Chapter 37

Ugh, I have such a headache, Kelsey thought to herself. Damn lights. Slowly she began to hear a beeping noise, and with curiosity getting the best of her, she cracked open an eye to see what the hell it was.

"Kelsey? You awake? Oh my God!" Julia exclaimed, shocked.

"What the hell's going on?" Kelsey said, it coming out of her dry mouth weak and hoarse. Feeling the IV stuck in her vein, she began to get a picture of where she was. A stinking hospital. My mouth feels like cotton. And I have a headache. Great.

She was alarmed to see the dark haired girl rest her head on her shoulder and bawl. "Julia, you don't have to cry," she coughed.

"You don't understand," she sobbed. "When you didn't wake up they thought you had sustained a head injury too."

"Huh?" Kelsey said, trying to put together the pictures. "Okay, how long have I been out?"

"Since the wee hours of Sunday morning."

"And today is..."

"Monday afternoon."

"Boy," Kelsey sighed, "that was a long nap, and I don't feel refreshed."

Julia lifted her head and glowered her bloodshot blue eyes at her. "No, silly, that's called a coma. We were all getting scared."

Drifting away from my body...Romans...nails...campfires...

"You there?" Julia asked, alarmed.

"Yeah, yeah," Kelsey said, lightly shaking her head. "Ugh, my head hurts."

"Where?" Julia asked.

"Right above the eyes," she groaned, sniffling. Julia turned around when she saw the nurse on duty come in.

"She's awake," the nurse said, walking to the other side of the bed, taking the clipboard and jotting a few notes down. "Here," she said, handing Kelsey a thermometer to put in her mouth. "Heart rate," she mumbled to herself, looking to the monitor, and then a few other observations she saw in Kelsey.

"Nurse? I'm really thirsty."

"I'll get you some ice," she said, leaving.

"I was looking forward to a big glass of water, personally. The nurse returned with a cupful of ice chips.

"The doctor will be in soon," then she left.

Kelsey took out an ice chip and sucked on it. "Much inferior to water, but better than nothing," she sighed.

A woman in a white lab coat came in. "Excuse me, miss, but you'll have to leave for now." Julia got up and left, walking out to the solarium and sitting down on the couch.

A few minutes later Jessie joined her. "How's slugger doing? Any better?"

"She woke up," Julia sighed with relief.

"Damn about time," the tall brunette grumbled. "She was beginning to worry us all."

"Yeah. The doctor is checking her vitals right now," Julia said. "I was getting worried because the tennis match that was cancelled Saturday was scheduled for tomorrow."

Jessie put her head in her hands. "I don't know how I'm going to break this to her."

"Break what?" Julia asked, then turned defensive. "Don't you dare tell her what I said earlier!"

"No, no," Jessie said. "She may have hated her dad with a passion, but I have no idea how she's going to react when she finds out she had in fact killed him."


"Over the head with a crowbar."

"I vaguely recall her mother saying something about that yesterday," Julia replied.

"So you know what happened?"

"Vaguely." The solarium was silent and empty except for the two of them. Julia lowered her voice. "Um, Jessie, thanks for giving me a lift yesterday and today."

"Your parents give you any more slack?"

Julia rolled her eyes. "But of course. I'm probably in deep trouble for telling Mom to 'shove it' before I left this morning."

"Julia! I could never imagine you saying something like that!"

Julia shook her head. "When I get angry I feel like a whole different person."

"I must say," Jessie said, laughing.

"Hey, Kelsey," Jessie said, sitting beside her. "Must be nice to be out of Intensive Care, huh?"

Kelsey wearily looked and her and sighed. "Yeah. At least I don't have to listen to that damn beeping sound."

"You look tired, kiddo."

"Took a long nap and I don't feel any better. And that alcohol shit burns!"

"You're probably tired because you're body is fighting in overtime to repair itself and keep those nasty germs out at the same time."

"Yeah," Kelsey said, then shut her eyes. "You can talk, I'm listening."

"I don't know how to break this to you, kiddo," Jessie said, voice cracking.

Oh gods, don't let it be Mother or Shana...

