The quiver at the corner of her lips threatened to betray all she’d hoped to conceal.
Karen quickly turned her face toward the airplane window as Phil Lange passed her seat. She did not want him to have an opportunity to see her face.
His tall, six foot four stature had not bent, but his once dark black hair was now mostly gray. He made his way two rows behind her. She still recognized the sound of his voice as he asked the female flight attendant “How soon can I get a drink and your phone number, sweetheart?”
Twenty one years had not been enough time to erase the sea of fear within her. Waves of panic began to erode Karen’s confidence. “Breathe, just breathe!” she said to herself. “Keep calm. You aren’t young and easy to intimidate anymore.”
He was 32 years old and she was only 19 when they met while she was working her way through the University of North Carolina. They both worked at Wilmington Boat Marina, he was a salesman and she a receptionist. His consistent sexual harassment had made going to work miserable for Karen.
The flight from Baltimore to Atlanta seemed to last for eternity. Phil’s voice bounced off the walls of the plane as he laughed and talked, slapping Karen into a fevered resentment. Finally, they landed in Atlanta.
Karen waited for the passengers in her row to leave, then stood facing the front of the plane until Phil exited. Staying several feet behind she followed him as he headed to baggage claim.
Phil’s long leg stride made it hard to keep up with him, but as he neared the escalator leading to the transit train Karen began to speed up coming up close behind him. As Phil stepped forward with his right leg on to the down escalator Karen leaned into the knee of his standing left leg as though she had accidentally slipped. Phil’s body, face first plunged down the escalator, his dress jacket hung in the wedge grids.
Karen was still crumpled down at the top of the escalator. A young man reached to help her up as security was running to help Phil. She dusted off her pants, stood up and walked toward the elevator to transit. As the elevator doors opened Karen smiled and whispered to herself “who needs ‘Me Too!'”