Something That Burns by Cynthia Singerman

Marin is smart and pretty and full of dreams and grows up believing that love isn't love unless it hurts.

Image generated with OpenAI
When Marin was in the third grade, she was sent to the school counselor's office for testing. You are special they told her and the next year she skipped fourth grade and went straight to fifth. Marin's hair was thick and long and the color of honey tinted with strawberries. At recess, a boy named Derek Carson put two wasps in her ponytail and Marin screamed and screamed and everyone laughed and pointed at her until the wasps struggled free from the jail of Marin's curls and stung the back of her neck, which burned like a fire lighting on her skin. Marin was allergic and her face and throat swelled and her breaths became wheezy and shallow. She didn't remember much until she woke up at the hospital and she told her mother she didn't want to go back to school but her mother said she had to go back and then her mother said something that a lot of mothers used to say, which was how boys are mean to you if they like you. And that was when Marin believed that love was something that burns. If it really hurt, if it really made you suffer, then it was love. And she loved Derek Carson.

Marin thought about Derek more and more when she got to high school, when the boys oozed a dank smell of hormones that was all at once both repulsive and intoxicating. But there were tests and practices and performances and she measured her years by the number of trophies on her bedroom bookshelves.

But when she sits next to Derek in A.P. American History she remembers the burn of the wasp sting. And when they study together at Derek's house because his parents are never home, they don't really study. They have sex while Nick Cave plays on the stereo. Marin's mother never suspects anything because Marin doesn't need to study. Marin has a photographic memory.

Derek doesn't take her to senior prom. Instead, he takes Marin's friend Jennifer. Everyone in Marin's high school is named Jennifer or Jessica. But she tells Jennifer it's fine even though she thinks Jennifer is a bad friend. She also tells her mom it's fine after her dad leaves and her mom starts seeing a scream therapist.

"So you just... scream?" Marin asks.

"Yes. Sometimes into a pillow. Or while you squeeze a towel."

"That's weird."

Try it, Marin's mother says. It feels good.

But Marin never does.

The first friend Marin meets in college is Laura, who is her roommate. Laura is the kind of girl who never has pimples on her ass or hair in places she shouldn't. She is glossy and gorgeous but she also does things like chug water with Epson salts and chews multiple packs of gum a day. Laura has an entire dresser drawer of plastic pill bottles. But Marin doesn't say anything. She doesn't want to be a bad friend.

The second friend Marin meets is Reya. Reya has a nose ring that she changes every couple of weeks. Half her head is shaved. The other half is bright pink. By senior year, Reya's hair is grown out and is black and wavy and as luxurious as a rare fur coat hanging in your rich aunt's closet, if you had such an aunt. Marin does not, but this is what Reya's hair makes her imagine. Reya doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks, including Laura. Marin, on the other hand, cares immensely about what everyone thinks, especially Laura.

Reya lives across the hall from Marin and Laura. She comes over and they watch reruns of The Real World while Marin makes flash cards and Laura does sit ups. Marin is obsessed with moving to Rome or Florence and has decided to major in Italian.

"You should study French," Laura says. "Paris is so much better than Rome."

Marin nods furiously even though she has no intention of studying French. This is because, as she will learn in therapy one day, her trauma response is to fawn.

Reya rolls her eyes and says she is going to smoke. This week her nose stud is a ruby.

"Smoking is bad for you," Laura says.

"Smoking is cool," Reya says.

Marin laughs.

After Reya leaves Marin asks Laura if she should get a nose ring.

"And bring more attention to your nose?" Laura curls her lip.

When Marin asks Reya if she has a big nose, Reya says Laura is a big bitch.

Marin meets Colby the second week of school while she's walking to class. He asks for her number and says she has most beautiful smile he's ever seen. But it doesn't matter. She doesn't want lavish praise. She wants to know she's alive from the pain.

The third week of school, Marin goes to a party with Laura and Reya. She sees a boy watching her. The boy is standing next to Colby.

"Who's that?" she asks.

"That's Stone." Reya says. "He knows my brother." Reya's brother is older and is a senior and knows everyone. "My brother says he's a real asshole."

Marin thinks he's perfect.

In the beginning, everything between Marin and Stone is beautiful.

Stone takes Marin to Los Angeles on vacation. She is only nineteen and wants to seem sophisticated and chic but they are kids playing pretend. She feels like a tiny snowflake, clinging to Stone like he is the very last bit of winter before melting away.

