hiding in the dark

Sexual Harrassment — I Need A Freak

Your chin hurts and your palm is red, the hairs of your beard have pricked the skin and left tiny dimples. The window is so close that you can see the reflection of your pupils. Outside, children are playing in the street, hiding behind cars and chasing each other through the cracks in the bumpers, dusky light helping camouflage them. There is a small boy that the others are ignoring who is desperately pursuing them, but his age and size prevent him keeping up, and as they disappear behind the net curtain only the boy is left. He loses sight of them and kicks a tyre of a burnt orange Cadillac.

Your eye stares back. It’s dark now and there are no street lamps on this road. Your reflection has a solid outline and it’s like looking in a mirror. Turn off the lamp, both sides in darkness.

Gradually lights in the houses opposite flick off to on to off again. It’s almost eleven PM and most of the neighbourhood are in their beds now, but you are still stuck at the window sill. Your elbow is numb from resting on the hard wood and your teeth feel tight from the pressure on your jaw. Your lips are dry and your throat is blocked, a roof-of-the-mouth-cough clears it. There is nobody on the street, when your neighbour opens their porch to light a cigarette you hear the click of the lock and the tchk of the lighter and the dry puff of their smoke.

At twenty past eleven you hear her car turn at the end of the road, and seconds later you see the beams of her headlights as she turns into your street. She drives slowly, respectful of the peace she is disturbing, and you duck behind the wall before she turns into the driveway. The room you are standing in is briefly illuminated. A chair, a fireplace, a tall bookshelf and a short table –

She is quick to turn off the headlights. Her neighbours are asleep. You wait in the darkness and your eyes gradually readjust. The bulky shadow of a sofa is within arm’s reach, it is large enough to hide you when she opens the door. You crouch down behind it. If she turns on the headlights she is sure to see you there but she doesn’t and you begin to feel yourself merge into the darkness. She is still in the drivers’ seat, her head against the steering wheel, not moving. After a minute passes the interior light of the car blinks off and you can no longer see her, but you sense she has not moved.

More minutes pass. You cannot explain how you know but you know that she has not moved. The dark living room becomes to shrink in size, the tension in the air begins to tickle the hairs on your arms, the thud thud thud in your chest becomes louder until your lungs begin to feel smaller and all the while you just know that she isn’t moving from her spot. Your mouth is dry, you lick your lips and swallow and the sound cuts through the darkness. You are an unwanted stranger in this house, this street, this night.

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