anita darling © September 2011 – present
Towels and Sheets
She was far from a social butterfly and suffered from diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was one of the most popular boys on campus and known for sleeping around. When she finds photos of herself naked, taken by him nonetheless, floating around the dorm, she decides that it is time to get even.
This idea is entirely my own and not stolen from any source, though inspired by several.
I have written this as an entry for A Drop of Romeo's Round IV: A Battle of the One-Shots (Prompt 1). I hope that you all enjoy it.
I hated going out to dinner, and yet my parents insisted upon it every Wednesday night. It was late when I crept back into my dorm, and I was pulling my shoes off, unclipping my jewellery, taking out my hair and even undoing the zip on the back of my dress as I walked down the hall. I was turning the key in my door when someone sneezed. I looked around for the culprit, hoping they had used a tissue, or preferably an elbow. I would hate to be breathing in their snot. I shook my head clean of mucus-y thoughts and dashed into my tiny room. It was, in a word, clean. And perfect, not a speck of dust – except for that one. Got it, I thought, as I swiped it with my finger.
I tucked my high heels away in my wardrobe and hung up my dress. I stripped down and pulled on my pyjamas – a pair of old, holey track pants I hadn't been able to give up, and a FDNY t-shirt my brother had bought me on his last stint in the Big Apple. I checked that my necklace, bracelet and earring set was back in its rightful place, and then brushed my hair and pulled it into a neat pony tail.
I slipped on my Crocs and walked back out of my room and down the hall to the communal bathroom. I went to the loo, washed my hands thoroughly and gave my face a good wash too, getting rid of all that unnecessary make up. Not unnecessary because I was beautiful – I wasn't; cute, maybe – but because it was wholly unnecessary. I didn't need make up to make myself feel good. I just didn't understand why women spent hundreds of dollars on make up when they could be spending it on other things. Suffice to say, my mother bought all of my make up and I only wore it because it pleased her.
What didn't please my mother was my lack of boyfriend and sexual relationships: "You should be out getting drunk, making out with boys you don't know!" Me? Yeah, right. I rolled my eyes when I finally locked my door behind me.
Oh, I thought, glancing at the window, blinds. I rolled the blinds down and lay down in my neatly made bed, completely unaware of the terrors that would take place on Thursday.
"Whoa!" I heard someone say outside of my room early that morning. "No way! I mean, that's – you know." I rolled my eyes and ignored the male voice. No doubt one of the boys was telling another of his late night escapades with women. I got out of and made my bed before collecting my Thursday clothes and heading down to the bathroom to take the cleanest shower cubicle.
The showers here weren't quality – like the rest of the building, honestly – but they did the job. Still the early morning gossip continued around me as everyone else had their pre-lecture showers, or went to the loo or brushed their teeth.
I stood quietly in the bathroom, waiting at the end of the shower queue. In my toiletries bag, I have a super-strength soap, my shampoo, conditioner, a loofah, nail scissors, toothpaste and a toothbrush, as well as plastic gloves to turn on the taps and a pair of enclosed Crocs to make sure that my feet never have to touch the grimy tile floor.
I check again that my zip-lock toiletry bag is firmly shut, and readjust the straps on the bag that has my towel and freshly washed Thursday clothes inside of it.
I waited in line for the shower for what felt like hours, but was in fact, thirty-two minutes and forty seconds. When I got into my cubicle – I swear, I must have gotten the grimiest one available (I had to take extra precautions against bacteria) – it took me the usual nineteen minutes and fifteen seconds to be in and out and ready to go. I was running late, and I was not happy.
For the next hour, everything ran smoothly, because I was behind my usual schedule, there was no one about to bother me with anything. I grabbed an apple for breakfast from the dining room. I put on my slip-on canvas shoes and ran across the grass to where my next lecture was being held (all the while polishing my apple as clean as I could with the handkerchief in my bag), as I entered, the theatre's usual chatter fell into silence as all fifty students turned their heads to look at me and started whispering.
