I waited at the window, wearing my black lace cocktail dress. I sat on the porch reading. I waited more.
At ten I finally conceded, he wasn’t coming. I felt stupid for having dreams of a great whirlwind romance. Mostly I was angry that I didn’t get his cell number. I couldn’t call him, I didn’t know where he worked, or even if he lived near. I had literally no facts on the man, I couldn’t believe how naive I had been. He could have been any number of things; axe murderer, thief, or even married.
Even so, I promised myself I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there was an accident or an emergency and I would hear from him tomorrow. I just didn’t want to believe that he would stand me up after the great morning we had shared. I mean, I had been injured. But all in all it was still great.
Two whole weeks later and I was working at Higgins Grocery. Again. When Roger dared to show his face. I acted like he was any other customer, because to me he was.
I began ringing up the bread and other goods. Completely ignoring him. “Kim? Please give me another chance at a date.”
Old lady March, one of our regulars, was behind Roger in line. Her ears and eyebrows perked up at his plea. Great! Now everyone in town would know I was stood up.
I ignored him. “That’ll be $56.73”
He handed me three twenties and I quickly held out his change. He enclosed my hand once more, “I messed up, I know. Just talk with me please?”
I looked him in the eye and just about melted. Did he always have to look like he just stepped out of a magazine cover? A deep breath calmed my nerves.
I glanced over to Mrs. March, she was practically dancing on her toes at the juicy gossip. Next thing I knew I would be the talk of the town. It was fairly possible. Not much goes on here.
I hardened my expression. “Ok, Roger. I go on break in five minutes, meet me in the back parking lot.” He smiled, nodded a lot, and I’ll admit I watched him walk out the sliding doors. “Ahem!” Old lady March grinned at catching me ogle the man.
Roger waited, leaning up against the store. If I had wanted to be petty I could have left him out there to wait. But I have a hard time being rude to people, so there I was. Right on time.
“So, what’s up?” I asked.
He looked unsure of himself, “I just wanted to say how sorry I am for just disappearing like that. I didn’t have your number and something came up. I’m sorry for standing you up Kim. I really like you, give me another chance?”
I held up my hand to stop him, “First off, its been two weeks. This didn’t happen yesterday. And second, I have realized I don’t know even the basics of your life. You could be married with two kids for all I know. You don’t owe me..”
He interrupted, ” I’ve never been married. No kids. Hell, I’m not even seeing anyone. I work at the construction yard down off 4th St.. Just moved here last month. Uh, I have one sister, Annie, and a Rottweiler named John.”
I stubbed the tip of my shoe into the ground, trying to figure out what I should do. He seemed sincere, but I really didn’t want to feel like a fool again. “That was a lot of info. Ok. I know it’s not my place to ask this, but….What was the something that came up?”
He looked around like he really didn’t want to say. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I know some things are private” I said quickly.
He ran his hands through his hair, messing it. Then said, “I have a stalker. My Ex, Sarah. She showed up at my house that afternoon and told me she’s moved here and has been following me around. But don’t worry, she got arrested for breaking a restraining order a couple of days ago. They said they’ll get her some mental help and that she’ll be leaving me alone.”
I was kind of at a loss for what to say. It was not at all what I was thinking. “Oh, wow. How horrible for you. I’m glad she’s getting some help.”
He pushed off the wall and came to hold my hands, “So will you give me another chance at a date?”
I nodded yes. “Tomorrow though. I work late tonight.”
Roger quickly picked me up into a crushing hug, “you won’t regret it.” He pulled away and began walking to a red Pick up, “pick you up at seven. Hell or high water, I’ll be there!” He hollered back to me.
I shouted back. “You’d better!”
That night, I lay in my bed too excited to sleep. The crickets can be almost deafening in the summer but my ears quickly ignore their sound. Instead picking up on all the different forest creaks and skittering of animals. In the summer my windows are always open to the fresh breeze.
I dreamed of a small puppy floating down a fast river, its little doggy paws not strong enough to keep it above water for long. It whined and cried for me but I could never run fast enough to help. Finally I just jumped for it and missed, the smack of hitting the water woke me with a jerk. Somehow, I could still hear the yelping pleas of the puppy. They were real and coming from my front yard. Out my window I saw a large crate in the middle of the lawn. “People suck.” I said. It wouldn’t be the first time someone abandoned a dog on my back forest road. I walked out to retrieve the poor pup when I felt a cold wet rag cover my mouth.
The morning sun came through my window as usual. When I went to roll out of bed I couldn’t. “What the..why?” Fear rolled over me and I heard my every heartbeat like a drum. My hands and feet were tied.
Last night, the puppy, and the mysterious hand in the dark all flashed through my head. My naturally pessimistic brain immediately flashed the most horrible, gruesome things that could happen at the hands of a sick man. Out here where no one could hear.
I pulled on my restraints. Trying desperately to get loose but it was no use. I listened for anyone near to know if my captor was coming. If they had heard me.
A sporty blonde woman emerged from the bathroom drinking one of my good foreign beers. She tipped it back as I watched, “Ahh..not bad.” Tossing it into the sink when it was empty. I felt my fear level drop a notch at seeing it was a woman. If she wanted to rob me she would be sorely disappointed, I didn’t own much of value.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I said in the bravest voice I could muster.
She stood over me. Looking down with all kinds of crazy in her eyes. “I’m Roger’s fiance. We’re getting married. We just had a little fight. Bitch, you shook your skanky ass at the wrong man. He’s my fiance!” The punch she gave me was totally unexpected and made my vision blur. I moved to protect myself and she punched me square in the nose. Blood ran down the left side of my face. She laughed maniacaly, “See if he wants you now! I’m gonna make you even uglier! Little slut!”
