It's been nearly four hours but she hasn't budged at all, still sitting in the chair across from me, her head bent over the thick chemistry text. I thought she was asleep until I noticed her lips moving, silently repeating her notes back to herself. What concentration. I have otherwise given up studying three hours and fifty-nine minutes ago and have been occupied doodling obscene pictures on the side of my notebook in a black sharpie.
I miss Natalie and Sarai tremendously at this moment because if they weren't at their stupid orchestra rehearsal, I wouldn't have to be stuck in the library at eleven o'clock. I haven't been in the library this late for a while. Not since…aw, hell, mind as well admit it…four months ago when Karen called it quits. Not that we did anything remotely close to studying then. My roommate Sam had this annoying habit of refusing to disappear when Karen and I wanted to be alone. Never mind that I always try to make myself scarce when Sam has a date over. Except if they're playing Mario Kart, my all-time favorite game. Or eating brownies. But usually, I'm the first one gone, I swear. I can think of tons of better things to do right now, yet I'm wasting a perfectly good Friday night "studying" ! For God's sake! I'm missing me and Sam's weekly Mario Kart tournament right now and it's all HER fault.
The object of my fury continues to recite her notes, completely oblivious to the malevolent thoughts I'm sending in her direction.
The library bell goes off, signaling that the library will close to visitors in half an hour. Decisively, I shove all of my books into my bag, making sure to create as much racket as possible while doing so.
I don't know why I thought the rustling of my papers would distract her anymore than that damn library bell, but I did. Cut a man who's been in the stuffy library for the past four hours some slack, would you?! I give up on the subtle hints. After all, she's never been one for hidden, double meanings.
I swear I can hear the crickets chirping, even if we are indoors. I try again.
She blinks. "Yeah?"
"The bell just rang."
She rubs her eyes tiredly. "Oh…really?" She's looking at me now, a bit out of the loop. She glances at her watch, like she doesn't trust me when I tell her how late it actually is. "I didn't hear it," she comments nonchalantly.
I wait for her to pull her books together but instead, she's still sitting there, across from me, with a dazed look on her face. I know that look. Even though I proudly can't say I've ever worn it myself, it's the look that most people have the week before finals. Except, the expression is a perpetual fixture on KT's face.
I stack her thick chemistry notes together for her and slip the whole mess of books, notes, pens, and erasers into her stupid messenger bag that features some inane cartoon character.
"Let's go," I say.
I could stand up and leave right now but for some strange reason, I feel a sense of responsibility towards her, like I need to escort her back to the safety of her room before leaving. Imagine that. I have a sense of responsibility. I should call my mother. She would be so pleased.
Slowly, we make our way down to the first floor, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, which breaks down without notice at any random time. I really don't want to spend another four or so hours, or the time it takes to repair the elevator wires, stuck in cramped quarters with someone who builds DNA models out of her chem. structure sets for fun.
I lost my set the second week I bought it at the bookstore. I was waiting for my friend John to come out of the gym for a round of one-one-one basketball and I set the container down on a bench for just a minute, I swear, and when I realized I needed it again, a couple of weeks later in class, do you think it was still on the park bench? And those things are damn expensive too. Sam pointed out that two weeks wasn't bad. Usually, I average two days. So anyways, I had to borrow one of KT's chem. structure set. She's got at least five of them because her class builds abnormally large models (like those stupid buckyballs). And she gave me a freaking long lecture, warning me not to lose her precious chem. structures. I swear, sometimes KT's worse than my mother.
It's nippy-cold outside, November weather even though it's February. KT sneezes twice, as according to her nature. She does everything in pairs-two hour study sessions, buying double packs of those tasty chocolate-chip cookies at the convenience store, worrying twice as much as any overprotective mother, being two times as anal retentive as any "normal" Type A person…I'm almost surprised that she doesn't have a long lost twin to complete her obsession with doubles.
