Chapter 8-Scars

Chapter 8



I headed towards our table in the Cafeteria. My plate was overflowing with carrots and a jar of hummus on the side. A couple of carrots rolled off and plopped on the floor. It was one of those days where everything kept falling. I spilled my coffee on my jeans, I tripped walking into Intro to Psychology, and I was asked to cry in Theatre class. I wanted to go to bed and wake up and just try again.

I sat down and was the first one there. I stroked my hip. It still hurt from earlier that day. It had been a few years since the last time. I didn’t remember if I took my pills or not. Damn. Darkness was rolling in like a black fog and wrapping around my mind. I drowning and I needed a lifeboat. I picked up my phone and typed Therapist into Google with my long winding list of mental health issues. Maybe there would be a specialist. I crossed my fingers. I was a special kind of fucked up.

I looked at the time. It was almost 6pm and I was still alone. I shook my head. Over the last few weeks, all of the sororities reached out in their own unique invitations to their pledges. Valentine Hall Floor Three wasn’t the same ever since. Our family style dinner was shortened, awkward, or sometimes skipped. Even though I thought I didn’t enjoy our floor’s daily tradition, I missed it when it was gone. That’s a theme in my life.

My phone buzzed. I swirled my carrot around in the hummus and took a crunch. With my other hand, I slid the green phone symbol over.

Trina: Guess who I saw at the bar with this new hoe?

Me: I have no idea. There is a new girl?

Trina: Ya, Jessica Fabian. She’s a senior. We have Health and Safety together.  Gag me.

Me: You don’t like her?

Trina: I haven’t talked to her.

Me: Then why is she a hoe? lol

Trina: I get a bad vibe, I don’t know. Lmao.

Me: Why?

Trina: Not sure. So, according to the whispers in the hallways, she’s originally from the UK. She’s a fucking model. Literally a model. Her family bought the Carson’s farm so she’s lives pretty close to your house.

Me: Why do I care? Rivertown is a hopeless dump; it needed a new Tabitha.

Trina: Are you psychic? That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Nash was with her at the bar, with his arm dangling over her shoulder.

I felt as if Trina just hit me in the chest with a baseball bat. After a few seconds I wondered where that feeling was from. Was the truth wiggling free from the locked cage in the back of my subconscious? My heart fluttered when I thought about him. I sighed. I would need to move that finding a local therapist thing up on my priority list.

Me: Good for him. Nice to see that he’s moved on.

Trina: If you say so. Have you talked to her?

Me: No. I texted her a few times but she keeps blowing me off. She canceled Facebook and Twitter.

Trina: That bitch.

Me: Ya. I’m a little hurt. I don’t like feeling abandoned.

Trina: Oh no. Do you want me to fly out there and stay with you for awhile, Brie-Boo? I can, you know. Fuck school.

Me: No I’m fine. Thanks, though. You stay home and enjoy senior year. I miss being in plays. I’m only in one acting classes, the rest are boring requirements. Enjoy it while you still can.”

Trina: I’m worried about you. Does anyone there know how to spot if you need help? How did I ever let you move so far away…

I couldn’t bring myself to respond. As much as Tabitha blowing me off hurt, I understood what she was doing. I almost wished that I had the guts to do the same thing. I wanted to start over and wipe my past away like it never happened. But I loved Trina. And I was addicted to Nash. I couldn’t cut the cord like Tabitha did. Not all at once, anyway. Suddenly, my carrots looked like they had maggots slithering around on them. I pushed away my plate and buried my head in my arms. I didn’t care if I looked like a mess to the other students. I was.

“Staying up late with your future sisters?” Krissy asked. I heard her plop her plate down on the table. It vibrated on my cheek.

I lifted up my head. I didn’t know how could stomach Krissy at the moment. I decided I couldn’t. “Yep. I think I’m going to get going and take a nap.” I arose from my chair.

“Sit! Sit!” Krissy grabbed my wrist.

Get your nasty paws off me, you fake bitch. I yelled in my mind.  I snatched my wrist back and hugged it to my chest. She was only an inch away from that raised silver line. Close call.

“Did you hear?” Krissy whispered. Her eyes darted around. “Charlene didn’t get into a sorority.”

I sat back down. I felt a swirl of pity and smugness in my stomach.

“What happened?”

“Okay, like, she did a ‘suicide’ with her list.”

“What the hell is that?” I scrunched my face. My heart picked up speed at the sound of the word.

“A suicide? You just pick one sorority. The sorority you pick knows what you’ve done a suicide and takes a long hard look at you. The bad thing is that if they still don’t like you, you aren’t in a sorority at all.”

“That’s an incredibly offensive rush term. They need to change that.”

Krissy shrugged. “It doesn’t offend me. You know, this freaky boy from my high school did it. Suicide. He hung himself off a bridge and his sister found him. How selfish can a person be to do that? So selfish.”

I felt my throat tighten. I visualized clocking Krissy right in the orange, fake tanned face. But I wouldn’t go there. I just needed to get the hell out.

I sprang from my seat, grabbed my purse, and scurried to the door. I heard Krissy calling back for me, asking what was wrong.

If she couldn’t figure that out, then she was a whole other level of stupid.

On my way back to the dorm Trina called me. I let it ring. I knew I should at least reassure her that I was fine. It just was an awful day. I just didn’t want to talk to her. When I trotted up old-school stairs of Valentine hall, I wished to myself Leah wasn’t in our room. Solitude sounded like pure bliss. I turned off my cell phone ringer.

I creaked open the door and heard sobbing. Leah was sitting on her bed next to a pile of balled up tissues.  In the door frame, I froze. I wasn’t sure if I should leave and give her space or sit next to her and ask her what’s wrong. What would Leah want?

“Girl, I’m sorry,” Leah said with a shaking voice. Lines of black mascara tears streamed from her chestnut brown eyes. I felt like I should sit down, so I did. I would need to activate my acting skills; I was never the warm and fuzzy type.

I put my hand on Leah’s upper back. “What’s wrong, Leah?” I stroked her spine.

“This is embarrassing,” Leah said blowing her nose. It sounded look a car honking.

“No, it’s okay. If you don’t want to tell me, I can just—“

“I haven’t lost weight in three weeks and I’ve been doing so well! It’s just not fair. My body hates me. I’ve been working out and doing my points!”

“Oh gosh, that sounds so frustrating, hun.” Was that okay?

“I wasn’t always fat, ya know? I was thin most of my life. That makes it worse, somehow. I’m not supposed to be that fat friend. I’m not!”

“Don’t listen to the number, I can tell you’ve lost weight. You are probably just gaining muscle.”

“Can I tell you something?”

“Sure, of course.” I tucked a piece of hair behind my ear.

“Don’t tell. Pinky swear?”

“Pinky swear.”

“My dad cheated on my mom when I was sixteen with one of our maids. I don’t know why he did that, I hated him for it. She was so ugly. My mom wouldn’t have known, probably, but he got that home-wrecker old maid pregnant.”

“I can’t imagine. I’m so sorry.” I gazed into Leah’s eyes. It was like a wave of her pain escaped them and crashed onto me. Such sad, pretty, eyes.  Poor Leah. I thought.

Leah blotted her eyes with another tissue. The black lines stained her rounded cheeks. “They were going to get a divorce and that’s when the depression set in. I was kicked off my soccer team because of my bad grades which was just a a manifestation of my depression. I locked myself in my room after school every day, with a ton of junk food and MTV.”

“I don’t blame you. You had every reason to be depressed.”

“Yeah, that’s what it was. Untreated depression. The weight just flew on my bones from sixteen to nineteen. My parents never ended up getting divorced. I was so happy. For a week. They should have gotten a divorce.”

“Oh God…”

“On the outside, we look like a picture perfect family. Wealthy country club philanthropists with a college bound daughter. When the doors were closed, it was an an absolute nightmare. I gained over a hundred pounds.”

“Wow,” I said fumbling for a way to respond. “I had no idea.”

“I’ve been on every diet, Brie. I learned how to do makeup so that at least my face would look pretty. But, it doesn’t matter. Guys don’t look at me. Susan B. Anthony is rustling around in her grave, after that one. I’m sorry. It shouldn’t be important but as a college freshman. It is.”

“Of course!”

There was an awkward break filled with sniffling.

I rubbed the back of my neck. “I can relate.”

Leah tilted her head. “In what way?”

“I have issues with food, too.”

Leah nodded. “Anorexia?”

“Not exactly,” I hesitated and then cringed as the words spilled from my lips. “Leah, if you tell anyone this, I will freaking kill you.”

“You have my permission to murder me if I tell.”

“ I have something called EDNOS. Eating disorder not otherwise specified. I’m on the anorexia side of things, but I am a healthy weight, so I’m not considered anorexic. I count calories and do weird things with food. I have my own list of rules. This is so fucking embarrassing right now. But you told me about your eating disorder, I just had to tell you. I’ve never known anyone with one. That has always been lonely.”

Dread swept over my body. Why did I just tell her that? I scolded myself. I had never told anyone that. Not ever. My father relayed the information to Trina when she was Thomas and Nash when he was Jimmy from next door, because he wanted them to make sure I was eating. Now I told another person. I felt naked. Yet, I felt a connection with Leah. Old war buddies, or something like that.

Leah let out a small chuckle. “Brie, I won’t tell a soul. If I do, you can tell all of Baylor U about my dad’s bastard and fugly mistress. And you spread a flyer, warning students not to be too sugary sweet to me. There is a chance that I might eat them.”

I giggled and Leah gave me a bear hug. Leah was such a hugger. It was almost my new norm to allow hugs. In the past,  I never liked touch because, according to Dr. Jones, it reminded me that I was “there”. And what my brain really wanted me to be invisible.

“So,” Leah said sitting back. “Do you mind if I ask you about it?


“Do you see yourself as fat even though you are not?”

“That’s part of it,” I said nodding, “but, honestly, the biggest reason I do it is for control. It’s like, if I control the way I eat and how much, my life is my own. It started as another symptom of PTSD.”

“Oh my God, what happened?” Leah asked, grabbing her pillow and hugging it to her chest.

I shook my head. “I can’t.”

“I understand.”

“So,” I said, eager to change the subject after brushing the surface of that memory. She would never get that story from me. “I never asked you what you think about house Theta.”

“Girlfriend, honestly? At first, I was a little disappointed, but I wanted to keep an open mind. Because, like, they chose me, you know? I didn’t feel a connection there and I actually put them as number 19. But of course, they don’t know that. Don’t tell anyone, okay?”

“I would never.”

Later that evening, Leah and I decided to drink some sour apple vodka with sprite and watch America’s Next Top Model. I felt a warm buzz in my chest after one cocktail. When I heard the soft grumbling sound of Leah snoring, I climbed up to my top bunk and laid my head on my pillow. I grabbed my phone.

Me: So. Who’s this new girl? 😉

Nash: Why haven’t you been answer me, you asshole? I’ve sent you a million texts. Called you, no answer. L

Me: I have this itty bitty commitment called College and this little activity called going Greek. Douche bag. I’m busy.

Nash: Mrs. Fancy Pants.

Me: Tell me about your new beau.

Nash: Please just text Trina. She went to the shop today to find me. She said she texted you and you said that you were upset about Tabitha ghosting you. Then she asked you if anyone knows about your issues at Baylor and then you never replied.

Me: Omg, she came to your work?!?!

Nash: Yes, it’s OK. I’m glad she did.

Me: I don’t like it….

My fingers were typing at a crazy pace and I felt the alcohol fire me up. I couldn’t believe that they were still trying to manage my life. I felt like I didn’t give Trina enough reason to freak. She was trying to manipulate me through Nash.

Nash: Okay. It’s 1 in the morning here, so I’m going to go to bed. I have to work tomorrow. Some advice… if you don’t like how Tabitha cut you off, don’t do it to Trina. She was really upset earlier.

Me: Omg, I didn’t talk to her for an evening. I’m such a bitch!

Nash: Whatever, Brie. Good night.

I sat up in bed. Nash never called me Brie. I was always Merritt. And I liked that. There were only two faces of Nash.  Sweet and goofball. This was a new face. Was he giving up on me? Maybe it was because I was far away and there was a new queen of Rivertown. He never answered my question about the girl.  I didn’t know Jessica, but I hated her. I fucking hated her.

I felt like a volcano bursting with magma. My face was burning and my heart was thudding against my rib cage. A little voice inside my head told me to control myself. I wasn’t far gone, it was only one cocktail. Then I remembered I didn’t eat dinner. My brain instructed myself to climb down the stairs, wake up Leah, and ask her to take my phone until tomorrow.

                My fingers typed so fast. I had to make Nash worried so that he would still take care of me. Maybe he would lose focus on the Jessica hoe and keep his thoughts where they belonged. With me. I knew it was sick. It was a twisted little game. At the moment, I didn’t care.

Me: Truth? I had a bad day. So I took my trusty old eyebrow shaping razor and carved a little slash on my hip. The shape of a heart, just like my necklace. I feel bad about it. Okay? I threw the razor in the trash. It’s been years since I sunk down to that level. I found the number to a therapist and I’m going to call tomorrow. My dad has been asking me daily to do it, but I have been so busy. I need to put my health first.


Nash: Good. You need one.

Me: That’s all?

Nash: What else do you want? You sound like you have it all figured out.

Me: I don’t have it all figured out.

Nash: Nobody does. I have to sleep…

Me: You have it all together, Nash! You have are in trade school, you work at your uncle’s garage,  you have money, you aren’t fucking crazy, and sounds like you have a new piece of ass. So there you go. You are perfect.

Stop. Control yourself!

Nash: What a bunch of bullshit. I am not perfect. I’m too stupid to go to college for dentistry like my brother. Do you know what that is like? No. You don’t see past yourself.

What have I done! Fix this.

Me:…you are not stupid…

Nash: You are acting jealous. I am allowed to date. I’ve moved on. I know that it was always you, me, and Tabitha, since 8th grade. But we aren’t kids anymore. You are going to have to deal with it, just like I’ve had to deal with it. That’s life.

I had to read his words a few times. I couldn’t believe it. Tabitha and I had fought. Billy and I fought. I fought with Trina at least once a month. Nash? Never.

Me: I’m scared.

Nash: I’m not with Jessica officially. I’m not ready. Happy?

Me: No. I’m not happy.

Nash: And what’s new about that?

I could no longer handle that conversation. Letting a frustrated growl escape my lips, I hopped off of my bed.  I rummaged through my waste paper basket and retrieved my pink plastic razor. I never felt so ugly. Like I had spiders crawling all over my skin.

I snuck out of our room and headed for the bathroom with the razor tucked under my shirt. My mind swam. Did I just really get in a fight with Nash? My brain screamed.

Startled, I jumped when I heard a door open.

Char scowled when she saw me. She was wearing a light blue, men’s button up shirt and white boyshorts underwear. Her shirt was buttoned crooked and her short brown hair was a greasy mop on top of her head. She pointed at me.

“How’s the loser sorority?” She cackled. It was clear that she was either drunk or took a handful of pills. Maybe both.

“Fine. How’s your sorority?” I pretended to be surprised. “Whoops! I forgot.”

“Bitch, I don’t give too shits.” Char puffed out her chest. She was usually a jerk, but she was extra feisty that night.

“Ya, ya. Stop making fun of my house and I’ll lay off. Fair?”

“What’s under your shirt, Kansas? Looks like the outline of a needle. Doing a late night pokey-poke in the bathroom? I knew you were a fucking drug addict. You are so skinny.”

What was next happened like a blur. Char lunged at me and I held out one of my arms to stop her and kneed her in the abdomen. She let out an “oof” as the air left her lungs. She grabbed my hand that concealed the razor, tucked under my shirt.

“Let me see it!” Char demanding, sending drops of spit splattering on my cheeks.

“No! Get off!”

Char slammed me against the wall. She tried to rip it out of my hand, but I held on to the plastic part. Char recoiled.  I gasped and allowed the razor to fall from my hand. It clinked when it hit the tile.

A bright red line was slashed across Char’s palm and crimson droplets pitter-pattered on the white tile beneath our feet.

“Are you okay?” I grabbed Char’s hand and held it so I could see. It didn’t need stitches. And I knew a thing or two about cuts. “Listen, it’s going to be okay. I don’t want you to get in trouble for having a guy in your dorm and for…whatever narcotics you are on…so just go back to your room. I’ll be back with gauze–”

“A concealed weapon? Why, Kansas?”

“It’s not. It’s an eyebrow shaper, Char. I was going to the bathroom to do my brows.”

“I should call the police.”

“Go and call then, I don’t care! If they have video footage they will see you lunging at me. If they don’t, it’s hearsay.”

Char clutched her hand to her chest and bit her lip.

“I’m sorry. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“That’s what they all say.” Char’s eyes instantly welded with tears. “You’re all fucking liars! All of you!”

What is she talking about? I wondered.

Char dashed back to her room and I retreated to mine. Without thinking, I went to the window and tossed the razor out. There was no way I would find it now.

I gathered my hair up into a ponytail and twisted it into a bun. In the orange glow of street laps pouring through our dorm window, I could see my reflection in my full length mirror. I scowled at myself. I was losing weight I didn’t need to lose and gave myself a new scar. I told someone a secret that I wanted to hide, I pissed off Nash, and I hurt Charlene.

I wondered how many steps it was to the top of Valentine hall. It was 12 stories. That is tall. I pondered if the janitor locked the top door to the roof or not. Dangerous thoughts.

Brianne, shut up, you dumbass! I yelled at myself. My reflection rolled her eyes and shook her head. I knew that I would never find out how many steps it was or if the door was locked. I couldn’t make my final exit. Not now. Even if Trina and Nash were annoying.

I would never die while Nash was alive. My ghost would be restless. I would spend eternity trying to find him in the darkness of hell, knowing that he was destined for light. He was an angel.

I stared into my reflection’s eyes. The truth was bubbling up again. Maybe I would allow it to be acknowledged for a little while. It would be okay. I was in California. He isn’t around. He’ll never know.

“I’m in love with James Nash,” I whispered to my mirror. My reflection nodded slightly.

I usually act in front of my mirror to critique my facial expressions. I would have to remember my appearance for a love stricken character, if I ever get cast again.

Relaxed jaw. Soft brows. Pale cheeks. Miserable eyes.

“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night; Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night…”

Leah stirred and I scrambled back up to my bed. I felt my temples throb as I thought about the damage control I would need to do the next day.

Will I ever learn? Alcohol and insanity just don’t mix.




Chapter 7-Coffee with Lauren


Chapter 6

Coffee with Lauren

I sat up and cracked my neck. Floors are meant for walking, not sleeping. But that’s where we all crashed after the welcome pajama party. Leah was next to me and like everyone else, her eyes were still shut. I stretched my arms over my head and yawned. My arms crashed back down on my favorite oversized, gray sweatpants.

Just then, a memory tip-toed across my mind. It was hazy, like trying to see through morning fog. I ran my fingers over my sweats and felt my cheeks lose their color.

I remembered Nash bringing me up to my room that night. He laid me down in bed, like I was made of china. Then, he took off my shoes and jacket. He tucked my legs under my old worn and torn comforter. The same blanket I’ve had since I was a little girl. .

“Waiiittt!” I tore off the blankets and unbuttoned my pants. I grunted while I shimmied them off. It was quite a task, while wasted. I rolled them up in a ball and threw them across the room. Nash was a statue; his face the color of a tomato.

“I need my sweatpants.”

“Oh,” Nash let out a breath, “Where are they?”

I pointed to my dresser. Nash opened and closed every drawer before he found them. He turned around.

My memory went blank. What the hell did I do next? I wondered.  I laid back down on the floor and pulled my blanket over my head. Maybe I would just stay under there for the rest of my life. I felt my face burn as I replayed striping my pants off in front of Nash. I didn’t remember what kind of underwear I had on that day, but I prayed that they weren’t too ratty.

I heard footsteps passing through the hallway and I peeked out. It was Lauren. I threw off my covers and climbed to my feet. Last night, I didn’t have the chance to ask Lauren about the term Mascot Girl. She was speaking with other pledges and I found myself more bashful than usual.

