The first thing I notice is the sounds of laughter and talking, the dull clink of what can only be knives and forks against china. We take a few steps forwards and he manoeuvres me through the room, his warm hand firmly covering my eyes.
Part of me cannot help noticing how cliché this whole thing is. Another part of me is secretly thrilled.
“Here we are,” he says and removes his hands.
A table set for two is revealed: lit candles in ornate stands frame a centrepiece of gorgeous orchids in a crystal vase atop a deep crimson tablecloth. At one setting is a medium-sized box. My heart lurches in anticipation.
Well, it can’t be a ring, I tell myself. The box is far too big.
“Please, sit.” He pulls the chair back for me and I do as he says. After scooting me forwards, his hands rest on my shoulders and he plants a kiss on my cheek.
I reach for the box and start to open it… and someone knocks into my side, jolting me back to reality. Slumped over a table, I can see blurry wood grain. There is the smell of antibacterial soap and metallic tang of cheap cutlery. If the plain black slacks and a black top weren’t obvious enough, the apron and notepad clue me in and with a sinking feeling I realise where I am.
I peer around the partition and see the diner bar and Suesy with her bright pink hair. Checking my watch, I see it’s well after midnight. My shift is nearly over, thank god. I must have dozed off on my break. I spend the rest of my shift out the back polishing cutlery – it never ends – and am out of there as soon as I can.
My car is ways away. Gravel crunches loudly underfoot. It’s the only sound I can hear until someone grabs me from behind, an arm around my waist and the other hand on my mouth. My scream stays locked in my throat. I dig my nails into the arm; it’s thick and beefy. He smells of salt and tobacco and I kick out and flail helplessly. It’s no use. He’s big and I am small.
“I like a little fight,” he mutters, slamming me against my car.
I fall limp from the impact and am spun around like a doll, his body pressed against me, hands tearing at my shirt.
I try to push him away but that only encourages him. With my eyes squeezed shut, I hear him unzipping his pants. This is my last chance, I realise. Using as much force as I can muster I ram my knee in between his legs. He drops and I bolt for it.
In bed, shadows creep across the walls. I cannot close my eyes without that night, that man, revisiting me. The same immobilising weight against my body: too warm and soft and heavy on my front; too cold and hard against my back; smothering, painful, crushing.
I drift off somewhere close to dawn.
The box is in front of me. I reach for it and a breeze passes through. The smell of salt and tobacco. I knock the box from the table and run as far as I can.
Prompt: 3 plot points and reverse