I had a stalker.

When I was 13 years old, I had someone stalking me. I grew up in a small town where walking the half mile from school to home was routine.

I can’t recall how it began, but one day, a black-haired boy I didn’t recognize started walking behind me as I headed home from school. I didn’t think much of it initially, assuming he was just another kid walking home.

As days went on, this became a regular occurrence. I would finish school, chat with friends, and then start my walk home only to see this guy walking behind me. He began mirroring my route, turning when I turned. Some days he walked closer, others he stayed across the street, always keeping pace and occasionally glancing over. He never spoke to me.

One day, I confronted him and asked him who he was or why he was following me. He told me his name was Pat*. Being a timid person, I’m sure I was trying my best to sound inquisitive and curious and not scared or angry. We walked together that day, but I have no recollection of what was said.

Some time later, my friend Jed* told me about someone in his class who had a crush on me. He was an older boy (only a year older, so, same building), and he’d seen me walking after school. Come to find out, he was talking about Pat. Pat had been following me for much longer than I was aware, and now he was telling others about it.

He started following me closer, following me a block or less away. I finally spoke up one day, scared and uncomfortable, and told him to stop. I remember him being a very quiet person, at least around me, and I don’t think he responded with any words, and may have simply looked down at the sidewalk while I spoke to him. I remember hurrying home and locking the door, unexpectedly finding my mom there (unusual for 3:30pm on a weekday).

A few minutes later, Pat knocked on my door with a lily in his hand. It had some roots to it and looked plucked from someone’s yard. The smile he showed as he held out the flower didn’t touch his eyes and made me even more uncomfortable. Before I could do or say anything, my mom rushed to the door, scolded him for pulling flowers out of people’s yards, and slammed the door.

A few hours later, my dad came home and asked why some flower was stuck in our mailbox.

Pat kept following me home occasionally, and I never got used to it. I made efforts to avoid him — asking my parents to pick me up from school, persuading friends to walk with me, even lingering in churches I passed by. I was never able to lose him.

My only reprieve came when I realized Pat was about to be a freshman, while I would be moving to 8th grade. This meant he’d be leaving my school to go to another one. However, my hope that that simple detail would put an end to all this was crushed when, at the end of the year, he approached me to tell me about how he’d be riding the bus from the high school. This ensured our paths would keep crossing, as the middle school was used as a hub for all buses. He implied I wouldn’t be able to get rid of him, no matter what.

The following year, I persisted in walking home while Pat took the bus. Fortunately, I managed to evade him for a time by varying my routes and leaving earlier than the high school buses arrived.

The last thing I remember is asking my friend Jed to talk to Pat, as a last resort. I asked Jed to tell Pat to leave me alone, this isn’t cool, I’m super uncomfortable and 100% not interested. Jed relayed to me how Pat was trying to make it sound like no big deal, downplaying every detail I had given him. Regardless, Jed told Pat again about my concerns and discomfort.

Over the summer, Pat must have moved or lost interest. As a freshman, I don’t remember seeing Pat in the sophomore halls. It could simply be that my schedule finally didn’t coincide with his, and I was able to naturally be free of him. I think my involvement in more after-school activities like marching band acted as a natural deterrent.

I write this simply as a recollection of something that happened to me when I was younger. I wish I could remember more, and that I could turn this into some advice to offer anyone who’s dealing with something similarly. I don’t know what could have happened differently if I had been more assertive with Pat. We were both teenagers, and he seemed harmless at the time, but I don’t know if he actually was harmless or if it was the simple fact that I had the guts to talk to him that first time that made him seem so meek and timid to me.

Facing this on my own was probably the dumbest thing I did, but I was young, naive, and had never dealt with anything like this before. The best advice I think I could offer would be to do what I didn’t do: tell a grown-up. Whether that’s a teacher in your class that could intervene on your behalf, your own parents, a close friends’ parents, or even the stalker’s parents, seek out help until you get it.

* names have been changed


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