I am actually a bit nervous about my conversation with Clare, but am relieved when a week later she still hasn’t said a word. That is not to say I am completely off the hook, but whatever. What I said, needed to be said. I wasn’t going to let her keep doing this to Abby. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do, but I decide to focus my energy on helping Abby make the Beta Gamma Kappas become a real Greek sorority. And that meant getting us more noticed. The Christmas bazaar was a great way of getting recruits. Maybe if we made it into more of a party, it would attract more people.
I think about this as I head out to meet Abby near the quad. Apparently, since her art teacher had suggested them painting outside in the “element,” Abby had really gotten into it. Now she was trying to get me to do it as well. I find out when I get there that she is doing a self-portrait of someone for an assignment, and she has decided to pick me. I am a bit reluctant to have myself painted, but she convinces me.
I can’t resist and decide to join in. After all, why not try something new?
“I can’t believe how fast this quarter has gone,” I say to her while admiring my progress. I still have a ways to go before it looks like anything.
“I know!” says Abby. “I can’t believe it is already December! In just a couple weeks we will be on break.”
“Any special plans?” I ask.
Abby sighs as she paints in a section of my cheeks on her canvas. “Well, apart from me being back with my mom and Tommy, not really. Well, that and I want to ask Charls to come along with me.”
I look over. “You’re inviting Charls over for winter break?”
“Well, yah.” Abby chuckles. “I mean, he has already come to stay with me before, during the summer, so winter break shouldn’t be too big of a deal. I would really like for him to spend Christmas with all of us.”
“Oh.” I dip my brush into some more paint and then spread it along the page.
“So, what about you Liz?”
“You planning anything? Like asking Michael to come home with you?”
I freeze for a moment when she asks this. It was the thing I had been dreading. I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to do about Christmas. As much as I would, love to invite Michael, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do so. Michael and I had only just become official a month ago and I don’t want to push it with him. I mean, what would he even say? He could think that I am jumping into things. I could end up pushing him away. Then again, he also might like it and think that I am taking the next step in our relationship. Whatever the case, I still don’t know what I am going to do yet.
“I-I haven’t really thought about it,” I say finally. I then try to focus my attention to my painting as much as I can.
“Well, you better decide soon. Winter break is in only a couple weeks.”
I nod. “I know.”
“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with Charls,” Abby says with a smile. “Did you know he told me he loved me back at the Gala?”
I raise my eyebrows. “He did?”
Abby nods. “It was after my run in with two of his frat brothers. They said some horrible stuff so I just ran out. Charls came after me and we talked and then afterwards, he said he loved me.”
“Wow,” I shake my head. “I’m really happy for you two.”
“So am I. I really think he could be the one. That night of the gala went south fast, but he really turned it around.”
“I can tell.” I laugh. “Especially when I caught you two the next morning.” I finish my painting and carefully slip it into my backpack.
“Yah, about that,” Abby turns back to her canvas, “I’m sorry I kind of shocked you like that. Charls and I got a bit carried away and then we both feel asleep.”
“It’s okay,” I say, still snickering. “I know you two really care about each other. But, do you think maybe you two could choose a hotel next time? Or at least do it when I am not at the dorm?”
Abby blushes slightly. “Agreed.”
I check my cell phone. “We should head off in a bit. The study session with Janice, Michael and Charls, will be in a bit.”
Abby checks her phone as well. “Yah, you’re right. But first, check out the painting!”
I look up at the portrait of myself and smile. “Well, I’ll be damned. You made me look pretty good.”
Abby laughs and bows slightly. “Thank you, thank you very much.”
She then packs up her things and we both head back to the dorm.
When we arrive back at the dorm, Michael and Janice are already waiting in the hall.
“You all ready for our study party?” Janice asks, and I raise an eyebrow at her.
“Study party? Really Janice?”
Janice laughs and heads into the dining room. “Just trying to liven’ up the mood.”
I shake my head and follow her and Michael inside.
It’s not long before we are all seated at a table studying our textbooks. We spend the next few hours reading through notes and quizzing each other. Surprisingly, I feel like I am learning a lot even though we are all taking different classes. Michael helps me with my psych notes, him having taken the class last year. The one who seems the most relaxed is Charls.
“Only two more quarters after this and I’m out,” he says, with a smile.
Janice laughs. “That won’t happen if you fail your classes.”
“For your information, I am passing every course I enrolled in.”
Abby snickers. “Babe, you have a C minus in your chem. class. That’s on the border line.”
“Hey, that’s only one course! I’m going to pass that class with a B. You watch!”
Michael checks his watch. “We’ve been studying for almost four hours. I think I’m spent.”
Janice nods. “Agreed.” She then smirks in my direction. “But I’m sure Lizzie can go for another three.”
I narrow my eyes at her jokingly and everyone at the table laughs.
