frathouse by the prairie

“You would think seeing a whole place covered in snow would be beautiful, but you know what, I could honestly do without all of this environmental dandruff” Cindy said as she walked down the path with Rick.

“I find it fascinating.” Rick stared at the snow falling, putting out his tongue and letting the snow land on the tip. “But yes, I could do without the chilly wind ” he chuckled.

“I don’t get how you find all of this so funny. I’m freezing my ass off.” Cindy continued to dig her hands deeper into her coat , clenching the inner lining as if it would help her fight the chill. “Why did we even come out?” she continued whining.

“Well, if I remember correctly…” Rick started.

“Don’t you dare. You wanted to go to a frat party just as much as I did” she pointed her finger in his face.

He pushed his nose onto her finger. “Oh wow that’s a cold finger” he said. He did not want to argue with her ; tonight was supposed to be their night together. He would remind her the next day though , how she had continuously messaged him the whole week to find the parties that were to happen that night.

They had to endure a whole night of drunken stupor, dirty dancing, “Do you know someone here?”s and “Take a lap buddy”s . It was iced with some occasional fun moments though. The music at Sigma Phi was to his taste, and he had met a girl at Alpha Gamma that he had managed to have some corner fun with before he realised he had come with Cindy.

He despised the hookup culture on campus – but he kept being pushed to the corner by random people and just played along before his brain took over. Cindy offered something consistent. And that was the closest to romance he could get on campus.

“Let’s just get back to campus as soon as we can. My coat’s in your room right?” Cindy broke his train of thought.

He nodded his head, all the time staring right in front of him.

“Ce était une nuit incroyable!” he heard someone shout all of a sudden.

His heard darted right, allowing him to see a couple coming out, dressed in clothes he had only seen in the movies. Miami Vice if he wanted to be precise.

“Look at that!” he said, tugging at Cindy’s arm.

“It’s just a bunch of drunk grad students. Let’s head back. I’m freezing” she said, letting on a slight sense of annoyance in her voice.

“I’m pretty sure this isn’t a regular frat party. Let’s check it out ” he said. They walked up to the men on guard duty.

“What party is this?” Rick asked.

“It’s a password party, no password no entry” one of the men on duty said.

“Damnit ” he replied. His eyes were drawn to the lights leaking out of the house windows. The music that was seeping out didn’t sound like regular frat party music – there was a sense of elegance to it.

“Thanks Goodness. I was about to leave you here alone if you had decided to go in .” Cindy said relieved.

He looked at her with his face cringed . ‘Thank God she didn’t see that’ he thought to himself as he noticed her head facing forward. All of a sudden he felt a womanly touch on his shoulder. It was a lady with a large classy hat, and a gown covered with a faux fur coat.

“They’re with me” she said. “The password is magia” she whispered .

“Alright you guys can go on in” the man on duty said, waving his hand towards the front door.

Before he could take a step, he felt Cindy pull on his arm. “Let’s just go back to your place.” she said, with a pout on her face.

“Didn’t you hear the password? Magia… that’s magic in Espanol. This is our kind of party!” he said, a glimmer in his eye.

“It may be yours, but I’m done. I’ll just call an Uber and head back, if you’re not coming.” she replied , the annoyance pretty apparent at this point.

Rick looked at her, and then back at the house. The lady was still there , by the man on duty . She looked up and smiled at him, waving her hand. He looked back at Cindy , and felt a sudden limp. “I’m sorry Cindy, you know I have to do this. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I let a chance like this go. Let me know when you get back alright” he said and moved in to give her a hug.

She walked away before he could move in. “Sure” she said, curt and short.

Thank God I avoided that one, he thought to himself as he walked back to the house.

“Was that your girlfriend?” the lady asked him as she accompanied him to the door.

“You’re apparently not from here. Relationships don’t exist in this school” he said, head sinking slightly.

“That sounds horrendous.” she said. She slid her arm around his. “Well my name is Elaine, and this is the start of a beautiful night”

Rick turned towards her and smiled. “Seems like I made the right decision he said”

___

The party was unlike anything he had seen. As he walked in, he was transformed to another world. The room was decked with low hanging lights , the music was a fusion of jazz and electronic music, the people were dressed to impress.

