The caller ID on Eman al-Obeidi's smart phone says private number. She guesses the call is from a fellow Libyan and promptly silences the ringer.
"I think the halal meat seller gave out my number," she says, picking up another piece of sizzling beef fajita. "That's why I don't buy halal meat anymore."
If only that were enough to lose the gossip that follows her, even in her new home far away from the native land she fled. Her fellow Libyans are her harshest judges.
The world knows her as the Libyan woman who stormed into Tripoli's Rixos Hotel a little more than a year ago in March, screaming of gang rape by Col. Moammar Gadhafi's thugs.
In that moment of utter defiance, splashed on television screens everywhere, she became a face of the Libyan revolution, her heroism a source of inspiration for men and women fighting a longtime tyrant. Some even said she was to Libya what Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit vendor who set himself afire, was to Tunisia's revolution. A few weeks ago, Newsweek magazine included her on its list of 150 fearless women.
Al-Obeidi drew sympathy and fame, her image painted for the public on a canvas of courage.
Now, in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, she says she craves anonymity.
The accidental activist wants no longer to be one, though she's aware that had she remained quiet, she might have been just another one of Gadhafi's nameless victims.
She stopped looking at Facebook, where her distress was debated, and distanced herself from anyone who dared to judge her.
Some people didn't believe her story after Gadhafi's government labeled her a drunk and a prostitute who had lied for attention. They said she had brought shame upon her people. She grew frustrated, too, with compatriots who squabbled with each other about a post-Gadhafi nation. And those who she felt did little to help her.
In this Boulder cantina, she takes stock of her life. She only did what she felt she had to do, she sighs.
Then, in those indelible hotel images, she was hysterical -- tears streaming down her cheeks, her flesh bruised and torn. Now, she manages a smile, lips quivering.
She gained asylum last summer in the United States and found herself a refugee in Denver even before Gadhafi was gone and a new Libya took root. She thought she, like her homeland, would begin again. But like Libya itself, al-Obeidi is struggling to reconcile past and present.
'You'll never see the light of day'
Al-Obeidi picks away at her fajitas, though she doesn't care much for food in America. Too bland, she says. She puts her fork down and holds up the four fingers of her left hand. More than half of her pinkie is missing.
When she was 16, her brother's hunting rifle went off accidentally. She lost her little finger and doctors sewed 22 stitches across her belly.
Those defining scars should have helped save her reputation last year, she says.
After the hotel incident, Libyan state television aired a video of a scantily-clad belly dancer, claiming it was al-Obeidi. The smear campaign stung her almost as much as the gang rape.
"That woman had 10 fingers and no stitches on her stomach," she says. "I went to the police to ask about the video. But they did nothing."
Al-Obeidi was no stranger to the way things worked in an autocratic Libya. She studied law in college and was in training at a legal office in Tripoli, where she was tasked with filing paperwork for postponement of cases. She also worked as an administrative assistant for a Pakistani family to earn a few extra dinars.
She owns a three-bedroom flat in Benghazi that her father helped her purchase. But she was living in Tripoli with her sister, Amaal, and her husband.
On a Thursday in late March 2011, she caught a cab after leaving her girlfriend's house in the Ain Zara neighborhood. At a checkpoint, she showed her identification card. The security guards could see she was from Benghazi, the city that was the cradle of the anti-Gadhafi revolt.
One minute, it was just another day. The next, a chain of violence began to unfold, the hourglass of her life turned upside down.
Gadhafi's men abducted her, she says. They tied her hands behind her. They hit her, beat her, poured stinging alcohol over her eyes so that she could not see.
They used their Kalashnikovs to sodomize her. They raped her, one by one. She believes there were about a dozen of them. She could smell alcohol on their breath. She recognized one of the men and knew they were all connected to powerful Libyan families.
When she fought back, they starved her and refused to let her use the bathroom.
"You will never see the light of day," they told her. "Let the men from Eastern Libya come and see what we are doing to their women and how we treat them, how we rape them."
She was certain they would not hesitate to kill her. Time sped by and yet it stood still.
Rebel forces advanced westward toward Tripoli. NATO planes bombed Gadhafi targets every day. But in al-Obeidi's world, there was no future. They've taken my humanity, she thought. There was no way to fight back except to survive.
Gadhafi's militia men had abducted other women as well. Among them was a girl -- she looked no older than 16 to al-Obeidi. They had not tied her up.