Vera Reed dreamed of attending school. A normal one. With other students and teachers that weren’t her mother or a computer screen. She wanted to socialize, even if her communication skills were subpar.
She wanted to make friends and eat lunch in the courtyard. She wanted to laugh and tell jokes. She wanted to not feel so alone.
So she decided, that the moment she finished 12th grade, she was going to attend a public college. After much convincing and pleading with her mother who wanted her to stay home in small-town Tabor, Iowa, she did.
The University of Nebraska Lincoln was only an hour’s drive away and she promised to visit often. She promised to be careful and always carry her pepper spray with her, though Vera knew she probably would never be brave enough to actually use it in a compromising situation. She was weak and passive and she knew that. She wished she wasn’t but that’s who she was and how she was raised; how was she supposed to change that?
After 19 years of bible-thumping, she was ready for something new. There had to be more out there for the world to offer and she was ready to find out what it was. So she set off, with only 2 suitcases in the back of an old, used, red Subaru they had found for cheap on Facebook.
She was becoming independent for the first time in all her life and it was exhilarating.
When her father died, he left behind a trust fund for his only daughter so that one day she may go to college. Of course, it wasn’t very much money but would help her with the initial costs of her small one-bedroom apartment since she had been awarded a full ride on an academic scholarship.
Not being allowed to do much, aside from reading the Bible and going to church, Vera studied. A lot. School was all she truly had and it gave her hope for a different life. One of excitement and dreams coming true. Luckily, because of her hard work, she was being awarded this golden opportunity to make a life for herself and open up a brand new world.
She was walking into this new life with very little, both in terms of her belongings and experience. She was moving into an empty, small apartment in a sketchy neighborhood without a job and the last of her father’s money.
The only direction to go was up.
Her entire life she had been locked behind window shutters, desperate to see the sun, and now as she peeked through the shades, it all seemed so intimidating.