She smiled broadly, which seemed strange against the background noise of my angry rant. I had just gotten the news that the first fancy, formal dance at my college had sold out of tickets before my boyfriend could secure them for us. I was mad he had blown what I imagined would be a super fun night of getting drunk in more expensive clothing and eating a dinner not consisting of cereal.  The campus had been abuzz with people talking about renting hotel rooms downtown and playing the role of grown-up, classy couples instead of children five minutes out of high school indulging in a prom do-over. 2365103

“Why are you smiling?” I asked, confused by her apparent joy at my dismay and disappointment. She couldn’t really be happy because I was dismayed and disappointed, could she?
“I don’t have a date,  and if I can’t go I don’t want anyone to go” she answered, matter-of-factly, like a child declaring an anthill hers to genocide. Her blunt candor was not new, she once came away from a relative who had brought her newborn infant to visit, smelled her sweater and said with disgust, “yech, I hate the smell of babies,” but it seemed too ridiculous to take seriously.

We were bound by geographical convenience – she lived in the dorm room next to mine – and that naive tendency of youth to believe everyone you know should be your friend. She had an icy rigidity that knew no compromise, five o’clock meant five o’clock and if you were late she left without you, always with at least one minion by her side ensuring that while you may be eating dinner alone, she would not.

She told me, time and again, who she was. Directly and without apology.
“I slept with my best friend’s boyfriend in high school but everyone did stuff like that.”
“I know you need toner to print out your paper but I’m not giving you any of mine.”
“I don’t want you at the party because I want to be the center of attention.”

Late one night cramming for midterms I read from flash cards, quizzing her rapid fire across the room until her answers were quick and precise.
“Ok” I said, gathering up the slips of cardboard like a Vegas blackjack dealer, “now you ask me.”
“Nope” she replied, hopping up from her lounging position on my bed, “I’m going to sleep.”
I looked up in time to see the back of her pajama leg as it walked out the door, which closed softly behind her.

She told me who she was, why did my skull remain thick and impervious to reason? I settled myself in my chair and pulled my notebook onto my lap, stifling a yawn as I began to read.

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