My breath wasn’t just warm; it was sticky.
It felt good against my cold tongue, but bad on my lips.
I got the strangest urge to scream a word,
but I couldn’t.
I stood frozen; not a muscle in my body would move.
Loneliness is only debilitating when you fear for your life,
and at that moment, the beating of my heart—
not like the “thud, thud, thud” of a drum,
but like the “pitter-pitter-patter-pat” of a quick mouse
across wooden floors—
told me that I was very, very afraid.
The fear was irrational, but it had something to do with
a man in a coat (not a trench coat; a normal overcoat)
and a little girl with a dollar sticking out of her pocket.
That dollar was a goner, and I wanted to yell at the girl—
tell her, “Little girl! A man is a coat is going to steal your dollar!”
but I couldn’t,
because my brain told me that men in overcoats don’t steal dollar bills
from little girls.
When I was a few blocks away, I heard a shriek,
and an anguished little voice yelled,
“My dollar! My dollar! He stole from me.”
The pitter-patter stopped.
I remembered the first time someone stole from me.
He stole my
from the end of my driveway.
Exposure to evil at a young age, and
learning that you’re a victim, and
realizing that nothing of yours is safe:
It ruins you.
That little girl is a goner.