Should I be a gentleman (and ruin my reputation further) and offer her my jacket? Oh, no, I can't. I don't have my jacket with me. Because KT hasn't returned it from the LAST time I lent it to her, just yesterday. Ha. I should let her suffer.
But then she proceeds to sneeze, twice of course, and I feel rather bad for her, even though it's completely not my fault.
I slip my arm around her waist because with the sudden gust of wind, I can't trust her not to get herself blown away. KT feels like an icicle and she leans into me further as a second blast of cold air hits us. With her added weight, the short ten-minute walk back to Kelvin House takes forever. It's still kind of nice though. I can smell KT's shampoo. It reminds me of seawater, warm sand, and oranges. It's not strong, it's just..a whiff, a nice contrast to the heavy smell of peaches…it's been forever since I had my arm around a girl. Four months to be exact. Well…probably longer than that. Karen and I fell apart way before we actually acknowledged our split.
Once KT and I are inside Kelvin, enveloped by the welcome warmth, I draw a sigh of relief. To my amusement, KT doesn't pay attention to where she's going and trips on the very first step, sending her crashing into the stairwell.
I try, but sometimes the effort just isn't enough, and my smile slips out anyways, even though I've been lectured hundreds of times about how I'm being impolite. Screw Karen, what does she know about etiquette anyways? KT glares at me and tries to hoist herself back up. She catches her feet against the edge of the step again and lands in another undignified heap at my feet. I can't help it this time and I burst out laughing.
The look of surprise on KT's face is worth the swatting she tries to give me, even though she misses, her aim off from her position on the cold floor. Her expression is almost too much, and I'm shamed into feeling guilty for laughing at her.
As a peace offering, I offer my hand. KT grabs on to it with a surprisingly firm grip and I haul her to her feet.
"Are you okay?" I ask, still feeling repentant and trying to mollify her indignant feelings.
"No," she bites back.
Her tone tells me her pride is more damaged than her limbs. I smile in response. I can fix hurt feelings but not scraped elbows or knees.
We make another attempt at the stairs and end up back at KT's room on the third floor without further mishap.
"Well, my dear, we have at last arrived at your humble abode," I announce as KT begins to dip for her key in her messenger bag. She shoots me a glance, telling me that she thinks I've gone off the deep end. I give her a low bow before sweeping off a make-believe top hat and KT spares me another one of her David-is-insane looks.
"If my lady would excuse me," I bow again.
Even though she's trying to mask it, amused eyes follow me out the door.
Sam and Ben Lewis (this guy I know) are playing Tekken 3 when I finally arrive at my room. Sam is winning, but that's to be expected. He spends an average of four hours a day memorizing combinations for his chosen character Xiaoyu.
Ben's playing is also impressive though and he's holding up better than I can against Sam. Both of them finally look up to greet me when the third round is over and Xiaoyu a.k.a. Sam is declared the winner.
"Hey, David, where've you been?" Sam asks, tossing me the controller so I can play against Ben.
"They served that potato and cheese casserole-thing that you like so much for dinner," Ben informs me as he waits for me to choose a character.
Damnit. I missed potato and cheese casserole?! KT owes me-big time. Let me explain here that members of Spumock House are known as the Spuds. This nickname has had a huge impact on my life since becoming a student at AVIT. I'm not kidding. Most meals in Spumock are potato related, as a (not very tasty) joke on our name. I've never had so many potatoes in my life than in the past three years. After a while, everything tastes the same. Except for potato and cheese casserole. I love potato and cheese casserole. I would marry potato and cheese casserole if I could. You can imagine how much Karen used to like me every time I mentioned that particular facet of my affection for potato and cheese casserole to her…
"So where were you?" Sam prompts again, tossing me a can of cherry soda.
"Don't remind me," I say, flicking the tab open, "I was stuck in the library with KT for four straight hours. My brain's fried and KT's the one that did all the studying."
