I walk down the sidewalk, headed toward Brown Tower, where my dorm is. Once I get through the glass doors and to the elevator, I jog down the hallway and to my room. I look at the sock on the knob, sighing as I hear the loud moans emanating from the wood. I lean against the wall, prepared to wait, but as I look around, I notice a girl doing the exact same thing I am. She has long brown curls and her eyes are the color of smoked topaz. She's a bit shorter than average has a navy blue messenger bag lying on the floor next to her. Immediately, I get a 'stay away from me' vibe off of her. She obviously isn't wearing much makeup, but I can see a small bit of black lining her fascinating eyes. She has a solid grey hoodie on, contrasting with her black jeans and combat boots. I can see a green pack of cigarettes sticking out of her bag.
It isn't until I finish observing her that I realize she's looking at me questioningly. "Oh," I say, flushing. "Sorry, I just . . . who are you?"
Her eyes narrow slightly, jaw tensing. She clearly doesn't like people. Well, strangers. "Why?"
"Err, because that's my room."
Surprise breaks her stony expression. "O-oh," she stutters out, flushing. "Um, I'm Shoe."
"Shoe?" I echo, amused. At the murderous look that reappears on her face, I drop my smile immediately. "Well, what do you need, Shoe?"
"My roommate back," she mutters darkly, eyes darting toward the door. "She promised to help me finish something due tomorrow."
I look toward the door. "Your friend seems to be quite occupied with my roommate."
She sighs, rubbing her forehead as if she has a headache, which she probably does. "Ugh, I can't finish this alone."
"Erm, I could try to help, if you want?" The words tumble out of my mouth before I have the time to think over them. Shoe – which I'm positive isn't her real name – looks just as shocked as I am. Well, I feel horrified. She seems awed.
"You barely know me," she points out, confused.
"Oh! Oh, I'm Mason." I step forward, holding my hand out. "Art major."
She smirks and shakes my hand. Her hands aren't extremely soft, which I find somewhat freakish in girls. Her fingers are slightly rough and she has some blisters. I assume she does some sort of sport or activity that would cause that to happen. "Come on." She picks up her bag and walks down the hall. Running a hand through my jet black hair, I smile, pleased, and follow her small, retreating form. After a rather short walk, pretty much just down the hall, she stops at a door. 5524. She's lived that close all semester and I haven't noticed?
Rather than fumbling through her bag like I'd expect most girls to do, she pulls her key from her front pocket, unlocking the door and opening it hesitantly, looking around. "What are you looking for?" I ask, confused. "Your roommate is in my room."
"No one," she answers. "Err, nothing. Come in." She walks inside. Blinking, I shove my hands into my pockets and follow her, looking around. It's clear which side is hers and which side is her roommate's. What I presume is her side is decorated with greens and blacks. Her bed as a camouflage blanket and a black pillowcase. A few black and dark green duffel bags are stuffed under her bed, as well as a black backpack. Her desk is covered in papers and pens, lit by a lamp. The shelf above her bed is made up of pretty much just books and knick knacks. The other side of the room is mainly blue and yellow, with a floral comforter and a lot of stuffed animals, as well as some makeup strewn about. "Excuse the mess," she says, scrambling to fix the papers on her desk.
"It's fine," I answer. "Nothing can be worse than my room."
"Who's your roommate?" she asks as she opens a drawer to grab what I assume is her assignment.
"Luke Michaelson. He's a law major."
She smirks and nods, tossing an orange folder and a notebook onto her bed, following up with two pens and her laptop case. She walks around to sit on the bed, so I hesitantly sit next to her. It doesn't seem like she warms up to people too quickly. The second my butt hits the mattress, she tenses, looking at me, but says nothing. Instead, she hastily pulls out her laptop, turning it on. I pick up her notebook, looking at her name printed on the front. Her handwriting is hasty and messy, not pristine like most girls'. "Chelsea," I read out. "So your name is Chelsea."
She freezes up, snatching the notebook away. "Shoe, please."
Noting that I crossed a line, I nod immediately. "Sorry, Shoe."
She bites her lip, shoulders slumping as she exhales. "No, I'm sorry. It's stupid, I just . . . I don't like to be called that name anymore."
"Would you be terribly offended if I asked why?" I look at the strange brunette girl out of the corner of my eye.
"No," she answers, pausing. "But I wouldn't tell you."
"Chelsea," he reads in a sickeningly interested tone. "So your name is Chelsea."
My heart drops to my knees as a thousand horrifying memories hit me like a barrage of bullets, leaving no spot uninjured.
"Chelsea," he croons, his fingers working through my curls, making my knees feel weak. Only he knew how to do this to me – how to make it feel like we were the only two people in the world. Like we were infinite. "You look so beautiful."
"Thank you, Nathan," I force out in my lovestruck phase. I'd almost forgotten how to talk. "Not nearly as good as you, though."
"Don't be silly, lovely. You're the prettiest thing in the world."
:: :: ::
"You fucking ugly slut-!"
My breath finally catches up to me, flowing out of me like a weight. Before I know what I'm doing, I practically rip the notebook from his hands, forcing my now rough voice out. "Shoe, please."
He nods. "Sorry, Shoe." And he truly looks it.
I bite my lip, setting the notebook next to me. The memories haven't left my head. They play over and over, to the point where I feel like screaming. My shoulders slump and I exhale once again. "No, I'm sorry. It's stupid." No it's not, it's completely rational. "I just . . . I don't like to be called that name anymore."
"Chelsea divine, you look good enough to eat."
"Chels, where the fuck is my fucking weed!? You stupid bitch, did you lose it!?"
"I love you so much, Chelsea."
"Would you be terribly offended if I asked why?" He's looking ahead, but I can feel his eyes on me, observing. Almost calculating.
"No," I say after a bit of hesitation, looking at him. His deep cobalt eyes meet mine, almost hidden by his dark hair. "But I wouldn't tell you."
For the next three hours, we work on my assignment. Occasionally, his hand brushes mine, creating sparks the same way his did. It's a fluke, I decide. I've only known him for a few hours. At the ungodly hour of one in the morning, the door swings open, a much disheveled Megan striding in. Her dyed blue hair is messy, and she's wearing a t-shirt that's obviously not hers. "I am so sorry, Shoe!" she cries, heading to her bed and throwing her bag down. "I was with Lucas, we were studying and time was lost-" She turns around, looking at Mason. ". . . Who are you?"
"Mason Hartman," he says immediately, standing up and extending his hand. "Art."
"Megan Morris," Megan says slowly, shaking his hand. "Veterinary Medicine. . . Why are you here? I wasn't aware that Shoe makes friends easily. How long have you two known each other?"
Mason looks slightly uncomfortable at this. "Err, I helped Shoe with her assignment. We just met today."
"And she let you into our room? I would've thought she expected you to abandon her on the street at this hour." A joke.
"Hey, Chelsea, I'll be right back. I'm think I left my wallet."
"Alright, don't be long."
He smiles and walks off, leaving me on the deserted, dark street. We'd been walking for about an hour, just talking, after a midnight showing of a new movie. My phone goes off and I pull it out, confused.
My heart drops and in that moment, I swear I was dead. I knew better than to respond with a beg or a question, so instead I just trudged off and tried to call a taxi, tears streaming down my cheeks.
"Well luckily, I didn't do that." His laugh rings through the room, piercing my heart like a javelin. "I better go. See you Shoe, Megan." With that, he's gone.
Megan turns to look at me, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. I just roll my eyes, clearing off my bed.