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Book Draft (so far)

Work in progress

By Emery PinePublished 2 years ago 37 min read

Saturday, August 17, 2019

“Here’s your key, and if you need anything at all, let me know, dear,” says the lady behind the desk. Her name is Linda, and she’s already promised my mom she’ll keep an eye on me to make sure my transition to university goes smoothly. We’re moving all of my belongings into the dorms today. Linda also told us that there are plenty of nice looking young men around to give me a hand with whatever I need. I don’t particularly care about the nice looking young men. I’m more of an introvert and not quite ready to meet people yet.

Mom keeps telling me to make sure I introduce myself to my professors as soon as possible when classes start next week. I know that’s not really what she’s worried about; I’ve always gotten along better than fine with my teachers in the past. In middle and high school, my teachers were my only friends. What she’s really worried about is making sure I’m socializing with my classmates and making friends. I’ve always preferred my school work and books over talking to people. It’s not that I don’t like people— it’s just that they make me anxious. I never really had many friends growing up, and I find socializing with my peers incredibly difficult. I always preferred sitting with my teachers at lunch, talking about our lesson that day or what books I was reading at the time. Mom’s worried I’ll be a loner in college and that it’ll be too hard on me. I think having a friend or two would be nice. I haven’t told her that, though. If I did, she’d get her hopes up about me interacting with people. I think I might try to talk to people, but I don’t want Mom to get too excited.

My roommate, Eden, wasn’t in the room when we arrived. She already had all of her stuff set up on the far side of the room, though. We’ve been emailing a little for the last few weeks, so maybe we might end up being friends. She’s a sophomore and studying chemistry. I’m worried she won’t want to be friends, though, since I’m sure she already has a group of people she hangs out with. I’ll try anyways, of course. I hope we get along, even if we don’t become friends. I’ll be living with her for the next nine months, so even if we’re not friends, it will make my life a lot easier if we get along. In our emails, she always seemed a little distant. I’m hoping it will be easier to get to know each other in person.

Mom, Dad, and my little brother Adam stayed for dinner after helping me set my room up. I cried when they left. I don’t want them to know how scared I am of being here alone. I’m over four hundred miles away from home and I know no one. I’ve always been close to my parents, physically and emotionally. I’m not really ready to be out on my own, if I’m being honest. If I’m able to make some friends, maybe everything could turn out really well, but as of right now, it’s just me and my books in my new room that doesn’t feel anything like home.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Classes start tomorrow and I have yet to make any friends. Eden has barely spoken to me. She introduced herself when she got back to our room the first night, and she sat next to me during our floor meeting so we could fill out a roommate contract, but that’s been it. I’ve tried talking to our suitemates, but they seem rather content keeping to themselves. There’s this boy down the hall, though, who I’ve talked to a little. His name is Brandon. He sat next to me during one of our orientation lectures a few days ago, and we’ve talked a few times since then. I don’t know if we’re really friends, but I’m talking to someone, at least.

“Are you ready for classes tomorrow?” It’s Ethan making his rounds. He’s our floor’s resident assistant and is supposed to keep an eye on everyone to make sure we’re transitioning well and doing alright in our classes through the year. I know he’s only here asking me because he has to, but I appreciate having someone asking me if I feel ready anyways.

“I think so. I’m a bit nervous, though, honestly.”

“Don’t be nervous! I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but, look, tomorrow will be great. The professors here really have all of our backs. They really care about their students and make sure you always have what you need to be successful.”

“I’m not really worried about the professors. I’m more worried about the other students. I’m not really good at making friends, but I would really like to get better. I don’t really know anyone here still and don’t want to spend the year completely by myself.”

I was a little surprised at how honest I was being with Ethan. I’m not usually so open. I usually just say whatever I need to in order to be left alone again as fast as possible. I guess I was hoping he could give me some advice on what to do or would tell me everything would be ok. Mom’s told me it will be ok everyday since she dropped me off here, but she kind of has to, being my mom. She wants everything to be ok just as much as I do, maybe more. I’m not sure how much she actually means what she says about making friends being easy, though. Ethan wants all of us on the floor to make friends and do well here, but he’s not as emotionally invested in my social endeavors as my mom is, so maybe he’ll say something more useful than “it’s all going to be ok.”

