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The Savoured Roomate
I shifted my gaze up to see my new home for the rest of the year, St. Margaret's School for Girls, a prestigious boarding school in Ontario. The dazzling presentation displayed the formality, a carmine brick chateau converted to a highschool. I was joining after their winter break as a position opened up that my parents thought would be perfect for me, although I thought it was strange that someone would drop out halfway through the year but did not ruminate about it. I picked up my leather suitcase with a giant, glossy Canadian flag plastered on the front and curled my sweaty fist around the handle. I walked through the dormitory doorway, made of old, dark lumber, and followed the receptionist up the creaky steps into room 201. Throwing my luggage on the small bed on the right side of the room, I followed suit, sighing out the drastic change in my life. Staring out the window, which was being attacked by ferocious rain, my eyes mimicked the winter forecast until the sun decided to sleep, and I concluded to do the same. Begrudgingly, I hauled myself from the comfort of the covers and stumbled into the cramped, shared washroom, squeezed the whitening toothpaste on my toothbrush, and let it dangle from my mouth as I longingly stared through the tiny patch stained glass and into the entrance of the dormitory, holding a sobbing sky above it. I missed my parents, I missed my friends, and I missed my life. Through the window, I spied a black taxi drop off a girl, around my age, cropped messy brown hair and long limbs, and her clothes had random markings on them, interesting stylistic choice, I thought. A sudden three knocks broke my trance. I quickly spat the toothpaste into the sink and swallowed the bitter remnants, struggling to prepare a decent first impression. As soon as I reached for the handle, the door opened itself.
“Hello! My name is Blair,” proclaimed the taxi girl, still standing in the hallway.
“Hi,” I said lamely, “I-I’m Brigette” with a toothy smile and stepped aside for her to enter.
Looking closer, the spots on her clothing were splatters that spread to stains on her fingers and matched her lipstick, that convinced me she was an art kid. I focused on presenting myself as the ideal roommate; however, we both resulted to silently unzipping our suitcases’ and emptying our belongings’. I pulled the squeaky closet door open to place my kilts when I discovered a box with “Monica” messily scribbled on the lid.
I broke the awkward quietness by inquiring, “Who is Monica?”
Blair paused, she furrowed her forehead and released a breath. “Oh,” she distantly sighed, less sure of herself, like the question had transported her to another world. “She was my roommate, you know, before winter break. I can take her belongings.” The end of her sentence trailed into a quick whisper, and before I could react, she abruptly grabbed the package.
I nodded as she must miss Monica. Although I was curious as to what happened, I did not dare ask.
While the blazing sun pulled its way through the useless, ratty curtains, I stretched my limbs, toes touching the end of the bed, fingertips pointing to the slow wooden ceiling fan, and let out an exhausted yawn. I smacked my hand to the wall beside my bed, searching for the light switch, it clicked, and they illuminated, singing a low hum. I stumbled to the washroom when something solid stopped my stride. While rubbing my forehead, my eyes opened to see my face smashed against the wall. Ontario, I am in Ontario. I reminded myself. Wow, does everywhere in Ontario have soap with red splotches? Interesting. What else is different, well the weather is colder than Vancouver, Blair’s toothbrush is also stained red. My, oh my, art kids are much more strange than I thought! As I was overly exhausted to ponder those thoughts I slipped on my Clan Wallace uniform and collected my bedhead with a bobble, all while Blair remained lifeless under her blankets. I felt compelled to wake her but remembered hearing her footsteps trail into the hallway at midnight; it was not my business. Faced towards the dusty mirror in the middle of the room, I carefully placed my British Columbia province gold necklace around my neck, only to drop it on the carpeted floor! I rubbed my hands against the carpet, trying to feel for it. I eagerly searched under my bed. Nothing. Under Blair’s...success! Before I could snatch it back, I noticed sharp blades with wine dipped tips. I froze, the necklace dangling off my shaking fingers. The knives spilled from a canvas bag. Suddenly nervous, I ran out the door and hurried into the cafeteria for breakfast, with fear forcing me to forget my rain jacket. I sat at my assigned breakfast place, holding my tray of sloppy, goopy porridge, my hands still trembling, and my mind still churning, the dishes clinked as I placed them down. I was too distracted to be bothered by the “food” in front of me and my now soaked, see-through white blouse accessorized by the streaks of mascara running down my cheeks.