Now, there are only bits and pieces of that trip left in her memory. The sweet and salty smell of the Santa Monica pier. Sneaking into a hotel to drink margaritas with heartthrobs and has-beens in Hollywood. Watching dolphins play in the waves in Malibu. She wanted to go to the Getty but Stone doesn't like museums.

"You absorb culture from the people," Stone told her.

She remembers how she followed along because she doesn't know how to disagree. She just knows she never wants him to stop looking at her the way he looks at her in that moment. The way she wanted Laura to be her best friend until she realizes she has no idea what she wants at all.

Senior year everyone goes west. Moving away from Marin as if the wind were carrying the people like tumbleweeds.

Stone is the first to go.

She watches Stone drive off in his old car the color of a tarnished nickel. He calls her crying from the road. Crying like she'd cried when she'd walked in on him with another girl. Marin slapped him when he said it didn't count as cheating because he'd broken up with her the day before. After, they sleep together and she lies naked in his bed. Counting the stars on the American Flag hanging on his ceiling. Up to fifty. Down to one.

I'm sorry he says. I love you.

This is what love is, Marin thinks. The burning in her chest, the burning tears on her cheeks. It hurts more than she can take but it's worth it. It has to be.

Laura tells Marin how she heard Stone had been sleeping with other people all summer, all through August. Now it's the end of September. Laura seems to relish the delivery of bad news. Real friends tell each other the truth Laura says. And we're real friends.

Marin wants to cry but she waits until she's outside. Then she goes over to Reya's place. She waits by the front door, listening to the leaves rustle every so often when a sticky breeze blows, thinking about her mother's screams during therapy. At the time, Marin thought her mother was having some sort of psychotic break, but maybe it worked because eventually her mother wasn't that angry anymore.

Marin is angry. But she doesn't scream. She just stares into space until finally, when she is drenched in sweat and the mosquitos start to bite, she goes inside Reya's house.

"Laura is a stupid cunt," Reya tells her. They are smoking cigarettes and drinking tumblers filled with vodka and ginger-ale on Reya's patio. "She's literally crazy. Laura Lithium with her pez dispenser of pills."

Pezzy, Marin says

Good ole Pezzalina.

They snicker loudly. Speaking of, Marin says. She pulled the Adderall she'd swiped from Laura's medicine cabinet.

"You mean her treasure chest."

They crush up the tablets and snorted lines the color of orange sherbet.

"I thought you guys were going out." Jessica, Reya's roommate pokes her head outside. She is dressed in all black and her hair is scrunched to a crisped state. Marin can smell Dep gel and Dior perfume. It's nauseating.

"We're not," Marin says. "Where are you going?"

"I'm meeting Laura."

"Who?" Reya asks and Marin laughs hysterically.

"You guys, like, hate Laura now." Jessica's lips were shiny as glass under the harsh patio light.

"Jessica," Reya said. "Don't be fucking rude. Of course we don't hate Laura. She's our best friend."

Marin and Reya were closer, but Marin had always lived with Laura because she was always afraid to say no to Laura. She flipped like a gymnast for Laura. Until she was tired of performing and began to hate every single second they spent together.

Every Tuesday, Marin and Reya get really stoned and drive to Dairy Queen for 99 cent Blizzards. They always eat too fast and get brain freeze. Then they watch Reality Bites. The winter of our discontent. And laugh and laugh and laugh. Since they were freshman. Sometimes, Marin wants to ask Reya if they are real friends but with Reya, she never feels like she has to ask.

Reya is the next to leave.

Reya tells Marin she can graduate after exams in December. The internship at the agency from last summer called and offered her a job. Of course, says Marin because Reya is funny and beautiful and wicked and always gets what she wants. Marin cries harder than when Stone left because Stone had already wrung her so dry she didn't know what she had left for him. But she doesn't know what to do without Reya.

"You'll come live with me in Hollywood one day," Reya says. "And I'll have one of those old fabulous houses above the lights of the city and we'll wear kaftans and drink dirty martinis by the pool. I promise."

Marin stays silent because deep down she knows that no one keeps their promises when they're young.

Over Christmas break, Marin goes drinking with her high school friends at the bar where they never card and the wooden walls are covered in graffiti and dollar bills. The place smells like dead dreams and cigarettes and the jukebox only plays Elvis. Marin puts Always on My Mind on repeat until the bartender tells her that if she plays the song one more fucking time, he's permanently banning her, so she plays Pocket Full of Rainbows and goes outside to call Stone. The bar is in a strip mall and there is a dilapidated K-mart sign missing a K. Someone has spray painted a blocky black FART so it now reads FART mart. The line rings once and goes to voicemail but Marin doesn't leave a message.

