The ringing of my phone wakes me from a sound sleep and I stir aimless, confused for a minute as I struggle from the realm of Morpheus and re-enter the waking world. It is almost three in the morning. The number is blocked, nothing but zeros, but I assume it might be an emergency so I answer.
There is a silence and then a voice. It was no one I recognized by voice alone.
"I saw you today," the deep, masculine voice begins, "I saw you in the park eating your lunch," the voice sounded very strong, certain, "you wore a beautiful turquoise blouse."
"Who is this," I stammer my dazed response.
"I have been watching you."
I hang up. Shaken and afraid I turn on the lights although I am on the sixteenth floor, and my building has both electronic security and an actual doorman. The phone can call up the unblinking view from security cameras at the front door, in the lobby, down my hallway and at my door. Nevertheless I look out the window into the dark and search for the stranger in vain. I turn out the light in my bedroom so I can see better in the dark.
"Why is he calling me?" I think. Quickly I slip into my robe. "Who is he?" I think of all the usual questions in a tumble of broken thoughts.
The phones in the building are not public, and my home number is unpublished. Few people have it and it was explained that I should never get any but a call I desire since you need a code to do more than leave a message.
"How did he get my phone number," I ask myself as I think.
Again I look out the window. Far in the distance below, passing under the light on the sidewalk I think I see a man, or the shadowy figure of a man, or just my eyes playing tricks on me. But I know that I cannot see anyone.
My senses unite in my mind to obsess in gymnophoria, my flesh literally crawling under my now seemingly too thin robe. Frightened, I vow never to wear that blouse again. At the window, in the dark, my hand clutches my robe tighter closed, I search again but nothing is not in sight. Slowly I convince myself to go back to sleep. I leave all my other lights on.
The next day I eat at my desk and wear a dark nondescript blouse. I try to forget about the call. I do not think of that voice and the episode fades into a sort of nightmare I slowly forget. Then night comes and I fall asleep, again the phone rings and I see the null number:
"You have such long beautiful hair," he says; "you should wear it down."
Scared, I hang up. I fear he will call back but the phone does not ring. This time I stay in bed, I do not turn on the lights, my knees drawn to my chest, my back to the pillows, hiding under the covers like a little girl who has a monster in her closet. I am angry that I went to bed in the nude. I worry he sees me like that. My clock dutifully ticks away the time, an hour passes, and as another begins I finally fall back asleep.
I wake up and it is raining. The big drops pelt the windows and the entire city is shaded in gray. I hear no thunder, I see no lightning, even the wind seems still, but the rain falls steadily, sheeting on my windows and morphing the outside world into something Dali must have seen when he set himself to paint visions of the world.
Today I decide to dress more conservatively, a pair of pants and a smart looking matching jacket with large brass buttons. Decadently I enjoy wearing sexy lingerie under my more conservative work attire, but today I wear pantyhose and a slip and a bra with more padding that might lift and enlarge my breasts but hides the tips and shapes me less obvious I hope.
Bundled against the rain, as well as the unseen watcher, I wear a raincoat and take my umbrella. I take a cab to work and get out on the next block over. I am distracted all day, beginning as soon as I step out of the cab and steal a glance all around, thinking I might catch a stalker. I see no one in particular, most have their faces down, eyes on the sidewalk, their hair is wet, I see no faces today, and I do not catch any eyes looking.
I wore my hair loose because of the rain. My hair gets a little wet and I think I must fix it when I get to work. My glass are hidden in my jacket pocket in their case, I have perfect sight but wear them to look more sophisticated and to look as if I am smarter because I read a lot. I try to laugh at myself. My work expects us to dress conservatively, but fashionably, as a receptionist I am expected to look very pretty, but it pays well and as a premier fashion magazine, every job there is entrée to that glamorous industry.
I walk past the Rockefeller Center complex toward my building. Above me looms the dark bronze statue of Atlas. I studied architecture in college and enjoyed it. Atlas is perched over Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, looming over the street beyond along with the high buildings, a broad slab of concrete, an immense doorway, the art deco rectangular windows, all a monument to the engineering wonders of the 1930s. Atlas holds an abstract sculpture of the heavens on his shoulders. He holds more than just the world in New York it seems.
