Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm not switching blogs by any means. No. No. No. I love my Converse layout too much. Mostly I'll post on here. I started for my emotional days. Like today. When I feel like crap and want somewhere to rant, but can password protect it. So it won't be updated super-frequently (I hope). But believe me, it wil be updated. If you want the password, I'll have my email on the other blog so you can contact me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Okay, Part Two

Now just remember: This is first-draft material. There will be errors. There will be boring sentences (hopefully not too many). And this is all copyright. And my poster just fell off the wall. Hold on.

Okay. The poster is temporarily reattached to the wall with the weirdest sticky putty stuff, which only works if applied in vast quantities. I'll tape it later. So anyway, here it is.

Beginning where this left off...if you're new, scroll down a few posts for the beginning.

Kyle holds out my keys to me. “Because I’m your friend.”

But why? I close my eyes for a moment. Part of me keeps waiting for him to get mad. Oddly, I don’t think he will. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

A few minutes later, when I’ve decided I’m sane enough to drive, and we’re rolling down the road, Kyle shifts in his seat. “If you don’t mind me asking-”

I manage a dry laugh. “Remember what I said? You can ask about anything.”

He considers that and nods. “What happened? The Melissa I remembered was a quiet good girl. I think I was really surprised that time you said you got a ticket for going twenty miles over the speed limit, because that seemed so reckless for you.”

I shake my head, feeling a humorless smile pull my lips. “It’s a long story.”

“It takes an hour to get home.”

“Alright, then.”


Fourteen months earlier

I wake long before my alarm and roll onto my back, tucking my hands under my head. They slide against my sheets, so apparently I exiled my pillow to the floor in my sleep. I pick a spot on the shadowed ceiling to look at and release a slow breath. Finally. The day of my liberation.

It sounds like I’m one of those high school seniors who hates her parents and can’t wait to go wild at college. First of all, I’m on scholarship to play volleyball, and Coach won’t put up with crap. Second, going wild just isn’t my thing. My first drink at a friend’s party made me sick. So I’m sensitive to booze, and it makes me feel horrible. Fun? I think not. Third: I don’t hate my parents. I’m not going so far as to say I’m best buds with them. But we get along pleasantly enough. Most of the time.

My current town is a dead zone. I’ve lived here for two years and have a (singular) handful of friends. I stretch, pushing my feet away until my heels scrape over the footboard and hang off the end. That’s one consequence of pushing 5’10”. That, and having difficulty finding jeans that fit. I slide my left arm off the bed and drag the ground with my fingers until they brush over a mess of thin plastic. Picking up the earbud cords, I lift my silver iPod, dangling it upside down over my chest. I scroll through a playlist and select Life in Technicolor by Coldplay. It’s the first song in the album – the beginning.

I like that. It fits. The beginning of Melissa’s era, in which I become totally me, and less what everyone else expects me to be. I feel like myself today.

I also feel like I should go for a short run. Something to work off the excess energy. Or maybe it’s the jitters. I’ve packed about all my belongings in the past week, and loaded most of it into the cars yesterday. I just know I’m going to get there with the most crap and look like a spoiled white kid. Ugh. It’s a kitchen-equipped suite, though, so I need stuff the average freshman won’t.

Tuning out for the next hour helps me calm down. Around eight, I slouch downstairs, the hems of my blue plaid pajamas flirting with the wood floor. “Morning.”

Mom looks up from a bowl of cereal, her hair in a haphazard bun. “Morning, Mel.”

I yawn and shuffle into the kitchen, grabbing a bagel from a plastic bag on the counter. The strawberry cream cheese from Einstein’s Bagels sits a few inches away, and a knife covered with pale pink stuff next to it. Yum. I smear the bagel and slink back upstairs. Usually Dad’s weird about having food upstairs on the carpet, but I can get away with anything today.

At nine-thirty I throw my backpack into the side of my pale blue Rav4 and slam the door in case the toaster box tumbles out. Dad pulls the Expedition out of the driveway. I slip into the driver’s seat, close the doors, take another deep breath, and start the engine. A few minutes later when we’ve hit the freeway, I punch the radio button. Viva La Vida pours from the speakers.
I smile, note that Dad’s picked up speed, and egg the accelerator. It’s a good day.

A couple hours later, Dad sticks his head into my little room. “Go ahead and start putting your computer together. I’ll head back down and get the last boxes.

I grind my teeth together for a millisecond before turning my voice into cotton candy. “Okay.” As soon as the door closes, I look at the computer desk, and then at the laundry basket next to it. An edge of grey plastic pokes out from under a crimson towel. I mentally growl. I hate putting computer systems together. This cord, that port, this hole, that power strip. I’ll figure it out eventually. But seriously, this is the age of technology. Why isn’t all this stuff wireless?

When the door opens next, I’m staring at the underside of the desk, one hand between the desk and wall. I clutch the end of the printer cord and randomly jam the connector forward at the printer, which is on top of the desk. It would be smarter to scoot the desk out so I could see what I was doing, but if I fumble long enough, I’ll get it into the right port.

A female voice. “Mel?”

Ack, that’s not Dad. I mutter under my breath and jab the connector again. It clicks into place. Well, whaddya know? I scramble out and to my feet, dizzy for an instant.

Kara stands in the doorway, huge brown eyes lit with her smile. She extends her arms and hugs me, and I hug her back. We met a couple months ago at orientation, and some kind woman in the housing department told me she was one of my suitemates. “Hey, how are you?”

I step back, catching a whiff of some flowery scent. “Good, just trying to get this computer set up. I hate plugging in computers.”

She wrinkles her nose and laughs. “Yeah, all those cords are kind of annoying.” Something beeps, and she opens the huge maroon purse on her arm and pulls out a phone. Flipping it open, she reads the text before rolling her eyes. “My boyfriend is so clueless.”

