Sample Chapter
August 25th 1995
Robin,

I honestly do not even know where to begin. I thought this place was weird before, but now that I have actually seen a larger representation of the population, I am terrified!!! Kelly says I am going through culture shock. Apparently a lot of the girls I have been hanging out with at church are transplants, meaning their family is not from the south, but came here for work, just like Kelly. Some of them have been here a while, but they are still kind of a cross-culture. The real South is so scary it hurts!
No joke. I have two teachers that have such deep Southern accents that I cannot understand two words in a sentence and by the time they get to the end of the sentence, I cannot remember what the first part of the sentence was even about! Everyone says Yall which is a weird mash up of you and all. The girls get all offended when I say you guys, because as one girl pointed out Theya aww no guys in this heah group, deah unlessin you is referrin to yaself. That is phonetic for there are no guys in this group, dear, unless you are referring to yourself. Yeah, unfortunately because I had no clue what she had just said, I did not know that I was supposed to be offended.
And let me tell you, these people have NO CLUE about the outside world. In my French class I had to introduce myself and when I told them I was from Montana some guy blurts out. Is that in Canada? Seriously.. and I am pretty sure he wasnt even joking!
In another class they found out that I was from Montana and wanted to know if I had ever met any real Indians. (No, I did not tell them I was part Indian and here is why) I was then bombarded with the most insane questions like, do they still scalp people? Do they still dress in buffalo hides? D they live in teepees? Do they steal the white girls. Yeah, it was soo embarrassing!! Seriously, you would think they knew nothing about Indians except what they had watched on TV and that was all old Western re-runs. One guy asked me if I could speak Cherokee. When I said no he asked how I talked to the Indians. I know it was bad, but I couldnt help it. I replied How, I Sam and copied Peter Pan. Then I laughed. I hope he knows I was joking!
Another humiliating first day experience. Half the people thought I was the new teacher. These people are midgets, no joke. The majority of the population is under 5 foot 8. I tower over half of my teachers! Plus that test I had to take, I ended up with half of my classes being 10th grade classes. All except English, Math and US history, because I am required to take that. I am taking French, even though most kids dont take a foreign language class until 10th grade, because we are only required two years. I also decided to take NJROTC instead of gym because they didnt have an afternoon slot open and I am not using a public shower! NJ is Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Class. I get to wear a silly-looking Navy uniform once a week and the rest of the week I get to learn about the navy. Plus we do PT (physical training) twice a week. It is actually not that bad, especially since I am one of three girls in my class and the rest are all boys. I really do get along better with boys well, except for you, of course!! At least I will be free of some drama for a bit! Oh, yeah I am taking Drama too.
Then of course there is biology. I actually like the class, even though it is mostly made up of seniors and juniors with a few sophomores and me, the only fresh meat. The teacher is really cool. She is from the North East, so she sounds just like my dad and uncles. At least I can understand her! She is straightforward and funny and she is the only teacher who didnt call me out in front of all the other students for being a freshman in an upper level class. She pulled me aside after class. One thing I dont like about that class is the guy who sits in front of me. He is a sophomore, I think, and is about the only person in this entire school who is actually taller than me. (K, bit of an exaggeration, some of the seniors are, especially the basketball players) but back to the point. This guy is big and he has to have failed a couple of times, or something, because he has facial hair everywhere. The kids call him Wolfman Jack. Seriously. He is gross!
Anyway, he is also very persistent and unfortunately we are a full class, so I cant move my seat. He has tried to have a conversation with me every single day and has not taken the monosyllabic answers as a hint. At first I tried to be nice, but he started hinting at us going to concerts or the movies and then I turned it off real quick. Kinda funny story. I finally had to tell him I had a boyfriend back home. (Yeah, totally used Robbie!) to get him to back off a bit. His response: long distance relationships dont really last. At least you know you have a backup. EWWWW!!!!! Definitely not!! Long distance relationships can last forever, especially if it will keep me out of a relationship with Ewwwww!!!!
