Jill jingled the keys, unlocking the door for the first time. On the other side, she heard a perky voice.
The girl, although petite, held herself in a confident manner, straight-backed and chin jutted up. Almond-slit amber eyes met Jill’s gaze head on. Her coffee-brown hair had tints of blonde and curled down to her waist. She tossed the locks behind her shoulders and smiled.
“I guess I’m to be your roommate. I assume you’re Jill, right?”
“Guess so,” Jill muttered back, casting her gaze back to her feet. “I mean, yes.” She shifted uncomfortably, feeling like the girl was scrutinizing her. Judging her.
“I hope you don’t mind that I chose the left side of the room,” the girl said. “You didn’t have a preference, did you?”
“I have a ton of stuff to unpack.”
Jill remained silent as she slung her suitcase onto the unmade mattress. She already hated being here. She wanted to go home.
Jill looked up at the girl, startled. “What?”
“You didn’t ask for my name. It’s Bea.”
Jill already knew this from the freshman orientation packet she’d received, so she hadn’t thought it necessary to ask. Apparently, by the way Bea was staring at her, she had expected the question.
Bea looked astonished, dropping the clothes she’d been folding to place her hands on her hips. “Oh? That’s all you have to say? Wow, you really don’t talk much, do you?”
“Sorry. I’m not that great at small talk. I’m…I’m shy. I’m working on it.” Jill winced, expecting a tirade to come forth, hurtful words about her inability to connect, her social awkwardness. It wouldn’t be the first time.
To her surprise, Bea walked over. She took Jill’s hand in both of hers and beamed. “Girl, never be sorry for who you are.”
It was one of those moments Jill would never forget, even long after she and Bea stopped talking.