Trigger warnings: the usual. Abuse, sexual content, violence, mental instability. Etc.
A definition, to help explain in medical terms what was going on then–dissociative disorder.
I kept myself from dating anyone seriously as a freshman. High school dating, the kind where notes are passed, and people can claim they are your boyfriend, now that was fun. Nothing like what I had experienced with H. While I may not have been the most conventionally attractive, I managed to attract the attention of one of the more popular seniors at the school. Still young, I didn’t see him for what he was either. Tall, blonde, football player build and bulk. He had blue eyes and a nice smile. Every time I saw him I was struck speechless. I would see him almost daily, as his shop class was down the hall from my Drama one, and I looked forward to it. Sometimes he would say things to me, other times not. He called, after getting my number from D. I was out for the afternoon, my parents having given up on grounding me by then.
I had been to detention twice, and was no longer fazed by the threat. Only the initial visit had been frightening. The afternoon I spent with S was quite instructional. He picked me up and we went back to his parents’ house, which was in the Harbor, a fancy housing development. We went down to the finished basement and hung out, watching television. He kissed me, and that was. Surprising. It led to a very quick, not very impressive hookup in the other room. I couldn’t believe that this senior-someone almost everyone in school knew—wanted anything to do with me, and while I knew what he wanted, I didn’t care. I had quickly come to realize that sex was something you could use to control people, and I wanted to see what would happen.
We hung out a few more times, and things stayed the same at school as they had been. There was a scare where I thought I was pregnant (no birth control back then, as my parents didn’t know I was hooking up and I wasn’t about to tell them, either.) That was enough for us to not speak for a while. Word had gotten around about it and school was…rough. There was a confrontation where we passed each other in the halls, and he hissed the word “Bitch” in my direction. It stopped me, as I was surprised by the venom in his tone. I guess players weren’t too into having their secret hookups broadcast, but I was too dumb to know it. After that, any time I saw him, he would hiss something at me, and eventually, it wore me down.
I had been on-again-off-again dating a friend of mine (read; kissing after school in the empty lot around my house and in the creepy, deserted cemetery I used to hang out in that was about a mile away from the road) who claimed he loved me. He even said it on the phone, and in front of his friends. It was to him I ran for the reassurance I so desperately needed, despite not believing he loved me. How can you love someone you don’t know? The final bell of the day would ring, and I would head for my bus, which was next to his. He would wait, wanting to check in and make sure I was ok. The day I remember most was flinging myself into his arms, the closing around me, and smelling the leather from his jacket and his cologne and thinking, I’m safe. Safe here. Stay. He held me, tight, so tightly I felt safe–then he let go and then we got on our separate buses.
Towards the end of the school year, S called me up and asked me to meet him. Come by the house, he said. Sure, I said, whatever. I had since stopped caring what he thought, and his comments had stopped. Speculation about whether we had hooked up and if I had been pregnant (no) had died down, replaced with the next big high school scandal. It had only taken a month or so for something more dramatic to happen—a friend of mine actually was pregnant and instead of dropping out, she was staying in school and having the baby. That was far more interesting to the group of gossips who seemed to enjoy sending hatred flying down the hallways, circulating into the student body for everyone to whisper and gasp at.
She wasn’t the only one, either. A transplant had arrived, who was also very pregnant. So my mind wasn’t exactly on anything in particular when I stopped by his place. It was a sunny day. Very laid back, and he seemed to have the house to himself, which was rare. Usually his Mom was around. He had reggae music playing on the radio, some Bob Marley song. Outside, there was a semicircle of chairs in the driveway, like he was expecting company, or people had been over chilling in the sun. They were those collapsible camping chairs. I looked around his room, wondering what he wanted. I had been in here a handful of times, when we were hooking up, but rarely in the daytime, and not for very long. His bed was huge. I sat on the edge of it, listening to him talk to me about random things. His attention focused in on my hair, which was almost touching the waistline of my jeans by this time in the year, and he reached out to touch it. I almost swung out of the way; since we weren’t hooking up I didn’t want him touching me in any way.