His eyes are blank but his gleaming wet bronze muscles look as if they actually flex with the effort of supporting his burden on his broad back. Today I do not see it or even think of it as I scurry past in the rain. But now I recall how I still believe that a man will come and lift me like Atlas has lifted that globe, carry me away as the brigand steals his bride, support my world, lifting me and never putting me back down. I am not yet twenty-three and I am still alone in New York, beautiful, but just another small town girl pursuing happiness like we chase our dreams, hoping they are here in all this frenzy.
The next night I lie in bed waiting, too afraid to sleep as I anticipate his call. I ate very little. I am not hungry. My butterflies turn in my belly nervously.
"Perhaps he will not call," I tell myself. "What if he does," I ask myself in thought. I find a book and I curl under my covers in my pajamas, cute cotton bottoms and a pretty top, I button all the buttons and I tie the string securely. Only a reading light betrays I am home, but I have drawn every curtain tight. No one could see me I hoped. Then the phone rings and I decide to answer it.
"On Saturday your legs were bare," he says flattering, "you have beautiful legs."
"Stop it," I say angrily and I hang up the phone, slamming it in its cradle.
I do have beautiful legs. They are long and I still tan. I am from Colorado, a small town near the mountains, and I grew up on an orchard where it was cold in the winter. I love the sun and how I feel when I am under it, even artificially, tanning my skin bronze I feel very healthy and no longer cold. And I run and work out, I was a high school athlete, I do yoga and my legs are very well toned.
Of course I know men gaze at my legs and I enjoy their gazing. I often try not to wear hosiery and go out with my legs bare so they can be seen. And I often fantasize about running nude in the park in the summer. Soon there will be a group of people, women included, who run nude through the park near mid-July. I have watched and I have hoped to be so courageous as to bare all and go for such a run.
Before college I was a dancer until I broke an ankle, so I still like to have lightness in my step and use my legs to dance me through the world. When I walk I imagine how I am on stage. The looks please me, dangerously they stir me and I try to wear as short of a skirt as I may. I want to be seen, I need to be admired.
The phone rings and I answer: "I am calling the police," I use my most threatening tone.
There is silence. All I hear is my own breathing. Blood whirls in my ears as my heart thumps. There is no static, just silence for a second.
"I see your nipples when you run," he said as clear and calm as ever, "you have beautiful breasts."
I hang up very angry, and a little embarrassed. My throat goes dry and I imagine a lump there impossible to swallow. My heart speeds to a pounding pace. I feel my nipples now as hard as they can be. I cannot help but think of my breasts and also my legs again, how exposed I am in my running outfit, the hundreds of men who look as I run. I once dreamed that I ran with the bulls in Spain, but the bulls were men and I was naked, running free, they chased, I wanted them to catch me but I was too fast.
My father was a mayor of the town and prominent in our church. I am a good girl. I was a tomboy and picked peaches at home. I sang in the choir. I feel sinful. And I think of my nipples as they stir and my inner exhibitionist finds arousal at unknown eyes ogling me, knowing how my nipples get stiff when I run. They stay hard until after I return home and shower, only softening once I read a book and no longer think of the eyes witnessing my secret fetish. Damn you! The phone rings again.
"Who is this," I demand loudly.
"Just an admirer," he said seductively.
"How did you get my number," I asked with less anger in my voice as my heart still pounded.
"A friend," he says sincerely.
"Why are you stalking me," I accuse him smugly.
"You know why," he answers without hesitation.
A silence forms and I think I hear his breathing, but I know that it is mine that is heavy and labored and I want to gasp for air.
"You are just a pathetic pervert," I force a laugh to insult him.
"Tell me about what you are wearing to bed," he asks unfazed.
"Fuck off pervert," I yell again.
"Tell me about your sex," he replies in a soothing voice.
