“I used to work at Sander’s Grocery too,” Ian said.
I had grown used to Ian’s constant lying about everything. They weren’t even big lies, like insisting his dad is the Duke of York. Ian lied about dumb stuff, like he forgot to do his chemistry assignment for Professor Mandelwood because his dog wanted to go for a walk, and his dog hadn’t been outside all day, so Ian felt sad and wanted to take Pepper for a walk, and also, Ian didn’t have a dog.
“My roommate’s dog,” Ian clarified. “That’s what I meant.”
“George doesn’t have a dog either,” I rolled my eyes.
“It’s his sister’s, and George is dog sitting for a while,” Ian said. Ian always stuck to his lies, and bulldozed through those mounting lies, until I gave up correcting him.
I sighed. Part of that story about his roommate’s sister’s dog might be true, but I was tired of trying to weed out the truth. I didn’t care anymore. I needed the other half of our chemistry paper.
“When will you finish your half of our chemistry paper?” I wearily asked Ian.
“Tonight, I promise.” Ian stopped walking beside me and jumped in front of me. “I’ll finish it tonight, I promise.”
I stood staring at Ian.
“You have my word,” Ian added, as though that would make me relax.
I nodded, “Ok.” I didn’t believe Ian, but I wanted to be done with him, and send him on his way back to wherever he lived, so that I could finish our paper. I needed a good grade in chemistry, because I planned to enroll in medical school.
Ian smiled, “I’ll have the best chemistry paper finished tonight, because my dad is coming to visit, and he’s a chemist at EndelCorp.”
“Great,” I forced a smile. I pushed past Ian and walked forward, down the sidewalk that wound past my dorm.
“Janice?” Ian called.
I stopped walking and turned around, annoyed.
“I was wondering if you might like to come to my house tonight? I’ll be done with our assignment around midnight.”
I snorted, “No. I’m not walking around campus at midnight. I’ll see you in class Monday.”
“I’ll come get you,” Ian said quickly. “I have a car now. I bought it this morning.”
I snorted again. “No,” I repeated.
“We’re having a party tonight,” Ian said. “It starts around ten. Will you be my date?”
“How are you going to finish our chemistry paper by midnight if you and your roommate are having a party, Ian?” I angrily asked him. “You’re going to finish our paper while a party is raging inside your apartment?” I snapped. “I’ll finish our paper, Ian. I’ll do it myself and turn it in for the both of us Monday, and after that, we will no longer work together on projects.”
“I don't live in an apartment,” Ian corrected me. “It’s a big house.”
“Whatever,” I mumbled.
I turned and walked briskly down the sidewalk. Finishing the chemistry paper myself would be well worth never having to talk to Ian ever again. I was fed up with his lying and exaggerating, and done with his stupid stories about how he lived in a huge house with roommates, and his rich dad sent him lots of money, and his house had a giant, heated indoor pool, and one of his roommates had a pet tiger he’d stolen from an off-Broadway circus act last summer. Ian was ridiculous and I was fed up.
In my dorm room, my roommate Darla brushed her long, black hair. “Hey Janice,” she giggled, “we’re going to a party tonight.”
“I have to finish my stupid chemistry partner’s half of our assignment,” I huffed, as I plopped down on my bed. It was a twin bed, and hard as a rock. There were lumps and bumps, too. I hated living in a dorm. Darla and I planned to move to an apartment together next year.
“The liar guy?”
“Yes, that’s the one.” I laid in my bed on my back and stared at our stained ceiling panels. I exhaled forcefully.
“You need a night out,” Darla said. She turned to me, brushing her thick, black hair. It was sleek and shiny. “We’ll be back by one or two, and you can study the entire rest of the weekend,” she smiled. “It’s at one of those big, frat houses, and guess what, Janice?”
I looked over at Darla. She smiled big, “Ben will be there.”
I giggled, “Really? He said so?”
“He asked if you were coming?” Darla sang.
“He did?” My eyes got big with excitement.
“Mmm hmm,” Darla hummed. She turned back around to look in the mirror as she clipped her hair back with a wooden clasp.
