Friday, November 14th, 2003 • No Comments
I really need to come up with new titles for my entries.
Chapter Seven is below. Chapter Eight will have to wait until I figure out what happened in my plotting. I’m writing somewhere in the last third to quarter of the book now, hoping to piece the scenes together that will get me back to where I left off. I don’t usually write this way, probably because I’ll take some time to figure out what happens next. In this case, I don’t have that luxury. So, I’m writing what I know now. Hopefully it’ll all come together in the end.
The phone rang as I was getting out of the shower.
“Julia, phone!” My grandmother yelled from downstairs.
The only upstairs phone was in my mom’s room, so I wrapped a towel around me and slung another over my shoulders to keep my hair from dripping and went into Mom’s room. She had gone to yet another job interview, leaving three or four suit-like outfits all over the bed. I picked up the extension and heard my grandmother hang up.
“Hi Julia, it’s Kaitlin.”
I hadn’t expected to hear from Kaitlin. Actually, I hadn’t expected to hear from anyone in Truhart. “Hey Kaitlin, what’s up?”
“Well, a bunch of us were going to the lake to go swimming and I thought you might want to come.”
“I didn’t even know there was a lake in Truhart,” I said, trying to wring some of the water out of my hair.
Kaitlin laughed. “Well, it’s not much of a lake, but it’s all we’ve got. So, want to come?”
I had never been swimming in a lake. I wondered if there were big fish or other yucky things to worry about. I couldn’t ask, though. I didn’t want Kaitlin to think I was afraid.
“Sure, but my Mom isn’t home so I don’t know when I’ll be able to get there.”
“Hold on a second.” I heard Kaitlin cover the mouthpiece and talk to someone. “Melanie can come get you.”
“Are you sure?” I said, thinking maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. “I know I’m not her favorite person.”
“It’ll be okay. We’ll be there in like an hour, all right?”
“Cool,” I said, though my mind was already racing about what I would wear and what Melanie might say. “See you.”
I didn’t have time to dry my hair and it was going to get wet anyway, so I put it in two braids and wrapped it with red and orange cord that matched my bikini. I wished I had all my clothes because I only had one bikini with me. If I went to the lake again soon, I’d be stuck wearing the same one. Oh well, it couldn’t be helped. Besides, I wasn’t sure I’d want to go again. Or if they’d invite me.
I threw on some shorts and a T-shirt and put on a touch of waterproof mascara and some lipgloss. I grabbed my beach bag and manatee beach towel and went downstairs.
“Do you know what time Mom will be home?” I asked Grandma, who was at the kitchen sink, epotting some crazy looking houseplant that had all these little extensions off it. “Kaitlin invited me to go swimming at the lake.”
“Do you know how to swim?”
“Duh. I’m from Florida, of course I know how to swim.” I rolled my eyes. “I also took two CPR classes at the Y and was a junior life guard at the community pool.”
Grandma nodded. “You wearing a bathing suit or are you going to skinny dip?”
“Grandma! Geez. Of course I’m wearing a swimsuit.” I pulled my T-shirt aside and showed her the strap of my bikini top. “See?”
“There’s probably not enough to that bathing suit to matter whether your naked or not,” she said.
I didn’t bother responding. “So, do you think it’ll be okay if I go? They’re going to pick me up in a ew minutes.”
“I suppose. Just be careful on the rocks. They’re slippery suckers,” Grandma said, wrestling the plant into a bigger pot on the counter. “And keep your bathing suit on. Fish like to nibble on sensitive bits.”
“You are so gross, Grandma.”
“I’m just speaking the truth.”
A horn honked outside. “Gotta go,” I said.
“I will,” I called. “Tell Mom I’ve got my cell phone.”
Melanie was looking annoyed when I got out to the driveway. “We don’t have all day,” she said as I got in the back seat of her red Honda.
Jenny sat in front next to her sister and Kaitlin and a girl I’d never seen before sat in the back.
“Sorry. My grandmother was nagging me.”
“This is Francie,” Kaitlin said, introducing the girl sitting on the other side of her. “She’s going to be in tenth grade, too.”
