Chapter 13 | Hell
I’m startled awake when I hear a loud bang against the jeep window.
“Dallas? What the hell are you doing? Why are you sleeping outside of my house?” Ethan asks, though its muffled. I open the jeep door and jump out, meeting Ethan on the sidewalk.
“Sorry.” I mumble.
“What are you doing? Have you been sleeping out here all night?” He asks, completely confused and honestly concerned.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, so I wanted to take a drive. I stopped here first and I was just thinking about some things. I guess I fell asleep before I could continue with my drive.” I explain as best as I can.
I look down the street to see Liam running towards us with his bag dangling from his shoulder.
Crap, they have school today and I took the jeep.
“Dallas? Why are you here with the jeep? When did you even leave the house?” Liam says in between breaths.
“Ethan can fill you in. I’ll see you later.” I say as I begin walking back towards my house.
“Dallas, wait!” Liam shouts, but I ignore him.
I keep walking until I’m back home and inside. I go to the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee.
I know that I am alive, and that I am okay. I know that I am home, and drinking a cup of coffee.
But somehow, I still feel completely dead inside.
I am just a shell of a person. A shell of the previous Dallas Ryder.
I decide that I can’t just sit in this house all day, so I shake my hair out of its tie, and then re-do my messy bun. I decide the skinny jeans and hoodie I’m wearing will suffice for today, so I grab my bag from the counter and begin walking to school.
I make it a while later, knowing that I am late for first period. I walk inside and go directly to the administration office to get a tardy slip.
“Dallas? You’re supposed to be at home until tomorrow.” Mrs. Hall states while looking me up and down.
I must look ridiculous. I know I don’t have any makeup on, and my hair is a disaster.
“It’s fine. I need a tardy slip.” I mumble loud enough for her to hear.
“Are you sure? Do you want me to call Liam out of class?” She asks.
I shake my head and extend my hand in preparation for the tardy slip.
Mrs. Hall hesitates, but eventually places the slip into my hand.
“Have a good day Dallas!” She shouts as I turn and leave the office.
I make it outside of my first period class, and hesitate. Should I even be here right now?
I shrug and open the classroom door. Every single pair of eyes in the room meet my own, just as well as my teacher.
“Dallas, what a surprise. Please, come in.” She smiles wearily.
I walk over and toss the slip onto her desk, before turning and heading toward the back of the room.
I find an empty desk near the very back, and I sit down. I place my bag on the floor next to my chair. I sulk down into the plastic seat and blankly listen as the teacher continues with her lesson.
A few students are still looking at me; I can tell they’re whispering about me.
I want to tell them that whatever it is they think they know, they actually don’t have the first clue.
Instead, I say absolutely nothing.
I take my time walking in between classes. I haven’t learned a single thing so far today. Every class I just sit and stare at the back of the head in front of me. Every teacher’s words go in one ear, and out the other.
Once it’s time for third period, I brace myself for the bombarding questions my best friend will ask me.
I walk in after everyone else, and when Lexi sees me, her eyes immediately widen.
“Dallas? What are you doing here?” She asks. “You’re supposed to be home for another day. Are you feeling okay? Do you want me to skip with you? I can take you home if you don’t want to be here.”
I sigh and send her a glare. “I’m fine. If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be.” I say sharply.
“I’m allowed to ask you questions, Dallas. You don’t have to be rude about it.”
Silly Lexi, don’t you know not to poke the bear?
“Well, excuse me for being rude. Maybe I’m just not in a very happy mood today Lexi, surely your brain can understand that concept.” I say with a sarcastic smile.
A few students around us begin to snicker.
“Okay, I’m going to let that slide for now…” She begins, “but you really need to check yourself.”
I roll my eyes as I sit down at my desk beside hers. She does the same, completely silent.
The teacher begins his lesson, and neither one of us says a single word for the rest of the hour.
When it’s lunchtime, I walk with Lexi to the cafeteria.
