“Sarah, wake up girl! You’re going to make us late for college again and it’s the last day!” I hear whining from the other end of the door. Come to think of it, this voice has been at it for the past couple of minutes and the constant banging on the wooden frame is really annoying me.
“Sarah!” My sister whines again and stomps off. I smile against my pillow knowing my mission is accomplished. I swing my body over and look at the clock. I guess it really is getting late, so I should get ready. Today is the final day of classes and college “fun” before we all head back to our hometowns and spend time with the family. A ping on my phone gets my attention.
Sarah, don’t forget to hand in your third-year textbooks at the front office. You need to lock up the library before the holidays. Enjoy your break before your final year.
I groan as I remember that I promised to sort out the last of the student’s textbooks today. With a big huff, I lift myself off the bed and get ready for the day ahead, settling for plain jeans and a baggy, pink t-shirt with sneakers. I put my hair in a high pony and leave my room.
“Grief Sarah, you really like keeping me waiting don’t you?” Milly says, her highlighted hair in perfect waves as she devours the last of the chocolate croissants. When she peeps over at me she rolls her eyes.
“Would it hurt you to wear a dress or perhaps something that fits? I don’t get it.” She says and takes her plate to the kitchen sink. I shrug my shoulders and grab some fruit slices.
“Milly, not all of us are interested in wearing makeup daily and turning heads. I just want to be myself and get through college, okay?” I say truthfully. Milly is in her first year of fashion and style design, which is the perfect choice of career for her, but I am not into that stuff. I am going into law and business, like my mother.
“Fine, but you know you would look killer in some shorts!” Milly says again and we both laugh. I haven’t worn shorts since I was a child. I guess I don’t really like showing my body that much. We both finish off our breakfast and get out things together before leaving out the door to our shared apartment on the college grounds. I look over at Milly, who is beaming from ear to ear as we approach the huzz-buzz of the school grounds. She really is such a bubbly and stunning girl and finds a reason to thrive in any situation. I feel myself becoming anxious as I round the last corner before entering into the building.
“Well, well…” One of the guys say. Oh boy, here it comes. Milly looks over at me with sympathetic eyes.
“If it isn’t beauty Nelson and her beast sister.” Wesley laughs and his gaggle of jock friends laughs with. Milly punches the one guy’s shoulder, as if protecting me, but the truth is that these are her friends and I am unfortunately the “ugly” sister. My eyes scan over the posy of guys who think they are golden in this environment. All of them are laughing, except for one who is packing away his books and rolling his eyes instead. My heart skips a beat, as it has since we were in junior school together, but my mind tells me to stay very clear. Lucas Murray in all his tall, tanned, dark-eyed and dirty brown-haired perfect has been the knight in shining armor in all of my dreams, but he doesn’t know I exist. His family and mine have been friends for years, but even then, Lucas has never acknowledged my existence. Why is he not laughing? I frown.
“What about you?” I whisper out, not even realizing that my thoughts had come out in actual words. Everyone has gone quiet but is wearing mischievous smiles as they follow my eyes to the god-like man packing away his bags. My eyes don’t miss the vivid lines and degrees of architecture written all over them. He is going into his final year to become an architect, like his father. Lucas’s eyes search his friend’s in confusion and then land on mine. I shouldn’t have said anything out loud. What was I thinking?
“What about me? Firstly, I don’t have time for ridiculous teasing and high-school-type gossip.” He says, his eyes flashing to his friends. For a second I think I am fine, but then his gaze lands on me. My breathing hitches, as his dark orbs penetrate into mine. This would be the first time he has ever addressed me.
“Secondly, will you be a darling and take these books back to the library for me? I don’t know your name, but to work in a library must mean you’re a nerd. So I will just call you that from now on, okay?” Lucas says and all his friends, including my sister, start laughing at his words. I feel my eyes well up as I take the books from his hands. When my eyes quickly glance over to my sister, I see her shooting me a sympathetic smile, before she turns and continues chatting with her friends. I turn around, my arms heavy with textbooks and I allow the first tear to escape down my cheek. This is how college has been for me. I really thought that the stigmatism of being a “nerd” would end at high school, but unfortunately being a nerd next to a model sister doesn’t make it ever go away. My feet make their way hurriedly to the library, where Mr. Collins is waiting and tapping his foot.
“Ah, Sarah, I almost thought you forgot!” Mr. Collins says.