He laughed and came close, telling me he missed me, we should get back together as friends and hookup buddies. I shrugged. I don’t want to be your girlfriend, I told him. I have better things to do than date someone who called me a bitch all year. Come on, he said, you know I didn’t mean it. It was just because of what people were saying. Oh yeah, gotta keep up that image, I told him, examining my fingernails. They were long, for once, and I had painted them a dark red the night before. He leaned in to kiss me and I went along with it, as I wasn’t opposed to sleeping with him again. It didn’t ever last very long, but I had adjusted to that and he was generally considerate when it came to ensuring I got something out of it, after the initial few times when nothing happened for me at all. I remember him being surprised when I mentioned it, and he said to make sure I told him next time, so I had.
It was weird, how careful he was being here, though. Almost romantic, I thought, wondering what was up. Definitely not his normal grope and go, to be crude, which didn’t bother me as I rarely wanted anything out of him other than that. I didn’t do oral and he was OK with that, so I just followed his lead. He finished, and said I should just chill. Rest. Hang out until he got back. He’d be back in a bit, he had to go out and get some stuff from his buddy, A. F was there too, hanging out, and they were watching a movie in the basement. He left me in his room, half-dressed and kind of tired. I never slept at his house though, ever. It wasn’t that kind of hookup relationship; no cuddling. Definitely not resting or relaxing. I started to pull myself back up, to get the rest of my clothes back on.
A came into the room, and I quickly pulled my shirt together. He laughed, and said he didn’t care. He’d seen it before, he said, and I shrugged. Doesn’t mean I feel like showing you mine, I told him. I had never liked A. Tall, stork like, he reminded me of some sort of bird of prey. The kind who would pluck your eyes out and eat them while you were still twitching under his talons. This description would turn out to be fairly apt, actually.
He closed the door behind him and locked it. I looked at him, quizzically- no reason for him to lock himself in here with me, period. I hated him and he knew it. He stepped closer, and closer, and then pulled my shirt open again. Might as well see the merchandise, he said. I stepped back, backing into the wall. There really was not a lot of room in here, with this huge bed in the way and a desk crammed in. What are you talking about, I asked him, too afraid suddenly to pull my shirt closed, or try to wiggle around him to get at the door. My hands went cold, and I felt like I was going to pass out.
S didn’t tell you? He said. He chuckled. Now there’s a surprise. Didn’t tell me what, I asked him. Blood rushed through my ears and my wrists pounded, and my stomach was roller coastering again. I thought I had an idea of where this was going and I was not okay with it. I had spent my year cultivating spineless boyfriends, one after another. S had been my hookup buddy and I had just led the rest of them on, flirting and sometimes kissing but not much else. I wasn’t into kissing either, I had realized, and mostly stuck to flirting and notes. Easily handled, which is what I wanted after the previous summer. Only G knew all the details about that, and he was safe, because he would never tell his brothers. S had thought he was my first, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Well, A said, stepping back into reach and running a finger along my cheek, S traded you to me, for the afternoon. What the hell, I said. I am not S’s property. Looks like you are today, chica, he said. I don’t think so, I told him, and tried to push him aside. He was stronger than he looked. He slammed me back into the wall, and I saw, so quickly it was almost like it hadn’t happened, a flash of being curled up by the curb, on the floor of the apartment by that ugly couch. No, I said, shoving harder. He grasped hold, leaned down to my ear, and whispered, Look sugar. He traded you for a lot of drugs, and I intend to get my moneys worth. So shut up and do what I tell you or it will end badly. I didn’t know what to do. Screaming wouldn’t help because it was the middle of the damn day. People were at work. He clapped his hand over my mouth anyway, and whispered, no screaming, and no biting, which is what I was just about to do. I nodded. Just let me up, I thought, and let him do what he wants. It will hurt less, and it doesn’t matter. It’s not me, I am not here, this is not happening.
