Don’t Talk to Strangers
Mom says to not talk to strangers. She doesn’t want her little girl anywhere near them.
Maybe that’s why we live in a poorer, isolated part of the town. Mom says it suits us well. Behind an old Hospice, shut down years ago, we live in a small group. Us, Mom’s few friends, and their few children — the only people I’m allowed to befriend.
But what I really long for is to get to know the strangers out there. That girl who jogs every morning around the park next to the Hospice, that boy crossing the street with earphones plugged in his ear, that driver honking helplessly at the cow that won’t move an inch.
I wonder what it’s like to be among them.
Frankly, I am bored with this life Mom has chosen for me.
Don’t go there. Don’t come here. Don’t talk to him. Don’t disturb him!
It’s like she doesn’t want me to be close to anyone but herself!
So one night, when I saw this young man, smoking away a cigarette by himself on the park-bench, I knew I had my one chance. Mom was at work, night-shift as always, so sneaking out wasn’t a problem.
I walked up to him, silently, afraid he would consider my approach as insolence. I extended my arm to reach out and paused. Will he scream at me? Shoo me away? Complain to Mom?
I let out a breath to calm myself and placed a hand on his shoulder.
He looked back slowly, first turning to my hand on his shoulder, then around at me. He stared at me indifferently, one eyebrow raised.
Then he looked up ahead, back to enjoying his cigarette.
I wondered if his mother as well told him to not talk to strangers.”Sorry to disturb, sir.”
The man paused, and turned around. This time, looking right through me.
I was hurt. Yes, I didn’t look as good as he. I was dirty and badly dressed. But that was no way to treat me!
Tears rolled down my cheek. I’d never felt so sad in my life. “You don’t have to be mean,” I said, sobbing. “Just wanted to talk.” Before long, I was wailing like a dog right in the middle of the park.
“What the fuck!” The man now jumped, mad eyes turning all around. All around except at me.
I wanted to disappear. Right into Mom’s arms.
“Mom was right,” I screamed, running away. “Mom was right!”