Episode 100

Melinda’s Journal

Friday, January 19

Ever since the first day of school, I have been eating dinner with so many people, we have needed to steal chairs from neighboring tables to fit everyone. But, after Sunday night, Sarah, Larry, Walter, and I have been eating at a new table.

I’m still friendly with my old friends. We wave to each other when we pass each other on the paths. We hold doors for each other when we walk into buildings together. We might even have a brief conversation about the weather in the common room.

But things have definitely changed between us. We’re no longer eating our meals together. We’re not including them in our weekend plans.

But the biggest change? I can’t help but wonder what rumors they’re spreading about Pat. Or me.

Melinda’s Story

“I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me,” Walter said as we walked towards the dorms after Latin on Friday.

“I’m talking to you right now.”

Walter shook his head. “You haven’t been studying with me. I can’t copy your math homework.”

I sent him a weak smile. Over the course of the week, I had found more reasons to study in my room instead of the library. Sunday night had started out fine, but after we had finished our Latin and English work, Zayne declared she needed a study break. While I worked on my physics, Zayne led Walter to one of the comfy chairs. I spent the rest of the night staring at my book and trying not to listen to the kissing sounds behind me.

But I didn’t want to upset Walter. I shrugged. “I’ve had orchestra.”

“Okay. That was two nights. What about Tuesday and Wednesday?”

“Basketball.” On Tuesday, basketball practice ran just late enough that I could go straight to dinner without stopping at my dorm first. I got out of going to the library by telling Walter I didn’t have my books and would just study in my room. Wednesday’s basketball game at Iverson had run late enough that we didn’t return until study hours had already begun.

Walter didn’t look convinced. “So, does that mean you’ll study with us tonight?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that you and Zayne are together. I really am. But . . . you guys kiss a lot.”

I tried to say it lightheartedly, but I could tell I made Walter uncomfortable. As we crossed the road, he veered off the path.

“Where you going? I didn’t mean—”

Walter smiled at me. “Relax. I just want to check up on Pat.”

I returned the smile. “See if he’ll come to dinner?”

Walter said nothing as he disappeared.

That afternoon, I overheard some of the new rumors in the locker room. While I was in one of the bathroom stalls, I overheard two girls from the JV team as they showered after practice. They were talking about the detention incident and the honor board decision. I also heard a story about two people I didn’t know who had violated the co-ed rule. Just as I was about to leave the stall, I heard Pat’s name.

“I heard Patrick McGregor is going out with the Woodward prefect, Bethany what’s-her-face.”

“I heard that too! My boyfriend is in his dorm, and he said Bethany was in his room last week.”

“I saw them leaving the science center this morning. They were heading to the dorms together.”

I couldn’t listen to the rest. I hurried to the court, hoping Clarissa would give me some mindless task during practice. Counting free-throws would be fantastic.

I knew I shouldn’t be this upset. I had broken up with Pat. He was free to see other people. But, as I pretended to do my math homework during practice, I realized I wasn’t over him. Some part of me had hoped he wouldn’t be able to move on either. Certainly not this quickly.

As we headed back to the dorm after practice, I made the mistake of telling Sarah what I had overheard. She had seemed to take my breakup even harder than I had, and was ready to go give Bethany a piece of her mind. By the time she was calm, we were late for dinner.

I had forgotten that Walter was inviting his brother. As I sat down, Pat appeared, sitting across from me.

“What’s up, third formers?” He seemed to be in a much better mood than everyone else at the table. Probably because of his new girlfriend.

“Hey.” Walter sounded miserable. What was wrong with him? Was he still upset about what I had said about Zayne earlier? He looked at his brother. “Are you coming to Smith’s tonight? Or am I watching NeoGenesis alone again?”

“I’ve got a thing. I’m probably not going to make it.”

Walter turned to me, but he didn’t need to ask the question. I shook my head.

“I don’t think I’m going either. I’m not feeling great.”

Larry pushed his tray away and turned to Sarah, who was glaring at Pat. “I’m not really hungry. Wanna go for a walk?”

Sarah nodded and followed Larry to the dishroom.

Pat cocked his head in Larry’s direction. “What’s wrong with him?”

