Whew. It’s been a process, getting here, to my fourth draft. I doubt this chapter will change much more before I start submitting this manuscript to agents, and that’s a frightening and exciting idea. So far I’ve shown how my first chapter evolved across my drafts, and I’m going to continue to do that, but this will be a bit of a departure from the other posts. Here’s why: my original first chapter dropped readers into a scene that doesn’t come back up until much later in the book. I read (somewhat recently) that authors do that because they don’t trust that the story is interesting enough to hook readers on its own, and that it’s kind-of an amateur move.
Ok, so, when I read that I was a little offended at first. It was a tough pill to swallow. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense (*coughTwilightcough*). And with that in mind, I changed my first chapter completely and moved the scene I originally had as my first chapter back near the end of the story where it belongs.
I feel pretty good about this decision now that I’ve made it, and without further ado, here is the first chapter of my book as it stands right now.
(Warning, there is some slight adult language and content)
Oh, Roscoelist Girl November 2008-January 2009
Letter I’ll Never Send No. 01
I’d love to tell you how annoying and stupid you are, but in reality I found your antics entertaining. I knew the score with Dade while you were around, and didn’t consider things serious between us at all. I could afford to giggle a bit; it was a welcome change from the nagging feeling that there was something he wasn’t telling me. I’d also like to thank you. It’s not often a girl does something so outlandish as to make it so Dade won’t accept them back into his life. Most girls are in and out so often that I have trouble keeping up. I sincerely appreciate you simplifying my life.
I told Dade that he gets a bad rap with girls, and that’s true. But, I’ve come to realize now that I’m more distant from the situation that you get a bad rap with the other members of Dade’s harem, too. Those of us who knew about you, or heard about you after the fact blast you for being crazy. You weren’t really, though, were you? Don’t get me wrong, your behavior was immature and dramatic, but it’s one of the sanest reactions I’ve ever witnessed to the situation with Dade. You were livid, and you took steps to warn your fellow man about a person you felt was a threat to them. Hindsight, I guess. That’s as close as I can get to giving you a compliment, do with it what you will.
“I would as soon destroy a stained glass window as an artist like yourself.” –from The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
She wanted the rest of us to know that she was dating him, that she felt the need to do that should have been her first clue. It was around Thanksgiving when I noticed this girl for the first time. I was lounging in my bedroom in my comfortable pajamas when I saw her comment on his FriendZone Thanksgiving bulletin of a singing turkey. “You’re such a dork,” and she followed her words up with a little html heart, naturally. She was right; Dade was a big dork. But she needn’t have bothered trying to make sure we noticed her, most of us already knew the score. That behavior alone was enough for me to know that she was not going to be able to handle him. I gave her six weeks, tops, before he cut her out of his life without any warning.
It was shortly before that comment that she first appeared in his friends list. All of her status updates were about how enthralled she was. By the time she made the comment on his Thanksgiving nonsense, her profile picture was one of the two of them together. That had been something I knew, without coaching, not to do. If nothing else, he made it clear to each girl that he was not in a relationship with them. I refrained from posting pictures of the two of us in part because I realized he would not want evidence that we were dating put where other girls could see it. But it was also that I had too much respect for myself to post pictures of us which made us look like a couple when he might deny all involvement. This girl even went so far as to list herself as “in a relationship”. Yes, this one would fall far and fast.
For a little while her profile picture was a new one of the two of them each day, including one of her kissing his cheek. Those public displays caused a little twinge each time I saw them since I realized on Halloween that I loved Dade to distraction. I rolled my eyes and looked around my bedroom at my bookshelves each time her posts got to be too much. I just knew the situation was destined to blow up, and I didn’t want his feelings to be hurt when it did. As cocky as he acted, his ego was a fragile house of cards, very much built around his sea of admirers. With each girl who left his world, the entire thing wobbled. I didn’t want to see what would happen if it ever fell, but I knew I never wanted to leave him standing alone while he rebuilt it.
I couldn’t help but look at each new picture, despite the fact that I rather wished them (and the girl posting them) would disappear from my sight. Carrie, as her profile named her, had a brilliant smile and an oval face that it wouldn’t have surprised me to see on a fashion model. Her long, dark hair offset her olive skin; and in the pictures that featured Dade her expressive brown eyes practically had hearts leaping out of them like in the old cartoons. I could see from other public parts of her profile that she had the kind of rotund booty that made Dade drool. I did, too, but it would’ve cheered me up if this obnoxious girl had a flat ass at least.
It had nothing to do with Roscoelist Girl (whose real name Dade even had trouble remembering after they split) when I decided to admit to him at the beginning of December that I loved him. I was almost sure he already read the letter I had saved on my computer, telling him that was the case. He opened it by accident while entertaining himself on my computer one night. I froze, holding my breath as I awaited his reaction. He pretended that he did not read it, so we were both saved dealing with it that night. Assuming he already knew what it said gave me the extra shot of confidence I needed to copy and paste it into a message and send it. Knowing as I did that Dade would not respond in kind, I preferred to communicate my feelings from a distance rather than face-to-face.
From: PirateDuck85 To: WhiteJesus669 Date: Dec 2008
I know this is probably the last thing you need or want right now, But I’m sending this anyway. Sorry.
Remember a few months ago when I told you I loved you as a friend? I think you do, ‘cause you were freaked out a bit and probably didn’t really believe me when I said I only meant as a friend. But, I did. Last month, as I was thinking about and texting you one evening, the weirdest thing happened. I guess it was like…hmm…waves of pleasure all through my body. Almost like an orgasm, though I was not masturbating, or like closing your eyes when drunk, though I had not been drinking. Point being, it was all you.
And I’m pretty sure this indicates that I love you as more than a friend.
I also think it’s possible that in some ways you are more like me than anyone else I’ve ever met. However, if I’m right, one way that we’re alike is in being hard to figure out. So, I could be wrong. But I don’t think I am. And how weird is it that we graduated the same year? I thought as I got older I’d date people farther from my age and here I end up with a fellow twenty-three year old. Where is my rich, old sugar daddy to take care of me? 😉 Also, I really do think you are the sexiest person I know.
I know when I asked before you said we could be friends and fuck, but, to me anyway, that doesn’t seem to be all that different from when we were dating. So, could we still date?
If your answer is no, that’s ok. I still want to be your friend. And I still want to fuck you.
And whether your answer is No or Yes, I will still be understanding about other girls. I don’t Need you. I think that’s part of what makes me easy to relate to. But I do Want you.
Waiting to see what he would say was agonizing, but at least I knew he wasn’t fleeing in terror since he did stay in contact with me. He let me know he would respond when he got the chance. It took him two nerve-wracking days, but finally the response came.
From: WhiteJesus669 To: PirateDuck85 Date: Dec 2008
you know me and how I feel about the word love, It’s a serious thing that I dunno… sometimes I think people throw it around. In your case I doubt you are, so I’m not freaking out or anything. Now on the question of us dating again, I’m ok with that, but I’m not wanting a relationship right now. I just really want to do my thing and try not to get too settled, I’m only looking at one semester left and then I’m heading to Russia to be a journalist I hope. I don’t want to get shit started and then have to up and bounce.
From: PirateDuck85 To: WhiteJesus669 Date: Dec 2008
I hope I wasn’t out of line to mention other girls. I’m truly sorry if I was. It’s just that you, whether by accident or not, advertised what seemed like two other people who if they aren’t dating you, at least have feelings for you. I noticed them because they commented on the bulletin you posted. And maybe less is going on than it seems. It doesn’t matter, in several ways. Dating you is an amazing experience. 😀 And it’s a bit impressive for so many other people to be interested in you. And, knowing how mind-blowing it is to be around you, at least at first, I’m not sure if I could in good conscience begrudge someone else that experience. I’m confident enough to handle it. I would prefer to believe that I get privileges which other people do not, but as I am fairly certain I do in some ways, I will not actually ask you to confirm or deny that. I guess my point is, even if you do have a little harem going, I consider myself lucky to be a part of it. And if you don’t and I assume too much, then you still impress the hell out of Me anyway, so, eh.
From: WhiteJesus669 To: PirateDuck85 Date: Dec 2008
I’m not really sure what you mean about being out of line, but no, to me you weren’t out of line with anything. I don’t have a harem or whatever going, lol. I mean I won’t lie I am talking to someone, but nothing like 70,348,249,382,049,823,409 people, haha. And my reason isn’t because of her, or you. It’s for my own being, I just really want to focus.
I don’t know, but you don’t need to take things so hard. You always fill in blanks for me without knowing what’s going on or anything. You should relax. 😀
Oh god no, he said, I’m not talking to 70 quintillion+ people. What would ever make you think that? I have always wondered, when Dade reduced the number of people he was talking to there, which one he was referring to. Did he mean Faith, the one he met almost as soon as he moved here, therefore throwing Roscoelist Girl under the bus with that statement? Or was he certain I noticed Roscoelist Girl, figured I thought Faith was long since history, and so dismissed her as irrelevant? Either way, his fuzzy logic made me shake my head and grin. He did not want to be tied down to one girl, but somehow keeping an army of them around made it easier to focus?
