By now they sure had forgotten me, I was safe, relieved, free from the presence of the deamons that had haunted me for a long time. . After months of fear I finally decided I should go out on the street again. Just a short way, only shopping and back home...
I hushed the alarmbell in my head while I put on my coat, tightened my scarf and locked the door of my appartement behind me. I went downstairs, out of the house, into the street, looking carefully in both directions before I stepped on the sidewalk, turning right, into the direction of the shopping center down the road; a long, straight street and I could see my destination from the doorway.
The street was almost empty. I thought there used to be more cars. I could cross safely without bothering about the traffic lights. Two kids on bikes overtook me as I walked along the other side of the street, an old lady with a wheeled shopping bag came towards me, the wheels ratteling on the rough plaster hardly fading in the distance behind me. Before me the street was empty again.
I came by the hedge of the park and asked myself, why I had not crossed the streat after passing the park. I laughed at myself, normally I would have gone through it, when I had time, the slightly longer way by the playground, specially during the rush hour, a bit away from the traffic.
I looked at my watch and found it had stopped - so that was, why the street was empty now, and no sounds from the playground even. I went a bit faster, hoping it was not too late for the shop yet.
Then I heard that sound, rhythmic scraping, with the exact rhythm of my steps. I slowed down - it slowed down. I did not want to stop and turn around, I walked fast again, keeping myself from running, cause the shop was still too far to run all the way. But i had to look around carefully. There was nobody. Some people far away behind me.
I walked on, suddenly I knew what the sound was - the seam of my coat scrapping against the back of my jeans as my steps became larger. "Yes, believe it woman, you are safe!" I reassured myself - while deep inside I knew the safety was treacherous. One or the other had returned before - not after such a long time, but they always return. "Shut up, they don't!"
I was still alone in the street, yet feeling some kind of a presence. Suddenly I rememberd that looking round I had indistinctly seen someone on the park way. going in my direction. The hedge was too high and too thick still to see through it clearly. That person must be right beside me. I looked sideways, going slower again, waiting to see a silhouette or something. And why did I not hear any steps on the gravel?
"Will you stop this nonsense now! Are you turning into a psycho or what??" The grey-clad sun had finally hid behind the trees of the park. I had reached the entrance and went in. The gravel crunched beneath my boots. The park was empty.
No, there, a little behind me stood a black clad figure, not moving, definitely staring at me. I looked at my watch again to explain the hurry with which I made it to the other exit now, across the side street, down the last part of the road and into the shopping center.
Yes, the supermarket was open still, and there were quite a lot of people shopping, so I went in, got what I had to buy, fastened my backpack - oh oh, it was heavier then I had planned - as usual-, but it was a short way home only.
A man in a long black coat stood at the other row of shopping carts when I took mine back, and I sure recognized him, without looking at him, and hoped he would not recognize me. He smiled at me, seemingly sweet and friendly, but I knew better. I volatilely smiled back and turned round to go.
This time it was not my coat I heard scraping at my jeans behind me, although his steps followed the rhythm of mine. I went across the big crossing by two traffic lights to my side of the street. He went across the road the other way, always following some meters behind me. I walked steadily on. I drew my scarf closer, now it was quite dark, except for the street lanterns and the wind had freshened up, biting cold into my face.
Aross the road I saw the other black figure, at the entrance of the park, now turning to walk beside me on the other side of the street. There were no other people to be seen, now and then a car going by and I wished I had taken mine also.
I walked very quick now and they fell back a little. Had the one behind me entered a house on the way, to make me feel safe? The other one had stopped behind a tree.
I walked still quicker the street seemed to have no end. But my home was near - even though they could still reach me at my door, and nobody would realize in the anonymity of a big appartement house. I tried not to think about it. I saw my door already - and also another black, ghostly shape in the shadow of a street lantern by the bus stop just too near. I felt a cold hand grasp my neck.
Was the bus coming? Could I get on it to escape? - Just where to? - And what when I went home later? - No, I was in for it again, I had to go home and hope for the best...
I should have known - they always return....
© Okt. 2005 ~ Neila ~ S.R.