November 11, 2014

Tessa's Story

by Zahra Barnes

At first, I was sure it was a dream.

I squeezed my eyes shut and blinked twice in the darkness, waiting for the inky silhouette standing over my bed to evaporate like a plume of smoke. The shadow leaned over slightly, invading my space, closing in on me. Its inhale rattled in the silence, and my brain dimly started to realize it should probably panic. Then, the exhale, and a puff of warm air on my face. The shadow moved closer until it was only inches away. When I squeaked out a breath, it inhaled, and when it breathed out, I sucked in its air, trying not to choke on my fear. Finally, I realized I was wide awake. The person in my room wasnt something from a nightmare.

I shrank away from the shadow and thoughts raced through my mind. How is this actually happening? Who the hell is in my bedroom? My eyes darted toward my phone, which Id stationed on the other side of the room to motivate myself to actually get up and turn off the alarm in the morning. Yet another way any attempt to be active was seriously screwing me over. I was either going to vomit or pee all over myself. Probably both.

A gleam of white flashed at me from near the top of the shadow, and then a high-pitched giggle followed. My blood ran cold as I realized this person, or demon, or whatever it was, was laughing. My instinct, struggling between fight and flight until that point, made its choice.

My voice started as a wheeze. Get the fuck out of here! By the end of the sentence, I was doing what can only be described as a hoarse roar. Someone had the gall to come into my space and threaten me? Fury trumped terror, and I was enraged. Id been dealing with the kind of fatigue that comes with being a woman, thanks to the asshattery that had been going on in the news. Between women getting catcalled nonstop and the terrifying video that was making the rounds of a Philadelphia abduction in progress, Id had enough of feeling like women were in constant danger. This was too much.

At the sound of my voice, the shadow started and lurched backward. Now that my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I could make out the mans features. He looked familiar for a reason that I couldnt place, no matter how frantically my mind scrambled.

Get out! I shrieked again. I lunged for the lamp on my bedside table. It was hollow and looked like metal, although it was really only stained with silver. Still, its slight heft made me feel more powerful. I leapt to my feet on top of my bed, thanking every deity I could think of that Id decided to wear a t-shirt and boy shorts to sleep. Waving the lamp over my head like a madwoman, I watched as whoever he was tripped over a pair of heels onto his ass then stumbled into the hallway.

I rushed over and threw myself against the door, immediately locking it and jiggling the handle to make sure it was as secure as possible. My mind immediately went to Celine.

Celine! I screamed. Lock your door! Someones in our apartment!

No response.

Celine, can you hear me?

Our front door opened and slammed shut. I tossed the lamp onto my bed and grabbed my phone to call 911, then babbled the story to them.

The bored-sounding operator told me to stay calm and find a safe place to wait it out. She assured me that someone would be at the apartment soon. I had no idea if the guy was still in our place and wished the fire escape were somewhere more easily accessible than Celines room. I called her next and she answered, reassuring me she had heard my shouting and was hiding in her closet.

At that moment, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Some omnipresent part of me floated on the ceiling of the apartment, taking in my balled-up fists and furious whispers into the phone while keeping an eye on tiny Celine, holed up in her closet. It was surreal.

Next, I called Grant. It was almost 11 a.m. in Abu Dhabi, so I wasnt surprised when he didnt answer. He was probably at work. Still, I dialed him a few more times and sent some texts summing up the situation. They were completely devoid of emotion, just messengers of facts. I was like an efficient machine. Am I in shock? I wondered. Is this what they always talk about in Greys Anatomy?

My bizarre distance from the situation was the only thing keeping me from coming completely undone. I held off from texting my parents so as not to give them midnight conniptions, but I wrote a note on my phone telling them how much I loved them, just in case. The only other time Id done something like that had been when a particularly maniacal taxi driver had made me fear for my life on the way to JFK. It had always been a slightly ridiculous anecdote I could whip out when talking about close calls, but this made that story seem like childs play.

