The whiteboard beside the fridge read “It has been 5 days since our last Shenanigans”, but that was really only because Stein had been too busy to update it.
Finals week was always the great schism for the inhabitants of 52 Westbank Drive. There were those who vanished into the homes and dorms of less studious classmates to stumble home with throbbing eyes and the half-crazed outlines of essays at two pm, and those who barricaded the doors of their rooms and only came out when summoned by the siren’s call of coffee and chinese takeout. The end of the year was heralded by Bishop and Alcott’s mad cackling in the early morning hours, by coffee-and-god-knows-what-else runs before post-dawn slump hit, and by Emily’s wraithlike midnight pilgrimages through the hallway.
“I can’t go on,” said Allen Ginsberg, matter of factly, as he staggered back to his room, leaning heavily on Ernest Hemingway. His curly hair was matted wetly against the left side of his head, and his half buttoned shirt drooped crinkled and stained over a pair of frayed yellow smiley face boxers. “This is the end. I embrace it. Someone call a doctor.”
“You need to chill out,” Virginia Woolf hissed, “or Stein will wake up and we’ll all be fucked.” Her grey eyes flitted nervously, focusing on the greying “CLOSED” sign hanging crookedly on the door behind Ginsberg. “Shit, where’s Lou?”
“Probably rotting in Elliot,” said Ginsberg, sinking to the floor with a groan. “She left after Jack did a line of Adderall with on of her Chem flash cards.” His elbow twisted awkwardly around Hemingway's thick neck as the two slid clumsily down the wall. “Thanks, mom,” he said, as the disheveled journalism major dropped heavily beside him. Hemmingway’s eyes were surrounded by dark greasy circles, unidentifiable as bruises or sleeplessness, and his trademark stubble had grown into a patchy, unattractive beard.
“Just one more week, my man,” he said, awkwardly petting Alan’s exposed knee. Ginsberg's head lolled against Hemingway's shoulder, and he began to snore softly. Woolf shivered, rubbing her temples as she yawned and pulled her arms into her sweatshirt. The old shag carpet on the stairs, long since faded from an unfortunate puce to an equally unfortunate grey, was beginning to look more and more appealing. Her knees had just started to buckle when the creak of a door hinge from across the way, deafening in the relative silence, caused all three to jump. Vonnegut blinked at them blearily, his fluffy pink night robe riding up over his skinny thighs. He looked first at the crumpled men on the floor, and then at Woolf. She attempted a reassuring smile, which gave her all the gruesome cheeriness of a desiccated corpse.
“Sounds about right,” Vonnegut muttered to himself as he slowly backed into his room and locked the door.
“Sorry,” muttered Woolf, to no one in particular. Her eyes itched, and when she sluggishly lifted her hand to wipe at them she was painfully reminded that she had recently gnawed off half of her already short fingernails. Somewhere in the blurry recesses of her consciousness drifted her final paper on sex trafficking in revolutionary France for Professor Hugo, of which she had only managed to scrape up a half-assed three page outline. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but there’s a half pot of week-old coffee with my name on it,” she said. Hemingway gave her a weary salute, reaching into his coat for a grubby cigarette. Not bothering to tell him off for smoking in the house, Virginia twisted the worn brass knob she had been clutching to stay upright, and retreated blearily into the bedroom she shared with Elizabeth Bishop.
It was small and dark, but at least it was clean. Bishop had been spending more and more nights with her girlfriend Lotta, and Virginia, well, Virginia didn’t mind a room of her own. Trailing her fingers with almost sensual longing across the inviting spread of her duvet, she sat down in front of her battered laptop and held down on the power key with what felt like the last reserve of strength in her twenty year old body. By the time it had finished humming to life, dawn had broken over the old yellow house.