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Words by Ren Martinez
*Editor's Note: Originally published at FabFeminist.
She used to love the dark, but now her hands tremble as she checks the lock on the door for the fourth time. The bolt is in place; she returns to her bedroom. Red numbers blink sleepily on her bed side table, but there’s a wind tracing circles on her window and her eyes remain open. Shadows coalesce in the corners of the room, dancing along the walls and fading away before reappearing once again where they started.
She forces her eyes closed and reminds herself that she is safe. The apartment building has a security officer at the door, a code for the elevator, and the bolt is still locked on her door. There’s a kitchen knife beneath her pillow and six months of krav maga lessons worn into her bones. She hasn’t stepped foot on fraternity row in over a year and refuses any drinks with vodka, because that’s what their breath tasted like. The bruises, shaped like hands, have long since faded; she can no longer press her fingers into them to remind herself how they got there. She knew she could not get justice (the university held an internal review that found her a liar) but she at least hoped for peace.
There’s a sharp creak from outside in the hall. She knows it’s her neighbor, returning from late night study. Nails bite into her palms; her teeth tear into her bottom lip. She doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of her fear.
She goes and checks the lock anyway.