Karyn Bristol, MSW, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and a writer. In both realms her passion lies in helping people heal; in helping people connect fully with themselves and with loved ones, with the past and with the present. Karyn is an ICEEFT Certified EFT Couples Supervisor and Therapist, and writes a blog to help other therapists learn and practice Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. She has an MSW from Boston College, and a BA from Dickinson College. Karyn has a private psychotherapy practice in Princeton, NJ. She lives with her husband, three amazing children, and a goofy black Labrador.
$20 the printed
Thank you so much! You will receive the advanced print copy of the book before anyone else, and the digital version.
1 copy + ebook included
$38 the autographed
Thank you so much! You will received two autographed and personalized advanced copies of the book. You will also receive the digital version.
2 copies + ebook included
$90 the acknowledged
Thank you so much! You will receive five copies of the book that you can share! I will sign and personalize all of them. In addition, I will include your name in the acknowledgment section of the book. You will also receive the digital version.
5 copies + ebook included
$180 the bookclub
Thank you so much! You will receive ten copies of the book for your bookclub (or for whoever you would like to share them with). I will sign and personalize all of them. In addition, I will include your name in the acknowledgment section of the book. AND, I will make an appearance at your bookclub for a Q&A (there is a lot to discuss in this book!). (depending on the location of your club, the appearance may be in person or via Skype.) You will also receive the digital version.
10 copies + ebook included
$450 the wow
Like the name, Wow! Thank you so much! You will receive twenty-five signed copies of the book. In addition, I will include your name in the acknowledgment section of the book. If you are a member of a bookclub, I will make an appearance at your bookclub for a Q&A (there is a lot to discuss in this book!). (depending on the location of your club, the appearance may be in person or via Skype.) You will also receive the digital version. Finally, a HUGE, HUGE thank you from me!
25 copies + ebook included
The Truth is a Theory is the story of the assumptions we make about important people in our lives, and how these fatally flawed "truths" play out for four friends.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/JBmjq 4689 views
|20 publishers interested|
How do you define the truth? Is it what you see? Is it what you are told by a beloved partner, a best friend, a trusted parent? Is it the whispers you hear in the halls of your life?
Allie, Megan, Zoe, and Tess have the kind of life-long friendship that can handle the rapid-fire banter of dates and deadlines, and the slow-motion tears of heartbreak. Even so, they have secrets. And parts of their lives that even they don’t want to think about.
Allie is a master at shutting out parts of her life. She’s had a lot of practice; her mother walked out on her when she was four and was never heard from again. Allie survived by becoming the toast of the party--any party--and never looking back. But as a thirty-two-year-old mother of two, parties have morphed into playdates and the closest she gets to Dom Pérignon is watered-down Mott’s. When her husband storms out, growling “figure out what you want”, she realizes she has no idea. And she knows that she can’t move forward until she pries open the lid on her past, on the truth about what happened to her mother.
As Allie tries to piece her life together, her crutch is her treasured circle of friends. Until their own lives begin to fracture with the heartbreak of date rape, alcoholism, and infidelity.
As all four women struggle with what life has thrown at them, they wonder, if you ever find the truth, does it heal or destroy you?
There are 13 Chapters in The Truth is a Theory.
Each chapter starts with a journal entry, written in the first person, in the main character’s POV (Allie). It is written in present tense. Each journal entry (the beginning of each chapter) is written chronologically, every month, for 13 months.
The bulk of each chapter is written in third person, and alternates in sections between each of the four friend’s POV (Allie, Megan, Zoe, and Tess). This main part of the chapter takes the reader back in the women’s lives and builds up to the present. Chapter One starts when the women are college freshmen, and each subsequent chapter takes place the following year, for 13 years.
In the final chapter, both the Journal Entry and the bulk of the chapter take place in the same week of time in the present tense.
The book begins when Allie’s husband walks out, and ends 13 months later.
Below is a general outline, and it includes somewhat of a *Spoiler alert*:
Allie Sexton is terrified of the truth. Twenty-eight years ago, her mother disappeared; never to be heard from again. Allie survived by becoming the toast of the party—any party—and never looking back. But as a thirty-two-year-old mother of two, parties have morphed into playdates, and the closest she gets to Dom Pérignon is watered-down Mott’s. Even her once golden marriage has tarnished into a rote, “How was your day” fly-by. When her husband storms out, growling “until you figure out what you want,” she is panicked that the answer to so simple a task may forever elude her. This time, instead of burying her pain and confusion, she straightens her shoulders and sifts back through her life—through the mica and the silt—knowing that the key to her future lies at rock bottom, in the truth about her mother.
As Allie’s story unravels, her crutch is her treasured circle of friends; until their own lives begin to fracture. Steadfast Megan, who grounds her friends’ lightning with her golden-rule perspective, is ripped apart by the horror and ambiguity of being raped by a date. Devin’s relentless demon—her nail-biting insecurity—drives her into an affair to soothe her cutting doubts about her husband. Wickedly sexy Zoe drowns herself in vodka after she pulls out all the stops to win Devin’s husband, including labeling him the father of her unborn child.
In a surprising shift of roles, Allie becomes the shoulder for each of these women, and in helping them find their own hidden strengths she discovers she is a lot more than social glitter. She decides to fight for her marriage, and her husband is by her side when she finally learns the shocking truth about her mother.
Allie’s world flips upside-down, but only for a moment. She understands now that truth—and life—are subjective. Everyone’s story has seismic plot twists. Allie now knows that it is up to the author to interpret each twist, assign it symbolism, and weave it all into a personal narrative. And then to move onto the next chapter.
The target audience for this literary fiction/women’s fiction is women over 30. The Truth is a Theory could be a popular book club book.
This idea for this story had been percolating with me for a while, but it really came into focus when my kids were little, and my marriage was on the back burner (or off the stove completely) because of the demands of young kids, careers, life. I was smack in the middle of a frantic life that was all about other people’s needs, and it was almost impossible to find myself while racing to the supermarket before work, or while slapping mac-n-cheese together with one hand and soothing a toddler meltdown with the other, or while shampooing the dog after a midnight skunking incident. Nevermind finding time to nurture my marriage. Sound bites became the unfortunate but necessary language between my husband and I. And I’m pretty sure that “sound bite” is not one of the five love languages.
We all tend to fill in the blanks of what we don’t know with our own assumptions. When sound bites are the norm, there is a lot of space for assumptions. And those assumptions then become truth. I started to wonder, what happens to a relationship when our assumptions--our working truths--are wildly off?
And the story of Allie’s crumbling marriage was born. (As was my passion for becoming a marriage counselor.)
As a psychotherapist and marriage counselor, I help people everyday who are struggling to find themselves, or find their partners, or find their truth through the tentacles of faulty assumptions--their own, their partner’s, the world’s.
Just as there are pieces of me in each of these women’s stories, I am sure readers will resonate with and find pieces of themselves in the pages of The Truth is a Theory.
1. Prior to becoming an author and Psychotherapist, I worked in Public Relations in Manhattan for many years. I understand the strategy and the importance of marketing. I also consult with a marketing executive, and would consider hiring him or another one to formalize and operationalize the marketing of the book.
2. I have created an author website, www.karynbristol.com, highlighting the new book, with a “pre-order” link that will link to my publishizer page.
3. Social Netwroking campaign: I plan to create buzz in all my social media outlets, and have linked them all through Hootsuite to streamline the process. I have created a separate author Facebook page in addition to my personal Facebook page.
4. Prior to launch, I plan to send out a buzz-building Email campaign.
5. I will market the book on my professional Psychotherapist blog.
6. I have created and built (and then re-built when we moved) my private psychotherapy practice from the ground up, twice starting from zero clients and growing in just a year or two to a full-time business-- with a waiting list. I plan to put this kind of determination and hustle into the marketing and promotion of myself as an author and of this book.
The Truth is a Theory is a story of people you know, people you wish you knew. It is a portrayal of relationships, in all their rich beauty and flawed imperfection. The story sweeps the reader up in snappy, rapid-fire banter of the four women’s public selves, and then takes the reader by the hand, behind closed doors, into the character’s deeply personal, emotionally nuanced private lives.
It’s competition are books that also do both, like Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.
Black Rose Writing
Innovative - Self-reliant - Nimble - Forward Thinking - Subject Experts - Entrepreneurial - Engaged
Business, Children's, Fantasy, Health, History, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Professional, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Help, Sports, Thriller, Young Adult
Canada, United Kingdom, United States
Koehler Books is an Indie publisher based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Our team of dedicated professionals promises you a holistic publishing experience where you'll receive our full attention, collaboration and coaching every step of the way. We offer two publishing models: a traditional non-fee model for the highest quality work, as well as a co-publishing model that includes creative development fees for emerging authors.
Business, Fantasy, Health, History, Journalism, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Politics, Professional, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Sports, Technology, Thriller, Travel
Sunbury Press, Inc., headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA is a publisher of hardcover, trade paperback, and eBooks featuring established and emerging authors in many categories. Sunbury's books are sold through leading booksellers worldwide.
The Story Plant
The Story Plant was founded in 2008 by two long-term industry professionals, Lou Aronica and Peter Miller. From the start, the company has been dedicated to publishing quality fiction and to developing authors.
Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
TouchPoint Press, a traditional royalty paying publisher of digital and print fiction and nonfiction, strives to be innovative and energetic in all we do from acquisitions to promotion before and after publication.
Business, Children's, Fantasy, Health, History, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Novella, Professional, Religious, Romance, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Thriller, Young Adult
BBL Media & Publishing helps writers realize their dreams of sharing their message with the world. We blend the best aspects of traditional publishing with the creative control and speed to market of self-publishing through our Hybrid publishing company. We are also one of the few who specialize in publicity and marketing, which starts long before your book is published, and continues for the life of our partnership.
Business, Cookbooks, Health, Journalism, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Politics, Professional, Self-Help, Travel
Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.
Canada, United Kingdom, United States
eBooks2go, Inc., was founded in 2011 to provide the missing link for all your publishing needs. Our end-to-end solutions provide the guidance and support that enable publishers and independent authors to pursue their passions. To date, we have helped more than 750 authors and 100 publishers worldwide.
i2i Publishing was founded by Lionel Ross who is himself the published author of eight books. He knows, only too well, the almost impossible task confronting a new author when he seeks to find a book publishing company. Writers devote months and years of their lives to crafting and creating books devoted to the education and entertainment of unseen others. They then discover that their beloved manuscript is just a piece of often worthless merchandise in the eyes of the vast majority of book publishing companies. New authors receive countless numbers of rejection letters from the mainstream publishers who prefer to play it safe with either established authors or celebrity authored books. Finally new writers turn in desperation to the so-called Vanity market. There they are promised, in return for vast sums of money, that their book will be published.
Children's, Fantasy, Health, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Politics, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Young Adult
Lulu Press, Inc.
Since 2002, Lulu has enabled more than 1 million authors in more than 225 countries and territories to self-publish nearly 2 million publications. Our industry-leading tools, worldwide print network and global community help authors hone their craft and publish printed books and eBooks for FREE. Offering the largest Indie bookstore at Lulu.com and distribution services, you can sell in online bookstores around the world. With Lulu, authors are in control, forever owning the rights to their works, setting their own price and keeping 80 percent of their book profits and 90 percent of eBook profits.
We are a full service book publishing company that works closely with independent authors in every phase of writing/editorial, book production, book marketing, and book distribution. Our roster includes bestselling authors who have previously traditionally published, first time authors, and authors at various levels in between.
Morgan James Publishing has revolutionized book publishing—from the author’s standpoint.
Business, Health, Journalism, Literary Fiction, Professional, Religious, Self-Help, Technology
Pen Name Publishing
Pen Name Publishing is a boutique publisher of Bold Stories by Bold Voices. We proudly represent authors from all walks of life, believe in community, and partnership. We work with our authors to develop award winning books that exceed their expectations.
Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Memoirs, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult
Prodigy Gold Books
WiDo Publishing / E.L. Marker
E.L. Marker™, WiDo Publishing’s new imprint, is a hybrid publisher established to meet the needs of authors in a changing publishing climate. Now, more than ever, writers are seeking a blend between self-publishing and traditional publishing. They want an option that offers the higher royalties and greater control associated with self- publishing, while enjoying the prestige and quality provided by a traditional publisher.
Cookbooks, Fantasy, History, Journalism, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Politics, Religious, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult
Atmosphere Press is an independent full-service publisher for books in genres ranging from non-fiction to fiction to poetry to children's picturebooks, with a special emphasis on being an author-friendly approach to getting a book into the world. We're professional, honest, and kind.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bookmobile provides book printing, graphic design, and other resources to support book publishers in an ever-changing environment. Superior quality, excellent customer service, flexibility, and timely turnarounds have attracted nearly 1,000 satisfied clients to Bookmobile, including trade houses, university presses, independent publishers, museums, galleries, artists, and more.
Business, Children's, Cookbooks, Fantasy, Health, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mind & Body, Mystery, Politics, Professional, Religious, Romance, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Sports, Technology, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult
Colborne Communications is a professional editing and publishing services company based in Toronto. Since 1977, we have been providing editing, writing, proofreading, indexing, and research services to a variety of individual, corporate, and government clients, including all of Canada's major publishers.
Business, Children's, Cookbooks, Fantasy, History, Journalism, Lifestyle, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Mystery, Novella, Politics, Professional, Romance, Sci-Fi, Science, Self-Help, Sports, Technology, Thriller, Travel, Young Adult
Gladiator Publishing Company
Gladiator Publishing Co. has held a reputation in the Literary Industry for nearly 100 Years as a Writer-Loyal company. Nearly 100-years later, Gladiator Publishing Company still maintains that strong characteristic. We place our Authors publications first and foremost. You may hear many other "Publishing entities" state that they are "the first" to do this or the "originator/pioneer" of that. If everyone is using the same marketing, promotional, and advertising pipelines what makes them so original?
Happy Self Publishing
We have helped 250+ authors to get their books self-published, hit the #1 position in the Amazon bestseller charts and also establish their author website & brand to grow their business. And the best thing is, we do all this without taking away your rights and royalties. Our publishing packages start at $699! Let's schedule a call to discuss the next steps in your book project: www.happyselfpublishing.com/scheduler
She had to watch. She tried to anchor herself in the kitchen, to hot coffee and the beginnings of a list—mac & cheese, milk—but as the storm door banged shut on her marriage, she dropped the pen and rushed to the glass, to Dana’s broad-shouldered march towards the car.
She opened her mouth, then snapped it shut as a jumble of longing, regrets, and wishes surged up and snagged in her throat. She reached out her hand and it stalled against the windowpane, her diamond wedding band shooting flares in the morning sun. Her fingertips pressed against the cold glass. Her hand, her body was trembling.
She willed herself numb, begged the chill of the glass to freeze her, make her immune to the pain. It was something she was good at, walling herself off from hurt, a skill she laughed off as a party trick with friends, ha-ha, just another one of her quirks. But it wasn’t a trick; it was survival. Other people ask for a hug when they’re feeling lonely or scared. She had taught herself not to feel.
This morning though, as she watched Dana walk away, numbness failed her. Instead, all five senses were jacked up and bombarding her, distracting her from the moment, the meaning, as if they had stepped forward and said to her heart, “Don’t worry, we’ll handle this.” Her cheek stung from Dana’s weird, last minute lean-in (was it intended to be a kiss? A hug? The reality was more scrape than caress because of her surprised flinch as his face came close). Her sinuses burned with his smell, Old Spice slapped on over restless, clammy sweat, and her ears were screaming with the echo of his “Okay”, the only word he’d spoken this morning, choked out after he bent in and straightened back up. Okay what? Okay, that chore’s done? Okay, I’m out of here? This is all going to be okay? She couldn’t see how.
Her eyes zeroed in on Dana, his rumpled hair, his wrinkled shirt, a look that years ago boasted of a late night of exotic cocktails and a need to touch, to slide hands in back pockets, to drape blue-jeaned legs over each other, and hours later, to fight off sleep because of just one more thing to say. Now it was simply an acknowledgement of uninspired exhaustion. She wondered if he had slept in his clothes. Or slept at all. She rubbed her eyes.
She focused on his blue running shoes, knotted together and dangling off of, oh God how many bags? Her heart skipped a beat. Clearly after all was said and done a rapid getaway was crucial, no back and forth to load the car. Perhaps no “back” at all. She swallowed hard.
He was leaving.
The words had been handed to her last night over routine Chicken Piccata and the low murmur of the TV. His “Allie… ” had jolted her, lowered her fork; not so much the gravity in his tone, but that he’d said it at all. Addressing each other by first name after so many years was like a parent starting a sentence with your first, middle, and last name.
They hadn’t raised their voices; there had been no argument over the glasses of Chardonnay. Dana had presented his closing summary in his smooth legalese, in the way he was schooled at ironing the ache out of his words, and she soaked it in, her face still, the bullet points piercing her, drawing blood but absolutely no visible tears.
He was leaving.
She couldn’t hear the soft thud of each bag hitting the leather car seat, but as she stood behind the glass she could feel it, and every one punched a purple bruise on her heart. He glanced back at her as he shut the door, a quick shot of his broken expression, his weariness, and their eyes wrapped around each other.
And he was everything.
She didn’t know what to do with her arms, and for a moment this frustration almost reduced her to tears. She crossed them over her chest, but didn’t like that statement and thrust them down at her sides, where they hung, flaccid and useless. It was unbearable, this dilemma with her arms, and if she could have cut them off to solve it, she would have. She cast around for something to touch, to hang onto; her only option was a princess umbrella that one of the kids had dropped by the door. Without hesitation, she bent and straightened, her fingers a vise around the smooth plastic.
Dana was behind the wheel. She raised the garish pink handle to wave, and her arm—extended now like the Statue of Liberty with a Disney prop—stalled in the air. As if she was commanding Stop! or maybe had a question.
And the black Volvo drove away.
Journal Entry #1
June 10, 2000
I’m afraid of being alone. I’m wide awake in the bowels of my first night without Dana, and although I’ve plugged in and clicked on every slice of artificial life I could get my hands on—lights, TV, computer, both baby monitors—it’s like I’ve tried to light up the Amazon with a nightlight. I’m acutely aware that just beyond the yellow glow sprawls the bottomless dark, where there is no edge to my emptiness, no warm skin to delineate where I end and the dead, hollowed-out space around me begins.
Sheer desperation cracked open this journal. But the calisthenics of writing is helpful, especially during commercials when it feels like my date has just gone to the bathroom and I’m alone at the bar pretending I’ve got a lot on my mind. The first mark, however, was daunting. The blank page sneered, daring me to begin, but the hovering, “How did I get here?” seemed so trite. In thirty-two years I’ve walked through many doors, but it’s not as if any of them loomed before me with a Let’s Make a Deal number above it and a heart-pounding decision attached. I floated through most of my life carelessly, unceremoniously, and the unselected doors evaporated in my wake.
The journal was not my idea. About a month ago, Zoe—who I now believe is psychic—dragged me to her therapist. Celia was younger than I expected and pretty, although she tried to mute it with a pair of thick, black-framed glasses, which probably did make me sit a little straighter. She suggested the journal. I backpedaled, stammered that when I was younger, writing in a journal was dangerous. I’ve always been terrified to pick up a pen and begin, lest the pen, on its own like the moving piece of a Ouija board, suddenly decided to scratch away at my smile to see what churned just below the surface.
But ulcerous desperation—which has a taste by the way, a mix of tin and white chalk—shrinks the world into black or white. Curl up into yourself, or dare.
And so, I have picked up a pen.
September 1986: Freshman Year
Allie Mussoni scraped her flip-flop through a small pile of sand on the sidewalk; she was going to scream if her father didn’t say something soon. They had been standing among her small army of duffel bags and brown cardboard boxes for hours while he wallowed in indecision about how to handle the send-off. Say something wise? That would have involved some preparation. Hug? Not in her father’s repertoire. Shake hands? Oh my God. She jammed her hands into the pockets of her Levi’s mini-skirt and clenched her fists so tightly that her nails cut into the soft skin of her palms. The bustle of students, of the world, streamed by her; she glued her eyes to the ground, loath to offer anyone a window into her purgatory. Tiny black ants, resigned to the fact that their home had been destroyed again, marched around her feet and towards her father’s—a film of dust had dimmed the sheen of his loafers. She fought the urge to tear her hair out. One, two, three.
She rose up on the tips of her pink rubber soles and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Bye Dad, thanks for the ride.” She was already gliding away. “I’ll grab all this stuff after I check out my room,” she said to the world in front of her. Maybe the breeze would blow it back to him.
She picked up speed and ran towards the red brick dorm, leaving him with his hands deep in his pressed khaki pockets. She turned around once, at the top of the stairs to wave, and saw him with his head bent, sagging towards the driver-side door of his sparkling silver sedan. He didn’t look up, and she didn’t wait.
Her flip-flops thwacked loudly as she ran down the dark green linoleum hallway; parked baggage and emotionally charged students and parents popped up in front of her, causing her to swerve and stumble, littering crumpled sorry’s and excuse me’s in her wake. Number twenty-seven. She paused to catch her breath in the open door. Her new home. A square overhead light, spotted with the shadows of dead bugs, threw harshness around the room, illuminating the patched cinder-block walls, the nicked wooden furniture, the scuffed linoleum. Across the room, a redhead leaned on the windowsill, forehead against the glass.
Allie ran her hands through her long brown hair, and forced the corners of her mouth up. “So where do we pick up our leg chains and standard-issue orange garb?” She stepped into the room and dropped her purse on a gray-and-white-striped plastic mattress.
Her roommate spun around. Red, puffy eyes, but Allie could see someone else was skilled in the decorative smile.
“It is pretty grim. But I think we can make it cute.” The girl peered past Allie; Allie guessed she was expecting a set of parents to stagger in with boxes.
Allie smiled. “You’re an optimist.” She stuck out her hand. “I’m Allie.”
Megan introduced herself and glanced at all of her latched suitcases and taped boxes stacked neatly in a corner. “I didn’t want to start without you.”
“Thanks. It doesn’t matter which bed I get or anything.” Allie surveyed the identical sets of beds, desks, and bureaus. Her green eyes darted back to one of the desks. “On the other hand, I’ll take the one with I love Mouse carved on it.”
“You’re kidding me. Mouse?”
“That’s what it says. Frightening, huh?”
“Do you think he gave himself that name or earned it somehow?”
“I’m scared for him in either scenario,” Allie said. “But the prize goes to the girl who loved him and just had to eternalize it on this sorry desk.”
“Maybe he’s cute.”
“Mouse? Now I’m scared for you.”
“I can only imagine the field day my family would have if I came home and said, ‘Mom, meet Mouse.’ There would be mass hysteria, and I’m not talking about panic,” Megan said.
Allie dropped onto the wooden desk chair and slid her hand over the cuts on the desk. I could come home with an Orangutan and no one would raise an eyebrow.
“Do you need help with your stuff, or… ” Megan’s finger scraped at the cuticle on her thumb.
“Thanks, I left it all out on the sidewalk. And there are tons of frat guys out there helping new kids move in. Charitable, don’t you think? Funny, they don’t seem interested in helping the freshmen boys.” Her eyes twinkled. “Let’s go introduce ourselves and point them in this direction.”
Megan paled a shade and scanned the bare walls. “You don’t have a mirror, do you?”
Allie shook her head. “It’s all outside. Come on, you look great.”
Megan sighed, smoothed down her hair, then her shorts, and followed Allie out.
“Music or TV?” Allie asked as the last box was dumped on the floor. She wanted to dive right in; the emptiness of the room made her nervous.
“Music.” Megan clicked on the stereo.
“Do you mind if I flip this on too?” Allie plugged in her TV. “It’s habit; I’ll mute it.”
Megan pulled folded sheets and a rainbow-colored comforter out of an enormous Bed & Bath bag, and then made her bed with care, smoothing down the yellow sheets, throwing the comforter up in the air and then snapping it so that it billowed out over the bed and settled across it like a sigh.
“Don’t judge,” Megan said as she pulled a stuffed yellow Labrador out of a bag.
“I’m the last person who should hold a gavel,” Allie said. Then grabbing a hammer and nails, she nodded towards the cheaply framed posters leaning against the wall. “What do you think?”
Megan stared at the lineup. “Yours.”
“Really? I like Ansel Adams.”
“Me too. But I bet every room on this floor will have one. Yours will give the room more flavor.”
