Every Girl Does It

  Every Girl Does It

  By Rachel Van Dyken

  Published by Astraea Press


  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.


  Copyright © 2011 RACHEL VAN DYKEN

  ISBN 978-1-936852-30-7

  Cover Art Designed By Elaina Lee

  Edited By Audrey Jamison and J.D. Jordan

  To my unsuspecting sister who spent countless hours reading my work and encouraging me!


  Oh no. This is not happening, not happening!

  I wipe my hands over my pleated skirt, a nervous habit. Sweaty hands aren’t attractive, or so Brad Macintosh said when he held them during couple’s skate my seventh grade year.

  It’s my first choir solo ever. Why couldn’t it be our fall concert instead of our Spring Spectacular? I feel ridiculous standing in front of the entire school with my mouth gaping open trying to find a middle C. Not to mention the fact that my mother, who is standing up in the front of the audience waving with video camera in hand, forced me to wear a pleated skirt. Thus the outfit is now screaming “uncool” on my lanky body.

  Never am I this mean. But when I get nervous, I tend to snap at people. All week I’ve been at odds with my mom for taking pictures of me. She was literally documenting every day of my life up until the big solo or as she puts it, “my discovery!” Leave it to my mom to turn a junior high solo into the performance of a lifetime, which will not only get her daughter discovered, but will make her a best selling artist all before her eighteenth birthday. Somehow I don’t think MTV is going to be knocking on our door anytime soon for the professional footage my mom shot in order to do a “diary” on my life before I was famous.

  Nervous and sweating, I begin my solo, praying I remember the words. When I finish, I felt like I’d run the fifty-yard dash the way my heart is hammering, but then I realize everyone is clapping. They’re all clapping for me. I did well!

  In fact, people are beginning to stand up and clap. I actually feel famous, like I’m a pop star giving my first concert and people love me. THEY LOVE ME!

  I bow and do a little curtsy just so they know I’m still humble then wave like Miss America all the way back to my seat with the rest of the choir. Blushing, I try to avoid eye contact with the rest of the choir as they whisper, “good job”. I look humble, but I’m actually soaring because of how proud I am. I actually did it! Now if only my mom would turn off that dang camera and sit down. My dad gives me a thumbs up, and oh yes, my mom is wiping a stray tear from her eye. Looking at them you’d assume I’ve never done anything exciting in my entire life.


  Our choir director grabs the microphone and clears his throat. The entire audience falls silent like he’s the president of the United States about to make his State of the Union address.

  Our town is small. Just because our choir director used to be a somewhat famous Christian artist doesn’t mean he should be elected mayor or given the key to the town; however, few agree with my practical assessment. After all, he did give me my starring solo, so I should probably act a little more thankful. So I, like everyone else, put the stars in my eyes and listen intently for what he is about to say.

  “Now, I know we normally end after the starring solo.” He turns and winks at me while I feel my face turn hot as people start chanting my name. “But,” he says, holding up his hand, “we have a little treat for all of you today. Preston, why don’t you come down here?”

  Preston? Weird, I didn’t know he was in choir. Poor boy. He’d be more attractive if he traded in the Star Wars t-shirts for some button-ups. He’s the only member of the local Star Wars fan club; he refuses to acknowledge that George Lucas did, in fact, make more films. He says it’s blasphemy to even speak of it, thus why he’s the only member of the club.

  Rather than his usual uniform sporting R2D2 or Luke Skywalker, he’s wearing an over large sweater vest and pants way too short for his height. As I’m assessing his wardrobe, my eyes land on Austin Macintosh, a pretty boy.

  Good looks and talent on the basketball court don’t hurt his popularity with the ladies either. Hopefully, he’ll ask me to prom. I mean, it’s only natural for the starting point guard to ask out the soloist of the year, right? Deciding to be bold, I wink at him and notice a faint blush stain his cheeks and his eyes shift downward in nervousness. When he looks up he lifts his hand in a friendly wave and winks. Yes!

