2: Pudding Pops and Chardonnay

on June 6, 2007 in 01: Welcome Weekend

In Which Mackenzie Meets Her Roommate

My room was number 417. I figured even I couldn’t mess up finding it. It would have to be on the fourth floor, and as long as I didn’t go back out the doors I’d come in through, or outside, I would still be in Harlowe Hall, so any door labeled 417 would have to be mine.

Well, I ended up screwing up. Since the common room and the administrative stuff behind the desk seemed to take up the entire ground floor, I was smart enough to figure that the 100s wouldn’t be on that floor. What I didn’t take into consideration was that the floor I’d come in on also wasn’t dorm rooms, so when I went up four floors I found myself looking at numbers like 306 and 308 before I realized I needed to get back to the stairs. I felt like I must have looked like a total dumbass, though looking back, I’m sure nobody noticed me. It was everybody’s first day. Even though nobody on that floor was a freshman, there had to be some new faces.

I trailed down the hallway past 411, 413, and 415. The door that had to belong to room 417 was open. A short, kind of pudgy girl with curly red-blonde hair was leaning against the door frame, holding a yellowish bottle that looked like some kind of white wine. I figured it had to be grape juice or pear nectar or something, or else she wouldn’t have it out in the open.

“Hey, I’m Mackenzie… you must be Ceridwyn,” I said. I’d been given the name of my roommate over the summer, as well as some get-acquainted contact information that I’d never got around to using. Working all summer long for the first time in my life had kind of kicked my ass, and sapped my motivation to do anything else.

“Nope,” she said. She took a swig from the bottle. “Puddy.”

“Oh,” I said. “Are you a friend of…”

“No, I’m her,” she said. “But nobody calls me Ceridwyn. Even my mom calls me Puddy.”

“Okay,” I said. “Nice to meet you… Puddy.” I could see now that the bottle she was drinking from was exactly what it had looked like: a bottle of chardonnay. “Um, are you sure you should be drinking that out in the hall?”

“It’s cool,” she said. “I’ve got a racial exemption. My great-great-great-great-grandmother’s a dwarf. I’ve been able to drink legally since I was twelve.”

“I think most people would claim fully human ancestry if they had to go that far back,” I said honestly. I didn’t add that I certainly would have.

“Most of my family does,” Puddy said, shrugging. “Some of them were pretty pissed when I went and looked great-great-great-great-gran up. But shit, I can drink, can’t I? And I wouldn’t have got into Harlowe Hall without it.”

“I get the feeling some people don’t think that’s anything to be proud of.”

“Who the fuck cares about pride?” she said. “This is where the crazy shit happens. This is the place to be. Anyway, what’s your deal?”

“My deal?”

“What are you?” she asked. “You don’t get put in Harlowe unless you’re a demi, semi, or hemi-human… so what are you?”

“Hemi-human?” I asked, mainly to avoid answering the question. “Demihumans“, of course was what humans called other intelligent races, beings that they could interbreed with. “Semihumans” was a fairly common term for the descendants of those unions, like half-elves… or like Puddy, apparently. “Hemihuman“, though, was a completely new one to me.

“You know, like centaurs and shit,” she said. “Or mermaids. Human in the northern hemisphere, something else in the southern.”

“Hey, you brought a fridge?” I asked, looking past her into the room to find a new topic. There was a standard dorm-sized fridge with a dinky little food warmer attached to the top.

“Rented it from the school,” she said. “I’d say you’re welcome to use it, but… it’s kind of full of pudding pops.” She sounded apologetic. “The only thing I eat.”

“That’s okay, I was planning on not keeping any food in the room,” I said. “I’ve heard a lot about people gaining the ‘freshman fifteen’.”

I squeezed past her… she was still standing in the doorway… dragging my stuff into the room. She’d clearly staked out one side of the room as her own, with her bags on the bed and books piled up on the desk. Well, she’d been there first and I wasn’t picky, anyway.

“So, you never answered me,” she said as I dropped my duffel bag onto the bed and opened it.

“About what?” I asked, pulling out my clothes and laying them on the bed. I didn’t own much. Three t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, socks and underwear to get through a week, and two bras. Hygiene items in a couple gallon-sized plastic zipper baggies. My suitcase had school supplies and a few personal items. I slid it under the bed for the time being before transferring my clothes to the small dresser built into the wall.
“Fine, you don’t want to tell me, then don’t,” she said as haughtily as she could manage… though I could tell haughtiness didn’t come naturally to Puddy. “It’s going to be an awfully long semester if you can’t trust your own roommate.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t trust somebody that I don’t know,” I said. “Being one sixty-fourth dwarf might be something you can laugh about, but being non-human isn’t fun for everybody, you know.”

“Oh, tell me about it… you know we’ve got an emancipated golem on this floor? I saw her when I was bringing up my pudding pops… you never saw somebody look more scared and confused,” Puddy said. “Some guys from downstairs were trying to give her orders and shit, but the R.A. busted that up. She looked like she wanted to say something, like she’d rather have somebody telling her what to do, but the R.A. just told her to stick up for herself next time. I was like, yeah, that’ll happen. Have you declared a major?”

“Applied enchantments,” I said. “I’m thinking of minoring in history… I was going to major in it, but there’s not really a career in it unless you want to teach. You?”
“I’m pretty much going to study whatever the hell catches my eye and fuck getting a career in it,” Puddy said. “Whatever happened to knowledge for its own sake? When did getting a job become the ultimate point of getting an education?”

“That would be around the time you took out a loan to get the education,” I said.

