Have you ever been so numb by a comment that was made, that you miss your opportunity to respond appropriately and end up obsessing about it? It happened to me yesterday at the bus stop.
There is a girl of about 27 or maybe 30 who I see sometimes at the stop. I don’t know her name, but our silence was broken one day when a little dog came out of nowhere and ran into the street. We suddenly had concern for the dog in common and were talking about it. Eventually he ran down the block and we got on the bus saying no more to each other that day.
Yesterday, at the bus stop, she immediately addressed me. She said she hoped “that dog” was OK. I agreed as she plopped down next to me on the bench (I knew I shouldn’t have sat on). I didn’t notice the week before, but she is a classic close-talker. Face and body way too close than necessary. I moved over mentioning that I was giving her more room and do you know what she did…? Yeah, she moved closer. Luckily the bus came and I could get up before she was on my lap – making mental note to never sit on a public bench again.
I boarded, sat down, began to put my fare card away and the girl sat down right next to me again. Apparently, I was so unhinged by how close she was a few seconds ago, I didn’t notice that she was in the middle of telling me a story.
“So when Roger called me and asked me if I wanted the dog, I told him he knew I had no room for a dog in my little apartment…” Once again, I was paralyzed by how close she was and had to force myself to remember that the ride will be only 15 minutes. I could keep my head forward and nod. I finally listened enough to learn that Roger is her boyfriend and he is abusing her when he was angry – verbally and physically. Now hooked, I asked her why she didn’t break up with him. “Roger and me did break up. That’s why we have different apartments now.” Frustrated that she wasn’t piecing together an organized story for me, I asked her if she was still seeing him after their split. “Well… yeah. I guess so.”
I told her I would kill anyone who treated my sister (or anyone I loved) that way. And do you know what she said…?
“Well, just between us girls, I did.” Then she put her finger to her lips and said very quietly, “Shhhhh.” My eyes locked with hers finally and I hung in an out-of-body moment where everything felt quiet and slow. Then her head bolted around and she said it was her stop, yanked the chain in time for the driver to screech us to a halt and she jumped off.
She did…what? I keep repeating my sentence and the only action I mentioned was killing. We toss the word “kill” around all the time… I could kill him for being late. Did you see the Bulls game last night? They got killed! Would I really kill someone for harming someone I loved? I’d like to think I would not, but my brain is racing with what I may know. Do I call the police? I don’t even know her name. I don’t know where she lives or where Roger lives. If I do tell the police, will she kill me too? If I don’t tell the police, am I an accomplice? Or did she mean something else when she said she “did”? Maybe she thought I said I would cook for anyone who harmed my sister…
I hope I see her tomorrow at the bus. But mostly, I hope I never see her again.