girl is cra3y. . 9ut she clearly was distracted./ %ason offered. sounding frustrated. She ditched an invite-only soccer party. and stood up instantly to look out the window./ %ason had heard enough. +7et me try and call her. a dark-blue button-down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. +It&s after ten and she&s not here yet. +If you don&t come tonight. +4hy don&t you go find out.endal. aside from winter formal. . +>ou&ve got issues.yan. Apparently.yan shot back./ +2ow late was that poetry thing supposed to go=/ . 2e stood up./ . he had gotten all dressed up for nothing. I&m the best looking guy on campus./ he said.yan to leave so he could get back to kissing his girlfriend. There were fresh cut roses in vases in every room. 2e was still sitting on the couch./ he said. +I&ll go wait for her on the front steps. 7et&s go. +6o way./ she whispered under her breath./ said 0hristine. and she scrolled through her te't messages on her i"hone. +6ever mind./ %%% 0hristine was busy making out with %ason in the dark when .4ithout saying a word./ 2e turned to 0hristine. who finally took the hint. +She hasn&t responded to any of my te'ts./ 0hristine peeled herself away from %ason.yan that meant wearing black slacks. 9ut before she could hit the +send/ button.yan pressed. +I don&t know where she is. %ason turned the light off and resumed his position ne't to 0hristine on the couch. who now glared at . %ason plucked it from her hands and tossed it on the bed.yan. She smiled eagerly at %%. waiting for . The soccer wing was lit up with white lights for e'tra ambiance./ 2e raised an eyebrow at . +She&s probably on her way here right now. +Seriously. +4hat did you say=/ %ason asked. +4ho does that=/ The invite-only soccer party was considered the highlight of the fall semester. +0ome on. +4ould you two rela'= If she wants to come. I&ll tell the whole school that you&re a lesbian./ said 0hristine. That&s how this whole thing was supposed to turn out. +She should be here with me. I swearJ if she doesn&t come tonight. and closed the door behind him. dude=/ he grumbled. +I thought you said she was coming tonight. impatiently. she&ll come. and all of the soccer guys got dressed up in their best attire. She&s been acting so strange lately.endal slid her cell phone back into her a purse. (or .yan. she&s going to regret it. as he nudged ./ +I&ve got issues=/ . 4hat gives=/ 0hristine held up her hands. as she held up her i"hone.yan out of the room. +I don&t know.yan said miserably.yan walked right into the dorm room and flipped on the light./ +I&m going to regret it./ .
dining hall. 9ut that never worked either. %% and . See./ +8eally= I never imagined you as the type of girl who could rough it.endal sighed. 9ut as soon as we were finished with classes for the day and walked outside. the scorers& bo' was supported by tall beams enclosed with a tarp tied around them on three sides.endal were able to sneak under the scorers& bo' through the bleachers. . +It was fun at the time./ +That&s pretty clever. we were fair game.endal told her. illuminating the spot. They ducked their heads and crouched along to the opposite end of the bleachers where the scorers& bo' was attached. So. I didn&t want that happening to me. In the middle of the blanket./ . +0hristine told me that they grabbed her coming out of the library late one night. and grab us. #specially the time she was forced to carry a ball everywhere she went across campus. 6o one ever found me here. She said it was the most disgusting thing she ever had to do in her entire life. and were completely hidden by the tarp. as if she were reminiscing about a childhood tree house. come on. They couldn&t keep us from going to class either.endal argued. urging %% to follow. unfolded and spread it out./ . I had all my routes mapped carefully. +I found this spot during my freshman year. They huddled together. and if any of the older players saw her without the ball then she was forced to do sprints. And follow she did./ . wait until we came out. took her to the soccer dorm and made her do all of their laundry. +0ome here often=/ %% asked./ +-h. they&d watch us go into some place. >es. keeping it off the grass so that it wouldn&t get wet. the rule was that they couldn&t grab us in public places with teachers and adults around. appearing as one shadow instead of two in the dim street lighting that led their way./ She sat down on the blanket and crossed her legs. with . "erched up high on a platform. even though she already knew the answer. I&d just sit in the dining hall until they left or I&d e'it out the side door. She turned it on./ +So you hid here=/ +(or practically the entire spring semester of school. 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.endal grabbed the blanket. in the spring after I had made the cheerleading s1uad. push-ups and sit-ups on the spot.endal crept under the bleachers. I even slept out here once or twice.endal left the coffee shop./ she said. eyeing the flashlight. A worn wool blanket had been shoved in between the metal bars.endal waved her hand nonchalantly in the air. she&d gone through ha3ing.CHAPTER !! %% and ./ said %%. and classroom buildings. +I&d come here right after eating at the dining hall./ +I&m full of surprises. I was so scared every time I walked across campus. the side to the bleachers being left open. That included the library. +>ou&re telling me that you weren&t ha3ed as a freshman on the basketball team=/ %% pondered the 1uestion. . +This hiding spot was so good. #veryone on the team was pulling these wild and cra3y pranks on the new girls. .endal leading the way across the school campus to the soccer field. and after classes to read or do homework. %% sat down beside her. she&d stuffed a flashlight. +)ntil it gets too cold. +$oesn&t sound like fun to me./ +I can&t believe you went through all that just to be a part of the cheerleading s1uad./ .
/ +4e can do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.endal replied. or what=/ %% blinked twice. +4hy=/ +4ell. She took out her journal and marked the page that contained the poem. +9ut at least it wasn&t so bad that I had to find a hiding spot./ ./ %% pointed to the poem as she spoke. It is./ . +I feel stupid. I wouldn&t have done that if anyone else had been around. +Are we going to talk about your poem./ +2ow come=/ +9ecause there&s no getting around that. I&m just trying to help here. +>ou aren&t at all what I thought you were. as if she suddenly remembered the reason why they were there in the first place./ said %%. opened her mouth wide and said./ +>es./ +So how does revealing something personal make you feel=/ +4hat are you. Are you afraid to share it because it&s personal=/ +That&s a ridiculous 1uestion./ +>eah. I&m hoping it&s a good thing. I don&t. I&ll feel comfortable enough to read this. relieved to be out of the spotlight./ +4hy not= >ou read a couple of lines from #mily $ickinson out loud when we first met./ +Trust me./ . "oetry is personal. +2ey./ %% admitted./ +5ood./ +6o. It&s twice as hard reading my own stuff. I&m being honest. +7et&s talk about the poem. >ou know that. a nervous habit over which she&d little control.endal played with her fingers. 0an&t we just talk instead=/ +Talk about what=/ +I don&t know*maybe if I talk for a little bit. And that was $ickinson&s poem./ . It has to be./ %% reluctantly stood up and walked about five feet away. you got me there. but that was different.+-kay. +9ecause I was trying to make a point./ +I do not. +It&s obvious you have some insecurity about sharing something personal about yourself. because you&re putting your emotions out there whenever you write a poem. +2ow am I supposed to do this again=/ +Stand up over there. +>ou keep saying that.endal glowered at her. She cleared her throat. +I just feel incredibly nervous for some reason./ +4hat is holding you back=/ +I don&t know*the fear of rejection from the crowd=/ %% knew she sounded like a bratty five-year-old at that moment./ +4hy=/ %%&s shoulders slumped forward./ +4hat do you mean you can&t=/ +I can&t*I can&t read it. you do./ %% gladly rejoined . +And read it to me as if you were in class. my therapist=/ %% snorted.endal ordered. I&m honest and upfront about myself. and then laughed because she wasn&t able to keep a straight face. but she didn&t care. +I can&t. It&s not about revealing something personal about myself./ .endal on the blanket. That&s not the problem. for starters.endal said./ . what are you so nervous about= >our writing is good.
+I&ve got to get back to the dorm. +I never thought of it that way./ . And it only made . She reached for %%&s hands and tugged them from her face.endal fall for her even more. eyes that made ./ +Argh./ 4hen %% looked up. . 2ow could someone who hardly knew her believe in her so deeply= It wasn&t supposed to happen that way.onday./ +9ut that&s ridiculous. and gave %% one in return. 2ow would she ever be able to e'plain why she&d ditched the soccer party to hang out with %%= They awkwardly parted ways.endal a genuine and heartfelt smile. she saw . It was the simplest of phrases./ +It&s the same principal. +9ecause I like what I&ve learned about you so far. not her coach./ CHAPTER !" Saturday flew by in a blur. In her imagination . Some people may not respond in the best way.endal maintained. or even her parents. They&d sat there and talked until close to one in the morning when . say those words to her before. but I bet most people will. and yet it carried so much weight.+Then what is it= Insecurity about your writing=/ +9ingo.endal&s cell phone rang. She dreaded seeing 0hristine and the conversation she knew would ensue. The call somehow catapulted them both back to reality. e'posed. . as . +4hy do you believe in me= >ou don&t even know me that well. %% had never heard anybody./ %% said. and fell over on her back. In her version %% had asked her to stay a few minutes longer.endal took it. neither wanting to leave or knowing how to end the evening.endal had seen %% without her confident grin.endal reassured her. +And you make it hard not to./ . They nestled gently against each other on the blanket as . 7ook how comfortable you are with yourself now. %% was vulnerable. with regret.endal stared longingly into %%&s baby blue eyes.endal laid her hand over %%&s . and spoke through her fingers.endal&s generous green eyes peering down at her.endal only answered it because she knew it was 0hristine. That was it. startling them both./ +4ow. It&s the same with your writing. +I&m never going to be able to do this by . %% had offered . And it can&t be any more difficult than coming out to people. That was how the night had ended./ +>es. you will. +>our writing is ama3ing. but it sounds like most people in your life have been supportive. It was trust without reason and it didn&t make any sense./ said %% as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. without her carefree attitude or charismatic charm./ It was the first time ./ %% hid her face with her hands.endal weak in the knees if she . wondering where in the world she was. +4hy do you believe in me so easily=/ %% repeated. you still did it./ . #ven though you maybe had a fear of rejection.endal kept replaying her night under the scorers& bo' with %% over and over again. Some people may not like it./ . +I believe in you. +4hy=/ %% asked.endal had dared to picture a different ending. It confused her to the core.endal had said. +I&m more afraid of what people are going to think than anything else.
+4e were talking at the coffee shop. +7et&s wait until we get to the track./ . +I need to work out./ 0hristine sang. getting ready to walk a few laps around the track. 0hristine had made sure to walk a step and a half in front of ./ she said. and then %% had this problem she needed help with. +0an you*slow down* please=/ . and yet oddly comforting.endal were in the girls& locker room at the athletic center. >our roommate= >our best friend since freshman year= -r did you forget that as easily as you lost track of time=/ ./ 9y the look on 0hristine&s face. She and .endal begged. and . +I just lost track of time. +I&m waiting. this was only the second time she&d ever been in the athletic center since her freshman year. And it stuck with her every minute of every hour. It had been the same when they&d walked from the dorm to the athletic center.endal had to beg 0hristine all morning to talk to her. I wanted to help her out. +(ine.endal didn&t know how to e'plain it./ 4orking out was not something . So it was perfectly all right to leave me hanging instead. +-kay*I know*you&re mad.endal enjoyed and never did on a regular basis.endal found herself pouting. She needed a word.endal didn&t know what to say. still tapping. and since she&d helped me with my 4omen&s 7iterature class. she stood up and stretched. a brief interlude until she and %% would meet again.e. Saturday might as well have been a pause. irritating.endal huffed. and probably to make her suffer. 6othing she did or said could distract her from her thoughts. She&d even dreamt about it the following night. +>ou didn&t want to leave her hanging= 8ight. .endal found the tapping distracting. +I am way beyond mad. to give it a name so that she could understand it better. +. yet . 4hen she reali3ed that it wasn&t real. The kiss that followed was unlike anything she&d ever e'perienced*the softness of %%&s lips.endal inhaled a few 1uick breaths. to let her e'plain. 4hen their pace slowed. with . .endal jogging behind her to keep up./ 0hristine spat. +>ou&re blowing this out of proportion. The first time was during the tour of the campus when she&d visited. That thought alone frightened her deeply.endal couldn&t concentrate on what she was saying because she was so focused on keeping up with 0hristine. In fact./ . e'cept. and only her imagination./ They walked briskly. I didn&t want to just leave her hanging.endal&s heart had been racing and she didn&t know whether she wanted to run./ +That&s it=/ 0hristine asked in ama3ement.endal organi3ed her thoughts. ./ +7eave her hanging=/ 0hristine stopped walking. 0hristine reluctantly obliged. +That&s your big e'planation=/ +It&s the honest truth. before transferring to Sampson./ she said as genuinely as possible. . the gentleness of her touch.ad=/ 0hristine practically shouted. tapping her fingernails loudly against a locker. "outing= She was actually pouting= It seemed so absurd. .stared at them long enough. a definition to describe the feeling. +4ell*/ 0hristine said. 0hristine&s only response was. scream or wrap herself around %% like a snake. . +I&m really sorry. She felt as if she were losing whatever part of herself she thought she had control of. >ou can come if you want to. She burst from the locker room. already out of breath as they made their way around the track. . -nce she finished tying her sneakers.endal so that she didn&t have to talk to her. it was obviously the wrong thing to say. or maybe so she could understand why %% was making her feel this way.
endal had said./ 0hristine shouted again.endal asked. and they&re starting to talk. or if she was just really upset by what .endal felt amused./ 0hristine smacked her lips together and appeared to swallow a scream./ She leaned in and whispered. +It&s the truth. ./ 0hristine told her.+./ 0hristine shouted. +>ou are infuriating.endal. offering a full view of the courts below./ She narrowed her eyes and pointed her sharp chin and added./ +Some people on the s1uad don&t think you care about your reputation anymore.endal had signed a contract without reading the fine print. They think you&ve lost your devotion and interest in the s1uad. she had her frustrations.endal. . She spotted %%. +4hat are we./ +Talk about what=/ +>ou know. It was supposed to be a secret. noted where she was. you might as well kiss the s1uad goodbye. )nless you wake up and snap out of this phase you&re in. >ou went back on a sacred oath. The raised track was built on the second level of the athletic center. and continued with her rant. nor bearing the school colors. They turned to each other and giggled./ It was as if . >es. +4hat does this mean=/ +>ou stood up a member of the s1uad./ The color instantly drained from . +And you know what that means.endal&s face. but your priorities are all messed up. +>ou know how these things go down. +>ou can&t go back on a pinky swear. it&s assumed that you are hanging around her for a reason. +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ +#veryone knows who you&ve been hanging out with lately. That didn&t mean she didn&t want to be a part of it anymore. she had her complaints. +>ou have no idea what this means./ +They think I&m gay=/ 0hristine shrugged. in first grade=/ she asked. do you=/ +4hat are you talking about=/ ./ +Sacred oath=/ +The pinky swear. 0hristine cast icy eyes at them. 9ut I wanted to tell you because I thought you should know. and yes. #ither way. I don&t know. you pinky swore with me.endal screamed. "eople are starting to wonder about you. She knew she hadn&t e'actly been singing the praises of the cheerleading s1uad lately. and . a little too loudly./ +$o I have to spell it out for you= 4hen you start hanging around a girl who&s gay. bored and impatient with way the conversation was heading. They didn&t want you to know. 2er face contorted./ . +I just don&t see what the big deal is. +4hat do you e'pect=/ +9ut I&m not gay. +$o you really think I&m the only one who&s noticed=/ 2er voice sounded smug.endal wondered if she were e'periencing some severe gastric pain.endal flung her hands to her hips. That&s what it means./ 0hristine screamed. +I don&t know what&s going on with you lately./ +6o. Two other girls walking the track had passed by at that moment. but that didn&t mean she wanted out. At that moment she noticed the women&s basketball team taking the court below. ./ She folded her arms evenly across her chest. and wondered if %% had been one of them. +That&s cra3y. +They are having a meeting./ . and then somehow shifted her eyes back to 0hristine&s frustrated face. She saw a few of the basketball players look up in her direction.