Image Credit: Google
I did what he told me to, after I realized fighting him off wasn’t going to work. I wanted to go home that afternoon without a side trip to the hospital. While A was just a teenage boy, eighteen or nineteen, he was a lot bigger than I was, and I didn’t trust anyone after H not to flip out on a moment’s notice and do something that would end up with hospital worthy injuries. I just lay still while he did whatever he wanted, and when he was finished, he sent their other friend in as well. He cleaned me up, and then proceeded to kiss me, and act as if I wanted him there. The irony in this was I had been crushing on this guy all year, and figured he was out of my league. This wasn’t how I had pictured it going down at all. I didn’t want him trying to romance fuck me for drugs that my so-called friend with benefits had traded me for. I wasn’t some slut you could come and run a train on, as a friend of mine had happen to her—voluntarily, I might add. I wasn’t into that shit. I cried, and he wiped away the tears and told me it would be alright. I laughed then, a little hysterically. He held me and stroked my hair, but instead of calming me it just scared me even more. I mean, really? I had said no, over and over to A. I didn’t say anything to F, because I knew it wasn’t worth saying. No matter what I said, this was going to go down anyway, and there wasn’t much I could do to stop it at this point. And really? If I had let A touch me, even fought him off and failed, why not let F? Why the hell not? It was just sex, after all. Just sex, and if I breathed through it and pretended everything was ok, that I was willing or at least not kicking and screaming and trying to claw his fucking eyes out like I had with A, who had laughed and just pinned my bony wrists together, maybe it would be over quickly.
When he finished, he let me up to clean up, and S came back into the room. He asked who I wanted to call to pick me up. Oh, now you’re being charming, I snapped at him. How convenient. What if I say, call the police because you’re a fucking rapist? A drug addicted asshole? His face twisted then, just a little, enough so I could see what had been there the whole time, hiding under the affable football star demeanor. The selfish, spoiled boy who would do what he wanted, when he wanted, and didn’t care about the costs, and to him, I was just an object to be exploited to get something he wanted. In this case, several ounces of marijuana and cocaine. Nice. Glad to know I was worth something, I told him.
Now, in the part of the story I never mentioned before, on the very few occasions I have told it, I told him to pay up. He looked confused. Give me my take of the drugs, you fucking jerk, I said, or I call the police right now, and tell my probation officer what you did. You’ve been in juvie enough times to know they’ll send you back on just an alleged charge, so give me my share. You didn’t use protection, and I bet it will show in their rape tests, whatever those involve. He looked from me to the drugs, which he had casually just set on his dresser top, because he knew I wasn’t into drugs and they were safe there. After he stared at me for a long, silent moment, he measured out maybe a half ounce of weed. I shoved the baggie in my pocket, and waited for J to arrive to pick me up. I told S on my way out to never talk to me again. Don’t speak to me, don’t look at me, and if a word of this gets out, I will slam you with so many charges you will never ever see daylight again. And if I say nothing? He asked. Then I say nothing, I told him, and you get the satisfaction of knowing how incredibly lucky you are that it was me and not some other girl. You could have pulled this on some bitch who actually had self-respect, and you’d be going to jail. He laughed at that, twining the edges of my hair around his fingers. I jerked away from him. Long hair seemed to some kind of liability today. You had self-respect when I met you, he said. Not even close, I told him. It was gone long before then, so don’t reward yourself with the thought that you damaged me—you didn’t. He let go, smirking.
I was sick inside. I wasn’t even sure where these words were coming from. I was furious, hurt, and sore because I wasn’t used to sleeping with three people in quick succession all in one afternoon. My head hurt, and my skin was raw and chafed on my arm and my wrist. A had pinned me down, because I hadn’t exactly been cooperative. I shoved my sleeves up and he saw the scraped skin, oozing what looked like clear liquid, and saw the beginnings of the bruises. He blanched, and then walked me outside. S would have never been able to do that, no matter what, had he not been hopped up on coke, because he just wasn’t violent on his own. He would let others do his dirty work, and would stand by while someone hurt you, but he wouldn’t do it himself. He stood there with me waiting for J, and when he arrived they did the head nod at each other. I don’t know what it means, but I see guys do it everywhere. A silent hello? Acknowledgement without words? Who knows? Who cared? I climbed into his car and said please let’s go. He asked where and I said I didn’t care. He looked at me, and I pulled my sleeves down over my hands, and whispered, please, just get me the fuck out of here. I can’t stay here and I can’t think right now, please, just drive. He pulled out of the driveway and sped off, blaring music loudly enough to hurt my ears. I wasn’t sure if my head was pounding from what had just happened or if it was the music. I couldn’t think, I could barely breathe. I focused on just breathing in and out and not thinking as we took the curving roads back to his place.
When we got to his house, another three story house with a basement in a semi-upper class neighborhood, I lost it. He walked me inside, and I crumpled into a ball just inside the doorway. He reached out to touch my shoulder, and I started yelling, screaming. The screams didn’t seem real–I could hear them, and feel the raw mess my throat was becoming, but I couldn’t stop either.
