This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s “100 questions to spark conversation and connect.
All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.
Boomers are the last generation to have enjoyed the freedom of an unfettered childhood, meaning, as long as we were home before the street lights came on, we played, explored, and visited friends without fear of murderers or sexual predators. Or maybe that was just my small mid-western town.
However, everything changed in the early 70s when a first-grader was grabbed off the street and murdered less than a mile from her home.
Panicked, parents arranged neighborhood carpools so children didn’t have to walk to and from school alone. Unfortunately, if you had after-school sports or cheerleading practice, you could end up walking home alone.
And I had both.
I lived just over a mile from my junior high school, all residential area, except for the last quarter mile past the Old Mill Pond. There were shoulders wide enough for a car to park and no sidewalks. It wasn’t a truly deserted spot as I could see my big blue house the entire way, but nearing dusk, the wind moving through the trees was spooky.
One evening I was half the distance past the pond when a car approached. I stepped farther onto the shoulder and the car continued past me. The old pukey, seafoam green station wagon was not a vehicle I recognized from the neighborhood. The car made a U-turn in the intersection behind me and came back in my direction.
I picked up a stick.
I kept walking but turned to watch the car approach. Tinted windows weren’t a thing then, but it creeped me out that as the car passed me, I couldn’t see inside. The car slowed but didn’t stop until it got to the corner just before my house. My heart raced as the car did a three-point-turn and started toward me, driving closer to the shoulder.
I’d just reached the spot where the sidewalk started—three-hundred-yards from my front door—and I broke into a sprint, never stopping or looking behind me. I collided with my brother at our front door. I guess I was a sight because he yelled for our parents. My family gathered around me as I tried to catch my breath. All Daddy had to hear was, “an old green station wagon kept driving by me,” and he and my brother were out the door. I didn’t know I was shaking until my sister brought me a glass of water and I couldn’t hold it.
Daddy didn’t find the car, which may or may not have been a good thing, nor did I sleep a wink that night. But my parents took me to the police department early the next morning to file a report.
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay