Episode 119

Melinda’s Journal

Wednesday, February 7

Yesterday, when Walter and I were walking to Latin class, I accidentally bumped into someone on the science center bridge. When I looked closer, I realized it was Pat’s former friend.

When I first met Chloe, I had been impressed by how well she dressed. She was obviously one of those girls who thought a lot about how she presented herself. Even when frazzled, she was still one of the most beautiful people I had seen on campus.

But, standing there on the bridge, it was like she was a completely different person. It wasn’t just her unkempt appearance. Her attitude had completely changed. Instead of accepting my apology and forgiving me for bumping into her, she was vicious and vulgar to both me and Walter.

Eventually, we passed her and continued toward our class. When we were out of earshot, I asked Walter if he had any idea what was going on with Chloe. He told me that after the whole wrestling incident, he called his sister. Chloe had been friends with her even longer than Pat. Meghan knew her better than most people.

According to Walter, Chloe tries to make up for a miserable home life by “befriending inebriants.” Of course, I had no idea what he meant at the time, but when I finally had a chance to look it up, I realized he suggested she was drinking.

I was shocked. Of course I know there are some students who drink. I’ve seen beer cans in the trash barrels on the football field. But I would have never imagined it of Chloe. Of course, it explained a lot about her recent behavior. And, although I know there is nothing I can do about the situation, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

Melinda’s Story

“She was HOT!” I heard Larry say as I placed my lunch tray on the table after classes Wednesday. I had lost Sarah in the long line for sandwiches.

I glanced around. “Who was?”

Larry wiggled his eyebrows. “The chick who spoke during the school meeting today.”

I made a face. “She’s like . . . old. She’s gotta be, what? Thirty? Forty?”

Walter shrugged. “Still hot.”

“You two are pigs.”

“Is Gourmand talking with food in his mouth again?” Pat hit his brother on the head as he joined the table.

I smiled. “No. They’re drooling over the speaker at today’s meeting.”

Larry pointed a French fry at Pat. “Wasn’t she hot?”

I was curious to hear Pat’s opinion, but he never got a chance to answer.

Sarah interrupted as she placed her tray beside her boyfriend. “Wasn’t who hot?”

Sarah glanced around the table. I followed her gaze. Larry was turning red, too preoccupied with his burger to answer her. Walter, and even Pat, also seemed unable to answer the question as well.

I turned back to my roommate, rolling my eyes. “Today’s speaker at the meeting.”

Sarah made a sour face. “Not seeing it. Now, the one when we came back from Thanksgiving? That foreign exchange student? She was hot.”

Larry’s jaw fell open, and even Walter stopped with his fork halfway to his mouth. I joined in Pat’s laughter.

Larry turned to Walter. “She did not just say that.”

Sarah just shook her head and turned to me. “So, that sandwich line was super incredibly long. But I ran into Alex Stegner. We got into a conversation about our German homework and I offered to help him study tonight. Would you mind if we joined you guys in the library? Or would that be too distracting?”

I shrugged. “I’m okay with it.”

She turned to Walter, who did not even bother to swallow his mouthful of pasta. “Coo wid be.”

Larry glared at his girlfriend. “I’m not okay with it.”

“Why not?” Sarah asked.

Larry began a long list of reasons loudly enough that it was impossible for anyone else to have a conversation at the table. I did my best to ignore them, but there was no way I could concentrate on any other conversation. Ultimately, I just focused on my food.

By the time Sarah and I left for our basketball game, she was fuming. “He doesn’t trust me in the slightest!”

I had heard the entire argument and happened to agree, but I still tried to reassure her. “I’m sure that’s not true.”

“Well, he said he trusts me, but not some strange guy. Like I’m gonna start making out with him while you guys are sitting right there!”

I just shook my head. “Boys are dumb.”

I was pleased to see Sarah had cooled off by the time Clarissa called the team out of the locker room. I hoped that meant Sarah would be able to focus on the game. Taking my seat at my table, I prepared my book for the game.

