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Lilia sat in the small metal chair next to a police officer’s wooden desk. Her hands were clasped taut in her lap and she rarely blinked from staring at her surroundings so intently. She turned and glanced at the door every few seconds picturing the man walking in and wrapping his bony lifeless fingers around her arms again. She shifted in her chair. Everything she touched was icy, sending goose bumps through her skin and down her spine. The office chair behind the desk was empty and had been for a good while. Lilia was the only woman in the room. All the men, all the uniforms walked around like sagging puppets on strings.
Then the front door swung open and two sets of footsteps walked in. Her muscles stiffened and she suddenly felt paralyzed shoulders down. The only thing that seemed to work was her neck as she slowly craned one last time to look at the door. She spotted a dark figure in the corner of her eye that sent another wave of goose bumps through her body but this time they were intertwined with electric shock that set her facial skin on fire and amped up her heart beat.
Her head snapped back around and she averted her eyes to the floor. She didn’t want to look at him. She didn’t want him to see her. She didn’t want him to see her a month ago when she was walking her little dog down the path next to her apartment building. It was cold on that night too. The only source of warmth came from the faint streetlights that only illuminated a small fraction of the parking lot. She spotted the man while half-way back to her apartment. He was slumped up against the arm of a bench that the streetlight couldn’t touch and he was completely still. She walked increasingly faster as she approached him to pass him; once she got close he sat straight up and looked at her. His big white eye with dark centers cut through the darkness. Lilia flinched at the abrupt movement. She tried to bee-line around him but he got up and started to saunter behind her and eventually fell into step at her side.
“Hey darlin’. Can I walk you back to your apartment?” A slimy yellow smile spread across his face. “A young beaut like you and this adorable pup. Let me walk you home.”
His face was so close to hers she could nearly feel his prickly cheeks on hers. Her breathing quickened and a lump formed in her throat as she tried to form words.
“No-no thank you.”
The police officer had sat down and took back the cup of coffee he had offered to her.
“Lilia Breay, correct?”
“Um, yes,” Her voice was inaudible, even to herself. “Sir.”
He started typing into his computer. As his fingers flew around the keyboard her eyes slid over to the corner in which a dark figure was slumped up against the arm of a waiting room chair. She looked at his thin hands and saw he had no handcuffs on. Her shoulders slumped over a bit. There was nothing to restrain his hands from slipping around her shoulders and neck and arms and waist. She felt them on her as if they were there permanently. She could remember clearly the first time he managed to get his boney hands on her. It was three days after the night he first spotted her. He was lurking around when she returned from the grocery store. He walked up to her and followed her all the way her apartment door.
“Give me some of those bags darlin’. I’ll take them inside for you.” He went to reach for a bag and his cold bony knuckles brushed her hand and she snapped the bags against her body.
“You should leave now.” She said as she stood between the man and the outside door of her apartment. Clenching her fists and standing upright she said “The landlords wouldn’t like a non-resident loitering around here.”
“Okay okay, relax darlin’.”
He looked her in the eyes and she could see the dark bags beneath them. He smiled that slimy smile and she felt him looking at her. She fixed her gaze to the officer.
“And you claim that this man has been following you for the past month or so?”
She felt the officer’s and the man’s eyes on her as the officer gestured towards the man sitting in the corner. She opened her mouth but the words were tied up, held back by the man’s intense stare.
He had only glared at her in that way once before, both times were involving the police.
“If you don’t leave now, I will call the police.” She nearly cried as she tried squeezing her front door shut. But his foot was wedged in between the door and her safety.
His eyes broke straight through the small crack in the door; they turned hard in a moment, as soon as the word police slipped from her lips.
“Look girl, I ain’t doin’ nothing wrong. Call the police and you’ll look like a fool. Tellin’ them made up little stories.”
She felt his pull on the same door handle she held, but in the opposite direction. She felt her muscles growing tired and she knew his skinny, bag of bones, body could still beat her in a strength match.
“Just let me in for a minute darlin’! I just want to sit with you for a bit.”
His control on the door overpowered her and before she knew it the door flung open. His looming body darted past the door frame and pinned her body against the edge of her kitchen table. His hands clamped around her arms and wrists. She tried to unlatch his fingers from her body and resisted his weight pressing against hers. A high pitched scream escaped from her throat and the man tried to cover her mouth. When she stopped releasing nerve-wrangling yelps she heard doors opening, closing and footsteps surrounding her apartment. The man jerked off her and dashed from the room and out the back door.
A woman fled into the room and with wide eyes asked “Are you okay?”
“Okay, good. You also claim that he threatened you and assaulted you in your home?”
Her eyes met the officers. Suddenly she felt a spotlight burning on her.
“Well yes, but not exactly.” Her eyebrows stitched together. “I mean-”
“You see. The girl doesn’t even know what she’s ramblin’ on about.” A low chuckle came from the man slumped over in the corner. “She’s made it all up in that silly girl head she’s got.”
Lilia’s face fired up. “I didn’t make it up.” She started to tingle all over her body.
The officer looked at Lilia. “Ma’am, did this man assault you?”
“Well-it was-” Her stomach knotted around a swelling sensation in the pit of her stomach. The sensation was rising and flowing through her body and to her finger tips.
She looked the man directly in the eye and said “Yes, this man assaulted me and threatened my safety and my privacy in more ways than one.”
The man gritted his yellow teeth.
“Well ma’am. I think I have all I need from you for now.”
She heard him but did not look away from the figure slumped in the corner until another officer went up and handcuffed the man and took him off into a room in the back.
She stood up and felt light and airy as she left, she stood upright. She walked outside and felt the urge to go home. She could go home, alone.