Something moves in the darkness. Scared. I am definitely scared and not confused about what to feel anymore. It is only a matter of time before whatever was out there catches up to me, and as scared as I am, I am not going out without a fight. Frantically I begin searching my surroundings for anything I can use to fight back.
Slowly I begin to creep through the darkness, trying desperately not to give away my whereabouts. Fuck! As I slam into something that feels like a desk. What would a desk be doing down here under a theater? As my eyes adjust to the dark, I am able to make out different kinds of furniture now. They are stored down here: desks, chairs, tables, beds, counters, sofas; stacked on top of each other. When I see an old fashioned bathtub with legs, it hit me. This is the prop room where they store all of the props for theatre productions. The amount of furniture is massive, stacked on shelves twenty feet high and weaving a maze through the giant room.
There must be some kind of weapon around here. This is a prop room. Some kind of prop a knife or bat or spatula. The thought makes me start laughing hysterically. My laughter bubbles up uncontrollably, and as I try to stop it, it turns into a sort of hacking, gurgling sound.
More movement. I freeze where I stand; with one foot in mid air. The thought of what I must look like now would make me start laughing again, but I’m too scared now. I think I hear movement from more than one area. This gets me moving. I need to find a weapon of some sort. If only – there! A row of doors stands in front of me, leading to an exit at best and at worst a side-room where specialty props are stored. I make my way over to one only to find it locked. Why can’t I catch a break?
Frantically I try the next door; more movement. It’s locked. I try to force it open now. A low growling has started. I think it’s coming from behind the door. They’re everywhere. Run.
I’ve got to run. I’ve tried to fight and look where that has gotten me. Run. Run through the prop room. Find a place to hide. There must be someplace hidden or- barricaded. There’s a gated box. I’d be trapped, but it’s a barrier. I climb in. I don’t know why there it’s here in the middle of the storage room, but it’s extra protection. I lie flat on the floor; any amount of camouflage is good.
Movement all around me now. How many of them are there?
I’m moving up.
Light flashes on above me, spotlighting me in my cage and blinding me to everything outside the light. All I can see are spots and white hot light centering me on the floor. I realize now that I’ve been tricked. I’ve been corralled into my pen; boxed up in a neat little package.
Only I’m still moving. It must be some sort of freight elevator for all the furniture. It moves so slowly. Inching up to whatever is waiting for me. Plenty of time to get scared. Plenty of time to wish for an easy way out. Even more time to think about my life.
He touched the back of my neck, stroked, and I murmured, quietly, and made a subtle movement into him. He was sitting on a couch beside me, this man I barely knew; a member of the opposite sex, who was somehow sexless. This is where the night always led, and still leads: to love, or lust, or the lack thereof. The need of some wayward connection is dominant in all our lives; our minds are searching for meaning and companionship, crying out for someone to love us.
The people around me talked and laughed, rotating through my friend’s house, trying to find comfort in the smiling familiar faces across the room. In and out of rooms, and levels they mingled, surrounding couches and tables, carrying their glasses of wine. As the night wore on, the numbers dwindled, slowly shrinking into the night and off to their own lonely homes, where they were the only thing that made sound, except for an electronic flashing and talking machine.
People drifted into their own worlds, and we were left there, sitting in the living room, explaining away the mysteries of life. The night turned into morning, and many found the same thing I did.
“Want to get out of here?”
Cold hands smooth across the pale cream color of her skin.
Bright warm light spilled across my eyelids as I viewed my surroundings. It was my room, but I didn’t recognize it. It felt as though a tornado had raced through it. The man was passed out next to me in a manner that says we had had sex, but I still don’t recall doing so.
I made my way into the restroom to freshen up and then quietly to the kitchen. There was no need to kick him out, not at that point. I’m nothing if not civil to the men who end up back here considering it is just as much my fault as his. Outside, the sun was shining and the air cool as the sun rose anew. I can never sleep in after a night out.
I made a pot of coffee and slouched out to the balcony in my sweatpants and baggy sweater, adding my slippers for a good measure. As I looked at my beloved street with a fresh cup of coffee and the sun shining, I felt a sense of contentment which I rarely enjoyed.
