Not Chosen

I wasn’t chosen. 

At the neighborhood shopping center, I saw a scruffy man glance at me. I thought nothing of it. I slowed for a plump middle-aged woman in front of me, who’d stopped to rummage through her grocery cart. Once past her, I resumed my long strides, shoulders back, arms swinging.

In the breeze behind me, I overheard the shabby man repeatedly ask the kind-looking woman for a handout in a soft cajoling voice. They stood near a store’s entry. With people going in and out, I knew the woman wasn’t in danger.

A few moments ago, when he’d looked me over, I realized the grubby guy had sized me up, and decided not to choose me. I felt triumph shiver in my bones. I wasn’t his victim.

In the past, I’ve been chosen as prey: to rob, to rape, to harass, to beat, to torture, one of forty percent of American women who report their abuse, as I learned to do ten years ago when law enforcement began to believe women. The number of unreported cases makes me cry. In the past, I’ve been among them.

Self-defense classes taught me to fight back, to stand straight and defiant, body language blaring, I’ll be the loudest and nastiest target you’ve ever met.

This time, I wasn’t chosen. Perhaps I’ve broken the old cycle.

Cate Burns is the author of Libido Tsunami: Awash with the Droll in Life, in which she unearths the ludicrous in the emotional live traps surrounding us — in families, friends and disastrous romances. Get it on Amazon today.