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The Expectations of Life; Installment 2

22 Days Later

Mike and I walked up the sidewalk, already listening to the sound of music booming from the yard. We were going to Caleb’s infamous Cambridge February vacation party, and, from what I had heard from him, it was going to be the biggest one yet. My best friend since primary school, Tom, was flying in from the states just to be at the party where he would be meeting up with us and Kate, his girlfriend of four years. When he turned eighteen, he moved over to the U.S to go to Brown. His family were practically millionaires, so he could fly back and forth all the time, which kept Kate happy.
“Alex!” He called to me when we reached the green. I jogged over to him.
“What’s up man!” I said. You could probably say we were acting like teenage girls, running and giving each other a hug, well a guy hug, but Tom was basically family. I would say he’s like a brother, but brothers fight and the only argument we had ever had was in second grade over what color we should use to vandalize Mr. Tubbings’ pencil box.
“How’ve you been?” He asked.
“Same old. How’s New England been treating you?”
“Pretty good since a few weeks ago.”
“Why?” I asked, given the expression on his face. He was about to say something when Kate ran up from behind and launched herself at Tom.
“Hey babe!” She squealed, giving him a giant kiss on the cheek.
“Hey!” He said and gave her a hug. She was smiling ear to ear, and he looked really happy to see her, but there was something off.
“I’m so sorry, but I have to go tell Jan you’re here!” She said and darted off back into the crowd.
“So what’s up?” Mike asked, his eyebrows raised with his arms across his chest. Tom rolled his eyes, but he knew that I knew something was up.
“I’ll tell you later” Tom looked a little nervous as he looked down at his shoes and put his hands in his pockets.
“Did you do something illegal?” Mike asked. Of course he would ask that.
“Look, i’ll explain it later. For now, let’s just have fun.” He said and disappeared into the crowd.
“I’m gonna go find alcohol.” Mike said and followed after Tom. For some reason, the party had lost its flare. Tom was acting weird, Mike was going to get drunk, and I was single, which wasn’t always a bad thing, but right now it seemed so. I worked my way through the crowd up to the university, maybe I could find a good book to read while my friends partied. I pushed past the last line of people and opened the doors to the library. I heard the door shut behind me as I walked into the giant room, which was completely absent of course. A lot of people would probably pin me as the mindless joch, but I was actually at the top of my classes, and spent more time in the library than anyone would expect. I weaved through the shelves, looking for something good, when I saw ‘Great Expectations’ on the top of the bookshelf. I reached up and tried to grab it, but knocked it down off the other shelf accidentally. Oddly, I heard an ‘oomf’ and then a thud, and then a second, then a third thud. I hurried over to the other side and saw ‘Great Expectations on the floor next to the last thing I expected. Lying on the floor next to the book was the futbol girl, the bloody-nose girl, bench girl. Charlie.
“Oh god, i’m so sorry!” I said quickly and helped her up. She clutched at her head and turned towards me.
“You again.” She said and smiled weakly.
“Are you okay?” I offered.
“Yeah, just a bruise, again.” I felt pretty stupid, as this was the second time we had met and the second time I had inflicted physical damage to her. The only good thing was that she didn’t make a big deal out of it. She looked down at the book and picked it up still rubbing her head. “Great Expectations.”
“It’s one of my favorites.”
“Wow. In all my twenty-one years, I have never met a jock that likes to read. I love Charles Dickens.” She said, smiling. I laughed weirdly, not confident enough to do anything else and put the book back on the shelf.
“How’s your nose?”
“Well, it’s not broken! Which is a surprise seeing as how I stand up and break a wrist.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, seventh grade. I dropped my notebook and bent over to get it, lost my balance and fell on my arm.”
“Unfortunate.”
“Tell me about it. So what brings you to the library? A guy like you should be outside at the party.” What did she mean by ‘a guy like you’?
“My best friend, Caleb, hosts the party, and one of my best friends came home for it.”
“He doesn’t live here?”
“No, he moved to the states when he was eighteen. He’s acting weird today, though.”
“How so?” She asked.
“He said he’ll explain it later, which is pretty strange for Tom. He’s not the kind of guy to keep secrets.”
“Maybe it’s a girl.” She offered, grabbing another book off the shelf and walking out to the couches resting near the doors.
“No, he’s been dating Kate for four years. Other than us, she’s a big factor in why he flies out every few months.”
“Oh.” She wasn’t sold, and now that she mentioned it as a possibility, neither was I. I mean, tom is one of the greatest guys I know. He’s a no drama, secret-free, funny guy, so what would make him act nervous?
“But it’s probably nothing.”
“Yeah.”
“My cousin did that to me for a month.”
“Did what?”
“Kept me on edge for a secret that wasn’t worth while.”
“What was it?”
“That she was getting a job at Starbucks.”
“Starbucks?” I tried not to laugh.
“It was one of her first jobs, but I told her to shoot a little higher.”
“Good for you, and her.”
“I probably wouldn’t have let her settle for anything less than world leader if it wasn’t for her voice of reason.”
“So you’re close to her?”
“Yeah. Sam and her sister, Bri, are pretty special to me. All of our cousins are really close, practically siblings. When we were younger, we saw each other almost every weekend.”
“That’s awesome. I don’t have very many cousins. But Tom’s been my best friend since primary one.”
“Primary one?”
“First grade.”
“Oh. My two best friends are back home in Rhode Island.”
“That must be hard.”
“Yeah, I met Ab in preschool and Lex in first grade.”
“What about friends over here?”
“Jan’s pretty cool.”
“Jan Steinbeck?”
“Yeah, you know her?”
“A little. My friend Caleb does, though. They’ve been ‘seeing’ each other for a while.” It took a minute for her to get what I was saying, but then she rolled her eyes.
