Why I walk With Friends

Back in January, before we left for our trip (I went on a trip, did I tell you that?), my housemate and I were on a walk. It was the post-tabletop game night walk, lots of gesticulating and laughter and the tension steaming off of us like, well, steam.

It’s late, like, midnight late.

It’s drizzly, and the streets are quiet.

And then we start to hear this voice ahead of us. Someone is shouting, only one voice. On the phone, maybe. We turn, casually, at the corner, to the other side of the block, another street, and keep walking.

The voice grows quieter as the houses block it. And then, unexpectedly, louder. And close, just to the left of us. He’s still shouting, and he’s passed through the alleyway from his side of the block to ours. His words are clearer, but they don’t make sense. There isn’t another voice, or another dark form. He must be on the phone.

Or all alone.

We walk past. I don’t look.

The words change. Something about two people walking past, how rude we are moving by him.

We keep walking.

His voice doesn’t fade.

Do we want to get hit by a car? Stupid people, walking on the wrong side of the street.

And he’s following us.

I was past freaking out at this point. Walk faster, turn the corner, take another one, avoid the light. Don’t. Look. Back.

The voice comes in and out as his shouting peaks and falls. The rain glows like mist.

After a time the shouting fades.

I notice my heart, the stitch in my side.

We keep walking. Quickly. I’m the one who is in a panic, and I lead the way home through twisting shadows and then collapse on the floor, not quite shaking.

I hate people.

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