“I know it’s really overwhelming starting college. You said in our introductions you’re from Sonoma, right?”

I nod. Sonoma is about four hundred miles from Los Angeles, where I’m going to school. A lot of the kids living on my floor live here in the city, so they can go home practically whenever they want to. I, on the other hand, will only really be able to go home for holidays.

“Sonoma’s pretty far away. I’m sure you’re feeling a bit lonely, but, trust me, you will make friends. Maybe it might take a few weeks, but I have no doubt you’ll find yourself a group. It will make being so far away from home a lot easier. When I came here, I only got to go home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break. My home town is about three hundred miles away. You might only be able to go back that often, too. I’m sorry if you struggle a bit with the transition, but I’m here for you. Anything I can do to help you, I’ll do it. You’ve just got to talk to me and let me know what you need. It will all be alright, though. Maybe you should look into joining a club or two on campus. There’s hundreds for basically everything you can think of. There’ll be something you’ll be interested in, and I think it would be a great way to make a couple friends pretty fast.”

I smile and thank him for the advice. I’m not entirely sure, but I probably won’t take his advice on the joining a club thing. That would be far too many people at a time and will not be a comfortable environment for me in the slightest. But I tell him I appreciate the talk and that I’ll take a look into the clubs on campus.

Monday, August 26, 2019

I woke up with plenty of time to get breakfast before class. I’m not usually a breakfast person, but I felt the need to get breakfast today for a few reasons: for one, it seems like the right thing to do before my first day of classes, and, two, there’s a cereal bar. How can you have access to a cereal bar and not indulge? So my day was started off with a healthy bowl of Coco Puffs and a glass of apple juice. I’m not usually the type to eat a lot, but with the food options on campus, I have no doubt I’ll be gaining some weight here.

Brandon came over to my table just a few minutes after I sat down. I have yet to sit with anyone for a meal here, so this is a first.

“Are you ready for classes? When’s your first one?” He asks, pulling a chair out.

“I’ve got English in about thirty. You?”

Making small talk seems like the appropriate thing to do at this moment, so I’m going along with it.

“English? How boring! And that soon? Why did you sign up for the eight o’clocks? All of my classes are in the afternoon and evening. I am so not a morning person. I have biology at two later.”

I frown a little at his reaction to English. I’m a literature major, and I’m very passionate about it. I don’t understand people who don’t enjoy it. It’s such a vast topic, there’s something for anyone to like about it. I find people who don’t enjoy literature to be rather close minded and dull. I suppose some of them could believe I’m dull, too, though. I just don’t understand how anyone could not like it. There’s books about every topic you could ever want to read about, and no opinion is wrong. Poetry is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and listening to and understanding other people’s perspectives on the same piece is fascinating.

“You don’t like English?” I ask. I want to understand why he finds it so boring.

“No! It’s so boring. And I don’t understand poetry. All that rhyming and iambic pentamer stuff… I just don’t get it.”

“Iambic pentameter,” I correct.

To be fair, I get a little turned around with it, myself. It has a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line, but the same word can be used as both a stressed and an unstressed syllable. The word “that,” for example, is used by Shakespeare as both types of syllables in his sonnets. What’s the point in having a rule like using a stressed syllable here and an unstressed one there if the same word can be used as either?

“Sure, that. I just don’t get it. And all that reading. There’s so many other things I could be doing instead of reading some dead dude’s thoughts on World War I.”

“Reading is my favorite way to spend my time. I love that we get to share our thoughts with no judgment in novels. And I love discussing literature with people; everyone’s interpretations says so much about them, and you can’t really say any of them are incorrect. It’s not like math, where there is only one correct and logical answer. Every answer in literature is correct because it’s your interpretation of the piece. I think it’s beautiful. Besides, my English class later is fascinating. It’s an apocalyptic literature course, so we’ll be studying the psychology behind our ideas of the end of the world.”

