By: Cora Brent

Maura unwound her finger from her brown curly hair, sank down into the cheap beanbag chair I’d picked up last week from Goodwill and stared at her boots. After a few minutes of gentle prodding she started to talk.

Maura was homesick. She missed her high school. She missed her friends. She missed her upper crust Dallas suburb. She even missed her older brother, a bad tempered drummer who huffed paint and slept in the bathtub. Maura had been crying every night for the past week. Adding insult to injury, Maura’s roommate, Jamie, had been inviting one of the ‘TFH’ boys to their room every night.

I bobbed my head in sympathy and said things like, “It will get better, I promise.”

But then I had to stop her and ask what a TFH was because I had no idea and it might be an important part of the story.

Maura started twisting her hair again. “Oh, that means Third Floor Hottie.”


“Third Floor Hottie.” She sat up straight and let out a groan. “OHMYGOD, have you seen the guys on the third floor?”

I tried to remember. “I don’t think so.”

“Well you totally need to check them out. The guy Jamie’s been hooking up with is named Dean. Or Alex. I forget.”

I’d been too busy to pay much attention to who was living on the third floor but I did know the third floor RA. Just yesterday I ran into her on the Panda Express line down at the union   and we shared a table for lunch. Her name was Dorritt and she was full of long legs and blonde sparkle. Dorritt talked a lot and didn’t hold back on details. Details like the number of times she’s fucked her next door neighbor since orientation week and how his dick always tastes like orange soda.

I didn’t have much to say to Dorritt because I wasn’t sure I approved of screwing around with people you’re supposed to be ‘advising’. That just seemed like crossing the line. Buy hey, it was Dorritt’s life and Dorritt’s conscience and everyone around here was technically an adult. So I just bobbed my head at Dorritt’s colorful tales and tried to imagine why a dick might be orange soda flavored. Then I had decided I’d rather not know.

As Maura continued to sniffle I said some kind, comforting things, but my mind started wandering a little. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a stroll up to the third floor to see what’s around, if only for inspiration. After all, the only intimacy I was familiar with these days involved batteries and solitude. It had been a long time since I let myself get broadsided by lust. Unfortunately I remembered exactly what I was missing. And I ached for it.

Reflexively I glanced at my left hand, where my wedding ring used to sit. I squeezed my fingers into a fist. I used to play a game with myself, to see how long I could go without thinking of him. Somehow it never managed to be more than a whole day. Usually the images were fleeting, or the vague ache of old emotions instead of clear pictures.

Then there were other times I could see us together as if our entire relationship was something I’d watched in a movie. Sometimes it seemed unreal even to me, although I distinctly remembered being eighteen. Such a volatile age. Most people had their heads up their asses at age eighteen. I know I did.

Still, I had a lot of sympathy for these kids. Kids like Maura. I could understand them better than I’d like to.

Maura made a noise that sounded like water struggling through a half clogged drain. When I offered her a tissue box she accepted a tissue gladly.

“Sorry,” she said and blew her nose. “Ah, now I can breathe again. It smells like peaches in here.”

“Lemon,” I said and pushed a wastebasket her way.

She dropped the crumpled pink tissue inside. “Cecily’s a pretty name. My best friend in sixth grade was named Cecilia so it’s kind of the same thing. She moved to New Orleans and I heard she ran away in tenth grade. Everyone always called her Cici. Do people call you that?”

“Nope. I’ve never really had a nickname.”

“I love you so much, Cess.”

He was the only one who had ever called me Cess but I didn’t see the point in bringing that up. It would just open up a whole rusted can of worms that were currently in a coma and buried a mile underground.

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