Excerpt for Blue Checkerboard Scarf by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Blue Checkerboard Scarf

Georgia Tell

Copyright © 2017 by Georgia Tell

This is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or dead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.

ISBN 978-0-9995788-2-7

Published by Blue Hair Books

Visit author’s website: www.GeorgiaTell.com

Follow author on Twitter: @GeorgiaTell

Odette watched her friend work magic.

Rena held the two needles in her forefingers and thumbs, near the tips. She brought the pale blue yarn back and forth. Her pattern was a checkerboard scarf. Five purl stitches, then five knit stitches, five purl, five knit, then start a new row and repeat backwards.

“So, how are things going with Anna?” Rena asked, not taking her eyes off the needles.

Odette shifted on the gray couch, putting her legs under her bottom. “Good. What about you and Michael?”

“The same.”

“Good all around, then.”

“Yep,” Rena answered. She finished up the row, and stuck the needles into the skein of yarn. The scarf was a foot long. “You wanna eat? I bet my mom already started cooking up the steak.” She didn’t bother to wait for Odette’s answer. “We should do our homework after, or…maybe not.” She raised her brows mischievously. 

Odette giggled, thinking of their uptight biology teacher. “I can see Mr. Williston’s face, if we don’t.” She curved the edges of her mouth down, and parted her lips. Her right eye twitched.

Rena’s already huge blue eyes widened. She snorted. “Better not let him see that face”

Odette smiled, then blushed, looking down, her dark brown shoulder length hair falling into her face. “I’ve been practicing in the mirror.”

Rena shoved Odette playfully. “Only you, only you!”


Anna smiled. Her blue-green eyes seemed watery. Her straight black hair was pulled back in a long ponytail.

Odette knew something wasn’t right. She stepped up and sat down at the table anyway. She looked around.

The bright restaurant was bustling. Three tables down, a local high school baseball team shouted and cheered about their victory against the Polk Pioneers. One waitress seemed to be serving everyone. Her frizzy red hair sprung out in all directions as she balanced soup and spaghetti on the same arm.

Odette turned back to Anna. “You look really pretty,” Odette said.

“Thanks. I—”

“Did you do something special with your hair?”

“Yeah, I got a new shampoo. We need—”

Odette interrupted again. Her stomach tightened. She didn’t want to hear the rest of the sentence. She avoided Anna’s eyes. “This place is nice, isn’t it?”

“Please stop,” Anna said. 

Odette cringed. She asked the question she didn’t want to be answered. “Why?”

Anna didn’t have a chance to answer. Just then, another waiter appeared and belted out, “Good evening, ladies! I’ll be your waiter for tonight. Would you like a few more minutes or are you ready now?”

“I’m not having anything,” Anna said. She stared at the table.

Odette’s heart tightened. Anna always ate, every time they went out. Odette opened her mouth and panicked. She looked at the waiter. He smiled expectantly at her. She didn’t answer. She’s not eating. She’s not eating. She’s not eating, she thought.

“Okay, I’ll give you a few more minutes.”

“Thanks,” Anna mumbled. He left. “Odette, it’s not working out.”

Odette’s dark brown eyes widened. She knew it. 

“I’m just not happy anymore.”

Her nose started to sting. Her eyes watered. She stopped listening.

“I don’t think we should go out anymore… We shouldn’t be together…. It’s not working out.”

The phrases pounded into Odette’s chest. She couldn’t even hear the stupid explanations in between those heavy words.

She didn’t answer. She just stared at Anna’s hands tearing her napkin. They seemed almost disembodied from Anna. The rest of her wasn’t moving. 

“Odette, do you understand me?”

The hands stopped. She looked up at Anna’s mouth. It was slightly parted. It started moving again.

“Are you listening to me?”

Odette looked up to Anna’s eyes. Her stomach fell from her perception. “We’re breaking up?”



“I’m not happy anymore.” Anna stood up. “I’m really sorry. I really like you, but it’s just not right.” She put her hands flat on the table and looked at Odette in the eyes. She looked away and left. 

Odette sat frozen at the table. 


When Rena’s mom answered the door, Rena sat comfortably on the couch, knitting. She patted the spot next to her and smiled softly at Odette.

Odette sat stiffly, and Rena worked magic. “What happened?” 

“She said it wouldn’t work out.”


“It just won’t.”

“C’mon, tell me.”


Rena breathed and began a new row. She thought about what she could do. She continued knitting for several silent minutes. “You wanna try?” She proffered her needles. 

Odette looked at her, raising her brows.

“Trust me, it’s fun.”

Odette shrugged, unsure, and took them slowly. 

“It’s simple.”

“What is?”

“Everything.” She slid the needles in Odette’s hands until her fingers were near the tips. “Hold it like this. Or something similar, if it doesn’t feel quite right.”

Odette fumbled with the needles a bit, rearranging her fingers. “It still feels weird, but better.”

“That’s fine, then. It always feels kinda weird to start.”

Odette frowned. She wrinkled her forehead. “‘Kay.” She lifted her shoulders and let them fall. “Now what?”

“First, the knit stitch. See the first loop?” She pointed to the loop on the needle in Odette’s left hand. “This loop is basically God.”

Odette smiled, half-heartedly.

“Nevermind, but it’s true. The first loop on this needle is always the one you work with, but it changes every stitch. So, the position of first loop is important. Anyway, you stick this needle through the loop.” She grabbed the needle in Odette’s right hand, and stuck it through the loop. “Then you wrap the yarn around once, and pull it back out. Try it.”

Odette’s eyebrows snapped together. She tried for several minutes. Rena waited, staring at her hands. Finally, Odette shrieked. “I got it!

“Good, now slide it off the first loop. Yes, now, on to the next one.”

Rena helped and gave her expertise for the next four stitches. Then, she explained the purl stitch. Odette worked through those stitches and Rena watched.

“What exactly did she say?”

Odette twitched, but continued knitting. “Uh,” she blinked hard. “Uh, she said, uh, that it wasn’t working out.”

“What else did she say?”

“Uhhhhh, she’s not, uh, happy.”


“She—I…I don’t know.”

“Then, maybe you should ask.”

Odette stared harder at the knitting. 

Rena put her arm around Odette’s arms, leaning her head against Odette’s shoulder. “Your knitting’s so tight.” 

“It is?”


“Is that good?”

“Yeah, it means you’re very…uh, precise. At least, I think it’s better than being too loose when you start, ‘cause there’s less chance that you’ll mess up. Since the yarn doesn’t snag and the loops get hard to tell apart, y’know.” Rena sat straight up again. “I’m gonna go get some coke. Do you want some?”

Odette looked up and moved her bottom jaw forward. “Uhhhh, no.”

Rena messed around the kitchen, as Odette finished her first row. 


Rena sat at the kitchen table by herself with a bowl of carrots. All her papers and books from school were spread out all over the table. She hunched over her map of the Middle East. Her history teacher was making them memorize all the capitals and countries. Jordan, Amman. Sudan, Khartoum. Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. She went on and said each out loud three times to help her memorize them. In between words, she took loud munches from the carrots.

Her mom came into the bright kitchen. Rena looked at her mom. She looked different. Her mom had her wavy sandy blonde hair pulled back into two short pigtails. “You cut your hair,” Rena said.

“Yeah, do you like it?”

“I guess, but why’d you cut it?”

“For some change, I suppose.” Rena’s mom leaned on the counter. “Do you think your father is going to like it?” 

Rena shrugged, trying not to think of all the arguments she’d heard from her parents’ room late at night.

“He’s not home yet.”

“Yeah, maybe he had a lot to do.”

“I’m gonna call him.” 

Rena grimaced, wanting her mom to just leave it alone. Rena looked at her for a moment. Her mom was anxious about something, but Rena went back to her work, listening to her mom’s one-sided conversation. 

“Hey, Ethan. It’s Lily…Yeah, are you coming home soon? …No, nothing wrong. It’s just a little late…No, but I was just wondering—…I don’t suspect you of anything! …How could you say that?!” She started to move farther out of the kitchen.

Rena squirmed. She bit her lower lip. Her mom left the room. She reached for the cordless house phone by her textbook and pressed the Talk button. A tiny bit of guilt clouded into her stomach, but she ignored it.

“Do you think I’m doing something?” her dad asked.

“No, no. I was just lonely. I just wanted you to come home.” 

“Can’t you do anything by yourself?”

“Yeah, but—”

“I have to make money for this family and all you ever want to do is spend time together.”

“We’re married, Ethan!” her mom hissed.

“We’re not honeymooning. We have a daughter to provide for! College, clothes, her future. I have to provide for that. I’m working all the time, so she and you can have a good life.”

Rena jerked and pulled the phone away from her ear. She hung up. She shut her eyes tight, trying to erase the words.

Divorce. They were going to get a divorce. She knew it. She pushed away from the table, and trudged to the couch in the living room. She turned on the TV and grabbed her knitting from under the lamp table. She switched channels until she reached the Home and Garden Network. She turned up the volume.

She started knitting. Her hands shook. The yarn trembled in her hand. She wrapped it around the needle and pulled it back through. They are going to live in different cities. I will always switch back and forth. They won’t speak to each other, Rena narrated the situation in her mind. I’ll be their little messenger boy, delivering short meaningless reminders about my dentist appointments. Rena looked up at the TV. It was a “Weekend Warriors” episode. Two kids were hammering on a piece of wood. Their father, in overalls, was carrying one end of a piece of granite. His wife was carrying the other end. Rena grimaced. She looked back at her knitting. It looked all straggly. She pulled out the row she had just done and started over. She pursed her lips and concentrated more. She gripped the needles harder. 

She did a few rows, pulling the yarn very tightly. She loosened it up for the next few. Rena looked back up at the TV. It wasn’t anything interesting. She stopped knitting and looked at what she had done. 

It looked uneven. She started to unravel it, but stopped and set it down. She knew she couldn’t do much better than that now. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed Odette’s number, breathing slowly, steadying herself as not to sound upset to Odette.

It rang and Odette picked up. “Hello?”

“Hi, Odette!” Rena chirped as best she could. It felt like a terrible lie, but she didn’t know what else to do.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I was wondering if you’d like to watch a movie at my house tomorrow night.” They talked about different movies. Odette said she would surprise her. Neither spoke for a moment, then Rena asked, “So, how are you feeling?”

“About what?”


“Oh, I’ve been trying to not think about it, y’know. But I think I’m feeling better. I mean, I was in the shower and I started to wonder why I liked Anna, right?”


“Well, I mean, it was all so superficial, y’know? It was her eyes and her hair and junk like that, so it’s kinda stupid that I’m all upset about it. We’ve only been together for a few months.” Rena heard Odette sniff on the other end. “I just don’t understand why I’m so upset. It’s like, we weren’t really together for long, and we never had one of those moments. Y’know what I’m talking about? When you feel totally and utterly happy?”


“So, it’s stupid for me to feel like crying, right? It’s just so stupid.”

“Don’t worry. I think everyone feels like crying,” Rena said, thinking about her mom. “It’s not stupid.”

“I feel like an idiot.”

“You’re not. Don’t worry.” 

They stayed silent for a second.

“Anyway, I’ll surprise you with which movie we’re gonna watch, ‘kay?”


“Hey!” Odette said brightly, when Rena answered the door. She held up and shook her favorite movie, “Gone With The Wind”.

Rena giggled. “Mammy!”

“I wanna scandal you!” Odette shrieked, and dove at Rena, arms wide.

Rena stood stiffly, smiling, as Odette squeezed her torso. She mock-gasped. “Scarlett! I’m married. We can never be together!”

“But Ashley! Oh, Ashley. How could you marry her?”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Both girls squealed. 

“Put it in! I’m gonna go get the popcorn.” Rena disappeared down the hall to the kitchen.

Odette stuck the disk into the DVD player and turned on the TV. “It’s ready!”


“Mammy! Mammy! Miss Scarlett, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthing babies!” Odette shrilled.

“Mammy!” Rena flounced into the room. 

“It ain’t fittin’! It just ain’t fittin’!” Odette dove onto the couch before Rena could sit down. She smiled up at her. “Hey, wanna have a scandal?”

