Episode 132

Melinda’s Journal

Wednesday, February 21

When Pat and I broke up, I missed him a lot. It hurt. But knowing I had made the right decision helped make the pain a little more bearable.

Right now hurts so much worse than that. I miss Pat so much, but I’m still angry.

Pat chose Brody over me. I have every right to be mad. But why hasn’t he figured that out yet?

I don’t intend to forgive him until he apologizes. But I’m scared. What if he doesn’t?

Melinda’s Story

While Sarah celebrated our music free day by sleeping in on Wednesday morning, I opted for breakfast in the dining hall. I waited until first period classes had started, knowing Pat would be in class. It hurt that he had gone so long without apologizing. By the end of my meal, I had decided the best way to work out my frustrations would be to spend some quality time in the dance studio that afternoon.

I found my physics quiz that morning extremely easy and finished with plenty of time to spare. Instead of waiting for my friends in the science center lounge, I went to the VAPAC. Sitting in the lobby, I longed to go to the Black Box studio downstairs. But, even if I had enough time for a proper workout, I had no desire to be all sweaty for the all-school meeting, especially since all third formers sat on the stage where the rest of the school could see us.

As soon as the period was over, I made my way to the theater. Since our seats weren’t assigned, I sat as far away from the edge as possible.

A short time later, Walter sat beside me. “I know you’re mad at my brother, but why are you avoiding me?”

I gave him a sympathetic look. “I’m not.”

Walter held out his hand, pointing to his fingers as he tried to make his point. “You skipped lunch yesterday. And dinner. You didn’t study with me last night. No!” He pointed at me when I tried to interrupt, continuing when I pouted. “You weren’t in the lounge just now. I miss my friend.”

I sighed, resting my head on Walter’s shoulder for a moment. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I just figured I would avoid Pat by finishing my work for the semester.”

Walter swore. “You mean like all your work? Like you did last term?” When I nodded with half a smile, Walter groaned. “Does that mean you’re doing all those stupid lists again?”

I smirked. “Yup. Started physics this morning.”

“Well, if I promise to finish all my work tonight, can you join me tomorrow?”

I sighed. “I’ll join you tonight. You just can’t copy my math homework.”

Walter laughed as the head of the school walked toward the podium.

I wasn’t surprised Pat didn’t attend that afternoon’s basketball game, although I was a little disappointed when I glanced at the balcony to see Larry sitting by himself. As always, I watched the game diligently, then brought my book to the locker room to calculate every player’s points. After awarding everyone except Erica candy, I changed into my leotard and headed to the studio.

A ballet workout would help me feel better. I connected my phone to the sound system, went to the barre, and closed my eyes. When I was in middle school, I had seen an online video of the National Ballet performing Sleeping Beauty. I had no idea which country’s national ballet, but it didn’t matter. It quickly became my favorite video, and I had often watched it while doing my homework. I was never sure what had impressed me more: the dancers or the orchestra. But I had seen it so many times, I knew most of the choreography, especially that of the prima ballerina.

I used the first few minutes of the ballet to perform my warm-up exercises, stretching every muscle slowly and purposefully until I felt nice and limber. Then, still picturing the dancers in my head, I tried to mimic the movements of each soloist in turn. Although I couldn’t dance en pointe, I still managed many of the same movements.

When I paused for a break, I was surprised to hear applause. Turning, I found Brody standing by the door.

I frowned at him. “Why are you here?”

Brody shook his head as he came to sit with me. “I thought maybe we could dance together.”

“How’d you know I’d be here?”

“Aren’t you always here on Wednesdays?”

I shook my head. “Usually I have basketball.”

Brody smiled. “Then I’m in luck.”

When I didn’t say anything, Brody pointed to the dance floor. “That wasn’t bad. Be better en pointe.”

I shrugged. “Never learned.”

“That’s a shame. You’d be good at it.”

