“I can't. I'm too tired.”
“You're always too tired.”
“What's your point?”
Jamie put her hands on her hips and rounded to me. She'd been my roommate since my freshman year, and considering some of the horror stories floating around campus, I was probably pretty lucky to snag her. She was never too loud and washed her dishes, and her makeup only took up most of the counter space in our bathroom, rather than all of it. Not to mention that she always came back after a weekend out with leftovers for me to eat. Today was Saturday, and Jamie was already dolled up for the evening. Her red, curly hair was pinned in an elegant mess that I could probably never manage with my brown rat's nest. She was wearing her favorite, low-cut tank; the one that made her boobs look bigger than they were.
“Look,” Jamie began, “we're both graduating this year. Are you really planning on spending your senior year wasting away in this shithole?”
I shrugged. “I mean, this shithole has books and my bed is here so...”
“Ugh.” Jamie tugged on my arm. “You're so boring! Come on, come out with me!”
“Where are you even going?”
“Gamma Pi is hosting a kegger off campus.”
“Hard pass on that one.”
“Come ooooon!” Jamie put her chin on my knee, fluttering her big, brown doe eyes. “I won't even make you split the Uber! Please please please?”
“Why me? Don't you have other friends you can take?”
“They'll all be there.”
“Doesn't answer my question.”
Jamie sighed and sat on my messy bed. The springs barely creaked. “Listen,” she said. “I know we don't hang outside of school or anything, but I consider you my friend.” I smiled slightly. Admittedly, I didn't have a lot of those. “And I have a feeling tonight's going to be great, and I want you to experience it with me. Hell, I might even get you laid.”
“Uck. Gamma Pi is a bunch of frat douches though.”
“It doesn't have to be Gamma! All right, all right, no hookups. Just please come out and have fun for once!” Jamie threw her arms around my shoulders and hugged me close. “For me? Best roomie?”
I rolled my eyes as loudly as I possibly could. “Fine.”
“Yay!” Jamie jumped to her feet and clapped. I had a feeling she was practicing the bimbo routine for later. Jamie was smart in her own right, being a bio major and all that, but she was one of those girls who purposefully dumbed herself down for the sake of guys. I never really asked, but I think she had self esteem issues since a kid. I haven't exactly grown out of my own.
Fueled with our night out, Jamie raided my chest of drawers for something suitable for a kegger. When she didn't find anything she liked, I was secretly very pleased with myself.
“Well, here.” She pulled out a faded band t-shirt and my nicest jeans. “At least this has a v-neck.” It did, but it wasn't like I had much to show for myself. My collarbone was fine, but everything below might as well have been a dinner platter. Jamie tried to lend me an ugly lemon yellow sundress once. I “accidentally” fell in the mud that day. She never made me borrow her clothes again.
Before I knew it, we were standing in front of the frat house. It was big, and surrounded by a thick edge of trees. Music shook the walls and lights strobed like Rainbow Bright was having a seizure. I could already feel my stomach twisting in hundreds of knots. I turned to Jamie.
“Promise me we won't be out too late,” I said.
“Sure, sure!” Jamie swatted the air dismissively. “Come on, let's get inside!” She grabbed me by the arm and steered me directly towards the front door. The inside was even worse. A great goblin of indiscernible noise swallowed me whole. My head got light almost immediately, and the blurry faces of the party guests passed like directionless flies. Before I knew it, someone had pushed a drink in my hand.
“Cheers!” I didn't know who it was who served me, let alone what was in the cup. I turned to Jamie, but she was already downing her liquor like a champ. Feeling small, I sipped it. If I had to describe the taste, it was like cough syrup got buttfucked by the Lucky Charms leprechaun. I quickly panned the area for a potted plant I could pour my concoction into without being noticed.
Christ I was already so tired.
Jamie was caught up in some conversation over by the kitchen area, leaving me alone in a record time of five minutes. Traditionally, this would cue some scumbag to wander over and pray on the smaller and weaker antelope of the pack, but I was thankfully pretty invisible from the minute I stepped in. Not even bothering to dump the cup, I set my death sugar aside and quickly found an open side door.
The patio had a kidney-shaped pool, currently speckled with drunk, adult children. There was a guy with upside down sunglasses playing loud music from his laptop, and moving his fingers along the keyboard as if he was a DJ. That was probably all anyone needed to know to make a discerning judgement about this party.
I was looking for a small corner to hide in until Jamie called our Uber, when I noticed the back gate wide open. Beyond the light of the patio, the dark trees went on endlessly into untouched land. I smiled. A totally empty, dark and creepy forest under moonlight? Sign me the fuck up.
So, like any stupid white person in a horror movie, I passed the pool area without incident and headed straight into the trees. The minute I crossed the initial barrier of plant life, I was pleased to notice that the noise of the party had muffled considerably. Hands in my pockets, I walked deeper in. My phone buzzed and I pulled it out.
It was Jamie. “Where are you?” it read. I texted back: “Just wandering around. I'm good. Have fun.” She responded: “Are you sure?” I replied: “Yes.” Which prompted: “Are you mad at me for dragging you here?” To which I said: “No. Go have fun, mom.” That shut her up pretty fast.
Pocketing my phone I found a small clearing in the woods and a perfectly mossy log to rest on. Sitting down, the heels of my old boots dug into the dirt and I stared up into the sky. There were no stars on campus. The damn lights were always on outside, blotting them out.
I laid along the moss and took a deep breath. The air was wet and earthy. A squirrel clamored up a tree, and an owl hooted about a mile deeper in. I ran my fingers up and down the plus padding of the log. This was nice. My eyes were heavy, and I traced the stars with my gaze. Wouldn't it be nice to stay here? It felt so right, being away from the noise. Listening to silence.
My breathing grew deeper. The moss became softer. I felt it. It brushed against my fingertips like velvet. I rolled my hand back and forth, feeling it on every inch of skin I could.
It began to roll on me.
I felt it. The softness, so warm and gentle, climbed up my arm. Every hair entangled with the curly green strands as it reached my shoulders. I felt my legs sink deep into the log below. More and more moss rolled onto my legs. My feet. My skin.
I was sleepy. So sleepy.
The moss grew quicker. It wrapped around me like a warm blanket. I felt the tiniest pinpricks as it pushed through my nails and absorbed into my skin.
Did I have skin?
My breathing was shallow, but still slow. As if I was forgetting how. There was a strangle on my lungs. Black circles blinded me.
I was warm.
It was so pretty.
More and more the moss grew.
Where was my body?
Where was I?
Who was I?
It does not matter.
Now I will sleep.