  “Amanda Lewis!”

  I hear my name. Why do I hear my name? Turning, I see Preston staring at me, and the entire audience seems to be waiting in suspense.

  “What?” I ask in hushed tones.

  The girl next to me tells me Preston had asked me to approach the front. Strange, but maybe I won an award? Without further hesitation, I walk up and smile brightly as people clap. The temptation to wave again is overwhelming, and I succumb, beaming as I receive another round of applause. Wow, I could get use to this kind of attention. Finally I reach Preston, but there’s no trophy. Bummer.

  He grabs for my hand, and before I can pull it away, it’s already stuck in his grasp. He’s rubbing my thumb. This is awkward. “Will you go to prom with me?”

  He’s kidding. I’m getting pranked. This can’t be real. Is this Candid Camera? Looking around, I notice that everyone in the audience is dead silent. Even my friends in the choir are sitting there with their mouths gaping open. This is social suicide.

  As I take the microphone out of his hands, I feel the collective hush of people holding their breath. Somehow I manage to press on as gracefully as possible. “Wow, that’s so sweet to offer,” I say cheerfully. I see my mom has turned the video camera back on. We’ll have words later.

  “But,” I say unsure, “I already promised I’d go with my cousin. Maybe if you had asked sooner…” This is my peace offering, a pathetic one.

  “Prom’s in two months,” Preston replies, defeated.

  “I know,” I say quickly. “But I wanted to get an early start. So sorry, Preston.”

  He grabs the microphone and tries to smile. “It’s okay. You’re right. I should have asked sooner. Hey, let’s give another round of applause to the soloist of the night!” He backs up and claps for me, but I can see tears in his eyes. Humiliation, and it’s all my fault.

  All I want right now is for the floor to swallow me alive. That isn’t an option, however, so I wave with little enthusiasm and find my seat.

  A girl next to me nudges my knee. “That was close, huh?” Her eyes are laughing, like she’s making a joke, but I just want to cry. How cruel can a person be? People around me are muttering words like, ouch, harsh, bummer, and I fight the tears threatening to stream down my face. My throat constricts with a sudden onslaught of emotion as I watch Preston slowly move back to his seat and hang his head in his hands. I silently pray for him to lift his head and look in my direction. Instead all I see a single tear slide down his cheek then nausea overwhelms me. I just shot Bambi, and the worst part is, I can’t seem to find the strength to get up, walk over to his seat, and apologize.

  Chapter One

  Nine Years Later…

  How I ended up here, I have no idea. Well actually, I take that back. I do. The whole thing started when my boyfriend of two w
eeks asked me to be his date to his best friend’s wedding. Being the naïve idiot that I am, I said, “Well, of course,” because naturally I’m in love with him after fourteen days and will do anything he asks (cue large sigh here).

  So, you can imagine my surprise at the predicament I’m in – not that I shouldn’t have seen it coming. A girl should have a sixth sense about some situations. He never let me see his place, nor did he take me out in public, nor did I ever actually meet any of his friends. It was a series of coffee dates and quick yet passionate kisses on the cheek, which led me to this church on this particular day. Desperate? No, I’m not, but perhaps I’m a little too hopeful.

  Dear friends, who also happen to be happily married, are always reminding me I’m young enough to be independent, free, and I should enjoy this time in my life. Please. I’d roll my eyes and say choice words to them, if they could take their eyes off each other long enough to notice. Which brings me to why I’m too hopeful. I want what they have. However, that is no excuse for the sorry situation I find myself in today.

  Oh, to leave this place! But I can’t. My only ride is with my stupid (you guessed it) ex-boyfriend who is still in the corner sobbing his eyes out. And you may ask, “Amanda, that’s odd. Why is your now ex-boyfriend sobbing his eyes out?” To which I will answer, “Because he’s lost his mind.” Literally tossed every brain cell in his possession into a trash can and set it on fire, no joke. Looking at him just makes me all the more sick to my stomach. As I said before, I should have known. Used, like some worthless replacement for what he really wanted all along, that’s what I feel right now, and it’s the simple truth.

