Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, sometimes both. Some things we don't think can happen to us, but they do; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and these things we rarely forget.
The day I met Erin Crawford was one of them. She was everything I was not--pretty, friendly, and at home within herself. I, on the other hand, was rather gangly, too tall for my own good, with a tendency towards antisocialness. I don't like people getting close to me, but for some reason, she would be the sole exception.
I will never understand why the Dearest Goddess had to take her away so soon.

I was none too popular at Squire College. It was a small, private school in the Northeast, where the summers were a little too short, the winters too long and cold, and the brief heat in July drenched a person to the bone. The smart kids always came here, and my SAT scores had been at the lower end of the school's scale, meaning I was always struggling to keep up with the whiz kids of foreign born astrophysicists and brain surgeons. Their parents were filthy rich due to their endeavours and spoiled their kids, and how I even got into this college is still a mystery.
They were prolific--there was nowhere to avoid them. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all through the halls, throughout the clubs, even in the library, the brats held their noses high and never bothered to hide their disdain for me.
I disdained them equally much, if not more. I opened my cargo pants and grabbed my package of cigarettes, taking one neatly out of the box, shutting it, and putting it back in my pocket, snapping it shut. I twirled the cigarette in my hand for a few minutes before fishing my lighter from my pants pocket, flicking it against my leg, and holding the sacred flame to the end, holding it there until it caught the cigarette and turned it aglow; satisfied that the white cigarette was now a gently burning orange beacon, I put the lighter away from where it came from. Inhaling, I took a deep drag, and let it go out my mouth, smoldering like a dragon's breath. At least no one ever disturbed me at the pond.
Lindberg Pond was sequestered at the remote end of campus, surrounded liberally by majestic oak giants that stately stood their ground and guarded the keep from the ungrateful masses. The college had been getting intense pressure from nearby developers to either drain and develop the land or sell it to them, but the Board refused to let them touch the corner of nature that they tightly held onto. I feared that one day the pressure would overwhelm them and my refuge would disappear, but I was determined not to worry about the future, only worry about the present.
The sounds of owls leaving their roost announced that it would soon be too dark to see outside. I hated to see the dusk end; it meant I'd have to go back to face the brats that were a poison to the campus. Alas, there was always morning.
I took the deepening lavendar sky as my cue to leave, and I plodded back down the soft earth and moss trail, my black boots not making narry a sound (I had learned to walk silently long ago--if one rolls their foot inward, the volume of the footstep goes down immensely.) My eyes struggled to see the ground ahead, and I had not a fighting chance when one of the wooden guards decided to trip me with a boot.
Whoosh...thunk! I felt gravity pull me down like an undertoe, and I was uncermoniously deposited in the soft dirt, my face rubbing against the moss on the side of the trail. I laid there in shock for a moment, until my wrist started to pulse.
"Ah, shit," I cursed under my breath as it protested the rough landing. "Mother of God," I continued on my heretical rampage. Get up, dummy. You're loosing valuable daylight, I told myself, propping myself up on one knee and rising to walk the rest of the way to the dorms, hopefully scrape-free.
A wave of dizziness overtook my senses when I stood fully erect, and I put my hand out to balance myself against a tree until I regained my senses. Too late I realized it was the wrist I had hurt and it protested again, sending sharp pangs up to my shoulder. "FUCK!" I cursed, not bothering to keep it under my breath.
I saw something illuminate against the brush out of the corner of my eye, and whirled my head around to figure out where it came from. Great, like my evening couldn't get any worse. Let me guess, the university cops?
A short young woman emerged from the bend in the path, and gasped when she saw me, just as startled to see me as I was to see her. The flashlight was pointed at me, so I couldn't make out most of her features, but she had shoulder length honey blonde tresses and a flannel shirt on. Her eyes focused on my injured wrist. "You okay?"
"Just dandy," I said, hiding the injured member.
She simply scowled at me. "Sure. Hold it out."
Like a recalcitrant child, I did. I winced as she touched it. "You are not okay," she scolded me. "You got a flashlight?"
"Uh, no..." I said, an embarrassed smile creeping along my face.
"Then it serves you right. Come on, let's get back before it gets any darker."
The walk was silent; she couldn't stop yawning, and my wrist was aching more the closer I got to the dorms. I took off my jacket and wrapped it around my wrist to immobilize it, feeling the emerging autumn chill send the hairs on my arm on edge.
I looked at her again, to see eyes that were growing impatient. I vaguely recalled mumbling. "Uh, I beg your pardon, I didn't hear what you said."
