The stories of innocent girls being lured to their death took precedence on the local news broadcast some months ago. Who is responsible for the naivety of these innocent young girls, one might ask. Sad to say, many fingers point but to no avail. The stories continue and the reality of them is true, too real for comfort.
Tian reflects on her near fate almost a decade ago. Even at age 25, she questions her actions of that day. As she riddled through her thoughts she begged for answers to ease her mind. Was she naïve? No. Uneducated? No. Irresponsible? No. What could it have been? Maybe, she thought, I was just too friendly. Yes, that must be it. Yet she lived to tell the tale – or not to. After so many years had passed who would listen to her. But the time had come for her survival to be revealed.
It was an ordinary day for Tian. Nothing unusual occurred and nothing seemed out of place. No sign of what was to come for the young teenager. Traveling by her regular route on her way from school became a custom for her. She knew that she would meet with her other friends at the bus park, who went to different schools. She knew what time they’d be there too. But she had no idea she would leave their company.
Tian loved hanging out with her friends, most of whom were young guys. However on this particular day she felt they were a tad bit pre-occupied and so opted to hold a friend’s folder till the bus arrived. This folder she did not know yet, was to support her mentally and keep her mind together somewhat.
In those days, ‘schoolers’ had a hard time getting into a ‘regular’ bus. They had to wait until the adults or working folks filled the seats of the buses. This was the practice of the conductors who must have believed that ‘schoolers’ did nothing at school and would therefore not be tired. Their other option was to wait on a ‘special’ bus, which carried only schoolers. Well I bet you can guess what Tian’s choice was.
On this particular day Tian stood somewhat isolated in the bus park as she waited on the ‘special’ bus, while her friends fooled around. Without much thought of what was happening at the time, a young man approached Tian, muttered a few words to her and beckoned for her to follow. Off she went. As Tian remembered this moment, she wondered if this is what caused her to be singled out by her perpetrator.
Tian loved helping people. In fact she enjoyed doing it and it made her happy. She was soon however to rethink just how happy she needed to be.
As Tian walked behind this young man whose name she did not know or cared to ask about, she noticed his haste and assumed that the situation must be urgent. None of her friends had noticed her leaving the bus park and she had not bothered to inform them of her temporary departure. As she continued walking though, she began to wish she had mentioned it to them at least. O well she thought to herself, I promised to help so I can’t turn back now.
They ventured to the back gate of the bus park. Tian had never before this time walked through this gate as she never had the need to. She began to notice at this time just how deplorable the area was. The region was overgrown with bushes and had a foul odor. The ground seemed to be contaminated by some really tarnished liquid which she tried to avoid stepping in. Vines too wild to be contained soared towards the top of an old wire fence running perpendicular to the bus park. It was over this same fence that an old overhead bridge stretched, connecting to the defunct train station, which by the way, Tian had never seen in operation.
The young man by this time had ascended the bridge with quick strides, as Tian tried to keep up. He halted suddenly at the top of the bridge however and made a three sixty degree turn in the direction he had come. Tian did her best to get out f his way and continued behind him. In the same hurried manner, he headed towards an opening in a concrete wall which turned out to lead into the old train yard.
The place was in such a decadent state that Tian could hardly make out where the train tracks should be. She saw a few trains scattered across the area which had the resemblance of a meadow because of all the wild overgrown grass. The trains had lost there colour and now bore a somber rust colour from years of weathering.
Her attention was quickly brought back to the young man who by this time was almost entering one of the old trains. Tian’s heart began to throb uncontrollably. She wondered why and tried to ignore the pounding she felt in her chest. She began to feel lightheaded as the blood seemed to dissipate to other areas in her body except her brain. Everything will be fine, she thought to herself. This will be over in a couple minutes as all we need to do is to retrieve the item and relocate it.
The young man drew her attention once more with his voice as his demeanor seemed to change. His tone of voice, which before now was inviting and almost pleasant, now emitted a threatening feel. Tian began to question herself as to what she was really getting into. Analyzing the present situation however proved futile within her present state of mind.
She stared at the young man before her who seemed to be waiting for some sort of response from her. He had that typical ‘bad man’ look, she now realized, with a scar branded across his right cheek. Although he seemed to be less than six feet tall, Tian could not help but notice that he at present, towered over her somewhat, even at her five feet seven inches. He was quite dark skinned and the absence of ample lighting in the train caused him to appear even darker. The train had lost quite a lot of its interior save a few chair skeletons. The colour inside was a reflection of that which was outside, but only a couple shades darker. Some small trees were noticeably sheltering in the train, apparently having sprouted their roots just below.
