The History of a Secret
The next morning my family went about their business around the house as if nothing was different. But to me everything was different. I secretly suspected that they in fact knew something was different, that they saw that something about me had changed. I suspected they could tell that I’d done something I shouldn’t have, but were politely ignoring it.
My mother had cooked up a full breakfast for the four of us all to enjoy together — pancakes, fruit, eggs, bacon, juice — and urged us to eat. I was enervated, but indulged in it anyways.
My sister spoke to my mother about her boyfriend Clint. Things were apparently going poorly since he’d started his new job. Clint was frequently busy, always stressed, and constantly venting his frustration on her. She had been hoping it would be a phase, but it had been going on for eight or nine months now and she was wondering if she could take it, if she should try to push through.
My mother advised, “Talk to him. See if you two can’t work it out together. Give it some real effort. If that doesn’t work, then, sadly, it might be time to move on. But always be willing to give it another chance.”
My sister nodded her head resignedly.
We spent the day together as a family, driving into downtown, visiting the art museum and going out to lunch at the Sixteenth Street Mall.
We invited Paul and Erica over for dinner with us and they sat at the table and ate heartily from the food my mom prepared.
My mother pushed me to eat more and more, even as the substantial portions filled my belly. My father bent over his plate and ate silently, while my sister talked mostly with Paul.
In the presence of my parents, Erica was a different person: polite, agreeable and eager to talk about safe topics of conversation, like the goings on in her family and her travels. Paul, on the other hand, was quiet and reserved and had to be prodded to speak, answering some questions about his job and his photography.
Erica excused herself from the table and I followed some minutes afterwards, hoping to meet her in the hall on the way to the bathroom.
Around a corner and out of sight, she seized my lips and kissed me firmly and aggressively, telling me between kisses, “I didn’t wear lipstick this time.”
I tried to free myself from her after some minutes, telling her, “we can’t be away too long. They’ll notice.”
She laughed a little and pinned me against the wall, moving me aside to a dark laundry room next to the bathroom, where she sat atop the washing machine and kissed me more.
“Do you want to do it here?” she asked, and I shook my head vigorously.
“Please,” she told me, “You want to know the fantasy I have? I fantasize about being raped by a tall handsome stranger. While I’m asleep, laying in my bed all innocent and vulnerable, he breaks into my room, and then he tears off the sheets, where I lay naked and asleep and then he makes love to me with strong, aggressive thrusts until I scream out in orgasm.”
“Would you do that for me? Tonight?” she asked, “There’s a backup key hidden under one of the rocks by the door. I’ll be sleeping on the couch in the living room. It’s right near the front door.”
“That’s way too risky,” I pleaded, “Can’t we just meet like we did last night?”
She sighed in frustration and then left without a word, returning to the dinner table with a fresh smile, while I stepped into the bathroom and checked myself in the mirror before returning.
Erica and I did meet that evening, nonetheless. When we got to her car she told me, “I distinctly remember that there was a neighborhood pool around here. Do you want to go for a swim?”
“It’s probably closed at this hour,” I said.
“You think I don’t know that?” she laughed, “That’s the point: so we’ll have it all to ourselves.”
I conceded without a fight, and we drove through the neighborhood, down to the pool. She didn’t want to park in the pool’s parking lot and draw attention, so she parked on a street near the pool. The pool was clearly closed, with the gates locked, the lights off and a cover over the pool.
After we stepped out of the car, we circled around the perimeter and decided to try and climb over the fence on the far side, away from the road. It was a difficult fence to climb, and I had to lift Erica up and push her over. She wasn’t much help to me, and I could only pull myself up and over with great effort.
Around the pool was a cement walkway, and around that a green lawn where swimmers would usually lay out to rest between swims and sunbathe. Now, the grass, usually crowded and loud during the summer, was quiet and empty, and the raised lifeguard’s seat was unoccupied. Erica and I proceeded to pull away the pool’s blue cover, exposing the still water below. The moon above us was reflected in the water, fragmented by tiny ripples on the surface.
Erica removed her dress and sandals to again expose her lithe strong body, which was beautifully taut as she stretched out her arms to remove her dress. She then removed her underwear and set down the car keys with the rest of her stuff, stepping naked into the pool and swimming about.
