Authors: Amanda M. Lee
After leaving Lisa, the long walk back to the dorms was fairly uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but think about Lisa and her predicament. How would she even cope? Sure, she was a ghost, but the realization that most of her family – at least the family that she knew and loved – was probably gone had to be absolute hell. Also, where did she go when she disappeared? Why didn’t she have any sense of time? What was she doing all day long? Could she change her outfit and ditch the dated bell-bottoms?
The questions just kept coming – no matter how hard I tried to block them out.
When I got back to the dorms, I told Paris about my conversation with Lisa. She didn’t have any answers either, though. She also didn’t have any ideas on how to progress.
The next day’s classes were a welcome distraction – even my math class. Since I was so lost when it came to the subject I was forced to pay attention to the professor – even if I had no idea what he was talking about.
After classes I had dinner with Brittany and Paris. I realized when we all sat down together that I hadn’t seen much of Brittany over the past few days. “What have you been up to?”
“Just pledge stuff,” Brittany said evasively.
“I don’t want to tell you,” Brittany said evenly.
“Because you’ll make fun of me.”
“What makes you think that?” Notice I didn’t deny I would make fun of her. I just wanted to know why she automatically thought that I would. She must have been doing something pretty embarrassing. Yes, I know I’m a total bitch sometimes.
“You always make fun of me,” Brittany reminded me.
She had a point. Why quit what you’re good at, though?
“So, what are we doing tonight?” I changed the subject.
“Mike is having a party,” Paris offered.
I shrugged. Mike’s parties weren’t known for being raucous beer fests, but they were a nice distraction. Plus, that was where I had first met Rafael. Maybe he would show up with some answers for me. And, more importantly, some answers for Lisa.
“I don’t know,” Brittany said dubiously. “We’re not supposed to go out with anyone but our pledge class this week.”
“Now they’re telling you who to hang out with?” I spoke the words before I thought about what I was actually saying. It’s one of those things I keep telling myself I’m going to stop doing – and then forget to stop.
“No,” Brittany protested. “It’s just a week anyway.”
“Fine, then don’t come,” I said succinctly. “I’ll hit on all the boys for you.” Now I was just being mean – and I knew it.
“Fine, I’ll come,” Brittany said irritably. I knew that the thought of all the boys at the party would be too much for her to bear.
We all took turns showering after dinner. Mike’s apartment was only a ten-minute walk and it was definitely warmer today than it had been the past couple of days. A balmy forty degrees was enough for me to brave the chill with a hoodie instead of a heavy parka. I didn’t want to have to keep track of a big coat at a party. It was just a pain.
Once we got to the apartment, Paris greeted Mike with a warm kiss – although I thought she looked distracted. Did she even like him anymore? It certainly didn’t look like it. I shrugged off my concerns, though. It was really none of my business. Instead, Brittany and I filled our plastic cups with keg beer and milled about with some of the people in attendance. The good thing about Mike’s parties was that partygoers rarely varied – so if you’d been to a few you knew pretty much everyone there. The bad thing about Mike’s parties is that everyone there was boring, for the most part.
It only took me a few minutes to realize Rafael wasn’t in attendance. I had never figured out who he knew here anyway. Despite the cold, I even checked on the balcony – where we had first met. Since he didn’t seem to be affected by the temperature, I figured he might be hanging out there. He wasn’t, though. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Great, just what I needed, another guy to gum up the works in my everyday life.
A couple of Mike’s roommates tried to engage me in conversation, but I wasn’t really interested. One of them had a 1980s perm and a 1970s mustache and the other kept trying to fist bump me when he mentioned the Covenant College basketball. In fact, the more time I spent at the party the more I realized I wanted to be just about anywhere but here.
Thankfully, the monotony of the evening was broken up pretty quickly by raised voices.
“Will you just give it a rest?”
I followed the sound of the voice, recognizing it as Paris’ less than dulcet tones. I found her and Mike standing in the middle of the small kitchen. Paris’ hands were placed squarely on her hips and she looked like she was about ready to blow a gasket.
