Emily stretched out her arms luxuriously in the back of the classroom. Her professor, Mr.Shrubs, was talking about the German occupation in World War II. His voice droned on in a lifeless monotone, and he seemed to not care that half of his class was asleep on their desks. Emily was staring at his face. He had a short gray beard and balding white hair, tiny little wrinkles covered the skin and every time he opened his mouth there was an unpleasant smacking sound. Emily gazed at the white clock on the other side of the classroom. It was 2:45. “Ten minutes left!”. All she wanted was to leave class and go back to her apartment. There was a girl in front of her with long blonde hair and bright green earrings; you could hear the smacking and sloshing of some gum in her mouth. She turned around towards Emily,
“Hey Emily, what are you doing after class?” She whispered.
“I don’t know, probably nothing interesting, why?” Emily said.
“Want to come with us to the woods, were going to smoke.” She said cheerfully
“Sure, why not.” Emily replied
“And that concludes our lecture today on existentialism and the violence of the world wars.” Mr.Shrubs said.
Emily got up from her desk.
“We’re going soon, so meet us in the quad,” the girl said.
“Ok!” Emily said.
Emily left the room and began walking down the hallway. She gazed at the posters and flyers hung up along the walls. She spotted a flyer for an Improv Club. Emily always liked doing Improv. It was a chance for her to portray another person in another place. She took the flyer down from the wall, taking care not knock the other ones out of place, and stuffed it into her backpack. Emily left the building and walked across campus. She wanted to get a cup of coffee, so she grabbed her purse and headed out of campus on the way to Starbucks.
It was a chilly day and the wind was howling, leaves were drifting gently in the direction of the wind. Emily had not prepared properly for such weather. She hugged her arms in order to try to gain a little bit of warmth. She took out her phone to check the time. All of a sudden she bumped into someone.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Emily said apologetically, not looking up from her phone. She continued walking.
“Kevin! Is that you?” A girl shouted from behind her.
Emily stopped, red faced, and turned around towards the women, She was wearing a long black peacoat and smooth white pants. Her brown boots came up to her calf and she was holding a plastic grocery bag with the word WALLMART printed on the side. She had long black hair and bright brown eyes that glistened in the sunlight. She seemed almost perplexed looking at Emily.
“Ruth?” Emily questioned. She thought it looked like her at least. Ruth had been one of her classmates in high school. Emily had never really been close with her, but Ruth was one of those “popular girls” who knew almost everybody. Ruth had nicknamed Emily “weirdo” in gym class after Emily got into a fight with the guy Ruth was dating at the time. His name was Brendan, and he continually harassed Emily for no reason. Brenden would poke at Emily’s neck in class and call her gay, sometimes he would shove her against lockers, slap her face and then say “see ya around sweetheart.” Emily eventually couldn’t take it anymore and got into a fight with Brenden during gym class. She punched him square across the face. But Brenden, being much bigger then Emily, fractured her nose and she got sent to the hospital. After that she was known as “ the weirdo” for the rest of high school.
“Yes! How have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages” the women said.
“I’m doing okay, ” Emily replied cautiously. She did not want to talk to this woman right now.
“Well, you’ve certainly changed,” Ruth observed quietly.
Emily avoided Ruth’s eyes. Instead, gazing at the concrete road beneath her feet, “Yeah, I guess I have. I go by Emily now.”
“That’s a cute name.” Ruth said.
“Thanks.” Emily replied. There was an awkward silence. Emily could see the curiosity in Ruth’s eyes.
“ So…what made you do it?” Ruth questioned naively.
Emily despised questions like these. Why do people feel the need to find out all kinds of personal details about her life and her choices? The emotional trauma was enough to deal with, not to mention the threat of violence and fear she faced every day. If people could see just how hard she works to try to live a “normal” life, they might treat her with more respect.
“I had to do it, it wasn’t a choice. I’m really sorry but I have to get going, it was nice catching up with you” Emily replied.
She turned around and briskly started walking in the opposite direction from Ruth.
When she got to Starbucks, Emily ordered her usual, a white mocha latté. She cusped the drink in her hands. It felt warm. She raised the cup to her lips and took a sip. The liquid seeped out into her mouth. It tasted good. Emily loves coffee; she gets a cup every day at Starbucks. The acoustic atmosphere and friendly people, all occupied with their own lives, is a nice change of pace. The manager is also on friendly terms with her, and sometimes even gives her free drinks.
“Thanks for the coffee Nick!” Emily beamed. He smiled at her.
“No problem, watch yourself out there, okay?” Nick said.
“I always do!” Emily replied.
Emily headed out of Starbucks, as she was walking down an empty side street she felt something strange on her right shoulder, and turned around. A man who looked to be in his early thirties had grabbed her. He had a rough musky scent about him, and was wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans. He was stroking a small soul patch on his chin as he spoke.
“Hey girl, you’re pretty cute,” He said bluntly
“Um, thanks.” Emily said, “Can you let go of me now?”
“Nah. Whataya say we head back to my place instead?” He asked forcefully, like he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
“Um, I don’t think so! What the hell do you think you’re doing? Let go of me!” Emily retorted
Without warning, he grabbed both her arms and forced them into a locked position. He shoved her against the cracked brick wall and Emily felt a felt a sharp pain to her forehead. She could feel his hot breath on the back on her neck, a bit of sweat from his chin dribbled onto her dress. He whispered ever so slightly into her ear.
“You think I don’t know what you are? You’re a fucking freak! People like you don’t deserve my company. You should’a taken my offer when I gave you the chance.”
Emily was frozen solid out of fear. She had faced stranger’s reactions before, but they only stared or giggled as they walked by her, nothing physical had ever come of it. “What was this guy going to do?” She thought to herself. Then she spotted her purse on the ground. It had fallen from her arm when he grabbed her. She knew there was a small pocketknife in the purse, maybe if she had enough time to grab it she could get away?
“You’re lucky there are so many people around,” he said “Else I would’a smacked a fag like you after I fucked you.”
He let her go. Emily kneeled down to grab her purse; she pushed the tears out of her face and rummaged through the bag to find the knife. She pulled out the knife and pointed it at the man; her arm was shaking.
He laughed,” That little knife won’t save you, but since I’m in a good mood, I’ll let it go. See ya around sweetheart.” He winked at her and walked away.
Emily stood for a moment, partly out of shock. Then she gathered herself up and started walking as quickly as she could back to the university. The sun was still shining brightly when she reached campus. Birds were singing and the grass looked pristine. Emily took her phone out to check her reflection. She pressed the camera icon on the smartphone. There was a bit of dry blood falling out of a cut on her forehead, She wiped it away and walked toward the quad.
She had forgotten her coffee.