Trigger warning: Sexual violence
I met him in the park. He wore a suit and held a coffee in one and a leash in the other. Two black and white puppies whirled around his feet. He stumbled over one of the puppies, spilled coffee, the other puppy ran off; the leash slipped from his fingers.
The puppy ran towards me. I caught the leash, scratched the small head until he arrived.
“Thank you.” He said. “I’m Matt.”
When he spoke it felt as if my ears were tingling.
“Amber.” I said.
I think I blushed.
We met for coffee two hours later. He didn’t bring the puppies. I made a joke that he had only been in the park with puppies to pick up women. He laughed.
I never saw those puppies again.
I have never felt like that before; the butterflies in the stomach, the involuntary smile when I thought of his face; or of his hands on my back – or on my thigh.
He always led me, but he never pushed me. He led me in the restaurant with a soft touch on my arm. He led me out with a soft touch on my back. He walked me to the front door. He ran his fingers over my chin; refused to kiss me; just ran his fingers on my chin and down my neck until my desire was so strong that I couldn’t resist.
Matt liked the same things. He laughed at the same jokes. He even hated the same things and the same jokes as me. He was perfect. He made my heart spin and my head beat with excitement.
Two months. He knew how to talk without talking; he knew how to make me talk. He always laughed and smiled and stayed mysterious. I didn’t even notice it – until after he drove me out of town, pulled me through the woods, led me to the most serene lake I have ever seen. He went on his knees; mine began to shake. “Yes.” I said.
I wanted to elope; to do it in private, abroad, on an island. But he insisted on the big ceremony.
Matt said “I want to show everyone that you are mine.”
That made me proud.
His mother gave me the wedding dress. “It’s used,” she said. “But it’s a special dress; we use it every time we welcome a woman into the family.”
That made me smile.
His family, jointly with my mother and my sister, Ellen, scurried around me. They did all the planning. I chose the color and the venue – for the rest I only nodded; they did it all.
“Matt’s mother is great,” said Ellen. “She knows everything about weddings.”
That made me worry less.
The ceremony was a breeze. One night in a hotel. After breakfast he led me upstairs. “Get dressed.” He said. “I have a surprise for you. I packed our stuff already.”
The taxi drove us to the airport. The display board said “Chongqing.”
“I have a house there.” Matt said. “I want to show you one of the rooms.”
Chongqing. 7 million people in the city; 21 million more pressing on the city boundaries, streaming in and out every day. 28 million people; the largest and ugliest city you never heard of.
The perfect place to disappear.
A black car picked us up at the airport. The driver called Matt “Sir.” For me he only nodded.
“I have a company here,” said Matt. “I’m good friends with some in the government and with the police.”
The house was large and surrounded by a large area of grass. White walls. Several floors.
I noticed that only the top floor had windows.
I also noticed that, somewhere between the plane and the car, Matt had stopped making jokes.
“I have a collection.” He said. “I really want to show it to you. Now it’s nearly complete.”
A guard stood at the large door, entered a code, it opened.
Statues and paintings, baroque stairs, fluorescent light.
A second, larger guard opened a second, smaller door.
Matt grabbed my hand, pulled me inside. The guard followed us, closed the door behind us.
The lights sprung on.
“Look.” He said. “My collection.”
They looked like prison cells. Prison cells with large, floor-to-ceiling windows towards the corridor.
Young women, looking at me with sad eyes.
Several of them had big bellies.
“Girls.” He shouted. “Welcome Amber.”
They all stared, some shook their heads.
There’s a wall in the middle, so that we can’t see each other. I tried knocking on the walls, but there was no response; I think they are too thick.
I don’t know how long I was there. I don’t know how many times he forced me.
My belly began to grow.
It is hard to count days when there is no natural light.
He came back, long after, with another girl. I looked at her when she came in, shook my head.
He forced me again.
He left; my water broke.
The ones that bring food brought me to the hospital.
I gave birth.
They brought me to a room. They left me alone.
I ran; stole clothes from a locker room.
My stomach hurts. My whole body feels as if it is turned inside out.
The money wasn’t enough for a train ticket, just enough for a hotel room.
You need an ID to use the phone. At least they allowed me to use the computer.
All the websites I can think of are blocked. I signed up for some strange email account, but all emails just bounce back and I don’t understand the message.
The money I stole is running out.
My lower body hurts a lot, and I think I have a fever.
I just saw my face on the TV in the loby. There was a number with a dollar sign next to the picture.
Since then the receptionist stares at me. I think I have to go.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.