I shivered a bit in the chilly night air as I stood on the terrace, mindlessly staring at the surroundings. The only remarkable thing in sight was the highway, occasionally graced by speeding vehicles. The outlines of a few houses were visible in the moonlight, but no lights were on. They must have been turned off much earlier in the night. I could hear the chirping of crickets, but it was muddled by the loud music blasting from inside.
Contrary to the silence and emptiness it was surrounded by, the building I was in was filled with noise and people. One of my friends had decided to throw his birthday party in his father’s bungalow located in the outskirts of the city. I hadn’t been in the mood for it, but I didn’t have the heart to say no either. So here I was, alone on the terrace, away from the drunken madness. I’d had a couple of drinks myself, but not enough to give me the ability to tolerate trashy songs and an intoxicated, shrieking crowd.
I’d gotten too lost in my thoughts to sense someone else’s presence. When a pair of arms wrapped around me from behind and pressed me to someone’s chest, I started and then tensed. One would imagine that the familiar scent would loosen me up, but the effect was quite the opposite. My ex-boyfriend pressed his lips lightly to the back of my neck and I froze.
“Hey, baby.” He whispered in my ear. I got a whiff of whiskey.
I took a deep breath and slowly let it out to calm myself. “What are you doing?” I asked him slowly.
He tightened his arms around me, pressing my stomach. “Just giving you company. Couldn’t find you inside, so I figured you’d be here.” He started tracing small circles around my belly button.
I narrowed my eyes. “I don’t need company, thank you very much.”
I tried moving his arms away, but only one of them yielded, the other firmly holding me against him. With the now-free arm, he moved my hair to one side and kissed my neck. I took another deep breath.
“Don’t be that way, love. I miss you.” He said in that ever-so-silky smooth voice. The hand on my stomach was now moving southwards. I bit my lip and turned around in one quick movement to face him.
“Do you, really?” I asked him, my voice practically dripping with acid. He blinked in surprise, before recovering and staring back at me with drunken eyes.
“Yeah, I do.” He murmured slowly, looking into my eyes with a look I knew all too well. Then his gaze shifted to my lips. The next thing I knew, his lips were on mine, pressing hard. I responded for a few seconds, before pushing him away with both hands.
“Forget it.” I said, my voice trembling a bit. “We’re not doing this again.”
He stumbled from the impact, and before he regained his footing, I was at the door. I’d just gotten inside when he yelled from behind, “Oh come on! You know you want to.”
I let out a heavy sigh but didn’t turn around. I had to get out of here.
No one stopped me as I walked briskly through the crowd. A few people called out my name, but I ignored them. I got out of the house, and walked.
I’m not sure how long I kept going. I just knew I had to keep moving to not break down. I tried badly to focus on taking the next step to suppress the onslaught of memories and the hurt that accompanied them.
Finally, I came to my senses and realized that I was far along the highway from the bungalow. All I could see was the long stretch of road on either side, flanked by tall, dense trees. I had my wallet and phone, though my phone was dead and I doubted I’d find a bus or cab at this time and place.
“Shit.”, was all I could think of saying.
I thought of the two options I had. Hitchhike, or walk back to the bungalow. I thought of the stench of alcohol intermingled with a painfully familiar perfume scent. Hitchhiking it was.
I knew I was walking in the right direction, so I kept going at a slower pace, hoping a vehicle would come along soon. After a while, I sensed a car behind me and turned to find a posh black sedan coming my way. I stuck my hand out.
Of course it stopped. My tight skirt had to count for something after all.
The passenger side window slid down, and I bent down slightly to face the driver.
“Where do you want to go, ma’am?” He asked me in the local tongue. I named my residential area and asked him if he could drop me somewhere nearby. He agreed and I got in, thanking him.
Once I was in, he started driving, looking straight ahead. I surveyed him from the corner of my eye. Average features. Fairly neatly dressed, though he had a rugged look on the whole. Didn’t look like he owned the car. I guessed he must be a private driver.
Just as I was about to look away, I caught him stealing a glance at my bare knees. I sighed mentally as I felt his eyes slowly shift upwards. His gaze was subtle, but not subtle enough to miss me. Couldn’t blame him in any case, so I simply looked out of the window.
