Friday, June 28, 2013
Sasquatch is watching us.
I can feel the hot breath across my skin, dry and leathery, like the cracked slicks of mud below me. A fly buzzes, thirsty for a drop of sweat, and I lean against the railing on the boardwalk bridge that spans the dried swamp. The puff of stale air barely sways the cattails that droop wearily in front of the thick woods beyond.
I feel his eyes, staring at me. The dense foliage hangs stagnant, except for one leaf shaking on a vine. I know what that feel like, to be trembling when everyone else is calm.
“What are you looking at?” Logan snaps at me over his shoulder, stopping just beyond the bridge. I don’t move. We’re trudging down this nature trail on the hottest afternoon in July, and it might be my fault. I don’t know anymore.
“I feel like someone’s watching us.”
He laughs. That snort he does, that makes me feel like I need to rewind, to unsay what I just said. “Trust me, there’s no one here but us babe. That’s the point, right?”
I shiver, in the scorching heat. Did I choose this?
He wants me alone. At first it was flattering. Even now, I wasn’t missing anything. My family was away at the cottage, same as always, eating, swimming, five to a bedroom, and relatives asking the same embarrassing questions they asked about my last boyfriend.
I blamed the summer job so I could stay home and then I called in sick.
I was really feeling sick now. The same pit of the stomach nausea. The same sinking feeling. I’d wanted to stop after the first time. But I’d already made my choice, I didn’t know how to undo it. He said he’d die without me. He cried, and I cried too, real tears, both of us. We clung to each other with shaky laughs and promises.
He came over to the house today, and sat on the couch, working his way through a box of Cheez Its, searching the instant download menu on the TV, trying to break the parental block password. The shades were drawn, the living room was dim and gloomy, the A/C had the house at an uncomfortably unnatural chill, and suddenly, I felt trapped.
I didn’t realize I had picked a fight with him until it was too late. I just wanted to get out of that house, out to where I could breathe. Where he couldn’t do any damage. I held my breath as he punched and kicked, until the cushions recovered, and a black scuff from his tennis shoe was the only scar on the door.
“Fine, have it your way.” He said that a lot. But when I’d think back and try to remember, I couldn’t remember how it ended up being my way.
Today, it was this hike. I said I wanted to go out, to do something in public, like a real girlfriend. I didn’t want to hide in the house all day. In his mind, that meant I didn’t trust him. He hurled questions at me, without giving me time to answer. Why didn’t I trust him? How could I accuse him like that?
I tried to explain, in half-sentences and interrupted apologies. He forgave me, grudgingly. And now we were having it my way. But we’re still alone. In the woods, still hiding. Still not my way. He’d twisted me around again.
“Are you afraid to be seen with me?” The words are out of my mouth as soon as they enter my mind. “Afraid to admit you knocked me up?”
I’m not pregnant. I’ve been wanting to say those words for days. I should have never told him I thought I was. “Don’t say anything until you’re sure, Addy,” my best friend Gracie warned me. I should have listened to her. Two negative tests taken too early, and I still wasn’t sure. But my uncertainty and my fear had me shackled to Logan.
I’ve picked the fight and he starts yelling. My stomach cramps again and I hope I’m right. I’m sweating, I’m alone in the woods with him, tempting fate with a tampon in my pocket. I want this to be the end, the nail in the coffin of this relationship. I want him to admit he’s scum, he’s a jerk, he doesn’t plan to keep any promises, he doesn’t give a damn about my choices.
Then I’ll tell him. Oh God, I hope I can tell him. I’m not, you bastard, I’m not.
He calls me every horrid thing he can, he says it probably isn’t even his, and I’m the one who’s gotten us into this mess. He’s hollering it all at my back, because I’ve crossed the bridge and left the walkway, breaking through scratchy dry grass and brambles up a slope to the woods. I’m going to hide in those trees and squat, and oh God, I hope I can tell him.
“Leave me alone you bastard!” I don’t even recognize my shrill voice. Compared to the names he’s calling me, it’s a compliment. The evergreens are thick in front of me as I scramble over a rocky ledge. The brush crackles behind me, his voice is close. He’s not going to let me disappear into those trees.
I turn to scream again, “Stop following me!” He has one foot on the ledge and he’s brandishing a thick branch like a weapon. Hatred twists his face.
Something roared. Something reached out and shoved him down the slope. Something pried one of the rocks loose with superhuman strength and sent it down on top of him.
Afterwards, I’m shaking with relief. I thought he was going to kill me. I don’t know what made him fall. I don’t know what he saw that made him scream like that, just before he didn’t scream anymore.
I look back into the woods. The trembling leaf has fallen still, indistinguishable from all the others.
Guest Author: Maria Mainero. She likes sappy sweet stories and things that make her laugh. Don’t ask her why everything she writes turns dark and twisted. She blogs sporadically at http://nevermindwastingtime.blogspot.com/
Photo by: Emilian Robert Vicol