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The Day Before Yesterday: 30 – Encounter With A Creature

Gladys Schofield tells of an incident which destroyed her trust in men.

Right now I feel I should give you an insight into the reason I felt I could not trust men.

We had moved house and left the cosy surroundings I had known so well most of my life. The familiar faces and shops had all gone. Although the new house was larger, it didn't have the atmosphere of the one we had left. I was slow to make new friends so I clung to the ones at work I already knew. Although they lived in the opposite direction to me when we went home from work, we could sometimes meet up at weekends. This went on a few months until I reached the age of fifteen.

I had got used to my new surroundings by then and walked to the movies on Friday nights, for two hours of entertainment. My dad didn't like us to be out late at night and had a rule. I must be in by ten o'clock weekdays and eleven o'clock on Saturdays.

Off I went as usual this Friday night. It was a long way around the road, but a path running through some fields nearly halved the distance and I cut across this way as I always did. It was a lovely evening. The sun hadn't yet gone down and I reached the picture house just in time for the main feature.

As I descended the picture house steps on my return journey, a young man was standing there just smoking, Almost everyone seemed to smoke at the time, though I had not been tempted. I didn't think any more of it and started my journey home. I headed up the main road which would lead me the long way home. I had not yet reached the turning to cut across the fields.

It had grown dark in the last two hours so I walked on the pavement where the lamps were shining. I heard the sound of someone following in the same direction. A slight glance back told me the young man I had seen must have finished his cigarette and was going home in the same direction. I slowed down to let him pass but he also went slower, and when I hastened my step he did the same. "I must be imagining this," I told myself, and came to the turnoff.

Something in my mind seemed to say go around the road, so that is what I did. But the footsteps still matched mine along the silent road. I got used to it after a while but was ever alert for any change in the situation and was coming to a lonely part of my walk. The road wound right around the church, which stood dark and solemn in the shadows.

Just around the corner coming towards me I saw a couple, and I recognised them. My brother Harold was walking his girlfriend back home. Should I tell them what was worrying me? This raced through my mind as they came closer, but then I thought, ‘He hasn't caught up with me so far. I will look a fool if he is just going home.’ So after saying goodnight I went on my way. It was only five more minutes and I would be home.

Our row of houses ran parallel to the main road. To reach it you had to walk a short way up an adjoining road. I knew when I turned this corner and this man did the same that I had something to worry about, as he did not live in our neighbourhood.

I hadn't passed a soul since I saw my brother and being on edge and alert for so long was beginning to tell on me. My heart was thumping now. I turned the corner, my whole body alert, straining as I walked the short road to see if he did the same. And, sure enough, his footsteps still came in my direction. Only two hundred yards more. I could see my house and quickened my step as I moved back onto the pavement again.

Just above my home as I made this move, this creature, sensing he had left it too late, made a dive for me, trying to pin my arms with one hand and pull me down with the other.
All my pent-up feelings came out in that scream as I swung my bag and hit him squarely in his face.

At that very moment my dad appeared at our front door and was down the garden path in a few strides. The creature turned on his heels and hightailed it up our street, while Dad helped his trembling daughter inside the house.

It took me a while to get over this incident and a longer one before I dared go out on my own again. My brother Charles took pity on me now and again escorting me to an occasional film, and sometimes we just went walking. This was a popular pastime and we didn't need diets to keep us slim. But Charles had his own friends and I didn't like to intrude too much on his spare time.

Right up to the time I got married, if I was out, my dad would appear at the front door, ten o'clock weekdays and eleven o'clock Saturdays. He would peer up the road to where Cliff and I would be saying goodnight after an evening out. We would chuckle when we saw him and knew it was time for me to go home.

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