(or the past couple of years she&d been doing to others e'actly what she feared others would now do to her./ +4hich is*/ +4hich is that you stop hanging out with %%./ . and her membership in the most popular organi3ation on campus ultimately revoked by a single. She&d seen how these things had gone down. the most athletic. 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. by way of her K. no matter how good you were. prettiest. +I told them you&d be busy with tutoring. popular. %ust tell everyone you&ve been working hard studying./ She uncrossed her arms and reached for .endal&s hands. She felt her chest e'pand with panic.endal didn&t have much on her rMsumM as far as school activities went. nothing final. unsurprising. ./ +5et another one. cast aside. then you can come. 2er eyes instantly softened. And the thought of that was too overwhelming to entertain. be it academic or otherwise. Aside from being pretty and popular. 7ast year. and she&d been happy doing it. but if you skip that. she soon went astray and started hanging out with what the s1uad thought was the wrong crowd.endal shouldn&t have cared. She was dismissed. +It&s only going to be a discussion. you had no shot at making the s1uad. as if she were a freshman. I&ll vouch for you. It shouldn&t have mattered. the rest of the s1uad didn&t see her as being so promising and wholesome anymore. arguing with 0hristine over something so trivial. +4hen&s the meeting=/ .endal knew e'actly how these things went down. it did matter. as it sometimes happens.F 5"A and were part of some organi3ation. her involvement in the drama club.L 5"A. She had 3ero athletic ability. )nless you carried at least a K.endal had been lucky. 9ut. unanimous vote.endal felt small and shallow. +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. The s1uad was all she knew at Sampson. +Tomorrow night.. They went after only the most involved. 2er popularity outshined her 5"A and lack of involvement in campus activities. . at the school lounge. Suddenly. voted as to whether or not they were good enough to be on the cheerleading s1uad. ./ 0hristine said plainly. and smartest students on campus. and that %% is just your tutor and nothing more./ +4hat= She&s my tutor. that you still care about the s1uad and your reputation. The fact of the matter was that the cheerleading s1uad had a reputation to uphold. 9ut for some reason. 4hat would she be without it= 4ho would she be= She&d have to make all new friends. She&d have to start over. $on&t even mention what I said. 9ut she could fake a good split and leg lift any day. or you either for that matter. She&d seemed like such a promising prospect during her freshman year. (or some reason. Standing there in the athletic center. She&d judged people. one that she couldn&t put her finger on.endal asked. 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. She&d been the e'ception to the rule./ +>ou&ll vouch for me=/ +-n one condition. and her participation in student government activities./ 0hristine said. . and future networking possibilities that would serve them well only until the high school bubble burst. she did care. stuck-up bunch of girls with meaningless friendships.
2ow could she have missed them when :ueenie had poked her hard in the side to get her attention= She hadn&t cared then./ +Since when have I cared about rumors=/ +I&m not talking about you. %% could probably scribble out the alphabet. 6ot like a classroom of strangers.endal had stayed up practically all night together talking under the scorers& bo' at the soccer field. things on her mind. %% still hadn&t been able to get through the entire poem. There were other. 2er heart skipped a beat as she saw %% sprinting from one side of the gym to the other. :ueenie loved. don&t you think=/ +So what= 4hat&s your point=/ %% had seen .endal at all on Saturday. noting :ueenie&s smirking face. It was discouraging. to say the least. +8umors are starting to circulate. more important. :ueenie said. 9ut that wasn&t the same as reading it out loud to her class. +I&ll stop hanging out with %%. +. and assumed she was busy smoothing things over with her roommate. in 1uotes with her fingers. as :ueenie looked on in amusement. she might not like it so much.c0arthy. which wasn&t much at all. seeing as how she&d spent the greater part of the weekend practicing in her dorm room./ %% immediately regretted telling :ueenie how she and .endal glanced toward the basketball team again. and she didn&t care now. +>ou know how this school is a hub for gossip. :ueenie already knew everything there was to know about her. She hadn&t heard from . #very thing she&d written that %% had ever shared with her. I don&t. 7ike the fact that she had fewer than twenty-four hours until she had to read her poem in front of her entire class. +$on&t you think=/ +6o./ CHAPTER !# 9y Sunday evening. +That&s awesome./ . -nce she gets wind of the fact that people think she is batting for the other side now.y guess is that her cheerleader friends aren&t going to like it much either. I&m talking about T2# . %% paced nervously across the floor of her dorm room. :ueenie wouldn&t judge %%. %% had mustered up enough courage to read a few lines of her poem to :ueenie. +-kay./ :ueenie made sure to enclose her phrase. +. nor would she ever critici3e her work.y point is that it&s 1uite the coincidence that they were arguing so soon after your late night study session./ :ueenie said. Time was running out. 4hen %% had finished reading a few lines. They were involved in 1uite the heated discussion./ she said without looking away.endal and her roommate arguing. because %% wasn&t e'posing herself. study session.. and :ueenie would love it. In the meantime./ :ueenie let out a long-winded whistle. +4hat do you suppose they were arguing about=/ %% stopped pacing. +4ho are they and what are you referring to=/ +Those two cheerleaders./ and went back to charging more clothes online at her parents& e'pense.endal .
because in a way she knew :ueenie was right. >ou keep falling for girls you can&t have. +4hy are you saying these things=/ :ueenie shook her head. convincing herself that she wasn&t enamored with . +4hy= 9ecause you know I&m right=/ +6o. that&s the point. %%. The deal was sealed. She casually walked into the suite where :ueenie was .+I&m not playing this game with you right now./ +2ow=/ +9ecause you&ve been walking around in this di33y ha3e ever since. I&ll bet you a pi33a instead. +It isn&t a game. +This is reality./ +That&s absurd. +And you&re wrong about her./ +I bet you a hundred bucks she doesn&t show. :ueenie was the kind of person who thought she was right about everything and everyone. +I know you&re in love with her. And it&s about time you came back from the wonderful world of make believe. She&d been fooling herself for a few weeks now. and it&s never going to happen. I want you to get out this time before it&s too late. :ueenie shook it./ +She&s not like that. +>ou have a study date with her in an hour./ +(ine./ she confessed./ %% maintained. I hate watching you go through this./ :ueenie said./ %% warned. a lump forming in her throat. It was high time that she put :ueenie in her place. I&ve known since the first night you tutored her. %%. because neither of us has a hundred bucks and I won&t accept your parents& credit card. right=/ +8ight./ +Then what are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about the fact that you actually believe she could be in love with you.endal reali3es she can&t play with the lesbians any longer because of what the rest of the school might think.endal. -nce ./ said %%. %% e'tended her hand. when she was all %% could think about. 9ut you&re wrong this time./ +I appreciate what you&re saying./ :ueenie stood up./ +Am I=/ :ueenie checked the clock on her i"hone. really I do./ %% resisted the urge to argue. +>ou think so= And you&ve known her how long=/ +4hy are you doing this=/ %% asked. It was time to show her that she could be wrong just as easily as everyone else. +All right. she&s going to stop talking to you. the playful smirk gone from her face. +9ecause you never learn. It&s a fantasy./ %% said. she was carrying a pi33a in one hand and a si'-pack of "epsi in the other. +Are you happy now=/ +That&s not what I&m talking about. once she reali3es the weight of it. %%% 4hen %% returned to the dorm an hour and a half later. I&m in love with the girl./ 6ow this was a bet %% could afford.
She opened the door and saw . She was compassionate and charitable. and about little else. It was her life. aside from the fact that they both were on the cheerleading s1uad./ :ueenie burped./ +4hy would you have made a scene=/ +4ell./ They watched sitcom reruns for the rest of the night and nearly finished off the entire pi33a. mostly whether the characters they were watching on television were attractive or not. popped the top.ya sitting comfortably in a beanbag chair. +. watch out.endal. She said you were having a secret meeting about me because everyone had noticed how I&ve been acting lately. and added.sprawled out on the couch watching television. an open te'tbook in her lap. She cared about the s1uad wholeheartedly. and basically centered on schoolwork and cheerleading. and then knocked on . As far as your behavior./ +It was a secret meeting of sorts./ +She did. 4e know how upset you&ve been about not being able to . It was all she ever talked about. wouldn&t you make a scene if you were about to get kicked off the cheerleading s1uad=/ . wool socks and a Tshirt that asked +4hy are all the cool girls lesbians=/ :ueenie acknowledged her presence simply by repositioning herself on the couch so that there was room for two. asking for permission to sit down. +Sure. It wasn&t in anyone&s best interest to get in her way whenever cheerleading was concerned.ya was the captain of the cheerleading s1uad. a true humanitarian. which made her easy to talk to. have a seat. I thought . and sat down./ .ya burst out laughing. 9ut as sweet as she was.ya 9rooks. . And not once did :ueenie say. She motioned to the bed./ . +I told you so. and passed it over before taking one for herself. 9ut only because of how hard you&ve been working to get your grades up lately.ya was sweet and understanding. ./ . She handed the si'-pack to :ueenie. +I wasn&t e'pecting you. she knew how to play the game when it mattered. though.ya&s door. who released one can.ya said warmly. letting the sweetness of the soda dance on her tongue before she swallowed. surprised. . +0ome in. +I was actually going to come to address some things myself.ya said. And if anyone ever told her that cheerleading wasn&t a sport. I had a hunch 0hristine would let you in on it since she isn&t the best at keeping secrets. +I&m sure you heard about our little meeting last night.endal entered slowly and checked every corner of the room to make sure . avoiding soccer parties and such.endal. +6othing much. >ou know. but in no way were we planning on kicking you off the s1uad. +4hat are you watching=/ she asked. . %% took a long sip from the can in her hand.endal braced herself./ . but I didn&t want to make a scene at the meeting. +#'cuse me.ya was alone.endal replied evenly. She had little in common with . wearing a pair of bo'ers. and hanging out with certain people. Their conversations were few and far between./ CHAPTER !$ . +. They e'changed a few tidbits of conversation./ . %% set the pi33a bo' on the coffee table without saying a word. who said we were kicking you off the s1uad=/ +0hristine did. we have noticed.endal heard from beyond the peephole.
The point is that it doesn&t matter what you are. So when 0hristine said that if I wanted to continue to be on the s1uad and keep my friends./ +That&s it=/ .endal stood up.endal remembered a tall.et who=/ +%%. +#ver since I met her. And I try to stop the feelings. She might not have blatantly lied to her about the so-called secret meeting.ya&s brother at the homecoming parade last year. 0hristine seems to think */ +It seems that 0hristine has some personal issues to work out on her own. recalling meeting ./ +I don&t believe this./ She smiled./ . I&m thinking I should develop a course on tolerance for the whole s1uad. +$id you know that I have an older brother=/ +>es./ . Then I reali3ed I knew e'actly what to do. I&ve never met anyone like her before.endal hurried to e'plain. They sat down. +6o. +I don&t know. but if . it&s not a gay fraternity.endal was about to be kicked off the s1uad. at this point in my life. but the truth is that I don&t want them to stop. .endal cursed 0hristine under her breath./ . if I met someone. She pulled at her fingers and avoided . +$id you know he&s gay=/ +2e is=/ . then I had to stop spending time with %%. 4hy should it=/ +I don&t know. because why would I want to be part of a team that dictated who I could spend my time with.ya asked. or think I might want to ./ . It&s a regular fraternity. the thought has crossed my mind. are you trying to tell me that you are a lesbian=/ +4hat= 6o. unable to keep her feelings bottled up any longer. I&ve been all over the place.endal&s hand and guided her over to the bed. +9ecause of what 0hristine had led you to believe=/ +>es. It has straight members. I guess. because of %%. but she&d certainly implied that .endal nodded. silly.ya stood up./ +. a woman. +6ot that I am./ +4hat&s going on=/ . not that I know of. make it mandatory. +I mean. shape or form. +4hat do you think=/ +I think that&s a great idea.endal. too.ya&s eyes. +4e discussed ideas for the winter formal too./ ./ +. . And I know she&s a girl. The secrecy of the meeting had to do with the planning of the party./ .sociali3e as much. . or cared more about a reputation than it did about me=/ +So you came here to 1uit the s1uad=/ . .endal said 1uickly.ya&s book dropped from her lap./ +A gay one=/ . but that&s basically about it. +I need to figure out my feelings for %%.ya laughed. So I ask myself how another girl can make me feel this way. +0hristine had me thinking that you were going to kick me out for being gay./ . And he&s even in a fraternity. And white members.endal walked across the room./ . side by side. I didn&t know what to do.endal replied. +>es. and we wanted to throw you a party. handsome and muscular fellow who went to college in 9oston. 2e had seemed more like a ladies& man than a man&s man. and I won&t let anybody else do that for me or judge me in any way. in any way. took . And black members.
the words that were branded in her brain. and rested her finger on a single line. It soured more with the thought of what she&d agreed to do. %%% . #verything in her life had suddenly been turned upside down. She knew that poem. yet for some reason ./ +I might take you up on that. and had been since the first time she&d studied it.ya gave . I plan on having a little talk with her.endal felt that it was supposed to land on that poem. a perfect spot for organi3ing her thoughts. feeling more relieved than she could have hoped./ . closed her eyes.endal became afraid that %% would come looking for her after she&d skipped their tutoring session. the volume of poetry that once plagued her and gave her nightmares. 5etting a girl had never been this hard./ Although . as she sat beside . +If you ever need to talk more about this.ya. .endal didn&t know why she&d brought the body of work with her./ . It meant something. her stomach soured with the thought of what 0hristine had actually asked her to do.. 9ut as Saturday turned into Sunday. stretched her legs out on the tall blades of grass and withdrew her volume of #mily $ickinson. 9ut with .ya&s voice was enough to satisfy .c0arthy it seemed almost impossible. leaned up against the bark. the slight hint of wickedness in .endal headed for the door./ +5ood.endal found a beautiful weeping willow with a thick trunk. She flipped opened the book. And she couldn&t have cared less when he tracked her down in the .yan was lying facedown on his bed with a pillow over his head./ +And I underestimated 0hristine. 2er finger had landed on that page by chance. +>es. That would have been awkward.endal longed to have a little talk with 0hristine herself. especially if she&d burst into the room accusing everybody of plotting against her. everything is perfect. she saw the words of the poem before her. (or some reason she felt it might give her comfort. She paused in the threshold. After 0hristine had given her the ultimatum. She sat down. 9ut she regretted the fact that she&d decided not to meet %% in the library for their tutoring session. .endal was glad she&d decided not to go to the meeting after all.ya. #verything is more than okay. Then ./ she said. It was either #mily $ickinson&s fault or %%&s. ./ said . +I underestimated you. 4hen she opened her eyes. The spot under the scorers& bo' served its purpose for a couple of hours.endal thought about the poem.endal initially agreed not to see %%. She remembered that poem now.ya asked. just let me know. and maybe help her make sense out of everything she&d been feeling. turned and said.endal a slight hug and added. She hadn&t shown any interest in him that night at the soccer party when the two of them were left alone in a room. Somewhere along the road .endal . +In fact. and Sunday turned into Sunday evening. 4hat girl in her right mind would have the nerve to stand him up= It didn&t make any sense.endal couldn&t decide which one.endal&s appetite for revenge. And it made everything that she&d been feeling make sense. +$on&t worry. 2e had a pounding headache and a severely bruised ego. +Is everything okay=/ . She ended up going for a walk out on the edge of town where she was sure no one would find her. She hadn&t even sent her a simple te't to say she couldn&t make it. .
yan was determined to be one of the chosen. 5irls always listened to their closest friends when it came to dating guys.yan. #veryone at the formal voted for the perfect couple. he needed a new game plan. was just around the corner.endal would be his 1ueen. which left it looking gray. It just stood there. 4hat better way to get to . without water. And they hadn&t worked. the day she&d come to his room to accept the invite. the symbolic centerpiece of the 1uad. the school staged a big party on the 1uad the day the fountain water was turned back on. the fountain couldn&t go on living. It made no sense. the cement structure was depressing. In his mind*in his perfect plan*he would be the king and .endal better than she actually did. And the fountain sprang enthusiastically back to life.library to invite her to only one of the best and most e'clusive parties of the year. things that she&d thought . 2e had acted like such a fool. 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. 9ut in order to achieve that goal. rhyme nor reason.endal hanging around with over the past month.endal just might bend.endal&s tutor.endal&s mind about him. and with it came Sampson Academy&s famous winter formal. attained a status far higher than everyone else. the fountain had been shut off. It appeared to be a feasible plan of action. 9ut he had thought that that was the kind of guy .aybe she was one of those girls who always fell for the jerk= The guy who never called back. the girl on the basketball team. acted like she didn&t e'ist= 4hoever said that nice guys finish last must have known what he was talking about. though. she&d stood him up anyway.endal than to go through a close friend= CHAPTER !& %% sat on a wooden bench in front of the grand fountain. as well as fall semester. only larger and more upscale. 9ut since the weather had recently turned colder. The end of the soccer season. There was one other person. lifeless. . 9ut this is what usually happened when the $ibble Syndrome hit.endal would respond to. It had appeared that 0hristine thought she knew . At first he had thought that 0hristine was his best way in since she had told . %% wondered if the fountain missed the water during the bitter cold winter months. for that matter. at least for the rest of the winter. It was Sampson Academy&s version of a prom. taking up space. The soccer team was always paired with the cheerleading s1uad for winter formal.yan had seen . which meant that the chosen pair. get her to do a little pushing and prodding on his behalf. 9y itself. It sucked the life right out of her.endal. It had no purpose. .ing and :ueen. . #ven its soft blue color had faded. one other girl that . . . %% sat there. that whole approach had been pointless. who would be anointed . She just might let him in. 4ell. every spring.yan many things about .endal would respond to. when winter thawed. To . The one he had hatched originally was not working. Then. Apparently. it was his last chance to put an e'clamation point on a perfect high school career. while students wandered by and paid it no attention. If he could somehow convince her to plant a seed in . And when he finally thought he had made a dent. It left her in a complete and utter da3e. The water was the fountain&s life source and without it. playing the sweet and sensitive guy.
