Episode 130

Melinda’s Story

After study hours, I entered the rotunda to find Pat sitting alone, his math book in his lap. I sat beside him on the arm of the couch and played with his hair. “How’s your lab report going?”

Pat leaned into me with a groan. “Kris officially has the worst penmanship I have ever seen. He couldn’t read his own writing! And don’t even get me started on his drawings. I thought I was looking at spaghetti.”

I giggled. “What was it supposed to be?”

“Lettuce. Ask me how we figured that out.”

“I’m assuming he remembered the lab?”

Pat shook his head. “You assume wrong. He couldn’t remember that lab to save either of our lives. I had to go knocking on random doors in my dorm until I found someone else in honors biology who could explain what the lab was and share his observations with me. I’ve spent the last half hour writing a preface to my lab report explaining the situation. Eventually, I got so frustrated, I came here to work on something else. I just needed to get out of my dorm.”

I kissed the top of his head. “Well, I’m sorry you had to go through that, but it sounds like you worked it out.”

Pat moved his books aside and pulled me into his lap. “I missed you. I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. How was dinner?”

I shrugged. “We mostly talked about our schoolwork. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I made sure to steer the conversation away from anything where Larry might be mentioned.”

“That was probably a wise move.”

“Have you been here long?”

Pat responded with a kiss so soft and deep that a warmth extended from my belly to my fingers and toes. We were interrupted by Pat’s phone. I immediately recognized Brody’s ringtone.

Pat winced. “I’m sorry. I’m not checking it. I’m just going to mute him.” Pat was still reaching for his phone when the song played again.

I closed my eyes and sighed. “Go ahead. See what he wants.”

“I’ll text him during study hours. Right now is my time with you.”

“It’s okay. I promise I won’t get mad.”

Pat glanced at the phone, putting it away without replying to Brody’s texts.

I shook my head. “I mean it. I won’t get mad.”

Pat pulled me a little closer. “It’s not important. He called me earlier. Long story, but he was going to a party tonight and wanted me to call him in a little while. Pretend to be his parents calling him home or something. That text just now was him telling me that his date is going well, and he doesn’t want me to call after all. Not that I was going to.”

The alarm on Pat’s phone sounded. I tried not to smile as Pat silenced it.

He glared at me. “Fine. That was my alarm to check in with Brody.”

I patted Pat’s leg. “You’re a good friend.”

Pat frowned. “He’s a high-maintenance one.”

“Everyone needs one of them, right?”

“Who’s yours?”

“Sarah. Every time she breaks up with Larry. But I never said that.”

Pat’s Story

As I unlocked my door, my phone started singing Grease Monkey. I answered the phone with a sigh. “Hey Brody. What’s up?”

“I was hoping you could help me with something.”

I looked at him expectantly.

When he didn’t answer me, I raised my eyebrows. “Well?”

“I kind of need a wingman.”

“Dude, I don’t think —”

Brody didn’t seem to hear me. “See, my parents are away for the night. Some cousin of theirs is getting married. So I invited Matt over. And he said sure.”

“I’m not —”

“But then he texted me that Josh wanted to come too. A few minutes later I get a message about a party tonight.”

“Brody! Slow down!” I was so incredibly confused. Brody was speaking so rapidly, I wondered if he had just downed some sort of energy shot. I shook my head, trying to piece together what he was saying. “So, there’s a party tonight?”


“Isn’t it a school night?”

“Nah. Holiday long weekend.”

I shook my head. “Okay. And you need me to . . .”

“Be my wingman.”

“Dude, I can’t come to a party.”

Brody shook his head. “No, man. I don’t want you to come here. I just need you to call me. If the party’s out of control, I need you to call the cops. Claim you’re a neighbor and we’re being too loud.”

I raised my eyebrows. “People don’t actually do that, do they? I thought that just happened in the movies.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even gone to a party like this, nevermind hosted one.”

“Wait. It’s at your place?”

“Yeah. Weren’t you paying attention?”

I just shook my head. “You know this is a bad idea, right?”

“I know. But, I don’t know how to get out of it. What would you do?”

“Not invite anyone over when my parents aren’t home.”

“Not helping.”

I sighed. “I really don’t know, dude. Can you just tell everyone your parents came home early and the party’s off?”

Brody hung up without answering me. I tossed my phone on the bed and pulled out my guitar. As soon as I had it in my hand, though, I realized Larry had been right. I was in no mood for music. I wanted to be with my girlfriend.

But that wasn’t an option. I wracked my brain. A game of pickup ball might be fun. I texted a few people.

Larry responded first, ready and willing to join me. Brody called back as Larry and I were walking to the gym. I didn’t want to answer, but I couldn’t leave a friend in distress. It didn’t mean I had to be polite, though.

“Dude, you hung up on me.”

“Sorry. It was an accident. So, I talked to Matt and Josh and told them my parents came home and Josh decided he’s going to have the party tonight instead. But I still need a wingman.”

Beside me, Larry smirked. I ignored him and turned my attention back to my phone. “Brody? Do you actually know what that means? Because I’m thinking you might not.”

“It’s a buddy who helps you out of a jam.”

“No, it’s when you go to a party, and you see someone you want to talk to talking to a bunch of other people. The wingman distracts the group so you can get that person alone.”

Brody sent me a confused look. “Really? I might need one of those, too. But I need you to call me around nine tonight. Actually call, not video chat.”


Larry laughed beside me. “Oh, I know that trick. If his date ends up being a bust, you’re his excuse to leave.”

Brody nodded. “I don’t know who that was, but he’s right.”

I just shook my head. “Brody, I’m not going to be your out.”

