Episode 102

Melinda’s Journal

Wednesday, January 24

I never thought this day would come. I stopped in the infirmary after physics this morning and the doctor declared my ankle was completely healed. Although he recommend I rebuild my strength before joining a dance class again, he had nothing against me doing barre exercises. Once I explained and even demonstrated (on my good side, using the exam table as a barre), he decided they might actually help me rebuild my strength.

Of course, I can’t actually join Madame Odette’s classes, but I can at least dance on my own. I’m dying to try out my new pointe shoes.

But the best part? NO MORE CRUTCHES! I’m still walking slowly, especially on the icy path. But I have declared tomorrow a no-crutches day!

Melinda’s Story

After an away basketball game Wednesday afternoon, I returned to campus just in time for dinner. Once again, I wasn’t able to study in the library. I apologized to Walter for ditching him again, but he didn’t seem to mind. Now that Pat was no longer on restriction, he was planning on joining his brother.

When I got back to my dorm,  I found a note taped to my door asking me to check in with my dean when I got home. I had no idea why. What could I have possibly done wrong?

Puzzled, I went upstairs and knocked on the open apartment door.

“I have note that you were looking for me?”

“Yes. Pepper! Down!” Sally chided the Labrador trying to lick me over the gate. “Come in a moment.”

I climbed over the gate gingerly, worried more about stepping on the dog than hurting my ankle.


Sally’s forceful tone had me scrambling to the couch. “Am I in trouble?”

“No. Oh, I was talking to the dog. Sorry. I have a huge favor to ask. Did you ever shadow?”

“Um . . .” I had no idea what Sally meant.

“Did you ever tour the campus, go to classes, spend the night? Either here or at another school?”

I shook my head. “No. I didn’t realize that was a thing.”

“We usually do more in the spring, but we have a young lady who was interested in shadowing. She’s in town this weekend and wanted to schedule her tour for tomorrow.”

I raised my eyebrows. “I’m not sure what this has to do with me.”

“I would like you to be her guide.”

“What would I have to do?”

“Well, she’s expected to arrive on campus between the study hours. We tried to get her here earlier, but her flights were delayed. We’d like her to spend the night with you and Sarah. I know it’s short notice, so if it’s a problem—”

I shook my head. “We already have a sleeping bag for Sarah’s sister.”

“I hoped that was the case. But I’ll still have a mattress brought in for the floor. Tonight, she would stay with you. Tomorrow, she will attend all your classes.”

“I don’t mind. But, she might get a little bored. I have a double period physics test tomorrow.”

“Hmm . . . I’ll talk to her about it when she arrives. Perhaps she could join Sarah’s class?”

“Sarah has a free period. We usually hang out in the VAPAC or Science Center. I’ll talk to her, but I don’t think Sarah would mind.”

“Fantastic. After classes, you are excused from your sport. Use that time to show her the rest of campus, hang out, et cetera. I’m not positive what time she will leave tomorrow.”

“My ride will be here around five or six, I think.”

“If she is here later, I will make arrangements.”

I smiled. “Sounds like fun.”

“Thank you for agreeing. I’ll bring her to your room when she arrives.”

The break between study hours was nearly over when Sally knocked on the open door. Beside her stood a slender girl slightly taller than me, with long golden hair and a deep tan. I hopped off my bed to greet her.


“Melinda, this is Lily.” Sally pointed to each of us in turn. “Lily, this is Melinda. She’s gonna show you around tomorrow.”

Lily gave a small wave. “Nice to meet you.”

I gestured for Lily to come into the room as Sally left. “My roommate will be back soon. She’s visiting her boyfriend in the other dorm.”

“I didn’t realize this place was so big. Which building are the classes in?”

“Different classes are in different buildings. I’ll show you around tomorrow. Here.” I handed Lily the schedule I had written out during study hours.

“Oh! It’s color-coded. That’s so cute!”

I smiled. “I do things like that.” I pointed to the binders lined up on her desk, each class a different color.

“Classes are at eight?”

“Yeah. Oh. Are you gonna want breakfast? My roommate and I usually just eat protein bars, but we can go to the dining hall, if you want.”

“Nah. I’m not a big breakfast person. But I do like to run in the morning.”

I smiled. “My best friend runs every morning. You need to go to the TRAC, the athletic center, because the paths are too slippery. I can’t run with you, but I can take you there. I’ll workout while you run.”

“Great! So, where do I sleep?”

I pointed to the mattress Sally had brought up from a storage room. Sarah and I had placed it in the middle of the room and laid Crystal’s sleeping bag on it. “Unfortunately, that’s the best we got.”

“I love it! Um, where can I, you know, get ready for bed?”

I giggled, showing Lily both the shower and toilet bathrooms.

