At three in the morning my walls start to breathe. The white walls are cracked and growing. Towering above me, the walls keep me awake. The silence is loudly disrupting any hope of a full night’s rest. Outside my bedroom window, the leaves applaud and the branches sing as they tap my window. My eyes are sealed shut; I am afraid to open them. I am afraid of the shadows on my wall. I am afraid the shadows will precipitate into Him.
He smells like exhaust fumes and his face has craters from previous acne scars. He stalks women in the neighborhood, climbing through unlocked bathroom windows. The sirens wail up and down the block. “Is this his work?” they cry out to me.
I tell my psychiatrist I think someone is out to get me.
“Who? The KGB?” he asks. “The CIA?”
I am afraid that he is out there with my name on his list, my address in his book. The car up the street with no headlights--that could be him. The man walking the dog down the sidewalk--that could be him. I can’t be home and I can’t be outside. He could be anywhere.
I leave for work, followed by a news van. I know where they are going and why. Reporters stand on the corner and instill fear in the audience. “He is watching you,” they tell me. “He’s going to get you,” the self-defense instructors yell, perfectly staged by the newspaper’s photographer. “Don’t trust anyone,” and I believe them.
Night after night, sleepless and doomed, I wait. I listen for the basement window, the front door to open. No attack dog, no roommate, just a single and defenseless woman. “Get a gun, buy wasp spray, carry a baseball bat,” they tell me. I lay still in my bed, closing my eyes tight. I can see the police sketch in my head. His thick lips and bald head haunt me. I can almost smell the exhaust fumes perfume the night.
My heart thumps deeply, shaking my whole body, keeping me awake. I pretend that my hundred pound frame will be able to defeat this goliath. My heart beats with anxiety and excitement as I imagine what it would be like to show my face in public without any fear, but I soon am reverted back to anxious as reality conquers my excitement and fantasy. A man that large would easily tackle and triumph over my debilitated body.
How could I go on? How could I trust anyone when untainted I am already so untrusting? I am a victim without the story. I am empathetic to the most terrifying degree. I am defected.
My eyes remain closed and I go to the place where I can feel secure. It is also dark, but I am alone and sheltered. The shadows ooze into my only respite. I no longer feel safe in my imagination. The darkness is no longer my friend, but my foe, and I realize it cannot save me from the harsh conditions of the world. Forever, no matter where He exists, I will be afraid because He is not the only one.