Brandon rolls his eyes at my defense of literature, but looks a bit interested at the idea of my class.

“That actually doesn’t sound too bad.”

“We get to watch movies, too.”

I feel the need to include this to create further interest in the subject for him.

“No way! You’re so lucky. I wish I had a class we just got to sit around and watch movies in. That sounds really fun.”

I nod and get up from the table. My class is a little ways away from the dorms and I don’t want to risk being late on the first day.

“I’ve got to get going, Brandon. It was nice talking to you, though. Have a good first day of classes!”

On my way to class, I see someone riding a unicycle. I’ve seen plenty of people riding bicycles, skateboards, and scooters around campus, but this unicycle throws me off a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone ride one before. I stop and watch him ride by for a minute. I know it’s not like it’s something really monumental you have to watch, but I was intrigued. For some reason, this unicycle has been the biggest shock for me since I’ve been here. I can’t quite explain why, but there’s just something about it that screams “you can do whatever and be whoever you want to be here!” It made me think I will make friends here— not for Mom, not to stop her worrying, not to make Ethan think I’m transitioning well, but for me. I want to make friends. I don’t want a lot of friends, really, just a few, but the unicyclist made me decide I will genuinely make an effort to meet peopl.

When I get to my English class, there are only a couple students waiting outside the door. I’m relieved I’m on time, but the idea of awkwardly standing near the door with these other people isn’t very exciting. I know it doesn’t have to be awkward, but while I’ve decided I want to make friends, I need a bit more time.

“Hi, my name is Jacob,” says a boy next to me.

I think I jumped a little, which is a bit embarrassing, but I’m not used to people talking to me, especially not cute boys in my English class.

“I’m Cassidy,” I say, looking up from my book at him.

I’m a little disappointed about being interrupted from my book. I’m working my way through Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve read War and Peace before, but this is my first time through this particular book. I don’t really like being interrupted from my reading, but maybe talking to him would be a good thing.

“What are you reading? Is it the book for the class? I haven’t started it yet.”

“No,” I start, “it’s Anna Karenina.”

“Tolstoy, right? So you’re a classics kind of girl. I respect that. I find them a little hard to follow, honestly. I liked Frankenstein, though.”

“Oh, that’s one of my absolute favorites. I find Mary Shelley to be one of the most inspirational writers. What did you like about it?”

Jacob opens his mouth to respond, but the classroom door opens at the same time and there is our professor telling us to come on in. Jacob closes his mouth and nods at the door.

“I guess we should probably head in.”

I step around him and head into the room. It’s a small room, only two or three dozen seats. I pick a chair in the front row, next to the wall. I’m hoping most of the other students pick seats further to the back of the room. If someone sits next to me, I’ll have to talk more.

Jacob walks up to me again and asks if he can sit next to me. I suppose it could be worse— he doesn’t seem so bad, really. He likes Frankenstein. Maybe this isn’t the best way to judge a person, but it’s worked for me so far. I like people who like the same literature as me; they’re easier to talk to than most people.

“Yeah, of course,” I smile at him.

Maybe we’ll talk more about books. He’s cute, too, which never hurts.

“To answer your earlier question, I like Shelley’s take on arrogance with creation and science,” he says.

“Oh, it’s so much more than that. She’s talking about playing God.”

I notice our professor listening in on our conversation. He’s trying to be discrete, but it’s very obvious he’s listening in. I wonder if my thoughts on Shelley are making a good enough first impression on him.

“Ok, class,” our professor says, closing the door. “I’m Preston. I know the syllabus says Professor Danes, but we don’t believe in formalities in this room. So, please, call me Preston. Also, starting next week, my office hours will be starting at seven before class at The Coffee Hide Out, the coffee shop across the street.”

This makes my heart happy immediately. I’m kind of a coffee addict. Any professor who holds their office hours in a coffee shop is hands down my favorite professor.

