We took a walk to explore a nearby park. I say “park” because that’s what the city calls it, but it turned out to be more like a rain forest, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The trees form a lush canopy and many of them are covered in moss. A creek winds through the park and there are a few places where you have to walk through the water to follow the main trail.
I must have said, at least five times, how beautiful the place was. I said it would be nice to come back and run the trail sometime. I said all of that because I was trying to suppress a steady stream of terrifying thoughts.
If someone came up behind me in here, could I even hear them over the sound of the water? How would I get away? Jump into the creek? I wonder if any women have been abducted in this park. I wonder if any bodies—God, if something happened in here, no one would hear the screaming.
There was a fork in the trail and I led the way down the pathway on the right. I knew that the trail would loop back around, so I thought it didn’t matter which way we went. But that path was not our trail. It ended a few feet from a wall, surrounding the backyard of one of the homes in the neighborhood. We speculated that the people who live there probably just jump over the wall to walk through the park.
The police would probably question those people, I thought.
We turned back around and eventually found the main trail again. On our way back out, we encountered two women, walking with a young boy. One of the women asked us if there was a place to picnic.
“There’s a bench up ahead,” he said. “You could sit there.”
“But other than that, no,” I added. “Really not much.” At least there are three of you. That’s probably safer.
As we made our way back to the car, I spotted a driver’s license, lying on the side of the road. It was just a license—no credit cards, no purse, no wallet. I stopped to pick it up. It belonged to a 21-year-old woman from Pennsylvania.
“Maybe we can look her up online and try to send it back to her,” I said.
“But how did it get there?” he asked.
“I don’t know… She was walking home a little tipsy and it fell out of her purse?”
“Someone stole her wallet and threw the license away?”
“That seems more likely.”
“She could also have just been out for a run, and then it fell out of her pocket.”
“But who goes running and just carries ID?”
“I do. Every time I go running alone, I put my driver’s license into a zippered pocket. Somewhere it won’t fall out.”
“In case something terrible happens, so they’ll know who I am. You know… if…”
“Oh…” he said. “Right. Male privilege, I guess. We never even have to think about things like that.”