“Mike, right?” I think that’s his name. I remember meeting him too.

“Yes, he’s asking what time the opening convocation is.”

“Five, right?” I think it’s pointless to ask if I’m correct, because it’s almost a mandatory event, and everyone knows when it is. Except Mike, apparently.

“Yes, everyone keeps telling me that I should go, but I heard opening convo is always really old school.” She finishes texting and drops the phone into the bottomless purse with a husky laugh. “I think the main music person is an opera singer.”

I quail at the very word. “I hate opera.” My parents dragged me to Le Nozze di Figaro when I was ten. I slept through it. I’ve always been bad about nodding off when I’m bored.

Kara’s eyes widen as she nods. “It’s definitely not my style of music.” She chuckles again. It’s one of the things I think makes her interesting. She always laughs.

Dad re-enters, I make introductions, and we carry on the unloading. Everything must be accomplished in an orderly fashion, with each task being completed before beginning the next. I like to bounce around from project to project. Keeps things interesting. Or if I really don’t want to do something, that way I can stall and still get things done. But this is Dad. He does things A-B-C-D-E. It’s one of our irritation points, because I like Q-J-A-D-Z.

When I am straining to find a happy voice, we get the last box in. I pretend to do things for a couple minutes as Mom chats with Kara’s mom, who is absolutely tiny compared to Kara. And when Kara’s parents leave, I continue feigning to work. They have to go soon, and I’m fiddling with my nightstand so it doesn’t become the three of us standing around, hands in pockets, staring at the walls. Hopefully without tears. I dread the thought of tears.

Dad glances at his watch and grimaces. “We’d better get going so we can make it to church on time.”

I hide a little laugh of glee. I get freshman privileges and hence may skip church today. “Okay.” I hug Mom. “Thanks for helping move all this stuff up here.” The sixth floor will be quieter, but the first floor would have been nice for unloading.

She hugs me and steps back, face perfectly composed. She looks happy that I’m ready to be here. “Love you.”

“Love you too.” I turn and hug Dad, scolding myself for being so hard on him. He’s a good dad, and I can overreact. I do overreact. “See you soon.”

When the door closes, I release a deep breath. “Thank you God.”

Kara pokes her head out of her room. We each have tiny little separate rooms, two on each side of the suite, split by a common room. “What’s up?”

“I was really hoping no one would start crying or anything, and no one did.” I’ve heard all the horror stories about parents falling apart on the first day and refusing to let their children stay at the school. I would burrow into the couch in the living room and tie myself to the coffee table. Bring on the stormtroopers.

Kara nods. “Yeah, that’s the way it was for me too.” She laughs. “I did all my freaking out a couple days ago.”

From her room at the opposite end of the hall, Nicole steps into the hallway. She redefines perfectly petite. Okay, so she’s 5’4”, but she’s so slender, has perfect bone structure in her face and beautiful ivory skin. I’d love to be that proportionately slim. I’m not gawky, but I’m thin for a volleyball player.

She tucks a wing of black hair behind her ear. “Yeah, me too. I was totally fine today, and my mom was weepy, but yesterday night she was the steady one and I was a wreck.”

She has the cutest drawl. It’s not a stereotypical Texas twang, so I’m not sure what to call it. I shrugged. “No one was weepy, but the last few days have been awful. Everyone was just acting really weird.” Maybe none of us knew how we should act.

But I do know one thing.

I am free.


Phew. I'm not sure how I feel about posting this. Irritated, maybe, that there are errors. Hey, y'all can buy the book when it gets published. Or if it does well enough, I'll just give you copies :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

So there! A safe haven.

I refuse to post about Proposition 8, because people have argued both sides (for the most part) eloquently and respectfully. Thank you, those who were completely firm and respectful. It's a delicate balance. So that's all I have to say about Prop 8, because I've said my piece on others' blogs.

So...quite honestly, I am stalling to avoid reading acts 4 and 5 of Romeo and Juliet. I've already read the play four times in the last two weeks, but the Dreaded Shakespeare Midterm comes upon me. I am doomed. Oh well.

One of the girls on my floor made cupcakes a couple days ago. That, along with the renegade cupcake posts by Cuileann, have made up my mind: This next weekend, I will bake something. The only problem is that I can't decide what cupcakes to bake! There are so many delicious-sounding (and looking) ones on her blog. It may come down to the highly scientific art of eeny-meeny-miny-mo. (Is there standardized spelling for eeny-meeny-miny-mo? Or does everyone have a personalized version?)

Q posted recently about Brandon Sanderson. Check out his website - there's a free e-book which you can download. Warning, there are a couple PG-13 moments, but they are brief. If I was writing the book (and if I was talented enough to write the book), I would probably have changed those moment a bit, but as I said, they're rather brief, and don't occur much. This is the link: I read the whole thing in one night. Yes, I realize it's something like 600 pages. I was bored. I couldn't read Shakespeare anymore. So I downloaded it. It took a few hours, but oh, how I enjoyed it...

*weeps and signs off, condemning self to Romeo's ramblings*

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I'm headed home for today, and will be back tomorrow. Due to a midterm, I have written exactly two sentences on the project. I think I'm going to name it Moonlight for right now - like the Moonlight Sonata. As I may have mentioned before, I suck at titles.

So anyhoo, despite my not being able to write squat this week, I've formulated a lot of the plot in my mind. I guess I could call it mental outlining. Soon enough (today?) I'll get an actual slug-line outline on paper. It's funny. I write so much better on a computer, but if I'm writing out character names or an outline, I have to use pen and paper. I guess that means I'm not a total slave to technology.

See y'all around!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can I claim cold feet?

