Parking Garage Late at Night

by Valerie Maloof

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A man grabs you by the waist. You don’t know this man. He pushes you against your car, and then it’s your turn. All your years of taking self-defense classes and watching Charlie’s Angels was to prepare you for this moment. You are ready.

Your mother always knew this moment would come. Every time she talked about life she talked about the bad parts. During a thunderstorm she strapped your hot pink Velcro sneakers on so tightly, so that if lighting struck the house you could run to safety from your burning childhood home. Field trips across state lines were nothing but bus accidents. Steak, pork and ribs were nothing but choking hazards. Men were nothing but people to avoid.

You are going to annihilate this man who has grabbed you. Applause breaks will come out of nowhere. Perhaps in this garage there are security cameras that will capture you smashing your pointy elbow into this man’s face and you’ll be on the evening news. Your keys are already poised between your knuckles because how else should a woman walk through an empty parking garage? You’ll clasp both your hands like a little kid praying and you’ll swing your hands like a baseball bat, you’ll get more momentum than a punch and you’ll also protect your chest. The evening news will have never seen such a swing.

You have grown up to be a very confused adult. Tall buildings could collapse, and what’s really holding those windows in place, don’t get too close to the edge, are thoughts you keep to yourself as they eat you up inside. What kind of Mother are you going to be? Your husband will most likely be wimpy. You just know this to be true. Maybe your kids will revolt by eating uncooked fish or riding with friends in the bed of a pickup truck. Or maybe they’ll do something worse. Something you haven’t thought of yet. And that will scare you the most.

The man’s hands are still on your waist and you are still pinned to your car. That’s why you scream. You scream specific directions for him to get off you, for him to leave you alone, for him to go away, and you almost consider begging and saying please, but you don’t, and then you pant loudly while you flail your limbs like there is something crawling all over your skin and you can’t get it off you unless you flail and scream and maybe even beg.

About the author

Valerie Maloof graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing. She is also a student of the Grub Street writing class.


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