I fired off a series of texts to Marley. She was visiting her family in California and happened to be awake. She called me, but I rejected it and texted her instead. I was too nervous to talk just in case the intruder was still there and would fly into a rage when hearing me on the phone.

What??? she responded. Someones in your apartment?

He was standing over me when I woke up. He didnt do anything but now Im locked in my room and Celines in her closet and I dont know what to do.

Oh God, the police are on their way? Im going to get someone over there.

What do you mean someone? I navigated the cursor to put apostrophes around someone, instinctively sticking to my grammatical guns despite the state of emergency. I ignored my trembling fingers, refusing to acknowledge how scared I actually was. I was still waiting for Marleys response when I heard banging on the front door.

NYPD! Open up! My body broke down the second I knew I was safe. I collapsed into a quivering pile next to my bed, sobbing with relief. Our front door slammed against the adjacent wall and I groaned inwardly at the resulting gash. There goes my deposit, I thought.

A familiar voice rang out. Tessa? Are you OK?

Sir, you should wait outside the apartment, a gruff voice said.

No, I know her. Her best friend called me.

Finn.

I dug my fingers into my mattress like it was a life raft and pulled myself up, using the momentum to propel my body into the living room. I braced myself, expecting to see a ransacked apartment. Surprisingly, everything was in place.

Finn was flanked by two police officers. That trio was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I locked eyes with him and he edged past the officers. He scooped me up into his arms and gripped the back of my head like it was so delicate, almost painfully precious to the touch. I clutched his back, faint at the relief of being completely wrapped in something I knew wasnt dangerous.

Are you okay? He pulled away and squeezed my arms roughly, like he was making sure I was actually there. If I hadnt been grateful to be in the arms of someone safe, it might have been painful.

Im fine, Im fine. Wheres Celine? Celine?!

Im here. She emerged from her room, her tiny fox-like face drained of color. Is he gone?

I think so.

The two officers spread out and searched our apartment. Given the minuscule size of our place, it didnt take very long.

No one else is here, and it doesnt look like a case of forced entry, said one officer. Now that my heart rate had slowed, I could take them both in better. There was clearly a good cop and bad cop. The one who had just spoken was a gangly black woman who was obviously new to the job.

What does that mean? Celines voice barely made a peep.

It means this guy either had a key or one of you left the door open. That was Bad Cop, a stout, freckled guy whod been the one to bark out their arrival. He softened. You should be careful, two girls living alone in the city. Are you both okay? Did this guy harm you?

We reassured them that no, we were fine, just shaken.

I thought back to the night before. I was always vigilant about locking the doors, and nothing had distracted me when I was arriving. Id never caught Celine leaving a door unlocked, so did that mean someone had a key to our place?

I thought back to the face Id seen in the darkness of my room. I knew I recognized him from somewhere, but where was it? I racked my brain while the cops talked about standard procedure and filing a report and calling a locksmith for a door chain. I was in the middle of wishing it had all been a bad dream when it hit me.

Wait, I know who it is! Everyones heads swiveled in my direction. The guy in our apartment. It was this man who just moved in above us.

The police instantly tensed up. Above you here? Bad Cop asked. Do you know where exactly he lives?

Give me a second. I ran into my room and threw on some pants, then led them into the hallway and up the stairs. Celine was still collecting herself and decided to stay behind.

Id only glimpsed the guy the week before. Hed passed me on the staircase, his arms loaded down with boxes. When Id asked if he needed help, hed mentioned that he was just up in 4F so hed be fine. He had one of those faces you see everywhere, just a typical brown-haired guy with features that were neither gorgeous nor revolting. It had taken a while to place him, but now I realized it was definitely him.

The police pounded on his apartment door and an adorable young woman opened up.

Oh, God. I figured you would show up for my drunken ass of a roommate. Um, sorry. She looked nervously at the cops. He told me what happened before he passed out. Im Xia, come in. She shuffled backward to make room for us. The man in question was indeed snoring on the couch.

