October 22nd, 2077
All across the CIT campus on a beautiful autumn day, students were stuck indoors with their heads buried in a textbook. They rushed from class to class with high anxieties about their subjects and held tightly to the largest cup of coffee the student cafe sold. I frowned as I watched everyone scurry dizzyingly about the campus lawn. These people were too smart for their own good. Most of them lacked the ability to communicate with their fellow man but yet they could program computer language like they were born with a Pip-Boy strapped to their wrists.
“Can you believe the whole Jessie and Debbie spat?” My roommate Brandy said with a raised eyebrow, sitting across from me at the picnic table with a large coffee in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.
I rolled my eyes, “It was bound to happen eventually.”
“I know but I didn’t think it would be so atomic ,” she laughed before taking a drag. “Anyway, did I tell you that I’m sorry to hear about you and Andrew?”
“Don’t be,” I dismissed, “I was stupid enough to fall for his lies.”
“First of all, you’re not stupid. Obviously ,” Brandy motioned towards my tower of textbooks sitting on the table. “You’re better off without his state college baggage weighing you down. Good thing you didn’t cancel your plans this weekend with your family for him…” Brandy carried on and on dragging my ex-fling.
I felt my attention slip from her as she droned on about God knows what. I was fading into that empty space in my mind that reminded me how I would never truly fit in with anyone. That dark corner of my thoughts that stored all of my anxiety and depression, which was growing larger and larger every day. Not to mention it wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world to catch your significant other cheating on you the day before a big test. I squeezed my hand into a fist and let out a heavy sigh.
But, in all honesty, most of my mental instability was the fault of this college and the impossible major I enrolled myself into. Advanced Systems Major- the combination of Electrical, Mechanical, and Robotics sent by Satan himself to destroy your life, but in return, you can earn a great salary, if you survive. That’s not even mentioning the Bachelor's degree I completed last semester for Nuclear Sciences. Or even the fact that my dumbass just applied for the Advanced Systems doctorate program. Jesus Christ, I’m a glutton for academic punishment.
Besides her constant shit-talking, Brandy and I had somehow formed an inseparable friendship since first being paired up in our freshman dorm. Brandy was well on her way to being a top cardiovascular surgeon in the Boston area. She had also submitted her paperwork for her doctorate program today. She just completed an impressive internship at Milton General Hospital last summer- some high profile, very secretive work that required signing lots of documents that kept her lips sealed for legal reasons.
I glanced down at my watch and let out a heavy sigh. My last class ended at two o’clock, and my bus didn’t arrive until three. I looked around the campus and pretended to listen as Brandy rambled on about how awful her schedule was this semester. Fall was my favorite time of year. I loved the slight chill to the air, but the sun was still plenty warm. I loved the pops of colors in the trees- the mix of yellows, reds, and oranges outlining the city. I should be like the rest of my Advanced Systems classmates with my face crammed into a book like the words would absorb through my skin and implant into my brain. But in all honesty, I wouldn't care about my classes or this college until I was back in my dorm late Sunday night.
“Oh, shit, I’m going to be late for class.” Brandy snuffed out her cigarette and collected her things. “Catch you later, lady! Have a good weekend with your family. We’ll get our nails done Monday, my treat!” She waved and bounced away.
“Thanks, babe. Keep yourself out of trouble.”
I had a family packed weekend ahead of me, and I was trying to relish the thought of seeing everyone together for the first time in several years. Nate, my eldest brother, was giving a big speech at the Veteran’s Banquet tomorrow evening. My parents were flying into Boston tomorrow morning, joined by my three older brothers that were all home from the service. I was taking a bus today to Sanctuary with plans of staying with Nate, his wife Nora, and newborn son Shaun. I’ve only seen Shaun once since he was born, and the moment the grandparents show up I probably won’t get a chance to see him for the rest of the weekend. With one last disgusted look towards my scribbled notes, I sighed heavily and shoved my textbooks into my bag, hoisting it onto my shoulder.
I had a short walk ahead of me, but these drivers lately in town were horrible . Lots of press and big-wigs with their limos were creeping around campus because of the big unveiling yesterday. CIT had expanded their facility- not with a new skyscraping building, but underground. Brandy, nosy as ever, had come back to the dorm after poking around with the reporters in the streets. She told me it was state-of-the-art; lots of new, large labs and classrooms for students to study and thrive in their education. I chose to hide in my dorm room with the news coverage in the background. They had footage from a vertibird flying overhead- it looked like a sea of people surrounding the main courtyard as they opened the doors for select members of high society and a select group of students. No press allowed inside. I didn’t care, all I knew is all these people on campus made me uncomfortable and I wanted them to leave soon and stop fucking up the already bad traffic in town.
