* this is a piece of fiction
What do you do with something you remember like it was yesterday, only you should, really, have forgotten it a long, long time ago? It happened so quickly ... I wonder if it was just a dream.
Kim and I wanted to go for a walk downtown. I can’t remember if we asked permission or not. We were mature. All of seventeen. Maybe there wasn’t anyone to ask permission from. My dad would have been at the pub, or at work. Ditto for Kim’s parents. Not much happening in the supervision department in those reckless days. I remember thinking that drinking International Foods coffee and sneaking Rothman’s Extra Mild’s made me an adult. How stupid I was, looking back.
I don’t think we had been drinking that night; it would have made little difference if we had. The timing was wrong, the lighting was wrong, the scenery was wrong ... everything was just wrong.
We should have stayed at her house, eating over-salted popcorn and writing unrequited love poems. We never should have left the comfort of her room, the waterbed warm and inviting, never too cramped for a couple of grown-up teenage girls and their clandestine dreams.
As often as possible we would share our compositions, imagining how they would look in print thumbing through magazines promising awards of money for the best poem. I knew Kim would make it some day ... as a poet. Her words were rich, alive; she had already been in love. She had already “done it”. I was witnessing a master, only she humbled herself enough to call me friend, too.
We had finished writing, the popcorn bowl emptied, but our souls were longing for inspiration, so we walked. I guess we walked a little too far that night. I really can’t remember.
It felt as though we had been transported in some ways, one minute at home, innocent and insulated, the next hurled through both time and space, never to be the same. I think she saw him first, lighted in the graffiti-filled tunnel. We had stopped to see if anyone had added to what we had already inscribed on the concrete.
Kim loves Steve.
Nothing we could find, anyway. We checked over our shoulders and noticed someone walking through the cement tunnel maybe 20 feet away. We screwed up our noses in disgust. Why should we have to share “our” space and time with anyone? Didn’t this creep realize that this was our moment? I mean, who goes for a walk after midnight on a Sunday night anyway? What was his problem?
We giggled to ourselves, full of secret understanding as all young girls do and started leisurely walking out of the tunnel. We weren’t afraid of much, just that maybe Steve would find the writing on the tunnel wall and declare his disgust, in return for Kim’s love.
Being afraid in our small town never occurred to us. We had gone all this time without incident ... why wonder now? The lights in the tunnel seemed to be dimming somehow, or maybe that was just my imagination.
I don’t really remember.
I do know that we did another over the shoulder check, as best friends do, in synch, without words. There he was.
Now we wondered.
The once vast and spacious tunnel was beginning to feel claustrophobic. I started to sweat, a
little. I couldn’t understand why it was that if we went left, the creep did, too. We crossed
right. So did he.
This wasn’t ok.
Kim told me to run, so I did, holding tightly to her hand, praying that she wouldn’t let go. I
checked over my shoulder again ... creep was running.God! What does this mean? Why is he doing everything that I am doing? Are you asking him to? I don’t understand. I just want to go for a walk with my friend. Am I doing something wrong? Why won’t he turn around and go away? How long is this going to last?
I don’t like this.
I want this to stop.
We both stop. We turn around to look at the creep. I think he is dressed in white, head to toe. This strikes me as being ironic. How can someone who is stalking you look so angelic?
I want to tell you exactly what he looked like, but I really don’t remember. His head was down, that much I do know. I think he was wearing cowboy boots. His hair was blonde and a bit long and stringy.
Just like a creep.
His eyes were blue, I guess, but not the kind of blue that makes you think of summer skies or swimming in the lake or playing marbles as a kid, in the schoolyard. His eyes were blue like neglect. The blue that comes when you just choose a colour out of the crayon box at random or the kind of blue that you pick out of default. Just blue. Not just at all.
He had his head down, like I said, and I was standing there, wondering, when he ran at me, grabbing me and uttering this sound like a dog might make if he was hungry and hadn’t been fed for a while. Or like a train just picking up speed. Maybe it was a word that got mixed up in his mind before he spoke it, like sorry, only when I heard it, it was so twisted it no longer made sense.
In any case, he made a sound, and though I can’t remember exactly where he grabbed me, in an instant I knew what it was he wanted, and it left me with bruises. Good thing my feet were planted, ‘cause he couldn’t get me down.
He didn’t know I could kick so hard.
I know he ran away at least once, but he kept coming back. I wanted him to just go away and leave me alone. Didn’t he know that I only wanted to go for a walk? Didn’t he know that I was innocent? Didn’t he have somewhere else to go?
I don’t blame her.
The next day, when the police came to my house, I got to look through a big book full of pictures. Pictures of creeps. They told me they knew exactly who it was that had hurt me. All I had to do was point to his picture in the photo album, but I couldn’t remember.
He had had his head down and he was wearing cowboy boots. Look for the creep with his head down. They all looked the same.
I made my choice then they asked me what he was wearing. How could I forget? He was dressed all in white, like a freaking angel, and he was wearing cowboy boots ... that I know. The next day, at school, I asked Kim if the police had come to her house. She said they had, and she told them what he looked like.
Kim told them he was wearing sneakers.
I guess I couldn’t remember much.
Just the noise he made every time he grabbed me. And how the story sounded to my ears when I read it in the paper.
They called it an attempted assault. They said he walked away.
I am done walking, and I am trying to forget.