Probably not. I think Judi would hunt me down if I didn't post that story. And apparently everyone wants to read it. So I'll post it now. Keep in mind, this is after seven days of no power, no AC, no electricity, no internet. I was having weird dreams. (I did have my iPod. Before it died :-( This is based almost exactly on a dream I had, and we all know how bizarre dreams can be. And for the record, the narrator is not me. You know how you can be the main character in a dream but it's not you? Same thing here. So here goes - enjoy! And please, no speculations *cough moore cough*.

And this would be about the worst time for someone on facebook to discover my blog link. But I just don't see it happening.


I listen to my engine ticking and run my hands over the silver sequins of my dress. They drift in an upward spiral from my ankles to my shoulders, a thin sparkling river over the crimson fabric. A slimming design, say the fashion magazines. I glance at my stomach and pray they’re right. I know every contour of my body, even more since – then.

Withdrawing the keys, I stare at them for a moment. The Tigger keychain beams at me, extending an armful of purple flowers. I got the little figure three years ago when I turned sixteen; now Tigger’s arm is missing a splotch of orange, and his tail is fading. After I drop the keys in the ebony-colored purse perched on the console, I grab a filmy black wrap from the passenger seat. Take a breath. I can do this. Just fool them all for a couple hours.

I unlock my door and step out of the Rav4. I would have been fine with a Camry or an Accord, but Dad insisted on a small SUV. Cars were too little, too dangerous. I shudder, grateful he isn’t here. Draping the wrap over my shoulders, I clutch my purse and lock the doors, slamming mine shut. Two hours. Just two hours. Avoid getting up from the table if possible. Just smile. Smile and lie prettily. I am golden in reputation only for another few weeks.

An older couple dressed in black walk toward the museum in front of me. The last rays of sun tint her pearls with luscious pink. I find it odd I can still appreciate beauty with such clarity, though I am unhappy, as if my mind is partitioned.

The wooden doors at the entrance are swept open like arms, welcoming us. Vines and birds and flowers rise in relief on the wood. I reverently touch one finger to a parrot’s beak as I step over the threshold. Inside, a woman in an emerald sheath dress and brilliant auburn hair stands behind a table, armed with a clipboard. She glances up and smiles as I approach. She wouldn’t know me by name, but my grandmother, yes. “Hello.”

I smile. “Melissa Burns.” I pull my invitation from my purse and hand it to her.

She nods and glances at the table. I realize the objects posed on the cream tablecloth are life-sized butterfly pins. Monarchs, swallow-tails, and one with glowing sapphire wings. She waves one manicured finger over them as if it will summon the correct one. “Ah, here we are.” She plucks up a fine specimen of a monarch. “This will look lovely with your dress.”

Why we’re wearing these at an invitation-only modern-art museum show opening, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something to do with the theme. I smile again, clipping it to my shoulder. “Thanks.” I wander in, eyes drawn by a splash of color, a beautiful Leon Polk Smith I’ve never seen before. My stomach lurches once, as if reminding me. The sooner I sit, the less people see. I jerk my gaze from the art in the next room, taking a left out of the foyer. Hurrying through two more spacious gallery rooms, I search for the dining room and find it through another door.

I sight my mother at table thirteen, and I can’t help an ironic smile. What a fitting number. I envision my feet growing into my black heels, becoming one with them so I will not stumble as I weave through the circular tables, set on pale marble floors. A flash of red to the left catches my eye. I see my grandmother’s short (unnaturally) blond hair and the back of her stoplight-red jacket, entirely sequined. She disappears into a small side door with a sign. Perfect. She won’t see me until I’m seated, and she’s shown me the restroom. I’ll need it.

Setting my purse on the table, I seat myself across from Mom. “Hey, Mom.”

She smiles, light in her eyes dimmer than usual. “How was the drive in?”

I shrug. “Not bad. They had just cleared a wreck, so a little slow, but not bad.”

Her gaze flicks to my midsection and back to my eyes. “How are you?”

Such a loaded question. I decide to answer purely in the physical sense, keeping my tone light. “Nauseous sometimes, but not too often. I can keep playing for a while. Just no dramatic saves.” Volleyball isn’t exactly a high-contact sport. Unless I'm throwing myself at that gleaming wood floor to make a save.

A short little breath and a near-squeal in a soft drawl. “Mel!” Grandmother bustles around, beaming, lips the color of her jacket parted in a smile. She hugs me, and I return the embrace, catching a whiff of tasteful perfume. My grandmother might be eccentric, but she’s good with scents. “Well, we match quite nicely, don’t you think, Anna?”

Hardly. I’m blinded by the light thrown from her brash sequins; I glimmer silver on crimson.

My mother smiles, nodding, probably grateful she wore the dark green dress instead of her red one. She’s a foil to my grandmother: slender, olive-skinned, dark-haired, and thoughtful. My grandmother is pale in comparison, only made bright by her clothes. I fall in the middle, with darkish brown hair.

As she sits on my left, still beaming and chatting nonstop about so-and-so who’s passing by, I pick up my purse and set it on the floor. If my stomach decides to rebel, I can make a quick exit.
Dinner comes soon enough. I smile and nod, adding a comment here or there, answering the occasional question about school.

Mr. Hanson finishes a bite of filet mignon and sets down his fork. “I remember when your mother was this age. The two of you look so much alike.”

I nod patiently, bestowing a smile. This is the fourth time I’ve heard that tonight. A lot of these people knew my mother from her childhood. “So I’ve heard.”

His wife sets down a glass of wine, red, with a nice sharp smell. “Now, you’re a junior in college?”

“No, ma’am, I’ll be a junior next year.” Maybe. If I make it that long.

Grandmother jumps in. “Did you know that Mel plays volleyball on the school team? Why, her school played…”

She rambles, and I tune out. Thanks. Load on the guilt. My coach will be ticked when I have to quit. Mrs. Hanson and her thirty-something daughter are looking at me with interest, so I smile again. My teeth hurt. I know my grandmother loves me, and I love her, but nineteen years later, I still haven’t found her mute button. Even if I announced my predicament, she wouldn’t shut up for more than five seconds.

