It's a lovely little town. It borders Denver, one of the burbs now really. When you drive into it this time of year the trees are filed with lights and there's a banner saying,'HAPPY HOLIDAYS.'
It's quiet. Charming. Very, 'It's Wonderful Life.'
Jo lives there, in an apartment off Main Street. I went over last night to study. She's taking a cardiac class waaaay over my head. We quizzed each other until midnight. Time to go home.
In the parking lot I saw him across the alley. He saw me.
I lost sight of him completely for a moment, crossing through a parking garage. But I felt him walking towards me. Silent. I listened for him. (“Hey, excuse me, miss...?”)
But he didn't say anything.
I was almost to the car. I knew he was there. I couldn't see him. I felt him. He was silent.
I had my keys. I realized they were the wrong keys. I grabbed the right keys, debated opening the back door along with the front, to throw my heavy laptop and book in. Which would be faster? I opened both, thew them in, threw myself into the front, hit the lock button immediately.
He was two feet away. Dressed in black. Silent.
I turned the key in the ignition. The radio came on, loud. I turned it up.
(Crazy Train. Ha ha, Universe, you so funny!)
I lost sight of him, and then he was behind the car. He stopped. He didn't turn towards the car, but stood there, sideways, as if he were simply walking behind it to his own and had stopped. Perhaps in mid-thought.
These were the things my head was telling me to 'normalize' the situation. It tried to tell me all was well. A misunderstanding. He was was just some guy walking behind my car.
But he wasn't. He was silent. He didn't say anything. He didn't move.
I couldn't pull forward. A concrete barrier blocked me.
I didn't want to hurt him, in case he was just a guy. I thought of backing over him though. What if.
As if this were the first time and he wasn't sure how it goes...
I shook my head no. No. You can't have me.
He opened his mouth.
He took his hands out of his hoody. Empty. Empty.
Before I'd left, she told me to give her a text when I got home. Just to make sure. She NEVER does that. I don't either. It's not something we think about.
“Hey I died in a fiery auto crash. See you later.”
No, she hadn't seen anyone suspicious. She hadn't seen anyone, had no reason to worry. But this is how we operate.
Every time I close my eyes I see his face.
I didn't even think to call 911 from the car. I worry for Jo. I worry for every woman in that little town.