Wind shakes the strongest branches on the trees. Rain pounds on everything around me. The clouds go from white to gray suddenly for miles.
The hurricane approached me quickly and quietly. It was four years ago. And I’m still ashamed of this stupid fear of storms. This was all running through my mind as I get off the bus. I can’t drive and I still didn’t know if any of my friends were going to King’s College.
It was a rainy day. I was hoping that it was just water, because if there was thunder or lightning I would have a panic attack. Nobody except my closest friends knew. I had made them all swear on their life that they would tell no one else. I’ve had only one attack ever since that horrid experience. I blamed it on over-reacting nerves.
Of course, none of my friends believed me for a minute. But they remained loyal to their promise.
I stare my new school in the face. The dorms are across the street from where I stand. I decide to head there when I get a text from Lafayette.
FrenchFry: Is today your first day in college?
HamSandwich: Yeah. Why?
FrenchFry: I see you.
HamSandwich: ARE YOU STALKING ME? I SWEAR IF I CATCH YOU LOOKING IN MY WINDOW, I WILL KILL YOU!!!
FrenchFry: Mon ami, look up…
I look up and see Laf staring at me like I had just screamed that French people are stupid. “Oh… Hey Laf,” I say nervously.
“Mon ami, it’s good to see us immigrants are still in touch!” he responds cheerfully as I approach him. I’m confused by this until I realize he must be going to King’s College too.
“Cool! Anyone else I should know is coming here?”
“Oh, not too many people. Just Peggy, Angelica, Eliza, Maria, Hercules, John, Burr, Theodosia, Madison, and Jefferson.” Hearing all of my friends names was refreshing, but when he said Jefferson, I became nervous. Thomas was not exactly a friend of mine, nor will he ever be. He always seemed to be against me on every conflict, any word that came out of my mouth he immediately opposed.
“Oh, wow! I can’t wait to see everyone.” I say, pushing my pride aside for a moment. I didn’t have to wait long. As soon as I had put my schedule in my bag and room key in my pocket, I was attacked in a massive hug.
“Alex!” It was Peggy. She was super energetic as usual. “Hey, Peggy,” I say as I try to breath through her monstrous hug. Strength wasn’t exactly my main point. I had more brain power than most of my school, but Pegs was really strong.
We talk excitedly as we go to our dorms. I end up dropping my book bag and it’s contents went spilling all over the floor. I wave Laf and Peggy away, saying that I would text them later. They leave, talking to each other arguing about where French fries came from; Peggy said France, Laf said Belgium.
It took me almost thirty minutes to re-organize my bag. By then, most of the school had taken refuge from the rain in their dorms.
I check my phone for messages. Wow, I think as I see 7 messages from everyone. People text more than I talk. That says alot.
It turns out that Laurens started a group chat.
ClosestFriend: Hey guys! Anyone else going to King’s?
Angel: I’m oddly satisfied that all of us are here!
FireLady: I can’t wait to see everyone!
ClosestFriend: What about Ham?
HamSandwich: I’m here, too. Dropped my stuff. Heading to my dorm now.
I turn off my phone and head up the stairs to the dorms. I’m the first to arrive in my dorm. It only took two minutes to my roommate to arrive.
“Well, if it isn’t Aaron Burr,” I say. “Alexander… I see you’ve recovered…” he says awkwardly, obviously recalling how he shot me in high school.
“Oh, yes. Just some stitches. Warms my heart, though, to see that I share a room with you instead of someone that would actually kill me!” I say sarcastically, but quickly add, “I’m just kidding,” seeing a stern look appear on his face.
“Yeah, sorry about that. And just you wait; we still don’t know who our other roommate is.”
I look at him in confusion. “Another roommate? But there is only two of us. That’s how it’s always been with college, right?” Then the door bangs open. I look over from where I stand by the couch and see the other roommate Burr was talking about. And just my luck.
“Alexander,” said Jefferson as he saw me and sneered. Great. I’m stuck with someone who tried to kill me and someone who hates me for the next nine months.
I check my phone. Three messages from Laurens flash on my screen.
ClosestFriend: Who’s in your room?
ClosestFriend: I got Herc and Laf.
HamSandwich: Don’t laugh…
ClosestFriend: I have a bad feeling about that.
HamSandwich: Have everyone go to your room and we can talk.
I turn off my phone and head towards the door to leave “Where are you going,” asked Thomas coldly. “Out,” I say, just as cold heartedly. Then I step out into the hall.
HamSandwich: Just realized I don’t know what dorm you’re in…
ClosestFriend: LOL. Dorm 777. #Trigger_Number.
HamSandwich: Isn’t that in the next building?
ClosestFriend: Yeah. Your in Building 3, right?
ClosestFriend: Want me to come over instead? I know you don’t like the rain.
HamSandwich: No, I’ll be fine. It’s only, like, ten yards.
ClosestFriend: Okay… If you say so...
