Yes, Miss

After my house burnt down a lot of people said the same thing
“My god-well, at least you weren’t in it,” but I was, albeit in hiding
I had pretended to be out of town for Thanksgiving
but hightailed it home early to enjoy the quiet

And hightailed myself and my dog
out of the smoking wreck at five in the morning
and watched the fiery flames burst out of my window
until around noon when the Red Cross showed up
and clothed my shivering, wet feet with socks

I didn’t have a wallet or keys
the Red Cross lady added that I also
wouldn’t have a place to sleep
I couldn’t stay with my boyfriend
and my aunt had gone south for the winter already
so my dog and I did a lot of hiking
while I petitioned to be allowed
a temporary respite on my old college campus

I was thirty and the other students
weren’t old enough to drink
Although that’s never stopped anyone
As evidenced by the loud music
constantly blaring from my neighbors’ apartments
but at least I got to hear people having fun
rather than, say, domestic violence
or people getting shot

charities donated to heavy garbage bags of supplies to me
and I remembered that young men on campuses
were always happy to help girls with these types of errands
I spotted two of them, Erik and Edionis, while I was moving in
used a little finesse, and they helped my carry
all my bags up without breaking anything

I saw Erik again two weeks later and greeted him
with the best news-I had found permanent housing
we hugged, and as I apologized for hugging him
I peered into his eyes and saw my favorite color
A velvety brown, maroon in a certain light
and he explained to me that he hadn’t had the best life
couldn’t really afford to live on campus
didn’t have nice parents, and seemed disturbed
so much so that I was reminded of myself as a youth
he reassured me that he understood homelessness
and was just relieved that I found housing

another week passed and I came home to hear yelling
not the type that could be confused with the Patriot’s game
but endless, one sided, and filled with obscenities
very clearly in my living room coming from another building
I remembered someone saying they had heard a fight
two hours earlier, and that’s why my dog was barking
but it was still happening and then I heard what sounded like
furniture crashing

I called the police. Only after the yelling quieted
did I wonder if it was Erik doing acid in his apartment
as I had done when I was younger or fighting with his girlfriend on the phone
or worse, his mother, and if now because of me he was arrested

later still and deep into the night a knock on my door
startled me out of sleep, I was sure it was Erik
either coming for vengeance or a place to hide
the officer asked me for a witness statement
and said the student had been arrested
I felt slimy. I asked what the charge was
and he said drunk and disorderly
the student wasn’t alone
there was another student
passed out on the floor
during the whole thing

and what else? Did he have a weapon?
Yes, Miss. He had guns. A lot of them.

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