I pick at the filet, favoring the bread. My mind informs me I won’t have food this good again for a long time. My stomach tells my mind there’s only so much heavy food it can process. And it wants sugar. So when caramel crème brulee comes for dessert, I scrape the little bowl clean with my spoon. It makes me happy. Kind of.

During coffee, the speeches begin. I stare at a crease in the tablecloth while the main backer of the show prattles about the museum’s history. While another person thanks individual donors, I memorize the positions of the wine glasses. My grandmother stands when her name is called, beaming, hands clasped behind her back, pivoting left and right to see her co-donors.

I want to sleep. Drift into black oblivion for years. Finally, the head of the museum invites us to finish coffee (I want it, my stomach doesn’t, so I abstain) and see the paintings. I think she says “Enjoy these priceless works of art”, actually. Her phrasing is the last thing on my mind as I see someone rise from a table across the room.

His build catches my eye first. Tall. Muscular. Nice shoulders I’ve often gazed upon. By result of my gazing, I know their shape. My breath catches in my throat, and I go still.

Kyle Thompson stands, head at usual jaunty angle. He’s one of those people who always have expressions on their face. Almost stage expressions, just exaggerated enough to be obvious. Usually his expression is a smile, a smirk, a half-cock grin, lit by mischievous dark brown eyes. I like how his hair is a length that untouched looks casual, but given five minutes of combing and hair product, forms a million little spikes. He’s done the latter tonight. I see a suit jacket draped over his chair. He wears a silk vest the color of cream over a dark red shirt, sleeves rolled past his elbows. He has large hands, perfect for a running back. His smile lights the room.

My stomach lurches, and I taste something bitter. I swallow hard and sweep up my purse, throwing my wrap over my shoulders. Mom and Grandmother are occupied. Eyes on the floor, I hurry from the room via a small gallery to the side. A moment later I’m in the older part of the museum, heels making minute clicks on ochre tile. The show is confined to the new part, so the lights are dim, most off. The paintings are flat boxes on the wall, no color, no life. I walk along the wall, turning to the left into a women’s restroom.

A single overhead shines onto the mirror. The rest of the room is like a peaceful grave, dark and quiet. I lean against the counter, as far from the light as I can. The air conditioner breathes in the background. All else is quiet. I pull my cell phone from my purse, flip it open, and stare at the display. Close my eyes. I don’t want to do this. He deserves it. I think back to Christmas break, almost eight months ago.


I sat in the chair, inhaling the rich air of Starbucks, tapping my fingers on the table. It had been five months since I’d seen this particular group of friends. Shelby and Marie stood in line, waiting for the long-haired barista to finish shelling out change to the man in front of them. Tyler, Violet and Kyle hadn’t shown yet. I met them all in a way most people would call unusual.

So there were three high schools in town. They went to Shadow Grove and I went to Willow Point. The connection was at Highland Park, where six of us tutored a couple classes of freshmen and sophomore. Believe me, it was a bonding experience, especially when this clueless kid dropped the f-bomb right in front of me, and then asked “So where’s the tutor-person?” The teacher had stepped out, everyone else knew my exact location, and they lost it. To his credit, I never heard another cuss word from him.

Anyway, we were all back home for Christmas break, after semester one of college. The bells on the door jingled, drawing my attention. Tyler and Violet walked in first. I didn’t actually go light-headed when Kyle stepped through the doorway. It’s not like I was in love with the guy, please. I couldn’t deny, though, he had some special magnetism. That’s why half the freshman girls attached themselves to his tutoring group, and why after the first few weeks, I didn’t talk to him a lot. No way was I going to come off as some idiot love-struck girl.

But naturally, I looked him over from my strategic position in the back corner. He wore a cool leather jacket, unzipped, and a black Ralph Lauren shirt with a tiny red polo player. I hoped for the spike-thing with his hair, but the casual look wasn’t shabby. Okay, so I liked him. He was smart, he was a football player (the two aren’t incompatible, as I previously assumed), he was hot, and he made me laugh more than anyone else I knew. Now I wished he could be serious a little more often, but no one’s perfect.

I set down my hazelnut steamer and stood, walking toward them with a smile. “Hey, y’all.” I hugged Violet, the sweetest person on the planet. And then I did the side-hug thing with Tyler, who looked like a starving college student while he was in high school. I stepped back, glanced at Kyle, and waved, face straight.

He gasped, with that hilarious big-eyed expression of mock hurt. “Ouch! Guess I know where I am on the priority list.”

I rolled my eyes, smiling, stomach doing weird, hollow things at his voice. Stupid, stupid. Friends only, remember? Not a stupid love-struck idiot, right? “Yeah, yeah.” Quick hug. I felt different retorts warring in my mind. If I spoke I’d mix them up, so I kept my mouth shut.

They order drinks, and a few minutes later we were all in the back corner, in an assortment of straight-backed chairs and couch seats. I learned how everything’s going – Marie’s first semester of Arabic went well. Violet stayed home, working at KinderCare. Her eyes got bright, and she put down her drink, using her hands as she talked about her kids. The whole time I resisted one long ohhhh. I’ve never seen anyone so clearly loving their work.

Tyler enjoyed Texas A&M so far. He passed biology (something I’d heard was a trouble subject) and liked the town. Shelby planned to double-major in biology and chemistry, so her biology class went well. It was her sometimes-absent total slob of a roommate that drove her nuts. From her Facebook status updates, really nuts.

I kept myself from sounding overly interested when Kyle updated us. He was an economics major (I didn’t have trouble being uninterested in that), so those classes were easy. He liked his dorm, his roommates, and all that jazz. I knew his football team had a good season, so I commented on that. I also knew from his Facebook page he’d gotten his hair buzz-cut at the beginning of the semester. Not so hot, in my opinion, but it was long enough to spike again, so I liked it. Naturally, I didn’t voice that.

