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When I Was Anna - 9.1

by Carlito

Hello! If you're just tuning in, 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 in their last conversation Micah made it very clear that he thinks it's weird that they're talking and he doesn't know who she is.

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


Welcome to Chat With Me!

Thursday, 07:09PM - You’re chatting with: MICAH TURNER

Anna (07:09PM): Hey Micah, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said about wanting to meet and that it’s weird for us to keep talking without actually knowing one another. I totally get that, and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so nervous to meet up. I really like talking to you and I don’t want to stop talking to you. Maybe it’s weird of me to say, but it’s honestly easier to talk to you than it is just about anyone else in my life. I do want to meet you, but I want to be really honest and transparent with you.

Anna (07:15PM): This is something not many people know about me. Outside of my family, my doctors, and literally only one of my friends, you’re the only other person I’ve told this to, but I really want you to know. Basically, the reason why I switched schools is because I have alopecia universalis. It’s an autoimmune disorder that causes my immune system to attack my hair follicles causing total (and possibly permanent) hair loss. I was diagnosed when I was 13 and I wear a wig most of the time. I keep it really private because people have made fun of me for it or not wanted to hang out with me in stuff because they thought it was contagious (which it’s not). That’s actually what I want to study - alopecia. I want to work on finding more effective treatments.

Anna (07:19PM): Having alopecia has also made me really self-conscious. I always worry that people are going to find out and see me differently or that something is going to go wrong with my wig. I hate being the center of attention, and at my last school it was an absolute nightmare when everyone found out. I know it shouldn’t matter that I don’t have hair, but you never realize how much having hair impacts how you feel about yourself and your individuality until you don’t have it anymore. So I guess with you, talking to you the way we have, it’s been nice because I don’t have to think about those things. I don’t have to wonder if you’re looking at my hair and wondering if it looks realistic enough or if you notice that my eyebrows are fake or that I have no hair on my arms. In person conversations virtually always make me super nervous, so I guess it’s nice to be able to talk to you and get to know you without all of those added in insecurities.

Anna (07:21PM): I’m sorry for the novel of messages. I just wanted to try and explain a little better. I won’t be offended if you still think it’s weird or don’t want to talk to me anymore, I just wanted to be honest.

I set my phone on my desk, hands shaking. I can’t quite believe that I just did that. The only person that knows about my alopecia outside of my family and doctors is Bryn, and that’s only because I knew her when I was starting to lose my hair so I couldn’t exactly hide it from her. She and I have had the same private drum instructor since we were both in middle school.

I’m tempted to turn my phone off so I won’t see his response or if he even does respond. My heart is pounding against my rib cage, and I don’t know if I can stand the tension.

This would be a great time to turn to May for distraction, but I don’t want to interrupt her from her preparations for her audition tomorrow. I could talk to Bryn, but then I’d have to admit I’ve been talking to Micah and that’s a whole can of worms I don’t want to get into right now. But I can’t sit here and stare at my phone, wondering if it’s going to ding and wondering what kind of message will be on the other side of that ding.

I put my phone on silent, put it face down on my desk, and get out my PreCalc book, but halfway through the first problem set I have to stop because my phone is growing in size on the other side of my desk. What if he messaged me back and now he’s waiting for a response but since I’m too chicken to look at my phone he gives up?

Should I have even sent him all of that? Did he really need to know all about when I got diagnosed and what it all means? I mean, he could have looked it up online for himself if he wanted to if he didn’t already know what it was. And should I have really gone into everything I said about my last school? I really did transfer here when I was a freshman because of the bullying at my last school. But will he believe me? Do people care about people not having hair in high school the same way they did in middle school? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been brave enough to test it out.

I leave my phone on my desk and go downstairs to get a glass of water to clear my head. Danielle is watching music videos and dancing in the living room, not a care in the world. I consider joining on the couch and watching along with her, but I know that my mind will just be on my stupid phone and thinking about every possible thing that Micah could say.

