I remember opening my eyes and suddenly seeing him standing in front of me. I’m not sure if I had been sleeping for a while, or if it was just momentary concentration or frustration that had caused me to close my eyes. Regardless, he had not been there when last my eyes were open, and I hadn’t known that emeralds could smolder as coals do until I saw his eyes staring back at me from under thick black bangs.
My heart began to pound in my chest, as fear and adrenaline flooded my body. Early morning, long before the sun has come up, is not the best time to find a stranger in your room, when all you can do is cower helplessly under the covers.
“Who are you? What do you want? Get out of here!” I tried to scream, but shock kept my voice to a breathy whisper. He continued to stare, with a malevolent smile beginning to play at the corners of his mouth. His arms relaxed at his sides, and yet tension seemed to flow through every inch of his lithe frame. Only his face and fingertips were visible, the rest of him was completely covered in clothing, right down to cut-up gloves on his hands. He didn’t approach the bed, but now the hint of smile had disappeared, and the fear in my blood increased.
“What do you want?” I repeated with slightly more force, pulling the blanket up to my chin and dreading what his response might be.
“Just stay quiet, and I’ll try not to hurt you,” he said softly, putting his hands out in front of him, as if to keep me at a distance. Maybe that’s what it was; did he say try not to hurt me?
I heard a strange scratching noise come from outside of the room. It could’ve been in the hallway, or even on the other side of the front door; there was no way to tell. He had apparently closed the bedroom door after entering. When I swung my gaze back, I saw what seemed like fear cross his pale face, before he regained the slightly menacing frown that I had seen before. Thinking that whomever he was afraid of might be able to help me, I opened my mouth to cry out.
Before even a sound could escape, he was next to me on the bed, one arm wrapped around my waist to hold me still, and the other hand covering my mouth.
“What did I say?” he hissed, close enough for his lips to brush my ear. I wanted to struggle, to scream, but I was frozen, my breath was gone. He pressed behind me, holding me tight, basically cheek-to-cheek, and we waited in silence. Moments ticked by, and I heard no more sounds. He slowly relaxed his hand from my mouth, slipped out from his grip on me, and then in instant he was at the foot of the bed once again. I collapsed backwards onto the bed, limp with exhaustion. I looked up into the green pools that seemed to grow bigger and softer, and then I fell in…
I woke up in the dim, darker than my last glimpse of consciousness. At first, I thought it had all been a midnight dream, but when I sat up, I saw movement near the door. He was seated in the corner on the floor, knees drawn up to his chest, head down on his arms. He lifted his head and penetrated me with green once again.
“I’m sorry, but it was too late for me to leave,” he said quietly. “I’m afraid you’ll have to stay here with me for a while, but as soon as I can, I’m gone.”
The threat was gone from his voice and demeanor, so I let my guard down long enough to tear my eyes away and investigate the room. He had drawn the heavy curtains closed, but otherwise, nothing had been moved.
“What do you want?” I asked one more time, mind racing as I tried to come up with an escape plan.
“Nothing,” he responded. “This was just a place to hide.”
“Hide from what? Or who?” I was terrified of him; what could he be afraid of?
“It doesn’t matter. Like I said, I’m stuck here for a little while, but it’s all going to be ok.” The eyes had me again. His voice was getting softer, and I was straining to hear him. My eyelids began to droop…
Once more awake, brighter than before, it must have been full sun outside by now. The closet door was open, blocking the window out further, and he sat in the same huddled position up against it. This time, I didn’t wait for any conversation. Throwing the covers back, I leapt off the bed and ran for the door. He was there long before me, impossibly fast, standing right in my way. I stopped short, loath to be touched by him again, sliding on the wood floor, and nearly fell backwards. He reached out and gently grabbed my arm to steady me. I wrenched out of his grip and glared up into his face, and the eyes that gazed back were full of disappointment.