Shelby had to leave early. Marie followed, leaving Tyler, Violet, Kyle and me. I of the ever-restless fingers fiddled with the cardboard hot-drink wrapper hugging my cup. Soon enough they’d have to leave, meaning another long period without visitation. Facebook IM only did so much. It certainly didn’t make me laugh as much, because I couldn’t see Kyle’s face. Ugh! Stop mooning, you moron!

Kyle eventually stood, stretching his arms. “I guess we’ve gotta go. Jessica’s supposed to come in soon.”

Jessica. Older sister. Right. I nodded, standing, sighing to myself. “It was great to see you all.” I hugged Violet, feeling like a freaking giant at 5’9”. “Definitely keep me updated on what’s going on. Let me know if you’re gonna be around town.”

Tyler spun the keys to his old Beemer around his index finger. “Yeah, definitely.”

I hugged him too. “Awesome.” I felt a sudden rush of boldness and jerked my chin at Kyle. “See ya later, Thompson.”

He spread his hands, brows scrunching in a hurt-little-boy expression. “What did I do?”

“Nothing, it’s a cool last name.” I wasn’t sure where these words were coming from. I was sure meeting his eyes did weird things to my muscles.

He half-smirked. “What, like Melinda Thompson?”

Flames ignited my face. I was not that obvious. I might have been a newbie to this whole romance-thing, due to the parental restriction on dating, but I knew it wasn’t that bad. “What? You’re dreaming.”

Violet’s forehead puckered as she glanced at Kyle, and then at me.

Kyle didn’t look away. “Seriously, though, if we were going to think about dating, I’d say wait a while, just ‘cause it’s still freshman year and we live like three hours away.”

Was it possible to be a human torch and a soaring bird at the same time? I felt like both, and dizzy. “Are you serious?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, sure.” His tone didn’t sound as flippant as his words.

I nodded slowly, aware of Tyler smirking at us. “I’ll keep that in mind.” And I smiled.
And he smiled back.

I thought I was going to melt like the misguided snowflakes outside. “Keep in touch. All you guys.”

Tyler shot a knowing look at me, and then at Kyle’s back as he and Violet walked out. “I never saw that one coming. You and Kyle?”

I glared at him, face still warm. “Yeah, yeah.”

“You seriously liked him that whole time and never let on?”

I grimaced. “No way was I saying a word. Not with those freshmen throwing themselves at him.”

He laughed, starting for the door. “He was the chubby kid in fifth grade, so I can’t say I thought I’d ever see that either.”

We walked out together, parting ways at my car. I stepped in, exhaling the happiest sigh. I was so, so happy. Even if it never worked out. I was so happy.


I take a shaky breathe and find Kyle’s number, pressing the talk button before I can think. It rings. I don’t know why I expect him to pick up. His phone’s probably off. That’s all right. A message is easier for me to –

The ring cuts off. “Hello?”

I inhale. Crap. “Hey. It’s Mel.”

“Hey, Mel. What’s going on?”

I can’t tell if his voice sounds a little flat or if it’s the connection. “I kinda needed to talk to you.”

He laughs. “I kind of guessed as much, since you called.”

“No, seriously.” I can’t even force levity into my tone. “Look, I think – you know what we talked about a while back? Dating and all that?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I think it’s probably best if we just stick to being friends.” I bite both lips, waiting.

His voice becomes as serious as I’ve ever heard it. “I know.”

I don’t move. Breathe. He knows. He knows. I can hardly hear myself. “How?”

There's a pause, like he's talked himself into a corner. “Look, if anything, a couple months ago you'd lost the Freshman Fifteen. And now you're curvier.”

I feel a blowtorch on my face. Trust Kyle to know my shape. He’s just like that. The next emotion comes in a tsunami, crushing the embarrassment. I choke on the golf ball in my throat. My voice hoarsens and drops to almost silent. “I’m so sorry.” And I close the phone. My nose will be a cherry within two minutes. There’s no return now. I text Mom, saying I’m sick, sorry, catch up later. Picking up my purse, I look in the mirror, pulling shorter strands of hair from their pins and arranging them around my face. Anything to draw attention from my eyes. But I catch my own haunted gaze and glance away.

I weave through the museum and out a different door. The streetlights gleam on smooth car domes; light traffic travels the road past the parking lot. I locate the general area I parked in and walk that way, heels clipping the asphalt. The sobs congeal in my chest, waiting for total solitude. I’m going home to my dorm. To sleep. Perchance, to never dream again.

The vehicle doesn’t twitch, move, or flash, but I look left. An old Toyota 4Runner sits between a silver Lexus and a red Corvette. It looks black, but I see the shade in my mind as dark green. My chest throbs as I touch the back window with my fingertips. I remember checking the parking lot in front of the school for this vehicle, heart always jumping a little when I saw it. So sorry. So, so sorry. Stepping around, I press my forehead to the driver’s window before walking on.

A moment later I sight the back of my vehicle. I press the unlock button on the key fob, eyes down as I slide between my car and the Mercedes coupe next to it.

A human-sized space of darkness drapes across the driver’s door. I glance up and gasp, dropping my keys. His face is shadowed, but the streetlight gleams on the collar of a silk vest.

Kyle stoops down, oh-so-close to me, and picks up my keys. He stands, closing his hand around Tigger.

This was the last-ditch plan. If all else fails, flee. I stare at the middle button of Kyle’s vest. Now that hope is gone, held firm in a hand half again as big as mine. I don’t know what to say.

“How far along are you?” says Kyle.

I keep my gaze where it is. “Three months. People will start noticing soon.” I shove some anger into my tone. “I didn’t expect this soon for those exact reasons.”