"Your dad's dead."

"Good," Kelsey said, straight out, voice flat and emotionless. "I'm sick of having our whole family running from his shadow."

"But it was you who killed him."

Me? I don't remember. "What? I don't remember, Jessie. Are they going to charge me?"

"No, they're not going to charge you. He got a Saturday night special out and you hit him in the head with a crowbar. But not before he managed to shoot you three times and put you in that coma."

"What was I doing with a crowbar? I don't remember any of this."

"Well, scamp, you shouldn't have been sneaking out of the house, that's what."

Kelsey shrugged but said nothing.

Jessie studied her friend. Either she's in denial or...she'd feel much worse if she actually remembered doing it. She heard soft snoring from the red head. She got up and kissed her friend on the forehead, then quietly padded out.

She ran into Mrs. Slevin. "How's she doing?"

"She's pretty tired, but alright," Jessie said.

Mother Slevin nodded. "The doctor said she'll be out within 24 hours. She's doing much better now that she's out of that coma."

"That's good. Bye, Mrs. Slevin."

"Take care, Jessie."

Chapter 38

Wednesday, after school.

"Hey, Kelsey, how are you feeling?" Jessie asked, sitting next to her on the bed.

"Better, but not shipshape," Kelsey replied. The doctor had released her Tuesday afternoon, telling her to not strain herself lest she rip out the stitches. Kelsey didn't feel too well the next morning, so she stayed home in bed.

"Julia's going to be here a little later," Jessie informed her.

"How's playoff's going?"

"All over. She won her match against the number one seed."

"You mean she's top dog now?"

"Top dog in the state. But of course she acts like it's no big deal."

Kelsey giggled. "Sounds like Julia."


"I don't know why the two of you must be so stubborn about your attraction to each other," she said. "Just looking at the way your eyes light up whenever I mention her name, I can tell you're head over heels for her still."

Kelsey frowned. "Don't remind me of that, ok?! You're just dragging out the pain of the unrequited crush from hell!!!"

"I wouldn't call it unrequited," Jessie said, rolling her eyes and playing innocent.

"Listen, Miss Matchmaker," Kelsey growled, "go find a match for yourself."

"Oh, I didn't say I could pick out guys very well," Jessie said, remembering how the date with the cute guy on the soccer team turned out to be a total bombshell. "On the other hand--"

"What?! Spit it out! I would like to know why you're so compelled to get us together even though you know she's straighter than a frigging arrow. We've had this argument so many times I can't believe you're bringing it up again," Kelsey said in annoyance.

Jessie laughed. "Too bad you couldn't hear what she said Sunday afternoon to you."

Kelsey arched an eyebrow. "And that would be?"

"Well...she's going to kill me when she finds out I told you, I'll put it this way," Jessie nervously laughed. "She was blabbering about some dream she had when I walked by and stood by the door. Something about your wedding day and she confessed she was terribly jealous of your new wife."

Kelsey laughed. "You're pulling my leg, silly."

"Then she started to cry. She really thought you were going to die. Then she got mad at herself for actually caring, since it seems everyone else she's cared for in the past never returned the feelings."

"I'm sorry she thought I was about to die--but Jessie, that sounds like one of your tall tales."

"Then she heard me almost sneeze and she got real embarrassed. Gods, you two are so stubborn!" Jessie exclaimed.

"I'm still not buying it," Kelsey said, shaking her head.

"Suit yourself," Jessie said, shoulders slumped. "But you know me better than to think I would lie just to break your heart."

"Hey, Julia," Jessie greeted when she came by to see Kelsey.

"Hey. How's she doing?"

"Getting better but not feeling well."

"Aw," Julia said.

"Come in," Jessie said, and shut the door behind her. They walked down the hall towards Kelsey's room. "You know, someday you're going to have to confront the fact that you like her."

Julia blushed, but tried to keep a stern face. "I thought you weren't going to talk about this!" she scolded in a loud whisper.

"Here's Kelsey's room," Jessie said as soon as Julia finished her sentence. The door was ajar, and Julia feared that Kelsey might have heard. Well, she can laugh at me for these silly little feelings but at least she'd be a hypocrite to disown me as a friend/acquaintance outright!

