9:11 p.m., and kung fu class is over. No more after-class chatter; it’s time to go home. I can feel the endorphins dropping and the panic rising. I’m glad it’s only a ten-minute walk back to the apartment, even though I know it will feel like much longer.
I’m the only one who walks this direction, so I’m alone. As soon as I come around the corner from the dojo, my head is turning back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We could pretend I’m making sure there are no cars coming before I cross the street, but who am I really fooling? I’m less concerned about cars than about people. Are any people coming? From the side, from the opposite direction, from behind? That car is slowing down–are they going to try to grab me? No, just going to the laundromat. Okay. Safe for the moment.
Breathe, Sara. Fucking breathe.
Oh god, a guy on a bike. We haven’t discussed how to defend yourself against a bike-mounted attacker. What could I do when he attacks? Kick the bike over. Yeah, that would work. I’ll kick the bike over. They’re not especially stable vehicles from which to launch an attack. Okay, he’s passing me anyway. Don’t look behind you. God, why do you always look behind you after someone passes. It makes you look like a paranoid freak.
Probably because I am a paranoid freak.
Guy across the street. Don’t stare right at him, for god’s sake; you’ll just provoke him to hurt you. Okay, he’s going into that house.
But when I turn this corner, there aren’t street lights. Totally dark. What then?
You can still see; there are enough lights on King Street that you can at least see a silhouette. And for fuck’s sake, you don’t need to walk around with your hands in fists all the time.
The hell I don’t. If someone comes, I have to be ready. If someone comes I have to be ready to react instantly. It’s freezing that gets you hurt or killed. They love it if you freeze. But what if there’s more than one? We haven’t learned to defend against two attackers. Oh god, what if there are three? Or four or five or a whole fucking army? Fuck! I can’t let them hurt me, I can’t, I have to figure out what to do, I’d be too much of a failure to go back to kung fu if I let them rape me. Oh god, what am I going to do?
For fuck’s sake, Sara, there’s not even anyone here. I don’t think a flash mob of gang rapists are gonna come out of the Catholic church.
They could, they could come out of anywhere. That’s why I have to be able to see everything. I might not hear them coming because my hearing’s complete shit, so I have to make sure I can see them before they can get to me. I have to be able to see. What are the statistics for rape in Northampton? There’s all the colleges, so I bet it happens all the time. God, what do I do if there’s a bunch of them? That car’s going fast; I should just jump in front of it before they can hurt me again. I can’t let them hurt me again.
Oh, for christ’s sake, Sara, you’re almost home. Why the fuck would you want to kill yourself? You’re finally happy, so no jumping in front of cars. Just cross the fucking street and go into the house.