After the longest drink of water in my life, I walk back upstairs to my phone, still resting face down on my desk.

Micah (07:56PM): Hey sorry for taking a minute to get back to you. I had my phone on silent while I was working on homework. I wasn’t expecting that, but I’m glad you said something.

Micah (07:57PM): For the record, like you said, I don’t think it should matter that you don’t have hair. Don’t let that stand in the way of us meeting at some point. I won’t look at you any differently. But I understand with the worrying stuff. I actually have Crohn’s disease, which not a lot of people know. I got diagnosed at the end of last year. I worry a lot about if and when I’ll get a flare up and what will happen if and when I get a flare up. Crohn’s obviously isn’t as visible as alopecia, but I still don’t want everyone to know when I’m stuck in the bathroom with a flare up, you know? :p

Anna (08:02PM): I’ve heard of Crohn’s! (Probably not surprising with how much I enjoy reading about autoimmune disorders :p) But that can be a tough one :(

Micah (08:04PM): Yeah it was really bad last year for a while because I was sick and in pain all the time and we couldn’t figure out why. When I finally got the diagnosis it was a relief in some ways to have a name for it, but also a real downer like shit this is my life now.

Anna (08:05PM): I felt the same when they figured out it was alopecia. I was losing all this hair and no one could figure out why and nothing was making it grow back. Once we finally figured out it was alopecia, it was just like you were saying, relief to finally know what it is but also panic like oh man this is a real thing and it might not ever get better. Have they found a good treatment option for you yet? I know it can be a process to find the right thing.

Micah (08:07PM): Yeah, I take medicine that works pretty well for right now and I try to watch what I eat which also helps. But I know there will come a time when we have to go back to drawing board, and there’s a chance I’ll have to have surgery someday which is fun.

Anna (08:07PM): Yikes :(

Micah (08:08PM): Are there any treatments that work for you so far?

Anna (08:09PM): Not really. Alopecia is weird because some treatments work for some people and their hair will grow back and sometimes people have their hair grow back on its own. I haven’t had any success yet, but maybe someday :)

Micah (08:11PM): I never imagined I would bond with someone over autoimmune diseases :p

Anna (08:11PM): Haha me either!

Micah (08:14PM): I think the idea of talking to you without actually knowing who you are doesn’t sit well with me because my last girlfriend cheated on me and since then it’s been harder for me to trust people. I want to trust you, it just gives me an uneasy feeling I guess.

Anna (08:16PM): That’s really horrible! I’m so sorry :( For what it’s worth, I think you’re cool and I hope you can trust me. I would like us to meet at some point because it would be cool to see if we can take this into the real world, but can I have a little time to wrap my mind around that? :)

Micah (08:17PM): Like before next term when I’ll meet you anyway because you’ll be in band?

Anna (08:18PM): I can probably make that work :)

Micah (08:18PM): Cool.

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412 Reviews

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Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:44 am
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Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey Carli! Tuck again with another review. Let's get right to it!

Micah (08:18PM): Cool.
A tiny nitpick here- this seems a little cold. I would add a smiley face or something to soften it up a little more so that it doesn't seem like Micah's annoyed with her, unless that's the vibe you're trying to convey.

Anyway, moving on to the juicy stuff, I really like how Anna opened up. The way that she kind of rambled on made it seem more realistic, and I was able to draw from experiences where I opened up to people and handled it in much the same way, so that was really well done. I could feel the rawness and emotion from her, and she seemed appropriately nervous about how he would respond.

Otherwise, I liked how she showed an appropriate level of anxiety. She overthought it a little—but who wouldn't? She just opened up to someone whose opinion matters a lot to her. It seemed very fitting, and I liked the way that they continued to react. It was a very human connection, and nothing felt rushed or anything. Micah's Chron's disease makes him even more human, and it's really neat that they're able to connect over autoimmune diseases, something that's incredibly personal and important to each of them.