I didn’t yell back or retaliate. I couldn’t do anything, so I did nothing. I pretended like I had passed out from her punches. When I didn’t move for a minute she left to do something outside. I could hear her muttering “burn this bitch down” and the sound of breaking branches.
Late at night I would always have these kind of scenarios go through my head. The what would you do if…scenarios. I was always good at running through them and coming out the victor. I placed things around my home because of this game. It could be called paranoia or maybe just being prepared for a bad situation.
I tried to pretend that this was what was happening. First I use my butt to push the click latch on the cupboard that ran alongside my bed. It took three tries but finally the front sprang open. Tucked inside, I had a Ka-Bar knife inherited from my father to be used if I had any intruders. Animal or human.
I flipped over and angled my head into the open cubby. It was a tight fit but I managed to grab the tip of the leather sheath. Pulling it out of the cupboard I tried to turn it so I would be able to shove it up to my hands. It slides up into my hands and I have a triumphant moment when I slide the sharp knife from its sheath. Pointing the knife downwards, I move it by small increments along the rope. It’s all I’m able to do with the awkward angle. I kept a death grip on it because it’s very sharp and my face is below the blade. The last thing I would need is a hunting knife to the face.
After what feels like hours, but are only minutes, my ropes loosen and I use the knife to free my feet. Tears of relief blur my eyes and I reach immediately for the front door.
The handle turns a second before I am able to lock it. Then the door is yanked open and we both freeze. Me wielding a seven-inch Ka-Bar and her holding my wood axe. Thinking of the reason she’s carrying it makes my blood run cold.
I hold my hands out, knife included, and shout. “Sarah! You don’t need to do this! He’s yours. He said so. Totally turned me down, I mean, why would he want me over you. Your beautiful! ”
My words made her pause and think. “Your right. He could never want you more than me.” She backed a step from the door and gestured for me to leave. I didn’t trust her quick forfeit, but hurried to pass her just the same. Right as I came even with her in the entryway I heard her say “I’m not taking the chance!” and saw the axe swing at my back.
The force of the eight pound axe knocks the wind from my lungs and there was a definite crack. I was guessing it hit rib bone. This all seemed like it was happening in a movie or to someone else. I arched and grunted when she pulled it away for another swing.
I wouldn’t survive another swing of the axe. I just knew it.
I still held onto my knife and as Sarah was in the back-swing of the axe, I lunged up into her stomach with my father’s knife.
Her eyes went so wide with shock, I was shocked also. Had I stabbed someone? I had, it was life or death. But it wasn’t done. Sarah leaned over, dropping the axe, and grasped the knife handle. “You Bitch! You stabbed me!” When she pulled the knife from her stomach it made a sickly sucking sound and she screamed with the pain. There was so much blood. Too much .
The axe lay on the ground, neither one of us was able to lift it. But now she had the knife and I had nothing. I could feel cold on my back and knew that I was bleeding. I got up as fast as I was able to and moved away from her. She couldn’t follow as quickly as I could limp away. It was snail versus slug to my neighbor’s house, half a mile away. The pain settled in as my adrenaline wore off. It radiated from my ribs and made my legs shaky; unsteady. I kept a slow pace, fighting the urge to lie down, sleep.
I look back once to see Sarah lying on the road a ways back. She had bled too much. Was she dead? All I could think was, “Oh dear God. I was a murderer, I couldn’t die a murderer”. I had bled too much and I knew I would be on the ground along with her, if I didn’t get help soon. I was at the Gorwin’s mailbox when a detached feeling set in, only a couple hundred yards to go. Everything felt like a dream when I pushed the doorbell and fell against the door. Dead to the world. But not dead. Yet..
I made it. The doctors told me that I was extremely lucky that my rib hadn’t punctured my lung, if so I would have died. Yes. I felt lucky. Only a couple of months and I could start running again. My broken nose was reset and the purple coloring only adding to my feminine allure.
The Gorwin’s visited, they were a nice elderly couple and I owed my life to them being homebodies. I thanked them profusely and they kindly scolded me about living alone in the woods. They were good people and I was lucky to have them for neighbors.
After Mr. and Mrs. Gorwin left, I managed to nap for a few minutes. When I awoke, Roger was sitting at my bedside holding my hand. “Hi.” I said and smiled.
“Oh god, Kim. I did this to you!” he said while covering his face, attempting to stop a sob. “You could have died. All because I wanted a date. I’m so sorry!” I petted his head and shushed him until he got himself under control.
“It’s not your fault. Sarah was sick.” I said, then got the courage up to ask, “Is..is she dead? Did I kill her?” I was so scared of what he might say. I closed my eyes and awaited his answer.
“No! Oh Kim, you thought you killed her? No. Sarah was in surgery for a long time, but the ambulance picked her up when they got you and the doctor said she will be physically alright eventually. Her mental state is another matter. The police need to speak with you about what happened, but it sounds like they’re going to charge her with attempted murder.
I cried tears of joy then. Even if it was self-defense, I didn’t know how to deal with actually killing another human being. The whole horrible ordeal was over.
Roger and I had a lot of long talks during my stay in the hospital. He visited me every day and we did finally have that first date. It was in the hospital cafeteria, with jello for desert. It was perfect nevertheless.
We found love and married. Roger used his incredible construction skills to add on to my tiny home. A room for our little ones to come. Very soon.
Life is simple, but good.