I Can't Imagine Being Anywhere Else

Chapter 2

"You’ve got nothing to lose

Except for me and you.

And I don’t want that attitude

When you know I can do,

I’ll do better than you.”

The next morning I groaned as an annoying beeping filled my room. I rolled over and squinted at the digital alarm clock sitting on my desk, seeing it flashing the time. Seven AM, and time for me to get up unless I wanted to be late for my first day of classes.

I got up and stumbled into the bathroom for a shower. All of the dorms had terrible water heating, meaning that it took forever and a day to turn cold water into hot. But finally it didn’t feel so much like ice and I stepped in, sighing and relaxing under the warm spray. I started in quickly on washing my hair and body. When I was finished up and had sung one or two songs, I got out and grabbed a towel to dry off with, slipping it around my waist and making my way back to my room. It always took me a while to pick out an outfit for a day, which was partially why I got up so early. Class didn’t start until nine. Finally I settled on black skinnies and a button down light blue shirt, topped with my favourite pair of Vans.

I walked out of my room and headed towards the kitchen. The clinking of kitchenware could be heard, so I knew Austin was already up and cooking breakfast. He was definitely a morning person. That was really nice because it meant I never had to prepare breakfast. I was a terrible cook.

“Hey, Kells. Ready for an awesome first day?” Austin said, grinning at me from across the kitchen. I rolled my eyes and sank down into a chair where a hot cup of coffee was waiting for me.

“Totally.” I replied in a flat tone as I took a sip of the coffee. Two sugars and no cream, just how I liked it. I swear, I couldn’t have ever gotten a better roommate.

Austin smiled faintly and flipped the pancakes he was cooking. “Well today shouldn’t be too bad. Most of the professors will be doing introductions to their courses.” He said and got out the butter and syrup, placing both at the middle of the small table that cantered our kitchen.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” I said with a nod and a huge yawn.

Austin served the pancakes on plates and slid one in front of me. “Eat up.” He instructed, sitting down in a chair and pouring a ton of syrup all over his pancakes. I took the time to butter mine, put syrup on them, and then heat them in the microwave. I hated room temperature syrup. Disgusting.

“I don’t know why you have to heat it up. It just makes the pancakes all mushy right away.” Austin mumbled, watching me as I heated the food for 10 seconds exactly and then took it out.

“Because cold, gross syrup is not my thing.” I answered as I sat down and started in.

Austin shrugged and stood up, already finished. He put his plate in the sink and grabbed his bag and phone. “I have to go. Meeting Jack and Alex before class.” He said, giving me a little wave before disappearing.

Jack and Alex were two of our friends, sophomores this year, and they were the type of couple who were always making out in public. They were very open about their sex life, too, and Austin and I had basically grown accustomed to them and their dirty inside jokes.

I finished my pancakes and then stacked my plate on top of Austin’s in the sink before going to get my bag. I made sure I had all my materials and then left, deciding to take a walk around campus because it was only eight thirty.

The campus was huge, and beautiful. There were different buildings for different classes, a main hall which included a giant library, lockers, cafeteria, and office; and finally the dorm buildings to house the students that lived here. Surrounding the whole area was a couple acres of land. The grass was always green and kept cut short, and the gardeners (or whatever they were called) paid a lot of attention to making sure everything looked nice.

I was walking around just admiring the whole place when I heard someone shout my name. Looking up, I saw a petite girl waving to me. I grinned as I immediately recognized this girl. She was my best friend, Cindy Vella.

“Hey, Cindy!” I called, jogging over. She met me half way and jumped into my arms. I grinned and picked her up off the ground, spinning her around in a circle.

Cindy and I had been friends since our senior year of high school, though we never actually went to school together. I met her at a ski resort in Colorado on Christmas vacation. She was an excellent skier. I found it terribly hard to make friends, but she was always putting herself out there and came up to me, asking if I wanted to get hot chocolate. I hesitantly accepted and it was BFFs from there on out.

“Kellin! God, I can’t believe it’s you!” Cindy exclaimed as I set her down. She looked me over and smiled. “You’ve gotten taller, I see.”

I might have, but she looked exactly the same. Small and happy, with strawberry blonde hair that had more blonde, wide light hazel eyes, and a thin scar running above her right eyebrow from riding her bike into a tree when she was seven.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m still only 5’7.” I said, making her laugh. She loved to make fun of my height, even though she was only 5’3 and hadn’t grown since eighth grade.

“Where’s Austin?” Cindy asked curiously. I was used to her asking this because I knew she had a little crush on him.

“He went out early with Jalex.” I answered, using the combined name for Jack and Alex because they were always together.

Cindy nodded and we started walking side by side. It was kind of nice having someone with me, especially my best friend. Cindy always made me feel important and put me in a good mood. She could murder everyone in the world and still win my over with that dazzling smile of hers… Maybe that was a bad thing.

“So, how was your summer?” I asked after a minute of silence. Cindy seemed to think about it and then shrug.

“It was alright. Nothing too eventful. I went to some parties and visited my sister in Maine.”

I nodded. “You probably had more fun than I did. I stayed home and did absolutely nothing the whole three months.” I said with a disappointed sigh.

“That means we’ll have to make this year extra interesting to make up for the lost time. I’m getting a feeling we’re going to have a crazy experience.”

I smiled a little and shook my head. We rounded a corner and walked into the main building on campus, looking around at the familiar atmosphere. It was chilly inside and made me wish I had brought a sweatshirt. Cindy was wearing a tank top and seemed to be unfazed by the temperature of the room. She kept walking, quickly taking everything she’d seen before back in.

“I gotta say that I’ve missed this place. No matter how boring the professors.” Cindy said, turning back to glance at me because I trailed behind. I nodded in agreement and continued to follow her upstairs.

