I was walking home and it was late at night and I was drunk, and maybe you heard the uneven clip-clop of my heels against the asphalt as I cantered down the centre of the street.
You saw me before I saw you. You were a shape in the shadows that didn’t turn into a person until it was too late for me to go in the other direction. And so I didn’t turn back but I did turn away. I took a hard left and ignored you when you shouted out to me, “Hey! Hey, wait a sec!” I didn’t want to wait up for a strange man on the edge of a dark field and so without really thinking about it the clip-clopping of my heels picked up the pace as I walked away, faster.
And you followed me.
I’ve scared myself on walks home before when I catch my own shadow in my peripheries, thinking it’s someone else’s shadow. I’ve scared myself with the echoes of my own footsteps, calming down my heart when I stop walking and the echoes stop too.
Now I know what being followed really sounds like. What it really looks like. What it really feels like.
You noticed that I sped up because you said, “I can skip faster than you can walk!” And started loping towards me with what you probably thought was a whimsical gait. I peered behind me once and saw you gaining on me. I wondered if I should run. I wondered if that would make it better or worse. I thought of how a dog runs faster when you chase them because they think it’s a game, and kept my same pace, aiming towards a well-lit street lined with houses. Safe, I thought. Safer, at least.
I made a hard right, and you did too. A harder right, because you passed me, cut me off, standing so close that the straw of the slushee I’d bought on my way home just about brushed against the front of your jean jacket.
“Come on! I just need help opening this beer–grab this beer out of my backpack!” You twirled around to show me your bag, and I crossed the street away from you again. I didn’t say anything.
And you followed me. Again.
“Hey stop, I just need–” Is it just me or do men have difficulty ascertaining the difference between a want and a need?
I was a block away from home and I was tired and I was drunk and I was sick of your shit.
“Leave me the fuck alone. Do you know how fucking scary you are? Do you know how fucking scary it is to be a woman walking alone, to be followed?” I shouted this at you, and you stopped. I shouted again, louder, “Fuck off.”
You stopped and stared and told me I was just a crazy bitch. You punched the air. “Go fuck yourself,” you said. And then you left. I watched you walk away and then I started walking again, faster again. I don’t think I breathed until I was home and twisted the deadbolt on my front door. Safe.
You were angry at me and I was angry at myself. It was late at night and I was drunk and I was walking home alone but that doesn’t matter. I was ashamed–a knee-jerk reaction. I thought it was my fault.
It’s not. It’s your fault. I was walking home minding my business. You followed me.
You are blonde. You are slightly taller than me (in heels). I’d say 5’9. Your hair is longish, and was pulled into a bun. You think you’re funny. You look like the kind of guy who owns a “This is what a feminist looks like” tee shirt and knows his way around the current left-wing rhetoric (an asshole in progressive clothing). You think you’re a nice guy.
You’re the worst guy.
And if you ever do get that beer open, I hope you choke on it.