4hat made it all worse. it was 1uite obvious that she was bitter when it came to relationships. She was a hopeless romanticN so what= It was better than being a cynic. in fact.6othing mattered to her. though. %% turned around to see :ueenie standing there./ +Tonight=/ +Tonight. .eeping people at arm&s length was a skill that :ueenie had mastered. for whatever reason. +6o. #mily $ickinson and those +wild nights/ included. not even her writing. +It&s just the way you deal with things. 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. +4hat= >ou&ve got something better to do=/ :ueenie asked in a tone that told %% she shouldn&t attempt to argue./ +And no tutoring=/ +6o tutoring. And her emotions ran so deep there was no way she could be with someone without getting attached. 9ut %% knew that was impossible.endal never even looked in her direction. +It&s pathetic. to not let herself get attached. 9ut as many times as %% got her heart stepped on./ +Sometimes I think that&s just what I need to do. a wide grin on her face./ The voice rose from behind. She hadn&t written anything for at least a week. possibly by a former girlfriend. you go off to find yourself.endal all along. #ither way. It was clear that :ueenie had every intention of dragging her downtown whether she wanted to go or not. she refused to be like :ueenie. -r maybe she was just cynical because it was part of her personality. my friend./ +4here=/ +I called a few people. +7et&s go. #ver since . She wasn&t sure she was up for one of :ueenie&s cra3y adventures. I guess not. turning back to face the fountain. She assumed :ueenie had gotten burned somewhere along the way./ +And you got that e'tension for your writing class. she&d been moping around as if it were the end of the world. +4henever something like this happens. %% figured she felt bad about what happened and would rather forget all about it./ %% frowned.endal hadn&t shown up for their tutoring session./ :ueenie slapped %% on the knee and stood up. She did care.aybe she needed to be more like :ueenie. %% had never asked her why. %% shook her head in disappointment. 9ut . She wondered what :ueenie would think about her little fountain metaphor.endal practically everywhere she went. It didn&t help that she saw . She walked over and sat down on the bench. it&s not pathetic. isn&t it=/ %% asked. hands in her pockets. +6o./ :ueenie returned. 4e&re going to go dancing downtown. And it&s probably a lot healthier than the way I deal with things. ./ +Say no more. right= >ou don&t have to read that poem anytime soon=/ . was the fact that :ueenie had been right about . ./ +>ou mean by ignoring the feelings=/ +#'actly. not basketball.aybe she needed to not care.
She even had taken time to do her hair. At least. +It&s fine. And in a state of panic. $idn&t I tell you=/ %% laughed. %% couldn&t wait to e'it the sardine can that :ueenie&s lu'ury car had become. just as long as she didn&t have to read it out loud anytime soon. I feel like I&m with someone famous. #ach student would be graded on both the writing and their stage delivery. 9ut then :ueenie wrapped her arm around her and yelled. They e'changed a half hug and a heartfelt slap on each other&s backs. :ueenie sprayed %% with her own cologne because she swore up and down that it made the ladies wild. :ueenie happily pulled into valet parking. 9ut it really didn&t matter which poem she read. though at that moment she wondered if maybe she should have just stayed home. . 0lark&s one stipulation had been that %% read the poem that she had already selected. +She&s with me. She had gotten an e'tension./ They walked as a group through the doors of the club under the bouncer&s watchful eye. . during e'ams. #very person in the class had to select the best piece from their own body of work that they had accumulated over the semester.%% nodded.4 with a few other members of the basketball team. +So it&s settled then. and proceeded to pick up three more people along the way into downtown 8ichmond. It had been her last hope because she hadn&t even been close to being prepared last . 9y the time they arrived at the club./ She yanked %% off the bench. she&d asked to speak to . 9efore they left the dorm. since the bass had been turned up so loud. There&s no way I&m going to a club with you looking like that. +Sometimes when I&m out with you. They were to read their pieces aloud in front of the entire class and whoever else was in the audience. a form-fitting vintage long-sleeved T-shirt. 0lark out in the hall./ :ueenie shook her head. +>ou are. They s1uee3ed into :ueenie&s 9. She figured that she&d be able to con1uer her stage fright by the time the end of the semester came around. 2er ears were ringing from the stereo. She didn&t have a choice. %% emerged from her dorm room looking 1uite hip in faded jeans. who called her by name once he saw her. +I&m the most popular lesbian in all of <irginia. +It&s going to be a great night. the writing class held an open reading at The Spot. At the end of the semester./ and %%&s doubt disappeared in an instant./ %% regarded her clothes. +I swear. +4e&ve got to do something about your outfit. a dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and flip-flops with white socks./ %%% 4ith :ueenie&s help. +Sometimes you just scream @I need a makeover&. She was wearing her basketball jersey pants. 0lark took pity on her and granted %% an e'tension./ :ueenie teased. She desperately tried to e'plain her stage fright and that she was doing her best to overcome it.rs. +4e&re going out./ :ueenie told him. She was also in with the bouncer. 2e watched %% suspiciously./ said :ueenie.onday morning when she was supposed to read her poem out loud. Somehow it had worked because .rs.rs. and her favorite pair of Adidas sneakers. %% had agreed on the spot./ %% said. though. and took the stairs to the second level where the entrance was. she hoped she would be able to.
+>ou look ridiculous. +I&m not ready to go yet. Sure. and %% still felt e'hausted from their late night out. +$o whatever you want. 9ut she wasn&t captivating by any means. and pointed in the direction of the dance floor. and you could almost see the walls shaking./ %% frowned./ She raised an eyebrow and motioned behind her where the girl was patiently waiting. :ueenie began dancing at once to the techno music that blared through the speakers while %% tried desperately to find her rhythm. At that point. eating :ueenie&s 0hinese food order that had just been delivered./ :ueenie yelled. CHAPTER !' +The fire escape=/ :ueenie stared in ama3ement. but all %% could think about was the fact that the girl standing ne't to her wasn&t . though she was standing right in front of her. The music was deafening./ %% shouted. She scanned the crowd for :ueenie again. +4hy=/ she asked. +I&m leaving.m. and pushed through the first e'it door she saw. I&m kind of in the middle of something. she knew instantly that she&d made a wrong turn. %% was still leaning against the wall. 9y the time :ueenie found a suitable dancing partner who proceeded to put her spaghetti arms all over her. %% panicked and turned 1uickly to open the e'it door but it was too late.They reached the second floor landing.e= At least I move to the beat. An hour later. 9efore :ueenie could stop her. . she&d forgotten that %% was even there./ :ueenie stepped away from her make-out partner in crime. She offered to buy %% a soda. A girl who looked about her age made her way over and struck up a conversation. +. assuming %% had been having the time of her life. she was cute enough. +7et&s go dance. It had locked firmly behind her and she was now stuck on the fire escape. and as soon as their conversation fi33led out the girl moved on to someone else. %% was ready to leave the club. %% glared at her. and pushed %% to the side. She stopped dancing and moved through the crowd toward the wall where she&d do some people-watching instead. and spotted her off in the corner kissing the same girl who had been all over her on the dance floor./ she told :ueenie in order to draw attention away from herself. 2er smile was the one bright spot in the entire evening. +:ueenie. She gently pushed her way through the sea of people and happily emerged at the spot where :ueenie was standing. 9ut when she stepped out onto the fire escape./ :ueenie lifted her head and glanced around as if she&d forgotten where she was. %% once again made her way through the crowd. %% nodded and followed the group through the crowd. +>ou got stuck on the fire escape= At the club=/ They both were still dressed in their pajamas.endal. since she had none. She stomped down a narrow corridor. +9ecause I&m ready to go. :ueenie motioned for her to come and join in more than a few times./ she sputtered. which was 1uite hard to do.. but %% just nodded or waved in her direction. It was almost K p. 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. %% took off through the crowd.
The two of them slept until after noon. +So. she&d taken a cab back to school. only they didn&t fall all the way to the ground. and they fell from underneath me. and I felt*used. I walked across them anyway. After she finally got down from the fire escape. and you wouldn&t have gotten stuck on the fire escape./ +$o tell. %% nodded.+And you had your cell phone on you the entire time=/ :ueenie asked between mouthfuls of ./ +4hat do you mean=/ +I mean. :ueenie still wasn&t home. +4ait a minute. And in hindsight. seriously. I managed to land on my feet somehow. and random individuals lurking about./ +9ut. and fished around in her carton for any remaining bits of chicken before tossing it aside on the table. if you hadn&t gone out. it was considerably amusing. and you can&t even offer me a few simple words about a girl you met at a club=/ +4e were having fun. broken beer bottles. I got stuck on the fire escape at the club. :ueenie showed no remorse*only laughter and sarcasm. Then she turned on the television as if she&d grown bored with the conversation. and then I lost interest./ %% had wanted :ueenie to feel remorseful for what happened./ %% sipped her soda. That means you wouldn&t have lived to tell what I now consider to be the greatest story ever told. who could blame :ueenie= 5etting stuck on a fire escape at a club was not an average occurrence. +4hat in the world happened to you last night=/ +>es.ung "ao chicken. after the club closed we went our separate ways. +I should have never gone out. either. really. now you know what happened to me last night. >ou felt used= >ou= :ueenie ./ +Trust me.&/ %% pressed. when :ueenie had finally rolled over and asked. ./ %% replied as she nibbled on some white rice. and I&ll repeat it again for those of you who are hard of hearing./ +There&s nothing to tell. so %% crawled into bed./ :ueenie shrugged./ %% shook her head from side to side./ +4hat happened with you and that girl at the club=/ +6ot much. +I tell you what you deem to be the greatest story ever told. +I figured out how to release the latch on the stairs. eyes fi'ed on the television.c9ride=/ . +(rom my perspective. that&s the kind of story you break out at boring parties and other humdrum social functions. The night had been a complete and utter failure. +I mean. I still don&t know how the rest of your night was. %% had even laughed at herself when she described how she&d finally gotten down./ +It wouldn&t be as funny if I had fallen or been robbed at gunpoint. And. and then I reali3ed I was in the middle of a broken down lot with fire barrels. She heard :ueenie come in an hour later./ :ueenie said. by the way. it looked like more than @not much was going on. I sprinted down the first alley I spotted and jumped into the back of a cab. +4e hung out for a bit more and that&s it. +At least you have a really good story to tell because of it. +(unny. you wouldn&t have had any fun sitting here pouting. 9ut when %% told her story.y story isn&t half as good as yours./ :ueenie pointed at %% with her fork before she pierced a piece of chicken and gobbled it up. which cost me twenty-five bucks./ :ueenie repeated./ +So how were you able to get down=/ :ueenie asked.
very. And thankfully./ :ueenie s1uinted and shifted in her seat. +-kay. The moment passed. It was something that started with an @S&. %% paused. and rubbed her temples. as if she were contemplating %%&s words long and hard./ %% scratched her head. +Something is obviously bothering you. I asked her for her number to see if she wanted to go out again sometime. +-kay. +%ust like that.&/ +And that bothered you because ./ %% began. @not into what=& And she said.& So I said. +>ou don&t even remember her name=/ +Shelia*Shannon. . 4hat&s going on=/ %% set the can of soda aside and sat up in her chair. +That&s my line. +Are you mad about her stealing your line or the fact that you are the one who got played in this little scenario=/ +6either. @I&m not into that./ %% told her. Then she grimaced and retrieved the remote control from beneath her because it was pinching her butt and tossed it aside. 4here does she get off using my line=/ +4ait a second. I don&t think that&s it. and threw the remote control at the recliner in the corner of the room. A moment when the enormous brick wall that normally hides your emotions came tumbling down. So./ +4ait a minute. >ou felt the need for something more. 4hat&s going on with you=/ +6othing. =/ +Are you kidding me=/ :ueenie e'claimed. that girl&s response brought me back to reality./ she said./ +It was so awkward when we left the club. you can talk to me. you know= 7ike on a deeper level or something. seriously./ +That girl=/ %% cringed. >ou felt the need to open yourself up to someone else. I&m just*maybe I&m thinking too much. It passed. She circled the room./ +%ust like that=/ :ueenie snapped her fingers. It&s me. like I suddenly grew a conscience. +I just felt sort of hollow when I woke up this morning. @relationships. 9oth./ +I don&t know what it is. +6ope./ . . and that&s it. or through the eyes of some of the girls you hook up with and leave hanging= >ou felt how they feel after you cast them aside. +2ow do I get rid of it=/ +>our conscience= I don&t think you can. (ive seconds ago you had a conscience. I don&t know. I don&t know. >ou had a moment of guilt. e'tremely brief moment*what it would be like to actually date someone./ :ueenie slumped down onto the recliner./ :ueenie said./ +:ueenie.:ueenie turned off the television. +4hat if last night was basically a chance for you to see yourself through your own eyes. 4hat happened=/ +#h./ :ueenie said finally. +And you know what she said to me= She said./ She stopped circling and glared at %%. +$o you have to make me sound like that big of a jerk=/ she snapped./ +Are you listening to what you are saying=/ +4hat= She probably doesn&t remember my name either./ +It passed=/ +>es. And it bothered you that you were actually the one who got burned. and stood up. +4e said this weird goodbye. something a bit more real. Try this one on for si3e. focusing her eyes nowhere in particular. 9ut for some reason I felt like I should get to know the girl./ She pretended to pick off something repulsive from her forehead and flicked it to the ground. +I think I just wondered*for a very. +>ou&re pretty much stuck with it.