We just talked about the syllabus through the class. I wish we got around to the book we’re reading for class, Alas, Babylon, but Preston said we’d get around to that next class, on Wednesday. Now I’m on my way to history. This one is a lecture style class, and I’m not sure whether I’m more relieved or stressed about this. I think I might be relieved because there’s a chance we won’t have to talk to each other and we can just sit and listen to Professor Hanes’s lecture. But, on the other hand, there will be hundreds of people I might potentially have to talk to. I mean, I know I won’t have to talk to all of them, but there’s a lot of people I might have to speak to. I’m hoping I’ll get to keep to myself. Talking to Brandon and Jacob has been more than enough social interaction for the day.

Professor Hanes seems very kind. She has a straightforward, to the point, kind of attitude, but she’s not pushy or rude. I decided to introduce myself after class, so I could give her a face to my name. I did this with Preston, too, but that seemed more necessary since it’s such a small class. If I didn’t introduce myself to Professor Hanes, it wouldn’t have really mattered. I figured it would make a good impression, though, and I’m used to being friendly with my teachers, anyways.

The rest of the day passes with little to note. My biology class with Professor Moore was as dull as I expected it to be. I love chemistry and physics, but I find biology incredibly boring. Unfortunately, it was the only freshman level science class that had any openings left when I registered for classes over the summer. We went over the syllabus and all the typical first day stuff. I’m dreading this class, but I don’t have much choice in it.

Over dinner, I look over my class notes. I know we only went over the syllabi in each class, but I have a habit of taking excessive, color coded notes, no matter what we’re talking about. I actually really enjoy taking notes. It makes me feel more confident and in control. I also find the colorful ink a lot of fun to play around with. Tomorrow I have my Performance of Literature communications class, as well as political science. Neither of these things are quite my interest. Unfortunately, my degree requires both. Thankfully, though, there was a communications class that focuses on literature. I’ll still have to talk to people, of course, but I think this is the best class I could take for the required credit.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I decide that the breakfast thing before class went well yesterday, so I head down to the cafeteria to get breakfast before my second first day of classes. I don’t run into Brandon this time, though. I haven’t seen him since yesterday morning, so I haven’t been able to ask him how his first day of classes went. I hope they went alright for him.

I have my Performance of Literature class in half an hour. It’s in the building behind the language building, so it’s a little bit of a walk again. I know I’ll have to talk to people in this class, which makes me anxious, but I think I’m a little more ready to talk today. It’s a smaller class, like my English course, only about eighteen people. I’m hoping talking to people in this class goes alright. Even if it doesn’t, though, there’s a cafe on the lower floor of the building, so if nothing else goes well, at least there’s coffee nearby.

I get a cup of coffee when I get to the building before I head upstairs to find my class. I was told by someone on my floor yesterday that this is the best coffee on campus, so I figured it was the best way to start the day. I got myself a peppermint mocha, and it was marvelous.

When I get upstairs and find the classroom, I find the door open already and people starting to walk in. I hurry in and take the seat closest to the door. We don’t have desks in this room; instead, we’re set up in three rows of black folding chairs. The walls and floor are also black, and the lights are almost nonexistent. I’m confused by the set up of the room; it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in a school before.

James, our professor who also doesn’t believe in formalities, calls this “the black room.” He said there’s a couple theater classes that are done in here and it’s set up this way to be more like being on stage. That makes sense, but I’m still a bit confused about the no desks thing. It seems like it’ll be kind of hard to take notes properly without desks to use.

Half way through the class, James tells us all to stand up and form a circle, so we do. I feel like we’re in kindergarden again and wonder what group activity he’s about to have us do.

“Ok, you guys, I want you all to take a moment to think of an adjective to describe yourself. Thing is, the adjective has to start with the same letter of your name. We’re going to go around the circle and you’ll have to repeat every name and adjective of the people who come before you. So, if you’re second, you only have to repeat the first person’s name and adjective and say your own. If you’re the last person, you’ll have to go through the whole class before you introduce yourself. Ready?”

