Prompt: A time when you felt fear…

Champaign, Illinois, Spring 2002, bitter cold, screaming wind outside, a turgid hothouse of jewel-toned sweaters inside the bar. It’s another weekend night, I’m there with my gaggle of fellow grad students getting as fucked up as I possibly can. I’m so lonely, I hate this place. Even though I’m getting paid to work on my PhD, I’ve never been so unhappy. Everyone has let me know they assume I’m on scholarship for being Native American. This is the Chief Illini school. Most people here are assholes to me.

We’ve all had enough. I’m dizzy, I need air.

“Guys,” I say, “I’m gonna go wait on the cab outside.”

It’s probably 20 below, but I’m on the deserted street sitting on the bench like it’s a balmy Fourth of July.

I listen to the wind howl.

A black car pulls up in the alleyway.

I’m so wasted I can hardly remember my name. I love this feeling. I want to forget myself.

Four huge men step of the car. The exhaust pipe steams as the engine still runs.

Where the fuck is our cab anyways, I’m thinking with annoyance.

“Hey sweetie, why don’t we go for a ride?”

“What? No. I’m waiting for my cab.”

“All alone, are we?”

“Fuck no. My friends are inside.”

I’m bluffing confidence. My friends are in the martini hothouse, it’s loud, they won’t come out until I go fetch them. I am alone.

“You should get in the car and party with us.”

“No fucking way.”

They are closing in on me.

I hate the Midwest. It’s scarier than I ever felt in East LA, in the barrios of Tucson.

Being a tinge bulimic, I can vomit on command, and I do so. I spew all over them, their expensive shoes in the snow. The contents of a night out steaming like oatmeal on their pant cuffs.

The bastards curse me out, but they leave. I am laughing hysterically.

Now my friends are finally here.

“Where’s the cab?” they ask.


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