“I didn’t want to go to University at first, leaving my old school meant leaving behind everything that I knew especially since nobody I knew was going to the place that I was planning to go to. But, managing to get into a University and getting a student loan was too amazing an opportunity to miss. I had to go. I had to leave everyone and live my life and that may have been hard but it was something that I needed to do. “
“That was a very nice speech, Julia. Anybody else want to share their reason for coming to Luton University?” Mr Crange had been encouraging everyone to talk about their University stories since it was the first week for us but I wasn’t one for sharing so I sat back and listened to everybody until Mr Crange saw me and decided that I needed to share. “You’re…Riley? Riley Leese?”
“Uh…yeah, that’s me,” I muttered and tried to avoid eye contact, hoping that he would leave it at that and ask someone who actually wanted to talk.
“Tell us about why you came to this University.” Teachers seemed to have a knack for picking on me to speak in class when I really didn’t want to. I tapped my fingers on the desk and hoped that he would move on but when I looked up the whole class was staring at me.
“Uh…I would rather not…” I said and averted my eyes to the floor. Most of the times when I said this the teacher would pester me for an answer but Mr Crange moved on to the next student. I sighed and rested my head on the table wishing that I would just disappear.
“Riley, can I speak to you after class?” I took my head off of the table and nodded at Mr Crange. He smiled warmly and went back to listening to another back story. I knew that he would want to speak to me about why I didn’t speak up and why I came to University and how I would have to participate in class more. I had to go through those sorts of speeches all the time and I was fed up of having to explain myself. The class ended sooner than I expected. While the students filed out I went up to Mr Crange’s desk and waited for the questions.
“Riley, I’ve heard some really good things from your college about your English classes and I would like to see work from you but seeing as you’re a lot more advanced than most of the students in this class I would like to set you a task. I want you to write a story about your experiences in University and hand it in before you leave here and I’m hoping you will stay for at least a couple of years so that it will be full of stories. Are you up for it?” I didn’t know what to say, I wasn’t the sort of person to have the most amazing University experience but maybe this would make me want to be more exciting. I thought that I should just go for it and have the chance to make me meet people and be that cool person that I always wanted to be.
“I guess I’ll do it, I mean, I’ll try…” I said quietly. Mr Crange smiled widely and handed a big batch of lined paper.
“I look forward to reading this, have fun.” I smiled weakly and left the classroom. I had no idea what I would write about but I had to find something and I had to do something. I didn’t have a very exciting life though. I had never had that wild college experience that everyone else had. I was the person who was studying so that they could get to a good University which did happen because I was that person. I now had to try to be exciting.
I made my way back to my dorm just on time to see my roommate making my dorm hers. She was hanging up posters while dancing to music that I knew but I wasn’t going to dance with her. When I closed the door she turned to me and jumped off her bed.
“Hiya, I’m Abigail. You’re my roommate, right?” I held the papers in my hand tighter and ducked my head to avoid her gaze. “So…what’s your name?”
“I’m Riley,” I said, barely louder than a whisper. I then moved towards the bathroom, placing the papers on my desk before I went out of the room. I dived into the bathroom and locked the door. I didn’t want to have a loud, outgoing roommate because she would just make me feel like I can’t do anything social.
“Hey, Riley, do you want to go to the coffee shop on campus? My friend works there and can give us stuff for free.” I needed to start doing things that were social and this was something social with someone that I knew and it was a plan and I started thinking that I was overthinking this whole thing but I always did. I needed to just take a leap of faith and go for it.
“Yeah, sure, I’ll be right out.” I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I had bags under my eyes and I just generally looked tired. I quickly washed my face and opened the door where Abigail was waiting.
“You ready to go?” I hadn’t realised before but she was very pretty, the sort of girl that boys would fling themselves at. Her strawberry blonde hair had gentle curls and it hung just below her shoulders where as my mousy brown twisted and turned wherever it wanted not even brushing could tame it.
“Uh…yeah, let’s go.” While we walked to the coffee shop she talked about her life and I tried to keep up with everything but I was zoning in and out. By the time we got there I was pretty sure she had told me her whole life story but I was glad that we were finally there.
“Skylar!” Abigail exclaimed as soon as she walked in and ran up to the counter where a guy was smiling at her. His hair was mostly hidden under his cap but I could see strands of brown hair were escaping from his headwear. “This is my friend, Riley, we’re roomies.” Abigail waved me over and I shuffled to the counter. “Riley, this is Skylar.”
“I’m her step brother but she acts like we’re not related. So, what do you want? Coffee? Tea? Scone?” I looked at what was on offer while Abigail confidently told him what she wanted. Skylar waited patiently for me to respond.
“Uh…just a tea, two sugars.” He nodded and went to get our drinks while Abigail pulled me over to a table and took out her phone.
“Do you know anyone around here yet? Like, have you met any cute guys?” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and it actually made me laugh.