Walter shrugged. “He’s upset with his parents. I told him he should come home with us for Long Weekend.”

“I like that idea. So, what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing.” Walter said it so quickly, I knew something had to be bothering him. I sent him an apologetic look.

“Are you still upset about what I said earlier?”

Walter shook his head. “It’s not that. It’s just—” Walter looked between his brother and me. “I’m not ready to talk about it.” He checked the time and stood. “I told Zayne I’d meet her before study hours. You coming upstairs?”

When I shook my head, he sighed. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He headed to the dishroom, looking at his tray the entire way.

Pat watched his brother disappear before turning to me. “Okay. What is going on? I stop hanging out with you guys, and everything seems to fall apart.”

Not trusting myself to speak, I shrugged, playing with the food on my plate. I felt bad that Walter was upset with me. Pat had moved on and that broke my heart. My appetite was gone. I stood, collecting my bag and tray.

Pat gestured to my tray. “Can I help you with that?”

“I got it.” I had to fight back the tears as I headed to the dishroom. Pat caught up with me on the path to the dorms.

“Since you’re not hanging out in the library, would you like to come to my meeting with me?”

“I thought you had to study in your dorm.” My voice wasn’t exactly steady, but I hoped Pat wouldn’t notice.

“I got special permission for this one. Come on. I think you’ll like it.”

“What is it?”

“It’s called Ichthys.”

“Ick This? What do you do? Compare gross stuff?” I wrinkled my nose at the thought.

Pat laughed. “No. It’s a Christian fellowship group. Ichthys is the name of that fish symbol Christians use to identify themselves to others.”

“What do you do there?” I hadn’t been paying attention as we walked. How had we ended up by the side entrance of the humanities building?

Pat shrugged. “Just sit and talk.”

“About Jesus and stuff?” It didn’t sound that exciting. I already got that with Deacon John every Sunday.

Pat shook his head. “Last week, we talked about our Christmas break. And our favorite Christmas presents. I told them about the blanket you made me.”

I couldn’t meet his eyes. Tears were forming in my own. Couldn’t he see how I was hurting? Or didn’t he notice anymore?

“Anyway, I think we’re playing some sort of game tonight. Bethany said—”

“Bethany?” I couldn’t hold back the tears, but I didn’t bother trying to hide them.

Pat sent me a confused look. “Yeah. Prefect Bethany. She’s one of the co-presidents.”

I turned to leave.

“What’s wrong?”

Pat put a hand on my arm. My heart stopped. That simple touch. I still loved him. How could he move on when we still had such a powerful connection? Knowing that he had just hurt too much for words. I shrugged him off, crying silent tears all the way back to my room.

Pat’s Story

As I predicted, news of the detention incident spread like wildfire. Since I was attending classes regularly, mostly as myself, not Patrick McGregor, the rumors about me slowly died. I still spent a lot of time hiding in my room, but I was spending quality time with Hazel. The random notes I had begun stringing together on Monday had become a full-fledged song, complete with lyrics, by the time Walter knocked on my door Friday afternoon. I invited him into the room with a jerk of my head.

“That sounds pretty good.” He sat on my bed. “Does it have words?”

I nodded, though I wasn’t sure I was actually ready to say them aloud. I glanced at the time. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”

Walter shrugged. “Free day. Wanted to check up on you. Haven’t seen you much this week.”

“I’m fine.” There was something wrong with the bridge. I played it a few times.

Walter raised his eyebrows. “That’s not your guitar.”

“It is now. Uncle Vinny gave it to me last weekend.” Maybe a D would work better?

“Since when do you write songs?”

I shrugged. “I was moping. Starting playing with it. Somehow it turned into a song.”

Walter stole the notebook where I had been scribbling my ideas. He jumped off the bed as he read the lyrics.

“Doofus! Give that back!” I had to lay the guitar down gently before chasing my brother around the small room. By the time I got the notebook back—there may have been some hitting involved—he had read the song.

“Play it.” He nodded towards the guitar as I sat back down.

I swore at him.

He shook his head. “You don’t have to sing it. Just play it.”

