Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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Short Story
1696 words
SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

Sleeping Suzy

by Mike Koenig

Can you see her? Can you see Suzy? She’s young, only fifteen. She wears braces, and at night she wears headgear. She’s in the tenth grade now, but is still nervous about high school. She hides in large T-shirts and avoids ones with words across the chest. She only has A-cups and the boys don’t look at her much. She isn’t the one they ask out, or point out, or even think about after school. Suzy isn’t that type of girl, she’s plain. She takes G.T. classes—English and History. If she stays on track, she’ll have some AP credits before going to college. But she doesn’t think that far off. Not on most days.

Suzy’s the one you see walking down the hallway with a smile, always a smile. Everyone likes her. Her jeans are never too tight and her shorts are never too short. The teachers love her because she does her homework and her classmates like her because she doesn’t gossip or call people names or do any of the things other teenage girls do. Her hair is in a ponytail and it sways back and forth as she walks down the hall; her books are in her arms, in a Norman Rockwell pose. Can you see her?

After school, she plays with her black Lab, Charlie, who’s now three. She got him on her 12th birthday. He sleeps in her bed; in fact, she has trouble sleeping when he isn’t with her—something about the sound of his breathing, or maybe the softness of his fur. He whimpers if she stays up too late. Perhaps he can’t sleep without her either. But on Friday nights when Suzy is at home with no homework and no parties it’s the dog that keeps her happy. Sure, she thinks about boyfriends and holding hands at the movies, a light kiss at the end of the night, but not in a sad way. She knows it will happen for her and is okay with things taking time.

So, can you see her? She’s so young, almost too young for high school. She still gets nervous changing in front of the other girls and can’t quite imagine what a real kiss will feel like. She wears glasses with thick rims. Suzy doesn’t even realize they’re out of fashion; that they were never in fashion. She dots her I’s with circles and quickly looks away when the teacher asks for volunteers.

Right now Suzy is just lying on the couch; Charlie’s by her side. Her eyes are closed to the world and she is having a very nice dream about ice cream cones and picnics. And that picture of Suzy, lying with her pup, blissfully unaware of all the bad things that really exist in the world—the leering eyes of men, the lust of strangers—that is the picture that can last for all time. All you have to do is stop reading. If you stop reading, she’ll stay like this, in this cocoon of innocence. Like the Mona Lisa or The Sistine Chapel, Suzy has the chance to remain a stationary figure, a timeless image. All you have to do is stop reading. Put down this paper and she will stay this way. Because if you keep reading, Suzy will get raped and murdered and all the beauty and youth we’ve just discovered will be wasted—lost forever. Do you really want to read this story? Would you let that happen to Suzy?


If she had lived to sixteen, Suzy would have learned to drive. She probably would have gone on a date and at school she would have learned about rape. They read The Lord of the Flies in the eleventh grade and Mrs. Powers talks about how the pig hunt is really a rape scene. In class, they will discuss what rape really is. It’s not about pleasure, it’s about power. Men want to dominate, to feel superior and in control. Suzy wouldn’t think about this on her own. For her, the hunt is just a hunt. Though she knows the word she doesn’t think about what rape really is. Neither does the man outside Suzy’s house. He didn’t come here for her. But when he sees her he will want her. He won’t have a real reason. She isn’t attractive. He wouldn’t think about her when he masturbates. In fact, he wouldn’t normally think about her at all. But on this day when he sees her, he will want her. It will be automatic. His hand will cover her mouth and before she fully awakes it will start.

The murder will be an accident. Suzy’s so small that he will crush her without noticing. He’ll be so into the moment that he won’t see her eyes roll, and he won’t feel her lungs stop. For a second, he’ll think about calling 9-1-1. He’ll think about trying to save her. But that second will pass and he will simply flee the house, fearing the police and her parents, and a host of problems. He’ll never get caught because no one knows who he is. This is his first rape and his first time with a minor. Both will happen again.

