FOUR MONTHS LATER…
Walter’s cellphone rang by the bedside table as he lay in bed; he had no intention of picking it up, afterall, he was battling a hang-over. The digital clock beside his phone had the time 6:57 am written on it. The previous night Walter had been partying with ‘friends’ at a club; the fun had lasted until 3am in the morning. After a few minutes of trying to ignore the ringtone he reached for the phone. He looked at the time on his digital clock before glancing at the caller I.D, it was Ned.
He yawned and then answered, “Ned…”
“Walt – – were you still sleeping?” Ned asked.
“Its seven in the morning, couldn’t this have waited?” Walter replied with a hoarse voice.
“For your hang-over to finish? No, no, no, the sound of your suffering is music to my ears” Ned laughed.
Rolling his eyes Walter responded, “Well If you’re satisfied, I’ll be going to bed now”
“You wish. Did you forget? Today is the first day of our university orientation”
Walter quickly got out of bed and rushed to the calendar positioned by his door, Crap.
“It starts at seven-thirty, so don’t be late. They’ll be registering names”
“Okay. See you there”
Walter hung up showing no sign of enthusiasm, he browsed through his phone and noticed a set of missed calls and messages from Rachel. Not HER again. He cleared his call log and deleted all the new messages without even looking at the content. The Rachel situation was a severe case of a clingy ex, he didn’t see the need to entertain her, she was nothing but a relic to him; Four months had passed since finishing high school at Quanterbury High, he felt as if all the memories he had made at that school were left behind, with only a few exceptions; he tried not to think about it all too much. All his attention was focussed on getting to the university campus on time.
“Serra! Wait for me!” Beatrice exclaimed as she called out to me. She had just stopped to buy a packet of chips from a nearby vending machine; but it was taking too long for them to come out, “It’s been five minutes since we got to this university and I’m already having trouble with something”
“Hit it, like they do in the movies” I suggested.
She widened her mouth, “I’ll be patient, no need to hit anything”
I walked over to the vending machine, “It’s faster”
Beatrice looked around to see if there were any students nearby, we were near the main parking lot of the university. There weren’t many students around, maybe because it was orientation. The parking lot also had a few cars; many of them were in Staff parking.
After her small scouting mission Beatrice slapped the front glass of the vending machine as hard as she could. A packet of chips fell out, it’s only then that I noticed the glass had so many scratches, probably from all the students who had done the same thing.
“Ow – ow – ow!” Beatrice shook her hand rapidly as she picked her prize.
“By the way, where’s Marie? I thought we would have seen her by now”
Beatrice was still shaking her hand while holding her chips in the other, “She said she’s already in the lecture room with the orientation stuff. I guess we should go there”
Beatrice and I had been friends for a pretty long time, since primary to be exact; I liked her company, she was unintentionally funny at times. Over the years, she hadn’t changed much when it came to her appearance; she had long curly blonde hair and pale blue eyes which she frequently kept behind her frameless glasses. It didn’t come as a surprise that Beatrice had brought the same satchel she had always used in high school, she never really liked change. It probably explained how we had stayed friends for so long, because I felt the same. We were good friends, but I couldn’t say the same about our mutual friend Marie.
As we walked to the lecture room I couldn’t help but have a closer look at Sunderlake University. It was a slightly big campus that had five main buildings; each of them were for different departments of study I had heard, among other things. A smooth grey pavement was used as the main walkway connecting all of them. There were long stretches of green lawn in the areas surrounding each building and on the far ends of the campus. The only places without lawn or some fancy looking flowers were the walkway and the main road that divided the campus in two; leaving three departments on one side and two on the other. Beatrice and I had followed the main road deeper into the campus earlier on, hoping to see where it went; it lead to the Parking lot.
We used the zebra crossing on the main road to get to the other side, although I didn’t see the point; there were hardly any cars. The only thing we had to worry about were the stray students walking around; other orientation students I thought. As we walked closer to one of the buildings a man wearing an ‘Ask Me’ shirt pointed us towards a nearby lecture room; it had the sign ‘Orientation Students here’. Even though the door was closed, we could hear loud voices on the inside; the room sounded full.
Beatrice threw the empty snack packet in a nearby trash can and clutched nervously to her satchel, “Well Serra, this is it”
I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as I reached for the door handle.
Walter cruised past the main campus gate with his motor-bike. No one could get lost looking for this place he thought as he drove past the massive archway written Sunderlake University. He repeatedly looked left and right trying to see where he was supposed to go, out in the open he saw Ned waving his arms; trying to signal Walter where he was. Walter drove over to Ned.
“Always with the flashy entrances” Ned said with his hands in his pockets. He had a short sleeved grey t-shirt and black jeans on; he probably felt good not having to wear the Quanterbury High uniform anymore.
Walter took off his helmet. “One of us has to be cool right?”
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, you barely made it, we’re supposed to go there” Ned said, pointing at a nearby door.
Walter got off his bike, “I’ll just leave this here”
“By the zebra crossing, seriously…”
“At least people will have something good to look at as they cross the road”, Walter patted Ned on the shoulder.
Ned scratched the back of his head smiling hopelessly, “Your logic worries me”
Walter had already begun walking towards the lecture room entrance, “Come on Nedric, we’ll be late”.
They both entered the lecture room hoping they weren’t too late. It was a large room with a downward slope as you walked further away from the entrance; Walter decided that it was best they sit in the middle-section. There were quite a number of people in the room but not too many. Most students had either gone to sit at the very front or at the back, leaving plenty of space in the middle; their loud chatter made it sound full from the outside though.
As they sat Ned whispered to himself, “Oh, no…”
“What?” Walter said looking around hoping to find what might be the highlight of his day.
“Its, uh…” Ned hesitated.
Walter looked at Ned’s face, “Crap, I know what that glow means”
“Walt. Its Marie” his eyes were quivering.
“And she’s supposed to mean something, isn’t she?” Walter asked in a condescending tone.
“Do you ever listen? That’s the girl I’ve been telling you about – – – from my neighbourhood. The one I like?” he looked at her. “Looks like she’ll be learning here as well” his eyes started glowing.
“Love-struck. Perfect.” Walter shook his head, “If you like her so much why haven’t you told her yet?”
Ned took out a note pad from his bag “You know why”
Walter had heard this story plenty of times. Ned had never asked out Marie because for the two years her family had moved into his neighbourhood he was staying with his aunt in Quanterbury; a different city altogether. He had to move so he could attend school at Quanterbury High; and every day he’d talk about asking her out when he went back to his neighbourhood. But each time, he never did.
Walter sang, “Because you’re a C – O – W – A – R -“
“Uh-uh, don’t you dare” Ned crossed his arms, “Maybe if you got a real girl instead of that bike you work on everyday you’d understand”
“Heeey, low-blow. That’s something I’m supposed to say, you’re the good guy here”
“Uh-huh” Ned laughed to himself as he leaned back onto his chair, “So, uh – – – how would you let her know you like her if you did?”
A dismissive Walter responded, “You don’t want my advice Ned, you know what I’m going to say”
“Yeah, you have a point”
“You boys are sad” a female voice said from behind them, they looked and saw a girl with black hair at shoulder length, she had a strip that had been dyed blue, “you’re talking about a girl that probably doesn’t even know you exist, please, try whispering next time”
“Serra, what are you doing?” Beatrice whispered with a surprised tone.
I put my elbow on the mini-desk and rested my cheek on my palm, “Doing them a favour, they were speaking too loud”
The guy with the short blonde hair, Ned, looked like he wanted to say something; his secret had just fallen on a strangers’ ears; my ears.
Walter retaliated “We’re not trying to hide anything”
“Walter, was it? why dont you want to help your friend Ned over there get the girl?”
Ned stretched his face upward groaning, “Awww man, she knows our names already?”
Walter paused for a moment then turned around to look at me, “I’ve been around a lot of stupid girls, or b*tches, if you’re feeling so dramatic, and none of them scream ‘I want attention‘ more than you”
“WOW” I smiled, never had I seen a guy talk to a random girl with such a murderous vibe, “…you need a leash, and some help”
Ned kept looking on the ground while squeezing the bridge of his nose, “Um, guys, is this necessary?”
Beatrice had her head buried in her hands, from embarrassment I thought. We hadn’t actually noticed how many students had entered the lecture room while having our little exchange. A few of the students were already gawking at us, trying to hear what we were talking about. I wasn’t bothered, nor was Walter, Ned looked like he was close to having a heart attack; his eyes kept alternating between Walter and I as we talked.
A diplomatic Ned intervened, “Guys, please, this is the first day of university, let’s be, friendly”
Walter turned his back towards me yet again, the look he gave before he did so was a clear hint that I shouldn’t try pulling off a stunt like that again. He didn’t know me very well, I didn’t like doing what other people told me to do. Just then, the lecturer walked into the room.
Ned resumed, “I’m sorry we were talking too loud Serra, it won’t happen again” he looked at Walter, “And I’m sure my friend here agrees”
It was a bit shocking hearing that, I would have expected him to be as angry as his friend with the black hair. I didn’t even know why I had intervened in their conversation, was it really because they were speaking too loud; or was it because they were talking about Marie?
Ned stretched out his hand, “By the way, I’m Ned, and this here is my friend Walter”. Walter kept looking forward, alienating our conversation.
I whispered, “Hey Ned…” while shaking his hand for a proper introduction, “… I’m Serra, sorry for lashing out at you”
Meanwhile Walter had the no one asked you look on his face. He did not enjoy my presence.
“And your friend?” Ned said, looking at Beatrice who still had her head buried in her hands.
“Oh, that’s Beatrice, a good friend of mine”
Ned grinned, “See? That wasn’t so hard, now we can talk like nothing ever happened”
I couldn’t help but smile and feel a bit bad about what I had said earlier. It wasn’t their fault, but whenever her name was mentioned something inside of me could not control itself.
(Please leave a comment, and if there’s a particular part that struck you or if you have a favourite character, i’d love hearing about it) 🙂