Just before the game started, I glanced up to see Pat sitting on the edge of the track, dangling his feet. Larry was beside him. I knew it was a bad idea, so I tried to avoid making eye contact with them, hoping Sarah wouldn’t notice.

A few minutes into the game, I could see one of our guards struggling. Clarissa obviously did as well, since she called Sarah’s name without tearing her eyes away from the game. My roommate came to squat beside me while she waited to be subbed in. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my roommate glance at the balcony.

“I told him not to come. Why is here?”

I made a noncommittal sound, preferring to watch a player on the other team pass the ball. Sarah didn’t seem to be want an answer, however. She gave a small growl of frustration.

“I want him to leave. Can you text him? Tell him to go away?”

“No, I can’t.” My eyes never left the game. The girl with the ball was trying to shoot. “I’m not allowed to use my phone. You know that.”

“Just this once?”

The other team made a basket and the buzzer sounded. Sarah ran in, slapping hands with the fourth-form guard she was replacing. After marking the change in my book, I took a moment to glance up at Pat. There was no point in avoiding him now. I gave a friendly smile. When he waved in return, he gave me an idea.

Sarah seemed to channel her anger into the game. I had never seen her play so aggressively. In less than a minute, she had received a foul, and Clarissa subbed her out. I signaled to her as she ran off the court. Panting, she crouched behind me so the teacher manning the scoreboard wouldn’t think she was waiting to go back into the game.

“What’s up?” Sarah asked.

I remained focused on the game as I shared my brainstorm. “I figured it out. You can tell Pat that you want Larry to leave.”

“I can’t text him. I don’t even have my phone with me.”

“Yeah. But you can sign.”

Sarah used American Sign Language to communicate with her Deaf younger sister. Pat had become fluent for his role in his last film. It wouldn’t be the first time Sarah and Pat had communicated silently.

Sarah immediately seemed to like the idea. She gave me a big hug before returning to the bench. As the buzzer sounded and players entered the game, I chanced a glance at the silent exchange. Sarah signed something to Pat, who said something to Larry, who would respond to Pat, who would then sign something back to Sarah.

I returned my attention to the game, but it wasn’t long before the buzzer signaled the end of the first half. After checking that the numbers in my book were accurate, I glanced back up at the balcony. Pat and Larry had disappeared. I was a little disappointed that Pat hadn’t bothered to wave goodbye. If he had texted me, I wouldn’t see it until after the game, since I left my phone in my locker.

I hoped he had a good excuse. I spent the rest of halftime wondering whether he had left in order to hang out with Brody.

About two minutes into the second half, Sarah returned to the table, squatting beside me as she waited to be subbed in. In a tone as casual as if she were talking about the weather, she said, “Larry and I broke up.”

“WHAT?” I stared at her with wide eyes, all thought of the game forgotten.

“Melinda!” Clarissa’s sharp tone reminded me where I was. “Eyes on the game!”

I returned my attention to the ball. “What do you mean, you broke up?”

“Well, unless something got lost in translation…”

“You mean you broke up with him while you were talking to Pat?”


I sighed, covering my face with one hand in exasperation. Through the gap in my fingers, I saw a player on the opposite team score. I marked my book accordingly as Sarah entered the game.

Pat’s Story

Wednesday afternoon, I reached the lunch table just in time to hear Melinda complaining about Larry and Walter being pigs. I smacked my brother as I placed my tray beside her. “Is Gourmand talking with food in his mouth again?”

Melinda snuggled a little closer to me. “No. They’re drooling over the speaker at today’s meeting.”

Larry gestured at me with a French fry. “Wasn’t she hot?”

“Wasn’t who hot?” Sarah plopped her tray beside Larry.

Oh, man. He was in trouble now. I figured he knew it, since he turned red and took a large bite from his burger. I avoided looking in their direction. The last thing I wanted was to get involved in that fight.

Melinda rolled her eyes. What did she just say about me? “Today’s speaker at the meeting.”

