In two separate rooms in two dorms on opposite ends of campus, two eighteen year-olds stared at each other with incredulous looks of disbelief. What the hell? they thought. I thought that roommate survey was so we wouldn’t kill our roommate.
A month and a half later, Emily and Crystal moved out.
As soon as she knocked on the door, Lynette knew why Emily had requested the switch.
I first saw her sitting at her desk, hair pulled back into an easy, relaxed low bun, complicatedly held together with a pen. Pieces of hair framed her face and the obvious prep school graduate air didn’t help my nerves much. I dropped a bag loudly, half to prop the door open, half to get her attention. She jumped.
“Oh, hi!” She stood. “You must be Lynette. I’m Bree,” she shook my hand without me even offering it. “Would you like some help?”
Oh yes, I thought to myself. Lots of it. Chemical and keep it coming.
I grinned, as I was supposed to. “That’d be great, thanks.”
A few weeks later we discovered that we didn’t quite hate each other. Polar opposites never attract, but we managed to discover things in common. Distaste for basketball, love of Hemingway, a tendency to stay up late (although hers was much less pronounced than mine). And as long as I washed my dishes and left a clear path to the door, and as long as she didn’t complain about the light or lecture about my social and leisure activities, we didn’t have any rules.
Like typical college roommates who enjoyed each other’s company (despite every single one of my friends proclaiming disbelief that I actually liked her), we exchanged friendly banter, support and help whenever possible.
Until one Friday night.
“Lynette…what are you doing tonight?”
“Someone’s birthday party. Why?”
“I feel like I’m missing out on the social aspect of college if I’m sitting in here doing homework all the time.”
I grinned at her, knowing what she wanted to ask but couldn’t. “Yes, you can come.”
It was then that I decided my goal was no longer to survive Principles of Econ. It was now to corrupt Bree Mason.
I couldn’t believe I had asked her to bring me along to this. I was entirely out of my league. I didn’t know anybody except for Lynette and I couldn’t find her. There were strange men staring at me with drunken looks of approval up and down my body, someone had shoved a plastic cup in my hand of what resembled beer but must have been purchased in bulk for a discount it was so awful.
Suddenly I felt a body come up behind me and arms wrapped around me. I could tell the mystery person was a woman, and the warmth of her stomach spread to my back and made me alternately comfortable and uncomfortable. I tensed up, not knowing what to do.
“Shhh, sweetie. It’s me,” she whispered in my ear. “Relax, have fun, and for God’s sake get rid of that glass didn’t your mother teach you anything?”
I shivered at the breath in my ear, blinked and set the glass on the nearest available surface and attempted to turn around to face her. She wouldn’t let me go. She started swaying to the music, forcing me to do so as well. I was never one for improv dancing; being a cheerleader only required beats and shouts. Finding the groove – as she later called it – I started on my own.
She let me go and I found myself oddly missing the contact. Lynette smirked and grabbed my hand.
“Come on,” she said, leading me to a corner where other people had gathered. “Since you’re not out making friends, I’ve some people you should meet.”
I had to find my own way to our room last night. Remembering Lynette’s later comment about questionable men looking for a beautiful girl, I brushed off advances and left the party around one, later than I had ever stayed out.
I was already awake and working on my psychology paper the next morning, pushing through a wicked headache, when Lynette came back in and leaned against the door. Her hair was in a mess, but a somewhat organised mess, having run her fingers through it before she left presumably the boy’s room she had spent the night room.
Even though I looked down upon premarital sex, it was her decision. And I envied her for it.
I envied her like hell.
I had a killer headache that I thought I had worked off last night. I smelled like beer and I was convinced Bree could pick up on the inherent smell of sex from across the room. She didn’t say anything, but smiled and bid me good morning. I smiled at her, and stumbled to the bed.
God, she was good. I hated keeping her a secret from Bree, but I knew that it would be one thing which she would never accept. But, somehow, she wasn’t good enough. Yes, we considered each other girlfriends, and it was fine with our friends and we were happy together and we had amazing nights together in her bed, the sheets tangled around us, sweaty enough to stick, moaning loud enough to cause the neighbours to give us dirty looks in the morning. But she wasn’t enough.
In that state between awake and nearly asleep, I came to a shocking realisation that kept me awake much longer than I had intended.
I wanted Bree.
The next year we ended up as roommates again. No one else wanted either of us, I suppose.