Of course. I had to go outside in the rain for those ten yards. It won’t be too bad. It’s not like there is any thunder.
I make it there okay. By the time I arrive at the building, I’m soaking wet. At least I brought my coat, I think. It was just my coat that got wet, though some water soaked through to my shirt, but not enough to make me go back.
“Well, well,” says Laurens as soon as he opens his door. “If it isn’t the man of the hour.”
“Laurens, you just made that really weird. Is everyone here?”
“Yup. Just arrived.” he said, opening the door wider so I could step inside.
It was obvious that everyone already knew what was coming. “Okay, you guys first,” I say in an attempt to get the focus off of me for a moment. I usually don’t mind the attention. I just wanted a moment to think about how to tell everyone I was stuck with Burr and Jefferson.
Angelica and Eliza were in a room together with someone I didn’t know. Peggy was with Maria, who said she couldn’t make it, and Theodosia. Laurens, Herc, and Laf were, of course, roomed together.
“What about you, Alex?” asked Angelica. “Well, let’s just say this will not be a good year,” I murmured angrily.
“What happened? Were you put with Burr or something?” asked Peggy. She meant it as a joke, though. Everybody laughed at it. Except me. And it only took them two minutes of uncontrollable laughter to notice.
“Je ne crois pas cela. You and Burr in a confined space?”
“Who else, Alex?”
“Jefferson.” I say. The room is quiet as if they expected me to say that I was kidding.
“Il n'y a aucun moyen que vous et lui soient dans une pièce ensemble. Il y a sûrement une erreur,” says Laf.
“English, Laf, English,” says Herc. “He said ‘There is no way you and him are actually in a room together. There must be a mistake.’” I say. Good thing I’m fluent in French.
We talk for a little while longer, Peggy and Laf were still arguing about french fries and everyone took sides while I stood by and translated for Laf. He doesn’t speak English very well. He’s still working on that.
Then we decide to go back to our dorms. “Later,” I say as I head out of the dorm.
I get back around 6 ‘o clock. Thomas was reading on the couch. “Where’s Aaron?” I ask.
“I don’t know. Left shortly after you. He never tells anyone anything. I don’t even know where he is, or what he's doing most of the time.”
“I asked him once. I said ‘If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?’ Almost got punched.”
Thomas goes back to his book. “So, who gets the room?” he says, not looking up. It’s true. There are two rooms. Burr had already unpacked and set up a very elaborate study area in one room. He was seeking an accelerated course of study and had to be top of his class.
“Well, we could order a new bed later and rearrange the furniture,” I suggest. “But what about tonight?”
“You can have the bed tonight,” he says. I wonder for a moment if he was really being nice-- no he isn’t. This man is someone who I have never agreed with, ran against me in politics, and will probably try to kill me if I made him too mad.
I grab my bags from where I had left them by the back wall and head into the room without another word. It’s a rather small room. Just a bed, night table, and small dresser. I can work with this.
Thomas came in later. “What’s up?” I ask. “Just wanted to see if you knew where my phone was.”
“Why would I know where your pho--” I’m cut off by the worst thing I can imagine at the moment.
Within that two second boom, memories come flooding back to my mind. Rain pounding relentlessly on my face. I keep getting knock under the water, so deep I can’t reach the bottom, by debris. I sputter as I gasp for air only to be pushed under repeatedly. My lungs slowly fill with water. I call out for help as loud as I can only for my words to be drowned out by the wind. People all around me are dead or drowning with me. My home is destroyed. And I know the world will never be the same.
“S-Storm, d-drowning,” I stutter. I’m vaguely aware that I’m sitting on the bed and Thomas is talking to me. “Alex! Are you okay? Talk to me!”
I can’t talk, though.
I’m having a panic attack.
When I have panic attacks, I usually pass out for a while. I can’t control my breathing without help. Thomas seems to have sensed this, because he does something unexpected. He hugs me.
We sit their hugging far a long time. He rubs my back sympathetically saying things like, “It will be okay.” It is oddly comforting. I continue to sob into his shoulder. I have no idea how long we sit there on the bed, me trying to slow my breathing and him trying to prevent me from passing out.
It takes me a while to calm down. And even then, my breathing is still rapid and my heart about to explode.
“Are you okay?” asks Thomas. I simply nod, still to scared to speak. “What happened?”
It takes a while to get me to talk. And after I finally confess my fear, he just sits there stunned. “Wow. I’m so sorry. That must have been terrible,” he says.
I didn’t even tell him half of it. That writing about the hurricane is what brought me to America. That total strangers raised money for me to get my education. That I can’t swim…
I make him promise not to tell anyone. He agrees. I check my phone for messages. Four new messages flash across my screen.
FrenchFry: Mon ami, can you come back to the dorm? I need to tell you something in person.
FrenchFry: Ham, are you okay? We heard the thunder.
HamSandwich: I’ll be right there. I need to tell you something too.
