International Writers Magazine: Lifestories
around me, I shiver and squirm deeper into my scarf. I hate walking
home alone at night. Its not very far and it is only 9 oclock,
I reassure myself; picking up my pace just a little. I feel the
sharpness of the wind and the rustling of leaves that you only
ever seem to notice at night. I pass the deserted sports green
and wonder, not for the first time, why there arent more
I really hate walking home alone at night. Its not until I get
a little further along that I turn a corner and see the group. Four
or five boys, or girls; I cant be sure because I cant see
their faces,all standing huddled together. Then they turn to look at
me, moving as one. For some reason I begin to feel very uneasy. Perhaps
its the cold or the dark thats engulfing me, but somehow
I know its them who are causing my anxiety. My heart beat quickens.
Its too late to cross the road and besides there only children
I tell myself. As I approach them I instinctively put my head down and
stare at the ground. I can feel their eyes upon me and hear their whispered
voices. I know there right in front of me and I think they arent
going to move to let me pass, but just at the last moment they do. Its
not until Ive hurried past them that I realise Ive been
holding my breath. I let it out and try to calm myself down. There only
kids I tell myself again.
Out of the silence something shatters, close to my feet. I jump with
the shock and suddenly realise that broken glass lies all around me.
Like an ocean of splintered glass it gleams as one of the few street-lamps
reflects its clear, sharp surface. I turn in horror to look behind me
and see the "kids" bent over in ape-like laughter. These so-called
children (they cant have been more than 15) had just hurled a
bottle at me. Luckily it had missed. But only just.
Anger boils up inside me and for a split second I consider stalking
over to them and giving them a piece of my mind. Then sense is restored
to my brain and I realise that approaching a group who have just tried
to hit me with a bottle probably isnt one of my wisest ideas.
I feel scared and helpless and I know theres nothing I can do.
If I call the police theyll be gone by the time they actually
get here. And besides what would the police actually do. Not a lot,
I say aloud and sighing I resign myself to walking on unavenged.
As I emerge onto the main road and see my halls a sense of relief hits
me. Instead of feeling pleased at this wave of reassurance I feel indignant.
I should be able to walk down a street where I live and feel safe. Perhaps
Im pushing my luck because its getting late and it is dark.
But there was a time when children could play in the streets and people
could leave their doors unlocked at night. Now the children playing
on the streets are the ones most likely to attack you. These kids have
no fear; they know they can get away with what they are doing. At worst
theyll get an ASBO which we all know is now the latest fashion
accessory to any self-made rebel.
Society has lost its faith in people. I dont trust the police
to necessarily protect me; just like I now avert my eyes from any youth
I encounter on the street when Im out, because I dont trust
But maybe these children have people in their life that they dont
trust and that is the root behind their behaviour. I dont know,
but what I do know is that that something needs to be done to inject
some faith back into our culture. Otherwise we will soon be living in
a world of suspicion; where no one will ever engage with anyone else
for fear of their safety. Some might argue that we are already there.
By the time I reached my flat I had resolved that next time a similar
incident occurred (In this age I have no doubt that it will) I would
call the police. Perhaps if we put aside the voices that tell us nothing
will be done to stop this anti-social behaviour. Perhaps if we all make
a stand every time someone attacks us, because essentially this is what
those kids did. Perhaps then something will have to change.
© Natalie Tehrani
Natalie is a Creative Writing student at the University of Portsmouth
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