Episode 053

Melinda’s Story

I was diligently reviewing my Latin verb endings when Pat broke my concentration.

“I’m starving. Is the dining hall open yet?”

I rolled my eyes as I picked up my phone. He was more than capable of checking the time himself. I think he just liked distracting me.

I unlocked my phone to find a barrage of messages about dinner from her friends. I smiled at Pat.

“Not only is it open, my friends have all been there for a while. They’ll probably be gone by the time I get down there.”

“No, they won’t, because I’m declaring a dinner break.” He tossed his pencil onto his notebook and took my hand. “Come on. I’ll show you where Chloe’s been hiding.”

I followed Pat downstairs to the Quiet study Room. It always baffled me why the couches in this room were arranged into small conversational groupings, since the room was reserved for silent study. The woman who monitored the room was a grey-haired librarian who wore a severe bun and horn-rimmed glasses on a chain. sitting behind her curved wooden circulation desk, She watched us cautiously as we entered, as if daring us to make noise.

I had often passed through this room, but had never seen anyone one actually study in here before.  As Pat led me out of the library, he stopped by one of the antique desks under a window that looked towards the dining hall. Chloe was simultaneously scribbling in a notebook and working on a laptop, her hair disheveled as if she had been pulling at it all afternoon. Suddenly, ai was scared to apply to college.

Pat said nothing as he pulled the pen from her hand and gently closed the computer. Chloe glared at him and for a moment, i thought she might hurt him. Instead, she marched out the main entrance. Pat and I followed, catching up to her on the covered walkway connecting the library to the dining hall.

He smiled at her as he held open the door to the dining hall. “Make any progress?”

Chloe sounded proud. “I think so. I decided I’m not going to college!”

“Well, I would consider that progress.” Pat winked at me as i passed. He took my hand as we passed through the lounge and into the senior section.

Chloe stopped to talk to one of her classmates, but Pat and I continued to the servery. He smiled as we grabbed out trays. “I’ll meet you back upstairs after dinner, Daphne,”

 After all that studying, I was in the mood for comfort food. I asked the grill lady for a grilled cheese. While it cooked, I grabbed some chicken soup and a plate of fries. After getting some water, i headed to my usual table.

Most of my friends had finished eating and were just enjoying each other’s company before study hours began. Jessi turned as I sat beside her.

“Where’ve you been all day? You didn’t come to the mall with us.”

I shrugged sheepishly. “Library. I was nervous about finals, so I wanted to start studying.”

I thought they would make fun of me for wanting to study all day, but I think it made them nervous instead. The conversation quickly turned into a discussion about finals. None of us had done this before and no one knew quite what to expect.

Xandra sipped her soda. “I have a friend at home who says they have two exams a day and early dismissal. The first day is for periods one and two, the second day is periods three and four, etc. She also said that the final is on the material they’ve covered since the last test, but that didn’t sound right to me.”

Everyone looked at Walter, who had just bitten off half a cookie.


Andy smiled at him. “You know everything. Tell us about finals.”

Walter shrugged. “I got nothing.”

I did. Pat had told me a lot about what to expect. And, I wanted to share it with my friends so they would be less nervous. But, I didn’t wanted to mention his name. It was still strange to consider him my boyfriend. I spoke slowly, choosing my words carefully.

 “Well, your brother was telling me that we take the finals together in the TRAC. And, everyone has the same final on the same day. Like, everyone takes their math final together. He also told me that a lot of the teachers let you bring in one index card of notes.”

Sarah sat up, pointing her fork towards the center of the table. “Oh! My physics teacher said something about that back at the beginning of the year. He mentioned that we might want to start a formula list so we can have it for finals. I didn’t realize what he meant at the time, but that makes sense now.”

Dre sent Walter a mischievous smile. “Oh, are we allowed to talk about your brother now?”

“No.” Walter’s response was adamant, although he was smiling.

