This post is the second in a series about an incident that happened in my teens. If you haven’t already read it, I suggest you read the first post, How I Got Drawn In before reading this one.
It seems wrong not to trust him. His father is a minister, his older sister is my sister’s friend, and his younger sister used to sit with me in English class. True, I had never spoken to him till a week ago, and, true, my friend Abby* wants nothing more to do with him, but I am wrong to feel nervous as we walk through the snowstorm towards the hotel where he works. All he wants is to talk about Abby, to get his miserable feelings out, all he wants is someone to listen. Heck, I even understand the pain of unrequited infatuation. For several months, I’ve been fantasizing about a boy who shows not the remotest iota of interest in me.
Most boys show not the remotest iota of interest in me. Being alone with any boy scares me: I never have a clue what to say. At least today I don’t have to rack my brain for something interesting to talk about; I know that the conversation will be about Abby. So really, I can’t take my fear as a warning sign. It’s just my constant companion.
Besides, I have a Bible in my pocket. Lately, my bedtime reading has been loaned to me by a sewing teacher: The Cross and The Switchblade, and Once a Junkie. In these books, evangelical heroes go into dark alleyways where they calm violent gang members and cure heroin addicts. They are safe because they trust, and I should do the same. I should have faith in faith.
We are the only two people out in this weather, on a street that would be busy with shoppers any other day of the week. All I can see though the swirling snowflakes are the greyish purple sky, its clouds weighed down with snow, and the thin, stone buildings on either side of the narrow street.
Instead of going in through the glass doors of the hotel porch, he pushes open the heavy wooden door of the building opposite. This, he explains, is where the workers have rooms. I follow him into the gloom and up three flights of narrow, twisting stairs. The stone steps are worn and smooth. Right at the top of the building he unlocks a door.
I perch on a sofa just inside the door. My hands hurt with the warmth after the cold. He sits on the floor.
“Take off your coat,” he says. So I do. He asks what music I like.
“Oh, lots of things.”
“You like heavy rock?”
“I just don’t.”
“You should.” He gets up and goes over to his record player. Outside the window behind him, snow is still falling and day is fading to night. He puts on music that he says is brilliant. He sits down, but soon he’s back up again. He keeps getting up and putting on records, sitting back down, walking around the room, back to the record player and choosing another track, another record. He wants to educate me, to convert me to his musical tastes. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin again. He talks fast, agitated, like his movements.
“You’ll like this one,” he says, “Stairway to Heaven.”
I don’t. Not then. Not ever.
He tells me the lyrics are brilliant, that it is about a woman who thinks she can buy her way to heaven. While he tells me this he is sits on the floor, doesn’t move around.
I still don’t like it.
From heaven he moves onto God. God’s plan for him includes Abby coming back. He’s sure of that. Or at least, he wants to be sure. He is up again, standing closer to me now.
I think he’s wrong. Certainly Abby’s plan is not to come back to him. I don’t want to say it outright, don’t want him to get upset or angry. I murmur, “Maybe God doesn’t mean you two to be together; maybe there is someone else for you.”
He doesn’t like this.
“I can understand,” I say. “I liked someone but he didn’t like me.”
He moves away, then turns around. “How would you feel if God means you to be alone? How would you feel if you never had anyone?”
It scares me. I start explaining to him that I don’t think God wants us to be unhappy.
His movements are growing more agitated again. Suddenly he says, “Prove you trust God. Take off all your clothes.”
“How would that prove anything?” I say, trying to laugh but failing. My hand moves towards my coat.
“Because it would show that you feel trust. It would prove that you mean what you say. If you trust God you will do it.”
“It’s got nothing to do with trusting God,” I say. “I wouldn’t do that for anyone, and I’m not doing it for you.” I stand up, with my coat in my hand. The door is to my left and just a few feet away. I start to back towards it.
Before I take one step, a knife is pointing at my throat.
Read the third installment: The Knife
* name has been changed.