“Are you always going to be this quiet, or is it a new thing?” She asks as we sit down at our table.
“I’m just tired okay? I’m sorry for earlier.” I shrug. I only took a bowl of soup from the cafeteria line, knowing that I probably won’t eat it.
“I really think you should have stayed home today. You need time to process and figure stuff out.” She replies gently. I watch as she devours her slice of pizza.
“One day at home isn’t going to make everything peaches and rainbows again Lex. Besides, I couldn’t sit there all day and just think about it. I needed to get out of that house.”
“I guess I understand that. I’m sorry.” She sadly smiles just as a piece of pepperoni falls from her mouth.
I smirk, but it soon fades as I see Liam and Ethan approaching.
“Dallas? Why are you here?” Liam asks before sitting down on the other side of the table.
“Couldn’t sit at home.” I shrug. “Is that alright with you?”
“I mean sure. I just didn’t think you’d be up for it after spending the night on Ethan’s driveway.” He replies casually.
My expression is neutral as I glance at him.
“Wait, you did what?” Lexi asks.
“Nothing. Can we drop it? I’m fine.” I sigh, finally eating a spoonful of my chicken soup.
The heat is amazing. The broth feels nice going down my throat. I almost smile.
I look up and notice many of the other students glancing at our table. It makes me feel uneasy.
“I wish they would mind their damn business.” I say under my breath.
“Who?” Ethan asks.
“Everyone. All morning I’ve been stared at like I’m some sort of museum exhibit. It’s annoying.”
“They probably just don’t know what to say to you.” Lexi tries to reason. “I didn’t know what to say to you either, if I’m being honest.”
“Well they don’t need to say anything at all. It’s none of their concern.” I snap in reply.
“Well, aren’t we just peachy today?” Ethan smiles and I can’t find it in me to be mad at him.
I weakly smile up at him, and I watch as his eyes soften while looking into my own.
I notice a lot of the students now laughing as they look at their phones. I think nothing of it, until my phone chimes with a notification.
I pull my phone from my pocket and look at the new Instagram post.
My eyes widen in alarm as I see a drunken picture of me from a party I attended last year.
My stomach drops when I read the caption:
“It’s no wonder Jeremy might get locked up. This slut probably begged for it, and then called rape because she felt guilty. #FreeTheLegend! #FreeJeremy!”
“I-I have to go.” I say while abruptly standing up.
“Wait, what’s wrong?” As soon as Lexi asks, all three of their cell phones chime with notifications to the same Instagram post.
I don’t wait to see their reactions. My feet are already taking me out of the cafeteria and out of the building.
I lean against the brick wall as tears fill my eyes.
That’s the word they used. That’s the word they used to describe me.
How can something so horrible happen to someone, and the first thing they think, is to call that person a liar? I mean I suppose I get it, there have been quite a few cases where the women weren’t always sincere, but they haven’t even heard any sides to the story. All they know is that Jeremy was arrested for rape.
Or to them, alleged rape.
I shake my head as more tears fall. Those bastards.
Who knows, I laugh to myself as more tears fall, maybe I missed the part where I begged Jeremy to hurt me and rape me because I just thought it would be fun.
Suddenly, the doors to the school open and Ethan, Liam and Lexi are all standing beside me.
“Dallas, you can’t let them get inside of your head. They’re a bunch of assholes.” Liam says.
“Yeah, Liam just made a huge scene in the cafeteria. You should have seen it.” Lexi says soon after.
“I can’t believe those assholes.” I look to Ethan, and his expression is one of pain.
After moments of silence, I realize that no matter what I do, people are going to assume the worst.
“It’s fine. I’m going home.” I say, turning to walk away.
“Let us come with you.” Lexi says.
“No, go back to class.” I shout over my shoulder, as I near the parking lot.
None of them understands what I’m going through.
And I doubt they ever will.
The next morning I get up, and something has shifted inside of me.