My one critique would be to include some sort of visible form of relief from Summer when Micah responds positively. It would really drive home how anxious and stressed she was about that, show how much she cares about his opinion of her, and show a positive response to how he handled the situation. It'd be a super minor detail to slip in but I think it'd go a long way in giving that scene some finality and wrapping up all the emotions.

So overall, an incredibly strong chapter! It took quite a bit of effort to find something to critique about it, but I hope I've given you some things to think about and some valuable advice, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me. Can't wait to read more!


Carlito says...

Thank you again so much!!

All of your thoughts are so helpful and I really appreciate you taking the time to read and give detailed feedback <3

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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:55 am
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Liberty says...

So this chapter was quite interesting. We figure out that both Micah and Summer have a sickness.

*strokes invisible beard* Hmm...

I'll be on the next chapter now. But, just so you know, I saw a couple of places where two separate words were put together as one. Just like one two. And then there were some places were you needed commas and some places were you didn't need them. ^^

Carlito says...

Thanks again Liberty!! I'm not always the best proof-reader :)

Liberty says...

Not a problem! :^)

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Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:25 am
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EternalRain wrote a review...

Hi Carlito! I'm here for a short little review!

Ahhh I really enjoyed this first part of the chapter. I'm glad we finally get to know about Summer's wig - I've been really curious! That was a good response on Summer's part - I wouldn't have known what to say lol. She's really getting vulnerable with him and it seems like she's not even considering actually meeting up with Micah a reality. Her judgement is a bit clouded :p

My only thought is I'm not sure what Micah's feeling? Obviously we're not supposed to but really what I mean is I'm not sure if he's... like... interested in her romantically? He mentioned the girlfriend thing but otherwise it seems like they've just been friends. This chapter made me feel a little differently and a bit confused about that. But yeah, Micah's whole "my last girlfriend" thing was like whaaaaa---. Maybe I'm just not catching onto subtle flirting hints. And the girlfriend thing could have just been about trust, but it was still bringing up relationship stuff, so.

Anyway, I liked how we got to know a bit more about Micah, too, with his Crohn's disease - he's being vulnerable too! I feel like we don't get much of Micah's personality because most of his "screen time" is texting, so I'm hoping we get more of him down the road (which I'm sure we will haha).

Summer's smiley faces make me so happy. :)

~ EternalRain

Carlito says...

Sorry for the late response!! Thank you so much for all of your notes <3

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Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:23 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...


I really liked that this chapter was mostly the conversation between Micah and Summer (I almost called her Anna, lol) as that's where this story hits its stride. I really liked the few paragraphs of her narration in overanalyzing whether or not telling him all of that was a good idea. I definitely relate to that feeling whenever I've had to send serious messages I've gone back and forth about to people.

I also am really growing to like Summer as a character. She's flawed, but she feels like a real person. Everything she said about feeling self conscious about her lack of hair and not realizing how much a part of you it is is something I very much relate to, having gone through it myself. In my case, knowing that it was temporary was one of the things that kept me going, and I can't imagine what it must be like to know something like that is likely permanent. But I thought you did a very good job of bringing us into her thoughts.

However, at the same time, she's using this to manipulate Micah. She doesn't see it as manipulation, of course, but that's part of what makes her a great character. She feels like a real person, and I'm dying to know what's going to happen by the end.

As far as Micah's Crohn's Disease- I was a costume designer on this film and one of the actors, who was this very nice and sweet guy and got along well with everyone, had just been diagnosed with Crohn's disease. He hid it from all of us throughout the entire production because he didn't want to be treated differently, so that element of Micah's backstory rang very true for me.

Onto the next!

Carlito says...

Sorry for the late response!! Thank you so much for your review and notes <3

(sometimes when I'm typing their online conversations I accidentally write summer instead of anna :p)

I'm glad she's feeling relatable and flawed and still likeable :)

The very worst use of time is to do very well what need not be done at all.
— Benjamin Tregoe