Have you ever wondered what super power you'd choose if you were presented with the chance of acquiring that power? Maybe teleporting has peaked your interest; not having the worry of being on time stripped away all because you have the power to teleport. Or maybe you can read people's minds. I guess that power could be quite harsh. What if someone was thinking something -let's put this nicely- harsh about you but on the outside they weren't letting on what was going through their mind. I guess there could be an upside and a downside to every kind of power. One downside of any power could be, oh I don't know, not knowing you even had one! That might be a sucker punch to the stomach but hey, that's just my opinion. Let's just say the way I discovered my 'oh so magical abilities' wasn't too much on the heroic side as one might think.
I attend the University of Chicago. I was born in a city called El Paso, Texas. It is neither a little city nor a huge city as compared to L.A. or Las Vegas. El Paso has a family oriented vibe going on so it was so easy to feel comfortable there considering I'm one hundred percent Hispanic. No I am not the Hispanic that can switch from English to Spanish in the blink of an eye. Actually, I hardly know any Spanish, but that doesn't seem to matter to those that are not of the Hispanic decent. Here in Chicago, I'm known as the "Mexican girl." I take pride in where I come from, don't get me wrong, but when that's all people with different ethnicities can see when they look at me, that's when I start to lose my patience.
"Hi my name is Catalina Rodriguez. I'd like to apply for a job. Can I speak to a manager?" The cashier with the blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin looks me over with a smirk etched onto her face.
"Hola, my nombre es Bridget. How 'bout you look for work elsewhere?" the girl from behind the counter sneered. I couldn't believe she just said that. I had just moved to Chicago a week ago to get situated in my dorm I'll be living in for the next five months or so. My parents advised that after I got settled in, I should start looking for jobs to help pay for school. My first stop was this Italian pizza place about two blocks from campus.
"Excuse me?" I wanted to give her one more chance to take back her idiotic choice of words before my temper got the best of me.
"No comprende? We don't want any foreigners working here." She had a smug look on her face while she crossed her arms thinking she somehow stunned me speechless.
I narrowed my eyes, feeling my control slowly slip through my fingers. "Foreigner? I'm an American just like you. I speak English just. like. you. Besides, this is an Italian restaurant. By your definition of people who should work here, there should be strictly Italian workers. Now are you Italian Bridget?" I watched as her eyes narrowed.
"Bridget do you want to answer me?" I asked as her silence continued on. "I assume you aren't. So who are you to judge someone who doesn't resemble you? Please do us all minorities a favor and keep your racist comments to yourself. It gives 'your people' a bad name." With that I pivoted and walked out the door leaving a stunned and fuming cashier behind me. I wouldn't let anyone, especially that girl, see how much that conversation effected me. I wasn't used to racism. In El Paso, most of the population was Mexican and those who weren't were never treated with racism, from what I experienced, that is. We had all kinds of ethnicities due to the heavy amounts of Army we received. Leaving that comfortable atmosphere was such a huge culture shock.
As I stepped out into the night, the wind started to pick up causing me to tighten my jacket around my torso. One thing I will never get used to: the cold weather. It was always so sunny and warm in Texas. I walked the couple of blocks back to my dorm, deciding I'll just look for a job tomorrow. It was already dark and it started to sprinkle. I looked to my left and saw an alley that seemed to lead to exactly where I needed to go. I took one step toward the alley before stopping. I've seen too many crime television shows where ugly things happen between these weathered walls. But the rain started to pick up so I'd have to take this short cut. My mind kept on screaming at me, "Dangerous!" "Stop!" I decided to take a light jog through the alley to speed up the time I had to spend in there. Thankfully there were some lights that were mounted every few feet.
As I got closer and closer to the end of the alley I felt myself being propelled a few feet until my body collided with the ground. I tried to get up as fast as I could, dread spreading through my body. I scrambled to my feet but was pushed down again by rough hands. I let out a scream as a voice sounded right next to my ear.
"What's a pretty little lady like you doin' in a nasty alley, huh?" His lips brushed against my ear. I tried to wiggle my way out of his grasp, which caused his grip to tighten painfully. I whimpered in pain as he turned me around to face him. He wore ragged clothes, looking as if he were homeless. By the look of the dirt all over his body and torn clothes, I'd say 'homeless' would be exactly right.
"How 'bout we move behind that dumpster and I'll show you a good time?" The man pulled me closer and gave me a clear view of his two missing front teeth and the rest of his yellow-brown chompers. I looked away in disgust, trying to pry his fingers off of the tops of my arms.
