To the Man

Written by Rebecca Mear

“I do not need to justify / my actions for something that never / should have happened / in the first place.”

To the man 
who approached me on my daily walk,
asking if I needed a ride:

No. It was not okay 
for you to pull over besides the hill,
roll down your window,
tell me that you saw me 
every day, and did I want 
a ride home?

Why would I accept 
a ride from a stranger, especially
during a pandemic?

After you drove away, I tried convincing 
myself that everything was okay, but 
it wasn’t. 

And why did I stop walking
in the first place? Maybe 
you wouldn’t have stopped 
your blue car if I wasn’t wearing 
those red wedge sandals, or 
my favorite maroon flowered  
sundress—

No. I tried focusing on the music 
I had paused to speak to you,
a silly song about a melon-
coconut breakup, but it didn’t
work. Glass Animals’ Dreamland 
could not make me forget, and because 

of you, I was too afraid to walk 
my favorite route the rest of the summer,
a place where I felt safe, ruined
by a man who asked a young woman
to get in his car.

                  …

And to the police man 
who told me, after I said
that no, I didn’t get the plate 
number, name of the car, 

that he was “probably just a nice 
man trying to be friendly:”

not a chance. 

No, I don’t know what the man looked
like, how old he was, the brand 
of car—I was too busy justifying 
the situation, pretending 
to be okay, avoiding a sidewalk
panic attack.

Why, then, did I feel so guilty
for not paying closer attention?
For being mad over having to pause
my music? I do not need to justify
my actions for something that never
should have happened 
in the first place. 

But tell me: do you really believe 
what you said, that he was just being
“nice” or did you tell me that 
because you didn’t think I could handle
the inevitable truth?


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