I was so not ready, but we started anyways. I’m towards the end of the circle, so I had plenty of time to come up with a good adjective, but I was so anxious about the situation that I couldn’t think straight. I ended up going with Cryptic Cassidy. Before me, we had Musical Mandy, Kind Kathy, Dreadful Drake, Strange Simon, among some others. There’s this one boy across the circle from me who, in my opinion, broke the rules. He introduced himself as “Not So Bad Nick,” which I feel is breaking the rules because James said somewhere in his rules of the game that we had to choose one word. “Not So Bad” is not one word. I guess it counts as an adjective, but I feel like it’s a bit debatable. I was immediately intrigued, though. It wasn’t the “not so bad” part within itself that got me interested— it was the breaking the rules and making everyone laugh so effortlessly part. I decided I have to meet him. The problem is walking up and introducing myself more personally feels impossible.

So I didn’t end up introducing myself. I went through the rest of the class with little interest. I spent the time thinking of how to talk to Nick, without making a fool out of myself. He’s got a nice face, and I like his voice. He has a nice voice and face, and I think I could be happy watching and listening to him talk all day.

I heard the library has a basement that is always completely silent. I decide to go check it out and do my homework there. I don’t have much homework yet since we’ve only really gone over the syllabi in each class so far. I need to read the first few chapters of Alas, Babylon still, so the library seemed like the right place to go.

After the library, I walk to the Student Union to get another cup of coffee. There’s a Starbucks in there, which is alright, but I like their windows, which is the main reason I’m going there instead of somewhere else for coffee. There’s this story I’m working on that I need to make some more progress on. I like writing in coffee shops because: A. I get coffee, and B. it’s just such a nice atmosphere.

The rest of the day passes with little incident. I worked on my story more, read my book for class, did an essay, and had dinner in the dining hall. We’re supposed to be starting our discussion on the book in English tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that. I love listening to other people’s perspectives on books. I love when someone has a different interpretation than I do. I feel like I learn a lot about their personality based on their interpretations. So, I’m excited about English. We have a syllabus quiz for history and biology, which won’t really be particularly fun, but will be easy, so that’ll be nice.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The quizzes and discussion went fine yesterday. I got a hundred percent on both quizzes, which starts the semester off nicely. For the discussion in English, we talked as a class about the book. Preston said next class we’ll be in small groups to discuss the next set of chapters, which I’m a little stressed about. I prefer when the whole class discusses because I can get away with listening more than talking. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just I prefer listening. The people who annoy me most in class are the people in group discussions who never shut their mouths. I think it’s great they have an opinion, but I don’t like their monopolizing over the conversation. I don’t ever want to be one of those people, especially because they tend to only repeat the same idea, rather than bringing up new points each time. So, I keep my comments limited but different, and that works just fine for me.

I stop at the cafe again before I go upstairs for class. I have a meal plan, so the coffee money isn’t coming directly out of my pocket, so I can afford this habit. Upstairs, I find the door open already, so I walk in and take my seat. I notice Nick is now sitting in the row behind me and two chairs down. He was across the room two days ago. I wonder what made him move chairs. In class, James partners us up to work on a project. He called it the “two stories project.” Basically we’ll be given options about things that have happened to us, like our first kiss or an embarrassing moment or a family story, and we have to pick two of the options provided and tell our partner these stories. We’ll have to record each other’s stories and later we’ll have to transcribe our partners speech and movements. The idea is that we have to memorize exactly what our partner says with their same inflections and movements and in a week, we’ll have to perform one of our partner’s stories. I get paired up with a girl named Ella. She tells me about her first kiss and about when she was a kid and she used to fight with her brother about what kind of birthday cake they were getting that year. I tell her about the time my dad superglued my eyebrow closed after I split it open on a bookshelf corner and the time my seventh grade gym teacher threw a football at my face by accident. We have a good time laughing together about our stories, and I realize talking to people doesn’t always have to be so hard.

“Do you want to hang out after class and get a coffee downstairs?” I ask.

“Looks like you already treated yourself,” she says, pointing at the almost empty cup in my hand.

“There’s no such thing as too much coffee,” I tell her.

She smiles and says getting coffee would be nice.

