Stranger is not danger
By Najd Alagl, ELP Student, Summer 2021
“Miss, Miss are you okay?” shrieked a stranger.
I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me. I was staring at his face, thinking “Are you talking in understandable language or did something messed up just happen?” In that moment, I wasn’t sure of anything. I mumbled, “I’m fine.”
In one of Toronto’s summer mornings, on the intersection between two streets whose names I can’t even mention without wobbling, I was going to my school. I got off the car as my husband saying, “See you later. Take care.” I dragged myself out of the car as if I was thirty-six weeks pregnant, which I was, then I smiled and waved.
I was on my swollen feet, trying to picture myself hopping on the clouds like a silly cartoon. It was a perfect day with a light drizzle, and a lot of puffy clouds. Finally, as the red light turned to green, I started marching my thoughts. I turned my music on and tried to rid my pale face and wear a full-of-life one. I could feel the fragrance of freshly grounded coffee, the fragrance that forces humaniity to line up for hours to enjoy it for minutes. People were bolting around as if life was depending on them. But what if life was really depending on us? I shook my head to stop my mind from drifting away.
I was wandering around, rolling my eyes, contemplating the purpose of life. Suddenly a woman tapped on my shoulder. She was saying something, but I couldn’t hear it, not only because of her crazy mad face which I was distracted by, but also because of my loud music. In a second, I raised my hand to pull out one of my headphones. I smiled, thinking she was one of many girls who were going to the same school or some tourist going to ask me for directions. Then I thought to myself, “Hmm, I must appear as if I belonged here or as if I was some expert tourist who knows everything.”
She was blondie, skinny, and furious. Her face was covered in sun burns, and her eyes were extremely insane. She was standing a foot away from me, and then out of the blue she punched my face as if it was a punching bag, or if I killed her precious dog. Then she kicked me the way you kick something to blow off some steam. People around me were shouting and cursing, but not me! I wasn’t sure what really happened. Then another stranger, or I may say an angle, rushed to checking on me with his concerned eyes. He asked, “Miss, Miss are you okay?”
I was gawking at him. Then I smiled and laughed in creepy way. I murmured, “I’m fine.”
He smiled at me, then walked away. I walked, then stopped, then walked again, then stopped, and leaned on some wall. I felt like I couldn’t hold myself. Then I burst into tears. Lucky me – it was only one wave of it. I tried to pull it together, whispering to myself “I’m okay, I’m okay, everything is fine.”
I was on my way again. I could hear my heartbeats. I felt vulnerable. I kept scanning people. Surprisingly, the angle was back. He asked “Are you sure you’re okay? I’m sorry that happened to you”.
He insisted on escorting me while he kept rambling about what happened. I was looking at him very closely while we were traveling together, trying to remind myself how much I love chitchatting with strangers. I paid no attention to what he said. Then, with my frozen face, finally, I spoke up, “This is where I was heading.”
He smiled and apologized over and over as if what she did his fault. I smiled back. Then he faded away. I remember their faces as if they were pictures printed in my memories. It’s funny that one random incident with two completely deferent strangers: One was an angel, and the other was, I don’t know If I can say a devil, but I think anyone in my shoes would say so. People say when they had a terrifying accident, they felt as they were moving in slow motions. I felt the opposite. I blinked, and she appeared, I blinked again, and she was gone. Maybe she was a ghost, but I didn’t believe in ghosts. Maybe I do now.