At the time, and for several years after that, I meant what I said about wanting other girls to experience the wonder of that initial period of having all of Dade’s attention focused on them. It wasn’t an ideal situation for me, but I am good at adapting. It’s rare for me to meet someone that I take an interest in so when I find those special individuals I stick with them. Not two weeks before Dade and I started dating, I told my gay boyfriend, Squall, that I didn’t think I’d ever meet anyone that I could love again after him. I was sure I was right, too. Then along came Dade and even after my hopes of him being my next long-term boyfriend were dashed, I was loath to lose him. I’d lost love, twice, in the year before. At that point I was willing to put up with much just to have someone I cared about to be involved with.
It could have been worse. Part of me really did expect him to run like hell and never speak to me again after I dropped the L word. Somehow knowing he and I were dating again made it harder to swallow Roscoelist Girl’s antics. The morning after receiving his response, I did not want to log in to FriendZone to see her nonsense. Finally I convinced myself to do it anyway, by reminding myself that she could post as many pictures of the two of them together as she wanted. It would not make a damn bit of difference, since Dade never posted pictures of any of the girls on his own page.
I logged in and scrolled through the activity stream. I didn’t expect to see anything of interest, so I felt a familiar thrill in my chest when I saw his screen name in the feed, a rare enough occurrence that all the girls took an interest in whatever it was he posted. I burst out laughing when his new post turned out to be pictures from a concert he and I went to a few weeks before with my friend Stef. Several of the pictures were of me and him together. I knew he would have to belittle this to all the other girls, explaining that we were just friends if they asked, and saying nothing at all if they didn’t. But the truth of the matter was that he didn’t post the pictures of us until right after accepting my love and agreeing to date me again.
I raced to leave comments on a couple of the photos, settling first on a close-up of our faces. In it Dade’s head leaned in so his temple rested on the checkered bandana that held my long hair in place. Faith beat me to it and left a comment on that picture saying how cute it was. Instantly my lingering dislike of Faith over some past issues disappeared. I decided she could talk to him all she wanted. A notification of Roscoelist Girl’s comment after mine came straight to my inbox. “You’re such a player babe.” Let’s not forget the all important html heart. She put one after that statement, too.
I was torn between laughing, crying, and throwing things. Did Dade really buy into this shit and not see what a hateful little upstart she was being? And who exactly did she think he was playing? Me, I was sure. I knew what was going on between the two of them, though. It appeared to be her who was played. It would seem that he chose to ignore all of the drama at the time because if he noticed he would lose one, and all the compliments, free stuff, sex, and nights out along with her. I’m not saying he was shallow, I really do believe he had some genuine interest in each girl, at least at first. But hell, everyone likes free things, especially when they come from attractive people who are really into them.
During Christmas break Faith and Roscoelist Girl, both of whom attended the same school as Dade, used the time apart as an excuse to say a lot of things to him publicly in FriendZone comments. When Dade went on a short cruise to Mexico his status update announced when he left. Not ten minutes later, knowing he would not be able to get to a computer to do damage control for days, Roscoelist Girl commented on his post saying how great it was to meet his family. His family was going on the cruise with him, and thanks to her comment I now knew Roscoelist Girl was with them right before they left. She seemed to think she was special. Did she really believe girls like me and Faith who had been around much longer had not received the same privilege? Though it was naïve for her to think that he put so much stock in her, she wasn’t the only one to blame. He did, after all, want her to think that. The boy has a gift for making girls feel like the center of attention.
After Dade got home from the cruise, he changed his settings so that no one could post to his FriendZone wall anymore. Then in a trademark contradictory move, he proceeded to post a series of bulletins about how bored he was. Not only did that create the possibility of comments, it practically begged for them. He had lost one girl a couple of weeks prior, and two-thirds of his in-state girls were out of state visiting family. His fan club of exes from his home state couldn’t alleviate his boredom from a thousand miles away either. Things must’ve seemed slow to him.
At least Faith and Roscoelist Girl provided me, and no doubt him, with a lot of entertainment by commenting back and forth on one of his “so bored” bulletins. Roscoelist Girl started it, telling him not to worry because she would be home in just ten days (<3). Faith commented next saying she was going to be in Ohio, but that he could text her, and she still missed him. Roscoelist Girl commented again to tell Faith that she missed Dade, too, and that she was spending the holidays in the same state as Faith. I thought that was a cute coincidence. Dade seemed to think so, too. He was forced to comment to keep it from getting more out of hand, saying he should visit Ohio for the holidays. Before he added his comment I was considering putting my own two cents in, telling both girls that we should all start a fan club. Somehow I knew I would be the only one who chuckled at my cleverness, so I left it alone.
