It was a unique combination of character in our dorm in hall 37. Not
all of us were the same, and none of us had anything in common,
other than we were in the same hall and we were all struggling with
There was Caroline Kingett, a struggling actress who had been in a
few of those 10-cent sitcoms and claimed to have been an extra in a
Mel Gibson movie.
There was Kevin Holiday, who was the comedian and was a tech-
expert and could work any electronic in seconds.
There was Stacey Miller who is the best chef in the world and
is trying to cook for the President of the United States.
There was Jesse McCartney, a singer from the hit group Dream Street
who was finishing up his last year of college.
And then there was me, the struggling writer and ichthyologist.
As I said, we were a unique bunch. It was the first day back from
our long summer. I knew Kevin and Stacey, and was overexcited
when I learned we were all in the same hallway. Kevin set up his
camp in the room across from Stacey and I, and had all his big gadgets
set up first. I walked in on him setting up his stereo system.
“Need any help?”
“Nah thanks though. I got it.”
“So… you brought your stereo, your computer-”
“With unlimited internet access!”
“-with unlimited internet access, your guitar and microphone,
and your TV.”
“Don’t forget the DVD player!”
“Of course!” I put a hand to my forehead sarcastically.
“How could I forget the DVD player?”
“Do you need any help?”
“No, thank you though, Stayce is setting up her stuff but I have
“Well I’ll help you then.” Kevin put his headphones down and
got up out of his roller chair. He left his room and walked right
across the hall into mine. I was left standing in the doorway.
“UGH! KEVIN!” I sighed and stayed in his doorway. I looked down
the hall to see if anyone had seen my tantrum. There was a
single boy with five suitcases struggling down the hallway.
“Need any help?” I called. He looked up and smiled
and I swear that I had seen him before.
“Yeah, thanks.” His voice, I knew I had heard it before too,
but I ran down the hall and grabbed two suitcases out of his hands.
“Wow, thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome. Do you have a place to stay yet?”
“Do you have a room?”
“Oh, no I don’t. Do you know of one?”
“Hey Kevin!” I called down the hallway. He poked his head out
of my door. “I found you a roommate!”
“Cool. Make him welcome.” He went back to his work. I turned
back to look at this new person.
“That was Kevin. I am Venity. And your name is…?”
“Jesse. McCartney.” I shook Jesse’s hand.
“I knew it!”
“You! You’re from Dream Street! I knew it!”
“Yeah, well, the guys are all taking a break for a change while
I finish my last semester.”
“But the year just started, what do you mean ‘last semester’?”
“Well, I didn’t pass last year so the music company said all
I had to do was pass one more semester and I could graduate
so if I pass first semester then I can join the guys and we
can start our tour again. All the other guys are out of college,
so I am the only one left.” By this time we had gotten to Kevin’s
room and Kevin also had his disco ball in place as well as
his seven lava lamps. “Oh cool.” Jesse just stared around the
room in awe.
“Yeah, Kevin is a technicians expert. He can fix or figure out
just about any gadget on planet Earth.”
“I am beginning to like this Kevin.”
“Well, once you get to know him, he isn’t half bad. I live
across the hall, so if you need anything, you know where I am.”
“I didn’t catch your last name.”
“Venity Hall. That’s pretty. It has a certain ring to it.”
“Thank you, but all my friends call me Ven for short.”
“I like Venity. I don’t think I have ever heard that name before.”
“Join the club, but I have to unpack. Don’t touch Kevin’s
stereo or computer and you’ll be okay. I’m across the hall.”
I left Jesse alone in the tech-ed room… alone. It may
have been a mistake, but he didn’t break anything so I assume
everything was fine in there. I walked into my room to see Kevin
tacking away at my laptop. “Um, Kevin, what are you doing?”
“Your computer said ‘WARNING: SHUTTING DOWN’ so I saved it.”
“You dork! For an electric expert you don’t know a lot about
computers! I was shutting it down! It is supposed to do that!”