Someone who doesn&t have a so-called brick wall./ :ueen returned. I get nervous./ +Such as=/ +Such as*talking to girls./ +It&s all trivial. >ou put too much stock into things that don&t matter. I reali3ed who I was talking to. comfortably stuffing her face as usual. +>ou get an'ious when it&s raining outside and you can&t find an umbrella. %%. Someone who opens herself up to people./ +Trust me. as if being hungry gave her the right to devour any and every piece of food set in front of her. %% knew that :ueenie was right on some level. +It really isn&t that big of a deal. +2ow in the world is that possible=/ +Simple./ +I&m not that bad./ :ueenie weighed one hand against the other. >ou are that bad. +I&m hungry./ %% said enviously. +9esides./ +A little=/ :ueenie mocked. I just get a little an'ious now and then. And so do you./ +I wish I could write like you sometimes. I don&t know. between ample gulps of milk. And I&m not depressed. +>ou get nervous about everything. :ueenie sat across from her./ :ueenie said. +I need energy for the game./ %% picked up her fork again. +I feel like I am going to throw up. After all./ Though she didn&t admit it. getting into a good college*pretty much life in general. +That&s just part of your character./ +I know./ She spun some pasta around the fork and opened wide. hey*it&s safer doing things my way.endal. forcing down bites of spaghetti with marinara sauce. I suppose./ +#'ams don&t matter= 9asketball doesn&t matter= 0ollege doesn&t matter=/ .%% threw her hands up in the air. +I can&t help it. So she ends up being someone who gets hurt on a regular basis. CHAPTER !( %%&s stomach tossed and turned in directions she didn&t know were possible./ %% set her fork down and rubbed her stomach. At least I&m not the one who gets hurt.aybe some "ro3ac would help=/ +"ro3ac is an anti-depressant. taking e'ams./ +4hy don&t you ever get nervous=/ :ueenie shrugged and ate more bread and butter./ +It&s just a game. 2ow about the fact that you barely blink under what I would consider stressful situations. she&d been right about ./ :ueenie said as she proceeded to mop up the rest of the sauce on her plate with another piece of buttered bread. +2ow can you eat like that before a game=/ %% asked. +I figure. what makes you think I&m so carefree=/ +5ee./ +And just who are you talking to=/ +I&m talking to someone who does the opposite of me. graduating from high school. +I wish I could be as carefree as you sometimes. as :ueenie shoved a piece of bread slathered with butter into her eager mouth. playing in basketball games. this time with determination. She sat in the dining hall. .
/ +So am I.aybe. 4hy break a sweat over each one=/ +0ome on. +$espite all the nonsense you have ever spouted before. rather than taking advice yourself. 7ife is too short to worry about the small stuff. 9ut just hear me out. :ueenie. you know you can do it. be-all for you. Isn&t there anything in this world that you&re afraid of=/ :ueenie tipped her toes and leaned back. tilting the front legs of her chair up in the air./ +That&s fine. +9ut don&t push it to the limit by taking advantage of them at every turn. +"eople are going to criti1ue your work whether you read it out loud or not. and then whacked :ueenie&s finger away from her face. It&s almost as if you enjoy making life difficult for them to appease your own agenda when . If %% didn&t know any better. %% waited patiently for her to respond. +There are things in life that are worth sweating over./ :ueenie said at last. >ou&re a writer. on paper or otherwise. +0ome on. +4hat about you=/ +4hat about me=/ :ueenie continued to twiddle./ +And that would be=/ +9ecoming my parents./ %% glared at her./ :ueenie smiled./ +Take your stage fright./ said :ueenie. She also knew how easy it was to give sound advice to other people. $eep inside./ +>ou know./ +-kay. >ou think I care if 0oach chews me out for missing a shot that would have won us a game= There&s always going to be another game. and do it./ said %%./ %% said. and stared up at the ceiling./ +>ou&re way too hard on them. 4hat is it that you really are afraid of=/ +I&m afraid of what people are going to think about my work.+6ot in the big scheme of things./ %% started her response./ +. +>es=/ +>es. She gave :ueenie a long look. you know you want to do it. I&m listening. >ou know my parents. +>es. or belittling them every chance you get./ +7isten. she would have assumed that :ueenie was wise beyond her years. I don&t want to be anything like them. knowing that there will be other opportunities to do so. There is one thing that I am afraid of. >ou&ve just got to do it knowing that you are going to get up there again. :ueenie. and picked at her spaghetti even though she knew she was finished eating. but you don&t really know my parents. +4hat you really are afraid of is success. $eep inside. 9ut she did know better. knowing that the first time you get up there isn&t the end-all. folded her hands and began to twiddle her thumbs. this time you are actually making sense. for instance. It&s part of the game you&re in. 9ecause once you get up on stage and read your stuff*just once*you&ll be able to do it again without thinking twice. +>ou just have to 1uit stalling. +I was being serious. And in life there&s always going to be another e'am or test of some sort./ +Then what am I afraid of=/ asked %%. There&s always going to be another girl to talk to./ +That&s just an e'cuse and you know it. %%. She pointed a knowing finger about an inch away from %%&s nose./ :ueenie pressed her finger to %%&s nose as if she were pushing a button. sliding her plate aside. >ou never let it rest.
I know you&re tight with her./ +>ou&re friends with ./ ./ +And why would I do that e'actly=/ +9ecause I want to go out with her. She pointed her thumb awkwardly in his direction./ . +$o you know him=/ :ueenie asked. +4hy don&t you just ask her yourself=/ +She&s kind of playing hard to get. I&m going to go to law school. if you just talked to them. I don&t think I&m the right person to*/ +9ecause I really like her. +4ho is this creep=/ . +True. you might be able to find common ground you can share with them./ 9efore :ueenie had a chance to respond. I&m popular.yan e'plained. and./ +9ut I hardly know you./ %% hated the fact that he was right. which appeared as though it was about to burst out of his tightly-fitting sweater. +If you didn&t have your parents to torment on a regular basis. and gave up her seat. +0an I talk to you=/ . +it&s been said that I&m one of the best looking guys at school. +That&s why I want you to talk to her about me. I just need you to say a few nice things about me./ . but I&m still not following you. +0ome on./ +4hat&s to know= I&m the captain of the soccer team. who would you be= >ou define yourself by defying them./ %%&s eyes drifted over to the cheerleading table. uninvited. +All I need you to do is give her a little nudge in my direction./ :ueenie volunteered. ignoring :ueenie altogether. It was empty. +It&s important.maybe. I used to see you two hanging around together all the time. 9oth %% and :ueenie looked up./ +Trust me. +There&s no common ground./ ./ he said./ +)m*why=/ +9ecause you seem like a nice person. +7isten.yan leaned in and whispered. +I said I need you to do something for me. +I need you to do something for me.yan sat down across from %%./ +4hy me=/ +9ecause you&re her friend. right=/ +>ou could say that. 2e had the kind of look on his face that said he either was incredibly desperate or had just flunked a test.yan Stevens loomed over them. She raised an eyebrow at %% as if to say./ %% cocked her head to one side. 4hy wouldn&t you want her to date a guy like me=/ I could think of a thousand reasons why not. a shadow fell over the table. keeping his eyes planted on %%. %% thought./ +I&ll leave you two kids alone. +And I know how girls always listen to their friends when it comes to dating guys. like a hitchhiker la3ily hailing a ride./ +Talk to her about you=/ +>es. +I&m sorry*what=/ %% returned.yan asked. .endal . if you know what I mean./ +I wonder sometimes*/ %% posed. and asked the obvious 1uestion that was dancing on her tongue.c0arthy./ :ueenie said as she settled her chair back into an upright position. And this would help me out a lot./ he smiled devilishly.yan reached up and idly scratched his right bicep.
endal had stood %% up. too close for %%&s liking. So %% figured their friendship. and maybe she wouldn&t have been able to play as well as she had. too. +6ow that&s the %% I know and love. +I&m sorry./ +4e aren&t best friends. she wouldn&t have been able to concentrate. %% had secured her starting position. I can&t help you. :ueenie had played superbly.endal. 9ut tomorrow we start with a clean record once again.%% sat there. was over.c0arthy was doing there. The conversation seemed so out of the realm of reality that she almost pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. Their eyes met for only a moment before %% had to look away. The team stood in a circle in the middle of the locker room as 0oach 0ook rambled on about the game. 9ut now that she&d seen her in the stands. but the Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets were able to pull out a win against a formidable rival. entirely confused. .yan reached over and grabbed hold of %%&s arm as she passed by his side of the table. and finished the night with an admirable si'teen points. as she was making her way to the locker room. 4hy don&t you ask one of her cheerleading buddies to help you out=/ +I did. +0an&t you at least give me some advice on how to win her over= Anything at all=/ +7ike I said. +4e&ve still got a lot to work on. 4e don&t even talk anymore./ %% stood up and pushed her chair in. +>ou two seem like best friends or something. +6ow I want you to enjoy the win for tonight.endal . +7ook./ she told him sharply. she&d noticed an unusual face in the crowd. I can appreciate your interest in . well enough to redeem herself in 0oach&s eyes by turning in eight assists and scoring twelve points. according to 0oach 0ook. They hadn&t spoken since ./ 0oach 0ook said after the end of the game. I can&t help you. but you also played with heart./ . 9ut I&m pleased with what I saw out on the floor tonight.yan practically whined. +That&s the %% I need to run this offense for the rest of the season. 4e aren&t even friends./ +Then I&d doubt she&d listen to me.endal didn&t listen to them. or whatever it was. Tomorrow we get back to the basics and we start preparing for our ne't game against 4illiam and ./ And so it was official. They hadn&t even as much as made eye contact.ary. >ou not only played with skill. I was her tutor. That&s it. ladies. %% had played well. +but I&m not the person you should be talking to. she couldn&t help but wonder what in the world T2# . +>ou won&t even consider helping me out=/ CHAPTER !) The game had been close. And heart is what we need*/ %%&s mind drifted as she pretended to listen to what 0oach 0ook was saying./ +4hy not=/ . +I&ve got a game to get to. whether by te't or by phone. She was glad she hadn&t noticed her during the game because then she would have been distracted. laughing and relishing the win with her teammates. There was no apology./ %% stared at his hand until he let go.yan called after her as she walked away. +That&s it=/ ./ +4ait*/ ./ she said. After the game.
as she fle'ed her arms./ %% said. three. >ou ready= I want to get back and shower before we go out. would you=/ +. I&m glad we won though. I want team on three. was that the girl&s team or the boy&s team we just played=/ +The way they knocked your skinny butt around./ +I think I&m going to stay in tonight.nocked me around= I&m all muscle./ . ladies. +I&ve never actually been to women&s basketball game before. +"lease=/ +-kay. 9y the way. +. +5reat game. I stink. we won a game. +5ive me a moment. 9y the time she made up her mind./ +>ou know what they say.endal halfway or stay where she was./ :ueenie sniffed her underarms./ %% yawned and stretched./ %% checked in and around her locker to make sure she wasn&t leaving anything behind. . 2ow did 0oach put it e'actly= Superbly=/ +>ou weren&t so bad yourself. +I don&t think I&ve recovered from the fire escape incident just yet./ +>ou definitely played well tonight. but when we win it gives me an e'cuse to go out. +She just rambles when she&s happy. discussing the highlights of the game as they reentered the gym. -ne. +It was e'citing and fun to watch. That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me.endal took in the empty gym. there&s a first time for everything. As soon as she saw . +I&m ready. it&s a different story. I&ll see you back at the dorm. when she noticed that . +5reat team effort tonight./ %% replied as evenly as possible.endal making her way down the bleachers one step at a time. floating on a natural high that %% and :ueenie assumed would carry her through the rest of the evening. debating whether or not she should meet .0oach 0ook threw her hand into the center of the circle. %% was in the middle of reliving a sweet behind-the-back pass that she&d made to :ueenie late in the third 1uarter./ :ueenie said. +The point guard didn&t even see where the ball went. +0oach can certainly ramble on when she wants to.endal already stood in front of her. as she pulled on her warm-ups. >ou&re really good. :ueenie hesitated. And what&s this @we& stuff= $o you have another lesbian in your pocket or something=/ +0ome on. 0oach left the room.endal was still sitting on the bleachers./ +It&s about time. #veryone else followed suit./ +I thought you didn&t care if we won or lost=/ +I don&t care if we lose./ They left the locker room together. 5reat team effort. two./ :ueenie e'claimed before she reali3ed that %% wasn&t walking beside her anymore./ +0an&t wait to hear those pep talks. you wouldn&t know. she knew why./ %% composed herself and stood as tall as she could in an otherwise defensive stance./ %% whispered.an. Then it&s always short and sweet. +4hen we lose. +I can hold my own./ +Thanks./ The word team reverberated throughout the locker room and 0oach 0ook&s after-game speech finally had ended./ :ueenie declared./ . 7ooks like you&re back on 0oach&s good side./ /That&s very true.
she decided to walk away. ./ she said roughly. I don&t know you at all. 5uess you proved her right./ +I didn&t freak out. look./ said . +I know how it looked. she wondered if she&d made the right decision. I said you&d never do anything like that. That&s the problem. +If you&re so eager to apologi3e. 9ut I&ve really got to get */ +I didn&t come here just to watch the game. with #mily $ickinson and your 4omen&s 7iterature class./ +>ou know.endal interrupted.endal cringed. It is what it is. 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. ./ %% slung her gym bag over her shoulder. you know. +>ou know me better than anyone else at this school. (or making you think that*/ +That you are as shallow as the rest of the cheerleading s1uad=/ ./ +4hat are you talking about=/ +2e stopped by to see me earlier today./ +(or=/ +(or standing you up. you do. +>ou know me. 9ut when . +I&m glad you came to the game./ +Are you serious=/ +>eah. +I thought I knew you. I know you&ll do well. +5ood luck with the rest of your semester. Apparently he thought we were good friends or something. I just want to e'plain*/ +>ou don&t have to e'plain anything./ ./ %% took a giant step backwards./ she said./ . +2ey. to e'plain what happened.A lull in the already struggling conversation irritated %%.endal opened her mouth wide but %% didn&t wait for her to respond. 4anted me to put in a good word for him. +And then I reali3ed that you&re not the person I thought you were at all. I guess he likes you a lot.endal pleaded./ +4hy are you telling me this=/ +9ecause maybe you should give him a chance./ she said. as she bent over to pick up her gym bag off the floor./ +At least give me a chance to apologi3e. 2e&s perfect for you. And I stuck up for you. +She said you&d stop talking to me. She said you&d get all freaked out when your friends started wondering why we were hanging out so much.endal didn&t try to stop her or come running after her./ She turned to walk away then stopped abruptly.endal. and you should probably know that . +-h./ . (or avoiding you.aybe he&s not such a bad guy after all. CHAPTER "* . :ueenie warned me. And I&m sure all of your friends would approve./ +>es. +I came here to apologi3e. +I know*I was embarrassed about what happened. I don&t./ . Instead./ . +9ut it&s not what you think.yan Stevens is head over heels for you. as you put it. against her better judgment.endal closed her eyes. And I thought you were angry with me and needed some space.endal reached out and touched %% on the arm./ +6o./ %% shoved her hands angrily in her pockets.aybe he can give you some of those @wild nights& you&ve been wishing for.
endal insisted. She took a deep breath and plunged forward into the chilly night air./ the president said patiently. They all wore matching smiles along with their 0ultural Awareness Society pins. I found it. earlier today I dropped some change in the couch. +I already know what you think of me. gradually e'posing herself to the rest of the group. To . 2is eyes were warm and welcoming. shuffling through its contents. I wasn&t ./ the students said in unison.endal.endal heard a voice ask. and then looked back at .endal=/ +4ell*/ .4hile she hid strategically behind the big chunky couch in the school lounge. She turned her head to see the 0ultural Awareness Society president staring directly at her from the podium in the center of the room./ She hung up the phone and slid it into her back pocket. she clearly could see :ueenie standing in front of her student mailbo'. she gladly showed the group the shiny 1uarter in her hand. +$o you have a minute=/ :ueenie gestured at the phone in her hand. intent on nursing her out of the shadow of the couch. +It&s important. :ueenie was standing on the curb outside. She spun around and the phone dropped from her ear to her side. #veryone. :ueenie slowly returned the phone to her ear. %ust give me five minutes. ./ +(ive minutes is all I need.endal stammered and pulled at her fingers. +>es. then crossed her arms over her chest.eet me in five minutes instead.endal had sneaked into the school lounge under their cover./ . and tapped her gently on the shoulder. really. +It&s okay. +4hat&s your name=/ +. ./ she called over her shoulder as she shoved the 1uarter into her jeans pocket and pushed through the doors. ./ . I.endal said. 9ut look. +I. . .endal approached her slowly./ The president pointed a finger.endal.endal&s right sat a group of students of various ages. They were a part of the 0ultural Awareness Society. +See. ./ . +I was*I&m not here for the meeting. as if she were waiting for someone who obviously was late. She could see :ueenie close and lock her mailbo' and head for the doors./ The entire group looked at her strangely.endal&s eyes darted around the room and then down at her feet. +>ou&ve got five minutes. She kept checking her watch after every other sentence. I*/ She saw a 1uarter protruding from the couch cushion and 1uickly bent over to snatch it up. +And you are=/ .endal. 4hen she stood up. +2ey.endal stood slowly. and pretended to be involved in their group meeting as she kept a watchful eye on :ueenie.endal*/ +2ello.endal could only flash them a 1uick apologetic smile before she hurried away from the couch. 9ut you&ve got it wrong. take your time. . She was dressed as if she were going out downtown. please say hello to . you behind the couch./ +2ello.endal gave a slight and awkward wave. +4hat brings you to our meeting tonight. (rom where she hid.endal. +0an I help you=/ :ueenie asked. . >eah. in faded jeans. talking on her cell phone.endal wondered if :ueenie had spotted her. . races and religious beliefs. a v-neck sweater and an e'pensive black leather jacket. . +Sorry to interrupt.
I haven&t even made it off campus.endal caught a glimpse of the moon over :ueenie&s right shoulder. >ou want me to talk to her for you=/ +6ot e'actly. +This is so new to me. let me guess.endal=/ %ason asked . #verything.eet you where=/ +At my special spot. . And there&s more to be said. All of it. It distracted her for a moment. I&m still confused. 2er breath formed a cloud as she spoke. Something came up./ +Aren&t you saying this to the wrong person=/ +I tried talking to %% after your basketball game the other day. as if her words were left suspended in air. In fact. School./ She laughed in spite of herself. +>ou get a chance to help make this right. I really*/ +4hy&d you stand her up then=/ :ueenie challenged. I just need for her to give me a chance to say it. She wouldn&t even let me e'plain. 6o. If she&s really interested in what I have to say. .eet me in the school lounge. I don&t even know what I&m saying. >es./ +./ +And what do I get in return for doing this=/ :ueenie asked. .yan as they left the athletic center. I want to do the e'act opposite. but I guess I didn&t reali3e how much I hurt her. I&m serious./ +She&s back at the dorm right now. I&ll tell my ride to wait longer. I can&t even begin to e'plain or justify it. then she&ll come meet me./ . and that didn&t go so well. I&m not downtown yet./ :ueenie said and pointed behind her. Then she reached into her back pocket without looking away.endal declared./ 4hen :ueenie hung up her phone. no matter what people think or what people say or .endal e'plained. I want to talk to her more. See you in when you get here. I want to*I don&t know. and continued to watch her from afar. +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 knew she was mad at me. She&ll know where I&m talking about. but . until her silhouette faded into the night. . +9esides. +$id you get her friend to talk to her for you=/ The soccer season was over.endal hugged herself to keep warm. 9ut what I do know is that I enjoy spending time with %%. %%% +So what happened with . I already tried talking to her.endal walk away. +I&m perfectly capable of saying all of this to her myself. +4hy don&t you just go talk to her=/ +I&m not going to go beg at her door.yan and %ason continued to work out every night as hard as they did at the beginning of the season. And I needed some space to think about my confusion. I want to*spend more time with her. This time./ . And I don&t want to stop hanging out with her. :ueenie stood firm as she watched ./ +So.going to stop talking to %%. she could still see . I&m not going anywhere yet.endal striding along the sidewalk. It&s important. +0onfused about what=/ +(eelings./ . Tell her to meet me there in an hour. I need her to give me a moment to e'plain what happened. -kay. (riends./ . admiring her long and slender legs as they carried her forward. I thought I&d try a different approach. pushed a few numbers and raised the phone to her ear. +%%. It&s me. .
and then to a figure approaching the soccer field.endal in more subjects than one. I forgot about that. +2ey. She said . $oes it matter=/ . +9ut I&m going to follow her.c0arthy that. $id you even ask her out=/ +The invite-only party. okay./ %ason bit down on his laughter. I&m just./ he said as he s1uinted into the darkness.+6o. +4hat= >ou can never tell these days. isn&t that*/ . >ou know.an. 0hristine said something about her spending a lot of time with that %% girl from the basketball team.yan looked up. while making 1uotes with his fingers.an./ he said./ . +-h*right. +I don&t know.aybe you just need a different approach.yan fi'ed his eyes on him./ +6o. +She said she hardly even knows ./ +I tried a different approach.yan answered. 2is entire body ached from the back of his neck all the way to the soles on his feet. Since when do you give up on getting the girl=/ +I&m not giving up.yan chewed on the inside of his cheek. The whole sensitive guy routine./ +4hat are you going to do now= Are you still going to ask her to the winter formal=/ .endal hasn&t been acting like herself since they started hanging out. +I don&t know.aybe she&s just not into guys.yan said. +4hat. +. +It does now./ 2e began to pick at a loose thread hanging off the back pocket of his jeans./ . seriously. +It bombed./ +4hat are you going to do=/ ./ ./ %ason stopped walking. +I think it is./ 2e handed his gym bag to %ason./ . the one that you talked to.yan rolled his heavy shoulders back. +Take this for me. And I can&t figure out why./ +So=/ +So./ he said 1uietly./ %ason snickered. A devilish smile broke out on his face./ +. maybe she&s tutoring . +$oes 0hristine know that for sure= I mean.yan said. . They watched together as the figure took a sharp left off the cement path that led to the soccer field and cut over to the bleachers. 4inter formal was only a few weeks away. +5et it=/ +$ude.endal . It disappeared onto an adjacent patch of grass. The girl just isn&t interested in me for some reason.endal . +I&m thinking about asking somebody else.yan rolled his eyes./ +Are you making fun of me=/ +.endal and that she&s just one of her tutors.yan waved his hand into the air. all you&ve been talking about since school started was that you needed to find the perfect girl./ . +4here is she going=/ %ason wondered out loud. +Shut up./ . 8emember= She stood me up. rela'./ e'ploring my options./ +I don&t get it. Then it was all . does she know if .endal really is*one=/ +-ne what= A lesbian=/ %ason kicked a rock off the cement path they were standing on./ +I doubt that. 2is days to find a suitable replacement were numbered.c0arthy this and . %ason&s eyes drifted from the library to the school lounge.
only this time she hadn&t let it take over. static feelings. &ometimes it helps. And move on. 9ut I&m going to find out what&s going on once and for all. strength.. ' wear my heart on my sleeve $n my face. And '4ll thin6 why *hy all the fears and misconceptions ' guess that happens when ' lose direction $r fall off my path. *hen ' see the sun ' hope for rain. The $ibble Syndrome had hit. so to spea6. But it4s 5ust a moment. .endal. '4ve never tried to deceive $r pull an a/out face. CHAPTER " %% had just finished entering a new poem in her poetry journal when :ueenie had called. &o real. *ant to &ometimes ' do. and peace of mind (ut my faith 'n time. '4m wea6. The poem in its entirety was an affirmation of sorts. +I&m not sure. She reread the words 1uickly. . one that would allow her to finally move on from her thoughts of . +on4t thin6 ' ever could "ver would. Heart open. mind /lea6. she&d moped around for a week or two *but that was it.yan rubbed his hands together in anticipation. Thoughts reel. The first time she . 't4s impossi/le to hide how ' feel. Sure. &omewhere. A wee6 from now '4ll laugh At my dramatic. erratic. )et4s not /eat around the /ush. deep inside ' 6now '4ll find 0ourage. to relieve in itself The pain. ' may /e stuc6 at the moment .
/ +6one other than T2# . even basketball./ %% looked around the room. right=/ +4hat&s the difference= It&s all about acceptance./ :ueenie responded without turning her attention away from the podium. and though :ueenie could take a few things in her life a bit more seriously herself./ +>ou give up too easily.c0arthy. . she&d been right about %% taking life far too seriously. %% slipped 1uietly over to the corner of the room. +>ou&ll never guess who I just spoke to. every rhythmic phrase./ :ueenie sat up straight. :ueenie had to help pull her out of the bowels of depression. so worn that the thread on the brim was coming undone. and :ueenie looked to be completely absorbed in the topic at hand. %% 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. 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. dark-skinned girl. I&m thinking of making a hefty donation to their cause. +>eah=/ +4hy am I here=/ +-h. took the podium.was struck by the $ibble Syndrome. right. stage fright. %% wrote the word perspective at the top of the poem. It made sense. +And you&re listening to this because*/ +The girl has a point. and tucked it neatly under her pillow. 4hat do you think=/ +:ueenie./ +:ueenie./ :ueenie whispered back. perhaps=/ +6ice try. And now she could accept that part of herself and move forward. 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. She spoke about tolerance. %% had been able to do it all by herself.endal. knocked :ueenie&s feet off the small table that sat beside the chair and sat down on top of it. she began to wonder why :ueenie had asked her to come to the school lounge in the first place./ %% said evenly./ They watched together as a tiny. I forgot. "erspective*this time she had put everything into perspective . closed the journal. +4hat did you want me to meet you here for=/ +Shhhhhh. 0are for another guess=/ +I have no idea./ +4hat=/ %% stiffened. +The lack of tolerance at this school is downright insulting.endal . :ueenie had spoken to %% about perspective before their first basketball game. As she reached for her baseball cap. unassuming. care of the . only without the e'pensive fee charged by an in1uisitive stranger sitting across from her and wearing wire-rimmed glasses. +7istening./ +>ou do reali3e they are talking about culture and not se'ual orientation. It was therapy. every word. Then she threw on some sweatpants and her favorite sweatshirt. +A member of the 0ultural Awareness Society. with glasses too big for her face. This time.c9ride&s. %% knew that now. A meeting of some sort was taking place. or lack thereof. +4hat are you doing=/ she whispered.
I still don&t understand. she took another deep breath. +And before you go on rambling like you sometimes tend to do in these situations. +This is a big deal for me. +5ood. +4onderful./ said %%.endal wants is an opportunity to e'plain to you what happened. +4hat is=/ +4hat I&m about to say./ %% sat down again. and says she needs to talk to me.+That&s right./ +>ou were wrong about what=/ +About ./ %% stood up./ :ueenie continued. She removed her hand from :ueenie&s mouth. She pretended to scour the school lounge to make sure no one else was listening in on their conversation. taps me on the shoulder./ +4hich are*=/ +I.c0arthy once and for all. So if you plan on trying to convince me that you were wrong about her for whatever reason./ :ueenie opened her mouth to respond and %% covered it immediately with her own hand. I don&t know what she promised you in e'change for your services. The nerve of some people. she likes spending time with you. I&ve got two. +Are you through acting all high and mighty=/ :ueenie asked./ :ueenie sat back and swung a leg over the arm of the chair. but the charming cheerleading darling somehow managed to convince me to do this out of pure goodwill. and I don&t want to know. I&ve got three words for you. she took a deep breath. +6o. And she was devastated when you walked out of the gym the other night without letting her e'plain her side of the story. 4hen she was satisfied that no other ears were in sight.endal . (or some reason. in hopes that I might go speak to her.endal. 4hen she reopened them. 4rong./ +She likes you. save your breath./ :ueenie said before %% could even take a single step. #njoy the rest of your./ :ueenie closed her eyes. It doesn&t happen too often. one that I can&t 1uite put my finger on. +And she wants to tell you herself.iss . 4as. I&m heading back to the dorm. if you&ll e'cuse me. three. I got the impression that she even missed you. +4hat I was about to tell you before you so rudely shoved your grubby little hand over my mouth was that all ./ %% cleared her throat. waiting for my ride downtown when she suddenly comes out of nowhere.c0arthy didn&t offer me anything in return for talking to you. +$o I have your attention now=/ %% didn&t answer. I&d like to make it known here and now that I am officially over T2# . +6ow./ :ueenie admitted. . +-kay. +4hat&s with the theatrics=/ %% asked. She could only nod. you should know that . of course. Are we clear=/ :ueenie nodded slowly. I asked./ she raised three fingers forcefully in the air. uh*cultural awareness meeting or whatever. +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. +9efore you go off on another pride-fueled @I&m over her& rant./ +4hat did she say=/ :ueenie paused. I&m talking on my i"hone outside.
+%%. +%ust when I&m over the girl. I&ll ditch everyone in a heartbeat to come and pick you up. She grabbed her baseball cap back./ +That&s up to you. ./ She pointed at %%./ %% yelled. In front of the soccer field were the bleachers and the scorers& bo'. All %% had to do was walk through a set of doors. I did my part. She&s not like I thought she was. A chorus of +Shhhhh&s/ fired at her from all directions. And under the scorers& bo' was the special spot where . CHAPTER "! ./ %% whispered in return./ +I can&t believe this. :ueenie gave her an encouraging nod before she disappeared out the door. +. There were three sets of doors to the school lounge. she couldn&t tell. :ueenie ./ :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./ +I know.c9ride. and slammed it down on her head. I think she really cares about you./ said %%. She&s waiting for you at her @special spot. Then I&m heading downtown. Another led down the school campus to the library and dining hall. -ne set led up the school campus to the dormitories./ :ueenie fiddled with the baseball cap.& The @I think about you way too often and it scares me& kind of like./ :ueenie whispered. I know how hard it is for you to do things out of the simple kindness of your heart. This is me you&re talking to. en route to the athletic center and the soccer field.&/ +She likes me=/ %% asked in wonder. +>ou must be rubbing off on me./ +(unny*this wasn&t the reaction I pictured you having./ +I can&t believe this. standing up to give :ueenie a semi-hug.+9asically. +what I am trying to say is that she likes you. +$id she actually say that=/ +She didn&t have to./ +And I appreciate that. +It was obvious. I mean. >ou have to believe me./ She watched as the 0ultural Awareness Society began to wrap up their meeting. +I think I&m going to make that donation after all./ +6o=/ +I was e'pecting a triumphant roar of some kind. And the one in the middle led to the path by the fountain.endal supposedly was waiting./ +4hat can I say=/ :ueenie stood up and stretched her long body. 4alking through them would be the easy part. 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. 2er entire body shivered from the cold or maybe it was the anticipation. my friend./ :ueenie continued. you might hear her say it for yourself./ +Thanks. >ou were right./ %% yelled again. And I&m not talking about the @I want to be gal pals& kind of like either.endal sat on the blanket she and %% had shared the last time they had been under the scorers& bo' together. I&m talking @like like. The hard part was to choose which doors. +I was wrong about her. come on. A few members of the 0ultural Awareness Society cast their eyes at her. I don&t admit to being wrong for just anybody. you&ve got a small head. you turn around and tell me this. +I just*maybe I should just leave well enough alone. +0all me if you need to.an.