When he returns home he will try to understand what happened. What made him go after the young girl? Maybe he wanted her because society says he shouldn’t. Maybe he always loved little girls and just never acted. Maybe it was just easy, and as she slept he realized how easy it could be. He doesn’t consider the idea of power or the thought of control. But all the books will say this is really what he likes. What he now needs. Of course, right now it’s not too late. You can save Suzy by not reading any further. She’s just sleeping on the couch, her puppy by her side. She can stay like that. She doesn’t have to die.


Suzy is real, as real as any person I’ve ever met. I know her birthday. March 5th. And her favorite color. Green. Not the green of plants or the green on T-shirts, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. No, Suzy likes the green on the DVD player—the light on the display that spells Hello when she turns the power on and says Goodbye when she turns it off. It makes her smile every time, as if she wasn’t watching a movie alone. And though it makes her a little sad to read Goodbye her dad says it’s better for the DVD player if you turn it off. And Suzy still believes her dad about electronic things.

Her dad is a fireman. He works three 12-hour shifts a week, so sometimes days go by where Suzy doesn’t see her dad. But she loves him. She thinks about dancing with him at her wedding; even more than she thinks about dancing with her future husband or even the wedding itself. She hopes her dad will cry at the wedding. She’s never seen that. Not happy tears or sad tears. And if he cries at the wedding, it will melt Suzy’s heart. This is how she thinks, this is the type of person she is. Why do you keep reading, why take it to the gloomy end?

Her favorite food is Mac and Cheese, baked in the oven. Her mother makes it whenever Suzy looks sad and usually that’s enough to cheer her up. When she was little she played soccer, Left Wing. She wasn’t very good but she once scored a goal on Mother’s Day. She still thinks it’s the best present she ever gave her mom. After scoring, she ran off the field to hug her mom; it was followed by a yellow card.

Suzy loves Christmas decorations, and the TV show Glee, and jelly beans; she loves jelly beans, particularly the Harry Potter ones. Even the gross ones that taste like grass or dirt make her smile. It’s an effortless smile. A jelly bean could brighten her day, or a lick on the hand from Charlie, or hearing the door open and knowing her dad is home. She appreciates the small things.


The unknown man with powerful arms approaches the window. Suzy’s still napping. She won’t hear the glass break. She won’t see the man enter. Why are you doing this? Why are you reading? Isn’t knowing the ending enough? Do you need to see her father find the body? Do you want to see him cry, the way Suzy never saw him cry? Do you need the descriptions of a thrusting pelvis and tearing clothes? Of a dog with a broken neck and a girl’s broken hymen? Why can’t she just be a picture?

Suzy’s right there on the couch. Her bangs have fallen from behind her ear. They cover her eyes, giving her a hint of mystery. Her breathing is stuttered, a light snore. Charlie harmonizes with her; their stomachs rise and fall in a synchronized pattern. Why can’t this be the story? Why isn’t this enough, a young girl sleeping with her dog? I don’t want to kill her, I kind of like Suzy, but I have to now. Just like horror movies have to slay and mysteries have to be solved. There’s a pact between us, a promise I have to keep. You wouldn’t have read this far without it. Stories need conflict. You demand that I show you something.

The man breaks the window and the dog awakes. He barks. Not loud, or even gruff, but consistently. The robber, would-be rapist, is scared and he runs away. I’m sorry, but I can’t do it anymore. I have to stop. This isn’t the story I want to tell. Suzy isn’t a victim, and she won’t be a hero or role model. She’s nothing really. Just a portrait, an image. There’s no lesson to learn or humanity to reveal. She’s simply a girl, young and sweet, and right now she’s asleep on the couch. Safe. I know you want there to be more, but there’s not. She’s just a girl. Can you see that? Can you see Suzy now?


SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

Mike Koenig

received his MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. He currently lives in Columbia, Maryland and works for Discovery Communications. His fiction can be seen in Phoebe, Crack the Spine, and Clover.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury