Brace yourselves, people, this is a long chapter.
Chapter Ten – Rebel
A week goes by, during which Xavier is absent from school because he’s away at rowing camp. Bethany’s relieved by this since she can avoid the awkwardness of telling why she won’t go out with him. I’m relieved because hopefully we’ll be spared more of the over-detailed descriptions of his ‘nutmeg hair and limpid blue eyes’.
It’s lunchtime and Bethany, Molly, and Molly’s friends (who are all pretty much identical in dialogue and mannerisms and distinguishable only by name) are sunbathing and talking about the prom. Like, omigawsh.
They talk about dresses and limos and dates and so on. Bethany isn’t impressed.
It baffled me that they could discuss in such detail an event that was so far away, but I refrained from commenting. I doubted my input would be appreciated.
The conversation became so banal that I needed an escape
You know, if these people get on your nerves so much, why do you hang around with them? Most of Beth’s inner monologue betrays a certain snide disapproval of the other girls (and other people, like the neighbour). It’s a problem with first person perspective. I think the author’s trying to make Bethany look good by making a comparison to these silly shallow girls, but since it’s all described from Bethany’s POV, it means she is actively comparing herself to those she meets, and also only picking up on the negative aspects of their personalities. Which makes her seem like the shallow one, and nastily judgemental to boot.
Anyway, she goes off to find Gabriel in the school’s music wing. He’s teaching the choir hymns. And then there’s another time skip, to the end of the week. So what was the point of the last five pages???
And the rowing team has returned. Bethany doesn’t see Xavier, but he leaves a note in her locker.
In case you change your mind, I’ll be at the Mercury Cinema at 9pm on Saturday.
I read it several times. Even via a piece of paper, Xavier managed to have the same dizzying effect on me I handled the note as delicately as if it were an ancient relic. He wasn’t easily deterred; I liked that about him. So this, I thought, is what it feels like to be pursued.
Hey, Bethany, you remember when you angsted a lot and then decided you should stay away from Xavier? And the whole nightmare about falling and going to Hell? You know, last chapter?
I can’t get WordPress to post it halfway through the video, so just go to 0:39. And that is just the kind of blank expression I imagine Bethany having throughout this book.
She doesn’t tell Ivy and Gabriel about it, although as Saturday approaches she ‘wrestles with her conscience’ some more. But then…
By five minutes to nine, all I could think of was him waiting for me, the minutes ticking by. I visualised the moment when he realised I wasn’t coming. In my mind’s eye I saw him shrug his shoulders, walk out the cinema and go on with his life. The pain of this thought proved too much; and before I knew it, I had grabbed my purse, pulled the balcony doors open, and was climbing down the lattice to the garden below.
She runs to the cinema. Xavier is still waiting outside, though the film has already started. He invites her to go for coffee instead. And the waitress gives him a flirtatious smile, because of course he is desired by all females.
They talk. Bethany won’t say much about herself, so most of it is Xavier talking about himself. It boils down to: he’s from a large family, he’s a Christian, and his parents want him to be a doctor, even though he doesn’t seem wild about the idea. Bethany makes the comparison between his situation of him being guided by his parents’ expectations, and her own of being a servant of Heaven. I think you’re stretching a bit there, Beth.
It was only once we were outside that I realised the time.
“I know, it’s late,” Xavier said, reading my face. “But how about a short walk? I’m not ready to take you home yet.”
This may just come from me reading too many Fifty Shades sporkings, but that last sentence sounds just a bit creepy to me.
But of course Bethany is just too happy to do whatever he wants, because he is her personal brand of heroin ( but seriously, the way she talks about being near and away from him does sound like addiction. They walk along the beach and see a travelling carnival setting up in the distance. It’s closed, but they meet a woman who offers to give them a load of poorly delivered character exposition read their fortunes.
Xavier is a romantic soul, who ‘has heroism in his blood but is also destined to experience great pain’. Bethany has an ‘amazing aura’ and an unbroken heart line, indicating she will only love once in her life. Then the fortune teller notices her lack of a life line and gets freaked out. And… scene ends. Yes. That added so much of importance.
Just a few more pages – I can do this.
Xavier takes her back to his car, a restored 1957 Chevy Bel Air which he is very fond of. He is now more fleshed out in terms of likes, dislikes and hobbies than Bethany, our protagonist.
They drive back to the angel’s house, and when they get there, they start talking about Xavier’s dead girlfriend, because that’s not at all a weird topic to discuss on a first date.
“I get the same feeling when I’m around you that I used to have with her.”
“What sort of feeling?
“Sometimes you meet a person and you just click – you’re comfortable with them, like you’ve known them your whole life and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone of anything.”
And then they finish off by talking about faith, because he believes in a ‘higher power’ and that makes Bethany happy.
End of chapter!
Next chapter, sappiness