I couldn’t have one more person touching me today, not right now. It had been an act of faith that I had called him for help, because he was also male, and I knew he liked me—what if he did the same shit? There wasn’t anyone home here, either. God, don’t these people have parents? My mother was almost always home, this shit would never go down there. But you don’t live at home, a voice mocked me, because there is nothing there for you. You don’t belong there either. I was drowning under the wave of panic and fear, unable to catch my breath, unable to move. J walked me into the dining area, leading me to a chair, and I sat down numbly. Just for a minute, because a glint of steel caught my eye. There was a long, sharp, carving type knife lying on the counter and I grabbed it, not really sure what I was going to do with the thing, but I had an idea I could just end things, and it wouldn’t matter anymore. J snatched it out of my hands by seizing my wrist, and when I hissed in pain he dropped it, but took the knife with him. He set it back in the knife block, and then asked what the fuck was going on. I shook my head. Nothing.
Nothing, nothing, I insisted. He led me upstairs, and I threw down the bag of weed. For picking me up, I said. I appreciate it. He said, hey, you want to get high? I laughed. No, I said, I don’t do drugs. Contrary to my image, I don’t drink or do drugs. Well, he said, pulling out a PVC pipe bong, let’s change that. You need to mellow out or you are going to fucking snap, woman. I don’t know what’s wrong with you but you need to mellow out, like yesterday. I nodded. Sure, why not? So much else had been lost, what was not doing drugs? Maybe I’d feel better. Maybe I’d like them. Maybe they’d help numb the insane emotions I was feeling right now, swirling around in a tornado that wouldn’t dissipate. I went to the bathroom while he got it ready, and once again, it was like I just stepped aside and someone else took over. My emotions were swinging all over the place. I washed my hands, my face, used his brush to comb through my tangled hair. I stepped out, and attempted a smile. She took over, making it much easier.
She walked us out of the bathroom, down the hall. She went right along with getting stoned, and told J all about what happened. He, of course, was shocked and horrified, but she assured him it didn’t matter. It was just sex, she said. Rape, he told her. No, just sex. I could have left, and I didn’t. He argued the point, and she tired of listening to him say she should go to the police now, before she showered, and tell them everything. It’s not right, he argued, and she laughed at that. Blame it on the drugs. She used his phone to try calling a few of our friends to see what they were up to. She was totally in control, calm, collected. Stoned, but not laughing, she got through to JZ and he told her where he was. Ironically, he was about a mile away from S’s house. I could have walked there, she giggled, as J led her out to the car. He drove her there in a stoned haze, and she sat still, hands inside her sleeves, curled into fists, looking out the window, feeling the wind whip her hair around, an empty shell.
I will handle this, she told me. Just stay down there and cry your pathetic fucking tears that never do anything. Did they help last summer? NO! Did they help today? No! You can’t even manage to get out of a room; I am not letting you stay in charge of our body. For how long, I thought how long can you smash me into this corner and make me something I am not? She smiled, fleeting. I am you, she told me. The you who doesn’t let people fuck her over, who doesn’t have to follow all the stupid, mundane rules that you keep in line with. Fuck that. I can handle this. I will handle this, and we will be okay. Just stay quiet.
J dropped me off, and Julie met me in the yard. She led me in to JZ, who was buzzed, because Julie’s mom, in an attempt to be “the cool mom” had handed out beers to everyone. She offered me one, and I took it, despite being completely spaced out from the pot. I raised my bottle to his and we clinked. What’s wrong, Sera? He asked. You don’t look like yourself. I am myself, I whispered to him, climbing onto his lap. I am more myself today than I have been in months, I told him calmly. He smiled up at me, dirty blonde hair falling in his eyes. JZ was a skater boy, baggy jeans, Converse sneakers; head shaved except for the very top, where it was long and constantly flopping into his eyes. He was tanned, from being outside, and his brown eyes were warm, not mean or empty.