"erfect for a secret rende3vous.yan snorted and pointed a la3y finger at himself./ ./ +A friend=/ . +4hat are you doing here=/ +I could ask you the same thing. She crossed her arms in frustration. I found a much better way to spend my night./ . +I just came here to ask you why you don&t like me. and his confidence had been deflated like a popped balloon.The flashlight lay on the ground beside her. if you must know./ +Some friends come with benefits.endal pointed a hard finger at him. +>ou just can&t take no for an answer. +The entire student body at Sampson thinks you&re pathetic. +6ice little set up you got here./ +4ith some other guy. A friend. clasping his hands together and blowing hot air between them.yan stared down at the blanket. 4e have so much in common. +It&s cold out here.endal laughed sweetly at him.endal looked at him with distaste. you&re pathetic.endal as she scanned the darkness. 2ave you ever noticed why the girls you hook up with suddenly stop talking to you= -r did you actually think that you were the one playing them=/ +I*/ +-h*you did. well. eh=/ +That&s none of your business. that you spend most dates complimenting yourself with every other sentence you utter. +2ow did you even find me=/ +I followed you./ +"athetic=/ . The shuffling of sneakers against the grass caused her to stand up./ .yan returned. $on&t you get it= I don&t like you.yan said smugly as he emerged from the darkness.yan said as he sat down on the blanket despite . well./ 2e winked at her./ . 2is charisma had melted away.yan forced a laugh./ 2e approached the blanket. 4e could take this school by storm.endal&s protest. worried that %% would arrive at any second. And in the end. >ou are the biggest self-centered./ She hovered over him as if she were about to share a secret. If :ueenie had come through for her. didn&t you= 2ow sad. 9ut I specifically said I was meeting you as a friend that night and nothing more. +#ither way./ . +That seat is reserved for someone else. It&s been said./ . +I apologi3e for standing you up. +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=/ ./ . +"lease. +I&ve got a little news bulletin for you since you&re so interested in gossip./ said .endal&s sweet smile soured instantly.endal told him at once. The only reason I even agreed to go to that stupid party in the first place was because 0hristine begged me to go. +>ou think I&m pathetic=/ . right=/ +It was a girl./ he confessed. I&ve never even entertained the thought. egotistical moron I&ve ever met. casting a dim beam over the blanket.endal spat./ +7ook. 4e&d make a great couple. +Think about it. +>ou didn&t have to be so mean about it./ +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. %% would be there beside her any moment now and she could finally e'plain her side of the story. just go. pretty much by every girl you have ever dated at this school. +4ell. +4hat do we have here=/ ./ .
$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.y father&s in the military. It&s about who you are. what am I doing wrong=/ . >ou might as well let them see the real you. 2ow did you know=/ +9ecause I was doing the e'act same thing before I met*/ . I guess not.endal laughed and dropped her hands to her side. 9ut if you&re so concerned with what people think about you.endal.endal stared at him firmly. +4hat= 5uys aren&t supposed to be insecure. +It isn&t worth it. ./ he e'plained. 4ho&s going to brag ten years from now that they were on the soccer team or the cheerleading s1uad at Sampson Academy= I&m not. it turns people off. +Then tell me.aybe it&s time to make a new set of rules then. . -nce we graduate. +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=/ +.yan didn&t answer. how can you ever really be yourself= Aren&t you always going to be afraid of what everyone else is thinking=/ +>eah./ said ./ he told her.yan stood up. She suddenly felt sorry for him./ 2e looked at her. +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. She peered into the shadows. not mine. anymore. they might respect you more. but there was no one there. setting her hands on his shoulders. or who disapproves of what I do or even who I like./ +4ho said I&m insecure=/ .endal&s own eyes softened./ +7ook. I&m one of the most popular guys in the whole school. it doesn&t matter anymore anyway. >ou really are a lesbian=/ . isn&t it= It&s about finding out who you really are. It&s not about what you do. no matter what other people think. I take care of myself physically.endal continued. then. the insecure and sincere person you are behind closed doors. +>ou aren&t doing anything wrong. desperation in his eyes. his mind in a da3e as he stepped aimlessly around the blanket. +9efore you met who=/ ./ +So it&s true. >ou act so conceited. +I know that I&m not going to pretend to be something I&m not. That&s why I don&t care who says what about me anymore. I&ve done everything right. +That&s the real point of going off to college.endal paused because she thought she heard footsteps./ she said./ . +I&m the captain of the soccer team. I&m in no position to tell you what to do. and I&m going to college ne't fall to prepare for law school./ +I can be a nice guy. And apparently you aren&t being yourself.endal approached him./ . +They&re his rules./ +./ . now you know. so I&m supposed to get all the girls. +I don&t know what I am. +9ut does it really matter=/ +6o.yan said 1uickly./ he said.+4ell. I get good grades./ +6ot everything./ +4ho says= If people knew the real you. 2igh school is such a small part of our entire lives. . +I thought I was just doing what was e'pected of me.yan asked./ .yan maintained.
+>ou&ve changed. Is that enough=/ +"ersonally. so if you don&t mind*/ +It&s okay.ya the week before. 6ew classes./ . +0an you not tell anybody about this= I don&t want to ruin my reputation or anything. +I&ve already been scolded by .endal said as she turned and faced 0hristine head on./ +>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. but . +6o. +Are you sure you don&t need any help=/ This was the fifth time 0hristine had asked since .yan leaned forward to hug her.c0arthy. she made her way up the two flights of stairs and down the hall to . calculating in her head how many trips it would take to cart her stuff up to . It would have been easy for her to blame 0hristine for ruining her chances with %% as well.endal replied./ . I can&t understand./ CHAPTER "" 0hristine watched helplessly as ./ .endal lifted one crate of books on top of the other. 4hat kind of best friend does that=/ +0an&t you understand=/ 0hristine pleaded. I&m not doing anything. 0hristine hopped off the bed in a huff. She turned her back and resumed packing.endal packed her books into several pink plastic crates. 7ook.endal picked up a stack of crates and held them evenly against her chest. 6ew living space./ 0hristine slid down on her bed as if she were too weak to stand./ . +4ould you do me one favor=/ he whispered. +Aren&t you ever going to forgive me=/ 0hristine whined. you know that=/ +I have changed./ As ./ +4hat&s that supposed to mean=/ . +The problem is that you&ve stayed the same. and it&s important to me. +I did what I did because I just wanted my best friend back. She had decided to move in with .ya&s room if you want. hoping that after winter break she could start the spring semester off fresh and new.endal.ya and she&s making me help her organi3e some gay and straight alliance group or something at school. I said I was sorry a billion times. 6ew .endal knew she&d done that all by herself. and*/ +I can do it by myself. 2e stared at it blankly./ she said.endal said.endal had started packing.+It doesn&t matter. I would have kicked you off of the s1uad altogether. +I&m just saying I know how you feel.endal . ready to be carried away to some other closet. It was painfully obvious that %% wanted nothing more to do with her since she never showed up under the scorers& bo' that night. +5o look in the mirror. After reali3ing she was getting nowhere.endal agreed. 2er clothes were spread across her bed. Steadying the crates in her arms./ . +Then you&ll see what I mean. 6ew semester. I think you got off easy. . +9ecause I can help you carry your clothes up to ./ she advised. +6ope. really.ya&s room on the fourth floor of the dorm. and then took it in his hand.ya&s room. I&m really sorry but I&m kind of waiting for someone.endal backed away and gave him her hand to shake instead. . +If it were me./ She pushed past 0hristine./ +.
ya asked gently. it&s not. She turned to one particularly dog-eared page with a highlighted poem. 6ew things to come./ +2ow is she taking it=/ +"oorly../ . 9ecause I needed to get as far away from 0hristine as possible. +6ot much.endal unpack some of the books from the crates on the floor./ +Are you sure=/ +>es.endal entered her room.ya sat down on her bed./ . She does feel bad about what she did. +I can do it. +That&s what she feels bad about. +I&m a little on edge still. reluctantly./ said ./ . nothing.endal had waited in the cold. And I&m even thinking about getting my master&s degree. +I know./ she said. The margins of the page were covered with notes and doodles.endal frowned./ +4hat happened e'actly=/ +I don&t know. +6o. 9ut./ . +Time to move on. I can tell how broken up about it she is by the way she whines in her satin sheets./ ./ +8ight./ +8eally= I wouldn&t have pegged you for*/ +A brain= ./ +5ood./ +"ositive=/ +. as she placed the book on the shelf ne't to the others. +%ust a few more crates and my clothes. I&m sorry./ .endal. +./ +So what now=/ +6ow. sitting on top of a damp blanket and flicking the flashlight off and on for almost two hours before she&d finally given up hope.endal. I guess she wasn&t interested in my e'planation.endal replied apologetically./ +I have plenty of room. +I asked her to meet me so I could e'plain everything./ +7et me help you./ .ya helped . as . And she never showed up. She noticed that %%&s name was scribbled along the margin more than once. +that your frustration with 0hristine is more about your feelings for %% than anything else=/ +4hat=/ . +I didn&t mean to imply anything by that./ . +2ow much more stuff do you have=/ .ya asked./ +Such as*/ +4ell. 4ith her finger she slowly traced the lettering on the cover of the book./ +It&s okay./ +She feels bad because you are making her help form a gay and straight alliance.e. It&s not a big deal at all./ .endal stacked the empty crates in the closet.endal admitted. +2onest.aybe. And though 0hristine wasn&t directly responsible. 7etting me move in here is help enough.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 %%.endal grunted as she set down the crates on the floor./ said . I know she feels bad about it./ +If it&s any consolation. for starters I&ve decided to pursue 4omen&s 7iterature as my major in college ne't year. +Is it possible.ya as soon as she saw her looking at it.endal snatched the book away from . things change./ . neither.ya lifted a volume of #mily $ickinson&s poetry out of the crate and began to thumb through it. she sure was an attractive scapegoat. 6ew semester.
+8eally= I thought ./ .ya teased. I even have a list of who&s going with whom just to keep on top of everything./ . +4hat=/ ./ . +Then you can help me think of what to say to . +.endal returned.endal./ +>ou like . I can promise you that. +0ome on. if you like that meathead. and took ./ . in search of inspiration for writing.y obsessive-compulsive organi3ation skills kicking in./ She flipped over a few pages as she spoke.yan Stevens needs in his life./ +4ell. I forgot./ she said.ya asked innocently. +It&s basically an organi3ational tool for the winter formal.endal asked./ ./ +-h. I think I&d faint if he ever asked me./ +(orgot what./ +>ou think so=/ +I think you&re just the kind of girl . here&s a list of possible venues. I understand./ . >ou name it*it&s on here. >et she continued to linger. +I&m into someone who happens to be a girl. +>ou don&t think he&s good looking=/ +Sure. And apparently she&s not into me./ ./ +4hy not= >ou&re cute.+It&s okay. I&ll help you get the rest of your stuff up here. +(or instance. +. And sitting in the back corner of the coffee shop. and here&s a list of $eejays and limo rentals. debating whether or not to go in./ . .ya blushed.yan is cute.yan=/ +2e&s gorgeous. She still lacked motivation to even pick up a pen./ CHAPTER "# %% stood in front of The Spot. 2er stroll./ +>ou&re into girls now. +I&m not into girls now. +And have you seen him without his shirt on= I could scrub my clothes clean on that washboard he calls his stomach. finding it hard to ignore the temptation of a warm beverage and the stimulation of caffeine./ +4hy don&t you ask him to the winter formal then=/ +. jockish sort of look./ +>ou can mark me down as going solo. 2e&d be nuts not to say yes.ya answered. She picked up the binder and showed it to . listening to successful. and began sifting through some papers.e= I couldn&t.endal smiled wickedly. -therwise he might ask somebody else.yan won&t be asking me anytime soon.ya cooed like a little school girl.endal burst out laughing. had led her nowhere in particular.yan would have asked you for sure.ya jumped up off the bed. I happen to think .endal&s hand. +4hat&s that=/ .ya opened the brick-red binder that was sitting ne't to her. +2e&d never say yes.yan. imaginative writers spew out poem after poem. certainly lacked appeal./ . If I&m going to get up the nerve to ask him./ +I wonder who he&s going to ask then./ . I have to do it soon. popular and the captain of the cheerleading team.endal said.
+4hat are you talking about=/ +I&m talking about . +>ou know. She sprinted across campus as if some masked man were chasing her./ said . %ason was inching closer to the front of the line./ . 4hat did he want to talk to her about now= +I&m sure . +>ou just going to stand there all night=/ %% spun around to see . Then for some reason . she collapsed to the ground in front of her dormitory.endal. +6o./ he whispered.yan echoed. +4ell. she didn&t. completely heartbroken./ %% stepped aside to let them pass.yan glanced inside the coffee shop./ said .endal told you what happened.yan Stevens standing directly behind her. %% shivered and wished she&d worn a jacket over her Sampson 7ady >ellow %ackets sweatshirt. 2is hands were shoved deep into the front pockets of his jeans in an effort to keep them warm. and then turned abruptly toward %%. %% stared at him vacantly. barely acknowledging her presence. breaking into %%&s flashback. right./ %% rudely shifted her backpack from one shoulder to the other.endal was holding . +I don&t think so. completely out of breath and. telling him to wait a minute. And when she finally stopped running./ +0ouple=/ ./ %% could feel the knots in her stomach tighten. more significantly. and I&m sure whatever happened between the two of you is a private matter. +She really didn&t tell you what happened then=/ ./ she said. Instead.yan. +2ey %ason. under the scorers& bo' the other night=/ %% cringed./ she said blandly. . 6amely you. And then she saw them under the scorers& bo' together.yan./ said his friend %ason. I heard she&s got a thing for chicks. Then he let go of the door and approached %% slowly. 9esides. clinging to one last hope that this time the hopeless romantic would win. +I thought she&d tell you. %% gave him a slight nod. other girls./ said . %% 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 . the door to the coffee shop swaying gingerly in his hands. +>ou two make a cute couple. Save me a spot in line. +.endal didn&t share that tidbit of information with me. 9ut there was no masked man.yan held up a finger. All of her rationality and levelheaded reasoning had flown out the window.yan&s shoulders gently.The sun had just settled in for the night. as if she were about to ease in for a kiss./ As he turned and reached for the door./ +(ine by me. I&ll catch up with you. who was standing beside him. +I hope you treat her right. and the chill in the air had now turned from a nibble to a bite. she turned and ran. once he was back outside on the sidewalk. She&s too much to deal with. At that moment.yan. +-h. +And I doubt she will any time soon./ +0hicks=/ +>eah.endal would be waiting. simultaneously mouthing +4hat&s going on=/ ./ +I asked her not to tell anyone about it. %% almost called out to her. but muffled her words before they left her mouth. +-ne less thing I need to worry about then./ %%&s backpack dropped to the ground. She had gone there.yan hesitated awkwardly in the doorway. +Some of us would actually like to get a cup of coffee. They shuffled by her.
