Chapter 1 : ‘C’ and Plums
The Hayden library has always been my favorite study spot for hours of non-interrupted cramming. Almost 95% of the student population here make full use of the amenities provided here to study productively, while the rest of the 5% are very much distracted. The scenery of the greenery immediately outside of the building never fails me to provide some short moments of breaks in my whole shift of studying. A glimpse of nature’s beauty observed from the giant see-through windows encourages me to remove myself from the shackles of vast amount of distractions in my mobile devices like my laptop and my smartphone. Fortunately, at this period of time: 11:23 a.m. on a sunny Saturday, the library is not that crowded yet. This helps me to reserve more empty seats to lay all of my studying materials on the table so that I can have larger personal space to study.
After washing my still sleepy face in the restroom, I start to walk back to the ‘my’ studying spot before I see what is going on. I have a good memory and I remember specifically that I put my graphic calculator next to my blue hoodie but now it is nowhere to be found nearby. I start to begin my search on the floor. Perhaps, it fell when I went to the restroom. However, under the table, the floor is rather empty and devoid of any object looking like a calculator to me, other than some footwear of other random students that oddly already disperse the pungent smell of sweats and bacteria, or even fungus. I quickly look up again and scan the crowded-with-files-and-stacks-of-paper table, especially the area within the 1 meter radius from my closed laptop.
I see a brunette preoccupied in her work just 2 chairs away from the chair opposite of my angle. I instantly squint her studying materials and then I spot my own graphic calculator with my initial branded on it with a too thin black marker on the top area: L.S. As I cannot handle this small action of stealing when I am in need to finish my Mathematics assignment, I start to approach her to ask back for my possession. I have never seen this tan-skinned girl before in all my lectures or tutorials which means she is not very much popular or involved in any sorority which means she could be from McCormick or Random House. However, sadly to say, I am a man of high reputation in the campus so I cannot just randomly accuse people in a public setting like this with a handful population of students witnessing my outrage.
“Um, miss, I believe that’s my graphic calculator you are using?” I ask her quietly with a faint smile to mask my obvious anger from this thief.
She slowly looks up to me with her soft, dark but dull hazel eyes that were just focusing on some questions I assume are Physics-related. Her straight hair frames her oddly-clear face perfectly and her small lips start to form a curve.
“Oh, yeah! I’m so sorry! I just needed to finish my Physics assignment due by 11:30 and I forgot to finish the last question!” she replies apologetically with panic eyes and too-loud voice that some students start to turn around to witness this strange unexpected conversation. I can see that blush starts to appear on her cheeks.
I conclude that she is not a thief or kleptomaniac but still I do not think it is wise to just randomly grab and use others’ materials when they are not around.
I also assume that I came to her a bit too harsh so I try to be a bit more gentle in replying. “It’s fine. You can return it to me once you finish your work.”
Before I can walk back to my own study spot, she stops me with a “Here.”
I turn around and see her smiling with her big sad eyes, my calculator in her hand as she hands it closer to me for me to take. Immediately, I take it from her grip with a faint smile.
“Thanks,” I reply shortly. I have no interest to talk to strangers at this point of time.
“Haha! No, thank you,” she says with a happier tone and expression.
As I try to sit back down on my chair, I observe that she is packing back all her studying materials into her maroon bag which model is quite mainstream for girls nowadays before standing up and leaving the place not-so-quietly. I assume she must be one of those distracted-play hard students who rarely visit the library because she seems to lack many of library etiquettes.
My focus shifts back to the paper in front of me and I begin to analyze the remaining questions left. When I take my calculator for use, I notice a yellow small post-it-note sticking on the back of the calculator. I quickly flip my calculator to see it. It reads:
I borrowed ur calc for my work for a while. Sorry!
‘C’? I assume it is the girl’s initial but I am not very much interested in finding out more about her. I have too many assignments due, too many events to plan for my fraternity, Phi Beta Epsilon or PBE and too many girls’ invitations to reject to. I do not want to screw up my graduating year here in MIT while I have the time to settle things first properly so I am ready for the future awaiting for me beyond MIT’s gates.
