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“Are you sure you have everything?” My mom packs a bunch of unnecessary things into my backpack. I hold her hand to prevent her from piling anything else into it.
Her black hair scatters across her face as she looks at me, her eyes wild and bloodshot and wrinkles adorning her cheeks. “What? Come on, tell me that you won’t need some Christmas lights?”
I cock my head to the side, my hair follows my motions and some of it flashes me in my eyes. Then I raise my eyebrows half an inch, “Alright fine, I’m just nervous that’s all. You’re going off to college today dear,” She cups my cheeks smiling fondly and I slowly pull her hands away from me, not comfortable with the emotions she’s showing.
“I’ll be fine.” My feet walk to my bed and I sit, feeling the bed creak beneath me.
My mother continues packing my bag with clothes that I most likely will never wear and my eyes wander the room until they land on my bookshelf.
Ah, the books Cameron gave me for Christmas.
I grit and grind my teeth together and ball my hands into fists as I think of the last memory I had with him. I guess it’s all my fault though, I willingly jumped into the sea with a shark thinking that he’d save me instead of tearing me apart.
“Come, sweetheart, I think we’ve packed everything, if not you can just drive back down for it,” She smiles and I roll my eyes playfully at her.
“Do you not know how far home is from college?” I ask her rhetorically, sounding as if I’m cool with leaving home and my mother, but truth be told I’m not ready to leave. Although it hasn’t been that long, this place has become my home, even if most of the people here lied to me without a care in the world.
She lets out a hearty laugh and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t laugh with her. I’m too tired to laugh, I just want to rest...forever. I’m way too tired, my heart and head can’t take it anymore. I just want one day where I won’t be burdened with everything from my past. This is why a part of me is a bit happy I’m leaving; I get to start over. A fresh start with new, unfamiliar faces with no history between us.
“Home will be college sweetheart,” She tells me and when I stop to think about it, I realize she’s right.
“C’mon mom, or we’ll be late for my orientation.” I get off my bed, putting the bag on my back, and dragging one of the suitcases downstairs.
She lets out a shaky breath and for a minute I think I hear her sniffle. I pretend not to hear her and I continue taking my things down and she follows behind with the other suitcase.
We pile them into the trunk of the car then we slide into our seats and we drive off for Georgia University.
In the hours that we’re trapped in the car, we spend the majority of it listening to pop songs my mother and I like, trying to get my mind off the fact that I’ll be leaving her for a very long time.
“Are you nervous?” She asks me, and I look at the GPS to see we’re just ten minutes away from the university.
A small sigh escapes my lips, “No, I’m not.” Somehow I genuinely don’t feel anxious or nervous anymore, unlike my first day at Northview.
She nods and we continue sitting in absolute silence.
“Oh shit.” She mumbles under her breath and my head snaps to hers immediately.
My breathing slightly heavy, I ask, “What do you mean ‘oh shit’?” The car rolls to a stop and she turns to me with her apologetic smile on her face.
“Mom,” I ask accusingly, “What just happened? Why aren’t we driving anymore?”
Her eyes widen, she looks around at anything but me, “We may be a tad bit late for orientation.” She puts her fingers together but not allowing them to touch.
“And why is that, mother?” I ask carefully, not wanting to let assuming thoughts in.
“Maybe because the car just kind of broke down?” She rambles and my chest begins to heave up and down heavily.
“No need to panic Rosalyn, see I already have the tow truck services on call right now.” She shows me her phone as she presses the call button and places the phone at her ear.
I look out the window at the tall, oak trees that branch out and cover the road like some sort of umbrella from the scorching sun. I see the blue sky in the tiny peaks between the branches and I silently thank God for not making this day worse by making it rain.
Soon enough, the tow truck comes and we exit the vehicle and my mother goes up to him and explains our situation. He goes to the car, lifting up the hood and checking inside. His eyes intently look around, trying to find the issue.
I observe him and something familiar strikes my memory but I just can’t remember what.
I know this man but from where? I relentlessly rack my brain but I can’t figure it out and it begins to bother me.
“Looks like all that happened was that the car overheated. I put some water in there to cool it down, try it now. It should be fine,” He says and his voice once more rings a bell in my head but I can’t figure out what.
My mother takes out money to give him after she starts the car and it works.
That’s it! He’s that tourist guide from the Bahamas!
But what is he doing here?
“Hey, you’re the tourist guide from the Bahamas right?” I ask him and he smiles. “Yeah, I am. I knew I recognized you, folks,” I say, “That job just wasn’t working out for me so I quit and got a chance to come here so I did.” He answers and I nod at him, pleased with myself that I finally figured out where he was from.
He leaves and my mother and I get in the car, heading to my orientation, “I promise we won’t be late.” She says as we fasten our seatbelts.
“Here we are.” She smiles and looks at me and my lips tug up in a small smile and I look out the window.
This is my chance to leave everything behind me, to forget about everything that happened at Northview, and start over.
No Hannah, no Holly, no Xavier, no Dylan, and most importantly, no Cameron.
My mother parks the car and we get out taking our stuff out of the trunk and hauling them into the building.
A woman with a bright smile on her face greets everyone and hands out pamphlets and she gives one to my mother and me then we continue walking into the building.
“Wow, this school is huge,” I mutter, my head up to the ceiling looking at the different flights of stairs and students walking up and down to get to their classes or dorms.
“Good morning, your name?” The man at the desk keeps his head buried in the piles of papers scattered about his desk and I feel the urge to move him aside so I can clean up his desk.
He nods and writes my name on the ink-covered paper with a black ink pen, then he types away on the computer probably trying to get my information.
“Ah, here it is. Rosalyn Aldaine, dorm room 56 in Cypress Building,” He mutters as my papers begin printing then he takes them out and hands them to me.
I skip through the paper, seeing my schedule, and small smile tugs at my lips once I see the little number of classes I’ll have.
I’ll finally have sufficient time to study properly for each topic, A sigh escapes my cracked lips and I reach around into my bag for the bottle of water I shoved in there and I drink half of it.
We begin walking, letting the signs point us towards Cypress, the female building. “You sure you’ll be okay staying in a room with a stranger?” My mother asks me, her voice worried.
“Yes mother, besides, isn’t that literally what you did to me a year ago with Cameron?”
I hate bringing him up but it always happens, I try not to but it’s literally impossible to get that disgusting prick off my mind.
The only thing disgusting about him is that damn smirk, that tiny voice in my head speaks after not saying a thing for months.
She smiles and puts her head down, “I know, it seems so long ago. Also, I really wonder what was going through my mind at the time, that is not something a mother should do.” She laughs and covers her mouth with her unoccupied hand.
“I wonder too.” I smile, reminiscing about the good days, the days where I was shielded from everything, the innocent days with no sex, no feelings, no gangs-just nothing.
We stopped in front of a door with the letters ‘56’ stamped on it and we knocked on the door before twisting the handle and to our surprise, it was already open.
A little girl in pigtails stands in front of us and my mother and I cock our heads to the side.
Why is a child in this room all by herself?
“Raine,” A woman appears from beyond the dorm and she places her hands on her hips accusingly.
“Sorry mommy,” The girl apologizes and hides behind her mother’s leg. “Hi, sorry about that. I’m Yara, you must be Rosalyn, my roommate.” Her bright smile and inviting demeanor diminishes my anxiety immediately.
“Yes, hi, nice to meet you.”