So what if I looked like a mess? I mean, I hadn't had time to brush my hair back into a perfect ponytail (or dry it, for that matter – it was dripping down my back like crazy) nor to straighten my clothes. It was pissing me off, though. Me in my little OCD world, always looked flawless … in some ways, anyway.
I took my usual seat – alone, down the front – and pulled out my notebook, smiling at our lecturer and the head of faculty, Mr. Don Casey.
He smiled back and everything was good as I scribbled away with my BIC four-colour, 0.5 pen. Admittedly, this wasn't my favourite lecture, but it wasn't bad for Thursday morning and Mr. Casey was a good lecturer.
In a quiet moment a girl whispered to her friend, "I heard that she stripped down for him."
"And she just let him take pictures? I can't see her doing that," her friend replied.
"I can. I mean, everyone has their dirty little secrets, don't they? It probably makes her hot, knowing that we know. We don't know her; she could be anybody."
"You're joking. She goes out for dinner with her parents every Wednesday night, dressed up like it's Year 12 formal all over again." My face literally went up in flames – or it felt like it did. They were talking about me. I hadn't stripped down for anyone … I didn't understand.
"How do you know that she's not just going to some men's club, though?"
"You mean a strip club," said the friend. "I guess she does have that look about her … fiery redhead. Sure, I can see it. If she lost the glasses." And now they were talking about me being a stripper! If I had the nerve, I'd turn around and tell them what I thought. Me? A stripper! What a joke!
"Miss West," said Mr. Casey. "I asked for your opinion."
"Sorry, Mr. Casey. I need to go to the bathroom." I picked up my notes and took them with me as I left the lecture theatre. I went and gave my face a quick rinse in the loos, and washed my hands thoroughly (thirty seconds under warm water, scrubbing and scouring my skin with my own soap). It couldn't get rid of my thoughts, though.
"Hey. Eve, right?" a girl said. I looked up. I didn't recognise her, but it was easy to guess her type. She was platinum blonde, too tanned, and wearing clothes that were inappropriate for the weather. She didn't mind a good lay, that girl. I bet she could have had any man (or woman, probably) in her bed every night of the week. I, on the other hand, had never had a man in my bed.
And her boobs were too big.
"Yeah," I replied, a little nervous. Was she going to ask about the picture/stripper thing? Because I had no idea what that was even about.
"I am – no offense or anything –" I knew from experience, like many girls, that the words 'no offense' were often followed with something rather offensive so I braced myself – "surprised that you hooked up with Nick Saunders! I mean, it's great for you, but I didn't think that you were his, you know," she whispered, "type."
"I didn't hook up with Nick Saunders," I said quietly and not at all firmly, but my cheeks reddened. Damn my crush on Nick Saunders. Nick was the kind of boy that most women adored: he was attractive, tall, an apparently great kisser. He was tanned, had light brown hair and dark brown eyes. He and one of his mates shared the room opposite mine on the open square shape of our building, and they often left their blinds open, so I could often observe the perfection of his chest.
She smirked, confirming my suspicions: she thought I was lying. "Well, even if you didn't, you let him take photos of you on his phone."
My eyebrows flew into my hairline and my eyes widened. "I did?"
"Almost everyone's seen the pictures, you know, West. Even I have," she eyed my breasts. "It makes me wonder, of course, because your clothes seem to hide your assets."
"You've seen my boobs," I whispered. "Everyone's seen my boobs."
She reached out and took my hand, only to scribble on my palm with a pink biro. "My phone number," she said, "in case you ever need someone to discuss your sexuality with." She winked and left the bathroom looking smug. I just stood there, shell-shocked.
Finally my brain managed to catch up and left me with this beauty: Nick Saunders is going down.
I found my closest ally at the university, Alexandra Casey, working a lemonade stand outside our building. I frowned at her. "No buyers, then?"
"No one seems to want to support the local day care centre that's going to close if we don't raise some serious money." She heaved a sigh, pushing her brown hair out of her face.
"I'll buy them all," I told her, "then you can just give them away for free."
