With a high school diploma, driver’s license, and keys to dad’s car, what could be better? The fall foliage was vibrant, the sky an amazing rich indigo, and people kinder than ever.
The moment arrived for my long anticipated rite-of-passage. With damp hands, shallow breathing, and hair sticking to the nap of my neck, I lined-up for college registration. Society pounded us with the need for a college degree, a ticket to success. But first, registration…
After a grueling first week, the leaves began falling and the sky turned grey. Folks weren’t as kind.
College was tougher than I’d anticipated. Each course amazed me with how little I knew. What was I thinking? It was easy to excel in a graduating class of 130. Many of these freshmen came from classes of over 500. I was the first in my family with a diploma. My parents begged me; go to trade school, work at the bank, or be an accountant. The tuition was non-refundable, the books costly. Assignments, references to authors, people, places, vocabulary I’d never heard; how was I going to do this? My headaches magnified.
During registration, I met Lynn. Within minutes, it felt like we’d known each other forever. Lynn also came from a small school. We actually had mutual friends! That first week she showed me the ropes. She’d worked on campus during the summer and knew people. It helped occasionally seeing a familiar face in the crowd.
The second week was overwhelmingly stressful. The leaves were scarce, the sky dark. The kind people all disappeared. Where was Lynn? Alone, I couldn’t act as if I belonged. My eyes gravitated downward.
Pushing through the crowd, the Student Union was ahead. Desperately my search for Lynn continued. There was laughter, chatter, boisterous folly, couples necking, but no Lynn. Waves of loneliness washed over me. It was as if I was sinking into an abyss without anyone to save me. Hammers pounded in my head.
Suddenly an arrogant dark-skinned freshman approached me. He was extremely tall and muscular. “You got stood-up?”
“No, I’m early and waiting for several friends,” I answered, trying not to sound afraid.
“Forget them. My car’s outside. Let’s get lunch,” he mumbled.
Shaken, I smiled, “The food’s not bad here, have you tried it?”
He stopped smiling, “Then we wouldn’t be alone.”
“I like your style, but I really need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be back.” Nervously turning, I headed for the bathroom. Feeling his eyes undressing me, I pretended to recognize people. I needed to do something to keep from passing out with terror.
Inside the bathroom, my bottled tears were ready to roll. Caught in the mirror’s reflection, I actually saw his silhouette entering the bathroom. My heart stopped. Slowly my eyes scanned each stall. All the doors were open; the sinks unused. There were only two people in that campus bathroom, the stranger and me.
Slowly, I forced myself to sound upbeat, “I get it; you’re a fraternity pledge, right?”
He shook his head no, stepping closer.
“Hey I’m flattered, but why do ya want to get expelled? You know any second now, tons of girls are coming in and they won’t be happy you’re here. Why don’t ya wait outside till I'm done? Okay?”
He stood there for what seemed an eternity, finally, he turned and walked out. As the door closed, my body lost control. Floodwaters erupted from my eyes for at least twenty minutes, my legs went limp, my body shook. Eventually, I had to exit. Pulling myself together, I joined a group of girls.
Standing outside the bathroom door, was the stalker. My throat tightened. In the distance, I thought I saw one of Lynn’s friends. “Ronnie!” I shouted and waved. “Honey, I was in the bathroom.”
Puzzled, Ronnie began walking toward me. The stalker stopped to watch. As Ronnie approached, my arms pulled him close and I whispered, “Play along.” He recognized the scent of fear, wrapped his arms around me, and kissed my cheek.
Turning to the stalker, I smiled, “Hon, this is a new friend I met today, I forgot his name.”
Mumbling, he walked away.
Ronnie held me for an hour; walked me to my car, and watched me leave.
The trees were bare. Through the night skies' darkness, the lights shone. I gave thanks to the Father,* whose kindness rescued me. With God, I had nothing to fear.**
*12) Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, Colossians 1:12-13 (NIV)
**5) I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. 6) I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. 7) Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. Psalm 3:5-7 (NIV)
Wow - this really hit home with me. My oldest daughter just started at college last week and situations like this are very real everywhere. Great suspense and your story kept my attention throughout, moving right along. Good job!