I left with Darla that evening. I wore a cute, blue dress with white sandals. We walked toward the big party houses. The students who lived there were rich. Darla led me to the biggest of all the big party houses, and there was Ian, standing on the porch, surrounded by girls.
“That’s my chemistry partner,” I whispered to Darla.
“The liar? Well, he’s cute, at least.”
I admitted to myself that seeing him surrounded by sorority sisters made him cuter somehow.
“Janice?” Ian spotted me amongst the other scantily clad college girls trying to look pretty on a Friday night.
“Hello,” I nodded. I would not have come had I known Ian would be here. He was cute surrounded by girls vying for his attention, but I knew he was dumb at chemistry, and lied about his roommate’s sister’s dog keeping him from finishing our paper.
“That’s the guy whose roommate owns a pet tiger?” Darla turned to whisper in my ear, giggling.
I giggled back, “Yes, and it’s around here somewhere, so don’t break into any locked bedroom doors.”
Darla playfully slapped my shoulder and we giggled.
“Janice, come have a drink?” Ian yelled over music blaring from the DJ on the front porch.
I cupped my ear, pretending not to hear. I shrugged, like I had no idea what Ian had just said.
“Oh look, there’s Ben!” Darla yelled over the music. Darla waved her arms wildly, “Ben!”
“Darla!” I hissed.
Ben turned to see us gawking at him. He raised his beer bottle and winked.
I screeched and flapped my hands over my chest with excitement. “Wait, did he wink at me or you?” I whispered in her ear.
“You!” Darla playfully slapped my arm. “You look cute, and I can tell he likes you, so go have some fun!”
Ben approached us, bumping other partygoers out of the way. Ben must be important on campus, I noted. Nobody hit him when he bumped their drinks.
“Hi, Janice,” Ben smiled.
I felt giddy, like a dumb cheerleader when the high school quarterback waved at her after he scored a touchdown.
“Hi, Ben,” I cooed. I tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
Several beers later, Ben and I were dancing the way I imagined strippers ground down on their targets for tips.
“Do you want to go upstairs?” Ben asked me.
“Yes,” I smiled.
Ben and I stumbled drunkenly up the stairs, then down the hallway kissing. He held my breast with one hand while fumbling for the doorknob with his other hand. The door was locked. We giggled and moved on to the next room. It was also locked.
“It’s like the guys living here don’t want people using their beds,” Ben laughed, while kissing my neck.
“Try that room,” I nodded toward a door at the end of the hallway, as Ben pushed his hands further up my skirt.
The door opened. “You’re so hot,” Ben whispered in my ear. He pulled me inside the dark room.
“I can’t see,” I said. “Where’s the light switch?” I pawed the wall, searching for a light switch.
Ben pushed me against the wall, kissing me, while he unbuttoned his jeans. “We don’t need a bed,” he moaned in my ear, as he lifted me up, pressing me against the wall.
Ben jerked away from me so suddenly, my bottom fell to the floor hard, and my head bumped against the wall on my downward fall. I heard Ben gurgle, and then the loudest growl I had ever heard pierced my eardrums just a few feet away in the darkness.
“Run!” Ben screamed. I felt his hand envelope mine, and he pulled me so hard, my shoulder yanked out of its socket. Ben dragged me out of the room and I saw blood oozing down his neck and chest.
We bolted out of that room and down the hallway. I ran so hard I couldn’t breathe. I fell down the staircase, followed by Ben toppling after me. We landed at the feet of drunken, dancing college boys and girls. They laughed at our mishap. They thought it was funny to see us tumble down the stairs, until they saw Ben’s blood, then a tiger running down those stairs after us.
I grabbed Ben’s hand and pulled him toward the front door. Ben was covered in blood, but no major arteries or organs were pierced. We ran so fast out of that big house, and kept running. I couldn’t even feel my feet as I surged into the lobby of my dorm, tugging Ben the whole way. Of all the dumb shit Ian lied about, the tiger was the truthful tale.