I have thought about the note you gave me on Monday. I do not want you to contact me again. I do not want any phone calls or notes. Any further contact will be considered sexual harassment and treated as such.
Do you understand?

The message floated on my computer screen. Somehow, seeing it there in black and white makes me feel more grounded, more focused. I tried to justify everything that has happened over the past few months. We all need friends, we all need to talk. So, I listened. I thought I was a friend, and a decent human being. I did not fully realize to what extent he stretched the things I said or misinterpreted what I believed to be obvious truths. Even now, when I try to wrap my mind around things, I feel a mixture of pity and horror.

A part of me believes that a misunderstanding is at the root of it all – he is still confused or unclear. Another part of me is scared shitless.

This part of my self is new – I am letting someone’s obsession become my obsession. I try to seek meaning in this situation. I am afraid and afraid of my fear. Fear is something I don’t experience, and take pride in my fearlessness. Butch girl from a big city, walking downtown streets late at night and alone, armed only by a thick shell and a pocket knife. But, I’m rambling. What happened today was a true example of my new chicken shit status.

This guy usually bumps into me in the halls. Today I arrived at campus deliberately late, then circled around the back of the school. I have spent more time inside the women’s washroom today than all year, fixing my extremely short hair, tucking and untucking my tee shirt into my jeans.

Do I even realize that I am hiding? I scouted the computer lab, searching for him. Okay, he’s not there, I can go in. The image of every person who enters the lab after me is caught in my peripheral vision, and I jump each time. Luckily, a friend enters soon after and I feel safer. I explained the latest developments to her.

She tells me to confront him, that this is beginning to control my life, that this is giving him power over me. She says that my silence is aiding him. She agrees with me in that he probably doesn’t realize what he is doing, and he needs counseling. As I sit and talk to her, I relax, slightly; thanking the powers that be for the fact that she’s in my next class. He’s in that class too.

She offers to stand by me while I confront him. She offers to confront him for me.

As I talk with her, my conversation is reduced to head-nodding and monosyllables. The adrenaline rush from the fight or flight reflex is numbing. I am becoming stoned on fear. I can’t think clearly, I’m overwhelmed by low-grade panic.

I need to go to the next class, it’s right after this one, and we decide that I would confront him then. I arrived to class early, and pretend to be engrossed in shuffling papers. During break, I’m horrified when my friends leave me alone. I go up to the professor and try to engage him in conversation, asking detailed questions about the upcoming assignment.

Class ends, and I stall, my brain has shut down, I watch him leave. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe there is just a misunderstanding, and my silence may speak volumes.

Maybe, but it didn’t work before. I was silent for three weeks, and that seemed to trigger the current note writing campaign.
I’ve repeatedly refused dates, explained that I was not in any way interested in a romantic relationship, that I don’t date men. I tried reasoning; I tried being fair. Maybe silence isn’t the best policy, but my body is screaming to escape. I can’t think, I’m panicking.

When I leave the classroom, he’s already in the hallway. Waiting.

I walk past him – coming too close, my brain screams to flee – NOW! My vision’s hazy and I try to focus on walking through the door behind him. I can’t speak. What did I want to tell him? There must be a mistake. This is surreal. I must be mistaken. He must be confused. I must be confused.

Things like this don’t happen to me. Ever.

A friend meets me, and we walk through the door together, chatting about the upcoming project. After we part ways, I feel like crying. The emotional and physical letdown is overwhelming. I’ve been pushed and pulled by my own adrenaline. I focus on leaving the campus grounds while my thoughts spiral into overdrive – this whole thing is bizarre; this kind of situation doesn’t happen to me – ever. I am always the advisor for others. Their go-to. A rock. Unflappable.

Okay, I got through today with sheer avoidance tactics. How about tomorrow? How can I arrive at the class we have together without talking to him? How can I leave it? How about the rest of the term?
Some big, strong feminist I am.

Seated in front of my computer, the message floating at the top of the screen stares at me. Waiting to do something. What, I don’t know.

My thoughts continued to reel. Why am I avoiding? I’m afraid. Of what? I don’t know. Of confrontation, of embarrassment. (it’s all a mistake, isn’t it?) What am I going to do for the rest of the term? I need to be proactive, not reactive. I need to set the stage, lay down the rules.

This passive avoidance is pathetic and getting me nowhere. I don’t feel safe anymore.

Up to today, I have been laughing this situation off. I have dismissed the notes, the dating requests, the whole thing. Today my body proved me wrong. The impulse to fly and the accompanying adrenaline surge was overwhelming. I need to stop this. Now.
Okay, I’ll phone and read the message to him; I arrived at a sudden moment of decision. My fingers reach for one of many cast-off notes; his phone number scrawled on it.
The message flickers on my computer screen. Waiting.

I have thought about the note you gave me on Monday. I do not want you to contact me again. I do not want any phone calls or notes. Any further contact will be considered sexual harassment and treated as such.
Do you understand?

Photo Credit: goodnight_photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Liz McAdams

Liz McAdams is a short, sharp writer living in the wilds of Canada with her laptop and black cats. Although most often known for her dark fiction and fantasy, her writing embraces a human element as well. With a more than a few novels in various stages of doneness and work scattered around the globe (including over at Twisted Sister lit mag), Liz is hard to nail down, but you can connect with her through

One Comment

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *