Story 65

She opened her apartment door and stepped inside. Closing the door behind her; she sat on the couch and closed her eyes. Her entire body ached because of the struggle she'd recently had with the man who had tried to rape her. She could still feel his breath on her neck and his hands on her body. She could still smell him, disgusting combination of sweat and perfume. She opened her eyes and stood up all of a sudden and walked to the door to check whether she had locked it. As additional security she used the door chain lock.


She was too exhausted but she had to get rid of the lingering effect the man had on her so she stepped into the bathroom and filled the tub with hot water and added bath salt.  She stepped out of her clothes but before getting into the tub she stood under the shower and let the warm water run over her aching body. She scrubbed herself clean and then stepped in to the tub. Her aching muscles relaxed as she eased into the tub. She closed her eyes and tried to relax further. She still had some time before her husband came back from the office and asked for snacks.


                                                                                ***


She was in a pub, having a small get together with her friends when he had approached her with a drink. She’d tried to be as polite as she could but he was persistent. When he tried to come closer to her she had to push him away physically; creating a scene in front of the people. When everyone had stopped to look at him he had apologized and walked away.


She was on her way back home when he had ambushed her and pulled her into a dark alley where he had tried to rape her. She knew it was him, the alley was very dimly lit but she could never forget the stinking combination of sweat and perfume. Apart from that she could identify some of the facial features; but mostly she had been busy trying to push him away. He’d beaten her, punched her in the face and kicked her in the stomach and had unzipped his trousers when he thought she was weak enough and was about to lose consciousness but when he had bent over her trying to push in she had kicked him in his groin and reached out for her purse from which she had taken out the pepper spray and used it on him. After that she had ran from there leaving her sandals behind, purse in one hand and pepper spray in the other. She had not bothered about the open buttons of her shirt or the looks people gave her. She rushed past the people, their faces blurred because of teary eyes. She had rested only when she had reached her apartment.


                                                                                ***


She opened her eyes when she heard the main door being opened. Her husband was back home. She knew she had to get up to open the door chain to let her husband in. Despite her aching body she got out of the tub as fast as she could and put on a bathrobe. Through the gap in the door she could see the frustrated face of her husband and then noticed the change in the expression as he saw her beaten up face. The moment she opened the door he threw his laptop bag on the couch and cupped her face in his hands.
“What happened?” he asked in a concerned voice.
“I was attacked.” She told him.
“When … where?” he questioned again.
“Give me a moment” she said and turned to go to the bathroom. She knew he would follow. He wanted the details, there was no way he was going to let it go even for a second. Sometimes, she liked how much he cared but sometimes she felt suffocated. She felt latter as she took of the bathrobe and washed herself clean under the shower. She did not bother closing the bathroom door because that would have meant loud banging on the door as she showered.
To her surprise she felt his hands on her waist. He had stepped into the shower with her. She did not push him away, she could not, but at the same time she could not respond to his advances.


A few minutes ago he had been worried about her swollen face and the next minute he was in shower with her running his hand over her waist trying to reach lower and kissing her neck. She hated what her body did to him; at least at that moment. She stopped the shower hoping he would get the hint and he did. As he stepped back and wrapped a towel around his waist she wrapped a fresh bathrobe around her and stepped out of the bathroom. When she looked at him she saw the embarrassed look on his face. She closed her eyes; she hated that look.
It took her a while to realize that she had become cranky. In other circumstances, she would have not hated her husband at all. She would have allowed his advances if not responded happily.


She opened her eyes and saw that he was already dressed.
“I almost got raped today” she blurted out.
“Shit! Did you see who was it? Where did this happen? Did you tell the police?” he asked coming closer to her and wrapping his arms around her.
The moment she was in the protective circle of his arms she could no longer control her emotions; she gave in and started crying.
He tried to console her, she noticed the way his muscles flexed, he was trying to control his anger.
“Who was he? Was it someone you know?” He asked after making her sit on the bed.
She shook her head. “It was some stranger from the pub” she said and then told him exactly what had happened.
“We will go to the police tomorrow and file a complaint.” He said and kissed her forehead.
He helped her to get dressed and lay next to her on the bed, his arms wrapped around her. When she offered to make snacks he refused to let her go and before she could know, she fell asleep.


When she woke up she was alone in bed. She could smell dinner. She got up and walked to the kitchen, her body still ached but she felt better thanks to the painkiller he had given her. When he saw her walking towards the kitchen he walked towards her and helped her take a seat at the dining table. Within minutes, he served dinner to her and joined her at the table. They had dinner in silence. She did not have to express her gratitude in words. He knew she was thankful and she knew he knew.
He helped her get into bed after dinner and tucked her in. He finished the dishes and by the time he came back to the bedroom, she was already asleep.