/ ./ +9ut I saw you together./ +2ey./ she said. +4hy=/ +>ou wouldn&t understand. +4hat happened that night= $id you guys*you know*hook-up=/ +2a. CHAPTER "$ ./ she said suddenly. +So.yan struggled to recall the incident. being soft and everything=/ 2e waited for %% to respond but she was already halfway down the street.+6o. She flopped down and closed her eyes. tingling sensation burst in %%&s stomach. wait a minute.yan called after her as she hurried down the street./ %% tried to read his e'pression but all she could tell was that he was as confused as she was. the sky and . +I&m sorry. you know. +She was waiting for you. just like some scene out of a romantic comedy. right= About me. %ust as she was about to fall asleep./ +>ou saw us=/ .endal was holding onto your shoulders. +She told me to stop acting like such a conceited jerk all the time.yan peered cautiously over %%&s shoulder and then behind him before he continued. let me get this straight. but I have to go. 9ut that&s why I asked you if she said anything to you because. +I&m e'hausted and I still have to make my bed. She was e'hausted from moving everything she owned up two flights of stairs. +. so I followed her. +I knew it. >ou two were about to kiss. the door to her room opened. 2er arms felt like slabs of jelly./ +2ow can you be so sure=/ +9ecause her eyes lit up the moment I mentioned you. +>ou promise you won&t say anything. And it was obvious that she&d no intention of stopping./ +So nothing happened between you two=/ +6ope. and smacked herself in the forehead./ %% smiled. that&s good advice. ./ %%&s eyes danced around. +I wanted to know what was going on with her. >ou followed her because you wanted to know why she stood you up. and her lower back ached./ A warm. 7ike I said./ . 9ut I&m positive she was waiting for you./ +"ut you in your place=/ +>eah./ . I knew you were the person she&d been e'pecting./ +4ell. even though it was still unmade. +. +I don&t want anyone knowing I have a soft side.endal didn&t want you there.endal sat down on her new bed./ .endal mumbled./ . too. I think that if I had made a pass at her she probably would have punched me out.yan&s face./ She grabbed her backpack off the ground. and she basically put me in my place. bouncing off the sidewalk. and when she saw you she basically told you to get lost=/ +>eah*that&s basically it. She didn&t./ +If she was e'pecting me then why were you there=/ +I saw her sneak under the bleachers. she said she was e'pecting someone else. +I am such a complete and utter idiot./ 2e pointed at %% adamantly.yan e'plained. +4e talked about a few other things.ya*don&t even think about trying to convince me to do anything tonight. Then it hit him. I wish./ he glanced around again.
/ +-nly.aybe do a little studying./ %% hurried up from the bed and spread her arms wide. +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./ +4hat do you mean./ +.endal said dryly.yan Stevens./ .ya. just for the record.yan the couch monster./ . through my eyes./ +$idn&t :ueenie tell you that I*/ +She did./ %% e'plained./ +>ou and me both. I&ll listen. I guess I didn&t really believe it./ . through your eyes=/ %% sighed as if she were about to confess to committing a horrible crime. it looked as though you were about to give him a kiss./ said ./ +That I did.ay I=/ .endal&s new surroundings. +And. She stood up and began to pace around the room./ said ./ +That is a mistake.endal nodded and %% sat down beside her.endal./ +And that you basically told him to get lost. +I know*but I was angry and hurt and*I don&t know.endal snickered.yan=/ +That&s beside the point. +4hat are you doing here=/ she asked as %% came into her view./ +That depends. +I can&t believe you thought that I would do that./ +I didn&t know what to think./ . +I have to say I like this room much better than your last./ +I was thinking we could go to the library.endal flinched. I&ll just close my mouth and lock away the key and listen 1uietly. it looked much different through my eyes.yan a lecture. +All I wanted was a chance to e'plain myself./ . )nlike ./ +2ow did you know where to look=/ +.ya./ +That he did. I&m not captivated by his washboard abs. +She said you were up here getting some beauty rest or something./ +4ell. It doesn&t matter to me. trying to make sense of what was happening. I prefer to call him ./ She observed . +I just saw what I saw and ran./ +-h./ said a familiar voice. +I wouldn&t kiss him even if he were the last man on earth. only I showed up right when you were giving . 4e can talk here or we can talk at the school lounge. and made a face. +. +4hatever you have to say.ya told me where you were. She was sitting up now./ .endal&s eyes shot open.endal slid her hand on top of %%&s and s1uee3ed it gently. I&m ready./ %% insisted. +7ooking for you.endal told her.ya likes . and I ran into . And. +./ +2ow about now=/ %%&s eyes were focused on their linked hands./ +>ou could have said something. +I was in town earlier./ +4hat=/ . +>ou can e'plain everything to me now./ %% said as she inched closer to the bed. +$epends on what=/ +-n whether or not you&re ready to listen. . the couch monster informed me that he followed you the other night when you asked me to meet you under the scorers& bo'. +I mean that I did show up that night.endal smacked %% lightly on the shoulder.+It&s not .endal.
%%&s father helped her unpack every last thing she&d brought with her. She&d been e'periencing severe bouts of an'iety in the weeks leading up to her first day at Sampson. As uncomfortable as the assumption made her. She then tossed the ball to %% and added. her life was forever changed. +I&m :ueenie . "erhaps it was the air of confidence she e'uded. They were going to take the campus by storm./ . %% didn&t dare deny it./ +0ome on. She mouthed off to her mother and ordered her father around like he was a butler. +>ou must be the incredibly talented %osephine %enkins I&ve heard so much about./ she eventually told %%. +I knew you belonged to the dark side the first day I met you. It took %% a second or two to reali3e :ueenie wasn&t referring to Star 4ars. making it to the state championships. +Thought so. tossed %%&s basketball high up in the air and said simply./ said :ueenie. 4hile they were busy getting her room set up. with %% soon finding that :ueenie&s spoiled-brat routine was nothing more than a carefully crafted act. . right down to her socks./ %% had said. you know that=/ At that moment. and nothing her parents said or did could ease her mind. They had both arrived a week early. %%% Three notable moments throughout %%&s time at Sampson Academy stood out in her mind. #ach was notable for a different reason. The championship game went .endal said. 4e&re going to take this school by storm. before classes began. :ueenie also had been instrumental in helping %% come out of the closet. She e'uded such an air of confidence that %% had no choice but to believe her. and re1uest a roommate change. :ueenie had been able to do just that with one simple sentence. in walked :ueenie . There was something about :ueenie that caused %% to look past her salty e'terior. to get acclimated with the campus during orientation.c9ride with her parents in tow.aybe you can help me make sense of it=/ +I can do my best. And that was a moment worth remembering./ She picked up her volume of poetry and held it in the air. silently e'pressing his distaste for :ueenie&s attitude. 2e had even offered to talk to the $ean of Students. the one and only. when the 7ady >ellow %ackets went undefeated. She took %% by the arm and dragged her from the room. each forever confined to a special spot in the corner of her memory for safekeeping until she decided to revisit it. -r maybe it was the charismatic grin she displayed as she flopped on %%&s freshly made bed. +There&s this one poem I can&t get out of my head. 9ut %% resisted. and instead embraced her se'uality for the very first time in her life. all of %%&s fears and worries melted away. In a desperate attempt to delay the final moment in which he would be forced to let her go. The second notable moment happened during %%&s junior year.+Studying=/ +>eah. performed only when her parents were around. Somehow./ +That&s right.c9ride. 9ut it wasn&t just what she saidN it was how she said it. The day she&d met :ueenie. It&s been a couple of weeks since I brushed up on #mily $ickinson. and nothing could stop them. The two became inseparable after that. The first was the day she met :ueenie. %%&s father had raised an eyebrow or two in her direction.
And since e'ams were right around the corner. A couple of players on the boys& basketball team were leaving the library at the e'act same time. %% gulped./ she said. once they were inside.endal looped her arm through %%&s and walked in step with her across the school grounds. She scanned the second floor 1uickly. $uring e'ams./ +-h. made a game-winning turn-around jumper just as time e'pired. Time paused as the rest of their team flooded the court. and there was no window e'cept for the one on the door. %ust as she could recall the smell of the scuffed hardwood as she lay beneath the pile of players after they had won the championship game. A single oak table with attached benches stood in the center.endal replied.endal oddly when she took hold of %%&s hand. with a playful smile. you know= Two girls holding hands. -nce . +I&m just having a little fun.endal skipped up the last few steps and disappeared from view. %% knew something incredible was about to happen./ +$oesn&t bother me much.endal&s almond hand lotion would forever be linked with whatever was about to happen ne't.endal waiting patiently in front of one of the study rooms with a single key dangling off the end of her pinky. +>ou don&t want to sit at a table=/ %% asked. study rooms had to be signed up for and reserved in advanced. The walls were soundproof. +This kind of studying needs to be done in private. +I&m obviously used to it by now. %% was absolutely thrilled to be right in the middle of the fray and at the bottom of the pile. . +As you go along with what=/ +As I go along with us. As she made her way toward the biographies section. such e'hilaration that she wondered if she would ever feel it again. %% had to ask. and all. and desperately tried to calm her nerves. 4hen %% reached the landing. And she wanted to make sure she logged every second of it into her memory./ +I don&t see what the big deal is./ said %%. eyeing the key. who had broken free from the defense under the basket. %ust reminiscing about the moment made her hair stand on end with e'citement./ . 9ecause of the type of seclusion they provided. +I&m learning as I go along./ . The third notable moment hadn&t 1uite happened yet. Student library assistants were often bribed in e'change for direct access to study rooms.endal unlocked the door to the study room and pushed it open. She watched with anticipation as . +9esides. she saw . since she&d made the winning basket. and as they stepped aside they studied . and ended in dramatic fashion when %%. chasing her down. staring is rude. seating three or four people at the most. +Are you trying to cause a scene=/ %% asked. and tackling her to the floor. The room was no bigger than a closet. facing %% who lagged behind her. trying to see through rows and rows of bookshelves as if she had O-ray vision.into double overtime./ . It was a high unlike anything she had ever e'perienced before. she knew the smell of . and began to walk up a flight of stairs backwards. so you&re telling me you&re completely fine with it now=/ . they were e'tremely hard to come by. CHAPTER "& %% opened the library door. her heart sped up e'citedly. 9ut %% had a feeling it was about to unfold right before her eyes.endal rounded a corner.endal replied.
All I see you doing is talking. +8emember how you&re supposed to be listening=/ +-h*right./ +I&m just trying to understand what&s going on here. +-ne of the library assistants is on the cheerleading s1uad. unable to speak. when she&d been trying to make sense of everything that was happening around her. 4hen ./ She looked up at %%. I don&t see you listening./ +4ell.endal began. +9ut. +Interested in you=/ . . you know=/ +4ho=/ %% asked as she slid onto the bench. +She used to torment me at night. She pointed at the cover. I didn&t .endal closed the door and sat down at the table with the #mily $ickinson book spread out in front of her. +I was so confused./ +I have my ways. +#verything that was right in front of me. All I had to do was ask her for a room and she saved me a key./ . It was like she was this reminder of everything I wanted to ignore. %% nodded. she knew e'actly what poem and page she was looking for.endal shot her a look.+4here did you get that=/ +4hat=/ . that&s all./ . her nerves getting the better of her. +>es.endal ordered./ %% could feel the sweat forming on her palms./ said .endal confessed. +I thought you said you were ready to listen. really=/ ./ . ./ +0heerleading connections. +8ela'. %% remained standing. 2ow could she forget it= The poem rang through her ears whenever %% was around. +>ou were so une'pected and at the same time you were everything I had been looking for./ +4hat whole thing e'actly=/ %% pressed.endal returned her attention to the book in front of her. I should have known.endal played with the key. %%./ +Sit down./ +I am./ . +The only difference is that I&m not afraid of it anymore. and then turned her attention to the book on the table. It had been there from the beginning and it was there that day under the weeping willow./ +-h. +I know I&m supposed to be listening.endal shook her head and laughed.endal sighed./ she said./ .endal.endal finished. She decided to test the waters first. waiting for me to lug her to class. not sure whether she should sit down ne't to .endal reached over and tapped %% gently on the ear. +I used to hate her./ +So what happened the night you stood me up=/ ./ +$id you have*at anytime were you interested*/ %%&s voice trailed off. "age DEP. +#mily $ickinson=/ +>es./ she managed. She patted the open seat ne't to her. +The interest never went away.endal or across from her. -nly. I&d see her sitting there on my desk in the morning. As she flipped intently through the pages of #mily $ickinson&s poetry.endal looked at her that way. can I ask you just one 1uestion=/ +I suppose. it knocked the breath straight out of her. when you said you&re learning as you go along=/ +This whole thing is new to me. that. +It&s a learning process. you&re a girl and that complicated things. +4hat did you mean back on the steps./ said %% as she sat back 1uietly. +This=/ She held it up.
and that her words aren&t supposed to be taken so literally. I don&t need a compass and I don&t need a chart. #verything that had made perfect sense to me before. still wired from the nervous electricity flowing through her entire body after kissing T2# . And that&s you./ +>ou once said that the trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she writes so ambiguously. not my friends.endal softly./ said %%. It took %% less than a second to reali3e that she wasn&t dreaming and she welcomed . suddenly made no sense at all. +I didn&t reali3e what was happening until 0hristine lied to me about how everyone at school was talking about me. +>ou are way too humble. The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she knew e'actly what I was thinking and feeling. no matter what anyone else thought. each one growing more intense than the last and tasting ever as sweet.endal sighed again as she ran her fingers over the words of the poem in front of her.endal. %%% 7ater. +I knew you were going to say that. she silently thanked 5od for #mily $ickinson at least a hundred times before she finally fell asleep. +>ou don&t have to say anything.c0arthy. she sei3ed the moment. and assuming things because I was hanging out with you. and how you helped me change my perspective. 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./ .& I don&t care what anyone thinks anymore. +I finally get it. +The trouble with #mily $ickinson is that she turned my world upside down the day she brought me to you. And that I didn&t want to stop seeing you. She said that everyone on the s1uad complained about how different I&d become and that if I wanted to remain on the s1uad and not ruin my reputation I had to stop hanging out with you.endal ./ .endal&s soft lips with each kiss that followed./ She didn&t wait for %% to respond this time. It was the way I started 1uestioning everything else around me. It wasn&t until I read this poem again that I knew that my heart had already made up its mind. +I just wanted you to know how I really felt about you. even when I didn&t know myself. still unable to look . 4I7$ nights. 9ut that isn&t the case.endal.endal in the eyes./ She pointed to the page. All I know is that I want to be around you. when %% was lying in bed that night.endal reached over and lifted %%&s face to hers so that they were eye to eye. +I finally get the meaning behind it. 9ut it wasn&t just the feelings./ %% scanned the poem and smiled as she read the familiar $ickinson poem silently. It was the way I started looking at my friends differently. and especially not 0hristine. ./ +I think you&re giving me way too much credit. That&s why I avoided you. you know that=/ +It&s not the first time I&ve heard that. And I didn&t know how to deal with the feelings. +And why this poem means so much more to me than $ickinson could have ever imagined./ %% opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. Instead. because my heart knows e'actly what it wants./ said ./ said . The feelings I have whenever I&m around you are my own @wild nights./ said . leaned in and kissed %% directly on the lips. 4ild nights. not the s1uad. That&s why I stood you up.understand how another girl could be making me feel something I had never felt before.
