I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought it was my dad touching my hair and holding my hand the entire time. It’s bizarre how one mysterious man turned a fearless little girl into a fear-consumed, anxious individual.
Sunday morning market trip
Sunday morning was always my favorite time of the week, because I got to go to the market with my dad and buy all of my favorite snacks. From chocolate, to candy, to chips, my 8-year old self craved the adrenaline rush of choosing everything I wanted. This particular Sunday morning was like every other Sunday morning. I woke up, jumped on my parents bed, and begged my dad to get ready in a hurry so that we can get my snacks before my favorite morning shows came on.
Eyes on the prize
As soon as I got to the store, I let go of my dad’s hand and ran for the candy aisle. He yelled at me to come back but I completely ignored him, being way too eager to see if the market had what I wanted (worst mistake). I ran as fast as I could, not realizing my dad was getting further and further away from me. So there I was, grabbing the Kit Kats, tip-toeing for the peach rings, and throwing them all in my little basket. As I searched for more goods, I felt my dad brushing his fingers through my hair and I felt safe to know that he finally caught up to me. Or so I thought.
Little did I know…
My “dad” grabbed my hand, and led me towards the exit of the market. “Wait…why is my dad just walking out of the market without paying?” I thought. I just assumed my dad already paid somehow, and held his hand while we carefully crossed the street and walked towards our car. When we passed by the car, I knew something was wrong. I looked up to ask my dad where we were going and there I saw him. A skinny and tall man wearing a baseball cap who clearly was NOT my father.
Not all superheroes come to the rescue
Where was my dad when I needed him? My dad was my superhero, always coming to the rescue when I felt scared or hurt. Unfortunately he was no where in sight. I felt my palms getting sweaty and my knees locking, making it hard for me to move. “Come on, just run!” I thought. The man looked down at me and asked me what was wrong. “What’s wrong?! Really?!” I thought. This man was completely insane. “Its me, daddy,” he said. It boggled my mind that he actually thought he was in any way related to me. I finally found the strength to move, so I started to run as fast as I could. I just wanted to cry in my dad’s arms, and tell him how much I needed him. I ran harder and faster, trying not to look back at the man.
I hysterically ran into the market, crying and hyperventilating as I asked one of the cashiers to help me find my dad. She quickly grabbed the phone next to the cash register and announced that I was at the front looking for my dad on the loud speaker. Within seconds, I saw my dad running towards me, with the most worrisome look on his face. “Where did you go?!” he asked. I explained to him that a lunatic brushed his fingers through my hair, held my hand and tried to leave with me. “I almost got kidnapped daddy!” I screamed. His face went from worried to furious. He immediately called 911, and within seconds, I heard several sirens outside. The police came rushing in and there was a crowd of people staring at me. All I wanted to do was go home, cuddle with my teddy bear, and cry until this nightmare was over. The police asked what felt like a million questions. “What was he wearing? How tall was he? What did he look like?”. It was hard for me to answer them, because it was hard for me to remember the man’s face without feeling sick. They eventually let my dad and me go, and I held on tight to his hand the whole ride home.
Days went by, and the police were still investigating. I spent sleepless nights, waking up to endless nightmares consuming me every time I closed my eyes. There’s a saying that says “time heals”, but I can’t help but to feel uncomfortable to this day knowing that the lunatic that scarred me for life might still be out there, being a predator to girls like me.