I played the first few bars, and he stole the notebook again. I could see him mouthing the words as I played. When I finished, he laid the book back on my bed and looked at me.

“There’s something wrong with the bridge. But, I like it. You should play it for her.”

I stared at him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Walter stood. “I gotta get to class. Join us for supper? We’ve been eating in the freshman section.”

“Hey. Are you okay?” I finally thought to ask.

He shrugged. “Join us for supper.”

If Walter was hoping to invite me to dinner to cheer me up, it backfired. As I walked through the dining hall, I felt like I was heading to a funeral. Walter looked uncomfortable. Larry looked annoyed. Sarah looked mad, but she had been glaring at me for so long, I wasn’t sure if she was mad at me or something else. Melinda looked ready to cry. As soon as she saw me, I saw tears in the corner of her eye. I wanted to rush over and hold her.

But that wasn’t a possibility. So, I settled for attempting to lighten the mood. I tried to keep my tone brighter than I felt as I put down my tray.

“What’s up, third formers?”

Walter answered me glumly. “Hey. Are you coming to Smith’s tonight? Or am I watching NeoGenesis alone again?”

“I’ve got a thing. I’m probably not going to make it.”

Melinda spoke in a low voice. “I don’t think I’m going either. I’m not feeling great.”

Sarah glared at me as if I was the one making Melinda ill.

Larry pushed his tray away and turned to his girlfriend. “I’m not really hungry. Wanna go for a walk?”

“What’s wrong with him?” I jerked my head in Larry’s direction as I watched them head to the dishroom.

Walter shrugged. “Larry’s upset with his parents. I invited him to come home with us for Long Weekend.”

I nodded. “I like that idea. So, what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing.” Walter  was obviously lying. He answered the question too quickly. Besides, he still had an entire dinner sitting untouched in front of him.

Melinda turned to him. “Are you still upset about what I said earlier?” What could Melinda have possibly said to upset my brother? I was dying to know.

Walter shook his head. “It’s not that. It’s just—” Walter looked between me and Melinda. “I’m not ready to talk about it.”

He glanced at his watch and stood. “I told Zayne I’d meet her before study hours.” He turned to Melinda. “You coming upstairs?”

She shook her head. Whoa. Melinda lived in the library. What was going on?

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Walter sounded miserable as he gathered his tray and walked away.

When I was alone with Melinda, I sent her a puzzled look. “Okay. What is going on? I stop hanging out with you guys and everything seems to fall apart.”

Melinda didn’t answer me. She simply stood with her tray. It didn’t look like she had eaten anything.

“Can I help you with that?” I wasn’t sure how she was planning on carrying it with her crutches.

“I got it.” She limped away with a single crutch.

I watched her leave and debated whom I should follow. Walter needed to talk to someone. But Melinda did too. She may have broken up with me, but did that mean I couldn’t try to be a friend?

I found her heading back to her dorm and quickly jogged to her side. I wanted to touch her. Hold her. Comfort her. I couldn’t do any of those things anymore. I had to settle for just trying to talk to her.

“Since you’re not hanging out in the library, would you like to come to my meeting with me?”

“I thought you had to study in your dorm.” Her voice wavered. Was she ready to cry? That just broke my heart a little more.

We crossed the street, and I started heading towards the humanities building. I wasn’t sure she realized she was following me.

“I got special permission for this one. Come on. I think you’ll like it.”

“What is it?”

“It’s called Ichthys.”

“Ick This? What do you do? Compare gross stuff?” She wrinkled her nose.

She was so adorable, I couldn’t help but laugh. “No. It’s a Christian fellowship group. Ichthys is the name of that fish symbol Christians use to identify themselves to others.”

“What do you do there?”

“Just sit and talk.”

“About Jesus and stuff?”

I shook my head. “Last week, we talked about our Christmas break. And our favorite Christmas presents. I told them about the blanket you made me.”

I saw tears in her eyes before she looked at the ground. Way to go, Pat. That’ll win her back. Make her cry. I tried to change the subject.

“Anyway, I think we’re playing some sort of game tonight. Bethany said–”

“Bethany?” Melinda looked at me, tears streaking her face.

“Yeah. Prefect Bethany. She’s one of the co-presidents.”

I had no idea what I had said wrong, but Melinda must have had a problem with Bethany. She didn’t respond. Instead, she turned around. She probably would have stormed off, but the crutch slowed her down a bit.

“What’s wrong?” I put a hand on her arm, feeling an electric charge surge through my body. I could tell she did, too, by the way she stiffened.

Knowing that gave me a surge of hope. There might still be a chance for us. So why did she look like I just broke her heart? She shrugged me off and disappeared as she passed Walter’s dorm.

I wasn’t in much of a mood to attend the group, but I figured it would be better than brooding alone in my room. I could do that later. I was early, so I hung out in the rotunda for a while. Bethany found me as she wandered through the room with her boyfriend.

“Pat? You okay?”

I shrugged. “Not really. You gonna check my eyes again?”

She shook her head with a smile. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Not particularly.”

“Okay. Come on.” She grabbed my hand and dragged me off the couch.

I followed them up to the classroom on the second floor and helped arrange the chairs into a circle. Slowly, people trickled into the room. A few of them sent strange looks towards me and Bethany before taking their seats or huddling in corners.

When James came in, he caught my eye and motioned I should join him in the hall. He whispered something to Will, then went to the hall. Will and Bethany joined us a moment later. James led us into a neighboring classroom.

Bethany looked at James inquisitively. “What’s wrong?”

James answered in his slow Southern drawl. “I don’ usually listen tuh rumahs, but I thought y’all would wanna know ’bout this one. Apparently, y’all are a thing now.”

Bethany smiled. “James, Will and I have been a thing since we were fourth formers.”

James shook his head, pointing between Bethany and Will. “Not y’all. Y’all.” He pointed to me and Bethany.

“WHAT?” Bethany’s jaw dropped. Will looked angry. I hoped it wasn’t at me. I felt my own face grow hot.

I shook my head. “It’s not true.” I looked at Will. “It’s not true.”

“People uh sayin’ yuh visitin’ his dorm while Will’s at hockey practice.”

Bethany rolled her eyes. “I went once. Am I not allowed to visit friends now?”

I was speechless. I knew James wasn’t buying into this new rumor, but others would. Suddenly, I wanted to be alone. I turned to leave. Bethany called me back.

“Pat. Don’t leave.”

“Didn’t you see everyone staring at us in there?”

“Exactly. One of the reasons these rumors are festering is because you keep hiding. You need to talk to people who understand.”

“You can’t understand.” I stormed away.

I wanted to go a number of places, but I was on restriction and I had to be in my dorm if I wasn’t going to my meeting. I stared at my ceiling and was surprised when Walter came in half an hour later.

As he shut the door behind him, I sat up, sending him a confused look. “You’re supposed to be studying.”

“So are you.” He straddled my desk chair. “My prefect, Will, kicked me out of the library and told me I should come find you or else he would write me up.”

“Write you up? For what?”

Walter turned red. “I wasn’t exactly studying.”

I stared at him with my mouth open. He just turned more red and tried to change the subject.

“Why did Will send me here?”

“Not uh. You first. What’s going on with you?”

Walter sighed. “I like being with Zayne. I like the way I feel when I’m with her. But—”

“Having a little trouble being abstemious?” I smirked. He was the one who had taught me the word.

He made a rude hand gesture. “It’s not just that. I used to really like talking to her, getting to know her. Now, it’s like we ran out of things to talk about. So, we kiss instead. And I’m thinking that she wants more than that.”

I raised my eyebrows. He turned red again. “I’m not saying I’m gonna. I’m just saying—”

“When you kiss her, does it still feel the same? Does it feel like it did the first time?”

Walter shook his head. “I figured that was just because we had gotten to know each other.”

“I was with Melinda for almost two months. Every time I kissed her, it felt like the first time.”

Walter considered me. “So, why did Will send me here? Did he figure you were gonna lecture me?”

“He didn’t tell you the latest rumor?”

Walter shook his head.

“You know his girlfriend, Bethany? She’s a prefect in Woodward?”

Walter nodded.

