Natalie Lind Writes It All Down For Posterity #9

By Anna Chastain

I walk into our room and Bernadette is rearranging her third of the floor space to accommodate a large duvet she says she got out of her older cousin’s storage unit in Edina. When I act surprised that she has family in the area she tells me this has come up in conversations before and why don’t I kick up my listening skills. But I hear her fine as she adjusts some pink tulle she’s got tacked to the wall under her lofted bed and says “So Jeff and I might be sort of dating now.” “I guess you want to talk about it.” I take off my coat and sit down and notice she’s got her eyebrows in their defensive position. “I guess Kesia will be pretty disappointed.”

Bernadette shrugs, “Help me get things into a diagonal pattern. It helps my anxiety when I lift stuff.”

I stay where I am. “It doesn’t help my anxiety.” I watch her to make sure she doesn’t extend her enthusiasm to anything I own. And I’m still watching when Toby comes into the room. He slumps against the wall and pouts out his bottom lip. It’s fall break and theoretically he’d have gone home since Moorhead isn’t really that far away, but he has a five page paper due Monday and that’s his excuse for staying here. He’s yawning a lot though, and I ask him how late he stayed up the night before: I know he wandered out of our room at 10:30, because that was when Bernadette put on her Blondie wig and cranked up the strobe light she keeps shoved under her desk.

“It might have been three in the morning,” he says.

“You’re going to get bags under your eyes,” Bernadette says. “And your glasses aren’t going to hide them.”

“Like your hair didn’t hide your acne?” He’s scuffing the carpet with a shoe. “I talked to Jeff and he says you and he are dating now. So I told Kesia that like two minutes ago when I saw her interacting with the downstairs vending machines, and I’ve seen her happier.”

Bernadette kicks her trash bucket into better symmetry with the guest chair. “I told Jeff it was on the DL.”

“I invited all of you to my place for Thanksgiving. I get to know these things.” He pivots toward me and asks if I want to go smoke a cigarette so I grab a pack and my coat and am surprised when Bernadette doesn’t follow us outside. Toby says she’s getting less observant and I move around to his other side so the smoke blows away from him and I notice that it’s not really that cold. He asks how the Halloween party went the night before and I remark that it wasn’t my idea and the only people who came were Paul Zilberdik, dressed as a low-rent version of himself, Timothy Fruit, on an anti-alcohol binge, and some first-year who heard the music through his floor. Toby remarks it’s too bad Jeff’s been on duty all break but this isn’t something either of us has strong feelings about so we stand there, him rearranging his glasses on his nose and me fighting the impulse to light another cigarette. Just when I think he’s about to say something interesting and he’s looking over his shoulder to see who can hear us, Kesia comes out of the Dupre double doors clutching an unopened can of Coca-Cola which she gives to me saying: “I’m this close to going fuck my New Year's resolution of 1999,' I want to suck up carbonation like it's vitamin E but you see me resisting."<br /><br /> I start to drink it for her and she starts talking about Bernadette and Jeff. She's winding down by the time Warren walks by; he nods in our direction and tries to avoid the stop and chat routine, but Kesia calls him over on the pretext that he has a watch.<br /><br /> "I have a watch too," Toby says. And so do I, but I see they've got that covered so I drink more soda and don't contribute.<br /><br /> "Is that a Rolex?" Kesia asks, holding Warren's watch off his wrist between finger and thumb and squinting at the details.<br /><br /> Warren shrugs. Kesia asks him what he's been doing over break and he shrugs again.<br /><br /> "Do you have a lot of homework to do?" she asks.<br /><br /> "Not really." He's not looking at any of us, he's watching a squirrel eat half a peanut butter sandwich on the grass.<br /><br /> "I don't either," Kesia says. "Maybe we should do something this afternoon."<br /><br /> Warren mumbles something discouraging, tells Toby he needs him to pick up some book about complex nervous systems from his room, and walks into the dorm.<br /><br /> Toby stares at Kesia. "I don't think you should try to force-shift your crush like that."<br /><br /> She tells him to mind his own business and then asks what I think. I tell her I agree with Toby, she says that Bernadette will agree with her and I decide the conversation has probably gone as far as it can. Toby wants to know what he's done with his glasses so I point out they're still on his nose and this time it's Kesia who tells him he needs to get more sleep. Kesia goes inside to talk to Bernadette and Toby and I look at each other for a minute, me finishing the soda and him with his big brownI’m hiding something’ eyes. Then I tell him he wouldn’t know a complex nervous system from goat cheese so Warren needs to think up better code: and I ask him “How long has it been going on?”

E-mail Anna Chastain ’08 at [email protected]