Kevin was about to say something, but he held it in. He put
my little computer down and walked across the hall to meet his
new dorm mate. Ten seconds after he left, Stacey and I cracked
up into laughter. “Okay, you unpacked?”
“Yea, I’ll go and check downstairs if anyone needs a room.”
“Okay, but only the good ones!” Stacey swung out our doorframe.
“I only pick the good ones!” I heard her soft footsteps
pad their way down the hallway. I shook my head and started
up my computer that Kevin had crashed. I placed it on my wide
dresser that currently held a few pictures and a jewelry
box. I pulled my brown hair back in a ponytail and put away
some of the clothes from my suitcase, which I put in the top
of the closet when it was empty. I periodically checked
on my computer, uploading a few things here and deleting
a few things there.
I got all my shark books out and put them on the shelves
surrounding the dresser while I tacked up my posters of sharks
and divers. Sharks were always an obsession of mine and that
was my current flow of study. I was working toward my PHD in
ichthyology and a degree in marine biology, a lot for one year.
I heard two people exit the elevator and walk down the hall.
I stuck my head out to see Stacey and a tall, thin, blonde girl.
“Ven, meet Caroline. Caroline is an actress and works at a
nearby restaurant. Caroline, this is Venity who is an ichthy-
ologist and marine biologist. She studies sharks for a living.”
“Thank you for that glorious introduction Stacey.” Her voice
was broad and clear. We shook hands.
“So, you’re an actress, huh? Would I have seen you in anything?”
“Well I did a few episodes of Soap Talk and was an extra
in The Million Dollar Hotel.”
“Hey, isn’t that a Mel Gibson Movie?” I asked.
“Yep. I actually got to meet him! Isn’t that exciting? I love
acting!” We helped Caroline get unpacked and we met up with Kevin
and Jesse for dinner, courtesy of Stacey, in our room. It was
her famous fajita night and everyone loved it! It was actually
a good first night.
The party moved to Kevin’s room with all his cool techno
gadgets. I stayed behind and did some paperwork and research.
I had to fill out a term paper about Hammerhead Sharks as an
opening for a position under a real PHD. I began my research.
My fingers began to type away in the solitude of my room. "The
Great hammerhead has a weird name for a weird shark. The scien-
tific name for it is Sphyrna mokarran. If a lot of fish or
sharks are in a group it's called a school. Great hammer-
heads swim together in schools with other hammerheads such as
Bonnet heads. A young hammerhead is called a pup.” I read
aloud and jotted down notes as I went from page to page.
It was all useless information that I had read before,
but I needed every scrap of information I could find for this
essay. I heard a knock at my door. I looked up and saw Jesse
standing in the doorframe. “Oh, hi.”
“Why aren’t you at the party?”
“Oh this stupid entrance essay that I have to write.”
I set down my reading glasses and moved my hands over my
sore neck. Jesse came over and sat down next to me.
“Here, allow me.” He began to rub my neck to relieve the pain.
“Oh thank you.” This felt very awkward to me, that a pop star
with millions of dollars and millions of fans was rubbing
“You know, you never told me what field of study you were going into.”
“Can’t you tell?” He looked around the room and then at the
“Yep.” I heaved a dejected sigh. “It is long, hard work,
but it is worth every minute of it. I love it too much that I’d miss it if I gave it up.”
“I wish I had your dedication.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, singers have to love it too. I loved it when I was little,
like fifteen. I loved all the attention and all the fame.
But now it is so boring and it is all routine. There is no
fun in it anymore.”
“But if you truly love it, then it wouldn’t matter very
much because to you singing is a passion and without it
life would be a bottomless void.”
“Are you a writer too?"
“Well, um, yes. That was my second field of study if ichthy-
ology fails. I love writing and I used to write all these
little stories as a kid.”
“Really? What about?”
“Well, I think one was about you.”
“When you guys first became famous in 2001, I saw you, 13 years
old, and singing on TV. It was very inspiring to a lot of people,
“Wow, I never thought about that.” There was a long silence.
