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Epstein Street


By Ashley Alleyne Van-De-Cruize Published 4 years ago 7 min read
Epstein Street
Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

I live in an apartment off campus, but the campus is still close enough for me to walk to. It takes me less than five minutes. However, that means I always overestimate the amount of time I have to get to my first class. Today is no different. Class begins at 8:15am and what time do I leave? 8:15am. I shake my head at myself, grabbing my bag and my half-eaten hash brown.

The road that I usually take to get there is pretty simple; it’s actually a straight shot. In other words, when I walk out of my apartment building, I take a left, and literally walk to a stop light, wait until I get my little walk-man sign, and boom, I’m crossing the street towards my campus. The rest is simply just maneuvering through the actual campus.

This particular morning, however, they’re doing construction on that street.

“No no no,” I whimper. I run up to one of the construction workers, standing with the “STOP/SLOW” sign in his hand.

“Hey! Any way I can walk through this?” I ask waving my hand towards the cement mess they’ve made. “I gotta get to class,” I continue trying to make a case for myself.

He looks at me with not an ounce of empathy, “No.”

Perfect. This means I have to go the long way. I have to go through the freaking back streets to get across the street. This is just a bitch of a morning. Literally any other way will take so much longer. I could just skip class, but I skipped last week because of a beautiful hangover and the week before because…well I just didn’t feel like it.

I turn on my heels and start walking towards the freakin’ trees, cursing construction workers everywhere.

I hear my name ripping through the chaos of said construction, “Leilanie!”

I turn around to see my childhood friend, Rylie, running towards me with half of her shit falling out of her bag.

“When did that happen?” She questions, violently chucking her thumb over her shoulder towards the construction.

I sigh, in defeat, “I don’t even know. Wait…since when are you ever late?” I ask.

“Since my cat shit all over my carpet. My boyfriend spent the night and Sophie,” her cat, “is just scared to death of him.”

I laugh, “your cat shits when she’s scared?”

“Yes! It’s not funny!” She cries, adjusting the fallen belongings.

I grab some of her more stubborn accoutrements that refuse to stay put and toss them in my tote. I travel light. “You know any short cuts? Like the shortest of the short cuts,” I ask. Or beg.

She whips out her phone pulling up a map; those things might as well be another language to me.

“We can take Epstein Street. It’s literally a whole 7-minutes shorter than all the other ways. And by all the other ways, I mean like three other routes.”

“Epstein? That street is so creepy. That’s the one with the abandoned diner. So many people say they’ve seen weird shit and heard some spooky shit. How long is it gonna take with the other routes?”

“15 minutes, kid. We literally cannot afford the extra 7 minutes. My mid-term is today. My professor’s not gonna give me any extra time if I’m late and that’s if she even lets my ass in. And aren’t you failing your philosophy class? That is today right?”

“Yes, bitch. Damn!”

She shrugs, “I’m just saying. Epstein street is the way to go.”

I huff, “fine.”

Epstein street holds a rather eerie history. Riley doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff, but it gets harder to ignore when the stories are similar and consistent. I don’t how true it is that people have disappeared or the things they say they’ve seen but I’ve never been interested in finding out.

This morning is just becoming shittier and shittier.

Riley starts telling me about her night with her boyfriend. I’m mostly listening and then barely listening as we begin approaching the abandoned diner on the forsaken Epstein street. My palms begin sweating.

“Did you hear what I said?” Riley asks, interrupting the panic that is currently clawing its way up my throat, to the surface.

“What?” I ask. I guess I’m not listening at all.

She rolls her eyes, “ugh, Leilanie, we’re fine.” That’s her way of reassuring me.

“You’re not even a little spooked?”

“Nope. That shit’s not real. Relax. Now, I need advice…” And she’s back to her story.

I try tuning in as we walk past the diner with its boarded windows, and vines growing into the brick walls. The sign, which says “Nick’s Diner” now hangs on by a wire. The only letter still dimly lighting is the ‘D.’

“Jesus, Leilanie.” Riley’s patience, or lack thereof, is wearing thin.

“What? I can hear you. Let’s just-”

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice intercepts our pending argument. I nearly jump out of my skin. Turning around we gaze upon this beautiful honey-brown-eyed African American beauty.

“Hi!” Riley greets her with enthusiasm.

“I’m running late for-”

“-Class? Yeah, join the party, kid,” Riley interrupts her.