Without realizing, I have actually studied for another 3 hours at Hayden without having the opportunity to grab a good lunch. I quickly pack my materials into my black backpack, put my laptop in the cover and leave the place quietly.
As soon as I am outside of the entrance door, I turn on my phone to scan through all the notifications I received for the last 3 hours. There are some important messages from PBE about the upcoming event of recruitment since we are entering the third week of the new semester. There are other insignificant messages from some acquaintances, mostly are sophomore girls from sororities trying to get to know me that I believe one of my stupid friends easily shared my number like a free takeaway gift as well as some messages from my parents asking about my current health, conditions and my place in PBE.
I manage to reply to urgent texts first as I am walking toward my bicycle parked nearby to go back to PBE. I usually resign to delivery for lunch because I am one of the biggest sloths in my fraternity, specifically in terms of cooking.
I quickly put on my casual black bicycle helmet to cover my fair hair and start to cycle to my place. I can never describe how satisfying it is for me to cycle, ever since I first cycled when I was only 6 years old. My father used to be involved in mountain-cycling when he was in his twenties and he introduced me to this new undiscovered beautiful world of cycling which I came to fall in love with hard. However, in my years in MIT, I tried to tone down my interest in it because not many people will be thrilled and accepting to see a PBE vice president who loves to cycle.
“Ludwig, hey!” Some of my juniors greet me as I cycle pass them at a slow rate.
“James, Rob, Rayleigh, hi!”
“Are you going back to your place?” Rob or Roberto, one my Mathematics junior I was introduced to in one of my friends’ parties, asks me with a casual tone. His brunette girlfriend, Rayleigh, leans in to his body, her head involuntarily hits his plain spectacles, making them move from their original position: hung on his nose bridge. Rob quickly readjusts his spectacles as if it has happened so many times.
“Yes. I’m hungry and I want some food delivery,” I answer.
“Pizza? Or Chinese?” Rayleigh asks before looking back to Rob, hinting something from her eyes and her crooked smile.
“Area Four, please, for pizza, especially the Hawaiian one,” James adds in as he looks back to his phone screen, scrolling through some web pages. His dark green beanie looks a bit too large for him that it appears to drown his head.
“Okay, okay, kids, enough with the food talk. I’ll see you around then,” I smile to them before increasing my cycling pace to match the speed of nearby cars so that I can quickly arrive to my place to satisfy the grumbling sounds in my stomach. I hear them greeting me goodbye but I do not look back.
“Hey, Lu! Were you at Hayden again?” Torrance or Tory, one of my friends is climbing down the stairs to greet me with his dark disheveled bed hair and loose boxers.
“Yeah, cramming like crazy,” I reply as I put down my backpack on top of the empty drawer next to the common room.
I must admit that I am a clean-freak. I cannot handle when furnitures or personal belongings are scattered around the house. This is why I always have cleaning duty roster schedule every Sunday for the boys to clean the place up. Sophomores cannot handle it but the juniors and seniors have realized the benefit I initiated in the system. Hopefully, these kids will continue my legacy long after my graduation.
“Shit, man! Don’t fucking scared me like that! I texted you for the last 4 hours and you fucking just replied recently!” he says before looking back to his phone screen again.
“You’re damn stupid, Tory,” I snort before removing my hoodie from my body, laying it on my backpack and heading to the fridge to get some cold water or juice.
“Okay, Sir. I believe you should have some fun after that fucked-up intense studying,” he says as he yawns, scratching his belly button in front of me.
I laugh inside my head. I cannot imagine all those girls he had sex with witnessing this weird side of Tory. I have to admit that his abs and muscles are not as well-defined as mine but I can see some opportunity that those chicks can still swoon over this mess of a human I generously call ‘my best friend’.