“Well, I had better get back to my work. This essay means
the difference between achieving my PHD or not.”
“Well you are a writer and an ichthyologist, so it should
come easy. You are writing about sharks.” I smiled, thanked
him for the neck rub, and he left. I sighed and stared into
the void of my room for a while, but then I snapped myself
into reality and got back to my antagonizing work. I began
to sing softly to myself as my fingers tapped away on my
little laptop, searching for information about hammer-
“Ven! Ven wake up! Class!” I opened my eyes, staring into a
black screen. I sat up, feeling my back crack. I was in the
clothes I was in last night, my glasses still on my face.
I looked around. I realized I had fallen asleep while doing
my report. I sighed. “Venity, you are going to miss your class!”
“What? What time is it?”
“Eight thirty! If you don’t hurry, you’ll never make your nine o’clock class!”
“What’s at nine o’clock?” I sat up, casually rubbing my back.
“Mr. Hertthorb’s physics class in building 7!” My eyes snapped awake.
“Lay out my books! I’ll do my hair.” I grabbed for a brush and pulled my hair back very fast.
“What about your clothes?”
“Oh I don’t care I’ll live. Thank you Stayce I owe you one!
See you at noon!” I grabbed my books from the bed and bolted
out of my room.
“Ven! Where are you going?”
“No time Kevin! See you at noon! Ask Stayce!” I
skidded down the hallway and got into the open elevator.
I caught my breath on my way down to the lobby. “Eight thirty-
five.” I jumped in place impatiently. As the doors opened,
I ran out and into the lobby. “Heather, can I borrow your bike?
I’ll return it at noon!”
“Be back before one. I need it for biology!” I ran through
the doors, hopped onto the blue bike and pedaled down the street,
no helmet, books under my arm. I got to my class, thankfully,
as the last person, but I wasn’t late.
“Well class,” began Mr. Hertthorb, “I hope you all get it
into your head that you are not here to play.” I saw a few
students sink into their seats. “This year is going to be hard
work and dedication, no exceptions or get out.” I saw a few
students reach for their books. “I am going to hand out a layout of what we will be covering, when,
and major assignments. I expect there will be no
confusion.” I raised my hand. “Yes?”
“Mr. Hertthorb, if I may inquire, why would you have major
assignments on the hand-out? Wouldn’t we just be able to do
them now and then not have to do any work for the rest of the
year?” There was a hushed giggle from around the class.
“Well, it seems that every year I have an insubord-
inate student. What is your name?”
“Venity Sir? Tell me, Venity Sir, why is your name not on the
“Because ‘Sir’ is not my last name.”
“Then what is it, Venity Sir?” He giggled at his own joke.
I stared at him with hate, grabbed my books and walked down to
the Teacher’s platform.
“Because I am no longer your student, Mr. Hertthorb.”
I marched out of his class, head high, and books under arm.
As I heard the classroom door close behind me, I sat down
on a bench, head dangled and depressed. I tried to control
my breathing, but I almost let a few tears run down my face.
It was the first time in six years that I had ever quit
“Venity?” I looked up to locate the voice.
“Ven, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, a misunderstanding of classes. Why are you here?”
“I am taking herbal biology across the hall in five minutes.
Do you want to join me?”
“Thanks, but no, I have to go back to the dorm. There is this
paper I need to write for one of my classes.”
“Are you off the rest of the day?”
“Well, no, I have an ‘S.O.S.’ meeting at seven, but I’m free
“Well, maybe we can go get a milkshake or something.”
“Well, I have to get to my class. See you at one!”
“Bye.” I watched her go into her class then left myself.
I slowly rode the bike back to the dorm and parked it back
where Heather left it. I trudged inside, slugged myself
into the elevator, and snailed my way down hall 37. I opened
the door to my room and slowly walked through. It was 9:43
when I walked in. I shut the door, dropped my books on the
floor, then flopped myself down, face first, onto my bed.
