(Hey my readers! I want to apologize for posting this chapter much later than I intended. I’ve been having some issues with my internet which has prevented me from being able to post. It has gotten better, but it is still on and off. That said, I will still do my best to post Tuesday/Wednesdays and Fridays. Please enjoy the chapter and there is more to come from Lizzie!)
Chapter 1: Graduation!
“Dear Lessie Johnson,
Selena loves her fiancé George. He’s calm, dependable, extremely intelligent, organized, and treats her like a fair maiden from a 1920’s classic film. They have known each other since their early teens and been dating for the past five years. Both their families have long written out the fine details of their wedding and future life up to how many kids they will have, and honestly, it has never bothered Selena. That is, until she meets Paul. He is completely different from George in almost every way; he is spontaneous, adventurous, impulsive, and lives life by the moment. Selena soon discovers a new kind of love with him; one filled with passion, desire and an undeniable need to be wanted. Being with him frees and awakens another part of her, a part she realizes has been suppressed by her relationship with George and her strict upbringing. However, choosing to embrace it will mean leaving behind her family’s expectations and the life with George that she has always wanted.
Uncovering Selena is a 85,225 contemporary romance novel about love, self-discovery and finding your own path.”
After reading over my edited query letter blurb, I sit back feeling satisfied. It is sounding much better than the last one I sent out. Carrie’s edits were pretty great this time around. I only hope it makes a difference. I have already received twenty-eight literary agent rejections, so I have learned to not hold my breath. I feel like an idiot continuously sending my novel queries out and never seeming to catch a real bite.
Still as my Creative writing professor Mrs. Quarell always said, “You are only a true loser if you stop trying. Don’t be a loser.” I’ll always remember that about her after I leave Aberdale University.
I still can’t believe how fast time has gone by. It feels like only yesterday I was driving through the Aberdale University campus for the first time, with Abby sitting beside me.
Of course, that day still is tinted with bad memories, for it led to the worst year for the two of us, ever. Even now, we try not to rehash it. After all, I have long forgiven Abby for what happened during that Fall quarter. As for our mothers, I can’t say the same.
Through it all, we have remained intact and boy have we come a long way. And when I say that, I mean it! Never did I think that after all the craziness with the Tri-Fruhm sorority chapter, that we would still be friends, let alone starting our own sorority! Yet here I am three years later, a fellow member and founder of the Beta Gamma Kappa sorority! It seems so easy to say now, but it has been a long road.
I can still recall during my sophomore year winter break getting that call from Janice about our future sorority house getting trashed. Abby was so distraught and for good reason. The house had looked awful, with trash piles outside and within the house. We basically had to spend the whole of New Year’s Eve weekend cleaning everything up. If we hadn’t had the help of fellow sorority member, founder and friend, Janice Calbury, my boyfriend, Michael, and Abby’s boyfriend, Charls, I don’t think we would have finished cleaning in time to move in before the quarter started. Well, them and the painters and renovators that fellow sorority founder, Kimberly Hawke, had hired. She had really put her bank account forward, shelling out enough money to purchase so much for the house. Her and Janice as well; Janice and the mystery purchases from her sisters. She never did explain where she was getting all that money, but maybe I will find out when I go to visit her later this summer.
But now that all that craziness is behind us (well, most of it anyway), we can focus on ourselves and the future. For us, that means leaving Aberdale University to start our future lives.
I still can’t believe it! It felt like graduation was so far away, but now it has come and even passed! We are now Aberdale U graduates!
I still remember pulling up to the auditorium Friday afternoon, just two days ago; my heart racing and my stomach tingling. As excited as I was, I also felt so much pressure. Being selected as college valedictorian felt so much bigger than it was at high school and I didn’t want to make one mistake. Abby and Janice had had to shake me a few times and give me a pep talk.
“You’ll be fine,” Abby had said. “You’ve been practicing your speech over and over for the past month. You got this. Now just relax.”
Boy was she right! My speech went swimmingly and received a loud applause thereafter. I was reeling from the excitement through the rest of the night leading up to receiving my diploma (well, whatever it was. My real one is apparently being mailed to me later.)
As we left the auditorium, I couldn’t resist tossing it into the air like I did with my graduation cap back in high school. It is really a milestone.
Abby true to form, could not let us leave without snapping several photos of all us for our sorority collage. It was becoming so large that we had had to start another one in the family room and the new lounge room upstairs. That said, I couldn’t complain. I wanted to remember that day for the rest of my life.
That said, there was only one thing that put a bit of a damper on my joy filled day; seeing my old communications professor, Mr. Farientine. The last time I had seen or spoken to him was at the end of my junior year, before he left Aberdale University for a job at Bridgeport University. I was very relieved for our parting had been anything but amicable. After all, he had taken my apprenticeship with him too far, which could have led to him being charged legally.
