Mireia Dalisay is 19
It’s completely strange to be on your own, all of a sudden.
Mireia has been here about a year now and gotten used to university life, but it’s still strange at times. She earns her own money – scholarships and some extra money from tending a student union bar as well as helping out with chores there in the evenings – and pays her own bills and when she isn’t in class she’s expected to manage her own time so that she finishes all her assignments and projects in time.
She’s always been pretty serious about it, but she’s always had her dad there to supervise her and ask questions. Now she’s got to be her own inner nagging voice, asking herself at bedtime if she’s been studying enough.
There are so many tempting things to do here, compared to how life had been in Barchester. Mireia hasn’t even made out with a guy, for crying out loud. She’s been all about homework, extra work and then some more homework.
Here, she’s actually dating. Nothing serious, at least not during her first months away.
Then it’s just the novelty of it all, the weird feeling when you’re suddenly someone who dates. She was never that person in high school, was never someone who had dates or boyfriends or even friends.
She goes on a few laid-back, casual dates with Corbin, a guy from a restaurant they often get take away from when they leave their student housing. He’s a few years older and works in the late evenings so he’s usually free for lunch dates if Mireia has a day without lectures.
He’s pretty handsome and very fun to be around, but it’s not more than that.
Living together this close with other people has its disadvantages as well and Mireia has begun looking into the possibility of renting a room somewhere else. A flat, perhaps. Sharing with two or three others will be a walk in the park after a full term of this kind of co-living, of that she’s pretty sure.
Not that all of them are hopeless, though. She rather likes them. But not so many of them in her immediate surroundings.
Her favourite person in the building is Charlie. Charlie Dubois, one of those popular guys that everyone knows or wants to know because he’s nice and fun and cute. Mireia is fascinated how someone can seem so complete, when most of them are struggling to make some sort of sense in the world. Charlie is so damn grounded. Really nice, and easy to talk to and he doesn’t make it seem strange or embarrassing that she finds herself seek out his company whenever she can.
“Oh hey, it’s you,” he says, and there’s something in his tone that suggests that he wants her to come, that he wants to see her.
A couple of weeks after they first start talking for real, he asks her to come with him to a party and she spends two nights agonizing over whether or not to interpret it as a date or as a friendly “hey, come along, it will be fun”.
And like he’s sensed it in her, he kisses her right before they leave for the party, so she doesn’t have to waste her night thinking about it instead of having fun.
Charlie is the kind of guy you take home to meet your parents.
Mireia can tell after just half an hour in her dad’s house that he loves Charlie and even Petra who seems to be in a terrible mood all the time these days wants to talk to him.
Of course he dotes on Amara as well, being the perfect guy. It’s not like she’s planning on having a family right after college or anything crazy like that but she has to admit that a guy who’s sweet and good with both parents and toddlers earns a few extra points.
They had decided before they took the bus to her dad that they’d stay overnight rather than take a nightbus back to campus and Mireia had almost regretted it a hundred times before they left. Because she really wants to be alone with Charlie. Alone, as in sharing-a-bedroom-alone. But it had seemed so obvious, like she’s so desperate to jump into bed with him. (She kind of is.)
And it’s a bit awkward to begin with since she’s got no experience whatsoever. At her age people expect you to have done this whole blushing idiot phase already and moved on, but here she is, feeling like she’s 14.
“I haven’t… ever,” she manages to tell him eventually and half-expects him to walk out of there.
“Okay,” he says instead.
Okay. Like it’s no big deal. Like it’s no deal at all. Like it’s all just about here and now and his arms around her when they hug.
And maybe it’s all about just that. Doing what you want. When you want it.
“You sure?” he asks when they’ve moved to the bed. The bed in her old room in her dad’s basement and it should be awkward or rushed but it isn’t.
It just is.