What its like to Almost be Mugged while Simultaneously Being 150 Pages from the End of A Dance with Dragons in the Song of Ice and Fire series.
Being 150 pages from the end of A Dance with Dragons can feel like nothing has happened yet, like you’ve once again read all these pages and all these words for nothing but a small glimpse of your favorite character.
Being 150 pages from the end of ADwD feels like these characters have come so FAR, but still have an infinity left to wander, or scheme, or fight battles. A million pages left for us readers to worry about our favorite direwolfs, wondering what the hell happened to BenJen Stark, and by golly will Lady Stoneheart ACTUALLY BE A CHARACTER FOR ONCE.
Being a dedicated fan of these books means reading page after page of meticulous content, while searching desperately for clues of what is going to happen— knowing that all men must die and no one is safe from the laws of “but he is my favorite character, he can’t die.” Knowing that shit hits the fan 149 pages from the end of GRRM’s books. Waiting for Winter to hit you hard in the mouth, avoiding spoilers like the flux, and clutching on to your book for dear life, yours and your favorite characters.
One September night, I just wanted to go home and read my book. You know? I had gotten out of class a bit earlier than usual. Typically, I take a taxi or Uber home because it’s not that far of a ride from school, and I feel a lot safer being picked up and dropped off at my apartment door. Sometimes, if you get a really nice driver, they won’t even drive off right away, and it almost feels like your mom is waiting to make sure you get through the door.
A lot of people laugh at me and my constant $8 rides, saying I’m wasting money, but while Emerson College is in a popular part of downtown, there’s often a lot of theft and muggery nearby. But tonight, I thought, hey, it’s hardly 8PM. What tomfoolery could go down tonight—AND, why not take a chance and walk the shorter distance through the park across from my apartment, instead of taking the long way home. Why. Not.
I would be safe, right?
As I got off the T and walked through the very-well-lit street, this kid was riding his bike directly at me. He’s making direct eye contact with me, playing chicken or whatever. Well, I’m wasn’t playing. Just as he got close enough to actually freak me out, I put my hand up in front of me to block the incoming hit. Reflexive, not even thinking. I should have known.
He swerves to the side. As he intended all along. Never breaking eye contact with me.
“Woah woah lady,” he screamed at me, “what was that?”
“I’m sorry.” I said, because I’m increasingly aware of my surroundings, suddenly hyper aware of my bag on my back and the purse hanging on my shoulder, my purse that contained my life and my wallet and yeah, I’ll say it, my prized copy of A Dance with Dragons- and I only have 150 pages left, you know.
I was ever-aware of how this kid circled around behind me on his bike, and I was on foot. I was ever-aware of my loose black flats on my feet, no good for running. My muscles tensed up every time he yelled at me and tensed even more with every “I’m sorry.” I was muttering back to him.
“I’m probably going to get mugged right now.” I said to my friend Drew, who was blessedly on the phone with me. “I seriously might get mugged right now, like really, this could be the moment, I get mugged by a 14 year old boy.”
“Just keep walking.”
So I did, and then I saw a young girl on a bike coming towards me while the boy was still behind me, demanding my attention, shouting profanities. I noticed at the end of the sidewalk there was a crowd of people, being loud and obnoxious, hanging out. There would be no way around them, I would have to walk directly through them to get away from the kid.
I felt like a farm animal being corralled by a pack of dogs. I felt like a deer that fell into a wolf’s hunting pattern. Inevitable. Helpless. Herded. It was all the terrible things you hear happening to people and you think, “oh gosh golly, that would never happen to little ol’ me.” But there I was. In a perfectly well lit, populated area, and this was about to happen to me, no– happening to me.
“Just keep walking.”
All I wanted to do was go home and read the climax of A Dance with Dragons , but instead, I was clutching on to my purse, waiting for the inevitable move to snatch it from my shoulder. Waiting for the accomplices bike to collide into me, while the kid rips the bags from my shoulder as I fall to the ground, left to deal with an inevitable concussion. And everything would be just gone .
“I seriously might get mugged right now. This could be it. I really actually think this kid is trying to mug me.” I repeated over and over. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I kept saying, but really I was screaming in my head, “leave me alone.”
I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t say. I don’t know if the kid decided the arrival of his girlfriend was more interesting than me, or we got close enough to the older men at the end of the walk way that he rethought his actions. I don’t know if he could hear me say over and over that I thought he was going to mug me, but finally. Finally . He stopped screaming at me. I diverted my walk a little, until I was past the group of people, and across the street. I only looked back once, and it seemed like all interest in me was lost.
Almost being mugged is the most frightened I have ever been in a very long time, and certainly the most frightened I’ve been in this city. I couldn’t tell what was going to happen next, and the anticipation of being on the ground, helpless, with no keys, no phone, no wallet, was petrifying. But somewhere in that panicked walk home, I thought “my book is in my purse, and if he takes my purse, I can’t finish A Dance With Dragons.”
It may seem silly to include a potential mugging and finishing a book in the same article, and maybe it’s my writer’s brain stretching and coping with what happened that night, but honestly . I’ve read 5,010 pages of these characters’ every day struggles and now their fates are directly tied to mine.
Who else but a 24 year old fan of this series, which has taken over her life, would have been concerned about her book . Even in the intensity of the moment, I was still thinking about the world of Westeros printed on the pages of my book, with its crinkled corners, broken in spine, and a chocolate fingerprint smudge on page 587.