“It’s quite late, ma’am.” He ventured to speak. “And a young lady like you, are out on the highway…”
‘Thanks, Captain Obvious.’ But I didn’t say that out loud. I turned to him with a pained smile. “I know this is odd, but I was in a sticky situation and had to get away, you see. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, not at all, ma’am.” He assured me. “I’m going towards that area myself, in fact. My boss lives nearby.”
“Oh, I’m glad.” I said, and gave him a bright smile. He smiled back nervously, and if it wasn’t so dark, I’m pretty sure I could have seen him blush.
This was followed by some small talk, with him inquiring my occupation and whereabouts. I gave him short but polite answers, fabricating some of the details. Soon we became quiet, and I directed my gaze outwards again. This time around, I could feel him blatantly staring at me. When his left hand shakily shifted gears, I knew what was coming next.
There was a loud honk from behind, and a truck overtook us. His hand stayed put. A minute later, it made its way slowly onto my knee, and rubbed it softly. Weirdly enough, I didn’t get tensed. Didn’t feel a thing, in fact.
My lack of response encouraged him, and his hand started moving upwards. I could feel the calluses under his fingers.
I thought of the worst case scenario. Getting out of the car was not an option; there was nowhere to run to. If I put up a fight, he could easily overpower me. I pictured the next day’s headlines: ‘23 year old girl raped on highway’. People would blame me for being out this late, that too dressed so ‘promiscuously’. Clearly, I must’ve been asking for it. I’d noted the car’s license number, but I doubted a threat to file a complaint would deter him. Besides, I was too tired to put up another fight tonight.
His palm had begun to sweat a bit. I turned and looked straight at him. We locked eyes, and a pair of drunken eyes I’d looked at not so long ago flashed in my mind. Both pairs held the same emotion: lust. I made up my mind.
“Do you want to have sex with me?” I gestured towards the backseat with a nod of my head, my face completely blank.
He was taken aback, and stuttered something incoherent, hand now seemingly frozen in my lap.
I sighed out loud this time. “Look here. If I have sex with you, will you drop me and go on your own business?”
He stared at me, mouth slightly open. I could see that his brain was trying to comprehend the situation. Then he swallowed.
“Okay.” He was breathless.
“Well, pull over to the side, then.”
As soon as he obeyed me, I got out and got into the back of the car. He was slower on the uptake. However, once he saw me unbutton my top, the male instinct took over.
Things went smoothly from that point on, to say at the least. I went through the familiar motions; or rather, my body did. Even as I took in the smell of sweat mixed with deodorant, my mind was recalling the other nights I went through the same motions with another man, who was as oblivious to the person inside the body he was enjoying, as this stranger on top of me.
It didn’t take too long for the man to be done, and he collapsed on top of me, breathing heavily. He yielded easily to me when I disentangled myself from him. I dressed quickly and got out.
When I got in behind the wheel, he started to protest. I silenced him with a wry smile. “Do put your pants on. Someone passing by will notice.”
That shut him up. He made no move as I started driving.
‘Poor guy.’ I thought as I finally relaxed. Looks like he hasn’t had any in a long time.
When we reached my apartment, I parked the car and stepped out with my belongings. The guy had apparently come to his senses.
“Thank you so much the ride! I hope it wasn’t much of a trouble.” I gave him the sweetest smile I could muster, before turning my back towards him and walking away.
“Not at all, ma’am!” I heard him call out just as I was entering the building.
Later, as I was lying under the covers, free from the stink of alcohol and sweat after a long shower, I found myself wondering. Was it cheap of me to offer him sex like that?
Then I thought of the arms that grasped me tightly from behind on the terrace, and of what would have happened if I’d stayed back. Who was I kidding? I preferred sex with a stranger to that.
About the Author
Sreelakshmi Sivaraman is an amateur writer from Kozhikode, Kerala, who is currently pursuing her Masters in Economics at JNU. She is also an aspiring journalist, and has interned with The Hindu Business Line. She has contributed several articles to their online portal bloncampus.com. Sreelakshmi has been writing short stories, essays and poems since her childhood years, and dreams of becoming a published author. Some of her work can be found on her blog ‘The Pen Speaks Better’, which is named so because she enjoys expressing her thoughts and ideas through writing as opposed to speaking.