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When I Was Anna - 20

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 was too anxious to talk to him or tell her friends about it. She made a profile on Chat With Me (you can only talk to people at your school and the conversations can't be tracked) and they've been talking (except Summer is pretending to be someone named Anna). They grew close, Summer finally came clean, and Micah wasn't exactly thrilled. Summer just found out that word has spread and the entire band knows what she did and she has survived a week at school. 

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

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Tiny victories every day.

It’s been a week since the news exploded, and while I still can’t look at Micah without feeling deep embarrassment and shame, at least the whispering has subsided and it appears that people have moved on to other topics.

Micah hasn’t messaged me back or acknowledged my existence at school, but that’s probably too much to hope for at this point.

Walking into the band room now in the morning no longer feels like I’m walking to my execution. We’re almost back to band being the normal place of peace and joy that it was before. I still have to pass Kaila on the way to my locker. She makes a point not to look at me, and I don’t go out of my way to talk to her.

From an outside observer, like Taylor who as far as I’m aware missed the entire Micah mess, it might look like Kaila and I have grown more competitive over drum-related things. I haven’t had any more major slip-ups in rehearsals, and we have a bit of a lull until our next competition, which will give me time to allow me to finish screwing my head back on straight.

As far as I’m concerned, the Micah stuff is over and done and I can go right on back to being a fly on the wall that no one notices and all of this will be a distant nightmare that I have no intention of revisiting.

Except when I see Micah.

It happens so suddenly. The band room is nearly clear of people getting out to the field for our after school rehearsal. I’m running late because I had to replace a drum stick and then my shoelace broke, leaving me as one of the last people left in the band room.

Finally, after replacing all of the necessary things and strapping my drum onto my harness, I rush out of the band room door, hoping that I’m not cutting it too close.

And who should be coming in the band room as I’m going out? None other than Micah.

We bump shoulders, and I freeze like a deer caught in headlights. I can’t form a single word.

He stares at me, also not speaking, and neither of us move from the doorway.

Finally he says, “You better get going. Rehearsal is about to start. I’m checking for stragglers.”

All I can do is nod, put my head down, and rush out of the band room doors, cheeks flaming.

I kick myself once I get outside for not managing to say a simple “I’m sorry” while we were momentarily trapped in the same space.

The look in his eyes said it all, he hates me. And honestly? I don’t blame him.

#

May calls after school on her own accord. I almost can’t believe it when her name lights up my screen, but she did promise she would talk to me more in the aftermath of my failures.

I shut myself in my bedroom before I answer and do my standard flop onto my bed.

“How’s it going?” She asks immediately.

I know the question is loaded with more than the standard how was your day, and is rather a larger question of how is everything that we talked about last time going.

“Okay I guess.” I lay back in my bed. I’m hoping this way I can stay semi-relaxed, even though my legs are itching to start pacing my room. “I’ve apologized, but he still hasn’t really said anything to me and still ignores me at school. I don’t think people are talking about it as much though.”

“Well that’s good on the last thing. Honestly, this might be as much as we can hope for. I know that sucks and it’s not what you want to hear, but I want you to be prepared that this may be as good as it’s going to get.”

“I’ve already considered that.” At this point I’ve spent so much time ruminating about this problem, that I think I’ve considered every single possible outcome. This being as good as it gets isn’t my favorite option to consider, but it’s survivable.

“But that’s good that people already aren’t talking about it as much. It hasn’t even been that long.”

“They might still be talking without me noticing it.”

“Well if they are, it doesn’t matter. It’s none of their business and they don’t even know the whole story, so don’t even give them the benefit of your attention. Just keep holding that head high like I told you.”

Which I’ve been incapable of doing, but whatever.

“Yeah I guess. It still feels awkward though. Even if people aren’t actively talking about it anymore, everyone knows what I did and they’re probably still thinking about it.”

“Summer.” I can almost hear her smile. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you can’t control what other people think about. If they’re thinking about you and what you did, oh well. There’s nothing you can do about that.”

“I guess.” I pick at the skin around my thumb.

“I mean, honestly, what are you supposed to do, send out an email to everyone in the band explaining the situation and asking them to please move on and stop thinking about it? No. The more you draw attention to it, the more you give people a reason to think and talk about what happened. If they see you and Micah moving on, they’ll move on. Just give it time. Stop worrying so much.”

If only that simple command could magically turn off the torrent of thoughts racing through my head.

My stomach is starting to do it’s churning thing, and I don’t want to talk about this anymore. There’s nothing new to say and all it does is make me more nervous and uncomfortable. Maybe I need to practice not talking about Micah at all and just focus on other things and get all of this out of my mind and behind me.

“What’s going on with you?” I deflect.

“Trying to change the subject now?” I can hear her smile again. “I mean, nothing much. Just the usual stuff I guess.”

“Like?” Since when was it so hard for us to have a normal conversation? “I don’t know anything about college or what it’s been like for you. Fill me in!”

“It’s been good, but hard.”

What a vivid picture she’s painting for me.

“Like the classes are hard?” I ask. May was a straight A student in high school. Academics have never been a struggle for her.

“Sort of, but the harder part is balancing everything. There’s so much going on and you get pulled in so many different directions.”

I remember after she made the drumline and the pressure she felt to bond with the other drummers and go out with them. I wonder if that’s what she means with finding balance.

“Okay,” She says. “Don’t tell mom and dad because I have the situation under control and it’s going to get better, but I failed two tests and my midterm grades are going to suck.”

My jaw drops. May has never failed anything in her entire life. Not that our parents are perfection pushers or demanded nothing but As, but there was always sort of the underlying expectation that school is our job, it’s important, and we need to take school seriously. We wouldn’t get in trouble for a bad grade, but our best has always been the expectation.

“How did this happen?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” She sighs into the phone. “None of my classes were very hard at first, but then the work started piling up and I got behind, and I assumed that tests would be similar to high school tests so I didn’t study as much. I don’t want mom and dad to know though because they’re helping with my tuition and I don’t want them to think I’m not trying, you know?”

“I won’t say anything.”

“Thank you. And I have time to pull them up, so it’s not like it’s really going to matter in the long run. But it’s just stressful because marching band takes up so much of my time. Like, I know we rehearsed a lot in high school, but here…seriously if I’m not in class I’m in the music building either practicing on my own, with the drumline, or with the whole band. It never ends. And I want to prove myself and prove that I belong here, but it’s so hard to meet anyone or do anything outside of band, let alone all of my homework, and I’m not even a music major!”

“But you still enjoy it, right?”

“Oh of course I do. I’ll still do all of this again next year. I love the other drumline members and being in the band and all of it is super fun, it’s just a lot to balance.”

Not to mention finding time to help me with all of my problems.

“You know what mom and dad would say.” I smile. “You’re not there for band, you’re there for academics.”

I can almost see May roll her eyes through the phone. “Right, but I’m also not someone that can just come home from class and put some headphones on, block out the world, and just do my homework and never talk to anyone. That’s not me and they know that. I’d go crazy if I weren’t involved in stuff.”

“Yeah, but you’re also not someone who gets Fs.”

“It was only two tests. It’s not like that will be my final grade. I still have half the semester left to bring things up.”

I bite the inside of my lip. “I’m not trying to guilt trip you or something, I’m just worried. I want you to have fun and stuff, but I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

“You worry too much! I’m not going to get in trouble.You don’t get put on academic probation after two bad tests. A lot of people struggle their first semester. I’ll be fine. Trust me, I got it,” She says sharply.

I’m still not convinced she does, seeing as course work will only increase as the semester progresses and it’s not like the marching band season is going to end any time soon. But her tone means the conversation is over and it’s time to drop it.

“Okay,” I say.

“Look, I’ve got to go. I have rehearsal in thirty minutes.”

“Okay.”

“So don’t tell mom and dad and don’t worry about me or Micah or anything, okay?”

“I’ll try.” I rub the skin I picked around my thumb.

We hang up, and I can’t not worry. I’ll keep my word and not tell our parents, but I’m going to keep an eye out on the situation. If things get much worse I’ll have no choice but to say something. At least now I can transfer someof the energy I spend worrying about Micah onto May. Lucky me.

#

By Thursday afternoon, there’s still nothing from Micah. I’ve already decided I’m not going to try apologizing to him or talk to him on Chat With Me again. I did the right thing and apologized, now I need to respect his wishes and leave him alone. He knows where to find me if he ever gets the desire to talk.

I catch Bryn at our lockers after school on Thursday, and we walk out to the field together like we always do.

“How goes it with Jamie?” I ask her.

“I haven’t talked to him in over a week. He texted me a few days ago with the same old stuff about missing me and wanting to figure things out, but I haven’t responded.”

My eyebrows lift. “And how do you feel?”

“Honestly? Fine. Like I anticipated it would hurt more, but I think I’m just tired at this point. And I also think it helps that I’m finally the one in control, you know? He doesn’t get to control all of the shots. If he wants to talk to me, then he needs to prove that things will actually be different this time, you know?”

I nod.

“He knows where I live. He knows how to find our competition and home game schedule. I don’t need to wait around for him to make an effort.”

“I’m proud of you. I know it wasn’t an easy decision, and I know how hard it is to force yourself to move on from someone, but your happiness is more important.”

“Can’t wait around and wonder about what ifs forever.”

Like what if I had tried harder to talk to Micah in person? What if I had been honest about my identity sooner? What if I had let things fizzle out without ever coming clean?

“But how goes it with you and your situation?” She asks me. I’m glad she doesn’t actually say his name with all of these potential witnesses around.

