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First pages

Chapter 1

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“I can’t believe it’s fucking raining!”

“Kay, watch your mouth. You may be going to college, but you’re not there yet.”

I basically am though. Finally, after nine months of counting down, it’s happening. I’m sitting in a hotel room just a few short miles away from the University of Missouri. My dream school; home of the best journalism school in the country. I’m ready to take it head on, more importantly, I’m ready to be done with Indiana. For good.

“Kayla, did you hear me!?”

My mom could be in California, talking in her “normal” voice and I’d still be able to hear her. Loud and clear. Right here from Missouri.

“Sorry mom.”

Here I am, about to start my journey into adulthood. Everything is about to change. I purposefully picked a school six hours away so that there would be no surprise family reunions, no quick weekend trips and plenty of physical space between me and my life in Indiana.

I’m not really sure what I have against my home state. I wasn’t forced to move there because one of my parents got a new job. I didn’t grow up in a cramped apartment with shoddy Wi-Fi and no AC. I even got the opportunity to get out of Indiana at least once every year. Two months ago, we were all in Hawaii.

But that’s not the point.

Indiana never felt like home. When I was forced to go to public high school I never made any real friends. I played a varsity sport and was editor of the school newspaper, but that didn’t really land me in the spotlight. Well, it kind of did. But only when athletes were trying to get their faces on the front page. (As if anyone besides them gave a shit about a brand new high school’s shitty sports teams.)

I always wanted out.

I assumed I’d end up somewhere a little more glamorous than the middle of Missouri though. Chicago, or maybe New York City, California even. Before I’d heard of Mizzou I had my heart set on Stanford, although I don’t really remember why. It may have been because at 2,314.9 miles away from my parents front door, it was literally the furthest I could get away without it looking suspicious (I mean c’mon, it’s fucking Stanford).

Everything changed when I went to a journalism conference in St. Louis with my high school newspaper staff. There was a portion of the conference reserved for colleges. I had zero interest in going to a college fair, but I figured there would be cute college guys there to flirt with. So, I went.

It was there that I saw an obnoxious black and yellow table with tons of cut out tigers. It was so tacky, I actually scoffed. Out loud. But that table also had one of the cutest boys I had seen all week. He was tall with a shaved head and beautiful chocolate skin. He had a smile as wide as a billboard and at the end of his smile, on each cheek, were two perfect dimples. He was wearing black and yellow to match the table. So, I went up to him, introduced myself and for at least five minutes acted like I knew exactly what Mizzou was, which I think worked until the very end when he chanted “M-I-Z!” and I had no clue what to say back. Awk. (If you’re wondering the proper response is “Z-O-U” unless by off chance we’re playing kU then your response should be “FUCK KU!” as loud as possible.)

To this day, I don’t know if it was the way that beautiful chocolate man engaged with me or if it was some other force that pulled me in, but I was hooked. What the hell was Stanford? Just a faint memory to me at that point. Now, I’m going to Mizzou. And it’s going to be fucking awesome.

* * *

Monday, October 10, 2010

“OH. EM. GEE. Kay!”

It’s Monday morning and we just finished midterms last week, what could Brianna possibly want? Maybe I can ignore her? My headphones are in. Yup, ignoring her.

“Kay? KAY! Ugh--excuse you! God you athletes walk around this place like you have a winning record! Move it!”

Oh Brianna, my only friend throughout high school. We met in summer school my freshman year. She was nice and her pothead boyfriend would give me rides home so I didn’t have to walk, which made us fast friends. Somehow, she’d found out about Mizzou even though she didn’t even go on the newspaper trip. She’s been talking my ear off about it ever since.

Brianna is a sweet girl, she means well, she’s super smart. But she’s a bit of a know it all and isn’t aware when she’s disclosing too much information. But I love the girl. She has been a solid friend over the last four years. Plus, she’s quick on her feet which has kept me out of trouble.

I decide to turn around and see what all the fuss is about. Knowing her, it can’t be that bad.

“Oh, good you heard me!”

“Yeah. Sorry, I’m still trying to wake up. What’s up?”

“As you know, I narrowed my list of colleges down to five.”

“Uh huh.”

“One of which was Mizzou with my bestie!” she squeals. It’s too early for this.

“Okay…”

“Well...I got in!” she squeals again, only this time it’s accompanied by her jumping up and down.

I get it. Getting into your dream school, or any school for that matter is a big deal. I’ve gotten into every school I applied to so far and now Brianna has too. But I haven’t heard from Mizzou yet. The fact that she has makes me wonder if that’s bad news for me.

