Writing Wednesdays #24

Image Credit: hdwpics.com

Image Credit: hdwpics.com

Happy Wednesday!

Everyone swallowed simultaneously.

“This was really hard for me. I don’t like assigning things to my closest friends. So I wanted to make it as fun as possible, so I thought I would give everyone a topic or topics that suited their interests.

Hunter – Since you mentioned castles, I want you to research and plan our living arrangements.”

Hunter gave a fist pump. “Alright! I’ve already started looking. This is going to be awesome!”

Bethany smiled and felt a little bit of relief.

“Bill – You’re our resident expert on food. You worked at the grocery store for many years, and I think you’d be great for this task. I want you to find out as much as you can about restaurants, markets, grocery stores, and so on.

Anabelle – Since you’ve traveled so much here in the U.S., I want to you to be the main planner of the itinerary, including transportation.”

Bethany paused to catch her breath. She glanced at the monitors – The smiles were all she needed.

She turned to Will next. “Baby, I want you to help design this trip. I think it’d be awesome if you’d be willing to photograph and take video of our adventure.”

Everyone nodded. Bethany took a deep breath – Only one person remained.

“Lizzy. I saved you for last for a reason. I wanted to get to know you first. I think you’d be great in helping us with languages. You’re one of the smartest people in this group. I want you to help us with our Spanish, English, French, German, and any other languages we may need to learn along the way. Are you okay with that?”

Bethany focused on the screen that showed Lizzy’s face. It was hard to read her at first; her eyes were downcast.

Suddenly, her head popped up. Bethany caught a glimpse of a smile at the corners of Lizzy’s mouth.

“Well, B., I thought you’d never ask. I guess I should probably share this with everyone – Did you know that I’m tri-lingual?”

Everyone cheered. The plan was officially in place.

As everyone started chattering away, exactly like the other meetings had gone, Bethany flopped back into the pillows and sighed. She couldn’t believe her luck. She had worked so hard, for so long, to try to delegate as best as she possibly could. And it appeared that everyone not only approved of the entire plan, but everyone was thrilled with it.

All the worry, anxiety, tension – along with that constant pit in her stomach that had taken residence over the last two months – just melted away like after-dinner mints did in her mouth.

She just watched with content as the Skype session stretched into the fourth hour of non-stop talking and excitement. There was no immediate indication of worry over money, or their jobs, or their current livelihoods in that particular moment – It was just pure joy. Everyone was excited about their tasks at hand and they couldn’t wait to get started.

The conversation died down a little, and Hunter noticed Bethany wasn’t speaking.

“Bethany? Hello? Anybody home over there?”

Hunter knocked on the computer screen to get her attention.

Everyone fell into silence, except for the faint clearing of throats.

Bethany flushed a rosy pink.

“Um, hey.”

She waved her hand.

Hunter looked puzzled and a tad worried. “Everything okay over there? You’ve barely said three words in the last hour.”

Everyone’s eyes focused on hers.

Bethany swallowed, struggling to get the right words. She felt tears coming to her eyes.

Will released her hand and put his arm around her shoulders.

“Everything okay, baby?”

Bethany nodded. She sniffled a couple of times, and then looked directly into the camera and smiled.

“I’m good. I’m just – I’m just …”

No one spoke.

Bethany swiped at her eyes.

“I’m just proud. And excited. And overwhelmed.”

She sniffled again and asked Will for a tissue.

“I’ve been so worried over the last several weeks. I wanted to make this fun. I don’t have a lot of experience with management, but I didn’t want to make this feel like a job, either …”

She sighed, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing.

“Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m so happy that y’all are happy. I tried so hard to make each of your tasks fun, something that you would enjoy, and make sure everyone was contributing equally.”

She took another deep breath. She couldn’t contain the grin on her face.

“So, now let’s plan the biggest adventure of our lives – Together!”

Everyone let out another cheer.

If that weren’t any indication of the excitement, the Skype session went on for four more hours …

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #23

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Welcome back!

Happy Wednesday!

B&W again. Skype works for us. It’s definitely not preferred, but Lizzy’s right. At least we’ll get to see each other’s faces while communicating. We’re in.

Bill and Anabelle went next:

Skype has always been interesting to us, though we’ve never used it. Let’s try it and see what happens!

Lizzy and Hunter brought up the rear:

Same here. It’ll be like a six-way phone call, but being able to see each other’s faces!

The planned Skype session also allowed a bit of flexibility for the group – It didn’t have to happen on a Saturday exclusively. This made it slightly easier to schedule.

As they started discussing potential dates and times, Bethany’s mind continued to wander.

“I didn’t want to do this, since we’re meeting over Skype this time. But, I can’t wait much longer, either. If I wait until our next face-to-face meeting, it may be too late.”

“I guess I should talk to Will about this – Get his thoughts on it. This is a predicament. It won’t be easy. I don’t like telling people what to do.”

As Bethany continued down the rabbit hole of worry and concern, everyone else was getting excited. It was actually really nice to be able to plan a meeting on a different day other than Saturday! Of course, it would most likely turn out to be a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon, since most everyone worked from roughly 8-5. And even though Anabelle and Lizzy weren’t officially working, those hours were basically dedicated to school. So their options came down to evenings and weekends.

Everyone liked a switch of pace though. The thought of using Skype and how it had worked for Bethany and Will in the beginning of their relationship was encouraging to Anabelle and Bill, and Lisanna and Hunter. The four of them knew that saving money was becoming essential, and if they got good at Skype, then this little service could potentially save a lot of gas and time for them.

Unbeknownst to Will and Bethany, the other two couples started practicing with Skype. Over time, it grew on them. Within a few days, Anabelle and Bill were using it almost daily. Hunter and Lisanna were Skyping a couple of days per week, and it instantaneously improved Lizzy’s mood and helped bridge the two-hour distance.

Within a week of the Skype suggestion, everyone had blocked out Sunday, December 14th. That was the test day, to see if this idea would work with six people.

Skype was also improving more than the distance. Hunter and Lisanna started getting creative with it, and quickly. It wasn’t nearly the same as Hunter being in the room with her, but she was in the privacy of her apartment bedroom. The first couple of days, she kept her shirt on. She did like to pull surprises on him, so one night, she sat at her desk in just a bra. Hunter salivated at the sight when he first saw her on the screen.

“I could definitely get used to this,” Hunter thought as his eyes focused on her chest.

“Maybe this long-distance thing won’t be so bad for a little while longer.”

Anabelle and Bill weren’t getting that creative, but it didn’t stop Bill from having similar thoughts and desires. However, he knew he shouldn’t push anything. Their argument that happened on Thanksgiving Day still smarted a bit. He didn’t want to push her away any further. Besides, he wanted her to take control of that ship, at first. They were trying to wait to have sex until their marriage, but since they had gotten engaged, it was becoming increasingly difficult. Bill desperately wanted to take it to the next level.

Bill whispered to himself, “Oh, Anabelle, if only you knew. I’ve held you and caressed you, but I want you. I want to make love to you. So badly!”

Anabelle was trying to put those thoughts out of her mind. She knew that when a camera was involved, anything could happen. She wanted to go farther with Bill. Sure, they’d definitely made out a ton, and let their fingers wander below their belts a couple of times, but Bill had never seen her naked. The closest thing was one day at the beach – Bill had had his shirt off and Anabelle had been in a bikini. Either way, she still flushed beet-red at the memory. She was already trying to mentally prepare herself for their wedding night. She knew sex was coming, but she didn’t know when that first time would happen. Ever since Bill had proposed, those thoughts had definitely increased. But, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go all the way with him prior to their wedding. She wanted to honor her faith, but she knew that both Bethany and Lisanna weren’t virgins.

As Bethany tried to climb out of her imaginary rabbit hole, Will was trying to get her attention.

“Hello?” Will mimics knocking his fist on her forehead. “Anybody in there? It’s like you disappeared.”

Bethany shook her head back and forth, to make the rabbit hole go away. “I’m back. I did disappear, in a way. I got lost in a hole with my own thoughts. It felt like I kept falling deeper into darkness, so much worry. Fear. Anxiety. With every new meeting we plan, it only increases. That’s bad – I just know it!”

Will embraced her. “Shh, it’s okay. We keep saying how big of a deal this is.”

