Adela Westwood stomped angrily into the Balsom State Historical Cemetery, talking to herself, and glared at the blue jays cheerfully chattering in the massive conifer trees. "What's the point of going to an early Thursday morning discussion group if everyone is hungover, snoring or wouldn't participate anyways? I'm going to talk in a normal volume in discussion group and I don't care if you drank enough to kill a horse last night. What a waste of time. And Professor Merrel's breath always smells like stale coffee and death." She kicked a fir cone as hard as she could and ran her hands through her messy dark hair. She couldn't even find a rubber band this morning.
The events of the last few months ran through her mind in an unstoppable loop. The sudden death of her grandparents had knocked her world off its axis and just when she had caught her breath, everything wobbled sideways again. She ruminated, each nasty, neurotic thought leading to another.
Her fiance, Jeremy, had decided that he'd much rather screw a random stream of babbling idiots than be with her. They had to be idiots to sleep with him. Theycouldn't be any smarter than she was. She glowered and sulked.
The only reason she'd applied to Balsom in the first place was because of Jeremy and his insistence that they'd be blissfully happy together there. He had been recruited for the Balsom track team. When she was awarded a scholarship, nothing was stopping them from a gloriously idealized cotton candy fluff future. "We'll be together forever baby. We'll get married just as soon as I graduate. You're the only one for me." He looked deep into her eyes and smiled, over and over again.
She had walked in on his latest conquest that last night and confronted him. Bile-black, venomous words dripped from his lips. "You're so boring, Adela. And fat. I can do a lot better, I just didn't know it back at home. You're such a clingy downer and you're horrible in bed. The only reason I didn't dump you earlier is because I was sure you'd kill yourself." She didn't regret throwing that lamp at him. She still felt stupid and blind for believing in him. She was so far away from all her remaining family and friends. She rubbed her temples and kicked another pine cone.
One of these days, she'd get back at him and stop calling herself stupid and useless, she told herself. As the months went by she'd almost started believing that. It was so easy to sink back into the inky-black sludge of self-pity and doubt.
She headed towards her refuge, the grandiose tomb of Miss Mildred Bannock, one of the last great industrial heiresses. The massive marble mausoleum was built into the very mountain that loomed over the Balsom campus. A mass of Greek columns framed Gothic arches and a set of florid bronze doors engraved with nymphs and satyrs guarded Miss Bannock's remains. It was horribly tacky and overblown, the result of too much new money trying to establish a link to the old country. Adela was charmed by its extravagance and sentimentality.
Her favorite feature was the massive winged gargoyle perched over a puddle of mossy, putrid water that was once intended to be a reflecting pool. The figure was part snarling lion sitting sphinx-like and part scaly dragon with a curling pointed tail and relaxed wings at its sides. It was finely carved in light silver grey marble, screaming with impotent rage. The creases and folds of fur and scales were deftly chiseled and the claws were polished to a soft gleam under the grime of years.
Adela tossed down her patchwork backpack at the base of the gargoyle, kissed the stone figure on its rear haunch leaving a red lipstick print and climbed up on its broad marble back just as she had done every non-rainy day for the last year. "Hello Gruesome baby, did you miss me? I know you're not stepping out on me. I should date more statues. You're awfully stable." She lay on her stomach on the twice-life size lion's back, kicking off her scuffed thrift-store Mary-Janes.
"What am I doing, Gruesome? I can't be just another starving artist covered in charcoal and paint. What am I even doing here now? Did I even deserve that scholarship? Am I just wasting my time? Should I just be an accountant instead of whatever I'm going to do with this art thing?" She twirled a lock of hair around her finger. "I'd probably end up losing some one's money with the way I do math. 'Oops! Sorry Mister, I don't know what happened to your money. Maybe I didn't carry the tens column...' God, that would be be a total disaster."
Adela chewed on her ragged charcoal-stained cuticles and bitten-to-the-quick fingernails, worrying a hangnail back and forth until it bled. It was a terrible habit, especially when she was deep in thought. Adela flicked a bead of blood off her finger and it landed on the shoulder of the gargoyle, a dark red splotch on the weathered stone. She felt compelled to squeeze a bit more out of the stinging wound and doodled her initials lazily. "There's got to be more to life than this... maybe I should travel, apply for one of those study abroad options. I'm never going back there, it's not home without Gran and Papa. There's nothing to do there now, except be the girl who got dumped by her golden-boy prick of a fiance. I don't know Gruesome, I'm glad you listen to me. Not that you have any choice in the matter, I suppose. "
She rolled over, looked at the vapor trails crisscrossing the clear blue sky and sighed, "I guess I just wish I had a destiny, a sense of purpose. Or just some excitement! Whine, whine, moan, bitch and bellyache. I suppose there's always the next chapter. Shut up Adela and just do your work. I know, I know." She put in her ear buds and listened to music more dreary than her mood, not noticing that her bloody mark was glowing faintly orange and warming gently to the touch.