  With all the snot running down his face and the tears, I find myself wondering what I ever saw in him. What’s wrong with me? Normally I’m not this stupid. I go for the jocks, but because of bad experiences which we don’t need to review, I decided to go for the nerdy guy. Sensitivity might be a nice change. Well, I got the sensitive part; not what I had in mind.

  It would have been nice to know an important little detail. The best friend, whose wedding I just inadvertently destroyed, is a girl.

  Furthermore, there was no way for me to know this girl was the love of his life, and I was actually going to a wedding to witness my date stand up in the middle of the ceremony – God, mayor, and everyone else I have known since high school—and say, “I object!”

  I can’t make this stuff up, not even if I tried. Naturally, the groom was a little ticked off. You could tell by the fact that his face and neck got so red his head looked like it was going to pop right off his body. Next thing I know, my ex-boyfriend was grabbing me, yes grabbing me, by my dress strap, I might add, and tugging me to stand up with him. Sorry, but my loyalty doesn’t run that deep. I briefly contemplated slamming my head against a wall.

  You can imagine the ruckus he caused, since the bride not only fainted, but took all six of her bridesmaids down with her, simultaneously knocking over the giant candelabrum which set part of the church on fire. The highlight of my day was watching the incredibly muscular fireman put the small blaze out. Sometimes my life is pathetic, I admit.

  But back to my snotty-nosed ex-boyfriend, maybe if I sneak away quietly he won’t notice I’m gone. Gathering my purse and coat, I walk toward the door. Sweet freedom. I can see it. I can smell it. And I can feel it.


  Ugh, I knew I was lying to myself. I never made it out of my house in high school. Why would I be able to sneak out now?

  Defeated, I turn around to see who had said my name and noticed an attractive firemen walking my way. Now I’m curious, but I see the ex-boyfriend slowly look my way as well. Oh no. This is not good. Doing what I do best, I smile at Mr. Hot-Fireman, and say, “Hi.”

  “You don’t remember me, do you?” The deep voice sent shivers up my spine; it was like melted chocolate. The ex-boyfriend has a crazed look in his eyes and suddenly sprints toward me and Mr. Fireman. Next thing I know, Derek, still snot faced and angry, is on top of the fireman throwing punches Ultimate Fighter style at the back of his head.

  “Derek! Get off of him, what are you doing?”

  “I’ll fight for you, Amanda! Don’t worry! I love you!” Insert more crazy snot induced sobs here. Men.

  The poor hot fireman didn’t even know what hit him. Lucky for him he was still wearing his helmet which blocked part of the blow from Derek. The unfortunate part was, although it did block the hit from Derek, the blow sent the hat flying off of the fireman’s head into the giant cake, sending the bride, yet again, into hysterics and judgmental looks my way. I feel the need to shout, This is not my fault!

  Derek is finally thrown off of the fireman, and I escort him outside amidst the entire town shaking their heads in disapproval. Thanks for the help guys! No one even bothered to get up from their seats, rude.

  “Derek, what the heck are you doing?” He shoves his, now I realize, small hands into his pockets and sniffs, “Well, I just thought maybe since things didn’t go well, you know, today, that we could try again.”

  Oh my goodness. This cannot be happening. He is actually serious. This is not his joking face. Is he drunk? He must be drunk off communion wine. It’s the only explanation I can come up with at this point.

  “Derek,” I try my stern voice, hoping he’ll get the hint without me having to slap him across the face. I don’t like criers. His tears must stop now. They must stop, I tell you! Okay, calm down and tell him how it is. “You’re an idiot.”