Bethany looked at Will with big eyes. Will sighed and continued, “Baby, I promise it’s alright – It’s perfectly normal to feel fearful, anxious, scared, worried. This is a big step, for all of us. This is why we haven’t told anyone else yet. We need to basically have the whole plan in place before word gets out.”

Bethany swallowed hard, but said nothing. Everyone had kept the secret safe, so far.

“I know you’re scared. I am, too. This is a major change. But – You’ve done a great job planning so far. I have the utmost confidence that we are going to come up with a great plan. But, until then, this stays under wraps. I know you know that though.”

Bethany looked up at him. Will’s lips met her forehead.

She swallowed again. “It will be a great plan. But we just need to take it one day at a time.”

The Sunday Skype session finally arrived. The multiple two-way tests of the system had been wildly successful, and that was putting it mildly. Even Bethany and Will had tested it a couple of times, even though they were only six miles apart from each other.

There wasn’t a set start time, just whenever all six of them could join in. Everyone was on edge; it was going to be interesting to see how a six-way conversation would turn out.

Bethany and Will realized that they could join the session together, so really it would be a five-way conversation rather than six.

Maybe that would help, they thought.

The green phone started ringing and vibrating. Will clicked a couple of times, and Hunter’s face appeared in one corner of his monitor. Hellos were exchanged and then the phone rang again – It was Bill. The ladies brought up the rear – Anabelle joined in and then Lisanna was last, with an apology about unpacking and the mess behind her. Everyone laughed.

Bethany held the journal up to the camera so everyone could see it.

“I’m so glad that Skype’s working so far. I don’t think we’ll meet this way every single time, but this is a nice alternative to using gas.”

Everyone laughed and heads nodded. Money was top priority and was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Bethany continued, “Since last we met, the journal is now complete!”

Everyone clapped and cheered.

“It is exciting. I’m so happy that we all worked together to fill this book. But, I do have an announcement to make.”

No one said anything. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, even Will sitting next to her.

“One of the reasons I started this journal was to explore everyone’s interests. I want everyone to participate in this adventure as equally as possible. So, I wanted to give everyone a job, of sorts.”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #22

Image Credit: The Writer's Circle Facebook Page

Image Credit: The Writer’s Circle Facebook Page

Happy Wednesday!

Anabelle sighed. She covered his hand with her right hand. “Bill, I’m sorry. It hurts me to see you upset. I’m just overwhelmed. I know you want to help, but I’m just not sure how you can help me.”

Bill looked at her. “Sweetheart, you can talk to me. I will literally help you in any way that I can. I can’t do your schoolwork for you, but I’ll keep you accountable. I’ll help you with a schedule. Besides, I want to help with this whole wedding thing of ours.”

He smiled, trying to meet her eyes. “After all, we’re marrying each other. It’s only fair that we plan it together, right?”

Anabelle nodded, lifting her head and finally looking him in the eyes. “You’re right, sweetie. I think I’ve been closing myself inward, ever since you proposed. I just thought I could do all of this by myself. But, now I know that I can’t do it all alone. I don’t want to do this alone. I want you by my side, every step of the way …”

Anabelle didn’t say anymore because Bill’s lips were on hers. She sank to the couch and they feverishly made out for a few minutes.

Once the last kiss ended, they couldn’t stop looking at each other. Bill secretly hoped that she would stay the night before heading back to Dolphin Resort – He just wanted to hold her all night long and tell her that everything would be okay.

After Thanksgiving, Christmas was well on its way. The six of them had agreed months earlier that they didn’t want to exchange the traditional gifts as they had in years past. This year was the beginning of Europe, and everyone wanted to squirrel away as much money as possible.

The one main money saver was everyone was living at home with their parents already, except for Lizzy – But that would change as soon as she left LT.

By the beginning of December, though, everyone was restless. Thanksgiving had not gone very smoothly across the board, mainly due to stress. Everyone was stressed about money, primarily, but there were other factors as well. Anabelle and Bill had their wedding, Bethany was worried about her future engagement ring and wedding, Will was agonizing over how to propose to Bethany, and Lizzy and Hunter were figuring out how to deal with Lizzy’s impending final exams.

But, just days earlier, a relief mission had begun to take shape.

Over the Thanksgiving meal, Will and Bethany had been passing a scrawled note on a napkin back and forth. They felt like kids, but no one else at the table knew anything about Europe, and it needed to stay that way.

Will started it off. “I think we need to consider a joint bank account.”

Bethany was confused, but excited. “Are you proposing to me?”

Will shook his head and feverishly wrote, “Not yet! Haha. What I meant was to set one up for the six of us, to save for Europe. It doesn’t do us any good to have six separate buckets for the same adventure, right?”

Bethany nodded. “Of course. Sorry that I jumped to conclusions! I think it’s a great idea. But, what will the group think?”

Will considered that before writing his response. “Not sure, honestly. I think the best way is to ask them. Let’s call another face-to-face meeting, after Lizzy’s exams. Deal?”

Bethany nodded, but this time with a smile. “I think that’s the perfect way to handle it. We’re all mondo stressed out right now, and I think that will help. You got it, dude!”

True to their word, the FlixenFlaxen lit up with Bethany and Will’s profile pictures after the big meal but before dessert.

Hey guys! Happy Thanksgiving – Although we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the happiest for everyone. We know it’s become much more stressful since last we met. We have an idea, but we want to meet face-to-face again before sharing. Lizzy, when’s your last final exam?

Lizzy’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She knew she shouldn’t look at it at the table, so she excused herself to the restroom.

The corners of her mouth turned upward as she read the most recent message. Seeing the words last final exam were exhilarating.

She could barely keep up with herself, her fingers were flying so fast on the keypad:

New ideas are great – I’m so in. I’ve been dreaming about Europe as a means of escape recently, and it’s really been helping alleviate the stress. My very last final exam, EVER, is scheduled for Thursday, December 11th. Is everyone available to meet up that weekend? I’ll be moving back home between Thursday and Friday, and I’ll need a break from that by Saturday. Let me know – Hopefully it will work out!

Lizzy crossed her fingers after tapping Send. The waiting game had begun.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bill and I had a slight disagreement earlier today, but we’re okay now. We definitely want to meet up again. As of right know, we’re good to meet on Saturday the 13th. Hoping everyone else can make it! Can’t wait to see y’all again soon.

Bethany and Will pulled out their phones and scrolled through the calendar. They both sighed with relief – Will’s company Christmas party was the first weekend in December.

Good news! Bethany and I can make it on the 13th. Woohoo! We’re excited to meet up again, and so soon. Enjoy the rest of the weekend – I’m sure we’ll talk again shortly.

Even though everyone was separated at that moment, the six of them all had smiles on their faces. Nothing could bring them down.

The next day, the FlixenFlaxen was buzzing again.

Uh, sorry guys. Bad news. This is Bill, by the way. Since I’ve requested off work so many Saturdays in the last few months, I’m required to work the 13th and 20th of December. I’m so bummed about this! Is there anything we can do?

Bethany frowned, tapping the corner of her phone against her teeth. Will looked at her quizzically, until Bethany showed him the message.

Will extended his hand, and Bethany gave him her iPhone. After a few moments of contemplation, he started to tap on the screen.

B&W here! Bummer, Bill. Sorry about that! No worries though. We can do a Sunday if need be. In fact, why don’t we turn it into another sleepover? Only this time it’s pushed back a little bit – Start it on Saturday night after you get off work and then go into most of Sunday. We have some vacation built up as well, so we can go into Monday if we want. Just let us know – We’re flexible.

Bill smiled. But Hunter frowned.

Hey, it’s Hunter. Saturday into Sunday works, but I have to work on Mondays. Sorry!

Will and Bethany sighed. This clearly wasn’t working. They could feel the anxiety rising. Could a compromise be reached?

Suddenly, Lizzy finally felt like she had the answer.

Lizzy here. I know everyone must be really frustrated by now. So – What if we do, like, a Skype session? I know it’s definitely not the same as everyone being together in one room, but at least we’re all communicating and seeing each other’s faces while doing so …

Everyone considered Lizzy’s proposition. They’d never tried Skype before. It worked for other people, all over the world. Heck, Will and Bethany had used it several times when they first started dating, when Bethany was still a student at LT. It wasn’t the same as being all together, but it sounded like a good idea, on paper.

Everyone mulled over it. It was different, and honestly, no one was too keen on it. But, if they couldn’t meet up face-to-face again until after New Year’s, something had to give. They needed another meeting to settle the period in between, and this suggestion may be their ticket.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #21

Image Credit: Facebook

Image Credit: Facebook

Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!

“What’s wrong, baby?”

Bethany looked up, startled. She softened as Will glanced at her, flecks of concern and worry in his beautiful brown eyes. She hated to see him worry, but she also wanted to be honest with him.

“I’m not quite sure, to be completely honest. I’m euphoric that this weekend went so well. I know we were so worried, and everything went as smoothly as it could be …”

Frustrated, she held the journal between her knees as she ran her fingers through her chest-length hair. The tangles from the blustery day didn’t help matters.

“Ouch! I need to find my brush …,” she muttered. She forgot about the journal and went for her purse. She thought that getting the tangles out would help.

“Baby, talk to me. I can tell something’s wrong – You can’t deny it. You were so happy all weekend long. Something’s changed since we got in the car, and I just want to help.”

Bethany stopped hacking at her hair long enough to process what Will had just said. She was so incredibly grateful for Will. It seemed like he always had the right thing to say, the words just floated to her ears and made things right with the world. Today, though, his words offered little comfort.

“I think I’m running the gambit of emotions, at least right now. I hate it whenever we have to part ways. I’m far less worried than I was – Everything is going great. But, I’m afraid that won’t long. Remember how you said that you had that feeling …”

In her peripheral vision, she saw him shake his head, and that cut her off. He knew that move irritated her to no end, but he also knew that gesture made her stop, think, and maybe even listen. Every single time.

“I didn’t mean to cut you off, first of all. But, B, that feeling I had last weekend was just that – A feeling. And it turned out to be needless. I think we just insert worry into our lives sometimes, and for the most part, it doesn’t do us a bit of good.”

Bethany sighed. “I know. But we’re supposed to trust our instincts, right?”

Will nodded. “Of course. That’s part of who we are. However, sometimes our feelings and our hearts take over. We’ve both seen that and felt it happen countless times. Like when I kissed you on the boardwalk on our first date – Was that instinct? A feeling? Well, it was both – Sort of.”

Bethany nodded, so Will continued, “Sometimes, we just need to cast aside the trusting part and just go with the flow. I know it’s hard – I struggle with it too, believe it or not. We all worry too much, it has its place in life in general. We’re all stressed out about multiple things, even if we don’t show it outright. Guys have an easier time masking their feelings, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have them or show them.”

Will sighed and took a breath. There were a few moments of silence, but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. Both of them were processing what had been said, and they were internally strategizing about what to say or do next.

As Will came to a red light, they turned their heads to meet each other. They had this tradition of kissing at every red light that they could, and it usually helped transition into the next topic or point.

When the light turned green, they both opened their mouths to say something, but just as quickly closed them. Almost communicating via ESP, they just sat in silence for a long while, letting everything wash over them like the ocean waves. It was calming.

However, it was anything but calm with the other two pairs. The weekend had been better than expected, but once everyone had parted ways earlier in the afternoon, the positivity broke down quickly.

Anabelle and Bill were trying desperately to stay calm. This whole adventure thing, along with planning their wedding was immensely stressful. They took comfort in that the wedding was happening first and then the European adventure would follow later on down the road, but it didn’t help much. They were trying to be objective and realistic.

On top of everything else, they were super-tired of the long-distance relationship. They wanted nothing more than to move in together as soon as possible, but it just wasn’t practical at that moment. Bill knew he needed to save as much money as he could while still under his mom’s roof. And Anabelle knew she needed to find some sort of employment now, in order to earn a living. She hadn’t had any luck thus far in her search. She was a little jealous that Bill had gotten a cushy position in his field. She was happy for him, no doubt, but it wasn’t any less frustrating.

They were also stressed about where to live. Bill liked his job in Richland, especially since it was finally in his field that he studied. Anabelle knew that her job prospects would definitely improve after she received her online graduate degree, but she really needed to find some sort of job now, something that would ideally transfer her to Richland. She wasn’t picky about where she wanted to work – Even something part-time would help. But she too was trying to save as much money as possible. She was currently living with her mom, close to the Dolphin Resort district. She didn’t want to give that up just yet, but she also wanted to be closer to Bill. So, she secretly began applying to jobs in and around Dolphin Resort, as well as Richland. The money coming in would certainly improve their situation – Wouldn’t it?

Luckily, Hunter and Lisanna were calmer than Bill and Anabelle at the present moment. Things had settled down to minor anxiety attacks and slight waves of stress for Lizzy – For now, anyway. She was focusing on Hunter’s visits right now. She knew finals were bearing down on her, but she couldn’t think about that, or wanted to. She wanted to spend as much with Hunter as she could, which was a complete 180 from that Friday that she desperately wanted to be alone. Now, she couldn’t get enough of him, and they suited the both of them just fine.

Despite the instability of emotions and feelings among the three couples, the weekend at LT had done a world of good. A concrete plan was beginning to formulate. They had even started to discuss dates and a few travel arrangements and connections. Bethany’s family had extensive frequent flier miles that would help offset some of the cost of flying over to England. There was one big question that hung over everyone’s heads, however – Was this adventure just a temporary escape from reality, or would it become more permanent?

As Thanksgiving approached like a barreling freight train, the stress only increased. The tension between the couples was taught, threatening to snap into chaos at any given moment. Holidays were, by nature, stressful. So everyone tried their best to relax and be with their families. Unfortunately, no holiday gathering ever goes as smoothly as everyone hopes it will.

The first snap happened with Bill and Anabelle. For the first time in the history of their relationship, they were able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It sounded great on paper, but both of them were secretly dreading it. The three workdays leading up to Thanksgiving were immensely slow at Bill’s work, so he was sent home early Monday through Wednesday. He wasn’t salaried yet, and wouldn’t be until after the New Year, so he lost a good chunk of wages. He was grumpy and not excited about being stuck with family, when he could be working to make up for the lost pay. He was thrilled to see Anabelle and actually spend a holiday with her for once, but she did not share the same sentiment.

Like Lisanna, Anabelle had basically hit a brick wall with her classes. She enjoyed the fact that the program was exclusively online, and all the materials she needed were the textbooks and her laptop. It was portable for her, which had allowed her to travel quite extensively to see her dad’s family and other relatives. However, she was losing faith that she would graduate on time, and the last thing she wanted was for school to hinder her job search, finding employment, and planning the wedding.

Anabelle and Drew rarely fought, but when an argument did simmer to the surface, it got ugly, and quickly. The Thanksgiving gathering at Bill’s house felt like a pressure cooker. Finally, just before the meal began, it all exploded.

“Look, I’m just super stressed out right now! And that’s all!”

Anabelle was struggling to keep her voice and emotions in check, and she was losing the battle.

“Honey, I just want to help you. I want to take it all away,” Bill pleaded with her. He was trying to get her to sit down. If she kept pacing, he was afraid she’d fall through the living room floor.

“Well, you can’t take it away. I wish I had a magic wand and was able to say ‘Poof!’ and everything would vanish into thin air.” Anabelle’s voice was reaching higher levels by the minute.

Bill finally got ahold of her left hand. He brushed his fingers over her engagement ring.

“Anabelle, I love you. I certainly don’t want to fight with you. Especially not now – It’s Thanksgiving, for crying out loud. We’re here together, for the first time in SEVEN YEARS! This is the one day where you can legitimately forget about the stress.”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #20

Happy Wednesday!

After the initial shock wore off, and stopping several times for brief chats with sorority sisters and old friends, they finally settled in the library. Since it was early on a Saturday, it was basically deserted, very quiet and peaceful – Perfect. They quickly laid claim to one of the biggest study rooms on the second floor, with a door, and made sure there were six chairs. It certainly was a tight fit, but they made it work.

Lisanna then announced that she had a surprise for everyone – On Friday, she had taken the initiative and reserved a bunch of books on Europe and traveling. Everyone was visibly thrilled. Up until this point, no one was really sure how truly on board Lizzy was with the whole idea. But this effort on her made everyone realize that she was just as excited about the adventure and motivated to plan it with the group.

