Michael was apprehensive as he approached his dorm. The scratched paintwork and the incomplete door number seemed so much more intriguing than usual. As he stared at the space where the eight should be he drifted into thinking about the argument last night with his long-term girlfriend Zara. They had been together for as long as he could remember (well, three years to be exact), and last night was the first major argument they’d had. It all started when Zara bought fish and chips. Michael had never received his favourite take-out meal from her once, in the three years they’d been together, and that brought up considerable questioning in itself. Anyway Michael was halfway through his plaice when it came, “Michael, I’ve been accepted.”
The silence that followed was deadly. To a person outside this relationship it would seem ridiculous but Michael knew what she meant.
In November, after successful results in the deciding mid-term Zara had applied for a job as a reporter on the Seattle Express, a well-acknowledged paper in the state and a job, which could set Zara in the path for success. He had heard nothing more of it and with relief he had let the subject slip from his mind. But now it was back and Michael was furious! His outrage was not so much in terms of what Zara herself had done but at the terrible timing of the paper. They had just set-up arrangements for the future, which suited him fine and now this was happening.
“How can you do this? I have stuck with you through everything and now you’re doing this to me.” It was strange but while Michael poured his heart out the only thing he could see in the front of his mind was how did the wallpaper get in such a bad state and why was this new colour emerging out of the marigold that was once there.
“You selfish creep! I have worked so hard for this and now all you can think about is yourself.”
“Alright, alright just calm down for a second and we’ll work through this.”
“I’m sorry Michael but there’s nothing to work through. I must take this opportunity no matter what I have to leave behind, it’s the only way I can get ahead in life, look after myself, you see?”
Michael was left speechless and disgusted, firstly at how she could disgard him as something to leave behind and even more revolting the tone of pity that crept into her voice as she realised the context of what she was actually saying. With that Michael stormed out! Furious, but with a blank mind as to where to go. The first place that came to him was Johnny’s.
He arrived at 486 some ten minutes later and came up with a valid excuse as to why he was there. As soon as he walked through the door two things immediately struck him. Firstly there was a girl sprawled amorphously across the sofa, which may not appear to be an odd thing, for a nearly twenty year-old male to have a girl of the same age in his room, but this was Johnny he was talking about, the same man who had seemed to repel the opposite sex in any shape, size or form for the whole three years he had known him. Then there was the chair.
Sunk in the far left corner of the room was the oldest, grottiest, most repulsive chair he had ever seen. This disgusting obtrusion had been cut to bits through the ages to leave it looking like a sort of scratching post for cats and to add insult to what looked like very painful injury someone had had the decency to spill what looked like some type of jam down it. If he had to take a guess it would be blueberry. The hours didn’t sail by unfortunately for Michael, who was left in the sitting room thinking about Zara and the fact that he knew (but was determined not to admit) that he would end up having to apologise for whatever was said the night before, regardless of who said what, for there to be any hope in hell of Zara staying.
At approximately ten past one in the morning Michael fell asleep after hours of thinking and repeating the fact that he did love her and he supposed anyone you loved was worth fighting for.
It was ten past ten and Michael had overslept. Remembering the hours he spent last night trying to save his relationship, he thought he might as well put this time to use and change his thoughts into action. He hurried out of the cluttered room and, after realising he was not yet dressed, just had time to grab the door which was swinging madly back into place after. Correcting his actions Michael dressed scruffily into some Levi’s, second-day underwear and a crinkled Gap t-shirt and left 486 for his own dorm.
After tracing the space where the six used to be for the infinite time he thought that there would be no way that this door will open of its own accord. He thought he would gently help it in its way, slowly turning the scratched doorknob as if it would break at the slightest extra movement, he cautiously moved the door forward and in less time than he would’ve preferred he was in. He thought about running straight back out again but the only way he could’ve done that is if he was ten years younger and the room he was entering was that of his older sister and not that of his girlfriend.
So he was stuck. Then something so out of the ordinary happened that put Michael into a state of shock for the next few seconds. It was Zara, and she was actually running towards him. The wind was knocked out of him as she wrapped her arms tighter and tighter around him, pressing her body forcefully up against his own.
“Oh god. I’ve been thinking about you all night. How can I have been so stupid, to throw away what we have for this”, waving the ticket to America in the air.
“Ohhhhhh”, Michael sighed, his heartbeat racing at the thought of what she just said. Thinking of some carefully worded, beautiful and meaningful thing to say, what came out was, “I really do love you”. What happened next was; in the space of just under an hour two bedsprings were broken, as were many foreign laws and for some reason there was a pack of cards strewn across the floor. At the end of it Zara felt closer to Michael than she ever had and the wallpaper didn’t seem so much of an issue any more in his mind.
“Oh crap!” Zara blurted out.
“What?” Michael was really hoping there wasn’t anything negative that would ruin this moment.
“The dance”, Zara had been planning the end-of-semester dance all year and wasn’t going to waste all this now they were back together again.
“Can’t we just forget about it?”
“Oh please Michael. This is my one chance to see everyone before we leave”
Michael seeing the need in her expression admitted to himself that this was a thing he had to do and was sure he could get through it easily if only for her sake, so of course, he said he’d go.
After the third call into the bedroom where Zara was getting changed he realised why she took the trouble of two and a half hours preparing. Zara looked stunning. There was no other word for it, as Michael thought to himself that maybe deciding on coming was the right decision for his sake as well. They arrived the breathtaking couple she had dreamed about all through the semester, and took to the dance floor straight away to a Westlife number.
It was getting late now as the crowd on the floor slowly started to thin and Zara whispered in Michaels ear before heading off to the toilet. Michael was left standing against the wall slightly annoyed at Zara’s timing as the slow song played its first chords, something by Duran Duran, a tasteless track in Michael’s mind. Just then he saw a figure slowly move through the crowd in his direction. It was Jessica Lees from his biology class, a geeky, awkward girl who still had braces at the age of nineteen (which disturbed Michael more than he would consciously admit). She was obviously drunk as she pressed her hands against his chest.
“You’re very sexy Michael King, do you know that?”
This was a situation Michael really did not want to be in and just as he tried to politely leave she had him pushed up against the wall and in the next second brought her chapped lips up against his. The worst thing was the braces; grating and grating his gums he finally pushed her away after the worst experience of his life. He searched the hall until there were only a dozen people left, the last couples determined not to leave until the tape had played out. He thought she must have just gone back to the dorm for some urgent reason; he put it down to some womanly thing.
However he couldn’t for the life of him think what. He returned back to the dorm, repeating his past performance of slowly opening the door at a speed which no other person could manage, thinking Zara would by now be asleep so it would be best not to wake her. Opening the door he could see the room fully now and to his surprise it was spotless, which it had never been before. It was then he noticed two other things, far more disturbing than the last: a folded piece of A4 paper and marigold wallpaper where Zara once kept her bags.
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