The Suitemate

It’s August 15th, another typical blazing day in Arizona as the sun’s rays beat down on the pavement and the sweat trickles down my father’s temple.  The car’s air conditioner is struggling to spit out cold air as the thermostat’s temperature climbs effortlessly.  It’s moving day.  My first day stepping onto  campus and actually belonging there; my nerves are spiked as everything around me looks new and fresh, I can’t believe that I am here.  As the men in maroon collared shirts unload our Tahoe, I watch as hundreds of other boggle-eyed freshmen wander around me, making their way toward the iron gates that we will call home for the next year.  My parents stand idly by, stressed out from the drive up here at 5 in the morning, but a wash of sadness appears on their faces.  My brother is talking to me but the hum of what he is saying won’t register in my mind because I am so astonished that I made it here, I am officially a college student!  I wait anxiously, pacing around the room awaiting the rest of the girls to arrive; of course we were the first ones there, I am kind of hell bent on being more than punctual to starting the rest of my new life.  Slowly, over the next couple hours, the girl roll in with their families and the first person I get to meet is my lovely roommate, who made her first impression to me as being a concert junkie, traveling to California at any opportunity.  We had talked before over video chat and from the start we clicked, (which calmed my nerves knowing that random roommates can be the epitome of a miserable freshmen year).  The rooms were set up as suites, with my roommate and I in one room, a door leading to the bathroom, and then another door on the other side of the bathroom leading to our suitemates’ chambers.  The girls were nice enough, all of us excited about the new opportunities that awaited us, except for one.  The fourth person to arrive, a tall girl raven-haired girl, who was pushing maximum capacity, if you catch my drift, came into the room and departed with barely two words in between.  She could be shy, I wanted to think, but that first impression left me and the other girls wondering where she disappeared to.  A couple of days went by and we still had no word from our new roommie, odd but not the end of the world, I was on cloud nine taking in all the new faces, the boys, the clubs and the food (gelato everyday!) and I managed to become very close with my roommate in a short amount of time.  On the day that raven hair came back to the dorms, we all decided to go out to dinner in the dining hall, and after talking through the meal, we cracked a couple jokes, talked about ex-boyfriends and potential boyfriends, and all seemed well.  Classes started the next week and we all settled into our new identities, finding our way around campus and exploring all the social events going on.  The weeks heading toward winter break went by in a single blink and before we knew it, we were hugging each other and dreading the drive home.  However, the real story begins the night before our departure…

**********************

“He did?!” The squeal escaped my scratchy throat before I could even try to hold it back.

“He kissed me!”  Raven hair was leaning in the door frame of the entrance of my dark my room, half of her body concealed, the other half was shadowed by the bathroom light peaking behind her.  It was 6 am on the Sunday after finals and I could not force the energy back into my body.  But at the same time I was in a mode of shock, Raven had described to me in detail the craziness of last night.  It all started with a couple shots of this and that, until the rest of the night settled into a heart to heart between me and one our good guy friends.  The talk evolved into a discussion about our ex-this and that (I call them flings, and his are more solidified relationships).  Raven was sitting, perched on the ground next to our knees, drifting further into a drunken state of bliss.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her hand rubbing his leg, while his eyes stayed locked onto mine during our discussion.  I figured Raven was just having her own little flirtatious fun and it was harmless one way or the other.  The rest of the night followed suite: I went back to my room and crashed waiting for the hangover to take me in the morning.  The moment Raven told me about the kiss, I was so happy for her, she deserved a nice guy and he was one of the most genuine guys we knew.  I couldn’t wait to tell my roommate, and then we could all laugh and squeal about it together, and we did!  The day came to a close and we had to follow our parents with our stuffed luggage into our separate cars, goodbyes filled the air and the doors clicked shut.

