Ode to My Fallen Roomate

Happy Free-Thinking Friday!

This is a piece I wrote that was published in an arts journal. I’m very proud of this accomplishment and I shared on this platform my experience during the time of its publication in Beneath the Waxing Moon, Ode to the Gibbous Moon, A Million Thank-Yous

Ode to My Fallen Roommate

Flash Fiction by Briana Marshall

She was sitting crisscross-applesauce on the floor in the small elementary school where I spent most of my childhood when I first I saw her. She had long curly brown hair, brown skin and an infectious smile. She talked a lot, and used her hands every time she spoke. When she opened her mouth, the room fell silent to hear her latest story.  She went by a name that was not her own, Ozzy. Ozzy introduced herself and I knew we were complete opposites. She was the color of sugar cookies and the butterscotch candies your grandma keeps in her purse. Her hair was fluffy and full, spilling down her back. I was the color of cocoa with long black braids. I would have never known that from that moment on we would become sisters. Her home became my second place of residence and we began to speak a language only we could understand. We spent weekends at the mall and week days harassing classmates and rolling our eyes at homework assignments.

Years passed and she dropped the nickname, cut her hair and made new friends. I changed my hair, learned to love and dove into my academics. Highschool came and we hung out less and less, her friends were too loud for my liking and my friends were to uppity for hers. During our freshman year we made a vow to be roommates in college regardless of where the next four years would take us. We both played volleyball and roomed together at every tournament. We found that our similarities made it easy for us to live together. During high school, I was learning what it truly meant to have a sister. I, technically, do have a half-sister but all I ever learned from her is that absence speaks just as loud as the words you keep in your throat.

Ozzy now went by Elizabeth and we reveled in the moments we spent together. We’d see each other in the hallways and after school at basketball games, she would sit on the bleachers glowing with sisterly pride as I did cheered on the gym floor. She was the sister I always prayed for but had to wait eleven years to receive and I was grateful for all that I was learning from our bond. Senior year came and it was time to transition into the next part of our lives—College. She wanted to go to a school in Atlanta and I had decided on a small university in Alabama. The school she desired to go to didn’t have my major and she wanted to live in the big city. As the summer after our senior year came to a close, I drove to her house often, helping her pack and plan out the design for her dorm room. On the last day of summer, we said our goodbyes, wiped the tears from our eyes and parted ways.

During Orientation Week, we called each other religiously to talk about boys, classes and all the new friends we were making. Our weekly phone-call dates turned into monthly phone call dates as classes became harder, maintaining new friendships became taxing and the boys in our lives began to require more attention.

I never felt our relationship shift, just the circumstances surrounding our personal lives. The conversations became shorter and less frequent as our monthly phone call dates began to occur once every 3-4 months in between short “I miss you” text messages. She found a Southern man with a thick accent who took her out dancing and rubbed her feet in-between her political science classes. I found a Southern man with a thick accent who let me eat off his plate and sleep in his bed. She and I laughed at their similarities while admiring their differences. She was still my butterscotch queen, I remained her sweet chocolate bar. 

The summer came and I found myself in the Southern heat as I stayed in Alabama to work. She went back home to Maryland to work and spend time with her family. We talked less during the summer since we had to keep up with our men and the friends we made at school. Daily, my mom would ask how she was and it became harder to remember as we talked less and less. Days turned into weeks, before we knew it, it had been three months and we had only spoken a handful of times. 

The week before we both started our Sophomore year of college she called me crying. The relationship she had with the man she loved had ended and I was the only person she knew to call. What do you do when your sister’s world is falling apart? What do you do when the person you lean on is falling? You book the first flight home. You bring chocolates and roses to their front door. You buy the largest stuffed bear you can find and you keep extra tissues in your pockets. Even though we barely talked all summer and I hadn’t seen her in over a year, she taught me what sisterly love is and it has nothing to do with the frequency of your conversations or the distance between your two bodies. 

Sisterly love is persistent, binding and life altering. We talked for days and watched the mornings turn to nights. We counted the sunsets and talked about how much we missed each other. We fantasized about forcing our future husbands to allow us to live next to each other and raise our kids together, she is already Aunty Lizzy to my unborn children and I am Aunty Bri to hers. The week came to an end and we had to say goodbye again, we held each other as we cried and promised to never let a week pass without speaking again.

This picture is from 2012, we were freshman in high school. Almost 6 years later and we are both now seniors in university. Thank you Elizabeth for being a consistent sister and always surpassing my greatest expectations. You’re a great roommate but an even better bestfriend. I love you so much and I’m glad I met you all those years ago.

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