I hate to think about it now, but Janice had been totally right. All those comments she had made about him having an interest in me romantically? Completely correct. Of course, as naïve as I was, I didn’t catch onto it. Not even with all the times that he had asked me to stay late or to meet up with him after hours at locations off campus. I was honestly just trying to do the best I could to ensure a good recommendation for my application to graduate school that next year.
It would seem however, that he had had another agenda on his mind. I can still remember going in to put his files in the back closet not even second guessing a thing. I had done it so many times, so how could I have known that that time would have been any different? Next thing I knew, he was in the room with me and saying all these strange things. I was so shocked I couldn’t move. Then he was on me like a lion attacking their pray; his hands all over me and his mouth assaulting mine. If I didn’t suddenly come to my senses and knee him, who knows what could have happened.
I was so embarrassed about the whole situation that I didn’t say a word and needless to say, Michael was furious when he found out. It’s what eventually led to him and Mr. Farientine having a bit of a physical altercation, leading to him almost charging Michael.
In the end, it turned out Mr. Farientine’s teaching contract was up anyway, so he made a deal not to report Michael if I didn’t tell the school board about the “incident” with me. To be honest, I don’t know if he would have even gotten in that much trouble considering how much pull he had with the board. Something like this had never happened before, and with me being a sorority girl member, I don’t know if they would have taken my word seriously.
Anyways, Michael was not pleased, but I agreed to Mr. Farientine’s terms. Michael had been graduating that year and I didn’t want to be the cost of him not being able to walk.
I had thought that that would be the end of my contact with Mr. Farientine, but yet, there he was standing at the graduation door and staring directly at me. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t panic.
“Hello Elizabeth,” he had said, when we finally came within distance of each other.
I swallowed sharply. “Mr. Farientine.”
“That was quite an amazing speech you gave up there. It was so passionate and articulate; not that I am surprised. I always had a good feeling about you. You were after all, my best student.”
I felt myself growing very uncomfortable. Still, I knew he wouldn’t try anything with people all around.
“Thank you,” I managed to say, “but, I should get going.”
I started to move, but then Mr. Farientine blocked my path.
“Elizabeth, wait,” he then said, gently. It was so weird hearing him say my name like that.
“I-I want to formally apologize again for my misconduct earlier last year,” he said.
I stepped back slightly. “Oh?”
“As a professor, I should have been more professional. I let my feelings get the best of me and I put you in a terrible position. You were my apprentice and I completely crossed the line. I can’t say enough how sorry I am for what I did.”
I felt as if my voice was caught in my throat. The truth is, he did apologize before he left last year, but that moment was the first time that I actually think he meant it. Not that it made what he did okay, but it was nice to see him actually show empathy for his actions.
“T-thank you for saying that,” I said, finally.
Mr. Farientine nodded and then reached into his bag to pull out a rolled-up paper. “I-I realize that it is much too late and that you have probably already sent out your graduate school applications, but I want you to have this.”
I bit my lip. “Um, Mr. Farientine, I don’t think that I should accept-”
“Please,” he said, placing it in my hand. “I want you to have it. Regardless of what happened with us, I still think you are a brilliant student and writer. I just know that someday you will accomplish something great.”
I was very reluctant, but I finally accepted it. Mostly, because I didn’t want to start anything. And reading it later, I can say that it was a glowing recommendation. In another time, one where he didn’t sexually assault me, I definitely would have used it.
Abby must have noticed, because she did come up later to ask if I was alright, but I told her not to worry. It was sweet though, to see her so concerned.
I decided to keep the encounter from Michael until later. I didn’t want a repeat of the last time. Besides, I wanted to focus on what the day was really about, graduation!
And no graduation is best without an amazing graduation party! Well, in our case, it was a toga party, thrown together by our fellow sorority sisters. In the past two years our sorority had grown to sixteen members! Not bad for a sorority started from scratch! As usual, Abby had her cell phone out, snapping as many pictures as possible. I definitely think it will be remembered for years even after we leave today.
Graduating, meant saying goodbye to our sorority sisters, which was hard, but had to be done. I think Selena Bell was the most affected, but the party definitely livened up her mood. That girl is definitely the go to if you want a fun night on town. I think she will make a great Beta Gamma Kappa event coordinator once we have left.
As for the new president, we nominated Carrie Daylens. I think it was the best choice since she was always so amazing with policies and procedures. It also makes sense since she is going down the business and finance route.
Besides, Carrie had really done a great job of being co-president to Abby when Kimberly graduated last year. I think she will carry on our legacy with such promise.
And for co-president, we elected Tatayana Jenkins, which I think is also a great pick. Though still majoring in drama, she has chosen a minor in marketing. That should go a long way for her and also definitely help with getting our sorority more publicity. Though I must say, we are getting up there. Some people on campus already see us in line with the Alpha Beta Phis, though we still have quite some ways to go.
