Emma rushed along the basement hall and squeezed past the closing doors of the up elevator. The door closed catching part of her cotton skirt. She jerked it several times, but it wouldn't budge.
Two men leaned against the wall and steadied a cart stacked with TVs and VCRs. Emma reached between them and pushed eight. The men didn't notice, they were watching two women arguing in the corner. The women talked in lowered voices, but sharp hissing noises punctuated each word.
Emma's face flushed red and she stared at the ceiling. First, she counted the lights and wondered when the manintenance crew changed the bulbs; then, she stared at the TVs and VCRs; finally, she glared at the guy with crooked teeth. She looked at everything except at the two women arguing.
"For God's sake, Laura, doesn't it make you angry?" The blond ran a hand through her short hair and shook the leaflets under Laura's nose.
"Of course, but I can't go," Laura said. "I have a lot to do. I have to fix Daniel's supper and get the kids ready for bed."
"Let Danny Boy do it for a change. He doesn't do shit for you and the kids." Barbara slapped the wall with her hand, rattling the plastic grill over the elevator lights. "Doesn't it make you angry?"
"Yes, but I have responsibilities."
"We all have responsibilities," Barbara said.
"Who do you have a responsibility to? You share an apartment with three other women, and no one cooks or cleans."
Barbara rested her head against the wall. "I'm sorry. It's just that this makes me so angry."
"I'll try to come."
The elevator stopped at five. Barbara got off and dropped the leaflets on the hall floor. As the elevator door closed, the women scurried to pick them up. One of the leaflets lay on the elevator floor. Emma stared at its bright green back. The elevator stopped on eight. Quickly, before the door closed, she grabbed the leaflet.
Woman Student Murdered In Campus Office...................Mobilize.....
Take Back the Night.....
Emma crumpled and shoved it into the trash. But, she couldn't let go. She pulled it out, folded it carefully, and slipped the leaflet into her purse, before she walked down the hall and through an open door.
First published: June 1993