In case anyone felt mildly curious about it (the synopsis is right here):
The cherry blossoms bloomed out of season at Wellington Prep; it was the first thing that Geoffrey Parson taught me to become aware of, and the last thing on my mind as the Mercedes my dad rented pulled up into the cul-de-sac of the school. Back then, the world was as picturesque as any magazine photograph illustrated for me; I only knew the beauty of the curving bodies and curling smoke of cigarette ads, and at the time, I was much more concerned about the suitcase my mom packed for me, which seemed to be as reluctant as I to find my dorm room.
"Jake, don't drag your suitcase like that," my mom called from somewhere ahead of me. "You don't want to get it dirty, do you?"
Because of course the reason why my suitcase lagged was due to my desire to get it dirty, I thought. I rolled my eyes and hefted up the suitcase, though I knew I titled awkwardly under the weight and felt ridiculously scrutinized. Wellington Preparatory School for Boys was one of those classy schools built in the 1800s that most people have only seen in movies. It's the place where wealthy parents sent their sons to if they wanted them to succeed--which invariably meant that the sons (Wellington men, they were so called) ended up as stiff placemats or pseudo-rebels, all of whom were giving my scruffy jeans and Van Halen t-shirt a derisive once over. I realized then that it wasn't just my imagination that insisted that sons and parents alike were starting: all the other boys were already wearing their school uniforms. Fuck.
From over the crowd of side-parted hair (gelled and combed), I followed my mom's bottle-bought red head through the tangled mess of mothers' hugging their sons, and fathers' patting them briskly on the back, until I found myself breathless on the third floor of Yardley Hall, where my own mom smoothed out nonexistent wrinkles in her skirt and my dad pulled at the collar of his ninety-dollar suit. She spotted me, and motioned for me to come over with an impatient flick of her wrist, standing up as straight as if she had never surrendered to a nervous movement in her life.
"I told you that you should have changed into your uniform before we left the house," she said sharply as soon as I came into scolding distance. I nodded. She sighed and quickly ran her fingers through my hair in an attempt to smooth down the curls. "Well, there isn't anything we can do about it now. Go change in your room and then come kiss us good-bye,"
My dad, a tall, slightly stooped man, stood behind her, though I could never decide whether this was to show his support for my mother, or because he was too cowed to do anything else. I turned to go to my room, and he offered me a half-smile and a shrug.
I was almost relieved when I shut the door behind me, and set that horrendously heavy suitcase down. Of course, my relief only lasted until I discovered a boy about my age lounging on one of the twin beds, reading some battered paperback novel. He wore a look of divine boredom that only the very wealthy, and the very intelligent can wear with any effect. I hauled my suitcase onto the unoccupied bed, which sunk under the sudden weight, and grabbed a uniform set from inside it. Casting a fleeting look to the clothing in my hand, and then at my roommate, I cleared my throat loudly.
He didn't look up.
I cleared my throat again. "Uh, excuse me?"
A blond eyebrow hiked up into a dark fringe. "Yes?"
"Uh, hey," I said, embarrassment staining my neck an unattractive shade of blotchy red. "I'm Jake Albright." When the boy didn't bother to fill in the uncomfortable pause, I continued stupidly, "I guess we'll be roommates then?"
With a lazy tilt of his head, he replied, "Calvin Harper."
"Yes, well. I wasn't aware that we were supposed to come in our uniforms, you see," I began to babble, though he long since returned to his paperback. "I was going to change really quickly before my parents left,"
He nodded absently and said with an imperious wave of his hand, "Sure, go ahead."
"Right then. I'll just change right now," I said, turning away from him so that my back could spare me some of the humiliation. With a tinge of hesitance nagging at my confidence, I hastily traded my jeans for gray trousers, my t-shirt for a white button-up, and my sneakers for black loafers. When I glanced over my shoulder, I saw that Calvin Harper seemed quite oblivious to my state of undress and felt slightly idiotic for actually feeling the need to turn my back--after all, I reasoned, we will probably see each other undressed during the year, being that we will be living together. I flushed again, and felt acutely aware of the idiocy of everything I did in the past two minutes; I doubt I've ever heard a person say "uh" more often in a single conversation.
Tossing my tie around my neck and slipping on my blazer, I bolted out the door with a mumbled, "I, uh, have to say good-bye to my parents," and didn't bother to look back; even the utterly disinterested would laugh at the stupid, and I didn't fool myself into thinking I was acted anything but. I found my parents chatting with some couple that I failed to recognize, though my mom introduced them as "old friends".
I waited for a minute, which seemed like a polite amount of time for them to wrap up their conversation. After two, my foot began tapping on its own accord, and everything I could have been doing pulsed in rapid images through my nerves. "Mom," I finally said, dragging the word out in an anxious whine after three minutes beat by like sixty drum taps in a restless moment, feeling foolish even as I spoke but unable to stop myself. She aimed a warning look my way, her brows lowered in an ominous glare, and I ducked my head as if wondering of the virtue of patience.
"I am not going to lecture you," she said afterward. "But you should know better, Jake! Imagine, embarrassing me like that in front of our friends!"
I nodded dutifully: I had long since recognized the protocol of being lectured.
"Now your father and I expect you to behave here. Wellington is a wonderful opportunity for getting into Harvard, and although this is your last year in high school, these transcripts are still very important. Are you listening to me?" she demanded.
"Yes, mom," I replied, and quickly kissed her on the cheek before she started up again. "I'll see you at Christmas, then?"
She sighed long-sufferingly as a reluctant smile tugged the corner of her lips, and patted me on the head as if I were still five and said the most adorable things. "Of course, dear. We'll call you when we get home; make sure your cell phone is on and charged,"
My dad clapped my shoulder lightly and muttered lowly, "Have a good year, son," and I remembered why I still loved them both as I strolled to my new room--
"Oh, and Jake?" my mother's voice rang from across the hall. "Do try to tidy up before orientation. You're hair is an absolute mess!"
My insomnia began somewhere between the six hour drive from Yardville, New Jersey to Rochester, New York. I never had sleeping before I came to Wellington, but there's something disturbing about sleeping in a room that isn't yours; it's too much like waiting for the solidity of life to wither from the creeping bile of unfamiliarity. The ceiling hung too low: that was the first thing I realized, with my head angled up absently with my hands cradling my head as I tried to ignore the fact that too much light broke into the room through the meager protection of the windows. I missed the blinds on my windows. I missed the dent in my bed that fit the shape of my body. I even missed the stain on my ceiling that came from God-knows-what, and lingered in my sight until I fell asleep.
From across the room, Calvin Harper snorted and my neck began to burn; the silliness of a seventeen-year-old boy being homesick was almost made me laugh aloud in compensating bravado, except for the fact that another seventeen-year-old boy might easily witness it. I rolled on my side and peeked at him from beneath the safety of my lashes, feeling almost disappointed when I saw he was merely turning over. The callow mortification that still felt hot on my neck was not something that I wanted to display, but even the coolness of his disdain would be less unnerving than the disquieting sense that I was merely a single moment in this room's lifespan, not the other way around.
I prowled the room, and quickly learned of the squeaky floorboard near my nightstand, but found one hundred thirty-two more to hold my weight.
I'd love to see anyone else's NaNo entry, even if you didn't finish. :)