Still, I think it has been a great four years and I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it. Well, maybe the last six months of junior year. No Lizzie. Must not think about that.
I decide to read through my query letter one more time before hitting save. I then copy and paste it into my composed e-mail to Lessie Johnson from the Johnson Literary Agency. Attached, I have included fifty pages of my manuscript and the novel synopsis, as her instructions indicated.
“Here goes another,” I say to myself and then I click send.
There is then a knock on my door. “Come in,” I call.
The door opens and then Abby enters. “Hey Liz, you all packed?” She says. She then glances around my room and frowns. “Lizzie, you have barely started!”
I sigh. “I know, I just wanted to finish editing my query letter.”
“Ah. What is that? The twenty-ninth one?”
“Maybe this one will be it.”
“I won’t hold my breath. All the others have been rejections, even the one that requested half the manuscript. I’m not going to get my hopes up again.”
Abby smiles. “Well I have faith. Your story is totally amazing. All the girls think so and so does your professor and writing club members. It’s just about finding the right agent.”
“You should finish packing up your things though. Didn’t you say you were heading out at six-thirty?”
“Yes, and I will. I’m pretty quick at packing.”
“Yes, but this time you’ll be packing up everything.”
“True.” I then give her a look. “Why do I feel like you’re trying to get rid of me? Is a certain someone making an appearance later?”
Abby blushes. “Maybe…”
I can’t help but laugh. “All right, don’t worry. In a few hours, Janice and I will be out of your hair.”
“Gracias!” Abby says with a smile, and she heads back out.
I then sign out of my e-mail and click shutdown on the start menu of my laptop. Enough work for today. I got to get packing.
It takes me the next three hours to finish packing up and loading my suitcases into my car. I pass Janice along the way while she is doing the same. I have agreed to drop her off at the airport before heading home. It will be a bit out of my way, but it’s the least I can do. She was after all paying for me to come down to visit her in July, something I am totally psyched for. Especially since my birthday is during that week. It will be my first time of visiting Marina Beach. I only wish Abby was coming along, but unfortunately, she will be doing a summer fashion program that won’t be over until late August.
As I head down the stairs to the door, I keep marveling about how fast time has gone by. I was now actually leaving the sorority house, one that I had grown to love as a second home. It was going to be tough not seeing all our sorority girls running all over the house. Saying goodbye to them all the past two days as they left for Summer break, had been very difficult. For them, they were only going to be gone for three months, but for us, it was forever. Well, unless we come and visit. Which I definitely hope we do.
When I enter into the living room, I see Abby snapping a final photo for the sorority collage with Janice. When she spots me, she calls me over and takes one more photo with all three of us to put on the wall.
“Wow,” says Janice. “That’s it, huh?”
I nod. “That’s it.”
Abby then grins. “Beta Gamma Kappa salute!”
We all then laugh and say in unison,
“Beta Gamma Kappas proud and tall, we work together through it all, with every obstacle we face, we’ll stand united as the human race!”
We then do our signature two finger cross, a hand gesture Abby came up with as a joke last year when we won the Greek Games for the second year in a row. For some reason it stuck and has now become a part of us.
Janice and I then start to head toward the door. “Abby, don’t forget to set the ATI panel before you leave for your fashion program. We don’t want any accidents like last time.”
I am referring to our break-in by the Alpha Beta Phis during the Greek Prank Wars, Fall quarter of Junior year. They were able to booby trap the house like The Parent Trap movie, thanks to some help from the Alpha Annyas.
That said, we still got them back, by teaming up with the Eta Phi Nus, the Delta Sigmas and the Kappa Alpha Omegas. Oh yes, it was pretty amazing.
“I know, I know,” Abby says, and she rolls her eyes. “I just wish I was going to Marina Beach with you. I want to go so bad.”
“Hey, we’ll find another time to go,” I say. “Besides, your program, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“That’s true. And if I do well, I could be offered a paid internship at the Deltana fashion office in Maruana City.”
“That’s our fashionista!” says Janice and she hugs her goodbye. “You better write to me! None of that drifting off with no contact for years stuff!”
Abby laughs and shakes her head. “No chance! You’ll hear so much from me that you’ll be sick of it.”
We then laugh and head down the steps to my car.
After loading in, I start the engine and pull my car onto the street. “See you later!” I call to Abby and after giving her a little wave, Janice and I are off.
It feels so weird to drive by the campus buildings knowing we won’t be here next fall. Aberdale University didn’t have the master’s in Library Science degree I was looking for, so I had had to apply up north to the University of Maurana City. This really was our last time driving through here.
It really hits me when we pass by the “Aberdale University” sign and head passed it along the highway. Janice and I both look back at it and then back at the road ahead.
“Farewell Aberdale U,” Janice says, and I smile and nod.
Yes, farewell indeed.