When we’re sitting at a table downstairs, sipping coffee together, we talk more about her brother. He is two years older and they’re close. She says she misses him and her mom a lot while she’s at school. I think it’s really sweet her family is so close. Adam and I aren’t that close. He’s three years younger than me and couldn’t care less where I am or what I’m doing. I wish we had a better relationship like Ella and her brother Caleb have.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Today is Saturday and I feel a little lost with no classes to go to. While Ella and I hung out the other day after class, we haven’t made any further plans to spend time with each other. I looked into a few clubs on campus, and I plan on going to the creative writing club for the first meeting on Monday and trying the Harry Potter club on Wednesday. I’m a bit worried about them, but I told Ethan I would look into them, so that is what I’m doing.

I think about going to the library to do homework again, but I don’t have much. I don’t want to sit in my dorm room all day, but I’m not entirely sure what else to do.

I finally decide I’m going to seek out all of the coffee shops on and around campus. UCLA is a big campus, so it should keep me busy a while. I’ll also find some great coffee shops in the process, so it’s a win-win situation.

I run into Brandon on my way downstairs. I haven’t seen him since the day classes started, so I haven’t gotten the chance to ask him about his first week yet.

“Oh, Cassidy, hi. I’ve missed you! How has your week been?”

“It’s been alright,” I tell him, a little confused about why he’s missed me when we really don’t know each other. “How was your first week of classes?”

“They were so great. I’m so glad I went with the afternoon classes. The morning classes would’ve kicked my ass. Oh, by the way, this is my boyfriend, Joseph. He’s visiting for the weekend. How was your first week of class?”

“Hi, Joseph, it’s really nice to meet you. How far did you have to travel to come visit? As for classes,” I look back at Brandon, “they’ve been really nice. I had coffee with one of my classmates on Thursday. I’m trying the whole friends thing.”

“I only had to travel across town, actually. I’m glad you’re being social,” Joseph says.

“That’s so great, Cassidy. I’m really happy you’re talking to people. We should hang out, too, sometime,” Brandon adds.

“I’m actually on my way out to go coffee hunting around campus. You guys probably have plans, but you can come with me if you want to. Company would be nice.”

The boys look at each other and nod.

“We’d love to come with you,” Brandon tells me.

So we turn and head downstairs together to explore the campus for coffee.

We find this cute little coffee shop across the street from the art building, called Cool Beans. It has big windows and barstools and couches. It has a warm feeling to it, and their coffee is pretty great, it turns out. We each get a drink and find seats together. This is the fifth place we’ve been to so far, so it’s time to sit down and enjoy a coffee. I’ve gotten a drink at every place we’ve been to, but this is the first time either Brandon or Joseph have gotten something. Cool Beans definitely is my favorite atmosphere out of the places we’ve been to so far. The others aren’t bad, but there’s something special about this place.

When we get back to the dorms, I tell the boys it was nice spending time with them, but that I think it’s time I go and do some homework. I can wait to do my homework until tomorrow, but I want to leave them alone, but they’re both so nice and seem like the kind of people to insist I stick around, so homework seemed like a reasonable excuse to get away. Before I go to work on my assignments, I go to the dining hall. I’m craving Captain Crunch, so I plan on getting some before it’s time to get serious.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

When I get to class, I find Ella sitting in the chair next to mine with two coffee cups in her hands.

“Hey! I got us coffee since we’re splitting into groups again. I have plans after class, but I really enjoyed getting coffee with you Thursday.”

I sit down and take the cup she offers me and smile,

“Thanks so much, Ella! I appreciate it tons. So we’re working together again today? Do you know what we’re doing yet?”

“Not yet. I just looked on the syllabus and saw we’re doing more group work today.”

James walks into the room then and closes the door behind him.

“Alright, everyone. Today we’re working with our partners again. I know you already told each other your stories, and you should’ve started your transcription already. So, what I’m asking you to do today is just sit with each other and work on your transcription some more. I want you with your partner in case you have any questions for each other. I also really just want you guys to get to know each other and get friendly.”

The class spreads through the room and out into the hallway. Ella and I end up picking a corner of the classroom to sit and work at.

“How was your weekend?” I ask after taking a sip of my coffee.

“Oh, it was alright. I just worked on the transcription. What about you?”

