As I was leaving the mall today, slightly lost in my own thoughts i caught in my peripheral vision a man entering the mall. He was tall, with glasses and an unusual goatee thing. He was carrying a young boy. Although there was nothing obviously untoward about him I immediately felt uncomfortable. I avoided him and speeded up to my car outside. There was an undertone of fear and anxiety and that sense of something gripping my throat. Once in my car, doors locked, the familiarity, the sanctuary of what is mine, what is safe, I was able to breathe through the panic, deconstruct my thoughts a little better.
When I was raped, that fragment of time broke like glass. Painfully sitting in my soul, I remain that 14 year old girl. I can see her, I can feel her feelings. Her fears, her insecurities, her anger, her confusion, her sadness, her shame, her loneliness. Even her appearance is captured. Of that night, the clothes, the body, the pain, the disgust, etc. and in that shard of glass comes the image of him. Timeless and ageless. The words. The eyes.
In fact when I first saw an image of him older on social media I didn’t recognise him. I thought I would know instantly, but I didn’t. I had this frozen image of a night so embedded in me that my brain wasn’t able to see changes brought by time. Not major changes. Just not the captured image.
But with time, men grow lines, hair colour changes, facial hair style changes, glass frame changes. But in this case eyes remain dead and soul less.
And the man that raped me so many years ago is married with children.
So when I saw this man with a slight semblance I was unfortunately reminded of a fleeting image I’d seen on social media. Which then got me thinking about how he would be out shopping (in a different country thank god), with his children, not a care in the world. Being in a mall, not suffering crowds, not tiring easily, not relying on medication, not suffering anxiety or fearing the dark. Telling his children that monsters don’t exist.
The very realistic notion of this fills my heart with such terrible sadness. How one human being can destroy another and not give it another thought.
So the random man carrying his child wouldn’t have seen the panic in my eyes as he reminded me of a shard of glass from my past. As the man from my past can may well smile the devil’s smile at people in another mall somewhere and they will be none the wiser of the glass that is in place of his heart.