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When I Was Anna - 13.1

by Carlito

Hello! If you're just tuning in or need a refresher, it's marching band season and Summer (drumline) has a crush on Micah (drum major), but she's too anxious to talk to him or tell her friends about it. Summer learned about an app called Chat With Me (you can only talk to people at your school and the conversations can't be tracked). They've been talking (except Summer is pretending to be someone named Anna) and they've started to grow closer. Summer is becoming more worried about their growing connection and how she's going to come clean. She's agreed to meet up with Micah after a marching band competition and she doesn't know how she's going to salvage the relationship after that point.

# signifies a scene break that will be a page break in the finished manuscript :)

This is draft 2, and I'm more interested in big picture comments than sentence level/grammar comments. Thanks for reading! <3


Marching band practice seems to go longer than usual tonight. I don’t know if that’s because I’ll be seeing May, and coming clean to May in a matter of hours, or because I keep having to look at Micah, knowing that I’m going to have to come clean to him soon.

Either way, I mess up on a drum break, which I never do. It’s so obvious that Kaila looks over at me like what’s your problem. Lucky for me, Taylor is too far away to hear and berate me. This is not the stuff of future section leaders.

We set the field from the top of our show so we can do our run-through. I quickly glance down the drumline and see nothing but focused faces, and for the first time ever I can’t get my head in the game. Seeing Micah standing on that podium does nothing but remind me of everything I’m about to lose. And it’s all my fault.

My stomach knots, and it’s like there’s a film over my brain that’s not allowing me to be present and just do what I know how to do and what I’ve done so many times. Because I’m going to have to tell Micah soon. And Micah is going to hate me.

Mr. Murphy blasts the metronome through the loudspeaker so the pounding clicks sear into our eardrums and keep us in time with the beat. May is going to fix it. The incessant clicking manages to cut through the film in my brain and remind me that there are more important things going on right now that my never-ending fear of what’s going to happen next.

I make it through the run-through, even though I’m beyond ready to just go home. Bryn joins me for the walk back to the band room.

“You’re going to see May this weekend right?” She asks.

“Yeah, my parents are picking me up from this and we’re going right up there for dinner.” My stomach hurts, so I don’t know how much I’ll even be able to eat.

She waits a second before saying, “So I texted Jamie back.”

I glance at her but she’s making a point to keep her eyes on the ground.


“Well now I wish I hadn’t because after I did I saw him with another girl, different than that other time, on his Instagram story.”

“Did he say anything to you?”

“Yeah, we had like a whole conversation before I saw his story. He was even going to take me out for dinner this weekend so we could catch up and figure things out.”

I stop walking. “And?” I say again.

“I initially agreed, but now I don’t know. A part of me wants to talk to him and try to get answers about what’s really going on and why he’s talking to these other girls, but I also don’t know if I can trust him anymore. I keep thinking about the person I knew last year and I’m trying to reconcile that that person might not exist anymore.” A tear forms at the corner of her eye.

“I can’t do another big discussion with everyone talking about his merits and why I shouldn’t trust him,” She continues. “I just want, like, a clear head and time to figure out what’s true and what’s not.” She shrugs. “But I don’t know if I’m going to get that.”

“I wish I knew what the right answer was,” I tell her honestly.

“Me too.”

“Do you need closure? Maybe a conversation could accomplish that at the very least.”


We reach the band room.

“I know you have to get going,” She says once we’re by our lockers.

“I feel bad.”

“Don’t. I’ll figure it out. Just keep your phone on you.”

“Will do.” I deposit my things as quickly as possible, knowing my family is probably already in the parking lot waiting. I give her one last smile of encouragement before rushing outside to find them.

The parking lot is full of the cars of people in band, and parents picking their students up are snaking around the drive leading to the band doors. I don’t immediately spot my parents’ car. A few people trickle out of the band room doors and either into a waiting car or to their own in the parking lot.

The door opens again behind me and someone says, “Hey, Summer.”

My stomach does a full flip and drops to my knees. It’s Micah, and we’re relatively alone.

