H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


The Welcome Party
By Terrena A. Carriman 

      It was nearly a week before I met any of my neighbors in the dormitory. Last Saturday morning I returned from shopping at the local supermarket to find a folded note stuck to the door of my dorm room. It read: Some of us who live on the two top floors are having a get-together on Sunday to welcome the “freshies”. You are invited. 2 PM. Casual dress. Call Anita at 359-2608. I clinked the lock of the heavy wooden door, balancing the bag of groceries on my left hip. I slid the bag along the wall, attempting to look over the note and catch the paper bag in the doorway. Not only was the acrobatic scene I performed embarrassing, but the resulting mess seemed worthy of a two-year old. Cracked eggs lay on the floor beside bent cans and a crushed loaf of bread. I crossed the rivulet of oozing egg yokes, slipped off my sequined mules and dropped back onto my pillow. My roommate has an attitude problem, being placed with a freshman, but also an issue with cleanliness. Judging by the smell of her side of the room, she shouldn’t have any problem with the doorway. My eyes traced over the words, studying them as if to verify their existence. A dorm party was the perfect way to meet everyone. I was beginning to feel like an outsider on campus. I was standing in long registration lines, the financial aid office was impossible to get into, and orientation assemblies had taken place almost everyday of this week. I read this note wondering how I’d missed opportunity after another to meet the chocolate-cream covered men in this upperclassmen dorm. Meeting anyone, just about anyone, would be greatly appreciated. New girlfriends were meeting each other with cries of banshee excitement; guys played it cool with casual smiles and handshakes. But weren’t they handling the same business I had been for this entire week? On the other hand, the language of the carelessly written note made me suspicious. I had no reason to trust Anita or whoever else was throwing the “freshie get-together”. “ I am not a ‘freshie’.”, I thought. I am a woman, well put-together and sophisticated. Half of these girls on campus couldn’t spell, much less afford, these name brands that I wear, the places I’ve traveled or the literature I’ve studied. That doesn’t mean they are less of what I am, but no one should treat me as less of what I am. I flipped the little folded note between my fingers as if to mimic this dilemma in my mind being turned over and over to arrive at that something that made perfect sense. 
      The wind whipping about my hair caused an effect similar to that of a wild flickering flame, a shiny black flame. Lying my head back on the headrest, I looked over at Jason, relaxed on the open road, handling his jeep as if he understood its responses to the road so intricately, so comfortably, as if they were his own. His skin glowed softly in the shadow-light of the evening and I was glad we’d grown close during school pre-orientation. What I needed more than anything today was to relax. So, I cleaned up the doorway disaster, slipped into a soft yellow sundress and sandals, tossed the note in the trash and called Jason. I knew he’d say yes. When he pulled up, my shoulders relaxed back, my head floated up and I sashayed over to the side of his champagne jeep, where he waited with an open door. “Nice.”, he said. “Thanks J.”, I replied back quietly. We got into the car. He started the ignition. The rumble of the engine confirmed what I knew: this was real. A sense of order was hanging over Jason and I sitting here, as he drove. It was that something, that wonderful something, that thing that made perfect sense.

© 2001 Terrena A. Carriman 

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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