You're Not Alone (I Promise) This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , portsmouth, NH
The sun burns with a luminosity reminiscent to that May, 2009 mid-spring night. Its ray's slide through the branches, like the bareness of a drawing with lines left uncolored. I can smell the breeze that starts off in the reach, and eventually shakes the trees in my front yard. The spring air fills my nostrils with its presence; this is my calling to shed the skin that I once hid in for all of winter, and to let go of the impurities that the cold days brought me. Suddenly I hear my name called from across the street. Cam, Todd, and Peter motion for me to come over.

Peter and Todd were fifteen, Cameron was thirteen, and I was twelve. I'd known Todd and Cameron since I moved to the neighborhood when I was four. They were like brothers to me; we had disputes and disagreements, but we also had a lot of high times together. I had just met Pat this year when Todd started to become good friends with him, and he seemed pretty decent for the most part. What would I know anyways? Twelve year old girls only see the colorful decoration imprinted on the bottle, not the toxic liquid inside.

"Mom, I'm going outside...I'll be back in a while!" I shouted quickly as I slammed the screen-door shut behind me.

I never waited for a reply from her, assuming it was fine. I dashed out of my yard, so that my mom would never get the chance to say "No". I couldn't resist warm chill of air that called my name, the feeling of the unfinished tar imprinting its shape into my rough feet. I was set free of the chains that winter had wrapped me in, and there was no way I would pass up this chance to feel free. I wanted to find the feeling of peace of mind that was stolen from me during the cold days.

They all looked exceedingly pleased; the vitamin-D must not have only gone to my head, but theirs as well. We all greeted each other, with a smile. I looked over at Peter; he was staring at me, sizing me up from head to toe. He didn't know that I was watching him, until I interrupted.

"Hi...Peter..."

He replied with his eyes, not his words. It made me feel wanted, to have someone studying my every move, watching me so carefully. It was a compliment, right? Unless I had a piece of food stuck in my teeth from or, or just the fact that he was disgusted by my presence. I felt pleased to have someone so interested in me.

Us four continued on down the road of my neighborhood. My pallid skin gleamed along top the pavement. I wasn't embarrassed though, every one's skin was washed out by the cold. Our faces sparkled from the sun's kiss. It was beautiful; we hadn't had a day like this in months.

"Cam, I feel really awkward here...with Peter and Todd...I barely talk to Todd anymore, and I just met Peter..." I whispered in his ear.

"Brit, don't worry about it, you'll get used to it, trust me; you've known Todd forever, and Peter will be just as close to you as soon as you know it."

My anxiety subsided; I needed to stop dwelling on the pointless things that my mind obsessed over, and focus on enjoying myself for once. I was in the sixth grade and nothing was that important then. It was simple back then to overlook the things that bothered me, and to take for granted the wonderful things that I had; no ever knows what they have until it's gone.

Todd and Peter walked faster than Cam and I but, occasionally Peter would turn his head to look back, almost as if he was assuring himself that I was still behind him. It wasn't much of a warm welcome anymore...he had an awkward focus on me...I didn't like when people stared, especially now. I couldn't ignore it either; I could see him from my peripheral vision. The air seemed to thicken, and my stomach tightened. Stop looking at me.

We stood circled in the middle of the road; there was no need to be cautious of cars because nobody ever drove down our street anyways. All of the guys talked quietly, excluding me from the conversation. I didn't feel welcomed anymore, maybe it was because I was three years younger than them and didn't understand half of the things they said. I wasn't enjoying myself, but I would rather be there than at home. By this time Cameron had already decided to leave, I guess he must have been pretty bored too; I would have gone with him if he had invited me along. Now I was stuck with Todd and Peter.

A loud roaring engine blasted down the main road, and spun into our neighborhood, nearly running us over. A guy with an eyebrow piercing and shoulder-length black hair hopped out from the passenger seat, and walked towards us with some sort of bad boy swagger. Who was this and why was he walking towards us. I felt startled. Why would Peter and Todd just stand there...did they even know him? I wanted to leave...but I didn't want them to think I was immature. His looks may have been deceiving, but what I didn't know what that he was actually the nicest guy out of the bunch.

"Hey Tim", Todd and Peter called.

"Hey dude, who's this chick?" I looked down in embarrassment.

"Oh, that's Britney; my neighbor."

"Hey Britney," Time spoke. Why was I even here, I thought.

"Guys...I think I'm going to head home..." I spoke with shame.

"Wait, we want to show you something", Peter said as he looked at Todd.

"Ah...alright..." I said uneasily.

"Follow us Britney," Peter called.

I started following the two boys over into the small area of woodland where we used to hide our bikes and scooters and kids, when Tim called my name.

"Britney, come here for a second." Tim demanded.

"Oh...okay, hold on Peter."

"Britney, listen to me, go home and don't hangout with them again. I don't know you, but I do know them. Trust me, this is a really bad situation; you don't know what you're getting yourself into."

"It will only be a minute, what's the worst that could happen? I'll be fine, but thank you anyways." Tim shook his head and walked back to his truck slowly, looking back at me with eyes of concern.

Maybe he was right...but I couldn't skip out on an opportunity to be liked...by older boys, high school boys; every girl wanted to be accepted by the older crowd. Something in my head told me Time was right, but of course I didn't take his word for it. Peering back over my shoulder, I watched him walk away...second-guessing my decision.

Peter and Todd stood in front of me; I felt my flesh crawl down my back. Goosebumps rose on my arms as the wind seemed to grow stronger, and the sunset began to fade into the distance. Something didn't feel right, my stomach was nauseous. Peter's eyes studied me, as he looked at me with a devilish grin. Peter nodded his head at Todd.

"Okay, what are you guys showing me...I really need to get home."

"Calm down Britney," Peter commanded. He touched my shoulder and I flinched away.

"No seriously." Todd grabbed my arms and restrained them to my back, cutting off the circulation of my wrists.

"Let me go, what are you doing?!" He was unmerciful, tears rolled down my face. "Please..." I coughed through my tears. "What are you doing to me?!"

Peter stroked his hand up my arm, and over my chest. They wouldn't listen, because they didn't care. I cried uncontrollably, pleading for them to let me go under my sobs. His hands crawled over my skin, he refused to stop. I dropped to the ground on my knees, hiding my face in the dirt as they walked away when they were finished with my body. How could I have let this happen to me, why didn't I listen? They violated me, sexually assaulted a twelve year old girl. I felt disgusted, humiliated with myself, how could I have been so naive?

I walked down my road, lifelessly with no emotion besides tears rolling down my face, and black makeup smeared across my cheeks. Peter and Todd were perverted, sadistic teenage boys, looking to take advantage of a clueless twelve year old girl. They weren't looking to have a nice conversation with a little girl, they didn't really like me and they didn't want to get to know me, all they wanted to do was hurt me. Hurt me so badly that I would never be able to forgive myself, or be able to trust anybody ever again. My body left shaking, abandoned to be eaten alive by the guilt that they lay before me. My conscience had warned me all along; some people just aren't lucky-enough to catch the signs in time.





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