I’m almost glad I have nearly three weeks of backlog to post, since I think it’s taken that much time for me to be comfortable writing about what happened on March 1st.
I was walking home from the train. It was 6:30 p.m. The walk from the train to my apartment is .7 miles, about 15 minutes, but it’s not particularly well lit. I never wear headphones when I walk at night because I want to be as alert as possible—I have lived too much to not be cautious. I was about a third of the way home, walking on a rather deserted stretch of suburban neighborhood sidewalk. There was no one behind me. And then there was. The most startling part at first was that I didn’t hear him at all. I was walking under a street lamp, my shadow in front of me, and there was suddenly another shadow beside it.
I glanced back immediately and saw a man about a dozen feet behind me. He was around thirty, perhaps, and wearing a brown hoodie. That’s all I saw before I turned back forward and quickened my pace visibly. I could hear him walking faster to keep up.
I cut across the street at an angle, not a crosswalk, trying to put some distance between us. But he crossed at the exact same angle, still the same distance behind me as before. The street I was on was empty and I was panicking. I pulled out my phone and called my mom. She lives 2,000 miles away, but I was scared and I needed to hear her voice. She didn’t pick up.
I kept glancing behind me as I called again—he was still there. At this point, we’d turned two corners together and were now on my street, but I was only halfway home. I called my mom again and she answered. I tried to keep my voice calm lest the man behind me hear and do anything violent. I talked to my mom about my day, and she knew something was wrong. I was almost running now, I was walking so fast.
I reached into my bag and pulled out my mace, glancing behind me again as I did and whispering to my mom that I was being followed. She, as always, stayed calm. She asked if there were any buildings I could go into—no, my street only has a post office and YMCA, and both were closed and dark now.
With my mace in my hand, I crossed the street again. This time, the man didn’t follow. He stayed on the opposite side of the street, but was still keeping pace with me as I hurried towards my apartment. My mom warned me not to let him see where I was going—I wouldn’t want him to know where I lived.
At the corner before my apartment building, I ran through traffic rather than waiting for the light (the only stoplight on my route home). This separated me from the man for good, and I practically sprinted the rest of the way towards my apartment.
Two buildings away, I ducked behind a car and watched to see if he’d kept following. He hadn’t. He still stood on the corner by the light for a moment, then turned down the cross street and started walking away. I ran into my building, shaking.
When I went to my apartment, my mom told me not to turn the light on right away—if he’d seen where I’d gone, I didn’t want it giving away my exact location. So I sat in the dark and thanked my mom and hung up. And my heart was pounding, and I was still holding my mace, and I was hating, hating, hating that things like this happen.