“Girl in Doubt”

I might be in trouble. I might be about to die.

I might be in trouble, serious trouble.

I can’t tell if I’ve been abducted or not.

He’s at the ATM, so there’s a security camera. I’m in the car watching his hands on the money. Maybe I should run now, while his back is turned and a camera’s watching his hands. Maybe he’ll chase me, but I’ll run faster, alley and overpass, until some safer man takes me away from this man.

Or maybe he’ll come back to the car and smile, a real smile, not creepy deadeye glaze. With soft eyes he’ll put one white hand on my knee and one white hand on the wheel, drive downtown, and take me out to dinner at that fancy vegan place I’ve been wanting to try. We’ll both order deconstructed hijiki salad and artisanal tempeh mousse because he’ll order for both of us. Laughing, picking seaweed from my teeth, he’ll kiss me when he drops me off at my apartment at midnight. He won’t follow me upstairs, or downstairs, because I live in the basement. He’ll be long gone, off on another harmless adventure, and I’ll sit with the memory of soft eyes and shy smiles.

Maybe this isn’t abduction. Maybe it’s a bad date that’s about to get better. Maybe there’s a bouquet of eco-friendly roses waiting for me under his jacket. He’ll hug me when we get to the restaurant, and I’ll feel a sharp prick, but it’ll be thorns to go with the roses, totally natural, romantic and red. Not a knife, not a gun, not his dick, just thorns while he hugs me at the restaurant and says, “Table for two, please.” So polite.

And if he comes into my apartment, maybe he’ll speak softly, so as not to wake the neighbors. Maybe he’ll sit in the chair, my chair, where I read and eat chips, and I’ll sit on the edge of the bed, because those are the only furniture options. Maybe sex will only happen if I say so. And maybe I’ll say so or maybe I won’t.

Or maybe I’m being abducted. And it won’t stop with roses. He’ll push me against the ugly kitchen counter, and I’ll hit my head and pass out, and he’ll rape me while I’m unconscious, cut my cheeks with a knife for sport, slice my skin for a trophy, and I’ll wake up ripped and bleeding and go to the hospital for a rape kit and no one will ever use it to solve this crime.

I can’t tell which way this is going, A or B. I can’t choose my own adventure because I’m not writing this story. I’m just waiting in the getaway car. Am I being abducted. Is this a bad date that might end with a kiss. Is he going to rape me, murder me, lock me in a shed with no food or water and torture me. Is he going to take me out to dinner. He’s coming back to the car and I forgot to escape.

He opens the door, slides inside. Leather seats from an animal who gave itself up for this very moment, the moment he turns his head to look at me in the passenger seat, curled against the window because the doors were locked from outside and I feel his eyes on me but can’t tell if they’re soft or hard. I smile so wide my lips crack and bleed.


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About Carol Guess

Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Tinderbox Lawn. A frequent collaborator, she has co-authored several books, including The Reckless Remainder and With Animal (both with Kelly Magee). In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She teaches in the MFA program at Western Washington University.