This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
(This is my first draft. I eventually want to publish this, but I want to see it’s popularity on Inkitt first. I would also love suggestions, tips, etc. This is my first attempt at trying to write a contemporary story. Fantasy is my strong suit.)
The jingling of keys filled the hallways as freshmen from all over the country were pouring in the building for move-in day. Cordelia Simmons was one of said freshman. A seafoam green backpack rested against her back. She stood in front of room 208 fumbling with her keys; her hands sweating so badly that she was sure she would drop her keyring. She had been anticipating and dreading this moment since she received her acceptance letter in the Spring. She worked her tail off during high school to even qualify for this school. She worked even harder her senior year to get enough scholarships to cover most, if not all, of her schooling. She refused to tap into her inheritance from her mother.
“Hurry up, Cordie,” her sister hissed from behind her, holding a large box. “This stupid box is heavy.”
Amelia Simmons was much taller and thinner than her older sister, but they looked very similar. They both resembled their mother with curly, chestnut hair, hazel eyes, and freckles. Cordelia chose to keep her hair long, like their mother’s hair, while Amelia went for a shorter style.
Cordelia tried to steady her sweaty, shaking hands to fit the key in the lock. Once it was inside, she hesitated on turning it to open the door.
“What’s the matter?” Amelia rolled her eyes. “Afraid to meet your roomie in person?”
Cordelia sighed and gave her sister a silent nod. She felt as if she was suffocating from the huge lump caught in her throat. As soon as she had been given information on her roommate by the dorm administration, she stalked her roommate on as much social media as possible. Cordelia was able to learn almost everything about Emma Davis through several 140 character posts on Twitter and the hundreds of photos of Emma with her cats and boyfriend on Instagram. It took her weeks before she finally had the courage to send Emma a message on Facebook, except, Emma had been the one to make the first move. The girl seemed so put together and it intimidated Cordelia.
Cordelia took a deep breath and turned the key in the lock. She ignored the bile that threaten to come up as she slowly pushed the door open only to have her sister kick it open for her. Amelia rushed into the tiny room and dropped the heavy box onto the empty bed in the room. Cordelia followed, but stopped suddenly when she noticed a girl sitting on a bed with a boy. The girl was sniffling as she laid her head on the boy’s shoulder. The front of her lavender hair stopped at her chin while the back was cut shorter. Her skin was an olive ton and she was dressed in all black. Black eyeliner outlined her eyes and her lips were painted a similar color to her hair.
Amelia cleared her throat before excusing herself from the room. She grabbed Cordelia’s keys as she rushed out to meet their father downstairs.
The couple looked up at the new girl in the room. Cordelia gave Emma an awkward and forced smile as she took a deep breath through her nose to keep herself calm. Emma stood, showing that she was at least several inches taller than Cordelia, and wiped her puffy blue eyes as she pulled Cordelia into a firm embrace.
“It’s nice to finally meet you in person, Cordelia,” Emma wore a sincere smile as she spoke with a slight southern accent. Cordelia returned the hug awkwardly.
“Eel,” Cordelia mutter softly, causing Emma to give her a strange look. “The ‘e’ and ‘l’ are pronounced like “eel” not “el.”
Emma nodded, surprised. “Right.”
Cordelia stood self-consciously. “I’m sorry,” she shook her head at Emma.
Emma waved her hands to dismiss the apology. “Nah, don’t be. I’d feel bad if I went around pronouncing my roommate’s name wrong all year. I’m just glad I can finally meet you in person.”
“I know. It’s nice to put a voice to a face,” Cordelia laughed softly, allowing her guard to go down slightly as she began to survey the room. A bed lined each wall with a desk positioned at the end. A window sat between the beds. Two closets filled the wall by the door. A thin bookcase stood in on one of the tiny corners of the room, along with a small television that sat upon it. Boxes covered Emma’s side of the room. Her bed was already made with a violet and seafoam green bedding with more boxes on the bed. Some were open and wall decorations were spilling out. The mess made Cordelia cringe slightly.
“Sorry about the mess,” Emma apologized. “I’ve been trying to do some unpacking, but something came up.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Cordelia dismissed the mess. “We’ll have it organized eventually. My family is coming up with the rest of my stuff. My dad had to find a different place to park.”
Cordelia hoped that the mess was only because Emma was unpacking and not because she was a slob. She had specifically put on her roommate survey that she hated messy rooms and disorganization.