He was sitting in a La-Z-Boy recliner, shoes off, bare feet in his dark wash jeans, in a flannel shirt over a t-shirt. I remember the texture from his shirt, soft, yet slightly scratchy, as I let him pull me down to him. I kissed him, tentatively at first and then stronger, and he kissed back, although I could tell he was surprised. I wasn’t usually into kissing, period, and even when we were dating I hadn’t let him kiss me very often. Then again, she hadn’t been in control back then. After a few minutes, Donald and Julie and the others started catcalling, yelling get a room. He walked me over to the hall and asked what was going on.
Nothing, I told him. I’m just. Feeling like myself finally. J called me, he said, before he brought you over. He told me what you told him—is it true? Yeah, I shrugged. I’ve got it handled, though. Oh, Sera, he said quietly. I’ve never doubted you had it handled. This is going to be hard for you to bounce back from, though. Well nobody but you and J know, so it won’t be that hard, I told him. Why, what’s wrong with me now? Am I damaged goods in your opinion? You don’t “love’ me anymore? I pulled away from him, hissing like a cat. He stepped forward, grabbing my hand and pulling it close to his chest. He said, calmly and sincerely, I will always love you Sera. But I know you don’t love me, you told me as much not a month ago. Maybe I just didn’t want a boyfriend, I said, and that was the quickest way to have you hate me. It was easier, when you weren’t talking to me. He looked down at me. What? Just kiss me, I told him, pulling his face down to mine. We can see where it goes from there. He let go of my wrist and kissed me, just for a moment, and I lost myself in it, trying to block out earlier in the afternoon. I love you, he said, when he pulled away, and I can’t in good conscience hook up with you today—not after what happened. You might hate yourself, and me, tomorrow if that’s what goes down now. This might be your only shot, I told him bitterly. All my inhibitions are gone, and fuck morality. Who needs it?
He gestured to Julie, and said something to her I couldn’t catch, as buzzed as I was. She nodded, and he and I went to sit outside on the picnic table in the backyard. Julie’s Mom put our shoes out there, ducking and cowering when I turned to glare at her. Her mom was short, pudgy, with tightly permed dark hair. She desperately wanted to be considered hip, but something about her rubbed me the wrong way. I found it hilarious she was OK with providing alcohol to teenagers and getting high with them, but drew the line at the possibility of date rape. What’s a little sharing between friends? I get it, I told him, watching the stars spin above me on the table. I know why you don’t want me, and laughed, which turned into hiccups, which in turn led to tears. They scalded my cheeks, as warm as the night was, I was freezing. He wrapped his flannel shirt around me, and just sat quietly beside me. She swiped at them angrily; tears were a weakness she could ill afford. We sat for a while, looking at the stars. I said nothing, as there was nothing I could say. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to think. My parents were going to be so pissed, I thought, looking up at the sky. I was late getting home, and I didn’t have any kind of explanation.
Julie had called them, and while we waited, JZ spoke quietly of nonsensical things. Something like had I come to him before and not like this, he wouldn’t say no, and once I was healed and he knew I was okay, if I came back to him, he would take care of me. I looked at him, oddly. I am not broken, I told him. It takes more than that to break me, it was just sex. Not consensual sex, he said, sounding way older than seventeen. It might bother you later, even if you can handle it now. Or it might not, I told him, as we walked to the driveway. He squeezed my hand and opened the car door. My parents were in the car, and I climbed in without saying anything. My mom, who had spoken with JZ before I got in the car, motioned at my Dad to drive home and not say anything. She said, are you okay? I nodded, looking out the window at the scenery going by. I held my little brothers hand, as he was in the backseat. Excited to see me, but I couldn’t think straight enough to talk to them. When we got to the house she said, why don’t you get cleaned up and get some rest? We’ll wake you up in the morning. I looked at her and asked, flat out-are you calling the p.o. on this one? I don’t think so, she said. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.
I shrugged, and then headed down the narrow trailer hallway to the tiny bathroom. I threw my clothes in the hamper, and then showered. I must have scrubbed up twenty times with that bar of soap, trying to feel clean. Rape victim cliché, she screamed in my head. You can’t wash this feeling off, just get out of the scalding hot water! All the fucking soap in the world isn’t going to make you feel clean, so get out before you blister .Fuck you, I retorted, where were you when I was trying to get out of there? Making sure you were going to make it through that, she snapped back. If you had listened to me in the first place we never even would have been there. But no, you thought S was so great. What could happen, you said, he doesn’t even like you that much anymore? No danger. Do you see how dumb you are? Only a fool would have gone there without anyone knowing where she was, what could happen.
