The day is hot. The sun bombards the earth with photons. The sky is clear blue; no clouds to offer the barest of reliefs. The pavement absorbs and reflects the heat back up into the air we walk through.
The day is hot. My long skirt shades my legs and allows the meager breeze to cool them. My white wide brim hat shades my face and reflects the light away from my dark hair. My blouse is thin light material that my skin can breathe through.
The day is hot. I walk this route many times a week, usually alone. Today a man walks in the same direction. We are not walking together. We are not friends. We do not talk. But it is nice in a way to travel with someone.
The day is hot. I am almost home. Soon I can sit and enjoy cool air. The man speaks to me, “So when did you move down here?” “I’m sorry, what?” I reply. I heard what he said but I hope he means something other than what I dread. “Aren’t you from Mexico?” He meant it after all.
The day is hot. “I’m from here.” I have nothing else to say on that. We walk on, still not walking together but he has closed the gap between us by a few feet. “Where are you going?” he asks. “Home,” I say, “I live in the neighborhood other there.” I wave in the direction of a tract of houses. I do not say I live in the apartments just within sight.
The day is hot. I turn to walk through a parking lot behind a building. He continues straight. A small bit of tension releases. It has been some time since I was asked if I was from Mexico. I wish it wasn’t the first thing people assumed about me. It’s not like we don’t make up half the population in my city. And then the man is behind me.
The day is hot. I yell in surprise. He apologizes and asks, “Are you doing anything later?” He most have circled around the first building that shares this parking lot and come through the alley between the two buildings. “Nothing,” I say. “Would you like to meet up to do something later?”
The day is hot. I walk on. He walks with me. “No, I’m just going to stay home tonight.” I’m scared but I can not show it. I’m scared he won’t take no for answer. I’m scared he’ll follow me all the way home. I’m scared he’ll read me as trans. I’m scared.
The day is hot. He follows for a little while longer asking once more before walking away in a different direction. I walk slower not wanting him to turn and see where I live. In the end, I hurry to my apartment door and open it quickly. I close and lock it behind me. The lock gives me reassurance that I don’t need on most days.
I am home now where the air is cool, I can sit down, and cold drinks can be had. The outside is locked away and I am safe. But tomorrow will be another hot day.
Author note: This is based on something that happened not too long ago. It’s kind of been hanging around my head so I gave in and wrote about it. I didn’t want to write a blog post about it so I did something a little different.