Her Secrets & Mine - Chapter Forty One

I sat alone in the cafeteria at Penn State, surrounded by other students who barely even noticed I was there. As I did every day, I watched the other students laugh and talk. I was literally the only student in the the whole place that was unaccompanied. I dipped my chicken finger in ketchup and realized how alone I was. It wasn’t that I wanted friends, but I at least wanted the chance to turn friends down. As a child, anytime other children approached me to play, talk, or hang out, I turned them down. Now, no one even noticed that I existed, and I hadn’t had the chance to turn friends down in years. I wondered if I was unapproachable and decided that I most definitely was.

I was almost back to my dorm when a golf cart pulled up behind me. I sped up, but no matter how fast I went the hum of the golf cart stayed directly behind me. I slid to one side of the path and felt the golf cart slide to the side too. I didn’t want to turn around and see who it was, afraid that my lunch time thoughts about being friendless had somehow attracted some crazy person wanting to be my friend. I willed myself to look straight ahead and stay calm, but just as I went to cut across the grass toward my building I heard someone clearing their throat repeatedly behind me.

“You going to ignore us?” A familiar voice asked.

I turned around to see Mama and Penny squeezed in beside a security guard waving. “What in the world?” I asked, relieved.

“This will be fine,” Mama told the young hunky guard, patting him on the back and getting out of the cart. “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome ma’am.” He waved at them as he pulled away, he had obviously enjoyed their company.

“What are y’all doing here?” I hugged them both.

“We were looking for somewhere to go and decided that this was as good a place as any!” Penny and Mama were the craziest pair of friends I could have ever asked for.

“Where will you stay? I have class at two.” I wasn’t willing to miss English for their shenanigans, especially not if I ever wanted to be a published writer. “Do you have a hotel?”

“You’ve got a dorm room don’t you?” Mama knew good and well that she wouldn’t last long in a dorm. She was used to being waited on hand and foot, especially now that Anna and I were in college and she traveled so much.

“You two want to sleep in my room? I have one twin bed.” I punched the code into the system and held the heavy metal door open for them.

“We can get a hotel.” Penny was slightly more sensible than Mama.

“Well I at least want to see your room. We can hang out there until you get out of class at three.”

“Try five.” I corrected.

“Two to five? My gracious!” It had been a long time since Mama had been to college.

“Yes, but I don’t have another class until tomorrow afternoon. I guess I could stay at the hotel with you two?” I could use a break from the rowdy girls next door who jumped around and danced all night.

“Sounds like a plan! We’ll stay in your room until five and then we’ll head out!”

“It’s a plan.” I opened the door to my room and let them head in before me. I was thankful that I had straightened up and had made my bed before my morning class. Mama and Penny gushed over how nice the comforter set that Mama had sent up looked and how cute my bulletin board was. Most college girls had bulletin boards covered in pictures of all their friends, I wasn’t most college girls though. Mine had photographs of old movie stars and bands and a collection of first class plane ticket stubs that were reminders of all the places I had been.


After class, I threw my bag over my shoulders and hurried back to my room, knowing that Penny and Mama were probably bored out of their minds already. I was excited about getting away for the night, and knew that Mama and Penny would cheer me up! They had always managed to before.

I heard the music from next door thumping away and the girls were already laughing hysterically. “God, it’s only five fifteen.” I said to myself as I unlocked my door. I stopped dead in my tracks! The dresser that I had strategically placed in front of the door that adjoined my room with the party animals’ room was pushed aside and the door was open. The girls were sitting on my bed, at my desk, and were coming and going as they pleased.

“Hey honey!” Mama was sitting in the floor having her hair braided into tiny corn rows by the blonde girl who had never bothered looking my direction as we passed in the hall every day.

I just stood frozen until a little Chinese girl came and led me over to the desk. “We’ll paint your nails, Addy!”

“It’s Adeline.” I mumbled as I followed her to the desk and sat down as I was told.

“Isn’t it great?” Penny set a Diet Coke on the desk beside me and grinned. “We were rearranging your room and met these fine girls.”

I looked around at the new set up and took a deep breath. “Don’t move your hand!” the stranger warned as she slid a brush covered in red across my short bare nails. I wanted to be mad, but instead endured the little party that Mama and Penny had gotten me into. They were obviously trying to find me some friends.

“Truth or dare?” The blonde girl had finished Mama’s micro braids and finally acknowledged my presence.

“Truth.” I had never played truth or dare before, but could only imagine the crazy dares that these immature girls would come up with.

“Is it true that you…” She searched her roommates and friends’ faces for ideas about what to ask. One of them whispered something in her ear and she smiled. “That you are having an affair with Dr. Nalik? I heard you were the only one with an A in his class last semester!”

I was taken aback. Dr. Nalik? An affair? I felt my face grow hot and the entire room busted out laughing, including Penny and Mama. “She’s only joking!” One of them assured me. “Have you never played truth or dare? Half the time the questions are crazy, especially when you don‘t know anything about the person!”

“Oh.” I was embarrassed. I couldn’t wait for the girls to leave and made an excuse about having a headache.

“Well we’ve got more friends coming anyway, we better go set up twister!” They gathered their things and promised to come back soon. Penny helped them carry their baskets full of hair supplies and finger nail polish back to their room.

“You look great, Addy!” Mama told the rest of the girls goodbye and closed the door between the rooms. I felt silly, I was covered in makeup, had big curly hair, had red finger nails and zebra print toe nails. I felt like a fish out of water around those girls. We had nothing in common and thank goodness for that! They were exactly the opposite of what I wanted to be. They were more caught up in having fun than they were in their futures.

“Nice girls.” Penny came back through the door, she looked like she had thoroughly enjoyed herself.

“Better pack a bag, Ad.” Mama was studying the amazing swirls that the brunette art student had painted on her nails.

I headed over to the dresser, pulled out the clothes that I needed for the night, and then pushed it back in front of the door. Penny and Mama exchanged glances, realizing that I hadn’t said a word in the last five minutes, and finally acknowledged the fact that I was unhappy. “Oh, hope you’re not mad.” Penny handed me a duffel bag and I slid the clothes inside.

“I’m not mad, I’m just ready to go.” I turned out the lights and waited for them to head into the hall behind me. It was nearly nine o’clock and I was ready to curl up in a king sized luxuriously made bed and sleep off the headache that the smell of nail polish and the giddy sound of laughter had given me. I felt like the adult, instead of the sophomore in college and realized that Penny and Mama were ridiculous!