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Read My Lips(8)

By:Daryl Banner

“Consider it found,” he murmurs, his lips drawing close to mine.

Then I open my eyes, and I’m all alone in my dorm room again. Evil. My mind is pure evil. The crushing vacuum from my dream’s sudden departure leaves a hole in my chest that I literally, physically clutch at. I shut my eyes and beg to return to where I left off. It felt so fucking real. I try to imagine his face and it’s already gone. I try to feel his touch again and all I feel are bed sheets and my own thumping heart.

Believe it or not, this is the second night in a row that I’ve had this dream. Sunday was an uneventful yet totally necessary day where I got to decompress from the move (still without a roommate), buy my books from the crowded campus bookstore, and then enjoy three totally normal college meals at the Quad cafeteria. I even successfully dodged yet another call from my mother.

But nothing seems to ease the ache I carry for that sexy hunk from the mixer. Prick, I had called him.


Then, I hear the turning of a page. I’m not alone. I bolt up, drawing the sheets to my neck as if I’m naked, and I see her. “Who’re you??”

The girl sitting cross-legged on the other bed lifts her sullen, shapeless face from the book she reads. A sad pair of thick-rimmed glasses rest at the end of her nose. Her hair, straight and plain as the bristles on a broom, is cropped dully at the neck. An unfortunate pox of red bumps I’ll pray aren’t chickenpox dance up the side of her short, blunt neck. Her nose is a round bulb of flesh and her eyebrows are thick and black and unsightly. She stares at me with the enthusiasm of a sock, her eyes dead and blank.

“Sam,” she answers plainly, her voice two octaves lower than I was expecting.

Sam? Samantha, my roommate? Obviously. “When did you move in?” I ask, flabbergasted. “I … I’ve been asleep. I didn’t even hear you at all.”

“I didn’t really move in.”

I blink a few times in the semidarkness, waiting for more of an explanation. I don’t get one. I stretch my neck up a bit, scanning her side of the room only to find three books on her desk alongside an ancient brick of a laptop and a sad table lamp, the only source of light in the room other than the sunrise coming through the blinds and painting stripes of orange across the back of her head.

I wipe my eyes and stare. “You don’t even have sheets. You’re … You’re sleeping on the bare mattress.”

“It’s okay,” she decides, looking down at it. Her every movement is as slow as a sloth. She wears sweatpants and a loose shirt that looks scavenged from a charity donation bin. For half a second, I worry she is exactly that: a girl with cents in her pockets, here on the last scraps of money her parents could find. They had to put a second mortgage on the house to afford tuition. They sold their grandma’s ashes on eBay. She is her family’s last hope.

“So … we’re roommates,” I state unnecessarily.

“Yep.” She offers me an odd, straight line of her lips, almost like an apology, before returning to the book in her lap, a curtain of hair covering her face.

I stare at her for a while, still clutching the sheets to my neck. I’m pretty sure the worry is obvious on my face and she saw every bit of it. For as little emotion as she seems to show, I might never know whether I’ve offended her or not.

Well, she’s who I got. Might as well make the best of it. “So … you’re a Music major? What instrument do you play?”

Sam lifts her head again, drawing a curtain of her greasy hair behind her ear. “Piano.”

The girl sounds like a dude. She seriously sounds like a dude. “Oh. Don’t you need to practice?” I let my eyes do another scan of the room. “Did you bring, like, a little keyboard or something?”

“They have private piano-playing rooms at the Music building.”

“Oh. Yeah, that makes sense.”

“I wanted a Yamaha,” she admits, fiddling with the bent corner of a page in her book, “but my mom made me choose between paying for school or buying expensive electronics, and … well, I’m here, so …”

“Yes. Right. You’re … You’re here.”

An awkward silence settles between us once again. I put a smile into that silence. She glances sullenly through the window, stripes of the morning sun drawn across her plain face. Then she turns back to me, her eyes like two spots of mud. “And you are—”

“A Theatre major,” I finish for her, hugging my sheets tightly. “I’m Dessie.”

“I’m Sam,” she repeats, like I’d already forgotten.

And with that, Sam returns to reading, and I let myself lie back down, my eyes catching the time on the clock: not a minute past seven in the morning. That is decidedly too early to be awake, considering my first class isn’t until ten.