Emily – November 2004
Everything about Emily’s life was going to plan. She and Nathan intended to marry in July of the following year and she and her mama were busy making wedding preparations. At weekends Emily and Nathan were employed in seeking the perfect Manhattan apartment. Near to Park Avenue was preferable. From Emily’s point of view to be near to her mother and brother, for Nathan because it was the ‘right’ address. Nathan favoured traditional architecture; consequently his choice was a pre-war duplex apartment on Fifth Avenue with spectacular views over Central park. The apartment was spacious and boasted panelled reception rooms for entertaining in style. The entrance hall was impressive with a glamorous ornate wrought iron and gilt banister curling away to the upper level. The corner master bedroom suite, consisting of two light bright bedrooms each with their own custom designed closets and luxurious baths with windows facing west and south.
Emily’s taste veered towards the modern. She had always envied Charlotte’s SoHo apartment and realised as she and Nathan house hunted together that she really preferred the open plan loft style dwellings of SoHo, TriBeCa or even Greenwich Village; she didn’t think however that Nathan would be easily persuaded to her point of view.
With a mental sigh and a shrug Emily settled herself to the fact of compromise. Nathan would leave decoration entirely in her hands. There was a lot that she could achieve, with a little help from Charlotte, with a modicum of structural change, decoration and furnishings to get the clean minimal look that she aspired to.
For the most part the engaged couple had settled into a routine of weekending together at Nathan’s apartment, one or other of their family homes in Easthampton or trips to the Caribbean or to Florida to catch some sun. Emily usually slept over at Nathan’s one day during the week but continued to nominally live at home with her mama. Nathan and she got along together and very rarely argued about anything. They both enjoyed their respective work, although Emily was aware that Nathan wanted them to start a family sooner rather than later and had expectations that Emily would be a full-time, stay at home wife and mother. Sex was regular if not toe-curlingly exciting but on the whole she had expectations of a harmonious relationship and a lifestyle that lacked nothing.
It was into this agreeable existence that there came a very unwelcome and disturbing intrusion. Emily was awaiting Nathan’s immanent arrival for an opening night when she received a message, expecting it to be Nathan with an explanation for his delay she opened the text. She felt the blood rush to her face as she scanned the message. Emily deleted the offensive message her hand shaking slightly. She rationalised to herself that the message was random and not intended to target her though she was aware of an increase in heart rate and sweaty palms. The sexually explicit nature of the message had upset her.
About a week later Emily received a second message. She didn’t hesitate to open the text, as it appeared to be from Nathan. The content was shocking and sickening, purporting to be what Nathan planned to do with Emily that same evening. Once again Emily was alone in a public place when she received the offensive message; she looked around uncomfortable that someone was out there watching her. She never thought for a moment that the perpetrator could be Nathan.
Emily wondered of course who could be responsible; it was a difficult feeling wondering if someone she knew disliked her and wanted to hurt her. Emily was generally considerate to others and had no reason to believe that she had made an enemy. The nature of the messages she had received however indicated the exact opposite of this belief; someone had it in for her.
Sebastian would know what to do Emily thought. She would call by and ask his help. She expected that she would have to change her cell number which would be more than a hassle, she had work contacts, all her personal service contacts, and friends galore stored in her address book. Turning these problems over in her mind Emily turned her footsteps towards the Conde Nast building, she had a story to file and a meeting with the fashion editor before she finished for the day.
Emily sat down at her desk and fired up her PC. First a quick check of her e-mails in case anything important had landed. Emily opened a message from her editor expecting it to be about their meeting. She was shocked to read an abusive and sexually explicit message. Emily felt sick and shaky; she deleted the message immediately but a few of the words were imprinted on her mind ‘cock sucking whore’ and ‘dirty fornicating bitch’ set within an abusive monologue intended to humiliate and intimidate her.
Emily struggled with tears of distress. Her hands shook and her fingers refused to operate effectively so she made repeated mistakes as she tried to type her feature on the secrets of style over fashion. She was sat in a large open-plan office and was uncomfortably aware of colleagues’ observing her; she felt that she had to appear as though nothing was the matter.
Emily was way off finishing her piece when the time came for her meeting. She grabbed a notebook and pen and made her way across the large open plan space on her way to her boss’s office. Emily felt somehow that the atmosphere was charged and she was being eyed in a new and different way. She straightened her back and held her head up in defiance; of what she wasn’t sure, perhaps she was being paranoid.
The meeting was as Emily had imagined; a progress report on her planned feature. Emily detailed her boss on the interviews she had been given, the photographs she had requested from the archives and some new ones she had commissioned. The older woman, usually rather brusque, nodded her approval and as Emily made to leave looked up from her desk and asked,
‘Is everything all right Emily?’
‘Yes of course’ Emily fired back, shocked at the question, ‘why do you ask?’ she risked, trying to sound nonchalant,
‘Nothing’ Victoria smiled wanly, ‘I thought you looked anxious, that’s all.’
‘Everything’s fine, thank you’ Emily responded with a forced smile, wishing that she spoke the truth, ‘is that all for now?’
‘Yes, thank you Emily. I look forward to reading the finished piece. When can I expect to see it?’
‘I’ll have it finished tonight before I leave’ Emily promised, glad that she was returning home to Park Avenue after work.
Emily was glad of the peace and quiet of a deserted office to finish her article. Everyone had gone home or out to fashion parties or opening nights; the media night shift. It was almost nine by the time she had finished to her satisfaction. The piece had taken her far longer to complete than was normal; her concentration had been continuously broken by her uneasiness.
Emily stretched, rubbed her eyes and rolled her shoulders to ease out the knots of tension. She was tired; it had been a long day. Her cell phone buzzed and Emily answered as she prepared to leave the building; her mama to say that she had arranged for the driver to collect her. Emily breathed a sigh of relief; she would soon be in the comfort of her home where she felt sure that nothing could hurt her.