At 7:28 on Thursday morning, Agnes had already showered, dressed, and was halfway through her daily bowl of cornflakes with skim milk in the cafeteria two blocks down. Rereading the assigned chapter for her 8 a.m. History of Ancient Civilizations class (to which she always arrived at exactly 7:54), Agnes and her bleak breakfast kept to themselves amidst the shuffling hoards of semiconscious students mumbling their omelet orders with borderline coherency.
Agnes’ cornflakes were quite fed up with being just one of many pillars of constancy and routine in her life. They longed for the freedom to mingle with banana slices, or to be smothered in sugar, or, at the very least, to soak in two-percent until they were barely solid. But, alas, having no way to communicate their desires, the cornflakes settled for leaping from the bowl to one of Agnes’ many textbooks, or falling from Agnes’ spoon about 1 inch too soon. These little occurrences were misinterpreted by Agnes to be simple accidents, and she never thought much of them.
After finishing the last of the unruly cornflakes, Agnes made her way to her class, and took her usual seat two rows from the door and three seats back. She placed her practical backpack on the floor, and removed a red notebook, identical pens in black, blue, and green ink, and a large Nalgene bottle filled with water. She arranged these supplies on her desk with the mindless precision of someone who has made this particular display on a daily basis for quite some time. As the clock struck 8, a breathless boy came tearing into the room, planting himself in the seat next to Agnes, in the row closest to the door. The professor gave the boy a reproving look, resigned to letting him enter in this manner for every class, and began his lecture.
The boy did, in fact, appear to all of his classes just as they were beginning, and he left them as soon as they ended. Agnes, however, was subtly disrupted from her chronic normalcy by the fact that, today, Astin had not seated himself in his usual spot, the very last desk in the row he presently occupied. Though this was but a small change, Agnes was totally shaken by the fact that he was sitting next to her, and it showed. Not only did she use the black pen to write all the dates in her notes instead of the green one, but towards the end of the class, she knocked her abnormally half-open water bottle onto the floor, where it landed at the feet of the subject of her agitation.
As the professor signaled the end of class, Agnes rushed to pick up the bottle, murmuring quiet apologies about water damage. With an odd smile, as if he were suppressing laughter, Astin assured her that his shoes were fine and that his bag had accrued no permanent damage, and sauntered out the door. Still quite flustered and embarrassed, Agnes quickly gathered her things, left the classroom, and found a seat outside to organize her belongings into their places in her backpack.
The next week, following an otherwise identical Wednesday morning for Agnes, class was interrupted by the half-hour tardiness of a new transfer student. She whirled into the room in a cloud of cloying perfume, clunked her overlarge tote bag onto the professor’s desk, and introduced herself to the class as Vyra-from-Louisiana, just like that, as if it were all one word. She then took her bag and gracefully fell into a position resembling someone giving their utmost attention, in the desk right in front of Agnes: two rows in from the door, two seats back, and right next to the seat which Astin was using that day.
When the professor ended class, Vyra instantly turned and, placing her hand on Astin’s arm, made a personal introduction, to which Astin responded with a captivatingly simple, “Astin.” The two shook hands for a beat longer than was strictly necessary, their eyes boring into one another’s. Vyra invited him to the welcoming party she was throwing “to get to know my new peers” that night at the Kappa Delta sorority house, where she was a new resident. Saying he’d “think about it” in a tone which suggested he already planned on attending, Astin collected his bag and left.
Noticing the way Agnes stared with unconscious longing after Astin, Vyra turned to her next, offering her hand and saying with an ooze of southern charm, “I’m Vyra. I’m so sorry, honey, is he yours? I had no idea! You’re welcome to come, too.”
Confused, Agnes cleared her throat and asked, “My name is Agnes, and what do you mean, is he mine? Like a boyfriend?”
“Whatever you wanna call it,” said Vyra, “but in that boy’s case, I’d say ‘man-friend’ would be a bit more accurate, right?” With a tinkling little laugh, she swung her giant bag onto her tiny shoulder and sashayed out of the room.
Blinking, Agnes stayed seated for a few minutes, until the professor asked if she had a question. With a quiet “no” and umpteen softly spoken apologies, she quickly shoved her things into her bag, and went home to plan her party outfit.
*          *          *
The party was in full swing when Agnes arrived, so no one, save for the person she body-checked when she opened the door, was aware of it. Music with a strong base line thumped through the house, out onto the lawn, and into the backyard, where fully-clothed men and barely-covered women splashed around the pool. She spotted Vyra holding court on the couch in the living room, entertaining at least thirty people with stories about her life in Baton Rouge and her trip from there to here. Vyra apparently spotted her as well, and she waved her over, introducing her to the throng of people as “my new friend, Aggie,” a nickname Agnes had never really liked. As Vyra continued to recount her many anecdotes, “Aggie” moved through the house, grabbing a red cup of putrid punch on her way.
Agnes downed the entire glass in three nervous gulps, and then saw Astin standing among a group of people who were talking with unnecessary volume, to attract the attention of others. Astin said something to the guy who appeared to be the leader of the group, then slowly made his way to the kitchen. Having just come from the opposite direction in the circular house, Agnes quickly backtracked into the kitchen as well, under the pretense of refilling her cup with more of that dreadful drink.
Astin was grabbing a beer from the fridge when Agnes finally reentered the kitchen. She moved to the punch bowl, but as she picked up the ladle, Astin lightly grabbed her wrist.
“You don’t want any of that,” he said, “trust me. You’d be better off with one of these.” He handed her a freshly opened bottle of beer. Agnes accepted the drink, and took a long, slow swallow, followed by a little hiccup.
He chuckled. “Sounds like you need a bit of fresh air. May I escort you outside?” He twirled his hand as he dipped into a sarcastic bow, bringing his face to the same level as Agnes’ chest.
Agnes was absolutely oblivious to this and, nodding demurely, allowed him to lead her out a side door onto the one patio that was completely unoccupied. They sat on the ground, leaned against the wall, and drank in silence. When a few minutes had passed, she turned to tell Astin that he could go back to the party if he wanted, but found she couldn’t say anything when saw him staring into her eyes.
His mouth suddenly covered hers in a sloppy, drunken kiss. Stunned, Agnes sat stock-still for a moment, then relaxed into the kiss. She only made him stop when she felt his hand start creeping up her shirt. With some struggle, she managed to shove him away from her. Mumbling that she really wasn’t “that kind of girl”, Agnes left her drink on the ground as she ran back into the house. Not knowing what else to do, Agnes sought the one person she knew could help her, Vyra.
Following her discoveries that Vyra was no longer on her pleather throne in the living room, nor was she in the kitchen, the dining room, or out by the pool, Agnes decided to look on the upper level of the house, even though she was quite sure that she was not supposed to go upstairs. She crept past entangled couples on the staircase and all down the hallway, not to mention open bedrooms containing other couples in even more interlocked embraces. Though Agnes tried asking, none of the couples could be bothered to say if they knew where Vyra had gone.
At the end of the hallway, there were three closed rooms. The first door was found to be locked. When Agnes opened the second door, she saw a group of people lying altogether like sardines on the bed, passing a joint down the line in silence. Agnes was coughing too hard from the smoke to ask if they had seen Vyra, but she had a feeling they wouldn’t have given her a real answer anyway.
Agnes paused outside the third door. She didn’t need to press her ear up to the door to hear the excited moans coming from behind it. Filled with an awful perception that she really didn’t want to see what was inside this room, she opened the door little by little, to keep from startling the room’s inhabitants. The door entirely open, Agnes stood utterly shell-shocked by the scene she had revealed. She couldn’t make out much with the light that spilled in from the hallway, but she could see well enough to know that she had finally found Vyra. Nonetheless she could also see well enough to tell that the source of all Vyra’s excitement was none other than Astin.
Her eyes involuntarily brimming with tears, Agnes tore down the hallway, forgetting all about shutting the door behind her. She thrust couples out of her way as she nearly fell down the stairs, rushed through the house, and ended up in the backyard. Unable to see through the tears streaming down her face, she separately but accidently knocked five people into the pool as she fought her way to the back gate. She wretched open the gate without stopping, and ran until her legs could no longer carry her. After puking in a bush with no one to hold her hair, Agnes slowly made her way home, where she stripped down, took a shower, and fell into bed.
That morning, another Thursday, Agnes sat down in her usual spot in the cafeteria, running five minutes late. Instead of her usual wholesome breakfast, she drowned her cornflakes in whole milk and smothered them with five heaping tablespoons of sugar. Her cornflakes were overjoyed at this unexpected occasion, so overjoyed they did not notice that Agnes was not reading any of her textbooks. In fact, they were so over the moon with this turn of events that they stayed on Agnes’ spoon all the way to her mouth with every bite, not that Agnes would have cared if they did. For the very first time, she was not impeccably dressed one of her conservative, professional outfits. Alternatively, she was wearing the sweatpants she had slept in the night before.
Agnes arrived to class breathless, just as her surprised professor was moving to shut the door. Neither Astin nor Vyra were present.


