was born in Stockton, California, and is currently a junior at Santa Clara University majoring in Communication Studies with minors in Creative Writing and Italian. She is also involved with Residence Life, The Owl, and the a cappella group Audiosync. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, and watching sports. This is her first publication.
We didn’t know what to do while we waited for our train to take us home, so we stopped at a boba shop. It was a tiny storefront, too small to fit twelve people, let alone the line that wrapped around the block. My friends and I waited outside. We sipped on our purple plastic straws, posted filtered photos of our drinks on Snapchat, and complained about the cold.
They didn’t see you. But I did.
Your pants caught my eye. They were high-waisted, Tiffany blue jeans and you had a black crop top shirt on. You looked about my age and I couldn’t help but admire your outfit. Short brown hair, dark eye makeup, and a waist so thin it would make models jealous. I thought that maybe you had excitedly slipped on that outfit this morning. A girl out on the town, exploring San Francisco by herself – taking in the salty bay air, peeking at the ocean over the wharf, and maybe stopping at Boudin or Ghirardelli.
I didn’t realize that that wasn’t the case.
You stumbled, heading for a barren maple tree. You didn’t hit it – you caught yourself – but you zig-zagged on the sidewalk, your feet clumsily readjusting your path. When you staggered toward a coffee shop, a condescending barista didn’t let you in. She yammered at you from a step, waving her hands around, while you looked up at her. With her upturned nose and black apron, she shook her head vigorously.
My attention was now fully captured.
As I watched your dejected expression, I thought about the college “girl-code.” Girls didn’t leave other girls stranded. Girls made sure other girls were okay. Girls didn’t let stumbling girls walk home alone after a party. Girls didn’t ignore other girls crying alone. Girls helped other girls.
I was transfixed by you, wanting to know your story and see if you were alright. You plopped down on a metal chair outside the coffee shop, hugging yourself and cradling your black iPhone. You didn’t look at the phone, and your brown eyes seemed as if they were somewhere I couldn’t go.
“What’re you looking at?” my friend Abigail interrupted my focus.
“That girl,” I replied, looking in your direction. “I think something’s wrong.”
“She looks fine to me.”
“She almost fell a little bit ago, you didn’t see it? Something’s off.” “Just let it go Evelyn, she’s probably a druggie,” she dismissed as she grabbed her phone.
It’s time to go, the train leaves soon,” one of my other friends said. “Call the Ubers!” The others started to stare while we walked closer. I could tell that your dark makeup was smudged and running, and now made out the large yellow-green stain on your upper right thigh. Your phone didn’t light up either, probably long dead. I realized you didn’t have a place to go. You probably didn’t put this outfit on this morning, but rather a long time ago. I didn’t know what to do.
“I think she’s homeless,” I whispered to Abigail.
“What?” she replied, looking up from her Instagram feed. “She has an iPhone though.”
“It hasn’t turned on.” You shuddered intensely. I opened my purse and fumbled for my wallet.
“Why is she twitching?”“I don’t know,” I replied.Abigail noticed me reaching for my wallet. “I told you, she’s probably on drugs – crazy – she could hurt you. Look, it’s nice of you to want to help, but you’ve got to worry about your own safety.”
“But she’s our age, I just feel bad-”
“What if she tries to steal your whole purse? You just said earlier you’re broke.” Abigail moved her Tiffany necklace back and forth on its chain, her nervous habit. She was right, I didn’t have much money – especially after the Uber charge went through.
“Why don’t I just ask if she needs anything?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” she replied. “Someone else will help her.” She didn’t look up from her phone.
You didn’t notice any of us, but instead continued to stare blankly at the dirty sidewalk in front of you. The Uber pulled up and I looked back.
Girls didn’t leave other girls stranded.
“Yes, to the train station please,” I told the driver.
Girls didn’t ignore other girls crying alone.
I didn’t stop the car. I didn’t get out to see if you were okay.
Girls helped other girls.
I didn’t help you.
And I don’t know why.