A girl was walking home alone. It was dark out, the streets bare and lifeless. The moon was high up in the night sky as it overlooked the city of Compton.
She pulls her coat closer to her as a chilly breeze sneaked by. Tears stained her cheeks, her eyes red and watery. She ran her fingers through her hair to keep the curly strands out of her face.
Up in the distance was a man. He was leaning against the bus stop sign, smoking a cigarette. His attire consisted of a torn-up sweater, a big burly, smelly-looking jacket, tattered up boots, and a scarf. He sported a tangled beard and uncombed hair.
The girl paused and considered her options. She could return home and avoid the risk of possible danger. That would’ve been easy.
But the thing was, she didn’t want to go home. Home was no longer the sanctuary that it once was to her. Home was where her parents were, where the expectations were. She hardly had the motivation to go back. It was stupid to think that she was choosing danger over safety. But at the moment, danger seemed more appealing to her than lectures about things that she already knew.
The girl pulled up the hood of her coat and gently made her way over to the bus stop. She stood at a clear distance from the man, keeping her guard up.
Then she felt like she was being watched. Slowly turning her head, she peered over at the man next to her. Their eyes met and she was surprised to see that the man had bright, red eyes.
She flinched, suddenly realizing what kind of person this man could be.
The man smirked and threw his cigarette to the ground, smashing its remains with the sole of his boot. He inched closer.
“What’s a girl like you,” he said, almost in a hushed whisper, “doing out here alone on the night streets of Compton hm?”
The girl backed away. “D-Don’t come any closer.” Her palms began to water and flashes of what could possibly happen ran throughout her mind. Why didn’t I just go home?!
The man cocked his head to the side. “You think I’m going to hurt you?”
“Why wouldn’t you?”
“The question is: why would I?”
The girl’s back reached a pole. She felt panicked, as if she’d reached a dead end and there was no way out. The man walked closer to her.
“B-Because,” she stammered, “because…your eyes…”
“Now you’re just being prejudiced.”
The girl blinked and looked away, knowing that her answer sounded pretty lame and judgmental.
The man stopped at about a yard away from her and slid his hands into his pockets. Then he looked up at the night sky, observing the moon.
“I’m truly curious,” he then said, quietly, gently. “What are you doing out here by yourself? Compton isn’t very safe at night, I’m sure you know that.”
“Of course I know that,” the girl said. “I’m no idiot.”
“You’re beating around the bush here.”
The girl sighed and her shoulders relaxed as she gave in to his curiosity.
“My parents,” she started, “were giving me a hard time because I didn’t get into a college that I wanted to go to.”
The man nodded. “I see.”
“You should’ve seen them,” the girl said. “They were yelling and shouting and then they asked me why I was crying because apparently ‘crying doesn’t solve anything’ and then they called me weak. I know my failures more than anybody else and it doesn’t help when my own parents just start shoving it into my face.”
Tears began to fall. The girl sniffled and quickly brushed the wetness off of her cheeks, suddenly feeling embarrassed.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” the man said, his head still facing the moon. “You tried your best, did you not?”
“I did. But it wasn’t good enough. Nothing is ever good enough when it comes to them. They expect some Goddess of a daughter and I hate to admit that I’m not capable of that but I’m not.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” the man said. “It really isn’t.”
“No offense, sir. But how would you know anything about this?” the girl asked.
The man smiled to himself. “Believe it or not, young lady, but I was once a Harvard scholar.”
The girl’s eyes widened. “No way.”
“I don’t believe it.”
“Believe what you wish. But remember that in the long run, an education is what matters the most. Of course it’d be nice to go to an Ivy League school or a UC and whatnot but take in account of the money. You will be drowning in debt before you can even blink.
“I-Is that why…”
“Life’s too short to be worrying all the time. You’ll get accepted into other schools, you’ll still be offered an education. Your parents will learn to accept your decisions. You’re an adult now.”
The girl shrugged. “I guess so. What’s done is done, right? Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Maybe it wasn’t.”
The bus lights shone brightly in the distance, coming closer and closer until it pulled to a stop just in front of the pair. The doors opened, and the man stepped inside. He turned around, noticing that the girl hadn’t followed him.
“Are you going to get on?” he asked her.
The girl shook her head. “No. I’m going home.”
The man nodded with a grin. “Great choice.”
The girl smiled through her tears. “Thank you,” she said. “By the way, why are your eyes red?”
“Birth defect,” the man replied. “It’s extremely rare but I like to think of it as a gift.” Then with one last look, the doors to the bus closed.