I turn to him, hoping I don’t look like a deer in headlights, and squeak out a meager, “hey”.

“Have you seen Ethan? I’m supposed to give him a ride home and I can’t find him anywhere.”

“No, sorry. I just got out here, so I haven’t seen anyone.”

“No worries. Maybe I missed him in the band room.” He disappears back inside.

I could collapse into the concrete.

Had this simple exchange happened only a month ago I would be walking on cloud nine right about now. Instead, I’m filled with nothing but dread for what’s to come.

I can’t believe he has no clue I’m Anna. I can’t believe he just acknowledged me without suspecting a thing.

But why would he?

I think back to the beginning of the school year and when I lost my mind over that stupid nod. Maybe I should have waited and just let things run their course. Even though there’s no way Micah and I would have gotten to know one another as well without the app.

My dad’s blue Impala pulls up in front of the band room doors. Time to see May.


By the time we arrive at Purdue, I’m hungry enough to eat Danielle. I had a granola bar in the car to tide me over, but I need some real food. There’s a huge group of people waiting in the lobby for a table, but luckily May is already there and has a table reserved for us.

“Hey everyone!” She stands to greet all of us.

The first thing I notice is that she cut her hair into a long bob - when did that happen? She’s wearing lipstick for the first time ever. And when she goes in to hug me, I smell a perfume she’s never worn before. My stomach twists. Where is my sister?

My mom kisses May’s cheeks and doesn’t comment on the new look. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long. We got here as fast as we could.”

“Oh, it was no trouble. I set up a reservation, so I only got here a few minutes ago.”

All pleasantries aside, we settle into our seats to glance over the menu. They leave the seat next to May open for me. All of the rehearsing I tried to do in my head on the drive up vanishes as my mouth becomes cotton and I can’t find a single thing to say.

“So what’s good here?” My dad asks like May’s the expert. Although, for all I know, she could be. New and improved May and all.

“Well,” She rattles off a few names of people she must know and the things they like here.

I only half pay attention. When I walked in I wanted to eat everything. Now my stomach is so twisted up I’m not sure I have an appetite at all.

When the waitress comes for our order I choose the first burger on the list and hope for the best. We get loaded nachos for an appetizer and I choke down a few bites when it comes out because that’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s hard to swallow.

“So tell us about it!” My mom beams at May.

She smiles. “It’s been amazing. Everyone has been so nice and welcoming so far, but it’s a lot of work. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance classes with rehearsals and with having a social life, but it’s getting smoothed out. We march a new show for every game, so it’s a lot to remember each week, but it’s been fun.”

I knew when she moved in she would be busy and rehearsals would take up a lot of her time, but things are only going to get busier once tests and papers and things rev up. Is she ever going to have time for me?

“What’s the show tomorrow?” My mom asks. “Or do you want us to be surprised?”

“Oh, I can tell you. James Bond, 007.”

“Great movie!”

“Any way for us to distinguish you from everyone else? Can you put a pink feather in your hat or something?” My dad the joker.

May laughs. “You know I can’t.” She grabs a spare napkin from the table and pulls a pen out of her purse. “But, in our starting line-up, if this is the front yard line and this is the back yard line the drumline will be positioned here, and the snares will be here.” She draws it for them on the napkin. “If you can find the middle snare, I’ll be the second one on his left, your right.”

My dad borrows her pen to write a few notes for himself on the napkin, and then pockets it. Great. So sitting in the stands tomorrow my dad is going to pull out a napkin and debate with my mom about which person on the field is May based on this rudimentary drawing.

“What about you, Sum?” May elbows my side. “How’s Disney Villains going?”

“Fine.” If she would call me she would know.

Mom gives me a look of disapproval.

“When isyour first competition again?”

“Next weekend.”

“Oh!” She beams. “How exciting! How are you feeling about it?”

“The competition itself, fine. We’ll be ready.” It’s everything else that has my stomach in knots. Like the fact that I told a certain someone I would meet him after a competition.

Our food arrives and my burger is colossal with a heaping pile of fries beside it. Danielle tears her eyes away from her phone, and everyone immediately starts eating. I have to cut my burger in half and it’s still too much food.

