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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The dark corridor

This is another part of my formerly lost 'I quit' texts. Compared to the last one, this one is definitely more dramatic. Well, for me it was anyway, and dark corridors still scare me a little bit, out of several reasons.

Usually, Amy and I went to almost any party together, but after I had changed my studies, we also had some where we could not go together. At first I had no idea what was actually happening, but later on I recognized that I was on more parties without Amy than before. I did not bother too much, because there would be plenty of other occasions where we could go together. Later on, I thought if she really wanted to, she could come. 

And all the time, there was a group of other students who I went out with. I knew some of them from literature. One of them, Mia, was a lovely Ph.D. student, she was 26 and I found her attractive (not sexually!) and interesting. In retrospect, she reminds me of Angelina Jolie with a more cheeky expression around the eyes. And of course, she worked for my former professor of literature. I knew that but had not thought about possible consequences at all.

...One of the last parties around Christmas, was traditionally in one of the language departments. Amy was busy, had been for some time, and I was not sure if she wanted to have me around at the moment. And I did not ask; big mistake. So I went there with Mia and some others from that group. Once there, it was a relaxed and funny evening. Towards the end of it, when we wanted to go, Mia told me she had to get her things and I was meant to wait upstairs, in her office. I sat down behind her desk, looked around, and waited. It was dark outside, apart from the little desk lamp, it was dark inside, too. I was waiting in the department of literature. Maybe this was not such a clever idea. But it was too late.

As the door opened, I already knew who would come in. Of course, it was her; who else. The sight of this one person alone made me almost vomit. I told you, I had physical reactions. I felt my body go into lockdown. This was horrible. I can’t stand her, but although she makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, I have never felt threatened by her (physically). “Good evening, … Nina.” She purred into my direction “What a pleasant ‘surprise’ to see you here. ... I was looking for Mia. Have you seen her? …No?” She played with every single word. I had not moved at all. She came closer, in a very casual manner. “I have heard from Mia about your progress in the arts department. I am proud of you. Too bad that you decided to leave us. I had high expectations in you. I was looking forward to … ‘working’ with you.” 

If anybody had the skill to speak most ambiguously, it was her. She knew exactly when to wait, so that the next word would be understood the way she wanted it to be understood. There was not a single indecent word! But I felt so dirty, as if I had been thrown into the mud by her, word after word. And she enjoyed this. I felt extremely miserable and was not out for an argument. But I could not really move either, as she still blocked my way out. When she had walked around the desk and reached me, I had come to life again. “Excuse me, I was only waiting for Mia. Maybe she has forgotten that I am waiting here. I’ll better go and wait downstairs. Goodbye.” I clearly fled from the room, along the corridor, to the door … and found it locked. There are two more ways out and I tried them all, but they were all locked. 

I had not seen her yet in the corridor, but envisioned her stalking through the halls of the literature department. By now, I was close to panic. I was alone in an almost dark building with single spots of cold bluish light, and could not get out of it, and there was this woman somewhere behind me. She was the least reason for my panic, though. Of course, I did not want to talk to her, or ask something trivial, like, ‘Could you open the door, please?’ But the real reason for my panic was another one. I absolutely hate situations where I feel completely unprotected in circumstances I cannot gauge, when I am alone and see no way out of a situation I consider threatening. 

In this dark building I felt physically so vulnerable that I could not think clearly. It was a little bit like in a horror movie, when the victim is only seconds away from being attacked. “Oh, you are still here?! Can’t leave the place?! Yes, I can understand that.” She had a pleasant voice, dripping with poison. Out of nowhere I heard her. I could not see her at first. I was in one of the light spots, and she was in the dark. This was so scary for me. I am not afraid of the dark in general, but there, I would not have left the light spots, because I would have lost the last bit of control. I was still close to going down on my instincts to get me out of the corridor. Seriously, one thought that I had was to wrestle her keys from her. Asking h.e.r. was what I loathed, because I couldn’t stand her. But before I’d go for my instinct-plan, I thought I should at least try asking. 

