Intruder

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Twice in the past week I’ve woken up to an intruder at my front door in the dead of night. Both times the sound of someone on the step casually trying the handle escalated quickly to the sound of someone throwing their weight aggressively against the door. There are several locks and even a chain but they didn’t help make me feel any more safe or any less naked in the moment. Thing is, the first night this happened it was a dream. I woke up inside of it and put on my sweatpants.  I walked to the door in the dark, avoiding the spot in the floor that squeaks. Unable to find a shirt on the way I covered my breasts with my hands. I squinted anxiously through the peephole and into a faceless man who was breaking like waves against the door. I felt like a hostage. Like he was holding me under water. His face distorted as I struggle to breathe. To remain calm.  We were no more than three to five inches apart. Only an old door between us. I wondered if I were a man would this kind of thing  even happen? Would I be standing there silently, covering my body in the dark with this nauseating fear racing around in my blood like battery acid. I felt weak and instantly woke up outside of it. Safe in my bed. In the silence. My eyes glued to the door. I was alone. The train horn blew a few seconds later and it made me jump. Pulling the sheets up over my shoulders I rolled my eyes back to sleep.

When it happened again last night I simply rolled over.  Wondering why I couldn’t have recurring dreams about riding Alexander Skarsgard like a reindeer  through a snowy forest in the midnight sun. As I cozied up to that idea I heard something crash outside my window. Again my blood went acidic and raced around my body, pulling all the fire alarms. I threw on my trusty sweatpants. Hands on tits I made my way to the door in the dark, avoiding the spot in the floor that squeaks. I held my breath when I got to the peephole. I wasn’t ready to see him though. What if I knew him? Would that be worse than not knowing him? What if I could just wake up again? As I remembered the train and hoped for the horn, he threw himself against the door and it bucked in my face. The chain jingled like pocket change and the distance between he and I suddenly felt measurable only by time. He was a blur. He yelled something I couldn’t make out. I said nothing. I went for my phone. I fucking hate it when someone does something that requires me to call the cops. I already didn’t want this man here. Calling more to the scene felt counter intuitive. I was pressing 1 for the second time when I heard him trying to get the screen off the window. The phone rings and I tell the woman on the phone where I lived and what’s going on. She asked if I was alone. She asked in the tone my mother uses to tell me how much she hates that I’m alone. It’s pity and I never need it. I should be safe by myself. In fact, I had been.

She stayed on the phone with me until the police arrived. They asked him a few questions and then cuffed him as he stood on my welcome mat. I stayed anonymously on the other side of the door with my heart climbing into my throat as if she hoped to get a look through the peephole too. I did see his face before they wrangled him to the car. He was new to me. A total stranger and a very drunk one at that. His eyes were pale blue. His face blister red. An early 30’s blonde with a haircut that probably looked a lot like the one his mother gave him in the second grade. Once he was gone I unlocked the door and went out on the step to talk to the officer. In the chaos I had located a shirt but not a bra and the officer looked at my tits 3 times while asking me If I knew the guy. We talked about how drunk my unwanted guest was as I picked up the plants he had knocked over. He tells me that if they can find out where he lives they’ll probably just take him home. I was stunned. I argued that if they took him home he would probably just wake up and not remember how he’d gotten there. What about public intox? Upon telling this story to a friend this morning he suggested I get a gun. How is that one response while another is to shrug it off and make sure the guy gets home safe?

In the end, I worry about our binge drinking culture and the shit behavior it breeds. I’m exhausted by another reminder that as a woman I have to play defense all the fucking time. I’m disappointed that I didn’t tell that cop to focus and write down what I was saying rather than staring at my tits. I’m a little creeped out that I dreamt about it before it came to be. However, I’m mega grateful that it played out how it did. I think I can save the orchid he crushed. I know I can keep remembering to lock the door before I go to bed.