Life's Nightmares

April 3, 2008
By Ashley Woods, Greensboro, NC

Hi, my name is Carmen and as you probably know, life doesn’t last forever, but for me, it does. I grew up like a normal teenager, or, as normal as it gets. I have a mother, a father, and two older brothers. I have wavy hair and hazel eyes. I was home schooled up until high school when my father finally enrolled me into Brinton High which happened to be the first and last real school I ever went to.
As I was saying, I had just been enrolled into public school and made a good amount of friends on the first day. Briton High was different than I thought it would be. There is a wide-variety of people who, for the most part, are way too concerned about social status. By the third week of school I hooked up with my first boyfriend. His name was Zeke. In the beginning of our relationship, he treated me like his queen. He was a little older so he already had a license. He took me out to eat, bought me jewelry, and catered to my every need. Everything I ever imagined in a boyfriend. Zeke was 6 foot 2 inches with caramel-shaded skin, and the star basketball player at school. He is used to having multiple girls with him, but stopped all that once we hooked up. Our song was my favorite “Like you’ll never see me again” by Alicia Keys. Every time we were in his car, he would play it as he kissed me softly. We seemed perfect for each other. After a while, things began to change. He started treating me differently. He was still sweet and charming, like in the beginning, but every once and a while he let his temper get the better of him. It started off with just yelling but grew day by day.
About three months into our relationship, we were at the beach. We got into an argument about something, I still can’t remember what it was about but Zeke got so angry that he slapped me on the face. I was so shocked that it took me at least three minutes to even hear his immediate apologies. When he dropped me off later that night, all I could do was cry. I didn’t pick up his calls the next day or respond to his text messages. I wasn’t sure what to do. I decided to just let it go. I mean, “I was the one who started the argument right? It was all my fault”… or at least that’s what I tried to convince myself of. As much as I wish it was… that wasn’t the last time he hit me…
I was at the mall chilling with my girls, Alisha and Brandy, when Brandy’s boyfriend Jonathan approaches her. He goes on and on about how she was cheating on him and wasn’t “satisfying him like she should be”. I was used to this, they are always arguing about something. I know my girl has been doing some heavy flirting lately but flat-out cheating isn’t her thing. I can’t say the same for him. He is a girl-magnet, always with some chick on the side. I don’t see why they are still together. I’m no expert seeing that I’m in my first relationship, but I don’t think all that fighting comes in the package. Just as Brandy was about to get up and leave, she slaps him in the face and orders Alisha and I to follow her. Suddenly, a flash back of when Zeke slapped me ran through my head. There is still a faint mark on my cheek but I was able to cover it up with makeup. As the flashback ran through my head I felt a sudden sharp pain on my cheek. It felt like burning fire running across my face. I would have cried, but I know my girls wouldn’t understand so I held it in.
Friday rolled around and I was at school. Rumor held it that Brandy’s older brother Chris was having a party. I knew it was going to be hyped because ever since I’ve been here, all I can hear about are Chris’ parties. I heard that last year, he got it catered and it lasted till past three in the morning. It’s supposed to be the non-forgettable party of the year. I felt special being invited to one of Chris’ parties. He said I could invite Zeke so we made arrangements for Zeke to pick me up from Brandy’s at around eleven which would give me enough time to get my hair and nails done and pick an outfit. It HAD to look good. This is my first party of the year and I have to make a good impression. Tonight my girls and I are going to the mall then all going to Brandy’s house to get ready. The party is going to be at Club Bounce, so we’ll have some peace and quiet for a while. At the mall, I pick out the flyest outfit. I bought a pink apple-bottom mini-skirt with a white and pink striped halter and bright pink open-toed heels and the nails to match. I know Brandy has jewelry to match, so I can leave that for later.
At eleven, Zeke promptly picked me up in his new ride, a black, tinted Chrysler 300 with shiny new rims; the perfect ride. He was wearing my favorite, Unforgivable cologne. He looked so good. Now I remember why I fell for him so hard.