Rena pursed her lips, desperately hiding her smile. “I will never be hungry again.” She dropped the bowl of popcorn onto Odette’s stomach, who grimaced. “Now move over, Prissy.” She grabbed Odette’s arm and yanked her up, but Odette didn’t budge.

Odette giggled. “I know everything ‘bout birthing babies! Mammy! Mammy!”

“SLAP!” Rena giggled, still trying to move Odette. “Okay, seriously, I’m not gonna sit on the floor.” Her mouth straightened; her forehead wrinkled.

Odette smiled showing all of her teeth. “Come lay with me.”

Rena blushed and didn’t answer.

Odette blinked and then narrowed her eyes at Rena. “I wasn’t being serious.” She huffed and scooted by wiggling her back, holding the bowl of popcorn.

They started watching, each remaining quiet. 

The movie got to one of Odette’s favorite parts; she said the lines along with the actors. Rena smiled weakly and apologetically at Odette, who returned by raising her eyebrows, but they both started shouting out any line they knew, despite it. Rena picked up her knitting left from the day before and knitted the scarf. Her knitting was more methodical than the day before. Odette asked to try again, and she knitted for a time.

The intermission came. Rena put away the scarf. Odette went and got cookies from the kitchen, saying hi to Rena’s mom. The movie resumed. The girls sat shoulder to shoulder, leaning forward, pretending Rena hadn’t said anything.

At one of the more quiet parts, Rena whispered, “My dad didn’t come home last night.”

Odette looked down at the floor, embarrassed that she was mad at Rena. “What happened?”

Rena continued staring at the screen. “They’ve been fighting.”

Odette looked back at the screen, but grabbed Rena’s hand and squeezed it.

Rena squeezed back harder. They continued watching.


Odette sat on the bus by herself. It was one of the older buses in town. The padding in some of the seats burst from the upholstery. She pressed her phone to her ear. It was ringing. Rena didn’t pick up. It went to her voicemail.

“Hey, Rena. It’s Odette. I’m on the bus right now, headed to your house. I’ll probably be there in about fifteen minutes. Well, anyways, I wanted to know if you’re gonna be able to make it to this bus. Call me back! Thanks!”

She looked out the window. The sun was shining brightly. She looked back inside to the people on the bus with her. A boy from her high school sat in front of her. An old lady sat towards the front. Both looked preoccupied, so Odette decided not to bother them. No one else on the bus seemed even remotely approachable. She sighed and stared back out the window. Suburban neighborhoods flew past her. 

Her cell phone rang. Odette flipped it open. “Hello?”

Rena said she was coming. They hung up.

Odette thought about the last time she and Rena had spent a day on the bus. They had just people-watched and giggled, sitting on the bus all day, switching buses whenever it suited them.

She rode on, waiting for Rena’s stop. Finally, the bus slowed to a stop. Odette peered out the window, preparing to wave wildly at Rena.

But instead of Rena alone, there was another person with her, a tall boy about her age with black hair and dark brown eyes, Michael. 

They stepped aboard the bus. Odette waved at them. She lifted half of her mouth into a smile and stood up, shaking hands with Michael; they had never been formally introduced, since he went to another school. Rena grinned and raised her eyebrows at Odette.

“Hey, I’m Odette,” she said, her tone low.

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry to barge in on your, uh, girls’ day. I didn’t know. I kinda just dropped by her house.” He jammed his hands into his pockets and looked at the floor of the bus. “I’m Michael, but I’m sure you already knew that.”

The bus started up again. They all jerked and scrambled to their seats.

Michael sat down first nearest the window, leaving space for Rena, but she rushed to sit in the aisle seat in the row in front of him. Odette glared at Rena and plopped down next to Michael.

Rena turned around in her seat to face her friend and boyfriend. “I hope you don’t mind that Michael came along, do you?”

Odette raised her eyebrows. “No.”

“I can leave, if you want me to.”

“No, you don’t need to leave,” Odette said. “It’s no big deal.” She looked away, out the window on the other side of the bus. 

“So, uh, what are we doing today?”

“People-watching,” Rena said.

“Oh, so, uh, that sounds, uhhhh, fun.”

“It is,” Odette said, turning to face Rena and Michael.

The bus stopped off at two more stops before any of them said anything.

“I’m gonna go home,” Odette announced suddenly.

Rena pursed her lips. “Why?’

“It’s more like a date for you two. I don’t wanna bother you guys.” She pulled the cord to request a stop and stood up, keeping her face blank.

“C’mon, Odette. Don’t be stupid. It’s not a date. We’re just hangin’ out.”

“Don’t worry. Have fun. I’ll just go home, and we’ll do it another day.”

“You know, what? I didn’t even wanna come,” Michael said. “Rena, we can talk another day.” He stood up, frowning. “Have a good time.” He stepped off the bus, giving a little half-hearted wave. Rena stared at him, frozen, surprised.

The bus started up again. Odette sat down, red-faced.

“He left.” Rena said

“I’m sorry.”

“He just left.”

“I didn’t mean to. I was gonna give you guys your privacy. I wasn’t trying to be mean.”

“How could he just leave?” Rena asked, sitting down next to Odette. “You were being nice. He didn’t even need to do that. So, why?”

“You’re not mad?”

Rena’s face fell. Her shoulders dropped. “He’s gonna break up with me.”

Odette wrinkled her forehead, confused. “I don’t think that’s what he meant—”

“That’s why he came by. That’s why he said that we could talk another time.” 

“I think you’re reading way too much into it.”

“I can’t believe he’s gonna break up with me.”


He’s going to break up with me, Rena thought. She knew it. Her stomach flipped over. Should I call? Pre-empt him? I can’t just lie here. She sat up, off her bed.

She got up and started to pace her room. What did I even do wrong? She picked up her phone, then set it back down again. She pursed her lips, trying to make a decision.


Odette typed a meaningless report about Ancient Rome for her history teacher. She couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened earlier that day. Rena was really upset, but she didn’t think she should call. Michael had just trying to be nice, leaving them on the bus. Rena had totally over-reacted, but maybe she should call, just to make sure that she didn’t do anything irrational. 

Odette knew Rena could act impulsively on rare occasions, like when they had met on the playground in fourth grade. Rena had been playing four square while Odette was walking with her friends near the fence of the school. The ball from the four square game had bounced over the fence, and Rena had run after it, bumping into Odette. She had watched as Rena scrambled over the fence, even though the yard duty was on the scene immediately, blowing her whistle furiously.

Odette grabbed her phone off the table and called Rena. It didn’t ring, but sent her straight to voicemail. Odette didn’t leave a message. She went back to her work.


Rena hung up, sniffling. Drops of salty water formed in the corners of her eyes. She’d done it. She had broken up with him. She felt like she was going to throw up.

She wiped her eyes and went in search of her mom.

She found her in the kitchen scrubbing the sink. “Hey, mom.”

“Hi, honey,” she said without turning to see Rena.

“Is Dad not home yet?”

“No,” her mom’s voice squeaked. “Honey? Do you think you might want to spend the night at Odette’s house?


Odette worked on the conclusion for her report. The clock in the den ticked endlessly. She couldn’t finish the law few sentences. Where is Anna? She thought suddenly. I’m sitting here doing homework. She’s probably out again, with someone else. How does that even happen? That I always end up alone, always?

Odette’s phone rang. She blinked and picked it up. “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s Rena. I was wondering if I could sleep over tonight.”

“Sure. What time?”

“As soon as my mom can drive me? She doesn’t want me taking the bus after dark.”

“Uh, sure, that’s fine.”

Half an hour later, Odette opened the door to see Rena and waved to Rena’s mom.

Rena dropped her stuff right inside the front door, kicked off her shoes, and led the way to the den.

“So, what’s up?” Odette asked, closing the door.

“I think my parents are going to have a big argument tonight, so my mom suggested I come here,” Rena said, her voice cracking.

“Is it getting worse, then?”


“You know you can come here anytime, right. You don’t need to call.”

“Thanks,” Rena mumbled, throwing her body onto the leather couch of Odette’s family’s den, which was unusually empty because her parents and little brother were out at a mini-golf place.

