Shit. I accidentally glanced at the clock.
Now the last five minutes was gonna feel like an eternity. While it was a college class, and we were free to come and go as we wished, I always felt bad ditching so I stayed always until the end.
Dr. Wexler had a tendency to run bell to bell, with non-stop lectures that were meant to ‘incorporate the class in a friendly discussion.’ It essentially ends up in her singling out one victim for the day and bombarding the poor kid with question after question. Elias usually offered himself as sacrifice, god bless his soul.
Maybe if I did the readings this class would be easier but time is precious and I ain’t got any to spend wasting it on books that already have a free sparknoted version online. Even Mark Twain said, “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” Case in point.
Class ended with the cacophonous chorus of chair-scraping-against-floor echoing throughout the room as we all simultaneously got up and left. I pushed my way through the flood of students as they swarmed to the door.
“Hey Zach, let’s go grab some food at Damen.” Jamie, a class acquaintance, said. Damen was the closest dining hall to my room so I was tempted to go along.
We exited the room together and made our way out into the hallway, which was very spacious for a college hallway. Cushioned benches lined the wall for students who came too early to class or wanted a place to do homework in between schedules.
“Sorry, Sarah would kill me if I don’t get home right now.”
“Aww. Alright man. Take it easy!” He called out as he made his way to the elevator. He sounded a little deflated but I brushed it off. I pushed the door open to the stairway and made my way down.
The cool breeze washed over me as I opened the emergency exit door. For some reason, the alarm wasn’t hooked up anymore but no one else knew that, so it was like my private little exit, away from the masses.
Our campus was beautiful, here at Marlsgate, which was right on the shore of the Atlantic. A gorgeous view of the lake, a large city next to us, and a preserve a little farther down south was everything I could ask for. Plus my room was covered for by the school thanks to excellent ACT scores in high school. And to top everything off, the sky was a pleasant, sublime blue, only a few clouds far off in the horizon.
Students lounged around in the grass, a guitarist adding a little atmosphere in background sitting under an oak tree. God, I love it here. Every day is just a picturesque moment, something that seems as if it should be in a T.V. show and not real life.
Right on time, as usual, my phone rang.
“Hi Zach. How was class?”
“Class was good. Boring. I’m coming to the dorm right now.”
“Okay. I’m waiting at the usual spot.”
“See ya in a few.”
She clicked the phone off and I put mine back in my pocket. I couldn’t be the first one to hang up. Definitely not.
Thankfully I didn’t see anyone I knew along the way, because I would have to stop and chit chat and Sarah can’t be kept waiting.
She was leaning against the wall next to the sliding glass doors, right outside my dorm. She smiled and waved. I pulled her into a one arm hug and whispered into her hair, smile dancing on my lips.
We walked into the dorm and I signed her in at the front desk. I handed her my phone while we walked. I didn’t want to fight today. Not after our last one.
She searched through it on the elevator ride up, staring intently at it, as if I had hidden something inside it. The elevator stopped and we entered my room.
It was a small single room, more like a prison cell than a dorm but it was home. A bed off to one side, desk for work, and a little dresser filled haphazardly with clothes. I had magazines piled up everywhere, stacked meticulously by my best friend from a long time ago.
We had drifted apart during high school, coincidentally around the same time I started dating Sarah. Anyway, he came to me a few years later and needed a place to store his magazines and comic books as his new dorm mate wouldn’t have any of it in the room. I didn’t mind holding onto to them, although Sarah did find it weird since she knew that we would never really be friends with each other. She claimed he was using me.
“Jeez. I’m tired today.” I said, letting my backpack drop to the floor, a resounding boom followed.
“You haven’t done anything at all, you lazy ass.” She teased, giving me a little shove.
“Well, I feel like I have.” I retorted. “Maybe my sleep schedule is getting messed up. I get a little too caught up in grinding MMR that I forget what time it is.”
“Ugh. Not DOTA again.”
I smiled and laughed. She hated my little gaming addiction. I was always pressuring her to play some games with me, but she never wanted to. So instead I resorted to pretending that she did play with me and talk endlessly about DOTA with her. She wasn’t too happy about that either.
She changed the subject abruptly.
“Ashley has been so irritating lately. I mean, all she does anymore is whine about how much work she has to do. It’s not even like she has that much to do. She only has a job and school.” Sarah said.
I flopped down onto the bed.
“Are you sure that’s all she has going on? I mean, maybe she has something going on in her family life or something?”
She seated herself at my desk.
“No. I know she doesn’t have anything else going on. She’s just being a fucking child, acting as if she is the only one who has to do things. How about she comes and lives my life for a day? Then, she’d realize she’s not the only one who has it tough.”
And that was when I made my first big mistake of the week.
“Oh come on. You don’t have it that tough.”
Her face… It sorta just twisted. I can’t think of an accurate way to describe it other than that. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone this mad. Not even when I told my dad to fuck off or when Robert McLowey got punched in face in third grade.
“I can’t believe you just said that.”
And that was when I made my second big mistake of the week.
“Really though. I don’t think you have it that bad. Your life is pretty normal, overall. A few bumps here and there, but I guess that’s the same as me.”
“Excuse me?” Her expression changed suddenly, losing all semblance of what was anger, going from a hundred to zero in an instant. “You and I are not the same. You’re a fucking lazy slob and you know it. I mean, look at this shit.” She snatched some of the clothes off my dresser. “You just leave your shit lying everywhere.” Her arm snapped, tossing the clothes at me. It didn’t hurt. It was clothes after all. But I knew that she intended for them to hurt.
She stood up.
“You haven’t been through a quarter of the shit I’ve been through. I used to wake up every fucking day terrified. You know what that even feels like? Huh? No, you don’t, because your life is fucking easy!”
I stood up next to her and tried to hug her.
“Hey, I’m sorry. I’m-”
“Don’t fucking touch me!” That’s when she slapped me. Hard. It wasn’t the first time I’ve ever been hit. Not by her.
“Stop it, Sarah.” I tried to sound commanding.
She grabbed my laptop from off the bed and smashed it against the wooden desk. She kept going, breaking it along the hard wood, keys and bits of glass flying around.
She stopped, holding the laptop menacingly. I knew that if I tried to do anything, she wouldn’t hesitate to use it.
“Don’t fucking touch me again! You asshole! You worthless piece of shit!” She flew into one of her tirades again. There was no way to calm her down now, that much I knew from experience. She had fallen off the edge. Asking her to leave would only result in more destruction of my property. So I left instead.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” If someone had walked in on us, at that moment, it would seem as if I were the one to slap her, her expression so incredulous.
I didn’t respond. There was no point. It seemed that she came looking for a fight, maybe because of our last one, maybe not. Honestly, anything could have ticked her off today.
She chased me down the stairs, trying to grab and stop me. I kept shrugging her off. I made it out the door, through the lobby and outside, her screaming obscenities all the while.
“You’re a fucking prick you know that! Get back here and talk to me!” And now she was playing it up for the audience, making me seem like the villain.
I kept going, briskly walking with nowhere in mind. Just away. Away. She stopped following me once we got into the parking lot. I didn’t look back to check on her. I just wanted to get away. I could feel the blood in my ears. My emotions swirled around, one completely indistinguishable from the other. I didn’t know what I was feeling except that I didn’t like that feeling.
I ended up in an alleyway. Where it was exactly, I don’t know.
Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why can’t I just think before I speak? Why am I not normal?
Maybe I deserved it this time. Sarah doesn’t hate me. I just forget to think about others. Just a selfish little prick. It didn’t even cross my mind to think of how I would affect her with what I was saying. But maybe that’s how I’ll always be. Selfish, entitled, egocentric. I can’t change, not without her. She’s the only one to tell me the truth and the only one who has stayed. The only one.
I flopped down onto the grimy concrete, ignoring the cold.
I ran my hand through my hair, combing the mess back. A little drizzle had started and I hadn’t noticed. My hair was slightly damp. I didn’t like it damp.
And then like a dam bursting, a deep anger took over me. I stood back up and felt the wisps dance around my body, like trails of smoke. The tendrils of darkness wrapping around me. And so I punched the wall. As hard as I could. And I kept going and going.
It was the sort of cathartic release I needed, and by the end, my hand was bleeding and hurt. The lingering darkness dissipated. The pressure from my power was also gone, and I was left staring at the blood on the wall.
If only I could flip my brain on like I can with my power… Maybe then Sarah wouldn’t always be so mad at me.
I hate fighting. Especially with her. She wants what’s best for me, I know that. No one else does, not even my parents.
I don’t know why Sarah still checks my phone everyday. I don’t spend time with anyone else but her anymore. It’s always a hassle having to come home to a barrage of questions: where were you? Who were you with? Why didn’t you call me?
My parents sometimes call, but I don’t usually respond. It may seem like I’m some mindless animal, following Sarah’s every whim, but I do trust and love her, and when she said my parents aren’t being supportive enough of me, I took it to heart. I can see what she was saying. I want to work for UMA, the largest superhero organization in the world, which stands for United Metahuman Agency. My mom especially thought it was a bad idea and that I should try to find a ‘more realistic job.’ I can see how they think it’s childish, the same way that every kid wants to become a pokemon trainer, and every powerless kid wants to do superhero work. Except I have powers now, something I couldn’t say two months ago.
I haven’t told them yet, that I have powers, because with powers, usually comes trauma. Well, technically the other way around. Trauma spawns powers. Like bad trauma. Most get theirs from years of severe bullying or rape or war. Extreme trauma-inducing events. A snap happens. Something breaks the camel’s back, and suddenly you have powers. So you can understand my apprehension of telling my parents that I have powers. But even without telling them, they should support my dreams, shouldn’t they?
And not to mention the fact that they don’t approve of our relationship. I can understand their worries, the way Sarah freaks out and acts too controlling, but I try to tell them it’s just the way her love manifests itself. We are all different after all.
Day turned to dusk and dusk turned to night. Wondering around cold and wet left me shivering and I hoped that now would be a good time to return back. I knew she would be waiting for me.
It took almost twenty minutes of walking and a bus to get back. I didn’t know that I walked that far.
She was there, waiting for me.
“Hey.” She said, sitting on my bed, one leg crossed underneath her.
“Hey.” I closed the door.
I didn’t know what else to do so I sat down beside her.
She spoke. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I care about you and what you think. And sometimes you don’t think before you speak and I’m sorry.”
“I know.” I hugged her close, feeling the way her hair fell through my shirt and caressed my chest. She smelled nice. Like my almond shampoo. I guess she showered here.
“Don’t say that again.”
“Ok.” I mumbled into her hair. I think she was talking about our fight earlier, about how I told her that her life is easy.
She switched the subject.
“Any news from UMU?” She was talking about the university, run by UMA. It was a place for superhero’s to be trained. I planned on transferring there now that I acquired powers.
I knew she what she was doing. Changing the subject to something I loved, something I could talk on and on about forever, to make me feel better. I could see through her subtle manipulations but I let her get away with it.
“Nope. Nothing yet.” I paused and looked at the ceiling. “I know they are usually apprehensive with meta’s who only just got their powers so I expect them to review the case a little more.”
“I hope you get in.”
I hope so to. After all, you were the one who caused me to get my powers.