This story is by Firuzan Speroni and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I woke up to a thud, followed by a soft tumble in the middle of the night, and knew precisely what it was. Alone in my room, my eyes shut, my back to the door, I stayed still. The creaking of the boards, giving in and popping back up under each step, became louder as the sounds approached my bed. I wasn’t startled to hear him walking, more taken aback by how silent he was for his enormous size.
Suddenly, a clammy hand started gliding across my bare thigh wrapped around a pillow. I jolted and turned around to meet his glistening, creepy eyes in the dark. Under the moonlight draping the room, I could make out a wicked grin. He hushed me. “Ssshhhhhh.” My whole body stiffened. I tried to pull the comforter over myself, wishing to wipe this atrocious moment from existence. He was now sitting on my bed. I couldn’t. As he plodded along to lay down next to me, I untangled myself and buried myself deep under the sheets. He came closer. Held me tight. Then tighter.
“I missed you…” He whispered. “Did you miss me?”
I shook my head ever so lightly, not wanting to anger him; he was quick to temper. He had just landed from a long flight abroad that day. He must have been jetlagged and possibly thinking about this moment all the way home. How he was going to sneak into my bedroom at night. How he would push the covers away. What he would say. Or, maybe he didn’t think at all.
A too tight of a hug, or his hand lingering on my back a tad too long was now the norm when I greeted him. I remembered the first time he sat me on his knee and how quickly his hand traveled to that uncomfortable place on the small of my back, where you start to arch away involuntarily. I thought I was exaggerating, imagining things.
There was no imagining this. I thought of screaming, but what would that do? Mom would come in the room running; he would say something like he had heard me crying and came in to check, I would probably freeze, not knowing what to say. How would I tell her that he had started doing this since he moved in after the lockdown, entering my room in the middle of the night, touching me, groping me? Maybe if I stayed quiet, he would leave.
He hadn’t been flying much recently. Mom had started working from home. I was being schooled online, attached to screens nonstop. Everybody was at home. All. The. Time. We did not leave the house much. We were asked to shelter in place, only to go out for essential trips. Nothing in my life felt essential to them. My school, my friends, my soccer practice, my violin lessons, my walks to the ice cream shop were not crucial. Booze apparently was.
The last thing this place felt like was shelter, and I had never wanted to be more protected in my life. Over the previous two months, I woke up every morning, wishing this was the day that all would go back to normal. That they had made a mistake; it was not as contagious a disease as they had thought. It wasn’t that serious. But it was. People were dying all over the world, tied to ventilators, gasping for one more breath. Every day was full of numbers, updates, news conferences, which felt like a repeat of each other. With no end in sight, we waited anxiously, not knowing what we were expecting. Streets looked like a scene out of a bad western, with everyone wearing makeshift masks, running around like bandits. We were left with a life that had no living in it.
I had not seen Ada since the last soccer practice before the announcement that closed our middle school. I thought I would get to hang out with friends, an extended summer vacation of sorts! Little did I know. We facetimed and snapped all the time, but it wasn’t the same. And then, one night, he sneaked in, kneeled next to my bed, and started caressing my hair. I nearly jumped out of my skin! He asked how I was. I said I was sleeping. He left.
It was Ada’s idea to put a glass of water behind the door after I told her what happened. She was wickedly smart. The noise from the tumbler would wake me up next time he attempted to creep in, and I could yell and get my mom, she explained. But now that the glass had spilled, and I could see him staring at me with longing eyes, I could not speak. Nothing came out of my mouth. He was there. Water was everywhere. My voice was nowhere.
A few days after he moved in, when I heard all international flights were canceled, my heart sank. He was going to be home all day as well. He was going to stare at me with that peculiar glance from the corner of his glasses, overlooking his iPad, perched on the couch. I would catch him watching me behind the curtains of the living room as I was exercising in the yard. It wasn’t that obvious in the beginning. I could not deny the uncomfortable hugs, unwelcome touches, and sloppy kisses hello, but I could not dare presume that I actually arouse him. Yet, it was impossible to ignore the hard penis that was thrusting against my back right now. Not that I had really felt one before, except that one time when we played seven minutes in heaven at Ada’s twelfth birthday party with Toby. He shoved me against the closet wall, salivating in my mouth, with his pelvis pressing on mine. It was more repulsive than that.
I remembered liking Jerry when my mother first introduced us, while he was relentlessly grinding on me. “A perfect gentleman, an airline pilot, lovely guy, so kind to me, wants to meet you…” He came bearing gifts, a model airplane, and my favorite duty-free chocolate Guylian. “It will be ok, Jane,” my mother said. “I really like him.” “He is gone half the time anyway, so he will be a fun visitor when he is here.”
When they first began dating, life was enjoyable for all of us. Fridays became game nights; he took us to see basketball, we started going back to the movies, just like when dad was around. Jerry and I became friendly; I didn’t mind horsing around with him. His overly enthusiastic defense during a game of hoops, especially when mom was not looking, did not bother me. I thought I was prudish.
Now, I felt sequestered in this room, trapped in this house, alone in the universe. There were no good options. Yes, I could scream out for my mom, but she would be devastated all over again. Would she even believe me? Even if she did, where would we go? We were ordered to stay in. I had never felt so insignificant in my life. Not even when my dad up and left last year, announcing he was moving across the country to be with his high school sweetheart.
I made myself even smaller wrapping my body into a ball. I wanted it to stop, did not want to feel his sweaty body, or hear his heavy panting as he rubbed against me. Oh, how dirty I felt. As the warm liquid trickled down my back, wetting my nightgown, I told myself this is it. I would leave the next day and find my dad. I did not care the virus was out there, and that I could get sick, or die! Nothing could be worse than this. I was suffocating in here already.
After he stopped shaking, he rolled over, laid on his back, and sighed, stroking my hair with his left hand. “You are so sweet, Jane,” I heard him mumble under his breath. “I like you so much. When this is all over, I will take you out shopping, ok? Where do you want to go? Gap?”
I could not take it anymore. Realizing he was on the edge of my bed, with my hands on the wall, I kicked back with both legs as hard as possible. He stumbled down and hit his head on the nightstand on the side of my bed and let a scream out. “You stupid bitch!” The books, the lamp, my old alarm clock flew in the air, landing next to him. Within what felt like seconds, the lights turned on in the room.
There she stood, shivering in her flimsy nightgown, eyes still swollen from wine, mouth agape. I could almost hear her heart breaking, yet I could not tell whether she was more furious or disappointed. Either way, I was seen, and that meant one thing. I could possibly live again.