Carrying my Canon, violin, and heavy suitcases, I got off at Central Station. I counted my remaining money for a taxi to New Haven, this small city along the Hudson River. My family, all the big and small Woods, all said goodbye to me two days ago. “Willow, we’ll miss you, flower!” Mom said. Mom, or Star Denty, was an aged hippie who stood up for civil movements. She had an IQ of over 170. And, she married a smart theoretical scientist, my father, Vladimir Woods, who also had an IQ of over 170. The result? Brainiac children.
My older brothers and sisters all attended Ivy League. It was pretty much inevitable that I would attend Ivy League. Tyler, River, Drake, Skye, and Ileana. Five older siblings. And still, my mom wants more babies with this new birth discovery transplant. She even let her own children pick their own last names. I picked Woods when I was little. We all were a wacky family, living under an apartment in New Orleans. We attended jazz festivals. And Mardi Gras, or fat Tuesday, in French. Growing up, I played around with my siblings’ advanced math books after finishing the mediocre homework during day, played piano, violin, and clarinet during dinner, after having to perform wacky arts to our parents, and recited lines of Shakespeare with my siblings as we tucked in for bed during the night. Yup, we were an eccentric bunch who grew up with strange antics.
“You’ll never have the time to play your violin at Yale,” Tyler jokes. Tyler was my favorite sibling. He was tall, with blonde hair. He was older than me by five years. He was currently majoring in Molecular Physics at Harvard. We used to have fiery debates of politics and programmed robots when we were little. He called me last night when I was on the train to New York. I packed the violin up anyways. Now I regretted it. It was heavy on my back.
In the taxi, I was fiddling my thumbs, all nervous. I was only sixteen. And yet, I was entering the one most prestigious schools. Skye, my sister who is currently majoring in Finance at Cornell, told me to join a sorority. Like there was no tomorrow. Of course I had to join one, for Skye’s advice. Along the ride, I snapped some photos with my Canon. Lovely.
I sighed. “Thank you,” I said, nonchalantly paying him a bit too much. Yale. The huge, decorative campus made me happy. I knew why I was here all along. This place was where destiny left me to figure myself out. In the meantime, an acne-faced boy with pink hair showed me along the way. Freshman first, here!
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Willow Woods.” I said, hoping he’d get a positive connotation from me. He just smiled. He seemed like a senior who still kept their punk hair from high school. “Hey, you look familiar.” I said. He really did, like . . .
“Willow, did you attend Gate Academy for a little while in Boston?”
“Well, I’m from Louisiana. But, I went to lots of Academies, because they all invited me hurriedly.” I paused. “But, yeah, I do remember the name. Middle school, maybe? Oh yes! I remember now. Gate Academy. They only wanted me because my older brother scored first place in a nation-wide math contest.”
“So they just stalked you?” He laughed. We continued walking. The other freshmen looked at us with burning eyes. Like they wanted more attention on their first day.
“Pretty much,” I said. I looked at his name tag. Michael Andover. It sounded like some rich kid’s name. You know, Andover Academy. We were friends from then on, I guess. He bought me a coffee afterwards at a local cafe. He talked to me a bit, explaining how he majored in Philosophy. Funny, he didn’t strike me as a Philosopher type. He seemed awkward and aloof, even though he was a senior. He explained outright how he was in the photography club and how my camera sort of made him interested. He said he remembered my face from somewhere. He went to Gate Academy all his life, and worked up to be president of the Debate and Speech team when he didn’t have pink hair, but blonde hair. He seemed like an old friend, somebody I had never gotten to meet in the past. Something about him made Yale seem at home.
“You’re still carrying your bags!” He laughed. “Can I see your camera for a moment?” I handed him the camera. He was deeply absorbed in it. He looked at me with eager eyes. “Oh, Willow! Look! There is one of my classmates, Andrew.”
Now, there was a tall, dark man who entered the room. He looked wistful and struck me as perceptive the first time he entered the room. He had a shapely, handsome face and dark hair, with darkly rimmed glasses fitting his face structure perfectly. The way he talked to others was sort of gentle and quiet. He seemed like an intelligent, wise philosopher. “Andrew!” Michael yelled. Andrew turned our way and looked at me, in a concise manner. I turned away, awkwardly blushing. Michael didn’t notice this, and just kept on greeting Andrew.
He had a look on him. He glanced at me. He seemed experienced, like he was a senior. “Hello. I can tell you’re a freshman.” He directly looked at me.
Actually, I was supposed to be a junior in High school. I nodded, silently. “Andrew Wells, and you are?” He said, and we shook our hands firmly. He made me seem mature. He was the time inexperienced for me.
“Willow Woods.” I said, smiling brightly. He smiled a bit too. Michael put his arms around us, like buddies.
“Hey, Willow! You joining a sorority?”
“Yea,” I said, smiling at him, naturally.
“Why would a girl like you join a sorority?” Andrew asked, deeply amazed. He seemed to criticize me at the same time. His perceptive blue eyes interlocked mine. It was honest and deep at the same time.
“Well, it seems fun.” That was all I could say.
“Oh really?” Andrew said, sort of rhetorically.
“Hey, Andy’s in a fraternity. He’s a true frat boy.” Michael said.
“Really?” I said, laughing. Andrew looked at me, at first, like I was a new freshman, and then calmed down.
“Sure,” He said. He checked his iPhone. I looked at him. He wore a black sweater and grey slacks and polished shoes. He dressed sharply, even though he was in college. His family seemed affluent, but somehow let their child major in Philosophy. He smelled like Ralph Lauren Blue, and with cigarettes and coffee and Moleskines. He carried a laptop bag. I admired his style. None of the boys I had met in my previous years were impeccable as him. “Michael, Willow? I really have to go.”
“Alright, see you.” I said.
He pulled out his phone. “What’s your phone number, Willow?”
I looked at him. I spoke like a drone. He caught it all and tapped the phone to save it. “I’ll see you around campus. “he said, smiling at me. Yeah.
"See you around, Will." Michael said. He seemed all big and brotherly to me. He could easily pass as my goofball brother, Drake. Michael waved goodbye. I smiled. Off to the sorority. Great. Skye would sure love pictures of this.