You Never Know Who Will Cross Your Path So Always Be Aware
A short story from “Moments of My Life”
It was a warm Autumn Day, the year 1979. All the kids were heading back to school, and so was I. For many, the summer was filled with fun and laughter with family and friends, but for me, turmoil and transitions were the words I would say best fits the bill.
I am about to be 14 years old, and the past year of my life was filled with tragedy and heinous acts of abuse. I was plucked from my home with my mother only because she tried to commit suicide, and I was transferred to my father who truly did not know how to deal with me or handle me. I was an angry teen wanting to run away from it all. I was sad, lonely, and misunderstood.
As I got myself dressed and ready for school, I knew I would be walking to the bus stop, which was about 5 blocks away from our apartment complex. I am excited to see some of my friends, but I also dread the staring eyes of those who continually spoke poorly of me because of my situation.
With my notebook and pen in hand, I take a deep breath and make my way out the door. As I walk, I am engrossed in the trees, the inviting breeze and the beautiful nature that surrounds me. I feel the warm morning sun hitting my face and for the first time in a long time I smile. As I turn the corner, I see an elderly gentlemen walking his dog. He is a very tall man, with white hair and glasses. He is wearing all black, with a black coat. His dog is small and I am totally drawn to him, as I am an extreme animal lover. As I make my way towards them our eyes connect and he says, “Well hello my dear, beautiful morning” I respond, “Why yes, it is.” He goes on to say, “Are you off to school?” “Yes, I am, I respond, and I then say, I love your dog, what is his name?” “His name is Freddy”, the elderly man responds with a cheeky smile. I say “Hey Freddy” and I continue on. As I am walking away, I hear the man say to me, “I hope to see you tomorrow!” I turned quickly gave a brief smile and I was on my way not giving it a second thought.
The next day, and several days after that, I saw this man and his little dog Freddy; we would pass each other, smile warmly make quick small talk and continue on our separate ways. This made me feel happy for the first time in a long time, and I felt I had something great to look forward to on my walk to school. I thought to myself what a nice man he was, and even pictured him being someone’s grandfather, and how luck they were.
One day during a brief conversation with him, he finally introduced himself. He said to me, “Hey I never asked you your name can you tell me what it is?” I naively respond, “Lisa with a big smile as I am petting the dog”. He says to me, “Wow that is a beautiful name for a beautiful girl with those incredible eyes!” I just looked at him and felt a little awkward so I stood up and just said, Thank you. “Oh, you are quite welcome, my name is Henry, I never told you that did I?”. I noticed the look on his face had changed somewhat, but I brushed off the feeling, and said, no you have never told me your name. He went on to say that since I loved his dog so much I should come over and sit in the yard with him, where I could play with his dog anytime. I thanked him again, and said I better be going. He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Ohh I cannot wait to see you tomorrow!” I walked away with a quick pace feeling very nervous. As I walked, and saw the faces of my friends, I quickly forgot about my uneasiness and went about my day, never speaking of my encounter.
The next few days after that conversation, there was no Henry or Freddy on my path to school, and I wondered what might have happened to them. I loved the dog, and I was worried that he was sick. I even went as far as walking to his driveway and peaking in his yard, but there was nothing to see but over grown weeds and a broken fence.
The next day as I happily made my way down the street I was enthralled with the beauty that surrounded me. When I was outside in nature my head was always in the clouds, as I daydreamed of a better life filled with wonderful things. As I made my way around the corner I saw Henry and Freddy. I cheerfully went up to him, and asked him if Freddy was ok? Henry responded with a sheepish smile, “Ohh, was Lisa worried about my baby?” I looked at him funny and say, “Yes I actually was.” He went on to say to me, I saw you in my driveway yesterday looking in my yard. I have actually watched you from my upstairs window many times. You are quite the beautiful young lady, and I bet your daddy is very proud of you, I know I am! I took a couple of steps back, and said, “Proud of me, you don’t even know me!”
He went on to say, “Oh yes I do know you all too well, young girls like you with their tight clothing and big eyes walking on by every day for me to notice.” Yes, Lisa I have noticed you for a while, and I knew you would love my Freddy, most girls do! Now I am in panic mode wanting to run but frozen at the same time. He stepped closer to me and took his hand and rubbed it down my arm. “You were looking in my yard yesterday for me, weren’t you? You wanted to visit me, and sit in the yard with me?” I shook my head in fear, and the word NO barely came out of my mouth. Now now Lisa it is ok, you can tell Henry it could be our little secret, and he was starting to squeeze my arm. I pulled away and said, “Don’t touch me, and NO I liked your dog, and I thought I could trust you, you seemed so nice!”
He chucked and said, “Oh I am nice!” Henry is going to do you a big favor. After today you will not see Freddy and me anymore, because I am afraid of what I might do to you. Henry is a nice man because I am going to let you go, but remember I will be watching from that window, and he then points to the window! I slowly backed away from him, as fear riveted throughout my whole body. The flashes of my prior sexual abuse are now in my view directly in front of my face blinding me from what was really standing there, HENRY!
I heard his laughter like it was a million miles away and then, BAM, his voice was in my ears ringing intensely. It shook me back to reality and I turned around and ran like a deer. I was literally running for my life. I turned back briefly and he was gone. This made me run faster and faster. The tears were flowing down my face, and I was hyperventilating. As I reached the bus stop my best friend Allie was standing there, and said, “Lisa where have you been, and what is wrong?” I could not even speak; I just stood there like a zombie. She repeatedly asked me what happened, and I simply said to her, “Nothing.” What my horrible past had taught me was SILENCE! Never speak never tell. If I told her what happened, then I would have to share it all, and that was something I was not able to do. So, I said to her, “I am ok, I am always OK.” She looked at me funny, but never asked me again, and I never muttered a word to anyone. From that day forward, I took an alternative route to school.
As I walked my mind would wonder back to Henry and Freddy and I always thought, how many girls did he hurt, was it a neighbor, a daughter, a granddaughter? Why was I the lucky one he chose to let go? I never saw him again, and I was truly grateful.
Please remember as you go through your daily routines, always be aware of who is in your path, and educate your children, family and friends to be cautious of whom you speak to and never give your name!
This is another example of what past trauma can do, it can cause future abuse because of the stigma to stay silent! Never being able to use your voice could ultimately be deadly. Time to break the silence once and for all!
Be safe out there is this big world and remember to ask the questions, as you may just be saving a life!