I found out about the girlfriend eventually, when they broke up; she had no way of hiding it. I knew about her anyway, roommates always find out about these things. I didn’t care. I was still lacking a serious boyfriend and didn’t seem to mind. I lied on the phone to my father and sisters, saying that I had dated and never managed to find the right one.
There was that Rex fellow, but he always seemed to be followed by an entourage of giggling girls with no brain. And he always seemed to enjoy it, but saved a soft smile for me. But he was dating someone else, so it didn’t matter.
Lynette taught me about parties. About boys, girls, the drug scene (which I staunchly avoided on principle alone). After holding my hair back one night, she gave me the alcohol lecture I probably should have received a long time ago. She taught me about having a social life, enjoying college to its fullest. About how to balance being a socialite and an academic.
With her, I enjoyed college.
She stayed out late. She drank, she smoked, she dabbled in drugs and cursed like a sailor. She had one-night stands, whirlwind relationships and always Somewhere To Be.
Oh yes, I envied her.
I swear anyone else would have moved out. I pulled all-nighters on a weekly basis; I lost count after fourteen in a row. I stayed up for days on end, assisted by coffee and the drugs I slept with someone for since I spent all my money on coffee and cigarettes. Only God (and maybe she) knows how many times I never came back, how many days I went without sleeping in my own bed. How many times she fed me orange juice and bread when I finally woke up with yet another killer hangover. I was stupid that semester, and she took care of me.
Second semester our sophomore year was the kicker, for both of us. I had fallen too deep into unacceptable and unhealthy coping methods for the workload that kept piling up and falling over.
“LYNETTE!! Damnit, woman, get out of bed!” I groaned and squinted at the light, protesting against its glare and harsh intrusion. I could not care less about the gorgeous redhead swearing (swearing? She never did that) at me and looming over like a mother at a child who turned off her alarm.
“It is two o’clock in the afternoon. You’ve slept through class all week and gone out every night and I haven’t seen you until after I get back from my first class. You are no longer doing any of this. Get up. Take a shower, I doubt you’ve done that in a while. Wake up, drink some orange juice. Do your homework.”
“Coffee…” I groaned.
My eyes flew open and bore into her. “Bree…”
Her hands were on her hips, and she really did look like the perfect suburban wife who was angry with a child. She even had the glare down perfectly. I rarely argued with my mother – it tended to result in shouting or a quick slap across the cheek – and I wasn’t about to argue with someone who looked more dangerous than her.
“You have been in this position for far too long. If you aren’t going to take care of you, I will. Get up. Take a shower. Now.” She pointed at the door.
I did. And I did everything she told me to do for the next three weeks and got everything back under control.
I had no choice. I found myself invariably falling in love with her. The number one rule of living with a roommate is not to get in a relationship with him or her. Yet I couldn’t help myself.
I looked over at her, sitting on her bed attempting (and failing, as usual) to catch up on her philosophy reading. I sat studiously at my desk, staring at an egregiously long chapter on Freud whom I only knew then as the guy who decided that I wanted to kill my mother (a job already done for me) and sleep with my father. He couldn’t be more wrong.
Every so often I heard sighs of frustration and muttered curses at the existentialists. I smiled, not in condescension, but in admiration and a twinge of jealousy. Even though I had cleaned her up, and put her back together, I still envied her life. She managed to balance things again. Everyone has their breakdowns, I suppose. I waited in dreadful anticipation for mine.
I wasn’t really taking notes. I was writing about her.
I caught Bree looking at me and smiled. I jotted down another line in my notes, a façade of actually doing work. I wrote about her smile.
For another year, we were together. We were beginning to be called the holy couple of our school; the only grouping to be together for the third year, now, and not have had a serious falling out or desires to kill each other.
I envied her and her perfection. I was lucky if I pulled all Bs and one A a semester. She managed straight As, something I hadn’t accomplished since junior high.
Everyone asks how you like college and everyone responds that you love it. Reality sets in as soon as you hang up the phone and you discover that no, you don’t love it, you actually hate it. I hated it because I couldn’t give up the sex, drugs and whirling energy to focus on studies. And I couldn’t have Bree if I didn’t give that up.
I hated college, as much as I told everyone I loved it. I began to accept that I loved Lynette, but I couldn’t accept that I could never have her. I was always taught that if I strove hard enough, I could own the world.
But I also wanted Rex.