“Lauren, wait up,” I said in a screaming sort of whisper. I tiptoed around slumbering bodies and then scurried to the hall. “Lauren!”

She turned around. When she spotted me, the edges of her lips curved. The moring sun that seeped through the massive windows in the foyer gave Lauren a glowing halo. She wore a white knee length cotton dress with a sunny yellow paisley pattern, and a buttercup button up sweater. Her hair was down and straight, and she put a small, messy, French braid across the crown of her head. She had blackish roots showing. It was strange how she could pull off roots so that I wanted roots of my own.

“Good morning, Brie.” She looked like she wasn’t wearing makeup. She didn’t need makeup.

“Hi,” I said, feeling that sheepishness from the previous night return.

“Hungry? I can show you to the kitchen. I was just headed that way.”

“Um, ya,” I said.

I followed her to the kitchen. We were greeted by the gurgling of brewing coffee and a hazelnut mocha aroma.  I scanned the kitchen in awe. There dozens and dozens of white cabinets which hung over a glass mosaic backsplash and gray granite countertops. The room was so clean that it sparkled. There was two of everything. Two stainless steel refrigerators, two stoves, two sinks. I couldn’t remember the last time that my stove at home worked. I forgot what I wanted to ask Lauren.

Lauren poured two cups of coffee and asked how I liked mine. She was surprised that I took it the same way as her: cream only. She went to the refrigerator and retrieved a small, white glass jug of cream. I wouldn’t dare tell her that I usually used powder, and only had the luxury of real cream a handful of times.

“Do you want something to eat?” She asked.

“Um,” I fumbled. I typically never wasted calories on breakfast. “Do you have fruit?”

“Oh ya,” Lauren waved at me to follow her. “We have a lot. Unfortunately, we end up throwing a lot of it away.”

“You won’t if I live here,” I said. She lead me into their formal dining room. There was a lengthy, dark wood, table on top of an oriental rug. I couldn’t believe the size of it.

“Wow. Does everyone fit here?”


I grabbed an apple from the wicker basket in the center of the table and took a seat across from Lauren. I sipped the warm, rich, coffee and couldn’t help but release an mmmm.

“Glad you like it.” Lauren smiled. Her teeth reminded me of Nash’s.

I took a deep breath and released my lungs slow. “Can I ask you something?”

“That’s what I’m here for.”

“I heard a few sisters last night muttering about some Mascot Girl, or something. They were acting kind of weird around me whenever the term was brought up.”

“Oh Lord,” Lauren said taking a slurp from her mug. “I guess we should have clarified to keep some things quiet during the first sleep over. That is an oversight on my part. Sorry, Brie.”

“No-no,” I said holding up my palms. “I didn’t feel like, weird, or anything. I was just really curious.”

“Good,” Lauren nodded.

We sat for a few moments in silence before I realized that she wasn’t going to explain anything to me.

I crunched into my red apple. My fingers tingled. 90 for the coffee, 70 for the apple. That was a lot to begin a day with.

“Did you have any other questions for me?” Lauren asked. “I was going to get some yogurt and go back up to my office. I have some planning to do for our family night event.”

I fiddled with my wrist and felt the outline of my old scar. I wanted to ask her why she was so nice. Popular girls aren’t supposed to be that way, and it was clear that Lauren is queen of Theta Gamma Nu. I wondered if I should feel suspicious.

“Okay, Brie,” Lauren said getting up. “Nice to have some coffee with you. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

“Lauren, I just really want to know.” I said, squaring my shoulders. “If it were just a term, that’s one thing. But I kept hearing it over and over last night in whispers behind my back. One sister said that you were the mascot girl.”

“Which one?” Lauren asked. She looked calm enough, but I saw her ears turning crimson.

“Oh, I’m not sure of her name. She had on daisy duke sleep shorts and these big slippers.”

“I’m sorry, Brie. I shouldn’t have put you in that position to ask you her name.”

“Oh no,” I said raising my brows, “I have no problem pointing out who she is, it’s just I really don’t know her name. They didn’t have name tags on.”

Lauren twirled a strand of her hair. “I’ll have to remind them to wear them. How quickly they forget what it was like to be brand new.”

“It’s fine.”

“To be candid, we all assume that each you will become a sister. We really do. But we don’t just rattle off house secrets at the beginning of the pledge year.”

“I completely understand.”

“I will tell you everything you need to know about Mascot Girl. Trust me.”

“I do trust you,” I said, feeling sucked into Lauren’s charm.

Lauren stared at me for a moment and sighed. “I trust you, too, Brie. Look, you can’t tell what I’m about to say to any of the pledges or anyone. Even boyfriends.”

“I won’t, I swear,” I said leaning in.

“We have a huge ceremony where you swear to keep our chapter secrets. We even ask that you sign a contract. It’s both spiritual and legal commitment, of sorts.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling my shoulders sag. Maybe she wasn’t going to tell me until then.

“Yes, I am the Mascot Girl.”

I stared at her blankly, with my lips stapled shut.

“And you’re next.”

Chapter 6-We are Theta Gamma Nu






mascot girl


Chapter 6

We Are Theta Gamma Nu

Fall break was a blur of Trina, Nash, and the crew at Billy’s and when it was time for my flight back to school, I could hardly believe it. Everyone looked so sad I was leaving and I pretended to be sad with them. But I wasn’t.

As much as I loved my dad and friends, it was like pain actually lived in the air there. I could barley breathe. I guess I hadn’t realized how free moving to California made me feel until I went back home.

I actually hugged Leah when I saw her. We were both surprised that I did that. We sat in the middle of our dorm, crossed legged and swapped stories about our breaks.

“Show me a picture of him already!”

My jaw clenched. I was at B.U. to reinvent myself and leave Kansas in Kansas. I unlocked my phone and pulled up a picture of him on Facebook. I braced myself for the reaction.

Leah gawked at the picture and then met my eyes. “You have got to be fuckin’ kidding me, Brie. Are you sure that’s your friend, and not Channing Tatum?”

I pressed my lips into a hard line and shoved my phone in my back pocket.

“I’m so used to him, I forget that he is, kind of, ya.”

 “Girl, I can’t believe it.” Leah said shoving a shelled peanut in her mouth.

“And I still can’t believe that you eat the peanut and the shell. Who eats the shell?”

“Shells don’t have any points, duh. Stop circling this around to me. Mr. Tatum likes you. He bought you shoes! And if he fits, you better wear him.”

“Nah. He’s always bought me stuff, even when we were little. At first, I refused his gifts, so he would just leave them in my house. It was funny because neither of us would mention it. Things like school supplies, snacks, and candy.”

“So he’s taken, huh?”

“No. Single. He was dating this girl, from, like, sixth grade until the summer after senior year.”

“So now he’s up for grabs!” Leah grabbed my arm.

“No way,” I scrunched my face,” it’s not like that.

Leah raised her eyebrow. “He took care of you and bought you shoes. Open up those blue peepers, girlfriend.”

“Okay, I’ll admit it, it does sound that intimate. Honestly, it did feel different now that things have changed.”

“What do you mean?” Leah tilted her head.

“ Damn, Leah, this is hard to explain. Tabitha was a safety barrier between us. It was always, like, not even weird Nash and I were insanely close because we all trusted each other that much. Now that she’s not even in the picture…I think both of us are trying to feel out the edges of our boundaries.”

“Shoot, girl that is complicated as hell!”

I shook my head. “I don’t want it to be complicated. I just want him to be my friend.”

“Now you can let rush distract you.”

“Yes, rush. Can we please go back to you, now? I really don’t like talking about myself.”

“Ya, I’ve noticed.” Leah toyed with a lock of her hair. “But I like to hear about you.”

The corners of my lips curved into a smile.

It was close to midnight and I was in my top bunk in the empty space between dreaming and wakefulness when a commotion in the hallway shocked me awake. Fucking drunks! On a Monday? I thought. I put my pillow over my head and caught a glimpse of my phone. A text from Nash.

Nash: Hey loser. I’m a little worried. You suck for moving to California. You wouldn’t tell me if you were not eating enough or if there was some douche giving you a hard time.

He had a point. I was in the middle of wondering how to respond, when I saw Leah rise from her bed and open the door.

My heart leapt in my throat when I saw them.  The singing was for me.

I spotted Caroline in the cluster of girls and she gave me a thumbs up.


In your happiness we will cheer

In sadness we will share your tears

From now until forever

Our hearts will beat together

Friendship, love, and sisterhood

To our house we will be true

We are fair, honest, and wholly good

We are Theta Gamma Nu


I climbed down from my bed and slid into my slippers. I beamed at the Thetas when they stopped singing. The sisters wore light teal robes with heels in were in full hair and makeup. They were holding flickering candles. A few of them had tears glimmering in their eyes.

The girl in the center was one that I had yet to meet. I certainly would have remembered her.

“Brianne Rosalee Merritt,” the girl with golden tan skin and long, dark blond hair said. “Do you accept this candle, as a symbol of your commitment to Theta Gamma Nu’s pledging process?”

I nodded as I reached out and accepted the candle. I was speechless. The girl tilted hers and touched her flame against the wick. With a quiet sizzle, my candle was lit. I admired the Greek letters, ΘΓΝ, that were on the side of the candle in vivid teal.

My chest felt warm. The whole unannounced ceremony was simple, yet I had never felt so accepted. So liked. My cheeks ached from smiling.

“Leah Marie McCloud,” the Theta sister said.

I gasped.

Leah stood straight up and her eyes bulged.

“Do you accept this candle, as a symbol of your commitment to Theta Gamma Nu’s pledging process?”

Leah’s hands flew to her mouth. I couldn’t tell if she was mortified or excited.

“Y-yes,” Leah accepted the candle. “Yes I will.”

I saw a single tear slide down her round cheek.

At that moment, I completely understood what it was to be a sorority girl. It wasn’t like anything that I thought.

It was better.

“Congratulations,” the pretty girl said, “and welcome. We are so excited to get to know you more and we have a lot of fun things planned for you. And I mean it when I say fun. We absolutely do not believe in hazing. We believe in gifts, bonding, and wine.”