“Thanks man!”

“I’m not doing it!”

“I owe you.” Brody ended the call

Larry burst out laughing. “Bro. I love your new boyfriend. He’s a riot.”

He ran ahead of me into the gym to avoid the punch I was aiming for his shoulder.

At the beginning of study hours, I went to visit my biology lab partner who lived on the second floor of my dorm. I found him lying on his bed, staring into his phone. I knocked on the open door and his roommate invited me in before shouting across the room.

“Yo! Kris!”

The roommate looked up. “Oh. Hey.” He pulled headphones out of his ears as he sat up. “I forgot you were swinging by.”

He jumped off the bed and began digging through a pile of books on his desk. I wasn’t sure how he could find anything in the mess. He pulled a notebook from the pile, quickly holding back the avalanche that attempted to fall.

“Sit down.” He gestured toward the unmade bed.

I pointed to the desk. “Mind if I steal your chair?”

“Oh, yeah. Sure.” He flipped through the pages of the notebook. “I know it’s in here somewhere.”

The roommate sent me a look of pity before popping headphones in his ears and returning to his computer. It was study hours, but I had a feeling he might have been playing a game.

Kris swore, throwing the notebook on his bed and returning to the mountain on his desk. “I could have sworn my notes were in that book.”

I winced. “Can you tell me about the lab? Like, what you did?”

“Not really. Oh, here it is.”

He held another notebook toward me. The page looked like a pen had exploded and tiny insects had tracked the ink across the page. I wasn’t exactly sure which end was up, despite the margins and lines on the page. If I squinted, I could make out a random letter here and there. There were no actual words. At least, not written in English.

I passed the notebook back to him. “Kris? I can’t read this. Maybe you can just tell me what is says?”

He shrugged. “Sure. So we . . . did something with plants.”

I fought the urge to throw something. I already knew that. We had been studying plants all week.

He held turned the notebook back to me and pointed to something that looked like a tangled web of string. “That’s the thing we looked at under the microscope.”

“What exactly am I looking at?”

He shrugged. “No idea. That’s what it looked like.”

“So, did you start your lab report?”

He waved a dismissive hand. “Nah. It’s not due until next Friday. I’ve got all week.”

Well, this was a waste of time. I closed my notebook. “Okay. Well, thanks for your help. I think I’m good now.”

“Cool.” Kris popped the headphones back into his ears and returned to his bed with his phone. I shook my head as I left the room.

The door across the hall was open. I popped my head over the threshold as I knocked on the door. I recognized the guy. We had been in the same math class as freshmen.

He sent me a curious look. “Hey, Patrick. What’s up?”

“What are the odds you’re in honors biology?”

He shook his head. “Sorry, man. Can’t help you. Oh, but I think Logan across the hall is.”

“I was just across the hall with Kris.”

“No, um, that way.” He pointed to the room just to the left of Kris.

“Thanks. I’m desperate.”

“No problem.”

There was no answer when I knocked on Logan’s door. I went a few doors down and found another open door, but no one in honors biology to help me. On the first floor, I knocked on two more doors before finally finding someone I recognized from my math class.

“Jace, please tell me you take honors bio.”

“Yeah. What’s up?”

He was sitting at his desk, his roommate nowhere to be seen.

I sat in the empty desk chair. “I missed my lab this week because I was in the infirmary. My teacher told me to copy my lab partner’s notes, but they’re illegible. Any chance you could tell me about this week’s lab? The one about plants?”

“Yeah, no problem. I was just doing my lab report, anyway.” Jace passed me a notebook. “So, the lab was a bunch of smaller experiments.”

It took nearly ten minutes for Jace to explain everything, and then another few minutes for me to copy all his data, including the illustration of a carnation that had magically changed colors during the lab. As soon as I thanked him profusely, I returned to my room to type out my report. It took most of study hours, especially since I wrote a lengthy explanation before my introduction that explained the source of my data.

When I finished the report, study hours wasn’t quite finished. But I needed a change of scene. It was too late to head to the library, so I just went straight to the rotunda. I was working on my math assignment when Melinda sat on the arm of the couch.

“How’s your lab report going?”

I groaned and leaned closer to her as she played with my hair. I told her about my adventure before pulling her into my lap and asking about the dinner I had avoided.

Melinda shrugged. “We mostly talked about our schoolwork. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I made sure to steer the conversation away from anything where Larry might be mentioned.”

I held Melinda close, giving her a long kiss that made my heart beat fast enough to explode. It had been a while since I had kissed her like that. I treasured every second, but made sure not to lose control.

Grease Monkey interrupted us. I made a face as I reached for my phone, quickly explaining so Melinda wouldn’t get mad. “I’m sorry. I’m not checking it. I’m just going to mute him.”

When the song played again, Melinda gave in. “Go ahead. See what he wants.”

“I’ll text him during study hours. Right now is my time with you.”

“It’s okay. I promise I won’t get mad.”

I skimmed the string of texts Brody was sending me, then muted him.

As I put away the phone, Melinda shook her head. “I mean it. I won’t get mad.”

“It’s not important.” I explained my earlier conversation with Brody. “That text just now was him telling me that his date is going well, and he doesn’t want me to call after all. Not that I was going to.”

My phone beeped like an alarm clock. Melinda raised her eyebrows as I silenced it.

I pretended to glare at her. “Fine. That was my alarm to check in with Brody.”

“You’re a good friend.”

“He’s a high-maintenance one.”

She laughed. “Everyone needs one of them, right?”

“Who’s yours?”

“Sarah. Every time she breaks up with Larry. But I never said that.”

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.