Emma nodded. Her eyes widened and her face perked as she stood on her toes, making her seem an inch or two taller.
“Damn, I almost forgot to introduce you to Sam,” she said as she grabbed the hand of the boy sitting on her bed. Before his name was mentioned, he had been playing on his phone, disregarding the two girls in the room for whatever business he had on the little device. He was tall and his height made Emma seem even shorter. He sported a stubby blond beard to match the short blond hair on his head. He extended his hand to Cordelia and she slowly took it.
“Sam’s my boyfriend,” Emma gushed as she grabbed onto Sam’s arm. “But don’t worry, he won’t be around much. He and a few friends are renting a house near campus. I’ll probably be going there more than he will come here.”
“Sup,” he muttered without once glancing up from his phone.
Cordelia opened her mouth to tell Emma that Sam could be around as long as he was not around late at night, but a knock sounded at the door. All three heads turned to see Cordelia’s father standing in the doorway with several boxes in his hands.
Cordelia took two smaller boxes from the top of her father’s stack and set them on her desk. Amelia followed suit and put the stack of boxes she was carrying on the floor under Cordelia’s bed.
“You can set the boxes down anywhere on my side, Dad,” she said. “Thanks.”
Her father nodded with a bright smile and kissed Cordelia’s forehead. “No problem, Cordie.”
“Dad, this is my roommate, Emma, and her boyfriend, Sam” Cordelia said as she gestured toward her roommate. Sam still remained on his phone. “Emma, this is my Dad, Peter.”
Emma smiled and shook Peter’s hand after he extended it. “Nice to meet you, Sir.”
Peter smiled and put a hand on Cordelia’s head. “It’s a pleasure, Emma.”
Emma went back to her things and began to organize them. Sam continued to play on his phone while she bustled around him, trying to get things together. She gave up after several minutes and frowned. She checked the time on her own phone before grabbing Sam by the arm and hoisting him to his feet.
“It was nice meeting all of you, but Sam and I have to meet his parents for lunch,” she turned to Cordelia. “If you want to have dinner, I know this awesome Italian place not far from campus.”
Cordelia glanced at the messy room and then to the people residing in it. She opened her mouth to decline the offer, but her sister jumped in.
“Cordie would love too!”
“Amelia!” Cordelia hissed quietly.
Emma laughed and waved her hand. “If you don’t want to, Cordelia, that’s fine. I just thought I could show you around a few places tonight.”
Cordelia thought it over and eventually agreed. If she and Emma were to get along in person, then she would have to spend time with her to get to know her.
Emma nodded in understanding and pulled Sam from the room, saying goodbye to everyone as they left. Cordelia let out a sigh of relief as the nervous feelings began to leave her mind. She glanced around at the room once more. It was bare, bland, and had a factory feel to it, but she could easily make it feel like home with a few decorations and color.
“She seems nice,” Peter smiled. “You’ve been chatting on Facebook haven’t you?”
Cordelia nodded as she started to make room from more boxes.
“How many books did you bring with you?” Amelia frowned as she saw three heavy boxes labeled books.
Cordelia shrugged her shoulders as she and Amelia began heading out the door with their father. “All of them.”
Amelia groaned as she slammed the door shut behind her. “You are such a nerd,” she playfully teased.
Cordelia gave her sister a small smile with an eye roll. “I tried to leave some at home, but I just couldn’t. I really wanted Mom’s books to come with me.”
“Your mother would be proud of you, Cordie,” Peter tussled his eldest daughter’s hair. “College is something she never did. And you got into Sutton University!”
Cordelia returned the warm smile her father was giving her and nodded. He was right. Her mother had never gone to college. When she was Cordelia’s age, she had been pregnant. And SU was one of the most prestigious colleges for students studying English, Journalism, and Creative Writing. Her mother had dreamed of attending before her career took off.
It took Cordelia, her sister, and her father fifteen minutes to finish with the rest of Cordelia’s things. She wanted to unpack and organize her things, but there was no time. Her father needed to return to her heavily pregnant step-mother and younger brother. They had been left at home because her three-year-old brother would not have enjoyed the trip.
“I’m thinking we can do IHOP for lunch,” Peter laughed as he mentioned a place to eat. “One last pancake feast before we say goodbye.”
“I’m not dying, Dad,” Cordelia laughed. “I’m going to college.”
