Actually, I'm waiting for the weekend. Normally I don't wish away the time because I enjoy every moment so much, but I have a male guest coming to spend the whole weekend and I'm looking forward to his company. I've known him for a while and we get along very well, but this coming weekend it will just be us.
He loves walking in the moonlight and early in the morning after a long night together and I'm looking forward to seeing the neighborhood through his eyes and spending the time together. Nothing better than a strong fella at my side to make me feel safe and protected. Someone to share meals with and talk to and spend two whole days with is going to be sheer heaven. I don't think this will be the last time either. There is already talk of more times together. Moving here was a great idea.
As I think about the kids walking and skipping and riding and prowling through the streets, I am reminded of the days when my mother told me never to walk down the alleys at night. One particular evening the sun sped like a comet into the horizon leaving no trail of fire and light in its wake. I was late. It would have taken an extra few minutes to take the long way home and the alley would have made me a lot less late. I hate being late and my mother wasn't going to be thrilled either because I was expected home for dinner with their friends. It didn't take me long to decide as I jogged down the alley, eyes focused on the road ahead.
Some of the lights had burned out and the lights over the neighbors' garages were broken, jagged milky glass like claws unsheathed toward the murky shadows, glass glittering in the rocks and dirt. I noted the difference, but it didn't make sense until a clot of shadow unfolded from around the corner of a garage and barred my path with a knife shining dully in the rising moon's light. He grabbed my arm and pulled me against him, the reek of him like spicy salami gone rancid in the heat.
"Take off your clothes," he rasped in my ear.
Fear dug icy talons in my heart and dripped through my veins. This is why I wasn't supposed to go through the alley at night. From some deep and silent trickle of strength inside me, I forced my fingers to unbutton my blouse without shaking. "Sure," I quipped. He pushed me away and spun me around to watch me undress. I took my time, was almost seductively slow as I smiled up at him with a mischievous grin. "Could we hurry this up?" I asked as I nodded toward his belt. "I need to get home to call the free clinic before they close. I think I have a dose of the clap and it cuts into my money when I can't work." I reached for his belt and he pulled away, knife glinting in his shaking hand.
"The clap?" he asked.
"Yeah, you know. Burning, itching, dripping and pain?"
"The clap?" he repeated.
I unfastened the snap on my jeans and started to push them down when I heard the skitter of gravel beneath running feet. I looked up. He was gone.
I snapped my jeans and buttoned my shirt as I headed home, calm and steady as a preacher on Sunday morning. A few minutes later I closed the gate behind me and walked up to the back door and let myself in. Mom started carping at me the minute I walked through the door and into the kitchen. The rest is all a blur until I was upstairs in my bedroom changing clothes and getting ready to go back downstairs and pass through the gauntlet of my parents friends when I started shaking and crying, all the emotions I'd held carefully at bay flooding me with hot daggers of tears and wrenching sobs I buried in my pillow.
I'll never know what came over me in that alley or how I got away so easily, but every time I walk past an alley or walk down an alley in the dusk -- like tonight on my way to the library -- I remember that night and my mother's warning not to venture down those dark and dangerous ways. I still walk down alleys, but nothing bad has ever happened to me since that time. I guess I'm too old and too much of a challenge these days. Must be the keys sticking through the fingers of my right hand always ready to strike back. Or maybe there are just better lights. I guess I'll never know.