Do you remember yesterday when I reviewed Where It Began and promised you something completely awesome? Well here it is, that long waited deleted scene from none other than Ann Stampler! Grab your coffee and sit back because you are in for an absolute treat. If you haven't already check out the review for your chance to win a finished copy of Where It Began and/or a signed bookmark from Ann.
I rewrote Where It Began many, many times before it was done. Along the way, I both wrote a lot of new chapters and deleted even more old ones. This is the chapter that came immediately before the current final chapter/epilogue.
People who have already read Where It Began will immediately notice that this chapter feels a bit “off” relative to the rest of the book. This is because the final version of Where It Began is written in the present tense, whereas this chapter is in the past tense.
This scene reflects my desire to tie up loose ends neatly with a nice big bow, for characters to gain insight that isn’t necessarily realistic, and for lions to lie down with lambs. In retrospect, it is way too sunny and a bit slapstick to fit at this particular moment in the story.
Also, the chapter gives away something that works much better when it comes as a surprise in the final chapter/epilogue. The chapter would have undercut the impact of the conclusion.
Warning to people who haven’t read Where It Began: This chapter contains a spoiler. You might want to read Where It Began first! But if you’re a read the last page first, don’t care about surprises kind of a person and plan to forge ahead despite the spoiler, here’s some background so this snippet won’t be completely confusing:
Andie and Andy are a couple in a more exalted social circle than Lisa, Anita, and Huey. The narrator, Gabby, has straddled the two groups via her popular boyfriend. In this scene, all of the characters are sitting behind their high school, where a student’s caste or social standing determines where he or she will hang out. “The B’s” refers to several neighborhoods in Los Angeles where most of the students at the school live. And Mr. Piersol, the school’s headmaster, has used a great many clichés throughout the book.
“But you’re going to miss prom,” Andie said. “You’re going to miss mother-daughter breakfast and senior night! You’re going to miss senior bonfire!”
Weirdly, Andie was sitting on the ordinary people’s lawn with me and Lisa and Anita, having announced with uncharacteristic coherence several days before that now that she’d noticed that some of the people she knew weren’t nice, she figured that maybe some of the people she didn’t know were nice, and would we mind if she sat down? Anita looked as if she was going to choke on her icy pop, but she nodded as graciously as possible under the circumstances.
Andie said to me, as if when she wasn’t looking directly at Lisa and Anita they couldn’t hear her, “They’re nice, right?”
I said that they were. You could tell that Lisa was trying not to stare at Andie’s Hello Kitty earrings, and in her case, it was hard to tell if she was trying to figure out if the earrings were a fun joke or working up her nerve to find out where to buy them. Then Andy showed up, his hip uncharacteristically un-joined from Andie’s cute little hip, and looking extremely anxious about it, and he plopped himself down next to her.
Then Huey showed up and stood there behind Lisa, glowering at Andy, presumably to protect us from him.
“Aren’t you off the reservation?” he said to Andy
Andy started to get up but Andie held onto him. “No,” she said. “He’s with me. I asked and they said I could sit here. Anita Patel said.”
Huey snorted and continued to glare while Andy Kaplan looked longingly toward the Class of 1920 Garden where his fellow lacrosse boys were staring back at him looking as nonplussed by Andy’s geography as anyone that stoned can look.
“No one is a perfect person,” Andie said, in another pronouncement that revealed her secret, previously unrecognized genius.
I could tell that Anita was trying hard not to giggle and Lisa was still trying hard to work up the nerve to ask about where to buy the earrings, but only because I knew them both so well. I didn’t know Andy all that well, but I could tell that he was trying really hard to magically levitate back into the Class of 1920 Garden, preferably along with Andie. Andie, on the other hand, seemed to be trying hard to get to know new people who she hoped were nice.
Well, they were nice. Even I was somewhat nice. And I was getting my nice butt out of there. I was trying really hard to live through six more days of Winston School and the B’s after which I got to start taking intensive Italian, God help me.
“She’s really leaving!” Andie said. “She’s going to miss prom.”
“I would miss prom if I could be in art school in Italy,” said Lisa, who I realized would miss prom if she could be in art school anywhere. Who would give up anything to have what I had, and I just wanted to go smack her art-loving mother. Actually, I wanted to go smack a lot of people’s mothers.
Andie said, “Really? Well, I guess I would miss prom if Andy wasn’t going. We’re going, right?”
And I was thinking how I used to be a totally mindless love slave exactly like her, except that Billy was not a hopelessly devoted love slave back, not like Andy, who, with Andie’s hand on his leg, was suddenly happy on the ordinary people’s lawn apart from the not ungrounded fear that Huey was going to knock him over.
It still wasn’t clear what Mr. Piersol was going to do about me. I had to sit in his office and listen to an endless round of Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit, Get Back on the Horse, and You Can Run But You Can’t Hide. Which I shared after carefully determining that Mr. Piersol wasn’t stalking the cafeteria in search of an icy pop in earshot of us.
“Yeah,” Anita said. “But on the other hand, Quitters Get To Go To Europe.”
“That’s right,” said Lisa, “You can run, but you can’t run to Europe; you have to take a plane.”
“Or a boat,” Andie said helpfully.