Anna Thema
by HYPERFocused

The Pilot

It's a dismal day when Anna Stern leaves her house in Pittsburgh, the only place she can remember living, and flies off to her new life in California.

It's supposed to be an unparalleled opportunity for her, a chance at an improved life. Everyone says she should be grateful: a much more prestigious school, life among the beautiful people. Every day will be sunny, and she will be sunny too.

"You'll be like Brenda Walsh," her best friend Hilary says. More likely, she'll be like that dorky kid in the cowboy hat, the one who shot himself in season one.


The Model Home

Anna tries to give it a chance, but she can't help hating the houses in Newport. The way they spread themselves all over the landscape like mold devouring an agar covered petri dish. The same awful oranges, and washed out whites. The swimming pool blues that glint like colored contact lenses, just as fake next to the ocean's truer hues.

She misses the old bricks and stones of homes in her old neighborhood, the richness of places with a real history, not ones that have been aged with mallets and paint strippers. She thinks they're called "distressed" for a reason.


The Gamble

Her life feels like a game of Jenga. Each piece precariously laid on the next, until someone removes a supporting peg, and everything topples.

There's a delicate balance of fulfilling expectations and rebelling against demands. She suspects Seth understands this as well, that they're both as attracted to the unattainable as they are to each other.

The danger is exciting, the way they're linked to each other; how one wrong move could bring it all tumbling down. She wonders if Summer or Ryan will make it all crash. The fallout from that would be terrifying. Nothing like a party game.


The Debut

She wears bridal white dresses and practices mannered dancing with Ryan and Seth at Cotillion training, then imagines slipping Summer's satin camisole off her rounded shoulders in the dressing room after their debut.

She spies Seth kissing Ryan up against the wall of the coatroom, that same night, and laughs to herself about the true meaning of "coming out."

Alone at home, she pictures Ryan and Seth, and Summer twisted together, in a tangle of sweat and skin. Sometimes she watches, sometimes she joins them. She can't decide what she wants, she just knows what she's not supposed to have.


The Outsider

Anna likes Seth. She likes the way he reminds her of guys she used to know back in Pittsburgh, though he's never been near the east coast. He makes her feel less homesick, with his running patter and the energy that thrums through him.

He matches her geek for geek on her interests. She doesn't have to dumb down her responses, or pretend not to like the things she does. He's a kindred spirit, her new best friend, her Wonder Twin.

But their relationship feels more incestuous than the one he won't admit to with the boy who's almost his brother.


The Girlfriend

Anna's not the type of girl who doodles intertwined initials in heart shaped balloons on her notebook. No daisies or puppy-dog faces, or boy band logos in glitter pen on her jeans. When she draws, she means it.

It's not for nothing that her childhood dreams of Wonder Woman have come back full fold, though blue eyes have morphed into brown. She remembers watching Lynda Carter and her golden rope on TV Land.

The Adventures of Captain Oats will only have one issue. Now she wants to draw strong tanned thighs, and lush curves, and four colors just aren't enough.


The Escape

It isn't the competition from Summer that stops Anna from thinking seriously about a future as Mrs. Seth Cohen - if she were the sort to do that, which really, she isn't. There is no comparison between them. She knows what Seth sees in Summer. It's the same thing she does.

It isn't even the real rivalry of Ryan that makes her raise an incredulous eyebrow when Seth says, "We are such an old married couple," one night, over popcorn and DVDs.

It's the thought that they're stuck in a rut at seventeen, and that's much too young to be comfortable.


The Rescue

Anna never thought she and Summer would be friends, much less more. Beyond the truce of "Does Seth want me or you, or is he still stuck on Chino?" they didn't have much in common, at least on the surface. Certainly Anna hadn't told Summer she wanted her as much as she wanted Seth.

Then they bonded over Golden Girls, and their mutual exasperation with Marissa's behavior. Anna soon learned that Summer wasn't the bitch she seemed to be. She was smart, and funny and strong, nothing she'd thought. There were no thoughts of Seth, when she and Summer kissed.


The Heights

It dawns on her then, that Newport is not such a bad place, she might even be happy for a change. Sure, she still misses the seasons, thinks Seth's grandfather is destroying the land, their new governor is a self-writing joke, and her friends in Pittsburgh seem to have forgotten her.

But life is going well. She doesn't feel like the awkward outsider anymore. She has options here now, and she wants to explore every one of them. Seth or Summer, or perhaps them both. It's like a "choose your own adventure" story, where every page is a good one.


The Perfect Couple

The day after Anna sleeps with Seth for the first time, she wakes up sore and sticky, and more than a little regretful. Seth snorts and snuffles and hogs the bed with his splayed arms and legs, but that's not what brings the remorse. It's the thought that both Summer and Ryan were there first, and she doesn't know which makes her more jealous.

Her first time with Summer is different. They move like it was choreographed for the Harbor School Charity Ballet. She almost wishes she'd stretched beforehand. She'd expected awkwardness and recriminations, but everything about it feels right.


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