Saturday, September 11, 2010

School Days: Junior Year

Chapter 15: The University

Laying in the hotel bed that night, I simply couldn't stop grinning. The whole premiere had been incredible and I was sad to see it end. It was approaching one in the morning and the boys were back in their room but Nai'a and I were still awake. "Just how well do you know Jasper Cassidy?" I asked again with a grin. I'd asked her before and she'd changed the subject on me.

Nai'a laughed. "We've known each other since we were kids." she said, without really answering my real question.

"And are you two....?" I trailed off but I knew she would follow my line of thought.

"No!" she said with a loud laugh. She picked up her pillow and threw it at me. This, naturally, triggered an all out pillow war that involved jumping on the hotel beds and making more noise than we should have. I barely heard the knock at the door over our shrieks. We giggled as we scrambled to try to somewhat right the room before opening the door.

Todd and Erik stood on the other side grinning at us. "Having a party without us?" Erik asked while Todd glanced around the disorderly room. Nai'a and I exchanged a look and started giggling all over again before shooing the boys back to their room and finally settling down to sleep.

"So you and Jasper aren't dating?" I asked just after she'd turned out the lights. She didn't reply right away but I heard some shuffling from her bed just before a pillow landed on my face.

"Go to sleep Ginny." she said with a muffled chuckle.


The next day was the start of the weekend at CSU. Mei-Ling assured us that the party in the evening would be fun and mostly other high school students and freshman. But for the first part of the day, it was mostly touring the large campus and meeting people. By either luck or some sort of coercion, Mei-Ling was our little group's tour guide. She breezed through the more mundane areas and focused mostly on the main building which was a general gathering point for students.

"This is one of the larger Student Lounges" she said. "People come to study...and sleep; mostly sleep." she said with a laugh.

I could understand why, the room was full of plush couches and large accommodating chairs. Being a Saturday it was mostly empty but I saw a couple people had pulled two chairs together for optimum comfort. One wall was lined with books and there were a handful of desks for those that didn't want to succumb to the comfort of sleep. Unlike the study areas around the libraries, this place looked cozy.

We hit up yet another library after - really, how many libraries does this campus need?! I was glad we were with Mei-Ling because I would have gotten lost on my own. As we passed through the halls and crossed between the buildings, I tried to imagine myself going to college here - or anywhere for that matter - but the thoughts couldn't form in my mind. It still seemed like there was so much of high school left even though it was only a little over a year now.

One of the last stops before breaking up for lunch was one of the large lecture halls. Standing at the bottom of the room and looking over the five hundred or so stadium style seats made my eyes go wide. A student really could be just a name without a face really in a place like this.

That night at the "mixer", I found myself hanging back from the crowd. Mei-Ling was introducing Todd around to her friends and Nai'a - who seemed to find a place in any group - was happily mingling. But I couldn't stop the thoughts now churning in my head about the future. I retreated to a window and gazed out across the lawn and the spanning campus.

"Ginny?" Erik said coming up behind me and placing his hand on the small of my back. "You okay?"

I shrugged. "I guess." I said, with very little conviction. "Just thinking I guess."

"About?" Erik asked.

"The future." I said with a frown. "Is it bad that I have no idea what I want to do after high school?" I looked back over my shoulder at him.

He shrugged. "I don't think so. Lots of people already out of high school don't know what they want." he pointed out.

I nodded and looked back out the window. "I guess. Just feels like everyone seems to be pushing us to know now and start planning ahead."

"You still have plenty of time Gin." he said, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me gently against him. "There's no rush."

I could have stayed in his arms forever. Can I make a career out of Erik? I grinned at the errant thought. As I considered it, something streaked across the main lawn. I leaned forward to get a better look and tilted my head. "Is that....?"

"Hmm?" Erik looked over my shoulder as well. "It can't be..." The female streaker suddenly turned and ran back across the lawn again before disappearing into a building on the other side.

"I swear, it looked like Veronica!" I said. "Ask Erik! He saw her."

All eyes in the hotel room turned toward Erik. He nodded, "I agree with Gin, it really did look like V. I mean we were fifty plus feet away but still..."

