Steps to a Stranger
[media-credit name="Courtesy of Creative Commons" align="alignleft" width="240"][/media-credit]She trembled up the steps, exhausted but relieved. Another night filled with dancing lay ahead, rhythms and movements that would course through her veins and anything she could think of that would help her to move her life forward. That’s all she wanted. A life to remember: a life to want to remember and cherish but at this point what was there? In her mind nothing was precious; nothing was worth anything, not one person there to feel love for, with or about.
She was ready to dance to let the boredom (loneliness) slip away, to move her body to scrape away the distaste of the daily routine, and push way the stress of the day. But what stress did really she have? Honestly? Twenty-one years old – and taken care of by…everyone: her parents, friends and herself. She had no bills, no responsibilities, nothing to really worry about. In fact, she had nothing but a barrier stacked high and impassable. She was available to no one when she took to the faux parquet floor. Protection brought on by innocence.
Slowly the beat induces her to dream, escape. Syncopated psychosis readily numbed the needs she felt. The needs were so intense, insatiable but incompatible. She wanted to feel free, important but invisible. Her invisibility was her savior, she thought.
Then she saw him: a focal point that would change her life forever.
Blond hair perfectly ruffled, leather jacket just pushed back enough to appear barely holding on to the broad swimmers-like shoulders. His waist was compact with ripples of muscles slightly projecting from under the white cotton that clung to his body with dance-filled perspiration. He stared in her direction.
She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t stop staring back. He moved with a freedom she desperately craved. Alone, he cut loose the way she always wanted to but never dared. He wanted to be watched; she didn’t. She envied him and quickly fell for the silent dancer.
Each night she could return to see him dance, she did. She watched his hips twist, his legs undulate and his chest throb with an unadulterated sex appeal. Holding her breath when she observed, it seemed she could barely contain herself. She feared her emotions were screaming high above the music but he didn’t hear them because the one thing she always wanted before she received – she was invisible…to him.
Over a few weeks she bravely danced nearer to the confident stranger, inching her body closer to his hoping to get noticed. Nights continued on with crowds dancing, her observations and his avoidance. This was her routine until one night he spotted the shy female who always danced alone. He began to watch her. Becoming more curious he consumed a light brown beverage and watched her patterned movements.
The song ended. She was parched from dancing along with too many songs in a row. Water was all she wanted.
“May I get you a drink?” A voice said barely audible above a protruding bass track. She was so shocked by the sudden approach from the beautiful stranger she had been silently watching for weeks that she quickly shook her head and bolted back to the dance floor.
Embarrassed and confused by her actions she felt a sudden urge to go back to him, to explain herself, and apologize. But he was gone. She missed her chance. Disappointed in herself, yet again, for allowing her fear to rule her body, she turned towards the exit steps. That’s where she found him smiling at her, blocking her escape.
“May I have your phone number?” He asked. He handed her a napkin and a pen. She took it, smiled and wrote the digits down almost forgetting what they were. She handed him back the napkin and said, “Hi. I’ve got to go.”
There were a few more encounters without much conversation, but whenever they saw each other they smiled, nodded and danced silently within the crowd. She slowly felt like someone was finally taking notice. Or was she was finally letting someone in?
The phone rang. It awoke her from a pleasant slumber. “Can you help me?” his voice said desperately if not somewhat slurred. “Two guys jumped me.”
“I’ll be right there!” She dressed, grabbed the first aid-kit and started hoping and praying he wasn’t too hurt. The minutes seemed like hours to get to his house. She found the numbers he repeated to her over and over just a few minutes ago. “860, 860, 860”. There it was!
She climbed the steps in two but it should have taken five steps. The knock was loud but not so to wake the sleeping neighbors. She shook with fear for him. The pain he must being feeling is not one she could comprehend. A hint of a spanking was the closest she had ever felt to receiving a blow from another.
The door swung open quickly. It was dark inside the Craftsman-style foyer. She immediately looked for blood or bruises on his face. As her vision acclimated to the darkness she was confused. His face was perfect but his eyes swollen with an emotion she had never witnessed.
Then suddenly the back of her head hurt. It was slammed up against the carved wood of the door frame being pressed hard. His lips pressed all over her lower face without reciprocation. The smell of his breath thick with alcohol filled the air she tried to breathe in. Although she was dizzy she knew she had to defend herself so she pushed hard against his shoulders. Nothing happened. She didn’t understand how her body could be so weak. He didn’t budge but only forced himself at her harder.
His hands clumsily slide all over her shape. She cringed with every touch, every sensation. Something behind him fell but it didn’t stop him. There was nothing to distract him now, not even her pleas to stop. She screamed his name. He stopped and blankly looked at her. She saw no remnants of an attack on his face just a drunkard on a mission.
A surreal moment, one she never thought would happen to her – ever. It only happens in movies or in warnings by parents of going down dark alleys at night. This doesn’t happen with someone you know, someone who has asked for help, or with someone you thought you cared about. Her thoughts became jumbled. How could she like someone capable of this? Could she have predicted this? Were there signs? Unfortunately there was no time to contemplate as a slap came across her face, an arm pressed against her chest, then a hand grabbing between her legs. All rational thoughts stopped.
Absolute and impressions of pain jolted her from reality to a dream-like state and back again. How much time had passed? A few minutes? Hours? Time didn’t seem real now.
Her wall of protection stripped down as her clothes were removed. A prayer to be invisible went unheard as her tightly held wrists told her she had to follow or else. Naked, exposed and forced down on her back, she looked at him asking him to stop, why, let her go…. His eyes were void of all human kindness. There was no smile to hide behind anymore. She knew what was about to happen but said nothing. Her acquiescence didn’t mean she was giving up; it was only for her mode of survival. It should be over soon. She hoped.
She got dressed, looked over at the passed-out stranger and walked heavily to the front door. She grasped the glass knob and twisted quickly. The crisp night air wafting over her tear-stained cheeks would have soothed her in the past but she didn’t even notice the degree change. The coldness that truly enveloped her took a strong hold within. Breathing became a task, energy required to step over the threshold was nearly out of reach. She blinked and even that was difficult to comprehend. Any movement now seemed foreign. Then she looked forward to see the steps in front of her. As she slowly took the first step down she trembled with the knowledge that her life, the one she was protecting, was gone.
However, she would never forget it.
Tags: a life to remember, Dancing, innocence, life changing moments, loneliness, misjudging, noticing people