The young man pretended to go for something and informed Tian not to move or try anything. Fear sought to over-take her as she tried to think and rationale the situation. The young man returned and began staring her down once more. She cowered beneath his glare and clung to the folder she still held in her arms. Her eyes sought his timidly as she questioned his actions. The young man drew closer and yanked the folder from within her grasp. The answer became evident. His intentions were clear. The thought of it caused her to cringe beneath her skin.
He wanted to see her beneath her uniform. He wanted to touch the softness of her youth. Tian flatly refused him, forgetting the danger she was in. She however dared not move or say a word for fear of upsetting her marauder. She wished she was far away from here and how she wished even more that she had said something to one of her friends. She began to curse her kindness and all that she stood for as a thoughtful person.
The young man reached to touch her but Tian backed away with each step he took. When she could go no further she closed her eyes and waited for what was to come. She felt his hand on her tunic zipper and brushed it aside. He made another attempt and she brushed his hand off again. This got him quite infuriated. He made a final attempt and this time Tian pushed him away. What had she done? The man was angry and he made no effort to veil this as he slapped her across the face. That was it for Tian. Without a moments thought, she slapped him right back. How dare he she thought. She had never been hit by her father, ever, and felt that this man was in no way justified to do so. The implications of this action however she would have to deal with later.
The young man was through being nice and he made no qualms about that. Just as soon as his anger began to develop, Tian thought it better not to anger him further. She decided to comply, to an extent, on her own terms. She slowly pulled a couple buttons of her blouse to reveal her chest. He touched her and she shuddered. Just a few moments more she thought as her body stiffened beneath his hand. He seemed to have had his fill or so she thought. Apparently he was now quite aroused and wished to be further fulfilled. Tian became quite enraged at this point. Her kindness was abused, she was being violated and she wanted to go home and forget about what was happening.
There seemed no end to this dreaded day. The young man now demanded that he be satisfied orally. Even through the horror of what could possibly result from her reply, Tian shook her head vigorously. There was no way she would act in accordance to that request. She began to feel somewhat nauseated at the thought of what he was asking her to do. She did not move and barely breathed, just enough not to pass out.
He seemed to realize how appalled she was or something, because he decided to let her off easy, well somewhat. He gave her the option of doing it by hand. Tian dreaded this alternative. As she performed this gruesome task, she wished she could do more than give him the gratification he desired. Nothing came to mind though. It seemed like hours had passed before she saw the light of day again.
The young man having been somewhat satisfied smiled cynically. Her stomach belted at his expression and how she wished she could change it.
It was almost as if nothing had happened, except that something did happen and she knew it. He agreed to let her go on the grounds of secrecy, her phone number and a personal item of hers.
Tian didn’t care at that moment what he wanted. She quickly agreed to his request and managed to force a smile. She assured him that she would just as quickly forget him and what had occurred that day. The young man feeling quite assured of himself said goodbye and told her to listen out for his call. She flashed him another fake smile and turned slowly to leave almost listening to hear him call her back. She heard nothing and though she hoped to walk faster her legs could not perform such a feat. She did not look back even once until she felt she was safe by the side of her friends.
The park never seemed friendlier before today. The big open shed which housed sellers and traders of all sorts, estranged individuals and those waiting for their buses, was welcoming. The extra long benches designed for large groups of people, which she would never sit on willingly, invited her to come and rest. Not even the loud conflicting noise boxes operated by two separate parties bothered her much.
Tian tried her best to seem composed even though tears threatened to prove otherwise. She blinked back the tears and hugged the folder she had found strength in earlier, even closer to her blossom. Her friends said nothing of her short absence and she had no intention of telling them what happened. The ‘special bus’ arrived, just in time to take her away from the thoughts she reminisced. She could not wait to get on board and find a little corner for herself. She so wanted to lose herself and start all over. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, she thought of a life filled with nice people who would really need her help. The reality of the days happening however interfered in her thoughts and caused the tears to roll down faster and faster until they flowed and created a wet trail.
By this time the bus was quite loaded. Laughter rang throughout the air and smiles could be seen on the faces of those enjoying a joke or a prank or just their friends. None of Tian’s friends said anything to her and she was glad. She really just wanted to be alone and indeed she felt she was.
The folder she still held in her arms was drawn closer to her heart as if to sustain her being. With her face almost touching the bus window, she scanned the area for the young man. She spotted him at the other end of the park and watched him watching her in the ‘special bus’ as it turned out of the bus park. But she never told anyone.