Maybe I should feel ashamed or humiliated. I suppose other girls would if their school principal spanked them like a child, but all I can feel is disappointment that the game didn’t go further. I’m sure that he was getting off on spanking me, but he ended things so abruptly and “by the book” that I wonder if he changed his mind midway through. It’s probably silly of me to even think this way. How could someone like him want someone like me? With his good looks and hot body, he has to have women—grown women—falling all over him, and I’m just an inexperienced kid.
The icy wind whips my face as I struggle to push against the air and not blow off the sidewalk at the same time. It would have been nice if Mr. Rogers was waiting in the parking lot to drive me home again, but I can’t expect that to happen every day. I’m lost in thought but get pulled back to reality suddenly. I can’t explain it. I just have a gut feeling that someone is watching me. The hair stands up on the back of my neck, and my heartbeat quickens as I increase my pace down West Main. My eyes jut from side to side, checking behind trees and parked cars and half expecting to see someone peering back at me, but there’s no one.
Finally home, I lock the front door and peer out the window to see if anyone is walking by. I stare at the vacant sidewalk for a few seconds then plop down on the couch to start my homework. I try to concentrate on what I’m reading, but I continue to lose myself in thoughts of Mr. Rogers’ firm hand coming down on my bottom. I wonder if he knows how turned on I was feeling the warmth of his body so close to mine or how I bit my lip to keep from moaning when he rubbed the welt that he’d left behind.
Too distracted to study, I open my phone and thumb through my social media. There’s a new private message so I click on it, expecting to see an advertisement, and my blood runs cold.
“Thanks a lot, bitch! Just remember revenge is sweet and I’m gonna get some…”
The message is from what we call a sock puppet account. There’s no profile picture, no bio, and a made up name, but it’s obviously from Jared Thomas. He tries to trip me and gets suspended so I’m the bad guy? I tell myself that he’s just a pathetic little loser and close the message. Maybe I’ll bring it to Mr. Rogers' attention tomorrow. At least it will give me an excuse to see him again.
I pull a blanket up over my legs and settle into the overstuffed sofa cushions. The fading sunlight filters into the room as I close my eyes and drift off to sleep with my book and phone still in my lap.
I don’t know how long I was sleeping, but I leap up and try to focus my eyes in the now black room. A loud crash followed by the barking of the neighbor's dogs has jarred me from my sleep and left my heart beating so hard that it hurts to breathe. I try to get my bearings as I feel my way to the light switch and click it on. I step lightly down the hall to the kitchen and peer out the backdoor. The dogs are still barking, so I flip on the back porch light fully prepared to come face to face with an ax murderer, but no one’s there. My trash cans have been knocked over spewing trash across the yard.
“Stupid cats,” I mutter and step out into the night to retrieve the cans before the mess gets any larger. It’s cold and I rush to the center of the yard. It’s a struggle against the wind, but I manage to upright the cans and secure the lids. When I turn to go back to the house, I stop mid-step and stare at the open gate. My mother never leaves the gate open. I back up slowly, scanning the yard for any signs of life and almost trip on the bottom step to the back door. When I’m safely inside, I bolt the door and stare out the window. It wasn’t cats that knocked over the trash. Someone was out there. Could the goat boy really be this bold and stupid? Who else could it be?
My heart pounds in my chest as I try to decide what to do. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to being alone, but until now, I’ve never been afraid. I should probably call the police or my mother, but I want to call Mr. Rogers. I wish I had his number. There’s just something about him that makes me feel safe and protected.
I sit down on the couch and watch the clock for the next two hours, jumping at every car that drives by and gusts of wind. The dogs have been silent since the incident, and I relax enough that I no longer feel the need to call anyone. I close my eyes but I doubt that I’ll be getting any sleep tonight.
This girl has me tied in knots, and all I can think about is the next time I can lay my hands on her. I roll out of the school parking lot and take the route that she walks home. I wait until she has a big head start so she won’t see me cruising up behind her. When she goes in the house, I pull over a few houses down and watch as she pulls back the curtains and looks outside. She must have very good instincts to think that she’s being watched because I’m sure she didn’t spot me. Knowing her, she would’ve just stomped up to the car and confronted me if she had.
I probably shouldn’t still be here. I can’t think of a single excuse for knocking on her door, but I had to see her. It might be a little overprotective of me, but I wanted to make sure she made it home without having any run-ins with Mr. Thomas. These kids can be real pricks when they don’t get their way.
As the sun sets, I rehearse some opening lines. “Hey, Rose, I know it’s strange that your principal is standing at your front door but I thought you might be hungry so I ordered take out…” “Rose, I was just in the neighborhood and…” No, it’s all ridiculous. Just as I’ve made the decision to go home, I see a figure dressed in dark clothing walk around the side of her house and open the backyard gate. I hop out of the car and pursue him. I peer into the backyard and see the figure looking into Rose’s window and shout, “Hey!” The man leaps over the porch railing, knocking over the trash cans, and hops the fence in the back corner of the yard before I can catch him. The neighbors' dogs bark and snarl as I run back to my car. I speed away from the curb and round the corner, but there’s no sign of the peeping Tom. He must have cut through yards and alleys to avoid the main road.
I’m sure that I frightened him away, but I’m not taking any chances where Rose is concerned. I pull back into my parking spot where I have a clear line of sight to her house and recline my seat. I’ll be keeping an eye on her until the sun comes up.
* * *
I getout of my car and stretch my aching back. I spent the whole night in the car on my little stake out and saw no sign of the would-be stalker. With no sleep, I barely had time to shower and change before school. Talking to Rose is first on my agenda. I need to somehow warn her that she might be in danger without admitting that I’ve been stalking her, too.
I tell my secretary to call Rose to the office and she gives me a sideways stare. “That girl’s been in here a lot this week.”
“Just an observation.” She lifts the intercom and calls for Rose.
Rose enters the office, looks over at me, and smiles. “Am I in trouble again, Mr. Rogers?”
“No, just a follow up. Have you had any further issues with Mr. Thomas or the other boys?”
She looks down at her feet.
“Rose, if there’s something going on, you need to tell me.” I place my fingers under her chin and lift her head until she looks into my eyes. She fumbles in her pocket, pulls out her phone, and hands it to me. My jaw tenses and I can feel my pulse pound in my temples as I read it, “Anything else?” I ask as I hand her the phone.
“I don’t know. Last night, I think someone was in my backyard. My gate was open and the neighbors' dogs were barking. My garbage cans were knocked over, but I didn’t see anyone. I guess it could have been the wind, but I was really freaked out.” Her foot taps wildly as she tries to reconcile the events in her head.