“You kidding? I got so many grants and scholarships… I mean, my grades were for shit but I test well, and on top of the dwarf thing, I’ve got sidhe blood, and giant blood, a tiny little bit of dragon blood, and I’m one-sixteenth nymph,” Puddy said proudly. “They give scholarships for all that shit now.”

“Giant blood?” I said, skeptically. I stand around five foot four. Puddy looked to be at least six inches shorter than me.

“Well, the dwarf side’s more dominant,” she said defensively.

“Sure it is,” I said with a grin.

“That’s my story, anyway,” she said. “So what’s yours?”

“Not much to tell,” I said.

“Alright, suit yourself,” she said, moving back into the doorway. I’d kind of guessed she’d been keeping an eye out for me… that is, for her previously-unknown roommate… so, this kind of surprised me.

“What exactly are you doing?”

“Just getting a look at our neighbors, you know, and checkin’ out the talent,” she said. “I think a hot sylph was checking me out, too. I’m going to find her later and see if she wants to clang clitties.”

“You’re a lesbian?” I asked. My eyes suddenly went to the posters of scantily clad elfmaids on her side of the room. I hadn’t really processed them before, but they were definitely pin-ups.

“Totally,” she said. “Well, every once in a while my nymphish side makes me bounce up and down on a cock, but other than that, totally. That’s not a problem for you, is it? I mean, you’re not like a huge Khersian, or anything?”

“No, I haven’t been inside a temple for years,” I said, which was true. “Just kind of threw me. I’m from a pretty small town, there’s not a lot of lesbians there.”

“Tell me about it,” Puddy said. “I was the only one at my school. Only place I ever got it on was at summer camp… doctrinal summer camp, if you can believe it. That’s why I’m so stoked to be here, at a real university, in a dorm full of other girls… some of whom are bound to be queer. Or at least, curious enough to just need a gentle nudge…”

“Like, ‘wanna clang clitties?'” I asked, holding back a grin.

“Hey, that pick up line’s practically magic,” Puddy said. “It’s how I got hooked. Watch this,” she said as a pair of curly-haired girls, both in rather conservatively cut dresses and neither of them taller than a yard stick, came abreast of the door. “Hey! Either of you wanna clang clitties?”

The girls… who I figured had to be burrow gnomes, fresh from the shire… turned scarlet. One of them dropped the bag she was carrying, spilling out a notepad and a big fat textbook. The other ran out of sight as fast as her legs would take her. The one who’d dropped her things scrambled to pick them up before dashing off… her legs got a little bit ahead of her and she nearly tripped over her own pack as she was still hoisting it back up.

“I think your magic needs work,” I said dryly.

“You watch,” Puddy said “I guarantee I’ll have at least one of them eating out of my hand before the semester’s over. Well, not my hand, exactly. Anyway, now you know everything about me… do you really think I’m going to flip out or get offended or try to kill you in your sleep or something if I find out you’re part troll?” she asked, looking at me expectantly.

“I’m not part troll,” I said. “I can promise you that.”

“Come on!” she whined. I’d decided I kind of liked Puddy, but she didn’t have a very endearing whine. Does anybody, though? “Give me a hint, at least.”

I sighed. I figured I’d probably never get any peace from her if I didn’t give her something, and since I’d be trying to study and sleep in the same room as her for the rest of the school year, I decided giving in would be the lesser of two evils. I stepped back out of the line of sight of the open door and held up two fingers in a “v” gesture, then ignited them. Just for a second… if they didn’t allow lit candles in the dorm room, I’m sure they wouldn’t be crazy about lit students. Puddy’s eyes went wide and she let out a kind of scream/gasp/squeal thing. I shook my hand vigorously to wave away the puff of smoke.

“You see why I didn’t want to tell…” I started to say, but she talked right over me.

“That was so cool!” she said. “Do it again!”

“Maybe later,” I said. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for the visual aid. “I think I’m going to take a little stroll around campus before dinner.”

“Alright,” Puddy said. She didn’t ask if I wanted company, which was good. “Oh, uh, if you didn’t see, the dining hall’s not open yet but there’s supposed to be a bunch of vendors from the local eating places down at that welcome festival thing? I think a lot of them are giving free samples… I didn’t pay much attention, though, since it’s not pudding pops.”

“Do you really eat nothing but pudding pops?” I asked her. If not for the fact that every inch of her radiated sincerity, everything about Puddy would seem like a put-on of some kind.

“Since I was twelve,” she said, with a shrug. “Hey, if you’re going out, don’t forget to take a weapon.”

“It’s light out,” I said.

She shrugged.

“They might check.”


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5 Responses to “2: Pudding Pops and Chardonnay”

  1. Brenda says:

    I love that last line…

    Current score: 0
  2. NikkiNQ says:

    I’m really enjoying this story. I just barely started, but I think my friend (and co-author) Andromeda has read it before. We were both quite inspired by your idea, however, and have started our own. Chapter 1 won’t actually be published until April 1, but our website is up.

    Current score: 0
  3. So, the weapons policy is that you HAVE to have a weapon? I like it!

    Current score: 0
  4. Jesp says:

    Small formatting issue: missing blank line above “I’m pretty much going to study”, at least on my phone-view.

    Love the story so far!

    Current score: 0
  5. Beans says:

    I’ve started this story quite a few times over the years, lost track of it, re-found it, started again, rinse and repeat. This time, I’m picking up on things I hadn’t before. I don’t know if this was intentional, but was Puddy’s whole “I’m a sixteenth this and an eighth that” meant to parallel the conversation of someone saying something like, “Yeah, I’m Puerto-Rican and Nigerian” and Caucasians replying by spouting off the percentages of their European heritage?

    Current score: 1