“What do you want from me?!”
I first saw him at the grocer on the corner of 54th Street. I thought it strange, the man in the dark coat, aimlessly walking around. He left as I was paying and I thought no more of it. The next day he was there again, just standing around, but this time it was at the bank. When I saw him the third time I really started to pay attention and noticed that he showed up every day. Different places, different times, but at least once a day he was somewhere nearby. His long overcoat pulled tight, the Yankees cap shielding his eyes.
Mentioning it to Charlene was a mistake of course. “O would you stop being so paranoid! You are a big girl in a big city, no one is out to get you! He’s probably new to the neighborhood. Face it girlfriend, it’s not like you are a hot 22 year old with loads of money. Why would you have a stalker? Have another glass of Malbec, relax and try to have some fun, would you?”. She darted off and left me staring into the mirror. She was right, off course. At 42 the road map of my life was starting to slowly show itself in the expression staring back at me. The thin scar across my forehead a reminder of the accident that nearly took my life. Crow’s feet at the corners of my dark grey eyes and thin lines found their home at the corners of my mouth, evidence of too many cigarettes. Out of principle I was no longer coloring my hair and silver strands were weaved into the raven black strands that defiantly fought back.
That was last night; today is a new day and I left home determined to celebrate life. No more wasted days. The accident took place 24 years ago today. It was my other birthday, and I planned to make it a good one. As I turned the corner at the bakery he was sitting at the bus stop, when he saw me, he hurriedly stood up and entered the park. I decided to call it in. Let the police know and at least have it on record. If Charlene is right and nothing comes of it, it will just be another lost paper trail. If not, well at least then someone will know.
As I stand here now, in the elevator with nothing but empty space between us, panic sets in. I should have called the police long ago. The lunch date with my editor left me frustrated and depressed. All I wanted was to get home and soak in the bath, listen to some music and have a glass of wine. As the doors to the elevator was about to close, a hand pushed in. Stylish sneakers stepped inside and when I looked up I saw the long overcoat and Yankees cap, right there not two feet away.
“What do you want from me?! You’ve been following me around for 3 weeks now, what do you want?!” I could feel hysteria slowly creeping up my throat, my spine tingling.
Slowly he pushed the Emergency Stop button and my legs start to give way. “I’ve been looking for you for a very long time”. He says and looks up for the first time. I froze, words failed to form and my thoughts were racing at a million miles an hour. Those eyes! They were my eyes? It was like looking into a mirror, only about 20 years ago.
“But, but, you are dead – the accident, I was only 18 and my father said… They said you died! How is this possible?”
Relief washed over his face as he sank to the floor. “You mean, you didn’t know? All this time you thought I was dead. You did not give me away?”
We had both been betrayed and someone had a lot of explaining to do. There was 24 years of catching up to do.
“Welcome home, son. What is your name?”