Peter nodded with a laugh. Getting used to Cordelia’s absence at the house would be difficult, especially since it would be a while before she could come home. Explaining her absence to her brother would be even more difficult.
Cordelia returned to her room after lunch later that afternoon. Emma was sitting on her bed reading a book when Cordelia stepped into their dorm room. The room looked even worse than it had when she left. Emma’s things were strewn across her side of the room. Her bed was a mess and boxes were left opened with stuff spilling out from them.
“Hey!” Emma said, closing her book. “How was lunch?”
Cordelia nodded and smiled, ignoring the mess. “It was nice. My family kept talking as if they would never see me again.”
“How long was your drive?” Emma asked, hopping off her bed. “I know you live within the state, but how long was the drive to Sutton?”
“It took us about three hours, but only because we stopped to get something to eat on the way here,” Cordelia explained. “How far of a drive was it for you.”
“Two days,” Emma shrugged. “But we stopped and stayed in a hotel at night.”
“Wow,” Cordelia chirped. “You didn’t have to make it all by yourself did you?”
“Nah,” Emma recounted. “We brought three cars. Sam drove us in his car. My mom and step-dad took their car, and my step-brother took his car.”
The conversation seemed to end as Emma went back to her book. Cordelia began to unpack some of her books, placing them on her bed. She stood, staring at the pile of beautiful creations trying to decide how she would organize them. Finally, she decided on organizing them by alphabetical order by series first then single books. She could not help but glance over at Emma’s mess occasionally.
Cordelia had filled one of her shelves on the bookshelf when Emma spoke up,” Since you’re unpacking do you want to decorate? These white walls are messing with my head. It needs some color, and I really need to fix this mess.”
Cordelia nodded as she placed a book on the shelf. She opened a box that held some of the decorations she had bought. “Totally, it is too boring in here. We need to add some color.”
Emma laughed and started opening boxes of her own. Over the summer, after they had been given the information about rooming together, they made a decision to buy similar colored decorations. Luckily, their two favorite colors seemed to go well together.
“So, I made these,” Emma said, pulling strands upon strands of something similar to doorway beads. The pieces were not beads but small circles cut out of cardboard and painted lavender and seafoam green.
“That looks great!” Cordelia smiled. “How did the pillows you said you were going to make turn out?”
Emma gave her roommate a wide grin as she carefully set the handmade doorway beads to the side. She opened another box and pulled four pillows from inside it. Both pillows had colored circles sewn into the fabric. One was lavender the dots were seafoam green. The other pillow was the green and circles were lavender. She tossed the green pillow to Cordelia.
“They look fantastic!” Cordelia smiled as she answered her own question. She placed the new pillow onto her bed before she began to unpack her bedding.
By the time the two girls finished unpacking their things, their bland walls had been transformed using lavender and seafoam green decorations. They each had a digital clock in their respective color sitting atop their desks. Their beds were covered in a gray duvet with pillows and sheets that matched their favorite colors. Letters in both colors spelled out their names above their beds. Their bookcase was now full of books and figurines with an arrangement of fake lavender-colored flowers sitting on top of it.
“Much better!” Emma said with a grin as she and Cordelia high-fived.
Cordelia glanced at the green clock sitting on her desk and saw that it was almost time for dinner. Emma began putting her shoes on just as her cell phone started to ring. Cordelia sat down and pick at the skin around her nails while she waited. Emma got off the phone and sighed.
“So, my step-brother’s going to join us for dinner,” she said. “I hope that’s alright. His roommates bailed on him.”
Cordelia shook her head as she put her jacket on. “No, not at all.”
While Cordelia seemed fine with an extra person joining them, she did not feel fine. She continued to pick at her nails while she and Emma waited outside for her step-brother to arrive. Emma explained that they would be taking his car. That way, the girls would not have to walk.
“Felix is a junior,” Emma said to break the silence. “He got an apartment on campus this year. He’s been living in it all summer, but he came home to help move me here.”
“That was nice of him,” Cordelia smiled. “Do you two get along?”
Emma shrugged her shoulders. “We get along as well as we can. Sometimes it feels like he’s my real brother and not just the son of the bitch who married my dad.”
Emma covered her mouth in embarrassment. She profusely apologized to Cordelia for her language as Cordelia let out a quiet laugh.
“Swearing doesn’t bother me,” she laughed again. “The only thing that really bothers me is when things aren’t organized.”
