Stranger

I got into a car with a stranger. I was five years old and temporarily deaf. I remember now getting off the school bus, at the corner of our street, then running across the bitumen road. It was on Lawson Crescent, in Orange, that I got into the stranger’s car. I’d tripped over in the middle of the road and gashed my leg, I think. This car was coming down the street at the same time. It was almost as if the car, not the stranger, actually “saw me” as I lay there in the road, or had I got up by then. The stranger’s car stopped next to me on the road. The stranger asked me where I was going? I said I was going home. Meanwhile, on the front doorstep of our house, only a few houses down the street my mother, who’d been waiting for me to arrive, watched with perhaps a mixture of horror and surreality (it was a hot day, the blue in the sky had vanished, leaving behind this white hot pressure combining with the bitumen road, covered with small sharp stones and balls of tar) as I got into the car of a stranger. I probably didn’t hear her shouting at me as the door closed. She could only have been about fifty metres away as the stranger drove me up the street, towards our house. Seconds later, we’d arrived and I opened the door and got out. I can’t remember the expression on my mother’s face as I walked up the thin concrete strip of the driveway. I thought she might have been sympathetic, due to the cuts on my knees. The reality was, she didn’t want me to get into cars with strangers. I don’t think I could hear what she was saying anyway. The sun in the afternoon sky was hitting my face head on as she spoke to me, perhaps shouting. I started to feel scared then. I don’t even remember what this stranger looked like – I can’t even assign it a gender or age. But I did get into a car with a stranger, when I was five years old and temporarily deaf. Obviously the “Stranger Danger” campaign wasn’t really that popular back then on Lawson Crescent, in Orange. I got into a car with a stranger.

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