*************************

The moment we stepped back into our rooms, Raven had all this news to tell us about our friend, lets call him Jack.  Jack had been texting Raven all break, and they had been talking about what the kiss could have meant, being as it was, a drunken act of passion.  Raven and Jack came to the conclusion that they liked the idea of them being more than friends and they would experiment the moment they got back onto campus.  Jack was not the type of guy to make his feelings known, nor the type of guy who wanted attention over his love life, so my roommate and I were not surprised when Raven told us that we needed to pretend like we didn’t know they were together.  So we went along with it, but we always looked for any sign of affection they showed toward each other in a group setting.  Raven would endlessly drone on about all the late night hookups she had with Jack and how she would sleepover in his room some nights and he would stay nights in her room, but only come over when everyone was asleep. Her phone was filled with messages from Jack about their sex-life, how he wanted to spank her and do all sorts of graphic acts; Raven would read out loud all of their conversations without being provoked.  At first, my roommate and I were very supportive of her and Jack, and would ask about their relationship all the time, wanting to know what he said about becoming an official boyfriend-girlfriend item, and she would respond with the same statement, he doesn’t want the other guys in the group to find out because they’ll make fun of him and it would get between us.  That was crappy, but understandable because Raven wasn’t exactly the type of girl that guys fantasized about; we were fairly surprised the Jack and her were together mostly because she doubled his weight.  I’m not going to say the weight is a factor that people can’t overlook, but it is a factor that most men will use to tear girls apart.  The next couple of months continued with the same routine, Raven droning on about her and Jack’s sex-life and their struggle not having a defined relationship.  My roommate and I continued to support her but annoyance creeped up our bodies.  Every conversation we had with her always centered around her and Jack, no matter what the subject was, it would find its way to that.  Roomie and I were beginning to need space and the air became very thin in the room with Raven.  Roomie and I found our way into an obsessive relationship with Raven; as time went on, she began to claw her way into every moment of our days.  If we went to the gym, she went to the gym, if we went to grab food, she was hungry, if we wanted to go to ice skating, she would guilt us into not going because she didn’t have the money, and we fell for it!  She would not let us out of her sight, always following us with her flat-footed walk and nervous laugh that began to send prickles up my spine.  One day, Roomie and I decided that we wanted to tan, it was starting to heat up and it was the perfect time to catch a couple rays before summer.  Raven, dark as it is, was not a fan of tanning because she wanted to have lighter skin, she blamed this on being Philipino; so we told her to stay in the room and we’d be back in a couple hours, simple right?  Wrong!  Her reaction sent chills up by back as she began yelling and screeching that she didn’t want to be left alone, that she would sit in the shade, that she just wanted to come with us, that she will come with us.  The volume of her voice boomed off the walls as I tried to calm her down and eventually we came to the conclusion that we didn’t need to go to the pool, maybe another time.  Roomie and I felt the tension as we tried on other occasions to distance ourselves from Raven.  Our other suitemate, who didn’t know about Jack and Raven at the beginning, talked to Raven over the next couple weeks about Jack, and Raven explained to her that Jack and her had hooked up a couple times,  Our suitemate, who was dating one of the guys in our friend group, confided in her boyfriend about the juicy gossip, only to have her boyfriend approach Jack about it.  Jack let out a booming laught, thinking this was just another joke like any of the million that he usually makes about Jack.  When he realized the seriousness in his tone, his face turned beet-red, embarrassment and shock racing through his body.  The denial came into play, along with many jokes including comparisons of her to a whale, and then more guys were brought in to laugh about it.  Jack completely dismissed Raven as a crazy, pathological liar.  When Roomie and I found out about this, we were enraged!  We wanted to confront Jack and call him out for being a complete jerk.  On the night that Raven said she had ended it with Jack, I found myself being so angry by his response to Raven that I marched myself to the door ready to yell in his face, when out of no where, I felt the back of my shirt being yanked, her sausage fingers had dug into my cotton shirt and had dragged me onto the floor, where she wrapped her arms around my torso and pinned me on the floor.  She was yelling in my ear, “Don’t!  Please don’t! I won’t let go until you promise you won’t talk to him about this!”  Her body was crushing my ribs as I felt the concrete ground pressing into face, all of the air being forced out of my lungs.  With a whisper, I promised and the weight was gone.  That night, while Roomie and I were getting ready for bed, I asked her the what the hell that was about and she responded with a spooked expression.  I knew something was very wrong and we had to get to the bottom of it, no one flips the switch like that for no reason.  Roomie and I agreed to get together with Jack and confront him, find out what was going on between the two of them and if Raven was lying to us about anything.  The next night, we found our way in his dorm room and I made myself comfortable in his cushioned chair.  We found ourselves breathless, as Jack confirmed our suspicions; Raven had been lying to us for the past three months about her and Jack.  He even showed us the text messages between the two of them, showing text messages that we had read between them on her phone, but then conversations that we did saw that were exaggerated on her phone with flirtation and sexual innuendos, while on his phone they were very straightforward conversations.  As I scrolled through the messages, I heard my phone buzzing in terror as Raven waited on the other end.  She knew we came to Jack’s room and now she was trying to find any way to stop us from finding the truth.  On Roomie’s phone, text messages lined up, probably 20 or so, begging her to not mention anything and inquiring with frantic punctuation why we had gone over there.  I sat, mouth gaping open as I read the last incriminating message that proved the whole thing was a scam:

Raven: “I don’t know why she would lie, I know we never hooked up.”

I could not help but feel violated, for months having these lies in my life, filling up my time, wasting my breath comforting Raven as she cried over Jack and their breakup.  What bullshit.  Who was she?  Why did she feel like she needed to lie about this and for so long.  I was so uncomfortable thinking about going back to the room and having to confront her.  I didn’t want to hear whatever her excuse was, it didn’t make up for all of this.  What were we supposed to do?  The next couple of days were filled with hushed conversations between me and Roomie about how we were going to approach the situation, what we would say to her, and how we would protect ourselves if she went crazy.  She had already tackled me so we knew she had a violent streak. We had barely enough time to tell her that we wouldn’t be living with her before the housing application opened, so time was of the essence.  I arrived at the idea that we needed to talk to her somewhere that was public, so she wouldn’t cry, and so she couldn’t attack us.  We took her to Walmart, a good enough place to expose someone of being a pathological liar.  I approached her with the opening statement, “Is there anything you want to tell us?”  I wanted to give her the opportunity to right her own wrongs before we crushed her, I’m a giver like that.  She looked at me with a confused look planted on her face, and so I continued to dismantle her lie, piece by piece.  During each accusation, she denied and then Roomie and I counter-argued with a piece of evidence incriminating her, which she would reply with a smug confession and we would move forward.  She tried to win our sympathies at the end, saying that she didn’t know why she lied, and that she believed her lies, like she couldn’t help it.  I thought she was going to cry as she told us that she has thought about suicide before and I could almost feel myself break for her, but I didn’t.  We gave her advice to see a counselor and get help, that this was not normal and that there needed to be actions taken towards resolving this problem of hers.  As I expected, to this day, to my knowledge, she has not looked for help or schedule a free counseling appointment at the school.  I have come to the conclusion that she could be psychopathic, and in that case, there is no way that I will ever let my guard down around her again.  We still live together, and the tension in the room has dissolved over time, but I know that until I am moved out of this room, I am going to need to have a guard up and sleep with one eye open.

**************************

A couple of weeks went by after we had confronted her, these weeks were spent in awkward attempts to avoid Raven at all costs, which was especially difficult when we had three classes together and we were only separated by two doors that didn’t lock.  It was a nightmare.  After a couple of awkward run-ins in the bathroom, I decided to make nice, telling her that even though I could never trust her again, we could try to be civil and hopefully things will feel more normal in time.  I could see the hope in her eyes, that maybe we could go back to normal, but on my end, I could never look past this repeated violation of trust.  Also, despite all of my reservations, I was afraid of her.  I didn’t like being around people that I could not trust, especially living with someone like that.  But I forced myself to be strong and she pushed her way to stay in our lives in any way she could, whether it was running into us on our way to the bathroom, or following us to lunch after class.  I didn’t like being tolerant of her, but I knew that we had to keep the peace until the end of the year. It just shows that no matter what, you can’t escape awkward situations, you have to confront people who have wronged you and you need to find a way to tolerate the intolerable.  Good luck to all you incoming freshmen, and beware of the suitemate.

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