At the bottom of the pool an automated pool cleaner moved about. The wheels pulled it along the pool floor while a snake-like appendage waved about, sucking in the water, filtering it and then ejecting it out the back.
I stripped my clothes off and stepped in after her and swam around quietly.
She tried to tease and splash me and I begged her to be quiet, since there were neighbors nearby that we wouldn’t want to overhear us. She promised to be good, and we swam about casually.
But she got bored and started wrestling with me and dunking me. Wrestling led to sex, and she was eventually wrapped around me while I held her up against me in the shallow end. She had trouble restraining herself and made noise and threw herself about.
When I finished up, we lazily drifted about, our faces looking upward into the black, star-speckled sky.
Then we heard the sound of a car pulling into the parking lot. We didn‘t hesitate and hastily got out of the pool, ready to leave. We heard the sound of two persons approaching, with a set of keys jingling and flashlights in their hands.
Erica didn’t wait at all, dashing out of there without her clothes. There was a storage box next to the fence that she was able to jump onto and then leap over the fence therefrom. My clothes were all the way on the opposite side of the pool and I was about to follow her when she yelled back at me “keys!” Realizing she’d forgotten her car keys, I grabbed them before I followed her, running naked on my aching feet to the fence.
As I ran, the gate to the pool was opened and a light flashed onto me, as a voice said, “Hey! Stop right there!”
I didn’t listen to it, leaping over the fence and landing painfully on the other side. I followed Erica down the hill away from the pool.
Behind the pool was a park with a bike trail on it, mostly consisting of dirt and short, brown grass. From there in the grass we watched the two figures with flashlights. They’d originally considered running after us, when one yelled to the other, “They left their clothes!”
“Why didn’t you grab my clothes?” Erica complained, “I liked that dress.” Then we watched them picking up our clothes and inspecting them.
“I was in a hurry,” I said, asking, “Is there any identifying information in your pockets?”
She shook her head and said, “My purse is in the car, and that dress has no pockets. You?”
I shook my head, and said, “All I brought was a condom.”
The two persons took the clothes and stuffed them in a bag, saying with a laugh, “Out at night without clothes? Lesson learned, I’d say.” Then they put the pool covering back on and left the way they came.
I said to Erica, “We have to get back to the car. And we have to get clothes.”
She asked me with a smile, “What do we need clothes for? They’re an unnecessary social convention, especially in this warm weather.”
I looked at her and said, “You can’t enter your grandmother’s house naked. If someone sees you, there’ll be too much explaining. Admittedly, I can get away with not having clothes, since I’ll be climbing in through my bedroom window, but not you. And we can’t just walk into a store and buy clothes.”
“Sending you into a store naked to buy me some clothes sounds like a great idea,” she said. I didn’t respond.
We decided to climb over someone’s fence and cut through their backyard to reach the car. The first house we peaked over was empty and quiet with a few chairs and a barbecue, but, standing atop the fence, Erica, noticed in a backyard a few houses over, a table with a tablecloth covering it.
“We’re going over there,” Erica said, and we ran to that fence and quickly climbed it.
When we touched ground, a light from a motion-activated spotlight suddenly flashed on in our direction. At that moment, we noticed that there was a tent in a corner right by the fence, and the light caused a stirring in the tent.
Erica tried to hastily remove the tablecloth, but several items sitting on top of it impeded her. The front door of the tent opened, and the faces of four pre-pubescent boys peaked out and looked at Erica with wide-eyed amazement. They seemed to be thanking heaven that their prayers had been answered, until Erica finally pulled the tablecloth from the table and began to run. There was the sound of a dog barking in the house, exiting through the dog door and crossing the lawn as we jumped on the fence and climbed over. We ran to the car as Erica wrapped the tablecloth around her. I handed her the keys, and she drove away as fast as she could.
After Erica parked, I ran naked through the streets as fast as I could and climbed into my window. I dressed myself and found some clothes to lend to Erica. I brought them to her in the car and she removed the stiff, red tablecloth that awkwardly covered her. She put on a shirt and pair of pants of mine that hung loosely about her body. She had to roll up the jeans as to keep them from dragging on the ground, and hold them up as she walked to keep them from falling off. In these baggy clothes I wished her goodnight, and she walked into her grandmother’s house.