"Fuck you," I answer and hang up.
I search for the police non-emergency number. The phone rings again. I ignore it. I call and wait for an answer, I hear another call wanting to interrupt, I know it is him and I ignore it.
I think of my sex, the intimate place between my legs. I think of the inner sanctum of my womanhood. I think of being made love to, but I have had no lover in some time. I search the faces of the few men I have dated in the city, the fewer still I have had sex with, the many more who flirted openly and I knew desired me. I searched for the voice in the people I met as best I could remember. He calls again as I still wait.
"I am calling the police," I threaten as I switch to him.
It is nearly four in the morning and I hear the police answering so I switch back. I am transferred and finally get a sympathetic officer. He listens and I tell him all I could remember, he asks questions and I assure myself that he is writing it all down.
He had said, a "friend," I think puzzled. I think hard: "Who on earth would give my number out to such a fucking pervert?"
When I am done talking to the police I feel confident that I can now sleep. I have to go Monday to file a real report. I hate that I am afraid, but I fall asleep. The sky does not stay dark long enough and I wake for another Saturday. I decide not to run in the park, it is hot anyway, and still humid from the summer storm, and I decide instead to go to the gym and run laps indoors.
My running shorts are loose but very short, with slits up the sides and my tank top is now seemingly way too tight even though my sports bra crushes my breasts unpleasantly flat. Embarrassed, my nipples are hard as I wonder if he is still watching. Ashamed, I am sexually aroused by the idea of being watched.
"Have I frightened the stranger I know only as a disembodied voice away?"
On my way home from the gym I wear a long pretty summer dress and I am aware how my body moves beneath it. I wear a bra and panties but feel naked. My body moves as if I am naked and I know I am being watched even though I am alone. My breast are big for my athletic build and my fit body, I am aware of how they seem salacious as they sway under my dress.
"Let him watch," I think confident. I have the police and he is just some lonely coward.
As a little girl I always danced. I dreamed of being a ballerina but my chest blossomed early and grew too big, even sports were a challenge. I was teased and I felt how girls were jealous and boys envious. Girls would be mean, boys were just lecherous. Older men would steal glances or just stare outright. I sometimes wore two sports bras to flatten and hide my breasts. I could not be a cheerleader, but I did all the dances they did in private.
At home that night I lay nude in my bed, posed like a painted prostitute by some great artist, confident. I thought of a Goya in the museum, luxuriously nude, confident, totally in control of herself. It is dark and I know that he cannot see my nudity in the dark of my bedroom. I feel free and I feel trapped. I need to masturbate and I do. I masturbate to the idea of a stranger looking at me, watching me, seeing my nude body there, a living nude now obscene like our modern pornography. I am petting myself and fondling my breasts as I caress my most sensitive places, stoking my inner fires, building my orgasm towards its climax.
The scent of lust filled my every breath, I was taking deep yet quick breaths as I splayed my legs more, shamelessly at the pitch black abyss that was my window, the drapes not closed, unafraid, I arched my back and curled my toes, I concentrated on the very tip of my sex, wetting my fingertips and circling there steadily as my climax was now perched at the very edge of insanity. I moaned and I felt the waves of pleasure as I pulsated within, my body quivering, my eyes rolled back, my eyelids not closed, I trembled with my hands still upon my sex, gasping, luxuriating in my orgasm.
Then I fell asleep. He did not call. Unafraid I do not dress and lounge about naked. I do all the most mundane things without any clothes on and I feel like Eve in the Garden on her very first day after creation. I am without sin and I am proud to have been made so beautifully. I am grateful that I am young and alive.
In my junior year of college I spent a semester studying abroad. On days off we went to museums and cathedrals like other tourists. On a trip we stole away for an afternoon and found a nudist colony. I removed my clothes like the others. Naked, except for my sandals, I stood with old men and women, children, a few girls my age, all naked. I wanted to raise my arm, cover my breasts, or place my hand like a fig leaf at my sex, but I just stood there bare.
