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“Look…” said Katy to Cameron as she lied on her bed. “I am not happy.” Tears formed in her eyes. “I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I really try,” she stuttered. “I say that I am over it because I want to be. I know I’m depressing to be around,” she sucked in a breath. “I know logically it will get better but for years I have been trying to move forward and it’s not better. It hurts.”
She had this conversation with herself a lot. Cameron told her he liked to listen. They were friends. He loved her. She hated how she stressed him out. She thought he did it to sleep at night. That if he put up with herself loathing, then every bad thing he’d done would fade away. Eventually, she knew, he would leave. He would give up on her and she would be sad. That was how it worked.
Katy wanted more. She wanted to see that light. She wanted to be worried about going to the mall, not what she was going to wear to her rapist’s trial. Clothes and appearances seem silly things to focus on. But, it’s not; Sometimes a person’s best idea of control is how they look. You can paint away the dark circles of sleepless nights. The bright blush of color in a person’s cheeks. You can perfectly illustrate the illusion of being put together.
16-year-old Katy hated herself. She could be happy sometimes. But when it was night and she looked in the mirror she was unhappy. It was her fault really. She would say such things to herself. If she was smarter, he wouldn’t have touched her. If she was stronger, she would have screamed no. But she didn’t. She let him rape her over and over again. She blamed herself.
Everything changed when she met Cameron. He made her laugh and giggle like a small child. He helped her forget things. The bad thoughts slipped out of her mind. Life seemed to get better. She never told anyone about him. People just assumed she had finally moved on. She was finally getting better. She grew stronger. No longer did she mimic the appearance of morgue’s beautician client. Real color was in her cheeks, life was in her bones. She was excelling at school. She loved her future and she loved being alive. She could never imagine when she wouldn’t want to live or feel. She always smiled like she had fishhooks stuck her cheeks. The world smelled like candy and was drenched in a rose-pink fog, like living in an ever-present sunrise. He was always there with her. He would sneak into her room late at night. Some nights they would talk until the morning. Some nights he would hold her, and they would just fall asleep.
One night, he convinced Katy to sneak out with him. He told her it would be romantic, and he had a special night planned for her. She waited for her parents to fall asleep. She kept checking herself in the mirror. She wanted to be perfect. The house fell silent. As she slowly turned the handle of the front door it sounded as loud as a car backfire. When she gently shut it behind her, an earthquake rattled in her head. The house did not stir. The world went silent. He was waiting for her outside.
She asked him a million times where they were going, he never broke, and he continued to smile a catlike smile. Finally, the paved road became a dirt one. Actually, it was more like sand. The came onto a beach. Cameron got out of the car and opened Katy’s door. They walked out and looked at the moon shining. He laid out a blanket and they looked at the stars as the wind blew in their face. Though it was night it remained a warm. They talked and laughed. Time stood still.
Katy told Cameron how happy she was to have him in her life. She sighed. As she laid down on the blanket with her head on his shoulder she thought about when she met him. That was her mistake. As if in an instant time started again. Suddenly she felt the summer heat and the pain that she knew before him it all came rushing towards her filling her lungs until she couldn’t breathe. “I remember.” She said.
“Remember what?” Cameron chuckled, yet, his cat-like grin seemed to falter for a second. He looked a little irritated, but he was trying to hide it.
“I remember being in my room crying, and you were there.” As she said this she got up and sat on the blanket, the hairs on the back of her neck started to stand up. She wondered why she was there as if waking up from a vivid dream, things seemed less real. She felt cold. She felt scared.
“Of course, I was there with you, I helped you, I helped you get better.” He leaned closer towards her.
“No,” she said leaning away from him. “I didn’t let you in, how were you there?”
His face lost its glow and he seemed older with a stern face. “You were hurt, you needed me, and I came. Don’t you love me Katy I saved you?” He leaned in to kiss her and before she could push away his tongue was in her mouth. She struggled and then stopped. Her head got fuzzy. She forgot why she was struggling. A fog of emotion crept over her. She remembered he loved her. He would never hurt her. She hoped he wouldn’t be mad at her for struggling. She kissed him back. She wrapped her arms around him. She played with hair as he got on top of her. He was so warm. She felt safe with him. He paused. “Now Katy, don’t you want to go for a swim, it would be terribly fun,” He whispered to her. Katy nodded her head. It was hard because she felt dizzy. She didn’t feel like she could stand. She definently could swim and beet the waves. But he wanted to swim and she didn’t want to disappoint him. He must have seen the doubt in her face and he pulled her up and started taking off her shirt. He helped her pull down her jeans. He took off his. He kissed her. He then winked and ran to the water. He started swimming out. She was nervous. The sand was colder than before. It felt like he took the warmth with him. She wanted to follow him. He started getting smaller as he swam further out. He was must have been swimming fast because he was so far out. He started waving at her. She couldn’t make out was he was saying. But she knew if she didn’t hurry up, he would be mad. Off she went into the cold dark water. It was easy at first. Then she got deeper. As she did, Cameron got closer. She struggled against the tides. He called out to her.
“Come on Katy just a little deeper.” He was smiling. “Come closer to me.”
She was so focused on getting to him. It was if she was asleep again, no pain, and the world smelled like strawberries. Katy always loved strawberries. Katy didn’t notice her arms and legs start to burn. She didn’t see the waves start to get higher. She couldn’t tell tears from saltwater. She just kept following Cameron. The waves got too high. Her arms and legs stopped being able to move. They just hurt so bad. But he was just so close. She was almost to him. She went further out. When she started to sink, Cameron dove to follow her. She tried so hard to get to him. But she was just too tired. Her throat and lungs burned as they filled with saltwater. He still smiled at her. To the bottom she fell.