Bethany was probably the most excited of them all – She definitely saw a positive shift in Lizzy because of this efforts. In addition, the daily texts had also become increasingly encouraging. With each passing day, it had appeared to Bethany that Lizzy was feeling better overall, far more diligent in her studies, and almost had a sense of peace and content come over her. The furthest proof, and icing on the cake, was Bethany finally seeing her in person – Lizzy had an ear-to-ear grin from the moment that everyone had arrived on campus.

Bethany sighed contentedly as everyone picked a book and started thumbing through them.

“Hey, everyone. I loved your surprise, Lizzy! Thank you. This is a huge help. But I actually have a surprise, too.”

Everyone’s eyes followed Bethany’s hands from the moment she finished speaking. You could cut the tension with a knife as she methodically unzipped her backpack. The suspense was killing everyone, but no one hardly breathed.

Finally, Bethany put the mystery item in the center of the desk. She sat back and watched everyone take it in.

Eyes as wide as saucers, again. But no one moved, nor spoke. The silence made Bethany wither inside, like a plan trying to survive without water.

Finally, someone had the courage to speak up – Bethany couldn’t put her finger on who it was. It may have been multiple voices for all she knew. But the words went like this:

“This. Is. So. Awesome!!!!”

Bethany heaved a huge sigh of relief. Her creative efforts paid off! As she snapped back to reality, she had to interject her hands to prevent the ensuing fight over the journal. The six descended into chaos, play-acting like little children.

“It’s mine!”

“No way, dude. I saw it first!”

“Let me see! Let. Me. See!”

But Bethany’s hands were quicker. She snatched the journal like a ninja and hugged it to her chest. She glared an icy stare and attempted to restrain her voice – They were in the library, of all places – as she mutedly yelled,


Everyone immediately ceased all movement, whether it was in mid-grab or mid-word. It was like Bethany had yelled “FREEZE” in a hot game of freeze tag. She had to stifle a laugh at everyone’s ridiculous expressions, as she attempted to lower her voice into a stern whisper, complete with a wagging finger.

“What are we, in elementary school? Nope. I wanted everyone to see it, but I guess we’re going to have to, you know, share, like we’re all in kindergarten again. Oh, and take turns – Nicely. Everyone will get their chance to see it, I promise. I’m not going to take it away – Unless you decide to fight over it again. And, for the love of everything holy, keep your voices down! We are in the library, after all, and we need to stay quiet! Do you really want to get kicked out?

Everyone sheepishly lowered their eyes and shook their heads. Bethany rolled her eyes – Reigning in these class clowns may be harder than she had originally imagined.

“Are we calmer now? Alright, then. Let’s all play nicely in this tiny sandbox we’re in. Now, I’m going to pass it over here to Anabelle first …”

Anabelle didn’t snatch it away from Bethany. She held the journal as if it were a china doll. Bethany had filled nearly all of the 150 pages, but she’d elected to save five pages for each section, to all each of the five to have their own place to create their notes, canvas, or Pinterest ideas. It was only fair. In addition, she’d given each person their own color – To help differentiate, and keep some order to the chaos. She’d used the same color Post-It notes as bookmarks at the top of the sections as well.

After the journal made its first loop around the group, Bethany reached into her backpack again, and produced six pens.

“These are the same colors that go with the journal. I want you to use them as much as you want – Don’t worry, I bought plenty of extras whenever those first ones run dry. Plus, you’ll see that I put them on lanyards with each of our names and ‘The Great European Adventure.’ I thought this would be a great reminder of what we’re striving for when times get tough or when we’re wading through our everyday lives.”

As the pens got passed around and the feverish chatter started again, the kind that was becoming commonplace during their meetings, Bethany and Will’s eyes met. Will grinned at Bethany as she leaned into him. She sighed with relief as Will kissed her forehead.

As they watched the group, Will murmured into Bethany’s forehead, “I think we’re going to be just fine. Why were we all worried?”

Aside from a bit of squabbling about whose turn it was to have the journal, the weekend, like all the other meetings so far, passed by far too quickly.

After the unveiling of the travel books and the journal/pens combination, the study room grew very hot and uncomfortable. Plus, everyone was getting hungry. Since Lisanna had already checked the large stack of books out of the library for the month-long reserve period, everyone took a stack and they gingerly made their way out of the library and into the bright sunshine and brisk breeze. The group carefully made their way over to the Student Union, where they had their pick of food options. The rest of the afternoon slipped away like the sun did behind the buildings, as everyone thumbed through the books and passed the journal back and forth. Before everyone knew it, the dinner rush was flowing through the café and the six decided it was far beyond time to haul their treasure trove all the way back to Lisanna’s apartment for the evening festivities.

All three of Lizzy’s apartment-mates were away for the weekend – Definitely a rare sight and treat – so the six proceeded to party like it was 1999. The books and journal went promptly into a corner of the living room, and out came the baking supplies, pizza, frozen appetizers, and a few adult beverages. Since no one was going anywhere until the next morning, it was safe to let loose a little, as long as they stayed relatively quiet.

Toward the end of the night, everyone was fat and happy, along with being drunk on a little bit of alcohol and a whole lot of love and excitement. The three couples quickly chose their corners and proceeded to make out and get frisky like no one was going to live past the dawning of the morning sun. It got dangerously close to being naughtier than that, but someone wisely noticed everyone teetering on the edge of all six of them being naked in the same space, and called a time-out. Everyone laughed, immediately straightened up, and headed to their respective private places for the night. Not saying that anyone went to sleep immediately, or anything, but no one wanted to see anyone else doing their private business if they could help it.

Sunday morning came far too quickly. It was exciting, because all of the meetings up until this point had been forced to end by Saturday night. No one had gotten a lot of sleep, for obvious reasons, but that was okay. The excitement was still buzzing.

After getting a slow start to the morning, someone suggested going to the Brunch Bungalow restaurant that was close to the edge of Farmerstown. It had amazing food – It was pretty much the town’s greasy spoon, and boy was it a popular place. It was difficult to get a table for all six of them, but they waited patiently amidst the smells of pancakes, bacon, and eggs wafting around their noses.

Finally, a very hung-over group of LT students – Assumed to be a mix of freshmen and sophomores coming down from the previous night’s Greek row crawl – gave the six a table near the back. Bethany had made sure to grab the journal before leaving Lizzy’s apartment.

After ordering their food – A smorgasbord of French toast, waffles, sausage, eggs, and lots of bacon – silence fell around the table. Bethany had set the journal in the center. She had flipped through the pages at some point the night before – Almost every page was full.

She sighed. She wasn’t sure what to say.

“Lizzy, first of all – Thank you so much for hosting us this weekend. I think, judging by last night, anyway, that we all had a great time.”

Everyone gave slight nods and murmurs of agreement – It was clear some of the group were a little hung over as well.

“I’m so impressed with what all of y’all have put in this journal since yesterday. I mean, I gave this to y’all almost 24 hours ago – and it’s practically filled up now. Thanks, guys. I don’t quite know what to say.”

Bethany paused. She was getting emotional. She was part of the slightly hung over group, but why else did she feel hot tears threatening to burst at any moment?

Will noticed her chin quivering, and he gently kissed her temple while murmuring, “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”

Bethany let one tear go. Everyone immediately looked massively concerned.

She wiped the tear away and flashed her signature grin as a sign of good faith.

“I’m good, guys. Honest. I’m certainly not sad – I’m more like super happy and super proud. And thankful to have such great friends. I know y’all are fully committed to this adventure; this crazy adventure that started as just a mere venting session between Hunter and I. I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”

With that, Anabelle remarked that the food was probably getting cold, so everyone dug in – Hungry for food and hungry for the adventure that lay in wait.

Bethany kept flipping the pages of the journal absent-mindedly as Will drove southeast toward home. He noticed that she had been awfully quiet during the majority of the drive – Normally she chattered away like a happy bird.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #19

It’s Wednesday again!

Here’s the next installment of “Discussion of Differences” – Enjoy!

As she drove toward Will’s house after work, she spoke potential responses to Hunter aloud. She knew something would eventually bubble up to the surface.

Bethany parked in Will’s driveway and hustled inside – It was really starting to be autumn, with the crisp chill in the air. She kissed Will as soon as she crossed the threshold, and then excused herself to the bathroom. She had logged into the FlixelFlaxen before she’d left work, and was ready to reply.

