Hartfield Chronicles

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Episode 27

Melinda’s Story

We began on the second floor, stopping in any store that might sell women’s dresses, but especially looking out for the department stores and formal wear stores. By the third store, I could tell the boys were thoroughly bored. Eventually, Larry pointed to a trendy store.

“Can we stop in there? I need some new shirts.”

He didn’t wait for a response, dragging Sarah behind him. We all went in different directions within the boutique. I was looking at a rack of sundresses when Eliot caught my eye.

“Hey. Come here a sec.”

Larry and Walter were nearby and reached the rack at the same time as me. He held up a black T-shirt with a giant picture of the vampire parasite from NeoGenesis, along with the caption I like fresh meat. Eliot and Walter started laughing, but I made a face.

“It’s disgusting.”

Eliot frowned. “I was thinking of buying it.”

“It is so a you shirt. Go ahead, buy it. I just think it’s disgusting.”

Larry screwed up his face and tilted his head to the side. “I don’t get it.”

“It’s from NG.”

Eliot leafed through the rack, trying to find a shirt in his size. Apparently, the smallest one was a double extra large, and Eliot was more of a medium.

Larry smiled. “Oh. Is that the show you guys watched with Peters Friday night?”

I nodded, but Eliot stopped looking for a shirt to glance at me. His huh? seemed to convey many things at once.

I took his hand. “Let’s go for –a walk.” I turned to Larry. “I’ll meet you guys at the shuttle.”

I dragged Eliot out of the store, doing my best to explain our club. “Okay, this is going to sound strange, but a couple of weeks ago, I was watching NG with Walter.”

“With Walter?”

I could hear the beginning of a jealous tone in Eliot’s voice, but I had no idea how to address it. I chose to ignore it. “Yeah. I went to return a book that had ended up in my bag, and I realized he was watching NG and he asked me to join him. Then, his advisor was checking to make sure we weren’t breaking any rules—”

“Why would you be breaking the rules?”

“We weren’t. But, I think when there’s co-ed the advisor has to check up on the students and make sure they’re behaving themselves.”

“Co-ed?”

“When a girl is in a boy’s room or the other way around. Anyway—”

“Wait. Why were you in his room?”

“I just told you. I was returning his book.”

“Why did you have his book?”

I sighed. “Walter and I study together almost every night.”

“Why?”

“Because I encourage him to actually do his work and he explains the stuff I don’t understand, which is like, half of the assignments. So, one night, I accidentally took his book home. The next afternoon, I went to return it to him. And then I realized he was watching NG and when he found out I like it too, he invited me to join him. But then his advisor heard us and let us watch it with him in his apartment. With my advisor, too. And we came up with this crazy plan.”

“What plan?”

If he stopped interrupting, I would be able to explain it to him. I bit back another sigh. “We started this NG viewing club that meets on Friday nights.”

“It sounds like you spend a lot of time with Walter.” Eliot did not hide the jealousy in his voice.

I shrugged. “He’s a good friend. And we study well together.”

“Alone?”

“Sometimes. Bella’s been joining us lately.”

“And he watches NG with you. When you told me you couldn’t watch it at school.”

“That’s not what I said.”

I was beyond frustrated with this conversation. Both of our voices were rising and I didn’t want to be that couple making a scene in a public place. I headed towards the exit that would take me to the bus stop. If we could get outside, we might have a little more privacy.

I kept trying to explain as we walked. “What I said was that I couldn’t watch it live. And I can’t. By the time we got a break in study hours and I got to Mr. Peters’s apartment, the show had already started. We watched the DVR. As soon as it was over, Mr. Price and I went straight to the dorm. We couldn’t even watch the closing credits or the scenes from next week because of second study hours. I wasn’t lying when I said I couldn’t watch it with you. Maybe weekends I’m home, but not when I’m in school.”

“But, you’re watching it with him. Talking about it with him. What else do you two do together?” I could hear anger mixed with the jealousy in Eliot’s tone.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. We’re friends. We eat together a lot, but there’s like—I think I counted twelve or fifteen of us at the table the other day. Walter’s part of that group. So is everyone you met at the movies today. There’s not much else I do. I mean, he’s my CCD mentor so we go to church together, but you knew that.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah you did. Didn’t you see him this morning?”

“No, I didn’t.” Eliot’s voice was growing louder. I was glad we had almost reached the exit. People were starting to stare at us as we passed.

“Well, we go to church together. And do homework. And watch NG. And we’re in Latin class together. And all those things, with the possible exception of homework, are with other people. There’s nothing going on with me and Walter. And if you can’t accept that, then maybe there’s nothing going on with me and you, either.”

I had tried to rein in my annoyance. I was so tired of defending my friendship with Walter. If people couldn’t accept that one of my best friends was a boy, then they simply couldn’t accept me.

I stormed away from Eliot, heading towards the bus stop. After plopping myself on the bench, I looked back to where Eliot had been standing. I saw only his back, returning to the building, although I could tell by the way he was stomping that he was as angry as me.