Some townie with a long white rattail buys her round after round of White Russians. Later, she is so drunk she walks home in the bitter cold without her coat and wakes up with what feels like shards of broken glass in her throat. Her temperature is 103 and she spends New Year's Eve buried under blankets watching the ball drop with her mom, who sips her sloe gin fizz and stares at Marin with worried eyes.

Marin isn't sure when she falls asleep but when she opens her eyes, it is still black outside and her mother is sleeping next to her. Her clothes cling to her body from a feverish sweat. It's the new year.

Upstairs, Marin changes into clean pajamas and lies on her bedroom floor. In her closet are boxes of blue ribbons. Trophies line the shelves next to piles of old books. Sweet Valley Twins. Sweet Valley High. The collages made from old issues of Vogue and Seventeen. Years ago, she'd sit with her mother for hours, cutting and gluing. On the ceiling, plastic neon green stars glow in the dark, still stuck there from eight grade. Dried roses hang from her bedposts. She wonders where she went wrong and why she goes out of her way to make herself feel as bad as possible. She stares for a long time at the decrepit poster of clouds with the words I am only free when I am me printed at the top. If only she could figure that out, she thinks. And then she takes more codeine cough medicine and falls into a strange, psychedelic sleep.

The first time Stone said he loved her, they were camping. It was dusk and the light was so soft illuminating the leaves of orange and blazing yellow. Stone opened a bottle of champagne and they toasted with red solo cups. Marin believed Stone was the only man she'd ever love. A night heron landed on the roof of Stone's car. Its head was black and white with a yellow crown. You are so beautiful, Stone had said. And for a second Marin thought he was talking about the bird. But then he said, even if your body isn't that great right now.

Before she left for her last semester, Marin's mother asks her if there was anything Marin wanted to share. But Marin shakes her head even though she's thinking about Stone and why he hasn't called but she doesn't tell her mother this because her mother was sick of hearing about Stone.

At school everyone says how skinny Marin looks. Except Laura who frowns and sulks when Marin asks to borrow a dress. Just don't fuck it up, Laura says.

When Stone finally calls he says he can't wait to see her. He says he is working a lot and he bought a new car. A Scout, bright blue with a white top. Now he has his dream job and his dream car. I just need my dream girl he tells her, giving her that breadcrumb of hope. Just a few, tossed carelessly on a path to keep Marin hungry for more. It keeps her going for weeks. Dream girl. I am his dream girl.

"Have you seen Reya?" Marin asks during their next conversation. Now Reya hasn't been returning her calls. Everyone feels very far away.

"Oh yeah," Stone says. "She's been hanging out. I love Reya."

Marin picks at a hangnail until the skin peels off revealing fresh pink flesh. For years, Stone hated Reya.

"Why couldn't you guys be friends before? For me?"

God, Marin. You always have to make everything about you.

Marin calls her mother after they hang up.

"Do I make everything about me?" Marin asks.

"Did Stone tell you that?" her mother asks with a sigh. "Think less about Stone and more about what you are going to do after graduation."

Marin thinks about it. She thinks about Lost Angeles because that is what Stone and Reya did. And what Laura might do. Laura wants to be an actress. Except Laura doesn't have to really work. She is part of the rich kids' club.

Marin and Stone do not come from money and they understand that about each other. It connects them. Although Stone hates his mother while Marin talks to her mother multiple times a day. She cannot imagine making a decision without telling her mother. Stone only speaks to his mother when it is absolutely necessary to make sure she's still alive.

"Men who hate their mothers will always treat you like shit," Laura says one time but Marin has started to not listen to Laura anymore.

Stone usually calls her when he's drunk. His voice thick and slow, dripping with liquor, declaring his undying love for her. But when Stone starts to call at 3 or 4 am Marin turns off her phone so she can get some decent sleep. Stone calls her landline and leaves message after message. She takes pills to sleep through it, but she can still hear him, vaguely, as if his voice is traveling underwater.

It's particularly cold for the rest of the winter. Marin doesn't go out. And Laura stops inviting her to the bars or the parties or wherever it was that she went - but Marin doesn't really care. She likes being alone.

"Maybe you should see a shrink," Laura says to her. Marin is sitting on the couch reading an old Sweet Valley High book she brought back from Christmas break.

