She moved in with some roommates in a very big apartment. Proud about being on her own. Thinking about putting things in their places, about getting along with her new rommies.
Then he was there, the Downstairs Neighbour. Smoking pot with one of the roommies. She didn’t care, really, as long as noone bothered her. But he did by sitting in her room on an empty milk crate that she needed to make a bookcase. He was interested in her he said.
He made her nervous but she didn’t know why. She kept herself far from him. She told him that she was with someone. And she was. She thought. They had slept together which meant something to her and he said he would call her back which she believed. Even though she had no news after two weeks, she truly believed they were together.
So she pushed the Downstairs Neighbour away. Then the one she trusted enough to sleep with finally came to the phone one night and told her he was moving in with his ex, no they weren’t coming back together but they would live together. No he and her weren’t together and they would not see each other anymore.
She was devastated. She cried and she was so hurt, her heart felt ripped apart. That weekend she barely ate and barely slept listening to the Cranberries non stop. Once again the Downstairs Neighbour came up to smoke weed and while he was there he drifted in her room. He asked her out again and she said no and no and no inventing excuses until she had no more. She just didn’t care. No one loved her anyway so since he said they wouldn’t go very far she agreed.
Being outside hurt her. How could people still live their lives ? They walked a bit to a bar not far from their triplex. She said she didn’t drink beer or wine or anything with alcohol. In fact, she wasn’t thirsty, she wanted to go back home.
He insisted she drank only a bit of beer. He went to the bar and came back with a beer and a glass into which he had already poured some beer. She wanted to go back home and she hated the taste of beer. She wished he would bring her back. It was dark. She suddenly felt fuzzy.
She doesn’t remember walking or floating or swimming back to her room. But there they were together in her bed while she was thinking that she didn’t want to do this. This isn’t what she wanted, she wanted none of this. She had said no, she wasn’t interested. Didn’t she ? How had they gotten out of their clothes ?
She was doing things she didn’t even know she could do and she didn’t feel a thing, everything was blurry. He wasn’t kissing her, was telling her what to do and like a puppet afraid of having her cords cut she obeyed.
When it was over he slept while she lay there open-eyed zombie-like. The Cranberries were playing in the background while tears rolled down her cheeks. He must have woken up and left but she wasn’t « there ».
For weeks or months he came back to do what he wanted. At this point she was broken. She didn’t see the point of saying no since he had already gotten his way that first time.
He never kissed her, never said anything flattering, talked about his girlfriend in Quebec and his son that he had by accident. She cried while he slept listening to the same tape over and over wishing she was dead. She was too afraid to say anything and was ashamed.
She wanted to die and got used to crossing the street without looking, watching the subway coming through and almost jumping, or calculating heights and velocity.
One day, she met someone who took interest. And she knew that she wasn’t worthy. Things had to change. She didn’t know how and she was really afraid of being hurt. She asked him to stay awake. If she screamed he would have to come in her room without knocking. If everything was okay she would see him next morning or a couple of days after.
She hoped the Downstairs Neighbour wouldn’t come. He always found a way to come in. If at first he just came in by the front door left unlocked because there was always someone home, since the roommates started locking it (even if it meant less business for her drug dealer roomie) he came in by the indoor stairs that connected the two apartments. One of the roomie had tried locking it but the Downstair Neighbour had threatened to climb her balcony.
He just appeared in her room at night. She would be asleep and he would be there already undressing or sitting on her bed.
But he showed up that night and she found in her new love interest the courage to whisper « no ». When he asked what she had said she just repeated the word. Inside her everything was so tense. Her throat was parched, her palms were sweating, her heart was beating like a drum and was so loud she hardly heard what he was saying.
He was standing there, hesitating, he had already started to undress. He took his things and went and never came bac to her surprise and relief.
Next morning she said thanks to the guy that gave her courage to stand up for herself for the first time in a very long time. When he asked why she was saying thank you she just said that him being there had made a big difference the night before.
She would still very sensitive to noises outside her door for many years and would be very nervous about moving in alone. Letting doors open, especially balcony doors, would get a lot of getting used to and no kissing would become a red flag.