Each of us lives in our own little world, which slowly revolves on its own axis. Most of the time, our worlds interact with other worlds and everything is okay. But, every so often, something happens to knock our worlds off their axes.
Something jarred mine and I can't seem to get it just right again. I feel like everything is tilted sideways. Not completely, but slightly. It's making me see everything differently, and I don't necessarily like it.
I need someone to help make my little world right again. The problem is, I have no idea who can help me. I need someone who has been through what I'm going through. But, who?
Melinda was silent on the way home, telling her mother she was tired and wanted to rest. As soon as she had hung up, Walter sent her a text asking if she was alright. She spent the entire ride thinking about whether she should tell Walter what was bothering her. She remembered when he first told her about his parents, he mentioned he was uncomfortable watching his mother's movies. Maybe he might understand what she was feeling.
As soon as she entered the house, Melinda went upstairs and locked herself in her room. She sent a video chat request to Walter. When he accepted, she could hear the concern in his voice.
"Hey. You okay?"
"You know I'm not mad at you about the Sammy McSmartypants thing, right?"
"It's not that."
"Wanna talk about it?"
Melinda shook her head.
"Want me to have Pat call you?"
"No! I don't want to talk to him either."
"What happened? You look like…actually, you look like you just broke up with your boyfriend. Where's Pat? I'll go hurt him for you."
Melinda gave a half smile. "We didn't break up. But, he's why I'm upset."
"Why? What'd he do? I'll go hurt him for you."
"He kissed another girl."
Walter looked ready to actually hurt his brother. "What? When? Wait. Is this about that whole Poppy thing?"
Melinda shook her head. "No. I went to Sarah's last night and we were watching a movie and Pat kissed someone."
"I'm confused. Pat was teaching me how to play cards last night."
Melinda sighed. "In the movie. Pat kissed another girl. And, I tried to keep reminding myself that it wasn't Pat, but…I couldn't help it. I got jealous. And, I'm not mad at him, 'cause that would be stupid. I'm mad at myself for getting jealous."
Walter was silent a moment. "This isn't a me problem. Be right back."
Walter ended the video chat without warning. Melinda laid on her bed, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, replaying her dream over in her mind. A moment later, Walter called again. When Melinda answered, she saw Walter's face in a split screen with Meghan. He smiled at her in greeting.
"Okay. I think this is a Meghan problem. Here you go."
He ended the chat and Meghan's face filled the screen. "Hey Melinda. How's it going?"
"Um…" Melinda had no idea what she was supposed to say. "I'm not sure. What did Walter say?"
"He called me, told me you had a problem and that he thought I would know how to handle it because I'm a girl. And I'm me, whatever that was supposed to mean. Then he called you before I could ask him any questions."
Melinda sighed. "I had a sleepover at my roommate's house last night."
"Yeah, Pat mentioned that. Did you have fun?"
"Not really. We decided to watch a movie."
"A scary movie? Not Zombie High?"
Melinda couldn't help smiling. "Are you embarrassed that you did that movie?"
"No. It was fun. I just hate the idea of giving someone nightmares."
"We watched GnomeWorld. That gave me nightmares."
"Was it the one where the gnomes are out to get you? I kept having that one after I watched that movie."
"No. I dreamt about Pat kissing other girls."
Meghan was silent for a long time. "This is a me problem," she said after a while. "But, I don't know what to tell you. You know I dated Jarrod Handy, right?"
Melinda thought over all the celebrity gossip she had read the past few years. "No. I don't think I knew that."
"It was back when my agent was doing her job and was able to keep things out of the media. I was hanging out on the Romeo and Juliet set and he and I just kinda hit it off. One day, I got to the set just in time to see him doing a scene with Poppy. The balcony scene."
"Did you get jealous? And then get mad at yourself for being jealous?"
"No. I just got mad. First, I got mad at him for kissing her. Then, I got mad at the director, for making him do it again. Then, I got mad at Poppy for being such an airhead she couldn't even kiss Jarrod properly. And, it's not hard. He's not a bad kisser."
"What'd you do?"
"I left the set. I'm not sure Jarrod even saw me there. He texted me later asking if we could meet for coffee, but I told him I couldn't. How long did it take you to get mad at yourself for being jealous?"
