"So when does your roommate get here?" I asked.
Ashley clapped her hands as the fridge hummed to life and she turned to me, taking the Universal Studios picture out of my hand.
"I think this afternoon. She lives in Kentucky, so it's a bit of a drive."
"Kentucky? They eat everything fried there, don't they? You'll have to be careful that you keep your healthy habits up while you're here," Mom said.
"I'm not sure that it's okay to generalize an entire group of people's eating habits based on a fast-food chain that happens to mention their state," I said.
"My metabolism hasn't changed in the last eighteen years. I'll be fine, Mom," Ashley said. I envied the way that she could brush her off so quickly. Of course she could. Her entire life she'd been tall and slender, while I'd inherited the complete opposite body type.
Mom brought up a single finger, her telltale sign that you were about to get into an argument, but then she put it down. Almost like she remembered that we were here to drop off her oldest daughter for her freshman year of college and now wouldn't be the most convenient time for a fight.
"And she's bringing the futon?" she asked instead.
"I think she put one on hold at the Target nearby so she doesn't have to lug it up here with her. Don't worry, she sent me options and we mutually agreed on one," Ashley said.
"Because nothing can be left up to chance," I teased.
"There's nothing wrong with knowing how you like things," she said. "Plus, the first one she was looking at was way overpriced. I actually saved her a ton of money."
"I'll make sure to call you if I'm ever in the market for a futon," I said. "You'll just use mine, silly," she said.
I sighed, twisting one of the bulbs that was winking out on the twinkle lights. "I was joking."
"Oh yeah, right," she said, grabbing on to her head. "Sorry. I'm all out of whack today. My funny-o-meter is broken."
"Only temporarily. It works best when you're settled and comfortable," I said.
"Will I ever be?" she asked. She finally took a moment to stop her hurried frenzy of setting things up to take in the room. Her breath became ragged, and I watched her eyes focus and unfocus. Seeing her panic in this way, seeing the mix of emotions racing through her, made my own stomach clench. We always joked that we were twins separated by almost twelve months, always in sync with each other in ways that were out of normal sister territory. Unfortunately, the months between our births robbed us of telepathy and the whole looking-alike thing. Physically, we are as opposite as it comes. She's tall and lanky with muddy-colored hair, where I'm short and chubby, my hair almost white it's so blond. About the only part that maybe hereditarily blessed both of us was bad eyesight. We can almost wear each other's prescription contacts.
I reached out to pull her into a very comforting (and comfortable) hug. We had the perfect builds for a great hug.
"Of course you will, honey," Mom said, joining our hug. She rested her cheek on the top of my head and we stayed this way for who knows how long until Ashley learned her first lesson about living in the dorms: If you wanted to have a private moment without someone bursting in to say hello, keep your door closed & and probably lock it, for good measure.
"Oh, yikes, I'm sorry," the girl at the door said. She had her hair pulled up in a messy bun that was leaning haphazardly to one side of her head. "I was just wondering if you had any extra duct tape that I could borrow? A cord on my microwave frayed. Don't tell the RA or whatever, because it might be a fire hazard, but I definitely don't have time or cash to get a new one. That's too much information. BLAH. Hi. My name is Yael."
"Hey," Ashley said, pulling away from our hug. "I'm Ashley. This is my little sister, Savannah, and my mom."
"Kim," Mom interjected.
"Nice to meet you all," Yael said. Her fingers tapped against the doorframe as she waited for something, anything to happen while we all stared at her. I turned to Ashley for a moment and tried to send her a telepathic "Grab the damn duct tape!" but she didn't catch my drift.