Look – I completely understand how you feel. You know full well that Will and I were in a LDR before I graduated. I desperately wanted Will to come visit me every single weekend, but I knew – We both knew – that wasn’t practical. I personally don’t think it’s practical in your case, either. I think you should be as supportive as possible, though. Visit her every other weekend. It’s only six weeks until the end! You both can handle this, I know it. I want to help, but I want you to make the decision. Let me know what happens.

Hunter was gaming – as usual – when the notification beep interrupted his music. He paused the game and clicked over to the FlixelFlaxen. He’d gotten really good at skimming Bethany’s messages, so it took less than a minute for him to get the gist.

His response was lightning fast:

Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate it. You’re right, in a way. We both want to see each other every weekend, but I don’t think it will help anything. It is only six more weeks. I’ll see if she wants me to call her more often – Maybe that will help during the weeks that I can’t visit her. She definitely needs all the support that she can get. Thanks again – You’re a great friend.

Bethany smiled and went to sit by Will’s side, as happy as a clam.

As Bethany and Will settled into watching the newest episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” Bethany drifted off into dreamland again, visions of all things Europe dancing in her head.

The next day marked a week away from the next get-together. Since it was a Saturday, Bethany devoted most of the morning to writing everything down. She switched back and forth between the computer and her special Europe journal. After the first meeting, Bethany and Will had gone to Target the following week, and Bethany wandered into the stationery aisle. She scanned the journals and notebooks until Will heard her gasp. Bethany had found the ultimate 7-subject notebook. Yes, there are notebooks that go beyond the 5-subject kind now!

Bethany thought it was just perfect – There were actually enough sections to cover all the bases. There were six equal sections, one for each person, since Bethany was delegating roles for everyone. Then the seventh section was reserved for general planning, wish lists, doodles, photos – Sort of like a European Pinterest board, but on paper.

She knew that the Target in Chesapeake very likely didn’t carry maps of Europe, but that’s exactly what she wanted to do for the cover. Bethany had always been neat and clean with her school notebooks, so she was excited to be creative with this one.

Along with the journal, Bethany snagged a pack of colorful Sharpie markers and the multi-colored foil star stickers that everyone coveted in elementary school. She could hardly wait to get out of the store and head to Will’s to finish her masterpiece.

By the end of the afternoon, Bethany triumphantly declared her custom journal complete. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, she was able to print out a super-imposed map of the continent that was scaled to the precise size of the notebook cover. With the Sharpies, she boldly wrote THE GRAND EUROPEAN ADVENTURE in one corner, and then doodled around the other corners in different scripts. The final touch was the star stickers, meticulously placed on the cities that everyone had mentioned through their previous conversations – London, Paris, Nice, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna – The list appeared as if it would never end. She even ran out of stickers before finishing the list!

She couldn’t wait to start writing in it, but she was whisked away by Will to the bedroom for some overdue sexy time. It could wait, but not much longer. They would all meet up the following Saturday, and there was still so much to do and prepare.

Over the course of the week, Bethany carved out an hour every night that was solely dedicated to filling the journal to the brim. She wanted to fill every single inch, if at all possible. She made it like a scrapbook that had Pinterest and a travel agency come together. She was having the most fun, and she knew she would be sad when it was truly finished. She did decide early on to leave some space for everyone else’ input – It wouldn’t be fair otherwise.

However, she couldn’t wait for everyone to see it. She even tried to hide it from Will, but that didn’t work so well. He could tell that she was really excited, and that buoyed his spirits. For some reason, he was having an inkling that Saturday’s meeting was not going to be as stellar as Bethany and the others were anticipating.

He tried to mask it, but it wasn’t easy. Because he and Bethany had been together for over four years at that point, she’d gotten really good at being able to tell when something was wrong with him or if something was bothering him. After all, Will was one of the most easy-going people she’d ever met, so it wasn’t really hard to perceive when something was different.

Will finally came to the conclusion that he had to let Bethany know of his suspicions. He spent the first part of the week trying to rehearse what she was going to say, because he knew that Bethany would likely react really strongly. She didn’t take kindly to uncomfortable situations, and more so if they blew up in her face all of a sudden. He decided he would take her to dinner and attempt to tell her his thoughts that Thursday. He figured it would give her enough time to react to it and process it before the meeting took place. That was his hope, anyway.

Thursday night, they met at Will’s after work like usual. Normally, they went out to dinner as a couple on Fridays, but Will liked to pull a surprise every so often, to keep Bethany guessing. That night, they decided on Outback. Will drove, and even though he was holding Bethany’s hand and chattering like everything was normal, in his head he was desperately trying to formulate the right words. He knew this wasn’t going to go well.

After they ordered their salads and steaks, they were making small talk about work. They had mutually decided that their conversation about Europe would be minimal to none between the two of them. They agreed that they could talk about their own wants and wishes, but nothing that involved the group. It was all about fairness. Then, the conversation suddenly fell off a cliff, and Bethany heard Will swallow and breathe deeply.

“Will? What’s wrong? You look worried.”

He cleared his throat – It was now or never.

“Bethie, I am worried. I’ve tried to find or come up with the right words all week long, to try to tell you this carefully or gently. But, I’ll just be straight with you – I know that’s how you like it.”

It was Bethany’s turn to swallow. She instantly got nervous and edgy whenever Will was nervous – It generally wasn’t a good sign.

“Will, honey, I appreciate that. I really do. You know me so well. What is it? You know that you can tell me anything, right?”

Will nodded and bowed his head a little. He didn’t want to meet her eyes, but he forced himself to do so.

“Okay, here it is. I’ve had this inkling that this meeting on Saturday is going to be a disaster. I don’t know why or how or what, but that’s just my gut feeling. I don’t know what to do.”

Bethany’s eyes softened. She stroked his right hand with her left, and with her right hand, cupped his chin and kissed him.

“Sweetheart, I can tell you’re worried. I am too, a little bit. I think it’s because we’re going to start talking about the real details now. You know, the money aspect is a big one …”

Will nodded. He felt his gut untwist a little.

“The fun party planning period is ending. But, we’re all friends. We’ve been through some tough times already – Remember how worried we all were when Bill’s mom had that stroke?”

Will nodded again. He started to breathe normally again.

“Everything will be fine. If we do disagree, so be it. We don’t have to plan everything in one Saturday. Actually, we can’t do that. There will be many more Saturday meetings before the official adventure begins.”

Bethany smiled. Seeing her grin restored Will’s confidence and faith. He cupped her chin and kissed her longingly.

“Whew. I feel better. Don’t you?”

Bethany nodded vigorously.

“I keep saying it because it’s so true – Talking it out is the way to go.”

“Well, that was perfect timing. I think I see our waitress coming with our food. Let’s enjoy our meal and think about something else for a change – Like maybe having sexy time when we get back to your house?”

No one could wipe the grins off their faces.

By Friday, pure excitement took over. Everyone could hardly wait to drive up to LT. On the surface, it looked like a good change of pace. There were a lot of advantages – More places to hang out, the library was nearby if further research was needed, more options than pizza for food choices.

But, there were also disadvantages – Distraction was the main obstacle. Since classes were still in session, students were on campus, and the five alumni all had friends still attending the school. However, they hadn’t publicized their travels or meeting on social media for that exact reason.

Since the first meeting, they solely communicated via a group FlixelFlaxen message, rather than individual statuses and tagging all six people every single time. This way was also much more efficient than a group text. In terms of traveling, though, it was decided that Bethany and Hunter would be in charge of the main communications, and then Hunter would communicate with Bill accordingly. It seemed a lot easier that way, since they were three couples and all the communicating parties had to do was speak with their other halves to get the message across.

The excitement, along with a little bit of pressure, steadily rose as everyone converged on Farmerstown, Virginia, the home of the Lancer Institute. It was like a homecoming of sorts for Bill and Anabelle, and Will and Bethany. The campus was rapidly expanding, almost by the day, and Hunter and Lisanna assured everyone that they likely would not recognize most of Farmerstown and LT. They were right.

The other couples were in awe. So much had changed since Anabelle, Bill, and Bethany had graduated in 2011. A lot of the familiar stores had closed long ago, and new things were either in place or under construction. The biggest residence hall at LT was being prepared for demolition. They took a tour of the renovated art building and sorority dorm – It was astounding.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #18

Image Credit: timmilesandco.com

Image Credit: timmilesandco.com

Welcome back! Happy Wednesday!

Enjoy the next installment of “Discussion of Differences.”

