My Freshman Year: Day 186

Days as a Freshman: 186
Mood: Trapped
I sat in the oncoming darkness, my feet resting against the wooden pew in front of me. I loved the chapel at dusk; it was always empty, always silent, and provided the best view of the setting sun anywhere on campus.
For the past week, I had been coming here almost every night. I’d eat dinner in the dining hall with Rebecca or Naima or Crystal, and then slip away with an excuse of studying in the library or going to the gym. The fact was that I never saw either of those places. I was always in the chapel, sitting in one of the last pews, watching the cold dusk sun slide across the walls until it disappeared completely.
I wasn’t really sure why I was there. It just seemed like the right place to go. The easiest place to think.
Justin and Sasha had been avoiding me for a week and a half. Ever since the party at the soccer house, and the giant, drunken fight they had gotten into. Ever since they had punched each other bloody and then been dragged away by mutual friends. Ever since I had hid in an upstairs bathroom and waited for thirty minutes, then snuck out the back door. They hadn’t spoken a single word to me. But it wasn’t like they were seeing me and just ignoring me, they were plain avoiding me.
It’s like we didn’t even go to the same college anymore.
Rebecca had stumbled back to our room a few hours after I snuck out. The entire time I was walking back to my dorm from the party, I felt horrible that I had left her. But the need to leave had been so strong after watching Justin and Sasha fight, that I just ran.
Rebecca didn’t seem to notice that night, and hadn’t yet brought up my abandonment of her, even when we were alone studying in our room. She hadn’t talked about the party at all, in fact. Like she wanted to pretend it never happened.
Which was fine by me.
The sun was nearly gone, and darkness was slowly starting to eat the chapel. I picked my bag up and stood, ready to really go to the library, when the heavy doors opened behind me.
I turned, immediately embarrassed for being caught in the chapel alone.
“Grace?”
Daniel B. stood in the doorway, his heavy backpack held up by one hand, his fuzzy winter hat in the other.
I hadn’t seen Daniel for ages. Hadn’t even replied to his two emails about study sessions.
And now we were staring at each other.
“Hey, Daniel B…” I smiled and hitched my backpack higher onto my shoulder, not sure what else to say.
“What are you doing in here?” He didn’t move, just stood and stared.
“I come in here sometimes…just to clear my head.”
“Yeah?” It was hard to make out his features in the darkening room, but it seemed like he smiled. “I do the same thing. That’s why I come here. Except I play the…piano too.”
Daniel B. flicked on a few lights, and the chapel immediately went too bright too fast. I shielded my eyes, feeling strangely naked in the brightness.
“Oh, sorry…” his hand went back to the light. “I can turn them—”
“Don’t worry,” I said, lifting up my hand to stop him. “My eyes just need a second. Guess it was darker in here than I realized.”
“Doesn’t it creep you out? Being in here without lights?”
“Not really. I usually leave before it gets too freaky.”
Slowly, Daniel walked toward me, holding his giant backpack heavily in his left hand. Once he got close, he dropped his bag and ran his hand through his crazy hair, made even crazier by the snowy winter weather outside. For a few seconds we stood next to each other, blinking and smiling awkwardly.
If there was anything I could count on in this world to never change, it was Daniel B. making me feel extremely uncomfortable.
“Well, guess I should head to the library. Big test coming up…” I walked a few steps toward the door.
“Hey, well, if you ever need any kind of chemistry work again…I mean…it’s a two semester course…” His voice trailed off.
I stopped walking and turned around. “Sure,” I said, “maybe once my other classes quiet down.”
“What’s his name is still coming to the library with me. He asked about you the other day.” Daniel’s mouth went sour, his hand once again swishing his hair around.
“What’s his name? Sasha?” I tried to keep my tone as even as possible.
“Yeah. Him.”
We stood staring at each other again. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to think about Sasha. I came to the chapel to stop thinking about Sasha and Justin. My freshman year seemed to be nothing but Sasha and Justin. I was tired of it.
“Well, I’ll send you an email…or something…about chemistry. Thanks for offering.” Backing up a few steps, I waved lamely before turning around and pushing through the giant chapel doors.
The cold air hit me and I didn’t look back. The wind bit at my face and I stared at the slushy ground, willing my mind to go blank. Just think about your feet. One foot in front of the other.
I was tired of it all, but I didn’t know how to make it go away.

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