"Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality" – Emily Dickenson

Chapter 1

So, here's the thing: I don't know how or why I got here. Some people search for a meaning of life, others enjoy the ride. I chose neither path, as my hope for a better future is nothing but a dwindling lane of uncertainty that I never chose for myself.

I lock eyes with my mother, she's reading some cheesy romance novel that's making her tear up. Fucking Pisces.

"Lou, darling, stop grimacing and take some Advil. It should help with your headache," she commented, turning another page in her book.

I rolled my eyes, swallowing the Advil with a swig of water. I peered out of the window at the moving crew hauling all of my stuff into the U-Haul. There was a fit girl with a buzz cut holding a moving box as if it were nothing.

I wonder if she listens to Girl In Red, I thought.

My sister, Giulia, plops down on the couch next to me. "Hey, mom, what are you reading?" she says, hoping to disconnect mom from the book.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," she replies, monotone, completely invested in the book, "you can borrow it when I'm done."

"Yeah, no. Not happening. We don't stan JK Rowling in this house." I commented, turning away from Mom. This is going to be a long drive to college.

I never introduced myself. Hi, I'm Lou, a Leo bisexual legend. I also am TikTok famous lactosebastard (shameless plug). I wasn't too excited to go back to college since transferring to Seattle Pacific University. Changing high schools is one thing, but changing colleges is a whole new playing field. The online orientation was less than ideal, but I wasn't going to fly all the way across the country for a three-day tiresome welcoming event.

I checked my watch. It was 4 pm and I still hadn't seen my girlfriend, Alexa. She said she would come by before I left. Maybe if I send her another text, she'll see it? I opened my messages and sent her another.

Alexa kissing emoji

YESTERDAY, 9:32 P.M.

So, sushi date before I leave?

Sounds good.

Does 2 work for you?

Surel, see you then..

TODAY, 2:15 P.M.

Hey, where are you?

TODAY, 3:32 P.M.

Alexa, my flight leaves at 7.

Where are you?

Hello?

TODAY, 4:20 P.M.

Are you still coming?

No response. This was feeling fishy. My stomach was doing backflips. Maybe she forgot to check her phone? We've been together since senior year of high school, went to the same college, and have a whole cottage core future planned out.

"Hey, Lou, we're leaving to the airport in ten." I heard my sister yell. She was going to help me move in and was excited to see the West Coast. Wait until she finds out that I'm going to be living in the rainiest part of the United States.

"Almost ready." I sighed. Alexa wasn't coming.

"Alexa!" my sister yelled. I darted forward to the front door.

"…set timer ten minutes." Giulia looked up at me, confused.

"Oh, sorry."

And just like that, I ran to my room and laid on the ground. This was supposed to be the start of new beginnings, but my past had other ideas. I shouldn't be so dramatic…so me-lou-dramatic. I decided to scroll through Twitter to kill time.

The Amazon Alexa beeped. It was finally time to go and start my new life on the West Coast. I grabbed my backpack, luggage, and copy of The Hunger Games, and was on my way.

The flight wasn't so bad. I got an outside seat, put my headphones in, and switched between napping and reading my book. Giulia was busy drawing a digital artpiece, using pretty pastels to illustrate a woman like figure with her fist in the air.

We checked into our hotel for the night, ordered some takeout, and called it a night. Every few minutes, I checked my messages for a reply from Alexa. Nothing.

Thanks to a standard housing requirement, I had to stay on-campus in a dorm for at least a year. Giulia and I ubered to the nearest U-Haul place and picked up a van. By the time we arrived on campus, it was 10 a.m. and sunny. Giulia helped me unpack and move into my room. My roommate had not arrived yet, as her side of the room was completely empty. I checked the housing portal online to see who I would be living with for the next year. A girl named 'Meghan'.

"Oh no," Giulia gasped, "She's a Megan with an extra 'h'." We laughed. It would be my luck to get an ultra-alt-right conservative type of person as a roommate. I crossed my fingers that she wasn't.

Most of the other students were also moving in and the hallway was a ruckus. The dorms were co-ed, so the yelling of screaming frat boys, the crying of freshmen as their moms left, and the nonstop clacking of someone hammering a nail into something echoed through the halls. This was going to be a year. Giulia ordered some DoorDash while we waited for my RA to come by.

There were little areas within the halls with mix-matched couches and tables. We decided to sit on one of the couches and wait for our food. I checked my phone again to see if maybe my notifications weren't working. Still, no reply. Not even a read receipt. I restarted my phone just in case. Nothing.

Giulia tapped me on the shoulder.

"Look!"

I raised my eyes from my phone to see some of the most beautiful human beings. They looked as if they were carved out of marble. A blonde woman with caramel eyes met my gaze for a second. I looked away. She had her arms interlocked with a muscular man with the look of excitement on his face. He was carrying an entire printer, upside-down, as if it were a pillow.