I met up with Erica one more night before I left. She drove us to an area to the south that was under development. There was a large unpaved, open area in the midst of the construction, filled with little hills and slopes where high school kids would visit to take their four-wheelers off-roading. Erica eagerly steered Paul’s sedan into this area, and we were both bumped and jostled as she pushed the small car up and over hills and bumps. Finally, we ascended a ridge where we could see the whole city spread out before us. It was a beautiful view, and we enjoyed it for a few minutes, before sneaking into the backseat for some more sex.
We afterwards drove for a while through the night streets to pass the time. I remarked that this would be our last night together. She told me that she would visit me if and when she passed through Chicago: “I may be passing through Chicago in not too long, who knows. How can I get in contact with you?”
I told her, “Erica, I can’t do that. I’m engaged to be married in less than a year. You knew that. This relationship has an expiration date, and after that it goes sour. We can’t have any more of this. It was fun for the time being, but it’s back to the present now.”
“Not even just to see me?” Erica asked coyly, purring softly as she reached out to touch my leg, “Go out for a coffee and chat about the weather?”
“No,” I persisted, removing her hand, “This was something for fun. If you bring it back to Chicago, this becomes serious. The fun’s no fun if it lasts too long. We need to end it here.”
She pouted for a moment, then she cheered up, tickling me while she said, “You’re right. I hate other people tying me down, anyways. And besides what would I want with a dull settled man like you. No verve, no vibrancy. You’re half dead already. My God, you were already running out of steam even in just three days. If I visited you in Chicago, it’d be the doddering doldrums with you,” and she laughed merrily.
Nonetheless, despite what she said, she still decided to take her revenge. She pulled into a convenience store parking lot and asked me to buy her a candy bar. I complied without thinking anything of it, and, as soon as I was inside, she drove off without explanation. I ran after the car in vain until I was out of breath, and then walked back to the convenience store on my sore feet. I waited for many minutes before I understood that she wasn’t simply playing, and that she wouldn’t be coming back to pick me up after having a laugh. Though I was annoyed to have been abandoned, the thought that I might never see Erica again, was actually a comfort. I wanted to get back to my ordinary and predictable life.
Since I’d left my cell phone in my room, I had to find a payphone. Located outside the convenience store was a payphone, which I suspected was one of the last payphones in existence. I didn’t even know where I was, but I told the cab company the street signs and name of the store and the cab driver found me and was able to bring me home.
As the cab drove, I daydreamed of being back in my fiancé’s arms again.
When I arrived home I was incredibly tired after three nights of limited sleep and was aching for my bed. Thus I became incensed when I saw that the rope hanging out my window had been removed. The rope clearly hadn’t fallen, since it wasn’t lying on the ground, and appeared to be up in the room. Undoubtedly, Erica had noted my means of egress and had deliberately tossed it up into the room out of reach.
I began to seek another means of entering the house. I walked around the house checking if a door or window was open, but I could find nothing. I didn’t have a key to the front door, the two back doors were both locked, and the few windows on the ground floor that opened out were also locked. If I rang the doorbell, someone would answer, but then I’d have to explain why I’d snuck out of the house. I started to panic.
I tried to leap up and grab the window to my room, but it was simply too high. I thought maybe if I could find something to stand on I could reach up and pull myself in, but there was nothing taller than a bucket and a wheelbarrow. The only ladder I knew about was locked in the garage and I knew of nothing else.
Then I noticed the basement windows. There were three windows into the basement, sunken below the grass level in small window wells. I checked one of them, and found I was able to force it open after cutting through the screen with my keys.
I then proceeded to dive in head first, sucking in my gut and holding my breath to squeeze through the tiny opening. I pulled and shimmied my way through with great labor.
Making it even more difficult, the windows were a good six feet above the floor level of the basement. As I pulled most of my torso through, I was still dangling high above the floor. I tried to lower myself slowly, but I slipped and crashed to the floor, shoulders first, banging my head.
Before I went to bed I cleaned up the evidence of my late night entrance and went to sleep looking forward to my return to Chicago. Despite the temptation of this brief flirtation the fact was that I wanted to be with my fiancé, to be happy with her and to marry her and to stay with her. That really was all I wanted.