Having securely locked her front door, she put away her key and fussed over her bag in the pretence of looking for something that was lost. She was in fact looking for him. With her head lowered and right hand rummaging about in the depth of her handbag, she peered up through her fringe and surveyed her surroundings. Neatly mowed lawn, two terracotta flower pots and a concrete path that led to a black painted gate. Uncluttered and minimal. Nothing planted. Planting meant digging, and digging in the dirt was not something she was inclined to do.
The familiar prickling at the back of her neck started. She couldn’t see him, but she knew. She knew that as soon as she stepped through the gate and started walking he would be there. It had been going on for months now. The stalking. At first she had thought she was imagining it, that it was all in her head, and even toyed with the thought that she might be ill or slightly disturbed. Well actually, she was disturbed. Disturbed by the fact that every time she left her house she was followed.
She hardly ever saw him. It was peripheral glimpses as she turned to cross a road, stopped to chat to a friend, or a flash image in a shop window. She had discussed what was happening with her friends one night over a meal, and to be honest she was not sure how seriously they had taken her. Fuelled by alcohol she had had the confidence to share her discomfort and was duly informed that it was not such a big deal, and that she should perhaps be flattered by the attention. They had mocked her in good humour, but their insensitivity had hurt her and as time went by she was disinclined to confide further. She had instead taken to wearing flat shoes, as heels compromised her speed; and she had concluded that the day might come when running was her only option. She wanted to be prepared.
Pulling her coat close to her body, and clutching her bag to her side, she walked briskly down the avenue and turned onto the main road. She passed the co-op advertising its 5 a day and stopped outside the tatty newsagents. She glanced nervously around her. Everyone and everything looked suspicious. She knew he was there. Watching. Waiting. Following. Tears sprung to her eyes and she fought the urge to wail in public. She had had enough. She was going to confront him and put an end to it. Scare him off if she could. No- one was going to do it for her.
She moved on down the road, slowing her pace, all her senses alert and on edge. She knew he was close, could feel him behind her. She would let him catch up, let him think he was safe and she was unaware of his presence.Furiously she turned and screeched ‘GO HOME YOU STUPID CAT’.