Kelsey had just shut her eyes when she heard Jessie let Julia in. "You know, someday you're going to have to confront the fact that you like her." Kelsey quirked an eyebrow. Looks like someone is confident enough to test her presumption, she thought, sighing.

Julia whispered in a barely audible, scratchy whisper: "I thought you weren't going to talk about this!" Kelsey felt her jaw go slack. Oh shit, all bets are off.

She was the blush on Julia's face, and blushed in turn.

Julia looked at the tall brunette and scowled. "Dang it Jessie, go ahead, let the cat out of the bag! Thanks a bunch!" She felt like storming out of the room, but resisted the urge; it would be rude to disappear like that. Kelsey certainly knew now and she was just waiting for the chainsaw to cruelly rip her heart into jagged bloody pieces. Just like everyone else I ever cared about...

"Hey, hey," Jessie tried to calm her down, "I don't need two people mad at me for letting the cat out of the bag."

Now she's going to do the same. You sly...damn it, Jessie!

"Sit down, Julia," Jessie requested. The dark haired girl sat in the seat next to Kelsey's desk. "I'm just going to explain something here, hear me out."

She paused, making sure they weren't going to interrupt her. She was nervous enough trying to find the right words to get this concept into their thick skulls without having them drown her out with their badgering. "It looks like both of you like each other and are too afraid of rejection by the other to ever say anything. You two are mature enough to handle this issue between yourselves." Then Jessie left, shutting the door behind herself. I hope this goes productively... she tersely hoped.

The two girls just looked at each other, not knowing what to say or what to do. Julia looked like a deer frozen in headlights and Kelsey was at a loss of where to begin. "Well, we look kind of stupid just sitting here speechless..." Kelsey stuttered, trying to break the unwelcome, tense silence.

Julia simply shook her head. "How long has she suspected?" she muttered.

"Hmm...ever since that retreat."

"What?!" Julia gasped.

"Alright, alright, she said she suspected and I confessed. You going to hate me now?"

Julia shook her head. "No..."

The tension in Kelsey's face began to ebb away. "Good," she sighed. "I really didn't---nevermind."

"Nevermind what?" Julia asked, then pausing to think. "I'm really sorry I lashed out at you that one unfortunate Wednesday night when Shana outed you."

"It was Shana then," Kelsey grunted, nodding her head in a mixture of disbelief, embarrassment, and a touch of betrayal. "If we decide to take this anywhere beyond 'just friends,' as Jessie is so intent on pushing us, we're going to have to make sure Shana doesn't catch wind of this unless we want to be the talk of the gossips for months."

Julia hung her head. "My mother will surely send me to an ex-gay camp if she finds out! The last time she threatened it Dad said I was straight, and if I start dating you, no excuse can stop her now..." She looked up into the red head's green orbs. "Kelsey, I'm scared."

"You think Luke or Justin would try to rough me up if they found out?" Kelsey asked timidly.

"Luke's choice of weapon of choice is humiliation. God knows, he's the butt of it most of the time!"

"And Justin?"

"Only the Good Lord knows what he'd do. He's become so unpredictable anymore. Tried to slap me Monday after school and I told him if he didn't keep his hands to himself, I was going to break up with him!"

"What'd he say?"

"Nothing. I don't think it'll be the last time he's going to try that."

"For crying out loud, Julia, you can have any pretty boy on that campus! You don't have to put up with that loser!"

"As with Luke, I'm not going to put up with Justin's rubbish either. I'm going to tell him at church that we're not a couple anymore."

"Good." Kelsey downcast her eyes, hastily amending, "Not out of jealousy, of course, but you deserve better."

"Oh come on, you're jealous."

"Am not!"

"Not even a teeny bit?"

"Are you wanting me to say 'yes?'" Kelsey inquired.

Julia grinned. "Okay, I'm not being nice." She leaned back in the desk chair. "I sure have a bad taste in guys. Then again, it'd help if I was actually attracted to them."

