A lot can change in a year, and as I stand in front of the large university building, I feel like the next chapter of my life is about to begin and that anything is possible.
Mum has hugged me at least fifty times since we left the safety of the taxi. “Are you sure you’ve got everything you need Skye?” She asks, concerned.
I clutch onto my suitcase and double check that I’m good to go. “Yes. Stop worrying. I’m going to be fine.”
“I just can’t believe you’re going to be living here for the next few years.”
I touch her arm gently. “I’ll be home on the weekends, and I’ll phone you throughout the week.”
This seems to reassure her slightly. “I’m so proud of you,” she says, tearing up. “You are going to make a name for yourself Skye. I just know it.”
Our relationship has improved so much. She’s doing a lot better too, and I don’t feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder to check on her anymore. I thank God for that. Because ever since she found him, she hasn’t had a single episode. There are good days and bad days, but she seems to have more control now.
She pushes me forward. “You’d better get going before I embarrass you in front of your new university squad.”
I chuckle and start walking towards the double doors. I stop when the emotion overwhelms me, and I drop my bags to rush back to her.
I throw my arms around her. “Who cares what they think,” I tell her. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I barely make it down the hallway, before I hear a loud voice from behind me say, “Skye! Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you!”
Harper is suddenly standing next to me, grinning widely. I was aware that Harper got into the same university as me when I finished the journalism course at college, but I hadn’t expected to see her on my very first day.
“What uni hall are you in?” she asks, eagerly.
I hold up the room assignment in my hand and read the number out. “102.”
Her whole face lights up. “Seriously? I can’t believe it! We’re roommates!”
I try to act happy about this. “Oh, Great!”
I like my personal space and Harper doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word.
“This is going to be so exciting Skye. We’re going to have so much fun!”
I continue moving down the corridor, Harper hot on my tail.
We stop outside room 102 and Harper kicks it open to reveal two single beds on opposite sides of the room, a desk, minimum lighting, a TV hanging in the centre of the wall and one bathroom that I’m guessing we’re going to have to share for the remainder of our time here.
Harper is already making herself comfortable, as she looks for a good place to store her books. “Which side of the room would you prefer Skye?” She asks.
I shrug. “I don’t mind. It doesn’t really bother me,” I say, shuffling inside and dragging my suitcase across the wooden floor.
Harper sits on the bed closest to the window and begins to unpack. “Can you believe that we’re here? Sometimes I have to pinch myself.”
I nod and fish in my purse for my mobile. I’ve received a message from Michael. It brings a smile to my face.
Michael - Good luck for today – not that you’ll need it. Remember to come and visit when you can x
Things have gotten so much easier with my dad. I’ve spent most of the summer getting to know him. We’re taking each day slowly and I’m happy with the way things are going.
I quickly write my reply.
Thanks. See you soon ☺ x
There’s a bit of commotion outside our room and then a boy stumbles inside, causing Harper to squeal at the top of her lungs. I sit there, unamused.
The boy glances back into the corridor and yells at the person responsible for pushing him into the dorm.
“Rhys, you utter bellend! I’ll get you back for this, I promise you!”
Is that a welsh accent?
I can already tell that University is going to be very different to college life and the people here seem…interesting.
The boy steps through the doorway and glances around, nodding his head in appreciation.
“Hey, this is a neat space. Our dorms look nothing like this. You girls are having the special treatment over here,” he says, forgetting that he’s just invaded our privacy and neither of us are happy about it.
I walk towards him, remaining calm. “Are you lost? I’m pretty sure the boy’s accommodation is on the other side of the building,” I point out.
He’s tall and skinny, and there’s a baseball cap on his head. Some blond hair is spilling out of it.
He leans on the door jam. “I am aware. But, I’m sort of glad I did now…” He checks me over, not being discreet about it either.
“Well, we’ve got to unpack, so I’d appreciate it if you could let us do that.”
“Hey, crack on. Don’t mind me.” He doesn’t move from the door and grins wickedly.
I place my hands above my hips, annoyed. “Let me rephrase. Can you leave please?”
He holds a hand to his heart. “Since you asked so nicely, I’ll go.”
I start shutting the door. “I’m Sam by the way.”
“Good for you.”
Sam chuckles and it’s a deep throat laugh. “Well?” He presses.
“Well what?” I bite, taking a step back so we aren’t butting heads.
“Are you going to tell me your name?”
“You’re not going to make any friends around here with that attitude.”
“Well, maybe I’m not looking to make friends here,” I say, confidently.
“We’ll see about that. I’ll see you around fittie.”
He winks at me and runs down the rest of the corridor, tipping his hat to a group of girls that pass by. They giggle and I roll my eyes.
Note to self. Avoid Sam (the womanizer) at all costs.
Harper is organizing her clothes when I join her again. “We’re not in Barnett anymore,” she mutters under her breath.
If Rory was able to share this with me, the experience would be one hundred times better. Speaking of Rory, I was hoping that he would have texted me to see if I was settling in okay. We did say our goodbyes earlier on in the week, but I miss him already.
