Later, in the fluorescent piss-glow of the library basement’s hot media center, the only part of the library where the furniture is something other than vomit-colored, and the lights are bright enough to keep me awake, I sit reading [title of book too complex for my peers], and I hear an almost sexual half-moan-half-throat-clear off to my left. Twelve feet away sits a thick-lipped, caricature-of-a Black girl with a floral turban-like headpiece clearly worn for fashion’s sake. She has earbuds in and stares down at her laptop, I think, although I can’t quite tell if her eyes are open. I foolishly expect the sound to be a one-time occurrence, but it’s soon followed by more of these off-putting outbursts at all-too-abbreviated intervals. It sounds as if she means to clear her throat with simple restrained bursts of air through the windpipe, but unintentionally allows crackly vocal sonority to escape in the process because she can’t hear herself over whatever is beating her eardrums. I keep habitually looking over when she does this and looking around the room to observe the other disgusted faces pointed her way, only to find that I am the only one without earbuds in, the only present entity not oblivious to this most odious of distractions, the only one not replacing the awful sounds of my surroundings with something else, something subjectively (dare I say, objectively) more pleasant, all because I just want to read a fucking book in silence before I have to migrate to my next class.

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