Dark clouds consumed my surroundings, veiling me from a world which became so familiar to me. My bed–I knew where it was, yet I couldn’t find it. I reached my arms out, sweeping them across the air, searching, looking, missing. And suddenly, my fingers brushed against something; a splinter burrowed under my finger and I hissed from the pain. The clouds faded, revealing a mass of wooden bricks piled high above me. They consumed my room, and I knew what I had to do.
Keep steady I repeated to myself as I wrapped my arms around one of the blocks. Don’t fuck up now. My knees trembled as I pulled a piece from the foundation. Don’t fuck up.
The block’s weight became unbearable in my arms and they turned to jello. A rumbling sound erupted from deep within the structure and the blocks groaned and trembled from the disturbance. I turned to run, but my legs gave in underneath me. Something slammed into my back. Another brick thwacked my shoulder. And the tower suddenly tumbled down towards me.
I woke up with sweat plastered across my cheeks and neck. It took a few moments for my palpitating heart to calm down. “Stupid Jenga,” I groaned as I sat up, wiping the slime from the back of my neck. I stared at my clammed up hand before I hopped out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
The night before, Art, Chris, a guy Jimmy from down the hall, and I decided to play Jenga, or as Art referred to it, “Drunk Jenga.” We were already plastered after a few girls from the floor above us visited Art and Chris’s room with a bottle of Bacardi. I refused to drink at first, until Art held the shot glass under my nose with a too-excited grin on his face. So, I took it and swigged it. And then another. And then another, until it was four in the morning and Chris retrieved his game of Jenga.
My head pounded as I stumbled towards the bathroom, extending my sweaty hand away from me. A mirror welcomed me in the bathroom, sneering at my unruly hair.
Art’s favorite activity became irritating me as much as possible. Last night, I was attempting to get through at least part of Atlas Shrugged when he pounded at my door. His voice slurred as he demanded I come out and, after a few minutes of his nagging, I gave in. Not because I wanted to, but he gave me no other choice. And as soon as I opened the door, he ruffled my hair and laughter bubbled from his lips.
I examined my reflection a bit longer and grazed my fingers against the raw skin underneath my eyes. It had been two weeks since I first arrived at Palixton and although sometimes I had to escape from my suffocating room, the University began to grow on me. I met a few people I could actually associate myself with, including Tammy Frasier.
Tammy’s family raked in old money from her grandfather’s gold mine oil discovery in his property. We met a few days before and when we introduced ourselves, she immediately recognized my name. She had this habit of half-smiling towards me with one lip curled up, and she gazed at me with big brown eyes. Two nights ago, she told me I had really nice hands and proceeded to intertwine our fingers together.
There was something fresh about her. We recognized our life styles, and with her, I towered above everyone else; above Chris, above my father, and especially above Art.
“Hey,” someone grumbled from the bathroom door. I turned to face Art, who carried heavy bags under his eyes and a half grimace across his lips.
I glanced towards him and just as I did, he sprang to one of the bathroom stalls and slammed the door behind him. Pangs of disgust spiraled up my spine as a splash followed a harsh cough. I began to wash my hands again, running my fingers through my disheveled hair.
He pushed open the stall door, placing his forehead against it. I made a note to myself not to touch his forehead. “Sorry,” he threw me a half smile. “Your hair looks ridiculous.”
“Not as bad as yours.”
He laughed lightly, just as he did every time I snapped at him. “You going to that dance thing later?”
“Yeah–that thing. With all the freshmen. That dance thing.”
“Let’s pre-game?” A half smile ran across his lips as he slumped farther against the stall, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand.
“For the dance?”
“Yeah–the dance thing.”
I hesitated. The thought of drinking again made me nauseous, but (although I hate to admit it) I had fun with Art, Chris, and Jimmy last night. Even when the Jenga blocks tumbled down, causing an eruption of boo’s. At first, I ignored their laughter, but as they kept howling, I found myself joining right along. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe I finally discovered why people claim laughter’s contagious, but it felt good; it felt natural.
“I’ll think about it.” But I had already made my decision.