Anonymous Pain

What follows is the story of an anonymous girl.

We will file it under fiction, because it must be, fiction.

More people should tell their stories.

************

Years later, everyone smiled as if nothing had happened, as if she had kept her secret.

Her heart sank each time.

She did not wish him ill, but it was a dagger that plunged deeper with each passing day.

******

She was 13 or 14. She had stayed home with him, while everyone else went to the airport to pick up a visiting family member. It was a joyous occasion, as they had never been able to visit before, and it was suspected that they might stay permanently.

She sat on the bed in her sister’s room, and watched television, while eating Eggo’s. It was about 9:30 at night, but it’s never too late for Eggo’s.

He waltzed through her open doorway, in his brown loafers, red sweatshirt and cargos, with his foolish grin, and Black on the rocks in hand. He stared at her glassy eyed.

She felt her cheeks redden as he approached her; she fixed her gaze on the tv, and took another bite. The syrup, or the knot building in her throat, made it difficult to swallow.

He stood by her side and leaned in close to her face. The smell of whiskey and the bristle of his unshaven face made her wince. As she moved away, he placed his hand on her thigh. She stopped chewing. Her hands shook as she held the plate nervously, but she was otherwise paralyzed.

“Give me a kiss,” he said.

She shrugged him off and said,”No, what are you talking about?”

He turned to face her and persisted, all his weight bearing down on her leg.

“Just a lil’ kiss, right here, on the cheek.” He slurred and pointed, then puckered his lips.

She put the plate down on the bed, and got up, pushing past him. She quickly crossed the hall to her room, and dead-bolted the door behind her.

She sat on the bed and tears moistened her cheeks.

What had just happened? Was she overreacting? Did she misinterpret him?

He knocked on her door.

“Open the door. I’m not going to hurt you. I was just playing.”

He knocked again, but she remained silent.

It was not the first time she had felt that sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach.

******

One time, he and his family, her family, had been over, and he had asked her to give him a back massage. Young and naive, she was proud to show off her skills and began to karate chop across his upper back.

Everything was fine, as she pounded away on his back with her fists.

“Sit on my back,” he suggested.

“Where?” She asked, obviously having misunderstood back for bed.

“Sit on my back. You know, so you can get a better angle.”

She was maybe 12 or 13; young, but old enough to know this didn’t feel right.

“I’m kind of tired, actually. Sorry.” She apologized to him, and walked away to the kitchen where she knew others were talking and snacking.

******

She thought she had been imagining things that first time, but this was something different.

Once the family got back from the airport, she ventured out of her room to welcome the visitor.

Everyone was so happy.

He acted like nothing had happened; wouldn’t so much as look at her.

I’m not gonna ruin everyone’s happiness when nothing happened. They’re just gonna think he was joking around as usual, anyways.

******

She was a month away from turning 17, when her parents went out of town for a week.

He and his family always stayed with her and her little sister while their parents were out of town. He had always been like a big brother, like the son her parent’s had never had.

She wasn’t feeling well, and signed herself out of school early one day.

He was at the house when she got there, checking in on some work that was being done in her parent’s yard.

She sat outside on the patio and looked at the progress they had made. There were 2 or 3 workers clearing weeds, planting new trees, and pouring fresh mulch. She sat on a rocking chair to enjoy the refreshing springtime breeze.

When he spotted her, he went to the patio and sat across from her.

“What are you doing home early?”

“I wasn’t feeling well,” she said, overlapping both hands across her stomach. She was already starting to feel worse.

“How’s your boyfriend? Gonna see him today?” He asked, rocking casually.

“He’s fine. You know I can’t go out ’til my parents get back.” She frowned at him thinking, “you’re supposed to be the adult here.”

“I could teach you things.” He leaned forward, speaking more quietly now.

“About what?”

“I’m sure you guys kiss. Do you do anything else?”

“What?”

She hesitated, but then was certain of what she had heard.

“What kind of question is that? It’s none of your business.” She felt more uncomfortable now, but the workers were around so she still felt safe.

“Don’t be shy. I can show you how to do everything. We can go to a motel, right now. I’ll be gentle.” He reached out for her hand, but she pulled it away from the arm of her rocker just in time.

“I have to go.”

She got up abruptly and headed for the door.

Where’s my backpack? Where are my keys? She scanned the room frantically, blind.

The door closed again behind her, and she turned to see him steps away.

<strong>There, at the end of the counter, my keys. She reached for them just as he reached for her arm.

She tried to pull away, and stared at him, her heart pounding in her chest. He gripped her forearm tightly.

“Come on. I promise it won’t hurt. Nobody has to know.”

“I would never do that!”

She shook her arm free and ran for the door. She drove off crying. She just drove and drove.

She drove, until she knew someone else would be home.

******

A couple months after, she worked up the nerve to tell her family.

They believed her, but…

There must not have been enough harm done?

Maybe they all didn’t know the whole story.

Maybe it didn’t matter.

She never saw him again, except now again through the ills of social media; but many of her family did.

And she suffered in silence…wondering all the time if she did right, if she was right, and if they knew it?

Coconuts

This is not my usual type of post. But I was inspired by an incident at the office.

Enjoy.

Sabrina was running late, as usual. She passed the Stanley Steamer crew who’d been cleaning the offices for the past week, without even a good morning nod. In her rush to get to her desk before her boss noticed her latest tardiness, she tripped over a brown box by the door. She managed to catch herself, but still spilled coffee all over her jacket, and the freshly cleaned carpeting.

Perfect, I’m late and I ruined the carpet!

Linda, didn’t budge to help, but muttered something in her native tongue.

“What’d you say?” Sabrina asked

“Rosetta. Stone.”

Bitch. It’s never easy working with your boss’s kid.

Linda and Ralph were watching some breaking news on her computer.

“Seven decapitated cats have been found in just the past three days. Police believe the perpetrator is a male in his late twenties. They fear these violent tendencies could manifest onto humans, and are doing everything they can to apprehend the individual, before the violence escalates. Unfortunately, there are no leads, prints, or other evidence of any kind to point them in the right direction. Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the hotline, 555-1234.

In other news, an infestation of…”

Pretty creepy, she thought as she blotted the stain with paper towels. She recalled how the police had questioned her on her way out of the house this morning.

“We’re just asking everyone in the neighborhood to be extra vigilant. Are any of your pets missing?”

“Pets? No, I live here alone.”

Alone…The word tasted bitter.

“It’s just me and my plants.” She added, realizing how much more pathetic that sounded.

She had been a little irked by the whole thing. Police had been going door to door…

A shadow towered over her.

“Coffee stain, already?”

No, “Good morning, or nice hair,” she thought.

“Yes. Sir, I…”

Ralph interjected. “It was me, sir. I apologize. I bumped into that box and spilled the coffee. I’ll pay the cleaning bill.”

Mr. Kim frowned. “Well,you did a great job of keeping your shirt clean. Sabrina, be sure to pass the bill along to Ralph.”

“Yes sir.” She said, hunching over slightly to hide the stain on her jacket.

“Ralph, come to my office. We have other matters to discuss.”

She looked at Ralph as Mr. Kim turned his back and mouthed,”Thank you”.

Linda glared at her, thinking,”You won’t be so lucky next time.”

Sabrina would pay the bill, of course, but at least she had avoided another reason for Mr. Kim to fire her. He never needed many reasons to let someone go, and Linda was no help. She had the hots for Ralph, and he was more interested in Sabrina. They had gone out on a date once, when Sabrina first started at the office. But there was nothing there, at least for her.

Forever alone, she thought. Why am I so picky? Ralph is a great guy. At least I wouldn’t be alone if I had just given him a chance.

Thinking about going home to that empty house with some creepazoid on the loose, and picturing those headless cats made her shudder.

She tossed the paper towel in the wastebasket, hung her ruined jacket on the back of her chair, and sat down at her desk.

Where’s my purse? She wondered, looking around. She had left it on top of the box, the culprit.

She lifted her bag and one of the straps pulled a flap open. The box didn’t have any labels. And, of course, Linda wasn’t paying any mind to it; too busy on Facebook. Sabrina leaned over the box and pulled back the flaps to investigate.

Hundreds of roaches squirmed all over some THING inside the box. She covered her face in horror and screamed, jumping away from the box.

Linda didn’t know what was going on, but was already standing on top of her chair, when Ralph ran into the office looking around for signs of trouble.

“What happened?”

“The box,” Sabrina cried pointing. “There are hundreds of roaches. There’s something dead in there!”

Sabrina had never been afraid of the pesky creatures, but she was disgusted at the sight of so many. And, she thought she had seen something hairy beneath the stampede of bugs.

Ralph dried his suddenly sweaty palms on the side of his pants and approached the box cautiously. He carefully grabbed the lid and threw it back. One lonely cockroach straggled out of the box. Ralph squashed it under his foot and reached into the box laughing.

“One cockroach, not hundreds; and look,” he grabbed something from inside the box and held it up to demonstrate,”Coconuts.”

Mr. Kim was peering in at the door. “Case closed, get back to work.”

Linda got down from her chair, and adjusted her skirt,”I’m going to the ladies room.”

“Geez, Sabrina. I didn’t know you had a phobia of roaches. You must really need a cup of coffee. I’ll go get you another from the break-room.”

She couldn’t speak. That hair standing on the back of your neck feeling wouldn’t go away.

Marta, the cleaning lady came in at that moment, wringing a washcloth nervously in her hands.

“I sorry,” she said in her broken English. “Agua de coco, good. Long life.”

Sabrina didn’t care what this nutcase was telling her, she just wanted that box out of her “life”.

Marta seemed to understand and placed the box on her cleaning cart.

Sabrina sat at her desk cupping her head in her hands. “Seriously. Ralph is right. Get it together!”

She started answering emails and worked on some paperwork from the day before. Made the usual calls, sent some faxes, and printed out a few reports for Mr. Kim.

She never noticed the other small roach that had crawled out of the box. It peered at her from beneath Linda’s desk.

Sooner than she expected,it was 7 o’clock. Everyone else had left at five, except for the cleaning crew who stay ’til nine. She had stayed to finish backed up work from being out sick earlier in the week.

Sabrina yawned as she shut off the lights & closed the doors behind her.

Darkness engulfed the office.

Two red beady eyes began to glow in the dark, then 6, 20, over 100. From all around the room they converged in a pile in the middle of the office, climbing and racing one on top of the other. Just then, Marta came in to dump out the wastebaskets. She didn’t hit the lights and the door closed behind her. There was a momentary shriek.

Sabrina looked into her side mirror. “Was that a scream?” In her peripheral, she saw red lights, but when she looked in the rearview, they were gone.

Nobody else had gotten off the elevator, and Marta’s car was the only other car still in the parking garage.

She shrugged her shoulders and started the car.

The next morning her car was still running in space 136. Ralph always parked next to her. He leaned forward to peer into her car through the tinted windows, and heard a tiny crushing sound.

He looked down and turned his shoe over, only to see more dead roach guts. “Damn roaches.”

He leaned forward again. This time closer to the glass as he reached for the door handle. Then stopped.

He covered his mouth and backed away from the car gasping for breath. He pushed back, sliding away against the side of his car until he was about 15 feet from Sabrina’s car.

He fumbled for his phone, and dialed.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“It’s gone.”

“I’m sorry, sir. What’s the emergency? What’s gone?”

“Her head!”