"I said, which dorm do you live in?"
"Wheaton Hall." I thought she was just making small talk, but was surprised to watch her follow.
"You live there too?"
"No," she replied.
"Then where do you live?"
"Griffin Hall."
"You already passed your turn off."
She shrugged. In the better light of the security lamps, I could make her face out better: soft and feminine, disarming and friendly, very unlike my hard, angry scowling face that held little warmth. I told pride in my cold look and unwavering jaw, but under her scrutiny I wished for once that I knew some other way to be than pertepually angry. "I know," she said.
I don't know why she took the time to lumber out to the furthest dorm at Squire. I couldn't help but feel guilty. "Really, I'm fine. It's just a little sprain."
"I'll leave you alone then," she said, softly. I turned, her eyes not meeting mine.
"Uh..." I couldn't seem to say anything, as I watched the blonde in flannel walk away. Nice going, asshole! I yelled at myself. Alone in front of Wheaton Hall, I turned to face the door, sticking my key in to open it and slip in. I didn't even get your name.

I sat in my bed, trying to ignore my roommate and her boyfriend. Although they had a curtain between them and I, I still was none too fond when she brought him over to screw. Why did I put up with this? I didn't know, and feeling irritable in part due to my aching wrist, which I had a bag of ice over, I felt my temper boil over when I heard his voice in the hallway.
"This is not a fucking motel room, people," I growled to myself, frantically rushing to find the words to let them know I wasn't in the mood to put up with their animal sex for half the night. If only I hadn't been a doormat in the first place, I wouldn't be facing this, would I?
I heard the keys unlock the door, and took a deep breath, bracing myself for the encounter.
"You got the strawberry kiwi lube, right, Seth?" she asked him, not bothering to remove her grip around his neck.
"Of course I got your favorite, sweety," he said, pawing her breasts. The display was distasteful enough to make even a straight woman puke.
I let out a melodramatic sigh. "Lisa, if you and Seth are going to be having sex, you could at least spare me the courtesy of having to be in the same room when you guys go at it."
"I didn't realize it was bothering you," she managed to mumble between Seth's rough kisses.
"Well, it is."
"The hall's quiet," she told me.
"Good. Go out there."
"I meant you."
I was worried about finding the words to defend myself, but the rude tone she took put my defenses on autopilot. "No, Lisa. No fucking bloody way in Hell. I pay to live in this room too, and if I'm in the room when you and your boy toy want to do the nasty, take it elsewhere!"
"Bitch," she snorted before looking at Seth. "The dyke won't let us have a little fun. Let's go elsewhere." Her polite way of departing was to slam the door as hard as she could, rattling the windows.
"Brat. Daddy's little girl always has to have her way, doesn't she?"

Being met with the RA in near midnight was her revenge. I had been asleep for an hour when she pounded the door. "OPEN THE DOOR!" she yelled, followed with more hard raps that I was certain was going to leave scuff marks on her knuckles. I groggily came to my senses, and clamored out of bed, opening the door and wincing as the fluorescent hall lights wreaked havoc with my dilated pupils.
"Good evening, Mary. Did I wake you up?"
Nah...the light's off and I'm just looking half asleep for no good reason. "Yes."
"Your roommate here complained you wouldn't let her in," the RA told me.
I sighed, aggravated. Lisa hid behind my rather portly RA, peaking over her shoulder every once in a while to see if I was getting irritated yet or not. "I never said she couldn't come in," I flat out told the RA.
"That's bullshit!" Lisa protested, ducking away from her cover. "You told Seth and I to get lost!"
My RA, April Blaine, turned around. "Lisa, you haven't told me the whole story. Let's get this straight. Lisa, what happened?"
"I came home, and Mary was reading when she told me to fuck off."
"Was Seth with you?"
"That has nothing to do with--"
April interrupted her. "Yes or no?"
"Alright. And what next?"
"I left."
"Anything else happen after that?"
"I told you."
April turned to me. "I want to hear your side of the story."
Middle of the night mediation sucks. I'm seriously considering switching rooms as soon as possible--ugh, I can't believe I'm going to have to wait a month for that to happen. I sighed, rubbing sleep from my eyes.
"Explain it," Lisa snarled.
April gestured at her to hush.
"She is right in that I was reading when she came home and that she had Seth along. What she doesn't mention is that she doesn't even leave me the courtesy of not being in the room when they go at it."
April nodded. Lisa was livid.
"My sex life is none of the public's business!"