“Why don’t you grab a drink? I’m going to say hello to my friend , he’s hosting the party. ” Elaine said into his ear.

“You know the host?” Rick asked , surprised.

“Oh yeah. Do you want me to introduce you to him?” she said.

“Why not” he replied quickly. He would love to meet the person who was creating this magic.

She led him by the hand to a couch at the far end of the floor. There were all kinds of people around , with all colours worn, and embellished with probably any foreseeable form of jewelry and apparel, and then some more. Amongst them all was a simple man, in a simple sports jacket and bowtie. “Is that him?” Rick asked, pointing at him.

“You have a good eye. He likes being called Doctor, but his name is Reinhardt. We all just call him Doctor”

“Is he a real doctor?”

“No one knows. He does know the solution to almost every problem we bring him though. So in a lot of ways, yes he is a better doctor than some”

Elaine walked on over to the Doctor, kissed him on both his cheeks and embraced him. She gestured over to Rick, and the Doctor came over.

“I see you chanced upon our humble get together. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I am, greatly in fact.”

“The night has only begun. You’ll notice there’s something special about this place. When are you from?”

“I’m from Chicago”

“I asked, when, my fine sir, not where. If you didn’t notice by now, this is not just a themed party. This is a party in what is known as the Roaring 20s. And by your response, I judge that you’re not a time traveller like the rest of us.” The Doctor turned back and faced Elaine. “You brought another straggler in?” he asked her.

“He’s cute” she said, and winked at him.

The Doctor turned back. “Watch out for her, she’s the most dangerous one amongst us all. Have a good time tonight, and don’t get lost. That has a different meaning here.” he said, slapping him on the back and walked away.

Rick stared past him and looked at Elaine. “I’m in another time?” he asked stuttering.

“Magia ” she said, and pulled him away to the dance floor.

They danced the night away, to the best music he could remember in a long time. As if Baz Luhrmann himself had transported himself to the 20s to be re-inspired, the music spoke of a different kind of ambition. Of ideals and hopes, rather than throwing one’s life to the dogs.

Elaine’s palms were wrapped around his arms, and she pulled him in closer.

“You know what’s making me in love with  tonight? I don’t feel like I’m here to make risky decisions I’ll want to have the chance to forget the next day. I actually want to live right now, I want to make risky decisions that I can live with ” Rick said, and planted his lips on hers.

They continued in each other’s embrace , and finally moved to the couch at the side.

“I didn’t expect people to be this open in the 20s” he said , chuckling.

“Honey, I’m not from the 20s. I’m a time traveller just like anyone else here. I’m from the 2100s. The 20s were my favorite period tho.” she said, placing her hand on his cheek.

“You dance almost like you fit in, especially in that attire”

“They still wear heels in the 2100s. I’ve yet to understand why” she laughed. Rick joined in, and they laughed for a good while. She leaned in on his chest, and lay there.

“Will I get to see you again?” he asked, playing with her hair.

“Well that depends. Now that you’re here, you get to choose. You can be trained as a time-traveller, or you can go back home. If you go back home, it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again. But if you get trained, who knows? Maybe we’ll see each other soon.”

He continued playing with her hair in silence.

“What are you thinking?” she asked, holding his hand tighter.

“My whole life, I’ve been looking for moments like these. Pivots in life , that can throw you in a whole new direction. I’ve met people who are comfortable with what they know. But I’m constantly seeking things I don’t know. I’m always scared, because I may lose the progress I made – my family, my friends; but I’ve always ended up making new friends, and finding ways to connect with my past. What if one day I lose that ability? What if I keep pivoting till I forgot where I came from?”

She turned her head and looked at him.

“Those are exactly the questions I didn’t know the answers to. And you know what, there’s no other way to answer them other than to truly be forced to answer them. The only question that matters is “Will you?” . So will you?” she asked.

He stared at her ,and then took a look around the room, glancing at everyone in it. All the travelers, of time and space. He glanced at the door, from which he had left Cindy, and from which he had left what was a “consolation prize”. He found the Doctor , meeting new people from all over the timeverse , and then looked back at Elaine.

“Magia” he said, summing up the moment. And then he kissed her, like nothing before.

___

geronimo

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