“Why don’t you give it a rest,” Mike argued. His bleach blond hair was disheveled and he looked like he’d been drinking for a while.
“I’m not doing anything,” Paris countered. “You’re the one being an ass.”
“How is asking you to move in with me being an ass?”
“I’m a freshman,” she reminded him. “I have to live on campus.”
“Not if we get married.”
Paris’ mouth fell open. She looked stunned by Mike’s proposal – if you could call it that. She turned to search the room, her eyes falling on me. “Can you believe this?”
I so did not want to be pulled into this argument. I couldn’t look away either, though.
“Why are you talking to her?” Mike said derisively. “Does she make your decisions now?”
“No, “ Paris replied. “But you don’t either.”
“I don’t see why this is such a crazy idea to you,” Mike said. He was trying to be reasonable now – or at least use a more reasonable tone of voice. “We’ve been dating for more than a year.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to marry you,” Paris argued.
Especially when she was flirting so heavily with Mark all the time, I told myself. Of course, Mike had no idea about Mark. At least I didn’t think he did.
“Why not? Do you think you’re better than me?” Mike was on the attack again. I didn’t tell him that I didn’t think this was the best way for him to get his way. Of course, I didn’t think there was any way for him to get his way.
“Where did that come from?” Paris was getting angrier and angrier by the minute.
“Why else wouldn’t you want to marry me?”
The fact that he kept putting bandanas on his forehead like they were sweatbands would have been the first reason I cited. I wisely remained out of the argument, though – but within hearing distance.
“Because I’m eighteen years old and this isn’t Amish country,” Paris shot back instead. Her answer was equally as good as mine. “I don’t want to get married.”
“Or maybe you just don’t want to get married to me?” Mike suggested with narrow-eyed suspicion.
“You’re right, I don’t want to marry you,” Paris said agreeably. “I don’t want to marry anyone else either.”
“You can’t deny that you’ve wanted to spend less and less time with me over the past few weeks.”
“So you want to get married?” Paris asked with mild disbelief. “That’s your answer?”
“I want us to be close again.” Mike seemed a little pathetic now.
“Well . . . I don’t,” Paris said decisively.
Oh, here we go. I knew this would come eventually. Granted, I didn’t think it would come out in a room full of people. Still, it was only a matter of time.
“You don’t want us to be close again?” Mike looked like he was about to start crying.
“No,” Paris said honestly. “I think we should take a break.”
“So instead of marrying me you want to break up?”
“That’s exactly what I want,” Paris agreed. She seemed to be hardening her heart against Mike right before my very eyes.
“Are you seeing someone else?”
Not yet. “No,” Paris said wearily. “I just don’t want to be tied down to anyone right now. Especially someone so needy.”
If she had to say that over again, I bet she would have left the last part out.
“I’m not needy,” Mike argued.
“You’re not needy? You just asked me to marry you because you felt me pulling away. That’s the definition of needy.” Paris was on the offensive now. It was quite the sight to behold.
“Please,” Mike’s voice took on a pitiful tone. “Don’t do this.”
“It’s too late,” Paris said, glancing in my direction. “It’s been done for weeks. I’m just the one to admit it first.”
Paris made her way over to me, dragging Brittany away from the group of guys she had been talking to as she did. “We should go now.”
I glanced up at Mike, who was clearly fighting tears as his roommates tried to awkwardly console him. “Yep.”
As we were making our way down the stairs and out of the building I turned to Paris with a sudden realization. “We’re going to have to find someone else to buy for us now.”
What? That was a legitimate concern.
Brittany shot me a hard glare. “She doesn’t want to talk about that now. She’s heartbroken. She doesn’t care who is going to buy our alcohol from here on out.”
She didn’t look heartbroken to me. In fact, she looked relieved.
“We’ll find someone,” Paris said assuredly. “It can’t be that hard.”
Brittany looked between the two of us. “You two are unbelievable,” she muttered. “I knew I should have stayed home tonight.”
“And miss this? We would have been talking about the big breakup for weeks and you would have been sad you missed it,” I said brightly.