  Maybe that was too harsh, make it better. “So, please stop crying! I won’t try again with you when there was nothing to try in the first place. You took me as a date to your best friend’s wedding, then tried to ditch me to hook up with the bride. And now that it didn’t work out as you planned, you want to try with me?” The shrillness of my voice was elevating, and getting louder, but I couldn’t control myself. Tremulously, I try to reclaim some shreds of dignity, so I add, “I’ll have you know there are guys who would kill for an opportunity to date me!” What, just because they aren’t lining up doesn’t mean it’s not true. “How dare you think you can have a second chance with me. You're lucky you had a first.” My fists are clenched so tightly against my sides, I know if I breathe one more word I’ll release them all over his face.

  The sobbing baby turns suddenly into a little monster and retorts, “Well, that’s not what I hear. Did you know they had to bribe me to even go out with you? I would be doing you a favor!”

  Where did that come from? Where is ‘Mr. I Cry All the Time and Have Feelings Too’ man? My mouth drops open as I’m rendered speechless. Then out of nowhere – like a flash of lightning – Mr. Fireman storms up to us and punches Derek in the nose.

  “What?” I yell at the strange, hot man and I lean down to see if Derek is okay. Wow, this guy is going to need therapy after today.

  “He’s an idiot,” the fireman states as he rubs his large hands. Not even a scratch from that hit. Nice.

  The claim is valid; there’s no way to argue that point. Nice to know I’m not the only sane one here at the wedding.

  “Thanks,” I manage to mutter as I meet the craziest green eyes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Oh good, the room is spinning now. Perfect. Maybe I’ll pass out on top of Derek, looking all kinds of inappropriate. The mayor would love that.

  “You’re welcome, Amanda.” Mr. Fireman grins cleverly before he turns around and walks back into the church.

  “Who is that?” Derek is still pathetically whimpering on the ground. I feel like kicking him, but I’m not the violent type. I’m outside, so it’s easy to make an escape. I'm sure not going to wait around. On the way home, I keep wondering about Mr. Mystery Fireman. He looked so familiar. Do I know him? How does he know my name? Our town of Nampa, Idaho isn’t very large, we only boast enough people for two high schools. Then again, he could have easily gone to school somewhere in Boise or Meridian. But he was definitely a Nampa fireman.


  Google is wonderf
ul; which could be construed as stalking, but my curiosity is eating me alive. Yes! Found it, Nampa Firehouse, click.

  Oh be still my rapidly beating heart. They have a calendar for a suggested donation of only ten dollars! Plus, it’s for charity! Who wouldn’t buy the calendar? Of course, he’s Mr. December. Merry Christmas, Amanda. My strict Nazarene grandma is probably rolling in her grave, not that I didn’t give her enough reasons to be in that grave while she was living. What with my dancing and going to movies. She was a dear, sweet lady who I’m thankful now, is with her Lord. I’m silently praying to God that He is the only one who can actually hear my thoughts. Amen. And, girls, if you can see this, A-M-E-N.

  You could do laundry on his abs. Is he airbrushed? How can abs look this way? His chest is perfectly chiseled, like God cut him out of a mountain. Those green eyes aren’t even his best feature. His hair is so thick and glossy, it should have its own Facebook page, and I would easily be the number one fan.

  I need to refocus. Where is his name? I scroll down to the bottom of the page and see “staff”. I click and pray it will be the correct information. Moving down the page again, I see his picture and click on it. They have stats right next to the names. Wait. No. Well, I just almost swallowed my tongue – didn’t know it was possible, but here you see it documented. It almost happened to a perfectly healthy twenty-seven year old, and my parents would have found me in my apartment, asphyxiated on the floor with my computer screen opened up to a hot fireman. The shame would be unbearable. My poor parents would be humiliated and have to lie to everyone about how they found me.

  There’s no way it could actually be him. The irony would be too perfect. I have to look closer to confirm my eyes aren't deceiving me. With a sinking feeling, I remember him when he had braces, ugly sweater vests, and too thick glasses.

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