Sarah wrinkled her nose. “Not seeing it. Now, the one when we came back from Thanksgiving? That foreign exchange student? She was hot.”

I could not believe what she had just said. I laughed uproariously. Melinda did, too. Sarah looked nonplussed. Larry and Walter, however, looked dumbfounded. It was fantastic.

Larry looked at my brother. “She did not just say that.”

Sarah ignored him as she turned to Melinda and started talking about some guy in her German class. I wasn’t paying much attention until she mentioned studying.

“Would you mind if we joined you guys in the library? Or would that be too distracting?”

“I’m okay with it.”

Walter shoved a forkful of pasta in his mouth before replying. “Coo wid be.”

“I’m not okay with it,” Larry said.

“Why not?” Sarah asked.

“Well, for one thing. . .” He listed many reasons. Loudly.

I knew this wouldn’t end well. The girls ended up not staying very long. The official excuse was that they had to get to their basketball game. I was pretty sure Sarah was just trying to get away from Larry.

When Gourmand left a short time later for his wrestling match, I turned to Larry. “So, are we going to basketball?”

“Sarah said I shouldn’t.”

Yeah. I had heard. Half the dining hall had heard. “So . . . are we going to wrestling?”

Larry frowned. “Nah. I still want to go to basketball.”

I knew it was a mistake, but I didn’t see the point in telling Larry. If his angry girlfriend couldn’t convince him, I didn’t see how I could.

Larry spent the walk to the track grumbling about what guys really meant when they said they wanted to study with a girl. I didn’t necessarily agree, but it made me wonder how I would feel if someone I didn’t know wanted to study with Melinda. I had a feeling I would be on Larry’s side.

We sat on the track, dangling our feet as we always did, cheering for Hartfield. After my presence had distracted the other team during the girls’ first home game, I had gotten into the habit of wearing my ski cap and hiding my face a little while I watched the game. Thankfully, no one on the other team seemed too distracted by my presence, and I could watch the game in peace.

Our girlfriends didn’t seem to notice us for a while. Melinda was busy filling out all the player information in her book when we arrived. Sarah was busy practicing with the team before sitting on the bench at the start of the game.

When the coach signaled Sarah to sub into the game, she squatted beside Melinda. I wasn’t sure why she glanced up, probably out of habit. But I saw her do a double take before she glared in our direction and turned back to Melinda.

When Sarah entered the game, Melinda smiled at me. I waved before she returned her undivided attention to the game.

Sarah left the court a short time later, bypassing the bench to squat behind Melinda. I found this odd, since I figured she wouldn’t go straight back into the game. When she hugged Melinda a moment later, I realized they must have been talking.

Sarah returned to the bench and started signing. I could understand her because I had learned American Sign Language for my last movie role. I knew she used it to communicate with her sister. But I couldn’t understand why she was sitting there signing to herself. I thought it was pretty weird until I realized she was talking to me. Sort of.

“Hey Larry? Your girlfriend wants to know if you think she’s going to cheat on you at her game.”

He sent me a confused look. “Huh?”

“She’s signing to me. What do you want me to tell her?”

“That I just wanted to cheer my girlfriend on.”

With a sigh, I did my best to relay the message and waited for Sarah’s response.

“Maybe I don’t want to be his girlfriend anymore.”

“I am not going to tell him that!”

She glared at me. The ice in her eyes sent a chill down my spine.

I turned to my friend. “Larry, she said maybe she doesn’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.”

He glared at me. “Did she just break up with me through you?”

“No idea.” I relayed his question to Sarah. A moment later, I had my answer. “She says maybe.”

“Fine.” Larry got to his feet angrily. “When’s Walter’s match?” He huffed away toward the second-floor corridor on the opposite end of the track.

I looked back at Sarah. I thought she’d be crying, but she looked more angry than sad. I wanted to wave to Melinda to let her know I was leaving, but she didn’t look in my direction. I figured I should probably find Larry before he did something stupid.

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.