I spend the weekend walking on cloud nine. I am so happy to be with Michael after everything we’ve gone through. It feels like things are finally turning around.
It takes everything to get me to focus for the next week. With a teacher that is a piranha like mine, I have to always be on guard. He was still keeping a close eye on me after the first week. But that isn’t all I have to worry about. Carrie calls me on Wednesday to beg me to arrange a kickoff story reading. It is totally short notice, but she convinces me that it is a great way to attract new people to the writing club. It’s starting to feel like she is running the club instead of me. Still, I manage to get flyers spread around the campus with some help from Janice. Abby seems to be a bit AWOL, and I don’t even see her in our dorm room much except at night when we are going to sleep. Something seems to be bothering her and I have yet to figure out what it is.
As I head off to my first class on Thursday, I feel my mind racing miles a minute. That night was the night of the writing club readings. The week had gone by so fast that I wasn’t even sure what piece I was going to read. I had invited Janice, but I wasn’t sure whether she was going to come. Then again, I had seen her walking around and writing in some journal this week, so maybe she would be coming and even reading something. I even texted Michael and he agreed without a seconds thought. Now if I could just figure out what to write…
On my way to class, I spot Abby sitting on a nearby bench going through her textbook. I am a bit surprised. Abby wasn’t really the studying type, but here she was studying away. I walk over to her and take a seat.
“Hey Abby,” I say, dropping my backpack by my side.
Abby looks up and smiles. “Hey Liz, how are you?”
I nod. “I’m good. How are you? I haven’t really seen much of you in the past week. What’s been going on?”
Abby sighs. “Too much to explain it all right now. I’m studying for a test next period that I totally blanked out on.”
Ah…cramming at the last second. That sounds more like Abby.
“Okay. You free later? The writing club reading is tonight at seven and I would love to see you there.”
Abby smiles. “Sure, I’ll check it out. Sounds cool.”
“Awesome.” I pick up my backpack and stand. “I’ll see you there then.”
I decide to leave, seeing how focused she is on her textbook. Besides, my next class starts in ten minutes.
All the while through class, I am wracking my brain for what story I should use. Since I spent my summer mostly working on my novel, I haven’t really written much short stories. Meaning, I am going to have to use something that I wrote last year. I only hope the story doesn’t need too much tweaking.
Lucky for me, my professor lets us out fifteen minutes early. I then head straight to the library to work on my story. I decide on one that I wrote last year about taking chances. Truthfully, I wrote it after I got home at the end of spring quarter. I was so confused about my feelings that I just sat down at my laptop and typed all my emotions down into a mess on an empty page. By the time I was done, I had a strange type of prose poem. I had planned never to show it to anyone, but right now, it was all I had. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad.
With a little tweaking and rereading, it was ready for the reading. While I probably could have spent the rest of the evening changing it around, I tell myself to let it go and just print it out. Looking at the clock, I realize it is already 6:40pm. I was going to have to head straight to the student union building without going to my dorm first.
After logging off my computer, I hurry out of the library and down the pathway to the student union building. The campus has become quiet, probably due to everyone being in the dining hall. Maybe seven wasn’t the best time for the reading. Oh well. No turning back now.
By the time I arrive, it is five past seven. I am a bit annoyed at myself for being late and I can hear someone reading their story from inside. I sneak in through the back door and take a seat with only a few people noticing. Carrie gives me a look, but says nothing.
I glance around and see that Michael has not arrived yet. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Did something come up? Funny, but Abby was nowhere to be seen either.
Thirty minutes into the reading, Janice’s name is announced by Carrie to go next. So, she had decided to read something. I am a bit impressed. I remember how nervous Janice had been last time, but this time she looks even more nervous.
She makes her way to the podium and then clears her throat. “Hello everyone. Tonight I will be reading a piece called ‘“Through the heartache.’”
It is at that moment that I feel a nudge on my shoulder and turn to see Michael sitting next to me. I grin feeling my stomach tingle. “Hey, what took you so long?”I whisper.
Michael leans toward me. “Sorry, I was moving all my things into one of the dorms on the west side. Haders Hall.”
“You are moving into a dorm?”
