When I wake up, it takes a while for me to remember the events that led me to this strange room. Steph is still snoring with his mouth wide open. I decide to find out how to get back to the dorm before I wake her up. Quickly I put on my shoes, grab my purse and step out into the hallway. Shall I knock on Hardin's door or try to find Nate? Does Nate even belong to this connection? I never thought that Hardin would even be part of any group, so maybe Nate is one of them too.
On the way to the ground floor, I have to climb over several sleeping figures in the hallway. "Nate?", I call carefully and hope for an answer. There were at least five-and-twenty people in the living room alone. The floor is covered with red goblets and garbage, and it's not so easy to get ahead. But I also realize how clean the hallway was on the first floor despite the many people there.
When I finally reach the kitchen, I would like to start cleaning up immediately. You will definitely need the whole day until the house is clean again. It would be a pleasure to see Hardin clear out all this trash here, and I have to giggle at the thought.
"What is so funny?" When I turn around, I see Hardin coming in with a garbage bag in his hand. He wipes his arm over the work surface once to feed the paper cups. "Nothing," I lie. "Does NAte also live here?" He ignores me and continues to clean up. "Yes or no?", I hake, this time a bit more impatient. "The sooner you tell me if Nate lives here, the more easily I can go."
"Okay, we like to talk about that, so, no, he does not live here, does Nate look like a connection guy for you?" He grins. "No, you do not either," I bark at him, and he presses his lips together. He reaches around and opens a drawer next to my hip, from which he gets a roll of kitchen paper. "Is there a bus anywhere?" I ask, without really counting on an answer. "Yes, about a block away." I follow him across the kitchen.
"Could you tell me exactly where that is?" "Sure, about a block away." His mouthiwn twitch. Annoyed, I leave the kitchen. Hardin's temporary courtesy from last night was obviously short-lived, and today I have to pay as expected. After the night I just can not bear it. So I'm going upstairs to wake Steph, which is surprisingly easy.
She smiles at me. Luckily, she does not feel like staying in that damned house anymore. "Hardin said there's a bus stop a block away," I tell her on the way down. "Forget the fucking bus, one of those idiots will drive us home, he probably just wanted to raise you." She is resting on my shoulder. When we return to the kitchen, Hardin is getting some beer cans out of the oven. Steph's tone does not contradict:
"Hardin, are you taking us home for a moment, my head is about to explode?" Give me a minute, "he replies, as if he's been waiting for us all the time. While driving, Steph sings some weird metal song that pops out of the speakers, and Hardin cranks down the windows, though I kindly asked them to stay. Lost in thought, he drums his fingers on the steering wheel.
Not that I paid much attention to him. "I'll come over later," he calls Steph as he disembarks. She nods and waves to him as I jump out of the car. "Bye, Theresa," he said with a grin. I just roll my eyes and follow Steph into the house.
The rest of the weekend passes pretty quickly, and I manage to avoid further encounters with Hardin. On Sunday I start shopping so early that I'm gone before he can show up with us, and when I come back he seems to have disappeared again. The new clothes I've made fill my little dresser, but while I'm tucking them away, I keep hearing Hardin's nasty comment in the ears, 'But you know we're going to a party and not to church.'
Probably he would say the same to my new outfits, but I've decided that I can not go to parties with Steph and anywhere else where Hardin could be. He's just not a nice guy, and the constant argument with him is annoying. Finally comes Monday morning, my first day of class, and I'm perfectly prepared.
The alarm goes off an hour earlier, so I can take a shower - without men in the washroom - and do not have to stress me. My white blouse and the light brown pleated skirt are perfectly ironed and are ready on the bed.
I put my clothes on, put my hair up and hang my bag over my shoulder. When I'm about to leave the room - about fifteen minutes early, so I'm by no means late - Steph's alarm clock rings. She presses the badger button. For a moment, I wonder if I should wake her up. But maybe her seminars start later than mine, or maybe she does not even want to go there. The idea of missing the first day of the semester makes me sick in the stomach, but because that's her second year in college, she may be in control of everything.
After a last look in the mirror, I make my way to my first seminar. It's good that I took a close look at the campus plan, because I think the first building is about twenty minutes away. When I enter the room where the first semester history seminar is supposed to take place, there is just a single student sitting there. Since punctuality seems to be as important to him as I am, I sit next to him. Maybe he will be my first new friend.
"Where are the others all?", I ask, whereupon he smiles. That alone calms me down. "They're probably rushing right across the campus, at least only just to come late," he jokes, and I like him immediately. That's exactly what I thought. "I'm Tessa Young," I introduce myself. "Landon Gibson," he replies, with that hearty smile again.
The rest of the time until the beginning of the lesson we talk to each other. In the process, I find out that he, like me, studies English in the main subject and has a girlfriend named Dakota. Landon does not make fun of me, nor does he make a comment when I tell him that Noah is a class below me. I decide that I would like to spend more time with Landon.
As I rush to my course in English literature in the afternoon, I regret a bit that I signed up for five events instead of four - and thank God it's the final seminar for today. When I arrive there just in time, I see Landon sitting in the front row, a vacant seat next to him. "Hello again," he greeted me with a smile. The lecturer issues the week plan for the semester and introduces himself briefly. He tells how he became a professor and how much he enjoys his subject.
The beauty of college versus high school is that it does not force faculty members to introduce themselves to the class or do any other embarrassing and unnecessary things. As the professor is about to go through the reading list with us, the door creaks open and I inevitably hear myself moaning as Hardin stumbles. "Great," I mum with sarcasm. "You know Hardin?" Asks Landon.
Obviously, Hardin has quite a reputation on campus when even someone as nice as Landon has heard of him. My roommate is friends with him, I do not like him very much, " I whisper. At that moment Hardin fixes me with his green eyes and I wonder if he has heard me. What would he do then? But honestly, I do not care - after all, he also knows that we do not care. Still, I'm curious what Landon knows about him, so I can not help but ask, "Do you know him?"
"Yes ... he is ..." Landon falls silent. As I follow his gaze, I see Hardin sitting down at the table next to me. For the rest of the hour, Landon looks silently forward.
"That's it for today, see you next Wednesday." With whose words dismisses and Professor Hill. "I think this will be my favorite seminar," I tell Landon on the way out, and he agrees. When we notice that Hardin is running next to us, his face darkens. "Hardin, what do you want?" I ask straightaway, because I've decided to treat him the same way he treated me.
Unfortunately, it does not work, or I do not get the right tone, because Hardin is more amused. "Nothing, nothing, I'm just glad we've got a seminar together," he mocks as he brushes his curls away. My gaze falls on his oddly shaped symbol of infinity directly above his wrist, but as I try to look at the tattoos around, he drops his arm again.
"See you later, Tess," says Landon. "It was to be expected that you would make friends with the biggest boring in the whole course," says Hardin, looking at Landon. "Do not talk about him like that, he's nice, unlike you." I am shocked by my words. This guy really brings my worst sides to the fore. Hardin turns back to me. "You become more spirited in every one of our conversations, Theresa." "If you call me Theresa again ...", I warn him, but he only laughs.
I try to imagine what he would look like without his tattoos and piercings. Even with them, he is still pretty attractive, but his bitter character is ruining everything. Silently we walk a little bit in the direction of my dorm, but after about twenty steps he suddenly turns on me: "Do not look like that at me!" Then he turns and disappears before I can think of an answer.