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BHM That Befall Preposterously (~FFA, ~BHM, Romance, ~~WG, multi-part)

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Well-Known Member
May 5, 2014
FFA, BHM, Romance, WG, multi-part. Student Shakespeare productions and romance.
Author's Note:Thanks to Terpsichore for suggesting this.

That Befall Preposterously
by Bayone

The lecture hall was dim, and the small grey shape in the corner odd enough not to trigger immediate recognition in the ordinary human eye. Sally Ferreira happened to see it move, and so realized it was alive, but it still took her at least ten seconds to perceive what it was: a bat that hadn’t made it home the night before and was now confusedly clinging to the edge of a cement block in the History department building. The student clapped her hand over her mouth. Her first impulse had been to say oh, a bat -- and she stifled it, fearing that one of her fellow-students might react in panic.
Being out in daylight was strange behaviour, and rabies always a possibility, so after waiting for the rest of the class to file out (luckily there was nothing scheduled for afterwards in the lecture hall), she pulled off the broad crocheted band that normally kept her curly hair out of her eyes, and used it to net the little creature. It made no attempt to escape, but she thought it best to hold it through the thick fabric in case it was rabid.

The professor had left a file box on her desk when she left (it had been full of copies of the syllabus -- this was the first week of classes), and Sally gingerly dropped the bat in and closed the lid. I suppose I’ll have to wait until sunset to release it, she thought. Well, I’ll be fashionably late -- if that’s still actually fashionable.

Praying no one would ask why she was carrying a file box -- and after all they’d most likely assume she was still moving in -- she made her way back to residence. This would be the acid test of her roommate Nadia, a transfer student; it might well wreck their relationship for the remainder of the year if the Poli-Sci major couldn’t deal with wild animals, or with a late departure to the mixer Sally was really only attending because Nadia had asked her to introduce her to everyone. Sally, for her part, was unhappily conscious of how few people she really knew, even after three years at Pearson University. Need to work on those social skills, she told herself. Except there never seems to be much time, with all my studies. Never seems to be much motive, either. Her one success in getting out and mingling with her peers had been acting in student plays; it was so much easier to interact with people when she wasn’t being herself. And it’s still a month and a half until Hallowe’en, she thought. She began thinking about what costume to make this year, half-forgetting the bat until she had climbed the stairs and set the box down to unlock the door to their room.

“Oh, I’m still getting ready.” Her roommate looked a bit sheepish as she held up two blouses. “Which one do you think?” Sally gestured towards the one on the left without letting go of the file box:

“No rush. Actually there’s going to be a delay. I have to wait until sundown. Sorry.” Nadia gave the slight, wild-haired girl a suspicious look.

“What, do you have friends who are vampires or something?”

“Close enough.” Sally set the box carefully on her bed and explained the situation.

“A bat?” Nadia asked. “Like, flap, flap, catch mosquitoes? Don’t release it without letting me see.” Unfazed, she pulled her t-shirt off and slipped on the blouse her roommate had approved, fastening the buttons from bottom to top and leaving the upper two undone, allowing a flirty glimpse of her generous décolletage.

“Thanks for being ok with this.” Sally dropped her hairband in the empty laundry bin in her closet and pulled a scarf and a cowl-necked top off of hangers. Might as well get ready herself.

An hour later the girls pried open the window and Sally brought the box close to the sill and opened it. Nothing happened right away, so she tilted the box until something dark swooped out and vanished into the dusk outside.

“Did you see it go?” she asked her roommate.

“Barely. It went like a bat out of -- oh, I guess that’s why they say that.” They looked out at the dimming sky, and promptly forgot what had just passed. Sally turned to her roommate:

“I’m sorry, I’ve made us late for the party. Why am I holding this box?” She glanced down at the filebox. Nadia looked puzzled for a moment and then laughed.

“You’re funny. I bet you’re lots of fun at parties.” Sally shrugged:

“Let’s find out.”

* * * * *

Donahue, the Irving Hall ghost, gazed dispassionately out one of the third-storey gables. According to the legend passed on each year to freshmen, he’d been a workman on the building at the time of its construction in 1905, who had caught the eye of the Dean’s daughter and subsequently been killed in a duel by a young professor who’d fancied the girl himself; sympathetic students, the story went, had buried Donahue beneath the quad by cover of night. In reality, he’d fallen from a ladder in a prosaic workplace accident, and his remains lay in the local Catholic cemetery; but he did haunt the building, sensible of his place, however distorted, in the school’s memory.

His transparent eyes tracked the little bat as it swept past his window, flitting towards the Dining Hall, and the ghosts of Lila Mills, the homicidal cook whose plan to poison the entire student body was spoiled when a rat got into the strychnine-laced porridge (had never knowingly poisoned anyone and had died of natural causes in 1954, aged sixty-two) and Doris MacDonald, the girl genius who’d killed herself in shame after getting only ninety-five percent on an exam (perished in the 1918 ‘flu along with three other students, but her loss to the field of engineering was unexaggerated). They too looked up at the small swift shadow as it passed. No living humans paid it any attention.

* * * * *

“Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments”

The mixer, sure enough, was already in full swing, and Sally contemplated the young men in the room. As for Nadia, the vivacious poli-sci seemed to be making friends for herself with perfect ease, and had already accepted a bottle of vodka lemonade from a tall, broad-shouldered business major as they shouted conversation over the music and laughter. The music was only one of the problems Sally had with meeting people at these parties. The realization that had begun even before puberty, and which she had since come to accept, was that her taste in men was specific and exacting, embarrassingly so. She knew she wanted a man who was intelligent, kind, and funny -- so far so reasonable -- but she felt both perverted and shallow that she could only be attracted to a man who was fat.