“No, I mean, my English professor’s alright…I mean, he’s kind of good looking…”
“You’re talking about Mr Crange, aren’t you? Skylar’s told me about him, he’s the professor that everybody loves. I’ve wanted to meet him ever since I heard of him. Now I have the perfect opportunity one day I’m just going to turn up after your English class and talk to him.” Skylar came over with our drinks and pulled up a chair to sit on.
“Are you talking about Mr Crange again?”
“It was Riley, she was saying how cute she thought he was. Right, Riley?” She widened her eyes at me and took a sip of whatever it was she was drinking.
“Uh…I just said that he was alright looking…”
“She said he was good looking,” Abigail said, leaning towards Skylar. He smiled, looking down at the table and glancing up for a second.
“You don’t need to be embarrassed, all the girls think he’s hot and some of the guys. You should know that he’s not really into the sort of person you are…” He said, drifting off at the end so I didn’t really understand what he was saying.
“What? What do you mean?”
“He’s gay and he’s married so…you’re wasting your time,” Abigail said plainly. I wasn’t really interested in him so the news didn’t affect me that much but I was a little shocked that he was married, he seemed so carefree that I didn’t think that he was the sort of person to be so committed. “But there’s always other guys unless you’re not into guys, are you into guys?”
“Yeah…” I said and put the mug towards my lips, taking a sip of the warm tea that made me shiver from the warmth.
“So, how’s Heather?” Abigail asked and made a face. I smiled behind my mug as I watched Skylar roll his eyes at her.
“I wouldn’t know, we haven’t spoken since the break up and I don’t really want to know how she is anyway. I hope she catches an STD,” He said casually and Abigail smiled, drinking the rest of her, I think it was coffee. “Anyway, I should get back to work so I’ll see you both around. I’ll text you about that party, Abigail. See you later, Riley.” He walked behind the counter, leaving us to finish our drinks.
“Isn’t he cool? Don’t worry we’ll be seeing him a lot.” She said we. I was now a we person because now I had a friend who liked hanging out with me. I had someone I could talk to and maybe, just maybe I could tell her about why I came to University and left everyone behind in the first place.
I sat at my desk wondering how to start writing, I had been trying to start it for almost an hour and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I had only a short amount of time until Abigail got back from her lecture and I wanted to get into it before then but I hadn’t been able to concentrate. I was brought out of my thinking when I heard a knock on the door. At first I thought that it was Abigail and that she had forgotten her key but I started overthinking it. What if it was a burglar checking if someone was in or someone selling something? I clenched my fists and walked over to the door, unlocking it and opening it slightly to see Skylar standing there without his work uniform on and looking relatively normal.
“Hi Riley, is Abigail in yet?” He seemed out of breath maybe from walking up the many stairs. I opened the door wider and shook my head slightly. “Do you mind if I wait for her?”
“Uh…I’m not sure…” I mumbled, I didn’t like the idea of being alone in a room with a boy. He’d be asking questions and talking to me and I didn’t really feel like talking.
“Only until Abigail gets back which shouldn’t take long, I’ll try to be quiet.” He seemed to know that I didn’t want to talk so I stepped out of his way so he could get in and closed the door. “Thanks, Riley, I’ll just sit on Abigail’s bed.” It was easy to tell which side was hers with all the posters and various books scattered across her desk. He sat down on Abigail’s bed and I shuffled back to my desk even though I didn’t want to write while he was in the room. I looked at the books I had organised on my desk and reached out for To Kill a Mockingbird that I read about a hundred times not just for school but because I genuinely liked the story line. “I remember reading that book a few years ago in school, it was mind numbingly boring, do you have to do something about it for your English class or something?”
“No, I just like reading it,” I muttered, holding the book tighter to sort of defend it. I heard his footsteps coming up from behind me and as he leaned down, placing his hand on my desk, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as the warmth of his body radiated through the air.
“You do? Don’t you just think about all those essays teachers made you write about it?”
“I missed the essay writing…”
“How can you miss the essay writing? I’m pretty sure all schools do that, it’s a part of the curriculum after all.”
“I…I was taken out of school for a while…” I whispered, staring down at the book. For the few seconds it took him to reply I thought about what he could say and I felt sick at the thought of him saying any of those possibilities.
“I didn’t take you for a rebel, Riley, getting expelled and all.”
“I didn’t get expelled.” The door opened and I heard Abigail’s laughter, I stood up and turned around to see her. She held up a finger at me to signal she was busy, she was on the phone to someone and whoever they were they must’ve been really funny.
“I have to go, yeah, I’ll see you tonight.” She laughed again. “No, for the study session. See you then.” She hung up and put her phone in her pocket, looking up at me and Skylar. “Is there something you’re not telling me? Damn, Riley, you worked fast.”
“It’s not what you think,” Me and Skylar said in unison.
“He came round to see you and wanted to wait so I let him in, you should talk since it was so urgent. I’ll go to the cafeteria to leave you two alone.” I picked up my jacket and was about to open the door when Skylar said:
“I wanted to talk to you too actually, I don’t know if this’ll be something you’re interested in but I thought I’d ask anyway. Want to come to a party?”