Natalie Lind Writes it all Down For Posterity #16

By Anna Chastain

This is rancid butter,ƒ?? Bernadette says. She takes another bite of her toast. ƒ?oeNo it isnƒ?TMt,ƒ?? Jeff says, ƒ?oeI had some just now and it was fine.ƒ??

ƒ?oeWhen you put that much honey on anything itƒ?TMs going to mask it pretty well.ƒ??

Bernadette puts her toast back on her plate. And then twenty seconds later sheƒ?TMs taking another bite.

ƒ?oeIf it was rancid you wouldnƒ?TMt keep eating it,ƒ?? Jeff says.

ƒ?oeMaybe you put margarine on instead,ƒ?? Toby says. ƒ?oeThat could explain why itƒ?TMs off.ƒ??

Bernadette tries to hand us her toast. ƒ?oeWell man up guys: have a bite.ƒ??
We decline. I work my way through a second mug of coffee and wonder why caffeine doesnƒ?TMt always deliver the kick itƒ?TMs supposed to.

Toby dials his parentsƒ?TM landline for the fifth time today and a high-pitched digitized voice says ƒ?oeThe number youƒ?TMve called is no longer in service,ƒ?? which is apparently something new, and Toby cranks up the volume on his cell phone so we all can hear. ƒ?oeThey arenƒ?TMt answering their cell either though,ƒ?? Toby says. ƒ?oeHow am I supposed to know whatƒ?TMs going on.ƒ??

ƒ?oeHuh.ƒ?? Jeff looks puzzled and stirs his humus with a carrot stick. ƒ?oeThatƒ?TMs rough but things will work through. They just donƒ?TMt want you all mixed up in whateverƒ?TMs going down: they probably figure you have enough anxiety.ƒ??

ƒ?oeJews can never get enough anxiety,ƒ?? Warren mutters.

Toby pulls away from the table slightly, looks at him and says, ƒ?oeWeƒ?TMve been over this.ƒ??

ƒ?oeOK but itƒ?TMs really fucking hard to turn the volume down on yours: youƒ?TMre worried all the time,ƒ?? Warren says. ƒ?oeWant me to personalize it more?ƒ??

Bernadette says, ƒ?oeYou like buttered toast, Toby. Try some toast.ƒ??

Jeff blows his nose in a napkin and says, ƒ?oeSomeone feel my forehead. I think Iƒ?TMm running a fever of like 102.ƒ??

ƒ?oeMaybe itƒ?TMs stomach flu,ƒ?? I say.

Bernadette says, ƒ?oeMaybe itƒ?TMs rancid butter.ƒ??

ƒ?oeLay off the butter,ƒ?? Jeff says. ƒ?oeMaybe they just switched brands.ƒ??

Kesia doesnƒ?TMt arrive at dinner, and when Bernadette and I finally get back to the dorm, me after four mugs of coffee and Bernadette carrying a fresh piece of buttered toast she can hand round and tally for quality, thereƒ?TMs the ƒ?codeƒ?TM we made up as a joke printed on our whiteboard and Bernadette says, ƒ?oeThis is ridiculous. No one sexiles out of a triple: Iƒ?TMm going in.ƒ?? I tug her back by her jacket and she discovers she doesnƒ?TMt have her key as Toby and Warren follow us into the hall. ƒ?oeWeƒ?TMre sexiled,ƒ?? Bernadette says. ƒ?oeDo you believe this?ƒ??

Tobyƒ?TMs reading a letter he just got from his little brother and looks up and says, ƒ?oeWhat?ƒ?? Then he says, ƒ?oeThereƒ?TMs some talk of combining households with my momƒ?TMs parents since theyƒ?TMre already in Moorhead too and granddad has a pretty steady job feeding the mail sorter at the plant.ƒ??

ƒ?oeDoing the what?ƒ?? Warren says. ƒ?oeAnd heƒ?TMs how old?ƒ?? And then, ƒ?oeDoes this mean you might not want to go home for the summer now?ƒ??

ƒ?oeI said weƒ?TMre sexiled,ƒ?? Bernadette says. ƒ?oeAnd you know what I bet: Kesiaƒ?TMs in there by herself enjoying a little alone time with Sartre. Or sheƒ?TMs not in there at all. Iƒ?TMm going in. Nat, give me your key.ƒ??

I donƒ?TMt give her my key. She leans against our door and I notice the lounge is empty except for an empty container of Thai food and a half full bottle of beer so I open the door but it still smells like ketchup. Warren says we can all play a board game in his room but Bernadette isnƒ?TMt into losing sight of our door so we end up doing trivia in the hall while Bernadette tries to feed first-years her toast. Twelve minutes in she complains about nausea and makes for the bathroom on the other half of the floor. Sheƒ?TMs gone when our door opens and Len slips out and stops beside our game to tell us this two against one thing isnƒ?TMt fair and ask us why we arenƒ?TMt in the lounge.

Toby says, ƒ?oeIt smells like ketchup in there.ƒ??

Len says, ƒ?oeWhatƒ?TMs the big deal about ketchup? Itƒ?TMs not like itƒ?TMs vomit. Itƒ?TMs not like itƒ?TMs weird French cheese. Youƒ?TMd meet more people if you hung out in the lounge.ƒ??

ƒ?oeThat too,ƒ?? Toby says.

Warren offers Len the piece of toast Bernadette left propped on the top half of the box and he looks tempted but he turns it down. He doesnƒ?TMt leave until Bernadette comes back having washed her face with warm water and then attempted to dry it with the hand dryer. Len heads off for dinner and I tell Bernadette we can go in our room now.

I ask Bernadette if she thinks she caught Jeffƒ?TMs stomach flu.

She says, ƒ?oeWhat stomach flu? Iƒ?TMm telling you itƒ?TMs the butter. You think Iƒ?TMm kidding just come on and choke this down,ƒ?? sheƒ?TMs waving the toast around, ƒ?oeif I have stomach flu what are you people so afraid of?ƒ??
ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm not afraid of it,ƒ?? Warren says. ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm full.ƒ??

ƒ?oeWait a minute,ƒ?? Bernadette says. ƒ?oeDid that spotty little douche from my Art and the Environment class just come out of our room? Come on Kesia,ƒ?? she says, pushing the door open, ƒ?oewhatƒ?TMs going on?ƒ??
Kesia has Lacan open on her desk and is sitting by it eating chocolate chip cookies from an economy pack that came in her last care package. ƒ?oeIƒ?TMve decided I need to pick up the pace,ƒ?? Kesia says. ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm even playing with the idea Iƒ?TMd relinquish nap-time. Natalie doesnƒ?TMt need naps and she just sleeps maybe six hours a night.ƒ??

Bernadette points at me: ƒ?oeKes, are you sure you want to get as caffeinated as her?ƒ??

ƒ?oeWhat?ƒ?? I say. ƒ?oeJeffƒ?TMs the one with the eye twitch.ƒ??

Bernadette starts to say something about Len but then has to make toward the bathroom again.

I say, ƒ?oeOnce you get the conversation going Len does kind of move off his thing with the lounge?ƒ??

Warren picks up Bernadetteƒ?TMs toast from my desk, where sheƒ?TMd set it down, and tosses it into my recycling. Toby says to him, ƒ?oeWeƒ?TMve talked about this too.ƒ??

Kesia says, ƒ?oeBernadette wasnƒ?TMt going to eat that?ƒ??