If She Had Been With Me: Excerpts from Finny’s Journal

Hey guys, earlier this summer you might recall a two-part mini series I published called Tatum the Vampire Slayer. It was originally written for my English class, as part of our Bold Actions unit. People liked it more than I thought they would, and so I decided to start publishing stories on here too, instead of just your traditional blog post. The following story was also written for an English project known as an Independent Reading Project. Everyone in the class picks a book, and they pick a project (either from a given list or one they came up with themselves) and at the end of the marking period, we all present them. For my first IRP, I read the book If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin. The story is about two teenagers, Finny and Autumn, who’ve been best friends since before they were born. Their mothers had been best friends, as well. Finny and Autumn start off pretty inseparable, but as the story progresses and they get older, they start to drift apart. In their later years of high school, they begin to find their way back to each other, but is it already too late? (If you haven’t read this before, read it. And if you’re interested, check out Laura Nowlin’s blog too. It’s one of the blogs I follow). It’s a really sad but beautiful novel and I reread it three times before even deciding on a project. The ending is left ambiguous in a way that there are several options open for Autumn’s future, and it gives the reader lots of space to speculate about what happened. (I have a very specific view on what happened to her, but that’s a story for another post.) Eventually, I decided on writing several journal entries of major (in my opinion) events in the story from Finny’s point of view, since the story is told from Autumn’s point of view. Lucky for you, there’s no spoilers, and the events are sort of spaced out so it’s like reading the book but from a different perspective.  The dates and such are approximated, and the first entry takes place in eighth grade, while the rest focus on their junior and senior years of high school.  Without further ado, I present to you If She Had Been With Me: Excerpts from Finny’s Journal. 

January 1, 2011

Even though I felt like we were drifting apart during the first semester, we finally seemed like we were becoming friends again over winter break. And then I had to go and ruin it like the idiot I am.

I kissed Autumn. I kissed her and it wasn’t what she wanted and now she’s not talking to me. I don’t think she’ll ever talk to me again. Worse than that, I gripped her arm so hard that I left a bruise. Even though I didn’t mean to, I hurt one of the people I care about most in the world, and now she won’t talk to me.

This morning she sat as far away from me as possible on the couch. Mom had put on some sitcom, but neither of us were paying any attention.

Did I just screw up my friendship with the best friend I’ll ever have?

September 16, 2014

Today was the first game of the season. I was so excited, and I was sure that nothing would go wrong. Or at least, that’s what I thought when the game started. At one point, I looked up at the bleachers and what I saw shocked me. Autumn was sitting there with Aunt Claire, reading a brochure. I knew Aunt Claire was coming, but I thought Autumn wouldn’t be interested. Sports have never been her thing, for as long as I’ve known her, and that’s our entire lives. The shock of seeing Autumn sitting up there–combined with the fact that Ed bumped into–caused me to trip and fall. When I stood to my feet, I looked for Autumn and Aunt Claire in the bleachers again. Aunt Claire seemed pretty relieved that I was okay, but when I looked at Autumn, she looked shaken and small, like she’d just lost the person who meant the most to her. She looked exactly the same as she did when we were in elementary school and her father tried to put her in private school. She even looked four years younger. It wasn’t until later that I realized she had looked like that until I fell. She was concerned…for me. When was the last time that had ever happened? Even though I’ve been in love with her for as long as I can remember, for the last year or so, I thought that she hated me, but maybe she doesn’t. Maybe, just maybe, she feels the same way about me.

September 19, 2014

My father wants my mother and I to begin having dinners with him on a daily basis, but I honestly don’t see the point. He hasn’t been involved in my life since before I was born. Why start now?

In other news, I saw Autumn again today. I was supposed to be doing my homework, but out of the window, I saw Autumn leap into the pile of leaves I’d raked earlier, just like she would always do when we were younger.

I went outside to go talk to her, and while I was upset about the leaves, it was hard to stay mad at Autumn. I should’ve just bagged the leaves after I saw her, but whatever. It gave me a chance to talk to her, which is rare nowadays.

January 15, 2015

Autumn had an appointment with her mom’s psychiatrist today. I’m not supposed to know, but I heard Aunt Claire talking to Mom in the kitchen a few days ago. Even though we’re not close anymore, I still wish Autumn had told me. I still care about her, even after all this time. Autumn left English class early today, and when Mrs. Stevens asked her who she’d get the notes from, she said me. Even though Sasha and Jamie both have English with us. Does it mean anything? Was she saying it because it’s more convenient to get the notes from me? Or does it mean more than that? Or am I just overanalysing everything? God, I wish I knew, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.