She’s definitely not a kid. And she doesn’t look like she’s on her way to class with her form fitting dress, diamond stud earrings and classy wedged sandals. Her hair is big, beautiful and fluffy. They look like clouds. Thick curly clouds.

I attempt to ask her where she’s on her way to, but Riley, of course, respects another person’s perspective on her own current relationship issue. That of which I still have not genuinely heard a word of; she bombards the woman with her life story, as I am clearly still not listening.

Riley continues her monologue, the newfound goddess walks alongside us, and the diner retreats in the distance as we continue our walk to campus.

“oop,” Riley’s story has paused as she informs us that a chill has picked up. “Aren’t you cold?” She asks the un-named woman. “Would you like my sweater?” She begins reaching into her over-stuffed backpack.

“No no, please. I’m fine,” the goddess refuses.

Come to think of it, it has gotten a little chilly. “It’s July. What is this?” I say with frustration.

“Might be a storm,” Riley concludes.

Ugh. Perfect. “God, please. I cannot show up to class soaked and late.”

Riley laughs; our new friend is quiet. I guess she is going to campus, as she’s still walking alongside us.

“What’s your major?” I ask, trying to engage her since Riley just talked her ear off.

She looks at me, and smiles kindly, silently thanking me, I suppose. “Philosophy.”

“That’s perfect!” Riley interjects, “She’s failing,” she says point at me.

I look heavenward, shaking my head. Our new friend laughs, “It is tough,” she shrugs, “it’s one of those courses that take a little time. But once you get it, you’re good.”

“I’m hopeful. There isn’t a whole lot of time left in the semester to get my shit together, but I’m hopeful.”

We’re approaching the campus. I sigh with relief.

“See?” Riley proclaims, “Not so bad. We’re fine.”

The chill returns, but I ignore it, as we’re finally entering the campus so my chances of being soaked have dimmed.

Riley waves her goodbyes rushing to her class. I turn around to get our friend’s name, “I’m sorry, I never got your name?”

She smiles, “Sameerah. Sameerah Ali.”

“Sameerah. That’s beautiful. My name’s-”

“-Leilanie,” she interrupts, “I remember. Have a good day. Good luck in your philosophy course today.”

And she’s gone. Sameerah. She seems nice.

I enter my classroom, quietly, but it doesn’t matter. My professor pulls me aside, and encourages the class to continue discussing the question written on the board.

“Leilanie, are you aware of your current standing in this course.”

I deflate, “yes.”

“And what is your plan?” He persists. He’s an old guy. He’s been a professor here for ages. The way he speaks is a clear indication of the time he was born in.

I almost say, ‘I don’t know,’ but I then I remember meeting Sameerah. “Actually, I just met a philosophy major today! I can ask her to be my tutor.”

He squints at me, deliberately portraying his doubt, “What’s their name? perhaps I know this student, if they’re a philosophy major.” There are only two philosophy professors, hence the need for me to pass this course this semester because it’d be too hard to get a seat for next semester.

“Sameerah!” I say her name with enthusiasm, “Sameerah Ali!”

His head jerks back, “You said you know this student?”

“Well I don’t know her, remember I said I just met her but-”

“Hmph. If you just met her then…then perhaps I’m thinking of a different Sameerah.”

“I don’t know. That name isn’t super common. We’re probably talking about the same chick.”

He smiles, “no. The Sameerah I know passed away years ago in a tragic shooting at that old 24/7 diner on Epstein.”

I freeze.

“Wait wait wait…” I grab his arm, “What’d she look like?”

He looks a little confused, “well,” he begins, taking my hand off of his arm, “She was African American, with big beautiful hair and I believe her eyes were a light brown.”

“And there’s no chance that she survived?” I asked.

He squints at me again, “No, Leilanie. I’m afraid not. This happened years ago. I do not believe there were any survivors. Either way, I’m pleased to hear you’ve found a tutor. That name is common in certain parts of the world such as East Africa. I’m sure that’s where your new friend is from.”

He ambles back into the classroom. My feet refuse to move.

I’m dreaming. I’ve got to be dreaming. I walk back into the classroom, wondering if I should even tell Riley.

I take my seat, and gaze back over at the door to lock eyes with Sameerah. She waves sweetly at me; I wave back.

“Who are you waving to?” a student beside me asks.

“Apparently, no one.”


About the Creator

Ashley Alleyne Van-De-Cruize

So for starters, I’m a nurse so I see some pretty... interesting things daily, BUT those interesting events are inspiring. They’ve managed to change my thinking, and my perspective. I’m grateful for what it’s added to my writing career.

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