"Yeah," Marin says. "Maybe."

"You have these like, swaths of crazy," Laura continues, "I'm only saying this because I love you."

"Thanks," Marin says sarcastically and Laura mutters something about Marin being so sensitive and turns on the television at an aggressively loud volume. Marin waits to see if Laura has anything to add but she doesn't so Marin goes back to reading her book.

On the first Friday of Spring, Marin is in her room watching the Behind the Music on VH1 where Vanilla Ice is trying to explain how his song goes ding-da-da-da-ding-ding which was somehow different from how the Queen and David Bowie song goes. She can hear girls getting ready in Laura's room and goes out into the hallway. She smells the sizzle of burning hair on the flatiron. Maybe she will say hi. Maybe she and Laura can be close again. Maybe she is only having a fantasy about something that was never there.

She listens to their laughter and realizes they are making fun of her. She's such a weirdo now.

Marin knows she probably shouldn't eavesdrop, but it was so incredibly rare to hear the horrible things people say about you behind your back. Because everyone does it. Everyone talks shit and if they say they don't, they are lying. And to actually hear the shit people were saying about you? It was like eating something so delicious that you knew would make you sick later. Like a rich chocolate souffle. Even though Marin had never eaten chocolate souffle, she imagines it would be so insanely sinful that she would regret her decision to devour the entire dessert a couple of hours later.

Ugh, the way she licks her lips. Marin hears Laura say. And how her farts smell so bad but she pretends it's not her. Marin rolls her eyes. Please. Laura literally destroys the bathroom during one of her pre-party Adderall binges, stinking it up like a toxic dump. I wish she wouldn't borrow my clothes all the time, says Laura. She looks terrible.

Marin's eyes water. She hasn't borrowed Laura's clothes in months. And wasn't that part of their life together? Closets, clothes, giggles, gossip. It all blurred together, and yet everything was finally coming into focus.

It is strangely gratifying, hearing all of her worst insecurities being laid out on a platter by her best friend. Except they weren't even really friends. Reya had been her friend. Reya is my real friend, Marin repeated over and over again to herself until she realized she was licking her lips and stopped.

Did you hear? Someone lowers their voice and mumbles something before Laura says she's not home. Then. Oh. The story about Stone? Marin freezes, straining to hear every word now. Getting a blow job in the elevator and everyone could see. Like everyone. But it wasn't like a regular elevator. It was one of those like glass what do you call, pagodas? Like he was full on face fucking her. I heard it's his new girlfriend. He just doesn't want to tell Marin.

Marin presses her back against the wall, letting the tears slide down her cheeks, staying silent until she hears them leave. She goes into the kitchen to take a shot of vodka. And another. After the third shot she decides to call Stone. The windows are open and the air is heavy and humid. The winter months sucked away into the sweaty spring.

Stone answers on the second ring.

Hey baby, he says and her heart is beating so furiously she thinks she might have a heart attack. Twenty years from now, Marin is checking Facebook and learns that Laura died of bulimia induced cardiac arrest. It's just so shocking, she thinks over and over again, her hand over her mouth. And even though she hadn't spoken to Laura since college, there is a pang of guilt, wondering if she made the right decision, if she should have tried harder. And she misses a friendship that was so fleeting, but left such a mark, she is never not aware of it. She thinks of reaching out, of writing someone, of sending flowers, but she never does. She knows it's too late for all of that.

But that's years from now.

She asks Stone, "Are you seeing someone?"

She hears Stone sigh on the other end of the line. She remembers their first Christmas together, when he stayed at her house. They ate shrooms and walked around the neighborhood, looking at the glowing Santa sleighs pulled by the reindeer, houses dripping in tacky colored lights with waving snowmen on lawns of dead grass. Cheap plastic nativity scenes with melting doll faces.

"Are you?" she prods.


She knows he is lying. She knows that if she presses him on it, he will twist it into one jumble of snarled yarn that made sense but also made no sense. How it was somehow her fault. Always her fault.

"Look, Marin," Stone says. "You know I love you."

"Yeah, no. I know."

"And no one will ever love you as much as I love you."

"Right." Marin leaves her body. Floats up above somewhere in the sky. "Bye." She hangs up quickly before Stone can say anything else. She wants to draw blood. Even the score on the emotional papercuts he keeps giving her. She doesn't know how.

