“Cassius! Come downstairs and have some breakfast!”
I groaned and rolled over in my bed, placing my face downwards on my pillow. Like always, I didn’t want to get up. It seemed that no matter how early I went to bed, I never got enough rest. I always woke up feeling tired and cursing the sun for choosing to sit right by my window.
Even better, I was going to be starting college soon, and my mother decided that it would be a brilliant idea to give me 9 a.m. classes.
My own mother... wishing for me to be unsuccessful in life.
I mean, seriously, who does that? I recently hit the age of 18 a couple of months back so you would be of the belief that she should understand by now that I wasn’t a morning person!
“Cassius! Come down here and eat before it grows cold! This is the last time I’m going to call you!”
“Alright...” I grumbled to myself as I sat up. The scent of chocolate chip pancakes along with scrambled eggs floated upwards from downstairs and evaded my nose causing my stomach to growl. The only thing that could coax me out of bed was mom’s cooking. One bite of her food could get you through the day and make you come back begging for more.
Her food was an absolute gift from the heavens.
The fact that I could detect the aroma of pancakes meant that she was in a jovial mood. She knows I enjoy her pancakes, and since she makes them from scratch and they take a while, she only decides to cook them on special occasions. She’ll probably have good news for me when I come downstairs.
I crept out of bed and made my way into the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I looked at my reflection. Short chestnut hair, hazel eyes, and bushy eyebrows. My skin was nice and clear without a zit in sight. Everything was wonderful right now. I had just graduated from high school and I was free for the summer to do whatever I wanted. And what I wanted to do now was stuff my face with pancakes. Life could not get any better than this.
I could feel myself stirring from the dream, but I didn’t want to. I could still smell the eggs and mother’s pancakes, and I wished to hold on to that smell forever. I wanted to cling on to my former life and take it back into reality. My eyelashes fluttered open. Rather than meeting my mirror image, I was confronted by darkness and the hazy outline of the top of the bunk bed that I was sleeping on.
I found that I was twisting as well as turning in my dormancy these days, so I repeatedly took the bottom bunk for myself. The lights all of a sudden deprived of warning clicked on and I could make out the groans coming from the other beds. “Rise and shine people! The showers are currently open and breakfast will be served in 20 minutes!” A loud voice boomed out from a section of the room.
I drew out from under the bunk, stretched and looked around. Some people were still sleeping while others were getting ready to go begin their day. There were regularly more men than women in these shelters and looking around, I could only spot 5 or 6 with their children in the sea of people. I took my small kit and towel from underneath my pillow and swiftly engaged in making my way to the back of the room where the showers were. This shelter provided a couple of operating showers, and they filled up quickly if you weren’t fast enough.
Luckily for me, there were more people still sleeping, then trying to get into the showers. Since there were just a few people, I was able to pick whichever shower that I wanted. Walking through the entranceway, I looked around to see if there were any available. There was a row of 10 showers on either side of the room, making it a total of 20 vacant ones. I decided to take the one on the far left. The showers were an open door, so anyone could just walk in or watch you while you were showering. The ones at the end of the row restricted the view of any individual attempting to look in at me. Being in this place for 3 months, you would expect that I would have grown used to it, but I still valued my privacy. Entering the shower, I stripped off my clothes and discarded them in a crumpled heap in the corner. I then turned on the shower and let the warm water wash over me for a few seconds.
I regularly did this when I first came in. I don’t know its just an odd thing that I just happened to do, but I liked having the warmth of the water wash off the previous night and stress from my skin. It made me feel brand new to take on the day. Reaching into my kit, I took out the toothbrush, bottle of shampoo, soap, and toothpaste that the owners of the shelter gave me. I quickly washed my hair, brushed my teeth and washed off all the grime off of my face. After showering, I got into the gray sweatpants and a gray hoodie that was brought out to me. Then I departed into the dining room and speedily chomped down on a bowl of porridge. It was really kind of the owners to give us clothes, food, a place to stay and an opportunity to clean ourselves.
Prior to leaving the shelter, we had to bring all of our belongings with us. The shelter opened at a precise time each day and if you weren’t quick enough, all the beds would fill up and you would have to find a park bench to sleep on. Even if you were fortunate enough to make it, there wasn’t a very high possibility of using the same bed that you had the night earlier.
The only belongings that I had left were a notebook, a pencil, and a watch. I was surprised that someone hadn’t stolen my watch already, but I was exceptionally talented at concealing it so that was most likely why. I put on my watch and looked at the time.
My first class of the day began at 9! I snatched my things and hurried out of the shelter. The sun was shining brightly in the sky, yet there was still a frigidity in the air. I attended East Hampton Community College, which wasn’t that far from the shelter. It would take me at the most 15 minutes to get there on foot, 10 if I pushed myself strenuously enough.
After sprinting down a few blocks, the college came into view. I made it with about 5 minutes to spare. The parking lot was basically deserted with just a few cars parked in some of the spots. I couldn’t even see anyone walking around on the campus. Either they were already in their class or a majority of people decided to be smart and not take morning classes.
If only I could be one of those people. I pleaded and begged not to take such early classes so that I could catch some more sleep, but my parents just wouldn’t listen to me.
I paused in the entryway of a building with a “G” painted on its side. I could feel the familiar sensation of tears starting to take shape, but I hurried to wipe them away. This usually occurred whenever I thought about them. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. There was no use in crying anymore. I couldn’t change the past, and what took place. I could only improve my future.
Even though it currently wasn’t looking so good for me.
I walked into the building and found my classroom, Room 203. My parents always desired for me to pursue a career in the medical field as I grew up so I decided to grant their wishes. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to be therefore having a career picked out for me was the best thing. College kicked off 2 weeks ago, and I was still struggling to get the flow of it. On the first day, Professor Powell distributed the course syllabus which had all of our assignments, due dates and her contact information on it.
A brief glance informed me that we would have a test every other week and a project due each month. I don’t know where I would be able to obtain the resources to complete the projects, but I would have to make do somehow. Even though there was only money for one semester, I was going to make my parents proud. I would do my best to hand in everything on time and get good grades on these exams.
I owed it to them. I was going to make this work, dammit.
The classroom was made up of six rows of desks. I sat in the very back of the third row. A few other students came here before me and some of them were speaking to their neighbor or doing something on their phone. I didn’t have any friends here yet and I wasn’t certain if I desired to make any at all. I didn’t care for anyone here to find out about my current living circumstances and make fun of me for it.
Plus, I was going to be here only for a short time. It would be a waste of my time, and anyone else’s if they attempted to get close to me or get to associate with me.
It was safer if I was left alone.
Before long students starting filing into the room more quickly. Looking at my watch, the time read 8:55. Since the first day, Professor Powell has consistently been on time and as soon as she walked in, she would start talking. If you didn’t have your notes and pen ready, you would lose valuable information from her.
She also refused to repeat anything you might have misheard or didn’t pick up at all. Another plus was the fact that she was one of those professors who spoke extremely fast and didn’t understand how to slow down. I opened my notebook and attempted to focus on the notes I took last class. I was taking “General Psychology I, ” so we were apparently learning about “the science of human conduct and mental states”. I didn’t really understand it that much so I tried to refresh my memory before she walked in and starting teaching raw material.
“This is the absolute last time I’m picking you up Zorada. You nearly caused us to be late again.”
Everything that I had just read blanked out of my head. I could hear my heartbeat quickening at an unsteady pace, but it sounded dull and very far away.
The only thing that I could really focus on was that voice.