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Point of retreat, p.10

  Point of Retreat, p.10

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat

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  tonight?” No one answers me. Eddie and Gavin look at each other. Eddie looks like she’s about to cry so Gavin kisses her on the forehead, but they just continue eating. I look over at Lake and she’s just staring down at her plate, twirling her noodles around. “What about you, Babe? What’s wrong?” I say to her.

  “Nothing. Really, it’s nothing,” she says, unsuccessfully trying to convince me she’s fine. She smiles at me and grabs both of our glasses and goes to the kitchen to refill them.

  “Sorry, Will,” Gavin says. “Eddie and I aren’t trying to be rude. We’ve just got a lot on our minds lately.”

  “No problem,” I say. “Anything I can do to help?”

  They both shake their heads. “You going to the slam Thursday night?” Gavin asks, changing the subject.

  We haven’t been in a few weeks. Since before Christmas, I think. “I don’t know, I guess we could.” I turn to Lake. “You want to?”

  She shrugs. “Sounds fun. We’ll have to see if someone can watch Kel and Caulder, though.”

  Eddie clears her and Gavin’s spots at the table while Gavin puts his jacket on. “We’ll see you there, then. Thanks for supper. We won’t suck so much next time.”

  “It’s fine,” I say. “Everyone’s entitled to a bad day every now and then.”

  After they leave, I close the take-out containers and start placing them in the refrigerator while Lake washes our dishes in the sink. I walk over to her and hug her. “You sure you’re okay?” I ask.

  She turns around and hugs me back, laying her head against my chest. “I’m fine, Will. It’s just….” She stops talking. I lift her face up to mine and she’s trying to hold back tears.

  I place my hand on the back of her head and pull her to me. “What’s wrong?”

  She quietly cries into my shirt. I can tell she’s trying again to stop herself. I wish she wasn’t so hard on herself when she gets sad.

  “It’s just today,” she says. “It’s their anniversary.”

  I realize she’s talking about her mom and dad, so I don’t say anything. I just hug her tighter and kiss the top of her head.

  “I know it’s silly that I’m upset. I’m mostly upset about the fact that it’s making me so upset,” she says.

  I place my hands on her cheeks and pull her gaze to mine. “It’s not silly, Lake. I don’t know why you get so mad at yourself when you’re sad. It’s okay to cry sometimes.”

  She smiles and kisses me, then breaks away, still attempting to not be sad. “I’m going somewhere with Eddie tomorrow night. Wednesday night I have a study group, so I won’t see you until Thursday. Are you getting a sitter, or should I?” she asks.

  “Do you really think they need one? Kel’s eleven now and Caulder will be eleven in two months. Don’t you think they can stay home for a few hours by themselves?”

  She nods. “I guess so. Maybe I’ll ask Sherry if she’ll at least feed them supper and check on them. I could give her some money.”

  “I like that idea,” I say.

  She calls for Kel after she gets her jacket and shoes on, then walks back to the kitchen and puts her arms around me. “Ninety three more hours," she says, planting a kiss on my neck. “I love you.”

  “Listen to me,” I say as I look her intently in the eyes. “It’s okay to be sad, Lake. Quit trying to carve so many pumpkins. And I love you, too.” I kiss her one last time and lock the door behind them when they leave.

  Tonight was really strange. The whole vibe seemed off. I decide since we’re going to the slam to try to put my thoughts down on paper. I think I’ll surprise Lake and do one for her this week. Maybe it'll help her feel better.


  For reasons beyond my comprehension, Vaughn sits next to me again on Wednesday. You would think after our little tiff on Monday that she would have given up by now. I was hoping she had, anyway.

  She pulls her notebook out and opens her textbook where we left off Monday. She doesn’t stare at me this time. In fact, she doesn’t even speak during the entire class period. I’m happy she’s not talking to me, but at the same time I feel a little guilty for being so rude to her. Not guilty enough to apologize about it, though. She did deserve it.

  As we’re packing our things up, still not speaking, she slides something across the table to me, then walks out. I debate throwing the note in the trash without reading it, but my curiosity gets the better of me. I wait until I’m seated in my next class to open it.


