The Outsider Ch. 05


Why was it always like this? Why was she always the loser of each and every confrontation she had ever been in? What was wrong with her, that she was so totally incapable of sticking up for herself?


By the time Ruthie left class, her depression had returned stronger than ever. She knew the pattern: something unpleasant or traumatic would happen, she would have a burst of anger that eventually turned into self-loathing, and finally that faded into a numbness that could last for several hours or several days. She resisted the temptation to toss her books into the trash. She wanted to, because from that point forward seeing the stained pages and smelling spoiled apple juice always would remind her of the ugly encounter with that bitch on the bicycle. However, she had to keep the books, no matter what condition they were in, because she did not have the money to buy replacements.

Ruthie wandered aimlessly in the twilight as the numb dead feeling penetrating her soul intensified. Her shoulder was starting to hurt, which left her wondering if she may have sustained injuries beyond bruises and her scraped knee. I hope so, she thought to herself. I hope I have internal bleeding and I go to bed and don't wake up tomorrow. That would be nice.


Ruthie needed to study, but there was no way she could concentrate given her bleak mood. She wandered around campus in the gathering darkness. She would miss dinner at the dorm, but at that point she didn't care. She walked along the sidewalk, alone. Always alone. A group of sorority girls passed her and did not even notice that she was there. Several couples walked by, followed by two professors arguing about a grant program. The point was that none of those other people were alone, but Ruthie was. Again she asked herself: what is wrong with me? Am I really so disgusting?

She walked all around campus, ignoring the smell of stale apple juice coming from her backpack and the pain in her shoulder. Whenever she got to the edge of campus, she turned around and walked in a different direction. In the darkness she was afraid to go beyond the confines of the university. Anyhow there was no point in leaving because there were no interesting stores or entertainment in Davenport. For entertainment and shopping, students needed to drive to Santa Cruz and Ruthie had no car, as she had confessed to Mike earlier in the week. She had no friends, either. That too, she had confessed. The inadvertent admission was so humiliating because it was true. After nearly two months on campus, Ruthie did not have any friends in Davenport. There was no one to give her a ride to Santa Cruz and no one to hang out with. She watched cars go by, most of them full of groups of students leaving the university.

Ruthie Burns was not going anywhere. She would stay behind. She returned to her room and found that her roommate was not there. She went to bed, relieved that for the moment she did not have to face yet another person who hated her.

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