Even so, an intelligent, kind, funny fat man did not sound, on the surface, like too tall an order – the house contained youth of all shapes and sizes from slender to muscular to chubby, depending upon their various genetics, activities and capacity for beer -- but of the four chubby young men she recognized, two she knew to be pleasant but dull as bricks; one was an irritating boor; and the fourth, Mark Donovan, whom she’d had a serious crush upon the previous year, was not only gay but had dropped fifty pounds over the summer break and no longer really qualified as even plump. She was pleased to see that he also appeared to have hooked up with her classmate Colin Hu, an angular young man whose severe good looks did not quite conceal a wry sense of humour. Sally was glad to see him at this party. At least she’d have someone to chat with, if they could hear each other over the music, that is.

She wondered idly how Bob Marley, with his religious lyrics, had come to be college-kid party music. Probably the ganja, but still – were there students in Jamaica chilling to the hymns of Charles Wesley? As she mused on this topic, smiling to herself, a girl in a sparkly halter top bumped into her. Sally caught her by the arm before she lost her balance.

“Thanks,” slurred the girl. “Are you ok? I guess I started drinking too early, I’m drunk already. Hey, I know you – weren’t you in that ancient Greek comedy last year?”

“Uh, Lysistrata?”

“The one where the women go on a sex strike for peace?”

“Again, that’d be Lysistrata. Yes, I was.”

“I thought so. You were the cock-tease,” the girl added.

“I’m never going to live that down, am I?”

“Oh, but you were a great cock-tease,” the student assured her with cheery, drunken kindliness. “You should do more acting. I think they’re putting on some Shakespeare thing this year.”

“It’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Karen,” said Colin, coming up and steadying the inebriated student. “Sally, my sister Karen; Karen, Sally. Karen can’t hold her liquor, but she’s right, you should try out. You’ve got the right look for Titania, and you’ve already established you can make love to a man in a funny costume without seeming ridiculous or crass.” Sally wondered just what he meant by “the right look” and recalling that Titania was an elf-queen, pulled her hair self-consciously across her rather prominent ears. Colin turned to his partner, “Mike, would you be a love and get Karen something non-alcoholic?”

“Do they have any cranberry juice?” Karen asked.

“Let’s go find out,” said Mark, and he ambled off to the kitchen with Karen hanging on to his arm.

“So -- you and Mark?” Sally asked. Colin sighed happily.

“We started emailing over the summer.”

“He’s lost a lot of weight,” Sally observed.

“He worked up north, tree-planting. Well you know him, he’s all about the environment. I suspect he’ll pack it back on by Christmas,” he added, cautiously. Sally’s interest in Mark, and her preference for larger men, had not gone unnoticed by him.

“Don’t worry, I know Mark’s yours.”

“Good, because I’d hate to have to fight you.”

“I hope you don’t have to fight Karen.”

“I trust Mark’s impeccable taste. Anyway, if he fills out again, she’ll lose interest. Karen likes the buff jocks.” Changing the topic, Colin added; “Seriously, you really should try out for the play. If it’s your last year at school, you should try and make the most of it. Join some clubs.”

“Alright, awriight already, I’ll try out for the Shakespeah,” Sally raised her hand in warning and adopted an exaggerated, nasal Brooklyn accent. Colin chuckled and Mark, returning with Karen and her orange juice in tow, put a muscular arm around his boyfriend’s shoulders.

“What’s all this for?” Colin asked him.

“Just making sure everyone here knows who I’m with,” the bigger man rumbled. “I had to fend off Sally’s new roommate on the way back. Sheesh, I lose a little weight and suddenly I get swarmed. I’m going to take defensive action and eat me some pizza.”

“Works for me. That’s shirt’s too loose on you anyhow.”

* * * * *

Sally chatted with Colin, Mark and Karen until someone cranked the music still louder and conversation became truly impossible. Giving up, she waved to them and pointed at the door. One last glance around the crowded room told her Nadia was still having a good time, so she slipped out and walked back to the women’s residence in the still-warm September evening.

As she passed Irving Hall she saw the light of a streetlamp falling across a poster taped to the door. Below a sketch of a donkey’s face were directions to Friday’s and Saturday’s auditions for the Saloonio Players’ production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to be performed, unseasonably, just before the Christmas break.

“All right, universe,” Sally muttered, “I get the point.”

Unpacked and installed in her room, but unable to sleep knowing that Nadia was not yet back, Sally went online and found the text of the play, already half-familiar from high-school English class. Skimming through it, she confirmed that there were four speaking parts that were definitely female: Hippolyta, an Amazon queen who sadly didn’t do any fighting in this story; Hermia and Helena, one-half of a quartet of mix-and-match lovers; and Titania, the proud fairy queen who, under the influence of a love potion, fell for Nick Bottom, the comedy relief who moreover had been transformed into a man with an ass’s head.

Sally supposed the point was to humiliate the queen, but having less-than-conventional taste in men, she could empathize. I see why Colin recommended I try out. She had rather less confidence than her friend in her ability to land the part, though she suspected her slender build, masses of curly hair, and, yes, her ears would make it easy enough to find a place in the fairy court at least.

She heard a key-card click in the heavy electronic lock on the door of the room, and Nadia entered, giggling and smelling faintly of weed.

“You went home so early -- missed a good time, Soph. What’re you doing on the computer?”

“Uh. Reading. I’ve decided to try out for a play. I was prepping the dialogue.”

“You’ve got to learn to have fun, honey.”

“I do. In my own way.”
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