“Take it easy, Mel. I know for other reasons too.”

I snap my gaze up. “Yeah, like what?”

The muscles in his jaw work, and he tightens his fingers around my keys. “Like my sister got pregnant a year ago.”

Whoa. Not expecting that. “Jessica?” The perfect girl?

He nods, eyes dark. “Yeah. I knew she was acting weird, and I figured it out when I swung by her dorm and she was walking in with a pregnancy test kit.”

I really can’t think of three words to string together.

“And then she had an abortion and made me swear never to tell.”

I wince. I know abortion is one of the ultimate no-no’s for Catholics. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” He forces his tone into submission, but I hear traces of pain in it. “So I know what it looks like. And my parents never found out, so that stays here.”

I nod robotically. We’ve talked a bit, obviously, but this breaks into a new level of personal revelation. “Yeah.”

Kyle tilts his head. Maybe it’s the cheerfulness in my tone. “You okay?”

I crack my lips to say yes, but the word refuses to leave my mouth. “Of course I’m fine.”
Through gritted teeth.

“’Cause you don’t sound fine.”

I bristle, tears pricking my eyes. “Just shut up, would you?” Before I’m sobbing into your shirt.

He blinks. “I think my mother was right.”

I stare at him. “What?”

“About viciously swinging pregnancy hormones.” There’s just enough humor in his tone to keep me from hurtling over the edge.

I swallow hard. “Why? Why the hell are you standing here talking to me after we talked about dating for crying out loud? And then I did something so monumentally stupid as getting pregnant without being married and trashing volleyball forever and I haven’t even told my dad yet and when he finds out he’s going to kill me-” The horror of it all, piecemealed over the past three months, collects into a meteor and crushes me. A ragged sob escapes.

“Okay, Mel.” His voice is summer-breeze soft. “You’re gonna be okay.”

“No I’m not!” I draw a jagged breath that hurts my chest. “I just wrecked my life! I had a purity ring, I never, ever thought I was gonna sleep with someone until I was married, and then I ruined it all one stupid, stupid night!” My throat pulses shut, barring words. I fold my arms around myself, balling my fists in my wrap. They shake, and I close my eyes hard. Can’t cry. Not now.

His hand on my shoulder is the weight of a butterfly, like he wants to make sure touching me won’t shatter me. I blink a few times. His face is shadowed again. “Look, I’m not a shrink and this isn’t exactly what I do as a hobby, but hear me out, okay?”

I swallow and draw a breath that shakes my whole body.

He stands there for a minute, not moving. “Ah, screw it.” Kyle pulls me into a hug, but as though I’m the most fragile rice paper.

I can’t believe this. I talked about dating him, got pregnant, and he’s comforting me? Something in my chest shatters. I didn’t know he had a heart like this. I feel the tears streaming down my face, and I lean sideways into him, sobbing. He pulls me closer, one arm against my back, hand on my head. I wrap my arms around him and hold on, a swimmer in a storm clinging to a pillar of granite. His vest is smooth on my skin.

Time drifts onward. Sometime later, I step back. My chest hurts, but it’s a different pain, like there’s a possibility of healing. “Sorry.” I trace my fingers under my eyes. There’s a reason I wear waterproof makeup these days.

Kyle nods once. “So, if you don’t mind me asking-”

“You can ask about anything at this point.”

He tilts his head. “What are you going to do?”

I shudder, despite the warmth of the night. “I don’t know. My dad doesn’t even know. That I’m pregnant.” Those three words are ugly. “But it’s not like I’d have an abortion. I don’t think I could live with myself.” God notwithstanding – I’m not sure who exactly he is at the moment – I just can’t do it.

His face relaxes a hint. “Yeah, good. You haven’t told your dad yet?”

I shake my head. “I have to sometime before it’s obvious. I just – I can’t make myself. He’s going to kill me.”

“Would it be easier if someone was there with you?”

I nod, stupidly, before realizing what he’s saying. “It would, but you don’t mean-”

“No, I meant Big Bird.”

I stand there, mind shutting down on me. “Are you serious?”

Something like a smile passes across his lips. “Trust me, I wouldn’t have offered otherwise. I’m not a masochist. All the time, at least.”

“But why?”

Kyle holds out my keys to me. “Because I’m your friend.”


Whew. You're still here? I know that was a lot to read on a monitor. So I'm toying with the idea of turning this into a project. Like, a novel-length project. But I'm kind of uncertain. I dunno. I am clearly rambling now, and should go do something useful like watch soap operas, clean the kitchen floor with a toothbrush, or read Plato.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am so indecisive

I really am sometimes. The funny thing is, if I'm around a bunch of other indecisive people, I'll just call the shots so we quit staring at each other, waiting for someone to call the shots. Take a typical Tuesday morning for example. That's our 5-mile easy run day in cross-country (henceforth abbreviated as "XC"). Usually our newly elected team captain will look at us and ask which route we want to run. It shouldn't be hard, there are only like three. Yet through some mysterious process, this question is met with blank stares. It doesn't help that it's 6:40 in the morning. Some of us are still sleepwalking. So usually I'll just weigh the options and pick something. I guess I"m one of those behind-the-scenes leaders. I'll wait to see if an obvious leader steps forth; if not, I'll step up to it.

All that to say this: I have a short story (a long short story, about 12 pages double-spaced) I wrote over Hurricane Ike, in snatches on my laptop (which contains the world's crappiest replacement battery), and charged said crappy battery in the car on scouting runs to the Conoco, Shell, and H-E-B (that's a Texas grocery store, for those unfortunate out-of-staters :p). There's a lot in there from my life, and I'm kind of scared to post it. Especially after this. Because a certain person is involved romantically (kind of) in the story, and it's written in first-person (although the narrator is NOT me, thank goodness).