When we arrived at the party, Brandy and Alisha were already there with their boyfriends since Zeke and I took a pit-stop for a short, private make-out session. It seemed like everyone I have ever seen in my life was there. The place was PACKED! People were either at the bar, on the dance floor, or in one of the private rooms doing God-knows-what.
After about two hours of non-stop dancing, Zeke and I decided to take a break. He asked me if I wanted a drink so I took him up on that offer. We sat down on the last two empty seats. The drink felt good going down my throat; cool and quick. The loud music was starting to give me a headache so Zeke took me to one of the private rooms to talk for a while. About ten minutes had gone by and my headache worsened. I began to feel dizzy and light-headed. I jokingly asked him what he put in my drink and to my surprise, his face hardened. He began to come close and closer to me. I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. “What was in this drink” I thought to myself. My body began to feel limp and it everything around me began to spin. BLACKOUT
I woke up many hours later in pain. My entire body hurts like I just got ran over by a car. “What’s going on?” I think to myself. I am tired and weak. When I try to sit up, I can’t. “What just happened? Where is Zeke, where is everybody? Is the party over?” Thoughts are rushing through my head like lighting across the sky and my body is hurting worse than ever before. My headache is back and it’s hot. I open my eyes and see my very own naked body on the bed with blood stains on the sheets. I scream but no sound comes out. The shock is so great that I can’t help but cry. I look around in the darkness and see no one but my own body drenched in its blood. It’s hot and cold all at one time and I don’t know what to do. I had heard of people getting raped at clubs by guys they just met but I have known Zeke for over 6 months. He would never do something like this to me. Suddenly the flash back of Zeke slapping me entered my mind. A new vision began slipping into my head. There was a figure on top of me and I was laying on a bed. I couldn’t see the figure’s face but it was kissing me, telling me that my life is in is hands. Then, it stopped. With my head throbbing, I decided to stand up and find my clothing. I wobbled around feeling for my clothes but became too weak. After sitting for a few more seconds, I built the strength to stand up and turn on the lights. When I got my clothes, I noticed a sink in the room and cleaned myself a bit. I got dressed and left the room. As I walked out, I saw no one, the club was locked from the outside and the sun was beginning to rise. I wasn’t sure whether to go home or stay in the club and cry myself to sleep. I chose to walk home since I didn’t live to far. I went through the ally so I wouldn’t be seen. My hair is a mess and I’m still feeling a terrible pain and weakness. I snuck into my room through the window since I am on the first floor, thank God. When in my room, I crawl into my bed and fall into a deep sleep.
“Your life is in my hands, so don’t mess this up. Make it good or you’ll regret ever living.” The black figure from earlier is breathing deeply over me with beads of sweat slowly dripping from his forehead. On the bed I see a black pistol; shiny and sleek. “Don’t you dare tell a soul. Remember, your life is in my hands.” I can’t see anything but the figure and his pistol. I can feel him raping me and his hands on my body. I make no movement. Pain is overwhelming me. “I love you Carmen. Don’t mess this up. Your life is in my hands.”
I wake up in a cold sweat, shaking and my clock reads 5:00pm. I’ve been sleeping for over 11 hours! Since it’s Saturday, and my parents are out of town I didn’t get questioned about my sleeping late. When I got up, I took a shower and immediately threw away my clothes from last night into the dumpster. I also grabbed the sheets from the club since I didn’t want any traces of what happened and threw those away as well. I would have burned it but the smell of smoke wouldn’t have done so well with my stomach right now. My stomach is killing me. At least my headache went away. When I get back to my room I looked at my phone and saw a text message. My chest began to burn and the pain in my stomach increased. When I looked at the phone, it was a text from Alisha.
“Hey grl, wuzup. I didnt hear frum u last nite after da party. Ware did u go? I thot u went wit Zeke but his boyz sed he left with some chick. If u need me 2 whip is a$$, I got ur back. Anyways, check u l8r
I didn’t respond. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Should I tell her? She is my girl so maybe she’ll understand.”