“Um… I guess the same. Like, I apologized again, but he hasn’t said anything to me, so I’m not holding my breath that anything is really going to come of it or happen.” I shrug. “But it’s fine. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

“I don’t know, I’m still optimistic.”

“How? He’s been pretty clear with me already. He’s mad and he’s not interested.”

“He won’t be mad forever.”

“Maybe not, but by then he’ll probably have forgotten about whatever semblance of a connection we had. It’s fine. It wasn’t meant to be.”

She shrugs. “Has Camilla talked to you at all?”

“No I haven’t heard from her since we kicked her out of the group text.”

“Yeah, me either. She’s been avoiding all of us at school I think. I still don’t really understand why she was so rude that day.”

I’ve found I haven’t really thought about Camilla all that much. I’ve never been quite as close to her as I am to Bryn or Katya.

“I’ve had too many other things to think about,” I admit. “I talked to May last night and she said her midterm grades are going to be bad because she failed some tests and is struggling to stay caught up on all of her work.”

“Your sister May?”

“I know. I couldn’t believe her either. She goes out a lot with the band people. I don’t know, I”m happy she’s having a good time and all, but college is changing her in weird ways. I know she always lands on her feet, but still.”

“You worry about her.”

“How could I not?”

We reach the field. Mr. Murphy isn’t here yet to tell us where to get set, so we stand on the front sideline to wait. Bryn points towards the far end of the field. Katya and Ethan are talking, and from here it looks like they could be holding hands.

“I guess that’s still going well.” Bryn smiles.

“I honestly really like that they’re together.”

“Same, I never would have picked them out as a match, but it weirdly works.”

I don’t spot Camilla or Fernando yet. It’s a little weird no longer getting almost daily updates on the status of their relationship. I don’t even know if they’re still together or if Camilla has finally gotten around to telling her parents about him.

“Oh.” Bryn says. She’s looking in the opposite direction of Katya and Ethan.

I follow her gaze and see Micah talking to Kaila. My stomach does the familiar lurch that always accompanies seeing him. Seeing him with Kaila is like a sucker punch, especially knowing that without her the entire band wouldn’thave found out about Micah and I in the first place. The two of them clearly walked to the field together. He’s carrying her things and they look as chummy as ever.

So now not only do I have to live with the what could have been had I not been stupid enough to catfish Micah in the first place, but now I’ll probably have watch the two of them get together. Lucky me.

“I’m sorry,” Bryn says.

I shrug, doing my best to pretend it doesn’t bother me at all, when of course it does.

“Maybe they’re just friends?” She tries.

He puts his things down by the back ladder and she takes her things back from him, playfully touching his arm and smiling at him in the process. Yeah, just friends.

It fits. It’s fine. I messed up. This is what I get.


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292 Reviews


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Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:22 pm
Liberty wrote a review...



Hey Carli!

Hope you're doing well today or tonight, depending on what side of the world you're on, obviously. I'm here to -- whatever, let's just start!

OKAY.

First of all, sorry I couldn't review this yesterday. I was going to, but I started watching movies with my fam, so yada yada yada.

Okay, so this is an amazing chapter! You tell us much about Summer's regret and how horrible she feels. She keeps on thinking about the "what ifs", which is not good for her (like Bryn, Katya and May said).

To be honest, I feel more bad for Micah than I feel for Summer. Micah is the one (like Camilla said) who was lied to. Summer only really regrets that she lied. If she really loved Micah, and she really had a crush on him, I would actually think that she would feel bad about lying and she would feel bad about not telling him that she liked him over Chat With Me. (If I don't make sense, ask me to re-say it and I will. Half the reason is because I'm super hyper right now, and when I talk when I'm hyper it's confusing.)

But anyways, great chapter! (Also, very tiny pointer, this isn't in the "When I Was Anna" portfolio) Can't wait for the next onnnnne! Done with my review. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

And as always...

Keep on writing!

~Liberty

TOODLES!




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Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:34 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hey hey hey!

So, the denouement begins. This is probably one of the strongest chapters you've done so far, if only because some version of this is where I always imagined and hoped this story would be leading when I first started reading it.

The one comment I'll make is that none of this really feels earned right now, and one comment I'll make with the hindsight of the previous chapters is that their online "relationship" doesn't go far enough. They flirt and have a few conversations.

Because I know you watch Catfish, I'm sure you've seen a lot of episode where people have multiple year courtships where they talk about getting married and having kids. I wonder if it could even go that far. Maybe they pick out their baby names and say they love each other, which will make Micah feel all the more stupid, and thus be angrier at her.

While I know Summer is the main character and thus we're going to sympathize with her, ultimately my main sympathies are still with Micah at this point. Creating morally gray lead characters can be very challenging but also very rewarding.

So close! I can't wait! Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions!

Cheers,
Elinor





The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.