She rolled her eyes as she unlocked the door to her dorm room. “Please. I was barely asleep when you texted. You know me, I’m a night owl at heart.” Inside the room was a set of bunk beds. The top one was decorated with a black and red rumpled comforter and about a trillion cushy looking pillows. The bottom bunk was simpler, adorned only by a light green fitted sheet and a decorative quilt we’d all had to take park in making a few years back for school. On the dangerously detachable bedside table hooked onto the railing of the upper bunk sat an untouched glass of water and a bottle of baby aspirin.
Nova grinned at me as she kicked off her slippers the same way she had flung off her wedges earlier that day. “Hey, do you want to see me do something really cool?” Without waiting for a response from me, she ran at the bed and grasped onto the thin metal bar of the upper bunk. Her toes clung to the bottom of the upper bed like miniature fingers, and she stayed in the raised crouch position before pushing off and flipping into the bed, somersault style. As she sat up, she beamed with pride, her face slightly flushed from the light effort she’d just exerted.
“Normal people use ladders, Nova. You could, too, if you wanted,” I said as she chased down two of the baby aspirin with the water that she’d somehow managed to not spill. She made a face at me as I put the boxes on the floor next to the lower bunk and began rifling through the top one.
“Where’s the fun in that?” she asked as I found the picture with my dad that I was looking for and propped it up on the empty bedside table. After changing into the shorts and button up shirt that functioned as my pajamas most nights, I flicked off the lights and lay down on the bed. The soft sounds of Nova’s snoring above were gentle and lulling , but I couldn’t sleep; instead, I laid unmoving there in the darkness, just thinking to myself about all that had happened.
I remembered the day that everything in my life had started to go to hell; it was a Tuesday when it happened. I’d just lost a tooth a few minutes earlier and I was double excited because my birthday was in a few days. I was in the middle of a math test, desperately trying to remember all of my times tables in the five minutes we had to answer the hundred questions, when the classroom phone rang. My teacher, Miss Lawrence, had gotten the most horrified look on her face and I’d been sent down to the guidance office for a “quick word” with a counselor. That was where they told me that my dad had died.
I picked up the picture of my dad from the bedside table and kissed it gently. “Goodnight, Daddy,” I whispered, before putting it back down and turning over so I could sleep. Things would get better.
They had to get better.
I mean, they’d gotten better before, at least a little. After my dad died, my mother and I had had to move, so I switched schools. That was where I got the opportunity to meet Simon and Nova. It almost evened out.
Almost. Only ever almost.