She’s Watching You

 

No one really knew her.

She was unassuming.  Alone.  And quiet.

She lived quietly in a small house she moved to after her father died.  He died eight years after her mother.  She cared for them both while working full time.  Her life was all about providing.  Providing them comfort and care, providing for herself financially.   When they were both gone she sold the house she had lived in with them.  And moved to a quiet street, in the small house.   An alley ran behind her house, a stream ran on the other side of the alley.

Her interactions with others was limited to work, or shopping or banking.  People were pleasant enough to her, even if they thought her a little odd.  It’s not that people avoided her, nor did she avoid people.  She and they, they just didn’t make an effort to connect.  So connections were never attempted.  And never really thought of.

She had no real friends.  Acquaintances at work.  No family.

But her little town was home to her.

It started one night when she couldn’t sleep.  Rather, she couldn’t sleep any longer.  She found she lived best on five hours of uninterrupted sleep.   She would read a book until she fell asleep.  She would watch the news when she woke up and until she got ready for work.

One morning she awoke at three a.m.   Like she always did. She didn’t want to watch the news.  It was never anything good and made her feel helpless.  She didn’t like feeling helpless.  Something prompted her to go for a walk.  She dressed warmly for the night air was chilled.  And she walked.  She returned in time to get ready for work.

She never told anyone of her walks.  But they became part of her routine.  She decided three mornings a week were enough.  Though she never chose a day, she let the day choose her.  It might be three mornings in a row, or one morning and then not another morning for four more days.

But she always made sure to go out at least three times a week.

She learned every crack in a two mile radius of her house.  Every alley.  Every street.  Every house.  She recognized dogs barking and knew when lights would be off or on.

She walked.

And walked.

And walked.

For decades.

No one knew.

She realized no one knew.   At one point she acquired a pea shooter and always carried it, and navy beans, with her.  She practiced shooting those beans at home in her basement.  Making sure she could use the shooter quickly and silently.  She did this after thinking she should learn to protect herself.  But as much as she was unseen during the light of day, she was completely invisible at night.  No one knew she was out there.

She knew where to walk, from behind her house, down the alley, or even down in the stream if the weather was warm and the stream was only inches high.

She knew what was going on more than anyone else.

She witnessed stolen kisses, angry words and blows, surprises being set up for teenagers getting cars, or Christmas presents being snuck into garages after children were fast asleep.

The pea shooter came in handy.  And she became quite handy with it.  The first time she witnessed angry words it bothered her.  She stayed hidden where she was, because she knew every place to hide, but wondered if she would do anything if it escalated and someone needed help.  The first time she heard the words, it quickly de-escalated, and she didn’t have to answer that question.  But it bothered her not knowing if she would help or not.  Of course she wanted to think she would, but she didn’t really know, not ever having had to.

But one night, the angry words carried blows with them.  She was unseen.  They were outside by a car. The man yelling, and then…slap!  He hit her.   She had her pea shooter and navy beans out and firing within seconds.   She aimed for the neck.  And she shot those beans randomly but with precision.   The man, this time, raised his hand to his neck.  Looking around.   He had no idea what it was.  He turned back to the woman and raised his hand to slap her, he spun when the bean snapped into his cheek.

He looked around.  Yelling.  The woman was looking around at what he was looking at.  He tried telling her something was stinging or biting him.

She remained hidden.  The man’s anger had turned to something else.  For now, he wasn’t hitting.

It wasn’t always a man doing the hitting.  And these things weighed heavy on her.  To see people who thought this was part of love.  She never had love, other than for her parents, but she knew love never had a hand of hate in it.

She took to practicing the pea shooter even more after that.  She had been scared.  As the years went by, she became a sharp shooting pea shooter.  It made her chuckle to think of herself as that.  A sharp shooting pea shooter.  Sadly, she had to use it more often than she ever thought she would have to.  Fortunately, always with the same results.  There would be confusion on what was happening and she would be getting yelled at.  Even though the yeller had no idea who or what they were yelling at.

Of course she had no one to tell any of this to.

But her neighborhood was one of the safest in town.  For decades.  People started talking about how safe they felt.  Yet, there were those few who would say they were creeped out at night to go outside.  They felt like they were being watched.  Those few never lasted long in the neighborhood.

Her decades of walking, alone, at night, along the alleys and the unlit streets, filled her with a purpose.

She witnessed peace.  Loneliness.  Love.  She watched heartbreak and heartache.

She began to piece together the stories of the people.  Some of those people never knew where the help came from when they would find small gifts of something they needed left in their yard, on their porch, or in front of their garage.

She created a peace and security.  Though she herself didn’t even know this.  She was just walking.  In silence.  Obscure.  Existing silently in her purpose.

She walked the streets until she could no longer walk them.

But no one ever knew what made them feel safe.

And no one ever knew she was there.

And no one ever knew when she was gone.

And what she created lasted for a very long time.

Her life was a story.  She smiled more after she started walking.  And when she could no longer walk, and closed her eyes to life, she did so in peace.

And what she never knew, was who was watching her, watch over you.

Dedicated to all of the stories we don’t know.  I know they exist.

 

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29 thoughts on “She’s Watching You

  1. cindy knoke says:

    This is so compelling and so well done in terms of the accurate portrayal of the character. It caught me before I could leave.
    Good for you!
    I know her.

  2. I believe in you, Colleen 🙂
    Very well written story and I feel sure, that these people exist too. Enjoy your weekend.

  3. ksbeth says:

    this was so beautiful that it gave me chills and made me cry. it was written about those people who are so important to our lives and yet we never know the impact they have on us, but make no mistake the impact is huge. i loved this.

  4. I’m sure that you are right, these people, these stories exist. Lovely piece, Colleen. 💘

  5. lbeth1950 says:

    What a wonderful story!

  6. This is a marvelous story, Colleen. Imagine how much one quiet person, behind the scenes, can do and in this case, it was a win-win situation. ❤ ❤ ❤

  7. So well written. You brought her to life. ❤

  8. This reminds me, a lady named Cheryl wrote into the place I work with a prayer intention: “Please pray for me, for I am so very sad and lonely because I have no one to talk to and hang out with. I am always homebound since I never get invited to fun social events. I feel so alone, unwanted, and unloved.”
    How terribly sad is that? I actually thought of you. I asked where she lived, but she’s too far away for me to visit. My mom has a friend a half hour away from this woman, so I asked if she’d ask her friend to reach out to her. Not sure what will become of it, but it’s so heart breaking. 😦

    • Oh PIF, that IS heartbreaking. I hope she is contacted. I’m sure there are all kinds of ‘services’ around her that could help. And by ‘services’ I mean people with huge hearts trying to help those like her not be alone. Even if it’s arranging transportation to fun events she may not know about and doesn’t need an invitation to. Just a desire to go. If you hear, please let me know. How kind of you to try and find someone for her. ❤

  9. Debra says:

    What a wonderful story, Colleen. A superhero armed with a peashooter rather than a cape! It does call to attention the admonition against overlooking the potential in anyone. We all have the capacity to be more than our exterior might suggest. Inspiring!

  10. Colleen – A story full of every element we’re supposed to see in fine literary writing, yet, I was so mesmerized, I had to read a third time to make sure I had the mechanics of the story. Well done!

  11. Reblogged this on Peter's pondering and commented:
    Another absolute gem from Colleen. Small, quiet, acts can work wonders, and they do! It does not take money, or lots of time, or complicated skills, to make a difference. This story clearly shows that!

  12. russtowne says:

    Thank you for brightening my day with this beautiful story of a spirit who lit the night, Colleen.

  13. duncanr says:

    what a wonderful story – and beautifully told !

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