“Let’s put them all up.” Allie picked up her funky ad for a cosmetics company—a huge pair of cherry red lips on a metallic silver background. She climbed up on her bed. “So how was your summer?” She slammed the hammer against a nail. Cement crumbled around the hole and fell onto her bed. “Uh oh.” She looked at Megan and smiled at her roommate’s wide-eyed look. “It’s okay, we’ll just take some posters out of the frames and tape them up instead.” She started pulling the frame apart. “This one can cover the hole. And then if we ever want to tunnel into the next room, we’ve got a head start.”
Allie sat down on her bed, brushed some cement dust off her quilt, and continued to pry the frame apart. “So, your summer?”
“It was good. I lifeguarded during the day, at night I just hung out with friends.”
“You’re lucky on both counts. I waitressed a lot, anything to get out of the house. And I didn’t see much of my friends.”
Megan’s quiet made Allie look up and add, “Boarding school. Everyone’s all over the map.”
“Wow, that’s hard.”
Allie nodded. “You go from being glued together twenty-four/seven to being stranded at home in a neighborhood that’s moved on without you. It’s all or nothing. My boyfriend lives in Massachusetts and I think I spent every cent I made this summer getting up there on the weekends. Luckily the phone bill didn’t arrive before I left. My dad’s gonna have a heart attack when he gets it.”
“Where’s he now, your boyfriend?” Megan handed Allie the next poster, a splashy vodka ad with two martini glasses bending towards each other; the tagline read Absolut Attraction. “You better take it out of the frame, I don’t want to ruin it.”
“Princeton,” Allie said as she reached for the frame. “I know,” she said when she caught Megan’s impressed look. “For about a minute we considered going to the same college, but there was the small problem of the difference in our GPA’s.”
Megan chewed on her fingernail. “I know how that goes, my brothers are all at Ivys.”
“Sounds like a lot of pressure for you,” Allie said.
“Dana worked his butt off for his grades, plus, his father went to Princeton, so he felt like he didn’t have a lot of choice.”
“How’d you guys do it? At boarding school, seeing each other all the time like that? Didn’t you get sick of each other?”
“No, it was great actually. I mean, it can definitely get intense, but we had our own space too, time with friends… mostly because there’s a ton of rules and a jammed schedule with classes and sports, so there’s a lot of forced separation.” She paused a moment. “Of course, sometimes when we were together I wanted space, and when we were apart I wanted to be together.” She shook her head. “But it worked. Dana is super-driven, as in, he really wanted to get that A+, so he had to block me out sometimes.” She smiled.
“And the rules blocked us too,” she continued. “Early on he got caught sneaking into my dorm room; I was really sick and he was bringing me ginger ale. He even held my hair as I was bent over the toilet… ”
“Now that’s love,” Megan said with a half-smile.
“That’s actually how he got caught, in the bathroom, holding back my hair. They didn’t suspend him because it was so clearly not a booty call, but we knew if he got caught again, we might both get suspended. So we didn’t sneak around after that, as tempting as it was. What about you, did you leave anyone behind?”
“Not really, no. I had a huge crush on a guy I worked with, like blushing-every-time-he-looked-at-me crush. And he must have noticed because we actually got together a few nights ago at this keg party.”
“Except I, mid-kiss and thinking I was so college, asked him straight out if this was a one night stand. He just looked at me like I had two heads and eased himself right out of there.” She giggled. “Clearly it was a special night for him.”
“Hey, I was just getting the ground rules clear,” Megan said.
“I have to admit, reality didn’t quite match the fantasy.”
“He sounds like a prince.” Allie grinned. “But I guess you have to kiss a lot of,” she paused, glanced at the wooden desk, “mice before… ”
“A lot of rats. A lot of rats is more like it.” Megan smiled.
“Oh my God.” Allie gazed into the cavernous cafeteria, her eyes glittering along with the carnival in front of her. She looked at Megan. “Ready?”
Not really was on Megan’s lips, but she nodded instead and tossed her long copper hair.
Allie handed her laminated meal card to the bored gatekeeper and stepped inside for lunch. Megan followed as closely as possible and tried not to gawk. After two days of freshmen orientation, the school was ablaze with the fuel of the entire student body. The gently sloping, block-lettered signs—“Welcome Class of 1990!” and “The Choir Wants You”—that just last night had smiled down from the bland off-white walls were now invisible against the sun-bronzed upperclassmen who were hugging, hi-fiving, and screaming high-pitched, primal monosyllables as they reunited with friends they hadn’t seen in months.