“I forgot how cold it can get here.” Lily shivered as I led her to the track before sunrise the following morning. “I’ve been in California too long.”

I giggled. “Is that where you’re from? California?”

Lily shook her head. “Not really. I grew up in Massachusetts. Just over the border. But, my family moved to California just before I started middle school. So, what made you want to come to Hartfield?”

“I didn’t. My parents signed me up without me knowing. But, as soon as I got here, I fell in love with this place. And I love how it challenges me. And I’ve made some amazing friends. How about you? Why Hartfield?”

Lily shrugged. “My family moved to California because my brother wanted to be an actor. Then, he started traveling to film his movies, so I started going to boarding school. But I realized I missed New England and started looking at schools here.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for my brother. And I get to travel with him when I’m not in school.”

I smiled. “Where’s the best place you’ve been?”

Lily looked at me with wide eyes. “Wow. No one has ever asked me that before. Most people ask about his movies or what celebrities I’ve met. Um . . . I guess I would have to say . . . Oh! I spent a few weeks with him in Hawaii this past summer before I had to go back to school.”

I didn’t respond, holding open the door to the TRAC and gesturing for Lily to enter first. I could hear footfalls as we walked through the empty courts and up the stairs.

It didn’t surprise me to see Walter and Pat doing their laps as Lily shed her outerwear in the corner. Without preamble, Lily popped headphones in her ears and started along the track, soon running about the same pace as the boys, exactly half a lap behind them.

I had decided to try celebrating my no crutches day by stretching. After agreeing to bring Lily for her run, I had created a playlist of ballet music. Using the handrail on the balcony, I slowly performed my barre exercises. Eyes closed, I let the music guide me.

I stretched my ankle carefully, but felt no tenderness. I was cautious not to overdo anything, but I was fairly confident I would be able to try out my tap shoes when we returned from break.

When Lily finished her laps, she joined me for some post-run stretches before we headed out. The boys were still running, although they did wave to us as we headed down the stairs.

We showered and dressed before Sarah even woke up. While we waited for my roommate to return from the showers, Lily turned to me.

“So, you said your best friend goes running. Was he one of the boys just running with me?”

I nodded.

“My brother is Matt King. He and Patrick McGregor just filmed a movie together. They met up a few times in LA before the movie and I met Wally.”

“That’s . . .”

“Too weird?”

“Yeah. I mean, that’s just a huge coincidence.”

Lily bit her lip. “Are you, like, too freaked out to be my guide?”

“Why would I be freaked out?”

Lily gave me a curious look. “My brother is a famous movie star.”

I giggled as Sarah returned to the room. “And Walter’s my best friend.”


“Wally McGregor. He goes by Walter here at school. Hey, Sarah. You’ll never believe this. Lily’s brother is Matt King!”

“Really? My sister is a huge fan! They used to go to school together.”

After our first period music class, Sarah and I led Lily to the fishbowl lounge in the science center. Sarah was going to keep Lily company during her free period, then Lily was going to just hang out while she waited for me to finish my physics test.

I had no problem understanding the material and completed the exam in one period. After I reviewed my answers twice, making sure I showed all my work and explained all my answers in as much detail as possible, I turned in my paper and headed upstairs. Classes were switching, and I nearly bumped into Pat at the base of the spiral staircase.

“Hey.” He smiled, reaching out a hand to steady me. A warmth filled my stomach and my heart slowed. Was it my imagination or did he take his time letting go of me? “Don’t you have class? And where are your crutches?”

“I finished my test early. And the doctor said I’m healed.”

“That’s great. I’m happy for you!” Pat pulled me close, kissing the top of my head. “I’ve got a physics test. I’ll see you at lunch.”

Watching him disappear down the hall, I wondered if I would ever be able to be near him without my heart fluttering. With a sigh, I went to retrieve Lily.

Since I wouldn’t have Latin today, I showed Lily the language building just before the end of the period. I timed it so that we finished our tour as Sarah got out of class, enabling us to walk to lunch together.

When we walked into the dining hall, I could tell Lily was impressed. The dark wood and round tables, combined with the stone fireplace and high ceilings, often gave me the feeling that I had stepped back in time. Lily was equally awestruck.

I led her  through the senior section to the servery. After showing her how to get a tray, I stayed with her while she explored all the menu options.

We grabbed beverages from the island and I brought her to our table in the corner. Sarah and Larry were already there. I made the introductions as I put down my tray.

“Larry, this is Lily. Lily, this is Larry.”

“Nice to meet you. Where are your crutches?”

Lily turned to me. “Okay. That’s like the hundredth time I’ve heard that today. What gives?”

I smiled. “I broke my ankle our first week back, seven weeks ago. Yesterday, the doctor declared me healed. Today is my first day without crutches.”

