I can't imagine what kind of influence my morning had on Keith's dreams-the fury with which I dressed myself, chain-smoking over the coffee pot, a riddle of curse words. Any normal person would wake up and lock themselves in a different room, cower in the corner and beg it to stop. Keith just snored, woke up once to turn off the alarm's repeat while I power-showered, yelling a drowsy "I love you" before passing back out on his other side.

This was not how I planned to start my college career. Not that I had high hopes from the start. Community college isn't exactly a virtue, a "reach goal", as my high school advisor would have put it. But it was something to do, something to keep my parents off my back, something to keep the potential employers nodding.

I didn't bother to lock our door in my haste to get on the road. The apartment stairs were sticky and peeling and my flip-flops were not cooperating. I let out a groan of frustration at the complex door-the damn thing always jammed when you needed to open it quickly. I had spent thirty seconds struggling with the door when it finally swung open and I sprinted to my car.

I finally began to relax once I peeled out of the parking lot and swerved my way to the freeway. Began to, anyway. My heart was still queasy from the sleep deprivation and was not letting me hear the end of it. I popped another Adderall and cranked myself into the fast lane.

All four lanes were congested with morning traffic and I found myself tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, dead still, when my phone rang. I didn't bother checking the blinking screen-only one person called me this early. Ever.


"Good morning to you too, Hue. Oh my god, there were so many "ooh" sounds in that. Ha ha ha ha."

I rolled my eyes. Chai woke up every morning at six, no exceptions, and worked out for two hours. By eight, she was wide awake and peppy, quite contrary to her mellow name.

"What do you want? I'm driving."

"Somebody's grouchy. You wanna talk about it?"

"I'm fuckin' late for class. And stuck in this GODDAMN TRAFFIC," I honked my horn twice for emphasis, feeling the speed kick in.

"Ooh... well I just wanted to know if we were still getting coffee today. Because, see, my room-mate..."

I was so used to zoning out on Chai's ramblings that I didn't even flinch before hitting the mute button and turning up the radio. I lit a cigarette and blew the smoke angrily out the window, hearing vague words now and then from Chai.

"Lane's moving, gotta go." I hung up and realized I needed to get off the freeway. Despite the fact that the cars were crawling uphill, I squeezed my way over four lanes and exited, thrilled to be going over 20mph.

My first class, Introduction to Critical Thinking, started in ten minutes and I was still ten minutes away from campus. A red light allowed me to dwell. Was it really necessary for me to make the first day? What would I miss? The class roster? Syllabus? Uh, nothing?

I hit the talk button on my phone twice and pulled a U-turn once the light changed.


"You still wanna get coffee? Class is cancelled."


I hated the smell of Starbucks. Still do. The waft of burnt coffee swirled with designer perfume-made me gag. I made sure to smoke a cigarette before walking in to give the snobs something to twist their noses over.

I was perched in one of the spiny chairs outside, power-puffing my cigarette, when a short girl walked up slowly. I knew immediately the scenario about to play out-the "can I bum a cigarette?" scene where I bum her one, she lights it, and we awkwardly look around, avoiding conversation and dying to just run away from the other.

"Can I buy a cigarette off you by chance?" the girl asked, gesturing to the quarter in her palm.

"Nah, just take one. I know how it goes."


To my surprise, she lit her cigarette and continued walking on, no attempt at trying to be social. Thank god.

Chai was easy to spot, despite the morning bustle of caffeine addicts. Her long dark hair was curled today, wrapping around and around itself and her tiny shoulders. She wore a dark green dress with a brown waist belt emphasizing her figure. She had kicked off her Birkenstocks, showing off her newly painted toenails.

My best friend was one of those girls that you hated to be around, just because your self esteem sputters out into a puff of smoke and you're side-tracked the whole day about how unattractive you are.

"Hue! I got you a coffee already!"

I excused my way over to the table she had snagged where a steaming cup of java was waiting for me. I was thrilled to see it was actually brown/black, not the milky tone of her soy non-fat no-whip no-foam latte. I liked to actually taste my coffee instead of milk and sugar with a little bite.

"How did you manage to get your first class cancelled? I'm sooo jeal."

By this time you may be wandering why someone like me hangs out with a girl like Chai. I am not exactly a handful of sunshine on any given day, whereas Chai sparkles every hour on the hour and brightens up any situation.

Chai used to be one of the quiet kids, the too-smart perfectionist types who were pulled out of class once a month for the gifted program. She let the pressure of school get to her and was obsessed with being popular and involved and perfect. She stopped eating in high school, started doing any sport she could stay conscious for, and was eventually hospitalized for malnutrition and a plethora of eating disorders.

Chai came back to school senior year still looking awkwardly thin, but she was so doped up on prescription meds that she didn't care about anything. She was walking artificial happiness, and I will admit it was a nice change from the paranoid anxious mess she had been before.

Chai found that the pills were doing well for her, and opted for exercise bulhimia over the more generic eating disorders. So far, she's kept herself alive and functional, and above all happy.

"Teacher got a staff infection," rolled off my tongue as I slurped my mug, tapping my toes against my flip-flop.

"That's so gross! Isn't that like-"

"I'm actually not sure what it is. Some kind of infection though. It can spread really easily. I know wrestlers get it a lot. From skin to skin contact. Ya know?"

Fuckin' speed makes me a chatterbox.

Chai and I bubbled on about college and boys and the new season of Dexter until Chai's phone rang.

"Damn! I forgot I have a conference call with my new work. I'm sorry, Hue, this is gonna be a while. Catch up later?"
I nodded, bewildered that Chai was doing something as professional-sounding as a conference call, and gathered my things. My phone read 10:58AM. I had two hours until my next class and was tweaking painfully hard from the four cups of joe I had slammed while ranted with Chai.

I typed out a text message and waved good-bye to Chai again before heading back out to my car.


I lit my last cigarette and relaxed for a minute, the sun warming my goosebumped shoulders.




I groaned. Keith knew I couldn't cook and that he was the designated chef in our apartment, so I played the horny card.



"Yessss," I muttered under my breath, reversing out of the cramped parking spot. Not only did I not have to cook, but I would be receiving breakfast in bed after being ravished like a goddess.