119/336 – Smile (PSA:Trigger Warning!)

Trigger warning!

While this passage does not include the act itself, it does contain a scenario in which sexual assault could occur.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, You’re not alone. Confidential help is available for free at the National Sexual Assault Hotline! 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or at http://www.rainn.org or http://www.nsvrc.org

Once again, this is a work of fiction.




The street was packed with pedestrians as Credence threaded her way to Justine’s Bar & Grill. She was already late for her shift because the car hadn’t wanted to start. Even calling ahead to give Justine a heads up hadn’t gone well. Credence had heard the frustration in the woman’s voice, despite the friendly reply.

“Hey, honey!” a voice called from her left as she passed an alley.

Credence kept walking, not thinking anything of it until it came again, this time behind her. Her heart raced now, knowing that someone was following her and trying to get her attention. She tried to remember what the self-defense instructor had told her to do in this situation, but her mind was drawing a blank.

“Hey, honey, I was talking to you,” a man’s voice said, right behind her. His hand was on her shoulder, instantly making her skin crawl.

“I’m late, I need-” she started to reply over her shoulder as his grip tightened and spun her. Her stomach lurched, and her mind thought of any number of things that could try to get her out of the situation.

“I was talking to you,” he said. His hair was black and greasy, which only made his bright grin worse and more disgusting. He wore a suit that looked like it had gone out of style ten years ago, and had been sitting on a shelf the entire time with the dust that clung to it. “I’ve been looking for a girl like you.”

“I really can’t,” Credence said, trying to pull out of his grip. Her eyes sought any friendly face in the throng that milled past. “I have to get to work. I’m late.”

The man pulled her under his arm, where she smelled his awful cologne overpower her nose, and she turned her head away from him. Even in the crowd of people, very few looked her way, but most just kept on their journey, ignoring everything around them.

“Come on, baby. I just want to have some fun,” he said, holding a wad of cash in front of her.

“Really, I can’t,” she replied, ducking out of his arm and walking a little faster.

“Whoa there, beautiful,” he said, grabbing her arm when she was no more than a few steps away. “Don’t you want to make a bunch of money? You look like you could use it. Wouldn’t you rather leave behind whatever low wage gig you’ve got going on?”

“No, thank you,” Credence said as he yanked her arm hard across the sidewalk. “I’ll scream.”

Credence felt the prod of something hard against her side. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the man said. She looked down to see a small gun pressed into her ribs. “We’re just going to have a nice, private conversation now.”

The tears were already coming as she shook her head. She thought of Douglas and Elaine at home with Kevin, their father. She thought of all the people she had met at the bar that she had felt were scumbags. Any number of them she would rather deal with at that moment. She thought about the car that didn’t start that morning. Most of all, she tried to think of every possible way she could get away.

The alley was shaded well from the sunlight in the street as he pushed her around dumpsters and trash cans deeper into the alley. Her eyes darted everywhere, hoping to see a maintenance guy or a bum, anyone that might be able to help her out of this. About halfway down the alley, the man shoved her hard into a nook nestled between two of the buildings, out of sight of everyone.

“Now that we’re alone, and I’ve got your attention, you’re going to do something for me,” he said, tucking his gun back into his suit. “I want-”

“No, I-” she tried to say, but his hand came down hard across the side of her face. The world spun and seemed far away as she fell to her knees, the pain radiating up through her ear.

“Don’t interrupt me,” he said from above her. “As I was saying, I want you to enjoy yourself. I didn’t want the tears and all this nonsense. Just a quicky, nothing big. After, I’ll pay you well. If you do it with a smile, I’ll even throw in extra.”

Credence looked up at him as she covered her cheek. His hungry eyes stared down at her expectantly, his toothy grin turning her stomach again. She shook her head at him as she got to her feet on shaky legs. Again, his hand came fast, this time, the other side, and she saw white spots in her vision.

“There’s no reason to be all noble about this. You let people pay you for your time, and I’m offering you the same,” he said as she heard a belt buckle begin undone. “Now, smile for me.”

Credence felt his hands on her pants, tearing at them, and something broke inside her. The fear vanished, and the pain in her face dulled. The view of the alley she had from her stomach seemed to sharpen suddenly. She could see every bug creeping around the corners seeking out the smell of garbage. She could hear the conversations of the people passing the ends of the alley. The memories of the classes she took for self-defense flooded into her mind.

Credence’s pants were torn as the man turned her over. She saw his bunched around his ankles as he loomed over her. She could see the sick smile on his face as he lowered himself, and she tilted her head as a smile spread across her face.

As though watching from outside herself, she watched her legs part as she pushed her hips up, twisting her body as she gripped his arm and wrapped her legs around his shoulder. She pulled back with everything she had before she felt his arm pop, and he screamed out in pain. Using another quick spin, she spun herself over him as he blindly searched around for his weapon.

“What’s wrong? Where’s your smile now?” she asked as she punched him in the throat.

She saw the gun out of the corner of her eye and rolled off him, grabbing it on her way past. She left him there, clutching his throat, writhing on the ground as she deposited his gun in a locked dumpster and ran to the end of the alley.

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