Bad Cop turned to me. Both officers had told me their names at one point, but Id completely forgotten them in the craziness. Is this the man you saw in your room?

I folded my arms in front of my chest, suddenly feeling naked even thought I was fully clothed. Finn pulled me in closer to him as I nodded. Thats him. I was positive.

Brian did this last year, too, Xia explained apologetically. I tell him he needs to stop getting this drunk but he doesnt listen to me. Last time, he went into some guys dorm and almost got in bed with him before he realized what he was doing. Hes totally fine, he just needs to sleep it off.

It was all starting to come together.

Dorm? I asked.

Were seniors at Hunter. Im so sorry. He wanders a lot when hes wasted. I swear, hes harmless.

Did I seriously fear for my life because of the type of drunken antics I thought Id left behind in college? I reached out and nudged Brian with my foot. He jerked in his sleep, then swatted at his face and resumed mouth-breathing. In this light, I could see how young he looked. Typical blasted kid who didnt know how to hold his booze.

Sir, wake up. We have some questions for you, Bad Cop snapped a little more loudly than necessary. I was kind of grateful for that, considering that this kid had almost made me lose control of my bodily functions.

Xia offered to get us some water. Good Cop, Finn, and I followed her into the kitchen as the questioning took place.

Again, Im so sorry, she said. Ill use this as a reason he needs to go to rehab or like, lay off the drinking or something.

If thats honestly what happened here, I swear, Ill be grateful. I was so scared. I felt Finns eyes trailing me and sucked in a deep breath. I wasnt in danger anymore. I wanted to be strong.

I sipped the water and answered Good Cops kind questions until Bad Cop called me back into the living room. It sounds like Mr. Levin here is saying he mistook your apartment for his in his state of inebriation. Bad Cop glared down his nose at him disapprovingly.

Brian cringed, looking up at me with bald shame in his eyes. Im sorry. I stopped a floor too early. My key wasnt working but I thought I was just too drunk to do it right. The door was open when I tried it, and I guess your room is directly below mine. I thought it was my room. I had no idea.

Everyone looked at me to gauge my reaction. I stared into Brians eyes, and deep down, I felt like he was telling the truth.

You need to make sure you have the right place next time, I said.

Shes within her rights to have you brought in for questioning, Bad Cop warned.

I let the threat hang in the air and watched Brians reaction like a hawk. He hung his head. I turned to Good Cop. You guys arent going to forget about this, right?

She shook her head. Well have to file an incident report. That was enough for me. My gut was telling me this was a wasted kid who needed to get his life together, not someone who was an actual threat. But I was definitely getting an extra lock installed for us.

Okay, I dont want to press charges or anything, as long as theres a record of it in case it happens again, I said.

I thanked Xia for her cooperation and our little motley crew headed back to my apartment. Finns hand on the small of my back guided me gently. It felt as sure as an anchor.

We were greeted by the smell of waffles as soon as we walked into the apartment. Celines head popped up from her station over the stove.

Im sorry, I do not have any doughnuts! she told the cops. But waffles will do, yes? Her preternaturally bright eyes darted between the officers, eager for their approval of her French interpretation of American ways. I winced at how loud her voice was, but I could tell she was doing her best to make the most of the situation.

Good Cop shot Bad a hopeful look. Bad Cop shook his head slightly. We need to go. He told me to call the precinct if anything else happened, and despite our best attempts, they both left sans waffles.

Thats how I found myself eating golden-brown deliciousness in my apartment at 3:15 a.m. with Celine and Finn. I shook some more powdered sugar onto the tower in front of me and eyed my roommate. We would have to have another talk about house rules, because I knew there was no way I had left the door unlocked.

Finn leaned back across from me. Crazy night.

I finished texting everyone who would care if I ended up on Dateline to let them know I was okay. Yes, and you need to go home! Youve done enough of the superhero stuff for tonight. But seriously, thank you for coming. I was so freaked out.