Melinda shrugged. "I dunno. A few minutes, I guess. Not too long."
"It took me a couple of hours. I didn't realize how stupid I was being."
"Is that why you broke up with him?"
"No. I broke up with him because we were both at this party and I saw him making out with Penelope Tracy."
"That girl thinks of boyfriends as fashion accessories. She dangles one for a few minutes, then tosses him away for the next one. She tried to get her claws into Pat, but he wanted nothing to do with her. Wish he'd listened to me about Poppy Sommers."
"Do you think Pat and I are meant to be together?"
"I've never seen my brother so happy. He cares a lot about you, and I think you care about him just as much."
"I do. I don't want to break up with him. But, well, this whole Poppy thing has really gotten me kinda shaken. And, what about his next movie? He'll be off kissing some other girl. Even if it is just for work, it's still a kiss."
"You ever just kiss someone and not have it mean anything?"
Melinda couldn't help but smile at the memory. "A friend kissed me but it didn't mean anything."
"And are you still friends?"
"Yeah. I visited him on Monday."
"See, I've never, wait. You were at my house on Monday."
"Yeah, I know. Your brother kissed me, but it didn't mean anything."
"No, Pat doesn't count 'cause obviously when you kissed him it meant something."
"Obviously. But, you have two brothers."
"Walter kissed you? Wait. When?"
"I thought he told you."
"I know nothing."
"Don't tell Pat, 'cause I don't think he knows either. So, you know Pat first kissed me at the Victory Ball, right?" Meghan nodded and Melinda continued. "Well, Walter saw. And he got…confused. He was jealous and he didn't know why. So, he kissed me. It was just weird for both of us because we really are just friends. But, I understood what he was feeling because I was jealous when he had a girlfriend. It was a fear that some interloper was going to take away my best friend."
"I can't believe he didn't tell me this."
"Don't tell him I told you."
"Well, I'm not going to go tease him about it. But, I may need to use it to make a point someday. Don't worry. Pat will never hear about it from me. Anyway, I was going to say something. This distracted me. What was my point?"
"You asked if I ever kissed a friend and it didn't mean anything."
"Oh. Yeah. So, I've never had a kiss not mean something."
"But, you've done kissing scenes in movies."
"And, I always ended up feeling something for the actor and we would hang out, even if it was just for a short time."
"You're not giving me much confidence here."
"Pat's the opposite. He's never dated any of his costars. Poppy doesn't count. They never had a kissing scene. Back when Pat did GnomeWorld, he told me he hated kissing because it was just two people mashing their faces together and it was gross."
"Oh, that's funny."
"I still remind him of that comment every so often. After I saw the two of you together Monday, I could tell he really likes you. You guys are just so cute together."
"That's what Walter said."
"Did I help you at all?"
"Kinda, sorta. I mean, I know he really likes me, and to be honest, sometimes I think his feelings for me are stronger than mine for him. But, I don't think that knowledge is enough to make me feel less…"
"Well, now you have my number. I'm here if you wanna talk."
"Thanks. You wanna know something?"
"Earlier today, I was kinda wishing I had a big sister to talk to."
Meghan smiled. "I've got sixteen years experience. I like to think I'm good at it."
After church Sunday morning, Melinda would not stop nagging her father to bring her back to school. He finally agreed after lunch and they arrived in less than two hours.
Melinda asked her father to help her carry her bags upstairs, then made him wait for her while she sorted through her closet to decide which clothes she should send home. It took nearly an hour before her father was able to begin his long drive home.
Melinda stopped by the apartment of her advisor, Mr. Price, to inform him she was back on campus.
"Hey, Melinda. How was your Thanksgiving?"
"It was good. How about you?"
"We had a great time. Were you able to catch up on your NeoGenesis?"
"I had, but then I missed this past week. But, I'll make sure I watch it before Friday."
Melinda smiled as she returned to her room, noticing a text from Walter declaring he was back on campus and he wanted her to stop by their usual study room in the library if she was able.
They did not yet have any assignments and study hours would not begin for another several hours. The last time Walter had called her to the library to not study, it was to warn her that her boyfriend was making bets about her. As she crossed the street between her dormitory and the library, she wondered what bad news Walter was going to share about Pat.
