Chapter 1: Adjusting
"You ok?" My Dad asks, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
"Yeah." I say quietly.
"You'll be back home again soon, Alison." My Mother says from the passenger seat, turning her head to look back at me.
"I bet your friends can't wait to see you." She smiles.
"They're not really my friends... I just live with them." I shrug.
"I'm sure once you get a bit more comfortable with each other you'll be good friends."
"Yeah, Al." My Dad nods in agreement. "Some of my best friends, who I'm still very close with were from University."
I roll my eyes, playing with the ends of my long, chocolate coloured hair. I wish my parents would realise I'm not like them. I wish they understood how I felt.
"Um..." My Mom gives my dad a look as she fakes a cough. "Forgetting someone?"
"Oh, yes, of course." My dad chuckles. "And University is where I met your mother. How could I forget that?" He smirks.
"Mmhmm." My Mom gives my Dad a look. "And then we had you, Alison."
"Ugh, yes, I know." I make a face, wanting to change the subject.
"You never know, you could meet the man you're going to marry." She says excitedly.
"Mom, I'm only 18. I'm not interested in any of that. I have bigger things to be thinking about."
"That's my girl." My Dad grins.
"Matthew." My Mom scolds.
"There's nothing wrong with her being focused on her education and career. It's a good thing, Diana."
"I know that... but, sweetheart." She says softly. "I've never seen you with any boys... you don't even talk about them. At your age I was boy obsessed. I had four boyfriend's by the age of 18."
"Mom..." I shake my head in frustration.
"You can still be focused on your education and career, and have a boyfriend. I fell pregnant with you while I was studying, and still managed to get a high degree, and an amazing career afterwards. I was lucky to have your father."
"Leave her, Diana. It's up to Alison what she wants. If she doesn't want a boyfriend yet, then that's fine."
"Mom!" I make a face.
"Diana." My dad glares at her.
"She doesn't talk to me about anything, Matthew. She might be sexually confused. I just want us to talk openly about this."
"Oh my god. I'm still here, you know?!" I scoff, folding my arms. "I'm not talking about this."
"See!" My Mom frowns.
"Ok, that's enough. If Alison doesn't want to talk about it, then she doesn't have to. She's young and has her whole life ahead of her to find someone." My Dad says, coming to my defence.
My Mother sighs, and finally there's silence.
"Anyway." She clears her throat, breaking the awkward silence. "It will take some time, but soon enough you won't want to come home at all." She laughs softly, trying to cut the tension. "You've only been there a month, give it some time. You're still adjusting to everything."
"Maybe." I say quietly.
The rest of the journey is quiet. My Dad puts on some music to lighten the mood. I don't know why my Mom is so obsessed with me finding someone? She desperately wants me to have a boyfriend, and I'm not sure why? I think she worries that I might be into girls, and she wants some sort of confirmation that I'm straight. She doesn't think it's normal of a girl my age to not show an interest in boys, but I do. I just don't know what to say or do around them, and its actually the other way around.. no one has ever been interested in me. They always seem to be interested in my friends. I guess I'm not confident enough. Guys my age are jerks anyway. I can see why she worries, but I don't think I'm sexually confused.
We arrive at my University and my Dad parks up. I grab my bag and we all get out of the car to hug each other goodbye. I'm trying so hard not to cry.
"Don't work too hard. We'll see you soon." My dad smiles.
"I won't." I let out a soft laugh.
"Look after yourself sweetheart." My Mom smiles.
"Bye, love you." They both say, as they get back in the car.
"Love you too." I smile.
They pull out and wave as they drive off. I stand and wave back to them, watching their car disappear. I sigh, standing alone with my bag. I slowly turn around and look at the big building, wishing I didn't have to come back here.
"Hey." They say in sync.
I show half a smile. I hate this because I still feel so awkward with my housemates.
"How are you?" Dani asks.
"I'm ok, thanks. How about you?" I ask.
"We're good." Dani nods.
"How was your weekend?" Becky asks.
"It was ok... how about yours?"
"It was really good. We went to this freshman party on Saturday. It was so fun! You should come next time. You get to meet so many more people." Becky smiles.
I nod slowly.
"Have a drink with us?" Dani smiles.
"Uh..." I hesitate. "Thanks, but It's late. I think I'm just going to head to bed."
"Oh, ok. We'll turn the music down."
"No, it's ok. I don't mind." I shake my head and go to turn around.
"Uh, ok. Night then." They smile.
I go upstairs to my room and close the door. I shut my eyes tightly and groan to myself. Well done, Alison. You've made yourself look even more awkward and weird. I get ready for bed and sort out my books for tomorrow.
"Morning." Dani smiles.
"Morning." I say bluntly.
"Hey." Holly says through a yawn as she walks in.
"Hey, where were you last night?" Becky asks, raising her eyebrow.
I pour myself some cereal and sit at the table, minding my own business.
"I was with that guy I met at the Freshman party." She grins, making herself some coffee.
