I’ll never forget you… Shania

Exchange program at Leavenworth’s University of Saint Mary sounded quite exciting. I am pretty old fashioned, and towns excite me. 18 years I have lived in the hustle and bustle of cities and I really wanted a break (Damn I sound so old). They consider me a rebel and my parents seldom stop me from doing what I want.

Bavarian village influenced city would definitely suit me! I was all packed and bid my goodbyes. I sat impatiently sipping coffee at the airport. I saw people clicking pictures, some eating, children running around, some chatting and few nervous first timers. I wasn’t new to travelling, it was more a passion.

Announcements were made and we began boarding the plane. 12 hours was going to be a long journey. But my kindle was going to keep me company. I luckily got the window seat. I watched the flickering lights and the glistening raindrops on the runway and it was quite beautiful. I looked out and sighed. I was going off for a year now and I will surely miss my city. The plane took off and my journey began.

I hardly slept through the journey. Between transits, noisy passengers and overbearing airhostess sleeping was close to impossible.

I had finally reached Leavenworth. The drive from Pangborn memorial airport took about 45 minutes and I had finally reached the University. I had already spoken to the student union to help me out with stay and Marissa was going to help me out.

I sat at the reception and observed the high ceiling with carved wooden figurines of horses and humans. It looked a bit like a church. The pillars were white with beautiful designs carved on them. Colourful rays of sunlight emerged through the stained glass paintings. A long and grand chandelier hung from the wooden cased ceiling.

“Hey!”, she screamed from behind. I shrieked. In front of me stood a tall sassy girl. She wore a white crop top with a leather jacket, faded blue denims and black high boots. I noticed a piercing on her belly. Her hair wavy and brown was braided.

We got introduced and she helped me with my luggage. She had a yellow 1973 convertible Ford Mustang. She tugged the bags in and I sank in the comfortable seats. We clipped our seat belts and that’s all that I remember. Next thing I hear Marissa waking me up. “Hey you sleepy head, we are here.” Marissa was really kind and I liked her already.

There was a small garden in front of a two storeys wooden house. The balcony had lots of colourful flowers. There was a beautiful chime dangling from the balcony. About 10 steps led to the main door of the house. She rang the bell and a middle aged lady and a young girl opened the door. They hugged and Marissa was talking to them. I managed to drag my bags up to the main entrance. “Hey Shania, this is Janis and little Betty. You two this is Shania.” Betty threw me hug and let me in. The house had a sweet smell of vanilla. The hall had few large cushions on the floor and a long log with a glass top which was a table. A huge tv hung on the wall between two large windows and a large Bohemian carpet contrasted the pieces of furniture. The curtains were in hues of purple pink and blue. A low sofa was at the far end of the room. We then went to the back yard where a large out house stood beyond the pool which was between the house and the out house. I was quite excited. We walked down the pathway and Marissa opened the door.

The outhouse was neatly arranged with just few things. A bright orange, yellow and red couch, an antique centre piece, a flat screen tv and a wall mounted long book shelf. Below the bookshelf was a small window with a ledge and in my mind I was already making that a reading corner.

The kitchen was small but well equipped. Wooden cabinets with wooden flooring. A cooking range, a small table with high stools, and store room and a fridge.

My room was on the first floor. It had a bathroom and a tiny balcony. The bathroom needed a little scrubbing and the bed needed dusting. She said this room wasn’t used for over 3 months. She offered I rest in her room and we could clean it in the evening. I nibbled a tuna sandwich and gulped down a glass of orange juice. I fell asleep on the couch in Marissa’s room.

Marissa woke me at around 4 in the evening. I was asleep for a good 5 hours and although I was still groggy, her “let’s go shopping” woke me up.

We walked around the streets buying basic supplies and cleaning material. The deal to stay with Mrs. Janis was a very small rent to cover water and electricity and to cook thrice a week and baby sit Betty the same three days. I loved cooking and liked kids. Marissa worked 3 days at a diner and said she would help me get a job there too. Suddenly my phone rang. Damn! I had forgotten to call my parents and they are going to be so worried. It was my mum. I answered the phone. She was cross. After apologising a million times and promising to buy a local sim card and call her back I hung up.

Marissa and I then sat down at a cafe. She was from New York and her dad was a loaded businessman. She hated being pampered and spoilt and found her escape at Leavenworth. Her parents didn’t approve of her choosing something so low key when she could afford to study at Harvard or Stanford. Her dad had even offered to buy her a house near the university and she could have all the luxuries. But Marissa was different she didn’t want any of those, she was old fashioned in some ways.

I began to make Leavenworth my home. University was a half hour bus ride and I tried to finish my study there before I headed home. Betty loved my fajitas, pasta, grilled fish, sandwiches and brownies. I baked a batch of brownies, cake or cookies for her every week. I enjoyed working at Good Mood food diner and at Mrs. Janis’s.

Saturday evenings and Sundays were our offs. Sometimes Mrs. JANIS gave us offs on Saturdays too. Thats when we drove down to nearby towns or cities or we partied. We didn’t drink much but loved dancing. Marissa had a somewhat boyfriend, Lionel. They met very rarely and he came with us on our road trips. He was fun. He tried setting up dates for me and somehow I was never interested.

6 months flew by and I missed home now and then. I called mum and dad often. There was a library few blocks from home. An old cozy one. I loved reading and this place was perfect. Reading corners, smell of old books and coffee and the windows overlooked mountains. I went there quite often. The owner was a sweet old lady. She was moody too. The owner’s son was quite the handsome guy. He hardly even looked at anyone nor smiled. He looked like he was deeply hurt.Every time I went there I secretly hoped I could hit off a conversation, but he just wouldn’t look.

I have 3 more months of my final year. I will soon graduate. I had already applied to several companies for an internship. And hadn’t heard from any.

The rains had begun and it got colder. One night Marissa and Lionel were going to check out a new bar. They had asked me to join. Before I reached it began raining and I had to forget my umbrella today!

I was running towards the bar and a cloud of cigarette smoke choked me. I was going to put up a fight. I turned around and it was him. The library dude! My heart skipped a beat. I ran into the bar and quickly tried drying my hair. I suddenly felt someone’s gaze piercing at me. I turned around and it was him! I smiled and winked at him. I had finally caught his attention.

I met Marissa and Lionel and sat down to drink. I noticed him scanning the room. He was heading to the counter and this was my chance! I excused myself and headed to the counter.

I tapped his shoulder and asked him, “looking for me?”

This was the first time in 8 months or so that I saw him smile, in fact he blushed.

We introduced each other. I finally know his name. Allester…


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