After graduation, Eva Kramer’s classmates wrote things like “stay cool” and “don’t ever change” in her yearbook—but Eva’s planning to do the exact opposite. Before heading off to college, Eva is determined to spend the summer shaking things up a bit. See Eva wants to be an Author, but she’s just now realized that she can’t write what she knows because, in reality, she hasn’t really begun to live yet.
But revisions are never as easy as they seem. Eva has to be prepared to try new things (like working as a camp counselor without any prior experience). She has to be okay with letting go (like when her new/first boyfriend leaves town to go on tour with his band). She can’t be afraid to let her story go in unexpected directions (like falling for someone else, someone she always thought of as a rival). And by the end of her summer, Eva will have to decide for herself how she’ll want the story to end.
M. Beth Bloom is a musician, video artist, and writer. Her fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly and Dave Egger's Best American Non-Required Reading series. She is also the author of Drain You. M. Beth lives in Los Angeles.
links to amazon and to harper teen:
Ever-Change-Beth-Bloom/dp/ 0062036882/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8& qid=1434652630&sr=8-1& keywords=don%27t+ever+change
center of gravity - yo la tengo
you’re the good things - modest mouse
hello rain - the softies
here’s where the story ends - the sundays
kid in candy - the spinanes
cybele’s reverie - stereolab
the book lovers - broadcast
coffee and tv - blur
hypocrite - lush
breathe your name - sixpence none the richer
7. CHINESE BOMBS
I meet Michelle and Steph at the Thousand Oaks Mall on the Friday before our last weekend as do-nothing ex-Seniors. Michelle’s been hired as a personal assistant by some rich woman who makes jewelry in Santa Monica and Steph got a job folding at The Gap. What I like about Michelle is that she’s tough, and never moody, and what I like about Steph is that she’s sensitive and really pays attention. I guess I round out the group by being some mixture of both. I like to think of myself as the glue that holds us together, and I also like to think that if I wasn’t around maybe Michelle and Steph would never really see each other, that’s how much I connect us all.
Michelle’s trying on a fitted blazer which feels very East Coast, very Boston, so I try one on too. Someone makes a Sisterhood Of The Traveling Blazers joke and it kind of makes me feel old, like I wish it was the summer before Senior year and not the summer after. I don’t want to get a job or, rather, I don’t want to have a job, but I do, and can’t stop complaining about it. What I don’t like about Steph is that she lets everyone complain, on and on, because she thinks it’s therapeutic to just get everything out, even though sometimes it isn’t.
The three of us are definitely clique-ish though, which has been getting a bad rap lately in movies and books and overall culture. There’s this backlash against people “wanting to belong,” but the truth is I don’t want to belong in general – I want to belong to these two, and I want them to belong to me. Courtney says that being too close to people can become toxic, and that you have to watch out for that, especially with high school friends. She also says I shouldn’t forget to “spread my wings” because in a year I might not even know them – maybe in less than a year. Which makes this blazer, this iced coffee with soy milk, these receipts for candles and hoop earrings, all feel like ticking bombs, and that gives me an idea for a story: a seventeen year-old girl is visited by two forty-seven year-old women claiming to be the future versions of her two best friends from high school come back to make sure the girl keeps up their friendships so as to change the course of all three of their lives. This is a good one; Mr. Roush might like it. I scribble it down on something.
“Anyway,” I say, “Foster will be at camp with me. So that’s something.”
“Foster, huh,” Michelle says.
“Don’t say his name like that.”
“I like Foster,” Steph says. “We all think he’s cute.”
“We don’t all think that,” I say.
“What about that guy Elliot?” Michelle says.
“Has he called?” Steph asks.
“That’s better,” Michelle says. “It’s like, ‘Hey boys, text me don’t call me, okay?’”
“Calling is committing,” Steph says.
“And Eva doesn’t want to commit.”
“You’re leaving for Boston in like two months anyway.”
“And he’s leaving for tour...”
“There’s also Foster...”
“Guys,” I say, interrupting. “I’m not the protagonist in some rom-com and you aren’t my pushy, sentimental sidekicks.”
“Hmm,” Michelle says and then Steph says, “Yeah, hmm.”
Later we’re at the food court and since I can’t find anything vegan at Panda Express I just watch Michelle and Steph go wild on some chicken chow mein. Michelle keeps dangling the noodles in front of me, saying if I want to take a bite she won’t tell anybody. This is what everyone thinks: that I’m dying for their chicken chow mein but because there’s some noble agenda, some lofty idea to stand behind, I won’t let myself indulge. They think at home, alone in my room, I’m slamming turkey cheddar sandwiches and they also think I just need a friend, or anyone, to convince me to chill on my principles for a minute so I can enjoy life and a big piece of lasagna. But what they don’t know is that their egg rolls are time bombs, that they’re ticking, because these could be the last egg rolls Michelle and Steph ever share, and isn’t that a bigger deal than my dietary choice to slowly save the planet? I tell them all of this, then pound on the food court table and take away their forks so I can hold their hands.
“You have to stop listening to Courtney so much,” Michelle says.
“Your sister doesn’t know how it is with us,” Steph says.
“Yeah, we’ll be friends for a supremely long time,” Michelle says.
“We’re in no danger of not being friends,” Steph tells me.
“And didn’t someone say something about absence and the fonder heart?”
“And don’t our keychains say something about friends and forever?”
“Guys, are we being naïve?” I ask.
“Of course we’re not being naive,” Michelle says, and then Steph says, “Two of us are eighteen, Eva.”
I force Michelle and Steph to make firm promises for the summer concerning multiple weekly hangouts and lengthy phonecall catch-ups and constant text and email updates. I don’t know why but I feel a little desperate, and even though I’m not that interested in the daily business of handmade jewelry from Santa Monica or ribbed v-neck tees and tanks, I feel like I need to hold on to this connection or else I’ll be so lonely. So I promise not to slip if they won’t slip, and I know that I won’t slip because it’s summer camp and, really, after a long day of being stuck with nine nine year-olds all I’ll want to do is bond with my friends before we have to say goodbye in August.
“You’ll also want time to write though,” Michelle reminds me.
“And talk to Elliot on the phone,” Steph says.
“And what about Foster?”
“Or some other counselor you might meet that you want to hang out with.”
“Guys!” I say, frustrated. Then I pick up Steph’s fork and shove a big bite of greasy noodles in my mouth, to show that I can commit and that I will commit, all summer long, until the day I get on the plane for Boston. I think they’re impressed because they immediately feel bad and hug me and tell me I don’t have to swallow the chow mein.So I don’t; I rush to a trashcan and spit it out before it explodes.