When I wake up, I’m not in the car. I’m in a bare room on a small mattress with no covers. Where am I?
I start to panic. What’s going on? My bag is on the floor and I grab it, trying to find my phone. It’s not in there. Neither is my wallet. Just some lipstick and a book I have been reading. As the alcoholic haze of the night before starts to fade, bits and pieces start coming back to me. Mr N. Nabil. A restaurant. Lots of alcohol. Nabil’s brother has my phone. I remember he took it to charge it and never gave it back. Safekeeping, he called it when we were leaving. Then I passed out in the car. I don’t remember anything else. I have no idea where I am. The floor is dirty, the room is musty and the door is locked. There's a small window but it’s very high up and I can’t reach it.
I start to bang on the door. There must be someone here. Someone will hear me.
“Hello?” I shout. “Nabil? Let me out!”
I bang some more. “Nabil?”
As the minutes pass, I get more desperate.
“Nabil! This is NOT funny! LET ME OUT!!!”
There’s no response. Tears well in my eyes and fear grips me in a way I’ve never known. I have no clue where I am. No phone. No one knows I’m with Nabil except Mr N. Wait, yes, oh, thank God. Mr N will find me. He’ll be worried when he doesn’t hear from me. It will be okay.
That thought calms me down a little. Mr N. Yes! Let me hang on to that. He knew I was going home with this guy.
I’m so thirsty! Damn! My mouth is dry. I have a headache. I feel dizzy and light-headed. And I’m so freaking tired. I drag my tired feet back to mattress. Collapse on it and fall asleep.
The next time I wake up there is natural light in the room. Sunrays are filtering through the tiny window. It was not a dream. I’m still here. Someone has been in the room. There is a tray with a plastic cup of water and a slice of bread. I stand up and immediately get hit by a massive a wave of dizziness. My heart rate has increased. I need water! I make it to the tray and drink from the small cup. It’s not enough. I check the door. It’s still locked. Why are they doing this?
“I need water!” I shout. “Please, give me water…”
There’s no sound from the other side. I have sobered up now, fear the perfect inducement. What went wrong? I look back at the evening. Everything that was said last night that I ignored starts to feel ominous with hindsight.
“What’s your biggest regret?” I remember Nabil asking me.
I didn’t know what to say. My biggest regret? I had no idea. Everything I had done so far had worked out pretty well for me. I told him I regretted my career choice in university.
“I think there will be bigger regrets than that,” he had said. I remember asking him what he meant by that and him not answering. I remember his brother taking my phone. I remember all the questions about who knew about where I was. I remember him wanting to know if I lived alone. He was setting this up all along and wanted to be sure I wouldn’t be missed. But surely, Mr N is his friend. How will he explain my disappearance to him? Will he say that I stormed off and took a taxi? Will Mr N believe that? I have to hope and pray he doesn’t. He’s the only person who knows I’m with this guy.