"Oh, Eve, you don't have to –"
"Alex," I said firmly, "I want to. How much for all those?"
"They're fifty cents a cup, so … ten bucks."
I pulled a pink twenty out of my purse. "Keep it. Give the money to those kids."
Alexandra smiled and touched her hand to her heart. "My bounty is as boundless as the sea / My love as deep; the more I give to thee / The more I have, for both are infinite."
"Don't quote Romeo and Juliet at me," I told her, but I was smiling.
"Seriously. You're amazing. I know the kids will appreciate it."
"I've got to go and summarise my notes before dinner, but I'll see you there, all right?" I reached across the table and hugged her.
"See you," Alexandra said.
As soon as I walked up the front steps and inside, all I could hear was one of the first-years blasting "Bonkers" by Dizzee Rascal through their top-notch stereo. It was almost like there was a rave going on outside of room 104. I had to push my way through the first-years who were wearing skimpy clothes and jumping up and down, some of the girls grinding against boys. I even spotted some third-year boys; I didn't think I'd see the day where they would interact with first-years, no matter how hot they were.
I managed to get to the stairwell and up to the second floor. I could still feel the bass pumping underneath my feet, but it was somewhat quieter in my room with the door closed.
When they started playing "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC, I had to put on my sound-blocking headphones to be able to concentrate on my notes.
"Eve," a voice murmured after almost an hour of summarisation. I shook my head. I must've imagined it. "EVE! LET ME IN!" It sounded like they were shouting, but it was muffled – oh, headphones. I pulled them off. It seemed that the first-years were now singing along to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" very, very loudly.
I opened my door and Alexandra fell inside – literally, faceplanted on my floor. "Oh," I said, "I'm sorry!" I helped her up and closed my door. "What's up?"
"I just saw the photo – You – I – You didn't tell me you got it on with Nick Saunders!"
I just stared at her.
"You've had the hots for him since the first day, right? He is a panty-melter, that bloke … Anyway you slept with him and didn't think to tell me? He's got nude pictures of you, woman!"
"Nick Saunders has pictures of me naked," I repeated, dumbstruck. It must be true, if it were coming from Alex; she was a hell of a lot more reliable than the platinum blonde from the bathroom. I had been trying to deny it, that Nick Saunders – that everyone – has now seen me naked. I mean, it just wasn't realistic.
"Sure. Didn't you notice him taking them? I mean, I just heard from April that you slept with him on Wednesday night in here, in your room …"
"Are you crazy?" I asked, looking at Alexandra, who was staring out my window and across the courtyard to Nick's room. "I haven't slept with anybody. I don't even understand how he got pictures of me naked."
She looked at me and my reddened cheeks. She glanced back across to his window. "The photo is dated Wednesday night, late, after eleven, but before midnight. So what? You'd just been out for dinner and you'd come back … then what?"
I'd come straight here, to my room, and I'd slipped out of my clothes the best that I could, put on my pyjamas and gone to the communal bathroom before coming back and closing my blind and getting into bed.
"What?" Alex asked. "What is it? What happened?"
"I didn't close the blind before I got changed. I always close the blind! I must have had too many glasses of champagne. Damn my mother."
"Well, if Nick had his blinds open too, then he'd have a clear view into your room."
Downstairs, the first-years were blasting another hit: Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You" and they were all screaming the lyrics. I'd bet they were loving university life, but right now, I well and truly wasn't.
"So you're saying that maybe … he took the photo from his window? Sneaky bastard!"
"Whoa! Calm down, Eve. We need to be more … I don't know, subtle. We should bide our time and plan our offensive."
"Our," I said.
"Your," she replied. "Your offensive. Look, I've got an idea …"
It was lunchtime on Monday, and I was back at our building with Alexandra, planning our attack in the dining room. I was observing – ha! Perving on, more like – Nick Saunders from our window table while Alex told me how she was going to distract him during our afternoon lecture. I didn't even want to go to our damn lecture because I'd just gotten a really good book out of the library and I wanted to finish it sooner rather than later. The gist of the great offense was that Alex would pinch Nick's keys, and then we would go from there.