"Then why the hell did you go out with them?!" Kelsey asked, quite perplexed. When she was going out with Luke, they didn't look like they were inseparable, but around Justin, it was like they couldn't let each other out of sight.

"They both went to my church at the time I met them," Julia explained. "I began dating when I figured that if I didn't, people would start thinking there was something wrong with me. My excuse 'my parents won't let me date because I'm not yet fifteen' vanished like the genie in the lamp last February. And then there was Luke. He wasn't the first guy who thought I was pretty, but he was the first to actually ask my parents permission to date me. Of course Mother said yes, whether I liked it or not. He was a nice man. Notice the word was," she said, with a laugh.

"If you weren't attracted to Justin, then what was up with those puppy dog eyes you two gave each other all the time?"

Julia swallowed her spit, her face solemn. "Kelsey, we're all actors with a role to play sometimes. Justin asked me out, I said, why the heck not, and look--with spies all over the place, I had to play the role of the lovesick straight girl."

Kelsey squinted, confused. "Spies?"

"That's what happens when your parents are well known in the church community," Julia sighed. "If some kid squeals to Mommy that she saw Julia Williams the Tennis Star deviating from her expected duties, my mother was bound to hear it and scold me."

"I'm sorry," Kelsey said. "I guess Jessie's idea isn't going to work out, is it?" she said, swallowing her heart deep inside.

"No, no, don't say that!" Julia cried out. "Ah...we'll find a way. We just have to be careful. How'd you keep everything hush hush between you and your last girlfriend?"

"What last girlfriend? I've never dated."

Two dark eyebrows arched in surprise. "Oh."

"You seem to speak fearfully of your mother. Something going on?"

"Oh, no. As she says, I'm simply a spoiled brat," she defended.

Kelsey glowered at her. "Either you aren't telling me the truth or you've been sold a crock."

Julia ambled over and sat beside Kelsey. "You look tired."

"I think I've caught a cold or something," the red head complained, sniffling. "Damned hospitals."

Julia laid a hand over Kelsey's forehead. "Doesn't feel hot."

"That's good," Kelsey said, feeling a tingling sensation where Julia's hand was a moment before. The dark haired girl didn't put it back to her side, but rested it on the other side of Kelsey's body, and shifted her body weight on it.

"So when did you first become aware you liked girls?"

Kelsey swallowed, feeling the slightest touch where Julia's wrist touched her side. "Um, my first crush was certainly from the sixth grade, but I had no word for it until halfway through my freshman year."

"What'd you do between then?"

"Oh, denial. I knew it was frowned upon before that--I don't know whether to say it was easier to be in denial or to come out to myself."

"Does your mom know?"

"I never told her outright, but I'm pretty sure she knows."

"She's nice," Julia said offhand.

Kelsey laughed. "I've heard her called many things, but 'nice' hasn't been one of them!"

"Let me guess--they take one look at her face and run. Shame on them!"

"That pretty much sums it up."

Julia gazed at her. "I'm curious: why'd you tell Shana?"

Kelsey grimaced. "Had I realized what a superficial little bitch she was, I would never had told her."

Julia flipped her watch over. "Oh boy, I better get moving soon."

"Why?" A moment later, Kelsey added, "Duh, church."


The red head felt her eyes lock into Julia's blue eyes, which looked back into hers. An electric jolt tingled up her spine, giving her goosebumps on the top of her head. The dark haired girl leaned forward, bending over and lightly brushing her lips over Kelsey's, then, resisting temptation, pulled back, breaking off the tender contact.

Kelsey couldn't figure out whether that was a good thing. On the one hand, she finally had a shot of finally having a girlfriend, but what if Julia freaked out? Reverted back to her straight ways, leaving her heart behind in pieces for her to patch together with rubber cement? I don't think I could handle it!

She sat back up. "See you tomorrow at school," Julia said. "Gotta go."

Kelsey sadly watched her leave, afraid the magic she felt moments before was gone for good.

Chapter 39

Rhett picked up Julia after church. He noticed immediately that Julia seemed quite upset, despite her determined attempt to hide it. "Julia, what's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," she replied.

