The hallway was an obstacle course of moving boxes with flaps half open, plastic grocery bags stuffed full and overflowing, and random clouds of Fruit Loop scented vape clouds. I had to keep pulling the box in my arms to the side to be able to see ahead, counting doors as I went by, 33…35…37… My room, number 39, was at the very end of the hall. This third floor has weird sloping ceilings, as if this has been some old farmhouse attic that the college had hastily converted into dorm rooms without considering that most of us weren’t five-foot-nothing these days.
“Whoops! Here you go,” whoever I had just bumped into with my box said. I felt the box being pulled from my arms. A petite girl with blonde bangs that hung in her eyes smiled around the side of the box. “I’m Ann,” she said.
“Laura,” I smiled. “Thanks.”
Ann walked inside and I followed right behind her. She set the box down by the bed near the window. “Hillary and I got here last night, so we kinda already picked beds. Hope that’s okay.” She motioned to the girl lying on her bed, lime green earbuds poked out from under short layers of dark hair. She shot me a quick smile, closed her eyes, and went back to shaking her foot to the beat of whatever she was listening to.
“This is fine,” I said, plopping down on the bed.
“Where are you from?” Ann asked. Her bed was directly across from mine, and she’d sat down cross-legged on the end of it.
I bent down and opened the box. I had a whole carload to still bring up, but figured I’d get started on this one for the moment. The hall was complete chaos anyway. “Maryland,” I said, as I pulled through the box. Dreamcatcher…Salt Lamp…Tarot Cards…Candles…Bubble-wrapped packages of crystals… I had always loved the study of nature. My friend’s back home teased me about being a hippie. I think I was born in the wrong era. All of this natural healing stuff was pretty popular these days anyway. Everyone’s Instagram was loaded with herbal drink mixes that swore they would make you “Lose Ten Pounds in Five Days” or “Look Twelve Years Younger Overnight!” The bandwagon was pretty easy to hop onto.
“Wow!” Ann exclaimed. “Hillary and I are both Orange County locals. This is gonna be different for you, huh?”
I was pulling bubble wrap off some of my more delicate crystal pieces and lining them up on the window sill. I was glad they’d given me the bed by the window. “Yeah, it’s a whole different world out here,” I laughed. I pulled out a couple small candles.
“Oh, we can’t have candles in the rooms,” Ann frowned. She stood up and came over to my bed, perching on the edge. Her fingers ran down the side of the salt lamp, as she looked at all the items I was pulling out.
She laughed, “What are you? Some kinda witch?”
“Yes,” I said. My face suddenly flushed. Oh my God. Why did I say that? Ann’s laughter changed a bit. She raised an eyebrow and stood up. My brain was scrambling to figure out where to go with this.
“For real?” She asked.
I looked over and saw Hillary pop one of her earbuds out. She must have been halfway listening to our conversation.
I held a Jasper worry stone in my hand and was twirling it between my fingers nervously. “Well, like…yeah. But I’m not some…like…cook up children in my oven…kinda…witch.”
My face must have been twenty different shades of red. I brushed a strand of hair out of my face and looked up at Ann. She had backed up to her bed and was standing awkwardly next to it. She started fiddling with her bedcovers.
“So like…The Craft kinda witch?” She asked, a nervous laugh in her tone.
I laughed uncomfortably. “No. I just…I believe in natural healing. I’m not gonna curse anyone or anything…”
She laughed. “Guess I better not make you mad!”
Hillary was sitting up now. She raised an eyebrow in my direction and pointed to the crystals in the window. “No weird shit. Okay.” She ran a hand through her messy, short hair. “I don’t have time for weird shit.”
I raised my hands innocently. “No weird shit. I’m pretty quiet. I swear.”
She nodded her head, stuck her earbud back in, gave all my stuff a weird, appraising eye, and walked out of the room.
Ann finally sat down on her bed again. I put the candles back in the box and plugged in my salt lamp. It lit up with a warm, orange light.
“What’s that do?” Ann asked.
I touched it as it warmed up. “It holds the soul to my greatest enemy.”
The silence in the room was immediate and so solid I could barely move. When I turned and saw Ann’s face, I began giggling. Her eyes looked too large for her face.
“It was a joke.” I laughed. “It helps with allergies.”
A pillow flew across the small space and smacked into the side of my head, followed by Ann’s laughter.
The best part about leaving your tiny, rural hometown is that no one at your new college knows who you are. You have moved all the way across the country and for once, you can be who ever you want. When you arrive on campus and finally find your dorm, your new roommates are already inside and unpacking. Your roommates immediately start asking you questions to get to know you. You end up telling an entire life story that isn’t yours. Write part of the story you tell your new roommates. Who are you when you get to make up your own personal experiences?
Please visit The Beacon at Chesapeake College for new prompts each Monday!