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Authors: E.M. Lathrop

Totem

BOOK: Totem
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Totem

 

E M Lathrop

 

Copyright © 2015 By E M Lathrop

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, events or locales is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Totem – Book

ISBN-13: 978-1508854807

ISBN-10: 1508854807

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

To the city of New Orleans. You are a gem I carry with me in spirit wherever I may roam.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

A huge thanks to Amy, Shannon and Ellen for their continued support in my writing endeavors.

 

Thank you to my wonderful husband, Eric, for giving me the opportunity to write and to my wonderful daughter who has shown me a whole new side of love.

Chapter 1: A New Chapter

 

             
Here I stand quietly staring
out the window watching the blue Chevrolet truck drive away as a single tear trickles down my cheek. Straining my eyes and careful not to blink, I watch as it continues its relentless drive down the street before turning right completely disappearing from view. I sigh to keep from crying. Never in my life have I experienced so many emotions in one day.

              Excitement rose in me at the beginning of my morning as I waited in line with my dad and sister to get my room key. Nervous energy pulsated through my chest as I watched the swarms of fellow bright-eyed college students bustling up and down the hallways. Their carts and hands filled to the brim with all the necessities needed for dorm life. Happiness and love filled me as my little sister and dad worked diligently by my side turning an empty dorm room into a comfortable home. It’s a room that would be my temporary home for the duration of my freshmen year. Finally, sadness and the ache of missing my family washed over me as I embraced my sister and dad for the last time in a long while.

              “I’m proud of you kiddo,” whispered dad in my ear. Even then I could feel the singe of pain as tears threatened my clear blue eyes.

              “I’ll miss you sissy,” joked my thirteen-year-old sister.

              I fought back the sadness with a meek smile taking in their sight one more time. My dad smiled back. He was not one for emotions but I could see the pride on his face as he and my sister, Andrea, walked out of my room. I waved goodbye and closed the door behind them. I shut the door on my old childhood life. A hollow spot in my chest formed where the comfort and safety of my family once occupied. It is a step that every young person must take, but with every joyous beginning is the dull pain of an ending. This was my first step into adulthood and the longest time I would spend away from my family. It was my first step into a new chapter in my life.

              Now I stare out the window at the parking lot. The two of them gone from sight but remaining in my heart. They will always remain in my heart. My temporary dull sadness at their short absence is marked by a single, trickling tear.

              Quickly, I wipe it away and turn to face my new room. I look at all the new items my parents purchased for me. All the comforting things for a fresh start I could ever wish for lays out in front of me, but I still feel empty. For the first time, I walk my path alone. My parents no longer close by to guide my hand and provide support. A dull ache rises up inside of me. Quickly I repress the feeling. Deep down inside I know it isn’t really good bye. It is an until-next-time. My spirits lift at the thought of seeing them again. Besides, I know I will call them and they will call me often.

              Slowly I look over my room appraising all the work accomplished in only one day. My roommate, who must have moved in on Friday, already claimed the window side of the dorm. I do not mind. The simple corner side is good enough for me. Both of our beds sit on the same wall jacked up as high as the wooden frame allows. This makes for easier storage underneath, but an intriguing challenge on how to hop into bed.

              We do not have closets, but two matching wardrobes against the wall opposite our beds. In between that is a door into the bath room where two sinks, a shower, and a toilet lay. After hearing college horror stories of dozens of girls sharing bathrooms, I am very thankful to only be sharing a bathroom between four girls.

This comfortable set-up is one of the things that enticed me to attend this particular college. The second draw for me being a scholarship that waives the out-of-state tuition fees. With those two things, it put this university at the top of my list and I am very grateful.

              With a sigh, I walk across to my side of the room. I turn on my television to a low background buzz and pull water out of my overly-stocked mini fridge.

Leave it to my dad to make sure I don’t starve. I shake my head looking at the fridge filled to the brim under my bed. It has been an exhaustingly long day and I am all too aware of what heavy work does to a person in the hot, sticky summer heat of the South

New Orleans was my first choice for colleges. However, it wasn’t until a college visit that I truly fell in love with the city. The big oak trees framing the streets of St. Charles and the bustling French Quarter with the beach themed waterfront of Lake Pontchartrain had captured my heart. Even the food has its own distinctive, succulent, and tantalizing taste that I cannot imagine being matched anywhere else in the world. It is a city like no other. A smile crosses my lips as I revel in thoughts of exciting opportunities this location brings.

My smile grows even larger as the realization that I will be attending my first college class in two days sinks in. I want to jump up and dance. My inner joy wants to be let out with a leap and cheer, but I settle for a big grin as I slowly sip my water. I pull out my binder from the top drawer and open it up.  Inside the pockets is a copy of my class schedule.

For the past few weeks, I have been signing on to my student account religiously every day trying to watch for open seats, but my efforts have been futile. I guess that is one of the burdens of being a credit-less freshman. You get last pick of classes. As I gaze over my schedule, I hear some rustling in the hallway. The sound of movement has been going on all day as students settle in to rooms so I ignore it. It isn’t until I hear the door knob begin to turn that my ears perk up.

This must be my new roommate, I think as excitement builds up inside me.

Suddenly, I am all too aware of my less-than-stellar appearance. Dry sweat frames my face causing my blond hair to stick. I look down at my dirty t-shirt and soccer shorts.

Oi, what a way to meet your roommate, but then again, she will be seeing you in a lot less and probably a lot worse from time to time.

Not only the thoughts of my appearance, but fear brows replacing my excitement as I begin to think the worse. What if she’s mean? What if she becomes the worse roommate ever? Could I actually live with her the whole year?

