My house is on a hill facing the sunset. The place is made almost entirely of grass. The deck, with its thatched roof, catches the evening rays and the whole thing is set alight as the sun disappears beyond the palm trees.
Other than the tiny man who waters my lawn each morning, I feel almost entirely alone up there. I like the quiet. Sometimes it is lonesome. But mostly it is peaceful.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the village, past houses, lodges and tiny local huts. I take a trail through the trees, usually accompanied by bleeting goats and the odd dog also travelling down town. It’s a good short cut and I enjoy the cheerful calls of “bom dia” from the women and children as I pass by.
A few evenings ago, after basking in the sun’s last rays, I walked down to the village.
Or at least tried to.
About halfway long the goat trail I heard a rustle in the shrubbery behind me. I glanced back, quickening my pace. Rabies had recently torn through Tofo, so the last thing I wanted was to be attacked by a rabid dog. As I rounded the corner, I could see the streetlit road about 200 meters ahead.
Footsteps pounded behind me, I turned and shone my light on a man dressed in nothing but blue underwear sprinting in my direction. I stepped aside to let him pass but rough hands grabbed my throat. My teeth sunk into the hand that reached for my mouth. Screams came from somewhere inside of me. The soundtrack of a darkness I did not know I had.
I sunk to the ground, my feet finding his legs, kicking hard in my adrenalin fueled hysteria. I bit again, he retracted his his arm and reached for my hair. He bent over me, pulling my phone from my grip, dragging me by my ponytail as I twisted, the pulse in my ears drowned out by the screams still escaping my mouth.
I couldn’t see his face. Blinded by the sick fear of what I knew his intentions were. He gripped my wrist with one hand, my hair close to the scalp with the other.
He was clumbsy.
I would have killed him in that moment if I could have.
The fear didn’t cripple me.
It possessed me.
He disappeared into the darkness.
I stumbled to the road. Delirious.
My body shuddering.
Cries trying to escape lips.
It was over.
Rakeli, the soft spoken shop owner, called my name as I entered the market.
“Amiga, cervaja (beer)?”
I bought from her shop almost daily. I liked her. There was something sassy about her. I walked vaguely to her store and paid for a six pack. It was heavy in my hands.
It suddenly seemed as though nothing had happened.
I saw the smiling face of someoneI knew, tenderly cradeling his sleeping dog.
The coconuts kids called out to me.
I felt blank.
Tears didn’t come didnt come until later.
That man runs at me over and over in my head.
Words leave my mouth.
My lips form smiles.
But I am still there.
On that dark path.
The calls of ‘ola sister’ suddenly seem slightly sinister.
Every face could be his.
Yet, the ocean seems a little more blue.
The faces of my friends a little warmer.
The arms that hold me as my body quakes in the night, a little more comforting.
The weight in my stomach will soon be gone.
And I will be a little wiser.