Francie looked like she was going to be a senior, at least. I’d never seen a girl who looked so mature, not even if Florida.
“Hey,” I said.
Francie barely glanced at me. “Hey.”
It didnt’ really matter that she wouldn’t talk to me because Melanie cranked up the radio as we tore out of the driveway and Good Charlotte started rattling my brain. I could only hope swimming in the lake wasn’t as dangerous as riding with Melanie.
We drove for about six Good Charlotte songs before turning off the main road onto a gravel road with a sign that said ‘Truhart Lake, .2 miles’ and following the bumpy, curvy road through the trees until we came to a dirt parking lot.
There were three other cars in the parking lot and when Melanie killed the radio, I could hear laughing and music. I couldn’t see the lake from here, but I figured it was just on the other side of the trees, judging by the noise.
We all piled out of the car and started walking.
“Wade and Darren are here,” Kaitlin said to me quietly. “And some of the other guys.”
I wasn’t sure if she was happy or warning me. I just kept walking. Once we got to the edge of the parking lot, we skirted past a bunch of scrubby little trees and I got to see the lake. It was definitely small, like Kaitlin had said. It was ringed with big rocks and didn’t look much bigger than the Olympic sized swimming pool at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale (?) where Jeanette and I used to go.
There were a bunch of people in the water, tossing around a ball. Most of them were guys, but there were two girls with them. I recognized Wade immediately. He was so cute, it was hard not to. I didn’t see Darren at first, but then I spotted him bouncing up out of the water like a dolphin. He was still wearing that stupid baseball cap.
“Hey Guys,” Melanie said, turning on the charm.
“About time you showed up,” Wade said, splashing water in her direction. She squealed and jumped back, even though the water wasn’t anywhere close to touching her. “We had to go get the new girl.” Like she didn’t know my name. I gave a little wave. “Hey.” Wade ignored me completely and kept splashing water at Melanie. Darren waved, his baseball cap shadowing his face so I couldn’t tell whether he was mocking me or genuinely being nice. “That’s Tyler,” Kaitlin said, pointing to the guy Francie was making eyes at. She waved to a boy who looked younger than the others and was sitting on the rocks. “That’s Denny. He’s Tyler’s brother.” Melanie and Francie were taking off their T-shirts and shorts, so I did the same. “Who’s the girl?” I asked Kaitlin, while the other two girls were busy giggling at the guys flailing in the water. “Monica. She’s Wade’s cousin from Baltimore.” Kaitlin leaned in close to me, as if she didn’t want the others to hear. “That’s how I got Melanie to bring you along. I told her it wouldn’t be fair to Monica to be the only one who was new.” Great. I got the pity invitation. “Thanks for thinking of me,” I said, but Kaitlin was too busy smiling at Denny to get the sarcasm. I realized I was the only one besides Francie wearing a bikini and I was very conscious of the fact that I didn’t fill mine out nearly as well as she did. Francie was checking me out and smirked, like she knew what I was thinking. “Cute bikini,” Melanie said, though her tone sounded anything but flattering. “Oh yeah,” Wade added, coming out of the water. “Real cute.” I thought he sounded sarcastic, but Melanie seemed to take it personally. She smacked him in the arm and he gave her a hug. I tried to ignore them when he started nibbling on her neck, but it was almost impossible not to watch. He whispered something in her ear and she looked at me and laughed. I was already wishing I’d stayed home and I hadn’t been there ten minutes. “C’mon,” Kaitlin said, tugging on one of my braids. “Let’s get in the water.” I followed her down the slippery rocks into the lake, hoping I didn’t fall and bust my butt in front of everyone. The rocks were covered in slimy stuff and I tried not to make a face. “What is that stuff?” “It’s just moss,” Kaitlin said, swimming out to where Darren was once she got into the water. I followed her, finally feeling in my element. If there was one place I was comfortable, it was in the water. Even if it was a small, still lake. I caught up to Kaitlin as she treaded water next to Darren. “Hey, Julia,” Darren said, making a face. “Don’t you love Truhart?” I laughed. “Almost as