“Lifting weights should be perfect,” I say as I take out a mug from the pantry before taking out the water jug from the fridge and pouring cold water from the jug into it.
“If you lift weights more, you’ll be as fucking big as Kendrick,” Tory jokes as he slowly scratches his back, an area too near to his butt. He is referring to Kendrick Halls, one of the buff rowing guys from another fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“It’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone,” I reply matter-of-factly before drinking all the water to kill my thirst.
“You already have too many games—,”
“Which I refused to play,” I snort as I put back the water jug inside the fridge.
I scan the food inside there. My attention is solely focused on the cold plums inside a transparent box. I take it out to have a little taste of those delicious cold plums. The sound of the closing fridge door follows closely behind my action.
“Yeah, you were wilder back in freshman year,” Tory chuckles as he bends down his bare upper body on the table while focusing on his phone screen, which is just a few inches away from his eyes.
“Your myopia will worsen if you keep doing that,” I remind him as I take the first bite of the cold plum. It tastes amazing, maybe because currently I am extremely hungry.
“Fuck off, Lu,” he replies softly, trying not to sound harsh.
I chuckle before taking another bite of the sweet plum. Perhaps, I can just eat all these for lunch instead of opting for food delivery that usually takes a long time for the food to arrive on the doorsteps.
“It’s Hastings’ by the way, but I don’t think he cares,” Tory casually makes a remark. I assume he is talking about the plums. Leon Hastings is a quiet junior in PBE but he manages to get to my good side despite him being a klutz most of the time.
“He always forgets his food. Some often rot,” I say with a mouth full of the plum’s flavor.
“So it’s either free food or nothing?” Tory asks, followed by a lazy laughter as he looks up to me eating the plum.
I laugh along with him, carefully, hoping some parts of the chewed plum and my saliva will not come out from my mouth.
“I actually wanted to have a delivery but the plums are good for now,” I say after swallowing the bite whole.
“Fuck those, we’re having delivery then,” he says with a slightly annoyed look before looking back to his phone again.
“You ate more than 3 of those this week, Tory,” I remind him as I take another bite.
“You didn’t want to help with cooking and I suck at that shit, so no choice, man!” he whines.
I dart my eyes to the digital clock hanging just to the wall opposite of the fridge. It is already 3:16 p.m. and I managed to eat one plum since yesterday’s dinner.
“Ugh, fuck this then, are we sharing with Benson and the rest?” I ask after realizing how hungry I am supposed to feel after hours of not eating.
“Fuck Benson, fuck all. I just want to eat. Maybe we can order Mexican? Like Ole?” Tory sounds more frustrated after hearing his own grumbling stomach. Ole to Go! sounds delicious now when my stomach cannot handle its own emptiness for too long.
“Sure. Pay with my card—,”
“No, using mine is faster,” he interrupts.
“Okay, I’ll just order 2 of the usual burrito then,” I tell him shortly.
“You don’t want torta? I want to order sonora torta, carnitas taco, my usual quesadillas and another burrito,” he asks with a light-hearted tone.
I widen my eyes as soon as he tells me all those food her is ordering. To be frank, I am not a big fan of eating excessively, especially nowadays when I am under a lot of pressure and stress.
“No wonder you’re getting fatter, Tory,” I smirk as I take another plum from the box to eat it.
“Shut up, asshole. Don’t fuck with my appetite,” Tory replies, getting offended. It is normal for Tory to be like this and I am used to this sudden outburst of energy, emotion and profanity, not that I am negatively influenced by him in any way. Despite all that, he is still a very supportive friend of mine.
“Well, I’m not the one fucking with girls around so I can’t really say anything,” I snicker as I bite the plum.
Tory chuckles before putting down his phone on the table.
“It’s coming in like 35 minutes. Anyway, Lu, fetch me one of those plums, yeah?” he asks like a sweet innocent boy that I almost laugh at this stark difference in tone.
I throw him one of the plums and he catches it easily with one hand before taking a bite. I should say he is one messy eater with some of the plum’s juice besmearing his chin. I wonder if he is even a 21-year-old adult from this perspective.
