Sorting through quick writings as I gather my ideas together for a bigger story. Another half-hour free-write from Maya Stein’s “Quick and Dirty” series.
The Walk Home
I could smell out the perverts even before I knew what a pervert was.
Brownies, Girl Scouts, youth groups, teachers, my junior high principal. It always seemed like wherever there were kids; at least a few of the adults were “off”.
30 years later, my younger sister said she quit playing violin because Mr. Ross would feel her up during lessons.
When I was 14, a photographer asked me to climb up a tree while I was wearing a skirt. I started to climb when I realized he was wanting to take pictures of my panties. I didn’t like what he was doing so I came down. He wanted me to have a drink of champagne with him so I would “loosen up” – he kept a bottle and some glasses in his trunk. We could “just sit in the park” like we were “having a picnic”. I refused and wouldn’t get back into his car.
I walked home.
There was a paved pathway through the woods. It occurred to me, as I was walking home, that he might try to follow. I walked quickly, looking over my shoulder as I went.
I tried to tell my mom about him, but she didn’t hear it. It was like she shut a part of her mind off. I don’t understand how she doesn’t recognize that look in men’s eyes. Push. Go on, it’s ok. She, with her soft brown eyes like a doe.
I grew dark. Part of myself dimmed out. And another part of me grew sharp. Soft cheeks, hard heart.
Another time, I was walking with my sister. The walk home. I was 14; she was 12. Two men, in their 20s, cat-called and followed us for a while. We talked to them a little bit. In a weird way it was flattering to get the attention. We didn’t think much of it. 2 weeks later they kidnapped my sister. They tried to get a ransom. They were caught.
My 12 year-old sister – a child. Teachers, psychologists, principals, church ladies, doctors decided my sister, this child, was a temptress of grown men, that somehow she had caused these men to go wild and steal her away.
She still looked like a little boy.
Dim dim damn.
The walk home is too long now. The walk is home. The walk is home. The walk is home. The shadows are part of the journey, along with the flowers and the trees and the dust and the wind. The walk home. The walk.
The walk home. I kissed him in the doorway of a brick building, around the corner of Mother’s. We had just spent the night dancing. He wore leather pants and a black t-shirt. He caught me looking at his arms. He shouted over the thump of club music, “Are you looking for track marks?” I smiled, “You got me. I can’t help it.” He swigged his beer, “I don’t do needles. I don’t do hard drugs.” So I kissed him in the doorway, shaking, knowing there was no turning back.
The man I lived with, the man who I spent the last seven years of my life with – was out with someone else, too. But I wasn’t like him. This being out was not my style. I didn’t like complications.
I felt like the air, the world had stopped, like I was walking through a postcard on the way home. I tiptoed up the stairs, turned the key slowly in the door.
There was no one home.
New York City is damp in the summer time.