Authors: Stephanie Hale
The Alpha Bet
Copyright © 2013 by Stephanie Hale
All Rights Reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work.
No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. Short excerpts from reviewers are the only exception.
“It’s a dorm, Mom, not the Playboy mansion,” I whisper in her ear, hoping she’ll stop throwing her evil eye looks around at all the kids in my new dorm.
“Tell that to the girl over there using doilies to cover her chest,” she says, turning away disgustedly.
At the exact moment I turn to check out the doily girl, who is actually an adorable blonde wearing a crocheted bikini top and jean cutoffs, she raises her arm and tosses something in my direction. She covers her perfectly glossed lips with her hand in horror, and a second later, something smacks against my forehead and explodes. A water balloon. Mom screams like she’s been shot while I stand dripping into the cardboard box full of clothes I’m carrying.
This is not exactly how I pictured my first day of college.
“Are you all right?” Mom asks, once she realizes it wasn’t her that was hit.
“Physically, tip-top. Emotionally, not so much,” I reply, dropping my box and using the end of my T-shirt to wipe the water off my glasses.
“Oh my gosh, I’m like so sorry,” the blonde says, rushing up. She’s wringing her hands like crazy and I know she really is sorry. “Marcus was right behind you and I was trying to get him,” she explains.
“You need to get a better aim,” Mom practically growls at her while scrutinizing her bikini top, for nipple showage no doubt.
“It’s okay, really. I’m Grace Kelly,” I say, holding my hand out to the blonde. She looks confused. It’s a look I’m familiar with. You say Grace Kelly and most people automatically think of an elegant, poised beauty cut down in the prime of her life, not an unfashionable, four-eyed drowned rat.
“I’m Star,” she says, coming to her senses. We shake hands and I try very hard not to dribble water all over her.
“We better get you to your room,” Mom interrupts, obviously not hot on the idea of me bonding with Star. I can almost hear Mom’s mind whirring, terrified by the thought that if I became friends with Star, I’d start borrowing her tops.
“I really am sorry,” Star says, walking away. I mouth, ‘It’s okay,’ and roll my eyes in Mom’s direction. Star winks and smiles then rushes away having spotted her intended target.
“I still can’t believe they put you in a co-ed dorm,” Mom says nervously, watching Star pummel Marcus with a water balloon. I quickly bend down to pick up my soggy box so she doesn’t see the smile on my face. Cohabitating with the opposite sex practically makes me a full-fledged adult. I can’t give her any clue how excited I am about my new living situation or she’ll yank me back to the mini-van for another lecture about how sixteen is just too young to go away to college. And there is no way I’m leaving here. I shrug my shoulders and adopt a look of defeat so she thinks that I am just as distressed about coed living as she is.
I’ve been trying to disguise how excited I am all morning. It’s hard considering I’ve wanted to come to McMillan College since I was twelve. That was the year I started competing in the state science fair that is held annually on campus. I fell in love with the old brick building that houses the most state of the art science lab in the country. I couldn’t get here to soak up all the unlimited knowledge soon enough. As last year’s winner of McMillan’s prestigious science fair, I won a four-year scholarship. Luckily, I had enough extra credits to graduate high school early. My dream is about to become reality. I know that Mom is proud of my academic achievements, it’s just the moving away part that she isn’t so jazzed about.
We make our way through the hallways packed with co-eds hugging hello, exchanging numbers, and flirting shamelessly. I’m in heaven. Mom might be in need of a defibrillator soon because I don’t think her heart can take much more. She’s behind me muttering something about STD’s under her breath. For some reason, Mom doesn’t think I’m ready for college yet. It took my dad and me all summer to convince her that I would be okay on my own. After much pleading I reminded her that I would only be forty-five minutes from home and so busy with the science club that I won’t have time to get into trouble.
She’s always been a little overprotective. To the point of social asphyxiation. I never wanted to worry her so I didn’t participate in many high school extracurriculars. I came to college to learn more and push myself intellectually but getting away from Mom’s stranglehold on my social life won’t be a bad thing either. I know she means well but I still need to make my own decisions.
“Here it is,” I shout, unable to control the volume of my voice upon finding my dorm room door. This moment is the culmination of all my hard work the last sixteen years. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and savor this monumental moment. No more obnoxious little brother, no more unchallenging high school classes, no more interruptions while I study. From now on if I want to go on a twelve-hour study binge, I can. I won’t have someone bugging me to eat or rest my eyes. I am officially the boss of myself. I hear Mom shifting the box she is carrying impatiently on her hip.
I open my eyes and fling open the door to my new life while exclaiming, “Home sweet home.”
Unfortunately, the weight in my box shifts just enough to throw off my already limited balance. The wet box collapses and my clothes go toppling into a heap in the middle of the floor with my granny panties landing on top. I’m so focused on shoving my pathetic underwear back into the soggy box that the naked people on the bare mattress don’t really register in my brain until I hear Mom scream. She drops her box and goes running down the hall. I just stand there, granny panties in hand, staring at the naked couple, in shock.
“Are you Grace Kelly?” the naked girl asks, unflustered. She is stunningly at ease even though I just barged in on her having sex. She smoothes her chestnut curls behind her ears then props herself up on her elbow underneath the guy, who I just noticed has a very large dragon tattoo on his left buttock. I can’t stop staring at it.
