Defining Us (Book 2 of Discovering Me Series)

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Chapter 11: Revolution - Catey Shaw

?Sami?

Like every other seventeen year old, I didn’t have a concrete idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had an idea, though. Music was one hell of a mistress. She didn’t complain about my hesitance to communicate effectively. She allowed me to vent my pain and frustration without taking it personally. I could be dependent on her without fearing that she would leave me. She didn’t get upset when I neglected her to focus my time on other things. She was always right there, ready to pick me up after I fell down, which was by no means an easy feat – I fell often. Whatever I committed my life to, it had to contain or at the very least, acknowledge, the elicit love affair we shared.

I was known for being impulsive – my ever changing hair color could prove that. My go to response whenever someone questioned my latest stunt was “we’ll see what happens”. I didn’t want to say that in regards to my future in music. It got me through the summer with my grandparents. In the back of my mind, I knew my parents were working hard to help the people they felt needed them more than me. Resentment’s a strong word. I’d use ‘peeved’ to describe how I felt about their constant absences because of activism, leaving me to fight first world problems on the home front.


“You have such beautiful hair, Samilla. You should wear it down more.” Nana critiqued with a stiff smile.

I looked up, pretending to check on the hair that I pulled up into a ponytail. “I think it’s doing well up there –very safe and secure.” I light-heartedly deflected.

I shifted my attention back to the plate of food in front of me.

“I’m sure your boyfriend prefers it the other way.” She continued.

A small snort escaped at the thought of Watson caring about my outward appearance. “I’ll take my chances. He rightfully doesn’t get a say in the way I choose to present myself.”

“Your sister called yesterday.” She shifted the conversation to Juno to subtly point out who she wanted me to be.

“Oh, how is Junie?” Pop pop’s ears perked up.

“She’s really loving her internship in Boston. She said she’s learning so much.”

“Such a sweet girl. Bright too.” He smiled.

I raised my forkful of veggie spaghetti up from my plate. I watched as I twirled the fork, winding the noodles around the metal prongs. The fixation made the meal easier to bear.

“Doesn’t your boyfriend live on the east coast?” She tried to engage me again.

“Yeah, Philadelphia.”

“Yes.” she corrected.

“Yes, Philadelphia.” I repeated. I refrained from rolling my eyes by biting the inside of my cheek.

“What do his parents do?” She continued.

“Pierce -- um, his dad’s the head of an advertising firm. His mom doesn’t work.” I caught myself.

“I’m sure he gets his artistic ability from him.”

“I guess.” I hunched my shoulders.

“Does he have any siblings?” Pops asked.

“Yes, both older, a brother and a sister -- Garett and Rory. He’s 26. She’s about to turn 21.”

“How old is Finnegan?” She inquired.

I pursed my lips together to prevent myself from correcting her. “He turned 17 on May 22nd.”

“I’m so glad you were born on February 28th, instead of the 29th. You’d only get a birthday every four years.” She segwayed.

I nodded, unsure of how to respond. I didn’t care either way.

“What has he been up to this summer?” She pressed on.

“He’s been programming, mostly. He’s really good with computers.” I internally cringed, bracing myself for what I knew would soon follow.

I started eating faster, wanting to eat a substantial amount of food before I headed out.

“It was just a phase. Now, you’re with a boy and you’ve realized that girls are only supposed to be your friends.” She stated innocently.

I sighed heavily and looked up from my plate. “I watched tennis on television yesterday. –“

“I didn’t know you were interested in tennis. I used to play as a girl. –“

“I’m not. I tuned in to the French Open because for whatever reason, female Russian tennis players look like supermodels. I’m with a boy at the moment, but I’m still not straight.” I pushed back in my chair and stormed out of the dining room.

I shoved on my sunglasses and left the house without saying another word. I hopped on my bike and pedaled away as fast as my legs would take me. I was on the other side of town before I knew it. I chained my bike to the fence. I walked through the front lawn, collecting dew on my converse. I knocked on the door rhythmically.

“Samilla.” Mr. York masked his groan through a forced smile.

“Your kid’s the jobless 23-year old living in your basement. Don’t take it out on me.” I patted him on the shoulder as I walked through the door.

He sighed heavily. “Would you like a cookie?” He asked reluctantly.

“Vegan?” I followed him into the kitchen off the main hall.

“Yes, snickerdoodle. The Misses and I are experimenting with new recipes to sell at the farmer’s market.”

“I will gladly be a test subject.” I picked up one of the cookies on the counter. “A+” I put a few extra in the front pocket of my satchel. “Is Ash in his room?”

