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When I Was Anna - 3.2

by Carlito

If you're just tuning in: Summer just finished band camp and is on the drumline. She has a crush on Micah, a drum major, but she's too anxious to talk to him or tell her friends about it. Summer saw her drumline rival, Kaila, dancing with Micah at the band camp dance. Summer confided in her sister, May, who encouraged her to try and talk to him before she leaves for college.

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


Naturally, I make it through the entire day without Micah being in a single one of my classes. He is in my lunch hour, but there wasn’t a chance to talk to him then because the total chaos that is the lunch room. Plus, my friends were around and that wouldn’t work for obvious reasons.

I promised myself I would talk to him today, which means that if I’m going to do that, it has to be now, after school.

I pray as I make my way to the band room that it won’t be super crowded and that by some miracle Micah will be in there without his friends or my friends or too many other people around.

Or I could wait. I could just find a time to do it tomorrow. Maybe I could time things right in the cafeteria that we throw our trays away at the same time and I could say a quick hello. But do I really want our first introduction to be in front of a trash can?

I spot Micah at the back of the band room, leaning up against one of the windows talking to a friend.

This is my opportunity. I image what May would say or do if I came home tonight and told her I couldn’t do it after all of that prep work and words of encouragement. This isn’t that hard. All I have to do is talk to him. Say hello. Something.

Before I psyche myself out too much more, or before my friends show up and ruin my resolve, I set my backpack down in front of my locker. I do a loop around the band room, and pretend I’m looking around like maybe I’m just trying to look for my friends. Now on the other side of the band room, I’ll be facing Micah as I walk by on my way back to my band locker.

My heart pounds, my hands are damp, and my mouth has become a desert, but I keep walking towards him and attempt to make eye contact. He’s still talking with his friend.

He’s not looking my way, but when I’m only a few feet away, I swallow, try to smile, and say, “hello.” I walk a little slower, just in case he says something back.

He turns towards me, nods in acknowledgment, and goes back to his conversation with his friend.

I bow my head and go straight back to my band locker.

I feel so stupid. My plan was stupid, my execution was stupid, what I said was stupid, the whole thing was stupid.

A nod. He didn’t even speak to me. What does a nod even mean? Why didn’t he at least say “hey” back? A nod. I won’t even be able to look at him now because all I’ll be able to see is will be that one stupid word and a nod.

I’ve never been happier to see Camilla fly into the band room. She’s giving me a ride to the coffee shop, and I don’t know if I can stand to be in here a moment longer.

I imagine Kaila showing up and easily striking up a conversation with Micah and him saying a heck of a lot more than a nod. I don’t want to see that. So when she asks if I’m ready, I can’t get to the door fast enough.

She launches into a full, uninterrupted account of her entire day as soon as her wheels start turning. She doesn’t need my input, she just needs to talk and get it all out.

I tell myself maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal. Maybe he was just distracted by his friend. Maybe he wasn’t feeling well or he was tired. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I still made a fool out of myself.

Do I try to say hello again tomorrow, or do I accept defeat and resolve myself to be alone? I don’t want to just give up, but I don’t know where to go from here.

I can see the end. I can see Micah and I together as a couple, sitting togetheron the bus on the way to a competition, going to the movies, hanging out at each other’s houses, all of it. I can see it, and I want it. I just have no idea how to get it.

I wish, more than anything, that there was a way for me to talk to him and get to know him without my lack of social skills getting in the way.

I wish I could talk to my friends, but they wouldn’t understand. Camilla would have no frame of reference for not knowing how to talk to a guy because it comes so easily for her. Katya would just shake her head and tell me to get over myself and just talk to him. Bryn would give me some conversation starters that I would be too nervous to actually try. It won’t help. It’ll just make me more nervous.

I just want to talk to him and get to know him without making a complete fool of myself and without the pressure of what other people think getting in my way. That’s all I need. How do I do that?

We pull up to the coffee shop, and I suddenly wish I could just be at home. I love hanging out with my friends, but I have so much on my mind right now about Micah, and I don’t want to bring anyone down or have anyone look too far into everything going on in my brain. Too late now.

Camilla and I beat the others here and we find a table and order our drinks. I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, but they also have a nice selection of decaffeinated drinks as well. I order a smoothie because it’s hot outside.

The others arrive by the time our drinks are ready.

Camilla practically vibrates in her seat while she waits for everyone to get their drinks and join us at the table. I remember her saying early in the day that she has news about Fernando.

“Okay. Guys!” She says once everyone is finally giving her their undivided attention. “I have news!” She looks around the table at each of us, almost as if waiting to make sure everyone looks as excited as she thinks they should look.

I feign a smile. It’s not that I don’t care, I just want to get this over with. Bryn looks the most genuinely patient and happy. Katya already looks annoyed.

Camilla doesn’t wait for us to ask her additional questions or prompt her to continue. “Okay, so obviously Fernando and I were hanging out at band camp and at the dance. And I was hoping and assuming we’d be able to continue that momentum into the school year, but you never really know because some people want to focus on school or whatever. But you guys! After we got back to the school from camp, him and I literally talked for like two hours while people were waiting for their rides. Him and I both had our cars there, so we were just talking, and I kept wondering if he was going to end it and say he needed to go home, but we just kept talking! It was amazing!”

Wow, what would it be like to be able to effortlessly talk to Micah for two hours with no one around. All I got was a nod and she got two hours. How?

“We haven’t kissed yet, and he hasn’t asked me out on an official date yet or anything, but I really think he might soon!”

“Awesome!” Bryn says, but then fixes her gaze on her drink.

Katya pretends to poke her straw into her eye.

I summon as much excitement as I can and say, “cool!”

“This couldn’t have been conveyed in a text?” Katya asks, now leaving her straw alone.