“Hey, can u come 2 my place 4 a sec? I need 2 talk 2u…fast”
In about ten minutes Alisha was at my front door.

“Hey girl, what’s up?” Said Alisha


“What happened last night? I didn’t see you leave”

“That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about. I’m not sure what happened. One minute I was on the dance floor and the next….”

“Your life is in my hands so don’t mess it up. I am your master and you are my slave so do as I say or your life will be over. I can please you more that you can me so don’t mess it up because you life is in my hands.” The figure is over me and I get a whiff of his scent. Not long enough to figure out what it was but the scent is strong and smells really good. Aside from that, I can smell alcohol on his breath. I can feel him inside of me. He is hurting me but I make no attempt to stop him. “I love you Carmen” For a quick second I recognize the voice but the name slips my mind.
I break out into tears.

“Carmen, what’s wrong?”
I am so absorbed in tears that I can’t speak. Alisha wraps me in her arms and tells me everything will be ok. We are silent for a while as I cry softly.

“I don’t know what happened. I was dancing in the club and then Zeke took me into a private room so we could talk since I had a headache. He bought me a drink and I remember that as I was drinking the drink, my headache worsened and I began to feel lightheaded. I keep having dreams and flashbacks of some figure on top of me and hurting me and he keeps saying over and over “Your life is in my hands.”

“Who was it?”

“I still don’t know. He had a deep voice but I couldn’t see his face and he was wearing really strong cologne. During my dreams and flashbacks I can feel the pain and I get headaches and stomachaches. I don’t know what to do Alisha. I don’t even know what happened. I can’t tell my parents because I know they will freak out so you are the only person I could come to.” At that moment I realized that I hadn’t even thought about confiding in Zeke about this. Maybe that’s a sign.

“Carmen, I’m sorry to tell you this because I know you won’t want to hear it but I think Zeke raped you.” Alisha looked really sincere about what she said. I completely pushed that idea out of my mind hours ago. I couldn’t let myself think that. I love Zeke and he loves me too right?

“I love you Carmen.”

“OMG, Alisha, I think you’re right.

“I love you Carmen. No matter what happens. After this, maybe you’ll love me too. I’ll make it right; after all, you deserve it all. You’re my queen and I’m your king. I owe it to you.” The figure is beginning to show himself. He has caramel skin, 6foot 2inches, large hands, and thick lips. “I love you Carmen. Make it right and remember that your life is in my hands.” He slips his finger over my lips as he speaks as if to keep me quiet. Then he comes closer and kisses my lips. He feels my body while I lay quietly. “Maybe next time you’ll be awake to enjoy me. I love you Carmen.” Again, I get a whiff of his cologne; Unforgivable.
“It’s all coming together now” I tell Alisha

“What is?”

“The cologne I smelled in my dream. It was unforgivable! Zeke was wearing it that night and his voice, I recognized it in my dream and my flashbacks whenever he says ‘I love you Carmen’. I remember it all now. It was Zeke. After he brought my drink my headache started. I thought it was because of the music so he offered to take me into the room. He was setting me up!”

“Carmen, you had to have seen this coming. Has he ever done anything like this before?”

“No, never.” The mark on my face begins to sting and won’t stop hurting. I clasp my face and Alisha turns her attention to my cheek.

“Tell me girl, what happened.”

“We were at the beach one day and we got into an argument. He slapped me but it wasn’t serious.”

“Not serious?? Girl, are you on drugs? He’s about to get it from me. Don’t NOBODY mess with me and my girls.”

“No, stop!” I say as I stop her as she rises from her spot on my bed. “If you tell him I told you then something is going to happen. I know it. In one of my dreams/flashbacks he told me not to tell and in all of them he said ‘remember, your life is in my hands.’ I also saw a black pistol on the bed. He can do way more to me single-handedly than the two of us could do to him. Please don’t”

“Well what do you want me to do? Sit here? I don’t work that way” she responds

“No, just give it some time.”

“Well, what about Monday? Do you think you can make it? He is more than likely going to at school.”