“That’s why you said you couldn’t go running!”

“Lily.” Walter put his tray down near Larry as Lily stood to hug him. Larry looked like he was going to say something to Walter, but Sarah began whispering to him instead. Walter, meanwhile, looked uncomfortable as he returned the hug.

“What’re you doing here?”

Before Lily could answer, Pat snuck up behind them, giving Lily a hug before sitting beside me.

“What’re you doing here?”

“My brother is doing an interview in New York today, so I’m shadowing here.”

“What do you think so far?” I was a little surprised that Walter asked the question without a mouth full of food.

Lily made a face. “Honestly, it’s a huge campus. But, I love the fact that I can be normal. No one seems to realize who my brother is.”

I smirked into my glass of water. Walter’s biggest fear last term had been that someone would connect him to his famous brother. As Walter and Lily began discussing the difficulties of remaining anonymous, Pat rested his arm on my chair. I turned to him as he began playing with my hair.

“I’m sorry about kissing you earlier. Old habits are hard to break.”

I smiled. “I didn’t mind it.”

“I kinda liked seeing you stretching while I was running.”

“Patrick!” My voice was a low whisper, but I could feel my face growing hot.

“That’s not what I meant!”

I sent him an incredulous look. “You ran extra laps. I know what that means.”

“I was keeping up with my brother.”

“Why is he—” I glanced at Walter before spinning back to Pat, mouthing He likes her?

Pat nodded with a smirk.

During basketball practice, I gave Lily a tour of the entire TRAC, lingering in the weight room where the wrestling team was working out. I smiled to myself when I realized Lily was more interested in watching Walter than listening to the various sports available.

After showing Lily the MAC and the library, we returned to the dorm. I was surprised to see Pat in the common room. Third-form girls scared him.

“Hey, Lily. Can I talk to you? Alone a second?”

Lily shrugged. “Yeah. Sure. I guess.”

“I’ll just be upstairs.” Trying to ignore the pang of jealousy dancing across my heart, I headed back to my room.

I spent Thursday night at Sarah’s house. After supper, I played on my phone while Sarah talked to Larry, who was spending the weekend at Walter’s. When she ended the call, Sarah turned to me.

“So, what’s going on with you and Pat?”

“Nothing. Why?”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “You guys started whispering to each other during lunch.”

“I’m surprised you noticed.”

Sarah threw a pillow at me. I threw it back with a smile. “I was giving Walter a chance to talk to Lily. He likes her.”

“Well, that’s obvious. I think she and Walter would be kind of cute together. So? You and Pat?”

I shrugged. “We’re trying to be friends again.”

“Looked like more than friends to me.”

I responded by throwing my own pillow at my roommate.

Pat’s Story

Walter and I began running extra laps in the morning, although our times were growing faster. By Wednesday, we were running four miles in the time we used to run three. If we kept this up, I was going to have to alter my outdoor running route in the spring. Maybe I would try out for the track team.

Thursday morning, we had just begun our run when I heard other people in the building. Ever since we had moved indoors, no one had ever been on the track for our early morning runs. I was curious who else on campus was up before dawn.

By the time the newcomers came upstairs, Walter and I were facing the opposite direction. When we were again facing the stairs, I saw a girl on the track and another one stretching on the balcony. I couldn’t help but smile. Only Melinda would use the track to practice ballet.

“That can’t be good for her ankle,” I said to Walter.

“Who?” He was looking at the girl on the opposite side of the track.

“I was talking about Melinda. Who’s her friend?”

“I don’t know. I can’t quite place her.”

“Is she a third former?”

“I don’t think so. For some reason, I feel like I met her on a set or something.”

“Yeah. Cuz that makes sense.”

I did my best not to watch Melinda stretching, but it was difficult. The longer I watched, the more I realized that something had changed. I was still madly attracted to her, but I knew that if I were to kiss her at that moment, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t lose control. Great. I had found a way to be with my girlfriend. I literally had to run laps around her.

The girl finished before us and began stretching with Melinda. I started slowing down, but Walter seemed to run a little harder. I struggled to catch up to him.

“You okay?”

“I’m gonna do a few extra laps. You don’t have to.”

His face was red. Was he overexerting? I glanced at the girl with Melinda, then back at Walter. He was blushing.

“Who is she? You figured it out.”

“Lily King.”

“Matt’s sister?”

I waved to Melinda as they left, collapsing after the next lap. Walter ran another half a lap before slowing to a walk and joining me. “So, is she your next crush?” I panted between gulps of water. “You just broke up with Zayne like three days ago.”

“Four,” he wheezed.


“What’s she doing here?”