But hear this – You can do this. You’re so close. Just buckle down and endure these last few weeks – I promise that the end result will be so worth it.”

Lizzy sniffled and considered her words carefully.

“Thanks, B. Really. It’s so great to have a friend like you. I feel more of a connection to you than anyone else, which is probably why I’ve been texting you non-stop for the last six days. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just get into a groove of feeling the need to write out everything that I’m currently thinking. I simply forgot that you have these things called work, and your own school, and your life with Will and your family. Will you accept my apology?”

Bethany then realized she’d been holding her breath. As she let it out slowly, she also considered her next move.

“Lizzy, of course I accept your apology. But – You need to make a commitment to me.”

“B – Anything. Anything for a friend like you.”

“Please, for the love of everything holy, text me only once a day from now on. I don’t care if it’s a novel, but consider it a reward, of sorts. You can text me at the end of every day, but only when you get through all of your classes, all of your homework, and any other obligations that you have. Do we have a deal?”

Bethany could almost see Lizzy, see her making that face when she’s seriously considering something.

“You got it, B. Anything to save our friendship!”

Bethany chuckled. “Lizzy – I wasn’t going to end our friendship. I’m just a worried mother hen right now. Do you understand? Anyway, I look forward to your end-of-day texts!”

“B – You rock. I feel so much better now. When’s the best time to text you?”

“Um, any time before 9:30 p.m. After that, I’m asleep. Got it?”

“Okie dokie. I’ll text you tonight then! Thanks, B. You’re an awesome friend.”

“Alright. Let me eat my food and I’ll get back to work. I’ll text you back tonight to let you know that I got it and read it. Now go pass those classes!”

Bethany could almost see the smile returning to Lizzy’s face.

Bethany originally wanted to approach Hunter about Lisanna’s issues, but she felt better once she’d hung up the phone. Still, Bethany didn’t want Hunter to be in the dark about anything.

With shaking hands, she picked up her iPhone and logged into the FlixelFlaxen. She saw the red message bubble at the top of the screen. It always made her heart soar – Almost as much as her personal phone buzzed with a text or picture message from Will.

Bethany almost felt bad that she had such a close relationship with Hunter – They were pen pals, too – but they both knew it was completely platonic. Both of them cared about their significant others too much, along with their friendship, to jeopardize anything.

Bethany just stared at Hunter’s last message for at least five minutes before tapping the screen to write a reply. Whatever she wrote, she had to do it quickly – Her lunch break was almost over. At least she’d been able to scarf down her sandwich while talking with Lizzy.

Finally, in the last two minutes of her lunch hour, Bethany felt confident in her thoughts.

Hey there. I hope you had a good lunch break. I just spent three-quarters of mine talking with Lizzy. Yes, actually talking with her over the phone. I don’t want to get in the middle of anything between you two, but I wanted to be transparent with you. That’s what friends are for – I don’t want to keep any secrets from you. I completely understand if you don’t want to share or talk about it.

Bethany let out a frustrated sigh, peppered with relief. She always felt better when she actually communicated her thoughts and feelings – Whether it be through spoken word, or written. She just didn’t want to hurt anybody.

Hunter had far more freedom at his job – He was able to stay on the FlixelFlaxen throughout the day, unlike Bethany.

He always got excited when the new message icon popped up. He really did enjoy Bethany’s conversations. After all, he had never expected to be friends with her after her graduation more than three years ago. He was immensely grateful for her friendship – She’d gotten him through some dark times, ones that she didn’t know about. And that included issues with Lisanna.

He read B’s latest message once, and then paused before reading it again. He always like to read things more than once.

He took off his glasses, closed his eyes, and pressed his hands to his face. His worst fears were becoming reality. Lizzy was a super senior. Over the last several weeks, he had noticed her withdrawals increasing at an alarming rate. He knew she was struggling, but he had no idea how to help her.

“Oh, fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck! Now B knows. Now what?”

He had to distract himself for a few minutes before replying to her. Luckily, he knew Bethany was working on a big project this afternoon, so he had more than enough time to consider his response to her.

After a lopsided combination of a little bit of video editing and quite a bit of anime, Hunter’s head was clear enough. He didn’t like replying to Bethany on impulse, if he could help it.

He took a deep breath as he poised his hands over the keyboard.

Interesting. First of all, it’s not your fault – I know that Lizzy’s gotten super close with you since last we met at Bill’s. And that’s great! I appreciate you letting me know. And being honest with me. Keeping secrets is never a good thing – Even between friends. Not to worry though – You’re not getting between us. In fact, you saying something has actually been helpful. It’s made me realize that there’s more of a problem than I had originally thought. Let’s work together, if that’s okay with you. I think you want to help Lizzy as much as I do. What do you think?

Hunter finally breathed out as he clicked Send.

“Now, the waiting begins. Until then – More distraction!”

As Bethany wrapped up her project toward the end of the day, she took a bathroom break. She had had Hunter in the back of her mind all day, and barely hit the lock on the bathroom door before beginning to read.

She heaved a sigh of relief as she skimmed through Hunter’s reply. She was grateful for his understanding, but also worried. How were the two of them going to help Lizzy through this storm?

Bethany liked to plan, so she started formulating one in her head as soon as she’d read the last word. By the time she got back to her desk, she’d tapped out a skeleton plan.

Hunter had basically beaten her to the punch though:

I think I have a plan. Of course, I want to hear your thoughts before I decide. But I feel like I need to visit Lizzy every weekend until the end of the semester. I think she misses my company. I’d like to think that my visits help her get through the week prior and at least part of the week afterward. I wish I could stay longer than three days, but rules are rules.

Bethany’s eyes widened. That didn’t sound like a good solution – At first glance, anyway. After all, Lizzy had said the whole spiel about wanting to be alone in front of the whole group.

Her own plan was partially for Hunter to visit more often, but certainly not every weekend until mid-December! Bethany’s combination of fear and hesitation were based on experience – Sometimes spending every waking moment, or every weekend in the case of a LDR, together, have bad results. It sometimes pushes the couple apart.

And Lizzy didn’t need to push anything else away right now. She needed the continuing support of Hunter, Bethany, and her other friends, but also have that balance of time alone. Of course, Bethany knew that she couldn’t change Hunter’s mind, but she could weigh in with her opinion.

Bethany couldn’t respond right away. She needed to mull this over, maybe even talk to Will about it. But there was another pressing thing on her mind: The next meeting. It was just eight days away!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Writing Wednesdays #17

Image Credit: blog.writeathome.com

Image Credit: blog.writeathome.com

Welcome back to the latest installment of “Discussion of Differences.”

Bethany caught Hunter’s eye. She deliberated folded the note as Hunter watched. She nudged Will, and silently motioned to the note and then to Hunter. Will merely nodded and passed it along.

Hunter took the note from Will and immediately gave it to Lisanna. She looked up and smiled, eyes gleaming. Bethany knew then she’d made the right decision.

Bethany smiled as she turned back to Lisanna’s page. She wrote just three words:

To be continued …

Although no one wanted it to happen, it grew very late all too quickly. Fortunately, Bethany and Lisanna were able to have their first one-on-one before the group broke up for the night.

“Lisanna? Or, can I call you Lizzy?”

Bethany sensed the hesitation in her voice as she spoke the words. She was a little nervous, but she wanted to make Lisanna as comfortable as possible.

“Either one. I don’t mind. How about you? Bethany? Beth? B, like in your note?”

Bethany smiled.

“Any of those. As long as you don’t call me later for supper.”

They both giggled.

Bethany sighed with relief. The joke from Dad always seemed to break the ice and ease tension every single time.

Things were going smoothly, so far.

“I know very little about you, only the bits and pieces that Hunter’s told me. But I liked you from the start, I want you to know that.”

Lisanna smiled shyly. She felt the heat in her cheeks, but it was a good sense of embarrassment. She felt pride that Hunter spoke so highly of her among his closest friends.

“So, Lizzy, I don’t want to know your whole life story. Not tonight, anyway. I just wanted to introduce myself and start our friendship, the right way.”

“I appreciate that, B. I really do. You’re a good friend.”

Bethany smiled.

“So, Lizzy, I have a few questions. I want to make sure that you have an equal share in this adventure that we’re planning …”

Another hour quickly slipped through their fingers. Lisanna and Bethany were just chattering away, as if they were long-lost friends. They’d learned so much about each other in that lone hour. Both were instantly sad when they both caught glimpses of Hunter and Will in the reflections of their glasses.

