Room 213’s door in Hawthorne Hall is constantly opening and closing. Darryl never lets any student go by without first being positive that they knew he saw them. Because of this, he’s constantly looking out the peep hole, waiting for the next friend to pass by. And Darryl is always dressed in something flashy – first impressions matter.
His roommate, and twin brother, Joseph – fraternal twins, though, they look nothing alike – is making new rap playlists on his laptop. They brought a couple amps and the bass is always rattling their door.
It’s just like home for the two of them. It’s almost comforting in a way.
“Play a fast one,” Darryl says. The door rattles even more violently. He looks over at Joseph and he smiles. Everyone will absolutely know they’re home. They almost always are.
When Darryl looks back out the peep hole, he gets excited, gives Joseph a thumbs up, and opens the door. Joseph hops out of his chair and jumps over to be at Darryl’s side. This time will be different.
“Hey, girl,” Darryl says. The girl’s eyes bulge, but she keeps looking ahead and doesn’t break her stride.
“You’re lookin’ fine today,” Joseph tries to get her attention. “How was your classes?” But she only nods and says thank you.
Darryl says, “Come on. Let’s talk, girl. Come over here, give me a hug.”
The girl unlocks her door quickly and slams it shut. The door relocks.
Immediately, the hall becomes silent again. Barren. Except for the rap music still thumping violently against the whole building. Darryl almost forgot it was even playing. He inhales deeply and Joseph pats him on the back.
“No one, Joe. Not one. I really thought maybe she’d want to…”
“I know, I know. It gets hard sometimes.”
Darryl starts to say that it really does get hard, but he chokes up and his words transform into tears that stream down his cheeks. He tries to speak again. Only a growl comes out. Joseph pulls him in. Darryl wraps his arms around him and shoves his eyes into his shoulder.
They stand like this for a long time, in the threshold of their open door, with their music still playing.
Even after several minutes, Darryl can’t regain control over his throat. Everything he tries to say just makes him cry harder. So he whispers: “Aren’t we trying hard enough?”
Joseph never gives an answer.