August 8, 2015

I think I might be going crazy. This morning, I woke up at three am. I was going to go back to bed when lightning lit up my room. For a split second, I swear that I saw my car wrapped around a tree. A girl’s silhouette was lying on the asphalt a few feet in front of it. But when I blinked, it disappeared. The rain stopped, there was no more lightning, no more thunder, and my car was parked in the driveway like always. I don’t know if I was dreaming, or if I just imagined it. Either way, I guess Aunt Claire’s right–I should really be aware of what my late-night snacks consist of.

May 28, 2016

Mom came into my room early this morning and told me that Jamie cheated on Autumn with Sasha and that she’s been pretty broken up about it.

It made me pretty angry. I’ve never been all that fond of Jamie, but he treated Autumn pretty well–or so I thought–and Autumn always seemed pretty crazy about him, so I tolerated him. And Sasha–Sasha’s been friends with Autumn since middle school. How could they do that to her?

Now I’m wishing I’d punched that little jerk in the face like I did to Donnie Banks in the fifth grade. Or done something to stop their relationship. But I can’t do that to Autumn; she really would hate me then. My mom and I both think that she just needs a friend right now, and so I’m going to go see her later today. Hopefully, she’ll want to see me.

June 3, 2016

I feel like a bad friend. Autumn and I have been hanging out for the last week or so, but I had to leave her alone yesterday. She said she was fine. Jamie texted her this morning, asking if she wanted a ride to the hospital so she could see Angie and the baby, but she seemed pretty okay about it. She was angry at first but she got over it pretty quickly.

She seemed to forget about it entirely when we met the baby. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she looked down at Guinevere. It was a mix of adoration, awe, and happiness. She seemed so excited when she handed Guinevere to me. I haven’t seen her that happy since when we were younger. I didn’t know that she could be so happy. It’s been a while, but I’m glad that Autumn is back. I’ve missed her.

August 8, 2016

Autumn let me read her novel, and it was pretty obvious that the two main characters were based on the two of us and our lives. It was beautifully and brilliantly written, of course, but reading it dredged up terrible memories I’ve been trying for years to suppress, and so I had no choice. I confronted Autumn about it, asking her why she’d cut me out of her life so abruptly. It was a stupid question. I kind of already knew why: I wasn’t good enough for her anymore. Or was it the fact that I had kissed her and she didn’t feel the same way? Most likely a combination of both. . I just didn’t know why she’d been so cold about it. She apologized profusely, she told me that it wasn’t her intention but she hadn’t known what to do after I kissed her that night, and I think that some part of me always knew that. I told her I was sorry for kissing her like that, but she told me that I didn’t have anything sorry for. I laughed and joked about how I never knew how to make her happy, which was kind of true.

She said, “You make me happier than any other person ever has.” I asked her if this was true, but I knew that it was. After all, the same could be said for me. She makes me happier than anyone else.

When she said that, I felt emboldened, and I asked her if I could kiss her. I could hardly believed it when she said yes: I’d dreamed about this moment for what felt like years, and now it was happening, and it feels so right. It feels more natural than anything I’ve ever felt before. And I’m so happy that I can say, ‘Autumn Davis is my girlfriend.’ without having to pinch myself to make sure that I know that this is nothing more than a dream.

Even now, a day later, I still can’t believe it. I’ve loved her from afar for years, and now Autumn and I are finally together. It makes me feel bad that I have to leave her, even though I’m just picking up Sylvie. But I’ll be back for her soon. Now that we’re together, I don’t ever want to leave her.

________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Shadowhunters Mondays?

Anyone who knows me really well (or has been reading this blog since I started it in 2014) knows that I am absolutely, positively obsessed with Freeform’s Twisted. There was time where Twisted Tuesdays was my whole life.

A year before Twisted came into my life, Cassandra Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments (or TMI) came into my life. Normally, I don’t read fantasy. It doesn’t necessarily interest me as much as science fiction does. But The Mortal Instruments isn’t like any other fantasy series, or at least not to me. It’s actually the third series (it’s chronologically the third, at least) in a fantasy franchise entitled The Shadowhunter Chronicles. We can go into more detail about those series later (because they’re just as amazing as The Mortal Instruments). 

The Mortal Instruments is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Clary Fray (who’s eighteen in the TV adaptation) whose life is turned upside down. Sounds cliché, right? At first yes, but that’s the only part of this series that’s cliché (besides the love triangles, of course). Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, she’s at a club called Pandemonium with her best friend Simon Lewis when she witnesses a murder committed by three teenagers covered in strange markings. Even stranger? No one else can see or hear them: only Clary can. From there, her life takes a crazy turn as her mother is abducted and Clary is thrust into the world of Shadowhunters, half-angel, half human warriors whose mandate is to kill demons and protect humans from the Shadow World.

