Followed | Menories Journal

Followed | Menories Journal

A Story by Haley
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Being cat-called and followed is the norm apparently.

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            At age 10, in 5th grade, my friend Jessie and a group of other girls waited for me atop a hill. I remember taking my time to meet them as I crawled slowly up the hill, in part because I was a chubbier kid who didn’t want to be out of breath when getting there. These girls, who were often hot and cold, smiled when I reached them, Jessie singing out, “Haley, you have a great walk, like I want to walk like you.” Confused and thinking it was one of her colder moments, I said nothing and no further details or comments were offered. That was the first time someone had ever commented on the way that I walked and it would not be the last.

            In the years to come, many would comment on the way that I walked; it being purposeful, and driven, but bouncy, one even going so far as to call it a model’s off-duty catwalk. Some calling it out as a way to hit on me, some friends genuinely entertained by how loud my boots would seem to clack when I walked. I guess it was a compliment and one that I soon began to lean fully into. I had always been told to walk with a purpose, eyes forward and focused on what’s in front of you and I was tall so long-strides were all I knew. I don’t know where the bounciness came from, perhaps it stems from my clumsiness, almost half falling with every step but catching it which resulted in something that translated to bounciness. Regardless, these things, in addition to the fact that I am normally wearing some heeled boot which echoes after each step, seem to be attention grabbing.

            The cat-calling and the whistles usually came from men’s cars as they slowed to pass me. Which, while insufferable, was still somewhat manageable because after the cars typically slowed to throw a few more pick-up lines at me, they would drive off. It was the men on the street who posed more of any kind of threat. The men who could follow you, usually from a distance, but the bold would be either steps behind or beside you. If a car is following a walking person, the person who is walking ideally would be able to duck into a store or some other populated area to at least help muddle the situation. When being followed on foot, it can become trickier, more flammable, let alone raise the anxiety and stress level by a thousand.

            In situations past, I was usually able to find some way out, either by the person following losing interest, or a few, regretful times, confronting them. Once having been confined in an elevator with a man who had been following me around a mall food court, and with whatever gumption I had, somewhat turned the tables and stared intensely at him until the elevator reached the destination. The man, getting off and scurrying away, mumbled loudly under his breath that I was one weird chick. Though not advisable, in that situation some sort of confrontation worked; however, there are always those who will be undeterred.

            The walk home from the community college I attended in Berkeley could be done a number of ways: a) going up two blocks and walking on the main strip with lots of people and restaurants, then having to go back down two blocks, or, b) going straight home but on a road that was less travelled and usually dark regardless of time of day. Naturally, I always chose the way that took less steps unless in need of a coffee or snack. After leaving an Ethics class a few minutes early, I had stepped out of the large, mirrored building and stepped directly into a man. I quickly apologized, laughing about how choosing what song to listen to had distracted me. I smiled and apologized again as he waved it off, saying nothing, but smiling. Now, with no more men in front of me to walk into, I was on my way. A few minutes had passed and I could hear footsteps behind me as the song I was listening to dimmed into the next. It was noon, and I was still close to campus and the main hub of Berkeley, so figured it was another student on their way somewhere.

            Another song had come and went when I could feel my body start to stiffen as I sensed someone getting close to me, and not in a way that other walkers can get close to pass by, but close as if he could probably touch my hair if he wanted to. Getting more anxious and self-aware, I paused my music and turned onto a side street to test if someone was following me. There were still those footsteps, getting closer, and as I slightly turned my head to look over my shoulder, he quickly jogged in front of me, signaling to take my headphones out. I looked at him for a second, before recognizing him as the man I had just run into leaving campus. We both stared at each other silently for a minute before he began to speak, in those seconds of silence I questioned if it would be too much to run and if that was dramatic or called for. “Where are you headed to, you seem like you’re in a hurry.” He spoke with a smile, and took a step closer to me. Reactively I took a step back and looked at him, my brows furrowed. “That was, uh, cute back there and I wanted to see if you wanted to get a drink or something.” He stepped closer to me again in order to make up for my step back and was still inches from me. His eyes drank me in as he waited.

            “No, thank you.”

            “Not like a drink drink, like a coffee…” he paused, studying me.

            “I’m not interested, thank you, though.” I repeated more firmly this time and taking a step in order to move around him. His smile faded quickly and noticed my attempt to continue on my way.

            “Whatever, I was joking anyway. You’re not even hot enough for me to have walked this far.” He sneered then sized me up one last time before jogging away. In that moment, the only thing I could do was breathe. Happy he had left and unbothered by his comment, I continued to walk down the side road, somewhat afraid to go straight home in case he was still around or watching.

            The door to my house opened into a hallway that lead right to my grandfather’s bedroom-converted-art-studio to where he was painting and singing one of the songs he had written for his history class back from when he had taught. He looked at me when I came in, stopping me on the stairs up to my room, and asked about my day. I replied in some basic manner that reassured him nothing important had happened, figuring that what had just occurred wasn’t extreme enough to report it. After all, there was always something worse to compare any instance to and what could really be said of the issue.

© 2020 Haley


Author's Note

Haley
Thanks for reading!

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Reviews

Dear Haley, I liked the details and how you set-up the story. Her movement attracted attention that she didn't want. I liked the inner thoughts and the description of people and locations. You gave life and reason for the entertaining story. I have six sisters and three daughters. I know. Woman decide what they want and don't. Thank you for sharing the excellent story.
Coyote

Posted 1 Month Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

Hi, thank you so much for the read! I've actually written this more as a memoir. All of my current p.. read more
Coyote Poetry

1 Month Ago

I enjoyed your work and you are welcome dear Haley.
I like your writing style - it makes me want to read more and helps me to understand the deeper you quite quickly, which I also like. I think you are brave writing about these experiences, but it is a really interesting 'genre', one which probably provides instant identification for most women. I like the range of experiences that you have had - encounter that are sometimes mundane, sometimes scary


Posted 1 Month Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

Hi Helen! I am so sorry that I am so late to respond to this, where has time gone? Anyway, thank you.. read more
I really enjoy this very much. I got a very good an idea of the area in which the character was living in. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

Ah, I'm so sorry I'm just seeing this. Thank you very much, unfortunately there won't be a next! Eac.. read more
Another great story. You really remind me of Bukowski! Your writing raw yet smooth. It is real life yet beyond it.

Posted 2 Months Ago


You just stopped there? I was wanting to read more. That was engaging and quite interesting.....did I ever see that guy again? I hope not.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Haley

2 Months Ago

Oh trust me there will be plenty of similar stories coming up! Thank you.

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Added on December 17, 2020
Last Updated on December 18, 2020
Tags: nonfiction, short story, quick read, dating, lifestyle, romance, humor, satire, men, follow, scary, horror, creepy

Author

Haley
Haley

CA



About
Menories - Memories or Stories about Men Detailing encounters I've had with men in my life - from short run-in's to those who have had long lasting effects. It's the story of getting into a Lyft at.. more..

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