Luanne woke up early on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day out and she had no intention of wasting it. Running the brush through her auburn hair, she already started planning what she was going to say to the Editor in Chief of the Yale Daily News. She had picked up a good tip from her Lit professor that the editor always liked to get an early start on Monday’s edition by putting in extra time in the early Saturday hours.
Donning a smart cardigan and simple black pencil skirt, Luanne collected her portfolio and quietly locked the door behind her as she rushed across campus to York Street. A smile stretched slowly across Luanne’s face as she finally saw the stone and brick façade of Briton Hadden Memorial building. She pushed confidently through the door, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. This place would be like a home away from home for her. By her senior year, she would be Editor in Chief with multiple offers to work as a political correspondent for various reputable newspapers and other media outlets.
Luanne had a skip in her step as she roamed the halls, searching for the Chief’s office. Without too much time spent, she found it and stuck her head in the door as if she had been expected. But upon seeing the man sitting behind the desk, Luanne frowned and retracted her head from his office. He wasn’t anything like what she had expected. This man was clearly unkempt, his curly hair a complete mess, his dingy t-shirt probably pulled from under his bed just earlier this morning.
“Can I help you?” She heard him ask, unaware she had been detected.
Luanne pulled herself together and stood up straight, a confident smile on her face as she opened the door. “Good morning. I’m Luanne Clark and I’m here…”
“I’m not interested,” the man said, not even looking up from his work.
“But you haven’t even heard why I’m here,” Luanne said with a smile.
“Let me guess. You fancy yourself a writer and have brought me a portfolio of mediocre work your high school guidance counselor said was literary gold.”
Luanne frowned again and moved her portfolio behind her back. He clearly understood she was here in the hopes of obtaining a position with the newspaper so there was no point in hiding it. “I don’t mind working my way up from the bottom. I’ll do whatever it takes. Get you coffee for an entire year, run the paper route every morning…”
Suddenly the editor looked up at her and smiled. “Let me see it then,” he said, gesturing for her portfolio. “Let’s see if your enthusiasm has any potential.”
Luanne smiled and took a few steps toward his desk, handing him her portfolio and finally seeing the name plate next to his laptop. William Alexander. Even if he didn’t look it, this guy had a strong name, she thought to herself as he chewed on the bottom of his red pen, flipping through her work.
“Oh. A book review,” he said with feigned excitement. “On Pride and Prejudice. Haven’t seen that done before.”
“I think you’ll find that the points I make are…”
Luanne shut her mouth and craned her neck, trying to see what he was reading next.
“A political analysis of George W. Bush’s farewell address to the nation.” He paused and tapped the pen against his lips, finally smiling and then laughing out loud. “Was this meant to be comical?”
“No,” Luanne answered, trying not to sound offended.
William Alexander raised his eyebrows at the chubby girl standing in front of him. She was clearly determined but he was in no mood to entertain an overly confident freshman this early in the morning. His Friday night had been spent mulling over Laila and their current situation. After their class on Friday afternoon, Will had offered to walk her back to her dorm room but was quickly interrupted by the girl’s obnoxious boyfriend. The muscular blonde had been waiting for her outside and quickly swept her away as soon as class let out. Will could only watch as Laila squealed in delight and kissed her boyfriend on the lips. She hadn’t even given Will a second glance as she walked off hand in hand with the asshole.
“Hmmm,” Will grunted a response to the girl and returned his eyes to her portfolio. Her work wasn’t bad. In fact, it was quite good. But he wasn’t in a good mood and if he was suffering, someone else had to suffer too.
“Here’s a winner!” He said as he reached the last paper in her folder. “School Lunches, Where Do They Come From and Where Do They Go? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I happened to do a lot of research for that article. The entire cafeteria program was reviewed and revised after that was published.”
“I don’t give a shit. Look, Luanne, is it? You’re aiming too high. Maybe you could try blogging for a while, that way only people who want to read this crap will be subjected to it. My readers have standards.” With that he closed her portfolio and pushed it across his desk, lowering his head and continuing his work.
“So that’s it?”
“That’s it,” he confirmed.
