One Friday night I came home late from school. When I dropped off from the bus, I paid the driver my money and prepared to cross the road. I was dog tired, I was desperately hungry and I desired a warm soothing bath.
“Alright, thank you.” The driver smiled, taking the money.
I smiled tiredly at him, my mouth was too dry to respond.
When the bus drove off, I started to cross the road. I looked to my left and then to my right to make sure that there were no approaching traffic.
I checked the time on my watch: 8:55. The road was strangely quiet. All the houses seemed to be tightly shut in and the local bar was closed. That was strange. It was a Friday night, and usually the place was filled with drinkers and people looking to have a good time and the bar didn’t close until after 12. I held onto the thought as I looked around, not even a drunkard or a vagrant littered the sidewalk. I looked up at the sky which was a large blanket of black with a pale yellow moon disappearing beneath the clouds. In the distance, a dog howled. I looked down as a patch of grass rustled at my feet.
When I looked up again, in the distance, I could see the silhouetted image of a stockily built boy standing in the middle of the road with the street light reflecting on his back. I boxed my brain to see if I could identify who he was but I shrugged off the thought and started to cross.
“Jaeneh!” the boy shouted.
I turned to my right. That was my name, and as far as I was concerned, I was the only Jaeneh in my community who was standing in the road. I squinted out into the distance at the boy. He spread his arms in the air as if I should be able to identify him. I noticed the basketball shorts and vest. I froze in the middle of the road and a sour lump formed in my throat. Was that who I thought it was? It couldn’t be. It had been weeks since I had not seen him. Weeks I had tried to make myself scarce because I did not want to see him and I did not want him to see me. Shoot! My legs unfroze and quickly I continued crossing the road.
“Jaeneh!” he called again. He began jogging.
I continued walking but I constantly looked over my shoulder.
“Jaeneh!” his voice sounded closer now.
Agitated, I turned around. “What?!”
“No,” I said disgusted and continued walking.
“Hey, come on, I wanna talk to you.”
“No, get away.” I said again picking up my pace.
“Because I DO NOT want to talk to you,”
“So is that how it’s gonna be, huh? Is that the way you’re gonna treat me?”
“Yes,” I grumbled coldly.
I could hear his footsteps picking up the pace. Frightened, I started to jog. He started to jog as well. He was a big guy and my sisters often referred to him as “Big, Fat and Slobby.”
“Stop following me!” I yelled.
“Jaeneh, just wait!” he sounded angry.
“Noo!” I exclaimed, running as fast as I could. “Get away from me.”
“Dammit, I just want to talk to you.”
“Noo! Get away from me! Just disappear! Disappear! Don’t come near me.” I screamed.
The chase started. He was the dangerous lion and I was the fearful lamb. He was running faster. I could hear the heavy thuds of his footsteps coming closer and closer to me. My chest was heaving and my heart was racing as I ran up the dark road.
“Dammit Jaeneh, stop it. I don’t know why you’re acting like this.” he said through pants. I blocked out his words.
There was a street light ahead and the road seemed to be stretching farther and farther. I gripped the handles on my bag and ran and ran and ran. I did not care if I bumped my foot on a stone or if I fell face down on the road and had to get up again. All I wanted was to get as far, far, far away from him as possible.
Finally, I reached the nearby street light and I bolted down the path to my gap. I breathed a sigh of relief. Lights streamed through the windows, so someone was home.
I pounded vehemently on the door. “Cadra, Allison, open the door, i-it’s me!”
The door flung open and my second older sister stared at me with a confused and agitated look on her round face. I pushed past her and heaved into my nearby bedroom.
“Jaeneh, what the h—”
I sat crouched fearfully on the ground as I heard the approaching footsteps.
“Where’s Jaeneh?” he questioned angrily.
“Boy, you got some nerve!” Cadra, my second sister said.
He tried pushing himself in. He always did it. He was bold faced enough. I could hear my sister struggling to keep him outside.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Allison snapped defensively as she emerged from the kitchen. “Get out of our property and leave Jaeneh alone.”
“No, I’m not leaving until I talk to her.” he demanded. I shook uncontrollably and my teeth trembled.
“Boy, you ain’t talking to no one.” Cadra said. “And don’t give me the nerve to drag you out of here.”
“I’ll drag her with me.”
“Get out of here!” Allison yelled. I imagined her pointing the broom at him.
He pounded his fist angrily on the wall.
“Don’t you dare touch my wall!” Cadra yelled.
As if afraid of the power of two sisters, he gave up and walked away. He muttered curse words and I could hear his taunting words seeping through my window.
“I’ll be back. Do you hear? I’ll be back. I must see her. I have to see her, whether you like it or not.”
“You’d better stay away from our little sister or else I’ll call the police!” Cadra yelled.
Allison threw a stone at him but she missed.
I was shivering. I felt as if I was crumbling to the floor. I buried my face in my hands and I cried. I had never felt so scared in my entire life.
A moment after, Cadra came into the room. “Jaeneh, you okay?” she asked but I could not answer her. I was too busy drowning in my tears…
Copyright© Tricia Gill