Fades in from black. “Start off your school year with the latest fashion! Now at Frankerns!” The commercial continued to drone on as I sat silently in the Admin office. Today is my first day to a new start. As I waited what the secretary assured me would be “A few short moments” I contemplated everybody else’s definition of short. I am now sure its different than mine. I slumped down into my chair and stared down at my scuffed uniform approved Mary Janes. When I first walked in, the previously mentioned pencil pusher informed me It looked like I had seen a ghost. However; I am fairly sure I have not seen a ghost…per se…I have just been cohabitating the same environment with someone increasingly spatial, and, you could say, ghost like.
“Good morning! Ms. Errrrrehhh uhm…Colleen! Yes! How are you on this bright day?” Good lord help me it’s like the pep parade. “I am well, thank you for asking.” She looked me up and down with a slight bit of contempt. “If you don’t mind me asking Colleen” (she looked down at her clip board again to make sure she got my name correct) “Why have you taken interest in our school? You‘re grades of course are exceptional and up to mark but, why did you not chose something more…affordable?”
“With all do respect ma‘m, I‘m not sure why I am here myself”
“Oh, how is that? You applied for our program, didn‘t you chose this school?”
“My grandmother insisted I come here.”
“I see, well, your grandmother has some fine taste. Now lets get you started, your classes are all planned out in this schedule right here, and this is the key to your dorm room, you have been assigned a room mate of another girl your age, and honors classes.”
“You mean to say, I don’t get my own room?”
“Not with what you are paying honey.”
“Oh, I understand.” She led me through the incandescent room with hideous old looking wallpaper. Its one of those rooms you would see in some old stuffy castle. That would be funny if it didn’t happen to be where I was located.
I navigated slowly through the cobblestone hallway by myself. I had two options
a) Snotty head mistress lead me to my dorm. b) Use a map and hope I don’t get lost. I think we know the obvious answer in this particular situation. As I continued on my little ‘journey’ wind whipped at my ankles. I tried not to stare down at the floor too much, it was a habit I was trying to break. As I looked up, I saw that threaded along the walls was bountiful shrubbery and spirited banners of school colors. Both weaved together existing as one. A sort of royal red color on the school banners and the green vines. It reminded me a bit of Christmas. I laughed to myself, if only I had fonder memories of Christmas though.
At this point I was in my dorm building, walking while holding my book tucked into my arms and map in my face, I managed to find myself becoming more acquainted with a stone wall than I had ever imagined I would. Luckily, It was the wall to my room at least. “Finally,” I let out a sigh of relief “Oh Billy S. ‘All the worlds a stage,’” A voice came from behind me. “And all the men and woman are merely players. You like Shakespeare?” I turned on a pivot to notice a guy standing behind me with a welcoming look on his face. “You dropped this, came to lend you a hand.” He had a warming smile that swept across like butter, as if it was nothing. “Thanks, I, uh, here!” I promptly grabbed my book back and tried to unlock my door. First attempt, failed. Second attempt? Take a guess. Three minutes later, we were both still standing there, and I was acting like a fool, by now I had my leg on the door for leverage and I was leaning back pulling on the handle, and he was still behind me stifling a laugh. “Euhm, do you need a hand there?” His voice shocked me in my state of frantic behavior and I jumped back landing on my ass and pushing up the carpet that was in front of the door. “I suppose you could say that…” I replied. He took a step towards the door, put the key in, and twisted it to a forty-five degree angel and gave the handle a slight jiggle. To my complete shock the door actually opened, this was really not fair.
“I will try to remember that. Thanks for making my amateur door opening skills look even more pathetic than they did to begin with.” He looked taken a-back for a second then finally replied. “You seem to fancy sarcasm quite a bit?” Crap. I was being a bitch. “Sorry, I’m having a bad day.” He looked at me for a second then laughed. “Excuse me?”
“Don‘t worry about it” He cocked his head to the side a bit and smiled. How was I supposed to respond to that? Was he laughing at me?
“Excuse me, but if I‘ve done something worth your laughing at, I‘d like to know before you continue to mock me directly in my presence.”
“Woah woah woah, cool your jets, uhm, sorry, I never got your name, what was it?”
“Colleen.” I replied.
“Right then, cool your jets Colleen, I wasn‘t laughing at you, I was laughing with you. Now why don’t you go inside and get some rest you‘re probably jet lagged.”
