In the pastoral Blue Ridge Mountains, young women followed in the tradition of their mothers and sisters to attend Woodson College, a private women’s college of 800 students. During freshmen week at Woodson, girls arrived in Mercedes and Lincoln Continentals with their fathers—bankers, CEOs, politicians, and their mothers who cancelled Country Club tee times to deliver their daughters to the campus nestled amid three-thousand wooded acres with a dairy and horse boarding facility.
Katrina registered her thoroughbred at the stable while her dad stored her bridle and English saddle in the tack room. Evelyn arrived alone in a taxi after a fifteen-hour Greyhound bus ride from her rural home in Michigan.
Katrina and Evelyn were both biology majors and often studied together at the library where brass lamps cast warm light across long mahogany tables.
In their free time, Katrina trained with her horse, “Why don’t you come to the stables with me?” she asked Evelyn.
“I can’t. I have to work.” Evelyn worked in the dining hall, setting tables with white linens. That’s where she met Louis.
When girls talked about their boyfriends at Rutgers and Tulane, Evelyn wanted to tell about her boyfriend but doubted they’d approve. Louis washed dishes in the dining hall kitchen, and he was black. His trimmed Afro and eyes the color of maple syrup reminded her of Isaac Hayes.
Evelyn also avoided the girls’ conversations about their professors, but she wanted to belong all the same. On the weekends, lots of the girls went to fraternity parties at Washington College. Evelyn told herself she didn’t care, yet she felt outcast when she wasn’t invited.
On Wednesday nights, like most nights, she packed up her books to study at the library. “Maybe I’ll see you over there,” she told Katrina. “Gotta study for my art history exam.”
Evelyn dashed down the stairs and across the quad, but not to the library. Her heart was racing. She spotted Louis’ burning cigarette near the dairy barn. Her hand slipped into his, and their silent footfalls disappeared into the woods.
Moonlight dappled the couple. Louis cupped his hand under Evelyn’s breast and looked into her eyes. “When can we do this again? I can’t wait until next Wednesday.”
“I know, but I can’t miss curfew again.”
“Babe. It’s not enough to be with you once a week.”
“I don’t know, baby. It’s too risky.”
They neared the end of woods’ safe darkness and stopped. Louis drew her near, “I need to see you tomorrow. Think about it.”
She held him close and inhaled the scent of his moist skin once more.
Evelyn applied her lip gloss, checked her watch, and quickly walked to the dorm. Curfew was just five minutes away. One more violation and the college would notify her parents.
The dorm mother greeted her at the door. “Hi. Get all your homework done, Evelyn?”
Evelyn’s eyes darted away, “I think so.” She signed back in. It was 9:58 p.m. She breathed a sigh of relief and went upstairs.
Katrina was getting ready for bed, “Hi. How’s it going? I didn’t see you at the library.”
“Oh, sometimes I study upstairs in the stacks. ‘You ready for the test?” Evelyn put her books on her dresser and grabbed her shower stuff, anxious to wash off the musky intimacy before Katrina suspected anything.
“I’ll do all right,“ Katrina said. “I’m pretty used to McKnight’s tests. I could have used your help, though.”
“Maybe next time. Off to the shower.”
The next Saturday, most girls left for spring break. Evelyn’s parents said it was too costly for just one week, but she was happy to stay on campus and spend time with Louis.
After the dorm emptied out, Evelyn sneaked Louis into her dorm room. As he lowered her to the bed, the afternoon sun spilled out onto bedsheets. In the heat of the moment, Evelyn hadn’t latched the door, so she didn’t hear the dorm mother walking the hall for her weekend room check.
In the morning, Evelyn’s mother picked up the phone, “Hello?”
It was the Dean of Students. Evelyn was being expelled.
Bio: Meg Spencer serves Aims faculty as an instructional coach, creating, curating, and developing workshops and conferences, to help teachers bring their best to our students. Her teaching background includes English and Literature. Her writing muse typically takes her to the world of non-fiction and poetry. She compares writing to truth seeking, constantly under revision.