Author: Debra Anastasia






I couldn’t make out the writing on the Post-it notes that were stuck to my ceiling in the dark. I could barely make out how many there were. The ceiling and walls of the dorm were completely covered. Her handwriting had a manic scrawl to it.

The roommate from hell was lying on her bed less than ten feet from me, buck ass naked. She did it just to make me uncomfortable.

It worked. I was uncomfortable. It was her goal and she succeeded.

I rolled over and faced the wall. This sucked. College sucked. Living with a complete weirdo really sucked.

Randomly assigned roommates was a horrible idea. At first, Roberta had seemed nice. She hadn’t responded to the email I sent when we were assigned, but when I moved in, she was all smiles. Of course, I had my crew with me then, so all my football playing friends and some of my bestie’s brothers were milling around in the common room. Her smiles were fake. Or for them.

For me? As soon as everyone hugged me goodbye, and Peaches fake sob cried, and then cried for real, that was the last I saw of Roberta’s smile.

When I was unpacking my stuff into my closet, I tossed her some easy, small talk questions.

“So, where are you from?” I tucked my tank tops next to my underwear.

From behind me I heard what would most likely be described as a growl.

I waited for a few seconds before I turned around. She was standing in front of her now opened closet with her hands on her hips.

“Um. Hi.” I had two more tank tops in my hands.

Roberta’s eyes were slits, like a shark’s, and her lips curled downward.

“Enjoying that closet?” She slid her gaze to my new closet and all the empty space inside. Well, all was a strong word. The closet was far from generous.

“I guess so?” I wasn’t sure what the correct answer was. I looked past her into her closet that was jammed so full of stuff it resembled a shipping container.

“That was my closet.” She pointed at the offending space with her pinkie.

I glanced around, confused. Clearly, Roberta was on her side. Her bed was on her side, and she had a footlocker on her side. But it was cluttered. Like really cluttered. Like she had brought far too much stuff for the size room she was assigned kind of cluttered. It was giving me flashbacks to home and the things that gave me hives.

“Aren’t we in a shared dorm room?” I held my tank tops out like they had the answers she needed.

She snatched them out of my hands. I looked at my now empty hands and tucked them under my armpits.

“Oh, you’re funny now? Now you’re the funniest girl? You know, when you were moving in, I thought to myself, maybe she’s sweet. She has a stuffed animal.” She pointed my tank tops at the teddy bear on my bed. “But ever since I’ve met you, I’ve got a bad feeling.” She shifted her shoulders around like she was low-key practicing a TikTok dance.

“We met like an hour ago.” I pulled my phone out of my back pocket. Okay, an hour and thirty-four minutes, but still.

“Yeah. Exactly.” Roberta took my tank tops and crammed them in her closet. I was surprised it didn’t burst from the added material.

Oh no. Roberta was an angry person. I was living with someone that didn’t want me there at all. I had to reach out an olive branch. “Uh, if you need to put some of your stuff in the closet…”

I was careful not to call it mine.

Roberta’s eyes got wide. “Yeah. Ya think?”

And that's how I wound up rolling all my dresses into my one suitcase and jamming it under my bed. Somehow, Roberta filled up two closets to the brim with her bullshit. And she was still mad.

That was four weeks ago. Four horrible weeks ago. I found out from our suitemates that Roberta had lived in our dorm room by herself for a full year. She was technically a sophomore.

Oh, and my suitemates? They steered clear of me. I was a marked woman. Roberta would make their lives hell if she caught them talking to me. That information was whispered to me when I was in the shower, so I didn’t get to know who had bent a little in the kindness-to-Taylor direction.

I was miserable. Even Teddi and Peaches, my two incredible friends, were worried. They were busy, though. Peaches was in school in Michigan, hoping to become a veterinarian. Teddi was in school as well, staying with friends. She hadn’t declared a major yet, but she was so driven I was sure it would happen soon.

I heard Roberta fart. A naked fart, with her whole ass out of her comforter. Then, there was a knock on our door.

I rolled over and Roberta stuck her tongue out at me, then spoke up, “Come in, babe.”

Our door opened. Roberta had it rigged so it couldn’t lock so that Peter could come in whenever he wanted.

It was Tuesday at 2:00 a.m.

He took off his shoes and his shirt as he stumbled in the door. “Smells like burning cigars in here. Ugh.”

The smell hit me as soon as he said it.

Roberta pointed at me. “She farts all night. Get me the Post-it notes.”

Peter put his hand on her dresser and came back with the bright yellow notes. In her accusatory scrawl, Roberta spoke while she wrote, “FARTS ALL NIGHT!” And then she slapped the note on the space next to her.

Peter leaned over to take off his socks and grabbed his ankles with his butt facing me. “I got you, babe. No worries.” Then Peter farted in my direction.

I snapped. I snapped, I snapped, I snapped. I had had enough. I was sick of Roberta’s bullshit. Her blatant bullying and her naked ass crack.

I tossed my blanket aside and picked up my backpack. In it I tossed my essentials—my phone and charger. My wallet was already in the front pocket. I grabbed my teddy bear and keys and yanked the door open.

“Oh, she’s mad now. Look what we did, Peter. She’s leaving.”

I put my hand to my forehead. I couldn’t knock on any doors because everyone here was afraid of Roberta. My resident assistant? Also afraid of Roberta. I had only one person in the city I could call at this time. On this night. He was a nuclear option, but I was about to blow.

I slammed the door on my way out. All my shit was still in that room, but screw it. I pulled out my phone and scrolled to the one name that set my heart beating every time I saw it.

My bestie’s older brother, Austin Burathon. I hit the button and the ringing started.



Fine, I had a crush on him. Fine, I’d had a crush on him my entire life. Fine, I wasn’t over it. Wasn’t planning to get over it either. But, and that’s a huge but, I was never going to step over the boundary beyond harmless flirting.

Which was why he was the nuclear option. Who was Austin? Austin was, first and foremost, Teddi’s older brother. And when you’re really young, four years older can seem like a lifetime. I mean, when he started driving, we were twelve.

He drove us a lot. He was good like that. Being Teddi’s friend came with perks. Instead of her parents picking us up from cheer practice, sometimes it was her piping hot brother.

What was it about him? Girl, sit down. You wouldn’t understand the amount of fuck-hot sexuality that poured off this man. He wasn’t even fair. Just swoon and yum and exotic while also being the realest person you spoke to all day. He was a flirt. You could be a boy or girl. He’d flirt. It was so hot. He was like a beautiful movie star in the midst of us normal people. He’d wear skirts sometimes and nail polish other times. He was the first real human boy I ever saw wearing eyeliner and it sculpted how I viewed my dream guy. The confidence to put that on and just...be himself? Everyone wanted to know him and be around him. And I was lucky enough to have that happen quite a bit.

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