I was so hungry and hour ago. I know I need to eat, but my stomach hurts, which makes me think of Micah and how his Crohn’s disease makes his stomach hurt (and other things), which reminds me once again of the mess I’m in and how there’s no good way out, which makes my stomach hurt even more.

“Everything okay?” May whispers in my ear.

No. “Just tired.” I force a smile. “We had rehearsal today.”

She nods and smiles knowingly. She knows how it is.

I take a few bites of my burger. It’s really not bad, but it sits heavy in my stomach. I’m not just tired, and I think May knows it. If that was my opportunity to bring it up, I don’t want it to slip away.

I nudge her arm and whisper in her ear, “Can we talk later? Just you and me?”

Thankfully, she doesn’t ask for any type of clarification and simply nods. Thank God for sisters.

Once everyone finishes eating and our plates are taken away and I tell everyone no, no, the burger really was good, it was just a lot of food, my parents run over the schedule for the weekend. We’re staying in a hotel while May stays in her dorm. She’s going to give us a tour tomorrow before the game, we’ll go to the game, have a farewell dinner, and then go home.

When May expects to be able to talk to me alone during all of that, I don’t know, but I trust her.

We all stand up from the table so everyone can take turns hugging May before we see her again tomorrow. “Hey, do you mind if I take Summer back to the hotel? I have some friends in my dorm that want to meet her and I’m not sure if we’ll have time tomorrow.”

“Oh that’s fine!” My mom smiles. “Don’t stay out too late though.”

“Oh, I know. She had rehearsal today and I need my sleep before the game tomorrow.”

I have very little interest in meeting May’s friends, so I’m hoping this is just a ruse so we can have a little time by ourselves to talk.

“I know you probably don’t want to meet a bunch of new people,” May says once we’re both in her car and buckled. “So let’s find a good place to talk.” She pulls out of the parking lot. “There’s a good chance my roommate is out, so let’s stop by my dorm first and if she’s there we’ll go somewhere else.”

I nod as my stomach churns.

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421 Reviews

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Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:27 am
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Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there Carli! Tuck stopping by with another review. I noticed after I posted my review that it was a little on the short side so I fully intend to make up for that with this review :p Let's get right into it!

I don’t know if that’s because I’ll be seeing May, and coming clean to May in a matter of hours, or because I keep having to look at Micah, knowing that I’m going to have to come clean to him soon.
A minor note, but you used "coming clean" twice within two sentences, so I'd encourage you to find a substitute for one of those occasions.

I really liked the way that you physically showed Summer's nerves through this. Stomachaches linked to anxiety are definitely common, and it was a great way to show instead of tell. The way her stomach twisted as various triggers for her anxiety appeared (thoughts of Micah, reminders of the conversations she has to have later, etc.) were great, and the way she was constantly distracted throughout practice was another good sign of her anxiety.

One thing I think you could improve on is the section where Summer and Bryn are having a conversation and there's a section of just back-and-forth dialogue. While that can work sometimes, I feel like giving the reader more hints about body language, location, tone, and other shifts and movements would be helpful in this case. It would help engage the reader more if you added some details that would engage the reader's sense. I think it's definitely worth writing it both ways and then comparing it and seeing which one is more effective for you.

Another thing I want to caution you about is slipping into the trope of perfect sisters, where the sisters are always there for each other and always willing to talk. Even though May is going through serious changes in college, which I think has definitely helped humanize her and make her feel like a full person, their relationship still seems unaffected, for the most part. The frustration that Summer had with May a few chapters back when she was drunk on a weeknight was good and helped steer the story away from falling into this trope, but it seems as if she's completely moved on. I think a little bit more tension between them would be good and strengthen their relationship and help you avoid falling into the trap of having a perfect relationship.

I hope that this review has been helpful for you, and if you have any questions about this, just let me know and I'd be happy to answer them. I really enjoyed this chapter and I'm looking forward to seeing how Summer's conversation with May and, ultimately, her conversation with Micah goes. Onwards and upwards!



Carlito says...

