I don’t really hear from Michael for the next two weeks, which is interesting because we sit very close to each other in class. I desperately want to say something to him, but I can’t bring myself to. I know that I hurt him that night at club R.E.D. and now I am left wondering what to say to him. Not to mention the fact that I have started seeing him around with Kimberly, which is driving me crazy.
I am relieved when I get an e-mail about the final Writing Club reading. At least it gives me something else to think about. I spend the entire week writing and practicing my story for the reading until my voice becomes horse. On the day of the reading, I decide to go to the library to edit my story some more. Also, I have just felt so cooped up in my dorm and need some fresh air.
So that Saturday morning, I head downstairs to the front door. It’s still pretty early in the morning, so the dining room and the front lobby are empty. I grab a bagel from the kitchen and then head out the front door.
I arrive in the library twenty minutes later and find it practically bare. It is almost peaceful, the only sound being that of running computer monitors and the ticking of the hands on the wall clocks. I seat myself at a computer and load up my story.
I spend the next hour editing my story for the Writing Club reading, but soon after, I get drawn into writing my novel. It’s not long before the writing bug takes over and I am completely in the zone. My fingers fly over the keys as ideas pour from my mind onto the screen page.
With all the stress of Michael and Kendal along with that of school, writing feels like a great escape. I am so into my typing that by the time I check my phone, it’s almost twelve. With the writing club readings beginning at the same time, I figure I had better head out. I am impressed with myself though. I have only a few chapters left of my book to write, and it is already 80,000 words.
I save the edits of my story, pack my things into my backpack and then hurry out through the front library doors.
I am surprised when I walk into the room of the story readings and see Janice reciting something at the podium. She had said something about wanting to recite something at one of the readings, but I didn’t think she would actually do it. Everyone is silent as she speaks at the podium. I quietly make my way over to an empty seat and sit down.
Janice is reciting a story about growing up with her two other sisters. She talks about how difficult it was for them not having any other family and having to lean on each other. I am surprised. Janice has never told me about this, but then again, she didn’t really seem to like talking about her past. Every time I ask questions, she always changes the subject. But then, here she was pouring her heart out about it.
After she finishes, she nods to the audience and then takes her seat beside me. I want to ask about her story, but decide against it. We listen to the next few stories in silence before my name is announced.
It’s when I reach the podium that I being to feel guilty. Janice had gotten up on stage and told a story about a personal experience in her life, and here I was about to read a fictional piece. I clear my throat.
“Thank you, I am Elizabeth Drake, and I am going to read a piece dear to my heart.” And then instead of reading an excerpt for my writing, I read another something else I wrote. Actually, it is more of a poem, call “Pieces of Myself.” It’s a story about a girl trying to decide her life and exactly what path she wants to take.
I can tell from the look on Janice’s face that she knows exactly what I am talking about, but I ignore her expression.
“And as I stare at the fork in the road, I think of all the decisions that led me to this point. But I don’t let that hold me back. I close my eyes, take a breath, and then take one step.”
After I step down from the podium, the audience starts to applaud. I don’t hear them though. It is after I finish reading the story, that I realize what I have to do. Without a word, I snatch up my backpack from beside my chair and hurry out of the room.
I continue running down the sidewalk until I look up and find myself at Kendal’s door. I hadn’t seen him at the reading and knew that he must have forgotten about it. He has been so busy with applying for the internship and doing all the labs for his Chem. classes that he has been pretty busy. We have mostly kept in contact by e-mails, texts and if I am lucky, sometimes phone calls.
I walk up the staircase to the door and ring the doorbell. I am not sure if Kendal is home, but I decide to wait anyway. I have been going over and over in my head about what I am going to say to him, but nothing seems to sound right.
After a few knocks, the door opens and Kendal lets me in.
“Elizabeth,” Kendal says, a little surprised, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I w-was in the neighborhood and I j-just wanted to stop by. I miss you.”
Kendal smiles. “I miss you too, Liz. We haven’t really seen each other in the past month. I’m really sorry.”
Guilt fills within me. I was the one that needed to be apologizing. “No, please don’t. You’ve been busy with your Chem. classes and that internship. How is it going?” I know I shouldn’t stall, but I am much too nervous to say anything.
“It’s going great actually,” Kendal says, leaning toward me. “I just got a call from the company to tell me that I have been selected! I am one of the chosen ten.”
I smile nervously. “That’s wonderful.”
“It really is. The only thing that saddens me is that I won’t see you for a while. The internship is upstate and it’s for most of the summer and fall quarter. I’m going to miss you.” He takes my hand into his and leans in to kiss me.
I swallow hard. I can’t do this. I have to tell him.
“Kendal, we need to talk,” I say, stepping back from him.
Kendal looks worried. “Why? What’s going on?”
I take a deep breath. “Kendal, something happened a few weeks ago, something I should have told you about.” I bite my lip hard, trying to give myself courage.
Kendal’s expression slowly turns into a frown. “What is it?”
I take another deep breath. “I’m just going to come out and say it. Michael…kissed me.”
