A new life
“What do you mean there’s no money?” I ask indignantly. The lawyer tries to apologize and begs me to sit down again. “You see, your parents’s will didn’t include you, and everything belonged to your mother. She graciously left all her state, even her house, to wonderful charities for the welfare of children. Some children will be very lucky that she was such a generous soul.”
“Yes, she gifted bullets to the whole neighborhood, the police and her own children,” I comment. He looks at me with contempt, despite everything I’ve gone through! I realize I’m wasting my time speaking to this blood-sucking toad and leave. I’m alone and penniless. I don’t know anyone and have no friends, except for all the messages of support I have received from people all over the country. Well, those are not friends, only privileged white people with a bad conscience.
Abandoned by everyone else, the state takes me in and finds a foster home for me. It’s in a “socioeconomically challenged” part of the city, but I don’t mind it. I never really experienced the luxury of my old home, nor wanted to. But enough money to be on my own would’ve been nice.
Soon after getting there I feel right at home. They don’t give a flying f-word about me, just like mother did… well, for the most part. I go to a new school with people wearing counterfeit clothing, using counterfeit ids to buy booze, telling counterfeit stories to the teachers and believing counterfeit news networks; yet they are somehow “truer” than the people in my old school.
Remember when I said life wouldn’t be made easy for me? Now my prediction has come true. If I want to survive, to make something of myself, I need to study and work hard. Well, that’s precisely what I do. It’s me against the world. I focus all my efforts on studying, ignoring everything else. The only thing I keep from my past is my friend from school.
We play games online and talk for hours every day. But as time goes by, we start to drift away… Without the drama of my old home, I’m able to focus on my studies. The wounds left by mother slowly heal, but I soon understand they will never completely close. Day by day, month by month, year by year I toil to get the best possible grades. And it pays off: I earn a scholarship for a mildly prestigious college.
Look, I’m not delusional. I know a prestigious college is not necessarily a good college. But it will secure me a job, that’s for sure. You know what I’m going to study? I thought about it long and hard, and realized what I wanted to do with my life was being a lawyer. It’s a very stable job (there will always be something to regulate, someone to defend or accuse.) But it goes beyond that. I really want to make a difference in people’s lives, even if that sounds like a childish wish.
The day I have to report at the college campus finally arrives. The bus ride from my home city to college lasts for hours. I barely have anything with me other than a few clothes. As we enter the campus, a large poster on the bus stop catches my eye. “RESPECT,” it reads in all-capital letters. “Join us and stand against bigotry!” Under the slogan, several people of several colors are drawn holding the flags of different countries.
Preppy people parade from preposterously pricey cars. Proud parents photograph their perfect progeny. Ok, I’ll stop now. We are shown to our rooms and leave our stuff. Then come the rules. So many tedious rules I actually start longing for the beginning of class. After jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops, we finally get the ball rolling with introductions to all our subjects. Because the scholarship only covers tuition and housing, I get a job to afford… well, actual living.
I become a waitress in a cafe less than an hour away from college and start working immediately. At the beginning, I enjoy a very peaceful existence, listening in class and reading what I can at work. But soon my college workload increases, leaving me no free time. Luckily, work is basically serving hipsters who go there ironically to drink italian coffee. Unfortunately, they only tip their own fedoras. I lead a soviet lifestyle, wearing second-hand clothes, eating leftover food from work and doing… well, nothing else. Everything goes fine until a few weeks into the semester, when I catch a guy from ethics class staring at me several times in different days.
“What?” I say, finally confronting him. “Oh, hi—” he replies, shocked. He doesn’t have a clue what to do with me. “I don’t have time for this, sorry,” I say dryly before I leave. The poor guy interprets that as ‘I just need to try harder,’ and he begins to pester me with invitations to “class activities” such as hanging out at a bar, like I don’t know what he’s up to.
Despite turning him down over and over, he keeps trying. I admire his courage, and he’s not fugly, but I really don’t want a relationship right now. I’m in a crucial point in my life where I need to focus on getting through college. What I just said is not just an excuse to turn down fugly—Wait, I shouldn’t use that word. It’s not just an excuse to turn down “aesthetically challenged” people. Anyway, I don’t want to rant. He keeps asking and eventually gets frustrated.
One night he shows up drunk at my room. “Come on, tell me what’s wrong with me?” he starts, and I can smell the booze in his breath. “Am I not pretty? Be-because I don’t pack a six-pack?” he laughs at his own pun. Yeah, nothing turns on a lady like that. “Please, leave,” I say. “Not until you give me an answer,” he says raising his voice too much. “Please, you’ll get in trouble,” I beg him. “Tomorrow we can talk—” But it’s too late. “Hey, leave her alone,” interrupts him an alpha-male whose sleep has been interrupted. Other nearby alpha-males sense trouble and wake up as well, quickly forming a pack of perfect six-packs.
“Who’s this prick?” says a second guy. “Is he bothering you?” asks yet another. “No, it’s ok, he was just leaving,” I intercede. “I’m not going anywhere!” he yells. One of the alpha-male places his overworked arm on my suitor’s shoulder. “Hey pal—” starts the alpha-male. “Don’t touch me!” screeches the suitor before throwing a punch at the alpha-male. He is quickly immobilized and begins yelling “You are hurting me! Stop!” as he is dragged to the campus authorities.
After I wait for a while in my room, two security guards come. For a moment I’m not sure if they are meant to keep us safe or to keep us here. “Hello, we’re here to ask you a few questions,” says one of them. “Don’t worry, you’re safe now,” he sits down in a table at my room. “Could you please explain what happened?” he asks as he starts his recorder and invites me to join him in the table. “And remember, this is a safe space, he can’t hurt you here.” I look at him, puzzled. “Hurt me? That guy is probably harmless. All that happened was he got hung up on me and I refused to go out with him, that’s all.” The man smiles. “So that’s why we found an altar devoted to you in his room?” he asks.
“Well, I guess…” I start, hesitant. “He started following me around some weeks ago, staring at me during class. He asked me several times to join the class at the bar, but I always refused.” The man scribbles something in a paper and asks me without looking up. “Don’t you think you should’ve reported him?” “What? No,” I say, surprised he’s even suggesting that. “Well,” he says, “next time make sure to do it. But don’t worry, none of this is your fault.”
After a review from a conduct board the next day, my suitor is expelled from college and kicked out of his room. Additionally, he receives a restraining order against me. Later I learn that he had been in trouble before with the college board, questioning their inclusion programme to promote diversity and equality. I ask to see the “altar,” out of curiosity, but after sailing the college’s bureaucratic sea, all I get is “it was destroyed.” The boy sends me an email swearing he built no such altar and apologizing for his behavior. For some reason, I decide not to report him.
Out of all this, the only good thing is that I’m given a two month break from studies due to potential-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-after-near-rape, or PPTSDAN. Also, my friend from school, who is also studying in my law school, finds me a very nice roommate.