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Grace McCarter


       Shopping. A man winks at me. Leaving a store, a man is entering. He looks at me, licks his lips. He looks like he’s about to eat a delicious meal. I bolt.

       Early. I’m at the site of the concert. I know people there. I should be safe. I am. It’s cold. I put my jacket on.

       Music. Moshing. I start the pit back up near the end. Some friends arrive late. Now it’s hipster indie bullshit, but we love it, not wanting the party to end.

       We drive to Hardee’s. Keith and I sing to Space Jam. They close at 11. Doors locked. Denny’s for a midnight dinner. Kate or Katilyn. Another vegan! Laughter. Jake is tall. Discussion over tea and smuggled in cookies.

       “Actually, in mythology minotaurs are known to carry women off and rape them,” I said, perfectly in flow of the conversation. Waitress leaves. Suddenly a man.

       “I loved the story you told your friends… The way they leaned in to listen to you… You’re a good storyteller.”

       Who is this guy? I don’t think much of him. Greasy dark hair. Strange odor. Gleaming face. Ratty clothes. Go away. He asks my name. It’s Grace. I’m sick, I shouldn’t shake your hand. That’s a lie. More questions. I answer, amused at first. What do you do? I’m a machinist. Where? My gut says to lie. I lie. I say work on the south end of town. There’s another shop there. What do you do? I cut metal. I’m growing annoyed.

       He asks even more questions. Nervous, I slow my replies. Why aren't my friends stepping in?

       Now they are abrupt. Reduced to one word each. Go away, go away. An unrecognized prayer to nothing.

       The hint is not taken. Exasperated, I give him my business card. It doesn’t have a direct line of contact to me. It feels safer.

       I see a roach on the floor. I make a scene. He finally leaves. Back to friends. The night progresses. It’s nearly one am.

       We go to leave, we have to pay. I notice him at his table. I see him look at me briefly.

       Run. Run. RUN! Get the fuck away! I can't. I have to pay.

Grace McCarter is currently a student at Salisbury University

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