Owen did text and call Amy two more times. He wanted to hear directly from her what Debbie Arble-whatever had claimed was the truth. That she had given up on him. That she wanted something from a man that she did not find in him. But she didn’t answer. And a week after Debbie had come to him in the library Owen walked across campus to Amy Wheatman’s dorm on a Saturday night hoping he might see her and talk to her. In the darkness he walked the pathways through the fallen leaves.
At Amy’s dorm room, Owen knocked. No one answered. He knocked again as a girl came out of the room next door. “She’s not there,” the girl said.
“Do you know where she is?” Owen asked.
“Upstairs. There’s a party in Scott’s room. Want me to show you?”
“Yeah,” Owen said.
The girl led the way and Owen followed her to the stairway and up one flight and into the hallway. The lights had been dimmed, music thumped and people spilled out of a room halfway down the hall.
“She’s somewhere in here,” the girl said to Owen and then she ducked into the room and was absorbed by the swirling bodies there.
The noise of music drowned all voices and Owen scanned the room and the hallway. Then he found her.
Amy stood at the end of the hall, her back against the wall looking into the face of a boy who stood in front of her and pinned her shoulders against the wall with his hands. He was leaning toward her, the weight of his body holding her in place. The boy and Amy were talking at the same time, both of their mouths moving angrily. A few of the hallway stragglers were noticing the argument and edging closer as if drawn by the tension between the two.
And then the boy’s hand left Amy’s right shoulder and, in a flash, he slapped her across the face. Amy’s hands flew up and covered her eye against a second strike. But the hallway crowd had seen the boy hit her too and in a wave they broke upon him with a scream and pulled him away from Amy and lifted him and pinned him against the wall and a large hand from the crowd held him around the throat choking him. Others in the crowd pulled at the hand around the boy’s throat until they bent the fingers free and the boy ran from them, down the hallway to the stairwell and out.
A moment passed. Girls in the hallway crowd ministered to Amy, touching her bruised face with their fingers. Owen took a step toward her, and then another and then he was running toward Amy. He pushed into the crowd of girls. He would get to Amy. He would hold her, heal her. But Amy shook free of the girls, she pushed their hands aside and in that moment her eyes met Owen’s and she shook her head. No. She jogged away from him, down the hallway, following the boy.
Owen left after that. He walked out into the night and drifted toward the center of campus; the main square and the fountain. Soft yellow light spilled from lamp posts around the square and a few shadows and silhouettes moved across the bricks. Near one lamp — half in the light, half in darkness — stood a boy and a girl. The boy’s arms hung limp at his sides and he bent his head and rested his forehead on the girl’s shoulder. The girl wrapped her arms around the boy’s shoulders and one hand stroked his hair. Owen could not see their faces. But he did not have to. He knew that the boy was Scott. And he knew the girl. She was Amy Wheatman.