On the second floor there was a small café, the library, and lots of classrooms. Cindy and I had a habit of getting caffeinated for the day because we both stayed up way too late to survive on sleep only. I figured that’s where she was leading me, and I was right. We walked into the café and instinctively breathed in the spicy scent of coffee brewing and croissants baking. I relaxed a little and walked up to the counter, not needing to look at the menu to know what I wanted. Cindy ordered first and then I did. We were the only two in the store so far. The barista made our drinks and I paid, Cindy going to get a booth. I followed her and slid into one side, she the other.

We were silent for a couple moments as we sipped our hot drinks. Finally, the petite girl across from me spoke.

“You know, I met this boy…”

I nearly spit out my drink. Cindy met someone other than Austin? And cares enough to bring them up?!

I quickly composed myself when she gave me a cold look. Coughing, I tried to smile and urge her to go on.

She looked down at the table and then back up to me. “He’s odd, though. I didn’t even catch his name. We bumped into each other downtown last night and he said that he’d seen me around. Weird, right?”

Oh, so she didn’t mean what I’d thought by ‘I met this boy’.

I nodded. “Yeah, very. And you don’t remember him at all? Nothing?”

Cindy shook her head in dismay. “No. Honestly, Kellin, I don’t know him. He had this little smirk, too, and it made me feel like I was at fault for not knowing him.”

“I hate those type of people. Point him out to me if we see him.” I said and she nodded.

Ten minutes later we left, having to part ways now because it was time for our first classes. Cindy promised she’d stop by later and we walked in opposite directions. I had to admit, I was extremely nervous to start a new school year. I’d done this so many times but yet it still managed to make my stomach do flips. My first course of the day was Advanced Drawing and Painting, which excited me because one of my favourite things to do besides singing and song writing was draw. I had a sketchbooks filled with dark lead on paper, creating images of everyday things I would see. Some drawings were completely meaningless and others held a piece of my mind in them. An artist’s work is spontaneous, and I was no exception.

I found the classroom quickly and walked in. It was very open and spacious, with artwork everywhere. Some was from professional artists and others by the students. Everything was so colourful and the whole room was just a mess. I loved it.

Students were starting to file in, putting down their book bags and grouping together at random tables. So far I didn’t know anyone, so I picked an empty table and sat down, sliding my current sketchbook out of my bag. Suddenly I felt and saw someone sit down across from me. Looking up, I couldn’t believe who I was seeing.

It was Vic from the music store, grinning that stupid grin at me.

“Hey. Mind if I join you?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at me. Something told me that no matter what my answer was, he was joining me.

When I didn’t speak, Vic did. “Thanks, I don’t really know anyone here. But I know you. What’s your name again? I don’t think I caught it last night.”

I kept one arm over my sketchbook, feeling like Vic would be the kind of person to just take it and flip through it like it was no big deal.

“Kellin Quinn.” I said. I was trying to sound nice, but my tone didn’t mask my annoyance.

Vic nodded thoughtfully. “Interesting name. You sound like an artist. That’s probably why you’re in here, right? To become an artist? Well it’s not why I’m in here. I don’t even like art. I hate it, to be honest. But I need to go to school for something and this seemed like the less painful choice.” He paused and I opened my mouth to speak, but at the last second he continued. “My father wanted me to go to be a lawyer but I said ‘fuck that!’. I don’t want to be some boring ass lawyer. Or an artist.”

I stared at Vic, unsure of what to say. He smiled at me.

“I’ve heard the professor is really boring and doesn’t care about grades. Apparently she just lets you do what you want as long as you turn in your assignments on time.”

“Oh… Um, that’s great.” I answered, my voice sounding strangely alienated. What was wrong with this guy?

Thankfully the professor walked in then, leaving Vic and me silent. She introduced herself and pretended to take attendance, before using up half the hour to explain the course and the curriculum. Almost everyone looked like they were about to fall asleep, but Vic paid close attention, looking more awake and alert than the twenty other students put together.

I rolled my eyes slightly and opened my sketchbook, pulling my legs up against the table in front of me and leaned the book on my thighs, sketching away a picture of the art room. I tried to capture every detail, but it was hard because there was just so much to notice. I felt discouraged and blind when I missed something, and used my eraser a lot more than usual. Across from me, Vic was surrounded by cups of different coloured paint. He had a sheet of printer paper in front of him that he was covering in paint, using long strokes of a thing paintbrush. It was painfully horrific to watch, so I tried to keep both my central and peripheral vision on what I was doing.

“How’s this?” Vic asked, holding up the paper. I forced myself to look so I wouldn’t seem rude. It was soggy and filled with globs of paint, the colours not complimenting each other in the least. There was no pattern, and no talent. Just a blur of lines.

“Great.” I lied, looking away. I caught Vic with a knowing smile before looking back to my drawing.

“I’m glad you like it, because I’m giving it to you.”

My head snapped up, eyes slightly wider than before. “That’s really not necessary… We, um, hardly know each other. You should keep your artwork.” I said with a little nod, trying to seem convincing. Vic just shook his head.

“I insist. I don’t have anyone else to give it to.”

Finally I gave an inward sigh and accepted the sorry excuse for a painting. “Well, thank you…” I said as Vic slid the ‘work’ over to me. He nodded and got up to find something else to do. We didn’t speak the rest of the class period, both of us keeping to ourselves. When it was time to leave, Vic packed up and walked out, but I stayed behind to clean up the mess of paint he’d managed to get on the table. While doing so, I stared at the painting he’d given me and reviewed our weird encounter. It was really irritating me, and I knew it would only get worse. Though I would have to lest I drop the course, I was definitely not ready to go through this every day. I just hoped Vic would choose leave me alone.
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Happy Holidays!