“Did you talk to Michael?” Odette sat down.


“What did he say?”

“Not really anything. I broke up with him.”

Odette’s eyes widened. “What!?”

“I broke up with him.”

“But why?”

“He was gonna dump me.”

“You’re not sure of that.”

“No, he was, he told me on the phone. He said it was a mutual ending.” Rena rubbed her eyes. Her nose turned red. “He said he was ‘sorry’.” She leaned against Odette’s shoulder.


“Yeah, I just don’t get it. It always happens to me. Everything goes well for a while, then bam! Dumped.”

“It’s not the end of the world.”

“No, it is. I’m never gonna find anyone!” She wrapped her arms around Odette’s torso.

Odette pulled out of Rena’s grasp, keeping her face solemn.

“He says he likes some other girl. Can you believe it? What a butthole.”

“Uh, yeah.”

The tears started. “What does she have that I don’t? I mean, am I that ugly? Tell me, Odette.” Rena sat up suddenly, wiping tears from her cheeks. “Am I ugly?”

“No,” Odette clenched her teeth.

“So, why doesn’t he like me? No one likes me, but you do? You like me, don’t you?” Rena looked at Odette’s lips, then her eyes.

Odette didn’t answer, averting her eyes. She inched away.

“You like me, don’t you? Don’t you?”

Odette’s pulse increased. 

Then, Rena kissed her best friend on the lips, blushing bright red.

Odette pushed her away and stood up, her hands shaking. Her lips tasted salty. “That wasn’t nice.” Her mind felt suddenly numb. She went to her room and locked the door. Rena looked after her, sitting on the couch.

Odette turned off the light and lay on her bed. She’d spent years being extra careful. She’d made sure never to make Rena feel uncomfortable in any way. She’d purposefully never memorized the lines of Rena’s face. She never talked too much about her relationships with Rena, and never in person. She’d made sure that this would never happen. She had watched her every move, careful not to let any of her feelings get in the way of their friendship.

I should have stopped her, Odette told herself. I knew it was coming. I should have stopped her. I’m an idiot. Odette blinked, big wet drops forming. She wiped them away.


Rena watched Odette leave. Her mouth was really warm. She smiled and sniffed. Her arms had goosebumps. Her head buzzed. 

She reached up and touched her lips. She smiled again, pleased.


Odette lay on her bed for an hour, staring at the wall, wiping off her face. She knew she couldn’t tell Rena to go back home, because of her parents. Odette had to come out some time, face Rena, tell her that this was no big deal. It meant nothing. She wouldn’t change. It wouldn’t happen again.

She slid off her bed and unlocked her door. She trudged down the stairs, into the dark den. The TV was on. Rena was sitting in her pajamas, knitting. She looked up at her.

“Hey,” Rena said, blushing just a little. She set her needles down.

“Hey, Rena. Uh, I hope we can still be friends. I’m sorry, uh, y’know, for not stopping you.”

Rena raised her eyebrows. “What are you talking about? I kissed you, remember?’

“I know, but it’s my fault. I’m really sorry. It won’t happern aga—”

“Why would it be your fault?”

“You weren’t thinking, I know, you were upset. It was my responsibility and I just forgot,” she lied. Her feelings had stopped her from doing anything, not forgetfulness.

“Y’know, I’ve wanted to do that for a long time, now.” Rena looked away from Odette. “I’ve just been stopping myself. It’s not your fault. I chose to do it.”

“But you were crying about Michael.”

“Yeah, but Michael and me have only been together for a month. I was more angry than anything else.”

Odette frowned. “But you don’t like girls.”

Rena shrugged. “I don’t really think that’s the point. I like you.” Rena patted the seat next to her, pushing her knitting to the floor. “Come sit.”

Odette sat, leaving about a foot of space in between them. Rena reached across, grabbing her hand. They didn’t say anything, just sat and watched the commercials.

About the Author

Georgia Tell lives in Los Angeles in a house full of animals: cats, dogs, lizards, rats and fish. When she’s not writing books, she loves to knit, crochet, and create many elaborate financial spreadsheets. She also writes poetry.


Twitter: @GeorgiaTell

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