Fishing in Beirut

March 6, 2010

Part 5: Natural Light, Oct 2001 – Jan 2002 (scene 2)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 5 : Natural Light — fishinginbeirut @ 08:43

Karen got lost on the Metro. She was sure she had counted correctly, but maybe there was something she’d overlooked. Things were tricky in a new town. She had seemingly emerged at Barbes instead of Anvers, and she could hear the sound of some type of market.
A fist dug into her back. He was saying something, scouring her pockets, tiny flecks of spittle flicking on her cheek. She froze, motionless. His other hand rifled her jacket, her jeans, and the fist pressed spinally inward, alert.
A whore, a bitch, he was calling her these names, and while she understood it, she couldn’t form a reply. Her mouth refused to move. His free hand punched her hip, and in that moment she was aware of letting go of her stick. She felt her fingers open, but didn’t hear it fall. Saliva prickled her neck now.
This man behind her smelt of aniseed. His arm around her waist now, his fist still in her back. His right cheek touched her left one. Then he was gone, or maybe he was gone for a moment, before she realised. Her body was shaking and taut.
She shook and sobbed, and felt her skin grow warmer. Not just her skin, but beneath it. Her tears were warm on her face. She cried and shook convulsively, the world receding and gone. Then the everyday life sounds were audible again – cries, shouts, buses. Somebody’s dog sniffed her leg.
She moved to her left and leaned against a wall. She wiped at the tears on her face. The sounds on the street were now clear as a bell, the scuffing of shoes, the coughs. Karen was totally alone. She felt in her pocket and her wallet was gone. Her money and forms of ID. A credit card from home now needing cancellation.
She started walking. She returned to the Metro confused but determined, and moved down the passage in what she hoped was the right direction. She asked someone near her on the platform. On the train she started relaxing, knowing that she’d left the scene. Janey had warned her about this area. Barbes, La Chapelle, Chateau Rouge. Watch your bag, and your person.
She got off near Janey’s apartment, at Ternes. She relaxed further amidst opulence. Remembering the turns to be taken, she reached rue Fourcroy, and entered. Janey was still at work. Karen got some water and sat down on the sofa.
She felt sensations of him touching her. Her elbows and forearms grew tight. She braced herself on the couch, and trembled some more for a while. Warmth spread. Janey returned and they spoke of the ordeal. Karen cried a little.
“I know some people who’ve had stuff stolen up there. Let me ring the bank and cancel the card, so that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about. It’ll only take a second.”
Karen let her do it. She suddenly felt extremely tired, and the prospect of moving at all was unwelcome. She heard Janey’s voice from the bedroom. Karen had made contact with various companies online before travelling, and the response to her resume so far had been good. As soon as she signed a contract, Janey said there’d be no problem finding an apartment.
She settled back in the softness, dozy. Her body was concrete or lead. It was good to be here, despite today’s fright, and she sensed in her heart that the future was strong. Karen was in Paris two weeks.

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