The lyrics were loud, echoing off the walls and drowning out the world. Smirking to myself I turned the volume up louder before letting myself fall onto my bed. I closed my eyes and let the words overtake me. A part of me registered a creaking noise, but my mind ignored it. I fell deeper into the music.
Floating away, I was gone; no longer a part of my body, a part of the world; I simply existed in the infinite abyss that is the beyond. I saw bright colours but at the same time nothing. I was spinning, and at the same time felt undoubtedly grounded. I understood my body to be opening up, and giving way to something great, something no one can explain to someone who has never felt it.
The words drifted through my mind, sliding like flour through a sieve before scattering themselves incomprehensively. I was nothing. I was everything. I was all found in between. Sounds bright with colour flooded my mind, sinking into my skin. They were deep, and resonated with my soul.
I felt the bed below my body. No, something was off. Why could I feel the bed?
I focused my mind on the lyrics, letting the words take hold of me. They pulled me away, softly gripping a part of my self that I couldn't identify even if I wanted to And I didn't want that secret out, I wanted to keep that one to myself. I smiled then, and felt that familiar sinking feeling–
I opened my eyes.
"Allison, I swear to god. If I don't get this paper in and subsequently fail first year biology because you can't toss on a flimsy pair of headphones, just know that this friendship will be over, and that means I'm taking back my Lion King socks."
"You wouldn't dare," I retorted while reaching over to turn the volume down.
I pouted, but said nothing in return.
In my opinion, roommates are quite possibly the worst part of University. Take Vanessa for example. Ves and I were best friends in high school. It started on the first day of grade nine, like all cliché best friend stories. I had just sat down in Ms. Engles homeroom when Vanessa came and tapped me on the shoulder.
"That's my seat," she said.
"It is?" I asked. "How can you tell."
"Well normally, I'm sitting in it."
"But you're not."
"No," she replied, clearly annoyed. "I'm not."
"So then it's not your seat?" I asked making sure to stare her in the eye.
"It is my seat." She spat out as she clenched and unclenched her fists. She paused a moment. I watched silently amused as she looked up and counted to nine. "Would you please move?" she asked, her voice held feigned politeness.
"Sure," I said, smiling as I stood up. "All you had to do was ask." I moved two steps over, and smiling ever so sweetly I sat down right beside her. Looking down to the piece of paper on the desk I pretended to read the questions while catching glimpses of her reaction out of the corner of my eye.
She stood there a moment, stunned I would assume, before sliding quietly into the seat and opening her bag.
"I'm Vanessa," she said looking over to me after a moments pause.
"Allison." I supplied meeting her eyes once before diverting my attention to the sheet in my hands. I listened to her stutter for a moment, before mumbling something under her breath. I would have asked her to speak up had our teacher not just walked into the room.
"Hello class," she said smiling to the thirty of us waiting rather impatiently for the bell to ring. "My name is Ms. Engles, but you can call me Ms. E if you prefer. My first name is Jane though I would ask kindly for your not to use it when addressing me. I will be you homeroom teacher for the year." She glanced around ensuring that she kept her too large smile plastered on her face. "Now, are there any questions before we begin?"
I glanced behind me and noticed a few hands raised. I looked back to Ms. Engles – I had decided to call her that as Ms. E sounded too elementary – and watched as she scanned the class for hands. She broadened her smile once at the boy with his hand raised behind me, and as he opened his mouth to answer she said, "Perfect, then let's get started."
The class cast fleeting looks to one another before Ms. Engles started up again.
"On your desks in front of you there is a sheet of paper with a series of questions. These two rows," she indicated the two rows to my left, "will work with the person beside them. These two," she pointed towards my row and Vanessa's "as well. Those of you in the fifth row will pair up starting at the front. Now hop-to ladies and gents."
I raised my eyebrow a Vanessa, and was pleased to see that she had an embarrassed look on.
"So," I carried the word out as if it needed all of three seconds to be pronounced properly. "Question number one?"