I noticed something different. I looked up and saw the whole
room was clean. All beds were made, the shelves were organized,
and everything was so clean. I sighed and put my face down
on the bed again. I heard the door creak open behind me.
“Don’t come in, please.” I said, muffled by the sheets.
“What happened? I thought you had a class.” I opened my eyes
and turned around.
“Jesse? I thought you had a class.”
“No, I’m free all day, except for this class I have at seven.
I thought you had a class.”
“Well I did, until I quit it.”
“What? What about dedication?”
“I have no dedication to an overweight, balding, old man who
treats me like dirt and mocks me at every turn. I will not
stand for such mistreatment and I won’t tolerate it! I’d
quit!” To my surprise, Jesse stood there, but he slowly
moved toward me, and slid next to me on my bed. He took
his hand and put it to my cheek, softly. He leaned a little
closer, a little closer…
“Ven? Jessie?… VEN! JESSE!” We looked up to see Stacey
standing in the doorway. “What the he-“
“Stacey… I… I quit! I quit physics with Mr. Hertthorb! He
treated me like dirt and now I don’t have a physics class.”
Her expression changed from anger to concern.
“What? You? You quit? Why?”
I got up from my bed and took Stacey’s hands. “Because he treat-
ed me like crap and mocked me. You know I hate it when people
do that to me.”
“You haven’t quit a class since the 10th grade!”
“I know. I know, but I won’t stand to be in his class anymore.”
“Oh Ven!” She hugged me for a while then let go. “Okay… okay…”
“Stayce, are you okay? You are taking this worse than I am.
It’s just a class! And it isn’t even mandatory to my career!
Calm down!” She nodded. It was kind of awkward for a while,
and then Stacey looked at her watch.
“Oh dear, I have to go. I promised someone I’d meet them
somewhere so I have to go.” She started backing out of the
doorway. “I’ll see you guys later then. Bye!”
“She is so weird.” I said, watching the empty door. Jesse
was still on the bed and I was about to join him but I heard
a jingle from my computer. I walked over to check it out.
“What is it?” asked Jesse.
“It’s an IM from Kevin.”
“What does it say?” I began to type back to him, pushed
enter, then waited a few seconds. I suddenly burst out laughing.
“What?” asked Jesse. “What did he say?”
“He said… he was going to be gone a while, but he left a camera
in his room, just to make sure you didn’t touch anything.”
I explained to Jesse as I typed back to Kevin. I waited
for a reply. “Okay, he said he was going to get in trouble
if he didn’t go so he left. Bye Kevin!” and I waved bye to
the computer screen.
“You are the one who has lost it!”
“I know…” I killed the IM window and was about to shut down the
computer when I remembered something. “Oh! I have to do some
research on my essay!”
“Don’t you know a lot about Hammerheads already?” asked
Jesse, getting up and coming towards me. He sat down on the
edge of the bed, behind me, where I was planted at the desk.
“Yeah, but I have to have proof that I actually got the
information from somewhere and not just made up stuff like
we did in high school.” I got back to ticking away at my trusty
laptop and I didn’t hear Jesse move around or anything.
“Look, if you want to stay here, you could just ask. I know I
wouldn’t want to stay in a room with a camera in it.”
“You would let me?”
“Sure. I got a bunch of stuff to read over on the book-
shelf.” He got up and began to read the titles. He was amazed
at the two shelves being taken up by just shark books. One
held dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, and research
books. Another two held all of Stacey’s cookbooks and referen-
ces. Three held all of Caroline’s books, which were of celebrities,
modeling, hair, makeup, fashion and magazines. Then, the last
shelf was devoted entirely to the stories I had written
throughout my life.
Jesse picked one up and read the title aloud:
“Involuntary Tears. Written by Venity Hall in 2001. Wow.”
I turned around in my chair. "That's a very dramatic title."
“It was my first drama novel.”
