by Elaine Fields Smith
Sitting in the large, second story window was the best vantage point on the whole campus. From there everyone could be seen driving in and out—not to mention anyone who was walking toward the girls' dorm. The Dean had tried to stop them from sitting in the window, but she had failed. Rarely was the window sill unoccupied, except in the middle of the night—sometimes insomniacs used it even then. The twenty year old with a new, sassy haircut shifted her weight on the wide wooden sill.
The girls in Tanya's hall had hung together and triumphed. It was part of the reason this dorm was special—friends. This, and the fact nobody locked their doors; rarely even shut them. The girls answered each other's phones, borrowed each other's records and tapes and sometimes clothes. At night, the building sounded like an airplane about to take off. This dormitory was not air conditioned, so each room had at least two box fans plus every door to every room was wide open to create the greatest air flow. The resulting hum resembled the sound of a jet engine.
Deep in the night, when the only sound was the roar of the fans, the building seemed almost alive. Another form of life appeared in the winter when the boilers kicked in, filling the radiators with warm water to heat the cold rooms. The pipes banged and popped and cracked until one would swear the building's bones were creaking. Everyone suspected the racket was actually someone down in the basement banging on the pipes with a wrench to coax the system to pump some heat into the ancient radiators. Tanya smiled to herself. She felt a genuine affection for this old dorm building. It was the best home she'd ever had.