“Okay, I love you, bye.” I said to my mom. I closed my silver flip phone and put it into my backpack pocket. Even though mom and dad had come up to visit this past weekend, I still missed them so much. This was the first time that I was away from home, and I felt it every single day. Even though St. Louis wasn’t that far away, for me it was an eternity from my cozy home, parents, dog Peppino, and little brother Giuseppe. Surprisingly, it seemed like a lot of people from St. Louis came to Dominican. Like me, they wanted to be somewhere that wasn’t too far away from home, and wasn’t too close. The Chicago suburban Catholic college was a perfect fit for me, but still, it wasn’t home.
I sat on a bench outside of the dorms and watched kids my age walk from the dorms into the cafeteria for dinner. Classes had ended for me around 3:30, and I had been working on an art project in the art lab since then. Since cell reception is so horrible in the buildings, I decided to come outside to call my mom and take a breather from painting for the evening.
The coolness of October was finally here, and in River Forest, it was so much more prominent. The trees surrounding the campus were filled with bright oranges, golds, and reds, and fell from the trees in great heaps around the campus. I finally was able to crack open my Uggs that my mom had bought me for the chilly Chicago winter. I looked down at them and clicked them together like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz.
“Bianca Marchese!” my friend Alexis shouted as she walked out of the dorms. Alexis lived down the hall from me, and was from Wisconsin. “Want to get dinner?” As she walked towards me, she clicked her flip phone shut.
“Sure,” I responded as she approached me. Alexis was a beauty with soft dirty blonde hair and green eyes. She was a Wisconsin girl through and through with her All- American looks and Midwestern charm.
I got up and met her near the door of the cafeteria.
“I really hate this food,” I said.
“Yeah, everybody does,” she responded. Dominican was known for its horrible food. “I have night class, so this will have to do. Otherwise, I was going to say we could go out to dinner.”
“I can’t keep going out to dinner,” I laughed. “Not only will I go broke, but you will have to roll me to my classes.”
“Okay, skinny mini.” We walked into the bustling cafeteria. It was packed with students. There were rumors that director Chris Columbus used to live down the street from Dominican growing up, and based Hogwarts off of Dominican. Our cafeteria mirrors the Grand Hall exactly, with an old world feel, a high ceiling, with columns and statues.
Alexis and I got our trays and sat down with our food. Today’s menu was Salisbury steak, potatoes, and broccoli. Potatoes and broccoli were good, but I wasn’t too keen on Salisbury steak.
“Well, I guess it’s potatoes and broccoli tonight,” I said to Alexis.
“I hate broccoli,” she said, making a face. “I guess my dinner is just potatoes.”
“At least the dessert is good.” For some reason, the cookies and cakes were always on point, unlike the food.
“What are your plans tonight?” Alexis asked, as she dug into her potatoes.
“I don’t know. Probably go to the library and work on my bio project. I’m going to try to crank it out tonight, so I won’t have homework this weekend.”
“What a good student,” she laughed.
The dining hall began to die down, as students began to shuffle to their 6:00 night classes.
“I gotta go,” Alexis said, taking one big bite of her potatoes. “See you later, babe.”
Again, I was alone. College was fun, but also very lonely. At home when when my brother and I were finished with our homework, my family would have our drink coffee and watch TV together every night. My mom would make home cooked meals, and our house was always warm and cozy. Living in the dorms, they were always drafty, and not the least bit homey. Most of the time I was eating alone, doing homework alone, or watching a movie alone. Sometimes I didn’t think college was all that it was cracked up to be. I sighed, and put my pink book bag over my shoulders. I picked up my tray and put it put it away, and walked to the library to begin hours of homework.
I found a table in the back of the library, and put my book bag on the table. I took out my notebooks, iPod, biology book, pens, and laptop.
“Mind if I join you?” I jumped. The voice came from behind me, and was a boy’s voice. Startled, I turned around. A boy with tan skin, dark curly hair, and deep black eyes stood behind me. He was smiling a wide smile, with perfect, straight white teeth. “Do you mind if I join you?” he asked again.
“Um, sure.” I moved my stuff out-of-the-way so he could sit down.
“Thanks.” He put his book bag down on the table and took out a notebook, a book, and some pens. “I’m Theo.” He stuck out his hand and I shook it.
“Hey. I’m Bianca.”
“I can’t tell you my last name.”
“Because you’re a stranger.” Theo burst out laughing. I cracked a smile. There was no way I was going to tell some random guy with a killer smile my last name. I didn’t even know him.
“Do you even go to Dominican?”
“Nope. I leave for basic training in July. From now until then, I’m taking courses at a community college. I come here at night to use the library or else I wouldn’t get anything done at my house.”
“I have five siblings. It’s too hectic.”
“Is that why you’re joining the military?”
“Hell, no. I’m joining the Marines because I love America and I want to help out.” He smiled again. “What’s your major?”
“Fashion,” I lied. I didn’t want to tell him I was an education major.
“So when you graduate you’re going to learn how to be fashionable?”
This time it was my turn to laugh. “No. I’m learning how to sew… and stuff.”
“Sounds life changing,” he teased.
“Well, I have to do homework,” I stressed. I put my ear buds in my ears and started to listen to Danity Kane.
Do, do you, have a first aid kit handy? I bobbed my head slightly as I listened to “Damaged.” I looked down at my notebook, avoiding Theo’s eyes. I knew he was staring at me.
“What?” I finally asked, pulling out my ear buds.
“Nothing, you’re cute.”
“Can I please just do my homework? Seriously, this is ridiculous. I have a huge biology project due on Tuesday, and I want to finish it.”
“May I remind you that it’s Wednesday?” he chuckled. “Are you always this uptight?”
That was it. I scooped up my books and began to walk to another table.
“Wait, wait, come on, please don’t go,” he said stopping me. “Let me buy you some frozen yogurt down in the cyber cafe.”
His eyes met mine. I knew I wanted to get my work done, but this was beyond tempting. Frozen yogurt with this hot guy, or biology homework by myself in a library. I shook my head, hoping I wouldn’t regret this.