Anne Peterson

I write stories and goosebump poetry

I Wish They Were Wrong

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Photo courtesy Creative Commons

They had to be wrong. People were always telling me how unsafe it was in Chicago.

Here I was, my early 20’s, standing on an El platform. Everything was fine.

I was going home by myself. I was safe. No one was bothering me. I did see a guy standing on the platform, but I was fine.

A moment later that man came by me, opening the door where I was standing at the top of the stairs. His voice low. His question to the point,

“Do you want some of this?”

In his hand was a joint. So that’s why they called it a funny cigarette. It did look like one.

I squirmed inside myself. My voice cracked a little as I replied, “No, thank you.”

No use being impolite, right?

Okay, so maybe I felt a little less safe. Still I breathed in and out. Before long, my train would be there. I’d simply get on, ride one stop and get off to catch my bus home. It was okay. I was fine.

But before I could finish convincing myself, the black man in the shabby attire was back. The man with the joint.

He spoke again. “Do you want some of this?”

I looked over to see what he was holding. I couldn’t make it out right away. I mean it was dark outside. Then it registered; he was holding himself.

So, this was what it’s like to have someone expose themselves. I froze.

And then I did a stupid thing. Fear does that to you sometimes.

Instead of running downstairs, where more people were, I ran out on the platform. The almost empty platform.

No sooner had I arrived there when I saw a shadow coming around the bench. He was back.

My heart beat faster. I ran towards another man. True he was a stranger, but I had few options.

“You gotta help me,” I panted, “there’s this guy and he’s after me.”

Surely he’d be able to tell I was sincere. Right?

Looking right past me he paused and said, “I don’t see anyone.”

Great! They were in cahoots!

Without skipping a beat he continued, “Listen, if you like, I can give you a ride; my car is parked right downstairs.”

I wondered if I wore a sign that read, I’m stupid. I believe anything

Pretending I believed him, I simply replied, “No thank you, I just need you to keep him away from me.”

Just then the train appeared. The door opened and I got on, followed by the guy who offered me a ride. Then the door closed. Whew!

I opted to stand by the door since I was getting off soon. And when the door opened, I flew down the stairs and to the bus stop.

Forty minutes later, I walked in to hear my dad ask, “Are you hungry? I made Italian saus…”

“No thank you.” I said, walking in my room and closing the door. There was no reason to share my day. No reason at all.

And what a day it had been. I was offered my first joint. I met an exhibitionist. All in one day.

I heaved a big sigh. Tomorrow had to be better.

About Anne Peterson

I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I’m not writing, I’m telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.

21 Replies

  1. Wow! How scary. I’m 6’1″ and about 250lbs and I would have been scared. And, I can’t even begin to imagine that being my daughter in that situation. Thankful for God’s providential protection.

    1. Scott,

      It was many years ago, that’s for sure, but I do remember being scared when he came around that corner. I’m sure it was God who protected me. Thanks for reading.

  2. Wow, Anne! I felt the terror and lived this moment with you. Well, written.

  3. Brad,
    Thanks for reading and for your comment. There was another time I was walking to work. I was even younger and it was the Northwest side of Chicago. A pretty good neighborhood. Still a guy started slowing down his car and asked me if he could give me a lift. He said he recognized me from the store, (National Tea), but I just thanked him and went on my way. Then I saw him turn and get on the ramp for the expressway. I cringe to think of how that could have turned out. We have to trust our instincts. That’s for sure.

    1. As I read your reply, I thought, “instinct or Holy Spirit?” Could be either and both are from a God who cares for us and only wants good for us! Glad you are tuned in to Him.

  4. SO sorry there are “people” like that in this world and that you had to encounter them!

    1. Lucie,

      I wonder how many others I might have encountered had I not had that lesson, Lucie. Thanks for reading.

  5. Anne, that would be terrifying! I am so glad you were safe, sorry you had to experience that. I remember my first instance of a man exposing himself at the mall. It sticks with you 🙁

  6. Christa,

    Sorry you had to go through it too, Christa. All I remember was I wanted to get out of there.

  7. Wow. My heart just about stopped as I read this. I am so glad God protected you.

    1. Anastacia,

      Thanks for reading. Yes, I am glad God protected me too.

  8. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that gripped you. At one point thinking a simple “thank you” released you from a threat only to find out it doubled. So thankful for God’s protection.

    1. Shelley,
      Thanks for reading and for your comments. I’m amazed at how God protects us. I think when we get to heaven he will pull back a veil and we will see how many other times he stepped in, that we’re not even aware of.

  9. Such a sad testamentary to the ‘times’. It has become much worse with evidence that criminal behavior may yet increase more. Once I thought I was safe in this rural farming community; a few miles from the interstate and large cities until newspaper stories of homicide, drugs and criminal behavior read like a large city paper. Careful doesn’t work any longer, crime comes knocking on our door.

    God bless.

    1. Thanks for reading my post. You’re right, this world has changed. Although I was recounting a story from MANY years ago, things are not much different. As you pointed out, even rural communities are not safe havens.

  10. Rebeca

    There is such a surreal feeling to events like this, yes? What has run through my mind in like circumstances is ‘this is not actually happening’ and other denials. It shakes you. So glad you weren’t hurt physically–I know many of us can relate to scarring close encounters. It will be interesting to one day see how many times our Lord literally sent His angels to protect his people in these sorts of situations.

    1. Rebeca,

      Thanks for reading. I too, wonder how many other times we’ve been protected by God without knowing it. I know one day we’ll find that out. For now, I am thankful for his protection. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Anne what a frightening experience, I try and teach my children some street smarts and observe people when we can, I believe we should always listen to that little voice inside our head, the one that screams RUN its a natural instinct that can save us from something horrific. You wrote this story so well it will stay in my mind for some time. A good warning for all woman to be aware of who is around us.

    1. Kath,

      Thanks for reading. And for your encouraging comments. It’s funny to me how some memories stay so crisp.

  12. Anne, this story is awesome. I had so many experiences like that when I was young, maybe because when you are young and naive, you appear more vulnerable and attract predators. I can imagine how terrifying it must have been and I’m so glad it all came out alright.

    1. Kathleen,

      It’s funny that you thought the story was awesome. I guess it is an age-related thing. I have a couple other ones and it’s probably related to my age. It does anger me to think there are people who take advantage of youth.

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