I was a woman that still felt like a girl. I was out having fun. I danced until my legs were jelly. I left the club on feet I couldn’t feel anymore. I heard a familiar voice yell at me from a truck across the street. I knew I wasn’t in any shape to drive so I hopped in. He was my best friend since I was 12. I trusted him with my life. The truck was full and I was the only female. We drove to the guy who still lived at home’s place. He was rich and his parents were gone. Some more men showed up carrying bottles of alcohol and one more woman.
She was the woman every guy wants and the kind of woman that never lets anyone have her. She was smart, she was funny, and she knew how to hold her alcohol. I was the kind of girl that everyone thought you could get but the kind of girl that didn’t care what everyone thought. The other woman left, alone, after every man present had attempted to be the one taking her home. They were drunk and defeated and I looked like a good second choice. I knew better. I went outside to catch some air and do what drunk people do; stare into the sky and think about things you would never otherwise think about.
He came outside. He was mean to me when we were younger. I remember being a kid and always hearing “if he’s mean to you that’s because he likes you,” but I never believed them. I wonder how many women do. He tried being smooth; he spoke gently, almost as if he thought I’d forget how he treated me if he acted like he’d forgotten too. I didn’t. He handed me the bottle of whiskey in his hands. I took a swig and handed it back to him. I wasn’t aware that meant he could touch me. He slid his arm around my waist and pulled me close before I had a chance to tell him no. I pushed his arm off and said no what felt like twenty times. He stepped back and gave me the bottle as an apologetic offering. I took another swig. I remember every time he tried to touch me I said no and he just pushed the bottle to my lips. It was like the more I drank the more he thought I’d let him touch me. Or maybe it was the more he drank the less he cared I didn’t want him to. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t remember at what point he thought my no’s had turned to yes’s, because the last thing I remember was saying no as he tried to slide his hand up my shirt. It goes dark after that. I have small glimpses into what happened but have never fully pieced it together. There were small blurs of pain in my body and strange sounds came out of my mouth, ones I’ve never heard before, all blending into the darkness of night.
I woke up the next morning, alone with my pants around my ankles in a house I barely remembered. I pulled up my pants and didn’t even want to try thinking about what had happened. I rushed out of the room and saw the guy whose parents were out of town sitting on the couch. I asked him what time it was and when he looked up it was as if he had no idea I had even been sleeping there. I didn’t even want him to look at me. I was already ashamed of something I couldn’t even remember. He drove me home and the ride was silent. I kept trying to remember a moment I may have said yes, but I couldn’t find one. I went inside my house, closed the door with my back, slid down to the floor and sobbed into my lap. I didn’t know what else to do. I never knew something could hurt you so deeply that you couldn’t even remember. For days I asked myself questions. Did he wake up before I did and leave? Did he even stay? Did he look at the lifeless body he just violated and feel proud of himself? Did he know what he did was wrong? Then I did what most women do. I tried to forget. I didn’t tell a soul. I carried on as if nothing had happened. I knew that he was the popular hockey player who everyone loved and that I was the girl everyone thought they could have.
I went out the next weekend. I put on my makeup. A pretty dress. I drank a few shots and I did what I always did. I danced the night away. I saw a mutual friend of ours. I wanted to run as fast as I could away. He was already talking to me from ten feet away. It was too late to run. He asked me why I didn’t tell him I hooked up with his friend. I didn’t know what to say. My heart started racing and my palms started sweating. I could barely swallow thinking he was telling everyone I allowed it and—worst of all—I liked it. I laughed and didn’t say anything. He looked hurt. I knew he always had a thing for me. The sad part was I always had a thing for him too. I guess I could have told him. I remember wanting to just scream it in his face. I didn’t think he would believe me. The days that followed answered a lot of questions. Questions that I had been lying awake every night asking myself. People talked about the noises that they heard come from the bedroom as a testament to how much I liked it. No one ever considered if those were moans of pain and confusion. They talked about how right they were in thinking anyone could have me. They never once considered I never said he could. I always remember thinking of myself as a strong female. A stand up and scream kind of girl. The kind of woman who looked at other women who never stood up and said, “This happened to me,” and wondered why. Now here I was understanding why. I spent so much time trying to talk myself out of it. Actually blaming myself for it. I shouldn’t have went home with that one guy I just met. I shouldn’t have went home with anyone. I shouldn’t have made out with the three men I did that summer. I shouldn’t have made out with anyone ever. I shouldn’t have drank so much. I shouldn’t have drank. I shouldn’t have been the only woman. I shouldn’t have been a woman.
Over time I buried it deep enough that it no longer kept me up at night. Then one day, just by chance, someone mentioned he was getting married. I don’t know why, but it crippled me momentarily. Here I was having issues with men. And there he was having a happily ever after with a woman. A friend showed me their engagement photo. I didn’t know how to look at them and be happy. I wanted to. She deserved it I’m sure. Would she still love him if she knew? I went home and lay in bed that night wondering what would happen if they had a daughter. What if one day she came home and closed the door with her back, slid down to the floor and sobbed into her lap? Would he remember?
It took me eleven years to work up the courage to tell our mutual friend what had happened that night. He believed me.
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Amy Nicole Makortoff lives in the beautiful mountains outside Nelson British Columbia with her three children. She is an author and award winning photographer. She currently has two young adult fantasy novels in the works. When she is not writing or taking photos you will find her in the forest, barefoot and running free.