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bitter musings of williams and west

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you're introduced in the same way every student on your floor, or close enough to every, is introduced: a contextless name on a form and weeks later a polite, professional (if insincere) introduction to the stranger who'll be sleeping 2 yards away from you for the next semester.

the bright and highly enthused young man whose name you memorized last month as "Ashley" introduces himself as "Ash".

the very first thing you notice about him, before his height and his volume and even the neatly pinned empty sleeve where his right hand might have been once, is his eyes. they seem impossibly dark under the subpar recessed lights your dorm provides, but there's a warmth to them that can't quite be placed. a familiarity even though this is your first meeting. a guarantee that when he firmly shakes your hand and tells you how great it is to finally meet you, he means it.

part of you wonders what proverbial short straw he drew to end up with you for a roommate.

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Ash Williams turns out to be perhaps the most concrete proof you've been given yet that god hates you just a bit.

he's frustrating, to put it lightly. he's out every other night, sometimes you don't see him for days on end only to come back to your dorm and find him unceremoniously passed out half on his campus issued bed and half on the floor. you never once see him study, you're not 100% sure the textbooks that always without fail end up on your half of the room have been opened, much less read.

he's loud, sometimes impossibly so. he has no sense of boundaries whatsoever, no respect for room division, no concept of private space. he's the antithesis to everything you are, academically, and how he stayed for any semester up to this point is beyond you.

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he's friends with almost everyone on campus. there's not a student that passes through the building whose name he doesn't know, or who doesn't know him. he's sociable in that easy unbothered way that all middle american young men like him seem to be. he's funny in a way you'll never be. he's handsome in all the ways you'll never be. he's has more friends now than you've had in all the years of your entire life combined.

the word Antithesis sits on your tongue, and it's bitter and angry in all the ways that you are.

and sad and alone, in all the ways that you are.

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people have called you cold since before you could understand the word. you embrace it fully, because you'd be dead if you didn't. but it's never been entirely true. you feel, loathe as you are to admit it. you feel everything.

Feeling is one thing. Showing is another. Understanding...that's a field you may never conquer.

so maybe you snipe at him a little more than necessary. so maybe you're a little harsher than you need to be. he never seems to care. maybe he needs someone to scold him, maybe he's as sick of being the entire school's golden boy as you are of standing under his pedestal. you try not to think about why you care, or why you're harder on him than you should be.

(because if you let him get any closer than arm's length you won't be in control any more. and if you let him that close, you'll let him closer still.)

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your hard partying misplaced fraternity pledge roommate cries in his sleep.

you asked him once, about 2 months into your forced proximity acquaintanceship, what exactly happened to his right hand. he'd brushed it off with a simple enough explanation ("got in an accident, didn't get to keep it") but his eyes tell you different, his eyes always betray him. there's sorrow in those impossibly expressive eyes, and fear, and whatever curiosity you may have had magnifies a thousand times over because when have you ever seen him afraid? he gives some half-excuse half-lie about needing to study (blatant lie, obvious, unsubtle, because that's his way) and you let him leave. you let him leave because you know you'll get an answer in time.

whether it'll be his time or yours you've yet to decide.