Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
Last week’s story was about a romantic stranger, so I thought I’d continue the theme this week. I had remembered this story from Jezebel’s spooky story contest and knew I had to share it. The story captures the hopeless romanticism of being a teenage girl and the unwanted attention young girls get from creepy men. For me, it captures the dark side of giving your heart to another, a person you may not know very well at all.
When I was 17 years old, I was an avid romance reader. I’d sneak all of my mother’s Harlequin novels and lock myself in my bedroom and just absorb all of it’s cheesy, dramatic, goodness. So when I started dreaming of this dashing, young fellow in a breezy, ruffled, white shirt (think Fabio or whatever any man on a historical romance novel would be wearing) and riding boots, I was ecstatic.
His name was James and he had this old time, English accent that I couldn’t quite place. The dreams started out naturally, once a month he’d pop in, sometimes twice. Then it became more frequent, 1-2 times a week. It would always start the same, I’d be dreaming of myself sleeping in my bed and I’d wake up to find him standing in my room. His eyes glowed this vibrant green and he kept pushing his ruffled hair back in this sexy way. The way he looked at me is what I became obsessed with. There was this yearning, this deep devotion to me. I would wake up thinking, “that’s what it feels like to be in love”.
He would always approach me slowly, hesitant to make sure I wasn’t scared. Then he would tell me I was beautiful and ask me to dance. Music would appear out of no where and I would look down and find myself in this beautiful, laced nightgown and flowers in my hair and we would waltz in moonlight (can you see why a 17 year old girl would just become obsessed with this?) I would become so eager to go to bed, sometimes forcing myself to sleep by 7:00pm just so I could see him.
Meanwhile, things in my waking life were becoming strangely dark. My music player would turn on in the middle of the night, full blast, waking the entire house. I’d be doing homework at my desk and would continuously see something from the corner of my eye. One time, with the house to ourselves, my best friends and I were all piled into my bed, eating cookie dough and watching reruns of “Cops” when we heard a male voice talking from the bathroom just down the hall from my bedroom. At first, we didn’t think anything of it. Perhaps my Dad came home earlier than expected, or my brother. We were a family of five with an open door policy for friends. It was rare that we were alone.
The voice kept going on and on, until finally, my one best friend asked me who was here? I muted the TV and we listened and then I realized, the voice had an accent. I got this terrible shiver down my back and I yelled out “James?” and suddenly, the voice stopped. I finally told my best friends about my dreams and their faces went white. Two nights later, I dreamt the same dream. I was dancing with James but the energy was different. His grip on me was firmer and as we danced, the whole time he was growling in my ear, “you are mine and no one can have you”.
A week later, I begged my mother to let me move out of that bedroom and come upstairs (it was in the basement). My younger sister switched with me and she stayed there for years. My dreams, gone.
A little over a year ago now, my sister and I were helping my mother clean out the room so she could transform it into her own office. My sister and I were going through things and she randomly started laughing and said, “James won’t like this”.
I have never felt more cold or sick or terrified in my life. “What did you just say?”
She looked embarrassed, and waved her hand to pass it off before carrying back to the boxes.
“James, English man who dances?” I asked.
She nodded. “He’s not a very nice man”.