i·dyl·lic adj

1. serenely beautiful, untroubled, and happy

2. like an idyll, especially in having a simple, unspoiled, and especially rural charm

noc·turne n

1. a musical composition, especially for the piano, that suggests a tranquil, dreamy mood.

2. a painting of a night scene

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.




Mama always said that a woman that didn't write in a diary was either too boring to tell her thoughts, or too secretive to even trust a book and pen. So, here I am, writing in this diary.

I'm not going to start every entry with "Dear Diary," though. And I'm not the type of person that'll begin and/or end every single thing with a quote. They're both too cliché, too sappy.

Even though classes don't start for another week, we had swim practice today.

Oh, wait. Since this is my first entry, I should probably tell a little about myself. For my kids, or grandkids. Or something like that. I doubt any man would be interested in me. It doesn't matter, anyway. I wouldn't be able to find the time, I don't think.

All right. My name is Rebakah (Beka) Cooper. I'm a freshman at East Bank Olorun University, and am a member of their swim team. (I got here partially on a scholarship.) I have dark blonde hair that's fairly long, but it's always put up, so that doesn't really matter.

I read in one of my sister's (Diona is a year younger than me, and Lorine is three years younger) fashion magazines a long while back that one of the first things you should talk about when describing yourself is your best feature. Too late for that, I suppose.

My best feature… Well, I don't know my best feature, but people always say that my blue/gray eyes are unique. They usually mention a feeling of drowning in ice. They always tried to assure me that it was a good thing, but I know that my eyes are simply scary, especially when I'm angry.

I suppose a good feature could be that I'm trim. But then again, aren't people always saying that even though men lust after the thin ones, it's always the average-weighted that get married in the end? I don't know. And it doesn't matter, anyway. I'm not staying fit for some guy; I'm doing it to stay on the swim team.

Oh, that's right. I meant to talk about my first day.

"Don't worry, Beka, you'll do just fine," Verene said while we were in the locker rooms.

"I'm just glad that we got in." Verene has been my friend ever since I was new in high school.

"Nonsense, Beka! You're the foster-daughter of one of the greatest athletes in the country, and he's the Athletics Director. Besides, you've worked too hard; you'll probably put Coach to shame! I'm still shocked you didn't get in on a full scholarship."

Verene says things like that a lot. She leads with her heart instead of her head. Sometimes it gets her into trouble, but usually it just makes her sound silly.

We walked up onto the deck, where Ersken was already waiting.

He immediately walked over and casually put an arm around Verene. Ersken Westover's the kind of boy that always has to have an arm around a girl. Most of us girls know it, and go ahead and let him. Ersken's a kind boy, and I've heard more than one girl say that he is "simply adorable."

Ersken was always pressured into sports by his father during high school, but when he finally was able to decide for himself, Ersken realized that he really did, and does love swimming.

"Freshmen and sophomores, you're doing laps until I blow my whistle again!" Coach Ahuda shouted. "You, there—I see what you're doing. If you don't stop ogling the girls and don't get into the water in three seconds, you're off this team!"

I was in a lane close to the coach, so I could hear one of the older swimmers on deck mutter to her, "Three seconds? You only gave me one."

Another voice said, "Coach Kebibi, you're goin' soft on us, aren't you?"

Even if hearing the others was a bit of a challenge, I could hear Coach's bark loud and clear, "Tunstall, you almost got kicked off last year for that mouth. Make this year different."

I had heard about Matthias Tunstall from Mr. Haryse often. Matthias, or Mattes as most everyone calls him, was—Oh! — Mr. Haryse's one of my favorite people in the whole world, and I forgot to mention him!!

Mr. Gershom Haryse is the university's Athletics Director. (That's kind of like being the dean of sports, he once explained to me.)

When me and my brothers and sisters were really little, we didn't have very much money. That's why one day Mama decided to take part in a study the university was doing. They were always doing studies back then, and they would pay whoever would volunteer to be part of it a couple hundred dollars. But somethin' went wrong, and Mama got really sick. She never had too good health, and after the study, well, she never did fully recover.

I knew that Mama's little flower and herb shop wasn't doing well, and when she got sicker, she almost had to close the store. Even though I was small, I knew that something wasn't right. Shouldn't the university help us? I went to the school to see if they could, and no one even lifted a finger. I was just a little poor girl, trash to them, what could I do? It wasn't like I had lawyers for best friends. (I do now, but that's irrelevant.)

I had gone to everyone I could think of except the president of the university himself. After putting on my best dress, I went to his offices.

I got as far as the front desk before security was called.

So I had to run with security chasing me. I had been on their watch list for a while because of my persistence, and this time they weren't going to let me escape. I was running as fast as I could, but by then I was used to it. Back where we lived then, people could be nice, but most of the time they were real mean and would chase you for blocks and blocks.

