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Listen to Your Heart(2)
Author: Kasie West

“What were you looking at on your phone?” Alana asked after the bell rang and we were walking down the hall to our next classes. “You were staring at it dreamily for like ten minutes straight.”

“I was not. I was just looking at everyone’s first-day-of-school posts.”

“Yeah right,” she said. She probably wouldn’t have let the subject drop so easily if something at the end of the hall hadn’t captured her attention. She gasped.


She pulled me to the side, out of the flow of traffic. “Do you know Diego?” she whispered.


“Diego Martinez. From last year?”

“No, I don’t remember him.”

“Really? I could’ve sworn I mentioned him once … or five hundred times. Remember when I had to do a stint in Math lab last May? He was the tutor. He was dating that Pam girl so I couldn’t pursue him but … No?” Alana asked when I was clearly still searching my brain. “He snuck his puppy into school once because his mom had gone out of town and couldn’t watch her. And he got away with it.”

“Are you making this stuff up?” I asked. “Because I don’t remember any of these things.”

“It’s because he’s not lake stock, isn’t it?” Alana asked, putting her hands on her hips. “You don’t even try to know the city kids.”

We called them “city kids” even though Oak Court didn’t really qualify as a city. It boasted only fifteen thousand people. But that was thirteen thousand more than Lakesprings.

“So not true!” I argued. “I don’t try to know any kids. You know I hate people.”

Alana laughed because she knew it was at least partially a joke.

“I remember the guy with the nose ring you talked about—Duncan,” I said, tilting my head to one side. “And there was someone else named Mac …”

“Okay, I get it. You proved my ‘lake’ theory wrong.”

Her theory was kind of right. I didn’t spend a lot of time in Oak Court. I preferred the lake over all else. “It’s not city versus lake,” I said. “It’s the fact that you talk about a lot of different guys.”

“I appreciate them. Is there anything wrong with that?”

“No. I was just explaining to you why I might not remember this one.”

“Even though I talked about him five hundred times?”

“You didn’t. That was Brady, the guy who lit a sparkler in the cafeteria for you on your birthday and got detention for a week.”

Alana was the kind of girl who guys did things like that for. She was tall and curvy with dark hair and nearly black eyes. She was Polynesian and had stories about growing up in Hawaii that everyone loved to listen to, like Hawaii was some alternate universe. I loved her stories, too, so I didn’t blame them.

She waved her hand in the air. “Brady is so last year.” She took me by the shoulders and pointed me toward the end of the hall. A guy with shaggy dark hair stood in front of a locker. “He is so this year,” she said.

“This is the bring-a-puppy-to-school guy?”

“Yes. Diego.”

“I thought you said he was dating that Pam girl.” I had no idea who Pam was, either. I was just repeating information.

“Apparently they broke up over the summer.”

“Okay, I have made a note. Can we go now?”

“First, you have to tell me what you think.”

“Of what?”

“Of him.”


“Because you’re my best friend and if I’m going to devote all my time to thinking and talking about a boy, I want your approval.”

I laughed. Alana never asked for anyone’s approval. I patted her on the cheek. “That’s sweet of you to make me feel needed.”

“No, I’m serious. What do you think of him?”

“You’re asking me to assess him from fifty feet away based on zero knowledge?”

“Based on initial impressions and the puppy story.”

I narrowed my eyes at the boy, as if that would give me better insight into who he was. “I think he takes an inordinately long amount of time at his locker.”

As if he heard me, Diego retrieved a book, shut his locker, and whirled toward us.

Alana still stood behind me, a vise grip on my shoulders, making it more than obvious we had been staring at him. He met my eyes with his soft brown ones, and then his gaze shifted to Alana. Now that I could see his face I understood why Alana was willing to devote hours to thinking about it. He was cute. Wavy brown hair, light brown skin, big eyes, high cheekbones, full lips.

“Hey, Alana,” he said as he walked by, acting like this was the most normal thing in the world. Like girls lined up at the end of hallways to watch him exchange books in his locker all the time.

Then he was gone. Alana released my shoulders and I faced her.

“So? What do you think?” she asked.

“I think that was really embarrassing.”

“No, about him. I want your advice.”

“Yes, he’s cute. Plus, it was obvious by the way he said hi that he’s halfway to falling in love with you. I approve.”

She smiled. “Thanks.” The late bell rang, signaling that it was really time to get to our second-period classes.

“See you at lunch,” I called, waving as we parted ways.

“See you. Oh, and don’t forget we have our podcasting class last period!” Alana said, waving back.

“How could I?” I groaned. “I still can’t believe you talked me into it.”

Alana shot me a triumphant smile before turning and racing down the hall.

“You’ve been listening to Sequoia High’s premier podcast. For teens, by teens, about teens. The only podcast recorded in a high school. At least as far as we’re concerned. School’s out, but can you listeners smell the scent the six hundred teens left behind? There’s nothing quite like the mix of hot Cheetos, body spray, and sweat. We seniors will miss it almost as much as you’ll miss us. But don’t you worry, next year’s podcasting class will be here to outdo us, or totally screw it up. Can’t wait to see which. Peace!”

Ms. Lyon turned off the audio with a dramatic button push and then faced the class. She was petite, with large eyes that were even larger now in excitement.

“And that was last year’s very last episode,” Ms. Lyon said. “You all have a lot to live up to. I know it’s the first day of school, but our audience is hungry. We’ve had more episodes downloaded this summer than in the previous two summers. Our podcast may be a toddler, just starting its fourth year, but it’s gaining momentum. It’s up to you all to keep that momentum going.”

Alana and I exchanged a look. This was too much drama for the first day of school. “What have you gotten me into?” I whispered.

Alana had begged me to take this class with her, as our required elective. She’d even filled out the application for me, telling me it would be amazing. “Podcasts,” she’d said, “are like instant entertainment in the palm of your hand. Prerecorded, downloadable talk shows on pretty much every subject in the world.”

She’d really said that. Like she had been hired by the inventor of the podcast to sell the concept far and wide. When I wasn’t buying, she’d added that I could learn soundboard or editing or some skill that I could use in my everyday life. It seemed better than pottery, so I gave in.

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