In a parallel universe, one with another Nour who looks like me but has a slightly different life, I was probably murdered or sold as a slave last week. Luckily, I do not live in that universe and I am fine.
Why do I believe that such a thing occurred to my other parallel universe-self? Because my intelligent brain shut off for a split second and I did something ridiculously stupid last week. I typically follow my gut and stay aware of my surroundings, but this time I didn’t do any of that. Here’s what happened: I followed a stranger down a back-alley type of place.
Before you scream at your computer screen (or cell phone) and call me bad names, I want you to read a short story of what really went down. I am still alive today, after all. So clearly nothing bad happened. Thankfully. But I still believe my parallel universe-self has been harmed. So sorry, Nour #2.
Without further ado, enjoy this short true story:
For whatever reason, my two friends and I thought it was a good idea to walk down a popular street in Orlando during one of the most humid nights that month. We walked the length of the street, then turned around and headed back in the direction of where we parked the car. Nothing was unusual. In fact, it was a dull Thursday night. Half the people walking the street were older couples.
My brain went into cruise control and my thoughts drifted as we walked mostly in silence. Then a young woman, heading our way, slowed down and smiled.
“Hey, ladies,” she said, pulling a red lollipop out of her mouth. “How’s it going?”
I was the first of my friends to slow down. “Hi. We’re good. How are you?”
“I’m doing great. What are you up to?”
“Oh, cool. Well, if you’re interested, there’s an art show down there.” She pointed across a dimly lit building. “There’s a band, you can get drinks, and you can even paint and win some art. I have three tickets and can get you in if you’d like.”
I mimicked her tone. “Oh, cool.” In truth, I didn’t feel like being social with strangers or getting drinks or painting or dancing. The humidity of the night was getting to me. Home was where I wanted to be. But I looked at my friends. “What do you think? Do you want to go?” I hoped they’d say no. I was, in fact, hoping they would so I wouldn’t have to say no myself.
“Sure,” one of my friends said, looking not so much interested but more so saying yes because I’d asked the question and she didn’t want to say no.
I realized then my mistake. I shouldn’t have asked my friends. I should have just said NO.
So, there we were, following this stranger beside a dimly lit building.
“Are you one of the artists?” I asked.
“No.” She sucked on her lollipop as she walked and talked. “But I do direct this event. We actually do this every weekend, and next month we’re doing a Halloween-themed event with alcohol blood bags and a human sacrifice.”
The word “human sacrifice” rang in my head, but my gut instincts decided to stay silent.
We kept walking until we neared the back of a building, also dimly lit and empty. I slowed down, realizing that perhaps following a stranger at night wasn’t the wisest choice. I heard my friends whisper behind me that we might get mugged. I was sure the lady up ahead couldn’t hear them since she was far ahead of where I stood and they were far behind me.
She pulled open a metal door, making the empty lot creak with noise. “Right through here.”
“Um . . .” I was hesitant to move.
“Nour,” my friend whispered.
I looked back and nodded, knowing full well what she was thinking.
Inching slowly toward the door, I peeked in while maintaining distance. There was a small hallway with a hanging faint white light which led to another door. This was a scene straight out of a movie.
“I know it looks scary,” the lady said, “but I promise it’s not.”
The door down the hallway opened a smidge, and I glimpsed actual artwork hanging on the walls and positioned on tables. My mind calmed down and I walked in with my friends following. Right behind the second door sat a woman collecting tickets. Funny enough, she held a sleeping baby squirrel in her hand. As soon as I saw the adorable animal, my worries went out the door and I was petting the squirrel’s head.
My friends and I did not get murdered that night. We did not get robbed. We did not get abducted. We simply sauntered through a small art show (which had been closing) and feigned interest. Then, we slipped out the door and hurried back to our car.
However, while I was lucky, I am still certain a Nour in another parallel universe was not as lucky.
Moral of the story: Don’t follow strangers, even if they look harmless. I made a stupid decision and luckily did not get hurt. Yet that is not always the case. A simple mistake like this can change a person’s life. I will not be following strangers again (even to art shows with baby squirrels).
What did you think of my little adventure and story? Let me know in the comments below!