“You seem dazed, are you all right, dear?” a cordial tone with a posh British accent cut through my worries. “I am Ms. Martha, your meal leader and the art teacher.”
Clearing my throat, I responded, “I am good!” a little too chirpy.
“Okay, well, do you have any idea where Blair is?” Staring at her porridge, she whispered, “You know ever since her last roommate, Monica, disappeared she’s been missing meals. The same thing happened to her first. Oh! It’s such a tragedy what happened, they both left without a trace!”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” I answered, recalling the box. “Blair was still under the covers when I left the room, does she take art?” I daringly questioned, remembering her toothbrush, her fingers, her knives. Red.
“Gosh, no! She says she would rather kill someone than do anything creative like that” Ms. Martha laughed, “Sounds pretty drastic to me, but it’s no excuse for not being ehre.”
“I think she left at midnight,” I revealed, which forced Ms. Martha’s soft brows to point upwards and steam to escape from her ears!
“Did she now? Well, dear, as her roommate, it is your job to keep her in line.” With that, and marched to the glowing red exit sign, but before she had gone far, her face narrowed towards mine, “Clean up before class,” she sneered then continued on her way.
Alone, I had the chance to appreciate the grandness of the dining hall. An enormous wood fireplace burned with warmth at the center of the room, the ceiling arched with sparkly chandeliers, and crimson velvet tapestries embellished with the St. Margaret's crest surrounded the polished oak tables. We each had place markers with fancy cursive, although mine still said “Monica,” and the one beside it, “Blair” with smeared fingerprints.
The click of the door locking jolted me awake from my peaceful sleep and led me to pull my silk eye mask from my curious face and turn left to see Blair’s bed. Empty. I hurriedly checked under her bed, to find the canvas bag, gone. Where was she going with those knives, I questioned. Red. My feet moved quicker than my brain could rationalize: I rapidly slid on my pink, fuzzy slippers, threaded my arms through the matching robe, and shuffled out to the hallway, turning my head both ways to find nobody. Before I turned back to the room, I saw the tail of Blair’s floral nightgown turn the corner of the hallway. As quietly as I could, I chased her down the two flights of stairs, attempting to minimize the creaking. Her hair was a bird’s nest, her floral nightgown was a tomatoes cutting board, and the canvas bag was slung over her left shoulder, causing her to walk with uneven steps. We left the dormitory and crossed the lavish courtyard that led to the cafeteria. Oh, she was just hungry, well I could have used a snack too. Instead of taking a berry blast gummy pack from the front tables, she headed to the kitchen and heated a metal pot on the stove. Homemade soup snack was this also a Ontarian thing, I speculated. Blair drew a chopping block from an industrial drawer, beets from the fridge, and emptied the canvas bag. Beets would explain the smears, stains, fingerprints! She was only making Borscht! The thought of sickening soup disgusted me, although a significant sense of relief relaxed my shoulders as my roommate was just an aspiring chef, not a murderer. Three words crashed my peace:
“You followed me,” Blair snapped without turning her down-pointed head to meet my spooked eyes.
Stunned, I defensively raised my trembling hands in front of my torso, “I-I’m sorry, I was only curious, I can leave…”
“No! Don’t!” She shouted, cutting me off, then in a softer voice, “I mean, would you like some Borscht? It’s my special recipe.” she invited.
Anxious to appear disrespectful in the country of manners, I accepted, and before I knew it, I was spooning the hot, chunky nightmare into my mouth. Holding my breath, I quickly swallowed, feeling thick pieces of beet travel slowly down my clenched throat, only to realize it was delicious! Blair must have seen the enjoyment on my face as she said:
“Glad you like it, I have a secret ingredient.” in a hinting voice.
“What is it? It must be something outstanding. Usually, I hate Borscht!” I took another spoonful from the steaming, cardinal bowl. “Celery! No, hmm…beef?”
Ignoring my guesses, she spoke: “Well, actually, it’s a good thing you are here, I’m almost out, and this would have been my last batch!”
“Well, get on with it! Although, I don’t know how I could help you if you’re almost out. What’s the secret ingredient? You must spill!” I asked her again.
She finally turned around and looked at me. Her hazel eyes turned darker and were staring deep into mine, her lips bore the colour of blood, and her skin had become paperwhite. While sharpening her knives, she whispered,