I didn’t walk the Chi-town streets of East Garfield Park, but the shadows lain before me rifled my core. Ya see: His name was Chicken. Those skinny long legs shot up on that 6 foot frame, even in 7th grade. His shadow’s gaze settled my chin upon my chest and my stammer tired to find my footing at a rapid pace. The long walk home from my school was a lonely one for this girl– only because I was the only. Sure my classrooms were speckled with friendly faces, but they boarded buses while I hit the pavement.
Chicken, and his younger brother in my grade, didn’t follow me home everyday, but it was enough to take the ease out of my stride. Ever were the hauls that lasted for days when they snickered and sneered a step behind me. Until we reached the park, finally I could exhale: They went their way, I went mine.
I’m not sure where Chicken’s predatory lurch came from that day. I couldn’t beg for a running chance, I was hurled to the ground- with those damn skinny legs straddling me. I wish I could recall what he said. (I think the mind shuts down and reboots sometimes.) When I became conscious of his hands pinning my arms to the ground, I witnessed the vacancy in eyes that I rarely see. Time evaporated for a brief moment as he stared at me. Then his attention was shaken by his brother’s call. He ran. I sank into the earth. In fright. In perplexity.
I almost withered. But, I chose to arise…again and again.