"That was quick!" Dani laughs.
"He invited me over his." She shrugs. "We just watched a movie with his housemates."
"Yeeeah, right." Becky smirks.
Holly grins and sips her coffee. I finish my cereal and look at the time. I better head off. I stand up and go to walk out of the kitchen.
"Hey, Alison, wait for me." Dani says, eating the last of her cereal.
"We have English together this morning, don't we?"
"Yeah." I nod, showing a little smile. "I just need to grab my bag."
I quickly go up to my room, and put everything I need in my bag. I come back downstairs and see Dani putting her shoes on.
"See you later!" Dani calls out to Holly and Becky.
"Bye!" They shout back.
We leave the house together and walk through campus.
"Sorry if you felt uncomfortable this morning." Dani frowns.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"It looked like we were talking about you."
"It's ok." I shrug.
"It's not. I wasn't talking about you either, it was Becky. It was nothing mean because she's not like that. She was just saying how quiet you are."
"I'm not used to all of this. Sharing a house with strangers... being some where different. I'm just a bit reserved when it comes to stuff like this."
"I know. It's all pretty weird." She laughs softly. "We aren't used to this yet either, but we're going to be living with each other for a while."
"Yeah." I nod. "I'm just not coping as well as you and the others. As time goes on I'm sure I'll get more comfortable."
"Of course." Dani nods. "Maybe you should come out with us next time? It would be fun. It's a good way of getting to know everyone."
"Uh, maybe, but I don't drink."
"I mean, I've never really tried it. I've never been drunk before." I let out a soft chuckle, instantly regretting what I just said.
"That's what university is all about. New experiences." She smiles.
"Well, think about it. You don't have to drink alcohol to come out with us. It's cool if you don't drink. And if you ever want to talk, you can talk to me. I hope I haven't come across as too much of a bitch."
We both laugh and I shake my head.
"No, you haven't. You've all been really friendly. I'm just, not the most confident person."
"It's fine. It will take time to get used to everything. You'll be ok."
"Thanks." I smile.
"Sorry, did we keep you up last night?" Dani asks.
"No." I shake my head. "I don't sleep well here."
"I've got sleeping pills if you ever want any?"
"Like, herbal stuff?"
"No, herbal stuff is shit. The ones I have are a bit stronger than the usual sleeping pill."
"Oh." I raise my eyebrows. "Thanks, but I'll be ok."
"Ok, let me know if you change your mind. The assignments and essays are hard enough when you're wide awake, let alone half asleep."
"Yeah." I let out a soft laugh. "Thanks."
"Any time." She smiles.
We hear the door open and everyone looks over at a man walking in. He takes off his black sunglasses and looks up at all of us. He has shiny, curly, black hair, which hangs just above his shoulders. He's wearing a red cardigan, with a blue shirt, and black trousers.
I stare at him, watching him walk over to Mr Smith's desk. He leans with his hands on the desk as he reads something. I realise I'm staring too much and look down at my books.
"What's he doing?" Dani makes a face.
"Quiet down please."
I look back up when I hear him speak. He sounds firm, but softly spoken. His eyes trace across the room as it eventually goes silent.
"I'm Mr. Jackson, and I'll be teaching English Language and Literature in replace of Mr Smith."
"Oh my god." Dani whispers as she smiles slowly.
"Where's Mr. Smith?" Someone calls out.
I turn my head and see it's Ben.
"I've been told he is taking some time off because of health problems, and won't be back for a while."
Mr. Jackson looks around the room and locks eye contact with me. Oh, God. His eyes are beautiful. I've never seen eyes like them. Big, soft, and brown. I instantly become a flustering mess and quickly look down while I play with my pen nervously. Why do I feel nervous? Get a grip, Alison. It's not like you haven't seen an attractive guy before, but... I've never felt like this with someone who I find good looking, and especially this quickly. The guy only walked in here 5 seconds ago.
"There's a lot of you here, so bare with me while I learn and remember your names." He says before letting out a soft laugh.
I look at him again and see him smiling. Wow. I've never seen a smile like that in my life! It's the kind of smile that makes you want to smile back. It's infectious. I've never seen a smile so perfect.
"I know you've been looking at technical tools used in Language and Literature, so can anyone give me some examples to start the lesson off with?"
As the lesson goes on I find myself zoning out at times while he is talking. I watch how he moves and speaks. I literally can't take my eyes off him. It's almost like I'm in a trance or something, and that's really weird.
"Alison." Dani nudges me.
"Yeah?" I quickly look away from Mr. Jackson.
"Are you going to write anything today?" She asks with a chuckle.
I look down at the pen in my hand and the blank page of my notebook. Ive been slightly distracted...
"Not so fast." Mr. Jackson calls out and stops us. "I believe you all have an essay to hand in today?"
Some people sigh and moan, which makes Mr. Jackson laugh.
"I might be new, but I'm up to date with what work needs to be done. Nice try, though. Place it on my desk as you leave."