I turn off my phone, thank Thomas, and turn to leave. But then he grabs my arm and pulls me back on the bed. “Not a word about this to anyone. Got it?” he says. “Whatever,” I say, pulling away. “See you later.”
Thankfully, it has stopped raining. I am completely unaware of where I’m going and end up in front of Laf’s door before I know I even left my room.
I raise my hand to knock when the door flies open. Laurens is standing there. “Finally. Someone with sanity.” he says, rolling his eyes. “Even though you have no chill whatsoever." I step into the room and see Laf and Herc sitting on the couch. “You first,” I say.
Herc talks first. “Well, Laf and I were talking and found out we have a lot in common and we actually like each other. So, we’re dating!”
“That’s great!” I say, bring a look of relief on their faces. “Great! Alors, qu'avez-vous voulu nous dire?” says Laf.
“Oh. I had a panic attack. From the thunder.” They stare at me in disbelief. “Mon ami. Are you okay? You didn’t pass out.”
“Yeah. I’m fine,” deep breath. “Thomas helped me.” Now they really can’t believe it.
“Il n'y a aucun moyen pour lui de le faire. Il te déteste. Qu'a-t-il voulu?” said Laf.
“Nothing, that’s the weird part.”
“He must have wanted something,” said Herc.
“Peut-être qu'il est juste pour vous.”
“No, he is not being nice. This guy disagreed with everything I said, ran against me for high school class president, and--” He also just saved me from a panic attack. I must be blushing, because Laurens, who had been standing in the back of the room mumbled, “I ship it.”
“NO!!! I don’t like him! He isn’t even my friend!” They don’t believe me. “Whatever. I don’t ship it, I’m tired, I’m going to bed.”
But I do stay for a few more minutes. Laf offers to have me stay the night on the couch, which I agree too. “Thanks. I don’t think I can stand to be in a room with him right now..” He simply nods his understanding, too tired to talk.
Two minutes later, I flop down on the couch with a blanket that Laf had found for me. Something isn’t right, I think to myself. I’m not asleep, that’s what’s wrong. I had assumed that after the panic attack and the shock of Jefferson, of all people, helping me that I would fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
That obviously wasn’t the case tonight.
I lay there for hours thinking about today until eventually I fall asleep.
It seems like I had just fallen asleep when I awake with a start. I’m on the floor, face-down. I cry out in pain from the fall before I can stop myself.
Crap, I think. I had fallen off the couch and landed on my face. Laf comes flying out of his room, Herc still snoring gently in their shared bed.
“Est ce que ça va? Tu as un air terrible!”
“I’m fine. Just fell off the couch,” I mumble. The feeling of a warm, thick liquid on my upper lip pulls me short. My nose must be bleeding, I think to myself. I walk over to the kitchen sink and wipe my nose on a paper towel. “What time is it?” I ask Laf.
“Trop tôt. Maybe 4 a.m.”
“English, Laffy Taffy,” says Herc as he comes out of his room, the smile on his face is genuine.
He really does like Lafayette.
“You guys are lucky to be in a relationship,” I say. They stare at me and smile mischievously. “Mon ami, are you and Jefferson still not together?” says Laf teasingly.
“STOP IT!!! I do not like him! We will NEVER get together!”
Laurens comes out of his room, dressed for classes to start. “Sorry. Did I wake you?” I ask him.
“Nah. I had to get up anyway. It takes me awhile to get ready in the morning. Anybody want some coffee while I’m at the store?” Just about everyone says yes to his offer. Except me. “No time for coffee. Gotta go.” I say.
Why am I blushing?
Because it’s John. He understands me. My closest friend. I blame it on the fact that I was just embarrassed for him to see me with blood streaming down my face like that. But the question still burned in my mind: why him?
Class went by pretty quickly. Jefferson was in any just one of my classes (debate class, of all things). But John was in four of my six classes. I was in gym, one of the classes he’s in, when I spotted Peggy across the room. “Hey Pegs,” I say as I walk up to her. “Alex! You’ve met Maria, right?” I see her standing behind Peggy. Her hair is covering one eye and she looks so helpless.
And exactly like Peggy.
“You do realize that you two look almost exactly the same, right?” It was totally true. From the pouty lip to the wavy hair. Almost twins...
“But have you noticed how Jefferson and Laf look alike? And Herc and Madison? And Laurens and Philip? Well, Philip isn’t at this school, but he does look like John.” says Peggy, counting out our friends on her fingers.
Before I can reply, the teacher blew her whistle. “Two teams of two people. First, Alexander and Maria on one team; Margarita (“It’s Peggy!”) and Aaron on the other.”
As I play the game (ug, basketball), I see Laurens smiling at me from across the court. This is what causes the ball to hit me in the face, rendering me unconscious.
Author Notes: I hope you enjoyed! If so, like, comment, favorite, and recommend. I decided to break this up into three new parts, so it'll be shorter. Luv y'all!