There was a collective giggle.

“Without further ado, allow me to introduce myself. I am Lauren Cunningham. President of Theta Gamma Nu, Baylor University Chapter. Our sorority believes in fairness, so the president does not participate in recruitment to negate any unfair biases during bidding. From now on, I will be available to you and support you both through the pledging process.”

“Nice to meet you, Lauren,” I said holding out my hand for a handshake.

Lauren looked and my hand with a confused expression. She blew out her candle and then my own and wrapped her arms around me, giving me a firm hug. Her hair smelled like strawberries.

“Nice to finally meet you, Brie.”

We were shuffled into cars, with quickly packed overnight bags. The sisters drove us to the house and were led to the informal living room. I was surprised to find a party waiting for us. A pajama party. Wait until Nash hears about this, I thought, as scanned the living room looking at every young man’s fantasy. I felt a spark of guilt for not texting back. It was probably best not to, anyway.

The seniors left again to get more recruits and left Leah and I with the sophomores, juniors, and a handful of other new initiates. I heard two of the sisters whispering by me. If they were trying to be secretive, they weren’t doing a good job.

“Are you sure?” A girl with red, untamed curls asked the sister wearing short shorts and fuzzy pink bunny slippers.

“Yes, shh! Don’t say anything. She just got here, she doesn’t know.” Bunny slippers said.

“I’m sure they already told her,” curls replied.

I was pretending that I wasn’t listening to them, so curls tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m Brie.”

“Oh, we know,” bunny slippers said.

They giggled.

What the fuck is going on here? My mind barked. Something felt off.

“So, did you get a chance to meet Lauren yet? Our Mascot Girl?”

“Um,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck. “Yes I met Lauren she introduced herself as the president.”

Slippers shot curls an I-told-you-so look.

“What’s a Mascot Girl?” I asked putting my hands on my hips.

“Nevermind!” Curls squeeled and they both dashed off.

I nudged Leah, who was acting quiet, completely out of her character.

“Leah, what the hell is a Mascot Girl?”

“Um, I don’t know.” Leah bit her nail; her eyes darted around the living room at the sorority sisters.

I took a gigantic breath. As soon as Lauren Cunningham returned, I was going to have to ask her myself.





Chapter 5-The Broken One


mascot girlChapter 5

The Broken One

“Nashed Potatoes and gravy, where are we going?” I heard myself slur.

“You are going home, drunky,” Nash said, shooting me a smile from behind the wheel of his truck. I was belted in, and my cheek was resting on the cold passenger’s window. He started the engine and a gust of heat from the vent blew into my face.

“Noooww? We just got there. In the bur, I mean, the bar.” I sounded like I had cotton balls stuffed in my cheeks. What the hell? Talk normal! My mind screamed.

“You are shit faced. You fell like five times. Were Trina and company feeding you shots?”

I looked out my window. Nash hadn’t started driving, but Rivertown was spinning. Oh no! I thought. Act normal.  Control. I sat up straight and cleared my throat.

“No shots and I’m not drunk. Just buzzed. I haven’t had much alcohol since our camping summer binger, so it kind of hit me all at once.”

“What?” Nash flashed me a smile. “You haven’t partied since summer? You aren’t doing college right.”

“I only had six beers. I’m drunk. Damn it, I mean, I’m not drunk!” I kicked the glove compartment and cursed.

“Calm down, Merritt.”

“Your teeth are so white and straight. They look like dentures,” slipped out of my mouth. Why did I say that? That was stupid.

Nash chuckled. “I hope so; my father is a dentist.”

“Want to know a secret?” I said, focusing on consonants and vowels, shaping them the best that I could. Alcohol is not my friend.

Nash sighed. “Lay it on me.”

“I look like my mother.” I let out a snort, followed by a fit of side splitting laughter.

It was like having an out of body experience. Part of me was completely aware of what was happening and mortified. The other part couldn’t give too shits. It was just Nash. He’s seen me psycho before.

Nash was quiet. He glanced in my directions a few times. Me. Road. Me. Road. Finally, in a flat tone.“Merritt.”

“Whyyy sooo ssserious?” I asked, trying to sound like Heath Ledger’s Joker. I giggled.

“How much have you eaten today?”

My eyes widened. I was doing well, which meant I was doing bad.

“Why?” I narrowed my eyes.

 “Because you got sloppy drunk on six beers.”

You’re sloppy.”

“Did you take your medicine today? I’m driving you to McDonalds. I’ll buy you whatever you want, but you need to eat. Even if it’s only a salad.”

“Why did you make out with that trashy bitch, Natasha?” I blurted.


“You know that she got Jesse into pot and then they slept together behind my back for six months. You know that!”

“I’m sorry. I don’t remember making out with her, that’s what people told me. Without you or Tabitha around anymore, there is no one to bust my balls when I’ve had a few too many.”

“I thought you were my friend.”

Nash ignored me and drove through McDonalds. He ordered a chicken salad with honey mustard a small fry and an unsweetened iced tea. My favorite. He pulled into a parking space and parked. He passed me the food.

I felt my lip tremor. Was this it? Was I going to cry for the first time in ten years? All over a salad and a slut?

Nash’s face melted as he watched me unravel. He unbuckled his belt and scooted down the bench seat. He wrapped his strong arms around me and I nestled my head into his chest. I breathed in his cologne.

“I don’t like being drunk.” I whispered. My fingers tingled and my heart raced.

“I know.”

“I don’t like eating in front of people.” I still wasn’t crying.

Nash caressed my back with the tips of his fingers. “I know.”

With his other arm, he dug into the bag and stuffed some fries into his mouth. Then, he pulled out a few more. He held them too my lips. “I’m not watching.”

The next day, my eyes fluttered open. I was in bed facing my off-white bubbly popcorn ceiling.  I groaned and rolled over, stuffing my head in my pillow. Nash must have carried me up stairs, taken off my shoes, and tucked me in. The last thing I remembered was the sound of his heartbeat and forced french fries. I felt around for my cell to send an “I’m sorry” text. Then I remembered he lost his phone. Again.

“Hey sweetheart,” my dad said from the door frame. “Nash came by early and dropped off some stuff.”

“What?” I said sitting straight up. “Oooh my head.”

My dad chuckled. “Yes, he said that you might have a case of the brown bag flu.”

“Did he leave?” I asked reaching for the bag. I crossed my legs and placed it in my lap. I pulled out a box of coffee grounds, a bottle of ibuprofen, a travel mug, and a package of banana nut muffins.

“Thank you, sweet baby Jesus,” I grumbled, tearing into the package of pain medication. I swallowed four pills dry. “This is why I don’t drink that much.”

“Good thing he brought that,” my dad said running his hand over his comb-over, “I ain’t been to the store.”

I rolled my eyes. My dad didn’t have much of anything. He simply didn’t take care of himself well. Or me. Sometimes I blamed him for all of my problems. Other times I understood why he’s messed up. We both went through extreme trauma. I dealt with the aftershock in my own crooked ways; he dealt with it by not working, whiskey, neglecting his daughter, and living on disability. But he does try. Sometimes. He never missed a school play and dragged me to therapy. So there was that.

“Tell me more about school, I, er, sorry I fell asleep on ya last night.” Dad sat on the foot of my bed.

“Sure. The best part is that no one knows what I witnessed. Or any of my other…stuff.”

“Good.” Darkness flashed in Dad’s eyes. He rubbed his face and nodded. “Friends?”

“Yes, I’m joining a sorority.”

“Oh. Hey, doesn’t that cost?”

No it’s free, Dad. Freaking idiot, I said to myself. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Good. You know, that Nash is a nice young lad. I’m glad he looked after ya last night, and all. He chatted with me for a bit this mornin’ and told me about his split up. I got to thinkin’ maybe you two should go on a date.”

“Ha,” I pursed my lips.

“Well, why not?”

“You’re forgetting he’s been my neighbor for eleven years. He knows what a wreck I am.”

“Brie, sweetheart, you ain’t no wreck. You’re so smart and pretty and you’re off at college…”

I stared at him with a blank face for a moment. “Dad!  I’m a fucking mess. He knows what happened that day, when Trina Lubble found me–”

“No!” My father jumped up. “I, um, we ain’t talkin’ about that.”

“You want the truth Dad? Fine. I’ve always loved Nash. Always. How could I not? But I’ve loved him in a very realistic way.”

“I’m sorry I said somethin’,” My dad mumbled, cheeks flushing red.

I folded my arms. I was going to make sure he didn’t bring it up ever again.

“ I’m not like him, Dad. I’m broken and he’s perfect. The reason he befriended me in the first place is because he felt so damn sorry for me. Did you know he used to sneak in my room just to make sure that I was alive?” You wouldn’t have known in your whiskey stupor if I was bleeding out in my bed. He knew that. I added, inside my head.

Dad’s head fell and he retreated back towards the door. Over his shoulder he said, “If only ya saw what I see in you, Brianne. I’m sorry.”

I heard dad trample down the stairs. I knew I wouldn’t speak to sober dad for the rest of the day. Part of me was relieved.

I stayed in my room all day until Nash finally called on his new phone. I apologized in every way I knew how for being so rude and annoying. Nash said he didn’t mind. He said that he rolled me on my side in bed and tied my hair back because I kept saying that I was going to throw up. Thankfully, I never did. I asked him what else I blabbered when I was black out drunk and he said nothing.

I knew he was lying.


Chapter 4-Fall Break in Rivertown



Chapter 4

Fall Break in Rivertown

I heard snoring from the beat up plaid couch. Dad sounded like what would happen if a pig and a trumpet crossbred somehow. On my tiptoes, I crept past him. I snuck up the stairs and creaked open my door. I kept my lights off and walked to my dresser, stubbing my toe on my chair. I fumbled for my battery powered lantern and switched it on.