Brittany didn’t answer me, but I could tell she realized the truth in my statements.
Never a dull moment at Covenant College.
“Chris Pine, hands down.”
“Chris Hemsworth, without a doubt.”
Brittany opened the door to our room slowly, peering around the door carefully before she took a step inside. “I heard yelling in here,” she said nervously, looking between Paris and me doubtfully.
For our part, we were lounging in the living area and flipping through magazines nonchalantly – something the tone that we had both been using only seconds before didn’t reflect.
“We’re debating which Chris is hotter,” I said dismissively. “Even though it’s clearly Chris Pine.”
“Chris Hemsworth is like a Greek god,” Paris countered from her spot on the couch. “He’s a flaxen-haired Adonis.”
“I’m not saying he’s not hot,” I replied. “I’m saying that Chris Pine is hotter.”
“You’re essentially saying Captain Kirk is hotter than Thor,” Paris reminded me.
“And I stand by that statement.”
“But Thor is stronger than Captain Kirk.”
“Captain Kirk could beat Thor with his phaser tied behind his back.”
“I like Bradley Cooper,” Brittany interjected, dropping her book-laden backpack on the floor and shrugging out of her heavy parka.
“We’re not playing that game,” I explained to Brittany. “We’re doing hottest Chris actors right now.”
“Oh,” Brittany glanced at Paris sympathetically. “How are you doing? I didn’t want to leave you, but I had to go to the library and do some research.”
“I’m fine,” Paris waved off Brittany’s concern. “I’m really over it.” Paris turned back to me. “Thor’s hammer is way more powerful that Kirk’s phaser.”
“You know who could beat them both? Robert Pattinson.” Brittany clearly still wasn’t getting the game.
“Well, Edward Cullen,” Brittany corrected.
“He’s a vampire that sparkles.” I was flabbergasted she would even insert him into this conversation.
“But he’s hot.”
“No he’s not,” I argued. “He’s weird looking. And Captain Kirk and Thor could both beat the crap out of Edward Cullen.”
“Definitely,” Paris agreed from the couch.
“You know,” Brittany glared in my direction. “Sometimes I really can’t stand you.”
“I get that,” I said honestly. “I’m not that fond of myself all that often.”
“Well, at least you acknowledge your shortcomings,” Brittany replied after a second of considering my statement. “That’s shows great self-awareness.”
If only she had the same ability.
Once Brittany returned to the room, things got decidedly more dour. I had been watching Paris most of the lazy Saturday afternoon in an effort to see if she was going to have some sort of breakdown. Thankfully, though, she showed no signs of that. In fact, she seemed happier than I had seen her in weeks.
Paris and I tried to pick up the conversation again, but Brittany was shooting us irritated glances from her desk in the bedroom – occasional dramatic sighs accompanied the looks, as well. Instead, we decided to go for a walk – a move Brittany encouraged emphatically.
“Oh, hey guys,” Mariska greeted us from the floor of her open common room as we walked past. “You want to join us?”
I glanced in the room, making sure I didn’t focus too long on her drawn-on eyebrows, and noticed that several of the annoying girls from down the hall were sitting cross-legged on the floor with her.
“What are you doing?”
“We’re just having a rap session,” Mariska said enthusiastically. “We’re talking about hopes and dreams right now. We can talk about anything you want, though. Classes. Studying. Boys. Sex.”
“I’d rather cut my own tongue out.”
“What did you say?” Mariska looked confused.
“She said she’d like to but we’re going to see someone else down the hall,” Paris piped in.
“Who?” Mariska asked suspiciously.
“Um . . .” Paris looked like she was at a loss.
“Laura,” I interjected.
I couldn’t help noticing that Paris furrowed her brows when I said the name. Maybe it was time to have
“Oh, well, have fun,” Mariska said as she watched Paris and me continue to move down the hallway.
“Good lie,” Paris said after a second.
“It doesn’t have to be a lie.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, why don’t you and Laura spend any time together? You’re from the same hometown.”