"No!" Todd said in disbelief. "Streaking? Seriously?!"

"Naked as the day she was born!" I said laughing.

"It happens on the weekends a lot...usually a frat prank of some sort." Mei-Ling pointed out. "The Kappas were having a party last night; maybe she was invited..."

"Or maybe it wasn't her and just someone who looks like her." Nai'a suggested in the midst of painting her toenails.

We talked about the likelihood of it being Veronica until about one in the morning when Nai'a's father popped his head in and evicted the guys. The vote was three to two in favor of it being V.

Mei-Ling had come back to the hotel with us for the night to hang out and I offered to share my bed with her. Nai'a, Mei-Ling and I stayed up gabbing for another hour before the need for sleep overwhelmed the impulse to stay up all night.

I had a hard time falling asleep for some reason so when the bed shifted around four, I woke up enough to glance at the clock. Mei-Ling mumbled something about the bathroom I think so I fell back asleep without much thought on the matter.

When I woke up a few hours later and found her side of the bed still empty, I sat up concerned. Nai'a was still asleep even though the morning sun was streaming through the window - it had been a late night though. I walked quietly to the bathroom and knocked lightly on the door. The door opened from the knock - no Mei-Ling.

I was pulling on my shoes to go see where she'd gotten off to when I heard the click of the door lock yielding to one of the electronic card keys. The door opened very slowly and Mei-Ling made sure it closed as quietly - hoping not to wake the inhabitants of the room. "Morning" I said softly.

She whirled around to face me and her face blushed scarlet. "Hey Ginny." she said, she looked over at Nai'a's bed before looking back at me. "I was getting ice." she said quickly.

"Where's the ice bucket?" I teased.

She looked down at her hands sheepishly, as if hoping it would magically appear in her hands. "Um...." I chuckled softly and she instantly relaxed at the sound.


Everyone else slept in pretty late to the point that "breakfast" was replaced with a brunch picnic back on the university lawn as we took Mei-Ling back to her dorms before heading home.

"It is nice here." I said looking around the nearly empty lawn since it was a Sunday. There were a few students here and there but nothing like I'd imagine it would be during the school week.

"Thanks for being our tour guide Mei-Ling" Erik offered as he bit into his sandwich.

Mei-Ling nodded but didn't say anything. She and Todd couldn't seem to keep attention for anyone else for more than about a minute today. Neither having eaten much of anything, they put their plates down and walked a couple feet away.

"What's with them?" Erik asked.

I had to bite the inside of my mouth to not grin or giggle. I just shrugged to Erik, not trusting myself to open my mouth.

None of us saw the young man approaching until he was practically right next us. I looked up at him curiously but his attention was not on those of us on the ground. He was completely focused on Mei-Ling and Todd.

For their part, Mei-Ling and Todd were oblivious to the man as they were completely enamored with each other.

As they cuddled and kissed, I returned my gaze to the man and realized he was probably our age, maybe a year or so older. He looked Asian and I wondered if he and Mei-Ling knew each other. I was about to interrupt them when he cleared his throat, saving me the trouble.

When Mei-Ling and Todd did not cease or give their attention to the man, he cleared his throat louder and then said something in Chinese to Mei-Ling. I watch her eyes go wide before she turned to face him. "I would appreciate it if you remove your hands from my fiance." the man said in clipped English.

There was a collective gasp from everyone pretty much. "Fiance?!" Nai'a said a little loudly and then instantly clamped her hand over he mouth. The man paid her no attention at all, or any of us really.

"I am not your fiance!" Mei-Ling said angrily. "What are you doing here?!"

He replied in rapid Chinese; Mei-Ling replied in Chinese as well leaving the rest of us completely baffled for several moments.

Todd tried to step in and interject several times but having received several looks from both Mei-Ling and her possible fiance, he gave up on that and was resigned to watch from the sidelines as they argued in a foreign tongue.

The man did not look happy when he turned to leave but he had a fierce look of determination as well. He glared at Todd before he disappeared. Had Mei-Ling not stepped in front of Todd, he would have gone after him for that. But the forlorn look on her face stopped him in his tracks. "What's going on Mei-Ling?" he asked.

End Chapter.

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