Source: RabidBriBri on Deviant Art
I brushed my teeth, thinking to myself that she had a point. I went in my room, curled up in my blankets like a burrito, and stared at the ceiling. I didn’t think I could sleep. I felt sick, and my head was spinning. Alcohol, drugs, multiple sex partners, and lies, she chanted. Don’t worry, I’ll handle it. She must have. I slept, and didn’t dream. I woke up, and went out with my family, who acted as though nothing had happened the day before. The one time it was brought up, I just said I couldn’t talk about what had happened, but that Julie probably just overreacted and misinterpreted what I’d said to JZ.
I had told the guidance counselor at school about S before, and after that afternoon, whenever she asked me about him, I changed the subject. I spent about ninety percent of my time in her office when I wasn’t in class, because she let me just sit there quietly, reading, without bothering me. She knew bits and pieces of the story, and had called S in to talk to him. He had denied everything, and then found me in the hallway later. We were on the lower floor, and as I came around the corner he stepped up to me, very close. Closer than he’d ever stood in public, for sure. I was surprised, but pretending I wasn’t shaking inside, had asked him what he wanted. Keep your mouth shut, he told me, that was the deal. Why is this bitch asking me questions about you? I shrugged. I have no idea; maybe you ought to talk to your friends. Maybe they can’t keep their mouths shut. I had heard rumors, in certain groups of friends, about what supposedly happened that afternoon. Accounts varied, but it wasn’t looking good in my favor. I leaned in close to him and said, almost inaudibly, remember what I said—it stays quiet, I stay quiet. You counter the rumors and shut them down. Otherwise, I will tell her, and I’ll tell her everything. He turned and walked off, but within a week, the school rumors had been shut down, with everyone talking about something new that had happened. I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been. High school is cruel. I was just glad my name was no longer the one being whispered around.
I ended up having to talk to my probation officer about it, who was friends with S’s probation officer. It was a really small county then, before the expansions of the roads started, and everyone knew everyone there.. Word got around quick. He asked me, point blank if it was true, and I looked him dead in the face and said no, it wasn’t. No need for pressing charges. No need for anything. He spontaneously drug tested me, and somehow I passed. My results on those things were always iffy, even before that afternoon. Without a positive drug test, he had nothing to lock me up on, so he just had me sit in his office while he tried to wear me down and get me to admit what had happened.
He asked for the notebook I was carrying, and I handed it over, as I didn’t want to do anything to piss him off. I knew I was on shaky ground; I had technically violated my probation and a word from him would send me right back to detention, where nothing was going to happen for the rest of the year. He skimmed it, stopping at a poem I had written in class one day, entitled, Abuse. He read it, and then asked if it was mine. I shook my head, no. Really? He asked, because it sounds like your voice, only written by someone with a lot of talent. I shook my head. No talent, I said, just thoughts. He shut it, and then set it on his desk. True? He asked. Is it written about S. No, I told him honestly. Just observations I’ve made based on movies and books, that’s all. She spoke up in my head then, shut up. Do not tell him it’s something you’ve personally experienced because we do not need any shrinks poking around in here, fucking things up. After a moment, it was like she had stepped back up, because the rest of the conversation went smoothly, but I don’t remember much of it.
I let her out, back then, when she wanted, because there seemed to be no harm in it. She kept up with my schoolwork, snapped back bitchy comments at S and A when they whispered things to me in the halls, and kept me moving. It was no deterrent, she discovered, but people definitely had the wrong idea. She changed my clothing style, my attitude, even the way I wore my hair. Nobody really noticed, which made me wonder, did I just not talk enough before? She didn’t say much either, but what she said and how she said it were completely different than how I would have handled things.
She had dated, briefly, this older guy named Chris, who turned out to be a real loser. She handled him a lot better than I could have, all things told. I would have felt sorry for him, when she broke up with him and he said he was going to kill himself. She told him, make sure you do it right, because people who try to kill themselves and fail are the most pathetic creatures on earth. Yeah. Not me. I saved the two drawings he had done for me, and managed to keep her from throwing them out. She had discarded him within weeks, leaving a shattered shell behind. Much better, she told me, than you being the shattered, weak bitch you were before.
