I’m walking home from work. There’s a lot on my mind: my job, midterms, term papers. I just want to get home.
I barely even notice it at first. I’m in the middle of a college campus at night; you hear jeers like that so much it becomes normal. I wonder whether I have anything left at home to make for dinner.
“Hey, lady, why don’t you smile?”
This time I glance around. The voice is from a tall guy sitting on the student union steps, surrounded by his buddies. Of course to me almost all guys are tall: I’m barely over five feet.
“You, yeah, lady in the blue! Smile!”
My lips twitch, but nervously. I’m wearing blue. I avoid eye contact and walk faster.
“LA-DY. Walking in front of the LSU Student Union! Come on, can’t you smile?”
By then they’re already behind me, so they couldn’t see even if I did smile. My eyes are locked to the ground in front of me, my heart racing. Between here and my apartment there are two badly-lit stretches and one parking lot that’s always empty. What if these guys decide to follow me?
“Fine, I bet you just want to be sad!”
The voice keeps shouting at me until I reach the street. For all I know he’s still going on and I just can’t hear it. Or maybe they decided to get up and follow. I can’t bring myself to look back. If I look back they’ll know they got my attention. That’s the last thing I want.
The empty stretches back to my apartment seem twice as long as usual. Even after I check to make sure there’s no one following me, it feels like I’m being watched. It takes all the control I have not to slam the apartment door behind me and wake up my roommates.
Yeah, I really feel like smiling. Asshole.
Location: LSU, Baton Rouge, LA