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The Rusty, White Pick-Up This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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As a kid, I thought the world was my oyster. A place where I could do whatever I wanted. A place where the meaning of life was having fun. A place where I had the final say. Of course, things weren’t really like that. But I didn’t completely understand that.

Every day after school, I met my sister at the bike racks, from where we would either walk or ride bikes home. On this particular day, we were on our feet. We made our way down Wekiva Springs Road, past the 7-Eleven and Rolann’s School of the Dance and the building called “Windham”. We made our way past the house with the Doberman and down the bike-racing hill to the home stretch. Almost home. But not quite.

I listened to the scuffing of my sneakers as I dragged my feet home from school. I made my way around the bend of Willow Drive. Glancing up, I noticed that I was lagging behind my older sister. But I didn’t care. We just had a fight anyway. Hitching my little backpack up on my back, I continued on.

At some point, I recognized the unmistakable sound of a car engine coming up the street. I waited for it to pass me. It never did.

There, just over my left shoulder, was a white pickup truck. White paint was chipping off the body of the vehicle. The tire treads slowly crunched over the stones and palm fronds on the street. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The car inched forward at the same pace as I was walking. The windows were darkly tinted, but not dark enough to completely hide the face of the man who was staring at me. His face was pale, at least for a Floridian, and goateed. His squinty eyes followed my movements. I knew, even at age 8, that this was not a good situation.

It took all the strength I had to only slowly increase my pace to reach my sister so as not to let the man know I was on to him. After what seemed like hours, I made it to my sister and tapped her arm. She turned to me, clearly annoyed. But what we were about to get into was bigger than our fight.

“That man is following us,” I whispered. She no more glanced over my shoulder at the impending doom of the white pickup truck before we took off, sprinting the final few blocks to the safety of our gated neighborhood.

Out of breath and as scared as rabbits cornered by a coyote, we told our mom what happened. I watched her eyes widen as she ran to the cordless kitchen phone and dialed 9-1-1. In a matter of minutes, police officers were in our family room, asking Emily and me for details.

After they got all they could out of us, they left to catch the man from the pickup truck. But they never did. At least not for a few months, when he struck again. This time, though, girls were not as lucky as us. The man from the pickup truck was arrested for indecent exposure at the golf course where he worked.

At that point, my family took a collective deep breath, relieved that the whole thing was over. But at age 8, I didn’t know what his crime was. All I knew was that he was gone and that he couldn’t come back for me.

Years later, however, I realized what happened. Life wasn’t as simple and easy and carefree as I thought. And the phase of childhood naïveté was over.

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SCHIF8 said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm
I accidently hit the one star, but this piece is far from it... it is FANTASTIC.  Well-written and fun to read.  I give it 5 stars, not one!
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