Below is an excerpt from my upcoming novel Going All the Way. Because the story is in its very early stages, the likelihood that this particular excerpt will be the same when the novel is published is slim. However, I hope this does not stop you from taking in some insight into my writing process. Enjoy!
When Principal Reyes sentenced me to a counselor-guided “safe sex” meeting, I thought it was just a fake threat. Something to scare me after owning up to what I did. But she was serous about it, because I’m standing in the doorway of Room 202, the office of the counselor I’m supposed to meet with today.
The counselor is sitting in a plastic chair, his legs crossed and playing with a Rubik’s cube. This is not your average Rubik’s cube, mind you. Instead of colors, the pieces create a different famous work of art. Van Gogh’s A Starry Night is the only one I recognize, so I’d be even worse at Rubik’s cubes than I already am.
I clear my throat, and the counselor jumps slightly in his hair. When he sees me, he yells, “Oh!” and tosses his Rubik’s cube onto his desk. It makes a safe landing onto a pile of paperwork. Then the counselor straights his knit coat and holds one hand out toward a leather chair directly across from him. I clutch onto my permission slip as I make my way to the chair.
The counselor’s desk is situated against the wall, so there’s nothing between us. Our knees are only inches away from touching, making me feel way too exposed.
The counselor smiles at me, then places his hand over his chest. “Hola, me nombres es Doctor Randy. Puedes llamarme Malcolm,” Doctor Malcolm Randy says to me, enunciating every word like he’s memorized it from an online translator.
“I speak English,” I say flatly, fighting back a major eyeroll.
“Oh, sorry,” he says, holding up a yellow folder and pointing at it. “It says Spanish speaker on your file.”
“My brother and I have to speak Spanish in my house on the weekends. My dad’s rule. But other than that, soy pestimo.” I smile at Malcolm, who stares at me like I’m an alien.
I slump my shoulders. This guy really does use an online translator. “That means I’m lousy at Spanish.” However, I’m starting to think I’m not so bad.
Malcolm mouths ahhh and nods. I laugh under my breath. Everything he does is a grand gesture. I release my shoulders and sit back in my chair. Maybe Malcolm is an okay guy.
Malcolm removes his oversized coat and tosses it onto the loveseat to his left. Thank god he doesn’t want us to sit on it together for this discussion. Our knees being in close proximity suddenly feels okay. Did Principal Reyes really think I was going to open up about sex with a man in his forties? Malcolm looks pretty young, but only because his face is smooth and absent of wrinkles. He must moisturize daily, something I always forget to do. After our session I may have to ask him about his skin regime.
“So.” Malcolm claps his hands together once. “I heard about what you did.”
I groan and let my body slide down in my leather chair, wanting all of this to be over. What I Did, like it’s so bad it can’t even be spoken about aloud, is all that I’ve heard about since yesterday afternoon. From my parents. From Principal Reyes. From everyone at school. Now Malcolm who I didn’t even know existed until today, but based on how cluttered his desk is, he’s been employed at Redwood High for awhile.
Malcolm nods like a mind reader who’s been listening to my every thought. “What you did is pretty bad, I’ll have to admit.”
I sit up and cross my arms. “I feel horrible about it, but I’m not sorry.”
“Why do you say that?” Malcolm asks. He pushes his eyebrows together, very doctor-like as he tries to figure me out.
Even I’m trying to figure this one out. How could Straight-A-Captain-of-the-Debate-Team Michelle Moran pull the ultimate prank for all of Redwood High School to bare witness? How could I expose so much of myself for revenge?
I shrug. “Because they deserved it.” The corners of my mouth are curled up, but I’m not as proud of myself as I pretend to be. Frankly, I’m embarrassed. I got so caught up in my revenge scheme that I lost sight of what I was fighting this whole time for.
“Philip thought you might say that.”
My eyes widen. “Philip was here?”
Malcolm nods, playing with a No. 2 pencil absentmindedly. “We talked yesterday.”
I push a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “Did he say anything about me?”
“You two had sexual intercourse. This is an open-ended discussion about sexual interecourse. So yeah, I’d say we talked a lot about you.”
I swallow the plethora of questions that I have for Malcolm and just let it go. It doesn’t matter that Philip talked about me when he won’t even talk to me, although I hardly blame him.
“You had sex. It probably felt good. More than good.” Malcolm throws his arms up in the air to emphasize how good sex is. “Phenomenal, I’m sure!”
I throw a palm over my face. “Oh god.”
“There’s nothing to be ashamed about, Michelle. What you did was natural.”
“Then why is everybody treating me like I fuc–”
“STOP what you are about to say.” Malcolm extends one arm and holds out his hand. “Especially if it ends with ‘Hitler’ or ‘Jesus Christ.’”
“I know that doing it is normal. I didn’t do what I did yesterday because people found out I had sex. I don’t care that people know.”
“Then what do you care about?” Malcolm holds the pencil in both hands and dips his head in closer toward me. He’s waiting for an answer. The answer. The one that will stick a fork in this whole crazy semester.
I stare down at the floor. It’s made from old linoleum, and I know right away that Malcolm’s office used to be the old faculty lounge. I was a freshman when I overheard some of the secretaries at the front desk whispering about the new counselor who was given the lounge as an office because the school was out of space. Over half the teachers were pissed about it, citing that this guy wasn’t even a real guidance counselor. That counselor must have been Malcolm. So he’s been here for a year and a half. Malcolm’s not too different from me. Looked down upon. Shunned by his peers for making their lives less comfortable. So when I say what I’m about to say, I know that Malcolm will understand:
“That there are people who hate me so much that they deliberately want to ruin my life.”
Malcolm places his hand on his forehead. He sets the pencil down on his desk. For a few beautiful seconds, it’s the only sound in the room. “Why don’t you tell me a bit about what happened. What lead to you…”
“Going all the way?” I laugh, hoping that will ease the sadness that just took over the entire room. But even my laugh sounds feigned. This session is about to get real. I cross one leg over the other and situate my arms on the armrest of my chair. “Where should I start?”
Malcolm shrugs. “Anywhere. Otherwise I have to pull up my twenty minute video all about semen. It isn’t pretty, and I’d rather not do it.”
I clear my throat and exhale. “Okay. It all started in the spring of sophomore year. Last spring.”