“That’s awesome Brianna! Congrats.” I don’t mean that. Yes I do. I’m happy for her, but I wish it were me. Everyone at school knows at least two things about me: 1) I hate Indiana and just about everyone in it and 2) I want to go to Mizzou, badly. I just want to be happy and I know Mizzou could make that happen.

I can’t have Brianna’s news getting out too much. People love to assume things and Brianna’s acceptance into Mizzou could quickly turn into a rumor about my denial from Mizzou, which hasn’t been confirmed (or denied) yet.

I snap out of my racing thoughts and focus back on Brianna. She’s been talking for a while, (as usual) but I’ve gotten so good, I can pick up in the middle of her rambles and be fine.

“...so yeah basically my step mom just totally spaced getting the mail all last week. Probably because she fired our maid.”

Yeah. A maid. Indiana may be a landlocked state in the Midwest, but in the town, I grew up in, you would have thought it was the real-life OC. Real Housewives ain’t got nothing on my town’s drama. Everyone is just so...white. And rich. That’s why I don’t fit in. I don’t look like anyone at my school. I’m not pretty like most of the girls and my skin is only sought after when some perverted fuckhead wants to be able to say he’s been with a black girl. I’ve never been interested in that arrangement. I get similar comments when a guy has never been with a “curvy girl” before too. I’ve never been interested in that arrangement either.

I zone back in for a second time. Brianna is still talking. I wonder if she talks this much at home?

I’m hoping that the first period bell will ring before Brianna gets the chance to ask me about my acceptance. A week ago, my dad’s coworker, who also went to Mizzou, said that it was hard to get in, especially for out of state students. What if Brianna took my spot? She couldn’t have, right? They’ve got to reserve a spot for the black girl at the predominately white school in the suburbs. Affirmative action is still a thing.

The first period bell rings, signaling that Brianna has exactly seven minutes to wrap up whatever she’s dragging on about so that we can get to class on time, or at least so I can. I hate being late.

I guess even if I do dodge the acceptance question for now there is always later. Brianna and I are always together. Lunch, newspaper, study hall, how the fuck am I going to ignore her until I find out the status of my application? Why is this happening to me? Seriously. This must be the universe playing a joke on me. Again. I wait for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell me I’m on a non-celeb version of Punk’d almost daily. No luck yet.

“So, are you in?!”

Shit. Shit shit shit.

“Umm,” voice is shakes, “Wha-what’d you say?”

“Did you get in? To Mizzou? Are we going to be classmates or better yet roommates?”

We are not going to be roommates.

Brianna knows me too well. She knows everyone too well. She’s like the high school crier. She knows everyone’s business, sometimes before they know it. Our junior year, the morning of the homecoming dance she knew that Charlie, our star (I use that word loosely) quarterback was going to dump his date Delaney for a freshman named Raven. Granted she only knew that because her and Raven spent that morning in Saturday detention. Raven got Charlie’s number and sent nudes to him. Completely unsolicited. Right after the nudes she sent a series of texts explaining to him how he was going to ditch Delaney right before the dance and take her instead. Brianna practically helped Raven write those texts and then proceeded to text our entire friend group the gossip. I still can’t believe that didn’t get back to Delaney sooner, or she took him back right after the dance. Whatever.

I have to figure out what I’m going to say to Brianna. I don’t want to lie, but would saying I don’t know make me look like a liar? Because technically, that is the truth.

“Oh, I don’t know, we went to Bloomington last minute this past weekend for my brother’s basketball tournament. I haven’t had time to go through my mail.”

That’s half true. My brother did have a basketball tournament this past weekend. Unfortunately, I was at work all weekend, but since my friends all refuse to eat carbs, they never bother to come visit me at the bakery where I work. Which for the first time in four years has worked out in my favor.

“Ohhh ok. Well I’m sure it’s in your pile of mail at home. We should go to your house for lunch and check!”

She cannot be serious.

It’s 7:38 and first period starts at 7:40. I haven’t even been to my locker yet.

“Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I really need to do my math homework before sixth period. I’ll check after school. I gotta go. Class!”

I rush to my locker, heart pounding. I don’t even look Bri in the eyes as I dash upstairs, I know she would have known I was lying if I did. As I rush away, I can hear her say something, but I can’t quite make out what it is.

“OK sounds good, bye Bri!” I yell back. Even if she said something that warranted a legit response she’d repeat it later.

She always does.

