Emory ran the numbers and frowned: 20.1K Instagram followers, a 3.98 GPA, and zero boyfriends. How had she gone through four years of chemistry classes and emerged with only a handful of disastrous first dates?
Picking up her glitter-encrusted phone, she doomscrolled through Valentine’s Day posts (#bae #truelove #4evurrr) until her stomach threatened to refund her fair trade latte. At least, she thought it was fair trade. One Google search led to another, and—
“Em? Em. Earth to Emory Jean Dodd!”
Emory woke from her trance and peered around her phone. “Oh, Landon. It’s just you.” She stretched the tech crick in her neck. “Is your mom flying in for graduation?”
The boy hopped up onto one of the quad’s concrete posts and balanced there, hands in pockets. “Yep. She’s coming to drag me back to Florida.”
Not “boy,” Emory corrected herself. Landon cultivated a beard that made male English majors jealous and female ones write terrible poetry. But she’d known him since fifth grade, so she’d always think of him that way. She had a class picture somewhere in Dropbox…
“I’m losing you again,” Landon said, jumping down. He pushed her phone aside and stuck his face in its place. “Are you moving back to Tampa?”
Emory shuddered. “Why do you think I’m paying for out-of-state tuition?” Then she frowned. “But I never asked: why did you come all the way to Boston?”
Landon coughed and mumbled something about snow.
During the lull, Emory brought her phone back up and hate-liked her cousin’s engagement announcement.
“Put down the loneliness box, Em.”
She hid her phone behind her back. “I’m not lonely,” she said, a little too loudly. “I have tons of friends.”
Landon crossed his arms. He could always see right through her. “Social media doesn’t count.”
“Still,” she spluttered. “I have you, and — and that girl in Biochem.”
“I rest my case. Turn off your phone and come get coffee with me.”
Emory laughed and navigated to the App Store. “But you hate coffee.” Maybe she should install Tinder. Desperate times and all that.
As she scrolled through reviews, Landon walked away.
T.R. Frazier lives, writes, and raises small-batch artisanal children in Greater Philly.