Heya all! I’ve never been much of a writer, but I’m trying to do a new years thing, so I realised that with a captive audience, I can get away with more.
As a reader you should expect tropes, bad prose, and planting that never pays off.
I have a few more days planned out, but nothing is set in stone.
Very happy to take criticism, this isn’t a passion project, it’s a learning experience for me.
When last September rolled around, I had an epiphany forced onto me.
I had spent the first few years of college majorly slacking, and I didn’t realize how badly until my final year started and I looked at an empty e-mail inbox.
I had spent the whole summer applying for internships, training days, and anything and everything a college student is supposed to do. No dice. When I built up the courage to look at my results, they weren’t that bad: a middling C shouldn’t have meant no responses, I reasoned.
Maybe I had set my sights too high, and only applied to very selective places, or maybe I spelled my address wrong, or maybe the classes I did take weren’t sufficiently prestigious classes, or maybe -.
I spiralled for a little before snapping to. It didn’t really matter why I didn’t get any responses, only that I didn’t. I immediately began contacting professors to see about some very late corrections to past grades, extra credit, and started looking for which classes I could take to make myself more attractive when I would send out my next set of resumes.
I even started volunteering with underprivileged deaf children. Or, at least, I said I began to tell everyone I did.
And that lead me to here, talking to the college’s career guidance counselor in mid October.
The guidance counselor would best be described as “not fat”. He had the extra weight that came with living a sedentary deck lifestyle and eating badly for decades. His hair hadn’t begun to thin yet, not had it lightened from what was presumably his natural medium brown. His suit, however, had greyed, I could see that his elbows were shinier than the rest of it, and his tie had one too many stain: one.
“Okay, Aoife”, he stared into his notebook, and then back into my file, splayed open on his deck, then let out a much longer exhale than anyone could have thought his lungs would manage, “you’re correct in coming to me, but I stress that you should have done so earlier”.
I tried to hold in my contempt, but it was hard.
Of course I should have come earlier, did he think I didn’t know that? I barely had a single sober day before I turned 20, couldn’t he tell from my explanation how angry I was at myself already? I didn’t need his bullshit on top of that.
He sighed, and I calmed down as he looked me in the eyes, like I was the pathetic one. You are, stop being like this, he’s accomplished more than you will if you don’t take his advice.
I knew he could tell what I was thinking.
He’s just doing his job, you need his help.
I apologized and asked him if he had any ideas.
The rest of the meeting went pretty well, and at the end he gave me some advice he probably shouldn’t have, in retrospect.
“The way I see it, you have three paths forward: your recent effort begins to peter out and you go back to what you did for the last three years, I think you know how this would go.” He looked back up from his deck and went from deadpan to a little more hopeful, “you could continue to work as hard as you’ve been working the last six weeks, you go to all of your classes, convince one of the more overworked and less discerning departments to give you a TA position, and you scam your way into a decent grade, this would probably get you some responses, and it’s what I would tell most people to do, and it’s what I would do myself in your shoes.”
“Then -” I stopped myself, I was a little anxious he was about to say something that would end with my fist in his face, and very cautiously stepped out onto the conversational ice “sorry then, what’s the last option?”
“Well, don’t tell anyone I told you to do this, but do what you were doing anyway, and do it twice.” He paused, looking at me, clearly hoping I would understand the implication. Unfortunately, I think that I did.
It was my turn to exhale, my lips forced open involuntarily as my mouth began to act as a motorcycle. Finally I sought clarification.
“I don’t understand, sorry”.
He leaned back and clasped his hands behind his back, before contorting his body until I heard a crack
“I need a new fucking desk”, he muttered under his breath, before answering my question.
“There isn’t technically a limit to the number of classes you can take in a year. You’re a smart kid: I can see that from your school results, that you didn’t manage to translate them into results here is unfortunate, but it presents you with a unique opportunity.” He nodded questioningly and I nodded back. I had understood him correctly.
“As long as you do well, no one here is gonna notice or stop you from taking an entire degree worth of classes this year. You can still graduate on time, but if you could turn a few Cs in incredibly disparate subjects into mostly Bs in one area, we could quietly move your previous years from the front page of your transcript to the back page. Places could still ask for a full one, but no one ever does.”
I thought for a minute.
And then another minute.
“I suppose there’s a catch?”
The man shrugged.
“Probably, people have done this before, you’re aware of all of the kids who graduate after a year or two, guess how they did it.”
He stood up, the air expelling from his lungs as he did so making a raspy moan, blinked a few times, and shuffled around to his door, and continued, “I can’t tell you what to do, but remember: you’ve already signed up for Math 422, despite having never taken the suggested prerequisites. You’re gonna have to learn all of that material anyway in order to have even the slightest chance of a good grade.”