Except Nick left lunch early, and he left without Dan who was also in our lecture group. "Uh, Alex," I said. "Target is on the move."
She looked at her watch. "It's a little early to be going to the lecture already."
We watched him walk out of the dining room, then outside and down to the car park. He got in his car and sped off.
"I guess he's not going," she said finally.
"What the hell are we supposed to do?"
"You tell me!" she retorted. "It's going to be a little hard for me to distract a man who isn't even in the room! I even dressed up especially for this. I put on my bright red lippie and my burgundy shirt." She scowled.
I rubbed my hand over the scar on my arm from my bike accident last year, trying to think of a new and genius plan. I still had "Romeo and Juliet" by the Dire Straits stuck in my head from when Alexandra had been humming it in my room last night and it wasn't helping.
"You could always stand underneath his window and serenade him," Alexandra suggested.
"That would embarrass me more than him," I said.
"Oh, I don't know …"
Suddenly, I had an idea. "I've got it," I told her. "The best plan ever."
The only thing was that I couldn't actually put my plan into action until Friday night when everyone left the dorm and went down to the uni bar. Well, everyone except loner study nerds like me – especially loner study nerds who needed to get revenge on the man who showed the whole university what their chests looked like. It was perfect, really.
My older brother, Zane, had once taught me how to pick locks using a bobby pin – and a credit card too, but that's not important right now.
The building was quiet as a mouse, though it squeaked every time I took a step. I walked from my room around to 208. Nicholas Saunders and Daniel Humphries, their door said. I pulled the bobby pin from my hair with my gloved fingertips and worked my magic. I stole into his room, and did what I had to do.
You know what made this whole thing even better, rumour had it that Nick would probably be going home with the platinum blonde, Lindsey, her name was, who'd written her number on my hand, and that he never stayed until morning.
Once I was back in my room, I set my alarm clock for five thirty. The uni bar closed at four, so the chances were that everyone would be back by five and in their beds, doping up on Panadol to try to ease their hangovers in the morning.
I got up and slipped out into the hallway. I had around twenty pairs of boxers – ranging from funny to cartoons to plain old black – and all of them belonged to Nick Saunders. I hung them up from walls, ceilings, banisters, windows, anywhere I could find until the entire collection of Nick Saunders' underwear was on display for the whole building to see. And I took photos of every single pair with my camera: Facebook photos!
It didn't take long, and I didn't run into anyone while I hung them up on all four floors of our building. "We'll see how you like it," I said to myself as I dusted off my hands. Then I cringed. I'd just had my hands (despite the gloves, okay) all over Nick's underwear … who knew if they were clean. I needed to have a shower. Right now. I went and grabbed a towel and my toiletries bag.
In the shower, I scrubbed and I scrubbed, I washed my hair, soaped all over, shaved my legs and armpits, brushed my teeth twice and then conditioned my hair too. A glance at my mobile told me that it was a few minutes past six a.m., which meant that it was time for me to go back to my room and catch a couple of hours or sleep before my tutorial session.
It was too early when someone started bashing their fists against my door. Alexandra wasn't that violent, I thought, pulling myself out of bed, not even when she was pissed off her face. I opened the blinds before the opening door. Whoever had been doing the bashing burst in, pushing me out of the way and closing the door behind him. All my tired eyes saw was a flash of tanned skin, a dusting of brown hair. I rubbed at my eyeballs, "What do you want?" I looked at the clock: 9 a.m.
I turned my attention to the guy in my room. Shit. There's a guy in my room. And – oh my God. He's naked!
Then I looked up at his face.
Nick Saunders was standing in my room, starkers.
"What the hell!" I yelled. "What are you doing in my room?"
"You let me in," he said, crossing his arms over his chest. My eyes fell – of course they did, I'm only a woman, and Nick Saunders was one of the most attractive men on campus – down to the strong V of his hips and what it led to. I squeezed my eyes shut. Surely this was a dream.