* * *

Monday, October 10, 2010

I spent all day in my office in the publications lab, which as the photo editor Bri has total authority to walk into any time she wants, but she didn’t. She knows if I’m in there that I’m on deadline or having a rough day and don’t want to be bothered. So, she kept her distance.

It’s not that I’m having a bad day, I’m just freaking out. By second period I assumed that I didn’t get in to Mizzou. I immediately started thinking of excuses that I could tell people so that it wouldn’t seem like a big deal.

It is a big deal though, I have been dreaming about journalism since my first yearbook class in junior high. My teachers always said I was a great writer. Every year during parent teacher conferences writing was always listed as my biggest strength. I love doing it. I was the only freshman at Finch High School to skip the prerequisite classes for Yearbook and Newspaper. I met with the yearbooks and newspaper advisor multiple times to convince her to let me on staff as a freshman. Two weeks before classes started, she said yes.

When I broke my ankle during volleyball tryouts junior year, I thought my life was over. I was so sure I would be going to college to play volleyball (I really wasn’t that good). But a week after getting cut I got the opportunity to be the youngest editor-in-chief the newspaper staff has ever had. A position I have now held for two years. Writing isn’t just a thing I do for fun. It’s serious. Together the advisor and I doubled the number of people on staff and brought home dozens of awards. I deserve Mizzou and I definitely deserve a spot in the Missouri School of Journalism. I’ve earned it. How could Mizzou not see me as an asset?

There’s no way I can face my peers if I don’t get in. That’s what I hate most about high school. Most of the time, no one gives a shit about you, but there’s always that one instance where everyone cares about something happening in your life, especially when it comes to college decisions.

I go to one of the best public high schools in the state. When I went on college visits in Indiana and introduced myself, admission reps perked up because they knew I was coming from a great school district with teachers who actually care.

I sprint towards my locker and then out the emergency exit door as soon as the seventh period bell rings. I jump in my car and head home.

* * *

I burst into my house and drag my feet as I walk into the mud room. Both of my parents are already home, which never happens, so I decide to make a scene (I swear with a little practice I could be an actress).

“Mom? MOM!”

“I’m in the kitchen Kayla.”

I walk in the kitchen to meet her.

“What’s gotten into you? Why are you bursting in the house screaming?”

As if she never screams. Everything out of her mouth is a scream, but we’ve established this already.

“Mom, did any mail come for me last weekend?”

“I don’t know, Kay, that’s what your mailbox is for. Go check it.

We each have our own mailbox and cubie at my house. I used to feel like I was in kindergarten having to put my shoes perfectly in the square, it’s pretty convenient now. My brother gets the mail and sorts it, but he always throws it in our boxes in the least cohesive way possible. Bills from last week could end up at the bottom and Christmas cards from last year at the top. It’s so frustrating, but no one else remembers to check the mail, so we keep letting him do it.

I rush to the mud room and tear through my mailbox. There are bank account statements and companies offering me credit cards, but no letter from Mizzou. I feel defeated. I break down and start crying. I lean up against the wall and slowly sink down to the floor.

I check my phone, three missed calls from Bri and a text that says “WELL?”

I ignore her and turn my phone off. She’ll assume I either got grounded or that my day was really terrible. Either way, it buys me more time. I wipe the black tears from my cheek and try to slow down my breathing. At that point, my mom realizes I’m crying and walks over to see about me.

“What’s going on Kayla?”

“I didn’t get into Mizzou.”

I don’t even bother looking up at her.

“I’m so sorry Kayla, what did they say?”

What did they say? Seriously? Mizzou has an enrollment of at least 35,000 they aren’t worried about me and my incompetence.

“I don’t know mom, they don’t have time to tell me why I suck so bad, they didn’t tell me anything.”

“I mean what’d the letter say Kayla,” she says with an attitude. “No, a college isn’t going to tell you what they don’t like about you, but they do send a denial letter.”

“Well I didn’t get a denial letter.”

“Then how do you know you didn’t get in!?”

I look up at her, her hands are on her hips as she looks down at me, tapping her foot, waiting for me to muster up an answer.

“Bri told me this morning she got in. She got her letter last week so I must not have made the cut.”

“Oh honey, you think a college that allows you to apply until damn near April sends out acceptance letters all at once?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you sign into that website they gave you so you can see if they’ve even reviewed your application?”