My fears are lulled as the door flies open revealing a pretty, petite girl as disheveled as me. In her hands are half a dozen shopping bags filled to the brim. Her blond hair, which surprisingly matches mine, is all askew. She is short standing well under five feet. Her height only adds to the cuteness of her unique beauty. I take in her looks and mannerisms all too scared to speak first. Suddenly, a huge smile sweeps across her face as she registers me sitting at my desk a spot that was no doubt empty when she left this morning.

“Hi!” She exclaims with a bright smile that reaches her brown eyes. “You must be Kimberly!”

With a spritely spring in her step, she enters the room kicking the door shut with her heel. She crosses the room to her side placing the bags on the floor. Then, she turns her attention back towards me walking across the room extending her hand to greet me. Quickly I take her hand in mine.

“It’s good to meet you,” she chirps. “I hope you don’t mind I picked the window side when I got here. My name’s Michelle. Michelle Elizabeth Galliger.”

“Nice to meet you,” I reply with a bright smile. “How did you know my name?”

“I got it when I picked up my keys yesterday. Originally, I was supposed to be with someone else, but I guess that person decided not to attend at the last minute or something. So they threw us together.”

“Oh, ok,” I respond. At first, all I can do is return warm smiles to her. Slowly, I begin to think about things to say formulating my thoughts before I speak. “I actually prefer to be called Kimber if that’s ok.”

“Awesome,” she states as she hustles back over to her side and begins putting away her purchases.

“So are you a freshman?” I ask as I sit back down in my chair.

“No,” responds Michelle. “I’m a sophomore. I did a year at a community college first. Are you a freshman?”

“Yep,” I reply.

“This is my first time living out of my house though so in that respect it is like I am a freshman.” comments Michelle.

“It’s my first time away from home, too,” I reply with a smile.

Michelle smiles back.

“We should figure out how to decorate,” comments Michelle as she puts food into her mini fridge. “This white cinder block walls with white tile ceilings motif doesn’t cut it.”

I let out a laugh as I begin to warm up. I look around the room. The only coloring throughout the room is the comforters on our beds. Even then, her brilliant pink is a sharp contrast to my earth tone green.

“I was thinking the same thing,” I reply. “My dad was trying to decide how to hang things on the wall. He even bought those scotch tabs but they didn’t work. Finally, he gave up.”

“My dad did the same thing!” Michelle exclaims as she shakes her head. “Fathers, right?’

We shoot each other a look and then begin to laugh. I feel myself relax even more as the prospect of having the perfect roommate crosses my mind. I look back at the white walls.

“Yeah,” I comment. “We will definitely have to find a way to spruce this place up.”

Michelle nods in agreement.

              “So where are you from?” asks Michelle.

              “Birmingham.”

She tilts her head to the side quizzically as she looks at me.

              “You don’t have an accent,” she comments.

              “No,” I reply. “My parents just moved there a few months ago. I actually finished high school in Pennsylvania. So I guess I am from Pennsylvania, but my home with my family is in Alabama.”

              She nods her head satisfied with my response.

              “So where are you from?” I ask.

              “Houston, Texas,” replies Michelle. Pride seeps up through her smile.

              “How far away is that from here?” I am still trying to adjust to distances of things down south.

              “It’s about a five or six hour drive,” she responds.

              “Same as mine, just in the opposite direction,” I chuckle. “It’s like we met in the middle here in New Orleans.”

              Michelle lets out a laugh as she continues organizing. I watch her for a while as I finish my water. She is quick and nimble as she glides across the tiled floor. Although there is silence, it is unusually comfortable for two strangers who just met. Perhaps, just like meeting in the middle distance wise, we are meeting in the middle here in this room. It is divided into two distinctive sides, but also has fluidity about it. Hopefully that won’t change as we let our guards down and get to know each other better. With one big swig, I finish my water. I look down at my dirty shirt and decide it is time for a shower. Slowly, I pull my tired body out of my seat and walk towards the bathroom.

              “I need a shower,” I state out loud breaking the silence and letting Michelle know my intent.

              “Want me to join?” responds Michelle.

              I look at her. I do not know her well enough to tell if she is joking or not. Not only that, but I have a hard time sensing sarcasm in general. The mix between the two leaves me standing there baffled.

              “Kidding!” She exclaims with a giggle. “Gotcha, didn’t I?”

              Relief washes over me. I really like her but I don’t think I will ever be ready to take THAT leap. A huge smile crosses my face. With as much sass as my tired body could muster, I place one hand on my hip and give her a look.

              “I don’t know what you’re into!” I jest at her as she laughs. “Maybe next time,” I call back as I sashay into the bathroom hand still firmly planted on my hip.

 

             
Showered and fully dressed
, I plop down at my desk. My schedule is still out staring back at me. Michelle, who had finished unpacking her bags, makes herself comfortable on her bed. She sits propped up against the back wall letting her feet dangle over the edge. Her own television is on blasting the same MTV channel as mine. I look up at hers then at mine.

              We will have to figure out what to do about the television situation, I think to myself.

              “Is that your class schedule?” Michelle asks.

              “Yeah,” I reply holding it up to show her.

              “What does your schedule look like?” She asks genuinely interested.

              I begin reading off the schedule. My Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule has Sociology and English 101. Then, on Wednesdays, I have a four hour biology lab. Tuesday and Thursday, I have Biology 101, Soccer and Volleyball, and Psychology 101. When I am done listing classes, I look at her. Her face is alight and I could feel excitement emulating off her in waves.

              “We have TWO classes together,” she exclaims. “This is awesome! We have Sociology AND Soccer and volleyball together! I played soccer in high school and haven’t touched a ball in over a year. I am beyond excited to play!”

              “I played soccer in high school, too,” I state with a smile on my face. I have a feeling we are going to get along just fine. “So what’s you major?”

BOOK: Totem
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