“Aw, baby, do we have to?”

Will nodded solemnly. “Yep, baby. Sorry. We have an hour and a half drive, remember? It’s definitely late.”

Bethany frowned, with a little bit of a pout, but smiled just as quickly.

“Well, I’m sure that our next planning session isn’t too far away. After all, December will be here before we know it!”

Lisanna’s eyes instantly grew as dark as the sky outside. Bethany covered her mouth with her hands, eyes wide with horror.

“Oh, Lizzy. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean …”

“B – It’s okay, honest. Sorry I scared you. Just hearing that one word brings up so many emotions.”

Bethany instinctively extended her arms and Lisanna eagerly accepted the hug.

“One thing I can promise you – Everything will be alright.”

The next planning session was scheduled two weeks later. This time though, Lisanna wanted to host it at her apartment at LT, for a change of pace.

As before, the unspoken pact remained the same – No formal discussion until the six were together again.

Bethany silently vowed to get everything on paper before then, as much as possible. She didn’t want to formally announce her delegations until everything was written out – That’s how she rolled. They may not like it, but it didn’t bother her. Being a mass media student and a creative writing minor had helped her grow a thick skin. Besides, she needed to do a little bit more research and investigation into everyone first. She wanted to be as prepared as she possibly could.

Meanwhile, the anxiety was gradually building. There were still a lot of practical questions that hadn’t yet been answered, like money, passports, and jobs – All those details that were, you know, only slightly important. But no one seemed bothered by it. Nothing was set in stone as of yet. There was lots of scheming and dreaming, and that’s the way it should be. At least, for now.

Over the next two weeks, Lisanna and Bethany talked almost as much as Hunter and Bethany did via the FlixelFlaxen. It seemed like that initial conversation in Bill’s living room had sparked something. Bethany certainly wanted to get to know Lisanna better – But it started to get uncomfortable more quickly than Bethany had expected.

It was apparent, almost right off the bat, that Lisanna was texting all the time. It was like her phone never left her hands, although Bethany knew full well that she had a full load of classes, and homework, and her other friends at LT. Plus, there was Hunter, too. Bethany didn’t want Lisanna to get distracted – Especially not now, with the month of November fast approaching.

November meant the inevitable – The winding down of the fall semester and the ultimate climax of final exams. Then, more than ever, Bethany wanted Lisanna’s focus to be on passing her exams and her classes.

It finally came to a head the day before Halloween, less than a week since last they’d met. Bethany’s phone was vibrating at least 30 times per hour – So much so that she had to silence it well before lunchtime. She knew Lisanna’s class schedule by heart, and becoming concerned that Lisanna was just ignoring it all.

Finally, Bethany took her lunch break. She grabbed her leftover Subway sandwich, threw on her jacket, and strode out to her car in the parking lot. Kicking the leaves along the sidewalk, Bethany clicked Send.

The dial tone hummed as Bethany muttered, “Come on, come on, just pick up the damn phone, Lizzy.”

Finally, at the last ring before voicemail kicked in, Lizzy’s voice crackled.

“B? I’m eating right now, and I’m in a big rush. Can I call you back?”

“Wait! Do not hang up this phone. Listen to me. I’m worried about you – You’re texting me constantly. Are you even paying attention in your classes anymore?”

Lizzy’s silence spoke volumes.

Bethany raised her free palm to her forehead and let out an exasperated sigh.

“Lizzy – I don’t want to be your mother. But – You have to focus now, more than ever. You do want to pass your classes, don’t you?”

The only thing Bethany heard from the other end was soft sobbing.

“Lizzy – I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be mean, but it’s so true. You’re so close to the end! I’m just looking out for you, that’s all.”

Bethany heard sniffles and then a deep breath.

“You’re – You’re right, B. I’m just so overwhelmed. Stressed. Exasperated. Done. Finished!”

Bethany sighed. “I know, Lizzy. I know all of it. Believe me, I’ve been there. We all have – Even Will. We all had some kind of senioritis, especially toward the end of the last semester.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #16

Happy Wednesday!

Enjoy the latest installment of “Discussion of Differences.”

Anabelle went first.

“So, of course y’all know that Bill and I are getting married. We’re thinking about sometime next year. And it wouldn’t be a happy wedding without all four of you being a part of it. So, the question is, how will this affect our European adventure?”

Everyone sighed, with Bill the loudest.

Bethany spoke up next.

“No worries. Actually, your wedding is a good sign, I think. Because of the wedding, it will give all of us more time to plan this grand adventure of ours, and definitely more working time to save as much money as possible.”

Hunter nodded in agreement. So did Will. Only Lisanna looked worried.

Hunter squeezed Lisanna’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong, birdy?”

Everyone immediately said “Aww” at the nickname, which helped.

Lisanna swallowed. This was the first time she had braved to address the whole group.

“I’m just freaked out because I’m the youngest. I don’t have anything lined up yet for when I leave LT in December. That is, if I actually leave LT …”

Her voice quivered and trailed off. Hunter kissed her temple and rubbed her shoulder.

“Birdy, it’s alright – I promise. No one here expects you to have a job as soon as you leave LT. And, you will be leaving in December – We’re all sure of it. Right, guys?”

“Oh yeah!”

“Of course!”


Lisanna smiled through her tear-filled eyes. She wiped at them, clearly embarrassed.

“I just want to be able to contribute. I’m so excited about this. I think this whole Europe thing, plus Bill and Anabelle getting married, are signs of hope.”

Hunter looked puzzled. “Hope?”

Lisanna nodded. “I’ve been so depressed recently. Lost, almost. That’s why I didn’t want you come down and stay with me last night. I wanted to sort out my thoughts and feelings before coming here today. It helped, but I’m worried about our relationship. What girl wants to be alone when your boyfriend is practically begging to come see you?”

Bethany and Anabelle had to quickly contain their laughter.

“Lizzy, you’re not alone! It’s completely normal. Trust us.”

Bill and Will immediately exchanged glances of pure bewilderment. At that, everyone busted out laughing. 

Bethany and Anabelle tried to figure out who was going to speak first.

“It’s true though. You can look as bewildered as you want. We love you, Will and Bill, but there are days and nights where we just need some peace and quiet. Everyone needs some time alone. Everyone.”

At that, Will and Bill just shrugged their shoulders; that was the universal signal to move on.

The three girls then, at that moment, felt more united than ever. Before now, Lisanna felt somewhat left out. She was the youngest out of everyone, and not nearly as close to the rest of the group. But because of all these emotions and honesty, it seemed that everyone was going to get along just fine.

They continued to informally plan throughout the course of that Saturday. Bethany felt like the expert of the group, having traveled both over and through Europe in three different round-trips between the ages of 12 and 19. But she tried not to act like a hot shot. She wanted everyone to feel like they were equal participants. After all, this adventure could possibly turn into something more permanent.

By the end of the evening, things started to come out of their heads and onto paper. Through all the scribbles and doodles, it seemed like one thing was clear: The six wanted to traverse as much as of the continent as they possibly could. Nearly every country was listed. There weren’t reasons for everything; it was more of a wish list. The beginning was the simplest – Fly from the U.S. into one of the England airports and start the adventure there.

Amidst all the discussion, Hunter got an idea. It was something he had mentioned, albeit briefly, to Bethany on the FlixelFlaxen. He had gotten the feeling that Bethany had glossed over it though, so he figured it was worth mentioning to the entire group.

“Hey, guys.”

All chatter ceased and each head swiveled in his direction.

Hunter cleared his throat. “I was thinking about living arrangements – What if we stumble upon a castle?”

The only response Hunter got was the ear-to-ear grins on everyone’s faces.

As the so-called resident expert on the continent, Bethany was quickly dubbed the de facto leader of the expedition. She knew, from previous experience, that everyone was going to go a lot smoother if she started to delegate, right from the get-go.

While everyone continued to talk with subdued excitement, she began formulating this plan in her head, and drafting notes in the little pink notebook that never left her purse. She immediately designated a page for each of the six of them. She started listing qualities – Both good and bad.

Within minutes, the delegation was nearly complete. She wanted each person to be solely responsible for at least one thing, but then everything else be more of a team effort. No one could wipe the smile off her face as she jotted down notes in her looping cursive.

