Running in Fear


What is the definition of home?

Merriam-Webster defines home as “the house or apartment where a person lives,” but as you look deeper, home is something else. Home is a place of safety, comfort and refuge.

If someone looked at me, they would probably say my home is Memphis, East Memphis, my neighborhood or my house.

In the past few weeks, my feeling of home has been stolen from me and many others in the city of Memphis.

On Monday, September 5th, Eliza Fletcher’s body was found. Fletcher was on her 8.2-mile run on September 2nd, around 4:30 a.m., when she was abducted by a man who had been following her daily route. She was a pre-school teacher, a wife, a mom and so much more.

After this tragedy, many more terrible events have made national headlines from Memphis.

A mom and daughter were kidnapped in a Target parking lot, a child was shot, a raging shooter got on the loose and armed carjackings occurred left and right.

These are just the stories that made the news.

What happened to Memphis? Where did all of this hate come from? I do not feel safe in my home, city, or anywhere I go. No one does anymore. According to U.S. News & World Report, the most dangerous place to live in the years of 2022-2023 is Memphis.

On account of what happened to Eliza Fletcher, my parents have set up new boundaries for me.

Because I am a girl, I cannot run in a sports bra anymore. I have to lock my doors and make sure no one is following me.

I cannot be out past eight in big stores like Target or Walmart. I have to carry hot pink pepper spray and be with a group with at least one guy because, as my parents say, “he can protect you”.

My parents say I cannot even run in my neighborhood. I have to drive 15 minutes or more to Shelby Farms just to do something I love.

It is so frustrating that my brother can do all of these things because he is a boy. Because I am of the opposite gender, I am more of a ‘target,’ and even though he is younger than me, he is somehow more free than I am.

I understand that they are just looking out for me because they care about me, but I wish that it was not like that.

As a cross-country runner, I am terrified every single time I set foot on my run. I look at every car, every runner, biker and walker who passes by me. I have to make sure they are not following me, and it distracts me from doing what I love.

My heart beats so fast, and I imagine myself not returning from my run.

My mind whirls with terrifying thoughts, and I think of scenarios of things that could happen to to me.

Right now, Memphis does not feel like home. In the past few weeks, everyone has dealt with this situation in different ways, some being scared, some suffering and some mourning the loss of all the innocent people whose lives were lost.

I hope that we can get past this. I hope that we can find love in this city. There have been so many people who have come together, comforted each other and mourned together.

Thousands of people came together, even after a raging shooter had shot the streets of our home, and ran the rest of Eliza Fletcher’s run.

Even though I could not make it to this group run, countless social media posts and news articles emphasized how much love and support there was. It brought me hope that our city can make it through this.

Every single time I run, I run for Eliza Fletcher. I carry her in my heart, and pray for her family, community and friends. I know she would want us to keep running, and not stop because of fear.

There is so much more love than hate, and it is time to bring that out. It is hard to be strong right now, but we can do it together as a community and as one big home.