White Rose was carefully smearing a very thick white cream on her angular face. The process took all her attention and filled the room with a slight mineral smell. In the corner of her vanity a series of candles flickered giving the room an inviting ambience. The gentle operatic strains of la coronazione de poppea sung by the indomitable Joyce DiDonato poured out of the Bose stereo.
Staring hard at her reflection White Rose lifted her chin and smeared the cream, thick as whitewash is to the side of a barn, on her throat. The tension in her mouth evidenced in her striated neck muscles. Despite the decor, the tension was almost palatable. With her left hand she stabbed "Call Back" on her phone for the fifth time. There was a pregnant pause - White Rose actually held her breath - and then Micah's voicemail clicked on without even ringing first. Micah's phone was off. Fucking asshole.
In one swift motion she swiped the phone off the vanity and against the wall - CRASH - only to have it land without a sound on her bed. There was now a crack on the glass and a slight dent in the wall. Fucking FUCKING asshole. He would pay for that. With quiet and deliberate care now, a little violence always calmed her down, she carefully sealed the lid on the glass container containing the thick white cream and set it beside two other creams, each between $400 and $500 an ounce. She was comparing which one she liked best so had bought the top three recommended in last month's Vogue magazine. She wanted to find the fountain of youth.
A knock on her door.
Audra entered and shut the door behind her.
"Everything okay in here, babe"
White Rose was silently watching Audra in the mirror. Audra stared back. The malevolence was overpowering. The smells were suffocating. Her face had a sheen to it like she was feverish. Audra was familiar with this game: White Rose was seeing who would speak first. It was always a mistake to approach her too soon when she was angry, you were liable to become her punching a bag. This was a tactical error on the part of Audra but White Rose hadn't always been this way. She had started out as a pretty fun freshman, eager to be friends with everyone. Eager to put some notches on her bedpost and have a good time at college.
But then the rot set in. It was the pressure to perform, to conform to everyone's idealized standards of beauty and success that choked the life out of her. White Rose wasn't the only one, either. Audra had a lot of compassion for what White Rose was going through. But that doesn't stop you from sleeping with her boyfriend, does it? Audra chided herself. At moments like this she didn't feel any guilt whatsoever, except...
White Rose was crying. Her eyes became glassy as tears ran down beside her nose. Her shiny feverish face was still as sculpture and the only sound was a deep aria filling the room like smoke. Audra walked over and put her hand on the other girl’s bare shoulder. This made White Rose cry harder and she turned her head to lean on Audra's hand, making it wet with tears.
Whitro, what is it? Audra inquired. But White Rose just sobbed all the harder. Gasping, choking, racking sobs.
Audra kneeled down and wrapped her arms around the seated girl. And her eyes rested on something lying in the thick carpet...a single blue bead. It was too large for a piece of jewellery, a bead that goes in someone's hair.
"Is this supposed to be what I want," she whispered into Audra's hair.
Another knock at the door. White Rose retracted with feline grace and lightening quick reflexes and immediately began daubing at her face with a Kleenex.
"Go away" White Rose shouted through the door.
"But I need you, whoreface," Sherrise bounced through the door, laughing. "Which one of these looks better? I need to interview for that research assistant position and ...oh-" Sherrise took one look at the two women and knew she was interrupting.
Sherrise: Did you tell her?
Like a flash of lightening, Audra felt a flurry of powerful emotions pass through White Rose and one brief thought: No, no, NO!
White Rose: What? That hate your outfit? You should already know that. Neither of you has any taste and I tell you all the time...
She smiled beatifically at both of them in the mirror. Something was definitely going on.
Changing the subject, Audra began by asking if either wanted to visit the Rare Book Library with her that night. She had some Victorian Studies homework to research and students could only enter with special permission from the Faculty.
"Ew! Fuck no! I'm not going to the library tonight, Felicity is on! Fucking priorities, assholes", said White Rose.
"Thanks Audra but I have no interest in that creepy excuse for a book mausoleum. I actually never go in there," sniffed Sherrise. "I might die of ennui."
White Rose, who never passed up an opportunity to remind everyone she had spent a summer in Quebec once, spat "Die of ...that's French for boredom, you idiot. You can die of boredom?!?"
"You can in France," quipped Audra, thinking that banality, or boredom, was probably the leading ingredient in all systemic evil occurrences, especially in Greek life. "Ok, you pair of hideous monstrosities, see you later."
Audra turned her back to go and made to grab something off the floor, a piece of clothing, and place it on the bed. While down there she took a furtive moment to check out the carpet for the blue bead, but...