“That sounds pretty productive. I only started working on mine last night. My weekend was pretty alright, too. I went on a search of all the coffee shops on and around campus. I found some really cool places. There’s this coffee shop across from the art building called Cool Beans. They have great windows with these nice barstools. They also have a bookshelf for customers to pick from if they want to read while there. They also have a shelf of card and board games you can borrow. It’s really cool. Maybe we can go sometime.” I know she has plans today after class, but it would be nice to hang out again soon.

“They have board games for people to use while they’re there? That’s so awesome! It’s also cool they have books for customers, too. It sounds really nice. Maybe we can go Thursday or this weekend. I’d love to go with you. By the way, that’s a cute outfit.”

“Oh, thank you! I really love your headband. It’s really cute, too. And we should totally go later this week.”

After class, I head to political science, not looking forward to our first real quiz. It was nice working with Ella again today. She’s really sweet and I think this friends thing is going well. I’m really excited about going to Cool Beans with her later this week. Maybe we can use their Scrabble or some other game while we’re there.

In the dining hall at dinner, I see Brandon alone at a table. I walk over to him with my plate and sit down.

“Hey, Brandon, how’s it going?”

“Oh, hey, Cassidy,” he says looking up from his cheeseburger. “I’m doing pretty good, how about you? How was class today?”

“It was good! My parter in Performance of Literature, Ella, and I pretty much just sat and talked all class. She got me coffee, too. It was really sweet of her. We’re talking about going to Cool Beans later this week. What did you do today?”

“Oh, that was nice of her. I hope you guys have a great time at Cool Beans. My classes went alright. I have a biology quiz tomorrow I have to study for later.”

“Ugh, me too. Hey, don’t you have biology at two? Do you have Professor Moore?”

“Yeah, why?”

“That’s who I’ve got too. How come we’ve never seen each other in there before? Probably because it’s a big class, but still. We should start sitting together. It’d make biology a little more bearable.”

“I think that would be really nice. Biology is so boring, having a friend would definitely help a bit. Want to meet up at the door before class?”

“Sounds like a plan. Are you ready for the quiz tomorrow? Also, didn’t we just have a quiz last week?” I’m pretty sure we had a quiz, but I wanted to make sure.

“We did indeed have a quiz last week. I really hope this isn’t a regular thing. Anyways, I think I’m ready for the quiz. Do you feel ready?”

“I’m ready. I’m just not looking forward to it. I find biology so boring. Also, we are having quizzes every week. It’s in the syllabus,” I frown.

“Damnit. I should go study. I’ll see you at the door to biology, then,” he says, getting up.

“Alrighty, see you then,” I say, also getting up.

Upstairs I find Eden in our room with someone I’ve never seen before. They’re sitting on her bed talking.

“Oh, hi, Cassidy. This is Aria. We have chemistry together and are studying for a test later this week. Aria, this is my roommate, Cassidy.”

“Hi, Cassidy. It’s nice to meet you,” Aria says to me.

“You, too. Hey, so I’m going to make some tea. Do either of you want a cup?”

“Oh, I love tea. What do you have?”

“No, I’m ok. Thanks, though, Cassidy,” says Eden.

“I have peppermint, raspberry, chamomile, fennel, and toasted coconut,” I say, turning to Aria.

“Fennel? How interesting. I’ll try that one, if that’s ok.”

I nod and take my electric tea kettle off the desk and go fill it in the sink. I take out a bag of fennel for Aria and a bag of chamomile for myself.

“So, Cassidy, what’s your major?” Aria asks.

“I’m a literature major. Are you a chemistry major like Eden?”

“No, I’m actually a theater major. It’s quite fun, but really tiring. What are you hoping to do with your literature degree?”

“Theater, neat. I’m sorry it’s tiring, though. As for me, I’m hoping to eventually get my PhD and become a university professor. I also would love to publish my writing one day. What are you wanting to do with your theater degree?”

“Oh, lots of school ahead of you, then. Big aspirations. I respect that. I’m hoping to make it to Broadway one day. I know it’s a long shot, but a girl can dream.”

