She was the only one who didn’t leave the residence hall that weekend.

Well, there were others. No dorms are ever that empty, but everyone else who was staying had a legitimate reason; study, job, a very large distance from home etc. The weather had changed like a tempest, one minute the students were enjoying the coolness of fall, and the next they were all bundled up against the low winter temperatures the city was accustomed to. As December began, it was soon time for the students to leave the residence hall, and go back to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.

The week before the official holidays passed by in a blur, and the dreaded Friday approached. Bags were seen packed as early as Monday, and when the time came, she could hardly bring herself to watch her fellow residents leave campus for the safety, and security of their homes.

Emotion lurked underneath the surface, but she was at her wit’s end about it. She would prefer to let it out, to feel it all at once, and then let it fade away, once and for all. At the same time, she didn’t want to confront the emotions, because she didn’t want to deal with the aftermath of acknowledging how she felt. Moreover, she’d rather not have anyone else deal with the aftermath of that impending emotional outburst. But, wait; her friends would also leave, so that much was taken care of.

More than half the girls at the residence left on Friday, and the rest Saturday. Only a handful of the guys were left by Sunday. Most of them had partied hard Saturday night, and the administration saw no reason to deter them from their activities; they weren’t harming anyone, and besides, both Christmas and the New Year were coming up soon, which warranted celebration. She didn’t join any of the festivities, didn’t even leave her room for anything other than using the restroom and going downstairs to pick up her food deliveries. She wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but she just sat by the windows of her room that opened into the wide balcony outside.

On Monday, she trudged back from the residential life office. They had not allowed her to remain in the dorms after the semester ended. For the short gap between the next semesters, she had to go home. They were in a festive mood and had joked about her getting too attached to her residence hall. She knew they were only kidding around, but the words had hit home. She laughed mirthlessly at the phrase.

Despite the cold, she crouched in her balcony, waiting for the ringing in the phone to end. Her mother picked up after she cut off the phone and dialed the number again.

“What is it? What did you do this time?” The lady demanded to know.

“Hey, ma,” she said quietly into the phone, “I just wanted to know I’ll be coming back when the semester ends. How’re you doing?”

The mother huffed on the phone, “I already told you why you can’t come back, we’re going to Harvey’s parents for Christmas, and then we’re going to the Asian Games!”

“I know, mom, but I was hoping you could take me with you,” she winced at the sharp breath her mother took in on the other side of the line, and hurriedly continued, “I’d never do this to you, but the dorms won’t let me stay any longer. I won’t cause any trouble, mom, may I please come with you to Harvey’s parents’ place?”

“You absolutely cannot, they don’t even know I have a daughter,” she sounded incredulous, “Go find someplace else to stay; maybe one of your friends from the college will keep you. Don’t call again, I’m busy packing.”

She hung up without another word.

Staring at the phone, she took in deep breaths. She could always book a room at a cheap motel, and work through the holidays to save up for rent.

As she was going outside, one of the guys stopped her.

“Hey, what are you still doing here?” He inquired, “Aren’t you going home?”

At a loss to tell him how after her stepfather’s arrival, she didn’t really have a home, she just shook her head. The emotion was welling up just as fast as her eyes, as the hopelessness finally began to take a toll on her.

He asked the question again, and this time, tears freely broke past the barriers.

“I don’t have a home,” she whimpered, “I have nowhere to go.”

Horrified at what she’d revealed, she went right back inside. She repeatedly chanted the same words to herself as the panic attack began to take over.

Hours passed, and the tears subsided, leaving behind nostalgia for a home that would never be hers again.

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