It was a bright summer day after I had just graduated high school. I was spending some quality time with my father walking the city streets and running some errands for my mother. After going to the grocery store, I convinced my dad to stop at a local library I had been curious about entering for a while. He wasn’t as thrilled about libraries as me, so he said he’d wait for me outside. I went inside the small building and browsed for a bit until I found a book I liked. I then sat at an empty in a secluded corner and started reading. After about fifteen minutes, a man walks in wearing black pants and a hoodie of the same color. He has fair skin, short hair and a long, black beard. He’s a couple of years my senior, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s. I watch him browse the engineering section. I smirk to myself as I found him attractive. I try to divert my eyes so as to avoid him catching me staring at him, shyly. He walks around frantically for a bit, then sits down in front of me and opes the book at a random page. Although I found his behavior strange, I dismissed the warning sign thinking he may have a disability or mental illness. I kept an eye on him due to his close proximity to me on my peripheral vision while trying to read the booked I had picked. Until I accidentally glanced at him, where he held my gaze for a couple of seconds. I looked away as that was awkward and proceeded to try and focus on my book. Minutes later, I noticed he was still staring at me with eyes piercing and frozen while he muttered something under his breath. I then looked at him again and he looked at me straight in the eye. His face was harsh and under his breath I heard him say, ”I will snap your neck,” among sexist slurs, gory descriptors and curses. This startled me, as I knew he was talking to me. I started elaborating a plan to escape in my head right away. I put the book down slowly and carried it to a cart. I uncomfortably noticed the library was empty and the clerk was nowhere to be seen. I walked out trying to simulate my normal pace as best as I could. I went to my father outside and told him what happened. He dismissed my comments as being imaginative or the man perhaps just being mentally ill as I first thought. We then walked to the stop light and within 5 minutes I noticed the man from the library waiting with us for the light. I gave my father a frozen, worried stare. When the man noticed I saw him, he proceeded to build some distance between us, just to join us at the stop light again and again for several blocks. During the time he wasn’t behind us, I told my father that was the man I was speaking of and that he was following us. He still dismissed my idea, but agreed to stay with me for a while as I was feeling unsafe. We sat outside of a nail salon with waiting chairs in case we needed to call the police, since neither of us had a phone. Not 30 minutes later, I saw the same man crossing by and glaring at me as he notice me sitting next to my dad. The day continued on as normal after that. Although I wish I could say that’s the last time I saw him. That same day, after exciting the 99c store, I noticed the man lurking near the dumpster, aware of my presence. I don’t know for how much longer he followed me, but I am glad my father was there for what could have been my last trip out in town.
Author: Sarahi Sarabia