The night of the writing club readings sneaks up on me. I had spent so much time working on my new short story, classwork and homework, that I haven’t had much time to think about anything else. Not to mention also helping Selena and Tatyana get acquainted with the house, which they were becoming very comfortable with. I had to admit, the house was really starting to feel like a sorority house.
On the morning of the club readings, I spend my time editing it for the last time. With my classes going until late, I won’t have too much time before the readings.
Within an hour, I finish my last edits and then click off my computer. I then go into the kitchen to grab some cinnamon buns that Selena baked yesterday. Let me tell you, that girl is amazing! She definitely could have a future in culinary arts.
“You sure you don’t want to try some?” I ask Janice when I sit beside her at the kitchen table. “It smells pretty amazing.”
Janice nods. “I know, but I’m on a bit of a diet right now. I’m training for this 15k marathon coming up. It’s to raise awareness for heart disease.”
I take a bite of my cinnamon bun. “Wow, 15k?”
“Yup! And I want to get as much money as I can for the cause. So until then,” she raises her spoon and dives it into a bowl of corn flakes, “I am laying off the calories.”
“That takes some serious dedication.”
Abby enters into the dining room sniffing the air. “Something smells amazing!” she says.
I grin. “Selena made cinnamon buns.”
“Mmm.” Abby glances toward the kitchen. “I knew there was a reason I liked that girl.”
“Ha, ha.” I then see she is walking in the direction of the door. “Where are you off to?”
“Just finalizing some info with the Moana about the food drive. The Delta Sigmas agreed to it.”
“I know! I’ll be seeing you!”
“Oh!” I suddenly remember something I forgot to tell her. “Don’t forget about the writing club reading tonight!”
“I’ll be there!” Abby calls, and then she disappears out the door.
“That goes for you too, Janice,” I say giving her a look.
Janice laughs. “Oh, of course I’ll be there. I am reading something tonight, remember?”
“Something more cheerful I hope?”
“Don’t get your hopes up. You don’t know the twisted passages of my mind.”
I shake my head and then rise from my chair. “I look forward to it,” I say, and then walk to the kitchen sink. What could be worse than that depressing poem she read last quarter?
My public relations class goes very well. After we finish almost forty minutes of lecture, we are assigned our first paper; reporting the tactical publicity of an event on campus. I already know exactly what event I am doing and I got the idea thanks to Abby. As I head out the door, Mr. Farientine calls to me,
“Will you still be needing this room for the writing event tonight?”
I nod yes and utter a “Thank you,” and then he says,
“The pleasure is mine.”
It’s so weird how nice he has been to me this quarter. It’s like all that animosity has just vanished. Very strange indeed.
I am surprised when I arrive and see Janice, Michael and Charls standing outside the entrance. I expected them to be showing up a little later, but yet here they were.
“You beat me,” I say with a laugh, and Janice grins.
“I guess you were stressing for nothing,” she says.
I roll my eyes. “Whatever.”
We all then pile into the room where Carrie has already laid out a nice display of food. Someone has made some amazing looking Key Lime Pie. I see Janice glance at it longingly and I snicker to myself.
Someone then taps me on the shoulder and I turn around.
“Hey Kendal,” I say with a little smile. I can’t deny, it is a bit awkward because of the way things ended on New Year’s Eve. I still can’t believe Michael just blurted out about our relationship like that. I know Kendal and I are over, but still. I had wanted to break it to him gently just in case he felt resentment towards Michael. Now I guess I didn’t have a choice.
“Hello Elizabeth,” he says with a grin. “Nice to see you again. I hope you will be reading tonight.”
I nod. “Of course.”
“Will you be reading an excerpt of your novel? I quite enjoyed the chapters you shared with the group last week.”
Funny, those were the chapters about my protagonist Serena, pushing Paul away to keep her relationship with George from falling apart. She basically tells Paul that their relationship means nothing to her and that she belongs with George. I wouldn’t say it was the most intriguing part of the story. More like the most depressing.
Still, I smile. “No, actually I have been working on another story. It’s more like a prose poem.”
“I look forward to hearing it.”
Kendal nods to me and then takes a seat at one of the tables. I then take a seat next to Michael and the readings begin.
Several people do their readings before my name is finally called, including Carrie. She reads a free verse poem about how life is not eternal so everyone should live each day to the fullest and enjoy every moment. It was beautiful.
Then shortly after, my name is called and I make my way to the podium.
“Hello fellow listeners, my name is Elizabeth Drake,” I speak into the microphone, “And my poem is called ‘“Begin Again.”’ I then launch into my poem, dealing with facing hardship and building yourself up again.
