The Cover-Up Tour

Published 8/12/2022

Taylor wraps up his preparation for the campus tour and hits the road with his new costume in hand.

  • Shopping

Monday afternoon, arriving at work, Taylor found his boss pounding away at the keyboard of the computer Taylor had built for him several months before. “Hey, Taylor! How are you today?” An upbeat response from Taylor caught him a bit off guard. He knew that Taylor was a morning person, and coming into the office in such a good mood was a little uncharacteristic of him, especially after a morning full of classes. “Why so peppy?” he asked. Despite their personality differences, their conversations were effortless.

Taylor shared the experience of Friday night with him. Pulling his glasses down to his nose to catch Taylor eye-to-eye, he asked: “So, what are you going to do when she goes off to class?” Hoping he had overlooked that detail, Taylor became uneasy as he had no forethought on the approach to that subject. “Well, It would be difficult to work here much if I moved to the main campus." Shooting a massive grin Taylor's way, he called him out. “Well, I wouldn’t expect you to stick around here on my account when you can run away and chase a cute girl”. He gave Taylor a light nudge with his elbow. “What do you need from me?”, he offered thoughtfully. Taylor replied brokenly: “I was hoping to visit campus on Friday so I can make an educated decision.” Without further persuasion, Taylor’s Friday was clear. For the rest of the day, he was on cloud nine.

His current energy level made it difficult for Taylor to concentrate on his classes. He often caught himself distracted by text conversations with Erin. Taylor tried to probe her knowledge of life on campus but found she was as inexperienced about such things as he was. But because she had already been on campus, she always had some answer. He was reminded throughout the week that he should pay attention to his classes instead of texting her. However, the conversations picked up speed once classes were over. The Tuesday afternoon conversation was interrupted by a shipping notification. This time, his shoes had shipped from a closer warehouse, set to arrive on Thursday. Taylor was relieved they should be there on time, but he was still concerned about the fit.

By the time Thursday rolled around, Taylor was getting very antsy. He still had to pack his bags, buy groceries, shave his face, and gas up his car. Additionally, he could not work on his homework during the day. It seemed that the whole city had a technical meltdown all at once. A steady stream of customers plagued the shop all afternoon. By shift end, Taylor was exhausted from the long day and overwhelmed by his to-do list. He was not going to get it all done tonight.

Avoiding the need to run errands tomorrow, Taylor hit up the grocery store on the way home. On his list were his staples: ramen noodles, cereal, milk, eggs, and bread. Additionally, some last-minute snacks for his trip snuck onto the list. Per his routine, He first found the clearance aisle toward the front of the store. Glancing around, he saw a little of everything. The shelves overflowed with food, toys, sporting equipment, and electronic accessories. Toward the end of his clearance adventures, he spotted a selection of watches, necklaces, and sunglasses. One, in particular, looked like it would perfectly complement his costume. He picked up the silver necklace and eyed the pink heart charm dangling in the air. Surprised at seeing a $5 sticker on the tag, he dropped it in his cart and left the aisle to find the items on his list.

Toward the end of his list, he rounded the corner into the cold cereal aisle. He immediately spotted Erin. Hurriedly, he turned back to hide the necklace. Regaining his composure, he confidently made his way down to the end of the aisle, where she was reading the nutrition facts on a pack of granola bars. “Did you know these things have loads of sugar in them?” she asked, not even greeting Taylor as she saw him. “Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. There’s tons of garbage in almost all this food. That’s what makes it good.” He winked at her to emphasize his sarcasm. “Sure. Are you ready for tomorrow?” She asked, already trying to change the subject. “Not really. I still have a ton of homework left and I haven’t packed anything yet. I’m just picking up some snacks for the road and some dinner for the evening. I don’t feel like spending much money while I’m there.”

Their conversation was cut short due to the lateness of the hour and Taylor’s rising restlessness. After their goodbyes, they headed toward the front of the store to check out. Taylor found an excuse to return to the middle of the store, allowing Erin to get out ahead of him. He didn’t want her to see the necklace and start asking questions. Stopping by the gas station on his way back, he could scratch another thing off his to-do list.

There was a small package waiting for him at home. As much as Taylor wanted to try on his new shoes and pack his bags, he ate a ramen noodle dinner and then forced himself to concentrate on his homework. Exhaustion got the better of him after finishing his homework. He had several close calls with his razor. Additionally, his pajama pants nearly went on backward. Seeing this as a sign that he was ready for bed, he climbed under his covers and fell fast asleep.

Morning came all too early, with the obnoxious alarm clock being the bearer of bad news. Taylor had been in the habit, recently, of waking up before the alarm, having to silence it ahead of time. It felt refreshing to be awakened by the alarm, but he soon realized how little time he had after class to wrap up his travel preparation. Downing a quick bowl of cereal down and packing his school bag, he was off.

The morning crawled by, with Taylor barely retaining enough information to get a start on his weekend homework. Once 11:30 arrived, Taylor was the first one out the classroom door. Impressively, packing was the only thing left on his to-do list.

At home, Taylor dug through his closet until he found two different bags: a lightweight duffle and his high school gym bag. The duffle held all his regular provisions, including a change of clothes and toiletries. He even threw in a notebook and pen to take notes during the tour. The gym bag would contain all his costume effects. First, he folded the dress into a rectangle, setting it at the bottom of the bag. Quickly-folded hood, socks, and wig followed. Digging through the pile of groceries still on the table, Taylor found the necklace and dropped it in the bag.

As he started to zip up the bag, he remembered the shoe box sitting by the front door. A test fit hadn't happened yet. Taylor plopped himself on the couch with the shoebox, opened the lid, and dug through the tissue paper until he had both shoes in his hands. He quickly kicked off his sneakers and held his breath as he slipped on one of his new Mary Jane shoes. After a successful fit of one, the other slid on effortlessly. Pacing back and forth for as long as he dared, Taylor basked in the joy of having shoes that fit. After ditching the box, the pair of flats went in the costume bag. Taylor tossed both bags in the car and pulled out of the driveway. Taylor was on the road.

After pulling into town, Taylor spent 15 minutes finding the check-in booth. After checking in, he received a room key, a map, and an itinerary for the tour. There was a welcome workshop between 6 and 8 PM, allowing him plenty of time to attend the party at 9.