Excerpt from Perceptions:
The wind lashed out, the moon hung low and round like an enlarged pearl, while the ocean unleashed its fury on Zone A. The CBS reporter was in his element on Long Beach as he yelled to the viewers about Sandy’s fury and begged everyone to remain inside. The reporter had trouble standing as the wind and the surf buffeted him. He was braced against the wind’s punishing force, bent over, microphone clenched in two tight fists. What’s he doing outside? A big wave should just wash he way. News reporters are crazy. The storm can’t be all that bad if he’s out there on the beach, right? Give me a break. Traci was in bed watching the news about hurricane Sandy.
News people are so dramatic; they just love to instill fear on the American people. Traci turned over on her back and stared up at the ceiling. She squinted in the dark as the roof creaked. Her eyes moved to her wall pictures. Maybe I should take them down. Should I remove the items off the dresser? She looked over at her night stand with the ceramic lamp she had purchased on sale from Home Depot three years ago. Is the bed too close to the window? Mayor Bloomberg said to stay away from the windows. Traci turned on the lamp, jumped out of bed and ran around the room taking the pictures off the wall and stuffing them under her bed. What if the bed falls through the floor? She pulled the pictures out and ran to the closet. She wrapped them in quilts and comforters and placed them on the floor of her closet on top of her shoes and boots.
The window rattled, the wind whistled through a crack. Outside a metal object scraped the ground. The roof creaked again; every time the wind pummeled the house the roof creaked in response. Is that a new crack or an old one? Traci wondered as she looked up at her cream colored ceiling. The window rattled and the object scraped the ground as another gust of wind moved through the neighborhood. What’s that? Should I look? Do I really want to know? Suppose I look outside and a tree crash through the window?
Traci heard snippets from the newscaster as she walked quickly to her six drawer dresser. “Con Edison explosion in lower Manhattan… A crane dangling… power out for 2.2 million people… JFK Airport shut down due to flooding… 21 mph wind speed… 90 mph wind gusts… 10,000 calls to 911 every half hour.” Traci pulled open her dresser and searched for heavier sleep wear. Just in case I need to be rescued. Traci found her mother’s high neck sack nightgown in the back of the middle drawer. “Hurricane Sandy has now been classified as a post-tropical cyclone,” the newscaster droned on. “Queens Tunnel shut down… seawater rushing into NY Battery Tunnel… Midtown Tunnel closed… All MTA bridges and tunnels closed.” Traci threw off her thigh high T-shirt and pulled on the grandma loose fitting nightgown. She buttoned the gown up to her neck. At least they’ve stopped talking about the election. Some people are so selfish. I don’t know how they can only think of themselves. Maybe they’re thinking I worked hard for this money. And how did they work hard for it, on the backs of the middle-class… Who do they think buy their wares or attend their plays, performances, and high priced cinemas? The upper-class eat for free and receive designer clothes, so they can say, I’m wearing Ralph Lauren or whatever. You know you’re stalling, right?
I know, but this is a tough and frightening decision damn it! Is Raun more frightening than what’s going on outside? Do you want to die with Ian Walker, Dr. Livingston, or Ryan Johnson as the only sexual experiences you’ve had? Ryan Johnson can’t really be classified as a sexual experience. Well, he should be. He was a scam artist. Well he didn’t catch me in his scam. Will you stop! Do you want the only experiences you’ve had with men to be negative? NO! Well stop stalling and go in there and tell Raun to ravish you! Traci flung herself on her back on the bed, then she sat on the edge of her bed, she stared at the television, but her thoughts were elsewhere. That’s easy for you to say. What if he’s asleep? Wake him. What if he’s repulsed by my scars? Is that really the reason you won’t go to him? Of course… Oh why is this so hard? I’ve never felt so excited or giddy to see anyone in my life. He makes my palms sweat, and my heart beat like a humming bird’s wings. Do you love him? Love? What do I know of that emotion? My mom gave me up. She threw me away like rubbish. Don’t you love Auntie Clarissa? I don’t think it’s the same type of love I should feel for Raun. Are you in love with him? Do I have to answer this question now?
Traci got off the bed and stared at herself in the full length mirror. Gad, is that me? Not too enticing for a seduction, but it will have to do. I wonder how he will react when he sees me. Will he invite me in or chase me away? I look like a spinster. Do they still have spinsters? Oh well, it will have to do. Raun tonight is the night. The metal object seemed to be getting closer to the house. The wind picked up speed. Fire trucks raced through the night, sirens portend doom at their final destination. No, Raun is not as scary as what’s going on outside. Traci wrapped her arms around her middle as if to give herself comfort. She straightened up to her five feet, six inches. She threw back her shoulders, her head held high. Determination and fear war within her.
Traci walked the required steps to her night stand. She reached for the remote control and turned the television off, then the lamp. Traci stood for a few minutes in her darkened bedroom. A car alarm went off. The roof creaked. The metal object made banging noises as if the wind picked it up and slammed it down. Traci quickly walked to the door, opened it, and exited. She stood in the dark hallway. Chaos reigned outside from people shouting, objects falling, and the wind howling. Traci stood shaking in the hallway. She was afraid of the storm, but she was terrified of what would happen behind the closed door on her left. Was he naked? If he’s naked, what should I do? Jump him! What if he asks me to remove my nightgown? Stall him, you’re good at that. Shut up conscience! Traci debated if she should surrender to Raun or… The roof creaked louder. The wind banged on all the windows in the house as if it was seeking permission to enter.
Traci knocked on the door. From the other side of the room, Traci heard Raun worried voice, “Traci, what’s wrong?”
I’m horny. Now open the door, before I change my mind. “May I come in?” Should I mention that I’m scared of storms, be the damsel in distress, or be bold as brass and tell him I want him? Traci held her breath as she waited for an answer. Please let me in. Tears clogged her throat; and embarrassment rose up to choke away her self-confidence. She turned away, just as the door opened. Raun stood in the doorway wearing silk black boxing shorts. His chest was broad and bare. His abs tightened as he drew in a breath. His eyes searched hers as he asked, “What’s wrong, baby?” His deep baritone voice felt like an external touch between her legs.
Traci’s voice trembled passed her constricted throat. “Can I… May I come in?”
“If you come in, are you prepared for what will happen?”
“Are you sure? There will be no stopping once we start.”
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “I need you to say yes.”
Traci groaned. His breath felt like a warm autumn breeze passing along her spine. “Yes,” she replied. “I won’t ask you to stop.” You hear that conscience? No more stalling.
Raun moved aside and waved Traci into the room. Her arm brushed against his chest. They both gasped at the contact.