Kelly walked into her Nutrition and Health Sciences class and quickly moved to claim her favourite workbench to set her books down on. The room was full of ovens, stove tops, and all the equipment needed for a chef to make anything they wanted. No sooner had she sat down than the teacher came up to her with a new student to the class. Kelly glanced at the overweight woman with purple curly hair beside the teacher and confirmed that she had never seen her in the college before.
“Hi Kelly, Jonathan your practical partner has dropped out of the class. Since he won’t be coming back your new partner will be Syndi here.”
Kelly politely exchanged hellos, “I don’t understand, Jonathon said nothing about wanting to quit, he wanted to be a chef as much as I do. What happened to him?”
The teacher looked uneasy and said simply that she wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Kelly continued, “But it’s week five into the course, isn’t that too late for some new to join?”
“Yes, it is rather late, so I am putting Syndi with you so you can help her catch up.”
Kelly shrugged her shoulders and started showing Syndi around the classroom. Kelly spent most of the class frantically trying explain to Syndi what they had to do. Syndi didn’t seem to care as much as Kelly thought she ought to, but she didn’t want to judge. Kelly was happy to be a helper. On the first break, Syndi leaned across and whispered to Kelly.
“I know what happened to Jonathon.”
Kelly immediately demanded to know.
“He raped a girl at a party two weeks ago. She only just came forward this morning.”
Kelly’s jaw dropped instantly, “What? Jonathon raped someone? But that’s ridiculous, he’s such a gentleman and he has a girlfriend.”
Syndi grinned, “Yeah, but you know men, they can’t help themselves. Apparently, he followed her up to her room got her drunk, pumped her and dumped her. Anyway she complained to the dean this morning and it was her word against his. In the end she said she didn’t feel safe coming to class with him here so the dean just told Jonathon to leave the college and never come back again..”
Kelly’s mind was reeling. Could this be the same Jonathon that she’d been working with all term? He had been so quiet and easy to get along with.
“Men just can’t help themselves, you can’t trust a man not to make a move on a girl if he’s alone with her. If she’s hot enough it’s just a matter of time before he gets all rapey with her.”
Kelly was aghast at what Syndi was saying, all throughout the rest of the class she was trying to imagine Jonathon doing something like that. It didn’t seem to make sense, if a man like Jonathon could do such a disgusting thing, then surely any man could do it. At the end of the class it was time to clean up the mess they had made. Kelly was reaching across to pick up some measuring cups. Her arm was outstretched and a small bracelet with a cross on it popped out from her sleeve. Syndi eyed the bravelet and shuddered. Kelly noticed Syndi’s reaction and asked her what was wrong. Syndi pointed at Kelly’s bracelet with the small metal cross dangling from it.
“You aren’t some Christian bigot are you?” Puffed Syndi somewhat annoyed.
Kelly stopped to examine her bracelet briefly before replying, “No, it’s just something my grandmother got me before she died.”
Syndi smiled, “It’s pretty weird how many people believe in that Jewish Zombie cult.”
Kelly flinched and looked around nervously, she had been unprepared for such language. Syndi noticed Kelly’s discomfort so she leaned in and whispered, “Jesus died and rose from the dead, that means he’s a zombie!”
Kelly couldn’t help but chuckle at the irreverent way Syndi put it, Syndi laughed too.
“It’s pretty crazy all this religious superstitious stuff isn’t it? Invisible men in the sky, watching us. Judging us?”
Kelly found herself agreeing, “Yeah, its really silly like fairy tales. I don’t really believe any of it.”
“Considering all the religious wars out there,” said Syndi, “I think we’re better off just doing what makes us happy and not let creepy old men tell us what to do.”
Kelly found herself agreeing again, “Yes, I don’t even understand the point of it all. Just live your life and don’t bother anyone else. Why do we need religion to be good people?”
“Especially a religion about men who dress up in funny robes and pretend not to be gay when they’re all secretly gay!”
“Oh, I am not Catholic,” said Kelly a little defensively.
“Then why do you wear that thing around your wrist?”
“It was a gift from my grandmother. She said the tradition in our family was for the mothers to give all their daughters a bracelet like this so we would all remember where we came from and keep the faith. My sister has one just like mine.”
“Then why did she give it to you and not your mother?”
“My mother refused to. She hated religion. She was abused by a priest when she was young and she swore that she would raise her family without that superstition.”
Syndi’s mouth stretched out into a broad toothy smile, “Then why do you wear it?”
“Just to remember my grandmother. She died last year. Cancer.”
“God didn’t take good care of her or your mother either! For a holy man he was just as perverted as Jonathon was. Yep, those men have no self-control around us women.”
Kelly frowned, “no, he certainly let her and my mother down.”
“Maybe you should let him down too,” suggested Syndi.
“Maybe,” said Kelly, “But people need to have faith in something?”
Syndi chuckled, “Faith is just a lie selfish control freaks invented to stop people, usually women, from enjoying themselves. Like why not have sex before marriage? Why not sleep around? Men do it, why not women? For that matter not take drugs and enjoy your life? What kind of creep goes about telling people what they’re supposed to do? I say they’re all haters. These religious types. They have no sense of fun, taking everything so seriously, and punishing women for wanting to enjoy themselves.”
“I don’t think you can say that so confidently, I met this religious guy just yesterday and he seemed to live quite an exciting life.”
“I bet he’s really some oddball workaholic. I bet if you tried getting him in the sack he’d do it then shame you for enjoying it.”
Kelly giggled nervously, “gosh Syndi, you say the darnedest things.”
“So you would like to sleep with him then?”
Kelly blushed as though caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Syndi started teasing her. Kelly blushed and giggled.
“I have to admit he’s rather quite dashing for a bookworm,” confessed Kelly.
“I bet if you tried to sleep with him he’d shame you, tell you that woman shouldn’t enjoy sex, that women who sleep around are sluts and poisonous to society. Trust me I know what these religious men are like. A bunch of creeps every single one of them.”
Kelly was losing patience with Syndi’s negativity, “no, he is a good man, he would not take advantage of a woman. Not all men are like that.”
“If you like him so much, why not just sleep with him and find out if he’s a decent guy?”
Kelly blushed again, “Syndi, I can’t do that, it just wouldn’t be proper.”
“Why are you so ashamed of wanting to have sex? Men think about it all the time, if you ask me it’s time we women took back control of sex and got it on our own terms. It’s all about dominance and submission you see. And you don’t want to be the submissive one.”
Kelly finished packing up her books and papers. On her walk home she found herself plagued by all the strange and frightening things Syndi had told her. Syndi seemed remarkably confident in her beliefs though. Kelly wanted to push back at the things she had heard, but she couldn’t come up with an explanation. Why would a man like Jonathon rape a helpless woman if he already had a girlfriend? Was it really about dominance over another person? Although she wasn’t religious she felt like she should respect her grandmother, but her mother had told her she was a dotty old fool. The more Kelly thought about the more her head seemed to swim. Feeling down she decided to go for a jog.