"Oh really?" I baited her. "If that's so, you'd wait until I wasn't in the room to fuck his brains out!"
"ENOUGH!" April yelled over the two of us, taking a breath. "I'm scheduling you two to see Elise first thing tomorrow to sort out your differences, alright!" Elise Watt was our Residence Hall Coordinator, a step above RA. From April's tone of voice, both of us knew not to argue.
"When tomorrow?"
"When is your first class?"
"Ten," Lisa told her. "I can be there by nine."
"I have an eight o'clock and can't be free until noon," I told April.
"I have a noon and one o'clock class."
"I have a two o'clock class," I replied. "Then I'm free for the rest of the day."
"Same here."
April yawned, then said, "So three o'clock tomorrow afternoon I'll schedule it."
"Sounds good," I told her. Maybe she can bend the moving out rule to my advantage...
"Alright," she said.
"Good. Behave like adults, you're in college now," April scolded us before leaving.
"What nerve she has!" Lisa protested at her tone of voice.
"Oh, please, we were both asking for it," I sharply bit back.

I opened my eyes to glare at the alarm clock. Six. Perfect. I slipped out of bed, quietly got dressed, and headed out to the pond to watch the sunrise. It was my favorite time of day, no one was out to disturb the peace.
I felt my black boots softly pad along the mossy trail, like velvet to my feet. It was still fairly dark and I could not be easily seen in my black tshirt save the large Anarchy A emblazoned on the front. I remembered the big root was right after the sharp bend, and paid careful attention, making sure my boot didn't get caught under it again. I had my wrist tightly wrapped in an Ace Bandage, secured with distastefully clashing safety pins (good grief, that unnatural shade of pink they use for the bandage is bad enough!)
Mornings are delightful for writing. I used to keep a journal, but it got to be too bothersome, and after my little sister snooped in it, outing me in front of Mom and Dad without my permission, I was wary about leaving anything the least bit damning around. I was really lucky my parents were liberal at heart, although they did struggle for a while that it was their child and not some random kid with no emotional attachment that turned out that way. At least Becky was so straight and narrow that grandchildren were a guarantee; hopefully the precocious girl wouldn't have them before she graduated high school. She thinks she's so damn invincible, never bothers with any birth control. It's not like Mom and Dad don't know you're the whore of our home town!
I swallowed my heart at that thought. My crush of six years was getting married this month to a twenty one year old man who just got back from a mission in Thailand for the church. At least the distance between Squire College and my hometown back in Minnesota was beginning to ease the pain of the crush, but I still missed home, and to an insane degree, even my sister who seemed to have been born out of Mom's womb hating me.
Maybe that was why the fights with Lisa were so intense. She reminded me of my sister in way too many ways. It was creepy, as if the Cosmic Conscious was determined to throw a taste of home in my face right after I had escaped it. A thought then occurred to me: since our schedules never match until three and I don't get home until eight in the evening, why can't she use that time to fuck Seth?
She'd probably find an excuse like she didn't get turned on until eight thirty in the evening and I was trying to unwind after a long day. She has her perverted way of hitting my buttons, doesn't she?
I wrapped the used pages around the spiral of the notebook and started on a fresh slate; I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the calls of the birds, clearing my mind of the nasty fight with my roommate. Instead I couldn't help but think they were simply mating calls to encourage breeding, and in frustration, I threw my notebook down and yelled bloody murder, scaring the foraging birds out of the thicket and sending a thick black mass as thick as molasses into the morning sky.
"Someone have your feathers ruffled?" someone asked. Startled, I whirled about, ready to yell at them for scaring me when I realized it was the young woman I had ran into last night.
"Whoa, you scared me."
I took a cleansing breath. "I'm Mary Donnelly," I told her, extending my hand. "Are you a regular out here?"
She nodded, "Yes I am." The handshake was broken, and she continued. "I'm Erin Crawford."
"Kind of an ungodly hour to be up, huh?" I said, making a lame attempt at small talk. God I am so socially awkward.
"Depends who you ask." In the emerging sunlight, I could make her features out well. Her skin was well tanned, and her hair had a slight reddish tint that I hadn't noticed last night. She had a small nose, and glittering green eyes, and a face that looked like it belonged in high school.
"Yeah, true. We're probably the only two people up right now."
Erin shrugged. "Probably, although I set my alarm clock sometimes to get up."
I quirked a brow at her. "Set an alarm clock? It is awfully early still."