much as I love that baseball cap.” His face turned mock serious. “Don’t joke on the hat. Virginia Tech rules.” “Sorry, that would be Miami,” I said. Kaitlin shook her head. “Don’t get him started.” We talked college football for a few minutes while Kaitlin swam circles around us. Monica, who had gone up onto the shore to talk to Wade and Melanie, came back into the water and swam over to us. “Hi,” I said, feeling a little more confident now that I had Kaitlin and Darren to talk to. “How long are you in Truhart?” “Too long,” she said, with this eye-rolling heavy sigh. “I hate this place. I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to move here.” I was going to agree with her and then I realized she was talking about me. “I didn’t really choose it, my grandmother lives here.” “You poor thing. At least I get to go home in a week.” Kaitlin and Darren both swam away, leaving me alone with Monica. “Bunch of country hicks,” Monica said, loud enough for them to hear. “They think swimming in this pond is some kind of big deal. Give me a break.” It wasn’t that I disagreed with her, but I thought it was kind of rude to be talking about people who’d been nice and invited her along. “It’s not so bad. At least it’s not crowded with a million little kids and trash everywhere.” “I’ll take kids and trash over pickup trucks and no mall.” Francie and Tyler were sitting on the bumper of one of the cars, shoulder to shoulder with their heads close together. I hadn’t even noticed Tyler get out of the water. He was definitely a cutie, but he was also very definitely into Francie. I was happy to keep my distance from both of them. Wade and Melanie came back into the water, followed by Denny who hadn’t said a word since I got there. Wade splashed Monica with water and got me a little bit, too. I just wiped my face, but Monica started thrashing around. “Knock it off, Wade. I’m so sick of you!” Wade just laughed. “Baby. I can’t believe your parents sent you here.” I thought Monica was going to cry. “Believe me, I’d rather be in Baltimore. They had to go take a stupid cruise and send me to this nowhere town.” Wade swam close enough to ruffle her wet blond hair. “Aww, you know you love me.” Monica’s only response was to swim away. I saw her get out of the water and grab her towel. I guess she was done with us for the day. Wade tugged one of my braids. “Don’t you want to join her?” “Why?” I asked, swimming a little farther away from him. The last thing I needed was Melanie thinking I was trying to move in on her guy. “Because you hate it here as much as Monica does.” “No I don’t,” I said, but he was right. I did hate it. Or, more accurately, I hated not being in Miami. ” It’s okay.” Everyone except Denny laughed. “Please. We all know you hate it here. You can’t wait to go back to Miami,” Melanie said, using a horrible whiny voice when she said Miami. “I just miss it,” I said. “Truhart is okay.” “Don’t you mean Truhick?” Wade asked. Wade and Melanie were swimming around me, making me feel dizzy. “Leave her alone,” Kaitlin said. “I’d miss Truhart if I moved some place else.” “I’d die if I moved to Miami and had to watch Miami football,” Darren said.
Denny leaned back until he was floating in the water. “I’ve moved eight times, Truhart is okay. Not the best, not the worst.”
“Denny’s dad was in the Army,” Kaitlin explained.
“He’s retired now and he wanted to come back to his hometown.” Denny paddled his hands in the water until he spun around to face me, his head floating on the surface of the water. “He said your grandmother is nuts.”
“She’s not nuts,” I said. Denny didn’t sound like he was being mean, but she was still my grandmother. “She’s just a little weird.”
“That car of hers is weird,” Wade said. “She drives it like a tank.”
I hadn’t seen the car yet, but this had me worried. I was happy to get a chance to drive, but I wasn’t too wild about the idea of driving some land yacht around. I had enough problems without worrying about everyone making fun of my transportation.
“It’s an awesome car,” Darren said, which made me feel a little bit better. “It’s just how your grandmother drives it that’s the problem.”
“She’s psychic,” Kaitlin said. “My mother told me so.”
I couldn’t really deny that one. Grandma definitely seemed to have a knack for reading my mind.
Melanie shook her head. “I heard she was a witch.”
Melanie’s comment about my grandmother being a witch had made everyone laugh. Everyone but me.