"I actually thought we would get away with that." Dani laughs as we stand up.
"I finished mine a while ago... I actually forgot about it." I say looking through my bag.
Luckily I have it with me. I take a deep breath as we walk down and over to his desk. Dani smiles at him as she places her essay down. She walks off as I place mine on top of hers. I glance at Mr. Jackson and he smiles at me. I show a nervous smile and quickly walk over to Dani.
"That was a fun lesson." Dani smiles.
"Really?" I chuckle.
"Yeah, well I meant Mr. Jackson was fun to look at."
I smile slowly, picturing him in my head again. He was breathtakingly handsome.
"You must have thought so too. You stared at him the whole time, and you didn't take any notes." Dani giggles.
"No." I lower my eyebrows. "He was just going over things we had already done... I didn't need to take notes."
"At the beginning he was, but then he started talking about Medieval Literature, stuff we haven't done yet."
"Oh... Yeah. I know."
"It's ok, Al. You can look at my notes." She laughs.
Dani gets a text message and slows down when she begins to read it.
"Becky and Holly are in the Library. Shall we go see them and get something to eat?"
I hesistate and think about it. I kind of just want to go back to the house and hide away in my room...
"Uh, sure." I smile.
"Cool." She grins.
We turn around and make our way to the Library. We walk through and find them both sat at a table, typing away on their laptops.
"Hey." They both say, moving aside their laptops.
"Hi." I smile.
"I never thought I'd see you both in the Library." Dani says with a chuckle.
"We both have essays to finish... so this is our last option." Holly smirks.
"Well, guess what?" Dani grins.
"What?" Becky asks.
"We have a new teacher. Mr. Jackson."
Holly and Becky look at the both of us.
"Ok, so?" Holly asks with a laugh. "Actually, wait, I can tell by your smile why you're so happy about this."
"Why?" Becky makes a face.
Holly smirks shaking her head.
"Because he's hot." Dani says giving Becky a look.
"Ooooh." Becky laughs. "I'm jealous. Mines a bit of a bitch."
"You seem pretty quiet, Alison, which makes me think he's not as hot as Dani is making him out to be." Holly smirks, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, uh, he's cute." I shrug.
"Hmm..." Holly chuckles. "What does he look like?"
"He has some sexy curls, and he was wearing such a cute cardigan." Dani smiles.
"A cardigan?" Becky says lowering her eyebrows, sounding unimpressed.
"Is that him?" Holly asks, looking behind me and Dani.
We turn our heads and I widen my eyes. It is him! I'm not sure why I'm so surprised. He works here, so of course he'll be around campus.
"Yeah." Dani grins.
"Wow... He is hot." Holly smirks.
"I take it back about the cardigan. He looks fine." Becky smiles and checks him out.
I glance over again and see him walking towards us with another teacher. I quickly turn back around, running my hand through my hair.
"Mr. Jackson!" Holly calls out.
My jaw drops and I widen my eyes. If only I could be as confident as Holly...
"Hol, what are you doing?!" Dani gasps and then giggles. "He doesn't even teach you."
"Shh, he's coming." Holly bites her lip.
Oh God... I slide down on my chair and sigh. I want to get up and run out of here. Mr. Jackson walks over to our table. I glance at him and look away, resting my chin in my hand.
"Oh, hi, you were in my English lesson this morning,weren't you?" He asks, looking at Dani and then me.
"Yeah." Dani smiles.
"Sorry, I didn't catch your names?"
Michael then looks at me. I look at him and stare into his eyes for a few seconds. I can't get over how beautiful his eyes are... I clear my throat and show a quick smile.
He doesn't take his eyes off me. I lick my lips and I'm the first one to break eye contact. I tuck my hair behind my ear and awkwardly look around the library.
"Dani and Alison were saying how much they enjoyed your lesson." Holly says, getting Mr. Jackson's attention as she flips her long, blonde hair. "I feel terrible for Mr. Smith. I hope he's ok?"
"That's nice to hear, and especially on my first day here. Im glad you liked the lesson." He says, showing that wonderful smile of his. "And I'm sure he will be ok." He nods. "I don't think you two were in my lesson?"
"No." Holly shakes her head. "Im Holly, I'm studying Fine Art."
"Nice." Mr. Jackson smiles back politely.
"I'm Becky. I study Marketing."
"Interesting subjects." Mr. Jackson nods. "You all live together?"
"How are you all finding University so far?"
"It's great." Dani smiles.
"That's good to hear... remember it's not all about partying, though."
"Of course not." Holly says sarcastically with a smirk.
Mr. Jackson laughs softly and puts his hands in his pockets.
"I'll leave you to study, and I'll see you both in your next lesson." He smiles at me and Dani before walking away.
I wait a couple of seconds and then I glance back at him as he leaves.
"Well, that's it." Holly says putting down her laptop.
"What?" Dani lowers her eyebrows.
"I'm switching my course. I want to study English with you two."
"Me too!" Becky smirks.