(northwestern university freshman orientation september 1996)
abigail was so excited to finally be on her own and away from her family life. having grown up the middle child of three children, she was looking forward to college since she was a child. even though northwestern was very close to home, she was staying in the dorms on campus and couldn’t wait to have her own life, no matter how big or small. she wanted something that no one could ever take away.
julie couldn’t believe she was already starting college. she never really wanted to be away from home, having grown up with just her and her mom, she didn’t really relish the idea of being on campus and in the dorms when she was so close to home. but she decided to give it a shot since all of her friends from rosemont encouraged her to get some distance from her close ties to home and her childhood neighborhood. northwestern could give her this new perspective and she was looking forward to expanding her horizons. and home was always there if and when she needed her rocks.
“all freshman from the east wing of campus should head to the freshman lounge where we can check you into orientation tours of the campus. all freshman on the west wing of campus should head to the cafeteria where we can check you into the dorm resident assistant introductions and dorm assignments”. the team of orientation volunteers had such a big group of incoming freshman to get through the first part of orientation tours and logistics and they wanted to make sure to split the groups evenly so no overcrowding occurred in the overlapping sections of the tours.
julie was staring across the lobby to try to find the cafeteria entrance when she felt a solid bump into her back from behind. she dropped her orientation packet and heard a “sorry” from behind her as she bent down to pick everything up. I’m sorry I was focused on trying to find the sign toward the cafeteria. julie turned around to see her assailant and looked up into the piercing blue eyes of this fellow freshman, and she chuckled as she said, “so was I. I’m Julie by the way. west wing too?”
abigail wondered how this other student, who looked more lost than she did, knew she was in the west wing. she paused before “I’m Abigail. and when it clicked, “oh, you were looking for the cafeteria too!”
“well abby, how else would I have known where you were headed?”
julie was surprised at herself for going for the shortened version of this girl’s name right away….she was probably just compensating for feeling nervous and, in her core, she never meets a stranger.
abigail felt a rush at this immediate nickname, desperate to stand apart. no one except her nanna on her father’s side had ever really called her abby.
“it’s cool! I love it! as long as I can call you Jules!”
julie smiled at this, grateful that her little fopaux was accepted and even welcomed.
“you’re on!” julie exclaimed with a smile as both girls looked up to see that they were right under the sign to the cafeteria. they giggled as they saw the sign simultaneously and went toward where the sign pointed laughing comfortably together.
jules was so content after everyone but abby left to drive back to the city after their big weekend at the wineries out on long island. it was so nice to get the old gang together…this had probably been the most time they had spent together, all together, since college. it was great to spend time with abby and bobby together. jules was looking all around the rental kitchen for where she could have left the champagne glasses because abby wanted to end their perfect weekend by opening the last bottle of champagne and hanging around the poolside catching up, just them. jesse had gone to bed hours ago, having petered out from the celebration earlier than everyone else. julie loved that abby stayed this extra night with her even though she was surprised that abby didn’t head back to the city with bobby…it was a long drive and abby was so protective of him and would have wanted to keep him company and make sure he didn’t get sleepy at the wheel. jules was never comfortable having what she wanted without overthinking it. she was a little tipsy so that was influencing her thinking anyway….find the glasses jules, that’s what you can in here for…
she decided that abby probably thought she snuck into give jesse a goodnight kiss, she could never help herself, so she opened the kitchen sliding door to yell out to abby that she would be right out with the glasses. abby didn’t answer but that wasn’t odd with the practically deafening sound of crickets out there, so she continued her hunt. when she finally found them, she gave them a rinse and brought them out with a couple of blankets on the couch back on her way back to the door.
when she put her hand on the sliding door handle she jumped and screamed as abby was right outside the window, her phone falling down out of her hand and tears streaming down her face. she looked white as a ghost and jules almost fell back from the fright.
time just stopped.
she put her hand on the glass where abby’s hand would be if she had the physical signals working to place it there. as she made this gesture, frozen in her own fright, jules knew, she just knew what was wrong.
by the time she stepped out onto the poolside concrete, abby lay in a ball on the ground on top of her phone screaming.
jules immediately cradled her and started rocking them both.
“bbbbbbbbboooooooobbbbbbbbbyyyyyyyyyyyyy nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” screamed into the night sky was all they heard….unsure who’s mouth it came from.