Chapter 2 – After

Chapter 2 – After

I wish I could say that the familiar scenery of my home state calmed me as we drove, or that a sense of adventure took hold of me with each sign that indicated we were getting closer and closer to Washington Central. But really I was mostly in a daze of planning and obsessing. I’m not even sure what Noah was really talking about, but I know he was trying to be reassuring and excited for me.

Here we are!” my mother squeals when we drive through a stone gate and onto campus. It looks just as great in person as it did in the brochures and online, and I’m immediately impressed by the elegant stone buildings. Hundreds of people, parents hugging and kissing their children goodbye, clusters of freshmen dressed head to toe in WCU gear, and a few stragglers, lost and confused, fill the area. The size of the campus is intimidating, but hopefully after a few weeks I will feel at home.

My mother insists that she and Noah accompany me to freshman orientation. My mother manages to hold a smile on her face the entire three hours and Noah listens intently, the same way that I do.

“I would like to see your dorm room before we head out. I need to make sure everything’s up to par,” my mother says once orientation is over. Her eyes scan the old building, full of disapproval. She has a way of finding the worst in things. Noah smiles, lightening the mood, and my mother perks up.

“I just can’t believe you’re in college! My only daughter, a college student, living on her own. I just can’t believe it,” she whines, dabbing under her eyes, though careful not to mess up her makeup. Noah follows behind us, carrying my

bags as we navigate through the corridors.

“It’s B22 . . . we are in C hall,” I tell them. Luckily, I see a large B painted on the wall. “Down here,” I instruct when my mother begins to turn the opposite way. I’m thankful that I only brought a few clothes, a blanket, and some of my favorite books along so Noah doesn’t have too much to carry and I won’t have too much to unpack.

“B22,” my mother huffs. Her heels are outrageously high for the amount of walking we endure. At the end of a long hallway, I slide the key into the old wooden door, and when it creaks open my mother lets out a loud gasp. The room is small, with two single beds and two desks. After a moment, my eyes travel to the reason behind my mother’s surprise: one side of the room is covered in music posters of bands that I’ve never heard of, the faces on them covered in piercings and their bodies with tattoos. And then there’s the girl lying across one bed, and her bright red hair, eyes lined with what looks like inches of black liner, and arms covered in colorful tattoos.

“Hey,” she says, offering a smile, a smile that I find quite intriguing, much to my surprise. “I’m Steph.” She sits up on her elbows, causing her cleavage to push tight against her laced-up top, and I gently kick at Noah’s shoe when his eyes focus on her chest.

“H-hey. I’m Tessa,” I choke, all of my manners flying out the door.

“Hey, Tessa, nice to meet you. Welcome to WCU, where the dorms are tiny and the parties are huge.” The crimson-haired girl grins wider. Her head falls back into a fit of laughter as she takes in the three horrified expressions in front of her. My mother’s jaw is wide open, practically on the carpet, and Noah shifts uncomfortably. Steph walks over, closing the gap between us, and wraps her thin arms around my body. I’m frozen for a moment, surprised by her affection, but I return her kind gesture. A knock sounds at the door just as Noah drops my bags onto the floor, and I can’t help but hope that this is all some sort of joke.

“Come in!” my new roommate yells. The door opens and two boys walk inside before she finishes her greeting.

Boys inside the female dorms on the first day? Maybe Washington Central was a bad decision. Or perhaps I could have found a way to screen my roommate first? I assume by the pained expression covering my mother’s face that her thoughts have taken the same course. The poor woman looks like she might pass out any moment.

“Hey, you Steph’s roomie?” one of the boys asks. His blond hair is styled straight up and there are sections of brown peeking through. His arms are scattered with tattoos and the earrings in his ear are the size of a nickel.

“Um . . . yes. My name is Tessa,” I manage to say.

“I’m Nate. Don’t look so nervous,” he says with a smile, reaching out to touch my shoulder. “You’ll love it here.” His expression is warm and inviting despite his harsh appearance.

“I’m ready, guys,” Steph says, grabbing a heavy black bag from her bed. My eyes shift to the tall brown-haired boy leaning against the wall. His hair is a mop of thick waves on his head, pushed back off his forehead, and he has metal in his eyebrow and lip. My focus moves down his black T-shirt to his arms, which are also covered in tattoos; not an inch of untouched skin is seen. Unlike Steph’s and Nate’s, his appear to be all black, gray, and white. He’s tall, lean, and I know that I’m staring at him in the most impolite way, but I can’t seem to look away.

I expect him to introduce himself the way that his friend did, but he stays quiet, rolling his eyes in annoyance and pulling a cell phone from the pocket of his tight black jeans. He definitely isn’t as friendly as Steph or Nate. He’s more appealing, though; something about him makes it hard to tear my eyes from his face. I’m vaguely aware of Noah’s eyes on me as I finally look away and pretend I was staring out of shock.

Because that’s what it is, right?

“See you around, Tessa,” Nate says and the three of them exit the room. I let out a long breath. Calling the last few minutes uncomfortable would be an understatement.

“You’re getting a new dorm!” my mother roars as soon as the door clicks shut. “No, I can’t.” I sigh. “It’s fine, Mother.” I do my best to hide my nerves. I don’t know how well this will work out, either, but the last thing I want is my overbearing mother causing a scene on my first day of college. “I’m sure she

won’t be around much at all anyway,” I try to convince her, along with myself. “Absolutely not. We are going to switch now.” Her clean appearance clashes

with the anger in her face; her long blond hair is flipped to one shoulder, yet every curl is still perfectly intact. “You will not room with someone who allows men in like that—those punks, at that!”

I look into her gray eyes, then to Noah. “Mother, please, let’s just see how it goes. Please,” I beg. I can’t begin to imagine the mess it would create trying to get a last-minute dorm change. And how humiliating it would feel.

My mother looks around to the room again, taking in the décor covering Steph’s side, and huffs dramatically at the dark theme.

“Fine,” she spits out, much to my surprise. “But we’re going to have a little talk before I go.”

Series Navigation<< Chapter 1 – AfterChapter 3 – After >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!