"Yeah, I'm willing to sacrifice sleeping in to catch a glimpse of Frau Sunne emerge from her Atlantic throne." She saw my notebook in the mud and pointed to it.
"Yeah, I better go rescue it before I can't read my writing," I told her as I bent down to pick it up. The ink had begun to bleed, but at least it was still legible. "Thanks."
She shrugged. "So, what do you like to do out here so early in the morning?" she asked. "I personally like to draw."
"I like writing. It's just me and nature, no people to bother me." I saw her look of uneasy and hastily amended, "No obnoxious preppies, that is."
A grin worked its way to the edges of her mouth. "Very, very true."
"So what do you like to draw?" Careful that you don't start flirting with her--goddess knows, straight women read into all kinds of things wrong!
"Ducks," she said, meandering to the edge of the pond and I following alongside. "They are so at home in both the air and water." She stopped and stood still for a minute, watching the mallard paddle and then dive for her breakfast. "My girlfriend and I agreed we wanted to be ducks in our next incarnation."
"Yeah?" I asked. Cross the 'straight' part out. I guess the flannel gave it away.
"Yeah," she agreed not very enthusiastically.
Even a social idiot like me could tell something was bothering her. "What's wrong?"
"Long distance relationships suck."
"Want to talk about it?"
"I wouldn't want to make you uncomfortable about it. I probably shouldn't have even told you."
"No, no, I'm not offended!" I told her. "You're not making me uncomfortable, and if you need an ear, I'm here, okay?" Where'd that come from?
She looked at me, her eyes having to look up quite a bit to stare up into mine. Being six foot one did have its problems.
"She's trying to convince me that we should be polygamous. She's just found someone prettier than me in Washington to screw!" She gritted her teeth but the tears rebelled despite her wishes, beginning to streak down her face. "She wants her cake and eat it too."
"What do you feel about the whole polygamy issue? Some couples are happy doing that...."
Green eyes looked at me in anger. "Not me."
I put my hands up, and nervously smiled. "Nevermind I mentioned that..." I choked.
She wiped the tears on her flannel sleeve. "It's not the first time Rita's been in a polygamous relationship. And for all I know, she could have been having affairs while we were dating." A pale hue overcame her face. "Goddess knows what she could have given me..."
"Whoa, whoa, you okay?" I asked, alarmed. I reached my good arm out to steady her.
"Yeah." She shook her head, and started ambling down the shore of the pond, with me following alongside. "I can't believe how damn stupid I can be sometimes."
"Does Student Health offer testing?"
"Yeah, it's confidential." She turned her head towards me. "But I've been too scared to do it."
"I'll go with you, if you want." Great. Get yourself tied up in commitments. You think she really gives a fuck?
"I appreciate your offer. Um...I might ask that of you if I can't find the nerve to go in myself. Uh..."
"Hey, it's okay. Remember, I offered."
"Yeah," she said, nodding to herself.
"Need a hug?" Oh stop denying it. She charmed the pants off you, dummy. Always a sucker for crying girls.
She wrapped her arms tightly around me until I could hardly breathe. I felt her head lean heavily against my breastbone, her head tucked neatly under my chin. "I guess that's a yes," I said lightheartedly.
Tentatively, I wrapped my arms around her waist, feeling her lungs hiccup with sobs. She didn't move for several minutes, save the pained gasps.
She lifted her head off my chest. "I'm sorry for losing control like that. You're probably wanting to wash all those dyke cooties off you, aren't you?"
I laughed. "Like a bath will help. What about my dyke cooties?" I joked. She relaxed, her muscles not so taunt and defensive.
"Thank you for letting cry like a baby, I guess that was what I needed."
Erin grinned at me. "So, what's your schedule like today?"
"Classes from eight till noon, a two o'clock class, and then I have a meeting with the RHC at three--"
"RHC? Whoa, what the heck happened?" Erin asked me.
"My roommate's being a bitch," I muttered off handed.
"What is she doing?"
"She has this habit of not waiting until I am out of the room to start fucking her boyfriend." I whispered, "And they're LOUD."
"Thanks for the mental picture," Erin groaned.
"I'm desperately hoping my RHC will pity me and let me move."
Erin shook her head. "Mary, do you know Elise?"
"No...never met her."
"Don't expect sympathy from her."
"That sums it up."
"So what's your day like?" I asked Erin.
"Got lab from nine to twelve, then a two hour break, then class from two to four."
Without thinking I blurted, "Want to meet for lunch?"
"Sure. When?"
"Twelve fifteen sound good?"
"Sounds great to me."