“Maybe I can play sick on Monday. Besides, I feel bad enough to truly be sick” I add

“You know you can’t pretend to be sick the rest of your life. You will have to face him sometime” Just then, my stomach began to cringe and my headache came back. Out of no where, I threw up. I couldn’t help myself.

“Dang girl, are you ok? Come on, I’m taking you to the doctor, urgent care, or something.”

“Sorry” I mutter softly. I am feeling even weaker than before. All I feel like doing is lying down. I lay back on my bed and shape my body into a ball. “I can’t get up. I’m too weak”

“This is worse than I thought.” Alisha replies “I am just going to call my man and let him know that I won’t be able to make it to his house tonight. I am going to stay with you tonight ok?”

“Ok. Thank you Alisha”

“No, problem”



“I’m scared. I mean, what if he tries this again? Or what if he finds out I told you and comes after the both of us.?”

“Don’t worry about it. I told you, no one messes with me or my girls and gets away with it. Now go to sleep”
On Monday I was feeling slightly better. Alisha talked me into going to school. We agreed not to tell anyone, Brandy included. I still hadn’t heard from Zeke all weekend. I’m not sure how I will be able to face him or what I will say. I think I will try to avoid him today. Usually we make an effort to see each other in-between classes and during lunch but today I won’t be making that extra effort. He really hurt me. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally also. Both Sunday morning as well as this morning I woke up in a cold sweat. I am glad Alisha was there on Sunday to keep me from completely going crazy.
Finally, school is over and I successfully avoided Zeke all day. I get a text message from Alisha offering me a ride home so I take it. On my war to her car I can feel someone coming up behind me.
“Hey baby, did you miss me?”
I stand frozen. All my nightmares quickly flashed through my head and my stomach began to hurt and my headache, again, came back. I recognized the voice. It was Zeke. After trying to avoid him all day, I see him. Surprisingly he acts like nothing happened. Does he not realize what he just did? Does he not understand everything he put me through? Just as I was about to go off on him Alisha sees my hesitance and saves the day.
“Hey Carmen, come on, I’ll give you a ride.” As she speaks she gives Zeke a deadly look in the eye. I hope he didn’t notice that she knew. Alisha starts up a conversation with me on the way to her car so I didn’t have to respond to Zeke.
“Thank you”
“You’re welcome. What are friends for?”
“He’s got some serious nerve acting like nothing happened.”
“I told you, don’t worry about it. I got it all covered. He won’t have that nasty smirk on his face for long.” Just as I was about to ask what she was talking about, she turns up the radio so the base fills my spirit. “Like you’ll never see me Again” by Alicia Keys is playing and lightens my mood.
A lot of time as passed and Zeke hasn’t been in school. I am both relieved and worried. Maybe something happened. I went to his house one day to check on him. I know I shouldn’t feel any sympathy for him right now but I have to. When I get to his house, his mom is home, on the floor crying. The door is unlocked so I walk in. As I come closer I look to the floor and see Zeke lying there, dead. I run to his mother to comfort her. She tells me that someone came in and shot him right in the heart. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to be dreaming. But I wasn’t. It was real. My first boyfriend and rapist, was gone at the pull of a trigger. Just like that. I hadn’t seen him since our encounter at school a while ago and never responded to his “I love you” text messages. How can life come and go so quickly? He may have hurt me but he was my first boyfriend and he doesn’t deserve his fate. Maybe in Alisha’s book he does, but according to mine, he doesn’t. I never thought falling in love would be this hard. Choosing the right one is no joke. Next time, if I ever give another man a chance, I am going to wait to really get to know them before coming to a conclusion. Just as I was thinking, “Like you’ll never see me again” by Alicia Keys plays on the radio causing me to burst into tears “I don’t wanna forget the present is a gift and I don’t wanna take for granted the time you may have here with me ‘Cause Lord only known another day is not really guaranteed.” His life my have ended quickly, but my life, is just beginning. “So every time you hold me, hold me like this is the last time, every time you kiss me, kiss me like you’ll never see me again.”

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