Charlotte hummed the tune of some unknown song under her breath as she sipped her cold coffee and clicked away at her keyboard.
She was supposed to be typing her essay but she kept switching tabs to the google doc that was her poem, so she wasn’t really getting much done.
Teo sat on the bed opposite her tapping his fingers steadily to some unknown beat and scribbling away in his spiral notebook.
A dorm with someone of the opposite gender would be fun, they said. An experiment.
It was cheaper and that was all Charlotte needed to hear.
They had a good enough relationship. It was calm.
From day one, when Charlotte told Teo her name was Charlotte but he would only call her Lottie, Charlie, Char, or anything but Charlotte and he didn’t protest with a smirk like most guys did, she knew they wouldn’t have any problems.
And late night that Friday when Charlotte switched on a horror movie and he said he was a little scared and she didn’t laugh and call him a baby but instead switched the channel, he thought that they could maybe be friends.
But there wasn’t really a word for them.
Two weeks after that Friday they had their first hug when Teo’s brother passed away and tears fell down his tan cheeks.
Sometimes they sat the whole day in silence, knee-deep in thoughts and homework. Other days they gossiped, eyes twinkling and mouths running faster than Charlotte in her marathons, which Teo would be sure to attend and cheer her on.
They were majoring in different subjects, but both of them minored in art. They were different in so many ways, but alike too.
Teo slept at 11 pm every night, setting his alarm and laying his head on the hard bed. What Charlotte didn’t know was that he never slept directly, distracted by the clicking of her laptop. He never told her that though. He was always the first to read her poems, and he knew she only had time to write them at night.
Charlotte didn’t have a sleep schedule. She slept when she was done, and woke up when she wanted. She had afternoon classes, so it was alright.
She always awoke to a small granola bar on her dresser or some other form of breakfast, sometimes a muffin on good days, placed there by Teo.
They had boundaries. A small invisible piece of tape ran through the middle of the dorm according to Charlotte, but she said when she was sleeping it was okay to cross.
And cross he did, lightly tip-toeing to place food for her to make sure she didn’t wait until lunch to eat which she much too often did.
And so they sat in their comfortable silence, for the most part -of course, there was the occasional sip and the nonstop typing and the soft scribbling and the ticking of the clock, and the annoyed sighs when Char couldn’t find a rhyme-but they didn’t speak.
And then, breaking the silence was a ding of Charlotte’s phone. She blinked and picked it up to see that it was Gmail. She opened the email, fumbling with her passcode, and quickly skimming it.
After she was done she let out a dry laugh and dropped her phone onto the bed.
“Char? What is it?” Teo put down his pencil and sat up.
“Oh, it’s nothing, just that we aren’t to leave our dorms without a mask. And that classes are all online from now on.” She let out another dry laugh. “Nothing at all…”
“It’s that bad?” he propped himself up on his elbows.
“I suppose so.” She shrugged and continued typing away.
A while ago, he had stolen her laptop as a prank.
Needless to say, she didn’t find it funny.
“Well, what? The virus is spiraling outta control and we students have to deal with it by staring at screens all day long in order to learn. There’s nothing else to it.” She tucked her strawberry blonde hair behind her ear and angrily clicked the backspace several times before taking a deep breath and typing again.
“Come on Char. What’s wrong?” They had dormed together for long enough to see through all the ‘I’m fine’s.
“Nothing, nothing’s wrong, maybe you should just mind your own business and continue scribbling whatever it is that you’re scribbling in that notebook of yours and leave. Me. Alone. “ She sighed. Teo looked hurt, it was obvious, the guy wore his heart on his sleeve. “Teo-”
“No, maybe I should leave you alone.” he got up, grabbed his notebook, and walked out, slamming the door behind him.
Barely a couple of seconds later, he walked back in.
“I need a mask,” he mumbled at Charlotte’s questioning expression. She ran her hands through her hair and shut her laptop closed.
The only other time she had ever done that before she was done was when she hadn’t gotten in for a program she had applied to.
She set it aside on her dresser, where a packet of saltine crackers sat that morning, and got up from the bed.
“Teo, I’m sorry.”
“Are you really though?” Her eyes became slightly glossy. She looked up at the cheap light fixture to refrain from letting the tears fall, but Teo had already noticed. He sighed and dropped his notebook, walking towards her.
He outstretched his steady arms and pulled her towards him.
He wasn’t necessarily strong. Char could beat him in an arm wrestle.
But he was there and that was all that mattered.
A salty tear fell onto his shoulder. They pulled apart and Charlotte hastily rubbed it away.
That was the third time he had ever seen her cry. Once when she got a bad grade. The next when she lost a race.
And now, though she tried to stop them, the tears fell down her cheeks. She gave up pawing away at them and dropped her arms to her sides.
“God I’m so pathetic.”
“Char, crying doesn’t make you pathetic. It makes you human.”
“Darn, thought I wasn’t. Guess the virus can affect me then?”
“At the rate you’ve been going out without masks, I don’t think so, but you’re still human. Just got on the good side of natural selection.” She smiled.
“Oh gosh, if we haven’t got masks and we can’t go out without a mask to buy a mask, we’re stuck here aren’t we?” she let out a dry laugh as the realization hit her.
“No worries, I’ve got a stash of breakfast food we can live off of.”
“Huh, I was wondering whether or not you stole those from the kitchen. Guess not.”
“Hm, I don’t think I could live with stealing on my consciousness.”
“Ahh, one of our differences.”
And they stood together for a moment.
Soon Charlotte went back to her poem, and eventually her essay. Teo went back to whatever it was that he was scribbling away in that notebook of his.
And they comforted each other, though not a word was needed to be said.