She made her way to the bathroom, trying to make sense of what just happened. She was drawing a total blank. Her body ached, her legs were sore and her shoulders feel like they had been ripped from her body. Her finger were bloody and covered in dirt and there was a nagging burning sensation between her legs as if she had sex the very moment she sat down on that ridden bench. She had felt this feeling before but hadn't felt it in a long time. Not since prom night her senior year. She remembers so vividly because that was the night she lost her virginity. She really didn't want to lose it to Bobby Wellington but she felt like she was the only one of her senior class who had not had sex. After she hit her junior year and her body brought her the respect and attention she so wanted, she vowed to herself she would never feel like the outsider again. But Bobby wasn't it, nor was "It" right. She hadn't figured out what went wrong but she promised herself the next time would be with someone she loved and cared for. Some that would love and care for her back. But she Knew for a fact she hadn't sex but had she fallen off the bus, she wondered.
She makes her way in the bathroom. That alone was an exhausting feat for her. She wobbles to the sink where she rests her tired body on it's basin. She raises her eyes to stare at the battered person in the mirror starring back at her. She begins to think back, in an effort to try and recollect the last 45mins of her life. Or was it hours, days. How long Had she been is this state of amnesia? She closes her eyes and before she can begin to process the thought, a vision comes to her. Like an out of body experience it begins to come to her.
She Was sitting on that bench. But this time it's like she was watching herself. She put her ear buds in her ear and bobs to the beat of her favorite song. She belts out a bar or two, as she watches herself from afar. She sees herself reach into her purse and pull out a Newport and her favorite purple lighter. She sees the flame and the and the long drag she'd taken. She remembers the sensation that came over her as she inhaled the cloud of smoke. She needed that drag, she recalls. She loves her job but the people and the associates tangled her in knots. Every shift she reminds herself that she was saving up for a long overdue vacation and every hour she was one step closer. She turns her attention back to her revealing vision just in time to notice a tall slindar man perch himself on the opposite end of the bus stop's bench. She remembers. She hadn't noticed him initially because of the ear buds. She had her song up to the max, between the melody and Newport she was, at that point, lost in her own world. She remembers once she felt the vibration of the seat beneath her she took a quick glance at it's source. The recreated scene before her was slowly becoming familiar almost like a flash of Deja Vu. She sat on that bench, enjoyed her cigarette and tunes in her ear with not a care in the world. She thought to herself how much she knew for a fact she was sitting on that bench. The vision uncovered more of the events that were, at some point, wiped away from her memory. Again she draws her attention to the sequence and again watches what seems like a movie.
Just as she diverts back, she sees the man stretch his arm across the length of the bench to tap her on the shoulder. She remembers that tap and simultaneously removes her ear bud and spins to give him her attention. She can hear him, she remembers him, his raspy voice send familiar chills through her body. She recalls the nonchalant implore for one of her tobacco filled sticks she sat there sucking on. Reluctantly she reaches into her purse and pulls out the green box. She flips the top and retrieves one of the cigarettes, as she hands it to him she can hear a faint thank you escape from his lips. Through her peripheral vision she can see him pat himself down then drop and shake his head as if in disgust. She is starring at the pair and sees him again stretch his hand in an attempt to get her attention. Again she turns around this time with a suspended motion from replacing the lyrics she wanted to be back lost in. He looks at her in an attempt to deliver his best puppy dog and asks for a light. As she remember the train of her thoughts at that moment, the sitting her blurts it out in unison "You want a lung too?" Damn, was it Deja Vu she questioned? Usually that comes across as one of the most whitiest lines known to smokers and beggers alike. And while she cracked a smile at her "funny", he kept a straight face and grasped her favorite purple lighter she used earlier. Again she recalls the exact thought she was having at that very moment. "Weirdo"
He returns her lighter and she returns to her music. Just as she replaces it to it's empty designated position, she takes a glance down the street in hopes of seeing the long awaited bus approaching. Just like second nature, she turns her head to the opposite side. What she saw next would be the most terrifying thing she would ever see. As she stands there with her eyes cosed she grips the cold porcelain of the sink that had been holding her up this entire time. She stares in disbelief and sits not believing this is happening. Had this been the point when her memory went blank? Is this where she blacked out? As she finally comprehends the fact she was starring down the barrel of a gun, she hears him demand her not to say anything, not to move and to do exactly as he says. Although she hears him loud and clear the only thing she could hold on to was him telling her if she did every thing he asked she would be spared her life. It wasn't always the best life, she had some ups and downs but right now, at This point, she loved her life more than anything and wanted to live it to the fullest.
He commanded her to get up and make her way to the darkened shrubbery that was planted behind the bench in an effort to hide the depleted conditions offered by the city. Where is he taking me, she remembers thinking. The answer revealed itself once she made the passage through the prickly leaves and the sticky branches that were overgrown. Just as she looks up to view what was before her, he orders her into an awaiting house. But this couldn't have been his house, she recalls thinking is this where he came from? The house was long time abandoned, it had a foundation that looked as if it had been in a California earthquake. It reeked of a smell of sewerage that told the story of years and years of use despite an obvious back flow problem. The majority of the windows were missing and it bared no doors. She sees herself stop in mid stride and remember's being unsure of her next move.