“We’re in physics together. She’s a friend. There’s a rumor going around that she and I are together.”

Walter screwed up his face in disbelief. “No one’s gonna believe that.”

“Melinda did.” I had realized it while staring at my ceiling. It explained what had happened after supper. I could tell he didn’t believe me. “She was close to tears when I got to supper.”

“She got there just before you. I figured something happened at basketball. Or she was still upset about the last time she and I studied together.”

“What happened?”

Walter wouldn’t meet my eye. “Zayne decided she needed a study break. I think we made Melinda uncomfortable.”

“Walter Ryan!” My brother cringed at the use of his middle name. Even Mom rarely used middle names.

“I know! The thing is, I didn’t even realize it bothered her until this afternoon.”

“Did you apologize?”

Walter’s face told me he didn’t. “I was planning on talking to her about it after dinner. But then you started asking me about what was bothering me. I wanted to talk to you. And her. But I didn’t want to make either one of you uncomfortable.”

“I’m not uncomfortable. Much.”

“Yeah? And if Melinda were here right now?”

I couldn’t help it. An image of Melinda in my room popped into my head. I smiled a little.

Walter must have figured out where my mind went. He threw a book at me. “That’s not what I meant!”

“Sorry! Yeah. I guess it would be uncomfortable.”

“So, you’re hiding in here because of the rumor?”

“I tried to talk to Melinda after supper. When I mentioned Bethany in passing, she pretty much burst into tears. I didn’t find out about the rumor until later.”

Walter swore. “I’ll go talk to her during the break. I wish you two would just get back together. You’re both obviously still crazy about each other.”

I shook my head. “I’m not ready yet. I can’t exactly explain it. But I know that something has to change before we can be back together. And I don’t think I’m there yet.”

Walter considered me for a minute. “Well, hurry up and get there, will you? I need my best friends back.”

During the break, Walter left to visit with Melinda. I decided to hang out in my common room. I brought Hazel with me. There was a new song rumbling through my head and I wanted to see if I could make any progress with it.

I sat in a corner so I wouldn’t bother anyone. A few people came to listen to what I was doing. I had some words in my head, although they weren’t great. I figured if I could get the melody, the words would fit into place.

Being in the common room wasn’t all that bad. Maybe if I could do it a little more often, people would stop talking about me.

Melinda’s Story

I was sitting at my desk, trying to work my physics problems though my eyes were stinging, when there was a knock on the door. When I saw Walter, I could no longer fight back the tears. He came into the room as I rose from my chair. He held me a moment before helping me to the bed. We sat with our backs to the wall. Walter shook his head.

“You know, Pat knows you better than I do. I didn’t believe him when he said you thought the ridiculous rumor was true.”

I looked at him incredulously for a minute before I started hitting him. “You could have said something before I started crying!”

“You didn’t give me a chance! And, for the record, its not true. They’re not together. He wants to be with you, but he says he’s not ready yet.”

I nodded knowingly. “Yeah. That’s pretty much how I feel.”

“So, are you good now? Cuz I wanna talk to you about Zayne.”

“What’s up?”

“Well, I like spending time with her and everything, but lately it feels like we’re not really hanging out. Just kissing. And then today, when we were in the library, she put my hand somewhere I didn’t think I was allowed to touch.”


He put his hands up in defense. “She did it, not me!”

“And did you move your hand?” Although my tone was patronizing, I couldn’t help smirking.

“Well, no.” Walter’s face turned red.

“Do you want to do it again?”

“Kinda. I mean, I kinda do and I kinda don’t. Does that make me weird?”

“Don’t get weirded out, but those times Pat lost control? Part of me liked it and didn’t want him to stop.”

Walter’s jaw hit the floor. I kept going before Walter could find his voice.

“But, I don’t want a physical relationship. I love just being with Pat and I’m scared that if we move too fast, we’ll lose what we have right now.”

“That kissing isn’t enough and you need to do more.”


Walter sighed. “I think that’s what happened with Zayne and me. So, now what?”

“Now you’ve got to tell her how you feel.”

“I was afraid you would say that.”

Melinda’s Journal

Friday, January 19

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

Attention Hammerheads

Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.