Silent screams. The party goes on.
Silent screams. The party goes on.
The night had started well. She could remember his playful laugh, the way she felt his eyes lingering on her as she walked away. You can look, but you can’t touch, she’d thought with a giggle.
She looked at him now, slumped over in the passenger seat. She stopped in an abandoned lot, dark and still at 3 AM, but bustling in a few short hours. She let his body tumble onto the wet asphalt, the mysterious drug he’d intended for her still coursing through his veins.
She stared at the word written on his forehead in crimson before driving away.
The Moral Mondays prompt this week is Look, Don’t Touch.
Read Part 1 – Wallflower
I was 17 years old, weeks away from high school graduation. The air was fresh as I rolled down the windows of my old beat up Vega, purchased with my fast food job earnings. I turned up the radio and let the early summer wind blast through my hair. I was on my way to my very first high school party. A weekend-long extravaganza at Tommy Frazier’s parents’ house at Lake Lanier. My best friend Cat Fiore had gotten us in.
It had been just her and me, since the first day of freshman year. Cat-n-Casey. We were never in the popular clique, but we had each other, creating a sort of exclusive world of our own. But, though neither of us admitted it, the rejection from the popular kids had always stung.
Charles Macklin, who was Tommy’s best friend, and Cat had some sort of unofficial thing going, though I wasn’t sure of the details. Whenever I asked Cat about it her eyes went dead and she turned away, refusing to answer.
Cat was already there, she’d ridden up with Charles right after school let out, but I’d gone home to get my things. Alma, my foster mom, saw me packing and assumed I was planning to run away, refusing to listen when I tried to explain, screaming at me not to return. It was okay. It wasn’t as if Alma, my 15th foster parent, and I had exactly bonded. Plus, my 18th birthday was on the horizon and I had a standing invitation to crash with Cat through the summer. Cat’s mom was never home anyway.
I picked up the VHS I’d just rented from the passenger seat and dumped it in my backpack with the rest of my things. I actually thought Cat and I would curl up in front of the television at the end of the night with a bowl of popcorn and gab about all the fun we had as we watched Britney Spears go to prom. How naive I’d been.
Getting out of the car, I saw the party was starting to get in full swing. Delia and Tiff were laid out on the lawn, sipping beers with guys I didn’t recognize, laughing raucously. Clearly, they were already wasted. I went inside, passing Meredith and Laura in the hallway. They looked at me as though I didn’t belong, ignoring my friendly hello. In the living room, Cat was on the couch, sitting so close to Charles she was practically in his lap. There was a vacant look in her eyes and I wondered if she was high. I saw Tommy through the back window, tossing a football with on the back lawn with some fellow jocks. My heart lifted. The lake expanded behind them, shrouded in fog, mysterious and beautiful.
I asked Cat if we could talk in private, and we escaped into one of the many upstairs bedrooms, where I dropped my backpack. Despite Cat’s not-really-there expression, she was gorgeous, with her wide chocolate eyes and jet black hair, olive skin sprinkled with freckles across her nose. She was more beautiful than Meredith or Laura or any of the other populars, as we called them, but that’s the trouble with living in small, close-knit community. For years, she’d been classified as the daughter of the town drunk, relegated to lower-tier status for the rest of her high school career.
“So, did Charles talk to Tommy for me?” I asked her, bobbing on my tiptoes like an excited child. I’d crushed on Tommy for years from afar and I had an opening. He and his long-time, off and on girlfriend Laura were currently off. With Cat and Charles getting closer – this was my chance.
Cat nodded, looking away from me. “He’s gonna come talk to you.”
“Really?” I squealed, grabbing both of her hands, but she quickly backed away from me. I was too excited to worry about her bizarre behavior. The rest of the night was a blur. Cat’s leaving. Tommy’s finding me. A lingering kiss that made me swoon, my first ever. A red cup. Me quickly downing all its contents, wanting to impress him. Darkness.
My next memory was waking up alone, the sky an inky black outside my window, wracked with pain, smoke filling my lungs.
Everyday she watched the keys attached to his belt. As she listened to the clanging just outside the door, the unlatching of multiple locks, she wasn’t sure how many, she fingered the shard of broken glass she kept hidden behind her cot. It had been there for months. It would be her salvation.
She could see it in her mind, she played it over and over. Her brandishing the weapon, attacking him swiftly. His shriek of surprise, then labored moans of agony. Her grabbing the keys, opening the locks, running from the decrepit shed, the home that had been forced upon her for months. Shouting. Fresh air on her dirty face, jagged rocks under her feet. Free.
He was in. He turned and locked the door behind him, as he always did. This was her chance. But too quickly, he turned to face her, the doors secured behind him, wearing that same detached, sinister expression.
Minutes later, she listened to him locking the doors outside. It began to rain as her dinner grew cold at her feet. She reached for the shard again. It felt so heavy in her hands.
It’s just dinner party conversation. That’ll be your defense when you come out to see what’s wrong. You won’t know why I’m really upset. And I won’t tell you. I’ve never told anyone.
“How can they arrest a 70-something year old man for something that happened a million years ago,” your husband roared.
“Most of these women barely remembered what happened,” you agreed, sipping the wine while your husband passed me the mashed potatoes, not noticing my trembling hands. “There’s no evidence.”
“They were drugged before he raped them, of course they don’t remember,” someone else interjects, and I calm a bit, taking a hug gulp of pinot.
“Come on now, most of these women are liars, using his good name to get a piece of fame. Trying to take a good man down.”
That’s when I felt ill. I needed a bit of fresh air, so I excused myself to the foyer and leaned against the wall, taking deep breaths, trying not to remember. Me at 14, his hands on my throat, his rough breath in my ear.
Soon, you’ll come out, tell me I’m being silly, convince me to come back to the table. But for now, I am going to stand here, staring out the window, trying to forget.
68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Visit Rainn.org to learn more.
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