Before my mind wanders off, Tory starts talking while he is still chewing. “I was thinking that I want to introduce you to this one cute girl who is off-limits for me from my Engineering course.”
“Off-limits?” I ask about the only word that captures my attention from his sentence.
“She used to date my older brother, Sam,” he casually answers while taking another bite.
Samuel, my graduated senior and Tory’s older brother, is quite close to Tory but he looks quite different from him despite having the same vile language and interest in ice hockey.
“I can say that your plan will be shitty,” I say which makes him laugh in response.
“I know it’s fucked up, but do you mind giving it a try?” he asks in a gentle tone.
I have been super wild in high school, doing many unapproved stuff like sex and drugs on weekdays and weekends with strangers, acquaintances and friends. My parents were unsatisfied with my degrading behavior until I luckily got accepted into MIT with all of my perfect grades and SAT score. I realized that this was my chance to prove that I can eventually become a better person in the future after all the things I did back in my high school days. I started to tone down all those bad behaviors I had when I started my college year. Quickly, like a rising new star, I am then known as ‘Mr. Perfect’ in the campus with stunning looks, grades and attitude, which only escalated when I become the vice president of my fraternity. Honestly, I do not care much about reputation but many people here do, as well as my parents, so I try to fulfill their expectations as the ‘perfect’ person in the campus, which brings me to the conclusion that I cannot waste my time on casual sexes, parties, dates or relationships when I want to graduate with a summa cum laude.
I sigh heavily after pondering much on my past life before looking back at Tory.
“Because you’re my friend, duh,” he says as he rolls his eyes, looking slightly annoyed.
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to waste my time on—,”
“Ludwig,” Tory says in a serious manner before tapping his fingers on the table a few times, his eyes are stern on me.
“You’ve been so immersed in this serious aspect of life ever since freshman year and I don’t want you to miss out some good stuff in life like cheesy casual dates with hot chicks, you know,” he voices out his concern about me.
“You’ve said that so many times since our first year, Tory,” I chuckle, remembering all the time we have been through together as best friends in the campus, especially when he encouraged me to go on dates with girls he thought would suit me best, but I always managed to refuse.
“That’s why! This is our fucking graduating year! And you totally should experience ‘dating’ in college while you still have the opportunity, Lu,” he says with a sincere smile, encouraging me again to agree to his brilliant idea.
For once, Tory might be right. Maybe I should give a shot while I still have the time.
I sigh before giving him a faint smile. “Okay, but I’m only doing this because you ‘begged’ for at least 50 times for the last 3 years and more.”
Tory cheers with a loud “Yes!” before laughing.
“Okay, her name is Sara-Ann Mathias, and her boobs are massive!” Tory laughs as he shows me a picture of the girl with ashy brown hair and big brown eyes from his phone.
My eyes quickly dart to her cleavage and her breasts to cross-check whether she has large breasts or not. My mind quickly fantasizes on the idea of caressing and fondling those pair of soft hotness in my large palms or even sucking them with my mouth. I quickly start to feel warmth pooling near my dick area. I should probably stop looking to prevent myself from growing a boner so quickly.
I laugh in response. “Don’t fucking tell me that you want to have a threesome once I date her!”
“Man, that’s actually not bad,” Tory smirks, his eyes gleam in mischief.
I nod in agreement, thinking to myself I have not done a wonderful threesome since that disastrous but sexy prom night back in high school.
“Okay, but I can only go for the date on Thursday evening,” I tell him with a grin.
“Yes, Sir, on it. I hope my plan will be successful,” Tory replies with a smirk, as if he is proud to be trusted with my love life’s progress.
I nudge his shoulder and give him a reassuring grin before walking back toward my backpack with my last plum bite.
Deep down, I still know that agreeing to this date is only to satisfy Tory, my best friend. I already can tell how bad it will end up because I know I will involuntarily screw things up.
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