I was silent. I had mixed feelings about Brody being there. As much as I loved dancing with him, he was a reminder of why I was so frustrated with Pat. Seeing Brody made me angry all over again, and I wasn’t really sure if I was more upset with Pat or Brody.

I turned to him with a sigh. “Hey, Brody? I’m kind of in the mood to dance alone today.”

“You mad at me?”

I gave a non-committal shrug.

Brody frowned. “Why?”

“Is Pat your only friend?”

“Of course not. You worried I’m going to steal him?”

“You already have!” I didn’t mean to raise my voice. I also didn’t mean for the tears to start falling. But I couldn’t prevent either.

Brody raised his eyebrows. “I’m clueless.”

I took a deep breath, trying to calm my voice. “Why do you always call him when you’re in trouble?”

“Like the other night?” When I nodded, Brody shrugged. “He’s the only one who can drive.”

“Then call DMH.”

Brody started laughing, but stopped when I didn’t join him. “You don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“What happened Monday?”

As I shook my head, I realized that I had never actually given Pat a chance to tell me what happened.

“Nicholas had DMH Monday. You know him?”

I shook my head.

“So, he’s this guy I like. He told me about DMH so I would volunteer with him. So Monday night, we were hanging out, and he wanted to go to Santiago’s. And it was insane. Biggest party of the year. So then, Santiago kisses me and I was like, he’s a pretty good kisser, so I kissed him back. But then, Nicholas is all like, jealous boyfriend, even though we’re not together. So he leaves. And I can’t call DMH because I know Nicholas isn’t going to come get me. So I texted Pat to come get me. And now, I have to drive some little old lady to church.”

It surprised me that I could follow Brody’s ramblings, but his story didn’t really make me feel better. I sighed. “Brody, I love you, but I still want to dance alone.”

Brody nodded. “Okay. Maybe Sunday?”

I shook my head. “Finals are next week. I more or less move into the library during study days. I’ll text you after spring break, okay?”

Brody looked hurt. “I didn’t mean to cause problems with you and Pat.”

I shrugged. “I’m not mad at you Brody. I just want to be alone.”

“We still friends?”

“Of course.” Smiling, I gave Brody a big hug. “I just need to work stuff out.”

Brody stood, helping me to my feet. “Okay. I’ll leave you to it, then. Later.”

I danced through the rest of the ballet without pausing the music again. The only time I stopped for water breaks was during group dances or scenes with only male dancers. I was a little disappointed that I had forgotten some of the choreography. But I still remembered the music, so I made things up as I went, blocking out everything around me and focusing on the music alone.

When the orchestra played their final note, I held my pose for a few moments. Eventually, panting, I made my way back to my bag. After changing my shoes and throwing some clothes over my leotard, I went in search of a shower.

On my way to the dorm, I texted Pat that I was sorry for ignoring him and ready to talk. He took his time responding, but eventually suggested we meet in the Rotunda or library. I had worked up quite an appetite, though, and asked if we could meet in the dining hall, possibly at a table by ourselves.

I had spent a long time in the studio. By the time I reached the dining hall, the servery was getting ready to close. I loaded my tray with food before looking for my boyfriend. My friends were at their usual table, but Pat was sitting near the dishroom.

I placed my tray beside him and sent him the most apologetic look I could muster. “I’m sorry.”

He put his arm around me, pulling me close. “Me too. Why are you apologizing?”

I smiled at him. “If you don’t know, then I’ll take it back.”

Pat’s smile was almost mischievous. “Oh, I know. I just want to see if you know.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “I didn’t give you a chance to explain what happened Monday night.”

“And I’m sorry I didn’t get back to the church in time.”

I sent him a pointed look. “You could have.”

“Oh, I know. Sarah explained it to me in excruciating detail.”

I giggled. “We okay?”

“I don’t know. Are we?” Pat pulled me close.

Even though there were still a number of people in the dining hall, I kissed him so intensely, my heart stopped beating.

Eventually, I rested my forehead against his. “Yeah. We’re okay.”