The freshmen, on the other hand, were trying to melt into the woodwork; any cockiness from orientation had shriveled up and died. The class of 1990 was now fully aware of their position on the totem pole, and they were shamelessly trying to watch, listen, and soak up the unspoken laws and hierarchy of this new culture.
Megan picked up her pace to match Allie’s near skip and grabbed an blue food service tray.
Someone at the crammed fraternity table must have seen him coming. As Gavin Keller coasted across the room with his tray, brothers slid over to make space, the Red Sea parting down the middle. Gavin eased his broad shoulders in between his buddies’ football jerseys, and then without a word, two sophomores got up to make room for his girlfriend Tori and her friend.
“Good to see you, man.” One of the displaced sophomores clapped Gavin on the back.
“You too. Catch ya later.” Gavin bit into an institutionally flat cheeseburger. The splintered conversations around the table had stalled, only one counted now.
“How was the road trip?” a brother lobbed at Gavin.
Gavin chewed. “Awesome. The Rabbit broke down right outside of San Diego, so that’s where we landed for a while.” He shot a bemused look down the table to one of his traveling companions, Brian.
“You’re lucky you didn’t break down in, like, Ohio,” someone said.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Gavin caught eyes with Brian again, “Ohio had its moments.”
“California must have been cool,” the first brother said.
“It was.” Gavin grinned. “Mikey learned to surf.”
Brian full-out laughed back.
There was a seconds-long pause at the table as the audience waited for more; then the group guffawed at a joke only two shared.
Gavin could feel Tori tense beside him and almost hear her gnashing teeth underneath her bright smile. He knew his summer with the guys pissed her off, and his sporadic calls from the road had only made it worse. But he also knew she wouldn’t fight with him about it. He put his hand on her thigh.
“So what do you think,” she said, “should we go to the barbecue tonight?”
Gavin turned to answer her, but was momentarily stunned by a tall, dark-haired girl sauntering by the table. Her short, almost boyish haircut and subtle makeup were distinct in a sea of long hair and pink frosted lip gloss, and although she was just dressed in jeans and a white sleeveless tee, she looked like she had been put together by a stylist as no detail from cool boots to pale nail polish to understated silver jewelry had been overlooked.
He felt as though all chatter quieted as she breezed by, and whether it did or not, he knew almost everyone in her vicinity—men and women—were assigning her a place in the world: Hook up! Sorority pledge! Competition! Zoe Chapin seemed not to notice; her piercing blue eyes stared straight ahead as if she knew exactly where she was going. Gavin was riveted, even though she was diametrically opposed to the petite, watery blondes he usually ended up with. Like Tori.
“Uh, I don’t know.” He ripped his eyes from Zoe and swiveled back to his girlfriend. “Why don’t you go with Emily and Sarah, and if we go, I’ll catch you there. Otherwise, just meet me at the House later.” He watched her face fall at the news that his “we” meant him and his brothers. “We’re definitely having a party,” he added to justify his brush off. He couldn’t resist scanning the room to see where Zoe had landed with her lunch.
Tori flashed another one of her super-bright smiles that Gavin knew garaged a private tantrum. She stood up. “I’ll see you later then.” She fluffed her long blonde hair and eyed her friend across the table. “Ready to go, Em?”
Emily put down her forkful of salad and stood up.
Tori walked off, with one more hair toss for good measure.
“Wow, did you guys see her?” said Rich, a fraternity brother who tried his best to see everything.
“A little mad, huh?” Gavin grimaced, and again dragged his focus away from Zoe and back to the table.
“No. Well yeah, Tori was mad. But I meant that freshman striker. Tall, leggy… ” Rich had created what he thought was a cool classification for girls, striker meant really cute; bomber—really ugly. Unfortunately, it had stuck. At least with Rich.
“I saw her,” Gavin said. And any thoughts of Tori being mad drifted off as his mind returned to the gorgeous girl whose name he didn’t know. Yet.
The author hasn't added any updates, yet.