Today is the day I’m reclaiming my life.
Ten months ago, some kid, a student at Rothbert University I’d never met or taught in class, tried to take it from me. And then he succeeded in taking his own. I guess I should feel bad about that kid, but he didn’t leave me much room for sympathy. I’m 38, a tenured professor at a prestigious university. I’ve come a long way from where I started. And today I have to hobble onto campus like a witch from a Grimm’s fairy tale, on a cane, and try to take back what was mine.
Honestly? I can’t think about that kid much at all. Is it self-centered to be thinking of yourself when you’re the one who got shot for no reason whatsoever and had to give up a year of your career to physical therapy and pain? What I’m thinking about is that long walk up from the parking lot to my building. What I’m thinking about is that first moment when I see someone I know, and here I am, broken and diminished. And—Doyle. I’m thinking about Doyle a lot these days, even though I was the one who sent him away.
That might have been a mistake. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life. That’s the one thing you get from facing your own mortality. Perspective. I was never one for putting up with nonsense, but now that I’ve come through the other side, I don’t want to waste any more time. Also: now I know who my friends are. Doesn’t the saying go that you only need one true friend? I guess I have that.
They’re going to stare, aren’t they? The students. The faculty. People stare when I go to the grocery store, when I walk down the street—which I try not to do. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take much to become the wrong kind of celebrity in this little ’burb. Everyone seems to know who I am. My fifteen minutes of fame are getting used up on this. It’s almost like I’m not human anymore, like I belong to the public now, instead of to myself.
Like—some wiseacre calls me every morning at 2 a.m. just to breathe into the phone.
It’s not a problem. I’m usually awake, anyway.
So they’ll stare. It’s human nature to stare. I bet I could do my next sociological study on it. If I wanted to.
Let them stare. Let them talk behind their hands. I already know what they think was going on between me and that student. Let them try to take my life from me. This time, I’ll be holding on with both hands.
You can read more about Amelia in The Black Hour, Lori’s debut novel, published by Seventh Street Books which is available at retail and online booksellers.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 14 for the chance to win a copy of THE BLACK HOUR. (US entries only, please.)
Meet the author
Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery The Black Hour, out July 8 from Seventh Street Books. Born and raised in central Indiana, she now lives with her husband and dog in Chicago. Best-selling author Jodi Picoult chose one of Lori’s short stories for the grand prize in Good Housekeeping’s first fiction contest. Other stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, The Madison Review, and others. Visit her at LoriRaderDay.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.
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