Dilemma (True Story)

By R.K. Buzard

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Categories: Women's Voices,

A woman really does want to help.

I hear you knocking, midday, April. My curtains are drawn, and you hear my dogs just on the other side of the door, furious, but you can’t see me.

You won’t hear me either.

I’m a woman, and I can’t take chances. I’m a smart woman, and I don’t know you. My door won’t answer.

I will float like a ghost to a window somewhere behind you. I will sniff you out, and you won’t even feel it. You: A tall man, maybe fifty years old. Faded carpenter jeans. –Dad jeans. Gray sweatshirt. Pink visor? It’s windy and cloudy outside. You need a haircut.

I don’t know you.

Why are you knocking on my door? And why is your ratty little silver car blocking my driveway? Parked in front of my gate? You look vexed.

I don’t know you.

I’m watching you get frustrated. You don’t like my dogs, they are nonstop with the barking. You step back a bit from my French door where you have been knocking. Just a few thin panes of glass between you and them. It wouldn’t be good for you, especially if my female shepherd-mix got through.

You shake your head, and stomp down my steps. Who do you think you are?

You turn once and stare back up at my house. You are looking from window to window, but you have no idea where I am. You don’t even see the window I’m watching you from. That eases me a bit. You aren’t sly.

What do you need?

You head on down the driveway, unlatch my gate, let yourself out, and then carefully set the hook back into place.

I move from my ghostly vantage point, into the open. Still watching you. I’m starting to think you might be an okay guy. That was a nice touch, re-latching the gate. I think you are in some kind of jam. And I do so want to help if I can.

But a girl hears stories. A woman reads stories. Cautionary tales. You guys can be real fucking monsters sometimes. Monsters in disguise. A female learns to trust her instincts, play it safe. Survive.

You’re pacing now in front of your car. You keep looking up at the house. I’m feeling bolder.

What are you after?

You’re on the other side of the gate, down by the roadside. It’s a sturdy gate; I built it myself, last summer, to withstand the dogs, and the weather. Cars are coming and going. I’d be fairly safe if I went down there. See what’s up with you. See if I can help.

Do you need to use my phone? Are you lost? Run out of gas? This old place I rebuilt with my own hands still looks like a Grange Hall, I know; did you think there might be someone here who could help you? I know a few things about stalled cars.

I pull on my coat, watching you, and you still can’t see me. Your face is red, but in a miserable way, not angry. You’re looking up here now, defeated. It’s like you know I’m in here, and I could help if I wanted to, but think I won’t just out of pure meanness

I slip my knife into my boot, my eyes still on you. I will maybe go down the driveway with a swagger. Broad-shouldered. Surefooted. “Can I help you?” I’ll shout, as deep-voiced as I can muster. Maybe I should bring the phone. I could bring one of the dogs, but that might scare you, and I can’t vouch for what either of them might do. I don’t think I should bring my female. She’s watching you, growling low in her throat. My male pitbull sits behind her. He’s twice as big, but quiet now. Patient. Confident.

I decide to go alone. Am I a fool? All of those women who figured they’d be all right, trying to help out: Their eyes the eyes of panting prey when they realize their final awful mistake in that urge; the blood, their blood; their bones gone green under the water, hidden by monsters who looked like men. Their bones bleaching on mountaintops, in plain view, never found. The brazenness of monsters. I pull open my door.

But you have gone. Your car is still there, but you are not. Where’d you go? I’m feeling shitty now. Paranoid, and uncool.

It’s a woman’s dilemma.

I could argue that it’s not our fault. But that won’t help you, will it?

I go back into the house, to watch for you, and wait.

You finally come trudging down the road, a small red gas can swinging in your left hand. You look flustered, and I feel bad. “This is not the kind of person I am.” I want to tell you. I want to shake your hand.

You finish, and toss the can into your trunk, closing it gently. Before you climb back into the driver’s seat, you stand up straight, and face the window where I see you, unseen. You rub a hand across the back of your neck for a moment, looking up at my house. At the sky. And then you are gone for good.

“This is not how it should be.” I would say to you.

A woman truly does want to help.

 

 

10449655_10204206415228882_2131835019_nR.K. Buzard is a renovator, artist, and musician living and working in the Great Pacific Northwest.

 

 

 

 

 

This piece was originally posted on The Wooden Sword blog and can be accessed here.

 

Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members. 

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