I have made some other friends, but it is still early and who knows if once the novelty of the new girl wears off I will have much. Most of the girls from church havent really talked to me since the first day I guess I wasnt registering well enough on the popularity radar. But remember that senior Wes? He has gone out of his way to say hi to me, every time he sees me. I have learned that anyone who wants to be my friend after witnessing this has to be treated with kid gloves.
Yeah, so overall I would so rather be going to Eastern!!! I bet you and Robbie are having a blast. I should totally be there. Sometimes I hate my mom for not thinking about us more. K, so that is not entirely fair. She says the move is because she is thinking about us and she doesnt want us to be latch-key kids anymore. Whatever, just cause there is family around, doesnt mean this is better. It was definitely better in Montana. Im already looking forward to coming home at Christmas!
Anyway, I already told Robbie about how I am using him as a fake boyfriend, so you two can have a good chuckle about that! Finally got a letter from Laura. I miss you guys so much!!
As always,
love hugs and tons of kisses!!!
Sam


Chapter 2

Sam had fallen into a regular routine. It wasnt brilliant or exciting, but it was comfortable. She had a few friends at school, several acquaintances, and no enemies... yet. That was a plus. It took time to get used to the accents, but with the help of Misty and Jill, Sam was starting to learn the lingo.
Sam actually really liked their group. They were straightforward and honest and almost never laughed at her ignorance. They would laugh with her, instead! Through them, she got an unexpected view of the South. People arent as ignorant as they seem, they just see the world differently. And through their explanations, Sam was able to see their view. They didnt want to force their opinions on her and accepted her explanations for her own viewpoints. It was nice to have a group of people who she didnt feel were judging any and everything she did.
Unfortunately, that was the only place she felt such solace. She quickly found herself getting into trouble in the strangest ways. In the first week of school she had been sent to the principals office for being rude and disrespectful. A call was put in to her mother. Throughout the whole ordeal, Sam didnt know what she had done wrong. She had simply asked the teacher if she could go to the bathroom and the teacher had stared at her for a minute, obviously waiting for something.
Sam mentally reviewed her question May I please go to the bathroom? Really, what more could she say? The woman cleared her throat and stared beady death rays at Sam, while Sam tried not to squirm. The woman then sent her to the principals office with a note that Sam didnt dare open. The lady at the front desk read the note, then glowering, she sent Sam to sit on the couch while she called Sams mother.
Mom was mad when she finally got there. Sam had been left to sit on the couch for over an hour waiting for Mom to get back from a job interview. They were ushered right into the principals office and he began ranting about how disrespect was something that absolutely could not be tolerated in school. Sams mother stared at Sam, her mouth hanging open in shock as Sam shook her head bewildered. How was she disrespectful?
Finally Sams mom interrupted the principal. I am sorry, but there must be some confusion. My daughter has never been accused of being rude. Why, she is the most respectful child I know. Can you please take a couple steps back and tell me what happened?
She refused to show her teacher proper respect! he gesticulated.
Sam, please, tell me what happened? Mom directed the question to Sam.
All Sam wanted to do was crawl under the table, but she quietly explained to them what happened. I said please, I said may I what did I do wrong? She could feel herself on the verge of tears.
Sams mom looked to the principal.
Maam?!
Sam and her mom both looked at him absolutely horrified. Excuse me? Are you implying that I am old?! Sams mom snapped.
Flustered, the principal said insistently. She refused to say May I please go to the bathroom Maam.
She wants me to call her old? Sam shook her head uncomprehendingly. Mom burst into laughter as the principal and Sam stared at her in shock and dismay.
Oh my I am sorry This is clearly a misunderstanding. It is a cultural thing, Sams mom insisted. Where we came from, it is rude to call a woman Maam, as it implies that she is old, but here oh honey, she chuckled and put her hand on Sams shoulder. Here, you are always supposed to say maam or sir at the end of a question, as a way to show respect for your elders.
