American Girl

On the walk to my car
Midnight strikes the clock
I grasp my keys
between my fingers
Wolverine in a dress
Looking behind me
Do I hear steps
Do I hear breathing
The hairs on the back of my neck
Stand up straight
I hear a car
screeching to a halt in the distance
laughing across the street
I wish I could join in
But in this parking lot
I must stay alert
I look behind again
Ever nearing the spot
An empty parking lot
I position my cell phone in my hand
Making it easier for me
To dial for help
When I need to
Did he take my quick glance at my phone
As a sign to step in
I try to pull down the skirt
Knowing even that
wouldn’t deter him
I wish I had a jacket
So when people ask me
What I was wearing
I could give them the answer they wanted
Not that a layer of wool would have
Turned him away
At last, I reach my car
But I am still swimming
Not out of the water yet
I check the back seat of my car
While unlocking the door
Checking over my shoulder once more
My mother taught me one thing
Not how to apply makeup
Not how to walk in heels
Not how to mother children
Not manners or politeness
No,
To check the backseat of the car
Before getting in
Ensuring you’re not driving off
With a hungry man
Lying silently, waiting
On your polyester
I get in
The coast is clear
For now
Pulling out
I can finally take a
Sigh of relief
Until I notice
The car behind me
Turned with me
Before considering that maybe
He is just headed in the same direction
I consciously try to remember
The fastest route to the
Police station
I take another right
The car follows
I know who he is
A nameless
Faceless man
I’ve never seen before
A man that very well could become
Another mugshot
Released on bail
To be charged
And sentenced to
Community service
While my face
Circulates on the news
A reminder
to mothers everywhere
The dangers
Their daughters face
Every
Single
Day
I again
Prepare my cell phone for the worst
A call I always feared
I’d have to make
My voice shaking
Checking once again
In my mirrors
To ensure
He is really hunting
I take another turn
And his car goes straight
I sigh with relief
Thankful that tonight
Was not the night
Though it could be tomorrow
Another man
Lonely
Desperate
Hungry
In another car
Nameless
Faceless
Turning with me
Following me to the end
I get a moment of respite
Before I have to make the walk
From my car
To my house
Grasping my keys between my fingers
Wolverine in a dress

I am not an outlier
I am an American girl

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Emma Claire Gannon

High school student. Writer. Published Author. @themmaclairegannon