How to Walk at Night Like a Girl

by Alivia Garcia

    “Bye, Don. See you tomorrow,” Abby said with a forced smile.​

    “Good work today. See you later,” the wrinkled manager said from behind the ticket booth.

    Abby dusted her hands on her button up, smearing popcorn butter across the maroon fabric.

    The walk home from the movie theater wasn’t long, only a quarter of a mile; but Abby dreaded every second.

    The street lights flickered and the nighttime fog made the walk home seem like something out of a stalker horror movie. Abby knew the walk through D street was the worst part and when she had the time, she often avoided it completely, cutting through the neighboring town, adding another mile and a half to her walk home. But, she didn’t have the time tonight. She had to be home.

    She pushed open the glass door of the run-down movie theater and took a deep breath before exposing herself to the cold air.

    I can do this; I can make it. Abby encouraged herself.

    The first five minutes were easy. Just a quick walk through the parking lot and past the local grocery store. Abby hummed her favorite Jack Johnson song as she kicked a bottle cap  all the way to the crosswalk.

    She pressed the button and waited for the red hand to change into the little man, signaling her to cross. She crossed the street, and strolled quickly past Louie’s Liquor. Abby looked up at the street sign, which was covered in so much graffiti, it was hard to make out what it actually said. But Abby knew what the street sign said. She had made it to D street.

    Stand up tall. Try to look bigger than you actually are. Not that tall. You don’t want to stand too tall; it’ll look like you are trying to push your breasts out.

    Look down at your breasts. Are your boobs out? Is your shirt too low? Doesn’t matter, pull your shirt up anyway. Cover your cleavage.

    Look up. Don’t look down for too long. Scan left to right. Is there anyone around? Don’t scan too quickly; you’ll look nervous. You don’t want to look nervous. Don’t cower; act natural.

    Steady your walk. But don’t walk too slow. You still need to get there quickly. But don’t walk too fast. Don’t look scared. Pull your hands out of your sleeves; you look too nervous.

    Put your key between your fingers. Grip it hard. If anyone comes near, have the key ready; have it ready between your knuckles. Have the end of the key pointing out, in between your fingers.

    Put your other hand in your pocket. Put your hand around your phone and have it ready. Your phone is charged, right? Check your phone. Does your phone have enough battery in case of an emergency?

    Look up. You don’t want to be on your phone too long. You wouldn’t want to get distracted. Don’t let anyone think you’re distracted. Stay alert. Make sure your earphones have your music low so you can hear. Or just leave one earphone out. Stay alert.

    Pull your shorts down. You wouldn't want anyone to think you’re asking for it because your shorts are so short. Pull them down. Make sure your shorts are covering your whole butt.

    Fix your belt. You’re safer with a belt on, or at least that’s what you're told.

    Make sure your shoes are tied. What if you have to run? You should always make sure your shoes are tied. You wouldn’t want to trip.

    Look up. Don’t look down for too long; don’t get distracted. Scan from left to right. Make sure no one suspicious is around. Make sure no one is looking at you.

    Do you still have service? What time is it? Check your phone. Make sure it isn’t too late. You shouldn’t be out too late.

    Put your phone back in your pocket; look up. You’re almost there. Walk a little faster. But don’t walk too fast. You wouldn’t want to trip because you were walking too fast.

    Look around. Scan from left to right. Check behind you. Act like you heard something so you can check behind you. No one is behind you right?

    Turn around, quickly. You wouldn’t want it to look like you are afraid. You never want to look scared.

    Keep your key between your fingers. You’re almost there.

    Someone knows where you’re at, right? You shared your location with someone before you left right? You can’t forget to do these things before you leave.

    Did you forget anything else? Did you forget to text someone that you left? Is there someone waiting for you to get back? You can’t forget too much.

   

    You’re almost there. You can see your destination. But you don’t want anyone to be following you there. Look around. Scan from left to right. Look behind you. Don’t look too fast. You don’t want to look nervous. Stand up tall, you’re almost there, but don’t stand too tall. Walk a little faster. Don’t walk too fast. No one is behind you right? Check behind you. But check behind you in a way that doesn’t make you look scared. You’re almost there. Keep your key between your fingers.

    Now check one last time to make sure no one is behind you. Now open the door. Keep your other hand on your phone. Now shut the door, quickly. Now lock it.

    Abby set her keys on the kitchen counter quietly.

    Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz.

    Her phone buzzed and lit up. She grabbed it and turned off the reminder.

   

    “Right on time,” she said to herself. She filled her favorite green cup with water from the fridge and opened the little clear organizer to the compartment labeled “F” for Friday.

    Abby swallowed her pill in one gulp, then quickly swung her head around, alerted by footsteps coming down the stairs.

    “Oh, sweetie you made it home. That’s good. Did you remember to take your anxiety medication?” Abby’s mom asked.

    Abby gave her mom a thumbs up and finished her glass of water.