Summer came and went without any interruptions. Porfirio came home for two weeks to visit us though it seemed like he had missed his beloved waves more than his family. “Wow look at your hair! When you wrote you told me it was short but I didn’t think it was almost as short as mine.” My brother joked in good nature as soon as he saw me. Though it was short lived it was nice having all of my siblings in the house again. As much as I looked forward to leaving and growing up, parts of it made me nervous. Living on my own in a city that I had only visited a few times. But then again I did have family out there so it wouldn’t be that bad. I would always rationalize to myself.
During his visit they both avoided the topic of Midnight even though it was common knowledge that he was also on leave and in town. Instead Porfirio announced that he had been promoted again and though he couldn’t talk about what he was doing now it was really exciting. Later on that night he confided in me that Midnight had also been promoted and that they along with the rest of their unit would be leaving after they all got back from taking leave. Where they were going to he wouldn’t say just to promise that I would take care of myself while I was at college and that I would not tell Wisteria anything about what he had said tonight.
After Porfirio had been back for a week Wisteria took a trip to Chambery to tour the country and its many nectaries with a few of her friends while Violet came here for one of her usual visits. She had grown so much since the last time I saw her since she had wiggled her way out on her visits these last two times to go vacationing with her friends since becoming a teen. Which I preferred since she was like Wisteria but from another country, so I just stayed out of her way until it was time for her to leave.
Late in the summer the day finally came for my parent’s to drive me out to Briocheporte to drop me off at my dorm so I could get settled in there and start at the Art Institute the following Monday. “I’m so sorry that I won’t be able to come.” Indy apologized as she said goodbye to me. Having started her classes here already she was already bogged down with all sorts of papers and other assignments due on her long road to becoming a pediatrician at the hospital that our Great, Great Grandmother Crème had worked at so long ago. “It’s alright Indy. I’ll be seeing you this winter for the holidays ok?” I assured her as our father finished loading up the car with a few dorm necessities. New bedding set, pots and pans and other personal effects to give it a homier feel were all boxed up nicely and ready to go. Now if we could just get on the road I thought to myself since it was already after lunch time and it was a good 45 minute drive to the city.
By the time we were on the road it was almost after one, my mother sat in the passenger seat humming along with the music that softly played on the radio as my father drove silently. The whole time it was quiet except for my mother as I looked out the window watching the landscape change from the suburbs to homes more grouped together and finally to the tall buildings as I tried to remember which one of them Shadow Sea showed me was the dormitory for the Art Institute. When we got there I saw the familiar court yard in the front of the building with its trees and topiary. A single fountain sat in the middle of it while students and their families milled around it.
Checking in and getting my dorm room key was easy enough. A guy smiled at us a little too friendly for my taste as he told me I was on the Twix floor, first room on the right. As my father interrupted to make sure that the floors were not co-ed while I just rolled my eyes before we trudged up the elevator to my floor. Inside my room we found my roommate there already and unpacked as well. She had a pink and blue poufy mohawk and a dress that matched along with the rest of her belongings.
Facing each other I stood in front of my roommate like a new kid being observed on a playground. Had I gotten here earlier today the roles were reversed as it was I was the new kid, even if by only an hour. “This is Starry, I’m her mother Aubergine. What’s your name?” My mother asked as she introduced me to the girl that I would be sharing a room with for the next few years. “Candie Floss but everyone calls me Can-Can.” She replied almost shyly which in turn made me feel just a bit better that I wasn’t the only one like that. “Where are your parents Candie?” My father asked her after putting down the rest of my stuff.
“Oh um they’ve left already. We got here around 10 this morning since we stayed overnight at a hotel not too far from here because we had to drive all the way from Black Tea Hollows.” She answered offering up a small bit of information of where she was from. “You like the room? It’s the biggest on the floor but its right next to the elevators so you have to hear them all night. The room at the end of the hall has three windows in it and a better view though.” She asked as she continued on as she looked around. “I hope you don’t mind I picked this bed since I don’t really like heights all that much. In Black Tea Hollows there are not many tall buildings. I don’t think I’d be able to fall asleep at night looking out of a window like that. Am I talking too much? It’s a bad habit I have when I get nervous, it’s like I can’t get myself to shut up. I mean I hear myself going on and on and I start to think to myself Can-Can what are you even talking about now? Oh… I should stop talking you haven’t even been able to say a word.”
“I’m sure that will be quite alright Candie. Starry is not much of a talker so I guess you‘ll even each other out.” My father teased as I rolled my eyes at him. But it wasn’t long before my parents were too saying goodbye as Can-Can hastily left to go get her meal card activated for the school’s cafeteria. “My two little girls all grown up and in college.” My mother said as she hugged me goodbye before my father made me promise that I wouldn’t forget about them and to give them a call sometime. He tried to pass it off as my mother was the one that looked forward to them but I knew that they were as much for him as they were for her.
Left by myself after they were finally gone I unpacked everything that we had brought with us. It didn’t take long until my area of the room was looking as decorated as Can-Can’s. There was only so much I could do in the room by myself before I soon wondered downstairs to the courtyard to hang out by the fountain. I could have called Shadow Sea since he was only a couple of blocks away attending the film school. But I was sure that he was probably busy or having fun and didn’t need his cousin tagging along with him.
Scanning the crowd standing outside of the dorms as everyone else was saying their goodbyes after my parents left my eyes settled on a guy sitting crossed legged on top of one of the concrete dividers while feverishly writing in a notebook as a cigarette barely hanging out of his mouth as he mouthed along what he was writing. The only time he took it out was to write more after he had erased what seemed like half of the page he had written. I had never seen a berry back home smoke, of course the stores sold them but no one ever really bought those things.
