The Three Arts Club of Chicago

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FEBRUARY 1992

In the early 90’s—my freshman year of college—I lived in an historic all-women’s dormitory for art students. The building was from 1915, quite old, and brimming with the energy of hundreds of creative young women past and present. My roommate and I kept different schedules but were generally careful not to wake each other if one of us came in late and the other was sleeping. One night I was awakened from a deep sleep by my roommate who apparently thought it would be hilarious to crouch at the foot of my bed and grab hold of my ankles. I found it deeply annoying and decided I wasn’t going to let her get a reaction out of me. So I pretended not to notice. She squeezed my ankles tighter and giggled. I didn’t find it at all funny so I tried to kick her hands off of me. But she was holding so tightly I couldn’t move my legs at all. She giggled more. I became furious and tried to yell at her to knock it the hell off but I couldn’t speak, nor could I open my eyes. I took in the biggest breath I could, mustered every ounce of strength in my body, and hurled myself up off of my pillow. I looked at the foot of my bed and no one was there. I looked across the room to the other bed and there she was sound asleep. It would have been physically impossible for her to sprint from the foot of my bed to her own in the time between when I felt something squeezimg my ankles and when I looked over and saw her asleep. But even if she was able to move at the speed of light, the room was silent. Aside from the giggling there had been no noise. No sounds of footsteps running back to her bed, no sound of fabric rustling as she climbed under her covers, no squeaky mattress springs—nothing. I looked hard at her limp figure in the light of the street lamp outside our window. That kind of limp was hard to fake in a hurry. Had someone else broken in? One of the other girls? I got out of bed and checked the floor—empty. I went back to bed and hoped that I’d never experience that again. And I never did.

Submitted by Heather L

The Three Arts Club of Chicago