So anyway, I was running when suddenly a man dressed up in a suit follows as well, making me run even harder. I just couldn't get caught. If I was caught and never got help, then everyone at home would have been in real trouble.

The man gets close and lunges, tackling me. He got rid of security and brushed us both off.

"Now what was all of that fuss about?" he asks.

Well, he asked, and so I told him. When I finally ended with a, "And if the shop goes too, then me an' Nilo an' Willes an' Diona an' Lorine won't have a place to stay, or food, or nothin'!"

He had been listening with rapt attention the whole time while I was talking, and look thoughtful when I finished.

"Why don't we go back to the president's offices and see if we can't get your family some help. My name is Mr. Haryse, by the way."

And so we went, and he went straight into the office. Mr. Haryse made me wait outside, but I was able to pick up a few things.

"I spent five minutes talking to her, but she's a bright little thing.

"President Conté, the next place she'll go is the media. We've been having enough trouble lately due to the last scandal if you don't remember, and this will make everything worse. Plus, some lawyer will see her case on TV and make sure to help her out, making absolute hell for us."

I hadn't even considered going to anyone not involved with the university, but it made perfect sense. I wasn't sure what this Mr. Haryse was doing, but I did know that he was helping me, which was a very good thing.

The rest to the story isn't of that much importance. The university ended giving us more money than I had ever dreamed of as long as we didn't press charges.

Mr. Haryse did follow me home one time, and after seeing where I lived, moved my whole family to his house. It turned out that he was extremely rich, and had built it up from almost nothing. I was angry that he had followed me, but he helped my family greatly, and back then that was all I cared about.

His wife, though, is…

Aw, screw being courteous. It's a diary, for Maiden's sake! Teodorie Haryse is a bitch to me.

When we moved into their house, everyone was really little, 'cept me. That's probably why they did what she told them more than I did. I did do whatever Mr. Haryse asked of me, though.

Not long after we moved in, I was getting really down. With so much care now, I didn't need to take care of everyone. I became depressed and angry, not good for a girl of so few years. Mr. Haryse noticed when no one else, not even my own family, did. He was the one who showed me sports, especially swimming.

Wait, I was talking about my first day, wasn't I?

Matthias (Mattes) Tunstall and Clara (Clary) Goodwin are the two greatest swimmers in the school, and each has won nationals multiple times. Just thinking about them makes me want to go out and train harder.

Coach Ahuda, after warm-ups were over, turned us girls over to Goodwin and the boys over to Tunstall.

"All right. You lot, listen up. I did not volunteer for this position, I was assigned. If you're going to wimp out, do it now and let me go practice for the national team. If you think that you've got what it takes to stay, then hear this: Speak to me only when necessary, do as I say, practice.

"You have signed up to be on one of the best teams in the country. As soon as you did, you gave up your free time. You gave up doing things that most of those around you will do. If it will affect your swimming in any way except for the better, then you had better not do it. Am I making myself clear?" We nodded, most too scared to speak.

"You can check online for the most recent schedules, others will be posted at various spots. We are not here to have fun, we are here to swim."

After we did even more laps, we were sent home. In the locker rooms, Verene imitated Goodwin. Others laughed, but I stayed silent. In Mr. Haryse's house, I've heard wondrous things about she and Tunstall, and once I saw her in a competition. I hope that I can be as good as she is.


I know now that I'll never be near as good as Goodwin is.

She picked out a few girls from the lot, me being one of them, and made us each demonstrate a different stroke in each lane. I was first with the breaststroke.

I started off well enough, but I suppose I became a tad bit too comfortable in the stroke, for when it was time to flip, I kept on swimming.

I kept going right into the wall. Immediately, everyone laughed. Everyone, that is, except Goodwin. When I looked up at her, she was giving me a lethal glare.

Mithros, was I embarrassed! And in pain. (Ow, I barely touched the lump on my head, and it sent a fresh wave of pain.)

If my writing seems to start and stop, it's because I keep checking for someone to talk to me on my computer. It's sort of a weird thing, really. The first day of high school, I was suddenly a member of this online chat site, a screen name already assigned to me. As if that wasn't odd enough, I can only go into this one chat room where I've only met one other person.

His screen name is Pounce, and although I've never found out who he was, he seems to know everything about me.

He even gave me a kitten for a present when I won my first regionals years ago. This was what he wrote when I got on today:

Pounce: So today you started practice for real.

BekaTerrier: Don't even get me started.

Pounce: Are you still upset about that? You ran into the wall, so what?

BekaTerrier: Says the person that doesn't have to face the whole swim team tomorrow. People were already coming up with stupid nicknames for me when I left the locker rooms.

BekaTerrier: Pounce? You there?

Pounce: Sorry, I have to go. Just remember, it was only one blunder; you'll do well, I know it.

Weird, huh?

I'm just going to go take a hot bath and go to bed. Maybe, if I'm lucky, this day will have just been a dream.