I boarded my three o’clock bus and took a seat near the back. I would be riding this bus to its entirety, might as well make myself comfortable. I pulled out my Advanced Robotics VI book and my favorite yellow highlighter. I only made it a few pages at a time before drifting off into daydreams about a different life. A life where my heart didn’t ache because I wasn’t good enough for some idiot frat boy from University Point. A world without this college and its piles of stress (and sometimes tear) inducing homework. A world where I didn’t feel like getting blackout drunk was the most adventure I would find in life.
The bus slowed itself to a stop about an hour and a half later, right outside of the Concord Red Rocket Station. This was my stop. I shoved my belongings into my bag and walked the rest of the way into Sanctuary. It was a cute little neighborhood. Nate and Nora did a good job picking this place out to raise their kiddo. They lived in a blue and white one-story home with the prettiest landscaping in the entire neighborhood. Before I could even fully knock on the door, it was pulled open by the robot butler, Codsworth.
“Well, hello miss Roxi!” The robotic butler delightfully greeted me. “We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival!”
“Hey there, Codsworth,” I said stepping inside the house.
“Dinner will be ready shortly, miss,” Codsworth said as he closed the door behind me. “Spaghetti and meatballs, with homemade garlic bread!”
I took a deep breath. Oh, God, yes- garlic bread . “It smells amazing.”
“Well, look who’s here!” Said the approaching voice of Nora from the hallway. She emerged with a smile, “How are you, Roxi?”
“I’m good, how are you?”
The small talk continued for several, almost unbearable, minutes. Nora was a pretty blonde woman, with a slender nose and waistline- a lawyer. Her line of work bored me as much as my major bore her. We had nothing in common, in all honesty. But we were nice to one another, tolerated each other as needed to be as in-laws.
Finally, my brother walked into the living room with Shaun in his arms. Nate handed the baby off to Nora so he could give me a hug that ultimately ended in him putting me into a headlock. Ah, the love of an older brother. Out of all of my brothers, Nate was by far my favorite. He taught me how to fight and defend myself, how to shoot a variety of guns, among other things he learned in his Army days. I think he felt bad for me, being the youngest and only girl, left to be abused by the three other male siblings on the family farm. I guess it also helps that we’re ten years apart.
“When are mom and dad getting here? They’re on Flight 1665, right?” I asked Nate as Codsworth set the table.
“Tomorrow around noon as long as traffic in town isn’t too terrible. And yes, 1665.”
“God, traffic in Cambridge has been a nightmare . I almost got run over twice on my way to class this morning. People are crazy !”
“You can say that again,” Nate snorted and rolled his eyes.
Codsworth made a delicious dinner, followed with a perfect chocolate cake for dessert. He cleared up the table while we watched the evening news, then suggested a fun game of Blast Radius. Shaun was passed off from person to person during the game, giggling loudly when we laughed at something during the game.
“Oh, Roxi,” Nora piped up after taking her turn, “I forgot to mention earlier. We had a Vault-Tec Representative come by a few days ago. Since Nate is a Veteran we had first pickings to the local vault. We put your name down as well, so in case something ever happens, you have a place with us there!”
“In the vault?” I asked, eyes wide. “Wow, thank you! I mean...I hope we never have to use it, but you never know.”
Nate grunted, “yeah, you never know. And with how high tensions are right now it’s an unfortunate comfort to have a vault up the hill.”
“I know, right?” I said, eyes widening. “Did you hear on the news about-”
Shaun babbled something then tugged hard on Nate’s beard, ending the conversation with a chorus of laughter. It was probably for the best, once army-vet Nate and I started into politics and conspiracies, it would go on for hours.
The adults went to bed around ten o’clock, allowing me time to sit on the couch, that was acting as my bed, and read through my textbooks. The same textbooks I told myself I wasn’t going to care about until Sunday, but hey, life is full of surprises.
Codsworth floated over to me and handed me a cup of hot chocolate, “You look down, miss Roxi.”
I took the hot chocolate and gave Codsworth my thanks before letting out a heavy sigh. “Sometimes, Codsworth, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
“Now, now, miss. You’re so young with a life full of opportunities!”
“I wish I had your optimism.”
“How is your schooling coming along? If I’m not mistaken, the last time we spoke you were already applying for summer internships.”
“Oh, yes! I’ve been accepted into both RobCo and General Atomics! Now I just have to pick which one I want to do,” I said with a laugh.
“That’s wonderful news! Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” I smiled at the three-eyed robot. “I’m actually studying the prototypes for the Mister Handy line of robotics now. I have a killer test next Wednesday.”
Codsworth was great to talk with. During my previous visits with Nate and Nora, I would spend several hours speaking with him. He would go about his chores, almost always keeping one of his three eyes upon me while we spoke.
I closed my textbook and shoved it back into my bag after draining my cup of hot chocolate. I laid down on the couch and covered myself with a heavy blanket. Sleep found its way to me easily.