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Laura folded the note carefully into the envelope and licked it daintily. She cut her tongue on the sharp edge and swore out loud. “For God’s sake!” A scowl transformed her pretty face into a study of pain. She sighed heavily and looked around trying to figure out where to leave the envelope. Her tiny dorm room was usually as austere as a nun’s cell. But recently chaos had entered her life. Clothes were heaped in piles all around the single bed. The small desk holding her laptop and textbooks was buried under a mountain of notes and exercise books piled haphazardly.
She trudged over to the corkboard and slowly unpinned all of the items currently occupying its surface. Banished to the floor were the Lotus Garden and Curry House take-out menus; the class schedules, the meeting notices. Only two pictures remained. The first, yellowing and curled at the edges, featured herself, sporting pigtails, sandwiched between two smiling adults, her parents. She studied the way they held each other’s eyes. Even then, they seemed oblivious to the little girl trying desperately to grab their attention. The other photo, an 8 x 10 glossy, was the head shot of a young man. He wore his long black hair pulled back in a pony tail. Sculpted cheekbones and a square jaw vied for dominance over his piercing blue eyes. A man could be too good looking, Laura thought, as she stared at the likeness and then calmly ripped the picture into tiny pieces that fell to the floor like confetti. She pinned the slim envelope in the exact middle of the board and walked backwards to the bed. She sat on the edge of the lumpy mattress and leaned forward, cradling her head in her hands.
On the bedside table, a cell phone chirped with a bird call ring tone. Laura picked it up slowly, to see who was interrupting her. The screen read: “Mother”. Oh God!
Laura slid her finger across the screen and put it to her ear, forcing herself to smile. “Hi Mum,” she said brightly. “What’s up?”