According to what Andy had told us yesterday, Dre had shared her suspicions with most of the girls, who had told their boyfriends. As a result, pretty much everyone at the table at least suspected that Pat was Walter’s brother. As far I could tell, no one was treating him any differently. Other than looking slightly disgusted at his overloaded tray.

Sarah glanced around before turning to me. “Where is he, anyway?”

I could see him in the other section of the dining hall. Frank was sitting with him and Chloe. I nodded my head slightly. “Having dinner with his friends.”

Dre must have seen them as well. She pointed a fry in their direction. “I see that girl with him a lot. They went to the dance together, didn’t they? Is that his girlfriend?”

Walter shook his head. “No. Chloe is my sister’s best friend and Pat stole her. Melinda’s his girlfriend.”

He said this so matter of factly in between bites of chocolate cake, that it took a moment for it to register for my friends. Of course, I had already told Sarah last night and I figured she would tell Larry. Walter seemed to already know before we went to church this morning. But, I hadn’t seen the rest of my friends all day. As they realized what Walter had just said, they all turned to me with open mouths.

Jessi was the first to find her voice, although it came out close to a mock whisper. “You’re with Patrick McGregor?”

I shook my head vehemently. I wanted to make the distinction clear from the beginning. “No. I’m with Pat Evans. Patrick McGregor doesn’t exist outside Hollywood.”

Xandra waved a dismissive hand. “Whatever his name. You’re like a thing now?”

I shrugged. “Yeah. We are. And, I’m really not comfortable right now.”

“Have you kissed him?” Jade asked excitedly. “Is he a good kisser?”

I started choking on my water. “Definitely NOT discussing this.” Loading my dishes onto  my tray, I stood. “I’m going back to the library. See you guys later.”

Walter caught up with me in the dishroom. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize they would bombard you.”

I shook my head. “I should have seen it coming. They did the same thing when Sarah and Larry got together.”

I turned to him as we headed towards the library. “I didn’t get to talk to you today. Are you okay with all this? Is it going to be weird for you?”

“I already told you. I’ll let you know if it bothers me.” He bumped his shoulder against mine. “It was my idea to ditch you guys at the game place and the coffee shop, you know.”

I groaned. “You should have said something! I never wanted to make you uncomfortable.”

Walter smiled, holding the door for me as we entered the library. He waited until we were through the quiet study area before continuing. “You guys weren’t making me uncomfortable. I left because I wanted you to get together. As much as it weirds me out, you two are pretty cute together. He said you guys didn’t even notice us leaving.”

I smiled. “I guess now I understand that thing Sarah and Larry do.”

“Just try not to do it too often.” As we entered the study room, Walter’s smile turned into an expression of shock. “Whoa. What happened here?”

“Sorry. I made a big mess.”

“What is all this?”

I looked at the Latin book and notes scattered all over the table and sighed. “I started at the first chapter in math. One page is just theorems: their names and their explanations. Another page is an outline of each chapter heading, to remind me of the topics we discussed. Then, i have a page of questions I need to ask Mr. Davidson, like if he plans on using the same test questions or making new ones based on the ones he already gave us.”

Walter stared at me for a few moments. “And, you did this in every class?”

“No. Pat made me take a break every hour or so. I only finished math and physics. I haven’t started English yet and I was in the middle of Latin when Pat got hungry and made me go to dinner.”

Walter raised his eyebrows. “Well, maybe you can finish after you do your homework.”

“Oh! I finished my homework.”

Walter looked pained. “You’re making me do it alone again?”

“Yes. For the rest of the week, because I finished my homework. But, we can study for Tuesday’s Latin test together if you’d like.” 

“And I thought you were the geek,” Pat said to Walter as he entered the room.

Walter shook his head. “Not uh. You’re not stealing her from me. You’ve had her all day.”

I didn’t like the idea of   being used in a verbal tug of war. But before I could object, I realized both boys were smiling, something that had been rare since Parents’ Weekend.

