SIX MONTHS EARLIER…

The wipers sway intermittently across the windshield, and their blades do a sloppy job of clearing the precipitation from my view. Their constant rubbing against the glass emits ear-wrenching squeaks that I wish I could ignore, but cannot.

These ancient wipers need to go.

At least that’s what I’ve been saying for…how long has it been now? Five months? Yeah, about that long.

Every time I get around to changing these useless things, something else more urgent suddenly comes up, and whatever money I’d been saving toward replacing them goes to that ‘more urgent’ thing. That happened again yesterday.

Sixty bucks under for a music composition book I absolutely need and can’t seem to find in any of the libraries. Another month of squeaking it is.

Maybe I’ll get used to it.

Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only unwelcome conversationalists. A tired yawn escapes me as I begrudgingly listen to the boisterous voice invading my car speakers, dramatically blathering on and on about magical, life-altering…flannel jackets? Truly riveting stuff. The syrupy enthusiasm and over-the-top claims remind me of those cheesy late night infomercials, making me contemplate swerving my Polo into a pole just to end this auditory torture.

The guy’s desperately trying to make them sound like Rumpelstiltskin himself hop-scotched on each and every square and then catapulted them into retail stores straight from a unicorn’s asshole.

I doubt the company’s marketing team intended for their ad to sound this ridiculous. But who the hell knows. Maybe if my pockets didn’t have perpetual holes in them, I’d be literally talked into getting one and prove just how much like everyone else I actually am—not above the bullshit.

I’m extremely tempted to change the station, but I don’t. As much as I’d rather listen to something that doesn’t make my eardrums want to literally split, the obnoxious banter is effectively chasing away any sleepiness I still feel. And this early in the morning, that’s something I desperately need.

I stifle another yawn, my eyes slightly misting behind my glasses as lingering sleepiness slowly evades them. As I traverse the empty campus roads, I crank up the heat to the max. Too bad the vents only spew out lukewarm air at best. The defrost helps a bit with the snow building up on the glass, but now I can’t see a thing. I lean forward and squint, barely making out the red light I speed through. Sorry, not today, campus police. I have vocal torture to get to. Pretty soon, I’m pulling into the only free parking lot on campus. Free being the operative word here. The lot looks straight out of a post-apocalyptic horror movie, crowded with cars yet devoid of any sign of human life.

Doesn’t help that it’s not that big, and most students without a parking permit, like myself, scramble relentlessly for a parking space here every day.

I circle around, searching for a spot, hoping desperately to avoid any unnecessary human interaction. Especially when said humans are most likely just as displeased to be conscious right now. Miraculously I find an opening, awkwardly wedged between two other cars.

“Come on, Love Handle,” I grunt, cranking the stick shift into reverse. The gears grind loudly in protest. My ’98 Volkswagen Polo is a clunker. No dispute there. My coin purse of a bank account couldn’t afford much better. But even a rust bucket needs a handle. And it’s come through enough times to be handled with love. It certainly could use it. Ergo, the fitting nickname. After far too many attempts, I manage to squeeze in without triggering any doomsday events, likely confirming the driver’s ed teacher’s doubts about passing me.

The rumble of the engine dies down as I turn off the ignition, and the absence of any radio feed leaves me encompassed in complete silence.

I take a moment to look out through my blurry windshield, and I have just one word to describe my surroundings.

Depressing.

Actually, make that three words.

Depressing as fuck.

Like some metal wasteland.

Maybe I did set off World War Z.

I grab my satchel and reluctantly step out, the bitter winter wind piercing through my padded coat instantly. Sensory shock forces my body into standing still for a second, even though the impulse does absolutely nothing to help it adjust to my new frigid environment.

It’s that time of year again. Winter has returned full force, rearing its ugly, vengeful head. At 6:30 in the morning, the sky looks no different than it did at midnight.

Pitch fucking black.

I walk briskly through campus, feeling the crunch of ice and snow beneath my boots as I take every shortcut I know of to west campus-home of the Liberal Arts School.

***

Series Navigation<< Doctor-Patient Confidentiality: PrologueDoctor-Patient Confidentiality: Ch. 2 (Intense romance) >>
THIS MAKES ME FEEL...
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

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