A Stranger One

After the session with Dr Hall, Eve found herself remembering some forgotten details about her time there. She began thinking about her very first week in Galway as a fully-fledged student, and amazingly when she concentrated really hard, she could even remember smaller details of her very first day as a student.

The first day of University had started off as first days tend to; uncertain. Eve checked her bag too many times for her wallet that was in the same place each time, and her keys were beside it. She had gotten into the habit of checking her keys, wallet and phone about every two minutes or so until she got distracted. That was the problem with being a waking dreamer, she could never fully account for her accountability, and so she had to keep checking on herself.

            Walking up the bronze autumn avenue of the University, Eve inhaled the sharp morning air and felt genuinely excited as a new adventure lay itself down like a rich carpet just for her! There were students everywhere and she couldn’t wait to get stuck into her first official lecture. She had been there a few times the previous week, before most of the others on her course, just so she could get the lie of the land and reduce her odds of getting lost and looking silly.  

            As Eve walked up the flight of stairs of the New Building, as it was called, with twenty minutes to go before her first lecture, she checked for her wallet vigorously once again, so distracted in her search, that suddenly she tripped over something on the floor. Looking down, she saw a girl with blonde hair, hunched over and vomiting loudly into a wicker bin.

            Eve dropped her bag and bent down to the girl. They were both full of apologies for one another.

            “Are you alright,?” Eve placed a hand on the girl’s back and jumped a little when she felt her flinch.

            “Sorry, yes, yes I’m fine. Just suddenly didn’t feel well and I don’t know where the stupid loo’s are in this maze. You can go now. Really I’m fine.” The girl laughed loudly,  clearly mortified.

            “Can I get you anything? Do you want some water? Here!” Eve reached into her bag and handed the girl the unopened bottle.

            “Oh God, thank you! So sorry!” The blonde girl took it off her gently and opened it shakily. She was very pale, thin and had a sad little shadow stuck on her face despite her efforts to laugh off the embarrassing little pickle she was in.

            “Okay, well, I’ll leave you alone then. Hope you feel better soon!” Eve picked up her bag and walked reluctantly away. When she turned back briefly, she saw the little blonde girl put her head in her hands and then rush to her feet, scoop up the bin and run back towards the entrance. Eve wondered how she was going to get rid of a wicker basket full of vomit without destroying everything in her wake and making a laughing stock of herself! But it wasn’t funny. She silently berated herself for being so mean about the poor wee girl right up until the Lecturer stormed the room and her college adventure took off.

 

It must have been the next morning, as far as Eve could remember, it was definitely some time in that first week -. It was her first History class. Yes! That was it. It was the next day. She held the memory in her mind’s eye as carefully as possible without letting it evaporate…

Gradually people filed into the room. They all seemed to be well settled into their individual cliques as far as Eve could make out. She wasn’t sure how they had managed to find each other after only one day. Some people just had a gift for grouping. Eve knew she could easily slip herself into any of the segregations if she wanted to, all she had to do was copy the others, but she opted to give herself a few days of observation time first. From what she could gather, everyone was exactly the same anyway. Just like at school. The lecture began and the room evenly settled.

            Ten minutes or so in, there was a faint knock on the enormous door of the hall and it went unanswered for a good five minutes. Not everyone in the hall seemed to hear anything at all, until the door eventually opened, stopping the flow of the class.

            “I’m sorry I’m late…” Eve realized it was the tiny little blonde girl from the wicker bin incident the day before. She had obviously found somewhere to dump it! Eve was glad to see her and felt deeply uncomfortable as she watched the girl scurry clumsily towards the tiered masses of judging eyes directly in front of her. Poor thing! Eve waved and gestured for the girl to take the seat next to her own and was glad when she did. The blonde girl smiled and settled herself into the proceedings.

            “Are you okay, after yesterday…? Eve asked with trepidation once the class had finished and the room had emptied a little.

            ‘Oh! Yes, You’re the girl who gave me the water! Thanks. I’m fine, really. I just did something silly!” The blonde girl trailed off and Eve was hooked.

            “What do you mean… were you hungover yesterday? She laughed, trying not to sound judgmental.

            “Oh! No! I just… I had a Turkish Delight for breakfast. So fucking stupid!” The blonde girl looked like she had just admitted to murder.

            “Oh, well, that’s not the end of the world… at least you had breakfast! My name is Eve. Nice to meet you…”

            “Hi Eve, I’m Meg. Thanks” They shook hands.

            “Well, at least you’re okay. Lesson learned! Do you want to get a cup of coffee or something?” Eve checked her wallet was in her bag as she asked the question.

            “Sure! Why not?! Ha! I bet you thought I was pregnant or something like that!” Meg laughed with that embarrassed look on her face still lingering from the day before.

            “Oh God, no! Not one bit, don’t be silly!” Eve laughed out loud and placed her hand on her stomach as she slid out from behind the desk. She kind of felt like she was still pregnant sometimes but that was silly. It had been two months since the abortion. They said she might feel a little weird for a while. It was only natural.

            “Eve, do you fancy a pint instead?” Meg grinned.

            “Yes, I do indeed!” They gathered their bags and left the hall laughing at their newfound freedom.

Eve walked slowly, lost in conversation as she learned all about her new friend from “the middle of fucking nowhere” they chattered effortlessly all the way out to Salthill, and when she checked for her wallet, even after an hour’s thoughtless neglect, it was still safely in her bag right beside her keys and her phone.

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