She takes the bottle of vodka from the kitchen and goes down to sit by the pool of their apartment complex. The eerie florescent water reeks so heavily of the chlorine that turns your hair a light green if you stay in too long. Marin doesn't swim. She just dips her feet in and drinks until the vodka tastes like water. The sky is extremely clear and the stars so bright. I wish I may, she says to herself as she lies on the cold concrete. I wish I might. Her eyes feel heavy. Have this wish. I wish tonight. Then the sky turns completely black.

When she wakes, she is fully clothed in her bed and a large ceramic serving bowl resting in front of her. Colby is sitting on the floor wearing jeans and a t-shirt. They haven't seen each other in a long time. Not since he lived with Stone.

"Two years," Colby says. "Anyway. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You kept saying you had to puke."

Marin clears her throat. A sound like a broken garbage disposal. "Thanks," she says. Then she throws up in the bowl.

He goes out of the room and comes back with a grocery bag.

"What do you want to drink?" Colby asks.

"Xanax," she says and he laughs. He says he forgot how funny she is and she thinks that's funny because Stone never thinks she's funny. Colby isn't really talking to Stone these days though. He's living alone and studying. Colby is in his third year of law school. Next fall he's starting at a big firm in a big city. She drinks the Gatorade he bought her and eats the bagel and butter he's made her and listens. Then he asks what she's doing next year.

"I have no idea."

"You're into languages," Colby says. "I remember."


"Who speaks Italian?"

She looks at him. "Um. I mean people in Italy."

He laughs again.

"So will you move to Italy?"

"I might." When she says it, she feels something taking shape. Tangible and real. A feeling she hasn't had in a long time.

"I used to be different," she says now. "Then I came here."

"You're still the same," Colby says, his cheeks flush slightly. "You still have a beautiful smile."

She wants to kiss him, but remembers how she smells. "I'm going to shower." After a long pause she finally says, "you can stay."

Stone still calls her and she still has phone sex with him twice a week. He asks her what she wants and she says for him to love her and he says he does but she starts to think that maybe it doesn't feel like the way love should feel.

There are two months left in the semester. She and Laura barely speak or acknowledge each other's existence. They pass each other in the hallway of their apartment like strangers until graduation day when Laura hands her a card and a box with a bow. "I got this for you."

It's an angel pin. The card is that really terrible passage about the sets of footprints in the sand. It makes Marin cringe.

Laura says, "I thought we were best friends."

Marin tries to think of something to say but she can't so she just lets the silence grow increasingly awkward until she finally says, "You don't even like me."

Laura's face gets really tight and pale with bright red spots on her cheeks.

"Well, you know what Marin," Laura says then. "No one fucking likes you. Reya doesn't even like you. We all just feel sorry for you."

Marin doesn't look at Laura. She just stares out the window at the spider web coating the bottom of the sill. There is a dead wasp tangled in the white strands. There is a lump in her throat but she wills herself not to cry. She looks up and Laura is still glaring at her.

Marin smiles and says, "Go fuck yourself."

Later, Marin's mom takes her out to dinner and she tells her mom what happened with Laura and her mom just clucks and says you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

That summer Stone buys her a plane ticket to visit him in L.A.

"You're ruining your life," her mother tells her.

Marin goes anyway.

Stone lives in a house near the beach. On the first night they just hold each other on the sand. On the second night they go to a party at a house way up in the Hollywood Hills, like the one Reya told her they would live in one day but Reya doesn't live in L.A. anymore. She went to London with her boss and never came back.

The house is enormous, with floor to ceiling glass panels that overlook the glittering city lights. Marin is tired and cranky and wants to go home but Stone won't leave. Nobody wants to talk to her because she is a nobody. Stone isn't even talking to her. He's talking to a girl with blond hair and big boobs dressed like Stevie Nicks. Fake Stevie is laughing at something Stone is saying.

Marin goes to the bathroom where a woman is cutting up lines and asks Marin if she wants some. Marin accepts because at least then, she won't be tired anymore.

After, Marin finds Stone where he's now talking to a guy in a white blazer and white flip-flops and white sunglasses, along with two women who are definitely models.

Stone is saying something about how "people are sheeps and how you need to be a shepherd".

"Sheep," Marin says loudly.

"Huh?" Stone turns to her and Marin repeats herself.

"SHEEP. You said 'sheeps' and the plural of sheep is just sheep."

The guy in white laughs and Stone grabs her by the arm, pulling her away from the group.

"What's your problem?" Stone asks.

Marin says, "I hate that I love you."