Emma nodded with a chuckle. “Swearing is okay, but messes are a no-go. Got it.”
Cordelia smiled just as Emma pointed to a silver Chevy pulling up to the side-walk. The passenger side door was black and the headlights looked like they were held on with duct tape. Emma opened the front passenger door while Cordelia climbed in the back.
“You didn’t tell me your roommate was cute, Emmie,” the male in the front seat spoke with a teasing tone.
“Shut up, Felix,” Emma rolled her eyes as she punched her step-brother in the arm.
Before driving off, Felix turned around to extend a large, bony hand to Cordelia.
“I’m Felix, Emma’s dashingly handsome step-brother,” he said with a grin, showing off his straight white teeth.
“I’m Cordie,” Cordelia said as she shook his hand. Felix gave a nod before turning back to the wheel and putting the car into drive. Now that introductions were out of the way, he drove off to the restaurant.
The drive took ten minutes at the most, but it was ten minutes of uncomfortable silence for Cordelia. She sat in the back, picking at her fingers while Emma and Felix argued about something that she paid no attention to. Before she knew it, the car was off and Felix was opening her door for her. “Thanks,” she muttered and then inwardly panicked. She was sure that her thanks came out bitchy. Felix waved his hand in the air as the three of them walked into the restaurant. Felix, again held the door open for Cordelia and Emma. They were seated in a booth by the lady at the front.
Felix ran his hands through his black hair as he stared at the menu. “Damn, I have no idea what I want.”
“What did you get last time?” Emma looked up from her own menu as she spoke.
“I don’t remember,” he scratched the back of his head. “I was probably drunk the last time I came in here.”
Emma rolled her eyes before going back to her menu. Meanwhile, Cordelia knew exactly what she wanted.
“Is the spaghetti here any good?” She quietly asked.
“Is it good?” Felix grinned. “Was the Lion King a good movie? Would Donald Trump make a terrible president? Did Jesus die for our sins?”
“Yes?” Cordelia said, glancing over at Emma for help.
Emma rolled her eyes again and nodded. “The spaghetti is really good. Ignore him. He has to dramatize everything.”
“Life can be dramatic and funny all in the same day,” Felix frowned.
“What does that have to do with any of this?” Emma frowned.
Cordelia sunk in her seat as Felix pointed a dark finger at Emma. “Jennifer Aniston said that. I make things funny by making them dramatic.”
“You aren’t funny, Felix,” Emma deadpanned. She glanced at Cordelia. “Tell him that he isn’t funny.”
Cordelia said nothing as she glanced around nervously. Emma did not seem to notice, but Felix had because he spoke up.
“Leave her alone,” he mumbled. “You’re making her uncomfortable.”
Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief as Emma and Felix’s argument came to an end when the waitress arrived. Cordelia quietly ordered a water and the spaghetti, regretting every asking about its quality and taste.
The waitress left with their orders and returned with their drinks. They sat in silence sipping their drinks before Felix spoke up, addressing Cordelia.
“So, Cordie, what are you majoring in?”
Cordelia’s face seemed to light up as she started to speak. “I’m in the creative writing program.”
Felix leaned forward onto the table. “Really? But isn’t it super hard to become an author?”
Cordelia nodded, “Yeah, that’s why I’m double majoring.”
“What’s your other major?”
“Secondary English education,” she smiled.
“Emma and I are education majors too!” Felix beamed. “Only she chose a boring field to teach.”
Emma scoffed and rolled her eyes. “History is not boring. It’s an important subject that people need to learn.”
Cordelia laughed lightly and nodded. “I loved my history classes in high school. It was my second choice for teaching.”
A wicked grin spread across Emma’s face. “I knew I liked you, Cordie.”
The rest of dinner went relatively smooth. As the night went on, she felt herself loosening up. Her spaghetti was as delicious as Felix and Emma had told her. She laughed along with them as Felix told embarrassing stories about Emma. She felt herself getting closer to her roommate and felt her mind ease at the thought of having at least two friends on her first night on campus.
It was ten o’clock when Felix dropped the girls off at their dorm. Cordelia was exhausted from the day and decided it was time for bed. She said goodnight to Emma before taking her pajamas and toiletries to the bathroom down the hall. She showered, changed, and then crawled into bed for her first night away from home. Emma stayed awake for a couple more hours to finish the book she was reading before she turned her lamp off and headed to sleep.
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