Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Terrifying Developments

Things could not get any worse with my new roommate.

Brian and I were finally on good terms a few weeks after our discussion. We cleaned up each other's messes, spent time watching movies together, and generally developed a bond that I had feared would never happen after the rough three week start we got off on. We became fast friends, and I thought things would continue to go well. In fact, life was improving for me in a number of ways, in a number of places.

Unfortunately, however, my work with Spyrian Mobile brought me more displeasure the longer I remained. I enjoyed the work, but around the same time that Brian was moving in, my co-workers began to act hostile towards me more often. Women have to tolerate a lot in the work place, especially in positions that are seen as traditionally male such as mine, but the things I was dealing with on a weekly basis were quickly becoming unbearable.

One particularly nasty incident occurred while I was outside taking a smoke break. A co-worker of mine approached, and he smiled. I had seen him around, and the two of us had spoken maybe once or twice, but I could not recall his name and did not think of him as anything other than business acquaintance.

"Hey there," He said. "How are ya?"

"I'm good." I said, and I tried to make it clear that I just wasn't interested in conversation. It had been a long day, and I wanted to unwind by myself for just a few minutes before re-entering the fray yet again. He didn't take the hint.

"Good, good," He said. Then he paused, like he was trying to convince himself to continue. "You, you have a boyfriend? Because I think you and I...we'd really make a good couple. I mean I don't know you all that well, I"

He was stammering. It seemed like the query was in good conscience, so I couldn't bring myself to be bothered, even if I was going to have to turn him down.

"Oh, no, I'm not really interested in dating anyone right now," I said, and I smiled to try and reassure him, although I didn't owe him the gesture. Considering his response, I wish I hadn't been as gentle or kind as I was. It may have made me look weak and easy. One way or another, his response shocked and appalled me.

"Oh, seriously, come on," He started in, glaring at me like I had shot a puppy in front of him. "I've caught you looking at me more than once. You know you want me, so you oughta at least let me get on that."

My response might as well have been daggers, shot straight from my eyes into his brain stem. If that were something I could actually do, I would have definitely done it.

"Excuse me?" I began. I'd have continued, too, but a feeling overcame me. It was feeling of dread, of sudden, indescribable fear that retaliation would bring me pain. My co-worker was staring at me, and in his eyes, I saw the end of any defense I could muster. He had shot me down without saying anything more. His eyes spoke volumes about what he wanted from me, how little he cared for my thoughts or my feelings. And somehow this feeling, wherever it had come from, convinced me that anyone would take his side in the matter over mine. I backed up, actually fearful, but by then he was already walking away with a look of disgust on his face.

"Whatever," He spat. "Just forget it."

And then he was gone, leaving me shaking like a leaf. The rest of the day at work was a blur. Ordinarily, I'd have taken my complaint straight to Human Resources without so much as a second thought, and would have thought as much about the incident as someone does the shape of their cereal in the mornings. But his awful, piercing stare had seeped into me, and it wouldn't leave me be. I had seen it before, somewhere, but I could not remember where. I didn't say a word about the incident to anyone, and hurried home as fast as I could, trying hard not to think about

When I got home that evening, Brian was there on the couch, drinking beer and playing video games. He waved. He was friendly. We got to talking, and played multiplayer video games for the rest of the night. I told him about my day, and he expressed sympathy. After that, though, my memory of the night became a blur. The only thing I could remember the next morning were unclear visions of Brian, and seeing that there was more than one of him, in a way. There was one of him that appeared to be my roommate, the man I'd met and become friends with, and there was another that was something else altogether. Something unexplainable, indescribable, like an image interrupting the one that I knew.

When I awoke the next morning, I noticed first that I was cold, and second that there was a dull ache between my legs. I sat up from my place on the couch, and looked down. I was completely naked, except for my bra, which remained loosely affixed to my chest. I couldn't make sense of what was going on; there was no reason I should have been nude, nor that I should have fallen asleep on the couch. I tried to recall the previous night, but couldn't, and it was then that the terrifying thought crossed my mind that I might have been drugged.

