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A Close Encounter
“Sorry you have to leave. I wish I didn’t have to go,” Kiersten groaned, walking me outside and down her sidewalk. Kiersten and her family were going to her grandparent’s house to visit for a few hours.
The sun was slowly making its way behind the hills on the late June evening as I was leaving Kiersten’s house. Kiersten’s brothers, Kyle and Kory brushed past us as they ran over to the car, her parents waiting inside, watching us impatiently as we took our time with our goodbyes.
“It’s alright; we have all day tomorrow to hang out right?”
“Definitely. I’ll talk to you later,” Kiersten grinned as she opened the car door, jumping in as I made my way down the driveway. The car backed out of the driveway and down the road as I waved by the mailbox.
My neighborhood is so full of life during the summer. A group of young kids were racing each other on their scooters down the road. The little girl who lives across the street from Kiersten, Abbie was drawing on her driveway with sidewalk chalk. I could see Maya and Cameron, two twins who live down the road from Kiersten, walk out into their front yard, covered in towels from just getting out of their pool. Two middle aged couples walked past me, barely noticing me, too interested in their conversation to notice me. Close behind them was a mother pushing a stroller with a baby inside. People of all ages coming out during the evening, waving farewell to another perfect summer day. There were police officers living on almost every corner of the neighborhood and my parents are friends with most of them. The best part of living in a neighborhood like this is that it is safe. Why stay inside and fear the summer nights when you can embrace them and enjoy them for as long as possible? Staying inside doesn’t make any sense to me.
It was then that I decided to take a long walk. I grabbed my ipod from my pocket and put in my ear buds. I then followed the mother with the stroller down the road.
I’ve always loved walking since I was a kid. I was always restless as a child. I always use to have trouble getting to sleep at night. I don’t why, but I could never get to sleep. Almost every night my mom would try to get me to go to bed earlier, but no matter how hard I tried I always ended up on the couch with my dad pretending to watch sports with him. I constantly had energy. Sometimes I used to get so frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t sleep that I would cry out of frustration. I started taking walks and riding bikes and stuff like that to help me sleep at night. Those things eventually became the things that I enjoy most.
I turned off of Kiersten’s street and onto Thistle Road. I was walking westward now, the sun almost completely hidden behind the hills as it set. I love sunset. The beautiful mix of pinks, oranges and indigo lay across the sky as the final remains of day slowly disappeared. I went around the block a few more times as the sun was setting; turning left off of Thistle and onto Dandelion Drive then taking a left down my street, Sepia Lane making my way back to Kiersten's street in a big square. As I went around the children gradually disappeared as they were called inside for the night, the screams of excited young children turning into hushed whispers slowly turning into silence until all I could hear were crickets chirping in the summer night.
The neighborhood was a lot less lively now. Besides the rare few couples walking by, there wasn’t much going on outside. I was making my way back to Thistle as a man in a blue raincoat was walking around the coldasack at the end of the road. He didn’t seem familiar at all. His hood was on and he was carrying a flashlight. I was confused by his appearance at first, considering the temperature was in the high seventies and there was absolutely no sign of rain at all today. But I just ignored it. I turned onto Thistle with my music blasting. He went around the end of the road and turned around, following me down the road.
The stars gradually starting coming out of the darkness. I look up at a few of the stars, knowing that there were so much more up there that I wish I could see. I remember back when I was thirteen, there was a terrible wind storm, so bad that school closed early and we all had to be taken home. The power was out and we didn’t get power until the next day. That night, I walked home from my friend Kristin’s house in the cold. Despite the cold weather, I still had the time to appreciate the abundance of stars lighting up the dark, undisturbed by electricity. I had never seen so many stars in my life. I want to see them again.
As the night got darker and darker, the fireflies started to light up the woods. I was on Plum Court when I noticed it, the sparks of light coming from the woods to the right. As I turned my head to the right, I realized something that I hadn’t noticed before. As I turned my head to the side, I saw the gleam of a flashlight; the raincoat guy’s flashlight. I wouldn’t of been so concerned about the fact that he was still behind me if I didn’t decide to look at my phone. The last time I checked my phone was when I got a text message from a friend at school. I got that text message a few minutes before the guy in the raincoat started following me. I checked my phone again and realized that that was about thirty five minutes ago.