“Thank you mother.” I walked in and attempted to slam the door. But to my dismay, that stupid ugly carpet was stuck in it. I was about to get up and fix it when I saw it being tugged out and the door being shut gently. Well, that was nice. I could have handled it myself though. I got up and took a look around my room. It was big, but I was to be sharing it after all. There were two beds, sitting parallel to each other, both adorned in ugly quilted blankets of dark blue and deep red wine color. Beside the beds were a night stand for each one. I easily guessed which bed was mine, seeing as the other night stand was covered in pictures of my roommate’s family and friends. Creepily enough, I walked over and glanced at her photos. All of smiling happy families and friends out having fun. Lucky girl, she looks like she’s nice enough for my standards as well. I checked out the rest of the room. Two matching desks, two matching wardrobes, this must be how twins feel. Everything matching, the only difference is my roommate’s side was covered with trinkets and pictures of her loved ones, and mine were all bare. It would probably stay that way though.
I took my suitcase, books, and duffle bag and set them on my bed and began to unpack everything. In the midst of packing away my underwear, my absentee roommate walked in. Could be worse though, I just went on with my business. She didn’t notice I was even in the room till she turned around to pack away her contraband ‘cellular device’ as the school handbook says. Ignore the fact that I was bored enough to actually read it.
“HOLY, WHO ARE YOU?” She exclaimed with wide eyes
“Calm down stepford, I‘m your new roommate.” She took a step forward and collapsed on her bed and laughed.
“Ohhhhh! They could have warned me that you were coming this week!” She let out a smile and continued un-packing her purse.
“Nice to meet you” I stuck out my hand to shake, “I‘m Colleen Acton, and you?” she accepted my handshake and came in for a hug instead. “Tara Yule, so glad to finally have you here! This room was so quiet and lonely and now I finally have someone to talk to, where I don’t risk getting suspended, because they reinforce that cell phone rule so hard. Silly right? I mean are we just supposed to be stuck here all the time?” This was going to be interesting. She seems to be a really nice girl though. I wont be alone by myself either, which is a plus, I was always alone at home. “So…you‘re American? Why did you come all the way out here?” That would be easier to answer if I knew it myself, I thought.
“My grandmother thought it would be best I guess”
“Oh, you live with your grandmother? Where are your parents?” Ouch. That one always stings.
“My mom is probably on the streets or in jail, and my father died when I was young. I lived with my grandmother basically my whole life, but her Alzheimer’s got too severe for me to continue living with her. She wouldn’t allow me to think about living anywhere else but here basically.” That was easier to say out loud than I thought it would be. But I did start to tear up, unfortunately, Tara noticed. She must be very perceptive, great.
“Oh no, no, don‘t get upset, I‘m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that way. Here, look at me, cheer up!” She came over and sat on my bed next to me with our feet hanging over. “Look here, nobody‘s family is perfect. Mine certainly isn’t. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I‘m here okay? I don’t just mean that emotionally either, I literally live right next to you! So there is no reason I shouldn’t be here for you.” That made me laugh. I am going to be able to get along well with this girl.
“Thank you.” I kept my head down and just stared at our feet. I wouldn’t be staring at hers but they were right there after all. She had them manicured. Who in the world manicures their toes?
“I think we both ought to get some ‘shut-eye’ wouldn’t you agree?” She was standing on the ground now and her hand on my shoulder and looking into my eyes. I was looking down though so the girl had her head so twisted it looked like it was going to fall off, this paired with the goofy smile on her face - meant to cheer me up I assume - made me crack up.
“I think some sleep sounds very nice. I had a long trip.” I replied while jerking away trying to kick up the covers.
“You‘re not getting into your jim-jams?” Oh god. British slang. The pure unadulterated comedy. I began to crack up. “Oh lord! What have I done? Did I break you?”
“No, no, no! It‘s just…you said…”
“Jim-Jams?” That sent me off again. She started laughing now too and she ran to my dresser, pulled out my Pajamas and hurled them at me! “So violent!” I chuckled and she did as well.
“Common, get ready for bed America, I can tell you‘re jet lagged!” We both laughed and joked our selves to sleep.
I think I’m going to enjoy myself here actually. Enjoy it a lot. Of course I miss home, and I miss my “nana” as Tara would say, but this is new. I get to act my age for a while. I was going to bed with all the worries wiped from my mind. There was one thing I could not erase from it though. That boy. Out of all the things stuck on my mind, his genuine smile was.
I shut my eyes and waited for the black blanket to overcome my senses. The last things I remember before drifting to sleep. Warm blanket, spider web in the top right corner, manicures, school work, sunshine, ocean, grandma, his smile. That stupid, silly, smile, that was so engraved into my mind, that every time I close my eyes. It was all I saw.