“No, sir, how could I forget that I work here?” I reply back a little too sarcastically. I can see he wants to say something, but the tears on my face stop him. He shrugs and then walks away, leaving me to my job. The rest of the day is spent much the same. Me doing my best to organize everything so that when I return from holiday I don’t have to worry too much about admin. My heart can’t help but feel left out, as I watch the many groups of friends gathering and picnicking outside the library. They are talking of parties and their memories of the year. This is so unlike my time in college, where parties are a no-no and friends are at a bare minimum.
“Sarah, shall we go for a coffee to celebrate the end of the year?” My only best friend, Kelsey, says. I smile at her and nod. She also works at the library, so we spend all of our time together.
Honestly, I don’t get why everyone bags on that poor girl. Sure, she is a nerd and a complete plain Jane next to her sister, Milly, but half the girls in the college look like frumps next to her, so what is the big deal? I kind of feel a bit bad for her. She is clearly very smart because she has been acing every year of law school this entire time and to make it into Mr. Collin's good books and seal a job at the library is pretty prestigious. I have seen her face in the college magazine a few times for getting such good marks. There is something pretty about a girl with brains.
“What you so deep in thought about?” Milly asks and lifts her pointy finger up to rub away the creases of skin between my eyes. I have always appreciated Milly’s carefree and positive attitude and even though she may be a sack of sexiness in one small, bite-sized package, my heart could never find a reason to be with her. Milly and I have grown up together and she is like a baby sister to me.
“Just thinking of the holidays. My parents sound pretty excited about heading down to the beach with you guys.” I say, obviously lying and not wanting to concern Milly with my thoughts about her sister. I feel bad that I lied about not knowing her name. Her bright, green eyes seemed to dull a bit at that moment. I have grown up in the same grade as Sarah since we were little.
“EEEEK! We are going to have so much fun, Lucas! Imagine all the parties, the drinks, the bonfires and water skiing!” Milly squeals and I laugh at her reaction. Truth is, the holidays at the beach have always been some of the best of my life. Now that I come to mention it, Sarah has always been pretty absent from all the holidays.
“Do you think Sarah will be joining us this year?” I ask and Milly shrugs her shoulders.
“I don’t know to be honest. She usually does internships at the company in her holiday times and even if she were to come, Sarah doesn’t really do the whole beach vacay vibe. She will probably find some reason to lock herself up in her room and read.” Milly says, rolling her eyes. I nod at her reply. Sarah is so studious. I wonder how much more her brain can take in?
“Say, why did you pretend to not know her name back there with everyone?” Milly asks, now poking a pointy nail into my chest. If she weren’t so petite, I may have thought she looks scary, but Milly can never be scary looking so I laugh instead.
“Ah, Milly, I don’t know. Same reason why you never stand up for her to everyone, I guess?” I say and a flash of guilt goes over Milly’s expression.
“It’s so hard to stand up for Sarah when she really doesn’t try hard to integrate.” She says more softly. I can see she cares for her sister but is feeling at a loose end.
“Hey, I am sure Sarah will eventually integrate. Some people just need a few more nudges.” I say and Milly smiles and nods.
“Someone who is popular just needs to take her in and show her the world. That’s what she really needs. To see that life isn’t all about books and studies and law and the justice system. Sometimes I worry that Sarah doesn’t know how to have fun.” Milly laments again. I try to go in to say something, but the loud college bells ring and signify the start of our last classes. We quickly wave and head off. Today I finish my second last year of architecture, so no time to play around. I also need to head back to my hockey team trials to choose the new squad for next year, so a lot of stuff needs to happen today before I can relax tomorrow. On my way to class, I head past the library and my eyes immediately land on Sarah, who is smiling and acting silly along with another taller girl. They are packing away books, but Sarah looks like she is another person. I haven’t ever seen her smile before. It’s like the window is offering me a view into Sarah’s other life and world. Perhaps there is more to this woman than what meets the eye?
“Come, Lucas! You have five minutes to get to class!” Tom chirps and smacks me across the back. This brings me out of my mental fog.
“Yeah, yeah. I am coming.” I say as I start moving away from the library window. The last thing I see is Sarah laughing out with all her might as her friend twirls. I wonder what made her laugh like that? She looks so…
The bell rings again and my feet start running to the building where my classes are. I am late.
The rest of the day drags on, each minute taking longer than the next. Everyone is so pumped about their holidays, that nobody can concentrate on the tasks at hand. The lecturers are even wasting our time by letting us watch movies and socialize in class. Seriously, I could have been doing something less painful than sitting on a hard, wooden chair in a lecture hall to socialize. Nevertheless, that final bell rings louder than ever and it is as if a giant weight has been lifted off the campus. I can smell the relief and excitement in the air, as everyone picks up their bags and starts heading out of the college building to go begin their holiday.
I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.