I chose to attend Oak Ridge University for one reason and one reason only.
To piss off my mother.
It’s safe to say my choice did the trick. She wanted me to attend Princeton, her alma mater, where I would have been surrounded by all her peers and other business magnate’s progeny, influenced by their upper class, East Coast wealth and prestige. But I wanted something all my own.
All my life, I’d been known as the daughter of Muriel Davis, Queen of Shipping. As in, she runs one of the most successful international shipping companies in the world.
I consider this as I wait for the rest of my cohorts from Mi Alpha Alpha, the sorority I pledged to at the beginning of my freshman year last year, to arrive. Our sorority president this year, Stacy Barren, scheduled this meeting to discuss the upcoming charity fund raiser we would be organizing this year for Halloween.
If it’s anything like last year’s event, we’ll have a blast and will raise a ton of money for those in need.
“You’re always early to everything, aren’t you? You put all the rest of us to shame.”
I turn behind me to find my friend, Maddie, walking into our dining room where we hold our regular meetings. Her hair is up in a messy bun and she looks like she just came back from a run. The jogging shorts and sports bra are another clue as to her previous whereabouts.
Shrugging a shoulder, I smirk. “What can I say? My mother raised me with the motto, “If you can’t be the first one there, there’s no point in going.”
Maddie snort-laughs. “Well if that’s the case, there’s no reason for me to even be in college. I’m always late for my classes. Anyway, I gotta run up and shower quick. Will you save me this seat?”
I nod in agreement and watch her charge up the stairway leading to the second and third floor bedrooms. We aren’t roommates but spend a lot of time together when we can. She’s a biology major and I’m studying to become a teacher.
Teaching is something I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I can remember. Maybe it was because I didn’t get a lot of attention at home with my mother as busy as she was running a Fortune 500 company and never home long enough to spend time with me. My teachers became my role models and parental substitutes along the way. Especially Ms. Campbell, my high school English and Composition teacher. She was the one who gave me the courage to break out of my introverted role and become a literacy mentor after school, and to join the school newspaper.
I smile at several of my sorority sisters as they begin to file in, finding their seats and chatting with one another. I’m just about to say hello to Lexi, one of my close sisters, when my phone buzzes in my hand. Figuring it’s my mom, I glance just briefly at it and am surprised to find it’s a message from Brant Leeds, the guy who manages the student tutoring center where I signed up to become an English tutor this year.
It seemed appropriate that if I was going to break out of my shell and become a teacher, I’d need the real-life experience in tutoring other students. Being that this is my sophomore year, I need all the additional hours and credits I can get to have a decent resume for graduate school.
Brant: Do you have time to add another student to your schedule? Got one that just registered. It’s past the deadline but if you’re willing and able…
I hastily type in my reply before the meeting starts and I get sidetracked or forget to respond.
Me: Absolutely. I have Tuesday and Thursday nights free. Send email with deets. TY.
I set my phone to vibrate and stuff it into my book bag just as Stacy calls the meeting to order and Maddie takes her seat in the nick of time.
“Good afternoon, Mi Alpha Alpha sisters.”
A rambunctious and hearty greeting response is returned from the twenty or so girls in the room.
“Thanks for coming today and if any of your sisters are missing, please make sure to pass along this information soon. As you know, each year we host a fund-raising event to collect money for a charity. This year, instead of doing the typical kegger or talent show, we’ve decided to host a Halloween Haunted House.”
A collective titter of excitement echoes through the room. I sit up straighter in my chair, eager to learn more about the plans for the event.
“Thanks to Shelly Duchane for coming up with this idea,” Stacy announces, acknowledging our senior sister in the front corner for her contributions. “I’m super excited to kick this thing off and get it going. Since it’s already mid-September, we only have a few short weeks to bring this to fruition and get our spook on!”
The meeting continues with suggestions and ideas thrown out and shared, each one building on the theme and creating a higher level of excitement as we move forward. At the conclusion of the meeting, we’ve determined that the event will take place at Stacy Barren’s empty mansion that her parents own and will be held over a two-week period leading up to Halloween. During the event, each sorority sister is to dress up in a costume of their choice and volunteer to decorate and host a haunted room in the mansion.
“Oh my God, I know exactly what my costume will be,” Maddie chirps in her British accent, leaning over to whisper in my ear. I give her a side-eye glance. “Let’s just say I attended British Prep schools.”
When I tilt my head inquisitively, she waggles her eyebrows and stares at me expectantly. I stare blankly back. Then she gives herself a facepalm, rolling her eyes with fake disgust.
“Dude, naughty schoolgirl. That’s what I’m going to dress up as. You know, Brittney-style skirt and knee-highs?”
My mouth forms in the wide-O to confirm my understanding.
She plants both hands on the tops of my shoulders and shakes her head in feigned disgust. “Oh, Brin, what are we going to do with your sweet, innocent self?” Then she drops a hand and snaps her fingers, pointing at me in declaration.
“We’re going to get you laid in one of the haunted rooms, that’s what we’re going to do!”
“Omigod, no! Shut up, Maddie!” I shriek, trying to slap a hand over her mouth with no success as she jumps out of reach and runs toward the stairs.
Just as she hits the bottom step, she yells at the top of her lungs, “Halloween mission is to get our little Princess’s cherry popped this year! Who’s on board?”
Like the communal war cry at an English pub during a football match, a "here-here" chant is collectively shouted across the room.
My cheeks flame red as garden tomatoes as I bury my head in my hands. Good grief, why did I ever think it would be a good idea to mention to her that I was a virgin?