So that's why I'm dithering right now. Cool word, 'dithering'. Can't you tell right now I'm totally stalling? I really can't decide. Especially because I'm concerned people will get the wrong impressions of my exact feelings toward certain persons. Regrettably, Blogger does not have a password-protect function.

Besides, it's not like anything I usually write. Part of this was the super-weird circumstances, which I pray I never undergo again (two words, all you bloggers, for ten days: no internet). It was based off a dream I had, so some real-life things got mixed in.

Okay, I am blathering now. Vulnerability is not something I expose myself to often. It's not safe. It's not supposed to be safe. But it should be part of life. And I suck at telling when is a good time...

Friday, October 17, 2008


My iPod died five days ago as I finished a run. I plugged it into my computer and discovered the software itself was fine - the touch wheel is totally inoperable, thereby nullifying the point of having an iPod. RIP, my beautiful metallic green 4 GB Nano. You had a good life, were free, and worked reasonably well for almost two years (It was not new when I got it), and had the decency to yield up most of your music to my computer before death. Could have been worse.

I hope it rests in peace, because I am not at peace right now. I had it on for several hours each day, and am discovering how my mood is lifted with music. As beautiful as the new nanos are, I don't feel like shelling out the money for it. But I"m going to, probably, because I can't wait two months until Christmas. Two months without music (I don't own a CD player, just an iPod speaker-dock) is not a good idea.

And now my printer is crapped out on me. It'll print half-lines of text and skip words. Print alignment for the cartridges failed, so I'm going to try to switch out the black cartridge (even though it's brand-new). If that doesn't work, I am going to be doubly peeved. And I have a cross-country race tomorrow, so I really need to calm down and not get too worked up about it.

It's not that big of a deal. I realize these things are luxuries. But why all at once? This is of course, when I need to print a review for one class and PowerPoint slides for another. There are other places to print, but it just irks me when this stuff comes one after the other.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Not sure what to write about. I need to write something, though. A short break from Plato (and if Socrates was as annoying in history as he appears in The Republic, it's no wonder they wanted to kill him). I need to read the rest of the book before Tuesday, read Aeschylus' Eumenides and something by Aristotle by next Thursday, finish a PowerPoint presentation before Tuesday (ick), figure out what Shakespeare play I'm going to pick for my next paper (suggestions? sadly it can't be something we've read in the class :-(, and...I know there's something else.

Gah. So much to do! Next semester I'm going to try to not have three reading-intensive classes, because it's so time-consuming. I know I'll have two at least, with the Honors classes. So my goal for today is to finish the PowerPoint, read through book 5 of the Republic, and look over a couple review sheets.

Then I can write! I'm really looking forward to that. Someday I'll post about the library here. The emphasis obviously is on non-fiction books, though I did find Tangerine by Paul Bloor (good, good book, read it), The House of the Scorpion (won some big award, forgot what, haven't read), The Wednesday Wars (never before checked out of the library), and HP 7 (which I haven't read before either and am almost done with, yes, I checked it out last night, and stayed up...a little later than I planned reading).

Anyway. I was the first person to check out three of those books, and it made me kind of happy to watch the librarian stamp the unblemished cards at the top left corner. And the smell...

okay, enough of that, I have to study. Or read. I haven't decided yet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I am officially nervous.


My Shakespeare paper is due today. I've finished it, proofread it three times, checked for MLA format, and had two other people proofread it. I'm still nervous. Getting caught up in the grade is about the last thing I want to do, but I really, really want an A on this. It took a long time. It's 2100 words (about 8 pages, double-spaced). And darn it, I know the material, I could compare The Merchant of Venice and The Jew of Malta (Christopher Marlowe) in my sleep now, so give me the freaking A!

Sorry, just had to get that out. I'd consider posting it, but I'm not sure how many people actually want to read all eight pages. Nine if you count Works Cited.

And the other *scream* is for my cell phone, currently locked in my coach's office. I was bright enough to leave it in her office. When I went back after class (for which the teacher didn't show, so twenty minutes later we left), there was a notice on her door stating she'd be out of the office for most of the day. Fortunately, I know her phone number (or at least I'm pretty sure of it). Unfortunately, I'm trying to find a phone to call her with. *sighs*

Clouds are mounting in the sky, and as I walked back from class, I saw a beautiful bolt of lightning. It makes me think of this passage from The Aeneid:

"As thunder
at times will split the sky and a trail of fire goes
rippling through the clouds, flashing, blinding light-"

Lovely, isn't it? I've enjoyed The Aeneid more than The Iliad, partly because it's half the length, and because Virgil wrote in Latin meter, not Greek. In The Iliad, there are a lot of double modifiers - the great blue sky, the black swirling death - you know, a bunch of adjectives. No-nos for modern English writers. So that drove me nuts. Virgil isn't prone to that.

I picked up a lovely little volume of Robert Tristam Coffin poetry a couple weeks ago at the library. It hadn't been checked out since February 24, 1984. It's a shame, too, because it's beautiful poetry - the images are amazing, but it's not super-cryptic stuff. I'll post a poem next time, perhaps...

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Realm of Fiction, and Its Forbidding Doors

Read this first.

(Isn't it amazing that even on a bad day Q can write something so good?)

This is an inevitable part of writing. All writers know that. Or if they don't, clearly they have been given the golden key to the gates of the realm of fiction. Writer's block - I might start calling it writer's lock-out - is something that drives me beserk. I've been suffering it since school started...such a long time.

Maybe it was burnout. With two weeks before I moved out, I realized once I got to school the odds of me finishing my current project anytime soon were slim. So in the last two weeks of summer, I charged through to the end of the book. It was a great feeling, no writer's block.

And then it hit. Seven weeks of painful nothingness in the mind, except for phantoms of ideas too insubstantial to hold.