In 2013, The Mortal Instruments was developed into a movie entitled The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and it starred Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower. To be frank, it was terrible and I hated almost everything about it. Except for Robert Sheehan. He made a great Simon.

So, in 2015, when ABC Family announced that they were adapting The Mortal Instruments into a show called Shadowhunters, I was equally skeptical and excited. I was mainly excited, though, because I was hoping that Shadowhunters would be better than the TV series, and I was absolutely right. (Although my mother doesn’t agree with me on that.) 

For the most part, it sticks to the books pretty well, and the dialogue is way better than the dialogue in the movie. It does stray from the books in certain ways, but I think that the show is still really good even with that. I think the first season was amazing, and the music is great too. The acting is amazing, and the actor choices are incredible, especially Alberto Rosende’s Simon, Isaiah Mustafa’s Luke, and Emeraude Toubia’s Isabelle. Also, I have to admit that in the books I wasn’t always Clary’s biggest fan (although by the end of City of Heavenly Fire she’d started to grow on me), but I really like her in the TV series.

I’m especially excited for season two’s debut tonight, since they’ve announced that Maia Roberts, one of my favorite characters, will be introduced in this season. Sebastian, a character every TMI fan loves to hate (and if you watch the show, you’ll see why) will be introduced in the second half of the season, and I’m excited for the chaos his arrival is sure to bring. Although I think that it will be torture waiting for the second half of the season, which will likely premiere sometime in the summer.

I haven’t been this excited about a TV series since Twisted. Maybe, just maybe Shadowhunters Mondays will become the next Twisted Tuesdays. (But Twisted Tuesdays has a better ring to it. Maybe Mundie Mondays, how about that?)  Shadowhunters just might be the show I’ve been waiting for, since Pretty Little Liars is no longer cutting it, and hasn’t been for a long time. (But the books are still great!)

*Note: The original version of this post stated that Shadowhunters airs on Tuesdays. Last year they aired on Tuesdays (taking Twisted’s spot) but this year it looks like it’s going to be aired on Mondays.

 

Imani

The seventh and final principle of Kwanzaa is imani, which means faith. It can mean faith in others, but more than that, it means to have faith in yourself. I believe that you should have faith in yourself no matter what, and this year, I had to have a lot of it.

This year was my first year playing team sports since the second grade. Back then, I played soccer, and now I play volleyball. It can be really nerve-racking before a game because I’d always worry that something would go wrong, and I’d screw up.

In order to combat that, I had to have a lot of faith in myself. Faith that we’d win, faith that I would do my best, and faith in the team, especially. I even had to have faith in the refs, even though (and I mean this nicely) some of them don’t know what the heck they’re doing. But that’s a rant for later.

Anyway, this hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to need to have faith in myself for the performing arts school audition. At the moment I do, but let’s just see how I feel five minutes before the assesment.  But I’ve still got time for that.

Everyone, I hope that you have a lovely 2017, and remember to always have faith in yourself and others.

 

Kuumba

The sixth principle of Kwanzaa is Kuumba (pronounced koo-oom-bah; it’s really fun to say), and it means creativity. That’s pretty self explanatory, so I won’t go into too much more detail. This year, I’ve been really creative!

I’m in board games club at school, and a few weeks into the school year, our teacher announced a board-game making competition. I knew that I wanted to be in it, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then, one of my classmates, Stephen, asked me if I’d help him with his board game, and I said yes, which turned out to be a great move.

He’d already come up with a super innovative premise for the game (it’s called Doopley Dap) and it goes a little something like this. (He wrote the original premise, I added my own special touch to it.)

In the year 3116, animal intelligence has reached an all-time high. 3116 was the year of the Great Animal Revolution. Not much is known about the war. The game takes place in the year 4124, where animals govern the world. The human population has decreased to around 105,000. The animals renamed the earth Doopley Dap. From 3524 to 4024, the sky kingdom, ruled by King Pugsly, was the biggest and most wealthy kingdom. In 4024, the people in the sky grew tired of being too far away from the other countries, and immigrated to other lands. King Pugsly became depressed from having no company, so he decided he’d throw a dinner party, inviting the presidents of England, Spain, Ireland, and France. The only catch is, once you’re invited, you can’t leave. Now it’s up to you to figure out how this dinner party ends: will the guests manage to escape? Or will the hosts manage to entrap the guests forever?” 

Sounds absolutely amazing, right?  It is, and it’s also super complex. There’s three of us in the group making the game: me, Stephen, and his friend Jace (Mortal Instruments fans, you see what I did there?) and each of us bring our own creative aspect to the game.

