The first thing she notices is the sounds of laughter and talking, the dull clink of what can only be knives and forks against china. They take a few steps forwards and he manoeuvres her through the room, his warm hand firmly covering her eyes.
Part of her cannot help noticing how cliché this whole thing is. Another part of her 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. Her heart lurches in anticipation.
Well, it can’t be a ring, she tells herself. The box is far too big.
“Please, sit.” He pulls the chair back for her and she obeys. After scooting her forwards, his hands rest on her shoulders and he plants a kiss on her cheek.
She reaches for the box and start to open it… and someone knocks into her side, jolting her back to reality. Slumped over a table, she 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 her in and with a sinking feeling she realises where she is.
She peers around the partition and sees the diner bar and Suzy, with her bright pink hair and her notepad, flirting with a customer. Checking her watch, she sees it’s well after midnight. Her shift is nearly over, thank God. She must have zoned out while on her break. The rest of the shift is spent out the back, polishing cutlery—it never stays clean—and she’s out of there as soon as she can be.
Her car is a ways away. The only sound she can hear is gravel crunching loudly underfoot. Then someone grabs her from behind, an arm around her waist and the other hand covering her mouth. Any screams stay stuffed in her throat. The arm is thick and beefy, her finger nails catch on the wiry hair. He smells of salt and tobacco and she kicks out and flails helplessly, stomach rolling in revolt.
“I like a little fight,” he mutters, slamming her against the car.
She falls, limp from the impact, and is spun around like a doll, his body pressed against her, hands tearing at the shirt. It’s no use. He’s big and she is small.
She tries to push him away but it only encourages him. With her eyes squeezed shut, she recognises the sound of him unzipping his pants. This is her last chance, she realises dimly. Using as much force as she can muster, she rams her knee in between his legs. He drops with a roar and she bolts for it.
In bed, shadows creep across the walls. She cannot close her eyes without that night, that man, revisiting her. The same immobilising weight against her body: too hot and heavy on her front; cold metal crashing hard against her back.
She drifts off somewhere close to dawn.
The box is in front of her. She reaches for it and a breeze passes through. The smell of salt and tobacco. She knocks the box from the table and runs as far as she can.
Prompt: rewrite a previous story from a different point of view.