He was dressed in a way that made it seem like he blindfoldedly picked up random articles of clothing from his bedroom floor to wear that day. Knitted stripes with a vintage patterned shirt layered with a leather vest and fingerless gloves, as much as they clashed it oddly went together so well. Seemingly lost in his own world that only consisted of himself and whatever he might be writing as a pushed away a few strands of pink hair that slowly begun to fall into his eyes. As curiosity wound its way through my mind I wondered what he was writing, whether it was to a girl back home or maybe even to his parents asking to send money to their poor college student son.
Whatever it was it wasn’t enough to keep my attention on him as the mother a few feet away started to loudly cry as she said goodbye to her daughter while making sure she had everything she needed before they had to leave. With annoyance I glanced over before rolling my eyes at the spectacle they were making. As if it was the end of the world they were leaving their daughter at the college she was going to be attending.
When I turned my eyes back to the rosy hued guy I was surprised to see him staring right back at me as if he knew all along that I had only just ogled him moments ago.
For a split millisecond our eyes connected in a way that made it seem like it lasted longer than it really had, like everything just stopped at that moment before it all came crashing down.
For as soon as he realized I was looking right back at him his eyes widened as he clumsily jumped up in surprise falling off the concrete barrier in the process.
I barely let out a snicker when I heard over the loud speaker and looked over trying to locate where it was “All new students please report to the dorm basement for an introduction and orientation.” With a glance back to where the pink guy was he was no longer there. Either hiding behind the barrier in embarrassment or he skulked off when I was looking away. Just as well he’s probably an older guy that would want nothing to do with you. I thought to myself glumly as I walked back into the chocolate colored building.
Taking the elevator down to the basement there was a hallway and past the laundry room through the double doors was a large common room filled with random couches and other students hanging around talking in small groups of two or standing by themselves. If I was outgoing at all I would have struck up an conversation with one of the students that was by themselves, but when I was walking around I heard Can-Can exclaim “There she is!” And I turned around to see my new roommate leading a very green guy with white eyes over to me by his tee shirt. “Starry this is Melon. Melon this is Starry. Melon was a foreign exchange student two years ago at my school.” She explained while she introduced us. Melon looked probably as uncomfortable as I did as she whispered to me in a very unsubtle way with a giggle “Just don’t say his last name wrong.” Hearing this made him scowl at her since he probably knew what was coming next and Melon tried to avoid it as he ask impatiently “Can I go back to my room now Can-Can?”
“No I just found you and you’re the only person I know here… Though it might be vaguely it still counts. Plus you have to stay down here like the rest of us newbies” She insisted while I asked him a question that would probably only irritate him further “What’s your last name?”
“It’s CaLLLpis.” Melon replied as he made sure that I understood that there was an L in his last name. “It’s not Calpis, its Cowpiss.” A random rainbow colored guy who appeared to be eavesdropping on our conversation said as Melon uttered angrily “Froot Loop.”
“You know this guy?” Can-Can asked him in surprise as the guy joined our small circle which didn’t seem to sit well with Melon. “Yes, I did the exchange program as the KitKat High school here last year also. He is a buffoon.” He replied before he abruptly walked away and rainbow guy called to him “Come on now Melon that’s not how you treat your old friend Froot.”
“You are not my friend.” Melon called back without even looking behind him before going to where the elevators where. As Froot introduced himself while we awkwardly stood around the dorm manager began to go over the rules of what was allowed and what most definitely wasn’t allowed in the dorms. Instead of listening to the speaker Froot began to tell Can-Can about a mixer he heard that the class from the year ahead of us was throwing in the basement. Can-Can seemed doubtful about going “I don’t know. What if they don’t like a bunch of us showing up and crashing their party?”
“It’s being held here in the basement and it’s not like they can do anything about it if anyone else shows up. They don’t own the dorms. And maybe they are throwing it tonight because they want some underclassmen coming.” Froot was quick to point out but Can-Can counter with “Or they could just be having a party because it’s their first day back too.”
“Whatever I’m going because where there is a party there is always fun.” Froot said before walked over to two girls that had been also talking the whole time the speaker was too. “Do you want to go?” Can-Can asked me as her eyes watched him go. “I don’t know… I uhh… wasn’t really a partier in high school.” I admitted to her as she nodded her head in agreement. “I didn’t really go to too many of the parties that my classmates threw. Most of my friends were from other towns that were like me.”
“So whats up with Melon?” I asked her since he never came back for the orientation. “Oh he just doesn’t like new people sometimes since he doesn’t like it when they get his last name wrong. Melon is pretty fun once you get to know him. Plus he is kinda cute don’t you think?” She asked before continuing on with a smile “I like a guy with a bit of a green glow but his is a little bit too much, not to mention he’s too sensitive sometimes. I need a guy that can just go with the flow. What about you Starry?”
So this is what it’s like to have a friend? I wondered quietly to myself in the safe confines of my mind. “Yeah… I don’t really have a type.” I answered quietly and looked away. Here I was with someone that probably had a few boyfriends under her belt and I never got a second glance from a guy let alone the time of day. “Well we’ll just have to find you a type. Maybe we should go tonight, it could be fun.” Can-Can replied as the crowd seemed to be breaking up as it flowed towards the elevators; I guess the orientation was over with and I had barely heard a word of it.
By dinner time Can-Can was still undecided about the party “I don’t know it’s our first night of being college girls we should go don’t you think?” and once again I wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince me or herself. But the pause as she waited for my answer made it obvious that she was talking to me. “I was just thinking of staying in tonight.” I replied and she let out a sigh that told me that was not the answer she was looking for. “Ok maybe for a little bit.” I said after a moment as I thought. This is college, this is supposed to be my new beginning. I’m not going to be the same old Starry I was in High School staying home all the time by myself. I could do this right? Be sociable and make friends? The whole nine yards of being a productive member of society?