Jace had to come up with 100 silly things for the players to do, I made the video advertisement and typed the instructions, and Stephen designed the board. We’re so close to being finished, and when we are, the eighth grade teachers are going to play it. Here’s to more creativity in 2017.

*Note: although Stephen did the primary designs for the board, that’s not his arm in the picture. It’s Jace’s.

Nia

The fifth principle of Kwanzaa is nia. Nia means purpose, and specifically it means to look inside yourself and set personal goals. As a Capricorn, I’m very ambitious, and I like to set goals for myself, as you’ve likely noticed, with my checklists of things to do in certain years (I’ve got a lot I want to do while I’m fourteen!). I think that one of my purposes is to write, and here are three goals I’m going to set for myself to fulfill that purpose in 2017.

  1. Do well on my assessment for the performing arts school. (I’d be majoring in digital communication arts, which encompasses writing, photography, cinematography, etc.). If I don’t get in, that’s fine. But I want to do my best.
  2. Finish editing Three. Three is a story I started writing at the beginning of last school year, and I actually finished it last year, too. I’d like it to be the first in a trilogy called The Countdown, but there are still some rough patches (especially in the beginning of the novel) and plot holes I need to address, and I’d like to be done with those.
  3. Start journaling consistently. I do keep a journal, but I tend to only journal when something monumental happens, and even then, sometimes I just write about it here. Next year, I’d like to start doing it more often. I’ll start with three or four times a week, and then we’ll go from there.

Ujamaa

The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is ujamaa (pronounced oo-jah-mah). Ujamaa means cooperative economics, or supporting each other. Now, I don’t have much experience with cooperative economics, per se, but I do have some experience with supporting each other. Specifically, supporting my friends.

At school, I mainly hang out with my two best friends. We’ll call them Magnus and Isabelle (after two of my favorite characters from The Mortal Instruments). Since there’s only three of us in our group, we’re pretty close, and we’ll stand up for each other no matter what. Since we have a small, relatively drama-free school, there aren’t always many opportunities for that, and there haven’t been very many this year. There was the time where Isabelle mentioned that there were some guys in her class giving her trouble, and Magnus and I wanted to put a stop to it.

She wouldn’t let us, saying that she’d gotten her sister (who’s in high school) to do something, but even though she wouldn’t let us confront them for her, we were still there for her. We told her that if she ever changed her mind, we’d be ready to fight. (Sadly, she did not.) But even though she didn’t, we still supported her, because she’s our best friend, and we’d do anything to help us. That goes for any of my friends or family,

 

Ujima

Ujima, the third principle of Kwanzaa (pronounced u-jee-ma), means to work together, or collective work and responsibility. Being in middle school, I do a lot of group work and group projects, and I’ve currently been working on one since Halloween or so.

In my design class, I (along with six other girls in my class) am building a tiny house. Not a scale of a tiny house, like we did last year, but an actual tiny house, that has to be six feet tall and six feet tall. Ours is a PVC pipe yurt, and technically 72.5 inches, but our teacher’s letting us slide after seeing how worked up we got about it. It is only a half-inch, after all.

But in order for a project this big to work, each group member has to carry their weight. (Not that everyone is doing that, which is creating tension within our group.) So, at the beginning of the project, we made a role system so that we’d complete everything. Each of the six girls–we’ll call them Adele (that’s me!), Chanel, Emilie, Gabrielle, Holly, and Mai–has a job they have to complete in order to complete the yurt by the due date (January 26th). Four of the six girls are doing their jobs and more for the group. The other two…well, they’re working on it, I assume. The jobs are as follows:

Holly and Adele: Tarp/Frame (This refers to the construction of the frame and measurement and securing of the tarp. I also have the added responsibility of keeping up with our isometric drawings, since no one else is willing to take them.)

Gabrielle: Roof (She’s in charge of the roof designs and oversees the construction).

Mai: Floor (She’s in charge of the floor designs, if we do decide to build one. Jury’s still out on that one.)

Emilie and Chanel: Interior Design (They’re supposed to be building furniture. We’ve yet to see a piece of completed furniture, but that’s a rant for another time.)

Those are our main jobs, but we often make plans for the construction day based on what needs to get done and how we need to do it. Also, constructing the frame was a three-person job, so we enlisted Emilie to help with that. Even putting up the tarp and securing it requires at least four people. (There are three separate pieces to the tarp.)

This project is almost completed, but we wouldn’t have gotten it done if we didn’t have these specific roles, because if we didn’t, we’d all be stepping on each other’s toes trying to get things done. That still happens sometimes, but thanks to these roles and responsibilities, it doesn’t happen often, and it’s looking like we’ll finish the project ahead of deadline. Well, the outside and frame. Can’t say anything about the furniture.