It’s mid-December this time, nearly the end of term, and she’s got the basics down at this point. She knows when the buses pull up, when the skaters go out, when the parties runner, the time the stoners finally give up and go inside. It’s fascinating how regular people can be. Then again, who is she to say anything? She walks the same path almost every time she goes out.
It’s getting dull.
At least she can walk tonight. A small wave of warm has brought the temperature up just enough that she can go out without freezing to death. It feels luxurious after the cold and wet of days prior.
She goes out just as an off campus bus goes by, filled with kids high on pregame drinks or dead from the excess they dank at whatever frat party they’d just been too. The safety officers are chatting way as if none of it was of any concern. No wonder she plays guess where the ambulance is stopping every other night out her window.
She considers taking her normal path, even starts on it, but eventual she realizes it’s Friday, so it’s too loud, too busy, too drunk. Cars drive past, drunk laughter and booming bass blasting out the shut windows. The deciding factor was a posse of girls walking by carrying their heels.
She’d always thought that only happened in movies.
A quick crossing of the street clears away the people. Campus is always empty of a Friday night.
Silence, except for her music, ever dark and introspective (why does she never listen to happy upbeat music on walks?), engulfs her as she climbs up a flight of stairs onto a small patio. There are more railings overlooking the campus green, if you could call it a green. She leans over one, pulling her coat closer and tucking her head into one of her arms.
The view would be better without the construction.
She’s started this habit of narrating her adventures to someone in her head, like she would if she ever found someone to walk with her. Her weird, intensely brooding, vaguely artsy side shines through and she cringes to herself a little. She really can’t pull off the mindset, even if she kind of enjoys trying.
She continues on her way.
Farther up the hill is another road. She doesn’t cross it though. There are certain places that are too creepy at night even for her, and if she’s going to get accosted, she’s sure that it would be in the mess of paths and green and far too big trees across that street.
The bus stop is fine though.
She jumps up onto a ledge built into the ground, part of the stairs leading down to the street, and she follows it out to where it meets the wall of the bus stop. She’s just high enough to lean her arms on it and watch.
It’s comfy, if you ignore that fact that the only cleaning it gets is when it rains.
The campus cops roll by. They barely give her a second look, despite the fact that she’s definitely not supposed to do this.
She notices a girl, which is weird. People walk by her on occasion when she’s up there, but none ever stay. Yet this girl is intent on sitting on one of the many random blocks of stone set up on campus for that express purpose.
She’s checking her phone.
Waiting for someone probably.
She watches the girl intently.
She’s probably being so creepy right now.
The music plays on in her head, looping back to the beginning.
That’s the only way she’s keeping track of time.
The girl finally leaves.
No one ever came to meet her.
Another girl passes by, this one is on her way quickly, but not before she sees the telltale signs.
Quick steps, furtive glances, hands playing with her phone and her headphones, to make herself look busy, cutting the corners as she walks.
That girl is scared.
She’s got every right. She’s out, at night, alone.
She’s never been scared, weirdly enough.
Her phone blinks at her.
Alright, maybe now she’s scared, just a bit. Mostly though, she’s worried the music will stop.
The music is keeping her sane.
Or maybe it’s driving her insane.
She doesn’t really care.
She heads back to her dorm, admiring the lighting of the trees all around campus. Whoever set it up had an eye for light and shadow.
Someday she’ll tell someone what she’s thinking, as they walk alongside her, listening to the same music, maybe feeling the same things, getting lost in the weird numbness like she does.
The start of an engine jolts her out of her reverie. The university van pulls out without apologizing.
Her dorm is exactly how she left it.
She’s tired of everything.
She misses home, the people rather than the place.
She wonders if college will ever be home.
She’s not so sure yet.
At least it’s pretty though.