I fear a man I’ve never met.
We saw each other briefly last week. At least that’s what the security video shows. I paced the sidewalk, absentmindedly sending texts as my friend drove up. Right toward the park. Left toward the street. And back again. Movement would catch my eye when a car door opened or a stranger walked past. I smiled at the other wise people who were heading to the park before the summertime heat. He was across the street. Our eyes might have met once. I remember the dog because it did not bark. The park has so many walkers, runners, and dogs. This one made no great imprint other than it was small and did not bark. The man made no imprint. He simply held the dog’s leash.
I fear a man who knows too much about me.
Within an hour of pacing that sidewalk, my car window had been shattered and the fragments littered the street. Two bags hoisted from their secure spaces in the trunk, sheltered by the gray cover. Electronics, books, and papers jostled inside, as they always did when moved around. But this time those objects would go somewhere I cannot find. My name is printed on a half-dozen cards and papers in those bags. Keys to a home, a car, and a workplace line up on a keyring only four weeks old. The blue underlines from hours spent reading fill pages of one book, while the encouraging words of friends overlay the pictures of another.
If he cares, this man could know where I live, what I read, who I am loved by, what gum I chew, what chapstick I wear, and the size my dirty clothes are. And I remember his dog. It was small and did not bark.
In shattering a window, a man I do not know will never be forgotten.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.