“Who are you?!” she yells, peering down to the man sleeping next to her. As she takes in the strange surroundings, her heart begins to beat faster.
“Jane, please calm down,” the man says as he rolls over and holds her hand, still not quite awake. Jane quickly pushes his hand away and gets off from the bed.
“Don’t touch me!” she yells as she searches for her shoes. A million thoughts crossing her mind as to how she awoke in a stranger’s home.
“Jane, please,” the man says as he looks at her scrambling around the room. He finally relents, “Your shoes are under the bed.” Jane quickly reaches for them and puts them on. Before thinking twice, she hurries out of the room and out of the house.
Shaking from what just took place, she runs to relieve her nerves–and so the man doesn’t follow her.
The morning has a cool breeze to it, but her linen PJ’s are way too thin to protect her from the weather’s piercing stings. After running for a mile, she finally rests near a lampost at an intersection: Broadway and Lincoln Avenue. Home. Although out of breath, she automatically feels secure.
She slowly walks to the high-rise building. An elderly guard opens the doors for her.
“Miss Jane, top o’ the morning to yuh,” he says, taking his blue cap into his hands.
“Mornin’, Albert,” she says, “I don’t think I have my keys.”
“Oh, that’s no biggie, Miss. You always leave a spare with me.”
“Why, yessum,” he says, taking out a pair of keys from his pocket. The keychain has a yellow duck hanging from a thin chain.
“Right. I must have forgotten. Sorry about that,” she says, retrieving the keys from his delicate hands, “thanks!”
After taking the longest shower of her life, Jane exits her bedroom in a fresh pair of clothes. She reenters the bathroom with an empty garbage bag in hand. Slowly, she lifts each piece of the garments from the night before and throws them in. Tying the bag as tightly as possible, she heads out of her apartment and straight to her friend’s forensic lab.
“Clare!” Jane calls out as she busts into Clare’s lab.
“Jane, are you okay?” Clare asks as she spins around in her office chair.
Jane explains how she woke up in a strange home with absolutely no recollection of what happened the night before.
“Sounds like someone had too many drinks,” laughs Clare.
“Can you be serious for two seconds? Besides, you know I haven’t been to a bar in….in…”
“In five years, I know. So what do you think happened.”
“I don’t know. I just want you to run some tests on my clothes.”
“Jane, you don’t think it was date rape do you? Because I can’t remember the last time you were on a date, either,” Clare tries to hold back her laughter, but her mood changes when she sees Jane lean back in the chair and cross her arms. “Okay, so I’ll see what I find on your clothes and let you know.”
“Thanks. You know I really appreciate this.”
After speaking for a few more minutes, Jane leaves to head to the park. As soon as she is out of the door, Clare picks up her phone and dials an all-too-familiar number.
“Hello,” says a deep voice on the other end.
“Frank, what were you thinking keeping her all night?” Clare yells into her phone.
“Please calm down. She left in the morning and didn’t remember a single thing from las–”
“Except she thinks you raped her. God, Frank, when will you learn to let go?”
“What would you have me do? Drug her and bring her back to her apartment? Or even better, put her on the curb instead?”
“You know that’s not what I mean. Maybe you should be more careful, that’s all,” Clare sighs and hangs up the phone.
Jane sits down on the warm wooden bench that overlooks a playground. Her favorite spot to open up a book. Just as her eyes begin to scan the words, a ball drops by her feet. She picks it up with her left hand and looks up to see a young girl running towards her. Jane sticks out her hand to give the girl her ball back.
“Thank you!” the little girl yells, panting.
“You’re welcome,” Jane answers, smiling back at her.
The little girl turns around to go back, but hesitates for a few moments. She turns back around and faces Jane once more.
“My name is Elizabeth,” she says, taking a seat next to Jane.
“That is a beautiful name! If I have a daughter, that’s what I would name her. How old are you, Elizabeth?” Jane asks as she turns her full attention to Elizabeth.
“I’m almost six. In….in…..” she counts on her fingers and then thinks for a while, then counts again, “in three months.”
“That’s lovely! You’re almost a young lady!”
“Yeah, that’s what daddy always says.”
“Where is your daddy?” Jane says looking around at the parents standing on the edge of the playground.
“Oh, he’s in the car. He said it was too hot for him to come out.”
“Doesn’t he play with you?” Jane asks, questioning the father’s parenting skills.
“Sometimes, when mommy isn’t around.”
“And where is your mommy?”
“She’s…..I think daddy said to say she’s busy. Well, I have to go now.”
Elizabeth gets up and runs away before Jane has a chance to respond. Elizabeth plays for a few more minutes, then heads towards a blue car. Jane relaxes as she gets safely inside of the car.
Without realizing how much time had passed while she was reading, Jane looks up and sees the sun slowly making his way towards the horizon. She quickly puts her book away and begins to walk home. Her home on Beverly Avenue and Kingston Road.
She reaches the door to the large house. After a few minutes of searching her bag, she realizes that she doesn’t have her own keys. Instead, she finds a pair of keys on a yellow duck keychain. she puts it back into her bag.
Remembering that there is always a spare key on top of the door’s panel, she reaches over until she feels a metal object. She takes it down and unlocks the door.
“Elizabeth!” she yells in excitement. “I missed you all day.”
Elizabeth runs towards her and hugs Jane.
“I’ve missed you too, mommy.”
As soon as their embrace is over, Jane’s husband steps into the doorway between the corridor and the kitchen.
“Frank, why are you looking at me like that?” Jane asks as she goes over and gives him a kiss on the cheek.
“I’ve missed you.”
“Don’t be silly! It’s only been a few hours. Work ran late today,” Jane says, taking out the strange keys from her bag. “I don’t know who’s these are.”
“I’ll take them,” says Frank as he retrieves them from her hand and places them securely in his pocket.
“Will you stop staring at me?” Jane laughs, feeling flattered that her husband has taken such a deep interest in her.
“I wish you would know me all the time,” Frank says as he embraces her and Elizabeth, too afraid to face tomorrow all over again.