“It was almost ten years ago, the same week as my 19th birthday. I'd donated blood the day be…”

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It was almost ten years ago, the same week as my 19th birthday. I'd donated blood the day before a party some classmates were having and fainted so, still feeling a little weird and weak, I'd decided not to drink at that party. I offered to DD for a friend who happily accepted. We dressed up, because what's a theatre party without a theme? The theme is something like gods and goddesses and I wear my brown sandals with a knee-length blue high low skirt and white racerback tank and my favorite black and white bralette. I buy a dollar store gold headband that looks like sparkly leaves. I wanted to feel pretty that night, something I rarely got to do. I curled my hair and put on the best makeup I could, almost the same look I'd worn to prom a year earlier. Tonight I am Medusa. True to my word I turned down a few drinks offered by friends that night, saying I was driving, explaining I'd donated blood and didn't think I could hold my liquor because why not be truthful in a room of people you'd call friends, in a place you'd think was safe? I didn't know him well, we'd done a play or two together, passed through the same hallways, been to the same parties but that was all. He tells me he is either a trickster god or Bacchus and he finishes a jug of cheap wine and pulls out a bottle of vodka. He kept offering me pink lemonade vodka all night, I thought it was funny, just being friendly and very drunk. I smiled politely and turned him down each time as he became more intoxicated. He tells me his initials are TNT because he's dynamite then laughs at his joke. At the end of the night, my friend went home with a guy she had a thing for and I asked my friends if everyone was okay to get home. One said "I think his ride left him behind, can you give him a ride?" I agreed to be nice, his house was right on my way home anyway. As he got into the car, slurring his vodka scented words, he leaned in closer and closer, touching my arm, running his hand along my thigh as I squirmed away and tried to laugh it off because I was a child still and didn't know I could slam on my breaks and leave him there, didn't know I could break his jaw, didn't know how to react so I just drove faster. I wonder if he was blacked out, did he know what he did? He couldn't unbuckle his seatbelt or stand to walk up the path to the front door. I'm less worried now that I can see his roommate, another classmate, is home. I liked that roommate, a nice boy with big sad eyes. He didn't come to the party. I'll be safe with him there I think and I hear the voice of the other roommate, the ride who left him at the party with a girl. So I drag the drunk up the steps and help him inside. He thanks me and asks if I could please help him, he needs water. I see the kitchen so I pour some water. He tries to kiss me. He just loves redheads he says as he holds my head against the wall. I pull away. He grabs my arm, hard. I yank. He pushes and pulls me down the hallway and I try to scream. I don't know if sound comes out but I'm running for the door, my eyes sting and blur, but he gets there first and I realize how much taller he is than I am as he grabs me tight and pushes me against the wall. I do not kiss him back. He says I must have known this would happen when I dressed that way. I feel him press his erection against me and I'm repulsed. He pulls and pushes me onto the couch and climbs on top of me, trying to kiss me and I struggle under his weight. My cheeks are wet. I fight. I disappear. The boy with the sad eyes doesn't help me. I don't sleep that night. There is a kite attached to the ceiling that I become aware of as dawn approaches and sun starts to come in. It's blurry and there are still tears falling. I wonder how the sun can still just rise like it had every day before. He is still on top of me. He is snoring. I don't know how long it had been but I extricate myself and run to the door, pulling my mangled clothes into place as I run to the car and drive home, My roommate sees me coming in and giggles, asking if I had a good night and then falling silent as she looks at me. I go to the bathroom, watching the stranger in the mirror peeling off layers of fabric that I won't touch for weeks as they sit in a small pile that I won't look at I sit on the shower floor for hours with the water running as hot as it can, scrubbing inch of my flesh with soap over and over but his fingerprints won't wash away. I wish for sandpaper. I brush my teeth over and over but the memory of pink lemonade vodka won't be disguised by peppermint. My skin is raw and red, hair tangled as I tear through the knots. I cry. I report it to my school. They tell me to leave my baggage at the door. "Deal with it on your own time." For the next show they assign me to be his personal dresser. I trade with someone and we both get in trouble. Months later I throw away those clothes because I can't imagine wearing them again. I shave my head because he loves redheads and dye the rest. I eat less, remembering how his hands ran across my flesh, I want my curves to change, to be unfamiliar to him. I go on drives late at night and scream as loud as I can until my throat is raw and my voice is hoarse and then scream more. Our classmates whisper. Did they hookup? Did I sleep with him and regret it? Must have been drunk. Slut. Stupid. Liar. Whore. I wonder what he tells them. I hate him. The next year a roommate mentioned how he'd gotten violent, been rough with some of the other girls in an acting class. "I'm not surprised" I tell her, she asks why but I don't answer. He smirks at me in the halls and begins dating a freshman. She's nice and I cry for her because now I know dynamite can destroy you. I see a play that my friends are in and sit next to a couple, they make small talk and mention their son is in the play, that I probably know him. Do they know they've raised a monster? Years later someone will try to grope me as I walk across a different campus in a different city and it will take a week for me to decide I have to report it to campus police. The officer is a woman. She asks why I waited a week and I'm surprised when my voice cracks and I can't speak above a whisper. "Last time was worse. Last time was much worse and no one helped me. Last time they told me to leave my baggage at the door." She doesn't respond. I can't meet her eyes as my vision blurs. She slides me her business card with her cell phone number on it and says this is why she teaches self defense, she tells me to come anytime. Signed, What He Took From Me

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