Instead of simply turning the ignition and dropping the question, Rhett turned around and addressed her once again. "Julia, I can tell something is wrong."

"It's Justin."

"What about him?"

"He's...he's dead."

"The Reverend's son?" Rhett asked, shocked.


"How? Or do you know?"


"Oh Sweet Jesus," he exhaled, turning the ignition, starting the car, backing up, and leaving for home.

She wanted nothing more than to be left alone; today was simply too much and she just wanted to shut the rest of the world out. She went to her room, shutting the door behind her, and flopped on the bed, not bothering to turn on the lights.

Good grief, I've had way too much on my plate today, she thought. Mom's still mad at me, Dad doesn't care, Jessie cornered me into a scary confession, (although that kiss...whoa...I really don't know where to go from here. I'm so scared of hurting her!!!) and now Justin mysteriously commits suicide.

Wonder if he wrote me anything? she wondered, a tinge of guilt pricking her. Let's see. She walked over and plopped in the computer chair and turned up the computer, waiting for it to boot.

Floppy A drive problem. ESC, boot, load Windows 95, watch taskbar crash-- *wince* --get stupid blue screen three times, have that stupid jungle monkey scream the program performed an illegal operation and had to be shut down, load Office Shortcut bar, and then I hopefully can start work! Julia shook her head. Thank God I'm backing everything up on a rewriteable CD.

She clicked on the Dial-Up program, which spurned the modem to dial the local ISP, whiny and carry on in their conversation, and, if Lady Luck was on her side, she would be connected to the Internet, hopefully at a reasonable pace.

Not this round. Reroll the dice, Julia thought when it disconnected her immediately. She clicked "connect" again, and watched the dialog box anxiously to see if maybe she was lucky this time.

Yes! She opened her web browser and typed in the URL of her web mail server. Enter username. jw.... password: ***** then clicked 'Login'. She saw her mailbox. Inbox: 1. She then clicked the inbox folder to see who it was.

Shoot, it was Justin. She clicked on the message, and checked the timestamp. School time. He wasn't at school today. She read the message.

If you don't see me at church tonight you will know I am successful. Julia, do not cry--today I am free from the double life I have had to live since I was a little boy. I feel really bad knowing I'm going to hurt you, but I tried everything and it failed. I'm sorry for yelling at you, I'm sorry for threatening to hurt you. I thought I could keep the pain inside but I was wrong.

I have one last thing to tell you. Get out of Western Baptist right now before it's too late. My dad is charismatic, and if you get any closer, you're going to get burned. Look at me. He's looking for young boys and girls like us to be the so-called 'Vessels of Christ'--don't get suckered into it! Only bad will come out of it.

And now I say farewell on Earth. Realize I will always be in Heaven watching over you.


Double life? she thought, unable to solve the riddle. She got up in a hurry and rushed down the hall. "Dad, I got a letter from Justin right before he killed himself, and I think you should read it."

Mother looked up. "Justin killed himself?!"

"Unfortunately," Rhett said, shaking his head, then getting out of his chair.

He followed Julia into his room, and sat down, reading the message. Double life? Tried everything but failed? Internal pain? He was further alarmed by the thick bold, underlined print. Get out of Western Baptist right now or you're going to get burned. Vessels of Christ--

He looked up at Julia. "I have no clue what this means," he said sadly, "but I have a weird feeling about it."

"Me too. Didn't you tell me to tell you the minute inappropriate behavior occurred?"

"Yeah, but--" He remembered the discussion that prompted the question. There was a rumor then about one of the pastors being a reformed sex predator who changed his ways thanks to Christ. "Reverend Kendall is too ethical for that."

"Justin mentioned a double life. How do you know that?"

"Clergymen are the voices of God...or are they?" Rhett scratched his head. What if there was a sex predator there, and he wasn't reformed??? "We're not going back to Western Baptist. A million red alarms are blaring through my mind right now."

"Any luck?" Jessie asked Kelsey at school the next morning before class.

Should have known you were going to ask. "I'll put it this way--" she nervously watched the crowd around her. "I'll tell you later, we're in a shark feeding zone."

