A Necessary Struggle— Episode Twenty-Two

Dream A Little Dream

 

Unlike Safiya, September had not been kind to Alyssa. Alyssa quit the job she begged for as a bright-eyed freshman. Every time she went to work her feet turned to cement as she tried to cross the threshold into the lab, the lab where she was raped. The all-white floor, walls, and cabinets, which used to ease her with a wave of calm now, quaked her with a tidal of nauseating fear. Unemployed with a minimum of job applications sent out, her bank account was losing more money than a boat taking on water. She had two hundred and twenty-five dollars to her name after paying her share of the rent and bills for the month.

Time ticked slowly as Alyssa sat on the third row in Microbiology. Professor Eisenhower’s monotonous voice transformed to white noise as the balding man lectured about Koch’s Postulates. With her elbow on the table and her chin resting in her hand, her eyes teetered close. Alyssa’s brain couldn’t take it anymore. The hit of caffeine she ingested that morning was quickly wearing off as 1:45 rolled around. Her breathing slowed and her mind drifted. The blue walls in the room she was in melted giving way to white walls. The fabricated oak desk she rested her elbow on morphed to a white tile countertop. She no longer held the teeth-mark riddled pencil but instead gripped a cotton swab.

“Let’s see…do you have herpes.” Alyssa said dabbing the cotton swab on the glass slide. She snapped the clear plastic cap back on the cotton swab and sat it on the countertop.

“Who has herpes?” Quinn asked as he spun on the black stool like a tornado.

Alyssa shrugged placing the slide on the microscope’s stage, “I don’t know.” She placed the stage clips on the slide holding it in place. “Someone. It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Maybe it should.” The stool began to squeak as Quinn spun furiously. “You might know them.”

“I doubt it,” Alyssa said placing her almond shaped eyes over the microscope’s eyepiece. She and Safiya may not agree on many things but they did agree that buying the pack of condoms at Costco was a worthy purchase; not that it helped Safiya much. Alyssa’s pupils dilated as she saw the spiked neon green sphere. “Herpes it is.” Alyssa looked away from the microscope. “Sucks for someone.”

“Are you sure it’s not someone you know?” Quinn stopped spinning and strolled up to the countertop. He picked up the plastic bag that housed the cotton swab. “Jacob Richards.” Quinn read. He placed the bag back down and stared at Alyssa with placid eyes. “Jacob, does Alyssa know you?”

“Of course, she does.” The toneless voice sounded behind Alyssa and she jumped higher than a cat whose tail had by stepped on by a combat boot. “Don’t you Alyssa.” He drew out her name like he was singing a lullaby.

Alyssa’s skin crawled like a thousand termites called her dermis home as he slid his finger down the side of her fridge neck.

“Don’t touch me!” Alyssa smacked his hand and tried to move away. His hands were too quick, clinging to her narrow waist. “Jacob, let me go!”

“Ask me nicely,” He singsong in her ear. “Then maybe…. just maybe…I’ll think about.”

“Quinn!” Alyssa frantic eyes searched the room for the boy she called her friend. The boy she wanted to be more than a friend with but he wasn’t there. Her breaths turned ragged. She was alone with him again. The cedar that submerged his pores seeped into her nose as his hand went from her neck then down her chest. She jumped and bucked like a bull in a pen but the vast muscles in his biceps were too much for her to fend off. “Jacob, let me go!” Fire burned in her cheeks. Tears rained from her eyes. Air evaporated from her lungs. “LET ME GO!”

“Why?” Jacob innocently asked as his massive hand continued its tour of her silky body. “You know you like it.” His hand slithered under her front of her blue jeans and into her lace panties.

“Let me go!” Alyssa repeated as her nails clawed into his bisque skin like a leopard on the savanna. “Let me go! Let me go!” Rivers of blood streamed down Jacob’s arms as Alyssa dug in deeper. “LET ME GO! LET ME GO! LET ME GO!”

“Alyssa.” A soft voice called her name. “Alyssa.” The voice came again stopping the tears the in her eyes. Her body started to shake. “Alyssa. Alyssa, wake up.”

Alyssa’s eyelids shot up like a missile. Their stares made her skin sizzle. Twenty-eight pairs of eyes piercing into her like knives on a cutting board.

“Ms. Sasaki, is everything okay?” Professor Eisenhower quizzically asked stepping from behind his podium.

Alyssa roughly rubbed the tears from her blushed face. “I’m…I’m…” She shuffled her notebook, textbook, highlighter, and pencil together. “I’m not—” She caught herself looking up at Professor Eisenhower and the red-haired girl in the aisle in front of her. “I’m fine.” She shoved all her belongings in her backpack, ran down the carpeted steps and shot out the door.

Alyssa’s footsteps stopped in the empty hallway. She held her face trying to regain authority of her heaving breaths. Her heart pounded against her breastplate. The room spun like a merry-go-round. A faint touch fell onto Alyssa’s shoulder and she spun around rearing her arm back. He was there standing behind her again. He found her but this time, he wasn’t going to put his filthy hands on her, not again. Not like last time. She drove her fist into his face.

“What the fuck, Lyssa!” the thickly voice woke Alyssa from her terror-induced trance.

“Quinn!” Alyssa cried flexing her hand. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks.” Quinn’s muffled voice sounded under his hands as blood gushed from his nose. “That’s sarcasm if you didn’t know.” He shuffled off to find a restroom.

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