chapter 3: Home away from home

No more homework, no more books

Finally! This long weekend could not have waited another day. After weeks of studies and exams, Chen was looking forward to having three days off to relax and recharge his batteries. Most of his friends from the University made plans to head home for the weekend, leaving Chen with a relatively empty dorm. Mike, Chen’s roommate, had invited him to spend the weekend with his parents, but Chen declined. Noting the fact that he can sleep-in and enjoy not having anyone around was a blessing that he hadn’t enjoyed since their sophomore year began.

Hearing the doors down the hallway close one by one, and as the parking lot began to empty, Chen sat down at his desk and started to put some of his textbooks away. He paused as he uncovered an old postcard from his parents back home. Home. Just the thought of the place brought back memories of open fields and quiet streets; a stark difference to the hustle and bustle of college life. Moving over to lay back on his bed, Chen wedged the postcard underneath the bunk bed above him – staring at the picture while slowly drifting off to sleep.

BANG!

“What was that!?” Chen thought to himself. Startled and confused, Chen rubbed his eyes and stumbled out of his bed. He bumps into his chair and desk as he searches for the light-switch. Why is it so dark? What time is it? Flicking on the light, he sees it is only 3am, and he has been asleep for over 10 hours. Reaching his door, he peeks up and down the hallway, trying to identify where the sound was. Not seeing any sign of activity nor life in the door, he scratched his head and closed his door … and locked it, just in case. Turning off the light, he undresses and goes back to bed, this time under the covers.

Stretching and yawning, Chen woke up for the second time this day, this time with the sun up and a calmer heart rate. Walking over to his sink, he puts on his bathrobe and collects his toiletries, and heads out the door. A long hot shower is just what he needed. Walking down the hall towards the showers, he enters and turns on the water before disrobing. The sound of rushing water was a change from the eerie silence of the dorm. Chen has never been alone since he first attended college. Even at midnight when he was trying to sleep, there was always music and chatter echoing down the hallway. The sound of the water was music to his ears.

BANG!

“What the hell!?” Nearly slipping on the wet shower floor, Chen quickly dashed to grab his robe and ran into the hallway to see what the sound was. It almost sounded like one of the stairway doors slamming shut, but no one was in the building other than Chen. “Maybe I should have taken Mike up on his offer,” Chen thought to himself as he went back into the shower to finish up. Quickly rinsing the soap and shampoo off of his body, he turned off the water and dried himself off before heading back to his room, but first … a quick check of all the doors, just to be sure. After making sure all the stairway doors were closed, he headed back to his room to get dressed.

Fearing that the stillness of the building was playing with his mind, Chen decided to head out for lunch since he slept through breakfast. Getting dressed, he headed out into town to the local pizzeria. This was the hangout for most of the college undergrads at some point in the week, with available seating being as rare as a moment of silence during the day. However, it must have been that rare day, as Chen was greeted with a large smile by the cashier standing near the front door of the restaurant.

“Finally, a customer” the cashier said as Chen walked in the door. Sitting down and looking at the menu, he decided what he wanted to order. “I’ve never seen this place so dead before,” Chen stated to the waiter as he approached Chen’s table. “Yeah, you are our first customer today. This place feels like a ghost town when you kids head home on the holidays” the waiter replied. “You must be the only one that stayed behind.” “It feels like that,” Chen shrugged and started to place his order. After a few minutes, two fresh slices of pizza were delivered … and devoured. Paying his bills and waving good-bye to the employees, Chen stated that he might return tomorrow for the good food and company. He headed across the street to the park to enjoy the beautiful afternoon and catch up on some long awaited pleasure reading.

The sun was going down, making it hard for Chen to continue reading. It’s hard to believe that he had 5 hours of peace to read most of his book. He gathered his belongings and headed back to the campus. Making his way up to his floor, he consciously inspected the stairways and doors again, since he did not want to be startled yet again. “Good,” he thought to himself as the last door was closed. Walking to his room and locking his own door after entering, Chen made himself comfortable and laid down on his bed – book in hand. He only had a few chapters left in this book before he could progress on to the sequel.

His eyes were growing heavy as he flipped through the last pages. Fighting the urge to fall asleep with each passing line, Chen finished the last page with a great feeling of achievement; not only with the fact that he finished the book in one day, but that he had also correctly figured out who the true criminal was in the mystery novel. Placing the book back on the desk and turning off the lights, Chen rolled over and quickly gave in to the night’s hand closing his eyes.

BANG!

Mike wasn’t surprised at first when he returned back to the room to find Chen missing. “He must be out in town somewhere” he thought as he unpacked his clothes and settled back into dorm life. But as the hours began to pass and the sun started to set, Mike began to get concerned. As he bumped into people on the floor while walking around, he would ask if they’ve seen Chen, but like Mike, they too were gone for the weekend. “He’ll show up,” they would tell Mike as they carried on with their activities, so Mike headed back to his room and wait. “He’ll show up,” he thought to himself as he sat down at his desk and started to get things ready for classes the next day.

“He’ll show up … right?”

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2 Responses to chapter 3: Home away from home

  1. ilikeverin says:

    First off, Chen isn’t a very common first name in Chinese traditions; it’s a last name. If Chen was born here or moved here before middle school, he probably has an American name (and a Chinese name which he will use with Chinese people); if he came after that he probably uses his Chinese name. Wikipedia has some okay articles about Chinese names.

    There are a couple of tense issues still here, but it’s definitely better than the last go-round. Your writing style has improved already! I’d say when reading it over again you should focus on paragraph-by-paragraph revision. Look within your paragraphs to see whether you are repeating any grammatical styles and such. For example, you seem to use a lot of gerunds (-ing) all over the place. Using more varied styles leads to more interesting writing 🙂

  2. admin says:

    “Practice makes perfect!”

    You would think with a relative AND a close friend both being editors, I would glean something off of them. I’ll work on switching things up some … and possibly coming up with a new name for Chen. hahaha

    Thanks again for the inputs! 🙂

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