I looked at my watch. "I probably should head back and get ready for class," I said ruefully.
Erin turned her own watch over, a small digital sportswatch. "It is almost seven."
"Precisely. Between the time it takes to get back to the dorm, eat, and go to class, my hour will be up."
"Yeah. Have fun in class and see you at lunch."
"Sure deal."
"Bye." I walked away, sad the morning was finished (or the good part at least,) but exhilirated that we'd meet at lunch. I waited until I was past the bend to pump my first up and down. Oh dear, you have it bad, the warning bells went off in my head, but I paid them no heed.

Erin had gotten herself sesame chicken over noodles for lunch, I noticed, as she set her ecru colored tray on the table and sat down. "Hello," she greeted.
"Hello," I responded back. "Day been okay so far?"
"Yeah. I've actually felt better today than I have for a while."
"That's good," I said, as I took a bite of my tofu dog. Most of the vegetarians criticized me for eating meat imitations, but the reason I gave up meat was because I don't like the methods they slaughter animals.
Erin pointed to my tofu dog and said, "Did you know that hot dogs contain twice as much fat as protein?"
"Yeah, but this isn't a hot dog."
"Sure looks like one to me," she said, in a non-threatening tone.
"Doesn't taste much different, save the slightly different texture. But even that is neglible."
Curiousity got the best of her. "Could I try a tad?"
"Sure," I said, hopping up and getting a knife and fork. I gave them to her, then sat down.
"I could have gotten them myself," she protested.
I simply put on my best devils grin and said, "My privelege."
"You make it sound like I'm a princess."
"That's because you---" Whoa! Slow down! I chastised myself. That's right, open mouth, insert foot. You're going to scare off one of your few friends!
I looked around the cafeteria. Erin was the closest by far and I had only known her since last night. That was a scary thought that I immediately shoved out of my head.
"Because I what?" Erin asked me, waving her hand. "Earth to Mary..."
"Oh! Sorry."
Erin laughed. "You never finished your sentence."
I scratched my head and pretended I didn't have a clue as to what I was saying right before I stopped talking in fear of putting my foot in my mouth. "So how's your sesame chicken?"
"Really delicious. I'm really glad they have these Oriental noodles instead of that crappy rice they can't cook right."
"Yeah, it's always too dry."
"No amount of soy sauce will allieviate that condition."
She twirled her fork in the noodles and speared a piece of chicken, bringing it to her mouth. Did I mention she even has beautiful lips? I thought dreamily. Wait a damn minute, let's not go there.
I asked, "I noticed you said something like 'oh Goddess' this morning. You pagan?"
She nodded. "One of the few, the proud, the pagan."
I cracked a smile. "Heh heh. It takes balls to be that way at this crackpot college."
"It takes ovaries, dear."
I simply grinned like an idiot. "Yeah."

I returned to my room after lunch, since Erin had to finish her homework for calculus. I should correct myself and say I was about to when I heard noise in my room.
"Harder, Seth, harder! I need to feel you inside!"
"Ugh," he groaned, "you make me horny."
"Oh, yes," she exclaimed. "Yes, yes, hurry, I'm coming!"
I made a hasty retreat out of the dorm, feeling I was about to get sick. Someone played hooky today.
She heard her roommate hit her loud climax two flights down. Oh great Goddess, how embarrassing.

I ducked back in my room right before class, making sure I knocked loudly before I came in lest I interrupt them. I didn't bother waiting for a welcome, I barged in. Warning is good enough. Lisa laid on the bed, contentedly asleep, while Seth lounged around like a proud young lion, a cocky smirk on his face. I bet you he's aiming to make her be heard three flights of stairs down next time.
"Hey, Mary," he said. "Heard the excitement."
"Uh huh, very nice," I mumbled quite contritely.
"Come over here and I'll give you a taste too," he said, shifting position a little bit.
"I decline."
"Oh, come on."
I faced him. "Are you drunk?"
"No," he said. "There's something about you, Mary, that drives me crazy. You think I dream about this ho when I'm coming?"
Just thinking of him getting off thinking about me made me want to vomit. "At least she'll give it to you, cheaply," I told him coldly. "And the answer is, NO."
"Come on, Mary. You afraid?"
"I'm not interested, assface."
"I love it when you give me that cold look," he said, taking his hand and twirling a lock of Lisa's shock of fire engine red hair. "My ten inch wonder's hardening just for you baby..."
I grabbed my bookbag and ran like hell, not caring what I forgot. I ran to the cafeteria before stopping by the bathroom to vomit.

