The New Guy.
Recently he haunts my nights, most nights just like he's been stalking the distant edge of my memory all of these years, since those days we told ourselves we would not talk about.
I remember now; so clearly...I'm walking up the stairs, it's a sunny afternoon and it's got a Thursday feeling about it. Like it's lazy in an undecided kind of manner. I must be about five or six months into eleven and my skinny five nine is swelling into something more like woman and less like girl. He's at the top of the stairs and I'm vaulting up towards him, making my way three steps at a time, not because I'm in a rush but simply because I can. It's quiet for a Thursday. All the other children are at the scouts meeting because they all go to public schools. And he is at the top of the stairs, watching me, smiling the way he always does. He's new in our neighbourhood. He's what we call a rocket, still walking around with the smell of dal and pani puri hanging off his clothes and clinging to his skin. He's nice enough I guess, for someone just 'off the boat'. Finally I'm at the top of the stairs, he's still smiling as he says hi. I think I like him. I fling my school bag over the rails so that it slides across the corridor and spills its contents at our door. It's dusty now, I'll be in big trouble later for that.
He's still smiling as he fills the space in front of me so I can't get past him and across the finish line home. I resent that but we have to be nice to people who are different. Especially if they are our neighbours. So I smile and leaning back against the dirty wall away from the window so that I can look up at him without having the sun in my eyes. It's not good to look into the sun. You'll go blind. He moves closer as we talk. I can't remember what we're talking about but he seems shy now that he can clearly hear my "new Cairo British international" accent. I'm glad to have impressed him. I smile as all the weariness of Thursday slips away. He's a nice guy, when I'm with him I feel grand. He moves closer. Closer. His smells are even stronger now and I'm feeling a bit like I might suffocate. I'm a little bit uneasy but I don't move. The afternoon is getting warmer, slightly. It's bright out and I can see the dust particles as the float lazily through the sun beams.
I don't like him so much anymore when he puts his hands on my face. I don't know what he's doing. Touching me, his hands are rough and he smells like garlic and onions. I don't like it. He laughs as he presses his body against me, a laugh that for a moment disarms me until he presses his mouth into my face and I can't breathe and his wetness is disgusting. He steps back and looks at me. He asks me do I know what that was? A kiss.
I'm scared now but as I try to run off my new body works against me and I find I am too heavy and that I move too slowly. He has me pinned against the wall. The hairs on his arm tickle my chin. He presses harder so that I have to stand on my toes to stop from drowning in his smells. My voice is trapped under his weight and I can't scream even though my entire person is focused towards this ends.
I'm looking up into his face. He's still smiling but his smile isn't so nice now. His teeth are brown from a different life and his eyes are grabbing at me while his free hand gropes. Down below. My skirt travels upwards and suddenly the air is cold. It bites like a cruel frost as he rips my panties. I'll be in trouble with Mom. Those were brand new. He's fumbling and for a moment I am calm, for a moment I think he's going to stop. He smiles again and as he grabs my thigh and folds it towards my chest I curse my gymnastics instructor. How could it be so easy?
The tears burn inside of me as they challenge my face. I don't cry. Not for anyone. Not for him. My body screams as he tears into me. I don't cry. Not for anyone. Every motion is now synchronized. He hammers into me and my heart hammers at the walls of my new chest and my head pounds. I don't cry. Not for anyone.
He steps back and as he fumbles I try to think. But my thoughts come slow. He's gone.
My panties are ripped and I'm going to be in trouble with Mom. My school bag is dusty and I'm going to be in trouble with Mom. Have to clean up before Mom comes home. Have to find my smile. He's gone. I don't cry ever, not for him and never for me.