7-19-12 The prompt: Pick a name at random from the phone book –
Work was a bitch. Again. Didn’t Jeff realize that she was doing the best she could? Her output with her accounts was twice that of her coworkers, and still he criticized her every half hour for not doing enough or trying harder. The walk home was always in the dark because Maria inevitably came in early and stayed late.
It was a sultry night tonight, and the walk was relaxing. Walking away from the center of town, she noticed as the trees got taller and the lights got dimmer. Life sans office wasn’t so bad. Maria had developed this little quirk in her expressions and thoughts. With a name like Sanscartier, she couldn’t resist adding sans to her life. Maria Sanscartier, Maria sans boyfriend, Maria sans pussy cat. Wouldn’t it be nice to be Maria sans Jeff.
She was strolling. There was nothing at the apartment to draw her home faster. A microwave dinner, bed and a book. It was much nicer to be nature watching outside on a clear fall evening. Maria sans cares. There were a few others out and about. A couple passed, holding hands and speaking love to each other. The occasional car passed, lights on, drawing the driver home. A tall thin kid ahead paused, looked up at a street sign, and turned the corner. Maria was suddenly alone in the universe, sans people, and stood still to look straight up at the vastness of the stars. There were more of them here than there were over the office. She imagined her boss looking up and seeing a pitch black sky, not a sign of stars, no possibility of life. Take that, sucker.
Maria traveled on, approaching her block. She looked up at the street sign the kid had examined, and without a sound a hand was clapped over her mouth. She felt herself falling back. A scream formed in her mind, in her throat, and made it as far as the hand. As she was being dragged around the corner, she realized her mistake. The kid! He wasn’t looking for the street name! He was waiting for her!
Thoughts of rape came unbidden. Maria sans life. The thought turned her into a wildcat. Not tonight you don’t! Her flailing hands felt hair, and she grabbed. With every bit of will and strength, Maria pulled forward and down. The hair, and the head under it, flew forward over her shoulder. She crouched, and the body attached to the head followed. The kid landed hard and flat on the sidewalk in front of her. Her mouth freed, the scream flew from her lips and alerted the neighborhood. She turned to run to the safety of the apartment half a block away. She hesitated, and turned back. With all that remained deep in her core, her life energizing her, she took a deliberate step forward, and kicked the kid in the side of his face as hard as she could. Her golf pro would be proud of her follow-through.
Maria, sans fear.