"Rosalie, over here." a voice called. Giulia and I looked down the hall to see a girl with chocolate brown eyes and dark hair. She looked about 18 and had this look of innocence in her eyes. What was more striking were her choice of clothes; she dressed like she was 9 and in a Jojo Siwa phase. Her bright pink bow was off centered from her head.

A tall guy with no shirt, a tattoo on his shoulder, and dark hair came out of her dorm room.

"Hey, Nessie, I put together your shoe rack if you wanted to go through a few of the clothing boxes," he said, putting his hand on her waist. Something about him felt odd, especially since he had to be almost 10 years older than her. He locked eyes with me, making me squirm back down to looking at my phone.

My phone buzzed. I jolted, shakily opening my messages.

Mom

TODAY, 12:20 P.M.

Did you get moved in okay?

I took a deep breath, and texted back that everything was fine. Giulia's phone dinged, telling us that our food was here.

"Rock, paper, scissors to see who gets it?" I joked.

"You're on."

"Okay on shoot?"

"Of course."

Rock... Paper… I chose Rock. Giulia chose scissors. Classic. She nodded and got up to get the food. I looked back toward the living Greek statues. To my disbelief, they were already gone. The door itself was at the end of the hall and they would've had to pass by me to get to the stairs, yet I didn't see them. Hmm. Strange.

I got up and walked to the door to read the girl's name tag. Renesmee.

I sounded it out quietly. "Ruhh… Ruhhnay? … Ruhhnaysmuh?.. Ruhnessmeee?.. Ru-.."

Suddenly, the door jolted open and the girl from earlier stood before me.

"It's pronounced Rah-ness-may." She sneered.

"Um.. sorry?" I didn't expect someone with that kind of name to get defensive. Must be a West Coast thing. Hopefully I don't get Meghan's name wrong.

"Yeah. You should be." She shut the door in my face as I opened my mouth to respond. I chuckled to myself. She must be fun at parties.

Giulia came back with the Olive Garden we ordered. A girl was with her. Damn, she pulls girls fast.

"I found your roommate! This is Meghan!" she announced. Meghan had to be over 6 feet with an orangey tan and bleached blonde hair.

"Oh, hey, I'm Lou." my voice cracked. I was still a little shook up from the Renesmee encounter.

"Hi! I'm Meghan! I'm a fashion media major and a Zeta Theta Apple Pi!" her voice went up a few pitches. At least she was welcoming.

We talked for a bit and helped her move in. I was just relieved that I had a Meghan type roommate rather than a Renesmee. Meghan even printed a campus map and highlighted which buildings my classes were going to be in.

"Oh, and here's the mixer schedule for the week," Meghan texted me a list to my phone, "and there's actually a Kappa Alpha pregame tonight. You should come!" I nodded my head. I wasn't crazy about sorority life, but making a few friends wasn't a bad idea.

Giulia had to go to catch her flight back to New York, so she left that afternoon.

"The theme tonight is tennis pros and golf hoes." Meghan pulled out a light pink collared shirt and cut it into a crop top.

"Wait… what does that even mean?" I asked.

"It means the guys dress like a*holes and the girls dress like sl*tty Tiger Woods." she didn't even skip a beat. I opened my closet and found a plain white crop top and a wavy skirt from my e-girl phase. Thanks, Mom. I thought, remembering that she mentioned to bring anything and everything with me.

It was about 6 p.m. when my RA finally arrived. He had huge muscles, bright red hair, and a thick Russian accent.

"Hello, ladies, I'm your RA, Jacob, and hopefully you guys should be moved in." He said, going over a few ground rules before going to the next room.

Meghan looked me in the eyes, as if she was waiting for me to notice something.

"What?" I gave her a confused look back.

"You couldn't even tell, right?" she grinned.

"Tell what?"

"He's very… you know" she made a waving hand motion.

"…gay?" I asked.

"Yes! He and his boyfriend are sooo cute. His boyfriend is another RA in the dorm next to us, and …" she went on and on and on. Why are straight girls so obsessed with gay men?

"Anyways, we should get going. A few of my sisters and I are meeting at the house and pregaming" she picked up an over-the-shoulder purse.

"Pregaming the pregame?" That didn't sound very appealing to me.

"Oh, honey, we pregame the pregame all the time. And sometimes, we pregame the pre-pregame and the pregame." she laughed.

Yikes. Looks like I'm going to have to watch her tonight. I thought. I hadn't been on Mom duty since Alexa drank too much at New Year's. My phone buzzed.

Alexa kissing emoji

I'm here!

Oof. A little late.

I've already left and moved in.

She couldn't have gotten the date wrong. Maybe her text messages weren't going through until later?

Open the door, babe!

My heart skipped a beat. Is she… here?

I walked over to my door, turned the handle, and creaked it open.

There she was. Her beautiful curly hair, her deep brown eyes, and her bright smile.

She. was. here.