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. She's going to tell her sister everything and ask for advice.
This is draft 2, and I'm more interested in big picture comments than sentence level/grammar comments. Thanks for reading! <3
We park in a small lot and have to walk the rest of the way to the freshman dorms. I want to lie down and resist the urge to clutch my stomach as we walk.
“Welcome to my home away from home!” She declares when we reach the lobby. It doesn’t even make me sad.
We take the elevator to the fourth floor, and she leads me through a maze of hallways to room 411. The door has name placards in the shape of flip flops, one for May, one for a girl named Casey.
“Our RA makes these for us,” She says pointing to the placards. “Aren’t they cute?”
I nod, my mouth is still filled with cotton.
She lets us in, and Casey is no where to be found. The room is smaller than I expected it to be. There are two beds raised as lofts. Underneath May’s is the green futon she wanted to bring and her desk is shoved at the foot of her bed. Casey put her desk under her bed, as well as her dresser with a small TV sitting on top.
May settles onto the futon and I sit down next to her. Usually when I have a stomach ache this bad, the only thing that helps is lying on my back and waiting for it to get better. I’m so tempted to stretch out on this futon, but I know if I do I’ll never get up again, so I settle for sitting beside her.
“So what’s going on?” May asks.
Where to even start? I grab a throw blanket off of the floor and drape it over my legs. “A lot has happened since you left.”
“Well let’s figure it out. Start from the top.”
I rub my stomach, hoping that will help even though I already know it won’t. “I made a mistake, May.”
“What kind of mistake?”
“I need you to promise not to judge me.”
She gives me a look of concern.
“Just promise, okay?”
“I promise. What’s going on?”
I take a deep breath, trying to calm my stomach and my nerves and clear my head and everything. “When I told you I talked to Micah a few times after rehearsal, that wasn’t exactly the truth.”
“You didn’t talk to him? Summer, why would I judge you for that? I know I told you to put yourself out there, but it’s not that big of a deal. Don’t worry.”
“No, that’s not it. I have talked to him, just…” How do I explain this? “Hold on, let me back up. Just listen for a second, okay? Don’t say anything.”
She nods, but looks confused. I don’t blame her.
I let the whole story tumble out. “Okay, so I really did try to talk to him like you said. I said hi to him in the band room one day and he didn’t say anything back which messed with my head and made me so embarrassed. And then Camilla told me about this app she uses to talk to her boyfriend so her parents won’t find out. I decided to try it out and I figured out how to change my name so people wouldn’t know it was me, and I sent a request to Micah thinking he would never respond, but he did. We’ve been talking on this app for over a month now and I really, really like him May. And I think he likes me too and he wants to meet up but he thinks my name is Anna Blackwell, and I don’t know what to do.”
May stares at me, seemingly at a loss for words. “You weren’t kidding when you said you made a mistake,” She finally says.
“I told him I was a new student and that’s why the name wasn’t familiar and why he couldn’t find me in the yearbook. I only lied about little details so he wouldn’t figure it out. Otherwise I’ve been exactly myself, I swear. But we’ve had such good conversations.”
Tears start to burn at the corners of my eyes. “And he really wants to meet up and I don’t want to lie anymore. I’ve held off this long by telling him it makes me anxious, and he’s been so nice. But I told him we could meet after one of his marching band competitions, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about any of this sooner?”
“I tried a few weeks ago, but you didn’t answer. I don’t know, I thought I could handle this myself.”
She sits back on the futon. “Okay, let me think. We need to do some damage control.”
“He’s going to hate me forever.”
“We don’t know that! You might have a chance.”
“How? You’re just saying that to make me feel better. He thinks my name is Anna and I see him every single day at school. How can I possibly recover from that?”
And then, once the word gets out about what I’ve done and how crazy I am, that will all but seal the “un-dateable” deal.
“Okay, when you said you’ve had these great conversations, what exactly have you guys talked about? How serious is this?”
“I told him about my alopecia.”
She stares at me. “You told him.”
“No one knows that about you.”
“What made you want to tell him?”
“Because I like him! And I needed him to understand why I get so anxious and why it’s hard for me to open up to people in person. And he totally got it! He’s been so nice and supportive, and he told me about how he has Crohn’s disease.”
She cuts me off. “You really like him.” She looks almost pained. Like I’m doomed.
I nod again, too worried that the tears will escape if I say it out loud.
She sighs. “I wish you had come to me sooner. If we had gotten on top of this early on, or hell, if I knew you wanted to talk to him on this weird app in the first place.”
Is she really mad at me for not confiding in her?
“You haven’t exactly been available,” I challenge.
“I know I’ve been busy, but I gave you my schedule and you know I always have time for you.”
“Do you though?”
Her forehead creases. “Why are you being dramatic? You know I do.”
“What I know is that I’ve tried calling your phone more times than I can count and the one time you could be bothered to answer you were too drunk to actually talk. So no, I don’t think you have time for me.” The words hurt coming out, but I promised myself I would tell her how I feel.
We sit in silence for a minute. My stomach still hurts. A lump is lodged in my throat. I’m surprised I’ve been able to hold in my tears this long.
“I’m sorry, Sum,” She picks at the skin around her thumbnail. “Settling into college has been harder than I thought it would be. I got here and it was just furious last minute practicing and camp and meeting everyone in band and auditioning. That whole first week was a complete whirlwind. And then I got in and that started another whirlwind. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the other members of the drumline, because you know how important it is for a section to jive. And there are so many people to meet and then there’s rehearsals and individual practice and classes and homework and having a social life and,”
“There’s just not enough time for me,” I finish for her.
“No! It’s not that.”
“No, I get it. It’s fine. You need to do college stuff.” It’s not fine, but I understand.
“Summer,” She takes one of my hands in hers. “I promise I’m going to be better, okay? I feel bad that I haven’t been there for you like you needed me. I’m going to be better.”
“Okay.” The lump lodged at the back of my throat makes speaking difficult.
“And I’m going to do some thinking about this Micah problem,” She says, letting go of my hand. “You’ve definitely gotten yourself into a weird situation, but I don’t think this has to be a lost cause. The fact that you’ve been real about the big stuff is going to help you.”
“He’s going to think I’m a total freak. He’s going to hate me.”
“Well, with that kind of attitude.” She smiles. “Seriously though, Sum, we’re going to figure this out. I’m sure he’ll be at least a little upset, but I’ll do some serious thinking about how we can do this with as few causalities as possible.”
“Should I keep talking to him like normal until we come up with a plan?”
She thinks for a second. “That’s up to you.”
“I don’t want to stop talking to him,” I admit.
“I figured as much. It feels weird to tell you to keep up the game though.”
“I know, but it would be weird to ghost him at this point without an explanation.”
“You’re right. Do whatever you feel you need to do and then we’ll figure out how to undo the damage.”
Telling May the truth lifted one rock off of my back, but despite her optimism that somehow all of this will work itself out, I can’t help but think that coming clean to Micah will mean the end of Micah and me. He’ll have every right, but it won’t make it hurt any less when he does. And if I were smarter, I would scale back, talk to him less, prepare myself for the day when he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. But I’m not prepared to give him up.