I sat dresser and peered into the mirror. I adjusted the lantern on the dresser’s surface so that my face lit up. My face looked pretty, I thought. Leah graciously gave me a bag full of hand me down makeup. Of course, I couldn’t put it on the way that she did, but I was trying. I was beginning to enjoy taking a little more time to primp. Besides, my therapist suggested that self-care be more of priority. Plus, it made me look like her. And why wouldn’t I want to look like her, if given the chance? She was stunning. She always would be, too. Now all that is left of her are pictures and a pinch of ashes that I keep in my heart shaped locket. Mrs. Rosalee Merritt was forever young. Like Marilyn Monroe. My heart panged at the comparison. I shoved my thoughts back where they belonged.

I cleared my throat and closed my eyes. They reopened and I saw fire burning within blue irises. I can do this, I instructed myself.

“What’s here?” My face lit up with shock. “A cup, closed in my true love’s hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.”

I stared into my own eyes. Water, dammit! I demanded. Professor Rintswill won’t give me a part in the final if I can’t produce tears. Everyone can produce tears, for Christ’s sake.

“O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after?” My face twisted in pain and my neck sprouted red splotches. “I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, To make me die with a restorative.” Dry eyes.

Just then, I heard a crash in my room and I jumped from my chair, knocking it over. My hands flew to my mouth and I screamed. I spun around.

“Good evening, Juliet Montague,” Nash said. He was no more than a tall shadow by my window in my dimly lit room.

“Nash!” I growled. I stomped towards my door and flipped the light switch. “You scared the shit out of me. How long have you been there?”

I squinted as my eyes adjusted. Nash had on his favorite camo baseball cap and his distressed jeans. Unlike my new Californian friends, his jeans weren’t torn and faded purchased from a designer store, they were like that from horseback riding and four wheeling.

“Just a few. Did I scare you?”

I stared at him for a moment, hands on hips. He was wearing that famous James Devon Nash smile that made all the girls in Rivertown bat their eyes and giggle.

“Yes, clearly, asswipe. Hence the scream!”

Nash raised an eyebrow. “Hey. You look…weird.”

“Gee thanks,” I said shifting my weight to my other foot. I smoothed down my lightened hair. I forgot that he hadn’t seen my makeover yet.

“Oh, man,” Nash said. “Sorry, I sometimes forget you are a girl and have feelings and shit.”

“No I don’t!” I lied. “So, you know, there is this thing called a cellphone.”

“I know. I lost it.”


“Shutup, Merritt! So I saw your light on and I wanted to sneak for old time’s sake.”

“Well, you almost killed me with your nostalgia.”

“Your sarcasm is killin’ me.”

I made a face and held my lips together. I couldn’t let him see me smile.

Nash reached down next to his foot and I heard a crinkling sound. He lifted up a plastic bag.

“Here,” he said, coming towards me. “I saw Trina at the pool hall and he…damn, I’m sorry…she told me your size.”

I opened the box that had Nike written on the top and pulled out two hot pink running shoes that had a bright teal Nike sign and lining. I felt my jaw drop a little.

“Woa these are so cute!” I immediately pulled out the stuffing and slid my bare feet inside. “You picked these out?” I ran in place a few times to test them out.

Nash removed his cap and raked his fingers through his dark blond hair. He replaced the cap and gave me a weak smile.

“I felt bad about your other ones. I know that mud at the bottom kind of stains. I hope it came out of your clothes.”

“Do you remember what I was wearing?” I said with a smirk.

“No, are you serious? I was drunk.”

“I was wearing your tshirt because Tabitha spilled her entire cup up beer on me. Remember? In your basement?”

Nash laughed and shrugged.

“Speaking of beer…” I said wondering what the crew’s plan was for the night.

“Do you want to go to Selma’s? There are a bunch of people back on their fall breaks. I can give you a ride. I’m not drinking tonight, last night was rough.”


“Yeah, I guess I made out with Natasha Springer.” Nash made a sour face.

I contorted my face into an exaggerated response of disgust. Inside, I felt a twinge of anger. I couldn’t control what Nash did, but if he was going to man-slut after his breakup, he should know better than to screw my high school rival.

“Did you go get your rabies vaccination today?”

Nash gave my shoulder a playful nudge. “Funny.” He guided me towards the window.

“Oh, hell no!” I said, rooting my feet to the ground. “I’m a grown ass woman, I’m not ‘sneaking out’.”

Nash wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and lifted me up. I kicked and struggled, but I weighed 115 lbs and he was the wrestling state champion. He plopped me down in front of the window and yanked it open. A nippy breeze tousled my hair.

“Nash!” I said as he slid out of the window and climbed out onto the massive oak. I couldn’t contain my laughter; I hadn’t done this since I was sixteen.

After a ride in his recently waxed Ford, we walked into Selma’s Bar and Grille and everyone turned towards the door. Nash got a roaring ‘hey!’ and a few of our friends met him by the door. It took a few minutes for them to realize I was there. Or, maybe they didn’t recognize me with my hair and makeup. They invited me to the bar with them, but I told them I would in a little while.

I rolled my eyes as I watched Nash shake hands with a few guys sitting at a table before he could even make it to the seat that was saved for him.

Such a celebrity, I thought to myself as I scanned the room, hoping to see a table of drama geeks.

“Brie!” A throaty, familiar voice yelled. I made eye contact with Trina Lubble. Formally Thomas Lubble.

Trina had finally enough length that she ditched her wig, so I hardly recognized her at first.

“You look phenomenal! Your boobs are so much bigger than mine, now,” I added with a fake pout. I flung my arms around her and squeezed as hard as I could. Trina Lubble…the girl who once saved my life. My best friend.

“Aw, Brie, sweetie, look at you,” Trina gave me a once over. “You look like a beauty queen! Are you wearing makeup?”

“Yeah,” I said allowing Trina to guide me to her table. She was with a few members of my old club. They gave me squishy hugs and someone filled me a glass from their pitcher. I love coming home from being away at school! I thought.

Trina crossed her legs and leaned forward. She batted her almond shaped Hispanic eyes at me and chomped on a piece of gum. “You came with Nash?”

I took off my jean jacket and hung it on my chair. I shot Trina a look. “So?”

“So did he tell you the scoop on him and Tabitha?”

“Um,” I glanced over at Nash, who was sitting at the bar talking to Billy. “Yes, but that can wait. I wanted to tell you about this sorority I’m probably going to join.”

“Brianne. Rosalee. Merritt.” Trina leaned over and ran her fingers through a chunk of my hair. “Makeup? Sororities? Look at you, sweetie!”

I felt my face flush. “Ya.”

“I’m happy for you, but, none of them bitches better replace me. You hear?”

“Oh trust me. That’s impossible, no one compares to you,” I said, taking a sip of beer. It was Saturday and I had 500 left.

“Now that we put down some best friend ground rules… Spill!”

“My roommate, Leah, is this really rich girl from Las Angeles. Her parents are like millionaires. She is so spoiled and kind of annoying. But she’s really nice at the same time. Kind of pushy. And so way out of touch with responsibility, like, I throw away her tray at lunch and like, I had to show her how to use the laundry room. I guess she’s always had someone doing everything for her.”

“Wow,” Trina said taking a swig of beer. “No offense, but, woa. An heiress and a Rivertown girl living in a 20 by 20 dorm room. Is MTV filming this? They should.”

I opened my throat and allowed the entire glass of beer slide down my throat. I slammed my glass down and wiped off the foam with my forearm.

Trina’s eyes widened and she poured me another glass. It was so full that yellow streams trickled down the side.

“Girl, you drink. You just drink.”

I giggled. “Thanks, Trina. Anyhoo, Leah told me about the Greek system at Baylor and the way she talked about it made me want to join. I want to try new things now that I’m finally out of this shit hole town. You know?”

“I wouldn’t have pegged you for a sorority girl, but I’m sure you can always quit if it’s not yourthing.”

“That’s just it,” I said shaking my head. “What is a ‘sorority girl’ anyway? I found this house that put me as their number one choice. They are the chilliest sorority on campus, but I guess some of the stuck up girls think that they are weirdo losers. I don’t know, I feel like, Coralvalley, California is this ritzy area so most sororities must act like, I don’t know, up and coming socialites. But Theta Gamma Nu is different.”

“Sounds like a great house!” Trina reached over and held my hand. She gave it a little squeeze.

“It is. I will get my official acceptance as a pledge when I get back from fall break. So glad I got these shoes to wear when I’m pledging. I bet I’ll be busy.”

“Did you say shoes?” Trina reached down and pulled up my foot, placing it on her lap. “Sweetie, these are not shoes. They are like… Jesus. You are wearing Jesus on your feet.”

I laughed so hard that I choked.

“Did Nash get you these? Was this why he asked me your size?”

“Yes he did.”

Trina raised her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.


Trina gave me a knowing look.

I glanced over to where Nash was at the bar. He had his long flannel rolled up, revealing his full tattooed sleeve. He gazed around the bar and our eyes met. Then, eyes locked with mine, he lifted up his middle finger and laughed.

I lifted up both of my fingers.

Trina looked over and Nash and then me. “Sweetie, if you don’t snatch that sexy man up…”

I giggled. “Me and Nash? Please. Ew.”

I glanced over at Nash to find him looking at me again. I covered my mouth with my hand.

I couldn’t let him see me smile.

Chapter 3-The World is a Stage

Oops. I accidentally got super obsessed and composed another chapter of “Mascot Girl.”

Happy Reading!




Chapter 3

The World is a Stage

The cafeteria smelled like fish, Mexican food, and cheeseburgers. My stomach turned and twisted in a loop at the scent. Food is gross, when you think about it. The mashing and tearing with teeth, the saliva, the spit and crumbs. That’s one of the many reasons why I loathe public eating. I hate hearing the smacking and slurping of lips.

I walked over to our normal spot, which was a long plastic picnic bench next to the freshman football team. I think Leah strategically chose our spot on freshman day number one. I plopped down. I hated sitting by the football players. They received way too much attention.

We had a routine for dinner, the Valentine Hall girls of floor number 3. I dreaded our pseudo family dinner most of the day. In front of them, I had to eat like a normal nineteen year old girl, who is fashionably watching her weight. Good thing I was an actress.

I reached into my pocket and retrieved my phone. A few taps later, I pulled up my calorie tracker app. I was already at 500 calories. That damned bagel! On Tuesdays, I got 900 calories, Wednesday 1,000 and so on. What could I eat for 300 calories? I felt my nerves tingling. I had to control. I needed control.