That’s the problem when you love someone. It really is true when they say that you want to be with them all the time.
The distance is going to be tough for us both and we’ll hardly get to see each other, with Rory working as an apprentice in Lakeside and me being at University. But we’ve promised to try and find time and that we’ll fight to make it work. I’ve got to divide my time between mum, Rory and Michael. It’s going to be challenging.
I sit on my bare mattress and start taking my clothes out of the suitcase, sorting them into different sections – socks, underwear, shoes, pyjamas, jeans/shirts and my best nightlife dresses, in case I’m tempted to see what these fresher’s parties are all about.
Once I’ve sorted through my clothes, I move on to my jewellery box.
When I open the box, my eyes are drawn to the seashell necklace Grayson bought me last year. I haven’t got rid of it, despite having thoughts telling me that I should. I wonder about him sometimes, mostly when I’m alone and have time to think. I hope that he’s doing well.
A month goes by and my routine consists mainly of studying and attending classes that I’m struggling to stay awake in. I am kind of disappointed that Harper doesn’t have the same timetable as me, but I’ve got to start making new friends if I’m going to like it here.
I am struggling to keep up with the rest of my classmates and I knew from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be smooth sailing, but I never expected it to be this exhausting. My back is aching from being hunched over at numerous computer desks and it doesn’t help that I’m missing home like crazy.
I get back to the halls to find Harper sitting on her bed, legs crossed, eyes lost in the book she’s reading.
She smiles at me when I cross the room, lowering the paperback. “Hey! How was your day?”
I dive onto my bed and sigh heavily. “Awful. I’ve got to complete another one-thousand-word essay by Thursday and I am so tired. Is this really what the next few years are going to be like for us?”
Harper chuckles and then there’s a small tap at the door. “Please tell me this is the right dorm,” a male voice says from behind the wood separating us. “Because I’ve been to at least four different rooms already and I haven’t had the warmest welcome.”
My entire face lights up as I swing the door open. Rory is on the other side and I practically throw myself at him. He stumbles backwards, hitting into the back wall with a crunch.
I kiss him repeatedly. His lips move comfortably against mine and my legs wrap around his torso. He holds me in place and for a split second, I forget that we’re in the middle of a busy corridor and people are watching us.
I pull away and Rory rests his head against mine, sighing against my lips. “Wow. It’s good to see you too,” he says, making me smile.
“I’m so glad you’re here.” I hop back onto the ground and grab his hand. “Come on, I’ll show you my room.”
“Ooh, I’d be happy to escort you there…” he says with a cheeky smile, pinching my side.
I slap his hand away, giggling. “Stop it.”
“Are you sure you want me to stop?” he says, dangerously.
I press my lips against his. “No.”
“No?” he repeats, kissing me passionately. He pulls away briefly. “I’ve missed you.”
He pushes some fallen hair out of my eyes and smiles. “Well, you can fill me in on all the details now that I’m here.”
My mouth covers his again and our kisses are becoming more urgent. Rory breaks the kiss and I stare at him longingly.
“Skye, don’t look at me like that… I’m one step away from whisking you into that room and having my way with you.”
My entire body throbs, lips tingling. “I – I should probably warn you that…”
The door opens and Harper’s excited face appears, startling us both. “Hi Rory! It’s so good to see you. Me and Skye are officially roomies now!”
I spin to Rory, lowering my voice. “She keeps saying that to everyone.”
“Has a nice ring to it,” he mutters, letting me lead him inside.
I spend most of the day tucked in bed with Rory. We lay together, occasionally making out, but mostly enjoying each other’s company for however long it lasts.
He tells me about Jenny’s new boyfriend, and how much he doesn’t like him. And then he fills me in on his job. He seems to be doing well. Seeing Rory happy, makes me happy.
“They’re starting an open mic night at the local pub soon,” he says.
I sit myself up in his arms. “Really? That’s amazing! You need to sign up.”
“No way. I can’t do that,” he says, brushing me off.
“Rory, you’ve got a serious talent. Don’t let that go to waste.”
“You know how I feel about singing in front of people. I’m not ready.”
I slump back down, disappointed that he won’t even consider it. “That’s a shame. I could have been your personal cheerleader… like the amazing girlfriend that I am.”
“My own personal cheerleader huh?” He grips my waist and pulls me closer, brushing his lips against mine. “I could get used to that.”
I break away. “Sorry. That offer is no longer on the table for you. It’ll only be available when you decide to stop hiding yourself away.”
His face hardens. “I’m not hiding away Skye… it’s just difficult for me. It brings back memories, reminding me of what I don’t have.” He sounds annoyed.
My shoulders drop and I soften my tone. I know this is a sensitive topic for him. He misses his mum. “Sorry. I won’t mention it again.”
He pinches my waist, smiling again. “So, are you still excited about living the university life?”
I glance up at the ceiling and sigh. “Almost as excited as I am to be completing another three years’ worth of studying.” I can’t hide the sarcasm. I hear him chuckle. “The partying isn’t so bad though, I never run out of things to do.”