My breathing alone must have told her the full story. “Would you please open the door, Ma’am?” She smiled, a rather friendly smile compared to what she was like, most of the time. “Do you really want to go out into the cold ... without your coat?” She had brought it along from Mia’s office. Winter, ice, snow, cold, and she had my coat. Darn! Before I reacted, she stood behind me “Let me help you in!” I could not grab my coat, so I just let it happen. I turned to her and she moved her hands under my coat, held my sides, with her thumbs directly at the lower part of my breasts, 'by accident', of course. “See, that’s better, isn’t it?” She knew that she was crossing a line and was waiting for my reaction, but I was almost paralyzed. I did not say a word, and quickly closed my coat, so that she had to take her hands away and waited for her to open the door. 

I have stressed how much I disliked her, and I hated that she had ‘accidentally’ touched me. And while I closed my coat she touched my neck with her hand, which puzzled me more than anything else she had ever done. I am not sure whether she wanted to straighten my coat collar because I had put on my coat with so much haste that it had turned to the inside. I was completely surprised by that and looked at her. In this tiny moment, she was different, I think she was sincere. She was not hunting me down in that second, not trying anything, it was just a little gesture of hers. Probably it was even meant in a friendly way, but the back of my neck is pretty sensitive, so usually I don't want just anybody to touch there! Nevertheless, I wish she would have been more like that, because this was my only time ever to see that she had more than this horrible self in her. But I needed weeks to figure that out. The moment was over before I had realized what it was. She took her hand back and finally opened the door and I left quickly.

The whole situation had been very unsettling for me. In a way I felt defeated by her, but the reason that I did not start a scene when she had touched my breasts, was not because I had been afraid of her. I had felt so full of adrenalin that I felt strong, physically. Mentally, though, I was only waiting to get out, because I couldn’t stand her and this situation was so mixed and unclear for me that I had no clue of how to handle it. Actually I should have known better, because I had visited some courses that were meant to help in such situations. Maybe I would have lost the last bit of control otherwise, I have no clue; all I know is that I felt completely overwhelmed in this dark corridor with the light spots.

Looking back from today, there was nothing like a real physical threat in it. No, there only was someone who played like a cat with the mouse, in a scary dark corridor. There was no single word that could possibly be seen as sexually obvious, but nevertheless, in this situation in the office, any word was sexually loaded and made me squirm uneasily and feel dirty. I have surely been overreacting, but I couldn’t help it. I had no other idea of what to do. Besides, it is always easy to come up with clever replies and appropriate reactions afterwards, isn’t it?

When I finally arrived home, I had to take a long, hot shower. I did not have to scrub myself where she had touched me, it was surely not as bad as that, but I felt the urge to smell like lemon and summer, which I knew she did not like, because it was so ‘vulgar’ (her word, not mine; I love lemon and summer perfume to this day!!). So, I only came out of the shower after I had used up a full bottle of shower gel and enjoyed it as if I had never showered before. I was better again afterwards, but if I had known what would follow, I would have cried.


  1. Oh my Nina, that would have made me feel uncomfortable too, and a little freaked out!


    1. Hi Roz, this dark corridor was awful. Add to that the one person you do not want to meet, ever, and the nightmare is complete. I can almost laugh about my panic in that moment, but I was really close to freaking out completely then.



  2. Oh Nina, this woman sounds like a vicious predator--she had to have known you were uncomfortable. People that do these things, though, are often very careful to word things so that they sound innocent, and it's awful because you keep lying to yourself, saying "I know he/she doesn't mean in *that* way" when your instinct and intuition knows *exactly* what they mean. I'm glad you were able to see a fleeting good side to her, but this all sounds like a terrible nightmare!

  3. Hi Autumn, welcome back, I hope you had a fantastic holiday! Yes, she is a predator and she enjoys it when she can make others squirm uncomfortably. Worked well with me, I guess. You are absolutely right, she cannot mean it 'that' way was what I had at least hoped, but she definitely did mean everything this raunchy way. The shower afterwards was really necessary for me. :)




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