Rosewood Ave. I love the name because it’s my favorite flower smell and I feel as though through the name, the street possesses some kind of natural perfume of sentiment. San Francisco has always been my home but someday soon, I want to move to Paris. The people of France share my ideals and have outlooks on life more similar to my own than in San Francisco. All I need is to find a place on Place Bois de Rose in Paris and I’m set.
As long as I can remember I’ve had this romantic dream of living in a little cottage somewhere in the south of France, spending half the days on the beach and the other half making a living off what I write, novels hopefully, but editorial and news pieces would do as well. It would be just me and the air, the water and the earth, and maybe a lover thrown in here or there. I would never need anyone however, never get too attached to anyone ever again.
I turned, finding him leaning against the door frame, staring at me.
“How long have you been standing there?”
“How long have you been sitting there?”
As I looked up at him, I realized he was actually very attractive. This fact had somehow escaped my notice in the first few moments of consciousness.
“You want me to go?”
“You want me to go.”
I didn’t say anything. If I had said yes, then who knows what might have happened. What if I ended up actually liking him and he didn’t like me back? What if he turned out to be some freak, who wouldn’t leave once I let him stay. So I sat silently on my balcony, looking in at my own home this time, as he sat on the couch and put on his shoes. I watched him turn away and grab his coat off the couch. I watched him slowly turn back, and open his mouth as if to say something, but think better of it and snap the two pieces together shut tight against any escaping sound, as he turned once again to leave.
He stopped and turned once more.
He walked over to me, lifted my chin in his fingers and kissed me on the mouth.
His name was David, and one week later he moved in.
My mornings were now usually filled with sending David off to work before returning to my study to write. I filled pages of poetry and finished three quarters of my novel in one week, writing furiously until David came home in the evenings. After the first week, however I would occasionally take a short walk in the morning, to get some fresh air, and see beyond the four walls of my apartment. Even a large space can seem to become tiny when you haven’t left it for a week.
Slowly throughout these morning walks I began to become aware that someone was following me. I would recognize the same jacket out of the corner of my eyes, repeatedly, and felt always the stain of eyes watching me.
I began to get claustrophobic, unable to stay within the apartment but finding it unbearable to leave. Only when David got home would I then venture out into the cold evenings, and still I would be cautious and filled with tension.
“Relax,” David would tell me. “What do you think someone is going to jump out and bite you.” Once, at the terrified look in my eyes as a response to this, he laughed quietly, trying to reassure me. “What has gotten into you? What’s wrong?” I didn’t tell him about my fears though, thinking they were all in my head. The last thing our short-lived relationship needed at this point was my neurotic fears coming to light.
One day, as I was sitting at my desk, frustratingly staring at the novel which had before poured out of me like liquid, the doorbell rang. I quickly got up from my chair, eager for a distraction from my failures and tensions, only to find the doorway empty when I got there. On the floor however was a bouquet of roses and lavender.
My Dearest Evelyn,
Last night reminded me again how precious you are to me. Watching you slowly undress as you ready yourself for bed, I was newly amazed by the allure of your soft, golden ivory skin. Stunned by the tilt of your cat eyes as they peered from the veil of black silk that it your hair, and wearing the same expression within them as when you drink your morning coffee or take a bite of something really delicious.
Last night, as you do every night, you slowly lowered the straps of your dress, each shoulder bared in a precious freezing of time. Moments seem to take hours when you do this, allowing me to see the inside of your soul. High from my guarding post I watch over you, guarding the secrets you leave in the dark and anxiously awaiting your return.
I quickly run outside to see the delivery man, but there is no one.
It had to have been David who sent me the flowers. No one else could have seen me undress. Across the street there is only the little Café Vesuvio, with its one story building and no where to see into the third story window of my bedroom.
But when I thanked David for the flowers, he laughed and said I must have some other admirer; someone else who enjoys a pretty face. I freeze under his caress but he doesn’t notice.