I pull myself up, crawl to the computer and log in. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the worse. Sure, I’ve gotten into other schools, but they aren’t Mizzou. I thought back to the beautiful chocolate man that told me to apply and to “keep in touch.” If I don’t get in, what will he think of me? Our chances of dating would be ruined (hey, a girl can dream). Our computer is taking forever, if I have to watch the spinning rainbow wheel of death for one more second, I’m going to hurl.

I type in my username and password slowly to be sure it’s correct. I hit enter. A simple black box with text inside pops up. It reads: Application Status-ADMT.

Wait. What does that mean? Does that mean that I’m in? Do I scream? Do I ask my mom before getting excited?

“Uh mom, could you come here?”

She walks over to me and rests her hands on my shoulder. I know she can tell I’m nervous, terrified that I’m not going to receive the answer I so desperately want. Mizzou is my golden ticket out of Indiana. If I could move out of state and start my life unlike all my peers who are opting for in state schools, I can do anything. I just need the chance.

“Yes sweetheart?”

“What’s this mean?’

She pushes her glasses up on her face and squints to read it, which I never understood, but whatever. She reads it out loud over and over again as if it says something different each time. She pulls her glasses down from her face, stands up straight and clears her throat.

“I think it means you’re in honey, but maybe you should call admissions and ask.”

Of course, admissions! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? A call to them during lunch time would have squashed all the anxiety I’ve dealt with all day. I snatch our home phone from the dock and run upstairs to my room to dial the number (which I know by heart, 1-800-4MIZZOU).

It barely rings once before a menu of options is given to me. I’m too lazy to listen to them so I just hit zero to get a real person.

“Thank you for calling the University of Missouri, home of the Tigers, how may I help you?”

I take a deep breath and begin explaining my situation.

“Hi my name is Kay. Uh, I mean Kayla. I was wondering if I got in.”

“Okay...Kayla do you know your pawprint? It’s the series of numbers and letters you use to log into our database. You could also give me your last name.”

Of course, I doubt I’m the only Kayla applying to Mizzou. Whoops.

“Yeah, my name is Kayla Smith, but my friends call me Kay.”

She didn’t need to know that.

“Alright let me look you up in our system. I see you’re calling from Indiana, correct?”

“Yes.”

I hear a lot typing and more voices chatting in the background. It sounds like she’s in a call center. Are there that many students trying to get into Mizzou? What made me think I was qualified?

“Okay Kayla, are you there?”

“Yes ma’am, I’m here.”

“Well, hon, our records are showing that your application was admitted which by our standards means you’re in! You should be receiving an official letter in a few days.”

My mouth drops. So does the phone.

“Hello? Kayla? Hello?”

I bend down to pick up the phone, shaking with excitement.

“Yes, I’m here. I heard you. Thanks!”

I belly flop on my bed and begin to cry, happy tears of course. This is it. I’m going to Mizzou. I’m getting out of Indiana. No more corn fields, no more 90210 wannabe Barbies, no more two faced friends or entitled athletes that only read my writing when they want to be featured in our next issue. I am going to Mizzou. I’m going to study at the best journalism school in the country. All my dreams are coming true and it feels so damn good.

* * *

Friday, May 27, 2011

“Okay students!”

The Pepsi Coliseum is filled with laughter, chatter and tears (of joy). The class of 2011, the first class to spend all four years at Finch High School is out of here! Finals are over, open house invitations sent, all that’s left to do is get through graduation rehearsal and walk across that stage.

I don’t understand why we have to spend an entire day practicing how to walk. That’s all we’re doing. Walking into the coliseum, then to our seats, then up on stage to get our diplomas and back to our seats. Mr. Learner, the principal, ensured us that this was “for our safety” to make sure no one does anything stupid on graduation day. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how much we practice walking and sitting, if someone wants to do something stupid during the ceremony, they are going to do it. As long as it’s not during the calling of my name, I don’t really give a shit.

“Uh...students?”

Mr. Learner has been trying to get our attention for about five minutes. We’ve been at the coliseum all morning when today was supposed to be our Senior Fun Day. He may only have one more announcement to make, but the class of 2011 isn’t having it.

I’m sitting on my phone scrolling through Facebook photos of my classmates last days together. There’s not much to see though. Just way too many cliché captions. “This is not a goodbye, but a see you later.” Whatever. Two weeks into college, everyone will have moved on.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t make myself feel the same way the rest of the my class (supposedly) does. These people have been going to school with one another since they were in diapers. I’ve only spent the last four years with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some good memories, I have a few people I think I’ll stay in touch with once I move to Columbia. But for the most part, I’m over it. I’m ready to leave. High school, the coliseum, Indiana, I just want August. I’ll even settle for July so I can be at freshman orientation and learn about all Mizzou has to offer.