I nod. “Broadway sure is a big dream, too. Good luck making it there.” I hand her the cup of tea and crawl into bed with my own and Alas, Babylon. We’re discussing the next few chapters in class tomorrow and, while I’ve already read these chapters, I want to reread them and make sure I’m prepared.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

When I get to my English class, I find Jacob already there at our table with the class book and a thermos in front of him.

“Good morning, Cassidy. Hey, I wanted to ask you if you were free tonight? I’m part of an improv club on campus and was wondering if maybe you’d like to come and we could get dinner after?”

“Oh, I’m really sorry. I’m giving a couple clubs on campus a try myself and I have my first Harry Potter club tonight. Maybe we can still get dinner sometime, though. Or coffee. I’m more of a coffee person. But I would love to hang out sometime.” I’m really shocked he asked me to get dinner. No one’s ever asked me out before… and I’m fairly sure that’s what he was doing.

“Harry Potter, huh? Are you a big fan?” He asks with a small smile on his face.

“Oh, absolutely. I have this tradition where I read the whole series every year around Christmas. Some years I watch the movies, too.”

“Every year? That’s kind of a long series to read every year, isn’t it?”

“Not at all. It only takes two or three weeks. It’s nothing, really.”

Preston walks in and closes the door. He has a stack of papers in his hands. I see one and it says Alas, Babylon Quiz.

“Alright, class. Good morning. I hope you enjoyed having Monday off. Now that we’re back, though, we’re having our first quiz over our first reading of the semester. So, please put everything away except a pencil or pen and get ready for this quiz.”

After the quiz, I look over at Jacob and ask, “So do you still want to maybe get dinner or a coffee sometime? I’m sorry I can’t go to your improv club later, it sounds like it would be a lot of fun to watch.”

“Yeah, I’d love to. Maybe we can grab coffee Saturday morning? There’s tons of places on campus to choose from.”

“Saturday sounds great. I actually spent last Saturday exploring all the coffee shops on campus. There’s this one I really like across from the art builging called Cool Beans. They have books and board games for customers to use while there. They also have really good coffee.”

“Sure, that sounds really great. I’ll see you then. Have a great rest of your week until then,” he says, standing.

“Thank you, you too. Have fun at your club tonight!” I smile at him.

I see Brandon waiting for me outside the door to our biographer classroom with two cups in his hand. This makes me excited, so I bound up to him, almost smashing into him.

“What ya got there? More coffee?”

“Are you kidding? You drank enough of that Saturday to last you a few months. I brought you a smoothie. I hope strawberry is ok.”

While I disagree about the coffee jab, this touches me and makes me smile. So I thank him and take the cup, and we head into class.

“So how did studying go last night? Are you ready for the quiz now?” I ask him as we take our seats.

“Ugh. I don’t even want to think about it,” he grimaces.

I can’t explain why, but I find this comical. There’s just something about Brandon that you can’t help but love.

“So I got asked out earlier this morning. Well, I think I was asked out, anyways. It’s hard to know for sure sometimes.”

“Ooh, do tell!” He is maybe more excited about the news than I am.

I tell him about Jacob asking me to dinner and to his improv club. He’s a very attentive audience— widening his eyes and smirking at all the right times.

“He was totally asking you out. What did you say? Please tell me you said yes. We like boys who do theater. They’re fun, if you know what I’m saying.” He winks at me.

“Ew, Brandon. Shut up. I don’t even want to think about that.”

I look away from his evil smirk as my face burns. I hope Professor Moore gets here soon with those quizzes.

“No, I didn’t say yes. Not exactly, anyways. I told him I can’t go to his club later because I have my own club I’m going to try out tonight. I told Ethan I would. I did suggest we do coffee later this week, though. So now we’re meeting at Cool Beans Saturday morning.”

“Ok, good. I’m glad you didn’t just flat out tell him no. What club are you going to later?”

“The Harry Potter club,” I start. Then I stop, seeing the smirk on his face again.


“You’re such a nerd, Cassidy. And I love you for it.”


About the Creator

Emery Pine

I’m a poet with sprinklings of fiction. I write with the soul, so I hope you find it interesting and relatable

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