Pat sat up. “Good. Then I want to take you out this weekend.”

I narrowed my eyes. “What’d you have in mind?”

“I have a few ideas, but I want to surprise you. Saturday night.”

I bit my lip. “But finals are next week.”

Pat shook his head. “You can move into the library on Sunday. I want Saturday night, just you and me.”

I sighed. “Okay.”

Pat’s face fell. “Don’t sound so enthusiastic.”

I smiled. “No, I want to go. I just wish I knew what you were planning.”

“Me too.”

Pat’s Story

Since Melinda was still avoiding me on Wednesday, I didn’t bother looking for her during our free periods that morning. I studied in the language lab instead.

When I walked into the theater for the all-school meeting, I automatically looked for Melinda on the stage. The orchestra wasn’t performing the school song as they usually did. Instead, Melinda was sitting on the opposite side of the stage with the other third formers. She had her head on my brother’s shoulder.

The sight of them talking and laughing irritated me. How could she be so happy when she was making me so miserable? I had tried to apologize for ditching her. But she didn’t let me. Again. It was her turn to ask forgiveness.

I spent the entire meeting miserable and barely participated in the class discussions in my afternoon classes. After Latin, I was in no mood to have lunch with my friends. I grabbed some fried food from the MAC, eating it in my dorm. Instead of attending Melinda’s game, I joined Chloe in the library and started making some lists of my own.

In order to keep my sanity, I insisted on ten-minute study breaks every hour. Chloe and I talked about spring break and how she was still waiting to hear from her top choice college. Thankfully, she had submitted her applications before Christmas, when she was mostly sober.

When the dining hall opened, Chloe and I decided it was time for a break. Leaving our books where they were, we headed downstairs. As I browsed the servery, my phone sang Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty.

I could wait to eat. Returning my tray to the stack by the door, I went to the lounge to read the string of texts Melinda had sent me. She apologized for ignoring me. She was ready to talk.

I wanted to have that discussion in a quiet place. The dining hall was probably not it. I could probably grab something quick to eat and then meet her in the library before study hours. Maybe the rotunda, since that had become “our place.”

She quickly replied that she had been dancing and desperately needed a shower and food, in that order. Reluctantly, I agreed we could meet in the dining hall.

Not knowing how long she would be, I returned to the servery and grabbed some food. But I didn’t want to sit with my friends. Not if Melinda and I needed to talk.

I looked around for someplace isolated. The dining hall was packed, but I found one empty table. It was in the corner near the dish room and was usually where the Price family ate their meals. Shrugging to myself, I sat there. If they showed up, I could always move.

After I finished my supper, I played on my phone, wondering if Melinda was ever going to show up. The dining hall was about to close when she placed her tray beside me. My eyes met hers, which were dripping with apology.

When she spoke, she sounded pathetic. “I’m sorry.”

How could I not forgive her? I drew her close. “Me, too. Why are you apologizing?”

She sent me a heart-melting smile and any residual anger faded. “If you don’t know, then I’ll take it back.”

I ran my fingers through her hair. “Oh, I know. I just want to see if you know.”

Melinda laughed. “I didn’t give you a chance to explain what happened Monday night.”

“And I’m sorry I didn’t get back to the church in time.”

“You could have.”

“Oh, I know. Sarah explained it to me in excruciating detail.” I didn’t quite keep the bitterness out of my tone.

Somehow, Melinda found that funny. “We okay?”

“I don’t know. Are we?”

I tried the ultimate test. At that moment, I didn’t care who was watching. I needed to make sure things between us were right again. I pulled her close. The moment my lips met hers, my heart started beating out of my chest. I never wanted the moment to end.

But we couldn’t stay like that forever. We were not alone.

Eventually, she rested her forehead against mine. “Yeah. We’re okay.”

I sat up and immediately started making plans to take her out over the weekend. I suddenly had a burning desire to be alone with her off campus.

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.