“My first loss of love.” I turned my face down to the computer
keys. Memories flooded back into my rusty memory of my inspira-
tion of that book. It hurt. Jesse could see that it did
and he walked over to me and put an arm over my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to remember.”
“That’s okay. It wasn’t meant to happen. But that’s okay.”
I perked up my head and I was cheerful again. “I got a lot
of poetry during it and a great story after it. You can
read it if you want to.” Jesse looked at me rather strangely.
“How did you do that?”
“Be so sad and hurt one moment and then so perky and happy
“Oh, just a little trait I picked up over time.” Jesse went
back to looking at my stories while I resumed my Hammer-
head search. He was quiet for a long time. I heard him pull
things off the shelf, flip through a few pages, then put it
back. Some he read in their entirety. I heard him burst
out in laughter every so often, then sniff back a tear after
a few more pages.
“You’ve been hurt a lot, haven’t you?” he asked. My eyes
left the small screen and stared forward. Then I turned
around to look at him.
“What do you mean?”
“If you write about your life and experiences, then you have
been hurt a lot.”
“Yes, I have. But it has already happened and if you can’t
change it then why worry about it? Its not like I am the
only person who has had these things happen to them.” Jesse
came over and crouched down next to me.
“You are the most inspiring person I have ever met.” I looked
at him for a moment, curious what he was getting at. “I
have never met anyone like you at all. With all the
girls I meet, and please trust me I know a lot, you are
the only person to ever pick yourself up after every fall
and still go at it with your whole heart. You have your
whole life so organized and planned out and yet it never
seems to go the way you want it to and you expect that.
You take the fall, then get up and do it again, and all
the people that make it even harder for you are still there,
but you don’t care. That is true dedication and I have never…
ever… met anyone like you at all.”
“Thank you for that wonderful insight, but now that you
have had an opportunity to look through a window into my
life, you can weave it into a song and you can sing it.”
I saw a spark in Jesse’s eyes at that moment and he was
about to get up and run out the door when I held him for a
moment by his shirtsleeve. “Write it true. Write it well.”
He smiled and ran across the hallway and locked himself
in his room. I know because I heard it click.
I found myself staring at the door, smiling like a five-
year-old. I snapped into reality and continued my work.
I heard a guitar from across the hallway and a beautiful
voice singing words of my past. I began to type my infor-
mation up on a Microsoft Word Document, hearing my life
being played across the hall. I wove and interlaced the
words in paragraph upon paragraph of hammerhead sharks.
I was on page seven when I heard the guitar stop and the
door open. “Ven?” he called.
“What rhymes with ‘me’? Oh, and please don’t tell me ‘tree’.”
“Oh honestly!” I got up and walked across the hall to meet
him at his door. “Let me see what you have so far.” He handed
me a scrap of paper with scribbles and erase marks and lines
scratched out and edited. “Let me give you a tip: as a good
writer, I never write it out first. I just write what is on
my mind, scribbling out everything that flows through my
head. I never erase or cross out anything, even miss-
pelled words or bad punctuation. You just let it all out.”
“I can’t pick it back up.” He said dejectedly.
“My inspiration is lost. I had it when I was reading your
stories, but now I’ve lost it.” I paused and stared into
his eyes that were filled with hopelessness. I put one of
my long and thin hands to his cheek. I leaned in quickly
and kissed him, but held it there for a while. I let go
and dropped my hand. He stared off for a while, smiled,
and closed his door. I smiled just standing in front of his
door. I turned around and put my back against it. I heard
pencil scribbling against the paper and I knew my story
I stayed there for a while, my back to the door. Suddenly
I remembered something from a long time ago and I put a hand
on either side of my head. I had to make it stop. I closed
my eyes and clenched my teeth and chanted softly, “No, no…
it can’t be like this… stop, it won’t be like this…”
“Venity?” I looked down the empty hall.
“Girl, what’s wrong? Did Jesse do something…”
“No. No it wasn’t him, it was me.” Stacey led me into our room
and sat me down on my bed.
