The work day has ended. You're about to exit the room and head home, when I suddenly ask, “Hey, want to walk home together?”
You're confused, as I never ask this. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just....don't want to walk home alone today.”
“Alright. Let me grab my coat.”
We stroll out of the building. “So, how are you adjusting so far?”
Tiredly, I reply, “It's okay. It's a lot, having to switch English groups all the time, plus the sheer number of students, but I'm getting used to it. Poco a poco, ¿no?” I say, smiling.
“Do you like Jaén?”
“More than in the beginning, for sure. There's lots to do here. I haven't visited everything, but there's time. I'm here for a while.”
“And is there anything you don't like?”
My pause lasts ages. “The racist things people say.”
You blink, and stammer “What?” You weren't expecting that. You thought I'd talk about the crazy drivers, the strange weather, the hills when walking.
“Yeah, sometimes when I'm on the street, kids yell '¡China!' But not in a good way. I can tell when there's hate behind what they're saying. I guess I can't be surprised,” I reason, my voice and my steps growing weary. “There's not a lot of us here.”
You're shocked. “Yeah, but that's rude. No matter if they've seen someone like you before or not, that's not nice.
“You deserve respect. You're a person that deserves to be respected.”
I feel a huge burden lift off my shoulders, and with relief, I smile at you.