The next morning when she woke up he was on talking to someone over the phone; explaining to the person what had happened and why he had to cancel the plans. When he hung up she asked him who it was. He told her that he had meant to tell her the good news but could not after what she had told him. He had finalised an important deal, which meant a lot to his business and he had invited the client to their house as a way of appreciation. He told her that he explained the circumstances to the client and cancelled the plans. She congratulated him and told him that she was feeling fine enough to be able to cook for three plus they could order something extra from outside. She requested him to call the client and go ahead with the get together he had planned.


He did as he said and helped her with the cooking. He was kind enough to go to the market and buy groceries. He helped her with the cooking as well, dicing vegetables, chopping onions and making gravy.
It was almost lunch time when the doorbell rang. Taking off his apron he stepped out of the kitchen and straightened his hair. His role as chef was over and now he stepped into the shoes of a businessman and a host.
When the front door was opened she heard a familiar voice and laughter. She stepped out of the kitchen to welcome the guest with a smile; her smile froze on her face when she saw who the guest was. The look of realization momentarily crossed the client’s face as well but he immediately masked it and continued talking to her husband. However, she could not mask her shock. It took a while for her to realize that her husband was introducing her to the man. She turned around to go to the kitchen without shaking the hand the client had extended towards her.


She could not believe he was at her home. She clearly remembered the face and the smell of perfume; the smell of sweat was missing, though. The client was none other than the man who had approached her in the pub the previous evening; he was the one who had tried to rape her.
“What’s wrong?” her husband asked as he followed her to the kitchen. “That was very rude” he added.
“He is the man.” She said breathlessly. “He is the one who tried to rape me.” She said.
“It’s not possible. That cannot be” he said and moved closer to her.
“Think again. Is he the same man? Maybe you are wrong?” he tried to convince her
“You said it was dark in the alley.” He said to prove her wrong.
“I could see some of his facial features and I distinctly remember the smell of his perfume.” She pleaded hoping her husband would believe her.
“Excuse me” they heard the guest calling out from the living room.
“Be there in a minute.” He answered the guest and looked at her.
“Come on, there has to be some mistake. How can you judge him based on the perfume he is wearing? Tomorrow if I wear the same perfume and touch you in our bedroom when its dark, are you going to assume it’s him?”


The moment he said the last sentence; she knew there was no way she could convince her husband that the man in their living room was the one who had tried to rape her. She was finding it difficult to believe that her husband, who had been so concerned about her the previous evening; the one who had said that they should file a police complaint was now refusing to believe that she had identified the man. She then remembered how it had taken him merely few minutes to get naked with her and forget about the assault on her. Did he really care about what had happened to her? Being almost raped, was it not as serious as actually being raped? If she could not convince her husband that the person who had assaulted her was standing in their living room, how was she going to convince the police? No one would believe her.


“Please” he begged “This is important for me.” He continued trying to reach out to her. She stepped back involuntarily.
“I should have not listened to you in first place and invited him home.” He said, frustrated.
“I am sorry; I must have been mistaken; maybe it’s not him. Let’s go outside” she said, trying to convince her husband who looked at her approvingly and kissed her on the forehead.
She did not want to be anywhere near the man. She did not want to be in the house, standing next to her husband who did not believe her. But, she had to do this. Not for anyone else’s sake but for her own.


They stepped out of the kitchen together. His host self was back and even she smiled and shook hands with the guest. She realized how firm his grip was and how he held her hand for a few more seconds than necessary. She loathed the smile that was on his face; it felt as if there was a hidden message behind the smile – “You cannot do anything to me.” She was tempted to slap him but she controlled her anger. She had to play nice.
She turned around as a mobile rang and her husband answered it. He excused himself for a moment leaving her alone with the client. How easy it was, she thought, for her husband to leave her alone with the man who had tried to rape her. Before her husband returned and before the client realized what was happening she threw herself at the client who involuntarily wrapped his arms around her. And then, she yelled –
“What the hell are you doing?”
The man tried to push her away but she held him tightly against her body and when she saw from the corner of her eyes that her husband had returned to the living room she let go of the man and pushed him away.
“He tried to kiss me” she said and started crying as she rushed into her husband’s arms.
“How dare you touch my wife?” he yelled and punched the man. As he pushed the man out of the house; she looked at the man and smiled.


Comments

  1. Ah! :D Tit for tat. Enjoyed the read.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Simram. I am glad you liked it.

      GBU

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  2. Nice read...loved the twist in the end :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Manish. I wondered later on whether I did justice to the ending..
      glad you loved the twist


      GBU

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  3. Wow! That was quite intriguing. Loved the end Arti. :)

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