Friday, April 17, 2015

Letter to a Man I Do Not Know

Dear Sir,

I think of you every single day, and I often wonder whether you think of me. About a week after we met, I was in my living room with one of my best friends, listening to music. Drinking tea. Michael Jackson came on. (cue; play from 0:13-1:03).

And I really tried to play it cool. But that’s one of my favorite songs. Shaun looked at me: Did I want him to change it? And I wept. In that moment, I was angrier with you than I was before or have been since. You fucked up the song, man!

There were still newspapers taped over the dining room windows — triple-layered, so that even at night my silhouette couldn’t be seen from outside. I told Shaun not to change the song, and laughed … and wept … and made him feel really uncomfortable. I felt crazy, and I was acting crazy, and I knew it, and I couldn’t help it.

But at least I had people with me. The neighbors who ran from their homes when they heard me screaming. Especially Sam, who came out in her bathrobe to make sure it wasn’t only men who came to help. My partner, who sprinted the two blocks from our house. Hanover Police. Lebanon Police. A full set of EMTs. All within minutes. And you were … alone, in your car, somewhere. How did it feel?

In the weeks after, I obsessively locked the doors. I couldn’t sleep with the (second story) window open, no matter how hot and stuffy my room was. I couldn’t even piss alone. Every moment, everywhere, I feared that you would Come Back. That you would Try Again. Every man who looked remotely like you sent me into a panic.

But at least I had people I could talk to. The ER nurses, who laughed awkwardly at my fucked-up jokes. Detective Norris, who filmed an on-scene reenactment the very next day. Deans, shrinks, cops, and cops, and cops, and a slew of Facebook friends. My partner, who never tried to get me to stop crying and who put his fingers in his ears when he accompanied me to the bathroom so that I could piss with some shred of dignity intact.

What about you? Did you have anyone you could confide in? I imagine you felt similar fears, for a while. Would someone recognize you from the police sketch? Would the next knock on your door be law enforcement? Were you crazy?

I have so many questions. Like … did you know me? Or was it totally random? How long had you been planning it? Had you done anything like that before? Was it what you expected? What did you expect? What did you want to do to me? Were you nervous, or scared, or excited? Were you looking forward to it? Did you go to work that day, or visit your mom, or anything? What about the day after? How often do you think about it? How did you feel when you saw the news report? Do you regret it? Do you make jokes about it? (‘Cause, like, I do.) Where did you get the stun gun? I’ve imagined you shopping around online, optimizing for price and performance value. Do you still have it? Do you still have the clothes that you were wearing? Mine are in an evidence bag somewhere, probably forever … and those were my favorite jeans. My mom replaced them, though. Exact same kind. So it's cool.

I’m comfortable being home alone again, and pissing has long since ceased to be a social activity. I can even walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood after dark. And “Smooth Criminal” is still one of my favorite songs.

What I’m trying to tell you is: I’m okay. Are you?

Callista Womick

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