My name is Laura Medina. I’ve lived in Domina City my entire life, without much more than my dad for company. I don’t have many friends—it’s not that I’m shy, it’s just that I spend too much time doing other things. Reading, writing, studying…I have better things to do than hang out in a coffee shop and chat about boys. And, I suppose, I’m protecting myself as well. I’ve been burned in the past.
Floor six of the AU dorms was the same as all the others, which meant it was clean but bland. My room was number sixteen, about equidistant from all the stairs. I had taken the elevator this time, because of my bags, but I was planning to use the stairs from now on. It might actually be faster, and I needed the exercise.
I knocked twice, and when I heard no answer, shifted my burdens to get at my keys. It took me a few minutes to do it, with about a half dozen different bags hanging from my shoulders. Of course, exactly as I found the keys, the door opened.
“Laura!” Elizabeth screeched as she tackle-hugged me. I managed to keep a hold of my bags, but only barely. “Isn’t it great to see each other again? I have so much to talk to you about! Just this morning I saw an absolutely adorable purse that would look great on you—”
“Lizzy, let me in,” I grunted. She just squeezed tighter. I tried to maneuver us into the room, leaving my larger suitcase behind, but it was slow going. Lizzy didn’t stop clinging to me, or indeed even notice.
“—they came out with a violet eyes cosmo that would just look dazzling with your skin tone. Oh, and maybe we could color your hair a little darker to complement—”
I threw my bags onto the unoccupied bed on the right side of the room. It was the only part that hadn’t been touched; Lizzy had gone overboard on decorating, covering everything in posters of her favorite bands and pictures of the two of us from when we were kids. At least she had selected pictures that only had the two of us in them. I was thankful for that.
I went back for the bag I left behind, dragging my roommate as she babbled the whole way. I didn’t really have that much; my dad lived nearby, so I could get a lot of what I needed from him. Mostly, it was just clothes and textbooks.
“—don’t you think? Laura? Don’t you think so?”
She had finally come out of her little dream world and was willing to have a real conversation. “I didn’t hear you. What was that?”
She pouted. “Laura, you never listen to me when I talk. I said we need to set up a study schedule. We can’t flunk out after all this effort.”
The first thing anyone notices about Elizabeth Greene is that she’s tall, I think reaching a little over six feet. She sprung up pretty quickly when we kids, so I’ve been shorter than her for a long time. The second thing was always her eyes. Pure gold, shining like the sun. I’m still not sure whether it was a cosmo or not—she’s had them for as long as I’ve known her, but she’s never shown any interest in other toys. Her brown hair and tanned skin matched her eyes. In the right light, she looked like a shining statue made from gold.
By contrast, my hair was a bland black, my eyes matching, and my skin so pale I think one time I got sunburned by a light bulb. Lizzy is great, and always has been, but sometimes it’s hard to be her friend. Everyone always focuses on her, and it’s like I don’t even exist. I do have one advantage, however: I am ever so much smarter than she is.
“I’d be happy to help you study,” I replied smoothly, finally managing to extract myself from her arms. “You signed up for the same classes as me, right?”
“Yeah, mostly.” She sat on her own bed, legs held to her chest. “I skipped the advanced history, biology, and physics courses. I’m just sticking with four classes.”
“But that just leaves you with three. What’s your fourth?”
I nodded. Honestly, I had expected her to drop more. “Ah, well, that’s not so bad. And I can still help you if you need it.”
“Hm,” she shrugged noncommittally. She didn’t say anything else.
I started unpacking. There wasn’t much; mostly clothes, my laptop, and…
I searched for ten minutes—despite the fact that the problem was obvious in the first ten seconds—before Lizzy noticed and spoke up.
I cursed under my breath. “I forgot sheets.” I glanced around the room. “Are there any spares in the room?”
She shook her head, but didn’t say anything else.
I sighed. She could get like this sometimes. Go from a little bundle of energy to a closed-off shell for no discernible reason. Probably because I hadn’t been paying enough attention to her. She wasn’t very helpful when it came right down to it. She was very…reactionary.
I was already beginning to regret choosing to room with her, but it was either this or some random stranger. Lizzy had lots of problems, not least being that it seemed like she couldn’t do anything by herself. But she was better than whoever I would have ended up with otherwise.
I packed away my clothes in the closet; I didn’t have many, it didn’t take long. I started up my laptop and logged into the dorm’s wifi, then plugged it in and set it on the otherwise bare desk.
Lizzy still wasn’t doing anything, just sitting on her bed and watching me. I sighed again.
“I’ll be back,” I said after a moment. “I’m going to go buy some sheets.”
“Hm.” She didn’t get up.
I shrugged and left the room after making sure I still had my keys, closing the door behind me. As I headed for the stairs, I flipped out my phone and pressed the button located directly under the screen.
“MC? Can you tell me where the closest linens store would be from my location?”
“One moment.” There was a pause. “There is one at the intersection of Abigail and Limbo. I can check their inventory if you like.”
I started down the stairs quickly. “Sure, but I just need sheets. I’m sure they’ll have them.”
“Yes, you are correct. Though it depends on what type you need.”
“Something that will fit the dorm beds.”
“They have plenty in stock, then.”
“Thank you, MC.”
“Not a problem, Miss Medina.” She disconnected just as I reached the bottom of the last flight of stairs.
Lizzy and I grew up together, right here in South Central. I lived across the street from her orphanage, and I always went over to play with the kids. Lizzy was the only one my age; with kids, a year or two is a big difference.
She was never really someone I felt very close to. Our personalities just don’t mesh well. She was interested in boys and clothes and talking, while I had my nose buried in books and strategy games.
But when I decided to move back to the district for college, I knew I needed a roommate. When I first moved to North Outer, my dad had set up an apartment for me, but my social interaction dwindled to zero. Elizabeth wasn’t my first choice, but I wasn’t ready to let AU just pick one for me at random. Maybe next year.
Seven years alone in an apartment, since I was eleven years old. Dad came over for holidays, and I went out for school and food, but that was it. Luckily in Domina that didn’t completely eliminate a social life, but I could count the people I talked to on a monthly basis on a single hand.
At least that was something Lizzy could definitely help with. She liked talking, after all, so she had a lot of friends and acquaintances she was ready to introduce me to. Unfortunately, knowing her, it would be mostly boys.
Why couldn’t she take a hint? I didn’t need a man in my life. Of course, every time I said that, she immediately came up with a list of lesbians for me to meet, which I needed even less.
But I suppose I could deal with her endless parade of forced blind dates. There were always a few diamonds in the rough, and I did need a social life. As long as I didn’t run away again, I’d be fine. As long as I didn’t have to deal with—
I looked around. I was only a few feet away from the linens store on Abigail and Limbo, and a plain looking man was coming out of the toy shop next door. But next to him, the man who had called my name…
Behind the Scenes (scene 5)
In Domina City, orphanages are quite common, because orphans are extremely common. If a character’s parents aren’t mentioned, it’s safe to assume it’s because they’re dead.