Monday, February 6, 2012

shaking it out

It is four a m on a poorly lit street. She hears him first or hears it, we should say. It comes from behind.

She had never been able to wear any type of earphones or earbuds or ear anythings on those early morning walks. Paranoid logic had led to the conclusion that when sight was limited hearing became more important. Although the neighborhood seemed relatively safe, this routine (maybe routines were unsafe) put her on the outside of locked doors and made her vulnerable enough to the unknown of which she had heard known could be horrid.

For this reason she hears the bike first but it is so close so fast that she kinda bends to the right, her head tucked in. She throws her arms up and to the left before she recognizes the sound. This reaction is split second and there is only a slight pause in her pace which is already quick.

She has had limited problems on this walk. A couple of mornings ago an old man kept showing up on her route. He had seen her first in the middle of town, across the road. He was clearly not one of the joggers she sometimes passed. He looked at her, she at him. She whispered the courteous Hi. About half a mile later she was in the park on her second lap and there he was. This time he was sitting on a bench in the darkest corner. She whispered Hi again, finished the lap, left the route and jogged home. It startled her but not so much that she abandoned her routine.

At the very moment the bike passes she slows and turns to see very little but hear a voice of what sounds like a young male in his early twenties. He is on a kid's bike, that much she can tell. He says in the most normal tone and volume which seems eerie for this most abnormal of situations, Where are you going?

She mumbles and he chuckles. Then it is done. She is left with the impact of the passing, of the what the hell did he mean. She is left with the relief which can only be felt through a narrow escape. She is shaken. Enough so that she quits taking those early morning walks.

Years later she is sitting at a desk when a friend walks into her office. The friend is stopping by to chat and she has brought some magazines. Thought you might like these for the pictures, the friend says. It is casual enough.

Now she realizes how grateful she is for easy lessons and casual direction.

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