Since Hunter had mentioned castles, she marked him down as being charge of living arrangements – Both temporary and potentially permanent.

Since Bill had worked in a supermarket for many years prior, Bethany knew he was the expert on food and groceries.

For Will, she immediately put down everything design-wise. What Will did with that task was completely up to him; she had the ultimate confidence that he would help design the near-perfect European adventure, as well as be excellent at marketing it to the group.

Lisanna and Anabelle were the only ones left. Bethany purposely wanted to assign tasks to the boys first – They were far less complicated. She wanted to give more thought and care to the girls – Emotions and all.

Bethany started to consider their foreign language experiences at LT. She herself had suffered through Spanish, as did Hunter. Anabelle was the resident expert on all things German, so that made it a little easier. Lisanna was Hispanic, but Bethany didn’t know how fluent she truly was. She also wanted to consult Will and Bill. Everyone had to have taken at least one foreign language throughout high school and college, no matter where they attended. Fortunately, English was a shoo-in.

Anabelle had an extensive travel history, so Bethany decided to put her in charge of the overall itinerary.

The main question was Lisanna. Bethany knew better than to call her out in front of the whole group, so she wanted to take a more subtle route.

She could go through Hunter, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of them. Besides, the whole point of this idea was to get closer as a quasi-family unit, right?

Bethany ripped a page out of the notebook and feverishly scribbled a note:


I’m so happy that you’re on board with this whole adventure thing!

I want to get to know you better. I want to become good friends with you, first of all. Also, I want to find out how you can best contribute to our expedition.

Let’s chat, one-on-one, a little later, before we all part ways. I’ll give you my number too.

So excited!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #15

Image Credit: pixshark.com

Image Credit: pixshark.com

Welcome back!

It’s Wednesday – So it’s time for another installment of “Discussion of Differences.”


Finally, after what seemed like hours, it was Anabelle who broke the silence.

“Relocate? As in, move?”

Bethany and Hunter merely nodded.

Everyone’s eyes looked at each other around the circle. No one moved, no one spoke. There was barely any breathing.

Bill took a deep breath and finally said what everyone was thinking.

“This is crazy. Absolutely crazy! But, I like it.”

Their Saturday adventure stretched into Sunday. No one slept that night. It was like a teenage slumber party – Everyone was whispering and basically giggling. The idea was simply crazy and nutty, but it sounded like loads of fun.

Everyone eventually fell asleep, the three couples intertwined in different places in Bill’s bedroom. All six of them had different dreams of Europe dancing in their heads.

The next morning, it was like everyone had left their old lives behind. All they could talk about was the future. Everyone had a different version, but it all led down the same path.

As everyone prepared to leave Bill’s house, the excitement was electrifying. A whole new adventure was in its infancy.

Lisanna and Hunter were headed northwest – Lisanna back to LT to finish school, and Hunter back to work in the mountains.

Anabelle was staying with Bill until Monday, then she had to head back southeast to her mom’s. Bethany and Will were headed southeast as well – Back to their parents’ houses and back to work.

But as they headed their separate ways, their lives, as they knew it, would never be the same. They promised to meet again in a month’s time, back at Bill’s, for another weekend of scheming, dreaming, and achieving this concocted plan.

The scheming and dreaming carried everyone through that month of work, workouts at the gym, parental drama, and studying. It was stressful, carrying around this big secret. Everyone had made a pact that Saturday to not tell anyone outside of the six, not until the plans took better shape, that is. But it certainly wasn’t easy.

Bethany almost slipped up, but luckily she caught herself. She turned the story into reminiscing about her previous trips to Europe – The first was 17 days in high school, and the second was a spring break trip courtesy of an art class at LT. In fact, she was the only one of the six to have previously traveled to any country in Europe. So she was automatically considered to be the expert.

Hunter and Bethany had also decided to keep their conversation on the FlixelFlaxen to a minimum. They still messaged daily, but swore to not talk about Europe unless the six of them were together. It didn’t seem fair, or right. They wanted to keep it as even and equal as possible.

Finally, the weekend before Halloween had arrived. It was once again time to travel to Bill’s mom’s house. Surprisingly, no one talked about Europe in the cars on the way up – It seemed like the discussion would work best with everyone together again. But that certainly didn’t stop them from thinking about it.

Everyone had a slight difference of opinion about Europe, but the overarching theme was plain excitement. This was a grand adventure. And the best part? The six of them were going to embark on this adventure together, no matter what.

The crunch of gravel underneath tires signaled to Bill that everyone had arrived. Anabelle had come to Bill’s early, to do some more wedding planning. That was going to be a factor in their European adventure, but she didn’t want to get ahead of herself. She wanted the six of them together for both the wedding and Europe, no questions asked.

Bethany and Will were eager to continue the discussion as well. The engagement ring had been finished months ago, but Bethany knew to just keep her mouth shut. She knew Will was planning the best proposal that he could think of, and she didn’t want to bug him about it. She allowed herself to daydream about it for a few minutes each day, but then put it out of her mind. She was easily distracted anyway. She knew Will would find the right place and the right time to ask her one of the most important questions ever. She couldn’t wait for it, but at the same time wanted to be surprised and swept off her feet.

Hunter and Lisanna drove to Bill’s separately, although the original plan was for Hunter to come down to LT on Friday, on his day off, spend the night, and then Hunter would drive Lisanna to Bill’s. Hunter was lonely on the workdays and the weekends that he wasn’t staying with Lisanna. He loved spending as much time with Lisanna as he could, and missed her terribly whenever he couldn’t come visit.

However, the final semester for Lisanna was quickly eroding her spirit, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to keep allowing Hunter to visit her on the weekends. She wanted to get the best grades possible, but ultimately make sure she passed all of her classes. They planned to walk at commencement in May, together. They both were part of the five-year plan at LT, but neither were ashamed of that. Lisanna just wanted to pass her classes and graduate – LT itself was quickly becoming part of the problem. She was also terrified of the real world, and what that meant for her relationship with Hunter. She felt torn, and was becoming frantic with each passing day.

Fortunately, being alone in the car for the 45-minute drive to Bill’s was therapeutic. She lost herself in the mix CD that Hunter had given her a month earlier for their anniversary. Her thoughts about the future took her to another place too.

“Maybe Europe is the sign that I’ve been looking for,” she thought as she cruised down the highway.

She did miss Hunter’s company in the car – They always had their best discussions there. But at the same time, she had just come off of midterms and needed Friday to clear her head. She had desperately wanted Hunter to come stay the night with her – For him to just hold her close and tell her everything was going to be alright, that it was going to be just fine – but at the same time, she just wanted to be alone. And that wanting to be alone terrified her even more. What kind of person, in a loving long-term relationship, wanted to be alone?

As the six friends came together at Bill’s house, all of the raw feelings surfaced, and quickly. As Bill opened the door, hugs were exchanged all around and the traditional greetings and salutations were said. But silence settled in immediately afterward. Their grand European adventure suddenly became the ugly elephant in the room – And that was the last thing that everyone wanted.

Much like the night that the idea was proposed, no one could speak up immediately. It was almost taboo, forbidden, and immensely awkward. Everyone read worry and fear that was written on each other’s faces. All six of them were basically thinking the same exact thought – What the hell are we doing?

Luckily, the elephant started to get smaller. Bethany had started a binder full of research, and started to pass it around. She’d also thought to bring along the photo albums from her two previous Europe excursions. That broke the tension, albeit slightly.

Everyone thumbed through the books for a few minutes, and they all got back around to Bethany eventually. She stacked them in a neat pile as she sat Indian-style on Bill’s bedroom floor, stroking the corner of the purple photo album aimlessly. Finally, she took a deep breath and said, “Well, what do y’all think?”

Everyone glanced around, unsure of what to do or say. Then, Anabelle spoke up.

“I think it’s a great start.”

Like the first night, Anabelle’s affirmation kicked off instant chatter. It was a great flurry of conversation. All three books left Bethany’s lap again and didn’t return for a good while. It was difficult keeping up and keeping track – Everyone was going in different directions. It had a wave of excitement to it, but it crashed just as quickly as a wave would on the beach.

The conversation died down again, and it became this awkward staring contest. No one wanted to kill the enthusiasm, but the challenges needed to be addressed eventually.

Come back next week for more!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