In silence, there is room for hope. Safe within those walls, she could dream that dreams come true.

The seconds tick away and she floats with them, borne on the wings of maybe.

But the silence lasts only seconds. Then the smile. And the question—

“Why do you need a car?”

The smile crashes the hope. She tenses, stares at the smile that hovers around his mouth; stares at eyes that crinkle at the corners with mirth. She does not share this mirth.

Still smiling he repeats the phrase she thinks if she hears one more time, she would set herself on fire.  “I told you I would take care of you.”

She had learned to distrust that smile, and that phrase; it took some learning—when he ‘lost’ her documents that represented a lifetime of schooling; that was before he ‘forgot’ to show her the mails inviting her for job interviews; and that even before he explained why her friends needed to stay away from their home; and when her birth control pills looked suddenly unfamiliar one morning…

“What do you need a car for?” The smile had a life all its own.

“To move around a bit,” she responds.

“Alright.” A pause. “You need a driver then.”

She is surprised. Pleased. It is not perfect but better than a flat out NO.

The ‘driver’ hovers—helping with her shopping; walking a few paces behind her at the park; suggesting in mild tones that the stranger smiling too long at her move along. Always smiling. Always there.  A benevolent ghost wearing a whiff of tobacco. Musky cologne… and menace.

She looks out the bedroom window. The driver strides beside the pool talking into the phone.

Taut buttocks

Rippling thighs

Broad chest

An answering tightening in her groin. He’ll do.