Jessie shrugged. "True, true."

Kelsey turned around, to see Julia turn the corner and head down the hall. When she got closer, Jessie saw something was wrong.

"Julia?" Jessie asked, alarmed by the bloodshot eyes and numb look.

"Wha?" she replied, talking like she just had a Novocaine shot.

"You okay?"

She shrugged. "No, bu' I'll live."

"Why are you slurring your words?" Kelsey asked. She doesn't sound too coherent but she doesn't sound like she's drunk...

"Cause I don' feel like 'alking about it."

"You been drinking?" Jessie asked, baffled by her behavior.

"Jessie, she doesn't feel like twenty questions," Kelsey defended. "She'll talk about it when she's ready."

"I suppose I'll spill it," she sighed. "Justin committed suicide yesterday."

Her two companions were left speechless, then the bell rang.

Brunch. "You feeling any better, Julia?" Kelsey asked her when she walked into the Student Council classroom.

"I guess."

She remained seated on the desk, and waved her over. "No, seriously, Julia," she said in a hushed voice.

The dark haired girl shook her head. "I'm so baffled as to why he did it. Why did he make the letter so cryptic??"

"What letter?"

"Right before he did it he wrote me an email. And in it he said 'keep away from Western Baptist.' From the ministers own son!"

Kelsey wrinkled her noise. "Something smells fishy."

"That's what I say." She heard the door creak open again, and caught a flash of blond hair in the corner of her eye. That was the last person I wanted to see.

Audrie followed behind him, and went to Julia's side, giving her a big hug. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.

The blond haired boy followed behind. "Yeah, Julia, I'm so sorry your pansy boyfriend killed himself!" he mocked.

Julia turned around and glared daggers at him, but didn't say anything. Her companion, noticing the unease, grew angrier by the second at his lack of respect towards Julia, so she got up and slapped him across the face.

"Didn't your mother teach you to be nice to ladies?" Kelsey snarled.

"Shut up, dyke," he growled back, rubbing his face where she had slapped him moments before. "Get out of here and go find some sluts to fuck instead."

In a flash Julia grabbed his shirt collar and hauled him to his knees. "Don't you dare address any of my friends like that!" she hissed, jerking his collar for emphasis. She desperately wanted to kick him, but counted to ten and resisted the violent urge to make him pay for the low blow he had just delivered moments before.

Jessie shook her head. "Can't we just be civil here?"

Rhett said he was going to be about fifteen minutes late picking Julia up for school, so she waited out in front of the school, where Kelsey spotted her. The red head sat down next to her. "Got a ride?"

"Yeah," Julia replied. She shook her head. "I'm still fuming over that stupid confrontation with Luke during Student Council. I wish he wouldn't bait everyone! He's getting to be as bad as Cassie!"

Kelsey turned her head to look at Julia. "Seems to me that he's been antagonizing you just to make you furious ever since you broke up with him."

Julia likewise turned her head and made eye contact with the red head. Yeah, her eyes are green. "Now that you mention it, you're right."

"He's probably jealous." Kelsey turned her head away and nervously surveyed the area, annoyed at the throng of people still around. She turned back around and asked, "When's your dad picking you up?"

"In fifteen minutes?"

"Want to go on a little walk?"

"Sure." They left, heading towards the quiet soccer fields that weren't going to be quiet long; soccer practice for both the boys and girls teams would start soon. Julia turned to look over her shoulder one last time to make sure there was no one around.

Kelsey swallowed nervously, scared to hear an unwanted answer to the question she feared to ask. "Uh, Julia?"

"Hmm?" she asked, turning her eyes to give Kelsey a glimpse of her dashing blue eyes.

Goddess, I could drown in those. Maybe I did. "Uh, if this whole thing, you know, what we talked about last night, makes you uncomfortable, I...I understand if you want to back out of it. don't need someone like me screwing up your life," she stammered. "I...I know your parents don't approve of me, and...and gods know, your friends don't either, and...if you want to be 'just friends' I totally understand."