This means that the man had been following me for a good thirty minutes now.
I felt so stupid! I mean I did see him in my peripheral vision when I was swatting the mosquitoes that were biting my ankles. I guess I was in such deep thought that I didn’t really pay attention to how much time had gone by. You’re an idiot, I told myself. I kept calm after finding out he was still behind me. After all, I could be completely overreacting. Maybe he was just a neighbor talking a walk, just like me. Maybe the fact that he had been following me was just a coincidence. Maybe I just watch a little too many horror movies for my own good. Maybe this guy lives on Plum Court and is on his way home and will be gone after I make my way over to Dandelion Drive again, and everything will be fine. I wouldn’t even have to look back to see if he were behind me. I could see the light from his flashlight on the road; it was a pretty big flashlight.
Even after all these calming thoughts, I still turned off my ipod. That way, it would look like I am completely oblivious to him, but I could still be aware of what was going on around me. Although I knew I could be overreacting, I just had this horrible gut feeling about this. Something just didn’t seem right.
I kept going on my way down the road. I just watched the stop sign at the end of the road. I knew that once I got to that point, he’ll hopefully be gone and away. At least I hoped he would be. I listened to see if I could hear someone’s feet on the gravel road behind me as I made my way to the sign. I couldn’t hear anything. I then looked at the road to see if any light from the man’s flashlight could be seen on the road. I couldn’t see anything. I sighed in relief as I got to the stop sign and turned the corner. See? I thought to myself, there was nothing to be freaked out about. I calmed myself down as I decided to go back down Dandelion Drive.
I pulled my ipod out of my ears and enjoyed walked down the final road of the night as I made my way back to my house. It was getting a little too dark to continue any further. I decided to walk down Dandelion and back and then take the right on Sepia and back home. I could once again hear the crickets in the woods not too far from here chirping once again. I listened to them again as I got to the end, content.
As I turned around at the end of the road, my heart dropped.
Not too far behind me was the man in the raincoat. I could see the outline of his old black flashlight in his pocket, barely able to see as it blended in with the darkening sky. I looked around for any other person outside. There weren’t any. I gulped as he walked past me, my heart skipped a beat. Just keep your cool. After all, if he was going to do something, he probably would’ve done it already right? Maybe his flashlight just lost power. Maybe for some reason he didn’t know that he was scaring me. However, those gut feelings still lingered as I learned of the man’s presence once again.
As I made my way back down the street, I made a plan. I decided that once I got onto Sepia Lane, I was going to walk until I got close enough to my house. Once close enough, I was going to sprint across my yard and into my house. I would have decided to start running once I hit Sepia, but I was wearing flip flops and if this guy really did want to hurt me or something, then it would be easy for him to catch up to me. Once I got inside, I would be able to look out and see what happened. If he starts to walk away once I’m inside, then I must be right about him. If he keeps walking, then my gut instincts suck and I would make myself look like a fool.
As I turned the corner onto Sepia, I began power walking. Fast enough to get me closer to my house, but slow enough that he probably wouldn’t pick up on the fact that I was trying to get away from him. Sweat covered my brow as I made my way home, my sweaty palms closed into fists. I could see my bright blood red door from all the way down the road, the bright light of our outside lights reflecting off of it. I was almost at my front yard now. Almost there. I took a deep breath. I was only a few feet away now. Get ready. It seemed took take hours more than seconds for my foot to hit my front yard. Finally, my foot hit the soft green grass of my front yard. Go!
I ran across my front yard to the front door, not daring to look back.
I burst through the front door, slamming it behind me. I then turned to the front window to see what was going on outside.
Across the street from my house, just outside the light of the lamppost was raincoat man. I could tell from the black outline of his body that he was breathing very hard. He must’ve tried to chase me once he saw me start running. Once he saw me through the window, he quickly turned around, making his way back up the road. I sighed in relief.
I turned around and saw my parents on the couch in the TV room watching a movie.
“Hey Em! What have you been up to?” Mom asked.
In that one moment I decided on whether or not to tell her about this.
“Nothing much. Just enjoying the summer.”