By Colleen Cole (Brampton, ON)

I grew up in small suburb of Victoria, B.C. The neighbourhood was close knit. Everyone had children and we were all fairly close in age. The exceptions were Mr. Brown, who kept his hedge deliberately low so we could jump over it (and he could yell at us), and a poet and his wife, who lived down the street.

It was a neighbourhood teeming with the laughter of children at play and neighbours socializing over beers and BBQs.

And then it happened. I was followed to school. By men. Men in suits wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses?  This was Victoria, remember? It rains. A lot.

I was scared.

I told my Mom. I told my Dad. I told my teacher. No one believed me. Too much TV. A young mind. Curious, precocious, imaginative. Just. Not. Right. Or so they thought.

It was almost two decades before the truth came out. Our close neighbour's, lifelong friends of my parent's, confessed.

My uncle was in the intelligence unit of the US army and up for promotion. Our family, and my grandmother, was a source of concern. My Russian grandmother had lived in China for decades. We had to be vetted, so they sent up agents.

The agent's stationed themselves in the neighbour's house. My Mother had even surprised them there, announcing her arrival as she walked through the front door.   They had been explained away as vacuum salesmen.

They followed us. All of us. For days.

And I was the only one who noticed.

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