She laughed, and joked, and hung out with people who I had no real interest in. It was interesting, to see the differences that nobody else, not even my parents, seemed to notice. Whenever they tried to talk to her, and that was often, as it always seemed we were in trouble for something, she would just sit there, and say nothing. Stare past them, in a way that implied she was looking at them but seeing straight through them. Eventually they would give up and send her, us, back to our bedroom, which had been emptied of everything except a bed, a dresser, and the desk. She didn’t care. She didn’t spend much time in there.
She hung out with Tony in the afternoons, in his neighborhood. Anywhere except her trailer park, where her mother was home with the baby and her dad was gone, off working in the city. She was walking through the neighborhood with Tony and Frances, when she saw the next big thing. She walked past a group of people. Some she knew, Jetta and her sister, and a handful of others. The tall guy in the group, she didn’t. He was around six foot two, thin but not scrawny, long brown hair, facial hair, cute. She turned back when Jetta yelled her name and smiled, waving. She looked directly at him, whoever he was, and smiled. Then she turned back to Tony and they kept walking. She wondered how long it would take to hear from him, because that smile hadn’t failed yet. She didn’t wait long. Her family had installed a phone line in her room in order to keep the house phone from ringing off the hook, and she had given the number out freely, as it had an answering machine. She screened her calls, only picking up for certain people.
She grabbed it when an unknown male voice was on the other end, before the answering machine could cut him off. She was amused by his attempts at conversation, thinking he was charming and smooth, when she knew what he wanted. He asked if they could hang out sometime. They did, within the next few weeks, after many phone calls and daylight visits. She kind of liked this one, with his wild hair and seeming infatuation with her. They went everywhere together, around his work schedule and her school schedule. It was simple, she thought; just don’t develop feelings for him. I shoved her out of the way at that point. She had drawn him in, seduced him in a way that made him think he was in charge, and let him think she was a malleable creation. I came back to myself and was horrified. What had she done? How could she have let feelings develop—she was supposed to keep them at bay. Oh well, she shrugged, I like this one. I want to keep him. He’s fun to play with, and he likes us. But I don’t want to keep him, I told her. I don’t want anything serious from anyone. When he called and broke up with her, I was relieved. Safe. I thought so, anyway, but she apparently had other feelings about the phone call. . I held the phone for a moment, and then flung it across the room at the far wall. I swept my hand along my desk, scattering papers and nail polish onto the (thankfully) carpeted flooring. I ripped my sheets from the bed, shrieking. Thank god the parents were out with the little brother, grocery shopping. This kind of tantrum would probably not be well received. Last time had resulted in a serious beating from my Dad, as I had ruined the tile in the housing complex we lived in, and he was financially responsible for it.
Temporarily exhausted, she rested. I cleaned up the mess, straightening and organizing the few possessions we owned. Within weeks, he had recanted his breakup, having reconciled himself to having a fifteen year old girlfriend instead of the seventeen year old one he thought he’d had. She was a fool, I thought to myself. This one had the potential to change everything, and she just let him right in. I was damaged goods, but he didn’t care. I let him kiss me; teach me all the things I didn’t know how to do before, hadn’t cared about before. We drove around in his car together, listening to music and drinking. He didn’t seem to care about the age difference anymore. We slept in his car sometimes, because of course I wasn’t following my curfew.
One night before he started in on his usual routine, he drove us to a construction site in his neighborhood. It was dark, and the stars were barely visible through the clouds and streetlights.I can still see it, smell the air, the leather from his jacket, the shampoo I used back then. It was warm in the car, despite it being freezing outside. We sat side by side with the radio off, windows cracked, and he talked. I listened, but rarely offered any commentary. I feel like you are the only one I can talk to, he told me, the only one who understands me. I smiled at him, because I liked listening, but didn’t offer any opinions. He was so much older and more experienced- what could I offer him as advice? The only thing I could tell him was if I liked what he was doing, and on that he could generally tell on his own. What I remember most is the electrical charge I got from being around him, whenever we touched it was almost like static electricity. Chemistry, they call it. Whatever it is, we had it. It was strong enough to scare me, because if you mix sex with chemistry enough times you end up in love, and then what? I knew you could have sex with someone you hated; and I didn’t want to hate him..but I didn’t want to love him either.
to be cont-