Short Stories · The Awkward College Student

The Awkward College Student Hangs Out

A variety of seating arrangements pepper the room. I’m at a friend’s apartment “hanging out.” I don’t know any of the people here. We were supposed to play games. But I don’t see any games in sight. Dang it.

From the counter hung with mugs to the opposite wall the space is filled with one small table, a futon, and an assortment of wooden, camping and folding chairs. There’s even a beanbag! Only empty because no one else will sit in it.

‘Eclectic’ I think.

The lumpy cushion slides on the floor and it is difficult to find a way to stay propped against the door frame. Yet that is the only empty seat. Taking it I wonder if I’ll last the next 2 hours propped awkwardly against the door frame. I hope so.

“Sorry we ran out of chairs.” The host tells me.

I shrug and smile. “No worries.”

The talk skids past me. The conversation seems to be revolving around some event coming up which I’m not a part of. I’m not sure I want to be a part of it either. Something about a race? Running is my forte. I hope its a race.

The sliding door across from me is interesting. It reflects the faces of the individuals sitting behind Maren on the futon. Very convenient for monitoring people’s reactions without being noticed. This beanbag really is uncomfortable.

Despite sliding all over the place I manage to handle a cup of tea someone hands to me. Hot and strong. Best of all I now have a something to hold between me and these strangers.

“You go to the University?” the guy next to me asks. I have to crank my head at a weird angle to reply since I’m on the floor and he’s sitting in an oddly high camping chair. I push myself up so I can see his face better. Was he talking to me or someone else? I ask him. Yes he was.

Swallowing the tea I answer. “Yes, well technically yes. But only for part of the year.”

“Oh really? Why?”

“I have to finish up my requirements but my core classes for my degree are done.”

“Which degree are you getting?”

Then I say it.

His face gives a little twist and goes blank.

“Oh…really?’

“Yes, I like it.” Did I? I do. I like a lot of things though.

“What do you study?” I turn the question on him.

He says it. Then I feel my face give a little twist and go blank.

That major is well and good. But I don’t particularly find it interesting, though I could see how other would. But would it get him a job after college? Wincing I realize I am doing it. Judging and critiquing in my mind exactly like he’d been doing. If he even had…maybe I was wrong.

Worse I’m sure he can read all this on my face. I’m not good at hiding my thoughts.

“That sounds…interesting. Why did you choose that?” I try to save the conversation.

“I wanted to try something new. Before I was majoring in psychology, but I don’t know. Just wasn’t feeling it.”

Feeling it? I know what he means though. Still were is his passion? Does he really not care?

“I just honestly want to get out with any degree” he adds.

“Don’t we all!” the girl to my right chimes in. Everyone laughs.

That answers that question. What am I supposed to say? I like school. Maybe I’ll just fake laugh and they’ll think I agree.

Summoning all my skill and willpower (which is frankly quite low…it’s been a long day) I give possibly the worst sympathy laugh in my life.

Dang it. Their faces say it all. They know I’m faking it.

Maybe someday I’ll meet someone who won’t expect me to complain about school.

The conversation shifts and then a funny cat video has them laughing even harder. And I laugh along. All in all. It is a good night.

 

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