Authors: Jolene Perry,Janna Watts
Jolene Perry and Janna Watts
For all the things we learned in college that had nothing to do with classes
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission of the author except where permitted by law.
Cover photo by
Uwe Krejci through Getty Images
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
I might be rooming with a lunatic. A happy lunatic, but still… A definite crazy person.
stand frozen in the doorway of my new dorm room as some bebop music from the fifties blares on tiny speakers in the middle of the small open space.
A girl is
balanced precariously between the top bunk and the desk that she has moved to the center of the room.
“Um… Hello?” My voice squeaks because everything about starting freshman year is new,
and I’m suddenly regretting begging my mom to drop me off and leave because reinforcements now might be nice.
“Just a sec!” t
he girl yells. “I’m almost done with
-ish hair sways as she goes back to singing to the music as if I’m not in the room. No one sings full out when other people are in the room. I don’t think. I can’t even do it when I’m alone.
I scan the
ceiling, and it does look ever-so-slightly like
. Huh. Should have figured I’d have an artist for a roommate—me being in design. Although I do graphics on computers and work in numbers and proportions, and she’s using her
to paint our ceiling.
Nirvana song comes on after
and I know that all the rumors about scary dorm-room mismatches could be true.
about Jeremy on a mountaintop with a gun as she grins and adds glow-in-the-dark paint to the stars, wiping her fingers on too-big painter’s pants in between.
I’m frozen to the spot as I stare at what’s left of our room. Nothing is probably where it was when she got here—the desk is moved, the dresser is acting as her ladder, and the stackable beds are stacked, but not against the wall.
“Don’t just stand there.” Her concentration never moves from the ceiling, but a bright smile fills her round face. “How will you know where our perfect Zen places are without experimenting a little? Flop on the beds, wiggle around, see which one has the proper amount of bounce for when you have guys over, or—”
“I’m fine. Thanks.”
Only I’m not fine. I feel stiff like I can’t breathe or something. Like I do every time I’m in a new situation.
She’s just a girl, and this is just a room. And it’s not like I’m prone to panicking or anything, but
I like to keep to myself, and I love the quiet. I’m thinking my dorm is not going to be the place for me to have either alone time or quiet. And every pre-arrival vision of VanGogh posters hanging on the wall while soft music plays and my roomie and I study, catapults from my brain to land in a heap in the corner alongside a massive cardboard box.
Finally I break my stance to sit
on the lower bunk with my hands in my lap and stare at the other boxes and half torn-up backpacks, which must hold her stuff and then back at my three neatly stacked trunks. Is this a joke? How did we end up as roommates?
My heart starts
a sort of odd rhythm as I realize I can’t put my things away. Can’t get organized. Settled… For a girl who grew up as an only child in a very quiet, very orderly house, this has the potential to be nightmarish.
“Hey.” She bends
down to peer at me between her legs, using a painted finger to point. “Could you give the desk a little shove that way?”
What if you fall?” I can’t jerk a piece of furniture when she’s standing on it.
“Then that would suck.” She stan
ds back up, still balanced between the bed and the desk.
for a few seconds too long.
“Anytime today would be cool.”
Her voice is cheery, but the words grate on me.
I shove down the irritation
and give the desk a push, caring a little less if she falls than I did a minute ago.
wobbles above me a few times. “See? I’m still up. We’re good.”
As I stand underneath her smiling face, now singing
“O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A”, a twinge of jealousy pricks at me because of how free she is. Or seems to be. And then I have to wonder—will she
be this way?
“Oh!” She twists around and nearly loses her balance. I grab her leg as she chuckles. “I’m Libby.”
“Yes. I know. I got the roommate assignment letter.”
“There was a letter?” She scrunches her face up. “Huh. It probably got lost in all the other crap they sent me. Jesus. It’s like they were prepping us to live in a third world country where we didn’t know the language. I mean, really, college is supposed to be an adventure.”
“Umm…” I’ve got nothing. The past five minutes have been more of an adventure than the entirety of my senior year. I’m not into the glamour of adventure. That only leads to uncertainty.
“So what’s your name?” She pushes her hair back and paint streaks through it, but she doesn’t seem to notice or care.
She doesn’t even pause. People always pause when they hear my name. Right before they start asking the inevitable questions. But Libby keeps right on going.
“You and I, Honor?” She nods as a delighted, mischievous smile fills her face. “Freshman year. Our first year in college. Roomies. We’re gonna make some memories.”
“Green tea,” I say to the guy behind the register as I rifle through my bag for my cash. “De-caffeinated.”
