Assault

It's been a couple of weeks. It's late on a Thursday evening. Anna is sitting in the subway train, on a bench. On the Helsinki subway the trains are orange, and the benches are orange. The benches are in pairs to form booths, ostensibly to get the famously asocial locals to be modern and urban. In practice, it meant they read books, newspapers, or, these days, looked at their smartphones. Or out of the windows into the underground tunnel walls. Anything to avoid talking with each other.

Anna is doing that. It's been another long, stressful day at work, and she's enjoying watching episode of her latest favourite TV show on the phone, while going home. When she gets home, she'll go to the sauna to really relax and clean herself both bodily and mentally and spiritually.

A pair of twentysomethings come into the train car, and shove into the booth with Anna. She shifts a little. The young men are both drunk, one much more than the other. They carry large bags, and a bag of takeout from an transnational hamburger restaurant chain.

Anna dubs them as Dumb and Dumber. Dumb is carrying the food, and what looks like a bunch of gym clothes. Dumber is carrying a bag with something hard, which makes clonk sounds, when it hits the benches or the floor.

"Be careful, that's my Playstation." Dumb is clearly upset at Dumber. Dumber seems to not care. Instead, Dumber puts his feet on the opposite bench, where Anna is sitting, and forces Anna to shift to avoid his dirty shoes.

The train ride continues for a while. Dumber keeps accidentally kicking the Playstation, and trying to grab the food bag from Dumb. Dumb keeps the bag out of reach and complaining about the safety of his gaming equipment.

Dumber gets bored and starts looking at Anna, then poking her with his feet.

"Please stop." Anna isn't amused and tries to get back to watching TV show. The poking continues.

"Come on, girl. You should feel honoured by a little male attention, the way you look."

Anna puts away her phone and looks at Dumber, straight in the eyes. "Don't be silly, boy. If you wanted more space, you could've sat in the next booth, which is all empty."

Dumber pokes Anna again with his feet. Anna gets up to leave the booth. Dumber gets up as well and grabs Anna's coat.


"RUDE WORD Anna. What the RUDE WORD happened to you?" Robin arrives early to the office, and finds Anna already in the kitchen. Anna sports a shiner. Her right eye is swollen, and the swelling is quite dark. There's some other bruises on her face as well.

"There was a bit of an assault in the subway yesterday. A drunk young man."

"Oh no. Have you been to ER? How badly does it hurt?"

"I've had medical care, though not from the ER. I called Russ instead. He came over and took care of my face, and held me while I cried."

"This is not good. The assault, I'm assuming Russ took care you of you like gentleman."

"Yes, he was very gentle." Anna makes a wry smile, then winces. Smiling is clearly painful. She takes a pill bottle from her drawer, extracts a pill, and takes it with a gulp from the glass of water on her desk.

"I'm going to be OK, but I don't really want to have a lot of fuss."

"Okay, I can understand that. But what happened? Or are you up to talking about that? Did you report it to the police?"

"Not really. We talked about it a lot with Russ, and I've started my mental healing process, but I don't really want to re-live it with everyone separately. Sorry. I didn't tell the police, you know how they've treated me before, when I've been raped. Don't trust them."

"Oh, of mine, nothing to be sorry for. I know exactly how you feel. I'm here if you want or need to talk, about anything, at any time, but there's no pressure. OK?"

"OK. Love you too, Robin. You're a good friend."


Anna goes on IRC and tells the rest of the team. "Hello, gang. I'm going to be withdrawn and avoid seeing people in person for the next few days. I have a black eye. I was assaulted by a drunk young man on the subway yesterday evening. I'm going to be OK, but I don't want to be fussed over, or have to talk about it repeatedly. So I'm going to stay at home for a while, and enjoy a bit of quiet and solitude. I hope you'll all understand. In an emergency, you can call me on my private number, but otherwise I'd like to not hear about anything for a while."

She turns off her laptop, and packs it in her backpack, then slinks out of the office to go home. On the way she stops at a grocery store, to fill up on foodstuffs: bananas, apples, pears, and pine apple for a fruit salad; eggs, milk, flour, and butter for pancakes. She fully intends to pamper herself with unhealthy food.

As she leaves the grocery store and is heading towards the subway ("I'm not going to be intimidated and start avoiding the subway, I won't"), her phone rings.

"Hi, it's Sam. My bosses want to have another meeting. Would you and the Team be free tomorrow afternoon?"

"Hi, Sam. I'm afraid I have a health thing, so I won't be available, but Robin can handle things while I'm away."

"OK. I hope it's nothing serious and that you get well again soon."

"Thanks, bye".

She quickly types a message to Robin. "Sam called, they want another meeting. Could you handle it in my absence?"

"Sure thing. Don't worry. Get well."

She walks for a minute, then takes out her phone again.

"Thanks for yesterday. You saved the day. I'm going to take a few days off, and be at home incommunicado. If you want pancakes, come knock on my door."

She taps "Send" and turns off her phone. Sometimes it'd be nice to live with someone with whom to share one's sorrows, and not have to beg for people to come visit to cheer her up.