The quarters were more than ample for two people and almost symmetrical in their design with a large open space in the middle where, if the carpet had been a little cleaner, one could happily have practised yoga or Klingon moQbara. It seemed relatively tidy, but my eye picked up on certain telltale signs that Elizabeth's reputation was earned.
For instance, both beds were made up, but badly. I pulled the covers gently back on each bed to confirm my suspicions and found the sheets were rumpled and creased. Both had definitely been slept in—and one was supposed to be mine, but which one? Whichever it was, I would be changing it before I slept in it.
To help me work out which side of the room I should take, I began to study the furniture. With two wardrobes, two chests of drawers and two study areas, one should have been free for me. One was certainly clear of personal items, but not quite what I'd call free.
The set on the right-hand side of the room, furthest from the window had every surface rammed with stuff onto it. It looked as though Bessy had hurriedly stacked everything onto the shelves in responses for my arrival, but there was no order to it. Data pads, old fashioned paper books, boxes and clothing were all intermingled.
The other set on the left-hand side of the room, which benefited from being nearest the window, was free from clutter, but as I ran my finger over the surface, it was sticky and dirty.
The conclusion was obvious. Bessy had taken full advantage of having the quarters to herself and filled every inch of it. My arrival had meant a hasty retreat to one side of the room and a tidy up.
Needing to clean the counter tops before I could do anything, I went into the bathroom to look for a cloth to discover that her tidying hadn't extended that far. Toothpaste smeared the sink and taps (had she actually spat on them?), shampoo and soap daubed the shower cubicle glass, towels lay in a heap in the corner, and the mirrors were splattered with water, soap stains and toothpaste too.
I grabbed a towel from the floor, rinsed it through and wrung it out before returning to the bedroom and wiping down my furniture. To my disgust, I even had to do the inside of the drawers and the wardrobe. The discarded pizza box with a slice of fossilised, mouldy pizza still in it on the top shelf of the wardrobe was vile but, thankfully, so aged, it was beyond smelling.
It took me over two hours to tidy the bathroom and my area. I remembered Tez and how messy he'd been when he'd shared a room with Rutter. Poor Rutter had spent so much time tidying up after Tez, but Tez had done it on purpose, to wind Rutter up. This, on the other hand, wasn't done maliciously. Bessy was just messy.
I changed the bed, which definitely needed it and cleaned a very strange, sticky mess off the carpet near my bed. Finally, I took the laundry down for recycling. Then and only then, could I unpack and settle in.
As I put my things away, I began to wonder why I had cleaned everything on my side of the room. I didn't need all that space. I only had three uniforms to fill my wardrobe, an equal amount of civive clothing and barely enough underwear to fill one drawer. I still travelled light.
My chores completed, I lay on the bed staring up into the dusky sky and pondered the next three months. I had a feeling this was going to be a long semester and not half as much fun as the last one.