You sure you want me to leave? I can stay, pull up a spot on the couch.

Yes, Im sure. That guy was so drunk, I could totally handle him if he came back for another round.

He rolled his eyes. Glad I could be of service. And thanks for the waffles.

Celine nodded, clearly fading in the throes of a sugar crash.

Finn stood up and shoved his hands into his pockets. He came over to me and I craned my neck to maintain eye contact.

I owe you one, I said. I looked down at the floor, suddenly feeling a little embarrassed that he had made the trip over for something that turned out not to be a big deal.

Nah. Its on the house. He gave me a quick hug and left. I locked the door behind him, and before I finally went to bed, checked it two more times for good measure.


40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Wow. Go somewhere else then. Shit like this is ridiculous.

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    2. I second that notion. If you don't enjoy it no one is forcing you to stay.

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    3. It was actually kind of the exact opposite of boring.

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    4. It was actually... boring as hell.

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    5. How is that boring? Honestly, this poor girl is writing a BLOG - she is not getting paid keep your rude comments to yourself. I have seen so many of them on this blog - like everyone else says, if you don't like it LEAVE

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    6. Actually this poor girl is a professional writer that's piggy backing off Jessica's blog to get a following. If you don't like the comments how about not reading them.

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  2. Omg my heart was pounding. This is seriously my worst nightmare... except a real maniac, not a drunk idiot.
    Also, Wtf Celine. I think it's time to figure out what's up with her. If I were Tessa I'd be at a point where I was uncomfortable living with her.

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  3. I really like this blog, I have a feeling something may happen with Finn.

    Thanks for the read, always an enjoyment :)

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  4. Chris - @nylonlover69 on TwitterNovember 11, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Not gonna lie, that was pretty intense!

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  5. I think Finn and Tessa are going to have a story of their own soon.....

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  6. Who is Finn again? Is he the friend with a materialistic girlfriend?

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  7. I figured Finn would come in again, the really good friend... girl/boy best friends who go to each other about their relationship problems... sort of like richard in the last story

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  8. Ok so I really thought it was going to be Celine. And I think Finn is in to Tessa big time.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Okay, let me first say that I love ALL your posts, but this one drove me to comment because it was extra good! Kept me at the gym longer than I planned because I HAD to finish reading it. I thought it was either Grant (surprising her), Celine (along with the crazy storyline that Marley was hinting at), or perhaps the male model who just COULDN'T shake their connection. Anyway, again - loved this post!

    http://cranberryvodka9.blogspot.com

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  11. Are you people kidding me? This post was reaching for anything, anyyything interesting. it didn't even fit into the plot. What a joke.

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    1. Are you seriously so short sighted that you can't see that there are a thousand ways she can use this post in the future? It's hard reading a piece at a time, but there is definitely a reason for this post. You need to relax and enjoy the reading.

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    2. The joke is that you'll be here next week!! You'll just find something else to not like about the blog. ;-)

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  12. I hope Tessa & Grant break up. She's meant for Finn & neither of them know it yet...or maybe they do

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  13. This story us abit abrupt for me. Suddenly there are names like Brian and Xia, wonder what kind of roles will they have later in the story..

    And looking forward to Tessa's and Finn's story to develop further!

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  14. Poor Grant.. he's halfway around the world, and he's gonna get panicked texts about an intruder from his gf...! Aaaaand i also think/hope something is going to happen with Finn!

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  15. I gotta say, interesting post, but I'm confused how it really fit with anything. It seemed pretty filler. I guess it could serve as development for Finn and Tessa, but I think it would have been better if in addition to the incident, we had a little more plot development with relevant stuff.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I think it made the (OBVIOUS) upcoming Tessa/Finn storyline, well, obvious.