  You may not want to hear this, but I need to say it. I’m really sorry. Breaking up with you is one of my biggest regrets in life so far. Especially breaking up with you when I did. It wasn’t fair to you, I realize that now; but I was young and I was scared.

  You can’t act like what we had between us was nothing. I loved you, and I know you loved me. You at least owe me the courtesy of talking to me. I just want the chance to apologize to you in person. I can’t seem to let go of how things ended between us. Let me apologize.


  I fold the note up and put it in my pocket, then lay my head down on the desk and sigh. She’s not going to let it go. I don’t want to think about it right now, so I don’t. I’ll worry about it later.


  The next night, I don’t think about anything other than Lake.

  I’m picking her up in an hour, so I rush through my homework and head to the shower. I walk past Caulder’s bedroom on my way. He and Kel are playing video games.

  “Why can’t we go with you? You said yourself there wasn’t an age limit,” Kel says.

  I pause and back step to their doorway. “You guys actually want to go? You realize it’s poetry, right?”

  They seem excited at the possibility of actually going.

  “Fine, let me make sure it’s okay with Lake first.” I head out the front door and across the street. When I open the door to her house, she screams.

  “Will! Turn around!” I turn around, but not before I see her. She must have just gotten out of the shower, because she’s standing in the living room completely naked.

  “Oh my god, I thought I locked the door. Doesn’t anyone knock?”

  I laugh. “Welcome to my world,” I say.

  “You can turn around now,” she says.

  When I turn around, she’s wrapped in a towel. I walk over to her and wrap my arms around her waist, pick her up off the floor and spin her around. “Twenty four more hours,” I say as her feet touch the floor again. “You nervous yet?”

  “Nope, not at all. Like I said before…I’m in good hands.”

  I want to kiss her, but I don’t. The towel is too much, so I back away from her and ask her what I came here to ask her. “Kel and Caulder want to know if it’s okay if they go with us tonight. They’re curious,” I say.

  “Really? That’s weird…but I don’t care if you don’t care,” she says.

  “Okay, then. I’ll tell them.” I walk back toward the door. “And Lake? Thanks for giving me another preview.”

  She looks slightly embarrassed so I wink at her and shut her front door behind me. This is about to be the longest twenty-four hours of my life.


  We take a seat in the back of the club with Gavin and Eddie. In fact, it’s the same booth Lake and I sat in on our first date. Kiersten wanted to come, too, so it’s a tight fit.

  Sherry must trust us a lot. She asked a lot of questions about the slam before she agreed to let Kiersten come, though. By the end of the question/answer session, Sherry was intrigued. She said it would be good for Kiersten to see a slam. Kiersten said doing a slam would be good for her portfolio, so she brought a pen and a notebook to take notes.

  “Alright, who’s thirsty?” I take drink orders and head to the bar before the sac is brought on stage to perform. I explained the rules to all the kids on the way here, so I think they have a pretty good understanding of it. I haven’t told them I’m performing though. I want it to be a surprise. Lake doesn’t know either,
so before I take the drinks back to the table, I go pay my fee.

  “This is so cool,” Kiersten says when I get back to the booth. “You guys are the coolest parents ever.”

  “No they aren’t,” Kel says. “They don’t let us cuss.”

  Lake hushes them as the first performer steps up to the microphone. I recognize the guy; I’ve seen him perform here a lot. He’s really good. I put my arm around Lake and he begins his poem.

  “My name is Edmund Davis-Quinn and this is a piece I wrote called Write Poorly.”

  Write poorly.


  Write awful



  Don’t care

  Turn off the inner editor

  Let yourself write

  Let it flow

  Let yourself fail

  Do something crazy

  Write fifty thousand words in the month of November.

  I did it.

  It was fun, it was insane it was one thousand six hundred and sixty seven words a day.

  It was possible.

  But, you have to turn off your inner critic.

  Off completely.

  Just write.


  In Bursts.

  With joy.

  If you can’t write, run away for a few.

  Come back.

  Write again.

  Writing is like anything else.

  You won’t get good at it immediately.

  It’s a craft you have to keep getting better.

  You don’t get to Julliard, unless you practice.

  If you want to get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.

  …or give them a lot of money.

  Like anything else it takes ten thousand hours to get to mastery.

  Just like Malcolm Gladwell says.

  So write.

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