"Please let me go." I cried. My begging seemed to make his smile widen. He started to drag me towards the dumpster I had passed earlier and my heart started to race. Fear locked my body in place while my mind was going a mile a minute. I desperately tried to remember what my dad taught me to do in these types of situations. All that was coming to mind was "kick 'em where it hurts!" The next thing I know, my leg shot out and connected with his privates, causing him to let me go. He doubled over in pain. I took that as my opportunity and got to my feet. I turned and ran as fast as I could. I hadn't gotten five steps when I felt a hand wrap around my thigh and yank back. I landed on my stomach, scrapping my hands. He grabbed a hold of my right shoulder and spun me around so I was lying on my back. This time there was no sadistic smile, but anger and hatred. He wound up his arm and brought down his clenched fist. I screamed and closed my eyes in fright. I shot my hands out to block the blow I knew was coming. Two beats later, nothing came. My breath came out ragged waiting for the hit. Still nothing. I braved opening my eyes. What I saw before me, I couldn't believe.
Floating above me was a flailing homeless man looking so scared he could piss his pants. With my arms still extended out in front of me and my palms facing away from me, I stared with wide eyes.
"What the fuck! How- what- get me down from here!" My mouth was ajar. 'How in the world?' was all I could think of. After my initial shock I subconsciously brought my arms back down to my sides and rested my palms against my erratically beating heart. But at the same second the homeless man shot down from the position he was in. I rolled out from under him, the same time he face-planted into the ground. He grunted at the brutal impact before he scrambled to his feet. I got up with the same speed. We started backing away from each other.
"What the fuck are you!" The homeless man barked at me. I flinched at his scream. His yell thawed my shock-filled body and plunged me backwards, toward my dorms. I booked it out of there and ran onto campus. Adrenaline was pumping through my body. Nothing else was on my mind but to get to safety. I just needed to put as much distance as I could between the homeless and myself. I just need to – "Oomph." I ran into someone. I tensed. The homeless man caught up to me. Kick, punch, do anything to get out of this situation. Kick!
"OW! Would you-! Ow, stop kicking me!" I immediately stopped. That wasn't the homeless man's voice. There's no rain. Did it stop? I opened my eyes and got a close up view of a blue striped V-neck. I looked higher and saw the face of a guy not that much older than me. I tensed as I registered another man in front of me. He's going to try the same thing. Must escape. I tried to wiggle out of his grasp and kicked his legs. This made him tumble over, which took me down with him. I screamed as I landed on top of him.
"Please let me go. Don't rape me!" I sobbed. I needed to escape. I needed to find safety. I continued to thrash. He let me go abruptly. I quickly got to my feet, as did my attacker before he grabbed my shoulders.
"Miss. Miss! Stop! I'm not trying to hurt you. I want to help you." He grunted trying to keep me from lashing out. I stopped what I was doing and slowly looked back at him. His eyes showed concern but his body was tense. I breathed heavily and turned my body so that it was facing him. He held onto me for a few more seconds, probably making sure I wouldn't run away. Once he trusted I wouldn't bolt the second he let go, he dropped his hands and took a step back.
"Are you okay-Of course you're not okay, what am I asking?" He looked flustered. He took a deep breath while he ran his fingers through his hair. "What just happened to you? Why'd you run in here like that?" That reminded me to look around at where I ended up. I silently observed the room I was in. I made it to the housing center where I got my information on the location of my dorm the first day I arrived. I felt the tension release from my body and I slumped down on to the nearest chair. The guy I ran into sat down on the chair in front of me.
"I was looking for a job earlier when it started to rain. So I decided that it would be faster to go through the alley since I could see the campus from there. I know, it was stupid but I hate being cold so I wanted to get back to my dorm as quickly as possible. I was almost out of the alley when a homeless guy attacked me. He- he wanted to rape me." I finally looked up from my hands I had been staring at. The guy in front of me had his eyes wide. I looked back down at my hands and wringed them together. "I managed to escape. I- I don't know how but I did, and ran all the way until I reached campus and apparently to the housing center." I finished my frantic rambling and waited for his response. From the corner of my eye I saw him reach out towards my hand, which made me flinch. He retracted his hand quickly.
He cleared his throat before speaking. "Well I'm going to call the police and tell them what you just told me." He asked for the exact location and headed toward the phone. I watched as he headed to the front desk and asked to use the phone.