I couldn’t decide who I wanted more: the woman with whom I had just spent two years of my life, or the man my family would accept. Rex was still with one of his following, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t work for him. But I didn’t want to join in on Lynette’s lifestyle, either. I couldn’t. It was just too much. Too many people, too much illegality, too much…everything.
But I wanted her more than anything, and I was scared out of my mind as to how to get her.
Midterms appeared, as they always did, and I snagged some of Lynette’s speed, as I never did. Too many things were due at once, too many things were going on; I couldn’t afford to sleep.
I got everything done. But my brain also collapsed it thought so much, about so many things not academic.
I came back from my international econ midterm to find Bree, my wonderful Bree, curled up in my bed crying. I assumed it was where she fell, being closer to the main area of the room. I dropped my bag, only slightly upset that my intended nap was now ruined, and ran over.
As soon as I put my arms around her, I instinctively knew what was wrong, and I also knew that it wasn’t wrong at all. She relaxed and let me hold her, sliding her arms around my neck.
A small smile escaped my lips in between whispers of reassurance and back rubs.
She calmed down and it occurred to me that I had never seen her cry, whereas she had seen me fall apart more times than a house of cards. She even cried beautifully. I smiled at her, a happy smile, as I wiped a tear away.
“What?” she said, hiccupping a little.
“Honey, we want the same thing.”
My eyes widened. How could she tell? Did she really mean it? Were we even talking about the same thing?
I opened my mouth to speak, but she kissed it instead, softly. My eyes flashed open in anticipated surprise, but fluttered shut again when her tongue swept past my lips and gently teased them open. Expertly, her tongue enticed mine into moving with hers and her hands moved up my back under my shirt, barely touching my skin.
Something within me told me to pull back, to pull away, to at least announce that this was wrong even if we were going to continue. That voice won out, as it usually did.
“Yes, I know. We shouldn’t be doing this,” she pressed a finger to my lips as I was about to speak. She slowly parted my lips with it, and I took a chance, darting my tongue out to lick it.
She gasped inwardly, and recovered quickly to finish. “But…aren’t the best things in life things we shouldn’t be doing?”
I answered her with a kiss.
Later that night, lying in our two beds pushed together, curled up around her, I realised that yes, this was a very bad idea.
I did love her, and I was sure the feeling was mutual. But we were leaving each other in a year and a half to go our separate ways and likely never see each other again. I had done some very stupid things in college, but I had learned to never take up with someone you love if you can’t continue it.
Especially this one. Not only unacceptable outside of college, but inside as well. Roomcest.
She shifted in my arms and blinked sleepily at me. “What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing, love. Go back to sleep,” I kissed her softly. She nodded and fell back asleep.
No, we shouldn’t continue this. But I knew that I couldn’t stop it. It would be the end of the best friendship both of us had cultivated in three years, and would devastate the two of us. Her probably more so than me; I had been hurt in the past and had become used to it by now.
And I couldn't hurt her. She was so fragile, so beautiful and I would hate myself to see her shattered because of me.
We both know we shouldn’t keep up with it, but we both did.
The two of us saw other people, dated, even slept with others. There was a certain paranoia, for me, surrounding it all. Whether she was going to find The One and leave me for him (or her), and a little part of me died every time she came back the next morning instead of that night. She tried to make it up to me, but it was never really enough.
I had my relationship with Ty, the desired one with Rex that I knew would never go anywhere, and the treasured and favourite one with Lynette.
Lynette had many. And every time she went out I was always scared that she wouldn’t come back. That she would come back saying that she officially couldn’t do this anymore.
I knew it killed her. But I couldn’t help it. One day, we were going to need to end it, on practicality reasons only, and I needed to prepare myself for that. I suppose, in some way, I was preparing her, too.
Which is why, in a very sad and twisted way, I was very happy when graduation appeared.
We had survived. Survived it all.
I told everyone else I was busy so I could spend one last night with her.
One wonderful night.
I cried. I cried a lot, knowing that we wouldn’t see each other again. We knew we couldn’t keep in contact, it would only complicate everything farther. And I knew that we had had four amazing years together, but that still didn’t stop the tears.
She cried, too. Tears of happiness, for both of us.
It was our last night.
One wonderful night.
And that was it, they thought. They said their teary goodbyes to each other last before they stepped into trains and cars to go home for one last time before setting foot into the real world, whatever that meant for each of them.
And then, fifteen years later, Bree van De Kamp moved across the street from Lynette Scavo.
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