On an odd weekend near the end of fall semester Talia ate alone. Until then, Shook University had been the busiest place she'd known. Any corner she turned greeted her with life. Students playing board games, practicing instruments, going out to meals together, or preparing to head out to a party. But this weekend caught her by surprise. Maybe it was because there was no football game or because the weather was too cold, too dreary. Or maybe it was because the students were finally fatigued with staying on campus weekend after weekend. Many girls on her floor had murmured desires of visiting home sooner than Thanksgiving. But she hadn't expected so many of them to leave. It wasn't until Friday arrived that she felt it.
Talia was eating alone. The pop music sounded louder without the usual chatter of the lunch rush. She drank tea while staring out into the gently falling snow. After her meal, a dessert, and two extra cups of tea, she was surprised by how quick a meal eaten alone was. She thought of getting a third cup of tea, but had to pee when she stood up to grab it. Instead she left and went into her room.
Outside her window was the same gentle snowfall. Her room was on the third floor looking out into the courtyard. It was one of her favorite parts of living at Shook. But she couldn't stand being in her room alone. She tried watching Netflix but found herself constantly checking out her open door for someone who might want to talk with her. What would they do together? She was down for anything. She would even go to the caf again and have a second lunch if they were hungry. But nobody she wanted to talk to walked by. It was just the RA or some shy girls that she didn't enjoy speaking with. Talia ended up going to the living spaces downstairs.
She brought her headphones so that she could watch Netflix out in the community space. She had walked by plenty of guys sitting in these spaces watching TV or playing video games on their laptops. Usually sipping on some sugary drink and digging their claws into a bag of greasy snacks. She had never understood the appeal. But now as she sat down at a lounge chair with her laptop and headphones she begun to understand. As soon as she sat down she thought it was a good time for a snack. Maybe another hot tea from the snack shop right beside the community space.
When she returned with her snacks and tea she felt a tingle of excitement. Even though she wasn't talking with anyone she would be sitting in this space alongside other people. Something about sharing the space even if they weren't talking made her feel more alive. She turned on her show and even the show now felt better. She washed her show down along with her salty popcorn and jasmine green tea. Sometimes she would notice a guy across the room glancing at her and she would glance back. They either returned their gaze to the book or laptop in front of them or cocked their head around the room making it look like they hadn't been gazing at Talia. That she had simply been in the crossfire of their roomscan.
Later a shy girl from her hall entered the community space. Talia looked at her and smiled without saying a word. The shy girl carried a bag of vinegar almonds and a Macbook. After she sat down and opened the Macbook she looked back at Talia and smiled. Then she munched on her almonds and shifted her gaze into her Macbook.