Julia stopped, but said nothing. She had to bring to mind doubts. I applaud you for at least giving me room to breathe...I know I'll break her heart if I tell her to back off, even just temporarily. My mom's in her own little world (I'll never please her!), the 'friends' she refers to are full of it, and I can't believe you accuse yourself of screwing up my life!

Kelsey took the silence as a bad sign. She wants me out, she thought dejectedly. "I know you're afraid to speak your mind. I'll...I'll just go away then," she said, trying to not sound depressed and wounded.

Put it this way--if I gave Kelsey a chance to back out and she took that option I...I...don't think I could deal with it! Kelsey had turned around by then and was walking back to the parking lot. "Wait!"

The red head turned around, struggling to keep a neutral expression on her face. The tall girl walked over and put her hands on Kelsey's shoulders.

"I won't back out on you this time," Julia assured her. "Kelsey?"

An errant tear dribbled down her left cheek, which she rapidly wiped away in annoyance. I am such a crybaby! "Yeah, I'm fine."

Soccer players began to trickle out of the locker rooms, much to their consternation. Julia flipped her watch over, to see she had one minute left before Rhett was due to come pick her up. "Kelsey, unless you have any objections, I think we should give it a try."

"You sure? I have no objections, but I don't want you getting hurt. I don't want to force you to do anything against your will."

Yeah I can imagine it: sitting at some tent revival telling a whole congregation how she 'led me astray' and how I was cured through God's grace. Of course she's going to try to disclaimer herself! She looks so scared. "Kelsey, if you tried to do something against my will you'd be the first to know it. It's not like I'm going to go betray you at some ex-gay program."

Kelsey felt her stomach clutch. A very real possibility her mother could force her into...makes me want to hurl, that woman sounds like a bitch, excuse my bad French...

"Deal?" Julia asked, with anticipation in her eyes.


"I don't have your email address," Julia guiltily confessed.

"I have yours, I'll email you about when I'm free. Sound good?"

"Yeah, and I'll tell you when I'm free. That usually excludes Sundays, Wednesday nights, Thursday nights, and sometimes Monday nights."

"Ick. Let me guess--church?"

Julia sighed. "Yeah. I think Dad's taking the family back to First Baptist."

"Out of curiosity, what's tonight's activity?"

"Bible study."


"Yeah. You know what's scary, Kelsey?"


"I'm beginning to see things in the Scripture they don't want me to."

"Oh oh."

"Well, there's many things 'don't ask, don't tell' apply to," Julia remarked.

Kelsey gave her a half grin. "Yeah. In more ways than one."

Julia gave her a sad look. "I guess I better get going."

"Yeah. Soccer practice starts in ten minutes for me."

"You're not going to be playing so soon out of the hospital, I hope!"

"No, no," Kelsey said. "I talked to Coach earlier today. She said to come to the practice anyway, I can be of some help at least and not be out of the information loop."

"Good, good," Julia remarked. "See you later, alligator."

"See you in a while, crocodile," Kelsey said. The dark haired girl walked away towards the parking lot, leaving Kelsey to stand there with a grin. Whoa, I thought there for a minute she was going to take me up on that deal. Thank gods that was wrong!

"Hey, Kelsey," a familiar voice greeted. "Was that Julia?"

The red head turned around. "Oh, hey Jessie. I swear, you must be the envy of the basketball team."

"Oh yeah, Coach Kenneth is still mad at me for deciding to play soccer instead!"

"Always need a firewall in the fullback position," Kelsey said. "I'm just a scraggly half back."

Jessie laughed. "Things going well between you two?"


"Anything between you two yet?" she asked, with a wink. Kelsey blushed a crimson hue. "Ah, ah, you did! Congratulations! I told you!"

"I confess, I confess, for once you're right!"

"For once? I'm always right!" Jessie joked.

She mused on the quiet drive home the weird sensation she had during Bible Study.

They were reading the famous passage in the New Testament where Jesus told the man he'd have to be born again (hence the term 'born again Christian) to receive the Message of the Gospel when she felt a weird hot, tingling sensation that covered her from head to toe, fingertips to torso. Feeling herself become weightless, she began to see things--certainly not holy visions but glimpses of life elsewhere, in other times.

