Listen to Your Heart

Page 16


“You’re right,” I said. “That’s a great idea.”
“Yes, it is,” he said with a smirk. “You’re welcome.”
Anonymity. Like when people didn’t put their real identities on their posts online. “Email,” I said. “We need to let listeners email in, too. Some people don’t like to talk on air, right?”
Diego nodded. “That’s true. Email would help.”
“Ms. Lyon is going to be impressed with our practical ideas.” Alana freed a food magazine from the stack on the table. “Ooh. I love to cook.”
“Me too,” Diego said.
“Really?” she asked.
Diego’s eyes went to me like he was wondering if I had told her this about him. I had, of course.
“Cool,” Alana went on smoothly. “We’ll have to exchange tips sometime.”
“Like in a cook-off,” I said.
She gave me a warning look, like she was working up to that.
“Is that a challenge?” Diego asked.
“Yes, it is,” Alana said.
Diego grinned at her. “You’re on.”
Tommy and Liza appeared from around the counter. Tommy said, “If people are cooking, I can be available to do the eating.”
“Ditto,” I said.
Tommy pointed at me. “Kat and I will be eating partners.”
“It’s Kate,” Diego said before I could.
“How come it’s Kat on the podcast, then?” Tommy asked.
I sighed. “Long story.”
“I like ‘Kat,’ ” Tommy said. “It’s edgy and makes you sound sure of yourself. It fits your on-air personality.”
“You think?” I asked.
“I agree,” Alana said. “You should definitely keep Kat for the podcast. Kat is snarky and sarcastic. ‘Kate’ doesn’t fit that persona as well.”
Liza hadn’t joined us by the coffee table yet, just stood by Tommy, staring up at him with dreamy eyes.
“What do you think, Liza?” I asked.
“I agree with Tommy. Kat is cool.”
Diego didn’t give his opinion and I didn’t ask for it. I’d always hated the name Kat. But I kind of hated the podcast, too. Maybe they fit together.
“Okay, time to go,” I said.
Alana picked up her backpack and glanced around. “Since I am at a tutoring center, do either of you guys have a minute to help me with an algebra problem I can’t get through?”
“I can help,” Diego said, sliding down the counter to make room for Alana. She sidled up next to him with her book, their shoulders touching. Diego didn’t move away. And that’s how I left Alana alone with Diego. He’d fall for her before they could even solve for X.
I sat on the dock at the marina, wiping down WaveRunner number four with a soapy sponge. My phone was tucked into my board shorts and my earbuds were firmly in place. I was fifteen minutes into the First Dates podcast Alana had recommended I listen to, and I’d laughed approximately fifty times. That was about three times a minute. No wonder Alana had wanted me to listen to this podcast—it was good. And I needed to get better.
I was going to get better. Mainly to prove everyone wrong. My parents thought I was only choosing the lake and marina because it was easy? So I’d get better at the podcast and prove to them that I would still choose the lake. That way, they’d realize I knew exactly what I wanted, no matter what I was good at.
“I figure if I go on a first date once a week,” Samantha, one of the hosts, was saying, “I can save approximately a hundred dollars a month in food.”
“You never pay?” Tami (the other host) asked.
“I offer to pay for the second date. That saves me even more money.”
“Why?” Tami asked.
“Because I rarely have second dates.”
I giggled. The First Dates podcast, while making me feel worse about my podcasting ability, was making me feel slightly better about my dating life. And with my feet dangling in the lake, I always felt better. “I like this strategy,” Tami said. “How has this not come up before?”
“We’ve been too busy talking about deworming cats and selling used cars and opening avocado-based food trucks,” Samantha replied. Their dates always talked about the weirdest things, but that made the show hilarious.
“Good point,” Tami said. “We’ve learned so much from our first dates. And from yours, listeners, so keep them coming, people. We feed off your misery.”
Samantha and Tami were definitely better at playing off of each other than Victoria and I were. Well, better than me, in any case. Victoria was great. She could have joined right in with Samantha and Tami.
While the podcast went to commercial, I grabbed the folded towel next to me and dried off the seat of the WaveRunner. The sun was setting, throwing oranges and pinks onto the lake. I watched a large speedboat race across the water, pulling a skier behind it.
One of my earbuds was tugged from my ear and I whirled around to see my dad standing there.
“Hi,” I said, taking the other earbud out as well.
He smiled. “Hey, welcome back to the real world.”
“Sorry, were you calling me?”
He took his baseball cap off and ran a hand over his bald head. “What are you listening to?”
“A podcast.”
“For your class?”
“Sort of.”
“Are you done here?” Dad asked, gesturing to the WaveRunners.
“Okay. I locked up the marina. Will you just padlock the gate on your way out?”
“Thanks, kid.”
I put my earbuds back in. I hadn’t hit PAUSE, so it took me a second to get back into it, but that was all. Only a second. That’s how engaging the hosts were. That’s what I had to work on—being engaging.
I stared at the microphone. It loomed in front of me. I couldn’t believe Ms. Lyon still wanted me to be the one talking into it.
“Remember, class.” Ms. Lyon’s voice came through my headphones, pulling my attention away from the microphone and to the group on the other side of the glass. “If you recognize the caller’s voice, I expect you to maintain their privacy since we won’t disguise it until edits. We must hold true to our reporting morals.”
The day before, in class, Alana and I had suggested the anonymous calling and email options. Everyone had loved the idea, including Ms. Lyon. Alana had been talking up the podcast’s new anonymity policy on social media ever since.
I adjusted my headphones.
Ms. Lyon turned a full circle. “We have someone checking emails, right?” she asked.
A girl named Jamie raised her hand.
“Great, let us know if any good ones come in. And I assume all the social media reminders have gone out?”
Alana held up her phone. “This new batch has been going out for the last thirty minutes.”
“We already have two callers waiting,” Mallory said.
“We do?” I asked, surprised.
“Then let’s get started,” Victoria said, her excitement obvious.
Ms. Lyon pressed the RECORD button. Then she pointed at us, our signal to start talking.
Victoria leaned forward. “Hello, listeners. It’s Victoria and Kat here from Not My Problem. We gave you an intro teaser last week, and now we’re here to sink our teeth into our first full episode. Right, Kat?”