My stomach grumbles, reminding me that I skipped dinner, one of the three most important meals of the day, not including midnight, midafternoon, and midmorning snack.
Ben lets out a short bark of laughter. "Man, you've got it bad," he observes, chuckling at his own comment.
"What?" I ask distractedly, concentrating on maneuvering my panda character to pound Ben's character Forest Law into a bloody pulp.
Ben retaliates by doing some sort of fancy schmancy back flip, landing out of reach from Panda's forward lunge. The three rounds end pretty quickly, with three straight losses for me.
"Hunger's affecting my judgment," I complain. I don't miss the look that Sam and Ben exchange. "What?" I ask, getting up to rummage my dresser for the box of cheerios I know is stashed away in the top drawer. "Damnit," I exclaim a minute later, frustrated, "that little food thief has my cheerios. And my jacket too. I'll be right back, you guys, I'm going over to-"
"-KT's," Sam finishes off for me.
I blink in surprise and Sam and Ben burst into gales of laughter.
"I don't get it. What's so funny?" I ask, slightly annoyed.
"Poor David," Ben croons.
Sam snickers harder.
My stomach grumbles, reminding me of more important things. "Whatever, you guys," I say crossly, "I'm leaving."
Retracing my steps finds me in front of a closed, wooden door. I knock, thinking that I'm wasting all these good manners when no one is around to see. KT's roommate Natalie pops out.
"Hey, David," she says brightly, pulling the door open wider, allowing me to enter.
The room is dark, except for the desk light on Natalie's side of the room.
"Um, have you seen my jacket?" I ask, my eyes trying to adjust to the sudden darkness.
Natalie frowns in thought. "Oh!" she exclaims suddenly straightening up. She goes over to the messier side of the room i.e. KT's domain, and extracts my jacket from underneath a pile of old homeworks and notes. "KT mentioned something about returning it this morning. I guess she forgot."
"Have you seen my cheerios?" I ask hopefully.
"Cheerios? You left your sacred box of cheerios here?" Natalie asks, teasing me.
"Hey, it's not my fault," I reply back defensively, "KT was hungry and swiped them when I wasn't looking."
Natalie smiles and shakes her head. "Poor David."
"That little food thief," I say, agreeing whole-heartedly with Natalie's previous statement.
"Who you callin' food thief?" a sleepy but undeniably indignant voice demands from behind.
KT stumbles out of bed to pad near us in the light. Her hair is standing up in all four directions and we watch as she jams her thick glasses on to the bridge of her nose. As usual, KT doesn't watch where she's going and stubs her toe on Natalie's collection of Shakespeare's sonnets.
"Yowsers," KT exclaims, not even bothering to stop to check to see how much damage she's caused as she continues lumbering towards a set of dressers. "Cheerio!" she says dully, thrusting the box in my hands when she finally finds it. "I'm a food borrower, not a food thief," she contradicts, her voice now muffled by the thick blankets as she climbs under the covers again.
"Borrowers return," I remind her, setting the box of cheerios down on her desk so I can pull the covers off her head and tuck them around her shoulders. Oranges.
"I don't think you want your cheerios returned," KT says, yawning.
She's got a point but I've still got less cheerios. I decide tweaking her nose is good payback and I manage to dance out of her reach as she blindly swats my arm.
"Goodnight David," KT says huffily when she realizes she's batting thin air.
"Goodnight you little food thief."
"Borrower," she insists, her eyes already closed.
Amazing. I don't think even I could fall asleep that fast.
Natalie and I look at each other to confirm that this is truly abnormal behavior.
"KT's had a long day," Natalie says finally, trying to search for a rational explanation.
"Me too," I reply back finally, making my way to the door.
Natalie follows me out.
"Goodnight, Nat," I say.
She makes a face at the nickname. "'Night, David."
It's not until after Natalie shuts the door and I'm in the stairwell that I realize my hard-won but fully entitled to box of cheerios is still sitting on KT's desk.
That little food thief.