My story, Small Sounds Ricochet Through the Darkness, has been published in Idle Ink today. It was written in memory of Sarah Everard and anyone who has been affected by violence against women.
Don’t walk home alone, not at this time of night, my friends say, waving at me from a table of empty cocktail glasses, flapping like a gaggle of geese. I’ll be fine, I say, I’ll text you when I’m home. Are you sure? they ask, but it’s more a way of allaying their own fears. Yes, I’ll be fine.
I walk out of the bar, keys in hand, each one pushed between my fingers — a miniature Edward Scissorhands — EarPods in, mobile phone clutched in the other hand. I wore flats, because that’s what you do when you might need to run. It’s normal, except that it’s not. Normal is wearing what you like, not thinking about when you might need to run or who you would need to call, it’s not turning the music down in case there’s a Come over here, Love. Oi. You. I’m talking to you.
Normal is a regular heartbeat, a regular pace to your stride. It’s not hovering under a streetlight where people see you before crossing the stretch of darkness. It’s not scanning a route for places to hide, or rounding a corner and sprinting like a triathlete because the footsteps behind are picking up speed.
The girls will go home later in a taxi, but I need to get back for the babysitter, pay her, get into my pyjamas and sleep, having kissed the cherubs on the forehead, checked their breathing. Every parent checks the rise and fall of their child’s torso, especially when it is still.
Like the still of the sea without wind, nights like this make me nervous, nights where I get followed or shouted at with no one around, where the air is thin, where small sounds ricochet through the darkness. These are the nights when men get too close, gaze for too long, howl like a pack of hyenas… continue reading at Idle Ink.