Oh, Sam didnt really get it, but she wanted to get out of this office. Im sorry sir Sam added belatedly, the word feeling awkward in her mouth. Ill do my best to remember sir? Did she have to say it every time?
The principal eyed her oddly and smiled. Well, guess you cant help being a damn Yankee! He shook her moms hand and thanked her for coming in, assuring her that he would resolve this issue promptly.
From that day forward, whenever he saw Sam in the halls, he would pull her ponytail and say How ya doin, Damn Yankee!?
But Sam was the rude one.
Sams English teacher did not like her and she still could not figure out what she had done to offend the woman. She would frequently get notes home from the teacher complaining about ridiculous things, such as the fact that Sam was reading in class instead of taking notes. Sams mom had a good fit about that and sent a note back, much to Sams chagrin, explaining that Sam was indeed taking the notes and that she couldnt help the fact that Sam clearly wrote faster than most of the class. She also pointed out that it was ridiculous that an English teacher, of all people, was complaining about a student reading in class! That did nothing to endear the woman to Sam, but at least she stopped sending home notes. Instead, she blatantly ignored Sam in class.
Now if only Sam could figure out what she had done to achieve said results, then she would replicate them with Wolfman Jack! But every day she would walk into biology and find him leering at her.
It had started out harmlessly enough. The first day of class, he had taken a seat in front of her, turned and greeted her. She had responded politely, because that is what she was taught, then she pulled out her books and got ready for class. He kept staring at her.
Sam is not one to judge, generally speaking, but as Mom likes to say, being discerning and judgmental are not the same thing. Judging someone is deciding based on limited information, whether you think you are better than them. Being discerning means that you take in information about an individual and based on that information you determine whether or not you want to associate with them. In their house that is how mom got around the thou shalt not judge. And honestly, it made sense.
For example, Sam never made fun of Jack. But she did not want to be associated with him. His hygiene left a lot to be desired. She could literally see the yellow plaque build-up on his teeth. When he would turn to talk to her, she had to force herself not to pull back from the stench of his breath.
Given that feeling, you could see why she would discourage conversation. But he always managed to find things that they had in common. Usually it was a bit of a stretch. He got super excited when he found out that Sam was in NJ too, though how he ever passed regs with that floppy greasy hair was beyond Sam. Fortunately, they werent in the same NJ class. He went on and on about how he was going to join the navy when he graduated.
Finally Sam interrupted him with I just didnt want to take gym.
The first time he asked Sam out, she told him that she was Mormon, and wasnt allowed to date until she was 16. Then he wanted to know how old she was, she proudly said 14. In her experience that was usually enough. Most people respected her honoring her religion, or at least never bothered her about it after.
Not Jack. After that it was like he started stalking other Mormon girls and would randomly bring them up in conversation. You know, Jens only 14, but I heard shes dating Matt. Or Have you met Marie? She started dating when she was 12.
Every day another Mormon who was dating, followed by some fun thing they could do that wouldnt technically be a date. And seriously, what was wrong with this guy? No one could possibly call him a boy. He had a face full of hair, and though Sam didnt know how old he was, she found it impossible to believe that he was only a year or two older than she. He towered over her at six foot four, and was built like a trucker. The dude even made Wes look small.
Finally one day he came in while Sam was writing a letter to Robbie, one of her best friends from home. Sam was listening to some music Robbie had recommended, and had a picture of him sitting out in front of her. She found it was easier to write them letters when she could see them, because if felt like they were just talking.
Whos that? Jack asked in his gravelly, way-too-deep-to-be-a-teenager voice. Sam said a silent prayer for patience, and debated how rude it would be to simply ignore him. But then he turned all the way around in his chair and she could tell he was trying to read her letter. Sam sat up and put the note away. He snatched the picture up, leaving a greasy fingerprint on Robbies chin. Skinny little booger, aint he?
Sam snatched the picture back, and snapped, Who he is, is none or your business!
Touchy, touchy! Is he your boyfriend?