“Hey Brie,” Leah said as she sat down. “How was class?”

“Oh, class was class. I had to act like a dolphin in Theatre Acting 3132. My throat still feels gruff from it.”

Leah’s forehead wrinkled. “Girl, how do you do that? You seem so, I don’t know.”


“That’s the word.”

“Well, acting is easy because I’m not me. I’m a daulphin,” I said fumbling with my wallet. What was I going to go buy to eat?

“I would be mortified,” Leah said with a chuckle.

“Oh I love it. Drama club in high school was like an oxygen tank to me.”  I could hide in plain sight, I added in my mind.

“Okay, dolphin girl, let’s go. I need to see what 10 weight watchers points can buy me today. Hope it’s a lot because I am hungry!”

My heart sped up as I entered the cafeteria. There were ten different windows, all of which offered different things. Tacos here, hot wings there. I didn’t like to eat meals. I liked to nibble throught the day when no one was watching. Eating in front of others was like being naked.

I lucked out at home. My dad never forced us to do the family dinner thing. I think he mostly ate toast and oatmeal in front of his TV in the den. He never bothered to learn how to cook after the sudden death of my mother. I guess I was supposed to do that, right? I thought. Oops.

We walked back to the table and I set down my plain salad with light honey mustard down next to my unsweetened iced tea. Char and the others had beaten us. They were talking all at once and all excited. There were fifteen girls from my floor. Why are the only two available seats next to Char and Krissy? Talk about ‘leftovers’. I smiled at the delicious irony.

“Can you believe that tonight is top three?” Krissy Ferro, Char’s roommate asked. Krissy ran her fingers through her shoulder length, thick blonde waves. It looked like she had gotten fresh highlights and a french manicure. I wondered what it was like to go to a salon. I chewed on my jagged nail.

“I’m still a little confused,” I said, opening my packet of honey mustard and drizzling it over my salad. “I’m not sure what the point of top three night is. It’s so complicated.”

“They gave everyone a information packet at sign up,” Char said as she bit into a garlic cheese fry, “did they teach you how to read in Kansas? Just joking. Only joking.”

Krissy giggled and whacked Char’s arm. “Charlene, stop being a bitch. Anyway, it’s okay, Kansas, I’ll explain it to you.”

Oh no, my brain screamed. For the love of God, don’t let the nickname Kansas stick! I left that state for a reason.

“You know, Krissy” I said stabbing my lettuce a few times, “my friends back home call me ‘Merritt’. Well, mostly the guys I know do. I actually don’t mind that nickname. It’s kind of cute, like–” I trailed off. I didn’t know how to politely correct someone. Was there a way to do that? I flashed a toothy smile.

“Um, okay,” Krissy said, exchanging a look with Char. She scratched the top of her head, as if she was genuinely confused as to what I was suggesting.“Anyway, Kansas, there are nineteen sororities. The way that B.U. does their rush is like this. You do the meet and greet, that’s what we did yesterday. I hope you went home and listed your sororities in order. Number one would be your favorite, number nineteen, the most rachet. Anyway. The next day, which is today, you go visit your top three and let them kind of get to know you more and display your interest.”

I wonder if Miss Krissy knew how often she said anyway. No. She probably couldn’t count that high. Ha. I thought.

“I’m so excited! I just want to be a sister. Like right now! Ever since I was a little girl and now it’s happening,” Leah said with starry eyes.

“ So, I’m definitely going to Omega Sigma Sigma first!” Krissy said holding up her hand and crossing her fingers.

“Thanks for explaining the two different nights ,” I said. I took a big gulp of water. I needed two more before my next bite.

“Anyway, so, after top three, you submit your formal list to the Sorority Life Campus Committee, the SLC.”

“I get it, I do. Anyway, I just don’t get the bidding process. I mean, how the sororities vote. Anyway, can you explain that part?”  I bit my lip to conceal the smile. Krissy didn’t even know she was being mocked.

Char narrowed her eyes at me. Uh-oh, I thought.

“Each sorority has a list of favorite pledges,” Leah stepped up to explain. “So the SLC matches everyone based on mutual ’likes’. They try to make the best match. Almost everyone will get into something, because you’ll have every sorority on your list. So at least one out of the nineteen will make a bid. And since you had to list all of the sororities from favorite to least favorite, you might even get stuck with your nineteenth choice. That’s if no one else bidded for you except for them.”

“Or no one bids on you at all,” Char added. “Then you won’t get into a sorority.”

“Don’t say that!” Leah said, slapping her hand on the table. “Girls, I’m out of here, I can’t even be around this kind of negative talk. Not get in? That is like my worst nightmare.” Leah got up and made way for the door, leaving her tray. I don’t think she knows that she should take it to the garbage. I always end up doing it for her.

“Don’t worry about it,” Char yelled, calling after Leah. She gave me a wink. “That’s what Theta Gamma Nu is for. Leftovers!”

Krissy whacked Char again. “You are so bad!” They both giggled.

“Well,” I said getting up and stacking my tray on top of Leah’s. “I hope we are all placed with the right people in the right house. Good luck tonight girls.”

The rest of Valentine Hall Floor 3 girls gave me smiles and thank yous and you toos.

“Good luck, Brie,” Char said with a thin lipped smile.

“You too,” I said heading for the garbage can. You nasty little bitch, I added in my head.

I threw away our trays and stared into the slimy, stinky garbage can. This would make a perfect sorority house for Char, my wicked little thoughts joked. Sigma Garbage Pi. Home of the thin hoe with crooked nose.

Oh that was a mean one, even for inside thoughts. I guess that means my period is coming soon.

                Still, I laughed out loud at my evil thoughts and I caught curious glances from the table next to the garbage. I wondered how I must look, laughing while looking down into trash can all by myself.

I suddenly wished I could be a dolphin again.

A few hours later, I was walking up the steps to the fairy tale castle. This time with less makeup. This time alone. I felt my heart racing under my hot pink Baylor University sweatshirt that my grandma bought me after I was accepted with a full ride scholarship. I breathed in the sleeve. It still smelled like her house, dove soap and old book. A wave of homesickness followed my thoughts.

The sweatshirt was new, so it was one of the cutest things that I owned. I scowled at my smelly lake sneakers. It was a little bit chilly in November for flip flops. That’s all I had. Lake shoes and Old Navy flip flops. Damn it, Nash.

As if on cue, my phone vibrated in my pocket and I heard the muffled melody of Spice Girls Wannabe coming from my back pocket. I reached back and yanked out my phone. It was a shame that I had to answer and put a stop to my ringtone.

Mental note, listen to Spice Girls when I get back. Leah is bound to discover my sophisticated taste in music at some point. I slid the green button over.

“Hey Tabitha!” I said, strolling back to the side walk. I was early to top three, but even if I wasn’t, I was waiting for this call all day. “How are you? How’s New York?”

“Rainy and chilly,” Tabitha replied. Her familiar serious, low voice made me smile. She was always trying to disguise her Kansas accent.

“Sorry to hear. But hey, what the hell happened with you and Nash? I talked to him yesterday, but you know boys, he didn’t really didn’t explain anything. Not that you, I mean, you don’t have to explain to me or anything. I just thought I would know right away if you broke up. Like, you would tell me. It still says ‘relationship’ on Facebook, sorry for stalking your page. I had no idea.”

“No that’s okay, that’s why I’m calling you. I got all your texts, but this is a phone conversation.”

“Oh boy,” I said twirling my silver heart necklace around my index finger.

“Yes. Oh boy, indeed. It reminds me of you and Jesse’s break up.”

“Nash did not cheat on you with Natasha Springer!”

“No-no,” Tabitha paused. “Not that part of it. I remember you describing to me how you felt. Like you morphed into close friends, like, there was no romance anymore. I am so busy here at school, it’s only my first semester and you saw how long it took me to return your call. It wasn’t working.”

“You fell out of’ love’ and into ‘like’ with him? That was definitely Jesse and me. Why didn’t you tell me? When did this happen?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to tell you when I couldn’t even tell myself. We both felt it, James and I. Then moving away, it fizzled out faster than I ever thought possible. Like someone blew out a candle. Puff! It’s gone.”

“Aw!” I said, kicking a stray pebble on the sidewalk. “Tabitha, you were the couple that we all thought would make it. You were the homecoming King and Queen, for Christ’s sake. Wait till this gets around town.”

“It’s a good thing that I’m not there. I have kind of unplugged from social media as well, so ya. I do feel bad for James.”

“Oh, he’ll be alright. He never care what people think, that’s part of his homecoming King charm. Right?”

Pause. I could hear the background noise of New York City traffic from southern California through my phone. I felt a twinge of embarrassment.

“I guess so.”

“Sorry, Tabitha. Damn, that was a dumb thing, I just really don’t know what to say here.”

“I completely understand that, Brie. We were so close. The three amigos. This must be very strange for you.”

“I was supposed to be your maid of honor and his best man in your wedding. Billy Neilson was going to be the flower girl.” I smiled at the memory of our long running joke.

Tabitha snickered. Then pause. More New York City traffic. Then a sniff. A sob.“Brie, I miss you. I miss the guys. My cat Pickles. I miss Rivertown, I really, really do.”

“Tabitha,” I said staring at the bubbling fountain in front of Theta Gamma Nu. “You were never meant to only stay in that town, settle and marry Nash, and have a bundle of Nash-juniors. You are a star. Never forget who you are. Okay?”

“Thank you, Brie.” Tabitha blew her nose. “As much as I miss Kansas, I know I’m in the right place doing the right thing. Adjusting to the city is hard, but I know I can do it. I’m so happy. I’m scared at how happy I am, you know.”

“No, not really. Allow yourself to be happy!”

“I feel guilty. It’s like, I should be more devastated about the end of my first love. The guy who took me to dances. Gave me my first kiss. Carved my name into a tree. He did that you know! That’s like from a movie, or something, but that James when he wasn’t around his buddies. We danced under the stars on my birthday. He saw me sick and ugly as hell and didn’t care. I should miss him, but I just really miss you and my cat.”

