Monday, March 3, 2014

Campus After Dark

In college I lived off campus, directly across from the practice football field on campus, so my walk to and from school would be partly through sidewalks and then I'd usually cut through the field. At night the sidewalks were lit but the field was dark.

The library at my university closed at midnight and I had been cramming for a statistics class. I remember that clearly because it was such a hard class, I was late at the library studying a lot for it. The building is clearing out and a big group of us are leaving.

A man, taller than me, wearing a really big coat - heavier than necessary for the weather - sidles up to me to chat. I should point out this guy wasn't in the group leaving the library, he had been hanging out across from the doors I came out of. Being friendly I smiled at him, I'm pretty sure he gave me a friendly look when we made eye contact. He was my age and not unattractive.

He asked what brought me there, was I studying for a test, did I like my classes. It was basic flirting as we walked but he was practically whispering. I was immediately creeped out and answered him with just one syllable answers. He walked alongside my left, a couple feet away from me, then suddenly he was inches from my side, opening his coat as if to engulf me. I never should have let him walk this far, I realized, because the path was on the edge of darkness. If I could run ahead I'd be at my apartment, but then he'd know where I lived...and what if I couldn't run fast enough through the dark practice field?

The sidewalk split and I moved to the right, away from his coat. He's asking me if I was going to take him home with me. I look down and he's wearing basketball shorts and at a glance he's either got an erection or a weapon of some kind. I remember thinking it was impolite to acknowledge it. Some terrible sense of impropriety at saying, "oh my, stranger, is that a baton to bludgeon and rape me with, or just the boner you intend to to the job?" Thankfully there's a light in the building to the right and I veer towards the double doors. A janitor is waxing the floor and I scramble inside and slam the door. I tell the worker there's a guy following me, don't let him know which way I go. He started to tell me to wait and he'll get campus police... Then I ran. I ran full speed through that building, out a side door, cut across a parking lot and ran the long way around campus, lit by streetlights the entire way, home.

My lungs and legs burned and I never looked back. Never studied late again and always rode my bike if I was on campus after dark.

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