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Reader, let me tell you a story. A story of wonderfulness, of tragedy, and of pain. Let me give you the details of my life I have never revealed before. I was living a dream. More like a pure fantasy actually. I was riding high on my golden horse: popular, beautiful, and, well, simply perfect. But… it wasn’t always this way.
I came from a middle school that hated me. I swear, every single kid there made fun of me, whispered behind my back, taunted my clothes, weight, hair—you know, typical middle school right? I suffered through it all, day after day, waiting for the time when high school would claim my poor, tattered school. Honestly, reader, I almost gave up. I thought, well, what the hell! I might as well be dead anyway! Nevertheless, I fought it out, kept my head down and learned to live it the quiet way. I stayed out of people’s hair and gave the mean girls no chance to take a stab at me, even though, uh, they sort of still did. Sorry. I’m getting carried away. Childhood nostalgia, huh? Anyway, back to high school. I started high school three years ago, on a beautiful breezy day, perfectly warm with a whisper of chill. I was new. I was brand-spanking-new. I changed my hair, my appearance, started wearing makeup, lost weight, and got a wagon full of new bleached blond summer friends. Trust me, I was a completely different person.
With a transformation that would have made Lady Gaga jealous, I started freshman year with my head high and shoulders back. I showed everybody just how beautiful, confident, and popular I could really be. Soon enough I gained that popularity I had been dreaming of since my peanut butter and jelly, finger painting days. I got invited to the hottest parties, I went to the greatest concerts, I slept over at the coolest sleepovers; I was perhaps a half step away from being a queen.
Mind you, I had some friends who kept me down to earth. They kept me from floating away on my fast-rising, hot air balloon of popularity. They kept me sane and grounded, they reminded me that I was in school, not a photo shoot, and through their gentle hands and smart brains, I was able to pass my classes and get good grades, receiving a grade point average of three point six. Yay for me! I had a particular friend, however, that was extremely close, who helped me get through the toughest of times. He saw me when I was in my “ugly” days, my dark middle school years, and stayed by my side until I turned into “pretty” me. He, my beautiful knight in shining armor, was Drew. Drewby, I would call him. He was my rock and my companion and the person I could tell anything to; I think I told him every single little deep dark secret hidden in the tangled recesses of my heart. If he weren’t my best, best, best friend, he would be my husband and other half.
Him and I, we used to run up to the grassy hill on a hazy afternoon under an egg-yolk sun, pointing at clouds, laughing at oddly shaped trees, and feeding each other dripping wet pieces of pink watermelon that warmed too much inside the yellowed picnic basket. The sips of cool lemonade and the delicate clink of ice cubes brought back the sweating feeling of summer and, with that, the passion of a summer romance. We both knew that we had something there. I mean, this kid stuck with me from when I was ugly and did not leave my side when I became pretty! Something was definitely there. But the only time when something ever happened was in July, July 13th to be exact. We were swimming at his pool with a few of our other friends. Sprites were passed around and bags of chips littered the yard and beach chairs. It was getting late and my friends and their tagalong boyfriends left, bringing their bags and discarded swim trunks. Soon, we were left alone and the familiar heat crept up my neck. Drew, oblivious, kept chattering away, about his mom, his schoolwork, his chores, and everything else that I ignored. All I could think about was the way he tossed his hair, the way the droplets flew through the sky and reflected the last little bits of light, illuminating a millisecond in time and transporting me to another dimension. I got lost in his deep, sea green eyes and white, white alabaster teeth, his gorgeous cheekbones, rumbling laugh. And that beautiful, beautiful boy smell—
“Did you hear what I just said?” Drew stopped, staring.
I opened my eyes wide, blushing, my palms dripping at the fact that he caught me. I brushed the wisps of hair from my eyes and returned his piercing gaze.
“No, sorry. I was…uh, daydreaming.”
Reader, let me pause here for a second. You know that feeling when something amazingly brilliant passes before you in the blink of an eye? When something you wish you could bottle up inside of you forever and never let it go, just goes by like that? Well that’s what happened. Drew reached out slowly to touch the smooth white curve of my cheek and leaned close to me, his warm breath fluttering on my quivering lips. Every nerve that existed within the walls of my blushing membrane was pulsing, pulsing, pulsing, my heart beating faster than a drum echoing his battle cry amidst a bloody battle, boom…boom…boom. I could almost taste the sweetness of his lips when he pulled away, blinking rapidly and clearing his throat.