I laughed even though I felt like a sharp rip in my heart. Why did it feel like Tabitha was breaking up with me, too? Maybe she was.

“We are both where we need to be right now.” My eyes were fixed on Theta Gamma Nu. “There is always summer. We will have so much to catch up on and–”

“That is, if I come home for summer,” Tabitha interjected.

“We will keep in touch,” I argued.

“Ya,” Tabitha said. She wasn’t an actress.

“Well, I need to go, I have this sorority top three thingy tonight, so. Call me soon!”

“Brie, you know that you’re the real star, right? Not me. But thanks for saying that earlier. I really needed to hear that today. But it’s not true. I may have been the Queen of Rivertown High, but you were the star. You have more talent in your pinky than the whole school put together. You’ll have to remember the little people from Rivertown, Kansas when you get your first Oscar. Remember me. Okay?”

“Thanks, that’s so nice of you to say, and what are you talking about? Of course I’ll remember you!”

I heard the phone click. I looked down and it said “call ended”. I wasn’t sure if one of us lost service or if Tabitha had decided, at that moment, that the conversation needed to end. Maybe the universe was nice and threw us both a bone by ending the awkwardness.

I walked toward the red, welcoming door of Theta. Maybe one door was closing with Tabitha, but I watched as the door was physically was opening for me.

Caroline sashayed out and waved. Her short, wavy hair bounced as she waved. She was holding a clipboard and had a number 2 pencil tucked behind her ear. She was cute. There is no other way to describe her. She was just so cute.

“Brie! Welcome back, so happy to see you.” Caroline threw her spare arm around me and I felt warmth radiate through my heart.

“You remembered my name.” I said as I walked into the foyer. I gleamed at the clusters of strangers who all waved at me, as if they had known me forever. “I forgot to wear that name tag. And sorry I didn’t really dress up. Everyone looks so nice, I just had such a packed day of classes…”

“Of course I remembered your name. I’m sure we all do.” Caroline wrapped her arm around my shoulder and stood on her tip-toes to whisper in my ear. “You are our top bid. But don’t tell anyone I told you that, I’d get in such trouble. I just don’t want you to worry. I remember being a nervous wreck during top three.”

Caroline pulled away and gave my shoulder a little squeeze. Someone put a glass of champagne in my hand and a few of the sisters came to greet me. I looked around. I couldn’t understand how Deltas were the leftovers. They looked just as Caroline described it: diverse. Different nationalities, different, sizes, different styles of clothes. Some girls had percings and tattoos, while others wore heels and pearls. There was one girl who had a streak of blue hair, tattoos and heels with pearls.

The energy was relaxed, like an invisible calm, trickling river was flowing through the house. Maybe these were my people. My best friends were the queen and king of the school and my other drama best friend was the only transgender girl in Rivertown.

No one could define Brianne Merritt. She was a Cosette in Les Miserales, Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, and yes, the cliché Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.( I could never let Char find out about that last one.) But as an actress, no one saw the real me. I was a shell. That was safe and cozy for me. I let only closest friends saw glimmers of the real me. But it was only the tip of the ice berg.

I had so many secrets. Some dark, acidic, puss-oozing  secrets. I took a sip of my champagne as I made small talk with the sisters and other pledges. I felt my stomach growl as the dry, bubbly, liquid poured down my throat. The alcohol burned the lining. It was so empty today.

I told my stomach to shut up.

A Series For My Blog

I decided to write a series on my blog for the hell of it!! I am practicing with realistic fiction-a genre I have yet to try. I am still feeling out my strengths and weaknesses, my likes and dislikes. And while the lack of magical elements feels a bit limiting, I’m enjoying going back to 2004 when I was a college freshman and reminiscing. So, as you probably guessed by context clues, I’m writing about a college experience. And NO, it’s not based my own.

I couldn’t use my own experience because I never joined a sorority. I didn’t really know about rushing until it was too late to rush. Then later, I applied for a sorority that didn’t have a “house” to live in. That actually sounded better. Like, get your cake and eat it too. I really didn’t want to live with all those women!

Well, whomp whomp. The sorority REJECTED me. Yes. Like, to my face. I went through all the steps I needed to to to apply which was not easy at all. Then, I was invited to a classroom near the top floor of the tallest building on campus. I still remembering my heart fluttering with each step. I had to hide the fact that I was out of breath from all of those darn stairs! Still, I was confident. I was almost positive that they would accept me.

Well. They handed me a rather thin letter and and I knew. They basically said sorry, try again later. Maybe we’ll like you in a year, but as for right now, you can’t sit with us. You suck Theta Nu Xi!

I ran out of the classroom crying. Now, I’m literally laughing writing about the experience. Oh the things that we think matter when we are young and stupid…

Anyway, I get to live my little fantasy sorority life through my imagination. That’s one thing that costs nothing and I didn’t have to sing dumb, to boot. Just kidding and yes I’m just a little bit bitter. Enjoy the first three chapters of “Mascot Girl”


Chapter 1

Painted Faces

Every time I close my eyes I see the back of Dad’s head as he exits my dorm room. Reality hadn’t sunk in until that moment. I thought that I was brave. Maybe I’m not. At least I can’t cry.

“Just hold still,” Leah demanded as she glided her spongy eye shadow applicator across my closed eye. “Your eye is twitching.”

“I’m trying.” I raised my eyebrows and held my breath. This should help, right? I wasn’t meant for this.

“Ugh, girl, whatever,” Leah huffed. “This is as good as it gets. You can look now.”

I opened my eyes and gasped. There, in the full length mirror, was a girl who looked exactly like a familiar photograph. That one portrait that hangs in my grandparents’ spare room. I remember lying on the stiff twin bed during my summer visits and having imaginary conversations with that girl. I would speak, and she would answer me in my own thoughts. I would never tell anyone about those moments where I allowed a sliver of insanity to take hold. It was so real. Like I was really talking to her.

Leah had applied a layer of thick, creamy, foundation, which made my skin feel like porcelain. She said that it was expensive. It covered up the spatter of freckles I was accustomed to. I ran my fingers over my smooth cheeks.  I blinked my lashes, noticing the new heaviness of mascara. I couldn’t believe the twenty minutes Leah spent on my face could transform such a blank page into someone else.

“Don’t touch, you’ll mess it up.”

I glanced at Leah, who had her hand resting on her wide hip. She flipped her thin hair over her shoulder and did a single nod of approval. The curls she spent hours spraying into place had already fallen out. I didn’t want to tell her.

“You are good at this,” I commented, admiring the way the gray metallic shadow enhanced my ice-blue eyes. “Your makeup looks amazing, too, by the way. You look so pretty!” Just don’t look in the mirror. Your hair looks like shit, I added in my mind.

“Thanks,” Leah said with a sideway grin.

“I only do gloss and powder normally. When I was in plays in school, I just had costume people do it. But stage makeup is way different than this, I just, I don’t know. I had no one to teach me this stuff, growing up.”

“Oh I know, honey.” A look of sympathy flashed on Leah’s face. I get that look a lot.

“I guess I lucked out rooming with an art major,” I said fluffing my hair.

My hair was almost dry and much more blonde. Leah talked me into dying it from my dish water natural color, to pale light blond. She said I should do anything possible to stand out from the other pledges. I wondered if my dad would recognize me. For that matter, would Nash? I bet he would know it was me, but give me a lot of crap. My lips curved at the thought.

“Well, you know that you’re going to have to learn how to do makeup yourself. If you join a sorority, there will be a lot of reasons to have to wear dresses and makeup.” Leah gave me a wink and walked over to her closet, which was right next to mine. She slid clothes down the bar, and clinked them together, mumbling about how she had nothing to wear.

I arose from the floor and sighed. Thinking about that picture made me want to curl up for a bit and think. There was nowhere I could go to be alone, and at that moment, I craved solitude. Our dorm room was tiny; just a bunk bed, two desks, two closets, and a window. We were waiting for her parents to buy her a new television since hers cracked on move in day four weeks ago. I didn’t have a television to bring, but Leah said not to worry about it. We didn’t decorate much, like some of the other girls did on our floor. I noticed that other girls had mini fridges in their rooms, but not Leah and me. Leah said that it would be too tempting and that she’s counting weight watchers points. That was fine by me; I was in no need of a mini fridge. Food and I have quite a relationship.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” I said peering out of the smudged window. “I don’t have money for a sorority. They have to be expensive. Plus, I don’t have dressy clothes.”

“I would lend you some of my clothes, but…” Leah trailed off and giggled looking at herself in the mirror. She yanked on her black leggins and pulled down her gray cotton dress. She sighed. “They wouldn’t fit you. Ugh! My hair looks like a rat’s ass.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t do this,” I mumbled, lowering my head. I stared at my scuffed sneakers. They never looked the same after Nash threw me into the river. I should nag him to buy me new ones.

“Brie, now come on, girl. If you don’t want to join, then don’t. But at least experience rush week!”

“I want to,” I said looking back up at Leah, “but I don’t know if I can. Even if I make it in, I probably wouldn’t be able to pay dues. I can’t buy any makeup, and I can’t even apply it!”

I knew that my eyes should swell with tears because of how pathetic I sounded. Alas, my eyes were as dry as bones. At the funeral, I cried. I cried a lot. And screamed. And vomited. I was humiliated. I’m not sure why I cared what other people thought, but I did. There was nothing I could do, I was out of control of my emotions. My dad let me borrow his sunglasses to hide my red swollen eyes. I wore them indoors. Even at night. Sunglasses never left my face for a good six months. I haven’t cried ever since the moment I took them off. Then one day, I realized that I couldn’t cry. Not real tears, anyway.

“Brie, listen, I told you that some sororities have scholarships and you could apply. If all else fails, my dad could help. He’s always sponsoring some kid or other for this or that. Why not you?”

“No, I couldn’t Leah.” I shook my head.

“Don’t be so proud,” Leah said crinkling her nose. “If people want to give you something, take it.”

I tucked my lips inside of my mouth. Leah had no idea what it was like to take hand outs. But I held my tongue.

“ I just want to do this together, it would be so fun.” Leah said, struggling to button a fuzzy pink sweater.