“How do you know Laura?” Paris asked
“We have a class together,” I said. “Oh, and she lives on our floor.” What the hell? “Why do you pretend you don’t know Laura?”
“I don’t pretend that I don’t know her,” Paris said smoothly. “We just don’t know each other that well.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” I said. “Laura said you hung out over Christmas break.”
Paris frowned. “She told you that? That’s supposed to be a secret.”
“It just is.”
“Well, now I’ll just go ask her,” I said huffily, pushing past Paris and heading towards Laura’s room. Did I mention I can’t stand it when people try to hide something from me?
“Go ahead,” Paris barked.
“I’m knocking on the door,” I said, pausing outside the door and raising my hand to knock.
“Go ahead.” I couldn’t help but notice that Paris hadn’t moved from her spot in the middle of the hallway.
“I’m going to knock,” I said.
“Fine!” Paris practically exploded. “I’ll tell you.”
I walked back down the hall and watched her expectantly. “She’s a prostitute,” Paris whispered.
“She is not!” I rolled my eyes. “You do realize that I’ve met her, right? You should have picked a better lie.”
“I didn’t have a lot of time,” Paris confessed.
“Why don’t you just tell me?”
Paris sighed and then glanced around the hallway quickly. “Fine. I’ve known her since we were kids. We were really good friends. A couple of years ago, though, we just stopped being friends.”
“You don’t just stop being friends for no reason,” I said pragmatically.
“You do if your parents make you,” Paris said succinctly, glancing around the hallway again.
“Why did your parents make you?”
“Our moms used to be best friends,” Paris said. “They were in a coven together.”
“A witch coven?”
“No, a ghost coven. Yes, a witch coven.”
“So why did they stop being friends?”
“They had different beliefs,” Paris said evasively.
“Meaning that Laura’s mom wanted to be more than an earth witch.”
“I still don’t know what that means,” I said. This witch stuff had a pretty stiff learning curve.
“She started dabbling in darker . . . things.”
“Like what? Voodoo dolls? Zombies? Raising the dead?”
Those had been my joke guesses. I took Paris’ new information in quietly, rolling the new information through my mind. “Laura doesn’t seem like an evil witch.”
Paris looked exasperated. I recognized the look. My mom wore the same one every time she tried to guilt me into doing something she wanted me to do and it failed. “I didn’t say she was an evil witch. I said her mom was interested in some dark things. There’s a difference.”
“I don’t understand why your moms stopped being friends over that?” My mom was still friends with a woman that tried to grope my dad at a New Year’s Eve party. Sure, she made fun of her plastic surgery behind her back, but they at least pretended to be friendly when they were in the same room together. This swearing friends off for life didn’t make a lot of sense to me.
“It became a whole big thing,” Paris explained. “My mom thought Laura’s mom was turning in the wrong direction and told the rest of the coven. Laura’s mom didn’t take it well, especially when the coven voted her out. After that, Laura and I were not allowed to hang out with each other ever again.”
“You did at Christmas,” I reminded her.
“We did, but we only do it when there’s no chance of anyone finding out – like at a party,” Paris said. “We’re both supposed to keep it a secret. Laura, apparently, doesn’t understand that.”
“It’s not like I’m going to tell your mom,” I scoffed.
“I know,” Paris said. “She still needs to be careful, though. We could both get in real trouble with our moms if they find out. I mean we avoid the same parties here, for crying out loud. Her brother lives with Mike and she never went to those parties. She was worried he would tell their mom.”
“It must be hard,” I said finally.
“Not being able to hang out with your best friend.”
“I’m hanging out with my best friend now,” Paris said derisively.
“I’m your best friend?”
“You are now.”
“Well, thanks.” I felt my cheeks color suddenly – and I couldn’t figure out why.
“You’re such a goof,” Paris laughed.
“Hey, is there really such a thing as a ghost coven?”
“See, when you say stuff like that I don’t even like you,” Paris said sarcastically.
“Captain Kirk would have totally asked that question.”
“Thor never would have.”