Mini-Vacation: Just What the Little Voice In My Head Ordered

I just need somewhere to rant about things. Like, for example, what I ate for dinner tonight.

Sounds boring, yes, but stay with me here. There's a story bit to open the whole thing, so bear with me until the mouth-wateringly fantastic description of Chicken Kildare works its way in here. A little background information would probably be a good idea right about no:. My parents are getting our bathroom redone this week, so they decided we'd just stay in a hotel downtown since we've got no running water for the next couple of nights.

I'm sitting in the...well, I'm not sure what it's called. I can see the actually lobby from here, so I guess this is like a garden or something. There's a waterfall in the middle of it, a pretty big one, too. And there's actual ducks in the water, at least seven of 'em. The ceiling is all glass, and this place is about 9 stories tall, so no matter what time of day it is, it seems like you're outside. It's fabulous. There's streetlamp-esque things to light up the garden; it's absolutely gorgeous.

For dinner, we ate at the pub in the hotel. There's a restaurant and a pub, but the restaurant's slightly pricey, and the pub has a little terrace into the indoor garden, so obviously that sounded like more fun. Given that it's a pub, it had a stereotypical Irish theme, so a lot of the items on the menu were of the play-on-Irish-words nature (example: Bangers and Mac, which is just mac & cheese with sausages on it, which "I can make at home thank-you-very-much so why would you waste money eating it here?").

Now, I have no idea whether the 'Kildare' part of Chicken Kildare is Irish or not (nor do I know its correct pronunciation, but that is beside the point), but I do have a first-hand (or, as I like to call it, a "fork-hand") idea of how utterly delectable it is. Picture it with me: a lovely, not-too-large, herb roasted chicken breast, surrounded by a mixture of asparagus, halved grape tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, as well as roasted "fingerling" potatoes (Does anyone know if this is a kind of potato? Or a way of preparing potatoes? Or a potato religion? I really don't know...it said "fingerling potatoes" on the menu, no clarification for those who do not speak potato.), with two little slices of a slightly chewy, subtly sweet bread which was excellent for soaking up the liquid whatnot left behind by the artichokes and other veggies.

Sounds really good, right? Well, let me tell you, it tastes even better. Hard to believe? Not once you've had a taste...


What I Did During the AP Stats Test

Dear College Board,

How can you take my signature for it that I'm taking this test on this date, but you can't take my word for it that my abridged version of Jean de Florette in the original French contains nothing that will help me with this test? Really, College Board? I know we've been kind of off-and-on for the past three years, but I thought we were closer than that.

I remember when we first met, that very first AP test: chemistry, sophomore year. I was sick with anxiety, but somehow we pulled through it. Then, we fell off that summer... Have you noticed how we're only together from mid-April until July? Maybe this is all just spring fever, but I thought we were closer than that.

Can I take a guess? It's because I chose the ACT over your SAT this fall, isn't it? I can't believe you'd hold a grudge over something like this. I'm really disappointed in you, College Board: I thought we were closer than that.

Will you at least listen to my side? We were on another break. It was right after you gave me that 3 for my work on the French Language exam...I still can't believe you did that. Sure, the oral caught me a bit off guard, but I thought I covered it pretty well. I thought I deserved at least a 4, but I guess we weren't on the same page. I thought we knew each other better than that.

Well, ten minutes left now. I suppose I'll just see you later, then, College Board, at the late AP Chemistry exam.

Forever Yours (Sometimes),