"Jesus Christ," Stone rolls his eyes. "You're such a bad hang."

"I fucked Colby," Marin says now.

She can feel his entire body tense with anger before he puts his face to hers. His breath smells like whiskey and his skin smells like the spice of his cologne. She wants to take it all back, she wants to kiss him and curl around him and never leave him. But she can't.

"You are nothing."

He walks away and she stands very still even though she knows it's time to leave now. But she doesn't know where to go.

Since she is nothing, no one notices as she climbs the stairs to the roof and waits until all the people leave and it is so late that it becomes early and she wants to see a sunrise so she can believe in something again. Maybe God. Maybe herself. And as the sky begins to change to a morning opal, milky pinks and blues, she leans her head back and screams and screams, the way her mother told her to scream years ago. She screams until her throat burns.

And her mother was right, it felt good.


  1. My personal preference is for longer and more detailed scenes, rather than a lot of jumping from time to time, mostly telling the tale and not showing it. But I feel this is an important story. I’ve seen this story in young women’’ lives and, in sum, it captures something very important about the life of young women. It captures the cruelty of people. And the vulnerability of the young. It’s an important story. Thank you!

  2. The present tense makes this story compelling and reminds me of an old US friend telling a story. Relationships and emotions are both such complex entities, and screaming therapy must be fantastically healing for the nerves. Looking forward to seeing what else you write!

  3. I was somewhat confused by the timeline. Elderly male here can't find any connection to this story, except living in LA 1979-83, but then that wasn't the intent. Mr. Mirth

  4. I knew that I would love Cynthia Singerman's fiction when I read the teaser emblazoned over the AI image, that said that "no one keeps their promises when they're young." This is a truism emblematic of a whole generation. Cynthia's rich, textured metaphors really set off her prose to excellent advantage: hair " the fur on a rare coat hanging in your rich aunt's closet,,,"; she "...feels like a tiny snowflake, clinging to Stone.."; she drinks vodka "until it tastes like water"; "… giving her that breadcrumb of hope. Just a few, tossed carelessly on a path to keep Marin hungry for more"; and "Senior year everyone goes west. Moving away from Marin as if the wind were carrying the people like tumbleweeds."
    All her life, Marin is overly conscious of "being a bad friend," so she never disagrees with or challenges anyone. This gets her in trouble with Laura and later, with the men in her life. She flutters from fantasy to fantasy, especially with Stone, becoming his willing sycophant and enabler. Ironically, the one person seemingly deserving of her -- Colby -- she keeps mostly at arm's length, though conversely, she uses him to get a dig in with Stone.
    It's not surprising that Marin has mixed feelings, when 20 years into the future, she learns of her first college friend, Laura's, death. Even then she rebukes herself. Laura's bulimia was manifestly apparent.
    The prose was not chronologically arrayed, which is not a bad thing, although at times I had a little difficulty discerning where in the narrative I found myself. I believe that this story will ring true for many readers -- as it did for me -- because most of us have played the Marin role in our relationships with others, or else are intimately familiar with someone who has. I can see why Cynthia's story was the pick of the month: it is trenchant and wise and delicately sculpted like a fine work of art -- which, after all, is what it is.

    1. I loved the many wonderful metaphors, too. And loved the emotional realism, which felt authentic

  5. Poor Marin is badly in need of a psychotherapist.
    She is attracted to people who treat her badly, both romantically (Stone) and platonically (Laura).
    She has low self esteem, poor ego boundaries, and insecure attachments.
    I hope she sees a therapist and gets better!
    (And I am rooting for Colby!)

  6. The narration of this story is compelling. I felt like I was being pulled through a time tunnel. Sadly, many girls (and boys) fall into abusive relationships. Reading this story, I kept asking myself, "Why is Marin so self destructive?" The father is not in the picture, but the mother appears to be present, well meaning and kind. She is not absent or abusive. The protagonist has several bad friendships over the years. I was relieved to hear her scream at the end, and get the impression she has made a small step towards reclaiming her self worth. Well done, Cynthia!

  7. A whirlwind story.. Marin's in a vortex spinning.... love is all she wants..... I saw how this spin towards chaos would unfold, her life experience feelings of being betrayed and deceived playing out tragically..... she is attracted to the bad boy... the romantic moments are well depicted... the beautiful moments with Stone that Marin hangs onto, the intensity. This sounds like a story from the late seventies...with reference to Stevie Nicks, etc. The opening paragraph really sets the tone.