Again she hears the raspy voice this time it tells her to take off her clothes. Before he can finish his sentence, she hears herself begin to beg. Pleading not to be hurt, begging for her life. She hears herself assure him that she wouldn't go to the police, that he can take the entire contents of her purse and she wouldn't say a thing. She hears the voice tell her from behind, it wasn't the stuff he wanted, it was her and even if she fought he was going to get it. As she begins to sob hysterically she feels a sharp thud against the back of her head. This was it, this was when she lost it. Everything went black.
She awakens to find herself sprawled on a cold wooden floor. The initial confusion of what had happened was quickly replaced with the terror of knowing what happened. The draft on her exposed body gives her an eerie chill that prompts her to make a move. The fear of not knowing where her assailant was froze her movements to a slow creep. She slowly turned on her knees she began to crawl around and feel for her clothes she was ordered to remove. Her red collar shirt was the first to be found. She slipped it over her head only to find out, the metal name tag was still affixed to it and cold against her chest. She felt around again and recovered her bra. She wasn't worried about putting it on, she already had her shirt on and just wanted out of that house. She searches again and comes across the khaki pants she had ironed that morning. One of the legs were flipped inside out in her hast to obey his commands. She hated that she had to take the time to correct them but knew she couldn't make her escape naked. She moved about quietly, she had on her pants and began her search for her purse. She felt around, nothing. She dropped back to her knees and still nothing. He took it. Her keys, her ID, the little money she had. Check book credit cards. At that point she again had a feeling of hopelessness.
She opened her eyes and again peered into the mirror. this time not with the look of confusion but with the look of surety. She knew, she remembered, she had been raped. Her mind started running in circles. The details were coming to her rapid time. He knocked her down when he hit her with the gun. She had seen that on tv. She remembers regaining consciousness sometime during the despicable act. It was at that point her fight or flight instinct kicked in. She began to flail her arms in an effort to thwart him off. She scratched, pounded and attacked him she had turned the tables and decided to fight for her life and her will to live. She tried so hard, she gave it all her might but she soon felt the throbbing sensation on her right temple that again brought the sudden blackness over her.
She remembered. She quickly moved to the shower and turned on the hot water. In a state of shock, she stripped herself of the uniform she had become accustom to. She stepped into the now steamy shower not realizing the burn of the water that was not yet mixed with the cold. Her body burned from it but she didn't seem to notice. She grabbed the bar of soap, her towel and and began to scrub. She scrubbed and rinse so much her skin began to feel raw. But even then, it didn't feel like it was enough to wash the dirt, the shame, the scent of him away. She stepped out of her porcelain bathtub and looked in the sink's cupboard. She knew that was where she kept the cleaning supplies and knew the bleach would be there too. She snatched the bottle and returned to the raining water. She poured the chlorine onto her body then scrubbed it with the soapy towel. This was her routine for the next 30mins. When she could no longer take it, when her body said no more to the harsh treatment, she turned the water off and just cried. She couldn't believe what had happened to her. She thought this was one of the things you live your life thinking "could never happen to you."
She poured herself into a pair of sweat pants and pulled the drawstring so tight she felt it cutting her waist through the cotton barrier. She went to her drawer and pulled out a beater style under shirt. Then a t-shirt. Lastly she walked over to her closet and grabbed the U of M sweatshirt that was given to her when times were simpler. She climbed in bed and reached for the nightstand that held the sleeping pills prescribed to her when she was faced with harder times than she could bear. She took a handful not knowing exactly how many. The bottle of water left behind from the restless night before helped her swallow them down. She wasn't concerned with the risk of ingesting so many pills, actually deep down she hoped they allowed her not to wake to the shame she was feeling.
How could she face the day, the world, her co-workers? How was she supposed to work? What was she to say when asked what was wrong? She wondered would anybody be able to see it, she felt like she was marked with a scarlet A. Again she let her thoughts wonder, and while this was nothing new to her, this time her thoughts were invaded. The flashbacks, his scent, his voice, the house all of these thoughts are what guided her to sleep and jolted her awake through the night. In what seemed like such short time, her 6am alarm began to buzz. She realized the pills had failed her in the same way her attempt to just sleep had. She rose out of her bed and made her way to the kitchen. She needed coffee, the pills may not have helped her sleep, they gave her a woozy feeling like she was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. While she stood there sipping her concoction, she wondered what was she supposed to do next. Take the days off, or tell someone. She figured either decision would potentially leave her reliving the events of the previous day. It was then she decided not to tell anyone and to live her life as if this never happened. She put her mug down and began dressing for work.
She leaves her apartment and routinely walks to the bus stop. She stops in mid stride and realizes she will never be able to sit at that stop again. She flags a cab and pays the $25 fare to her store. She attempts to walk in on as normal a basis as she could but still felt like all eyes were on her. She hears the hellos and the good mornings but as she replies she feels as if she's a mute. Like no one can hear her all over again. Just as she walks to her customer service counter she sees a familiar and welcoming face.
(...To Be Continued)