Waiting for my friends, I tried to calm down and contemplate what had just happened. Would Eliot and I ever go out again? Were we still friends? Did we still have a chance to be more than that? I had liked the thought of having Eliot as my boyfriend. Did he still feel the same way towards me?

I was so lost in thought, I didn’t see my friends approach. Larry settled himself beside me, putting his arm around me in a brotherly fashion. Bella was talking animatedly with Sarah, who looked a little bored, about the latest fashions worn by some of the hottest celebrities. I saw Walter twitch when Bella mentioned Kara and Meghan McGregor’s newest outfits, according to one gossip magazine or the other, but no one else seemed to notice. Larry squeezed my shoulder.

“Everything okay with Eliot? He didn’t seem too happy when you guys left.” I was glad Eliot was gone. He would probably have been equally jealous of Larry at the moment.

I shrugged one shoulder. “He’s being an idiot.”

“I didn’t mean to get you in trouble. I thought he knew you and Walter watch that show with Peters.”

Bella suddenly became interested in our conversation. “What show?”

Walter turned red. “Melinda and I both watch a show called NeoGenesis. Peters started a viewing club.”

Bella’s response was just a little too sweet for my taste. “And, you didn’t think to invite me? I am your girlfriend.”

“Well, we’ve only had one meeting so far. You can come to the next one.”

The bus pulled up beside us and I realized there were a number of people waiting to board. I didn’t recognize anyone outside my friends. Since this was the final bus back to campus, it was the most crowded I had ever seen it. Sarah and Larry were able to find seats together near the back, and they even offered to squeeze together for me to join them. Instead, I opted to sit in the seat behind them with some random boy. Walter and Bella must have been near the front. I couldn’t see them, although I could hear Bella’s loud voice every so often.

When we were finally alone in our dorm, I was able to tell Sarah everything that had happened between me and Eliot. I was in no mood to study and considered staying in the dorm. But, I liked studying with Walter. He could help me understand things. Otherwise, I might be up past midnight.

With a sigh, I gathered my things and headed to the library.

I was surprised to see Walter alone at the study table when I entered the room. “Where’s Bella?”

“Not sure. She disappeared when we got off the bus. Said she’d find me during the break.”

I sat across from him, taking out my math notebook. “That’s strange. I thought the two of you were attached at the hip.”

I had intended the comment as a joke, but Walter grimaced as I started the first problem. “I know I’m new to this whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing, but I didn’t think I had to spend every waking hour with Bella. I thought I’d get a little break. Like, when I’m in class.”

“I didn’t think you guys had any classes together.”

“We don’t. But, she keeps showing up to walk me to my next class. Even when she’s on the other side of campus. She says she wants to spend all her free time with me.”

“That’s . . .”

“Not healthy, right? Or is it me?”

“No. I think she’s a little too attached to you.”

“So, what happened with you and Eliot? I mean, I know I was there for most of it, but you guys disappeared. Everything okay?”

I shrugged. “I thought we were having a good time. The movie was fine and I enjoyed dinner after. It was really easy to talk to him. But, then we had that stupid fight and he huffed off. I’m not sure if he’s still talking to me or if he even wants to hang out again.”

“Give him a few days. He’ll probably come around.” Walter looked at his watch, then looked down at his page. “Ugh. I think I’ve been on this problem for like, twenty minutes. What did you get for number four?”

I smiled and showed him my page. He erased his answer.


Melinda’s Journal

Monday, October 9

It’s amazing how fast everything is changing. A month ago, we were all strangers. Now, everyone seems to be coupling off.

My friend Natalie has been with my friend Forrest for a couple of weeks. They met in French class and he has been hanging out with her in the day student lounge. My friend Jade has been spending a lot of time with my friend Leif over the past few weeks as well. Although they had been hanging out for a while, they didn’t officially get together until this past weekend.

Of course, Sarah and Larry have been together for a couple of weeks as well. They seem to be the model couple my friends are all trying to imitate. They spend a lot of time together, but they are not completely inseparable.

Not like Walter and Bella,, though. Ever since Long Weekend, it has felt like Bella has not left Walter’s side. She shows up after classes to walk with him. She insists he join her for lunch Thursdays during our Latin free day. And, even though they fought yesterday, they were back together before curfew.

I liked hanging out with Eliot yesterday and I was hoping he would be my boyfriend. But, he seemed so angry when we fought yesterday. Will he ever talk to me again? I would hate to lose a friend. If he is still mad at me, will I have to avoid him during CCD like I avoid Mike in English class?


An Important Announcement

HARTFIELD CHRONICLES IS MOVING!!

Hartfield Chronicles now has its own home: it’s own website. New chapters will continue to be released here on Inkitt through the end of the first season (approximately mid-April). However, Season 2 will be exclusive to the new website. As always, free chapters will be published every Tuesday and Friday.

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Stay tuned. Episode 28 will be released on Friday, April 9.

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