Isabella’s mom had warned her about stranger danger for as long as she could remember, but neither of them ever thought that Isabella would have to live through the horrors of it. It was while Isabella was walking the short route back to her home that she noticed a shadow following her.
At first she didn’t think much of it but as the person took every single turn that she took, she felt her hands become sweaty as her heart began to race. It felt like the end to Isabella, until she spotted her special friend.
Isabella always felt safe walking to and from school. Her older brother, Jack, would always walk with her, but on this day, Jack was stuck in detention after school. Isabella didn’t want to wait for her brother, so the 10-year-old girl decided to walk back on her own. She thought it would just be another regular Wednesday afternoon.
But as Isabella happily walked through Old Bridge Road, she had no idea that she wasn’t alone.
Isabella was humming along to a song that had been suck in her head all day as she walked through the familiar streets. As she always did, she observed her shadow on the sidewalk, but she suddenly noticed another shadow right behind hers.
The second she noticed her she went silent. Her stomach dropped and she could instantly feel that something wasn’t right.
She wasn’t sure if the person was following her or not, so she decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. She turned to the side and waited until it was safe for her to cross the streets. The shadow behind her did the same, and she could feel the small beads of sweat forming on her palms.
She wished she had waited for her brother to finish detention, but it was too late now. She had to do something and she had to do it fast.
She picked up her pace, but so did the shadow. She wanted to look over her shoulder and see who was following. She couldn’t stop the urge, so she quickly whipped her head around before looking ahead of herself again. She couldn’t see his face but she knew that she would never be able to fight the tall and muscular man off, by herself.
She wondered how things would end, and felt shivers shoot down her spine as she pictured the worst possible scenarios.
She wanted to flee and get out of this situation immediately. She tried to think of a way to do this, but all she could focus on was how familiar the man’s figure was. She now realized that she also noticed the shoulder bag.
When she realized who the stranger could possibly be, her heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She needed to know if it was him, even if it would be the last thing she’d do.
The adrenaline was pumping and she was ready to make her next move. She exhaled sharply before glancing over her shoulder again, taking one last look. She turned back and shut her eyes tightly, she had now confirmed that it was exactly who she suspected it was. She was really hoping that it wasn’t him.
It was Jack’s English teacher. It sent a cold shiver down the young girl’s spine.
She had always gotten a bad vibe from him, his crooked smile made her feel uneasy. She wondered why he was following her or what he possibly wanted. It confused her.
But she noticed his shadow only getting closer. She needed to plan her escape. But that was when she suddenly spotted something.
He was catching up to her and it felt like she had run out of time. But she could see her house in the distance. And on her lawn, she could see her special friend stand up from the grass.
“Shaggy!” She called for him as loudly as she could. She knew this was her only chance to flee.
But as the teacher grew closer, the dog started galloping towards Isabella. She felt guarded by her dog as she ran to her house and screamed at the top of her lungs for help. The man was fast, but Shaggy was faster as he ran behind Isabella.
When her parents heard her screams, they quickly left their home to see what was going on.
Hearing Shaggy’s challenging growls, Isabella hid behind her parents who didn’t hesitate to stand up to the man following their daughter. “Mr. Phillips, what are you doing here, following our daughter back home?”
Just in time, the sound of The Prince William County Police’s sirens beamed as they appeared on the scene.
Mr. Smith explained his actions to the big audience surrounding him, made up of Isabella, her parents, the police, and Shaggy. He was walking back home too when he recognized his student’s little sister.
Knowing that Isabella was walking all alone, he felt obliged to keep a close eye on her.
Jack often excused himself early from Mr. Smith’s period in order not to keep his little sister waiting. Knowing that Jack walks his little sister back home, as soon as he recognized Isabella, he decided to make sure she got home safe. In an attempt to help, he alarmed Isabella.
Intent didn’t clear many questions the County Police had for the suspicious Mr. Smith.
The police stepped in questioning him on why he did not justify his reasoning to Isabella from the start. Feeling small, Mr. Smith explained that he was trying to approach Isabella to do so from the beginning. He then felt her panic the entire way and didn’t want to make things worse as he felt that the right time to announce himself had passed.
Regardless of his intentions, Mr. Smith left a mark that would live on in Isabella’s entire neighborhood.
The misunderstanding was sorted out. Grateful for his actions, Isabella’s parents invited Mr. Smith over for lunch. Despite the reasoning behind his actions, the incident served as a cautionary tale for Isabella and all the kids in her area.
Even in the safest of places, it is always better to be safe than sorry, for not everyone has the purest of intentions.