“Let’s get out of here Kay.”

I look up from my phone and Brianna and her boyfriend are staring at me. As if they need my approval to leave. I like to play by the rules. I don’t want anything jeopardizing my chances of walking across that stage on Saturday.

“It’s almost over, but you guys can go ahead, I’ll just take the bus back.”

I stare into Brianna’s eyes. She looks different. Kind of tired. Sad. I wonder if her and her boyfriend are okay, but graduation rehearsal isn’t the time for that conversation. I smile.

“Thanks for thinking of me Bri, I’ll call you later.”

She takes her boyfriend’s hand and struts away, right past the security guard blocking the gate. She doesn’t even flinch when he tries to stop them. She just flashes a smile, winks and keeps walking until she’s out the door.

* * *

Thursday, July 7, 2011

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

“Will you two shut the hell up!” I snap.

Seven hours on the road to Mizzou and no, we are not there yet. My siblings are getting restless, my granny is telling the same stories over and over and my headphones are no longer drowning out the noise.

Mizzou’s campus to my parent’s front door is actually only about six hours, but when you’re traveling with six people, it’s not that simple. Toss in torrential down pours for at least three hours of the drive and you’ve got my current situation. Seven hours into what should’ve been a six-hour road trip with about an hour still left to go.

For the next three days, I plan on practicing how not to look like a freshman. I hate that I have to start at the bottom of the totem pole after just being there four years ago, but I’m excited to start over in a new state where no one, besides Brianna knows who I am.

“So, what’s the plan for tonight?” my mom asks, trying to drown out my siblings.

“We’re meeting Lakin and her family at Shakespeare’s at seven, but I really want to explore campus before that.”

“Okay we can do that, but we’re going to our hotel first. I need to recollect myself after this drive.”

I hate that about traveling with my family. They always want to go to the hotel first, sit and chat, have a few cups of tea (not literally) and then get down to business. It’s such a waste of time. They do it on every vacation. We can never just drop our stuff off and head to the pool, or to a restaurant. We have to sit first, and take it all in.

“Columbia, Missouri five miles!”

My mom loves being the road trip hype man. No matter where we go, she is usually the one that is paying attention to how close we are to our destination. The closer we get, the more excited she gets in her announcements.

“Yeah, finally.” Jeff whispers under his breath. My brother has no problem being the one to ask how close we are every fifteen minutes and he does it. Every. Fifteen. Minutes.

Jeff and Katie are my little brother and sister. I’m the oldest and they didn’t come along until six years later. They’re twins, but they couldn’t be more opposite. Jeff is obsessed with all things sports, he knows every stat of every player from the NBA, the NFL and the University of North Carolina’s sports teams (the important ones anyway). Katie is fiercely. She loves music and art more than anything. She plays four instruments and speaks two languages (besides English) semi-fluently. In short, she’s a genius and the youngest, but only by a few minutes.

Finally, we pull up. I rush everyone out of the car and up to the room in hopes that the faster we get up there, the faster we can leave.

Mizzou’s freshman orientation, Summer Welcome, as they like to call it, is very intricate. I’m the last of my high school friends to attend any type of orientation; so, I’m going into it with an idea of what it will be like: long, boring and full of information only my parents will care about. Brianna swore there was no way I could possibly be prepared for Mizzou’s two-day event, but Bri is also dramatic, so I took her comments with a grain of salt. For now, I need to focus on my dinner plans with my roommate-to-be, Lakin. We made sure to pick the same orientation date so that we could meet before move in day. I’m just trying to make sure that she isn’t too good to be true because she seems damn near perfect.

We pull up to Shakespeare’s right on time. Lakin and her mom are waiting for us. As soon as we see each other, we embrace like old friends seeing one another for the first time in years.

Lakin is gorgeous. She’s a muscular girl with pale skin and short blonde shoulder-length hair. You can tell she played sports in a former life, or at least worked out, her calf muscles are that amazing. The way she’s dressed reminds me of what I would wear when on a health kick with plans to go to the gym. She has a big warm smile and a slight southern accent. Her mother and her look more like sisters, I guess black isn’t the only thing that doesn’t crack.

We order our pizza and have a typical conversation amongst one another. Weather, hobbies, the drive to Missouri, things like that. Every once in a while, during the conversation Lakin and I would say the exact same thing at the same time, but with different attitudes. Our parents would marvel at how similar we were despite our obvious differences.