Melinda was surprised to see Walter's father in their study room, although that was where she had first met the man.
Walter greeted her with a hug. "Hey, Melinda. Dad wanted to talk to you. Is that okay?"
Melinda shrugged, uncertain whether she really had a choice. "I guess so."
"Alright. I'm gonna wait around here somewhere 'cause the dining hall opens soon."
The dining hall, which was the building adjacent to the library, would not open for at least an hour but Melinda knew Walter was really waiting for her.
"How are you, Melinda?" Mr. Evans gestured for her to sit in one of the comfy leather wing-backed chairs as he sat in the opposite one.
"Not bad, I guess." She had only spoken to this man twice before and she wasn't sure what made her more nervous: the fact she was talking to her boyfriend's father or the fact she was talking to a rock star.
"Meghan called me last night. She said she had a friend who had a problem and she thought maybe I would be able to help. She tried not to tell me who it was, but when she told me what was wrong, it was pretty obvious she was describing you."
It was her boyfriend's father, Melinda decided. And he wanted to talk to her about her relationship. It was coffee with her mother and Mrs. Evans all over again. Melinda could feel her neck growing hot as she looked down at her hands in embarrassment. She said nothing as Mr. Evans continued.
"She wasn't trying to break your confidence. You know that Kara and I met when we were students here, right?"
Melinda nodded as Mr. Evans continued. "Kara has a bunch of siblings, but Colin and I were really good friends."
"Colin's the one in the band with you, right?" She glanced at him long enough to see him nod, then went back to looking at her hands.
"Colin and I were the same form. Kara was a year ahead of us. He didn't tell me she was his sister, but with the red hair and his last name, I figured it out pretty quickly. Anyway, Kara liked hanging around her brother and she and I became friends. We used to study in this room."
"She said it was a different one," Melinda smiled at Mr. Evans, remembering the conversation the day Walter introduced her to his parents. "With a fireplace."
"I still think she's wrong. Anyway, we started dating my third form year. That summer, she went off to film a movie. I can't even remember which one it was, she's been in so many. But, I remember she called me one night and told me in passing that she had kissed her costar about twenty times because they just couldn't get the right shot."
Melinda finally understood why Meghan had confided in her father. She was still uncomfortable, but since no one had mentioned Pat, Melinda was able to look at Mr. Evans, even if her gaze was directed more towards his shirt.
"Were you jealous?"
"I broke up with her. I think I told her to choose between acting or me. Then, I hung up on her."
"About a week later, I received a videotape. You know what that is?"
"The big black thing with some sort of tape inside? You put in a DVD player?"
Mr. Evans tried to hide a smile. "VCR. Close enough."
Melinda nodded. "Yeah. My grandmother has one of those. She watches old monster movies from when she was my age."
"Well, Kara sent me a tape. Colin had just bought a handheld camcorder and was touring the set with his sister. She showed me all around the set, introducing me to some people. Then, the director started yelling places and Colin went to stand off to the side. I watched them film a scene. It was a different kissing scene than the one she had told me about. I almost turned off the video, but the picture didn't stay on her. It panned around to show all the people standing on the set watching her kiss this guy. The director ended the scene, and then started telling them what they were doing wrong and how to fix it. There were about ten takes before the video ended. When it was over, I called her and I told her I understood. Do you see it?"
Melinda considered a moment, trying to figure out which was weirding her out more: the fact that she was getting relationship advice from a rock star or from her boyfriend's father. She understood what he was trying to tell her, but she wasn't entirely comfortable discussing her relationship with Mr. Evans.
"When it was just you and Mrs. Evans, it was special. No one was watching to make sure you're doing it right. On the set, it's not the same thing at all. It's not special. It's a job."
"There you go. Walter said you were insightful."
"But, Mrs. Evans, she's still making movies. How do you go watch, say Agent Mom, and not get jealous when you see her kissing another man?"
"Mostly? I just remind myself that I married Kara Evans, not Kara McGregor. The woman on the screen is whatever character Kara is playing. She's not my wife. Plus, I always make sure to watch her movies with her by my side."
"She must never leave your side. Her movies are everywhere."
Mr. Evans laughed. "Too true. Between my wife and my kids, I have a difficult time finding something to watch."