“I know what you are thinking.” Said Stacey. I looked at her.
“There have only been two occasions when you are like this,
and both of them were for the same reasons.”
“No. I know you are afraid of it, and what happened with
Matt. But have to open yourself up otherwise it’ll never
happen again. I know you don’t ever want it to happen again,
but you really should open yourself up to him.”
“But Stayce, I can’t do it. What happened with Matt, I’ll
never forget it, but for all the wrong reasons. It hurts
too much to try it again. I can’t love him.”
“But deep down, you do.”
“Don’t tell him.”
It was ten o’clock and Jesse and I both walked down the streets
to our dorm from night classes. “Did you ever finish your
song?” I asked.
“I’m partly done, do you want to hear it?”
“Sure.” He sat me down on a bench and took out a folded
piece of paper.
“Love is like a bird… love needs to fly, to fly away. But
nothing like the bird I found… today. She lies trapped in her
own prison her cold and dark fate arisen. But she does not lie
there, hoping to die, she has her angel wings and is learning
to fly. My angel… my angel… risen from heaven, born into
hell, but you fly… still you fly… away with the key to my heart.”
He paused, indicating there was to be a musical part there.
Then he resumed his song. “If I ever loose you, my angel,
my heart will be broken. To you life is freedom, spread
wide and open. You are an angel filling the sky with love,
flying on white wings, beside you, the dove. My angel… my angel…
risen from heaven, born into hell, but you fly… still you fly…
away with the key to my heart.” He stopped. “That’s all I
have so far.”
“That is absolutely beautiful Jesse. I never thought anything
so beautiful could be inspired by me.”
“You are a wonderful inspiration and I never could have
asked for a better one.”
“Actually, not so much me, but you are one. You are truly
inspiring to a writer.” He paused, looking confused.
“I have heard that before.” He said. “I know I have!” I looked
away, blushing. I could see the wheels turning inside his head,
thinking of when he heard that. “I knew I heard it before…
I knew…” He looked up. “It was you, wasn’t it? You were
the one who said that to me! You… you…”
“Yes, it was me. Think January 2002… Fairfax, VA, think
after your concert…”
“You came up to me and said that! It was backstage after
the concert and you took one of my hands and said ‘You are
truly inspiring to a writer’. I remember! Why did you do that?”
“Well, I kind of felt like you needed to know. You were
very inspiring when you were fourteen.”
“Thank you, you are very inspiring now.” There was a long,
awkward silence, but it didn’t really seem to matter. We just
stared into each other’s eyes like we had known each other
for years. He began to lean… I began to lean… we met in a
kiss that, I swear, was the most thrilling of all the others
I had ever experienced. I felt myself swell with pride and
excitement and when I let go, I could only fall into the
trap of Jesse’s green eyes.
It was dark and cold outside and a gust of wind blew harshly
and sent a chill up my spine. “Are you cold?” asked Jesse.
He took me up in his arms and held me very close. He was
very warm and the feeling that came over me cannot be put
into words and have it be explained properly. It felt… right.
It felt like that, out of all the thousands of places on earth,
was the one spot that was right and that I belonged. Suddenly,
it began to rain.
We both looked up at the sky, then at each other and burst
out laughing. Jesse began to run towards the dorm, but I held
him back and stayed in the rain. Somewhere in the distance,
we heard a song play, and I pulled him over to dance. My hand
intertwined with his, and I was pulled close to him. I felt
his heart beating in his chest, and even though it was raining,
we were warm. In the rain, in the park, in San Francisco
California, I danced with the youngest member of Dream Street.
My spirit was flying, and I was dancing in a dream… I was
dancing with Dream Street.
©2002 Laura McGrath
Back to Fan Fiction ~ Back Home
yay! i am finally done w/ my first mini novel with a celebrity! (you must be thinking 'god if this is mini, i am never reading her long novels!!') i have tried all these others with all these other celebs, but this is by far the best one i have come up with. Maybe it took that little bit of the person being my age! ^^