1. First Day Back
It was the first day of the final semester for the students of class 2019-20 at St. Ann’s University, a private institute in the outskirts of the city of Gardenia, ironically the silicon capital of Domino.
Evelyn St. Nicholas, one of these very students, emerged from her car, with an excited yell, effectively startling everybody around her in the college parking lot. But, she didn’t care too much about it; she hardly even noticed. As a matter of fact, her head was turned to face the sun in the blue sky, her eyes closed against the yellow glare, a broad smile on her face.
“Winter! Here I come!” she cried with a smile as radiant as the sun itself.
Her best friends, the McCoy twins, got out of the car slowly. While Anthony looked refreshed enough, Sophia looked like she could do with some more sleep.
“Why do you always have to get so excited about everything, Evelyn?” groaned Sophia, stifling a yawn. “Wasn’t waking me up with a plastic club at seven in the morning enough for you?”
Evelyn merely turned around and grinned at her, before yanking her arm and rushing away into the crowd. Anthony stared after them in surprise.
“They do realise I’m still here, right?” he muttered to himself. He locked the car and began walking at his own slow pace towards the college building.
He felt a tug on his shoulder as an arm wrapped around him. He looked around, without breaking his step, to see one of his classmates, Tony.
“Hey!” said Tony, loud enough for everybody in the immediate vicinity to hear. “I bet you spent tons of time with Evelyn during fall break, eh-eh?” He gave an elaborate wink. “Did you finally get down and dirty with her yet?”
Anthony instantly jammed breaks on his walking and politely but firmly removed his arm like it was some type of gooey substance that disgusted him. Talking dirty about any of his girls—Sophie or Evelyn—got him all riled up and angry. At such times, he generally chose not to speak, since he wasn’t absolutely sure of what would come out of his mouth.
As he did now. He quietly walked away.
But, Tony would not leave him. “Hey, man!” he called, rushing to catch up with him. “Wait! Look, man, it was just a friendly greeting! I know you and her are close – and if you’re not dating her, I’m looking in her direction. Ya know what I mean?”
Anthony stopped once more and turned on him, prepared to pick a fight. However, just then, the moment broke when a melodious voice interrupted them:
Evelyn emerged from the crowd that was slowly beginning to form now around the two heated men. She tugged at Anthony’s arm with a wide grin on her face and said, “Come on! We’ve been searching high and low for you! Don’t you want to start off the final semester of college with a blast?!”
Anthony was about to open his mouth to speak, but she prevented it by yanking at his arm with great unexpected strength, back towards the building she came from. A gust of cold wind blew suddenly on both of them and despite wearing thick overcoats, left them shivering involuntarily.
As the crowd thinned out, they made their way towards the Arts building. Sophia was waiting for them outside. She waved at them once when she spotted them.
Evelyn came to a stop beside her and turned on Anthony, her eyebrows wrinkled together in annoyance.
“Who told you to pick a fight on the first day of college?” she demanded. “You almost ruined the rest of the semester for all of us! What were you even thinking!?”
Anthony scowled, not willing to look her in the eye. “I was just defending you, is all. You know, from dirty minds.”
“I can do that myself, thank you! And besides, they mean nothing when they speak like that! It’s just normal! Nothing to get too worked up about!”
Now, he glared at her. “Fine, if you think you can allow people to talk to you like that, go ahead and hang out with them! I don’t care anymore!”
Sophia knew she had to butt in at this point. She put her hands on their chests, standing in between them.
“Hold it right there, you buffoons!” she said. “This is silly! Eve, Anthony was doing just what he thought was right! Anthony, another fight? Seriously? On the first day of winter semester? Both of you are being idiots! It’s okay, just let it go. It’s over. Nobody can do anything to change the past!”
Evelyn was the first to give in. She sighed. “You’re right, of course. I’m sorry, Anthony.”
Anthony nodded. “Me too.”
“Come on, let’s go to class!” Sophia beamed as she put an arm around each of them and led them into the building. They all had different majors, but their first hour was the same.
When they walked into the building, the crowd suddenly seemed to have grown bigger and more congested. They held each other’s hands and attempted to weave through the excited bodies around them, to reach the staircase, which seemed to be far less occupied. They heaved a huge sigh of relief before clambering up to the first floor.
“I forgot the room number again,” said Sophie. “Does anybody remember?”
“No 16,” replied Anthony as they separated and started looking. “Yea, this one.” He pointed to the door frame that had a board at the top that had the number.
The three went to it and peeked in. Some of their classmates were already inside, chatting and generally catching up. One cute blonde girl was laughing with another blonde who looked just like her, when she happened to turn towards the door. At the sight of the three students, she gave an excited exclamation and ran forward.
“Eveie!” she called, tugging at Evelyn’s arm. “You came at last! We were all wondering what happened to you!”
“Yea,” her twin came from behind her with a shy smile. “You’re always first in the class.”
Evelyn blushed at the attention she was attracting now. “Well, I admit I got up late to-day. So, I decided to ride along with the McCoys.”
The blonde twins turned to see the two siblings behind her. “Sophia!” they cried in unison. “And Anthony! How absolutely wonderful to see you both! How have you been spending the hols?!”
Evelyn tuned out the conversation at this point and looked around her. Everybody was speaking at once, some waving at her, some boys and girls coming up to greet her. There was no doubt that Evelyn was a popular student at St. Ann’s University and possibly in the whole of Gardenia. She had an endless supply of sunny smiles and kind words that brightened up the days of anybody who happened to be speaking to her. She had a lot of friends all across the city.
Right now, in that moment, she felt very happy. And satisfied. She didn’t need anything else other than the love of the people around her.