“No, the shed. The usual suspects are in there as well.”

“Still not a criminal.” I retorted over my shoulder.

“You helped Asher steal a city sign. The federal government would beg to differ!” He called after me.

“Never caught!” I got the final word before closing the patio door.

The loose wooden planks of the repurposed barn allowed light to get through. Extension cords gave us the ability to utilize electricity. We certainly needed it for band practice, the real reason the York’s hated having us around.

I pinned my sunglasses to the front of my tank top. I walked in without a courtesy knock.

“Your mommy and daddy make killer cookies, Ash.” I removed my satchel and plopped down in my designated beanbag chair.

“I’ll be sure to tell them.” He balanced a blunt between his lips as he tuned his guitar.

“You’ve gotta stop smoking. My mom washes my clothes.” Perry aired out his t-shirt.

“My shed, my rules.” He took a drag and pinned it between his index and middle fingers.

“Such a hospitable host.” I snarked as I removed my notebook and pencil from my bag.

“Got any songs finished, Sam?” Kit twirled one of his drumsticks as he laid on the beaten up couch.

“Yeah, but still fine tuning.” I adjusted melody as I softly hummed the notes.

“Why do you play with them? You’re the only one with any real talent.” Perry looked up from his laptop.

“Hey!” Kit and Ash cried.

He rolled his eyes. “She goes to a performing arts school. I’m not the only one that thinks it.”

“Says our shitty manager.” Ash looked over his shoulder.

“I run tech at your eclipse-rare gigs. There’s nothing to manage.” He pushed up his glasses.

“You get me out of my grandparents’ house, Ash’s house is pit stop before work; I hate biking long distances with my guitar, and I guess you’re alright. I could do worse.”

“Still giving you a hard time for your lesbionic behavior?” Ash chuckled to himself.

I threw my pencil at him. He kicked it away before it made impact.

“You land more girls than we do. Nothing to be ashamed of. Mad props, actually.” Kit tacked on.

“Yeah, because straight girls that want to brag about kissing a girl while they were drunk are my favorite.”

“Don’t see why not. You don’t have to worry about them wanting a relationship. ”

“Being used is always a perk.” I bent my elbow and swung my arm.

“You’re always getting sarcastic instead of saying how you feel. The closest things you give are raw facts. No girl would put up with that.”

“My boyfriend does.” I said under my breath.

“YOUR WHAT?” Perry shrieked.

“I have a boyfriend…” My eyes trailed to the ground.

“Mary-Elizabeth scared you straight?” Kit snorted, working himself up to a seated position.

I rolled me eyes. “Nope. Still queer.”

“But you’re with a guy.”

“That’s the crazy thing about being bisexual. You are into both sexes.” I sat up straighter.

“Which one do you like more?” Asher pried.

“It doesn’t work like that.”

“Have you even been with a girl?” He continued.

“I’ve had a girlfriend. Done things with others.”

“But have you been with any of them?”

“That’s hardly your business.” I crawled out of my chair. I stood up and rolled up the sleeves of my flannel shirt.

“So no. You’re no better than the girls you claim to hate. You’re all bark, no bite.”

I nodded slowly as I pursed my lips together. I grabbed my stuff, shoved it into my bag, and returned it to my body.

I punched him in the spot just above his belly button. He projectile vomited, getting it all over his shoes. I retrieved my guitar case from the corner and walked out of the shed holding up my middle finger. I unhooked my sunglasses from the front of my shirt, whipped them open and shoved them onto my face with one hand. My satchel went into the basket on the back of my bike, along with my chain. I strapped my guitar to my back and took off.

The wind whipped through my hair. I stood up on the pedals to feel more of a rush. It was enough to give me the push I needed to clear my head. I rode to the used bookstore several streets over from his house.

I wrote for an hour, actually making great headway. I was at the coffee shop by 8 PM. My little corner, equip with a small stage, microphone, and two stools – one for me to sit on; the other housed a glass of water. I took my seat and played my set, mostly covers, but I always finished with one of my own songs.

“The state in which I live, some say is not a life at all

The person I pretend to be does not exist, therefore does not belong

Blank stare at the truth as thoughts flash through my mind

The mask solidified with time

Despite the doubts, a heart still beats in my chest

I forget about the rest

But sometimes the hands go up and the gun drops to the ground

The ground shakes, my knees quake

Fall to the ground and I don’t even need to make a sound

You bust through the door and turn it all around

And when there’s much less inside of my chest, you’re all alright

Raise the stakes; you’re still in place

And I know I’ll make it through the night

The state in which I live, some say is not a life at all

The person I pretend to be does not exist, therefore does not belong

Blank stare at the truth as thoughts flash through my mind

The mask solidified with time

Despite the doubts, a heart still beats in my chest

I forget about the rest

Between the battle cries, we divulge in each other’s lives

So much better side by side

With you I know I am alive

I know I am alive”

I strummed the outro with my eyes closed, caught up in the moment.