“Yes, but I’ll tell you more about it after.” He then nods his head in Janice’s direction and I at once feel awful for talking during her reading. I smile at her apologetically and zip my mouth shut.
Janice’s piece ends up being extremely emotional and touching. I am stunned to hear a piece like this recited from her mouth. Janice, who is known for rarely sharing her emotions, was here basically baring it all in front of a crowd of people. Granted the crowd wasn’t that large, but still. I felt for her.
“From hushed voices in the night, to loud voices yelling left to right, where is the love, warmth and care, with all the sadness we must bare.”
I am completely drawn into her poem feeling every emotion. I can’t help but wonder who her poem was about. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that the poem was about…
“You said you would always be there, a hand for me to hold, but now you have left me empty and alone in the cold.”
Greg. This poem is totally about Greg.
After her final lines, Janice bows and then leaves the podium as people applaud. I want to say something to her, but just as I am about to walk over to her, I hear Carrie announce my name from the front. Apparently, I again, am the closing story.
I walk over to the stage and step up to the podium. Why did Carrie make me go after Janice? Her poem was so touching that it was going to make mine look ridiculous.
I take a deep breath. “Hello everyone. I will be reading a piece tonight called: ‘“Matter’s of the Heart.’” I suddenly feel incredibly nervous and can’t put my finger on why, until I spot Michael staring up at me. As happy as I am to have him here, a part of me wishes that he didn’t have to hear my story.
As I launch into my story, I spot Abby sneak in from the back. “Better late than never,” I think to myself. Abby gives me a little wave and then takes a seat next to Janice. How did she figure that I would be going last? She could have missed my story reading!
I continue with my story trying to ignore the fact that Michael is sitting right up front. At some point, I get really into my story and lose myself a bit. All the feelings that I felt while writing, come back to me and I wave my hands about forgetting that I am in a room of people and not alone in my room.
“My heart feels a twinge of guilt, yet the feelings won’t leave me. My head spins slowly, slowly, getting faster and faster. Which way to go, left or right. Though my heart knows the way, do I dare to listen? My head says to wait, to be calm, to be patient, to be cautious, but my heart says to leap and trudge through the open door. Do I dare to follow? Or do I hold back?”
By the time I finish I think I have confused everyone completely, but to my surprise, I get a standing ovation, including from Michael. I blush and then bow before stepping down from the podium.
Janice and Abby stand and applaud along with the crowd. After I take my seat, Carrie announces that the reading has concluded. She then informs everyone interested in the writing club that the next meeting is in a few weeks, before heading off out the door.
Janice waves over to Michael and me. “Hey you two, I’m heading to the dining hall. I’ll meet you two there.” After I nod, she turns and heads off with the crowd filing out through the door.
“You were great,” Michael says pulling me into a hug.”I loved your story. Or poem is it?”
I smile and hug him back. “Thanks, it’s a little of both. I actually didn’t know if I was going to read that piece. It was pretty personal. I wrote it when I was in a…confusing time.”
Michael squeezes me a little tighter. “I could tell. I didn’t know that you felt that way about… everything.”
I pull away from him and sigh. “Michael, when I wrote that, I was still figuring out my feelings for you. I knew I wanted to be with you, but I was still confused about my feelings for Kendal.” I pause and shake my head. “I honestly have never been in a situation like this before. I really didn’t know what to do. The answer was so simple and staring me straight in the face, but I was too messed up to see it.”
Michael keeps a hold of my hand and plays with it gently. “I know. I understand Lizzie.”
“Good,” I say. “Because even though I didn’t quite know it back then, the answer was always you.”
Michael grins. “Good answer.”
I grin and then look around the room. “You know, we are the only ones left in this room.”
Michael leans toward me wearing a sly smile. “I can see that. Are you suggesting something?”
I giggle and blush slightly. “Maybe…”
Before he is able to say anything else, I lean forward and plant a kiss on his lips. He moves back slightly in surprise, but then he leans back forward and kisses me back.
When I finally pull away, Michael looks at me and smiles. “Well aren’t you just full of surprises.”
I laugh. “Yes I am.” I then take Michael’s hand into mine and together we head for the dining hall.