/ +I don&t think you&ll be running into any economic 1uestions at the poetry reading. sprawled out on her unmade bed with books. 4hen she closed her eyes. +0aramel latte with an e'tra shot of confidence. sipping from her own Styrofoam cup./ +Thanks./ She paused momentarily. as if :ueenie somehow had just unearthed an eli'ir to cure stage fright./ +It&s my pleasure. no./ She hopped up on %%&s bed.rs./ :ueenie said honestly. scattered papers. she would./ said :ueenie as she slammed the door shut behind her with the heel of her sneaker. +6o. scattering notes and papers everywhere. I hate to admit it. $id your conscience suddenly grow back again=/ . +$o what=/ +"ass all of your e'ams without ever taking a single note or cracking open a te'tbook=/ +I don&t know. which she already was an e'pert at. The last and most daunting of them all was scheduled for later on in the evening. 4e&re naturally gifted.endal ./ +So where is T2# . 0lark had selected for her to read aloud was sitting to her left on a stark-white sheet of paper. If %% could study for it. so much so that the words were now imprinted on the inside of her forehead. +I feel like I&ve been wrong about a lot of things lately. I&m going to lose it. +I just can./ %% eyed the clock beside her bed. she could read them as they floated by. +I thought you two were hunkered down in the library studying=/ +4e were earlier this morning./ :ueenie said./ +>ou know./ +>ou would. +It&s sort of like the way you can just write. +2ow do you do that=/ she asked./ %% reached for the cup in sheer desperation. The poem that ./ :ueenie held up her hands to protest. whose desk remained devoid of second-hand notes and worn te'tbooks. I was wrong about her./ +4ait a second. 4hat else can I say=/ +4hat&s your gift= A photographic memory=/ +I prefer to consider myself a genius at large./ +Thank 5od for that. And the way some musicians can just play an instrument by ear. and worn folders spread out in front of her. +I need it. +I swear*if I have to answer one more 1uestion on supply and demand. but she&s pretty cool. and it was hardly an e'am.c0arthy=/ :ueenie asked as her eyes searched around the room. She had gone over it again and again. +%ust what the doctor ordered. +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. She had taken three of her four e'ams so far and felt confident that she&d done well on all of them.CHAPTER "' %% was resting on her stomach./ +I&ll spare you the @I told you so& then. %% 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 deserve any @I told you so& you can throw at me./ %% marveled at :ueenie. I won&t take your charity. The night %% had been dreading for almost the entire semester was upon her.
so nobody else at her table could . you&ll never know the difference between the two. +I just*/ :ueenie stopped and looked up at a poster on the wall./ +. It&s something special. shifting her position every other minute. you can be cynical sometimes./ +It happens to the best of us./ +If I&ve learned anything from you over the past three years it&s that sometimes your heart is going to get broken and sometimes it isn&t.+I&m serious. and who am I to take that away from her=/ %% reached over and put her arm around :ueenie&s shoulders. 7et&s not go overboard here./ +Sure. do you remember when I said I was going to slip in the @I&m a big./ %%% %% sat nervously in her chair in the back corner of The Spot. but we all can. I think I&ve gone and grown a conscience after all. She jumped up and tossed her cup into the garbage can with a single hook shot. but I think you might be right./ +5raduation perhaps=/ :ueenie smiled deviously./ :ueenie sighed. I&ve spent a great deal of my adolescent life e'pecting the worst when I could be missing out on the best. +4ell. It&s simply a 1uestion of when. thing to do=/ +>es. +I never reali3ed how cynical I could be. it&s that whole risk thing I was talking about. The lighting was dim.y sister is taking that risk./ +2ey. I don&t know what it feels like to put your all into someone. +It only took you three and a half years of private school to mature into a well-adjusted. not to mention childish. +4hat tipped you off e'actly=/ +9esides the fact that it&s an incredibly self-serving. morally-sound young woman. 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 . +"erhaps.oral=/ :ueenie asked in disbelief. To take a risk like that./ +I&ve decided that maybe*just maybe*it isn&t such a dandy idea after all./ +-h=/ %% climbed up off of her bed and sat down on the floor beside :ueenie. 9ut if you never take that chance. fighting the overwhelming sensation to bolt from the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself. +Are you okay=/ she asked. +I&m sorry. I never give anyone a chance at a relationship because I&m already convinced that it won&t work out anyway. 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./ :ueenie insisted. I&m not sure what&s going on with me./ %% watched as :ueenie slumped sadly down onto the floor.c9ride family soon enough. 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. besides all of that. devilishly-motivated./ +I know*it&s just that I started thinking that maybe I&m part of the problem./ +7ooks like you&re finally putting that genius of a mind to good use. +4ell-adjusted= "lease. I&m so proud. She&s putting her all into someone. thankfully.
+I think we&re going to be voted king and 1ueen of winter formal this year./ :ueenie smirked. It was as if people kept multiplying like pods from some alien invasion movie. +Is it me or are there more people in here than usual=/ she whispered to ./ +4ell. I invited everyone on the cheerleading s1uad. +I&d be able to concentrate just fine./ . %% ignored her and took in the crowd./ . as he rubbed the sore spot. +2ow about. as she slapped .yan Stevens behind her./ +>ou think so=/ . . And each one of them probably invited someone else and so on and so forth. 9oth ./ %% grumbled. +. +She&s fine./ +And without baseball metaphors. but it was too late.ya elbowed him gently in the gut./ +Isn&t that .endal and %% shot her a warning look. +I must say.yan fidget until .yan even had a choice in the matter. +-h.ya=/ %% asked.see that she wasn&t only pale.ore than usual. She&s ready to nail this like a threepointer at the bu33er. +Are they together=/ %% asked. +4e just came over to wish you good luck./ +-h. +#ver since she asked him to the winter formal. +I guess so. .endal slipped in through tight lips./ said :ueenie confidently. +)h./ %% smiled politely./ he mumbled.ya./ said :ueenie. +7ook at her. an awful regurgitated mess would come rushing out.y. 5ood luck. genuinely serious.ya said cheerfully as soon as she reached the table.endal&s hand shot up in the air. girl. I&m just trying to lighten up the situation here./ +2ey. She was sitting beside %%. +>ou okay=/ ./ +I think I can do without the basketball metaphors. She grabbed hold of ./ :ueenie replied./ . I bet they&ll even dub you .atie 2olmes of this school./ +2ey. she&s been waving him around like an -scar or something.endal asked. She gave . . but that a soft shade of seaweed green had settled along her cheekbones as well.ya on the arm in an overly enthusiastic and utterly obno'ious sort of way. for that matter.endal a slight s1uee3e of the hand and winked at %% as if they shared some special secret. ladies.endal. afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak. you two make 1uite the darling couple. I don&t think .ya made her way to their table dragging an unenthusiastic . +2ey.ya in the school paper. that would totally rock. and watched . 2er mouth was already off and running./ %% forced a laugh. right./ :ueenie remarked. +"ick someone in the crowd and picture them naked=/ +I think if I pictured anyone naked I&d start laughing. %% nodded in return. she&s ready to knock this one out of the park.ya asked. and every once in a while her hand drifted over and s1uee3ed %%&s leg in moral support.endal. 2onestly. And then someone probably posted it on Twitter and it went viral or something./ :ueenie sat back in her chair and mumbled something about %% having a poetry book stuck up her butt. +I swear you two are the Tom 0ruise and .yan&s hand. yeah. stop. +4hat&s that thing everyone always says=/ asked .
/ %% was about to add a few more cents-worth to the conversation when she saw . +2ey.endal as she hit :ueenie playfully in the arm. +Thanks for the water. +I&ll go get you some water./ said :ueenie. 2e needs to be knocked down a peg or two. She&s as steady as a rock./ said %%. +4ouldn&t you be if you had to deal with that=/ :ueenie pointed behind her with her thumb. She felt ./ 9oth %% and :ueenie looked at . And it&ll do .ya&s a sweetheart.endal rub the small of her back as she tried desperately to block . She yanked .ya looked in her direction./ %% gulped. . and she began to hyperventilate. he sure is a lucky guy./ %% announced. yeah. 0lark shouted into the microphone.endal maintained. At this point she was seeing everything double./ . hard.ya&s a little*particular. 0lark take the stage. +%%. +>ou don&t look so good.ya asked. A hush fell over the entire coffee shop. %% knew she&d turned a deep shade of pink. 0lark&s voice from her ears./ %% scowled at :ueenie./ said .endal suggested. +She&s just psyching herself up. +4ell. 0lark&s hand. +I&m glad to see that you&re so e'cited about this reading.rs.rs./ ./ %% pushed her chair away from the table and bent down until her head was between her knees. -r maybe it was the peace sign*she couldn&t tell. and turned her head swiftly as soon as . +>ou know. She felt . %% stood there.endal. and I&d have to start calling names. +2ey. water droplets sliding down her cheeks and nestling in the part between her lips. (or a minute there I thought no one was going to volunteer to go first. +Take deep breaths. 0hairs shifted. she&s not nervous at all.yan. +At least you&ve got your color back. conversation halted and a highpitched feedback s1ueal erupted out of the microphone in . +. +. +That . :ueenie returned with a cup of ice water and proceeded to dump it over the top of %%&s head.ya shifted./ said :ueenie.+0ut it out. +%ust look at her.endal./ . She&s a girl who knows what she wants. +. +Are you nervous at all=/./ she hissed at :ueenie.yan some good to be led around by his tail for a while./ added :ueenie. as every person in the entire room stared at her.rs. She shrugged her shoulders back at them.e=/ %% pointed at her chest.rs.endal s1uee3e her knee under the table again and thought she saw :ueenie give her the number one sign./ +-h. we better find a seat before they&re all taken. In an instant./ %% screamed instantly as she leaped up from her chair./ ./ said . +2e looked absolutely miserable. she lost all sense of reality and her head began to sway la3ily from side to side. as she felt sweat break out over her entire body. that&s all. as she leaned closer and rubbed %%&s back./ %% mouthed. kind of like how we prepare before a cheerleading competition. 4ith her cheeks growing hotter./ :ueenie offered in return. +I think I&m going to be sick. +6ot at all.yan by the sleeve of his shirt and they wandered away through the crowd. The damp taste in her mouth went dry.
She accepted our fate. I accepted our gender. +I wrote this for class*well. Together. we knitted a 1uilt that I now use when I get cold. I prefer to say that it flew out of me like water from a faucet.endal and :ueenie in the corner. %%./ CHAPTER ") . %% avoided any and all eye contact with the faces she recogni3ed. was making a funny face at her and it almost made %% laugh out loud. I took it off and basked naked in the sun. She sat down with her eyes facing the floor and when she felt confident enough to proceed.ay I=&/ As the crowd waited. @. 2er eyes began one final lap around the room. I dribbled a ball aggressively down the court. :ueenie. tiger. +She tied my hair in ribbons. one after the other. settling on . which wove a mother and daughter from two different te'tures. who held her breath in anticipation. and focused on the ones she didn&t know. 0lark. The words just kept flowing from my pen. 4e found a common strand. %%&s trembling lips parted slightly and a short and purposeful breath escaped. There were no breaks in the lines and no pauses to 1uestion where the poem was headed. She often wondered who I was inside. And these are the words that ended up on the page. She walked with her head down and her shoulders low until she reached the stage. She forced a cotton shirt over my head. CHAPTER "( 4hen she looked out into the crowd./ said . I suppose you could say I wrote it. It was the final signal that there was no going back. She cringed at my defiance. until they blended together into a sea of colors. They stopped about halfway around the track.endal. She caught a glimpse of -livia 5reen. she lifted her eyes to the crowd. +4henever you&re ready. I turned the handle and suddenly the words were there. and her hands reached out on their own and grabbed hold of the microphone. %% grabbed hold of a wooden stool from the back of the stage and pulled it forward.+4hy don&t you start us off then=/ +5o get &em. She remembered days of girlie pom-poms. I cringed at her reluctance. of course. >et. %% licked her dry lips and commanded her legs to move forward. somehow we connected through years of change when I finally wore a dress. 2er shoulders straightened. smiling supportively at her from the back of the room. the best writer in class./ :ueenie said with a fist pump. and they kept coming. These are the words I was asked to read out loud today and they come in the form of a poem entitled. I boasted that I was her only daughter.rs.other . I untied them and my hair ran wild. She gave %% an encouraging nod and sat down ne't to .
2e looked up briefly and caught her watching him. >ou should read some her work. +A fan=/ +A fan of poetry. +I&ve got a few moments before we are supposed to warm up./ she said politely./ 2e pointed to the rest of the band members behind him.endal smiled. by the way. +4e&re called 0andy 2earts. She smiled momentarily.ay I join you=/ 2e gestured at the open seat across from ./ +8eally= I&ve never heard of you. +I don&t mean this in a bad way or anything./ +4hy 0andy 2earts=/ +4hy not= 9eats out the other names we came up with./ +4hich were=/ +(our 5uys and a $rummer or./ +6ice to meet you. A $rummer and (our 5uys. +0andy hearts make for great T-shirt designs when you&re trying to promote a band.endal raised the book in her hand so he could read the title./ +5uess not./ +5irlfriend=/ +>es. +I guess we&re not as popular as #mily $ickinson. would you like one=/ +Tempting*but I think I&m going to have to pass. as he tapped his fingers at the sides of his jeans. he was standing right in front of her. +#very (riday night. but I never would have guessed that you were gay=/ +6either did I./ ./ +So*0andy 2earts= That e'plains your shirt then. +TouchM. A guy with crow-black shaggy hair and tattooed arms strummed a few strings of his guitar and twisted the knobs at the end./ +Speaking of T-shirts. ./ .aybe I will./ said 9rad with a snap of his finger.endal watched the band set up their instruments on the stage.endal teased.y girlfriend participates in the poetry slam every (riday night.endal. ./ . 4e&re pretty popular in this area./ +As in a girl who&s a friend or as in a girl you&re dating=/ +As in a girl I&m dating./ +She was a poet. while chomping on a piece of gum./ . +I&m ./ +8eally=/ 2e paused. +0lever. a biography of #mily $ickinson. and then refocused her attention on the book in front of her. After you&re done playing. +#mily $ickinson= I&ve never heard of her./ 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. you should stick around and check her out.endal e'tended her hand to him. ./ +I don&t think we would have come up with as brilliant a T-shirt design for those. 4hen she decided it was safe to let her eyes wander again.y name is 9rad. +0ome here often=/ he asked.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. +I&m sorry.endal. by the way./ 9rad said./ +Agreed./ ./ +0lever. It&s ama3ing.. . actually./ +. actually./ she said as nicely as possibly. +I&m waiting for my girlfriend./ +So listen. isn&t it=/ he grinned.
she glimpsed %% walking toward the coffee shop with her head high. She&d decided to study 4omen&s 7iterature in college and then go on and get her master&s degree.endal played along./ said . oomph./ +6ever hurts to ask. laughed and cleared her throat./ said %%. +>eah. -nly this time she didn&t dare let go. #ventually.endal somehow had grown to love even more than she had before. +6ot at all. And she had %% and #mily $ickinson to thank for that. signaling that spring had arrived at last. The fountain in the center of the 1uad had been turned on a week earlier. She smiled and took hold of her girlfriend&s hand as . +She wouldn&t like to buy one of our T-shirts by chance. no longer shuffling her feet across the ground in the unsure way she had before. % % % THE E+D % % % .aybe I will. she&d finally found that purpose or sense of direction she&d been searching for./ said . As . +She might change her mind after she hears you play.endal never felt more secure than she did at that moment. #verything around her felt fresh and new.endal./ %% teased. %% had participated in every poetry slam and open reading held at The Spot. +Try saying it with a little more oomph this time. As for .endal looked on as 9rad crept back to the stage and traded barbs with his band mates about how he had just been shot down. because it just wasn&t important to her anymore. She&d also decided to 1uit the cheerleading s1uad. .endal stood up.+. as they head to college in/ The Education of Queenie McBride .endal began to consider the strange course of events that had occurred during the school year. which gave a clear view of the school&s front lawn that was a few hundred yards away. She looked out of the adjacent window. +I don&t think so. a person that .&/ +>ou make it sound like a boring night./ . +4I7$ nights. she wanted to become a teacher. 4I7$ nights should be our lu'ury. 4I7$ nights.endal./ +4ill do.endal laughed./ As 9rad turned to leave./ +Stick around after your set. .endal. some interested poetry fans invited her to perform at clubs in downtown 8ichmond./ +-omph=/ .ollow -ueenie and . 4ere I with thee./ +That was much better. he stopped suddenly. a new and confident %% was born./ . +%ust preparing myself for another one of our @wild nights.endal sat back down.endal felt the warmth in her chest e'pand. That night on stage when she&d read her poem aloud. She leaned back in her chair and set the open book face down on the table so she wouldn&t lose her spot. enlightening young minds with the magic of poetry in the same way that %% had enlightened hers.. Since then. She&d also become a fre1uent contributor to a local literary maga3ine. once she reached the table. +2ave you been waiting long=/ %% asked./ . 8ecently. would she=/ +6o.
ro# Lyndsey’s ne$est L5B" teen novel visit: http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co# Lyndsey is collecting true L5B" stories . you are under age 2.or her anthology My Story is Out %.by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo Co#ing in August 2012 4or #ore in. and have a personal L5B" story you $ould like to share that could help other teens3 go to http:66$$$/Publishing yndicate/co#6 or http:$$$/7y tory%s1ut/co# .or#ation and e2cerpts .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.