He could see she was still standing there, most likely staring at him with tears in her eyes, but he really didn’t care. He liked being alone on Saturday mornings. He liked that he had made someone else just as miserable as he was at the moment. Finally, the girl stepped forward and took her binder from his desk, quickly walking out the door and closing it quietly behind her. He had half expected her to slam it.
Luanne walked quickly back to her dorm room, tears prickling her eyes as she passed the morning joggers and cyclists. She didn’t understand what had gone wrong. There was nothing about her portfolio that wasn’t impressive, nothing that hadn’t been carefully researched and honestly written. Maybe she had just caught him on a bad day. Maybe he was testing her strength, seeing if she were willing to accept harsh criticism. Determined and not quite defeated, Luanne opened the door to her dorm room, wincing as she heard the soft voices of her roommates.
“Hey, Luanne. We thought you were still asleep,” Piper smiled as Luanne shut the door behind her.
She shook her head and glanced around the room. Things had stayed pretty tidy during their first week. Laila had vacuumed just yesterday and Piper had spent nearly an hour scrubbing the bathroom. But now there were cereal boxes on the floor, empty bowls and random banana peels on the table in front of the two girls. It was obvious they had just finished breakfast but Luanne didn’t care.
“Are you two going to clean up after yourselves?”
Laila gave her a strange look. “Of course. We just finished…”
“Whatever,” Luanne interrupted. “I just don’t want you two thinking this kind of mess is okay. I know back home your mothers probably cleaned up after you, but I’m not your mom and I won’t do it.”
“We’re not asking or expecting you to,” Laila answered.
Luanne sighed, knowing she was being irrational but too frustrated to stop. “Just try to show a little respect. I mean, we established the house rules for a reason.”
Laila shook her head and looked away. Piper tried to look sympathetic but didn’t pull it off very convincingly. Luanne knew she should apologize, she knew her roommates had done nothing wrong. Closing her eyes and trying to find her composure, she was about to ask their forgiveness when she heard Nikki laughing in her room. The door suddenly opened with a loud crash and their fourth roommate came stumbling out, arm in arm with another girl.
Luanne watched as the two walked past her to the front door, laughing and tripping over their own feet. She checked her watch almost instinctively, making sure it wasn’t before 7 in the morning.
“I’ll see you later,” she heard Nikki saying as she opened the door for her friend.
“Thanks for letting me crash.”
Nikki laughed. “You’re welcome. Any time.”
Her friend laughed as well and Nikki took a step forward, wrapping her arms around the girl’s waist. Before Luanne had time to realize what was happening, Nikki’s lips were all over her friend’s, their bodies crushed together. The kiss was long and sensual and as soon as Luanne realized she should be offended, she also realized that no one had ever kissed her like that. She glanced at Piper and Laila on the couch. Laila was in an amused state of shock, her mouth dropped and her eyes wide. Piper was trying to suppress a laugh, clearly unaffected by the display in front of her.
“See you later,” Nikki said again as her kiss ended, watching the girl’s hips as they swayed out of the room.
Smiling her wide smile, Nikki turned around as the door closed. “Morning, roomies!”
“Who the hell was that?” Luanne demanded.
Nikki suddenly looked pensive, scratching her head and glancing at the ceiling. But all too soon, her smile came back. “That was…um, that was… Hmmm. Can’t quite recall her name.”
They both heard Piper start to laugh and Luanne shot her a glare.
“What? We agreed on no boys, right?” Nikki was still smiling at Luanne. “Like I said, I have no problem with that.”
By now Piper was in full hysterics on the couch, Laila laughing alongside her. Luanne knew she was outnumbered.
“Well, I didn’t sleep much last night,” Nikki said, clearly proud of herself as she stretched her arms above her head. “I’m going back to bed.” With that, Nikki skipped off to her room and closing the door quietly behind her.
“Thanks for your support,” Luanne said, turning back to her roommates.
“Oh, come on, Luanne. Don’t be like that,” Piper pleaded.
“No,” Luanne stood her ground. “You all are just so disrespectful!” She turned around quickly and stormed off to her room, slamming the door behind her. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and listened to her roommates burst into another fit of laughter, this time definitely at her expense.
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