God knows I don’t need the caffeine with Libby around. My nerves are already on edge.
And if I could order some way to be
for a short while, I’d pay whatever he asked.
His head bends down, almost as if he’s trying to meet my
eyes, but after meeting my roommate this morning, I’m done with new people until I can’t avoid it anymore.
“Name?” he asks.
I’m about to protest that I’m tired and don’t mean to be rude, but then I figure out he probably needs it for my cup.
Guess he didn’t need it for my cup.
“Nice to meet you,” I mumble as I slide the money across the counter to hands with blue paint on the edges of his fingernails. I don’t see his face, but I’m already thinking I should get him in touch with my roommate. Maybe keep her busy. And out of our room.
“You’re a freshman?” he asks.
And I sort of appreciate he’s trying to be nice, but I’m overwhelmed. I nod and move off to the side to wait for my drink.
efore he takes the next order he calls, “Nice to meet you too, Honor. We’ll see you around.”
I glance over and get caught i
n ice-blue eyes for a moment before my drink appears in front of me.
Thanks.” I grab my cup and move out of Joe’s Coffee. Quickly. I’m not ready for guys, and this apparently isn’t a good place to be alone—just like my room.
It’s our first dinner in the dorms and I can’t seem to stop my hands from fluttering around me and smoothing out my shirt as I wait in line behind Libby at the dining hall. She’s talking too loud to the guy in front of us, who she’s apparently already met. And then suddenly
a crowd of soccer players come in and the group of them make a beeline for Libby.
My mouth drops open as one of them lifts her up and spins her around before passing her on to one of his friends. She’s screaming and laughing and demanding to be put down because she’s not a toy. But I think she loves it. And honestly, I think she maybe is a toy.
For almost everyone.
When one of them finally puts her down, she introduces me. I smile and say hello and after less than ten seconds of appreciative
looks, they’re back on Libby, asking if she’s coming to practice again.
“You went to practice?”
Libby grins and nods. “Do you know that our school doesn’t have a mascot? What the fuck is that? What kind of bullshit school doesn’t have a mascot? So I’m standing in until I can take it to the student government meeting next week to insist on assigning one.”
I do know the school doesn’t have a mascot. Just as I know they don’t have any sororities or fraternities.
And no cheerleaders. It was one of the biggest reasons I decided on it. I’m going to college to actually move forward in my life, not spend another four years with the same people I went to high school with.
One of the soccer p
layer grins at me. “Libby is an excellent stand-in mascot. We think she should do it permanently. You should hear the foul-mouthed cheers she knows.”
“I’ll bet,” I murmur,
then pull Libby forward in line.
She shoos the soccer guys to the back of the line and turns to me. “You’re pretty closed off.”
I blink. “Excuse me?”
“You should work on that. I’m not saying you have to be Jane Friendly-With-Everyone, but there’s something kind of cold about you.”
I swallow. I don’t even know how to begin to respond. Mom’s always praised me for being quiet and observant.
She raises a shoulder. “
You’ve only got one life, Honor. You don’t want people showing up at your funeral saying, ‘I didn’t know her very well, but she seemed very polite.’ You need to leave a footprint on the world. Don’t worry. I’ll help you.”
I shake my head and
shudder to imagine what her help will look like.
and I’m digging through my trunks again, trying to find my favorite jeans. I pull the top trunk off and start digging through the second.
“Libby. You’re killing me. I’ve got to
put my stuff away.” My voice sounds whiny, but I’m tired of this. I swear the beds have been in eighteen different arrangements
She stands at the foot of our bunk
beds. “I’m re-thinking the bunk bed thing. You really, totally don’t care if you’re on the top or bottom?”
I want to reach over and shove her green bra s
trap back under her boy tank top but I don’t. “Yes. I really don’t care.”
Her hands rest on her hips as she turns to face me. “Of course you care. You just want me to stop messing with our room.”
Libby pushes through any and all bullshit. Sometimes I wish she’d just pretend. I can’t imagine saying what I think all the time.
I get math, and the number of possible arrangements, given the fact that you have no care as to whether our beds or furniture touches walls, is nearing infinite. It might take all semester.” I sigh.
I’m waiting for her face to fall
, but instead she gives two delighted hops, her short hair bouncing around her face while she claps her hands in front of her. “That’s brilliant!”
“I need to put away my clothes!
” I yell. And then immediately step back. I don’t yell. Ever. People stare when I yell, and I already seem to feel eyes on me wherever I go.