Beach Trip

Beach Trip by Cathy Holton Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Beach Trip by Cathy Holton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cathy Holton
had to work a series of part-time jobs to pay for books and living expenses. She never complained but Mel knew it had been tough for her, working to pay her bills and studying to keep hergrades up while carrying a full load. Mel had always admired Sara’s tenacity, her air of quiet resolve. They had been friends since first grade, since their first year together at Howard’s Mill Elementary, a friendship that had continued through high school and now into their fourth year of college.
    “Have you thought about what you’re going to do when we graduate?” Mel put her head back and stared at the cloudless sky.
    “I don’t know.” Sara closed the book on her lap and watched a yellow cat who was slinking through the rhododendrons like a leopard. The neighbor’s dog coughed a warning, pressing its bug-eyed face against the chain-length fence. “I’m thinking about working for a year and then maybe going to law school.”
    “No shit?” Mel turned her head, resting her cheek on the lounger and shielding her eyes with one hand. She stared at Sara for a moment and then said, “Actually, I can see you as a lawyer, fighting for the underdog.”
    Sara grimaced and pulled her knees up, avoiding Mel’s eyes. She always had the feeling Mel was making fun of her, belittling her in that soft, sarcastic way she had. Mel was one of those friends you put up with, despite the fact that she pushed all your buttons, because she made you laugh. She made you laugh at her, and she made you laugh at yourself. “How about you?” Sara asked, still avoiding her eyes and staring at the cat in the rhododendrons. “Why don’t you go to law school, too, and we can partner up to save the world?”
    Mel made a dismissive sound. The cat crouched at the edge of the lawn, its tail twitching. “No offense, but I’d rather kill myself than pratice law.” She dropped her hand and closed her eyes. After a while, she said sleepily, “I’m heading for New York.”
    “So you’re serious about that?”
    “I’m following in the footsteps of Carson McCullers and Dorothy Parker. I’m going to be a writer.”
    “You mean you’re going to wait tables and starve?”
    Mel grinned. “Possibly,” she said. She knew she wouldn’t starve. Even as a child, she had known her life wouldn’t be ordinary. While other girls dreamed of becoming brides and ballerinas, she dreamed of being an astronaut, a cowboy, and a fireman. She dreamed of living in a teepee and riding horses across the plains with her Indian sidekick, Tonto.
    She had learned early that she could control other children by telling outrageous lies. (
, her father, Leland, liked to call them, not
)Standing in front of a group of her classmates, she was like a snake handler mesmerizing a basket of cobras. She had what, in those days before Ritalin, was called an “active imagination,” meaning that she was only a halfhearted student and spent a lot of time gazing out the classroom windows, daydreaming. (The only teacher who ever liked her was Miss Booth, her third-grade teacher.
That child is a creative genius
, she once overheard Miss Booth tell Mrs. Griscom, the lunchroom monitor.
That child is the biggest liar on God’s green earth
, Mrs. Griscom replied grimly.
She wouldn’t know the truth if it fell out of the sky and clumped her on the head.)
    Mel’s imagination was so good it sometimes got her into trouble. She could take a situation and rethink it, taking it apart and reworking it back and forth so that in the end she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between what had really happened and what she imagined had happened. She could convince herself that a thing was true, even if it wasn’t. In other words, she could stand there and lie boldly without ever batting an eye or shuffling her feet (a trait that would come in handy later in life).
    “Well, you’ll have plenty to write about,” Sara said. “Your life is like a soap opera.”
    As if to confirm

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