“Well, that just ruined my friendship with her!” I laughed, and noticed that whenever she laughed, her nose scrunched up slightly.
“So, why aren’t you at the party?”
“Oh, i’ve never really been a party person. Up until I was fifteen, I was painfully shy, like four-year-old-hiding-behind-mommy shy.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know. I’ve outgrown it for the most part, but I still keep to myself. Besides, you’re the first person i’ve met that has actually had a conversation with me, other than Jan.”
“How long have you been here?”
“A little over three weeks. I transferred from Brown to spend a semester or two here. My cousins were going to come with me, but they were already in their exam weeks from early admission.”
“Are they flying out for next semester?”
“Bri might be, but Mantha wants to finish her education at Yale. She’s getting a bachelor’s in writing and already has a publishing offer for The New York Times and Vogue.”
“She must be really good, then.”
“She’s amazing. When we were kids, she and I would exchange like, 5-7 emails a day, and I would write all these stories and she and Bri would give me feedback on them.”
“So you’re here for literature?”
“The arts, specifically music and literature.”
“Wow, overachiever.”
“You’re telling me. What are you here for?” I was about to answer, when the door swung open and Tom, Kate, Mike and Jan walked in.
“So this is where you’ve been, Pierce.” Mike said and flopped down on the couch next to me. Charlie stood up quickly and Mike smirked at me. Tom caught this, rolled his eyes and stuck his hand out to Charlie.
“I’m Tom.” He said. She shook it hesitantly and then sat down on an armchair opposite to the couch. Kate smiled at Charlie and then walked over to Tom, sitting on the arm of the sofa.
“So i’m guessing you’re from the states?” Tom asked after everyone was seated.
“Yeah, Rhode Island, actually.”
“Really? I go to school in Connecticut.”
“Oh right, Alex said that you go to Yale.”
Yeah, I transferred as soon as I got out of high school.”
“Have you made any good friends while over there?” She asked, and he shifted uncomfortably in the chair.
“I’ve got a few mates.”
“It must be hard to commute from the U.S to Britain all the time.”
“Sometimes, but it’s necessary.” She pursed her lips, and I could tell she was thinking the exact same question I was. The question was if she would ask it. Even though Tom probably deserved whatever she said next, I decided to save his a--.
“So how’s Oxford, Kate?” I asked loudly. Her eyes lit up a little and she sat up straighter.
“Really good, actually! I just won the campus race.” Kate had been a track runner since she was little, and was pretty good at it.
“Good for you.” Charlie said and stood up abruptly. “I have to get home, so i’ll see you all around.” As soon as the door slammed behind her, everyone leaned in and stared at me.
“What?” I asked after a long pause of awkward silence.
“Dude, what the hell was all that about? I don’t think i’ve seen you with a girl since.....don’t tell me?” Mike began, but his mouth dropped open.
“Tell you what?”
“That’s the futbol girl, isn’t it?” He said and seemed really excited.
“The what?” Tom asked.
“A few weeks ago, we were out on the green playing futbol, and this girl was sitting on a bench, and Alex missed a brilliant pass, made by me, that hit her square in the face.” Mike answered.
“No!” Jan said, as if she was watching a celebrity interview.
“Yeah, her face was all bloody and he gave her his sweatshirt and they talked for a bit, then she left. Little did he know that while he was talking to said girl, the rest of us were taking bets on how long it would be until he asked her out, and tonight just confirmed that my estimate of two to three weeks will probably win.” Jane gave him a nasty look as Tom turned back to me.
“So, head over heels?” He asked, but already knew the answer.
“I won’t deny that she’s pretty cool, but I don’t know. I mean, we’ve only talked twice.” I felt a little defensive. Who were they to ask me about my relationship with Charlie? Even if it was nonexistent, for all we knew, Tom could be cheating on Kate, which he might be, and all Mike and Jan were doing was having sex.
“Okay, okay. We won’t ask again.” Mike said, a smug look on his face.
“Well, me and Jan are gonna get out of here.” Mike said and he and Jan stood and left the room quickly.
“Oh! Stay right here, babe. I’ll be back in a sec.” Kate said and ran out the door after Jan and Mike.
“Okay, spill it. Why the hell are you acting so weird?” I asked. He looked really uncomfortable, but his eyes lit up a little.
“Fine. A few weeks ago, I met this girl in the states, Sam.”
“Okay?”
“She’s pretty awesome. But i’m not that big of an a--hole, so we’re only friends. But she’s picking me up at the airport tomorrow, and...”
“And what?
“I’m gonna break up with Kate.”
“Are you serious?”
“I don’t want to cheat on her, and I haven’t yet, but Sam is special, Alex. Like, really special. I can’t say that I love her yet, but i’m definitely getting there. I just can’t get her off my mind. She’s there constantly, and it’s driving me crazy. So I have to tell Kate tonight.”
“About Sam?”
“I want to, but I can’t. I can’t just say, ‘Oh, i’m breaking up with you because i’m in love with another bird!” The truth or not, i’m going back tomorrow morning and Sam’s meeting me at the airport. Okay, I told you about Sam, so what’s going on with you and Charlie?”
“Fine. What Mike said was true, and she just so happened to be in here, after I dropped a book on her head.” He tried not to laugh, but I rolled my eyes and continued. “She’s smart and anyone could see that she’s pretty hot. But she can hold an entertaining conversation.”
“Entertaining conversation?”
“You can’t judge. You’re almost cheating on your girlfriend.”
“Almost.”
“So how’s med school going?” I asked, a little desperate to change the subject.
“Pretty good, i’ve been well-accepted in the states. My roommate, Chris is an alright guy, too. “He’s in for med school, too?”
“No, just his girlfriend, I don’t know about him.” I paused for a minute, but never got to say what I wanted, because Kate came running back in with a box in her hands. Tom turned to look at me, and I nodded.
“I’ve gotta run, guys.” I said, and quickly left the room. The party was still going on in full swing, so I decided to find Caleb.