“I think they’re going to get along just fine,” my mom says to Lakin’s. Lakin’s mom smiles in agreement.

I feel that way too. Lakin and I have a lot in common and she seems to have a good head on her shoulders which is great because I’m not interested in having a roommate whose hair I’ll have to hold back every weekend while she pukes all of her hopes and dreams into the toilet. I know I made a good choice. I hope she feels the same.

* * *

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Welcome was a blur, there was a lot of talking, cheesy skits, an unfortunate number of icebreakers. By the end of day one, I just wanted to get my class schedule and go home.

I do have one thing to look forward to though, the guy I met a year ago during a college fair in St. Louis reached out to me and said we should meet up for coffee while I’m in town. I’m ecstatic. I’m not even on campus yet, but I’m scheduling coffee dates with cute boys. His name is Aaron and I can’t wait to see him again. Unfortunately, my parents insist on coming along too.

Aaron is just as beautiful as I remember. Tall, scruffy and the perfect shade of brown. After a long weekend of rules and regulations, I’m excited to get an idea of what college life is actually like. Is it hard to get alcohol? What are the best clubs to get involved in? Is it easy to make friends?

Aaron talked about everything, except for those things. He talked about every organization he was in and how Gumby’s Pizza was so much better than Shakespeare’s. He boasted about his apartment that was practically on campus, the walking distance was so short. He gave my parents and I some real talk about the things that are wrong with Mizzou. The privilege on campus, how difficult it is to see an adviser when needed and the high price of simple foods like ramen and sugary cappuccinos at Mizzou Market. It was a lot to take in and I could tell that my parents were over the conversation almost as soon as it started, but I was in a trance.

Aaron is just so smart and as cute as ever. He’s a sophomore. He doesn’t have the mentality of a high schooler, like the freshman guys I’ve met so far. He’s well known on campus and by the right people. I think at the very least we’ll have a really great friendship.

* * *

Monday, August 15, 2011

One day. I have one day until I move out of Indiana for good. Maybe that’s dramatic. I’ll be back, I’ll definitely be back. My family is here and they probably always will be. But in just one day I will be doing what I wasn’t sure I could.

My grades have always been good and I like to be involved in everything, so getting into college was never a worry of mine. Even the money aspect never bothered me; my parents made it clear they were taking care of it. All my life I have wanted more for myself and I wasn’t sure I could actually make that happen.

Often times, we let fear decide what we’re capable of doing and what we aren’t. I have always been known for doing what everyone else wants me to do, rarely do I feel like I’ve gotten to do what I want. That sounds bratty coming from an 18-year-old who from the outside looking in appears to have it all. But I’ve got goals too. Moves I want to make. Dreams I want to see come to fruition. Mizzou is the first selfish decision I feel like I’ve made.

I sit on the edge of my queen size, double decker bed and slowly look around my room. I see the stack of yearbooks and newspapers I’ve worked on while in high school, awards I’ve won from academic achievements and countless pictures from the past four years. I barely know the people smiling next to me in them. We’re all heading out on different days and although I’ve been to a few goodbye dinners, I haven’t cried yet. At the last gathering for my friend Chelsea who is entering the militaryBri and I sat in her car afterwards in silence. Neither one of us cried even when Chelsea started tearing up. I think it made us both feel bad. But the absence of tears doesn’t mean you don’t feel anything, just like the presence of them doesn’t mean you are weak.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I'm a 20-something born and raised in the midwest, which is where I still live today. After being laid off from my first full-time job post college, I sat down to write a book during NaNoWriMo, this is finished product. I believe deeply in equal and non-stereotypical representation of marginalized identities within media and hope my writing can be part of the solution. When I'm not making up stories for books, I write about race for nonprofit news publications and higher education institutions.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
My freshman year was a hot mess. Seriously. It honestly felt too dramatic to even be true. My friends and I used to joke about me writing about it one day. After losing my first job post-grad, I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm so glad I did.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
I write for my adolescent self, for my little sister, for the young girls I've mentored and the daughter I hope to some day have. I distinctly remember going to the library each week and combing through books looking for characters of color. I don't want future generations to have that problem.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
My professional work is at brittanydking.com. My rants and raves at heyitsbkay.com. Besides that, I am always on Twitter. Literally. You can tweet me any time.

Next in:
Teen & Young Adult
Genesis: (The First Series...
The birth of the end of everything.
Facing the curse
The birth of a baby destroys their utopia.
Return of the Fae
The fall into the past