I nervously waited in Elise's office at three o'clock sharp. I wasn't surprised that Lisa was late, but after twenty after, the sharp featured RHC with angry, Medusa like curls, was sick of the waiting game.
"I saw her in her room about an hour ago, she's probably asleep," I told her.
"Fine, go get her," the older woman sighed impatiently. I closed the door behind me.
I ran up the five flights of stairs and knocked on the door. No answer. I guess she's gone. I went ahead and opened the door, and saw Lisa alone in the room, still lying prone on the bed, naked and still as a statue. Something's not right... "Lisa."
No response. "Lisa Marie."
She hates that nickname. I went over and shook her. No response. She's out. I took my hand and checked her pulse. Racing. Bad sign. Taking the phone, I called for help immediately.
The ambulance came fifteen minutes later, the impatient RHC standing over her making sure she was still breathing. Apparently Mrs. Watt got impatient and bothered to climb five flights of stairs to see one of the parties in the mediation was out, cold.
I watched the paramedics take my roommate out on a stretcher, heart monitor attached and bleeping noisily.

I came to the pond earlier than usual, and sat, my eyes unfocused. I had buried a pocket knife in my vest earlier; ever since Seth started talking about his ten-inch wonder I was getting increasingly parinoid he was following me. Get near me and I can guarantee you'll have a one inch wonder instead.
I saw Erin in the distance, and she came over and sat by me.
"Hey yourself," I told her wearily.
"You don't look too good."
"Bad day."
She put a hand on my shoulder. "You're sure tense."
"Yeah. My roommate's boyfriend threatened to come on to me after he fucked her brains out. Maybe quite literally."
I was vaguely aware of the small hands kneading at my tense shoulders. "What do you mean, quite literally?" Erin asked.
"The police found barbituates in her soda, and he had it in his system too. Seems they got high and then had sex. Why he isn't in the hospital I don't know."
"Yeah. They had to carry her out on a stretcher. And Seth...he kept bragging about his ten inch wonder and when he..." I simply stopped, not really in the mood to go on.
"Threatened you..."
"Yeah, I ran like hell."
"Want to go to dinner after this?"
"My stomach's still upset."
"Oh, that sucks."
"I really don't want to go back to my room, either."
"That's understandable," she said, then hitting a particularly hard knot. "Whoa, that's a tough one," she said, her strong, agile hands working on it furiously. I moaned, the relief was immense.
It was also putting me to sleep, and I remember seeing mallard families swimming across the lake, their bodies only silouttes against the sun colored water. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and told me to relax.
"I am relaxed," I mumbled.
"Shh, it's okay. Just lean back."
The last thing I remember was 'don't fret, i got a flashlight, go to sleep.'

It was completely dark outside when I awoke. I panicked for a moment, thinking Seth had abducted me, and elbowed the foreign body behind me hard. Only too late did I realize that was Erin behind me, not Seth.
"You okay?" I asked, whirling about, my eyes wide with concern.
"Some way to wake a lady," Erin complained, rubbing her side.
"I am so, so sorry," I apologized and pleaded to her. "I didn't know where I was and for a moment my nightmare returned and I thought you were Seth."
Green eyes tried to stay angry with me, but bent over in pain. It was agonizing to see her hurt like that.
"Erin, maybe we should get that checked out."
"No, no, I'm okay," she said, gasping.
"Bullshit, you get checked out. I am so sorry."
"I heard you the first time. I'd be freaked out if I had some ass on my tail too."
I flipped over my watch. "Eight thirty."
"We've been out here for a while."
I nodded. "Yeah. Maybe we should go back."
"Very good idea." I got up, and lent a hand, carefully lifting her up with both hands as best I could, considering my wrist, and we walked back. Somewhere along the walk she managed to sneak an arm around my waist.
"He has you that freaked? I'm so sorry."
"I put up with him when I shouldn't have," I corrected her. "What you don't correct at first haunts you later."
"How were you supposed to know?"
"Looking back I could see signs he was interested in me--"
"We all see things in hindsight, Mary," Erin corrected me. "We can't be perfect. Life dishes us out lemons; we have to make the lemonade."
All too soon we hit the junction where Wheaton Hall went one way and Griffin the other. I swallowed my spit. I'm a grown up, I can go back there. I gritted my teeth. You will do it...
"Want to come over to my room? I got the Gladiator DVD," she said. "That is, if you're into action movies," she said, trying to hide her insecurity.
"I'll take you up on the offer."