There's a glimmer of hope, though: one of the phantoms is solidifying a little. As much work as Shakespeare class is, I now have inspiration. From which play? Romeo and Juliet. Not at all what I expected. For years I've hated that play. I came to terms with it last week: every problem I have with it deals with the time span. They fall in love overnight? They get married the next day? They kill themselves a day later? Uh-uh.

But then I grudgingly admit that spreading these events over a long time period wouldn't work for a play. Shakespeare had to condense. So when I read R&J, I just imagine there are tidy gaps of time between acts. If I think of it that way, I quite enjoy it.

So yes, my idea, flickering at the edges of my mind, is somewhat based on Romeo and Juliet. But modern. And with a somewhat happier ending. (Not a Disney ending, mind you, not at all. I may not be friends with Will, but c'mon - a happy ending in something based on one of his tragedies? It's an insult.)

I just realized something. The three projects I've finished have something in common. Or the process leading to them did: I wrote rough outlines for all three. Unfinished projects, I didn't.

Yes! Perhaps this is a breakthrough. I must go now - and finish my pesky paper on The Merchant of Venice so I can try to outline this idea...I hope it will not fail me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Q tagged me a while back, and I'm finally getting around to this meme.

1. What are your nicknames?

Technically, the name that people call me all the time is a nickname because it's a shortening of my real name.

2. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?
No idea

3. What is your favorite scent?

Too hard to answer! I'll pluralize: sandalwood, rose gardens, vanilla, and the smell of Home Depot (weird, I know)

4. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to?
Washington, D.C. It's a cool city.

5. Do you trust easily?

Depends on the situation and person.

6. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?

Generally I analyze the potential act from a hundred angles. It's a good trait sometimes. But other times it's just irritating.

7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?

Yes, there are some things, like airbags in my throat when I'm running, too much Shakespeare, and allergies.

8. Do you have a good body image?

Pretty good - but there are always those days. It comes with being female.

.9. What is your favorite fruit?

Toss-up between good bananas and firm grapes.

10. What websites do you visit daily?

Yahoomail, Facebook, my blog.

11. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?

Nothing, really.

12. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

A very interesting person I'd love to meet in real life.

13. What's the last song that got stuck in your head?

Cemeteries of London by Coldplay.

14. What's your favorite item of clothing?

Oh. I have to pick just one? Okay, then. I have a black silk trench coat that I've been told looks very nice and expensive, but it was on sale at Kohl's. I think it's really cool.

15. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?

Have I had a Rice Krispy before? I don't remember.

16. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?

Ask if anyone had lost it. If no takers, then I'd probably use it to buy supplies for a dinner party.

17. What items could you not go without during the day?

Food, water, air, my iPod (okay, I could go without if I HAD to). I could almost add ' internet', except during Ike I was without it for over a week, and I lived.

18. What should you be doing right now?

Showering, reading The Merchant of Venice, and writing reading journals for The Aeneid. I'm going! Really!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Laptop on my knees, I curl into my green butterfly chair, tucked in the corner of the little living room. It's new, and the microfiber is soft against my skin. I close my eyes, the light from the wall scarcely outshining the computer screen. The first notes of Bring Me to Life float like ghosts through my headphones, and I tuck my arms against myself. I feel cold and tired. No. Tired is too flat, too stale a word. Weary. I am weary.

Nothing traumatic has happened, nothing externally is wrong. I haven't been snubbed, done anything dumb, anything. It's just one of those nights.

In my mind, I start changing the situation, pull myself into a dream.


The light does not brighten, but softens
. The music is Secondhand Serenade, Fall For You. I anticipate the knock on the door before the sound startles the empty apartment. Smiling, I lift my laptop and set it on the coffee table, scooching out of my chair. My chest warms as I touch the handle of the door and pull.

He stands there, hands in pockets. I can't tell exactly what he looks like, but I know he's at least athletic if not a runner, so he's in good shape. And I think he's taller than me. His hair color is indeterminate, but given how few true blonds there are, it's probably some shade of brown.

"Hey, come on in." I step back, stomach giving its instant hop into some unknown state - a blend of anticipation, nerves.

He comes in and smiles, and I feel the world slow, narrow to a point which is this room, all that exists. As time yawns and settles into a drowsy pace, the weird feeling in my gut melts away, and I am me.

We talk for a long time. An hour? Two? Eventually I feel my eyelids droop, and know this has to end for tonight. Six am comes early. I inhale slowly, so, so content.

He checks his watch and pulls a face. Must have the same thoughts as me, because he pushes his chair back with an awful scrape. (I've GOT to get furniture pads for those stupid things). We chat for a couple more minutes about nothing. I mentally cross my fingers. Please, please, do it.

I can't contain the world's widest smile as he pulls me into a hug. I wrap my arms around his back and close my eyes, head resting on his shoulder. His scent is his own, and good. For so long I thought being in love would mean feeling awestruck or besotted everytime someone entered the room. Acting dreamy and dazed. Dazzled and tongue-tied.

Maybe it is that way for some. It might happen occasionally for me. But as I relax now, I know. It is something quieter, something solid and sure. It is being inside during a thunderstorm, protected as lightning lances the ground. It is having a parachute before jumping out of a plane.

I know that with him, I am safe. I can be me. Utterly, totally, purely me, saying those things I think but don't say, not watching out for myself in every word and gesture. I can look straight in his eyes and it is alright, easy and simple. And I know now, here, in this moment, it is safe. I am safe.


The song ends. I refuse to open my eyes for a moment, holding on to the warmth I thought I felt, a phantom, the child of an idle mind. But no. The only warmth I feel is heat from my laptop. Blinking hard, I pull my lungs close, pressing out the last drop air in silent keening. This is foolish. Nothing is truly wrong. But for tonight, it hurts, as I long for something I do not yet have.