It was dark and we had school the next day. I wasn't scared at all at that point because to be honest, we lived in a great part of town where many expats lived and where embassies sprinkled the neighborhoods like churches in the Bible belt.
So, I was mindlessly rolling my blue bullet shaped suitcase down the cobblestone street to my apartment feeling very European having just been in another country for a "no big deal" professional development..
I was so mindless that I didn't pay any attention to the young guy behind me.
I didn't notice he was following me.
I didn't notice that he stopped right behind me.
I was pretty fearless at this stage of my life. I ran wherever I went, even in the evenings. I travelled with wild abandon. But now that I have two daughters even thinking of this incident puts a knot in my stomach and makes me say a prayer for them. For more wisdom than I had (though I was positive I was wise and street smart).
I began to fumble for my keys and stepped out of his way to let him go on in to the building.
Honestly- I didn't know who else lived in the building, save for a person or two and one little babicka or grandma. People knew we were foreigners and we lived only one flight of stairs up so we didn't run into our neighbors much.
I stepped aside only he didn't move for the door.
He didn't get his keys out.
But he moved for me.
I registered that he was young and even averagely attractive... normal.. with a backpack on... Just some university student I figured.
My heart rate didn't elevate. I didn't register fear because frankly, I was so taken back. I guess that's what "shock" means.
Now, our window was right above this door and I knew that my roommate was home. He grabbed me roughly and began to lean in, and it was quite completely surreal. I froze. I instinctively began to yell out in English my roommates name, hoping she would hear me in our living room right above. I yelled it loud and firm as I looked straight in his eyes.
He let go of me and stepped back- completely stunned. We stood there for one pause as he tried to register I suppose, that I was not Czech as he thought or if I was Czech he was trying to decipher what "LESLIE!" meant.
And then, as though we had just bumped against one another in the subway, he turned on his heels and walked away briskly.
At the time, I was startled and shocked but not scared.. I told myself that really, this must have been a case of mistaken identity... Perhaps he thought I was his girlfriend? Perhaps it had been a sick joke? Of course, as days wore and as years have worn on I realize it was not. So the fear came more in hindsight... that I was so foolish.. and that I have two daughters who will go out into this same world.