There were sparse claps when I finished. My venue was a small-business coffee shop; my “show” took place on a Wednesday. I was lucky there was anyone in the room. It was more about speaking out loud than gaining a following or earning money.

I signed off professionalism purposes and packed my instrument. My half empty glass of water joined me on my journey to the barista counter that Pam was manning.

“I will get your check as soon as I am done polishing mugs.” She rubbed the ceramic dishware with a rag.

“I can help. I’ve got nothing better to do.” I perched my hand beneath my chin.

“You look worse for the wear. Take a break. I will be done soon.”

“Ouch, Dude.” I traced the rim of my glass with my middle finger.

“You did your job. I can do mine. That was all I was trying to say.”

I pushed my glass away. I folded my arms and laid my head on top of them. “Why is this stool so comfortable?”

“I think you are tired.”

“Not possible. It is only –“ I checked my watch. “10:23” I slumped back down. “I woke up at 2.”

“Chalk it up to a long day.”

“Can’t do that. I’ve got plans later.”

“I am sure they would understand if you rescheduled.” She stacked the mugs she had completed in the cupboard.

“Thing is, I don’t want to. Kinda the highlight of my day – night/early morning if you want to get specific.”

“Sleep is important. Lack of it is bad for your heart.” She clanked around out of sight.

“Well, I’ve had a shitty day and I need to talk to the person that won’t ask about it.”

“You make very little sense.” She made the top of her head and eyes visible.

“So I’ve been told.”

“Then I will not keep you.” She walked to the back room. I tapped on the counter.

“Here you are. I will see you tomorrow.” She slid a white envelope over to me.

“Mind filling me up first?” I placed my travel mug on the counter.

“I left some in the pot just for you.”

“Thanks a million.” I hopped off the stool after snatching up my check and putting it into my satchel.

I noticed my guitar leaning on the stool beside me and recalled I could not return it to Asher’s house. I sucked it up and put it on my back. My ride to my grandparents’ side of town had a soundtrack, making it pass quicker. Despite my opposition to chain stores, I stopped by a 24-hour pharmacy.

I marched in eating one of my reserved snickerdoodles. I picked up a box of blue hair dye. I had to cut into my budget to pay for it. I suppressed my irritation with my lack of self-restraint by eating another cookie. I washed it down with my coffee. I walked my bike for the rest of the journey. The fresh air always allowed me to clear my head. I wanted to collect as much of it as I could. The house was dark when I arrived. I locked my bike to the porch. I used my keys together inside. I navigated my way through the dark and made it upstairs to my room.

It belonged to my mother. The walls were painted lilac yellow. The full sized bed occupied the majority of the room. The nature-themed quilt was sewn by my nana. The top of the dresser housed a combination of my musical awards and my mother’s high school debate ones. Her yearbooks and photo albums were on the desk. The walls were adorned with her favorite bands’ posters.

I didn’t mind living in her space. I missed her more than I was willing to express to others. Hearing her voice every week was one thing, but seeing her face and researching what she was like when she was my age was more comforting. I was my mother’s daughter and my grandparents had the most trouble accepting that. They never said it, but I often got the impression that they viewed her restless lifestyle as a failure on their part. It made them try harder to fix me.

I changed into an old t-shirt. I stood in the floor length mirror and brushed my hair. It was back to its naturally blonde state, having shed the bleach I coated it in the two months prior to the end of the semester. I sectioned it into pieces and painted the ends blue. I showered with a shower cap on to allow it to saturate for its allotted time. I waited until the end to wash it out. I returned to my bedroom after cleaning up the dye run-off. I texted Watson our plans for the night upon entering my room. My computer started emitting a familiar jingle and a camcorder flashed on the screen. I sat down at the desk, still towel drying my hair as I clicked ‘accept’.

His primary focus was on his desktop computer. His fingers moved across the keys with the speed and grace of a skilled pianist. His lips were pursed; thick, dark eyebrows were set in a line. His mop of curly black hair was longer than when I had seen him last. I could practically hear Angie nagging him to cut it. I cleared my throat obnoxiously loud. He looked over me. His pale green eyes sent a chill up my spine.

“Sams.” Such a simple greeting, but the accompanying smirk made butterflies appear in my stomach.

“Watson.” I kept my eyes on his.

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