Time went by and the pressures of school became very familiar burdens. I stopped feeling lonesome, and I knew it was because of the books. I looked forward to each new story with boundless urgency. Everyone who’s ever read a book they enjoyed can tell you how satisfying it is to forget for a moment who and where you are, what you’ve been doing or where you’ve been. And get lost in a completely different time and place.
I don’t really remember how we started talking. I just found us there. We had a mutual friend. The girl on the top bunk next to me. I guess some geekiness was displayed and acknowledged, and we moved from there. This girl we shall call Constance. She was a little tall and spoke very well. Everyone spoke well except me. Dark in complexion with clear brown eyes, but a little on the quiet side too. The three of us became a thing. We even got those old photos they take of Seniors when they are doing the final exams about to finish school. It was pretty. You either found one with the other, or all three of us together at any given moment.
In any school there are cliques. My school was located deep in the heart of a tribal community, very rural, surrounded by mountains, and huts sprinkled all around. The population was fairly country, being very far from urban development. Substantial admissions were made of students from the immediate area. You know what that means. My lot, from the big city, was considered a bad influence on such ‘unpolluted’ minds. But my dorm room struck a balance, having an even number from both groupings. Raylin, Constance and I, however, were all urban. So we understood each other a lot. Hung out all the time until everyone just knew. Most of the city born girls in my room were loud, very loquacious, and from time to time, the cause of the matron’s trips from her room to our side of the compound. But RayRay was the life of our little party. She was charming and clever with words, and more than happy to do all the talking around me. She told me a lot of what was on her mind. The fantasies she would spin for my benefit. Made up stories about imaginary boy cousins fighting over her. About one of her sisters, who was in Germany at the time. Her older brothers and how she looked up to them. She really opened up. And I was a good little listener.
The tidbits about the more popular girls in my school would always reach me from her. I used to find all this information fortifying. Because despite my reclusivity, I knew these girls personally. I just never sought them out. I’d get stuck every time I tried. So the last two years of school was when I began to understand all this ‘buddy business’. It was when I understood why two girls go off together somewhere secluded and you hear quiet giggling soon after. (No, get your head out of the gutter).And as it goes in high school, I had both their mom’s/big sister’s/brother’s/aunt’s/cousin’s number, and they had my mom’s. I knew what it was like to pack your things in the morning of the last day of school, how you cannot wait to get out and buy all the food you’ve been dreaming about eating but won’t finish when you actually get there. Because I had her. I had these two. And I was happy to say they were my best friends.
I never saw it coming. I’m sorry but I never saw it coming. I was a deer in the headlights. My nature did not prepare me for this. That after all that exchange of confidences, I would still suck at people. Because that’s what I concluded. I suck at people.