"Uh," she looked startled. I hid the smirk the leapt to my lips and instead waited for her to look at the paper on her desk. "What's your name?" she read.
"Allison, and you?" I asked, this time unveiling the fake smile.
"Vanessa, I told you that a couple seconds ago."
"I know," I smiled. "Next question." I looked down to my sheet. "Tell me something interesting about yourself," I read out loud. "Well these are original," I said sarcastically.
"My uncle is a doctor and sometimes lets me draw patient's blood for him."
"Ew," I said. "Why would you tell me that?"
"Because," she answered in full confidence. "It's interesting and it's the reason I want to be a doctor."
"Because you like blood?" I asked wearily.
"Because I like helping people."
I didn't say anything for a long while. When it was clear that she wasn't going to break the silence I decided to play the bigger person and speak up. "I've read every single play that Shakespeare ever wrote. I finished the last of the Sonnets and Venus and Adonis this past summer."
She looked at me for a moment before saying "Do you have any siblings?"
Question number three. I could already see a friendship in the works... not.
Twenty minutes later Ms. Engles finished pacing the rows of students and interrupted our discussions. At the time Vanessa and I had diverge off the topic of question number thirty-four: what kind of toothpaste do you use, and were discussing society's norms in an 'expectation versus requirement' debate. Vanessa was trying to convince me of the medical merits of brushing your teeth and I was trying to explain to her that historically it didn't used to matter and that society sets out too many norms and that this is just another ideology forced on the youth of today.
Truth be told, I have nothing against brushing your teeth. In fact, I brush mine at least three times a day. I just like a good natured debate.
"Now," Ms. Engles smiled. "I would like you to introduce your partner to the class."
Vanessa and I watched various pairs of students recite off useless and boring facts about each other. We all laughed when people forgot their partners' names, or when someone admitted to listening to classical music.
When it came to Vanessa's turn to introduce me I half forgot that she'd been rude to me earlier.
"This," Vanessa indicated with outstretched arms. "Is Allison. She loves scary movies, and music that makes her think. She's already read all the course books for the year, and loves Shakespeare. She's not very athletic but still goes for a jog every morning before school. She's an only child, and doesn't mind being spoiled." I was stunned. I sat there wondering what I was going to say since my planned speech had been on what a horrible person she was and the numerous reasons that being within a four foot range of her could be detrimental to your health. But she was nice?
"Thank you?" I asked as I made to stand up and introduce her.
She smiled at me, before sitting down.
"So – " I started, searching my mind for positive adjectives rather than the synonyms to lethal, burden, and pretentious that I had been pondering for the past twenty minutes.
"Oh yea," Vanessa interrupted. "She also doesn't brush her teeth."
I stared at her and let my jaw drop. She did not just go there.
I suppose a valid question would be how Vanessa and I ended up on friendly terms. Now that I've studied Aristotle's Poetics I would say that it has a number of qualities of an Aristotelian tragedy. But at the time I guess it must have seemed like fate. Neither of us saw it coming, but after word got around that I didn't brush my teeth, and after my descriptive and none too flattering soliloquy on Vanessa it seemed as if we'd scared off any potential friends. Sure we steered clear from each other for the first few weeks, but eating alone, walking alone, and generally being alone gets rather, well lonely. So it was only a matter of time before we bridged our differences and became friends.
But like I said, roommates are likely the worst part of University. You move in with an amazing friend who you spent the past four years doing everything with. You colour coordinate your comforters. You buy matching fridges. You plan out your whole year, and then realize that maybe forcing two friends to live and breathe each other every single day is not the best way to preserve a friendship. This, we discovered, was especially true in cases where the original friendship was a product of malicious behaviour and lack of choice.
"What am I supposed to do?" I asked, staring hopelessly at my stereo.
"Go to class." she supplied. "It starts in seven minutes. If you run, you can still make it."
Fuck. I lied. Class is the worst part of University.