Trigger Warning: contains elements of violence, sexual abuse, and language that some readers might find disturbing.
“You wanna do something fun?”, he said. I smiled, nodded, and if that wasn’t a yes loud enough, I added: “Always”.
He looked at me with these dark eyes of his, the ones that I wished I was a painter to paint, a poet to praise, a woman enough to make them gaze lovingly at me, only at me. “You know what they say… Girls just wanna…”
“I know”, he replied. “But how far can you go?”
To the end, I wanted to say, but didn’t, in case that was too much, in case I was, again, too much. “Very”, I said and tried to raise an eyebrow. I silently hoped that it worked and that I didn’t look like I had a face spasm. He raised his eyebrow back at me, a nod that we understood each other. It worked.
We walked from the pub to the bus stop, the silent rain a reminder of things happening outside of us. His coat on my head, heels clicking fast, laughs, so many laughs, about what – I don’t know, and does it matter? The game was on.
I lit a cigarette while we waited, and we shared. Two puffs me, four puffs him, two puffs me, five puffs him, three puffs me, the cigarette was done, the bus was coming. As I looked, my hand extended in case the driver didn’t see us in the rain, its lights seemed like the eyes of a horse, the seats were a carriage, my jeans were a ball gown, and he was magic and stars and all the words I loved while growing up a lady.
Inside, protected, with the smell of a wet and late night in the seats, he took my hand, and oh, how well he took it, how lucky I was, our story, this epic love story, the wine was bad at that last place, this love story was happening, it’s a short bus ride, hold it together, ew, don’t you dare vomit, his hand on mine, his hand, up, down, down, down, up, unbutton, inside, warm, dirty, don’t close your eyes it’s worse, stare at a specific place, can I love him? Why yes, I can, in and out, nobody is looking, don’t worry, fun, fun, fun.
At the flat, the cat greeted us. I pet her (him? Not sure, what kind of name is Jaws anyway?) and he went to fix us drinks. Beer for him, beer for me, no glass, although I’d kill for a tea. The kettle would be too loud though, that’s true, his roommate was working early the next day.
“So, what do you wanna do?”
The question. Light like air, thick as mist. “Play cards”, I replied and laughed. He giggled. “No? Watch Netflix then?”, I continued, my ironic sexy woman coming out. He giggled again; I heard a purr.
“I have other things in mind”, he said, a voice like diamonds, cutting, beautiful. I couldn’t focus well on his eyes. I looked down smiling, my fingers touching my forehead. I was dizzy. So dizzy. Gosh, why did he have this awful rug with the square patterns, shit, I am blacking out-
“Hey, where’s the toilet?”
“Yeah, just a second.”
“Second door on your left. Don’t turn the lights on the corridor though.”
It was a boys’ flat. Expected things were laying around. I kneeled to the toilet straight away, oh, it was coming, coming fast, ew, do they ever clean, fuck it, no time, open your mouth, let it all out, silently, silently, very, very silently. I opened my mouth.
I stared at the bowl, at the white porcelain, questions and dark spots on my sight. I got up, slowly, placing reality together and losing it before it had a shape I could recognize. My ear at the door, I listened to the silence, waiting for it to continue, for me to continue, the toilet and I had business.
Roar. Another roar. Louder, weirder.
With the band-aid method, I opened the door. Looking through the dark corridor at the dimly lit living room, I saw the cat running.
What did he mean by fun? Was he a furry? Did he get on with lion sounds? So many questions, every step towards the living room and ten different ones popped up, so loud, I could almost see them forming above my head in speech clouds. One more step and I’ll see the couch, I’ll see him, my love, my whatever, gosh, I don’t even like him that much come to think about it.
It was a tiger. She was big, blood in her mouth, half of her body on the couch, half of the body down, like she was giving him a hug. He was missing parts of his face. There was so much blood. He was not moving. So much blood. The beer was on the floor, spilling on the carpet with the dizzying patterns, splattered by blood, gleaming under the orange light of the table lamp. Funny, the things you notice. I had a moment to think about why his roommate was not up. This, and not the fact that there was a tiger in his flat, in the middle of the city, was weird.
She turned to me. Her teeth had pieces of meat on them, and they were dripping blood. Blood, blood, blood, so much blood. I didn’t know what to do with this image. My knees felt weak, cold sweat started running up (or was it down?) my neck and spine. Panic. Terror. My throat, so ready to give it its all moments ago, was now closed and sealed. She was staring at me.
Run. Run. Run. Feet immobilized, not listening to any commands.
“Should I call you a cab love?”
That woke me. I turned, went out.
I don’t know if it was the roommate that asked me, or the tiger, or him. I got a cab myself.
“Girls just wanna…”
“Can you change the station please? Or turn it off?”
The cab driver complied. I went home, showered, and got to bed. I never heard from him again.