What I Think About When It’s Very Dark Out, And I’m Walking Home Alone, And I’m A Woman



As in, what weapons do I have with me right now and how will I use them, if I have to? The tip of this umbrella is sharp and could probably draw blood if applied correctly and the rest of the umbrella isn’t so bad itself; when it’s all closed and buttoned-up it’s just like a real weapon. I’m gripping it with both hands and holding it in front of my body, waist-high, horizontal, so that if someone were to come at me from the front I could raise it, push it up against their Adam’s apple and take their breath away. If someone were to come at me from behind, I could plunge into their groin or pierce into their foot, that sharp, pointed tip. This is not the way you typically see someone carrying a tall umbrella, they like to balance on it like it’s a walking stick. I carry it like a sword, like a weapon and on nights when there’s been no rain, I keep my longest, sharpest housekey cushioned between the index and middle finger, just in case I need to gauge someone’s eyes out. Just in case. Sometimes I think about the time a karate sensei came to teach my fourth grade class self-defense for one week, he mentioned that if you use the heel of your hand to push someone’s nose up and then back, into their skull, they could die — or maybe I saw that in a movie, or maybe my brother told me, but either way I’ve always known if I were put in the position to defend my life on a dark night when I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman, I’d like to try it out.

My weapons aren’t all metal and shine, though, and plus I know these kinds of weapons can be used against me. Words also seem like weapons that could be used against me, so I keep those for the page and not for inviting anyone to take notice of me when it’s dark outside and I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman. Other weapons: my shoulders, they’re squared and defensive and my elbows are pointed just-so, sharp as they get, they’re not as long as the umbrella but sometimes they’re all I’ve got. My face is a weapon, says things like don’t look at me and I don’t trust you and you will regret even thinking about it. This is why you won’t get that smile you asked for sir, it’s not just because I’m scared but because I want you to feel scared, too. I want you to know that, while you may be my alternate universe father boyfriend brother, right here and right now you’re a stranger dressed in shadows, a suspect. Maybe in different circumstances, your presence would comfort me, make me feel safe. But there are no maybes I’m willing to indulge in, not tonight or any other night. I have no reason to let my guard down, not when it’s very dark out and I’m walking home alone and I’m a woman.

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image – Paul J. Everett