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Jenna and Leila

Jenna and Leila Part One: The Realization

Camryn Meckley, Special to the Quad

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Beep, beep, beep, the obnoxious sound of her morning alarm woke Jenna from her deep sleep. She rolled over and hit snooze, “Just five more minutes,” she thought to herself. “Who needs the extra time to do their hair and makeup for class anyway?” She drifted back to sleep only to be woken back up by her roommate making breakfast in the microwave. Jenna tore off her covers and stomped to the bathroom, trying her best to show Leila how annoyed she was. Five more minutes of sleep makes a world of difference when you’re in college.

Leila took notice of Jenna’s irritated mood and followed her into the bathroom apologizing profusely. “I’m sorry, Jen, I heard your alarm, so I thought you were already up!”

Jenna rolled her eyes, “Haven’t you ever heard of a snooze button? Not everyone is as perky as you in the morning.”

Leila was already dressed in light wash jeans and a pink flowing blouse. Her blonde hair was done in gorgeous flowing beach waves and her makeup was painted on with precision. You could almost feel the sunshine radiating from her perky attitude. Jenna and Leila were the best of friends, but they were polar opposites. Jenna tossed her deep brown hair into a messy bun without even brushing it and stomped back into her bedroom to get dressed. Leila was left to wonder what had Jenna in such a bad mood. There was no way it was just because the microwave woke her up a little early.

Jenna checked her phone before stripping off her pajama shorts and top to throw on leggings and an old soccer t-shirt she found on her floor. She smelled the shirt to at least make sure it didn’t stink. The same thought ran through her head every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. “Why the hell would I schedule myself an 8 a.m. history lecture? What compelled me to think this was okay? Should I crawl back into bed and tell my professor I was sick? No, I shouldn’t, I can always just come home from class and go back to sleep.”

Jenna heard her phone buzz and was slightly reluctant to check it. What if it was her boyfriend Mike? They got in a huge fight last night, as usual, about a stupid party Leila wanted to take Jenna to this weekend. Jenna picked up her phone and to her relief it wasn’t Mike, it was her mother. She typed up a quick response and continued to get ready.

After Jenna’s class she came back to her dorm and crawled back into bed as she had planned. Right as she drifted off to sleep her phone buzzed again with a text message. This time it was Mike. She opened it and to her dismay he was still angry with her. The text read: “This fight isn’t over Jenna, you’re still not allowed to go to that party. Especially since I can’t come with!” Jenna rolled her eyes and ignored the text; she just didn’t feel like dealing with him this early in the morning. She put down her phone and was finally able to fall back to sleep for a little while.

Leila had back-to-back classes on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. She got back to the dorm around 10 and saw that Jenna was napping. She got out some homework and started working on it in her room but couldn’t focus on it right now, she was too worried about Jenna. “What had her in such a bad mood this morning? I just wish she would talk to me about stuff. She always keeps everything to herself.” Leila thought.

She heard Jenna’s alarm go off and quickly hurried over to her room and poked her head in the door to see if she was up. She was. “Oh good you’re up,” Leila said to Jenna.

“Yeah, why?” Jenna responded.

“I just wanted to see how you were doing, I feel like we haven’t had a good heart-to-heart in a while. I miss when we used to have those all the time.”

“Oh, yeah I’m good. How ‘bout you?” Jenna responded in a monotone voice.

Leila paused, “Yeah, I’m good too. Are you, uh, hungry; do you wanna go grab some food and chat?”

“Umm, yeah I guess.” Jenna said.

They left to go to the cafeteria when Jenna’s phone starts ringing. Leila peered over her shoulder to see who it was. It was Mike. Leila rolled her eyes as Jenna said “Heym can we rain check and grab food later, my uh, mom is calling, and I really gotta talk to her.”

“Yeah, sure.” Leila said sadly knowing damn well it wasn’t her mom who was calling.

“Thanks,” Jenna said quickly as she bolted to her room and slammed the door. Leila, being curious, sat down next to Jenna’s door, slowly pressed her ear up to it and tried her best to listen to their conversation. She had a feeling that Mike hadn’t called Jenna to tell her how much he loved her.

Jenna loved Mike very much, but he wasn’t the best boyfriend on the planet. He had his issues like any human would. Mike got angry really quickly and had issues biting his tongue. He had never hit Jenna, but he had come pretty close. He’d thrown things across the room though, which was pretty scary. He was also pretty controlling. He wouldn’t let Jenna go to any parties without him and she wasn’t allowed to drink when he wasn’t around either.

Leila always told her their relationship wasn’t healthy but Jenna just brushed it off by saying “he only does those things cause he loves me.”

Whenever Jenna told her that she wasn’t allowed to do something because Mike said she couldn’t, Leila retorted with “those are the key words though Jenna! You’re not ‘allowed’ to do this because Mike won’t ‘let you!’” Jenna always somehow came up with a reason to stay with him. He had her brainwashed.

Jenna answered the phone, “Hey, baby, what’s up?”

Mike quickly replied, “Are you going to that party tonight?”

Jenna tensed up at the tone of his voice, she could tell he was gonna start yelling soon. Jenna quietly answered, “Um, I mean I want to, but…”

Mike cut her off, “No! I have to work so I can’t go which means you aren’t allowed to go either!”

Jenna tried to stand up for herself, kind of, but he scared her so she gave in. “Okay, babe, I won’t go. I’ll stay in tonight and just hang out by myself.”

Mike coldly responded, “Good, glad you came to your senses and listened to me.”

Jenna started to cry, “Yeah, you’re always right.”

Mike could hear that she was crying but he didn’t feel like dealing with her anymore. He just wanted to get off the phone so he ended the conversation “I gotta go, I have to do some homework before I go to work. Bye, I love you.”

Jenna choked out an, “I love you too,” before she hung up the phone.

She opened the door to see Leila standing right outside of it. She looked worried and sad for her. She could see that Jenna had been crying. Leila quickly asked, “Are you okay?”

Jenna shook her head yes as Leila embraced her in a hug. Leila asked, “What did Mike say to you this time.”

Jenna said, “That I’m not allowed to go to that party with you tonight.”

Leila pulled away from the hug, firmly grabbed Jenna’s shoulders and looked her directly in the eyes “Do you hear what you just said? That he is not ‘allowing’ you to go to a party with your roommate! He can’t tell you what you are allowed and not allowed to do!”

Jenna shook her head, “No, he just likes to be able to keep an eye on me when I drink. Ya know, so he can make sure I’m safe.”

Leila shook her head in response and said “No, Jenna, stop making excuses for him. He is mentally abusive and I am tired of sitting back and watching this go on. We are going to get you out.” You could see the relief in Jenna’s eyes but it quickly turned to fear when she realized that the call hadn’t actually ended and Mike was still on the other line. She quickly hung up the phone. Leila saw the panic in Jenna’s eyes and asked “What?” in a concerned tone. Jenna told her what she had realized and the same thoughts ran through their heads, did he hear everything Leila had just said?

Camryn Meckley is a second-year student majoring in English with minors in linguistics and deaf studies. ✉ [email protected].

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Jenna and Leila