23 Apr The Man in the Blue Trousers
I can barely remember the first time I saw him. I had just fallen asleep when I had heard a loud, boisterous voice booming in the hallway. A loud voice followed by a dramatic shushing sound and a silent whisper.
“He’s sleeping. Be quiet.”
I knew the whisper well. It belonged to my mother, the breeziness and lax nature of her tone unmistakable. But the other voice, a gruff and threatening one, was not one I knew. I turned on my bed with my ear to the door to hear this strange man speak. I was used to my father’s calm and soothing way of talking, so much so that this stranger’s voice was jarring. My father had just left on a 3-day trip that morning. I turned listlessly on my bed. My mother was right. I had been sleeping, but now I lay half asleep and half awake. The sweetness of sleep had blurred my vision and filled my hearing. But still, in this dreamlike state, I remember seeing for a brief second, from the crack underneath my door, two pairs of feet hurry past my door unto my mother’s room. One set of feet belonging to my mother and the second pair of feet crowned by the ends of the bluest pair of trousers I’d ever seen.
The next time isn’t so hard to remember. It was a few months later. I was lying awake in my bed, lost in my thoughts when I heard loud whispering from the hallway. The light, breathy words drifted into my room from under the crack in my door and tickled my eardrums.
“Wait, wait, wait.”
My mother sounded lightheaded and excited like she was she was out of breath. It was the same voice she often used to talk to my father. She once told me she spoke like that because my father was so charming he took her breath away.
“Wait the room is right there. Oh! Stop.”
She was laughing and breathing quickly. I could hear someone else’s deep, rough breaths in the background.
She giggled some more. “Oh! Oh! Oh! Let’s enter the room first. All this noise might wake him up.”
Then finally I heard the stranger’s voice. “Thought he wasn’t around?” The stranger sounded out of breath, his voice raspy. It scratched at my ears.
“He isn’t, but my son is.”
After that, I heard nothing. I blinked and felt myself sink into the sudden silence. Then all of a sudden I saw the ends of the same blue trousers sweep against the floor outside my door. Up until then, I believed the stranger was a dream. But now, he was all so real, as I watched the end of his trousers move past my door to my parent’s room, my mother in his wake giggling irrepressibly.
The next couple of months were littered with visits from this strangers. Sometimes he wore different shoes and sometimes he wore none. Some days he spoke loudly, and some days I never heard him. There were times he’d come when my father was away, and there were times he’d come when my father was asleep on the couch in the living room. But I always remembered the ends of same blue trousers sweep past my door, and those never changed.
The last time he came started like a typical visit. Loud whispers were drifting from the end of the hall into my dreams. They always woke me up, those whispers. I had turned in my bed, returning to sleep’s tender embrace, when the shouting started. It wasn’t my mother shouting. Instead, I heard her begging, pleading the man not to wake the neighbors up with his yelling. Pleading not to wake me up. The stranger in the blue trousers continued shouting regardless, his voice slowly growing menacing. I lay in bed and imagined a pitbull with veins bulging at its neck barking at my mother. That mental image was amusing, and I even started giggling at the thought, until I heard a loud slap. The air suddenly grew tense, and silence swelled. Then like the calm before the storm, the silence evaporated, swallowed up by even louder yells, more intense begging and the sickening sound of human flesh being hit over and over again. Tears, probably of shock, rolled down my eyes and I clenched my fist. Now that I needed sleep to swallow me whole, it would not come. So instead, I stayed painfully awake and listened to the sound of a man I did not know, assault my mother. Eventually, the yelling, screaming and crying dissolved and I heard the front door bang shut. And so I stayed awake watching the crack between the door and the floor, waiting for my mother to pass but she never did.
I did see her the next morning at breakfast. She was all smiles, asking if I wanted another egg and how I was doing in class. Her face was purple and puffy, and one of her eyes was almost swollen shut.
“It’s allergies, my dear. All this pollen in the air isn’t good for me you know?” She told me without my asking, while she overfilled my cup with milk. She couldn’t see my cup well. “I’ll go to the doctor to get this sorted before your father comes back next week.” She sighed and sat across me, a small smile forcefully drawn on her face. I said nothing.
And so time passed, and scars healed. I began to forget that night and started to get lost in the simpleness of my life again. And then one night, I heard whispers drift into my room once more. These were not the whispers I once knew, this new stranger was not the one whose rough voice had woken me up many times before. But this time, I stood and walked to the door because I remembered the man in the blue trousers.