It was a beautiful summer day and I had plans. I wore my new maxi dress, fluffed my freshly made curls, and excitedly went out the door. I was going downtown to meet some friends and nothing could stop me… Except the bus that was running late. I was at the bus stop pacing when a small sedan pulled closer. Inside, two guys I knew from the block – my older cousin’s friends – smiled and asked me where I was going. They offered me a ride to my destination and I was grateful. I hopped in the back next to the empty baby seat and off we went.
A few minutes into the drive I realized we were no longer going in a direction I recognized. The driver, Number 1, apologized and said he had to pick something up at home really quickly then we’d be on our way. I waited in the car while Number 1 was inside and started chatting with Number 2. As the minutes ticked by, Number 2 got more agitated. He suggested we go inside to see what was taking Number 1 so long.
Once inside, I asked to use the bathroom. Number 1 offered to show me where it was. What I thought would be a bathroom turned out to be a bedroom. When I turned to leave, Number 2 pushed me back into the room with Number 1 and closed the door. That’s when he pounced. I was thrown onto the bed with my hands held down. He began to spread my legs apart and tried to lift my long dress with his knee as he climbed on top of me. I screamed and kicked furiously until the pointy heel of my shoes made contact with something soft. I left him there doubled over as I fled the house. I ran to the nearest corner and took a cab back home.
I never made it downtown. I never told anyone what happened to me that day – the day I turned 15 years old. I thought people would call me a fast-tailed girl who should have known better. I felt guilty for trusting them. I felt stupid for not trusting my gut and getting out of the car once I saw we were no longer going in the right direction. That incident still haunts me almost 15 years later. I have since learned to pay better attention to my intuition and flee when something feels off kilter.
I was out on a date at one of the best parties I’d been to in Korea. I danced for hours and was having a great time… Until I was haunted again. I entered the semi-unisex bathroom and could see a man standing at the urinal. When I came out of the stall to wash my hands, the same guy was standing in front of the door. I recognized him. I had danced with him for half a song earlier in the night and felt his eyes on me ever since. Maybe he’s leaving, I thought. I turned the corner toward the sink and took my time washing my hands very slowly. I fixed my makeup and re-did my hair in the mirror. All the while, I could still feel him there. Standing. Staring. Waiting. Something about this wasn’t right. It was time to go. When I turned the corner to leave, there he was in front of the door. He closed the distance between us with a smirk. “Oh! Did I scare you?” I pushed past him and got out of there because the truth is, he did scare me. Uneasy and shaking, I went over to my date and told him what happened with the creepy dude in the bathroom. When my date confronted the guy, he claimed he didn’t do anything and it was his “right to stand wherever he wanted.”
Creepy dude disappeared and later returned to talk to me. Sitting next to my date, he approached me with a half-ass apology. You know the type. It usually starts with an “I’m sorry, but” then diverges into what you did wrong to the person who is apologizing. I started to object, but knew it would only make matters worse. I just wanted the scene to be over, so I feigned listening – hoping that he would leave me alone once he spoke his piece. Creepy dude’s speech was coming to an end and someone called my date over to talk to them. With my date’s attention elsewhere, creepy dude came closer and put his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t touch me,” I gritted through my teeth while gently removing his hand. He came closer once again and smirked, “I can touch whatever I want.” He put his hand back on my shoulder and lowered his voice, “I can’t help it. You’re so beautiful.” I grabbed his hand and pushed him away while yelling, “Don’t. Touch. Me!” I told my date what happened, but the guy had disappeared.
I spent the rest of the night trying to put the mess behind me so I could enjoy what was left of my date. When I finally went to bed in the early morning, I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw the creepy guy’s face. In the first dream (nightmare), he appeared in the bathroom mirror when I brushed my teeth. Staring. Smirking. Waiting. In another dream, he would chase me – repeatedly popping out of corners and dark hallways.
Much like I did at 15, I keep playing the events from that incident over and over again in my head. Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Did I do something to encourage him? Am I still that naive 15-year-old girl? When will the haunting stop?