Today’s entry has a soundtrack. Play it while you read. No, I don’t know why Johnny is sideways. Isn’t everyone sideways sometimes?
Just like a wounded animal will hide someplace dark and quiet to heal or to die, depending, I retreated behind a sullen barrier of glaring silence. I did all they asked of me—attended my classes, completed my homework, and, because my place at the school depended on a scholarship, I worked cleaning tables and floors in the dining hall. Each day I lived for one thing only: the 10 minutes of time allotted to me to use a library computer.
It took me about two minutes to read Roman’s daily email. First I scanned it quickly for anything out of the ordinary. Then I read each word, savoring his voice in my mind, extracting the essence of his life in Oregon. For the remaining eight minutes I wrote to him, typing as fast as my fingers could cover the keys. Dreams and stories poured out of me, ideas I didn’t even know I had until I saw them on the screen. In my stories we faced dangers and emerged triumphant. We journeyed to exotic lands. We met Emperors and Kings and Heads of State. We lived with natives and savages and learned their ways. We shared a loft in a hip city and created atrocious works of art that we displayed in galleries and sold for pizza money.
Sometimes I talked business.
At Xmas break here everyone goes home except the losers like me who don’t have one. I could ditch and come see you. Meet in Portland. My roommate will lend me some $$. R, do it, do it. I’ll be at Powell’s on 12/21 with the Unconquered Sun.
Subject: RE Escape
Meet me in the Beatnik section. I’ll be wearing a black turtleneck and a beret. No, a robe, a black robe. We will welcome the Sun’s return with ritual and incantation and double mochas, lots of whip. Can’t wait.
I left the library wiping my teary eyes on the thin sleeve of my tattered sweater. No one on the staff here seemed to notice or care that I needed new clothes but had no rich parental units to send them to me. I never asked, preferring to maintain my stony demeanor.
Turning a corner I crashed into the drama teacher.
“Well well,” said Mr. Crisp. “Miss Groschenko. Where might you be going in such a hurry?”
I was going to con some bucks out of my roommate, a dull-witted girl with an unfortunate soft-spot for a sob story, but I didn’t think Mr. Crisp needed to know that.
“Homework,” I muttered, sidling past him.
Stephen Crisp’s hand shot out and circled my arm. “Hold on there. You ok? You look upset.”
I felt panic rising up from my guts and threatening to spill out. I tried to pull away but Crisp held me fast. Breathing in deep gulps I struggled both to retain my standard expressionless apathy and free myself from his grip.
“Anastasia,” he said softly, close to my ear, “the door to your dormitory is that way.” He spun me around and let go of my arm. Mr. Crisp meandered off the other direction, whistling a jaunty tune, his thumbs hooked casually on the brown and red striped suspenders he wore.