Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write the story that you’ve been hungering to write. Nothing was really coming to me. I looked over everything I’ve written this month and while taking a walk, an idea came to me. I already wrote about Arcelia and Maribel, but today I have the moment they met.
Arcelia glanced at each of the doors along the hallway before finally stopping in front of one. She double-checked the paper in her hand and satisfied she had the right one, pushed the door open. The room was empty, but she saw one of the beds was already made, and there was stuff out on the desk and when she poked her head around the corner, in the closet. She looked back out the door. “Guess I’m taking the left side of the room.”
“You two didn’t already decide that ahead of time?” her older brother, Toby, asked as he carried a couple boxes into the room.
“I didn’t even know how the room was going to be set up. All we did was introduce ourselves.” And even then, they hadn’t shared that many details. So, Arcelia had been looking forward to learn more about her roommate when they actually met. “I do know she’s from Gilbert, too. Though, she just moved up here with her parents a couple years ago.”
“Looks like she’s already been here and gone. An organized soul.”
“You’re a dork, Toby.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her temple. “I love you, too.”
She laughed and shoved against his shoulder. But, she didn’t try to get out of his hold as they waited for their mom and her twin brother, Jonas, to make it to the room. She stared at Jonas for a few long moments. He seemed okay, but something was different. And it wasn’t just that he actually had muscles now after the last twelve weeks of basic training.
There was still a sadness in his eyes. She’d hoped he’d get over Isaac by now. But, it didn’t look like that had happened. And he wasn’t going to be here for long before he had to leave for more training. So, she wasn’t going to ruin any of it by mentioning that jerk to him.
They put the rest of her boxes down on the floor, and she opened the first one to start unpacking while they went back down for the next load. She found her sheets first and made her bed. She was another organized soul, as Toby had called her still mystery of a roommate.
By the time her mom and brothers had made it back to the room, she had two boxes emptied and their previous contents organized to her satisfaction.
“That’s the last of it,” Toby said, setting two more boxes down. “Though I’m still not sure why you’re living on campus, when Mom’s house is only about a ten minute drive away.”
“It’s longer than that. And I want to live on campus. That’s why.” She loved her family, but Jonas was going to be gone. And Toby was always so protective, even though he had his own family now, sometimes she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep breathing.
“Leave her be, Tobias,” their mother said. “Come on. We’ll take you for lunch then come back and help you unpack.”
“I’ll take lunch, but I think I can handle unpacking myself. I know right where I want to put stuff.”
“Always so independent,” Toby said.
She dug her fingers into his side, and he jumped away from her. “Damn. You always were vicious when it came to tickling.”
“Some things don’t change just because I’m grown up.”
“Keep telling yourself that’s the case. You’re always going to be my baby sister.”
Arcelia hugged Jonas tight, not sure when she’d get to see him again. He’d be leaving for Texas soon, and she didn’t even know where to after that. “Stay safe,” she whispered.
“I’ll be fine,” he told her, but he squeezed her just as tight. “Don’t let any of those college boys take advantage of you. Or girls,” he added after a moment.
She snorted. She had no desire for that. No matter who it was. She waved as her family drove away then turned and headed back up to her room.
She would miss them, but she could go home whenever she needed. She’d at least be able to see Toby and her nephew and new niece.
When she made it back up to the room, she heard someone humming inside. That must be the roommate. Arcelia didn’t understand this quickening in her chest. She never got like this. And they’d only exchanged a total of two emails. She shook that off and stepped inside.
The other girl turned her head and grinned. “You must be Arcelia. I see you brought your stuff up already. Where’s your family? Did they come with you?”
Arcelia smiled at the way her questions almost seemed to run together. “So, you’re Maribel then. And they were here. My mom and brothers.” Her half-sister hadn’t, but that wasn’t a big surprise. Tereza never had a whole lot to do with them. “They took me to lunch then headed back home.”
“Mine did, too. Both of my parents and my big brother. My sister’s still in New Mexico. No reason for her to come just to move me into the dorm.”
They hadn’t exchanged too many details about their families in their emails. “So, you’ve got a big brother as well? I’ve got two. Well, technically one is my twin brother, and he was only born a couple minutes before me.”
The other girl laughed at that. “I always thought I wanted a twin. Allison’s like three years older than me, and she always had her own thing going. And Patrick’s like fourteen years older than me. He was practically out of the house when I came along.”
“I never thought we’d have so much in common. Toby’s about that much older than me. When Dad died, he stepped in, though. So, we’ve always had a unique relationship.”
“I’m sorry,” Maribel said.
Arcelia shook her head. “Don’t be. It was a long time ago.” Nearly a dozen years. Something caught her attention over Maribel’s desk, and she took a step closer. “How come you have a picture of Jason and Connie up on your wall?”
“You know them?” Maribel asked, stepping closer.
“My brother works with Connie’s brother. We know them pretty well.”
“Well, Jason used to be married to my brother’s half-brother’s half-sister.” Her mouth twitched, then she added, “Well, technically Patrick’s my half-brother, too. I know it’s confusing. There’s a lot of halves. Allison’s my full sister, though.”
“And I thought my family was confusing. Toby’s my half-brother, and I have an older half-sister. But, my mom abandoned her when she was little, and she still holds a grudge for that, so we don’t see her much. She spends more time with the couple who adopted her when she was a teenager. And they just adopted my brother’s boyfriend, too. They’d been his foster parents for a couple years before that. And he’s actually Jonas’ ex now. The stupid jerk.”
“Your brother or the boyfriend?”
“Ex-boyfriend,” Arcelia reminded her. “He dumped Jonas at graduation, in front of our whole class. And I’d always liked him, too.”
“Well, he sounds like a fool, then. Is your brother going to school here, too?”
Arcelia shook her head. “He joined the army. He’s a stupid jerk, too. Making me worry about him.”
Maribel laughed and gave Arcelia a quick hug. And there went her heart again. What was wrong with her? It was just a hug. But, if her body was going to keep shorting out on her, this was going to be a long semester. Maybe by the time it was over, she’d have this under control. Or she could find a new roommate.