Thank you again!!

Love what you said about Summer/May and their relationship. I'll be curious to see what you think of it as the story progresses.


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Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:21 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...

Hey there!

Super excited to continue with this.

I really like this chapter, and I really like the characters you've created. They're three dimensional and complex, and I'm invested in their story and what happens to them. I can easily see this as a novel on YA shelves. I think it would be a great story for pre-teens and young teens to read and discuss these issues.

As I've said, I was a bit thrown off by the mention of Instagram stories. As I've mentioned before, Summer's lack of awareness about what she's doing seems like it belongs more in 2005 than 2019. I guess I should have known if Chat With Me is a phone app, but this could even be 2008 or 2009 when smartphones were still relatively new, but there was still more of a general awareness of what catfishing was when Summer doesn't even really seem to know. I'd like to see this be acknowledged anyway. I think you need to define a time period for this. I would recommend watching the movie Trust. It's a lot darker and more dramatic than this, but it still deals with the idea of someone claiming to be someone he's not, and it was made in 2010 so of the communication methods I think you could find useful.

Having read this far, to me the idea of the app being an in school thing isn't really working for me. In thinking about it they would give you an account login. I don't remember how you had it but I don't think you'd be able to change your display name. I think it would be better if Chat With Me was a general app or a website. I grew up in the Midwest so I know how towns like this are. We were neighbors/rivals with a similarly small town adjacent to us. "Anna" could claim to be from the next town over.

Beyond all of that, as I've said before I like Summer as a character with all of her complexities. She's coming across as incredibly selfish and not very self aware in this dinner with May. I'm not sure if this is intentional on your part, but I think overall this is a good thing, and works for her development at this point in this story. Like, these in particular:

I knew when she moved in she would be busy and rehearsals would take up a lot of her time, but things are only going to get busier once tests and papers and things rev up. Is she ever going to have time for me?

I have very little interest in meeting May’s friends, so I’m hoping this is just a ruse so we can have a little time by ourselves to talk.

Her sister is going through a major life change and all Summer can think about is how it affects her. This doesn't make her unlikable. On the contrary, it makes her feel real. You can tell she's letting Micah consume her thoughts and it's affecting her relationships with the people that are right there in front of her. I'm curious to see how she grows and changes by the end of this.

On to the next,

Carlito says...

I apologize for taking so long to respond!! Thank you so much, once again <33

I can easily see this as a novel on YA shelves.

Well way to make me just clutch my heart and fall over <3 YOU KNOW THIS IS ALL I WANT RIGHT?

I think it's so funny in a way that you feel like this feels very mid/late 2000s because that's when I was in high school :p I'm about to have my 10 year reunion #old . So I think it makes sense why I'm naturally writing it to feel like my experience even though it's somehow been TEN YEARS. So that's definitely something I'll have to address when I edit this and I appreciate you pointing it out!!

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Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:39 pm
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Liberty wrote a review...

Heya Carli!

Hope you're doing well today or tonight, depending on what side of the world you're on, obviously. I'm here to give you a review! Let's get started, now, shall we? Alrightyo.

So, let's see what we've got here...

Sum's finally feeling guilty. Micah talks to her! But she still feel guilty. :( Imagine what'll happen when he realizes he didn't have a clue that Summer was Anna! Oh, he'd be so embarrassed and pissed. Oof. Micah, watch out! Anyway, the situation with Bryn and Jamie seems so messed up. God. Just forget him, Bryn! Pleeeeassse.

And now she's driving to May and May's... Different. :| Augh, c'mon, May, why'd ya have to change so much? Please be normal when you talk to Summer! Please please please. We will find out in the next chapter!

“When isyour first competition again?”

Just the space in between "is" and "your". :)

I was so hungry and hour ago.

"And" needs to be "an" instead. ^^

Alright, so that's it for my review. Hope this helped and I'm off to the next chapter! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me whenever.

And as always...

Keep on writing!


Carlito says...

Yikes I'm so sorry I haven't replied until now!! Thank you for all of your comments!! <3

Liberty says...

Not a problem!

— Magestorrrow