“I don’t know. Instead of running extra laps, you could have stopped to talk to her.”

Walter shook his head as he guzzled his water. “I’m still on rule number one. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to girls yet.”

I was switching from biology to physics when Melinda bumped into me on the staircase that spiraled around the science center pendulum. I reflexively reached out to steady her, feeling the electric charge course through my body. My heart stopped beating normally, but I tried not to show it.

“Hey. Don’t you have class? And where are your crutches?”

“I finished my test early. And the doctor said I’m healed.”

“That’s great. I’m happy for you!” I pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. “I’ve got a physics test. I’ll see you at lunch.”

It wasn’t until I was sliding into my desk that I realized what I had done. I closed my eyes and sighed. I hoped I hadn’t ruined things between us.

I took a few extra minutes on my test, but I wasn’t the last one to leave the room. It had been difficult, but I was fairly confident I had passed. As I headed to the dining hall, a crazy idea ran through my head and I called my mother.

“Pat? It’s the middle of the day. What’s wrong? Are you in trouble again?”

“Hi, Mom. I’m fine. Thanks for asking. And how are you?”

“What’d you do?” Even though this wasn’t a video chat, I could almost feel her glaring at me through the phone.

“Nothing! I wanted to ask your opinion on something. Can you talk to Matt’s parents and invite Lily to spend the night?”


“Matt’s sister. She’s here shadowing. She’s rooming with Melinda and her roommate. The one who’s coming on Saturday. I think Lily’ll have fun if she stayed over.”

Mom agreed as I headed into the servery. I quickly hung up and grabbed something to eat. Unfortunately, I would need to get Lily alone before telling her about the party.

I saw Lily hugging my brother as soon as I approached the table. Sarah and Larry were whispering to each other, as usual. I put my tray beside Melinda and gave Lily a quick hug.

“What’re you doing here?”

“My brother is doing an interview in New York today, so I’m shadowing here.”

Walter must have been really into this girl. He actually swallowed his food before speaking. “What do you think so far?”

“Honestly, it’s a huge campus. But, I love the fact that I can be normal. No one seems to realize who my brother is.”

Walter and Lily huddled together to discuss how difficult it was having a famous brother. I wanted to remind him that his filmography was nearly twice as long as mine, but Melinda turned to me. My arm had ended up on the back of her chair without me realizing it. I wanted to reach out and touch her but settled for running my fingers through her hair.

“I’m sorry about kissing you earlier. Old habits are hard to break.”

Melinda smiled. “I didn’t mind it.” Was she flirting with me?

“I kind of liked seeing you stretching while I was running.”

“Patrick!” She whispered it, but I could see she was embarrassed. She had that note of disapproval in her voice.

What had I said wrong? I replayed it in my mind, trying to look at it in other contexts, and understood. “That’s not what I meant!”

“I saw you running extra laps. I know what that means.”

“I was keeping up with my brother.”

Melinda’s tone changed, full of concern. “Why is he–” She glanced at Walter, whispering quietly with Lily. They were both smiling. She turned back to me, mouthing He likes her?

I couldn’t quite hide my smirk as I nodded.

I hadn’t managed to get Lily alone all day. As much as the thought scared me, I decided to wait for her in Melinda’s common room. The room wasn’t just off limits because Melinda was my . . . whatever she was. I was deathly scared of third-form girls.

I sat in the corner and mostly went unnoticed as girls ran back and forth, heading home for the weekend. The handful of people who did make eye contact were the ones Walter used to be friends with. The ones they no longer ate with.

Melinda and Lily came in giggling. Thankfully, they were alone. I emerged from my corner. “Hey, Lily. Can I talk to you? Alone for a second?”

“Yeah. Sure. I guess.”

Even though she kept her voice light, I saw the pained look in Melinda’s eyes as she gestured behind her. “I’ll just be upstairs.” While I thought it kind of cute that she was jealous, I hated hurting her.

“What’s up?” Lily asked as I watched Melinda leave.

I turned my attention back to her. “Did your parents mention the big surprise party I’m planning for this weekend?”

Lily shook her head.

“Sarah’s sister is a big fan of your brother.”

“Yeah, she told me. They used to go to school together.”

I nodded. “So, I invited him over Saturday. And Sarah and her sister are coming, only they don’t know yet. Their parents are gonna surprise them. Larry is spending the weekend with us. Long, horrible story. Melinda’s coming, too, but her mom wants to surprise her. Anyway, I wasn’t sure if you were planning on coming, but I think you should. Hang out with us. Sleep over if your parents say it’s okay.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Great. My mom’s gonna call your mom.” I flashed her my famous smile. “This is gonna be sick. Don’t tell anyone, okay?”

Melinda’s Journal

Thursday, January 25

 (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.