The only logical conclusion I could come to was that I had been raped

It took me some time to register that I was still in my own apartment, and that there was no one who could have raped me the night before but Brian. I found my clothes scattered all over the floor, put them back on, and sat on the couch in terror. How could I confront him? If he had raped me, he would either be long gone by now or he might try to threaten me into silence. If he hadn't done so, then I would have an even harder time figuring out just what had happened to me.

On top of all of this horrible confusion, I had no idea why I could not remember anything about the night before. There was no way that Brian could have possibly drugged me, because we had been sitting on opposite ends of a long couch, and he hadn't come close to any of the soda I had drank that night. So what, then, had caused my memory of the night to leave me completely?

I got my answer later, from Brian, when he finally made his way out of his bedroom and into the living room. He was grinning when he entered the room, but that quickly faded, as he noticed my visible distress.

"What is it, Dorothy? Are you okay?" He asked, and the question seemed in earnest.

"No, I'm not..." I answered. I had no idea how to approach the subject, and I was scared out of my wits.

"What's wrong?" He asked, his voice soft, and then his face went pale. Just as quickly as his smile had run away, worry lines appeared on his forehead, and he looked guilty. " you regret last night?"

"Last night?" I asked in a blind panic. Brian was giving me the answers I desired without provocation. "I don't remember last night! What hap--"

He didn't allow me the chance to finish my sentence.

"Well, of course you don't remember last night," He began. His face had turned dark, and he recoiled some. Clearly, this was not the response he was looking for. "We both got pretty drunk. I'm surprised I remember half as much as I do."

That wasn't the response I had been looking for, either. This was absolutely, without a doubt, the most absurd thing I had ever heard in my life.

"Brian, I don't drink! What the hell is going on?!"

"You drank last night," He said, and I was overcome with feelings of guilt. I remembered Brian offering me a beer, but I also remembered turning it down. Yet, just like when I had confronted him about his cigarette butts, I felt compelled to agree with his arguments. He was right, it was silly of me to deny it in the first place. We had had a few beers, and there wasn't any shame in admitting to that. So why was I so adamant that I hadn't?

The sudden recollection that something had happened between us brought me back to the truth; I had never touched a drop of alcohol in my life, and to suggest or think otherwise was ridiculous. There was simply no way that I had gotten drunk with Brian, and no way that what he was implying by telling me so was true, either.

None of it made any sense. I knew I had turned down the alcohol and the contradiction forced my brain to shut down. I stared at Brian, dumbfounded, waiting for further explanation. As if any answer he gave could be trusted.

"You and I drank a lot, and we started talking about that guy who was a dick to you at work yesterday..." He said. "I'm not sure why, but we started making out, and then after a while you said you wanted to...y'know...and so we did."

He didn't seem to feel very embarrassed, nor sympathetic to the fact that I was scared, confused, and certain that things had not occurred the way he was telling me they had.

" can't...I would never have done that, it does--" I replied, my voice quavering.

He cut me off again, then, and any bond between the two of us snapped like a twig. I knew, I knew, that I had done no drinking the night before. Despite all evidence to the contrary, despite my roommates strange power over my memories, there was no way I had gotten drunk and had sex with Brian. He had to be wrong.

"Well, you did. We did." He replied. He shook his head and shrugged. The tone of voice he took was tense, like a parent scolding a child for something petty. "I guess if you don't want to do that again, we won't. Okay?"

I couldn't believe my ears. There was something in the way he spoke that made it impossible to defend myself from his brutal words. It was the same sort of indignant, almost hypnotic tone that he'd used with me when I confronted him about the stray cigarette butts. He made me feel small and weak, and I did nothing as he turned and left the room.

The weeks since have been strained and uncomfortable. I can't bring myself to spend time with Brian any longer, which means that I have been effectively pushed out of my own living room; when he's not spending hours in his room being silent, he's on the couch playing video games or watching Netflix. Not only that, but if I leave my room and happen to pass him by, he'll glare at me like I'm an enemy from a foreign country.

I feel like my apartment has become a minefield. Whatever way I turn, traces of Brian are there. The place is a wreck once again, and I don't have the energy or the courage most days to clean it up.

There has to be some way to make things right, to make myself feel comfortable again. But short of kicking Brian out, I'm not sure what to do.