Pat shrugged a shoulder. “I was watching Daphne make all those lists, and I kinda liked the idea. I was going to start one for my English class. I’ll even go in the chair over there, if someone promises to wake me up when study hours are over.”

Walter sent me a curious look ad I collected my papers to make room for him “Why does he call you Daphne?”

I could feel my cheeks grow warm. “It’s kind of a nickname.”

“Well, I got that. I was wondering where it came from.”

“Study for your English final,” Pat declared from the comfy chair. “You’ll figure it out.”

Walter made a rude gesture at his brother, but said nothing as he pulled out his math book and began his assignment for the next day. I went back to creating charts of noun endings for the various word families we had learned so far.

After a few minutes, Walter glanced over at me. “Can you help me with number three?”

Melinda’s Journal

Sunday, November 12

 (Author note: I am not sure what this journal entry should be about. Any suggestions? Leave a comment below.) 

Pat’s Story

My stomach decided it was time to stop studying, even though my phone had not yet signaled that our hour of study time was up. I asked Melinda if the dining hall was open. When she checked the time, she saw her friends had been texting her and were already eating.

I texted Frank, warning him that if he didn’t show up for dinner, I would build a robot to extract him from the lab. He replied with some rude suggestions about what I could do with my robot, but I knew he would come eat.

I helped Melinda to her feet and held her hand as we left the room. “Come on. I’ll show you where Chloe’s been hiding.”

We went into the Quiet Reading room and I immediately decided Chloe had officially reached mental breakdown. She was sitting at a desk under the window with her laptop open, typing with one hand as she scribbled in a notebook with the other. Her hair had been pulled back at some point, but much of it looked like it had been pulled in frustration.

I wordlessly walked up to her, closing her laptop slowly while removing the pen from her hand. Chloe looked at me for a moment and I wondered if she might try to stab me with the pen. Instead, she stalked out of the room towards the main entrance.

Melinda and I caught up with her on the covered walkway that connected the second story of the library and dining hall buildings.

“Make any progress?” I asked Chloe.

She beamed, a slightly crazed look in her eye. “I think so. I decided I’m not going to college!”

I smiled as I held the door open for the girls. “Well, I would consider that progress.” I winked at Melinda as she followed Chloe through the door.

We lost Chloe in the Senior Section, where she stopped to talk to one of her classmates. I stayed with Melinda until we reached the servery.

“I’ll meet you back upstairs after dinner, Daphne.” I smiled as she went to get some hot food and I went to the salad bar.

Frank and Chloe both found me at the beverage island, their trays full. “Can we sit in the freshman section?” Chloe asked. “I’m feeling kinda antisocial right now.”

I shrugged. “Works for me.” The smaller section of the dining hall—which technically was for anyone, although we all called it the freshman section—was adjacent to the main dining hall. I selected a seat that allowed me to watch Melinda sitting with her friends. I tried to catch her eye, but I don’t think she saw me.

Chloe followed my gaze as she sat down. “What’s going on with you two?”

“We’re together.” I said it as calmly as possible. I had wanted to tell them all day, but this was the first time I had seen them face to face.

Frank gave me a look of disbelief. “You’re with a third-former? You realize you could probably have any girl you want.”

“Excuse me? Aren’t you chasing a third-former?”

When things hadn’t worked out with him and Bianca, he had starting spending more time with Walter’s friend from his lifeguarding class. Frank made himself busy with his sandwich.

“How’s Walter handling it?” Chloe asked.

“A lot better than I expected. I think he wanted us to get together.”

I glanced back at Melinda’s table in time to see her turning red and getting ready to leave the table. I wondered what had happened and if I should go talk to her, but Walter followed her a moment later and I knew she would be okay. He was still her friend and I knew he would text me if there was a real problem. That was one of the great things about being brothers.

While we ate, Frank told us about the snafu he had hit while programming his robot. Chloe told us which colleges she had decided to apply to and why, then explained what she wanted to write for her common essay. I let them talk as I thought about how nice it had been to spend the day studying with my girlfriend.