Camilla narrows her eyes. “Geez Katya, sorry I wanted to share in my news in person with my friends rather than a text message. Why can’t you just be happy for me?”

“I never said I wasn’t happy for you.”

“Well gosh, if this is what happiness looks like, I’d hate to see you unhappy then.”

“I’ve already told you how I feel about this Fernando thing.”

“It’s not a thing, it’s a relationship,” Camilla snaps.


I turn to Bryn, hoping she’ll break the tension, as she almost always does with these two, but she’s focused on her phone and barely paying attention to the brewing chaos around her.

It’s up to me to cut the tension. “Um, did everyone have a good first day back?”

“It was great,” Camilla says, still staring at Katya. “Fernando is in two of my classes.”

“How great,” Katya cuts back.

So much for that diversion topic. Bryn is still in her phone, and I hope she’s okay. It’s not like her to avoid us.

“Well do you like anyone? Maybe if you did, you’d understand how I feel with Fernando!”

“You don’t need to take everything I say so personally. Do whatever you want, Camilla, just don’t expect me to jump up and down all the time for you.”

“Whatever,” Camilla parrots and then turns to me. “What about you? Please tell me I’m not going to be the only one with a boyfriend this year. I mean, I know Bryn has Jamie, but he’ll be at college, so it’ll be different this year.”

Bryn hears her name and looks up long enough to say, “Yeah,” before sinking back down to her phone.

I allow myself one brief moment to imagine Micah as my boyfriend and him coming to the coffee shop with us and him hanging out with all my friends, before I remember the sheer improbability of that idea given I can’t speak to him and the whole nod situation.

“I mean, no prospects on the horizon.” I tell her.

“Lame.” She sighs.

Katya rolls her eyes again, but Camilla doesn’t notice.

I wish I knew how to do all of this with Micah. How to turn him from someone I like, to someone who could be on the horizon. How to go from the nod to an actual conversation. How to keep myself from wanting to melt into the floor at the thought of having an actual conversation with him. How to break the news to my friends that I like him in the first place.

I really want this year to be different, I just don’t know how.

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1075 Reviews

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Reviews: 1075

Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:12 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...

Hey again Carlito!

Once again, I enjoyed reading this chapter. One comment that I will make is that the character dynamics seemed very middle school rather than high school, and I keep thinking that Summer is younger than she is. I feel like in middle school all of these feelings are still very new and overwhelming and no one really knows how to deal with them. In high school, especially by junior year, while kids are still pretty immature, I feel like there's a level awareness they have that I'm not seeing here. For Summer in particular, there's a certain lack of maturity that reads more like she's 12 or 13 rather than 16 or 17. I think a part of it is that her friend's so hung up on this guy she hasn't even kissed. High school's a really interesting time because some people are in serious relationships and others are too afraid to even talk to the person she's interested in. This could be intentional, but if so, I'd like to see more exploration of that.

Secondly, I wanted to echo hiraeth's comment that the chase is starting to get boring. If she really liked Micah, I think she'd be finding everything about him that she could, and I still feel like I don't really have much of a sense of him as a character. It could be an interesting dynamic if Summer feels like she knows him so well when they've never actually spoken. There's an episode of Catfish that's relevant to this in particular that I think you should watch. I'm going to try and find it and get back to you.

Great job! Now that I'm all caught up, please do tag me when you post future installments!

All the best,

Carlito says...

Thank you again for all of your notes!! <3

I'll definitely tag you in the next chapter :)

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69 Reviews

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Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:13 pm
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hiraeth wrote a review...

Hi Carlito! hiraeth here for a review :)

so i went back and read this from the beginning, and this is really, really good. I like how Summer's not perfect; i've read too many YA contemporaries where the main character's a beautiful, smart, and funny (not really), talented girl who has no idea how special she is. I like that Summer has at least a little confidence in her abilities as a drummer, and that she's not very self-depreciating (i seriously hate those types).

your characters have individual personalities, which is a writing trick that i always admire (and can never pull off). it's a mystery to me how writers manage to create so many characters of so many varying qualities, and never mixing up. my characters all tend be a slightly altered version of the same person :P

at the second part of the third chapter, however, this never ending chase gets a bit boring - Summer starts to look a bit too chicken, and readers will tend to lose their patience. Seriously, one teensy tiny communication would be good (not including that halfway communication that took place between her and micah where he just nodded). Also, i'd like to read a bit more on the 'having-no-hair' thing. it seems kind of strange that we get only two tine mentions of this when it's obviously a very big part of her life. like how some of the major decisions of her life has been made because of her wig- like if she went (or declined to go) to any pool parties, or how even rain might be something of a problem (i, and probably other readers don't know much about wigs so some clarification would be helpful?). I just find it how she's fretting so, so much more about the micah thing, but we don't get any real perspective on the hair thing. does she unconsciously touch her wig sometimes? does it itch? is she worried about the wig looking odd when she talks to people who don't know her secret? i'm just saying, if I were her, i would constantly worry about this.

i feel like the Katya-Camilla conversation in this chapter could've gone a bit more maturely and with more substance. one of them is a high school senor, right? it just seems kind of... mindless, you know? i mean, they've been friends for a while, and i'd think katya would've gotten used to it, and that maybe camilla would've figured out how it might make her friends a bit annoyed (and slightly jealous?).

i also find trust issues here. Summer's taken 'Trust No One' thing to a new level. I mean, come on! it's just a crush. just a guy! the feminist in me is kind of frowning at her right now. though maybe if i was in her shoes, i could relate.

anyway, i think i'll put a stop there. I'd love to get tagged on these, so feel free :)

Carlito says...

Thank you so much for your review!! <3
Excellent notes and excellent questions about wig logistics that I will definitely incorporate more!

You're now on my tag list! :)

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
— Alvin Toffler