It started like any other regular day on campus. I was obnoxiously early, the parking was ridiculous, and the packs of feral cats were in full swing. The golden light of day heated the drainage tunnels where they resided just enough to give the whole campus that lonely old cat-woman smell. It was a pungent mix of cat urine and indifference that stung the interior of your nostrils and made you wonder if the smell lingered on your clothing. It was like a bouquet of Pepe le Pew from that time he went to Bonnaroo.
On any other day, I would have been content to enjoy the solitude and silence of the sanctum that was an empty classroom, but on this particular day I decided to enjoy the finer things that this humble college had to offer and enjoy a nice visit to the library. Previously, the library had been like stepping back into time. It used to have the entire original everything from its Mad Men era origins plus free wifi. You almost expected Don Draper to walk out and put a cigarette out on a book in the Women’s Studies section and were almost surprised when he didn’t. It was amazing how intact and preserved it was. Everything was in pristine condition in the same state in which they were first rolled into the room. It was immaculate and one of the main attractions to taking classes on campus.
Then some big man up top got his panties in a royal twist and decided that we were going modern and decided to remodel. Now, I’m no stickler for change. I love a good HGTV watchathon as much as the next girl. Heck, I’m known to do a few a Pinterest D.I.Y.’s once in a blue moon, but after the remodel, the word around campus had been general disappointment and I decided to check it out myself. I walked along the courtyard pathways and took a step up the stairs leading to the library. A tiny gray kitten caught my eye on the windowsill and I watched it with a small smile as I took another step, leading myself with the rough railing that could use a new coat of paint. A large orange tabby jumped onto the small ledge and grabbed the kitten with her teeth before disappearing into the rose bushes. I leaned over but could not see the duo under the overgrown thorns.
Sighing, I turned back towards the door and as I did so a large man on his phone bumped into me and pushed me against the railing. I felt a sharp scratch on my upper thigh.
“God, dude, watch it!”
I rubbed the back of my leg where I had felt the scratch, but he was gone, apparently too busy for the niceties of at least apologizing when you possibly cause someone to get tetanus.
Grumbling and glaring at my own thoughts, I pushed open the doors to the library. All that remained of the golden age was the enormous spiral staircase in the middle of the room. Gone were the honey paneling and futuristic furniture that seemed to defy physics with the way they were designed. Now everything was cold and icy. There wasn’t any warmth. It was just frigid in that space. Everything was shoved in corners and made the room feel empty but cluttered at the same time. Everything had a white lacquer to it, which gave it a hospital feel and made the accents of green appear sickly.
I ducked to the side where a hall seemed to form in the shelves to find a table to work at. As I walked around I began to notice a lack of tables. In the place of tables sat permanently reclined chairs sat in witches circle around ankle high coffee tables. Who was going around stealing the legs of these tables?
Not only were these the only seats, but they were full. I was also not the only one waiting for seats. As I looked around the room I noticed other students like me pining for the lounge setting of yesteryear and hunting for a seat.
I circled like a vulture in a desert sky, waiting for anyone to move so I could steal their seat before the others that shared my shifty glances around the room.
With every twitch of a seated patron, those in waiting flinched at the chance of sitting down. The people sitting didn’t even look comfortable, balancing laptops and note books on knobby knees or crouching over to attempt to use the table as an actual table. The stench of misery and frustration was potent.
I saw a movement from behind some shelves and I checked my surroundings to see if my competitors had sensed the disturbance.
They had not.
Casually, as if to appear aimless, I meandered to where I had seen the movement.
There it was. One single blue fabric chair. It had the same permanent recline but it didn’t matter. It was mine. I sat down and began extracting my work supplies. Charger in hand I glanced around but there was no outlet to be found. I looked down the walls. They had removed the outlets. What was this place? Is this hell? I sighed and got back up, shoving my things into my backpack. I turned back toward the chair and thats when I saw it.
A giant blood stain the size of my palm. It was fresh.
“Oh my god!”
Had I just blindly sat in someone’s monthly body rejections? Had I just been blinded by a chair?
No, I would have noticed and it’s too fresh. Wait. Oh lord, is it me? No, I’m not-
I took a step back and felt a sharp pain on the back of my leg.
The cut on my leg had been worse than I had imagined. I had ruined this brand new chair with my insolence.
I looked around to check for witnesses. Maybe I could make a break for it. I picked up my backpack and turned to face an old woman in a custodial uniform. She clearly noticed the panic rising in my eyes and looked over my shoulder.
“That isn’t what it looks like it is. It’s my leg. It’s not. . . yea its none of that.”
She narrowed her eyes at me and walked away, shaking her head and waving her hands as if to shoo my from this world.
I stood there and then looked back at the stain. It was huge. It was like of the feral cats had snuck in and given birth there. That could’ve been my back up story until I felt the trickle of warmth down my calf. Blood was running down my leg and dripping onto the new beige carpet.
Oh my God! NONONONO!
I dug in my backpack and grabbed as tissues as I could fit in my hands. I mopped at the flow of blood down my leg and then dropped to my knees, dabbing at the carpet.
A heavy set man in too tight shorts walked through the aisle and turned towards me.
“It’s not what it looks like. . . It’s a cat. Cat blood. There’s a cat in here. . . Gave birth.” I scrubbed at the blood and he briskly walked away.
I looked at the area I was in. It was like a murder scene or a nude scene from Trueblood. I got up and slung on my back pack. I had to get out of here. Blood was still all over the back of my leg despite my best efforts. I got up and walked towards the exit, keeping my back towards the walls and keeping my eyes over the the tops of the books. I needed the perfect moment to make my escape.
My camouflage backpack now served another purpose besides its refillable camel pack. It was now a cover as well as a portable refreshment. I scoped out my environment. I looked at the front desk. They would be my main problem as they faced the door.
Blood oozed and coagulated on the back on my leg and glued my leg to my dress. Yep, forget the plan, I had to go right now. I power walked through my limp through the middle of the room, skating aside the spiral star case and listening to the stunned gasps of those who failed to look away.
“It’s my leg. Not that. It’s not what you’re thinking. No, no. Yea it’s just my leg.”
I had just single handedly ruined a $30 million dollar remodel in 20 minutes and could never show my face again. So I did what any normal, sane person would do. I transferred right out of there.