Was it her exhaustion that inspired the ridiculous thought? Or was it a thrill of fear? She saw no one else in the sodium orange of the streetlights. She was alone with her pursuer. The tempo of the boots behind her quickened in time with her pace, erasing any doubt that it was a pursuer that wore them.
Tammy was tired. Very tired. Too tired to outrun anyone who really wanted to catch her. Whatever was going to happen, she gained nothing by adding to her exhaustion beforehand.
She stopped and spun around. The boots advanced a few more steps and fell silent.
Orange light silhouetted her pursuer, throwing the shadow of long legs along the pavement so Tammy stood where the shadow of a short skirt blended with darkness
“Out on your own?” The voice from the silhouette was deep, almost masculine in its timbre.
“No home to go to?”
“Nah. And I ain’t on your patch, neither.”
Tammy wished she’d walked a few more steps toward the next streetlight, so she would be the silhouette and she’d be able to see the face she was talking to. She could only hope the sinuous shimmer of the outline indicated amusement.
“I’m not a prostitute and I don’t have a patch.”
“So why was you following me?” Asked Tammy.
“Because a young woman walking these streets alone at four in the morning must be looking for somewhere to go.”
“Ain’t got nowhere to go.”
The silhouette stepped closer. The shadow lunged toward Tammy until she was between the thighs.
“Of course not. You don’t even know what you’re looking for.”
Tammy said nothing. If she’d liked playing guess-what-the-adult-means-but-won’t-tell-you, she’d still be going to school.
“May I show you?” asked the silhouette.
“Show me what?”
“What you don’t know you’re looking for.”
“What’s that, then?”
“I can’t tell you. I can only show you.”
Tammy almost said ‘yes’ on the off chance that there might be a meal and a place to sleep for a night or two in it. No, she reminded herself, that sort of thinking was dangerous. No gift was ever worth the hidden price. There was always a hidden price.
“No,” she said. “You’re alright.”
The silhouette’s shoulders rose for a moment. Perhaps the movement accompanied a smile of amusement. Perhaps it was just a shrug.
As the silhouette spun away, the curtain of hair rolled back from the profile of a face before sweeping back to cover it again. Tammy watched the shadow of swaying hips roll up toward the silhouette as it passed under the bulb of the streetlight.
Had Tammy really seen the glint of a reflection in an eye? Had an open mouth revealed something longer and sharper than a human tooth?
Or was she just very, very tired?
Tammy listened to the tap of boot heels on pavement until the silhouette vanished into the patchwork of streetlight and shadow.
Tammy turned and walked the other way.
The burning question:
Did Tammy make the right choice? Please share your thoughts in the comments.