Abby slips her textbook back into her backpack and stretches. “I think I’m done as well. And I can see you are too.” She side-glances in Charls direction and he smiles.
“Yah, we should head up- I mean off.” He then slips his textbook into his backpack and heads off with her in the direction of the door.
“I’ll give you one guess where they are going off to,” Janice says with a smirk.
I shiver. “Thanks for that Janice.”
Janice laughs and then slips her backpack over her shoulder. “I think I’m going to head to the gym for a workout. I’ll see you in dance class later, Liz. Bye Michael.”
When Janice is gone, Michael turns to me. “Hey, if you’re done, I thought we could do something fun.”
I look at him curiously. “What did you have in mind?”
We get inside my car and drive off into the night. Soon, Michael tells me to park by the curb and then we saunter through the snow until we reach the university lake. It is completely frozen over, but looks beautiful in the night.
Michael points out some skates that are hiding in a box under some bushes.
“Where did those come from?” I ask.
“I put them there earlier today. Thought we might have some fun with them later.”
“Wait, are you expecting me to skate on that lake?”
“Why not? It’s sturdy. I’ve tried it.”
I look at him hesitantly, but waves for me to follow. “Come on. You’ll be fine. I promise.”
Five minutes later, I am all laced up and skating upon the lake. I have to admit, it is amazing. I fall the first several times of trying, but soon I am able to keep my balance. I skate upon the lake carefully, one foot at a time. I feel like a swan gliding upon the ice-covered lake beneath me. Remind me why I have never done this before?
Michael follows close behind me, being careful as well. So far he hasn’t fallen once and I believe he has had more experience than me. Still, we have an amazing time skating by each other and even manage a race before I land flat on my butt.
Michael takes my hands and helps me to my feet with a smile on his face.
“Need a hand?” he says.
“Very funny.” I give his hands a squeeze and we start spinning in circles across the ice.
We start off nice and slow, but then slowly pick up speed. Soon we are whipping across the ice gaining momentum. I am laughing so hard I can’t breathe and Michael is as well. I am about to tell him we should stop before we both fall on our faces or make the ice break, when we both go tumbling to the ground.
I land on my butt while Michael goes soaring onto his stomach. Even I am surprised by how he flies onto the ground.
Although I try, I can’t stop myself from laughing. We both look so ridiculous lying on the ground like that.
“We’re both so graceful,” I say through my laughter and Michael joins in.
“Maybe that wasn’t the best idea,” he says rubbing his arm.
Michael grins. “You can’t deny it though. That was pretty fun.”
I rise to my feet. “I guess.”
I help Michael to his feet and give him a quick peck on his cheek. “I think we have had enough of this lake. I don’t think my butt can handle one more fall.”
Michael checks his watch. “We’ve still got some time before you’re class. You want to catch a movie?”
I grin. “Actually, I have a better idea.”
Fifteen minutes later, we are at the downtown arcade playing a game of skeeball. It’s been way too long since I’ve played. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I met Michael in here and he showed me around. Over the months it has became one of our favorite hangouts along with the old movie theater.
We play a few games, both of us tying each time. I can tell that Michael has been practicing. I do play one final game and end up beating his score. Sorry Mike, I rule at this. Well, except for Abby. She is pretty amazing as well.
We then head to the Battlestar Galactica table game and play a couple rounds together. Michael is amazing at this game, so I am at odds with him. He beats me several rounds, with me only managing one win. Oh, well. I suppose I can’t be better at every game. Besides, I like the funny face Michael makes when he wins. He looks like a little boy.
I am having so much fun with him that I almost forget about my class with Janice. I just happen to see my phone and realize that I have only twelve minutes before class starts.
“You sure you can’t skip?” Michael asks as we stand together at the Arcade entrance.
I smile and pull him in for a hug. “I’m sorry, I wish I could, but Janice would kill me.” We hug for a moment longer and then I pull away. “I’ve got to go, but I’ll call you later.”
I start to walk away, but then I hear him call my name from behind.
“Lizzie, I…” He seems to hesitate a moment before taking a deep breath. “I hope you have fun tonight.”
I frown. “Um, thanks?” I say, then laugh. “I’ll see you later.” I then turn and hurry over to my car.
I step on the speedometer as I drive, frantically scanning the streets for police cars. That last thing I need is a ticket, but I also don’t want to be late. Janice is a bit paranoid about being seen alone in the class, even though I keep telling her it’s no big deal.
All the while, I keep thinking about Michael’s weird behavior before I left. “I hope you have fun tonight?” What was that all about?
I quickly change into my clothes in the locker room and then hurry upstairs to the class. Then take my place at the ballet bar just before the instructor enters.
“Took you long enough,” Janice whispers back to me. “I was about to call you. I thought you were bailing on me.”
“I would never do that to you Janice. I’m sorry, I was with Michael.”
Janice scoffs. “You two sure are attached at the hip lately.” I detect some bitterness in her tone.
“Well, I guess this whole boyfriend girlfriend thing is just new to us. I like spending time with him.”
“That’s great, but you should also be able to be yourself too. You don’t want to become dependent on him.”
I look at her in surprise as she does a perfect pirouette, landing in place. “I am not dependent on Michael, Janice. Why would you even say that?”
Janice doesn’t make eye contact with me. “I’m just saying. You have to know how to be on your own sometimes.”
I am about to argue, but then I realize that this isn’t even about me. This is about her and…Greg.
“You still haven’t heard from him, have you?”
Janice becomes quiet. She does another pirouette without even looking at me.
“You know, you never told me exactly what happened with you two at the Gala. I only know what I saw from the stairs.”
The instructor passes by nodding to us and then continues on.
“It was nothing,” Janice says quickly, and she extends her hand out to begin doing plies.
I follow her pose. “Janice, I heard the two of you. I know you were trying to get him to talk to you and before he took off. He did seem like he wanted to talk to you though.”
Janice pauses for a moment. “You-you think so?” she asks quietly.
“Yes, I do. I could see it in his eyes. I think something is going on with him. Maybe all this yelling and fighting with you is his way of covering it. Some people push the ones they care about away when they are dealing with something.”
Janice sighs. “You’re probably right. But still, that doesn’t help me! I can’t help Greg if he won’t tell me what’s going on.” She shakes her head. “I’m so worried about him and he won’t even let me in.”
“I think you should give him some space.”
“I have been doing that Lizzie! It’s not helping! It’s just driving me crazy and he is still not contacting me.”
I grow quiet as the instructor passes by again.
“Less chitchat ladies,” she says, narrowing her eyes at us. “Nice form Janice. Lizzie, you need to bend your legs more. And keep your toes point-yes, that’s right.”
She nods her head and then walks toward the other students.
“Okay, well, maybe you should try talk to him again. If he was close to talking to you the last time, then I guess another time couldn’t hurt. Find him when he is alone and not busy doing anything, and try to talk to him. Tell him how much you care about him and want to help him through whatever he is going through. Even guys need to know that you are there for them.”
Janice laughs. “Since when did you become a couples’ counselor?”
I chuckle. “Ha, ha. I’m just saying. I know you two can work this out. You both really care about each other. You l-you love each other.”
Janice smiles. “Yah, we do.”
“So you excited about winter break?”
“Yes!” I grin. “It’s only a week and a half away!”
“Ugh, I can’t believe finals start on Monday. Four days away.”
“I know it sucks, but at least by next Friday, it will all be over.”
“True.” Janice stretches. “Speaking of which, are we still a go for the Christmas party?”
I nod. “Yup! I have gotten Kimberly to send out the invites. We should have a good turnout. We made it look more like a big party than some Greek event. So we shouldn’t have any problems.”
The instructor then moves back over to us and stays there, so we are unable to talk again until after class ends.
The instructor tells up to keep practicing and that we have only one day of class left, but it is optional since some people may have already headed back home.
Janice and I grab our bags and head for the girl’s locker room.
“As I was saying,” I continue, while walking into the showers, “I think we shouldn’t have any problems with the party.”
Janice follows after me and heads over to an empty shower nozzle. “Have you been able to get some of Abby’s pieces for us to sell?”
I nod. “Yes, I have gotten a few. She has a painting she is working on for me that I think is going to be great. We also have a few others selling things as well. Baked goods and everything.”
Janice jumps into her shower and I step into mine.
“That sounds great. I really hope this is a success!”
I smile. “Me too. I’m hoping we can get a few recruits as well. Once we hit seven, we are good to go. We can approach the Greek council and find out what to do next.”
I finish my shower and step out.
“You know it’s funny, just a few weeks ago, you couldn’t stand the thought of being in a sorority Lizzie. Now you are doing all you can to help Abby start her own.”
I shake my head. “I know. I’m a walking contradiction.”
We both laugh.
I finish getting dressed and head out of the shower area. “But honestly, if Abby really wants to build a sorority that is different than the Tri-Fruhms and the Alpha Beta Phis, I’m on board. It will be nice to have a sorority that cares more about its members and doing right for the school than all that hostility and manipulation like the others.”
“Agreed.” Janice walks out from her shower stall. “I never thought I would ever consider being in a sorority, but if we could make one that cares more about the school issues instead of all this petty crap, then I’m in. I already have ideas for all the events we could sponsor or take part in.”
I laugh. “Uh, oh. I can smell a protest coming.”
Janice smirks at me. “You know me too well.”
We both then head up the stairs to the main floor of the activity building. All the while, I am filled with excitement and hope. “This has to all turn out right,” I think to myself. “It just has to.”