How did I escape? I must have been hallucinating. He couldn't have really been up in the air. Could he? No. But he was. Could it have been the fear making me think this? My mind was going into overdrive. Thankfully the guy with the striped V-neck made his way back to where I was sitting. He told me the police were coming to get a description of the homeless guy and take some pictures of my injuries. I nodded mechanically as he sat next to me this time and grabbed hold of my hand. I managed to only flinch slightly.
After the police left, Striped V-neck escorted me back to my dorm.
"It's okay. You've done so much for me already. I can get there myself." I felt so embarrassed. V-neck placed his hand on my right shoulder calming me slightly. He turned me to look at him.
"You've gone through way much more than I've done for you. So would you let me take you to your dorm? Let's look at it as a safety precaution." He squeezed my shoulder to lighten up the mood. He gave me a half smile and raised his eyebrows. "What do you say?" I gave him a small smile and nodded. "Alright, let's go." He dropped his hand and continued on our previous path. I shook my head with a soft smile on my lips before I followed him.
"So what's your major?" V-neck asked to fill the void.
I looked up quickly before looking back down at my feet. "Digital Media Production. You?"
"Biology." I could hear the surprise in his tone. I usually got that type of reaction whenever I told someone what I'd like to study. I don't know if it's because there aren't a lot of women in that field of study or just because it was a cool-ass major. I suddenly stopped in front of my door and gave a little cough to signify we've reached our destinations.
"Oh, we're here?" V-neck had to back peddle a few steps. I nodded and gave him a grateful smile.
"Thank you so much for what you did over there. I really appreciate it." I stepped towards him and gave him a quick hug. I felt him tense before he relaxed and wrapped his arms around me in a tight squeeze. I stepped back and fished my keys out of my jean pocket.
"Oh, uh-my name's Josiah." He looked at me expectantly and held out his hand. I quickly took it and gave it a shake.
"Catalina. But you can call me Cat. It's usually easier for non-Spanish speakers that way." We both chuckled and released each other's hand.
Josiah rubbed his hand along the back of his neck and swayed backwards and forwards on the balls of his feet. "Well I hope to see you around Cat. I live in the building next to yours so we might run into each other sooner or later."
"Yeah probably." I made a move to the door and saw Josiah back away before turning to walk down the hall.
"See you!" Josiah called out.
I stepped inside the threshold of my dorm. "Bye!" I yelled back. I moved further into my room and shut the door. I dragged my feet towards my side of the room and plopped down onto my bed. I grunted as my back connected with the not-so-soft mattress and threw my arm over my eyes. What. Just. Happened. I went through every event that took place starting from this morning.
After I got up and showered, I got a text from my roommate Gabbie, telling me she was supposed to arrive the next day. When we had been notified who our roommates were going to be, the school gave both of us each other's numbers. I was so nervous to meet someone new, that when I got her number I was relieved I'd get to know a little bit about her before I started to live in a close proximity to her.
Then I got a call from my mom wondering how things were going, if I got a job yet. So that led me to the search of a job that I'd slave over for the next five months. All these events lead me to the alley. My mind just couldn't comprehend what actually happened there. I've seen a lot of movies that would serve as a great explanation but I quickly tossed those thoughts aside. I've also seen a lot of T.V. shows where the person is schizophrenic and makes a fool of himself talking about his episodes. Oh no, I'm not going to make myself look stupid! I'm just going to forget about this night and focus on college. I took a deep breath and release it. I removed my arm from my eyes and located my bathroom essentials. I brought my legs up towards the ceiling while I was still lying on my bed and brought my legs back down, propelling me off my bed and into a standing position. I made my way over to my purple plastic bucket, which contained my loofa, shampoo and conditioner, soap, and my shower shoes. I pulled my clothes I had on off and piled them onto my bed. I grabbed my fluffy white towel and wrapped it around my body while I slipped my shower shoes on. The community bathroom –girls only- was just down the hall and to the left.
After I finished my shower, I headed back to my room and changed into my pajamas. I got in between my covers and closed my eyes. Flashes of the homeless guy kept flickering behind my eyes like a movie that kept jumping to different scenes. The last image I saw was a floating man a few feet from my extended hands. I squeezed my eyes tighter and willed that image to go away. I was imagining that damn moment. I watch too many movies. I was so annoyed with myself for making up such an absurd thing. I relaxed my face and willed myself to sleep. Tomorrow I'd meet Gabbie and I'll forget about tonight. I snuggled deeper into my pillow before I lost conscious.