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New School - Part One 

Charlie tilted her head quizzically to the right and wrinkled her nose as she turned the pamphlet showing her new home in her hand to the left. She studied the small map on the bottom a moment before closing it and looking back to her father. 

         “It’s this one.”

          “Are you sure?” William asked, his voice muffled by the large box he carried in front of him as much as the sound of the suitcase wheels turning on the pathway behind him being dragged along by his other arm. He shifted the box to the side. “They all look the same to me.”

          “Yup.” Charlie replied. “That…is Bailey,” she said, pointing toward one of the nearly identical buildings of the Brody neighborhood dorms of Michigan State University, “Which means, this is Rather.”

          “Yea, well, I’d rather you stayed closer to the rest of the campus,” William said dryly, never able to resist a dad joke or a bad pun.

          Charlie rolled her eyes but smiled. She was going to miss their constant father daughter banter. William’s job had moved him to Detroit just as Charlie had started freshman year of college and she’d quickly made her peace with the idea that the girl from Normal was never going to fit in in the big city. Not that she’d ever felt like she fit in back in Normal. Still, she’d never been any good at making friends. Her father wasn’t her only friend, but he was definitely her best friend. 

          “I’ll take the bus in the winter dad, and it’ll give me an excuse to run the rest of the year. Besides, someone’s already here watching over me.” 

          William looked up at the sky then back down to his daughter and nodded. The two of them walked the rest of the way from the car to the entrance to the hall. A few steps away from the entrance a tall girl with pristinely straight blond hair that fell to her waist held the door open on her way out of the building. Charlie thanked her and as their eyes met, she couldn’t help shake the feeling that she knew her from somewhere. 

          “Come on, Tara,” the girl called down the pathway Charlie and William had just come from, “I’ve been dying to show you our room.”

Charlie looked back and saw a young woman with deep brown skin and honey-gold eyes approaching. She wore a purple flower tucked into her curly hair, a fashionable knee length gray peacoat, and pulled a Louis Vuitton suitcase along behind her.

          “Ivy, we are not going to make it one week as roommates if you keep rushing me,” the girl said as she got through the door behind Charlie and William. 

          “Ivy!” Charlie said surprised. Ivy had been her elementary school classmate back in Normal when she was younger.

          “Charlie?” Ivy asked, with an equal tone of surprise. “Oh my goodness! You’re staying here too? What are the chances?” She grabbed Charlie and pulled her into a quick hug. “This is my roommate Tara, Tara this is Charlie, she used to live in Normal like forever ago.” 

          “Nice to meet you,” the girls said in unison. 

          “We’ll have to catch up once we’re all settled in,” Ivy said excitedly. 

Charlie nodded, looking awkwardly away from the intense way Tara was looking at her. The group parted ways as Charlie went up to the second floor with her father, and the other two carried on to the third. William's face had become serious. Charlie guessed the reality of her not living with him anymore was starting to hit him.

          “You know I’ll come home every weekend, right dad?”

          “I’ll hold you to that, kiddo.” 

          Charlie lifted the box out of her father’s arm, surprised at how easily he’d managed such a heavy box so easily this whole way, and set it down. She wrapped both her arms around him and gave him a long slow hug. 

          “I love you, dad.” 

          “I think you’re pretty tolerable too, Charles.”

Charlie turned the handle to open the door to her new dorm room. A short Japanese boy stood in the middle of the room and turned around to greet her. 

          “You must be Charlie,” he said. 

          Excited. Eager. 

          He pulled his iPhone’s earbuds from his ears. Eminem’s I’m Not Afraid could be heard faintly in the room. He stuck his hand out and gave her a big smile. 

          “You can call me Ich.”

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