Charles,
Sorry i’m emailing so late, but it’s only 6 over here, but I couldn’t wait to tell you! I met a guy, and he’s pretty freaking awesome. His name’s Chris, and he’s australian and he goes to Harvard with me, and he asked me out! And that’s a miracle because I acted like a grade-a b**** when we first met, because I was going to my class that I told you about and I was running late, and we literally ran into each other. So anyway, we’re going to a party tomorrow night. What should I wear? I don’t want to look slutty, but I want to look hot, because I swear to god, he’s effing hercules with the muscles. And I’m not talking Jersey Shore guido, he’s like, 6’4’ and really built. He’s got blonde hair too. Ahhh!!! I so excited!!! As soon as I get home i’ll email you.

Bri


2:30
Bri,

Okay, I had to reply as soon as I read your email, because I can’t tell anyone else this. First off, good for you! It’s about time you got a hot boyfriend. Remember Anton Dinglus? You dated him for a month, and I could barely say his last name without peeing myself. Anyway, I met someone too., well, sort of. His name’s Alex, and he didn’t exactly ask me out, but I really want him too! And by your description of Chris, I would swear that they’re related. I think Alex is only, like, 6’3’, but he’s built and brunette and BRITISH!! The 3 golden b’s. And he’s super sweet! We’ve only met twice, but he’s awesome and we’ve got similar interests and all that s***. Do u think I should ask him out? It is 2013, afterall, but I don’t want to seem clingy or obsessive.......even though I have looked on his facebook account a few times. (don’t judge, you cyberstalked daniel craig for a year) Other than that, things are alright. My grades are fine, of course, but the brits aren’t exactly the warmest of people. I’ve got a few friends though. This girl named Jan and Amanda, and now Alex. His friends seem to be nice. Except for Tom. I think he’s cheating on his girlfriend. Man whore. Uhh... I just hope I didn’t screw things up with Alex........ I’ll look for your email tomorrow, I don’t have class.

Charles



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