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?