As I continue on, I spot Abby sneak in through the back entrance. She grabs a place of cocktail shrimp (I know, weird, right?) and slips into a seat toward the front. She waves to me quickly and then sits back in her chair. I clear my throat and continue.
“What does one do when the feelings of distress consumes them; tearing them limb by limb and thought by thought? Will there be no escape? No forgiveness of sin? No path to redemption?”
I look over toward Janice and see her smirking at me as she eats some cocktail shrimp as well. I can’t blame her, she probably thinks I am a total hypocrite. I gave her such a hard time about writing depressing poems, yet here I was doing the same. Well in my defense, it was about to get better.
I continue on. “But at the end of the tunnel, there is a speck of light. It grows larger and larger with every step, every movement forward. Every time you hold hope in your heart that all the suffering soon will end. All one has to do, is to believe.”
The room erupts into applause when I finish and I bow and then take a step down from the podium. Janice, Michael, Charls and Abby all give me a standing ovation, as well as Kendal. That makes me a bit nervous, for Michael side glances at him and his shoulders grow a bit stiff. I take care to only nod to Kendal and then take my seat right next to Michael, giving him a peck on the cheek.
Kendal ends up being called next. He slowly makes his way over to the podium and announces his poem, “Second Chances”. He then launches into it going over how people always think they will have a second chance to take back past mistakes, but how it is not always the case.
“You may think you will return to it again, within a moments glance, but do not tread so lightly with matters of importance.” He continues on, with his poem starting to sound more and more personal than just a simple poem. I can’t help but get drawn in, but Michael looks extremely annoyed. Finally, it comes to a beautiful close, “So hold your loved ones dear and let her not leave without the taste of her kiss upon your lips. You may not get another chance, jump first and let live.”
Just as with mine, the room begins to applaud and I join right in. The only one who doesn’t is Michael, who sits in complete silence. I can’t understand why. The poem was absolutely amazing and even he can’t deny it.
Last up is Janice, with another one of her touching well thought out poems. This one was titled, “Through The Woods.”
‘“Into the woods,” she said, “this will be our home.” But all I could feel was dread, filling me deep into my core. “We can’t go back,” she said, “the danger there still looms,” so she took my hand and said, “into the woods, to home.”’
I find myself struggling to figure out whether her poem is made up or based on something real. The words make it sound like a fairy tale, but her tone and emotion is raw, like something out of a documentary film. I am hooked on every word she says and sad to hear it come to an end.
“They take our hands into cuffs as we hang our heads down low. We must return to our place of doom, but never forget our home in the woods.”
As the applause for her subsides, Carrie makes her way to the stage and thanks everyone for coming to the reading and then adds that our group meets every Thursday evening at the library.
I rise from my chair and am about to go applaud Janice, when Kendal steps out in front of me.
“Your poem was beautiful,” he says with a smile.
I beam. “Thank you. Yours was quite beautiful as well.”
“Oh, it was nothing,” Kendal says, shrugging my compliment off, but I can see his cheeks redden ever so slightly. “I wrote it up during the start of fall quarter. I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to read it to anyone, but then I felt like I had to.”
I frown. “Why do you say that?”
Kendal then gives me a very strange look, one that for some reason makes my cheeks heat up slightly. Just as he is about to open his mouth, Michael comes right around me.
“Hey Lizzie, great poem!” he says wrapping an arm around me.
Kendal immediately closes his mouth and looks away.
“Well, it’s getting late and I have early classes tomorrow,” he says. “Night Elizabeth.” He then nods to me, and heads off out of the room.
When Michael and I get outside, I give him a shove in the arm. “Michael, you did that on purpose!”
“What you did in front of Kendal.”
He frowns. “What? You mean when I put my arm around you? What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing. It’s just, I don’t want to make things awkward. You know Kendal and I used to date.”
Michael rolls his eyes. “I’m aware Lizzie, but it shouldn’t be awkward. He should know that we’re together now and that you two have been over for a year.” He then shakes his head. “But yet here he is still pinning over you.”
I sigh. “Michael, Kendal isn’t pinning over me. It’s just awkward because we used to be together.”
Michael scoffs. “Lizzie, that dude is not over you. Did you not hear his poem? “let her not leave without the taste of her kiss upon your lips?” Wasn’t that obvious?”
“He was just being creative.”
“Give me a break,” Michael shakes his head. “He’s not over you by a long shot.”
I sigh and roll my eyes. “I beg to differ. You know, exes can be friends.”
“Goodnight Michael,” I say with a little laugh and after giving him a peck on the cheek, I turn and start walking to my car. I love Michael, but he was being a bit paranoid. Sure, Kendal may have some warm feelings for me, but that doesn’t mean he still loves me. We were just friends, and sooner or later Michael was going to have to accept that. The sooner the better…