“I said, are you Grace Kelly?” the girl repeats. I hear her, but it’s like I’ve been transported to another world. I’ve never actually seen a boy naked. I Googled the word penis once but I chickened out and slammed my laptop shut before I could see any results. Hopefully he won’t get up because I think I would pass out if he stood up.
“Stop checking out my boyfriend’s ass.” She shouts. I jerk myself out of my trance to see her smiling while he nuzzles her neck. She seems so sophisticated that I can’t help but wonder what she is doing in the freshman dorm.
“Yes, I’m Grace Kelly Cook,” I say, holding my hand. The girl just giggles without reaching out to shake my hand.
“Those are hot,” the guy says, laughing at the panties in my outstretched hand. I jerk my hand into my pocket to hide them.
“Don’t be a dick, Aaron,” the girl says, smacking her boyfriend on the butt. “I’m Jentry,” she says, her striking green eyes apologizing for Aaron’s comment. Her boyfriend is still pretty much laughing in my face. I realize that I must look even more ridiculous than normal from the water balloon incident.
“Can you, like, give us a minute?” She asks. When I realize I’ve just been standing here, staring at them, I pretty much want to die of embarrassment. What kind of a first impression have I made on the girl who is going to be my roommate for the next nine months? My face burns as I quickly kick some of my clothes to the empty side of the room.
“Oh, sure. Sorry,” I say, scurrying out the door. I pull it shut tight so that they can have their privacy. I lean my head back against the cold metal door and try to steady myself. I’m shaking from making such an idiot out of myself.
I guess the postcard of the half-naked guy she sent me this summer telling me she was backpacking across Europe, as a reply to my get-to-know-me letter should have tipped me off that she was so mature. My letter to her had been a three-page dossier of my life and achievements (excluding my age) up to date. She must have thought I was such a dork. And now I bust in on her having sex with her boyfriend. She’s probably calling the housing office to request a room transfer right now.
That was so not how I envisioned meeting my roommate. I hope she isn’t mad because I kept staring at her boyfriends butt. They must be really serious to be having sex. I think it would be cool to have a boyfriend, but I’m not ready for all the sex stuff yet. It would be nice to be kissed though, just to know what it feels like. There are just some things that Google can’t explain.
I make my way down the hall past the unfamiliar faces. I know that I should be introducing myself to people, but it seems like everybody already knows each other, so it’s kind of awkward.
McMillan requires all incoming freshman to arrive a week early to acclimate themselves. That means that these students just met each other, yet they look like they have been friends forever. I’ve always been a little lacking in the social networking arena. I had hoped that with McMillan being a small university that you wouldn’t have the typical cliques. I thought maybe I could be successful not only academically, but also socially. I don’t have any illusions of grandeur about being named homecoming queen or anything, I just don’t want to spend another four years only being known as the girl who throws off the grading curve. But no one seems to see me. I continue down the hall dropping my eyes to the floor. This is why I’ve always preferred books to people.
Wait a minute. I’m going about this all wrong. I’m doing exactly what I did in high school. How can I expect to get different results when I’m not willing to reconstruct my hypothesis? I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this sooner. Almost everything in life can be applied to the steps of the scientific method. First, I have to ask a question, then I do background research, construct a hypothesis, test with an experiment, and analyze my results to see if my conclusion is true or false. I glance around the hallway and notice the most obvious difference between me and my fellow coeds, besides the fact that they aren’t soaking wet, they are more outgoing. I’ve never been particularly good at approaching people. I don’t want them to think I’m a total stalker so I don’t have much time to do much background research right now. My hypothesis (which is always written as, ‘If _____ (I do this), then ______ (this) will happen is: If I am friendly and approach people, then the possibility of making new friends will happen.
It is time to perform my experiment and collect the data. “Hi, I’m Grace Kelly,” I force myself to say to a blonde hanging a dry-erase board on her door. I subtly wipe my suddenly damp hands on my pants just in case she wants to shake hands. I know that perspiring is just the body’s way of cooling itself down but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.
She turns around slowly and looks me up and down. “No, you’re not,” she says, slipping into her room and shutting her door in my face. A glittery star with the name, Sloane, flutters above her new message board. I resist the urge to defile her new message board with an obscene message because that would just be immature. She reminds me of some of the mean girls at my old high school who took to calling me ‘graceless’ because of all the accidents I had. Lucky for me, they always wanted to copy my homework so they weren’t ever too mean. So much for that hypothesis. You don’t need to be a genius to analyze those results. But I’m not willing to conclude that my hypothesis is false though. I definitely need to conduct more experiments with different subjects. Sloane’s words still hang in the air, stinging my skin. I don’t think I’ll attempt another experiment until this one has had a chance to fade away.
I continue down the hall, sort of depressed. This day is definitely not turning out how I had imagined. My phone vibrates in my pocket. I don’t even have to look at it to know that it’s my mom calling to make sure I didn’t get forced into a threesome. As if my life could ever be that exciting.
“We can’t leave her here, Stan. She isn’t ready,” Mom pleads to Dad as I pile back into our mini-van. We decided to grab some lunch and let Jentry have plenty of time to finish up.
“Marge, stop being so dramatic. Kids have sex. Whether you like it or not, it happens, just because Grace Kelly’s roommate is doing it doesn’t mean she is going to. You underestimate your daughter,” Dad says, then catches my eye in the rearview mirror and winks.
“Who’d wanna have sex with Grace Kelly anyway?” my little brother, Sean, snorts while elbowing me in the ribs.