I was pulling into a parking slot and she glanced my way as she walked in front of my car. Our eyes met through the windshield as she passed. She flipped her shoulder-length brown hair away from her face and a bruise appeared on the side of her neck.
She was an employee of the store I was about to enter – on her way to the shopping cart drop to retrieve carts..
I frequent this particular store weekly and I could not recall having seen her before.
There was something about her….
Perhaps it was the way she carried herself. Maybe it was the devil-may-care attitude. Perhaps it was the hesitation she showed before stepping in front of me. Or, perhaps it was something I sensed more than saw.
The bruise on the side of her neck was circular – about an inch and a half across. She took no pains to cover it. The center was a dark purplish brown and the bruise faded to an ugly brown with sickly greenish yellow edges. It was several days old. No doubt she had forgotten she even had it.
I wondered about this girl and how she obtained her mark. And, if it was consensual.
And, I wondered where she was cycle wise.
There was something about her….
Upon entering the store, I headed to the restroom. As I waited for the one working stall, she entered. She looked my way and then with cell phone in hand, approached the mirror and placed her purse in the sink. She had business to attend to.
The first piece of business was a phone call. As soon as her call was answered she began rummaging through her purse, pulling out various things – all makeup.
She was talking with a young man, apparently her boyfriend. The conversation began with soft tones. She wanted to talk with him, missed him, was at work, loved him. As she conversed with him, she held the phone in her left hand and applied makeup with her right, with attention given especially to her eyes.
And, then she asked this young man two sets of questions and the tone of the conversation changed dramatically.
1) Why am I always the one who does the calling? Why don’t you ever call me?
2) Did you know you bruised my neck when you choked me? Do you even care?
I was standing where she could easily see me. She knew she wasn’t alone. And, I’m certain she knew I was looking at her.
All the while she talked, she applied makeup.
The stall emptied and I made no move to claim it. I continued to watch her, and listen to her conversation.
She told the young man several things.
- You can’t hurt me. No one can.
- My dad tried to hurt me. But, he couldn’t.
- My dad beat me and did things to me. But, he couldn’t hurt me and I told him so.
- You can’t hurt me either.
- My dad was a weak man. Only weak men try to hurt others.
- You tried to hurt me. That shows what a weakling you are.
- You had no right to put your hands on me…no right to choke me.
- You left a bruise. Yes, you did. I’m looking at it right now…it’s a choke bruise…a line that goes across my neck.
- Hurt me? Ha! You CAN’T! No man can hurt me.
- Let me tell you something, you little &*^%#$ #*@&$%. You’re just a 65 pound weakling and I can take you out if I want to.
- What am I doing? I’m at work.
- Where am I? I’m in the bathroom talking to you while I put on my makeup!
- Yeah, my dad hurt me. But, he can’t hurt me anymore. No one can. Not even you.
- Like I said, my dad was a weak man. Only weak men hurt women. So you know what that makes you.
- Okay, I love you, too.
And, the phone call ended. She grabbed her purse, gave me a quick glance and out the door she went.
Twice, within 5 minutes of my arrival, this girl had been in the same place I was. She had captured my attention from the beginning.
Twice was to become thrice.
With my shopping cart loaded, and my list marked off, I headed for checkout. The lane I chose was the shortest. After placing my items on the belt, I slipped down toward the end so I could chat with the cashier and the courtesy clerk.
As I turned to speak with the young woman bagging my groceries, I came face to face with the heavily made up face of a young woman…a girl of no more than 20 – the girl I had seen in the parking lot – the girl I had seen in the restroom.
At first, I was speechless. The amount of makeup on her face gave her a clownish appearance. My mind thought back to images of her captured earlier – that fleeting moment when she turned toward me and caught my eye…in the restroom as I stood to the right of her and watched….
To the right – the previous views had all been from her right side. And, the third time I was on her left. And, I was able to look her squarely in the face.
The left side of her face contained more makeup than the right. And, it was the left side that she had worked on the most as she stood in front of the restroom mirror. Her left eyelid was puffy and her left cheek a bit darker than the other.
She recognized me. I smiled and she looked away, busying herself with the task at hand.
There was so much I wanted to say to this girl. But, I said nothing. I simply stood nearby and watched. I didn’t mention seeing her in the parking lot, or overhearing her phone call in the restroom. I didn’t ask how she was doing, or if she was okay. I didn’t do anything to cause alarm in her or raise questions among her coworkers.
Perhaps I should have.
When she finished bagging my groceries, I thanked her for taking such care with my purchases. She stopped, turned and looked at me.
“Thank you. I’m just doing my job,” she replied.
“No, you’re doing more than just your job and I appreciate it. I hope to see you the next time I’m here. I’m going to look for you. Take care of yourself. You’re important!” Oh, there was so much more I wanted to say.
I knew she was scared. She was facing fear the only way she knew – chin out, head-on, with as much bravado as she could muster, and all the while hoping for the best.
Perhaps there will be another time…another meeting…another opportunity to cross paths with this girl who caught my attention. I hope so. I have something I’d like to slip into her hand.
I caught a fleeting glimpse of her again this morning – in the mirror of my own bathroom. I guess that’s why she caught my attention in the first place – I had seen something familiar in her…I saw the me that used to be.
If you (or someone you know) happen to be caught up in domestic violence, and/or are a victim of abuse, know this – silence is not your friend and your situation won’t get better on its own.
Break the silence. Seek help. These sites below can help you find a way out of an abusive relationship.
Being period wise means you take care of yourself and take charge of your life – you do what’s right and best for yourself. This attitude of self care, self awareness and self preservation extends into ALL areas of life, throughout every day of your cycle.
It’s not selfish. It’s fact. You can’t care for and protect others if you’ve not first cared for and protected yourself.
Be period wise.