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  16. Do any of you kiss-ass LSP readers realize that negative comments are allowed? Do any of you realize that those people who do comment something like "boring" on one post, may in fact be loyal readers that enjoy the rest of the posts every week and that they are only sharing an opinion, which IS allowed? Do any of you realize that it is okay to make and state an observation such as "I'm not sure how this fits in the story"? Yes, it may be used later, but for now it is absolutely reasonable to say that it doesn't fit. Do any of you realize that it is okay for someoneto have an opinion that doesn't fit yours?
    Every time someone posts something "negative" you all are here, jumping down their throat with "then leave", " write your own blog", " stfu, no one needs your negative comments." Do you realize that not one person has ever said "this post sucks, just quit writing"? No, it's all of you nasty kiss-ass babies that get your panties in a bunch, that are actually rude. Well, and me. Because I am so over how pathetic every one is.
    What if you took your own advice? If you don't like the comments, don't read them. No one's forcing you to. No need to be so negative.

    And for the record, I like the comments and the posts, in that order. So don't bother telling me to just leave.

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    Replies
    1. The question isn't whether or not you are "allowed" to post your negative opinions, the question is whether or not you should. Not every cynical, rude thought in your head is productive or needs to be shared with the world, despite what social media has convinced you.

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    2. I don't know about everyone else, but I like to know if my blog posts are boring. It let's me know that I should change something to keep people interested. Diff. anon by the way. And I didn't let social media teach me, who actually lets twitter and facebook teach them anything?

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    3. The point isn't that you can't voice your opinion, it's what you're offering with your criticism. Saying, Boring, means nothing. It doesn't tell the author what you think is boring, it's just rude. Saying something like, I think the problem is all these subplots keep getting opened without going anywhere, is valid and offers information for the author. You can give feedback, that's helpful! But criticizing just to troll is ridiculous.

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    4. Even the constructive criticism is attacked.
      "She doesn't need you tell her how to write", "If you want the story to go :that: way, write one yourself", "Do you really think Jessica needs you telling her what could make the story better, if you don't like it, leave"
      No one here can handle anything negative about the writing and it's sad. To say something is boring is not trolling by the way. To say something like, "this was the biggest piece of shit" is trolling. And fuck, who even came up with the term "troll/trolling" anyway? It's idiotic.

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    5. Oh quite the hurt bunny act! You all write your nasty comments to each other and to the author of a blog its seriously like being in high school
      And this commenter calling people kiss ass LSP readers? LOL What a joke, ya kissing up to someone they've never met and will never see face to face, makes perfect sense

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    6. Never said that it made sense

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  17. i agree there could've been more but I don't see the point in complaining about it. I expect the author, just like me, is busy and that not all of her commitments will get her 100% devotion. Let is slide people, it's not a big deal...and not to fall back on the cliche, but it's so true... it if really really bothers you, find another blog. I love a great post but I'm not whining about a bad one. Anyhow, go Finn (but not too quickly, that wouldn't be realistic). I hate to say it but given the cute factor of Tessa and Grants last week together that the author told us all about, it will be hard to believe that anything interesting happens there anytime soon. The only realistic thing would be for them to stay together for a while, might be time to develop the Celine part of this story and more of her work life.

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    Replies
    1. I think my main thing lately is that all of these subplots keep getting opened, or hinted at, and none of them seem to go anywhere. Just off the top of my head:

      Celine's issues (getting drunk at the party, Marley's uncertainty, one post about "the smile not reaching her eyes" or something)
      Jack (maybe this doesn't count, because it did lead to the fight, but I felt like it was going to go somewhere aside from that)
      Liv's sketchiness
      now Brian and Xia

      It's just a lot to keep up with all at once.

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  18. It's obvious what's about to happen:Grant feels guilty that he's her bf but wasn't there to protect her. They ask him to stay longer, and Tessa being the great gal she is doesn't let him reject the offer, so he breaks up with her because he doesn't feel like he can be a good bf. Finn comes to Tessa's rescue.

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