But in this place nudity was normalcy, everyone was naked, no one wore clothes or covered their bodies. You pretended that male genitals hanging limp was normal, pubic hair, nipples, buttocks, the genitals of women, exposed, naked, this was commonplace, routine, you did not stare or stop or even notice. Naked I lounged by the pool, naked I ate my lunch, took a nap in the sun, sun-kissed, rolling over I browned in places I had never exposed before.
The next night there was no call even through I left the lights on, low, but on in every room, my drapes open, and I was nude. I sat unladylike, and before the windows, as if I did not care that he was watching. I was defiant and felt like a brat. I should have been ashamed but instead I felt in control.
That night I masturbated again. I did so with the lights on. I was fearless. In the morning I awoke still unsatisfied, my body still hungry for pleasure. As I dressed after my shower and thought of another Monday, my cell phone rang. Instinctively I knew it was the stranger.
"I prefer that you no longer shave your cunt," he said as pleasantly in tone as his words were disgusting.
My knees went weak. I asked myself only in thought: "How did he know my secret fondness for obscene and vulgar sexual banter, words that are filthy and horrible?"
"Bullshit," I called him out for a bluff. I had long since trimmed down my natural female hair, shaving it back so my most revealing bikini bottom or lingerie would only show bare flesh down there.
"And I prefer that you no longer tan your pussy, I like tan lines," he ignored my protest. I laughed at him. Anyone could guess such a thing. "Take off those panties so I can see your beautiful brown hairs as you put on your make-up."
I hang up and look around madly. I am wearing only panties and my head's hair is a natural beautiful light brown, my vestige pubic hair is the same soft color, not dark at all. I refused to shave it completely, or wax, I liked it actually, but I groomed it for fashion and convenience. Angry and unsettled, I stood and I searched the windows of the buildings across from mine, I hoped to see a man with binoculars or a telescope. I saw nothing at all. And then he called again: "Who are you," I demanded.
"Your admirer," he said reassuringly in tone as if that was sufficient.
"You are very beautiful when you masturbate."
Once more I hang up, but he calls again. I am now unhinged by the thoughts of his voyeurism and the memory of my exhibitionism.
"Take off your panties and sit nude for me, legs open, on the edge of the stool as you normally do when you ready your face." He knew my routine, I rarely ventured from it, but today I had without thinking of it really. "You know that your face is very beautiful."
"Please stop," I sounded ready to beg. But between my legs I was wet and hot and bothered, my nipples were already tight as ever as I thought of his eyes upon my nearly naked body. "Please leave me alone," I implored.
"You want it this way," he said confident, his voice more certain than ever. "You need me to watch, to see your nudity, to know your intimate moments, see you free, gaze all over you and know when you masturbate." He paused for a second. "You need me to watch."
"If I agree will you please stop calling?"
"You know you need me to approve of you, you want to hear me confirm that your beauty is intoxicating, you crave the attention; you must have an admirer."
"Will you hurt me?"
"I am your admirer."
"Promise," I whispered.
"You are mine," his voice oddly reassuring.
Defeated I set the phone down and slowly took off my panties for him. When I had set them on my vanity I stood facing no particular direction and retrieved my phone.
"Good girl, Claire Ann," he said proudly.
"You know my name," I stuttered. I never use my full first name.
"I know everything about you," he sounded gentle.
"Do I know you?"
"Yes and no," he sounded mysterious then. "I know you completely, but you understand me."
If it was an explanation, it was obscure, a riddle perhaps.
"You are a voyeur," I asked innocently, stating the obvious actually.
"And you my exhibitionist."
Another silence, my heart raced and I pushed my bare foot on the carpet to widen my stance, knowing he must see the place between my legs somehow.
"Should I sit?"
"Please do," he spoke politely then, "I do not want you to be late."
And I sat, like a dancer my legs parted until I was sitting like I was doing splits, my body perched delicately at the very edge of the stool. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I wanted to be ashamed. I struggled to feel ashamed.
"Thank you, Sir," I said grateful. Nervous yet excited, I knew I was no longer alone. He would now watch over me.