One of my plays was selected to be produced in a collection of new works down at the Theatre Rhinoceros, on their main stage. It requires me to venture out in the evenings, but I can’t give into the fear. I walk home every evening at ten o’clock, one hand on the pepper spray in y purse and the other ready to dial the police with the push of a button on my cell phone.
I ask David repeatedly to walk home with me, and he consents but things come up at work and he can’t do it every night. It gets harder to distinguish footsteps behind me. The streets are still filled with people at ten in San Francisco.
I slowly undressed slipping each strap of my sundress slowly from my shoulders and felt the cool night air drift across each bare inch of skin. The cold excited my nerves as much as any warm hand would, and the knowledge that David watched only increased the sensation. As the dress slipped lower and uncovered my breasts his breathing became labored and heavy, his hands clenched to his sides as he promised they would be. I knew he wanted nothing more than to touch me, and feel my body burn beneath his own hands, but I wanted to teach him a lesson. He wasn’t indispensable.
He had joked that I have another admirer, well that could be true. He was playing a vicious game with me and I would serve him back a play which would hurt him as much as he was hurting me. As I looked into his eyes I saw the pain my cruel lesson was causing in him, and I reveled in it. After tonight he would finally completely understand as never before that I didn’t need him as he needed me. He loved me more than I would ever love him, than I ever could love him.
I wondered if he would leave me finally, if this would be the decisive straw. I smoothed my hand down the curves I had revealed. My skin lay naked and exposed covered only by the black lingerie I had bought earlier that day simply for this moment. I had planned all day how I would trick David into giving his promise not to touch me. I baited him with the promise that I would be the one doing all of the touching, and implied that he would be the one I touched. Almost instantly afterward he had realized of course that this was not the plan. He was intelligent after all. He had grown wise to my tricks and games.
The curves of my breasts and hips were smooth as I pressed against them with my palms, creating sensation of touching and being touched all in one motion and growing slowly impatient to be inside myself. I lowered my right hand down under the black lace of my panties while my left grabbed onto my inner thigh. Slowly at first and in a circular motion I circled my clitoris in a smooth exploratory motion, revealing in its knowing embrace. This was a well known path, explored often throughout the years. As body began to fill with quivering nerves, my index finger quickly began it’s practiced motion of back and forth rubbing movement sending convulsions into the inner workings of my womanhood. My breaths were even and cool even as I began to come undone, rising into an explosion of climax equally as powerful, and more complete than any man had yet to give me.
I looked up to catch David’s eyes only to see that he had left the room. I had made him promise not to interfere, but he had won in the end. He never promised to stay and watch.
I fixed my underwear and went to brush my teeth. David was in bed when I got back, with the light turned out and the door closed. I quietly slipped under the covers beside him. He did not turn over to hold me.
Tired of the games, I kicked David out. He pleaded with me not to do it. He accused me of being paranoid and on constant guard, then asked me where his Evelyn had gone. I replied, “Out in the trash, with the flowers.” At his confused look, I almost relented, not wanting to be alone, but I stood firm.
It’s much easier to withstand an attack from without than from within.
From across the street, male eyes watched her slowly slip the straps of her sundress from her shoulders through her bedroom window, creating within him a sense of déjà vu.
The director asks me to stay after rehearsal so we can talk about some of the themes in the play, and I agree if he will drive me home. While I’m waiting for him to finish speaking with an actor outside, I sit in the audience reading the newest version of the script. Suddenly the lights begin to flicker and I am all too aware of not being alone. I look around trying to see who is there.
“Mathew?” I cry out, calling for the director, but no one answers. Suddenly there is too much space around me, and not enough protection. I grab my belongings and decide to join the director outside but get lost trying to find the back way out. Footsteps are behind me and getting closer. I don’t know what will happen if they catch up to me and I don’t want to risk it. I find a door to my left which is unlocked and rush through, locking it from the inside.
I’m trapped. The darkness is closing in around me, providing protection for me, but for my attacker as well. I don’t know whether to feel comforted by this thought or scared.
Something moves in the darkness. Scared. I creep through the darkness, past the large stacks of furniture stacked on maze like massive shelves.
There must be some kind of weapon around here.
I think I hear movement from more than one area. This gets me moving quickly.
