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Clothes are spilling out of suitcases and slowly making their way into dresser drawers, seemingly by themselves. Cables are sitting in a tangled mess on the floor after someone attempted to remove the one they needed and apparently failed. Computers have been placed onto separate desks and no one is worrying that someone might take them while they aren‟t being watched. For all I know each computer ceases to exist when I look away and there is no guarantee that it will be sitting in the same place the next time I come across it. My roommate and I are in the process of lofting my bed. His bed has already been placed at the opposite end of a long narrow room. This is the room where we will spend the next twelve months living with each other as strangers. In this room we know we will exhaust ourselves writing papers that will only take a short time to grade. It is in this room where we will spend hours on end playing pointless games on the shiny screen of the newly purchased television that currently sits in the corner. We know that this is to be our room for a long period of time and we wish to get everything about the room right. Unfortunately for us, our room comes with some flaws which are visible in the light fixture mounted on the ceiling. The light casts an amber glow about the room, making the eye view objects in the room as though they are from a faded photograph from decades past. I look up at my roommate and we make eye contact through the poorly lit room, odd shadows are cast upon his face, his eyes dart up to the light and indicating that we share a mutual opinion of the lighting. I look around and realize that my parents must already have left the room or that they might not ever have even been in the room to begin with. I wonder how long I have been standing in this spot, merely absorbing my surroundings, creating impressions of them to be recalled for future use. As I turn my head towards my roommate‟s bed, the room seems to get longer and smaller at his end like someone has grabbed that wall and pulled. As this is happening, I see the window on the wall shrink out of view, taking what little light it provided with it. We are closed off from what is happening outside in the world. I turn my attention to the door, realizing that my roommate‟s bed fades into the darkness and disappears as my eyes lose focus of it. There is nothing that prompted me to look out the door, but my eyes were drawn there out of my own control. At first I see nothing. Then things start to materialize, my eyes focusing on what seems to have been there all along. Across the hall is another dorm room. The awful light that embodies our room seems to be forcing its way into this new room too. And then I see her. She is hard to describe. I can say for a fact that she is wearing jeans. I can say for a fact that her t-shirt is black and tight to her body. And I can say for a fact that her hair is dark brown and straight, just past shoulder length. The rest of her is a mystery to me. My eyes seem unable to focus on her face, as though it
were shining with a brilliance not found anywhere in the dorm. But for some reason I do not need to focus on her to know she is beautiful. I feel my heart beat faster and a smile creep its way across my face. In this instant I know that I am in love. Like a man possessed I walk out of my room and into hers. My eyes dart around the space and I see two beds that have been lofted. There are three desks about the room, on one of which there is a television playing a film in black and white. The light that comes off of the screen is turning its surroundings black and white also. My mind does not dwell on this. Sitting at another desk I see two boys of foreign descent, again my eyes do not dwell. Instead I turn my focus to the girl in the room. “Hello.” “Hi.” Though our greetings are simple, I know that she too has fallen deeply in love with me. I could ask her to help me build a rocket ship for a journey to moon. I know that if I asked her to join me for the trip I know she would, just because of a single word. So many emotions fill my head; all of them bring me to a feeling of immense joy. I feel as though my body is far away and still is able to feel the happiness that surges through my blood. It is a feeling that I have not felt in a long time. I lean in close to her ear, “I see you only have two beds and there are three of you. Do you need a place to sleep tonight?” “Yeah, that would be great” she whispers back to me. I take her hand and lead her into my room. It no longer appears to be the mess it was from moving in having boxes and cables and clean clothes everywhere. Now it appears to be a room that seems to have been lived in for months which is clean beneath the mounds of dirty clothes. As expected my computer is no longer where I left it, but still safely in the room. I spy a ladder to my bunk that I had not seen before; it is as though my mind placed it there to solve the difficulties we would have ascending to my bed without it. I lead her over to the ladder and help her up to my bed, catching a whiff of her hair. It smelled like nothing. I find myself wondering if this is what perfection is to me. How else would you explain a girl so beautiful that I cannot bring myself to memorize the features of her face or to even know the smell of her hair?
I follow her up the ladder, not knowing what will ensue. As it turns out, though I am not sure how, my head ends up lying in her lap and the only thing I see are her jeans. It crosses my mind that we should speak of something, but what? I realize that I already know everything there is to know about myself and by the way she is able to look at me, she does too. Without prompting, she begins to tell me everything I need to know about her. With each of her words, my mind builds the perfect image of what she is saying. I feel as though I am a part of her story, I see myself walking about next to her in her own memories. Unfortunately for us, the awful lighting of the room seeps into the memories giving everything I see a tint that cannot be described as anything other than black and white in color. She begins to tell me who she is, her voice is sweet like candy for the ears, “Where I am from the houses are crumbling from the constant explosions of war that has destroy my country. The concrete that once held mighty structures above ground now lies strewn about the earth. Only the lowest sections of walls remain with the fortifying rebar sticking out of it. The city is in ruins. Wherever I go, I must run and hide in the shadows; there are bad men about, men who carry guns, men who wish to hurt me. I always ask myself what I have done to deserve such fear. As I dart from the cover of building to the cover of another building my eyes are looking for these men half of the time and the other half they are looking to the sky to make sure no planes are coming to bomb the city any more. I always make it home. If I didn‟t, well, I would not be here with you.” This comment transports me back to my bed in my dorm room for a moment and I glance up at her face only to have to look away once more due to the beauty. I want to ask how someone so beautiful can come from such an awful place, but she begins to speak again and I am transported back into her memories. “My father was a farmer. He grew corn. He used to tell us that he knew that it was his crops that kept our family alive. He would say „Let the corn die and you have no food. If you have no food then ain‟t nobody got nothing to keep from killing you.‟ So we grew corn. He used to have these huge circular fields. They were created by his giant machines that would plant and water and harvest the field by spinning on an axis in the center of each field. They were beautiful machines that managed to glisten even when the sky was filled with clouds of smoke from burning buildings after a bombing run.” I wanted to say something witty and affectionate to her after this. Something along the lines of „Like you‟ but I was unable to pull myself from her enchanting memory. I could not leave the field without her and she seemed intent on watching the machine‟s arm spin around slowly. Slowly it came towards us. I realized that it was going to hit me, but I was unable to move. I was rooted to the spot where I stood when she stopped speaking. I had to watch as the machine came and knocked me over. The blow from the machine tore me from her memory. I came back to my dorm room, but I was no longer resting on her
blue-jean covered legs. I was not even on my bed. I had been pushed by the machine, off of my bed. I was falling, head first. The fall was slow, my eyes watched as the floor came closer and closer. I anticipated the impact. But it never came. Instead I awoke with a jump. My heart was beating, pounding on my rib cage from the exhilaration of near death. And then I realized that I was no longer in the amber tinted room. I was in a room in a world where none of those things had ever happened. I was alone in a bed, heart racing but overcome with joy after meeting the most beautiful girl of my dreams.