There is a moment of silence and all that can be heard is the sound of our breathing and the sound of Kendal’s roommate Jake, blasting his Jazz music from upstairs.
Then Kendal finally speaks. “What do you mean, Michael kissed you?” His voice is firm and tense. I can feel my heart begin to beat faster.
“I-It’s a long story,” I stammer, but Kendal doesn’t seem to care.
“What happened?” he snaps and I quickly tell him everything. I tell him about Michael accusing me of liking him and how he had just kissed me out of nowhere. I desperately want to leave out the part where I kissed him back, so I say nothing about it.
Kendal curses. “I had a feeling about that guy,” he says, his voice filled with hate. “I didn’t like the two of you hanging out so much. I always felt like he wanted more than just a friendship with you.”
I shrug. “I-I never thought about it,” I say. My voice is starting to shake and I hope Kendal doesn’t notice. Unlucky for me, he does.
“Why did you wait so long to tell me?” He then pauses for a second. “Elizabeth, do you have feelings for him?”
I feel my face heating up once again and pray that my cheeks aren’t going red. “N-no Kendal! Of course not! I’m with you!”I try to reach for him, but Kendal pulls away sharply.
“Don’t lie to me Elizabeth,” he says sternly. “Tell me the truth.”
I feel my palms going sweaty. “I-I’m not Kendal! I’m with you!”
Kendal scoffs. “Elizabeth, I can tell you aren’t being honest with me. Tell me the truth!”
“I am Kendal! I only love y-”
“Stop lying to me!” Kendal shouts, and I clamp my mouth shut. The Jazz music upstairs suddenly goes off and the door opens.
“Everything okay down there?” I hear Jake call.
Kendal is staring at me furiously, but he looks up the stairs over his shoulder. “We’re fine Jake,” he says, and after a few seconds, the door closes and the music starts up again.
“I honestly don’t understand the whole Michael thing Kendal,” I say finally. “I love you Kendal. I really do. That whole thing with Michael was a onetime thing.” I look at him desperately. He has to forgive me. He just has too.
Kendal stares at me hard for a minute before taking a deep breath. “I wish I could believe that.”
I look at him confused. “What? Why can’t you?”
“Because I know the true, Elizabeth. You do have feelings for him. ”
My jaw drops. “Kendal! I don’t!”
“Just stop it Elizabeth! I know you do!” He sighs. “I can see it all over your face.”
I open my mouth and close it. What else could I say? He was right. I did have feelings for Michael and there was no way I could deny it now.
“But, Kendal., I want to be with you.”
Kendal stares at me for a moment and then takes my hands and pulls me closer to him.
“I want to be with you too Elizabeth, but I can’t.”
I frown. “Why?”
“Because I can’t be with you if you have feelings for someone else.” He sighs again. “Look, I-I’m not exactly surprised by this. Last year, I wasn’t really there for you when the incident at that party happened, and I know I lost your trust in me.”
I shake my head. “That’s not true!”
“But it is. I know it is. I wasn’t there for you, but Michael was. I know you confided in him a lot and you two got close. I guess I just never realized how close.”
“We were just friends,” I say quickly. “I mean, we are just friends.” I exhale deeply. “I really don’t know what happened. We were just arguing and then he just kissed me. It wasn’t planned or anything-”
“I believe you, Elizabeth.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t change what I said. You and Michael have became close and I know it. I sensed something with the two of you at the New Year’s Eve beach party, but I tried to ignore it. But the truth is, he has feelings for you and you have feelings for him. Admit it.”
I hate him. I hate Kendal for making me say it, but I know I owe him that much. “Yes, I do,” I say. My eyes are starting to water. Why did relationships have to be so difficult? Why did Michael have to kiss me? If he hadn’t, none of this would have happened.
“I do love you though Kendal,” I say biting my lip to hold back tears. I can’t believe it’s happening again. Kendal is dumping me.
But Kendal does something that surprise me. He places his hands on my cheeks and kisses me.
“I know,” he says. “And I love you too. But you need time to figure out your feelings. Maybe my internship is a blessing in disguise. It will give us time to figure things out.”
I smile weakly. “I guess. I’m so sorry.”
“I know. I just want you to be happy Elizabeth. I love you.”
I feel my chest growing heavy within me. “I love you too,” I whisper back.
When I get back to my dorm, I am more confused than I was before. I thought that I had made the right decision choosing Kendal, but now I wasn’t so sure. Kendal had made a very good point. I was very confused about my feelings. While I was sad that Kendal and I had ended, a part of me was a bit relieved. And while a part of me was irritated with Michael for kissing me and starting all this, a part of me desperately wanted to do it again. My heart and mind were working together and going up and down like a carousel. I felt like my mind was spinning like a tetherball. What on Earth was I going to do?
Taking a deep breath, I pick up my cell phone and dial Michael’s number.
“Hey Michael, it’s me, Lizzie. I-I just wanted to apologize for the way that I acted to you at the club. Things were tense and I just snapped at you. I just want you to know that you mean a lot to me as a friend and I don’t want to lose you. So please call me back when you can. Bye.” I then hang up my phone and toss it into my backpack.