Ha, I wish! Sam had always figured Robbie would be her first date. Fat chance of that happening now, though. Of course Jack didnt know that. What if he is? Sam challenged.
Jacks face got stormy and he began working his jaw. I dont know him.
Of course not, Sam scoffed. Hes from back home. Home the thought made her sad. For a moment she didnt notice Jack still staring at her. When Sam glanced up, he almost looked kind?
Long distance relationships. Those are tough. Usually dont last. He smiled and that smile made Sams skin crawl.
Robbie and I have something special, Sam insisted, not completely lying. Robbie, Robin and Sam were the three best of friends. Robbie and Sam did have something special, even if it wasnt of the same nature Jack was implying. She knew Robbie would knock the stuffing out of this jerk, if he were here to see the way the guy treated her. She was sure he wouldnt mind being her pretend boyfriend to get this guy to leave her alone.
Sam went with it. She made sure every day to be writing a letter to Robbie. Most of those ewy gooey letters she did not send. But Robbie was good enough to send her a couple, along with some new pictures, after she had explained everything to him. She made sure to leave those on her desk where Mr. Nosey could get a good look at them. Was it weird, or did that stormy look in his eyes freak her out just a little bit?
But other than Jack, she was settling in. Well, except for church.
Church was awkward. Most of the young women had decided that they didnt really care for Sam. They were coolly polite at church, because they absolutely adored Kelly; but ignored her almost completely at school. The only exception was Lynn, but since Lynn didnt go to public school that didnt help much.
Sam really like Lynn and her sister Diane. Selfishly, she also liked the fact that their mother was a single mother as well. In a church where divorce is a sin and single past 20 is almost unheard of, it was nice to have other kids who understood what Mikey and Sam were going through. Lyn and Diane knew how hard it was to grow up without a dad. But Sam had to be very careful about what she said. After all, Lynn and Dianes parents werent divorced. Their father had died.
Their mother, Deb, was a wonderful woman who pretty much took mom under her wing and made sure to include her in everything she could, including a really neat camping trip to the beach over Labor Day! That three days together really solidified Sams relationship with Lyn and Diane.
As for the boys at church, life had gotten very complicated. Sam had always related better to boys than girls. She figured it was because of growing up with Mikey and not really having a lot of contact with her older sisters until recently. Unfortunately, boys around here just didnt hang out with girls. They either had a crush on, dated, or would never date said girl.
Kelly insisted that it had nothing to do with boys here, it was boys everywhere at this age. That did not make Sam feel any better. In Montana she had always had a lot of friends. Now she was down to a much smaller number of girls and a few boys that she was uncomfortably sure were more interested in dating than just being friends. Fortunately none had asked yet, and if they did, then she could pull out the handy I cant date until Im 16 conversation. Despite the fact that most Mormon girls chafed at the dating rules, Sam was secretly grateful for a built-in excuse to say no to guys that she only liked as friends. She had seen too many other people lose really good friends because of dating.
Sams rambling thoughts were interrupted by two young men running through the church past her. Bryan and Clint. Clint was trying to hold Bryan back. Bryan was pulling and using his bull strength to get down the hall. They were headed right for her! Sam tried to pretend that she was very involved in the school book on her lap, but they were making such a noise. Glancing up at them, Sam realized that Clint was trying to keep Bryans mouth closed. As soon as Bryan saw Sam looking, a wicked glint came into his eye. He twisted in a move worthy of a wrestler and barked Guess who Clint likes! Clint was temporarily thrown off balance and tripped over his own feet, freeing Bryan.
Oh! Sam gasped, jumping up and running over to make sure he was ok. Clint was one of the few guys Sam considered a friend. Sam suspected that he liked her as more than a friend, but he wasnt overwhelmingly obnoxious in his pursuit unlike, say, Bryan. She dropped to her knees next to him. Are you alright? Sam asked.
Clint was awkward and goofy, but he was sweet and funny. Right now he looked hopelessly pitiful. He was drenched in sweat and like many teen boys, it smelled funky. Hormones.
Bryan was prancing around the two of them, crooning and giggling. I know who Clint likes! Little Clinty has a crushy wushy! Sam was generally nice to everyone, but she found that certain people, such as Bryan, tried her patience more than most. The kid truly enjoyed humiliating and embarrassing anyone and everyone at the least opportunity possible. This was one such opportunity and it was at the expense of her friend. She tried, but could not bite back her anger.
Listen, you overgrown monkey! Sam snapped at Bryan. Who cares who Clint likes or who he doesnt? At least people like Clint! She left her scathing words at that, letting the inference stand. Bryans eyes went dark and stormy. For one who could dish it out a lot, Bryan couldnt take any hassling.
Ah look at Beauty defending her Beast! He scowled.
Better the Beast than Gaston. Sam sneered.
Well, I guess you two are just a match made in Heaven, arent you? Bryan growled.
Sam looked down at Clint, who was beet red. He wouldnt meet her eyes. Bryan, you are mean and spiteful! she hissed. Why do you have this vicious hate? What has Clint ever done to you?
Bryan looked at Sam unabashedly. Nothing. But he should know that he is aiming way out of his league. Im helping a friend out. Thats all.
Sam shook her head. No, you are a lobster trying to pull your fellow back in the pot. She turned to Clint. Any girl would be lucky to have you like them, and if they are too stupid to know that, then they arent worth your time!
So, do you like him? Bryan crowed gleefully.
Sam could feel her face go hot. I well
Hmm oh really? Bryan responded coyly, then laughed cruelly.
Sam looked down and could see Clint was crushed by this. She did like him. But she just wasnt sure that she liked him like that. She could see that Bryans laughter and spite was doing a number on Clints confidence and she hated that.
Yes! Sam stated. Yes, I do like him! But, Im not allowed to date until I am sixteen. When I turn sixteen I would be honored if Clint asked me out! Sam finished in a rush, hoping that it sounded sincere.
Clint was staring at her, in something resembling awe. It made her feel very uncomfortable.
Bryan just stared at the two of them for a moment, a storm cloud crossing his face. Then he snorted, forcing a cruel smile on his lips. Isnt that just perfect, he hissed. Your own built-in excuse. He stomped off mumbling to himself. Sam got the feeling that maybe she had done more damage than good. Groaning inwardly, she offered Clint a hand up, and tried not to get all embarrassed. Sam hate being embarrassed.
Clint smiled awkwardly. Thanks, he mumbled. Sam wasnt entirely sure what he was thanking her for, but smiled gamely. He sighed. Even if you didnt mean it, it was nice of you to say. He looked toward the door where Wes and Clints older brother were walking in. Wes waved and both Clint and Sam waved back. Seeing them, Clints older brother Sammy snickered and then waved. Sam could feel herself blushing again. Clint started walking the other direction. She debated letting him go, but ran over to him.
Clint, Sam said breathlessly, rubbing her sweaty palms against her jeans. I I meant all that I said. She looked around to see who might be watching. I mean Im not allowed to date, so I hadnt really considered you like that. But, what I said Bryan is a jerk. He is just dragging you down because he is so pitiful and lonely. But youre a good person. You are kind and sweet. When I turn sixteen, I would go on a date with you. Sam took a deep breath and waited for him to respond.
Thanks. Clint said, looking around awkwardly.
She felt like an idiot, but she didnt really know how to end this awkward conversation. Glancing around again, she spotted Lynn who had just walked in. When Lynn saw Sam, she waved.
Hey, you comin? Lynn asked.
Sam jumped at the opportunity. Yeah.
Lynn slowed, waiting for her.
Well, I gotta go. Thanks for the talk. Sam smiled gamely at Clint and he smiled back. She then turned and ran over to Lynn. Lynn began talking about her field trip and Sam was grateful not to have to share that bizarre experience, instead focusing on Lynns story and chiming in as needed.



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