The first sight she saw was on horseback, bundled up in thick, warm furs and charging through the cold autumn air, each step the horse took making a distinctive crunch. It slowly metamorphasized into spring, in a different land. She had just dismounted a pale mare and was approached what appeared to be the ancient classic, the Parthenon. The warm furs were gone, replaced with leather and armor and boots. Then it metamorphisized into a sunny land, where the women were draped in Indian saris, her included. Slowly it changed, to where she was dressed all in black, surrounded by a cloak, approaching a clearing where Roman soldiers were taking a Gaul village captive.

She let her silver circle fly, cutting the Roman soldiers down rapidly. The vision faded soon after, and she awakened to an alarmed Pastor Mark who had just administered a good strong dose of smelling salts.

"I'm awake, I'm awake, get that nasty thing away from me," Julia growled.

The visions disturbed her greatly. Perhaps the 'born again' passage refers to actually being born again, in other words, reincarnation? That is the most heterodoxical thing I have ever heard of!

She quirked her brows. The scenes were vivid: the air was truly cold, she actually rode that horse, the grass was exceptionally green and vibrant. Oh my God, what if there is such a thing as reincarnation???

When she got home, she answered the customary questions Mother threw at her, like "how was your day" and other nonsense that Julia knew her mother really didn't care about, and then went to her room, shutting the door, turning on her computer, and flopping on her bed while waiting for the slow machine to boot.

Waiting for user prompt. Press ESC--did so. Boot...and don't give me any of that blue screen rubbish! She had downloaded a program called Traysaver in hopes it would stop the blue screen, and yesterday's boot gave her floundering hope for the dying machine.

She clicked on the Dial-Up program, and the server connected her the first try. Lady Luck is on my side today! Yea! She opened her web browser, went to the email server, entered her username and password, and checked her inbox. Two messages. Wonder who they're from?

She opened the inbox to see one was from Kelsey and the other was from Dylan. She opened the first email.

Hey, Julia, still on for a 'date?' (I feel so awkward saying that, LOL) I was about to suggest either Friday or Saturday. Write back and tell me what's most convenient? (It's okay with my mom to hang out at her house--she knows about us *blush*)

Hang in there, slugger,

Julia hit the reply button immediately.

I'm still on for our date. First dates are always nerve-wracking, especially if you've never dated before. Saturday would be better for me, personally, I figure we can have the day to hang out.

See you tomorrow,

She hit the send button, and couldn't help but grin. "Let's see what Dylan wrote me."

Hey, Julia,
I know I haven't written for a while, and I do apologize. The football schedule is getting really hectic towards playoffs. Hey--I did pass the previous sack record for both my school and league. It'll be nice to leave high school knowing I had an accomplishment to tuck under my belt.

I have finally come to terms with Eddie's death. It's been really hard, and I'm still rather bitter about it, but I'm beginning to heal from it.

How's tennis playoffs going? How are things between you and Justin? Write back.


Julia hit the reply button.

Congratulations on the sack record. I'm glad you're beginning to heal. I know I said some really stupid things about the whole thing at camp and have regretted them ever since.

Clinched number one in state for tennis *blush* (sounds like I'm bragging it's so surreal). Justin...let's just say he's no longer here in person but still in spirit. I don't know whether it's shock or the fact I really didn't care for him all that much in the first place that I haven't been too terribly grief stricken. (I just found out last night...)

It was over between us anyway after he threatened to hit me. Got a new date though--remember Kelsey from camp? (If you need a refresh of memory, she was the girl with the short red hair... ;) She's my girl now.

Take care and write back.


She hit the send button, then stared at the screen, and grinned. My girl.

(or is it? :)

Started: May 17th, 2000
Finished: January 10th, 2001

It's been a long journey, and I thank all of you who stuck by me (especially Ali-cat and the DragKings list). I never had any idea that something that initially sounded like a ridiculous joke would turn out to be a novel.

And one last note: With exception to how the Student Council was run (sounds more like our United States Congress!), I can verify that everything else in this novel stems from potential situations at a real high school.

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