I pinched myself, an action that reminded me that I was wearing only a tank top and my Bonds boyshorts. Why had it been so warm last night? And my window was open. What if they could hear us talking? Fuck me.
"Why are my boxers hung up all over the building?" he asked.
I scowled, managing to stop thinking about his glorious nudity for the moment. "Why the hell do you think, you idiot? Because you took a photo of me, naked, no less, from your window. Which might just be the creepiest thing ever. I can't believe that you would do that!"
Nick stared at me, his brown eyes unforgiving.
"I thought you were above that," I said in a whisper.
"Excuse me?" he said, as if he genuinely hadn't heard me.
"I said you're a freaking arsehole! Get out of my room!"
He stepped towards me, looking dangerous, and he kept moving in my direction until I backed up against the wall. There was barely a foot of space between us when he said, "You really think I took that photo."
"Of course I do!" I snapped. "It came from your phone! Everyone says so!"
"I bet you that no one told you that I was out that night, staying at my sister's house. I bet that no one said that I'd accidentally left my phone in my dorm and that Danny seized an opportunity he thought was too good to refuse. He knows about my –" Nick broke off.
"What is it, Saunders, huh?" I scowled, poking a finger against his chest. "What does Dan have to hold against you? I would ask if you had a small penis, but I can see that's not the case."
I cannot believe that I just said that. Oh my God. Hyperventilating. This is so not good. I need to sit down. Or even lay down. That would be nice. Yeah. No. I could feel my chest heaving, and I could see him looking at my dark blue tank, at my boobs. Oh, God. He's seen my boobs.
Nick Saunders put a hand against the wall, by my head and leaned on his arm. He spoke softly, "What I can't believe is that you'd think that I took the photo of you. Sure, I made a mistake and I left my phone behind, but Danny could've just as easily taken the photo on his own phone. He only took it on my phone because …"
As soon as I had my breathing back to normal – or normal enough to speak – I said, "Because what?" just as softly as he'd spoken.
"I can't believe we're having this conversation naked."
"Only you're naked," I told him, but I pulled the sheet off my bed and handed it to him. It would make it a hell of a lot easier for me to think straight if he wasn't wearing only his birthday suit.
"It's your fault I'm naked." He wrapped the crinkle-free (ironed) sheet around his hips and held it there with a fist.
"It's Dan's fault you're naked," I replied.
"You believe me then."
I rolled my eyes. "I don't know. I just think that you're probably more trustworthy that the gossip mill who live across from me."
I watched, slightly too captivated as his gaze dropped to my mouth, and then trailed slowly back up to my eyes.
I had been quite happy with having the hots for Nick Saunders from afar, just watching him and wishing, dreaming. Suddenly I wasn't so sure that I would be able to settle for distance anymore.
It was crass, but all I wanted in that moment was for him to kiss me, and for us to tumble into my bed and to hand my virginity card over to him. As long as he made sure he had a shower first, and cleaned himself of all bacteria, and showed me a certificate showing that he had no sexually transmitted infections and okay, I was so not going to be having sex with him today.
"Danny thought it would be funny to have nude pictures of you on my phone because, well – this is so high school – I like you, a lot."
Excuse me, but can someone pick my jaw up off the floor, please?
"Nick Saunders likes me," I said.
"A lot," he replied.
I worried my bottom lip, feeling my cheeks turning tomato red.
"Can you please say something?" he asked after what felt like a century and half a second at the same time.
I shook my head, "I don't know what to say."
Actions speak louder than words, said my mother in her romance-wisdom voice. I put my hands on his shoulders, and I stood up on my tiptoes and touched my lips to his. It would have been a peck, short, sweet, simple, easy, but Nick put his hand against the small of my back, just above the line of my undies and pulled me against him.
He kissed me properly then. I could taste toothpaste in his mouth and thanked him silently for having brushed his teeth recently, because if he had have tasted like Maccas or alcohol, I might have thrown up all over him.
"Oi, Saunders!" called a loud voice from my open window. "Talk about finally!"