Stark. Naked. Fear
I was out road-training today. Ansa would be part of the scene but the other day - she is one hell of a smart dog - at about 2k outward bound, she sat down and looked at me. I got it. 4k is roughly her limit even though I had pushed her a few weeks ago to 7k. So today I pushed her to about 5. Put her back in the car in the shade. And toddled off to do another 6k+ by myself.
And then it happened. At about 2k into this dogfree portion, he came marching out of the bush just ahead of me, a gun over his arm. And for, what, 10 seconds? 20 seconds? My heart pounded in fear. I thought I would pass out. Seriously. And he waited for me. And through my head ran: you deliberately choose busy roads for your solo walks. Cars are passing all the time. You can attack him with your car key up his nose. How long does it take to load a gun, it doesn't look loaded. Is he aggressive? What the hell is he doing out here? And on.
"I thought I saw a caribou, where would I get a caribou?" he said to me without even the barest of greetings. An American accent.
Internal debate. Caribou shooting is a no-no. As a matter of fact this is not hunting season for anything apart from trout.
"I don't know," I said carefully, "And I'm training for a coming race so I need to keep moving, OK?"
"Ha-ha," he said helpfully, "You're going to get yourself killed on this busy road."
Heart stoppage once more as I pass him. I await the click of the gun. Does he mean by him?
No click, just an innocuous whistle.
I am safe once more.
It has been a long, long time since I felt this naked fear. A man walks out of the bush. And the world stops for a minute.
Does a woman on her own ever feel safe?