“Look,” he said. “Please just stay in the house. I don’t want to confine you, but this is just how it has to be for a little while longer.” He stepped aside and opened the bedroom door, motioning for me to walk through it. Confused, I took a couple of steps into the hallway, and turned to look at him. Framed in the doorway, he seemed strong and foreboding, but he made no move to follow me. I turned and sprinted for the front door; head down, pushing with all that I had. Still a few feet away, I looked up, and he was there waiting for me. This time, I slid on the hallway runner, and fell down hard. Dejected, I curled up on my side and began to cry silently. He leaned back against the door for a moment, then slid down to the floor and drew his knees to his chest again.
After a while, it became apparent that he wasn’t getting up to come after me. I pushed myself to my knees and assessed my pain, which was minimal, and then settled back into a sitting position on the floor. Once again, I glared at him, and he raised his head to look at me. All trace of menace was gone, and he simply looked exhausted. Finally, my curiosity outweighed my fear.
“How did you do that?” I demanded. “How do you move so fast? It’s too fast.”
He looked back at me for a moment, then sighed and put his head back down on his arms, dismissing me. Angry, I got to my feet and stalked back to the bedroom, settling on the bed in a position that allowed me to see him.
It seemed as though hours passed without either of us moving. Eventually, I came to believe that it really would end with him just leaving me alone. Or, at least, that there was nothing I could do about it anyway. My curiosity about him and what I had seen was growing, but I was fighting it as best I could. Finally, it got the best of me, and I moved back down the hall and took my place on the floor a few feet in front of him.
“Why did you come here?” I asked, the accusation plain in my voice.
Sighing once again, he dropped his arms and leaned his head back against the door. “I already told you, it wasn’t planned. This was just a place to hide.”
“To hide from who? Was someone after you? What, did you rob a house or something? Steal a car? Get caught in the act by somebody’s husband?”
He barely suppressed a small smirk at my wild guesses, looking up at me from beneath his bangs. “Nope, nothing like that.”
Annoyed by his humor at my expense, I pressed on, “Kidnap a baby? Rape? Maybe you're some kind of serial killer-”
His eyes flashed at this last, and suddenly he was in my face, kneeling on the floor right in front of me. “Are you sure you really want to know?” he growled.
Once again, his eyes were burning with rage, and I was paralyzed by fear. My mouth wouldn’t open to protest, I could only manage to shake my head no. After a moment, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and I was released. My breath burst out, letting me know that I had been holding it, and my tense muscles cramped, then dissolved into jelly. He rocked back on his heels and dropped his head into his gloved hands for a moment, then stood up and began to back away.
After a couple of deep breaths, I gathered my strength and launched myself up from the floor, pushing him back against the door. I bounced off and broke towards the kitchen, trying to make it to the back door, but he had me again. He wrapped me up in a bear hug, ignoring my struggles, and carried me back to the bedroom. Throwing me in the middle of the bed, he pressed down on my shoulders and pinned me until I could no longer fight. Distraught and exhausted, I lay there panting, tears running out of my eyes and into my hair. He loosened his grip and sat down next to me on the bed, a sad look in his eyes.
“If you really want to know, I guess I’ll have to show you.”
Leaning over me, he stared deep into my eyes, reaching his hand down to softly caress my cheek with his bare fingertips.
The green flowed into me, filling me up, until all my thoughts were washed clean and there was nothing but him. I felt myself lose contact with the bed and float away, or maybe my body had just dissolved, been absorbed into him at his touch…a jade ocean, with long waves to lift me up gently, rhythmically, flowing like breath…in and up…out and down…
“Can you feel that?” I heard him say softly. A taller wave pushed me further up, and awareness slowly seeped back into my limbs. My thoughts began to gather back together, and I lazily turned my head to look for him beside me, stretched my arms and legs as if waking from a long sleep. I felt his hand caress my cheek again, and I was back on my bed, feeling relaxed and content, looking up into his now-serene face.
What did you do to me? I wondered, without really caring, just wanting more. I could feel him inside my head, in my chest, in the pit of my stomach, matching his breathing to mine.