The newsfeed of every media platform is a trigger stream for survivors of sexual violence…
He followed me. I wondered: What did I look like to him in that moment, in the flare of headlights, the Christmas lights wrapping the darkened lamppost above us? Could he smell my perfume? Did he think of reaching out to catch my hand, or a bit of my hair trailing? What impulse made him follow me as I stepped off the curb into the street?
He was right there with me all along. As we left The Inn, walking the narrow little strip of sidewalk together in the dark, I could feel how close he was to me, him having stepped back right as we came off of the patio onto the sidewalk to make room for me to walk ahead of him, him half a step behind on my left. Total darkness on the street in that little block, the only available light was the headlights of those passing cars and strung Christmas lights above us. The feel of him right there in the darkness as we walked overwhelmed me.
I stepped off of the sidewalk, my face all of a sudden lit up in the headlights of one of those cars traveling north and I felt electrified and illuminated. I said something quietly as explanation, under my breath, about feeling claustrophobic on that narrow strip of sidewalk, and then I moved off alone across the street, at an angle, quickly. I could feel my hair loose on my shoulders, the tops of my arms, my face now again in full darkness, my hipbones moving with my own rhythm, boot heels hard on the pavement. I was moving quickly, breaking away from the group, and yet he followed me as I split away across the darkened street.
His physical proximity, the current of energy, us moving in the darkness all of a sudden after the bright and public openness of The Inn itself – all of a sudden stepping into such darkness felt as if we’d skimmed off between the worlds, him and I now in some half space in between it all, and it overwhelmed me, how aware I was of the feel of the in-between, and the feel of him so near to me. I felt live-wire aware, like something glittering and mysterious and wholly otherworldly. Did he feel it too? All of that energy and the in-between collision? Was he as intensely aware of me as I was of him? In truth, I wanted him to take my hand, to cross the street with me, to loop his arm around my shoulders and tuck me into him so that we were walking the same rhythm together, so that I could feel the movement of his hips against mine, side-by-side, as we crossed the street together in the darkness.
“Hey, hold up.”
“Here, take my hand. I want to feel you against me as we walk together.”
I have felt alone for so long. My heart hungers so.
Does anyone ever become at ease with longing?
©2011 Dora E. McQuaid
All peace to each one of you. Dora