It’s not like in the movies where the dorms have spacious rooms with tall ceilings, wide windows, and plaster walls. Oh, to have plaster walls. That’s the dream. Katie and Ellie sit on their small shag area rug, placed just so it covers the few cracked tiles between their beds. A poster wilts over Ellie’s bed, the sticky-tack unable to keep the paper married to the dimpled cinder-block wall, which has had one too many coats of paint, as witnessed by the various chipped patches of pink and baby-blue. Ellie pops up to mash the corner back into place…at least for a few more days.
“More wine?” she asks, filling her glass with the cheap cherry wine sitting on her desk.
“I’m still sipping on this one, thanks,” Katie says, finishing up a second coat of gray polish on her nails.
Ellie sits back down and continues reading Cosmo.
“Do you think guys really like any of this stuff? It seems a little…weird,” Ellie says, looking puzzled.
“Guys are weird so…” Katie says, blowing on her nails.
“But, like listen to this. They call it ‘the banana.’ Apparently I’m supposed to act like a monkey in search of his banana. It even wants me to pretend to peel it…”
Katie laughs. “Shouldn’t we be teaching men not to have sex with monkeys?”
They both laugh now.
“Hey, maybe it works if your man is a zookeeper,” Ellie says.
“Or King Kong,” Katie says.
“Or Rafiki!” Ellie says. “Oh, I love this song.” Ellie jumps up, cranks the volume, and starts dancing. “I swear Katy Perry is my spirit diva.”
“Don’t you mean spirit animal?”
“I hate when people say that. She’s not an animal. A wolf if your spirit animal: a hawk, a freaking seal, not a person.”
“It’s Erin, your RA,” she says, banging on the door.
Katie grabs Ellie’s glass and Ellie corks the bottle. Katie dumps the glasses down the small sink beside the bathroom door. Ellie climbs onto the strategically placed desk chair, slides the ceiling panel to the side, and places the bottle with the others. She slides the panel back into place and returns to her spot on the rug. Katie hides the glasses and opens the door.
“What’s up?” Katie asks, high pitched and smiley.
“Just checking in. Are you getting settled in okay?” Erin asks, eyes clearly scanning for contraband.
“Yup, we’re sophomores so…” Katie says.
Erin fixes on Katie. “Well there is such a thing as the sophomore slump. If you feel it coming on let me know. It’s what I’m here for.”
“It’s not a disease…” Katie says.
Erin gives the room one last scan. “Even so, I’m in 401, just down the hall, if you need anything.” Erin smiles and leaves.
The wind goes still in the quad. Ellie slides her back further down the tree to a nearly lying position. She is completely immersed in her book, only she’s not quite sure what she’s reading. The words look more like scribbles and some are just lines, like the author gave up.
She hears sizzling oil and smells garlic and onion. She’s sitting on a bar stool at a granite counter top in a kitchen that looks straight out of IKEA.
“Hey, girl, should I chop some red pepper for our stir fry?” Ryan Gosling turns around, holding a knife in one hand, a pepper in the other, wearing a “kiss the cook” apron.
“Sure,” she answers, hesitant, still processing his presence.
“Hey, girl, can I give you a massage while you wait?” a shirtless Ryan Gosling asks, rubbing oil on his chest.
Ellie looks to kiss-the-cook Ryan Gosling for approval. He smiles and nods.
Masseuse Ryan Gosling takes Ellie’s hand and leads her to the kitchen table, which already has a towel laid out with lit candles around. She begins removing her shirt.
“Hey, girl, would you like me to wash those for you?” a third Ryan Gosling asks, reaching for the shirt now in her hand.
“Uh…sure,” she says.
He smiles and takes the shirt.
“Hey, girl, did I dust this elephant statue to your liking?” Ryan Gosling in a French maid dress asks.
“Hey, girl,” Ryan Gosling in a tight policeman uniform says, “Why don’t you sit in this chair while I put on some cheesy 80s music?” He winks.
All the Ryan Goslings wink.
Masseuse Ryan Gosling continues to rub his chest with oil.
A nudge to Ellie’s thigh jerks her upright. Her phone slides off her lap. A soccer ball spins beside her.
“Hey, sorry,” says a cute guy, glistening in a blue striped mank as he leans down to pick it up.
“It’s…kay…” she fumbles, trying to reorient herself.
He forces a smile and returns to his game. Ellie cringes and reaches for her phone laying on the grass. She closes out of Pinterest and checks the time: 12:25. Shit! Five minutes until class starts and it’s the first day. She shoves the phone into her pocket, throws her bag over her shoulder, and takes off for the fine arts building.
Ellie nearly runs into a bicycling hippie, but manages to lean right as he swerves left. Usually when she ran into someone they both try going the same way and it turns into this awkward little dance until one person finally decides to stand still as the other makes a break for it. In this case Ellie would have simply ended up with her ass on the ground and possibly some rubber in her hair.
She sprints past the elevator, which has a mass of zombies waiting to get on, and high tails it up the stairs, dodging past people coming and going on either side. She slides into a seat near the door and the professor raises an eyebrow. Ellie pulls her brown hair up into a pony to let some cool air get to her neck and sinks down into the chair.
“Close call,” the guy next to her whispers.