“I know, I want to do it, too. It’s just, um, there are so many things working against me right now.” I bet Leah didn’t hear the word ‘no’ a lot, as her face was flushing red.

“When I am pledging, I won’t be here in the room a lot,” Leah stepped into two ankle boots. She looked at me and shrugged. “You might get lonely. But it’s up to you. I’m leaving in like five minutes, with or without you.”

I stared at the brick wall that was coated in thick white paint. “Okay, Leah. Okay. I’ll see what Charlene has that I could maybe borrow. I’m not going to go in these fugly sneakers.”

Leah made a sound of excitement and turned on her heel. Her shoes clicked into the hallway. I guessed she was going to ask Charlene for me. That’s just how she is.


Chapter 2

First Rush

My cheeks hurt from smiling and my teeth were dry from being exposed so much. I didn’t know that that was possible. My feet screamed with each click of my borrowed heels. They were blistered from walking sorority row. I looked at the last house on our list: Theta Gamma Nu.

It was constructed with large cylinder blocks and painted steel gray. There was a large balcony, held up by four pillars which had vines winding around them, blooming with vibrant pink flowers. It was like a fairy’s castle. As we walked up the few stairs, there was a sugary aroma. It must have been coming from the flowers that were sprinkled in front of the grand porch. A white banner was hung with a silk ribbon above the door and had a hand-painted “Welcome”. After Fifteen sororities, they were all starting to look the same. This house was like a diamond among rocks.

A girl with rectangular glasses was standing in front of the door. I wondered where all the other pledges were. It was quiet.

The girl greeted Leah, Char, and me with a large smile, revealing a gap in her front teeth. I felt my tense muscles relax at the sight of her. She was different from the straight spine models that welcomed us in the other sorority houses. This girl had rosy cheeks and crinkles next to her eyes. I found myself smiling back at her. The real kind of smile.

“Welcome, ladies. I’m Caroline Stevenson. Come in!”

Caroline opened their large red door and escorted us inside.

“I’m Leah McCloud.”

“Nice to meet you, Leah! And what are your names?” Caroline placed her hand upon my upper back and guided us into a formal living room. Normally, I don’t like to be touched. But I didn’t slink away. It was as if I had been there before and Caroline and I had known each other since kindergarten.

“I’m Brianne Merrit.”  My mouth was dry from repeating my name so many times. I cleared my throat. “I go by Brie.”

“Welcome to Theta Gamma Nu!” Caroline guided us to an antiquated couch with velvety pink cushions. I sat down and heard the springs squeak. I glanced around. In the center of the large squared coffee table was a vase of lilacs, which offered a calming perfume to the air. There was a chandier in the center of the room that was painted in gold and had dangling crystals. The day light cascaded through the crystals, emitting miniature rainbows on the wallpaper.

“I’m Charlene Crane. Char is fine.”  I could hear Char practically roll her eyes with her words. I glanced at Char and raised my eyebrow. She ignored me.

I saw a cluster of pledges walk in with, what I presumed, was another member of Theta Gamma Nu. I wondered why there were fewer pledges streaming through the door. The other sororities were much busier.

“Okay, girls, I’ll make this short and simple. I’m sure that your brains are swimming with info and we’re usually the last on people’s lists because we are the last house on the road. Let’s do a quickie overview, okay?”

I leaned forward and nodded. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Char sit back on the couch and sink down. Leah mumbled ‘sure’ and peeked at her cell phone.

“Okay, so, out of all the sororities, we are the most diverse of the lot. We do have a lot of Fine Arts majors, but we also have business majors, anthropology, gender studies…Just a little dash of everything. We embrace diversity; it is one of the most important things to us. Does that sound like something you might be interested in?”

“Yes,” I said giving Caroline and grin.

Leah gave a weak ‘mmhm’ and Char didn’t respond.

Caroline eyed Char and said, “Okay, we are looking for pledges who embrace that concept, first and foremost. We also are the kind of people who enjoy giving back. We do a lot of volunteering in the woman’s shelter and other things like that. Not because we have to, but because we want to. We are the bleeding heart type here. Does that sound interesting?”

There was an awkward silence. I didn’t know what to say.

“I do stuff like that at home with my parents,” Leah offered.

“Good! Well, you would fit right in.”

“I’m sorry, Caroline; I haven’t done that stuff before. I didn’t have much time in high school, I was stretched thin,” I admitted.

Caroline nodded her head. “Oh, that’s okay! Were you in lots of clubs and things?”

“I mean,” I continued, “I had to work part-time when I turned sixteen to save for college. I didn’t spend any of it, so I was able to save up enough for living expenses for the first year. I have a scholarship for my tuition.”

“Oh really? What kind?”

“Um, it’s not all that glamorous,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck. “It’s actually a financial hardship scholarship. I had to write an essay, so, based on some of the circumstances of my childhood, they picked me. Full ride to Baylor U.”

“Oh,” Caroline answered, with a sheepish grin. “Shall I give you ladies a tour of the house?”

We followed Caroline through the foyer, passing the dark redwood grand staircase. There was a chandier in the foyer, like the one in the living room, only much larger. There had to be at least twenty light bulbs illuminating thousands of glittering crystals. I glanced at the door and imaged myself returning from class and walking into the stunning foyer. It would take some getting used to that is for sure. Have I saved up enough money to afford this? When did we get to talk dollar signs?

A few hours later, I was back in my dorm room. I was lying on my bed, the top bunk, when Char knocked on our door. It was already open so, she slid inside.

“Hey,” Leah said from her bed below me.

“Hi. Brie, are you done with my stuff?” Char tapped her foot.

“Oh ya,” I said shimmying down off of my bed. “I put them on my desk. Thanks again for letting me borrow. Holy hell, I’m not wearing heels in at least five years.”

“I can run in heels,” Char said. I handed her dress and shoes.

“I can’t wait to be a sorority sister, already,” Leah said to no one in particular. “I wish there was a way to move into the houses next semester. How are we going to wait a whole year?”

“Who are you going to put as your top three, Leah?” Char asked.”I already know mine. I’m sure I’ll get into Pi Delta Xi.”

“I don’t know, I’m still thinking about it. I liked so many of them! Especially Omega Sigma Sigma.”

Char snorted. “Ya, good luck with that one. That is like the hardest sorority to get into. Everyone wants to be an Omega. I heard even legacies get turned away, sometimes.”

“Well, you never know! My dad does know the vice president’s dad. We talked about it, so I felt that connection.”

“I definitely liked Theta Gamma Nu the most,” I said.

“What?” Char shrieked.

“You can’t be serious; I’m putting them last on my list for sure!” Leah said sitting straight up.

“Huh?” I crossed my arms. “Why?”

“I’m not putting them on my list at all,” Char shook her head. “That’s like, the reject sorority. Everyone makes fun of them. They call the girls ‘The Leftovers’ because it’s essentially a house full of girls that didn’t fit anywhere else. Diversity, my ass. That was a nice little way Carla described it. Even she knows the truth.”

“Her name was Caroline, actually, and I liked them a lot.”

“They liked you, too, Brie,” Char said with a sneer.  “I bet no girl as pretty as you has ever stuck around for all the phases of the tour. I got out of there as quickly as I could.”

“You have to be kidding, they were so real. So laid back. I would never have believed they were ‘the leftovers’ or whatever you called them.”

“You got it right,” Char said, her eyes locked into mine. “They are the leftovers.”

“You really are from Kansas, aren’t you, Brie Merritt?” Leah said with a voice dripping with condensation.

“Rivertown, Kansas. Yes,” I murmured. I knew where this was going.

“Well,” Char snickered. “You know what they say. ‘You aren’t in Kansas anymore’, darling.”

Char and Leah giggled as I reached up to my bed to retrieve my phone. I flashed a tight lipped smile and headed for our floor’s common area.

Gee, that is so original, Char! Please tell me where you get all that cunning wit, I thought to myself. I shook my head as I scrolled through my contacts.

I held my phone up to my ear and ginned when I heard his voice. He sounded just like home. No hip southern California accent, no fake happiness, no patronizing.

“Merritt! What’s up, beeotch?”

“James Nash. How are you?”

“Fine. Same shit, different toilet.”

“What does that even mean?”


“I don’t know, Merritt! I think it means, I’m still working at the shop, still going to night school, still drinking with the guy’s at Billy’s parents’ house. It’s only been, what, a month since you left? Nothing has changed.”

“Is it fall break yet?” I said with a moan. What I would give to crack open a beer and warm my feet by a Billy’s bonfire at that moment.

“Break? You just got there!” Nash chuckled.

“Ya I know,” I said as I found a couch in the corner and crashed down on the cushions. I curled my legs into my chest and gazed out the window at the gray sky. Streams of rain water drizzled down the glass. “But I live in an entire dorm full of girls. Girls, Nash! Girls.”

“That don’t sound too bad to me! Tell me more. Midnight pillow fights keeping you awake, or something?”

“Eh, I walked right into that one, didn’t I?”

“Shutup, I’m giving you a hard time. Man, that must suck, you’re used having your space. I guess you now know how it felt for me sharing my room with my brother. And that’s much worse than girls, Merritt, trust me. He smells like farts and garbage.”

“No, I mean, I’m not really, like, a girl who understands girls. I don’t even have that many girlfriends at home. Just you, the guys. Oh and Tabitha. How is Tabitha?”

“Oh, shit!” Nash yelled. I had to pull the phone away from my ear a bit. “I forgot to tell you.”

“You have busted my eardrum, idiot. Oh and speaking of destroying you totally owe me a new pair of shoes, by the way. I look homeless in the ones I have, you destroyed them pushing me into the lake.”

“Brie, shutup, I forgot to tell you. Tabitha and I broke up.”

My phone slid from my fingers and fell on to the couch. I grabbed it and just stared, wide eyed, window. A streak of light sliced through the gray and a rumble of thunder followed, making the couch vibrate.


…tune in later for more “Mascot Girl”


I Begin Again

The helium balloons are now a few inches from the floor. The confetti under my feet is dirty. It’s time to sweep it up. It’s time to crack my knuckles and open a new word document. “Cadence” is not over. What … Continue reading