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A school in the middle of a small forest had seemed strange at first, but as the campus emerged from behind gradient autumn trees it seemed to make all the sense in the world. The universe switched to slow motion as we rolled into the roundabout, gazing at the overwhelmingly intricate and dramatic buildings. Vines of green climbed the sides and cradled the entrances of dormitories, stained glass windows painted the side of each academic structure, giving the school an overall religious feeling in the grandest way possible. No matter how much my parents advocated for the church to be separate from schools, even they could not resist the veil of enchantment that had consumed our tiny 1999 Subaru Outback.

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When the car lurched to a stop, it seemed sudden and out of place. Part of me wanted to keep driving along this road forever, an eternal tour of the place I longed to be. However, the other part of me, the part that wanted to burst through every door and search the depths of every building, was stronger. I opened the door and let my body be consumed by the sweet autumn air. I had arrived.

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Moving in was not as magical. It consisted of a lot of boxes and trash-bags and the self-conscious feeling that I was the only person working up a sweat climbing up and down the dormitory stairs numerous times.
When all of my belongings were finally stacked messily outside my door I took a small break to examine the place I would be living. The hall was dark, the only light protruding from a large medieval-style window at the end of the hall. I began to walk closer, intrigued by itโ€™s height and striking difference from the grey-scale floral walls and brown mahogany doors.

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โ€œWe have to get going, Bea. Come say goodbye.โ€ My family had caught up and was standing outside my door. I turned around, forgetting about the window. There would be plenty of time to explore. My sisters pulled me into a hug, followed by my mother and father. Suddenly we were all silent, trapped in our group embrace. We may have stayed there forever had it not been for the approaching footsteps. My father broke his clutch first, and wiped his eyes before he could let any tears loose.
โ€œCall us if you need anything.โ€
โ€œOf course Dad.โ€
โ€œNo really, anything. Call us if there's an emergency of course, but feel free to call and just talk about the weather. I want to hear about the weather, understand?โ€ Joking was his way of making goodbyes easier, but I also knew that he probably did want to hear about the weather. I was the first child to leave the nest and he was not ready to let go.
โ€œIโ€™ll call. Iโ€™ll tell you about the weather and what I had for lunch, and what shoes Iโ€™m wearing. Iโ€™ll tell you guys everything.โ€
And with one last embrace, they left.

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โ€œJust leave it there. Oh my god you are making this so complicated.โ€
A girl was standing a few doors down, looking angrily at a small sweaty man in business attire. She had her blonde hair in a bun that looked so tight I thought her brain might be suffocating. She turned towards me as though she could feel my eyes on her then went back to harassing the miniature businessman. Shoot. I was staring.
I have a problem where I get so wrapped up in thought sometimes, my body betrays me. Whether it's staring at someone for too long, or losing focus during class, my mind never stops itโ€™s downward spiral into an endless pit of thought.

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To be honest I was scared to open my dorm door. With the extravagant buildings and winding paths, what if the inside couldnโ€™t compare? I imagined a cold gray room with fluorescent hospital lights and a stiff twin bed. I inserted the key trying to clear my mind of all expectations. Not everything can be perfect. The key clicked and the door creaked. To my surprise, setting myself up for a disappointment worked the opposite. I had just walked into the room of my dreams.

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There was a fireplace. The mantle looked carefully carved and like nothing I had ever seen. Our house back home was a small, new two bedroom house built next to a hundred identical ones. On more than one occasion I would find myself walking up the steps to a neighborโ€™s home, or parking my bike in the wrong yard. The artistry of this room was unique and perfect. The bed frame was made of dark wood, polished to absolute perfection. The Window peered over the autumn trees along a back path close to the edge of campus. My favorite part however, was the wall to wall bookshelf, ready to be filled with my favorite stories. I flung myself onto the sheet-less mattress, not yet bothering to bring in any of my heavy boxes. Did every room look like this, or did the people assigning dorms know how much I loved to read? These were the kind of thoughts I normally set aside as self-centered or narcissistic, but Graxon had proven itโ€™s ability to impress. Maybe they did take special consideration for each student. Maybe I had truly been seen.

โ€œAre these boxes free to take? Because I left my toaster at home and this one looks pretty promising.โ€ I looked up to see a tall stranger standing in my doorway carrying my box labeled โ€œKitchen Thingsโ€. It took me a second to re-concentrate my focus. He was tall and lean with a plaster of brown freckles on his face and arms. He was smiling. Smirking.
โ€œIโ€™m Wyatt.โ€ I didnโ€™t know how to reply.

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Thank you for reading chapter two!

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