Summer Girl - A.S. Green

Chapter One


I used to think my list-making was just a weird personality quirk. I had your basic to-do lists, of course. But also Christmas lists, future baby name lists, and packing lists for trips I’d likely never take. On top of that, I created restaurant rankings according to bathroom cleanliness, not to mention lists for about fifty theme parties—more than I could ever actually throw.

My obsession with order hit its low point my senior year of high school. That’s when I found myself alone on Homecoming weekend, slipping lists into plastic sleeves before alphabetizing and assembling them in a three-ring notebook. Thankfully, my best friend and other obsession—Andrew Mason—was there to rescue me from a full-on mental break.

Two years of self-help books later, and with three years of Bennington College under my belt, I think I have it licked. So, admittedly, starting a new list (even a mental one) has me worried.

Relapse is nothing to mess with.

Top Three Reasons to Tell Andrew How I Really Feel about Him

1. Mom would finally quit bugging me about it.

2. Macie would finally quit bugging me about it.

3. Enough is enough already.

Top Three Reasons to Keep My Mouth Shut

1. It could end the longest relationship I’ve ever had with a guy.

2. He needs to realize how he feels about me on his own.

3. Self-preservation is not to be underrated.

With a sigh, I force myself to stop. The last exam of my junior year is complete, finished, behind me. I’m done thinking for the day. I skip up the front steps of the Alpha Phi sorority house feeling six inches taller and ten pounds lighter than when I left this morning. Econ has been the bane of my existence this whole semester, and now that it’s over I feel like I could sing. Except that I can’t. So I don’t.

Instead, I give a little hop at the top step and slap the AΦ sign hanging between the two columns that flank the front steps. The sign swings on its thin, rusty chains, squeaking out my victory song.

I love this house, in large part because it’s not my mother’s house, but also because the architect had a perfect sense of what is orderly and good in this world. And orderly and good are practically synonymous in my book.

To illustrate, the house is a two-story Greek revival with a balcony straight out of a romance novel. From the front, the second story has five evenly spaced windows, under which the first-story windows and front door line up tidily. The balcony is supported by six fluted columns. The AΦ sign hangs exactly centered between the third and fourth columns. In short, it is a shining example of perfect symmetry. Which is why it was the only house I rushed.

Inside, I’m greeted by the ever-present aroma of home: popcorn, melted butter, and salt. I inhale deeply then dash up the wooden staircase, letting my hand slide along the polished bannister. A second later, I’m flinging open the door to my bedroom sanctuary. My heart rate slows at the mere sight of it.

The walls are painted a crisp white—a specific shade I selected after spending hours debating between Pearl, Antique, and Quartz. My best friend Macie Montgomery threatened to shave off my eyebrows in my sleep if I didn’t flip a coin and get it over with. She’s a nut, but I took her seriously. Eventually, I settled on Bone.

Ansel Adams black-and-white photographs, evenly spaced, accentuate the walls, and silver curtains flank the window, which faces the street. My elegant charcoal gray bedspread is smooth and tucked tight. My bookshelves are alphabetized with my favorite classics, many of them left over from my abandoned English major. There are no piles of dirty laundry, no fashion magazines, no high school memorabilia. In other words: perfection.

So what if I’ve missed more than one party to stay home and clean. So what if I skip out on a lot of things, particularly if they’re poorly planned. Chaos begets chaos, I always say, and I’ve never found a reason to change my stripes, even though Macie calls my decorating style Prison Chic.

Macie and I both rushed Alpha Phi as freshmen, but we really met in Chinese 101, which I took because I needed a language and Andrew thought it would enhance my employability. Basically, the only thing Macie and I came out of that class knowing was that she is the yin to my yang.

A few cases in point: I am a business major. Macie