I hosted a Harry-Potter-themed party a few days before Christmas. The idea of a more traditional Holiday party bored me, but dressing up as wizards and putting up Halloween decorations I was all for. We did mock duels outside with silly string instead of wands and sampled a lot of butterbeer with extra rum added. It turned out that not everyone loves rum as much as I do, so me, Dade, and Stef made a beer run during the party in full wizard regalia. People stared long and hard as we sailed by them through the aisles of the grocery store in high spirits. My cleavage bounced with each step, spilling as it was out of the top of my corset-style dress. An appreciative guy stopped in mid-step beside his glaring wife to salute me.
“Why don’t you take a picture?” Dade said, seeming proud to be with such a desirable female. I couldn’t care less about the random gawkers, but I loved that Dade was there to see that he was dating such a hot commodity.
When we returned to the party Dade and Stef both grabbed a can of beer. Dade pulled me toward him.
“I want to see something.” He separated my exposed cleavage and slid his beer can in between my tits. The people standing nearby laughed, and someone snapped a picture while Dade did an impression of Vanna White, holding his hands underneath my chest as if displaying it for an audience. When he posted that picture on FriendZone later his caption stated that the “Booby Coaster” could be yours for the low, low price of $1999.99 plus shipping and handling. I laughed when I saw that, happy that he was marking my assets as precious where his other girls could see it. His harem must not have enjoyed that as much as I did, someone flagged the picture as inappropriate and it was removed a few days later. I can’t prove that it was her, but my guess is that Roscoelist Girl was the jealous party. If Dade noticed I was making fun of her when I took of picture of me kissing his cheek during the series of FriendZone angle shots I cornered him for at the party, he didn’t say anything about it. He must have learned his lesson though, because neither of us ever put that picture online. Sometimes I wish I had been catty enough to make it my profile picture like she did, but most days I take pride in the fact that I don’t create drama for its own sake.
After the party I walked Dade and Stef across the apartment complex to their cars. I lost my wizard robe at some point during the shenanigans so I was just wearing fishnet stockings, and a spider-covered mini-dress. In her inebriated state, Stef would not stop talking, and in the chill winter air I could not stop shivering.
“Come here,” Dade said, and pulled me to his side. He put his arm around me and kept rubbing my goose-bump covered shoulder until Stef left.
“Give me love,” Dade said, and inclined his head to kiss me, his long fingers stroked my neck as our lips locked.
I pulled back a few inches after a minute or two. “Are you not giving me a ride to my place?”
“I’m not going to make you walk, I just wanted some kisses.”
I climbed into his passenger seat and Dade put the car in gear.
“I think I had more fun at your party than I did on the cruise.”
I beamed; coming from a guy who was in need of constant stimulation that was high praise.
It was not until the day spring semester started at the beginning of January that things really got out of control. It was late at night, and as was our habit since she worked twelve hour shifts as an EMT, Stef and I were talking on the phone while we both prowled the internet. I was reading personal ads on Roscoelist, something which I did every day since I found one Dade posted during his so bored phase. He posted it under strictly “platonic”, but it advertised for female responders only, undermining the credibility of the word. I did not find any posts by him that day.
At that time nothing stayed in the Rants and Raves section because there was a person flagging all the posts. Thanks to the flag-happy people, there was only one post in that section of the website, and it earned Roscoelist Girl her nickname. The title intrigued me “Don’t Talk to this Man!!” Interested to see who was airing their dirty laundry, I opened it. Lo and behold, it was, in a sense, my dirty laundry. There Dade was in black and white, his eyes smoldering from the picture he texted to me the first day we started flirting at work. Time stood still as he stared back at me from the familiar nude pose on his bed, his hand covering enough to make the photo PG-13 rated rather than X-rated. I think I gasped, and that was when I realized I had missed a cue in my conversation with Stef.
“Holy shit!” I said.
“What?” Her voice croaked a bit, she must’ve been about to nod off.
I read her the one paragraph rant that preceded the photo in the ad. “‘Look out for Dade Perry! Total liar and a cheat. Uses Roscoelist to solicit friendship but really is looking for sex. He is dating multiple girls. Can make you think you’re the only one! He will make you itch.’ Then it lists his e-mail address, instant messenger screen name, and FriendZone URL and at the bottom it says ‘Don’t fall for it! E-mail if you have any dirt on this fucker. P.S. He gained weight since this picture was taken, he doesn’t look like this anymore.”
