A warm breeze brushed over me gently as I opened the taxi door. I stepped out of the cab onto a red brick footpath boarded by lush green grass, recently clipped. I stood still in awe as my gaze fell upon my new college. Large stately brick buildings towered over modern ones of concrete and glass, separated by winding pathways and emerald banks scattered with ancient trees. Birds twittered in the oaks and a fresh, clean smell filled the air. A gentle golden haze of sunset washed over the university, a reminder of my late arrival due to a family row and a missed train. A petroleum fuelled roar alerted me to the taxis departure and partially awoken from my stupor, I grabbed my small leather suitcase and campus map and set off to find the dorms. Arriving so late meant there was only a smattering of students outside and all were lazing in the final rays of sun, there was no tell tale trail of newcomers towards the dorms as there would've been hours earlier. Having no navigational skills yet feeling to proud to ask for help, I wandered the enormous campus aimlessly in hope of stumbling across my destination by chance. The concrete jumble of classrooms, gymnasiums, halls and theatres confused me to no end and I began to loose hope.
The sky was darkening and time seemed to be rapidly slipping through my fingers. Out of nowhere an unintelligible shout reached my ear milliseconds before a hard object whacked into the back of my head. On impulse, I dropped my suitcase, the contents spilling onto the ground. As I turned around to seek out the culprit, I found a lone football lying at my feet. The sound of jogging footsteps pounding towards me alerted me to the presence of a fellow student. My head snapped up to find a handsome boy around my age standing breathless before me. I hardly heard his polite apology as my eyes wandered over his tall, muscular frame, scattered with intricate tattoos. His long chestnut curls grazed his shoulders and as his deep green eyes met mine, a small smirk fluttered across his face. "I'm Harry by the way" he smiled, holding out a hand. I shook it awkwardly and mumbled a barely audible introduction of "Ella" by way of reply. "Again, I am terribly sorry about the ball" he continued, "you see Louis over there," he said, gesturing towards another brunette boy about 50 meters away "likes to think he's a bit of a pro, but really he's quite horrible." He raised his voice as he said this and I heard a faint shout of "I can hear you over there!" From behind. A deep chuckle escaped Harry's perfect lips as he rubbed his slight stubble out of what seemed to be habit. Harry bent over and began to pick up my things and hurriedly I kneeled to help him. Louis approached the pair of us and explained he was off to hang out with some girl called Eleanor. As I shut my suitcase and stood up, Harry asked if I was new. Blushing I asked if it was obvious. "A little" he replied, smiling kindly "I assume you're looking for the dorms but you're a fair way away from them. Did you only just arrive?" I poured out some hurried excuse of a car break down, not eager to detail the true reason for my lateness. "I'm actually heading to the dorms now. I could show you the way" he offered, almost too eagerly. Despite my hesitation, I was desperate to find my room, I agreed and off we set. On the way Harry told me this was his second year of Law but was starting a Bachelor of Arts this year, majoring in what, he was yet to decide despite classes starting the day after next. He had 'friends in the right places' to get into a course last minute he explained. "What are you here for?" He asked "not geography I hope" he joked, referencing my miserable attempt to navigate the campus. I laughed and told him of my BA with a double major in phycology and criminology and he seemed impressed. "You must be a hard worker" he noted and I simply nodded in reply. When we finally arrived in the dorms, he offered to take me to my room but I refused, reassuring him I'd be fine. He left for him own room, scribbling his number on a scrap of paper in case I got lost again or just wanted some company. As I headed upstairs to room 245, I reflected on my encounter with Harry. He was cute, flirty and funny but as much as it pained me, I knew I would do nothing with his number except throw it away. I was not ready for romance after my last heartbreak and besides, I was hear to learn, not have flings. I found my room towards the end of the second floor. I opened the white door to reveal my home for the next few years. It was fairly small but larger than I had expected. Dark wood floors ran perpendicular to off white walls. A single bed sat lonely in the corner next to a large window with a view of the treed campus, the sleepy little town and mountains in the distance. A wooden desk was placed on the opposite side of the room as was a set of draws and a tiny fridge as well as a bench and sink for basic food preparation. To my surprise, a small ensuite was off to the left of my room. Tiny, but better than communal bathrooms. I set my suitcase down and began to unpack.
The next morning, I was awoken my warm sunlight streaming in through my thin curtains. I stretched and threw off the covers. Getting up, I made myself a bowl of muesli and fruit and sat cross legged at my desk, surfing the web to try find a local homewares store to make my room more personal and inhabitable. A knock on the door startled me and o set down my bowl cautiously and approached the door, opening it slowly. I stood behind the door and poked my head out, trying to obscure my pyjamas from my unexpected guest. A fresh faced girl with bright blue eyes and dark hair stood in front of me. "Hi!" She exclaimed excitedly, "I'm Anastasia from next door! I heard you get in last night and wanted to introduce myself" she explained, flashing a set of perfect white teeth. "Hey I'm Ella" I smiled.
"I was going to head down to check out the clubs and stuff they have on offer because it's like orientation and all!" She told me. I nodded and smiled in reply. "Wanna come?"
"Uh yeah sure I'll just be a minute" I hurried back inside and quickly pulled on a denim skirt and a white crop top along with some old chucks. I pulled my blonde hair into a messy bun and headed out to find Anastasia at my door. "Let's go!" She said, already bouncing along the corridor.
We wandered among the tables of groups advertising themselves. Anastasia convinced me to join yoga with her and I filled out an application form for a job at a juice bar in the town. I spotted Harry in the crowd and we locked eyes. He smiled and began to head towards me but I grabbed Anastasia and pulled her into the crowd, pretending to be desperate to find a chess club. As much as I wanted to talk to that gorgeous boy, I knew how dangerous it was to put myself through that all over again. After an hour or two I suggested we head into the town to explore. Anastasia immediately agreed and we decided to find supplies to decorate our respective rooms. I found a comfortable armchair as well as new bedding, fairy lights, a magazine rack, house plants and a teapot and teacup set. In an old op shop I found a vintage Polaroid camera which I brought for $10. We stopped in an organic cafe for lunch. I learnt that Anastasia was a vegan and studying early childhood education. She had a passion for photography and loved animals. She was very enthusiastic and ensured me that we were going to be best friends. As different as we were, I had an inkling she was right. We headed back to campus to decorate our rooms. After a few hours we inspected each other's with a great deal of admiration. Anastasia's room was colourful jungle of flowers and motivational posters where as mine was fairly minimalistic, with most decorations being white except for a concrete Buddha statue and lush green pot plants. Together, we made our way to the dining hall for dinner. The food was as good as could be expected and Anastasia introduced me to several other students including the boy Louis who had been with Harry the night before. He winked cheekily when we were introduced but said nothing. Thankfully, Harry was nowhere in sight. After dinner, I headed back to my room to get to bed early in preparation for the first day of class. For some reason I could not get Harry off my mind. The way his face lit up when he spotted me in the crowds was imbedded into my brain as was his deep husky voice, handsome looks and gentlemanly ways. I shook the dreamy thoughts from my brain. I could not and would not fall for him, or any other boy here. I just couldn't. I knew it would only end in tears in heart break. But even knowing this, I still fell asleep with his amused smirk burning in my head.