I stood up, nodded, “thanks, Mr. -” I quickly scanned the room, looking for an answer, when-
“Get the fuck out of my room”
I took a step back and the door slammed in front of me, the name plate an inch from my nose.
Mr Peate, I should remember that.
I hated to admit it, but Mr Peate at the careers office was probably right. After another two weeks, with a Halloween party a hour and a half away, I was able to sit down with my newer results and a calculator, and even if I did do perfectly from hereonout, I certainly wouldn’t hire me, let alone any real companies.
I sent him a email, short introduction, thanks for the meeting the other week, “after some consideration, I believe you were correct in your assessment as to my options, I’d like to organize the third choice, if you think it would still be beneficial”, then a bullshit conclusion, and I attached a copy of my current and proposed timetable, and a list of TAships I’d managed to get. Somehow I was the only person willing to teach Shakespeare on a Thursday night to EFL students, so much for my B minus.
My phone pinged back pretty quickly, his email was the same: a bullshit opening and closing, and sandwiched in the middle: “I’ve called in some favors, I don’t do this every day, so you’d better make this work”.
I tossed my phone onto my bed and began to strip as I made my way to the shower, ready to have one last night of fun.
Once clean and dressed I grabbed my costume, still in it’s bag - sexy cat of course - and left. We were all dressing at Bhara’s house, which I didn’t know the exact location of.
I pretty quickly found my friends though, Jackie was on the front porch smoking, so I went in to say hi, I found a bottle, and together we found some dutch courage.
Once we sufficiently pregamed, the six of us jumped into our various excuses - cat, cat, librarian, devil, Frodo Baggins, and cat - headed out to the long awaited party, and walked right past the intended destination.
We all got incredibly rancid vibes as we approached the house, so we continued on to Anna’s (the devil’s) house, who reasoned that getting shitfaced at hers was preferable to the horror story about to unfold just down the road. Pretty quickly some more people turned up - I assumed at the time and continue to assume that most of them were invited by one of the girls - and from there my memory gets a little fuzzy.
I kissed a few too many people, drank a few too many drinks, and dragged the first guy who eyed me across the room, James, upstairs and into the first empty bedroom in Anna’s house, stripping him down to his boxers and binder, helping him put on a strap-on for the first time, and …
I woke up, clammy, covered in sweat, dehydrated and sick. I stumbled out to the toilet and after upending the contents of my stomach out of my mouth, I pulled myself out of the black cat onesie which was now missing one of its ears, and rinsed myself off in the shower.
When I got out I realised something a little unfortunate.
Whilst part of the smell from my clothes and the bed was definitely typical sex sweat, there was definitely a heavy contribution from stale urine. I wrapped myself in a towel and tiptoed out and downstairs, before raiding Anna’s laundry basket for something. I sent a text to explain, lying a little, only saying I wanted to make my “walk of shame” a little more comfortable. I heard a phone ping from the other side of the house, then a groan, and then a thumbs up emoji popped onto my screen, followed by a gif of someone I didn’t recognize smiling and putting sunglasses on, and finally I heard Anna collapsing back into her bed.
I shoved my remaining clothes into a plastic bag and walked out the door.
I got home pretty quickly and changed again into my own clothes, making a note to wash and return them, and thank her with a coffee date, before finally decompressing.
It’s funny, I thought, wetting the bed at the last party after never doing anything remotely embarrassing when I dream twice that much every day.
I made myself an ice bag, a hot water bottle, some coffee, some orange juice, and some food, before collapsing onto my sofa with Netflix on low with subtitles, as I nursed what I planned on being my final hangover for a while.
My phone began to beep as everyone else woke up and began sharing stories of the night before. Jane, who I didn’t even remember being there, told our Chemistry study group chat that James, with whom I had my tryst last night, had woken up covered in piss, and the last anyone could remember was him disappearing off with some sexy cat. I heard a few asymptomatic stories over the course of the day, checking every 40ish minutes as episodes of my show finished. The grapevine had converged on one suspect: my roommates came in at one point to finish off the end of the season, and they told me that everyone was pretty certain that piss girl was Alice, who had been last seen wearing a sexy cat outfit, and who had also woken up nude face down in the middle of the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t care to correct the narrative, especially when later in the evening, Alice’s Instagram pinged with a selfie in Starbucks with a smiling James and a coded caption, something about happy accidents.
I shuffled back into the kitchen and made myself some dinner, ate half of it, put the remains into the fridge, and went off to bed.