A row of doors stands in front of me, leading to an exit at best and at worst a side-room where specialty props are stored. I try every door only to find them locked.
A low growling has started. I think it’s coming from behind the door. They’re everywhere.
I run through the prop room, trying to find a place to hide. I climb into a gated box, and lie flat on the floor; any amount of camouflage is good.
I’m moving up.
The light flashes on above me, spotlighting me in my cage and blinding me to everything outside the light, and I realize that I’ve been tricked. I’ve been corralled into my pen; boxed up in a neat little package.
I’m still moving; so slowly. Inching up to whatever is waiting for me. There’s plenty of time to get scared and wish for an easy way out; even more time to think about my life.
Only there isn’t enough time. There is never enough time, for any of us in this world. The man stands above me backlit from the light above. Slowly my eyes adjust and I find my self standing face to face with the thing that has terrified me for weeks.
“Are you alright, Miss?” the older man in he janitor’s outfit asks.
“Do I need to call someone?”
“N-no. Have you seen the director?”
“He just left, Miss. You must have been the lady he was looking for.”
“Yes… I guess I got lost.”
“Alright, well you get on home now. It’s getting late.”
“Thanks,” I reply and walk as calmly as I can out of the building, not breathing until I get home, where all I can do is lay in bed and cry.
My street is quiet and cozy. My street is deafening in its silence and vicious. My home is spacious and airy. My home is large with corners for a man to hide behind, and drafts from the outside air. My body is precious and mine. My body is on display and watched like a hawk, ready to pounce on its prey.
The café is cozy and pleasant to look at, so you decide to test it out on your way home from work one day in August. The waitress sits you quickly outside at a little table with a sprig of lavender stuck with in its vase. There you order a coffee and chocolate brownie before settling into the sun on your face and watching the numerous people pass by. People ride their bicycles and flow up and down the hill of Rosewood Ave providing varying entertainment. There is the lesbian couple arguing about a third woman they met in the bar last night; the Father teaching his daughter how to ride up the steep slope of the hill on her shiny new tricycle; and the moving men who are desperately trying to find the right apartment. You just moved here to San Francisco Chicago and the laid back, semi-hippie atmosphere is a nice change of pace from the urban grunge of Chicago.
As the sun grazes your face and you begin to feel the start of a tan, and decide to order quickly before the tan turns into a burn. On your left is a woman who is speaking loudly into her cell phone. The sound of her voice is grating as she whines into the phone, “His hands were cold. How could you recommend him to me?” You concentrate on the feeling of the warm liquid sliding down your throat as it spreads into your stomach instead of the grown woman complaining to her sister about a doctor’s appointment.
Turning away from the woman, you are startled to find a man sitting to your left. He is perfectly still and statue like, the only movement is his chest as breath enters and exits his lungs. His eyes are transfixed to an apartment building across the street. You begin to stare intently back and forth from him to the apartment, trying to discern what exactly has captured his attention. As far as you can tell, the building is simply an ordinary brownstone three story building, the same as thousands of others in San Francisco. He suddenly rises taking the sprig of lavender from the vase on his table and quickly crosses the street cutting in front of two moving cars in his haste. He moves east and onward up the hill. The waitress yells a curse as she tries to follow him but he is lost in the crowd and commotion. People are assholes.
Once the excitement has worn off, you return to your coffee only to find it has gone cold and instead delve into the gothic world of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Some time and three coffees later, you pay your check and adding generous tip for the waitress to make up for the odd man’s rudeness earlier, before heading east towards home yourself. Police sirens scream past you disrupting your stroll temporarily, but you are able to take back your composure within a moment or so only to have it disintegrate once more. Turning onto Nightshade Lane you are accosted by the sight of a police car and ambulance, at the flower shop aptly named Rosewood and Nightshade. The Police have blocked off the back alley with cones and police tape. You hurry up to the spectacle eager to make sure that the owner, whom you have met once and instantly adored, has not befallen some catastrophe. Through the mass of spectators you can make out the shape of a young woman, not elderly as you feared. She lies on the cement; a sprig of lavender placed in her outstretched palm.