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Please. Enough with the jokes.

I grip my keys tighter and walk faster. I can hear the blood rushing in my ears, and feel the heat crawling up my neck.

I’m feeling scared.

I shouldn’t be,

because it’s 3pm on a Tuesday

and the sun is shining

and I’ve just had a coffee by the beach

and I’m wearing baggy jeans

and an oversized shirt

and there is nothing special about the way I look.

I shouldn’t be afraid,

But I am.

The group of guys keep laughing and saying disgusting things at me as I walk, and I don’t know what to do.

Is this the moment where I defend myself? Where I yell or say something clever and snappy that penetrates the tin skulls of these guys?

I try and think of the words, but I don't have any.

I’m not in a movie with a neatly-timed comeback, and I’m afraid.

They're in their car now, and they follow me. It’s become a game. They’re jeering and making lewd comments that make me want to block my ears and scream.

And I know I’m making a big deal of nothing. I know I should be used to this.

I know that I'll make it home, and that to these guys it's all just a big joke.

But what if one day...'s not a joke?

I make it to my car, heart still skipping, and turn the music up to drown out the blood that rushes in my ears. I keep glancing at my rearview mirror at the crude gestures until they're finally out of view.

What did I do wrong? I wonder, drumming my fingers on the wheel.

After a while of driving, the anger comes. I feel a rage so deep and intense that it frightens me. I grip the steering wheel tighter and glare out the windshield, watching the world pass me by through blurred tears.

It shouldn't be like this.

Not on a Tuesday afternoon.

Not in a public place.

Not here. Not ever.

Please. Enough with the jokes.

Photo by Pedro Sandrini from Pexels.

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