“Can you say psycho? I hate all of my exes, but I would never do that to them,” Stef said.
“No kidding. I have got to figure out a way to delete this before he sees it. Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Good night.”
“’Night,” I said on auto-pilot. My brain had already moved on to solving this problem for Dade.
I could see where Roscoelist Girl was coming from in saying that he could make you feel like the only one, but in her case I feel it was a bit of a stretch. After all, she saw Dade post recent pictures of me and him together. She had a bidding war with Faith in public over who missed him more. In what universe did it seem to her like she was the only person he was dating, no matter what he may have said?
I started reading the Roscoelist terms of service to make sure the post violated them. They agreed with me that it was wrong to include someone’s contact information without their permission, so I clicked the link to flag it for removal. After refreshing the page a few times, the post was still there. I didn’t want Dade to stumble onto it by himself, so I reluctantly opened a dialogue with him.
PirateDuck85: You still up?
WhiteJesus669: Yea. Your text said something about Roscoelist?
PirateDuck85: Yeah. Nevermind, though. I hope they will delete it before anyone sees it
WhiteJesus669: I have no idea what you’re talking about
PirateDuck85: I think it’s better kept that way. But if they don’t delete it soon I will feel obligated to tell you
WhiteJesus669: Wow, could you be any vaguer?
PirateDuck85: I imagine I could be, yeah. Will you do me a favor?
PirateDuck85: I’m scared as soon as I ask you for the favor, you will run do what I ask you not to do. Can you try doing that thing where you agree to something before you know what I’m going to ask?
WhiteJesus669: Lol, wtf do you want woman? Spill it!
PirateDuck85: He has avoided answering the question. Still, what I want is for you to not look around on Roscoelist today. Please?
WhiteJesus669: I’ve been on Roscoelist all day, what’s your point?
PirateDuck85: No point, I guess. Nothing on there pissed you off?
PirateDuck85: You aren’t sure?
WhiteJesus669: God damn, what are you talking about?
WhiteJesus669: Wow, I just found it
PirateDuck85: *sigh* I had a feeling you would go looking for it. Why don’t you ever listen to me? You positive we’re on the same page now?
WhiteJesus669: Yea. Wtf? No one has that picture, except for a few people.
WhiteJesus669: Hahahaha. I’m really curious as to who would be so pissed as to do this
It was times like those when I wondered how I knew more about his relationships than he did. Although I suppose it’s possible that, with some girls anyway, I literally did care more than he did what was happening with them. It was clear to me that the new girl must’ve posted the ad. She just that day deleted him from FriendZone.
PirateDuck85: Well that’s…good. I was worried you would be mad. It kinda made me mad. Not to mention that it’s just a tad craaaaazy
WhiteJesus669: Yea I know. I told them they need help
PirateDuck85: That’s probably an understatement
WhiteJesus669: I think I know who did it, actually.
WhiteJesus669: Heh. To be honest I don’t know what to say
PirateDuck85: Now who’s being vague?
WhiteJesus669: Ok, here’s the deal
WhiteJesus669: Me and this girl were seeing each other, but it wasn’t really made clear if we were together or whatever
WhiteJesus669: While I was in Mexico she was on vacation too and said it was going to be a free pass time or some shit
WhiteJesus669: I was like ok?
WhiteJesus669: Anyway, the entire time that she was driving back here she was talking to me via text until last night
WhiteJesus669: Hell, she even asked me to come take her to school this morning and I said I couldn’t because I had other shit to do. So I don’t get why she would do this now
PirateDuck85: You can’t argue reason with unreasonable people? You can’t figure out their behavior, either. But, I take it this is new girl? That’s how I differentiate between the two girls who talk to you a lot online, there is old girl and new girl.
PirateDuck85: Do you want me to leave you alone for the night? I don’t want to annoy you when you’re already pissed
WhiteJesus669: Nah, you’re ok
PirateDuck85: Ok. For the record I don’t think you should worry too much about the things that were said about you. I think they are the result of a big misunderstanding and that you are still every bit as svelte as when I first met you, which was damn near a year ago now. I should go to bed, though. Sweet dreams
I sent a response to the ad from a new e-mail account I created just for that purpose, saying that I dated him too and asking to compare notes. Roscoelist Girl never responded to my message. I guess I ruined my chances of that by caring enough about Dade’s feelings to warn him before I attempted to satisfy my personal curiosity. And that was that. Almost exactly six weeks after she appeared, Roscoelist Girl bought herself a one way ticket out of his harem.