Courage on the tip of the tongue

Courage on the tip of the tongue

I was sitting in a cafeteria on the extensive Reforma Avenue, the one where exuberant buildings converge, nine roundabouts each with its history, and a beautiful golden Angel that stands in the overcrowded Mexico City. I went to do some paperwork that I thought would take more time but that could be resolved promptly. At the parking meter there were plenty of minutes and inside me, the desire for a date alone.

I ordered a coffee with lactose-free milk, because I’ve reached that age where black coffee gives me heartburn, upset stomach and tachycardia in my heart. Everything seemed to be a morning in peace and serenity, where I would advance a few chapters of the novel I was reading at that moment, and I would treat myself to a morning with myself.

From one moment to another I watch as stealthily a young man who would not reach the age of majority, rubs his pelvis next to my shoulder, puts a hand on my chest and simulates a badly acted stumble. As a first instinct, I try to help the fallen one, but he is faster than me and in a blink of an eye, he runs away with my bag half open between his tiny hands. I stay frozen. “‘Reaction to!” I tell myself, but that’s what happens to me when I’m in a vulnerable situation and fear embraces me. “Frost once again Jessica Maria” repeat the voices in my brain. There with the stillness of my fears and the adrenaline that a robbery as fast and cunning as the one I was experiencing supposes, the seconds passed as if they were days or years. Until courage and rage became words.

I yelled so hard that it echoed even in the bathroom, I found out later because the waiter told me that those who were inside there also came out to look at who was the crazy woman who was bellowing wildly. “She stole my bag! That bastard stole my bag!” She yelled, among other bad words that I won’t repeat. The boy zigzagged trying to flee, but that morning, luck was not on his side. A few meters from the place, a police officer knocked him to the ground with a violent truncheon, scattering everything that was inside my bag. Lipstick, wallet, some old bills, the side of a missing earring, and the car keys. Half humiliated, but more angry, with trembling hands I picked up and put away everything. As he yelled at the young man “you stole me and touched me!”

Now that I think about it, it wasn’t just the robbery, it was the rubbing of his sex against my body, it was his hand that I felt on my breasts, his smell, his shameless look that crossed mine and my naivety in hanging the bag on a chair. It was my lack of reaction, it was my lonely morning that didn’t happen. It was my coffee that got cold and my bagel that I couldn’t finish eating. Those screams were the sum of a thousand things that were going through my head, it was the courage and desperation on the tip of the tongue.

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