“Don’t party too hard,” he jokes, keeping his voice light. “You know what happens when you do… I’m forced to come and rescue you.”
He looks at me worriedly. “You’ll just have to continue doing that. I don’t mind.”
“Might be a bit hard, considering I don’t exactly live around the corner.”
“I’m sure you’ll find a way.”
I plant a kiss on his lips and he pulls me closer to him, our bodies glued against each other. I open my mouth wider, so he has easier access and I move to sit in his lap.
He looks up at me, smirking. “I like this position,” he announces. “I would like it even more if you…” the door suddenly opens and I remove myself from the comfort of his lap, accidentally kicking Rory in his private parts.
He keels over. “AH! Shiz!”
“Sorry!” I try to rush to his aid, but he does not want to be comforted right now.
Harper stops by her bed, throwing me a look of apology for potentially ruining the moment.
“Are you okay?” I ask, afraid to touch him.
The pain is evident. He doesn’t look at me. “Fine. I’ll be fine in a few minutes.” That’s embarrassing.
When I glance at Harper again, she’s grinning at us both. “You two are so cute together!”
There’s a rumble in Rory’s chest, as he chuckles… or maybe that was more of a painful chuckle. I’m really not sure at this point.
“I saw that boy Sam again,” Harper explains, “He came onto me and asked for your number. I told him that you weren’t interested.”
That boy sure moves fast.
I can sense Rory staring at me. “Who is Sam?” he demands.
“Uh, nobody. He came into our room by accident a few weeks ago.”
“By accident?” He repeats, confused.
I don’t want him to have reason to worry. “We talked for like… five seconds.”
It was definitely longer than that.
“And he was only in here, because his friends were teasing him.”
He slouches back down, seemingly agitated. “You didn’t mention anything before.”
“I didn’t think it was worth mentioning that’s why.”
“He asked for your number though Skye, so obviously there’s more to it.”
Crap. I do not want to get into an argument. I want to keep Rory here for as long as possible.
“Rory, stop. You’re what I want, not some immature boy that is only looking to increase his track record by sleeping around.”
His face relaxes. “Alright then. Sorry for being protective, I just… I know what these guys are like, because I was once like that myself. It’s going to drive me insane.”
I lower myself back onto the bed, our knees briefly touching. “I love you Rory.”
Rory has to leave for work soon, but we make sure to spend our last few moments together exploring the campus buildings. We walk hand in hand and I wish he could stay here with me. Everything seems to disappear when he’s around.
But we are leading different lives right now and it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask Rory to stay, when he’s got a million other obligations waiting for him back home.
“How’s your course going anyway? Have you made any friends?” he asks, as we bump shoulders.
“No. Aside from Harper, I don’t hang out with anyone else. You know that I find making friends takes a lot of effort. I just want to focus on getting through my first year.”
“Those classmates of yours are missing out,” he says, making me smirk. “Give it time though, I’m sure they’ll come around.”
“But they probably think I’m a grumpy old…” I quickly rephrase, “I’m not the most approachable person, am I? Let’s be realistic.”
“I’m glad you’re not, because I don’t want anyone approaching you anyway,” he jokes, earning a playful slap from me.
“Thanks a lot for that.”
“Nah, I’m just referring to the boys on campus. But, as for the rest of civilization, I think it would be good for you to make friends. Don’t be afraid to be yourself Skye. The right people will love you for it.”
When we finally say goodbye, I watch him pile onto the bus and my eyes start watering.
Pull yourself together Clemons.
You can do this.
It’s not the end of the world.
You’ll see Rory again, sooner than you think probably.
Instead of heading back to the dorm, I decide to do some exploring of my own. I pass some students huddled in the doorway and make my way into the warmth of the building.
The campus is located in a rural area, with open space, fountains and lush lawns that will be busy during the summer months. There are hundreds of trees, which give the whole layout a private feel. And everywhere I turn, there appears to be something going on.
I decide to head into the library to pick up a book for an assignment, which is a difficult task because the library is like a maze. It’s absolutely huge and I’ve already found myself struggling to find books there.
I scan my key card and enter a study area on the ground floor, where most of the students are busy typing away on computers, listening to their music, eyes fixed on the screens in front of them.
I glance above my head at the many tiered levels of the library and make my way up to the third floor. I start navigating the long aisles looking for the books I need, until I notice a Bible and realise, I’ve spent far too long searching through the Religious Studies department, not quite the journalism section I was aiming for.
I’m about to start moving again, when I look down below me on the opposite side of the second floor and I catch a glimpse of a person I recognize, standing in one of the book aisles alone.
No. I must be imagining things.
Slowly, I walk down the stairs and towards the aisle, but by the time I get there it’s empty. Maybe it was a doppelganger. Or a figment of my imagination.
Sighing, I start making my way out and that’s when I crash straight into another student who’s blocking my path. I’m ready to give this person a hard time, until he turns around and locks his gaze on me. My entire body turns slack as I check him over.
Standing there, dressed to perfection is Grayson Swain.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he says.
And despite how bizarre this situation feels, I laugh.
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