Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

The second time Angela went down to Mexico, it was to escape her college roommate Stephanie Bowers. Although Stephanie did have a lot of annoying qualities about her (among other things, went to bed early, woke up early, basically screwed up any kind of natural schedule Angela could comfortably adhere to), it was not really anything Stephanie did but rather the fact that she existed at all and was attempting to share the same small physical space of a college dorm room like some kind of good-natured scholastic parasite. It wouldn't have mattered if the two of them were perfect twins in terms of personality and interests (which, assuredly, they were not). Anyone would have bothered Angela to the point of inciting a strong urge to flee the room, city, even country in an effort to move about freely, to breathe air that wasn't recently exhaled from another human being.

Due to an adolescent weight and acne problem that had stretched across her teenage years, Angela never learned to be social or even friendly. Instead she clung to the comfort of her non-judgemental books and art, seeking solace in the stories and works of the great thinkers and doers of the past. She had become obsessed with acquiring information about such topics as the battles of the American Revolution, the movements in the history of renaissance art, as well as the entire field of astronomy. She absorbed knowledge as if it was the sun and air and it nourished her through the time when she had no real friends, the time when everyone she knew thought her a hateful, pimply fat bitch and wanted nothing to do with her.

At some point people began to treat her differently. After she had been in college a little while, she looked in the mirror one day and realized that she had somehow transformed from a bumpy pumpkin-shaped girl into a smooth-skinned long-legged woman. She had no idea when and how this had happened, but in the back of her mind she knew it had been a long slow process, unnoticeable in its glacier-like movement until this day when she suddenly became aware of the change she had gone through, and she saw herself, not as the way she remembered herself to be, but as the person she had become. And it startled her that this had happened without any conscious effort on her part and, in fact, despite her complete lack of interest in her health or appearance.

This outward transformation had no bearing on her inner life, however, and though she started to notice the newfound attention she was receiving from the people she came into contact with, she still wanted nothing to do with them. Her resentment for the human race actually deepened as she saw the obvious importance everyone she met placed upon her appearance. Her mouth curled cruelly into a smile as she walked by the accosters, ignoring all attempts people made to talk to her, to be friends with her. She could not find within herself any desire whatsoever to waste her time with people who had nothing better to do than waste her time. There was no doubt in her mind that anyone she would find the least bit interesting was off in a library somewhere deep in a book about the astronomical pioneers of the eighteenth century, if not doing first-hand research in the former battlefields of the Potomac. She was quite content that the full scope of her interaction with other living beings was through the medium of typewritten words on a screen or sheet of paper. It never occurred to her to be desirous of a human voice or touch; she had found too much pleasure in the solace of her own mind, feeding it with the facts and stories that she loved.

The college she was attending, Trinity College, required that all first and second year students live on campus and initially that thrilled her because it gave her an excuse to move away from home even though she had decided to go to a university in the town where she grew up. Living at home had been something of a nightmare, continuously surrounded by attention-starved relatives and put upon to run errands for all of them. Angela had a younger brother, Nick, who felt it was his obligation to jump on top of her whenever the two of them were in the same room.

Needless to say, Angela had looked forward to moving into the dorms and even though she was forced to have a roommate, she was certain that at least it would be a relatively stable and mature environment where people had a significant amount of personal autonomy and actual choice in what they did, unlike in her suffocating slave state at home.

Of course it was too good to be true. No matter how bad it got at home, at least Angela could barricade herself into her room and escape for at least a little while. In college, however, she no longer had that luxury. The first year her roommate had been a sickly, smelly, rotting, festering lump of a human being, a "girl" named Ginger Hopkins who only left her bed to order Supreme pizzas and to answer the door when they came. No longer able to bear the stench, Angela looked under Ginger's bed one day and discovered a pile of pizza boxes, each containing remnants of meals eaten days or weeks in the past. Angela went on to look in Ginger's dresser drawers (Ginger had been in the bathroom an especially long time at that point, so Angela was getting courageous) and was horrified to find even more old forgotten leftovers from meals past mixed in with dark, dank clothes that probably had not been washed since they had been bought.

It was at that point that Angela decided to spend as little time as possible in her room, opting instead to live to a large degree in the library among the books which provided company without offending the senses. At the end of the first semester Angela requested a new room (she was very proud of the fact that she had survived four months in such olfactory hell), but she was subsequently told that there were no other rooms to move into, and that there was even a waiting list to fill the next vacancy. She offered her spot up in a generous show of charity, quite prepared to move home for the duration, but living off campus was not an option. The school officials wanted to foster a community among the students -- by force if necessary -- and she was told not to worry, they were building new dorms as soon as possible to handle the overflow, though they would probably not be ready in the next five years. They did have an architectural image to maintain, after all, and that takes time.

Angela spent the next semester at home anyway, much to the chagrin of her parents who were paying quite a lot of money for the unused bed in her dorm room. She promised that she would move out again when the room assignments changed for the sophomore year. When that wasn't enough for them she told a boldfaced lie: the room and board money for this semester was going to be refunded to them at the end of the year in the form of credit applicable to next year's tuition. In the meantime she would sleep in her old bed and commute the ten miles to class and not worry about being eaten in her sleep by a roommate who had run out of edible pizza.

Chapter 2