I’m not a morning person.
I sleepily get my stuff packed in a laptop bag. As I walk into the kitchen, I check my phone instinctively. One new message from Todd. I open it, and it reads: “Save your money starting now. If your grades stay up, I’ll match all you have saved for six months and put it towards buying you a new laptop.” Oh sweet! Todd and I discussed a few months back about how they’re coming out with all these new programs where you can record guitar, drums, vocals, bass, etc. straight onto your computer and mash it together to produce a song. With that program, we’ll be able to make a really good demo CD.
Mom walks in and asks me why I’m smiling this early. I laugh and tell her it’s nothing. She gets out the poptarts and offers me one. I take it and sit down at the table.
“You’re such a good cook,” I joke.
She laughs and sits down, “I know. So, do you want me to drive you to school?”
“I’m going to college, not preschool.”
“Okay. Whatever you want.”
I quickly eat my poptart and head for the door. I turn and say good-bye to my mom as she comes running at me with tears streaming down her face. “Mom! Mom! Don’t cry! I still live here,” I laugh while I try to pry her off me. She lets go and watches me exit.
It takes me about an hour and a half to drive to school. Well, this will suck.
I finally find a parking space and I head to the main building.
So this is the University of Utah…not too shabby.
I reach my first classroom and find it almost empty. Class starts in ten minutes…where is everyone?
I walk down the row of chairs and find a seat right in the middle which would line me up with the black board perfectly. As people start to enter the room, I find myself surrounded by strangers. I don’t recognize anyone here. My peers don’t even see me and they start to fill the seats in the large room. I wonder if every room here is set up like this; like a lecture hall.
A girl dressed in a pink miniskirt paired with a light blue cardigan layered over a green shirt sits next to me. She has perfect posture and her hair doesn’t look like it would move if it was hit by a bus. She looks over at me and I quickly turn my eyes to the table in front of us so she doesn’t suspect I was inspecting her. I turn my back to this new girl to get out my laptop and turn it on. I’m not sure if I’ll need it, but better safe than sorry.
“Hi, I’m Stacy. And you are…?” says the girl next to me. I turn my head and stare at her. She has such an annoying voice. I look away to type in my password.
“I said I’m Stacy. What’s your name?” she asks again. I sigh heavily and turn again.
“Hi there, Stacy,” I say in a really sarcastic voice. “Listen, I’m not here to make little friends, okay? And I’m not here to learn about the wonderful world of chemistry. So, it would be best if you never talked to me again, okay?” I spoke in a stern voice. She just stares at me, most likely in shock. I turn my attention back to my laptop.
After class, I take a look around campus. It’s really pretty here. I check my phone to see how much time I have until the next class begins. I still have a half hour until I need to head over, so I lie down in the grass under a shady tree and look at the clouds.
After a long day, I arrive home again. I immediately start my homework. We already have an English project to work on. It’s only the first day!
This sad story repeats for a few weeks until something changes.
I’m doing well in my classes and I’ve saved up about a hundred dollars. The gas money I need to get to and from school is really eating into my budget.
It’s just a normal day at college for me. Stacy still sits next to me in chemistry. We don’t talk. There is this really cool looking girl who sits three rows down from me. I haven’t worked up the courage to talk to her yet; she’s probably too cool for me anyways. I check my phone, remembering my Wednesday schedule is different than my Monday and Tuesday schedules. I have about an hour before English starts so I head over to a bench in the shade. I open up my bag and pull out Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and start reading from where I left off. I’ve read this book about ten times previously, but it’s just so good. I can’t keep it down.
As I’m nearing one of my favorite parts, a voice comes out of nowhere and makes me jump. “You’re reading that again?” the voice laughs.
I whirl around to find Jesper laughing at me. “Jesper!” Oh no. Why is he here? “Why are you here?”
“Why are you reading that book for like the millionth time?” he laughs again.
“This is my eleventh time, thank you very much.”
“Oh okay, like that’s any better,” he’s still laughing. Ignorant jerk.
“So why are you here?”
“Why are you here?”
“Calm down, Mia. I know why you’re here.”
“Todd told you?!” I ask furiously.
“No…well kind of…in a way, I guess.”
“What?” I ask confused.
“Todd came to my dad about two months ago asking for a favor. My dad talked to me about it. Remember that one phone call I got when we were in the car and I made everyone cover their ears? It was that conversation. He said that Todd wanted him to help pay for someone’s education here. He told me it was you. I had no idea why you wanted to come to college, but I said you were reliable and wouldn’t waste the time here if it wasn’t necessary.”
“Why did Todd ask your dad about this college?”
“He practically pays for this place to run. He’s the biggest sponsor for the college. So, since my dad technically runs the joint, I can do whatever I want here whenever I want.”
“That’s kind of cool actually…but why did Todd talk to your dad?”
“Todd’s as poor as the band. He couldn’t pay for a gym membership, much less a college education. He asked my dad to help keep the price low. But my dad, being surprisingly nice for once, paid for everything. Todd didn’t tell you?”
“No…” I trail off.
“So basically, my father is paying for your college. And that makes you my bitch.”
“No!” I laugh and hit Jesper in the shoulder. “Wait…if your dad has all this money, why doesn’t he help out the band?”
“I…” he sighs, “I’ve asked him before to help us. Even with just a bigger car to travel in. He refuses. He doesn’t want anything to do with the band. That’s why I was so surprised he helped out Todd.”
“Maybe he’s trying to put effort into helping us out?” I say.
“Possibly. Anyways, how is college life treating you?”
“Fine. Nothing too great.”
“No parties or anything?”
“I live too far away to stay and party. You know that.”
“…yeah. Oh hey! I just got an idea! Why don’t you get a dorm here?”
“A dorm? Me…in a dorm? Sharing personal space with a stranger? How about no?”
“Oh, come on! I can probably get you into a nice one-person dorm. It’s like an apartment on campus. And you even get your own bathroom! Isn’t that great?”
“Hmm…not a bad idea actually. I’ll save a lot of money on gas…do you think you could really get me my own dorm?”
“I totally can. Hold on a minute and I’ll call my dad.” Jesper pulls out his phone and walks out of earshot, so I return to Panem to read more about Peeta and Katniss.
“It’ll be ready for you to move in tomorrow!” Jesper comes out of nowhere again, causing me to jump just a little. “I didn’t know you got scared so easily.”
“Sadly, I do get scared often. It sucks honestly. And thank you so much!” I stand up and hug him. I actually don’t know that much about this boy. He was born in New York, but his parents moved out here when he was just a baby. They divorced when he was six. He’s lived with his mom for a long time, then suddenly switched to his father’s place. His hair was light blond when he was a kid, but now it has darkened to a dirty blond. His favorite animal is a camel because it spits on people for no reason at all. He loves playing the drums more than anything. He’s very smart and computer savvy. He’s nineteen. He loves video games more than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s one of the best guys I know.