This is a draft I am working on for my nonfiction workshop class. Please feel free to comment your constructive criticism!
My fingers stopped typing for a second as I stared at my phone. My tired eyes latched on to the words “I’m sorry to hear about last night,” in particular. Laying in my bed with the morning sunlight peeking through my blinds, I blinked slowly and rolled my eyes.
It’s amazing how that tiny little screen can have such an impact on my day. Without warning, it takes what would have been a productive, meaningful twenty-four hours and crumples it up and throws it in the trash. If that tiny screen is feeling especially bitchy, it will set the trash can on fire.
After looking at the tiny black words on that day-ruining screen, I decided that it was time I put the phone down and got ready for class. Half-heartedly and barely awake, I walked my way across my dorm room and into my bathroom. On days like these, there isn’t a force on the earth that can make me shampoo and blow dry my hair. So, after putting my hair into my pink flowered shower cap, I turned on the water, checked to see if the drain was working, and stepped inside.
I live in a dorm apartment, which means I have my own kitchen area and bathroom. I don’t have to share a shower with anyone except my Taiwanese roommate. She’s probably the perfect roommate. By saying this, I’m well-aware that what would be the perfect roommate for one might be a complete nightmare for the other. Even though I had to deep clean the apartment the day I moved in, she has kept almost completely to herself in the past two weeks that I have lived here.
We smile when we pass by each other in the apartment. She smiles when I’m sure she doesn’t want to smile, like when it’s two AM and she really just needs some sleep. And when I wake her up in the morning by making my breakfast. Hell, I smile when I come out of the bathroom after having to clean her hair out of the shower drain. It’s reassuring to know that I can always count on that foreign, polite smile. It sure did help when I came out of my room crying into a bottle of wine after he left that night. I’m sure she heard the yelling.
We did more talking on the first night of me being here than we have in the past week of living together, and I think I’m okay with that. She doesn’t speak great English, and perhaps that could be one of the things which keeps us apart. If I knew what she talked about with her friends, I would look at her differently. If she knew what I talked about with the guys I bring over, I’m sure the same would happen. That constant wondering—is she talking about her weird roommate? drives us to be better to each other. Or at least it drives me to be better to her.
I dried off and walked back to my room, wrapped in the plush softness that you would expect from an eight-dollar towel that had just been bought for college. It hadn’t yet been worn out by years of use. That plush softness that was comforting me almost immediately turned into a constricting blanket once I shut the door to my room, so I let the towel drop to the floor.
I walked to my phone instinctively to see if he had sent me a text while I was in the shower. I wasn’t really expecting a message, but I checked just to be sure. There was nothing, and so I slumped into my chair, disheartened, and stared at my door. That damn door.
I took a moment to collect myself and hurried on my clothes. Layers upon layers to protect against the late Winter chill. Months have gone by since I started noticing a change in me. Since I’ve noticed this change, it keeps getting colder. Days turn into weeks where it’s nothing but cold. It all runs together and culminates into one thing: I don’t want to go outside. The cold is always the most intense right before the seasons change. I know from experience that it will soon be Spring again, but I find myself wondering if I will ever feel warm.
I walked to my classes and for the most part, I paid attention. I’m not the kind of person who would squander an education, but at the same time, I did sleep through my Wednesday night class.
“There’s nothing more productive to be said,” he said firmly, but out of respect for my roommate, he did not shout anymore, “we’ve already done this twice now.”
I sat on the bed staring at him, occasionally glancing at the mostly-empty bottle of wine. I had convinced him to walk through the cold on the premise that I wasn’t drunk. Which was true. I wasn’t drunk, but I was drinking.
He was right, after all. I had seen him far too many times than I should have; deep down I knew this. Coming over to bring me my things and coming over to spend the night were far too many “coming over”-s than I should have stood for. I should have drawn a line after the morning where I made him pancakes and he called my Taiwanese roommate cute.
But I didn’t draw any lines. Instead, I looked at him as he stood in my doorway and said, “pass me the bottle of wine.”
“I’m not going to do that,” he sighed.
I got down from my bed, “then I’ll do it myself.” I grabbed the bottle that was sitting on my desk and told him he was free to leave to go to his party.
I’m not sure what compelled him to do this, but I’m sure out of respect for the love he had for me, he came over and tried to take the bottle from me. I held on and told him to leave.
“Emma,” he said, looking at me. He wasn’t pulling hard enough to overpower a 100-lb girl, but he was pulling nonetheless.
I began to cry heavily at this point and told him to leave. He left my room and walked out the door for the third time in the past week, and I followed him, only to be met by that Taiwanese smile. I stopped crying, turned around, and walked back into my room. I finished the bottle within a few gulps and stared at the door.
I woke up from sleeping through my class in a groggy and mind-altered state. I checked my phone and not five seconds later found myself reading what he sent to me this morning: “I’m sorry to hear about what happened last night.”
Just like how my day was ruined, so was my night. I pulled leftover rice and chicken from my fridge and put it into the microwave. The minutes turned into seconds, just as the Winter turns into Spring, and… ding! My dinner was served, but without the sweet and sour sauce that normally accompanies the chicken. I must have thrown it away last night.
I walked back into my room and start eating, at a time well before dinner should be, and I thought back to the night before. I thought back to the wine, the smile, and I thought back to the door. In that doorway not even a day before, I was so ready to die. What caused me to sober up and get down from the chair I can’t remember, but I remember it sure as hell wasn’t the cold. Maybe it was my degree, maybe it was my friends, hell, I probably just didn’t like the feeling of not being able to breathe when I put too much weight on the belt.
I ate my rice and read tomorrow’s homework assignment with about as much enthusiasm as a girl could in that situation. After drinking myself into a doorway the night before and texting my ex-boyfriend for help, I sat silently pondering what I should make of the rest of my semester. I hadn’t even completed two weeks of classes and I was already this low. How could I continue?
I couldn’t continue this way, obviously. I shoveled rice into my mouth and thought about how much I missed the Spring. How I desperately wanted to feel warm again. It’s a motivating factor, I think. The cold. No one wants to stay in it too long, so they go someplace warm. I need to go someplace warm.