“I’m not your wife,” I managed to croak, trying to sound confident and angry, while sleep was still in present in my voice, near-paralyzing fear barely hidden beneath it.
Just moments before, I’d been asleep, stirred by an unfamiliar noise. I was sleeping over at an older couple’s house, a pair who had known me since I was a baby and used to live next door to me.
At just twelve years old, I’d told them I’d missed them, visited with them for an afternoon, and been invited to stay the night.
Their pregnant daughter had come by earlier that evening, crying because her husband left her alone that night to go to a party, and she was probably upset because of hormones. Her parents suggested that she too stay the night.
She volunteered to sleep in her sister’s former bedroom, while I could take her old one.
I did, and I slept well. That is, until I woke to the figure of an unfamiliar man standing in the doorway watching me.
“Hey,” he said coolly, taking a step into the room.
Oh my gosh. My heart pounded. My worst fear was about to come true. I was going to be murdered. I actually envisioned headlines in the paper, “Local girl kidnapped and body found,” with my school picture from that year on the front page beside it.
Who are you? I wanted to say. But my lips didn’t move. Instead, I sat up straight in my bed, backing up against the headboard, my defenses up. He was blocking my path to the door. I couldn’t run. I’m sure if I scream then my friends will wake up and come find me. The dogs will come into the room to save me. But what if he already killed them all and saved me for last?
He came fully into the room and drew back the covers on the side of the bed closest to him, attempting to get into bed with me. He had one leg on the mattress, when I had a thought.
Maybe R’s husband came back from the party because he got a phone call saying she was upset, and he wanted to surprise her. Where that thought came from, I have no idea.
“I’m not your wife,” I croaked.
“Funny, Baby. Come here. Let me kiss you.” That confirmed it. It was her husband. Drunk, I could smell his breath, but her husband. Relief washed over me.
I had never met him before. I tried to remember his name.
“I’m not your wife,” I said again, this time more confident and in control. He grew still, quiet, suddenly becoming aware that something was off. “Are you M?” I asked, recalling his name.
“Yeah…” he replied, confused.
“I’m a family friend,” I explained. “Your wife is in her sister’s old room.”
“Oh my gosh,” he grunted, leaving the room without an apology.
Groggy-eyed, the following morning, I shuffled my way towards the sounds and smells of breakfast being cooked.
I saw R and M at the table, and everybody in the room started to laugh. I guess they’d all heard the story.
“Hi,” I managed. “Nice to officially meet you,” I said.
He chuckled putting down his orange juice. “And you too,” he replied.
That is possibly one of the most awkward introductions I’ve ever had in my life.