“Sorry…I didn’t mean…” he brought his green eyes to mine, searching them for an answer. I hesitated and he got my answer.
Abruptly, he stood up, splashing chorine on my goosebump-raised skin. He gathered his towel and clothes and hastily ran into the house. Feeling small and suddenly naked, I quickly left. We did not speak of that day ever again.
Drew changed. Gone was the ready smile, the helping hand, the friend I needed. He switched friend groups and left me to the sharks, left me alone to fend for myself.
We grew apart for seven months.
I got clinical depression.
I stopped eating.
I cut myself.
I lost the friends I considered “close”. My grades slipped and people stayed away from me. I turned to drugs and smoking and alcohol. Even though I’ve had the same “say no to drugs” presentation shoved down my throat since the second grade, I still did it anyway. I became reckless and every stunt and dangerous thing I participated in became some sort of release for me. I began to rely on it to get me on this crazy high that lasted for weeks on end. I didn’t need anyone but my “party friends” and drugs and alcohol and danger. I began to think of Drew and my old friends as a previous life. I hung out with people I scoffed at before. I hung out with the druggies, the addicts, the AA kids and the kids that didn’t give a damn. I thought I finally found my rightful place.
It was year until I saw Drew again.
And that was the bittersweet night I would never forget.
It was Greg Lucifer’s big Halloween party. Everyone was there. And I mean everyone. The house was jam-packed, full of popular people and even the people nobody gave a hoot about. Trays of shots and huge basins full of rainbow colored drinks littered the floors and tables and chairs. Kegs were attached to every nook and cranny and the party was in full swing when I arrived with a few squinty-eyed friends drunk on ecstasy.
I was high too, and somewhat in a daze when I spotted him. Golden brown hair, deep green eyes, million dollar flashing smile. He had a beer in his hand and was laughing with his friends, arm slung around a girl whose face was blurred beyond recognition. She was laughing too and I remember cursing her existence. Suddenly, an old friend grabbed me by the arms and pulled me away, distracting me. For the next four hours I partied hard, not caring who I was, what I was doing, or what I was drinking. I just wanted to forget the pain for a while and… have fun.
So simple right?
The next thirty minutes of my life passed in the slowest way. I was dazed, drunk, high, and on the verge of vomiting. I couldn’t tell who was who and, soon, kegs, punch bowls, and sweaty human faces blurred into one massive blob moving against my thin frame. I laughed.
Dimly conscious, I felt myself being picked up and carried someplace quieter. I knew we were somewhere outside because I felt the blast of icy air on my bare shoulders. I remember giggling and asking where they were taking me. The voices I heard were low and guttural sounds, masculine, and I detected undertones of wicked excitement.
“C’mon…tell me…where…you’re…taking…me…” I slurred incomprehensibly.
Suddenly, I felt my back hit the ground and for a moment, the wind got knocked out of me. As I struggled to breathe my ears picked up the quick sound of zippers unzipping and music pumping in the background. The sounds closer to me were heavy pants, labored breathing and the pungent smell of sweat was everywhere. I felt hands tear my clothes, my bra, my underwear; everything came off and I was bare under the light of the moon. As I started to fade in and out of consciousness, I felt the boys moving on top of me, panting, moaning, and whooping. I smelled the sickening scent of urine mixed with the sharp metallic smell of blood and excretions. I remember feeling time slow down and crawl. I remember feeling the splash of a single drop of sweat against my thigh. It rolled down my leg and into the patch of skin between my legs. I could feel the sweat spreading its atoms over me and, at that moment, I felt a dizzying wave of fear knot in the pits of my clenched stomach. I could hear somebody screaming and it was only after five minutes before I realized it was I. I opened my eyes and through a mass of writhing shapes, I saw green. A deep green I knew only too well.
The world went black.
When I opened my heavy eyelids, I was somewhere damp. I was naked. I had blood streaked over my body. I had the stench of urine filling my nostrils and the overwhelming scent of the night before flooded my senses, gagging me. For the first time in three years, I cried in public. I let the rivers flow from my eyes and I gasped uncontrollably until I choked. It really wasn’t about the pain I endured. It wasn’t even about the terrible, terrible smell of rape.
It was because my shining knight in armor became my tormentor