Off Limits

By: Lauren Landish


"I'm twenty-two years old," I said, trying not to raise my voice. "I have to grow and get out on my own sometime. And I'll be with a friend. It's not like I'm saying I want to go to a frat party at Morehouse or something," I added, looking pointedly at Brittany. "Not that I couldn't be safe there as well."

"My answer's no, Abigail," Daddy said, setting his fork down and looking at me evenly. "Now sit down, and I don't want to hear about this anymore. You can go with your friend to this exhibition over the weekend or something. During the day."

Daddy never used my full name unless he was putting his foot down, and I could count on one hand the number of times he'd had to use that tone with me over the past year. Most of the time, I was Honey or Sweetie or Abby. When he called me Abigail, however, I knew not to try and change his mind anymore. He was decided. In normal instances, I would have just picked up my knife and fork and started eating my steak, trying to not gnaw at it in frustration.

This time, something was different. Perhaps it was that I was a senior. Maybe it was because I knew that my best friend had invited me, knowing that this could be the last time the two of us really had one of the social events she liked to call "opening our eyes to new possibilities." Hell, maybe it was Greg DeKalb's speech, which was so much the antithesis of what I personally believed that I couldn't stand it. In the end, I didn't know what came over me, but suddenly, I was on my feet, my purse in my hand. "No, not this time, Daddy. Shawnie's a good friend, and I’m going. Don't worry, I'll be home by eleven."

I stormed away from the table, hoping that Brittany's society training and Daddy's desire to fit in with the one percent crowd would keep them from coming after me. After all, regardless of how angry I was at them, I didn't want to hurt either of them. Still, I was going, and it would take someone physically restraining me to stop me. I may not stand up to Daddy often, but I’d inherited his stubborn streak along with his ears. In fact, he was just about the only person who could make me back down.

As upset as I was, I didn't cry. I was proud of that fact, at least, as I left the club and walked down the street. Despite being called a fraternal club, the club didn't have much fraternity to it at all, and in fact, the nearest university was over two miles away, quite a feat in a city with over thirty campuses in the area. In another place, or if it had been founded later, it might have just been called a club or a society, but since it had been founded when that sort of term mattered, fraternal club it was, and fraternal club it remained, along with a separate women's auxiliary that did teas and raised funds for charities and sharpened the knives they stuck in each other's back when the other wasn't looking.

Why these people didn't just ditch the club for membership at a country club where they could at least do some drinking or horseback riding or something to go along with their schmoozing, I never understood. Then again, most of them already belonged to at least one country club, so I guess it was a moot point. I'm in school to get my degree in biology and hopefully become a research nutritionist, not psychology.

I didn't cry, but that didn't mean I was thinking clearly about what I was doing. Walking south, I thought I was headed for the nearest MARTA rail station, but I somehow got turned around, totally missing it. Looking around, I had no idea where I was, except that I was in an area I'd never seen before. "Great, just great," I said, muttering to myself. "Now what?"

I reached into my purse, cursing when I remembered that I'd brought my tiny purse to the country club, the one that I never carried my smartphone in. It was the most socially acceptable of my handbags, which ranged from that up to the ubiquitous college student backpack that I preferred most of the time. I admit, I'm a bit of a tech geek, and the idea of playing with a six-and-a-half-inch screen just was too much fun to pass up. Unfortunately for me, my purse that had been deemed acceptable for the country club was much smaller, and I just never carried my phone in it.

So instead of being able to call Shawnie or a cab or even check where the hell I was with my phone's GPS app, I was standing around in a dress, four-inch-high heels, and a purse that contained my driver's license, my GT student ID, a Rawlings Construction credit card that I was authorized to use, and thirty-eight dollars in cash. No change, of course, since ladies do not jingle.

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