I feel emptier than ever before.
I stayed up for most of the night, reading comment after comment on that Instagram post. So many people agreed, only a handful thought that the post was ridiculous. I read comments from people I didn’t even know, agreeing that I asked for it.
How can someone believe that, when they’ve never even met me before? Nor were they even there when either occurrence took place.
It baffles my mind that complete strangers, have an opinion on something that happened to me.
Regardless, I still feel like complete shit.
Maybe there’s a reason they all believe the post. Maybe I give off a vibe that says I’m free to anyone. Maybe I am a slut like they say.
Maybe I should show them what a real slut looks like, so that they know for sure that I wasn’t one before. Maybe that will be just the wake-up call that everyone needs.
I walk over to my closet and yank the doors open. As I walk inside, I glance around for an outfit.
I spot my short red dress hanging in the back. I smile as I pull it off the hanger.
I slip into it, and the hem of the dress stops just a couple inches past my ass. It’s crazy short, but I shrug before turning to locate my black heels. Once I’m finished, I curl my long blonde hair, leaving it to flow down my back in waves.
I apply heavy makeup, and go extra heavy on the red lipstick.
I look like I belong in a strip club.
I grab my phone and my bag, before strutting down the stairs.
As I walk into the kitchen, both dad and Liam look up at me simultaneously.
Dad chokes on his coffee, and Liam’s eyes look as if they’re about to fall out of his head.
“Dallie, sweetie, what the hell are you wearing?” Dad asks sternly.
“It’s called a dress.” I deadpan while grabbing a water bottle from the fridge.
“Okay, thanks for stating the obvious. I was more so referring to the fact that you’re going to school today and not the gentlemen’s club on Fourth Street.” He says in reply.
I hide my smirk before turning around.
“I’m just dressing how all girls like me dress. I mean everyone at school expects this from me, so why not give them what they want?” I raise an eyebrow.
Dad looks at his watch and then at Liam before bringing his gaze back to me.
“I don’t have time for this. Liam, deal with your sister.” He sighs before getting up and heading for the front door. “Dallas if you have any morals left, and I know that you do, please change your clothes.”
After that, dad walks out of the house and heads to work.
“You’re really making a statement, aren’t you?” Liam says once dad is gone.
“Why wouldn’t I? At least this way, people know exactly what they’re looking at. At least now they can’t judge and imply things that aren’t true. At least now they will be right when they call me a slut.” I shrug, trying my best to hide the voice inside of my head telling me that I shouldn’t be doing this.
“You do realize that if you go to school like that, they will believe that you lied about Jeremy raping you.” Liam says slowly, trying his best to allow each word to register in my brain.
That is the exact point I am trying to make, brother dearest.
“Just please go change. This isn’t you.”
“If this dress isn’t me, then how come I own it?” I question.
“Seriously? Just because you own it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for school. Besides, the teachers would never let you walk through school wearing that. They would send you home.” Liam explains, a little more harsh than before.
“Whatever.” I roll my eyes, turning to walk back upstairs.
I change out of the dress, and settle on skin tight skinny jeans with a red V-neck blouse.
It isn’t a skimpy dress, but it’s enough to get the job done.
I walk back downstairs, my heels clinking against the tile floors.
“Better?” I sarcastically smile as I enter the kitchen.
“An improvement, yes. Better? I don’t know. We’re going to be late, let’s just go.” Liam sighs while heading for the front door.
I allow him to drive Ethan and I to school, and once we arrive, I’m quick to hop out of the jeep and strut down the pathway to the school doors.
I watch as every single pair of eyes, land on me. I want to smirk, but that would look too obvious.
I immediately hear whispers. I shrug as I continue to my locker.
“Wow, who are you all dressed up for?” Lexi asks once she reaches her locker.
“For the school it appears.” I reply quietly.
“You don’t have to do this Dal. You don’t have to be who they think you are. You are Dallas Ryder, and deep down everyone knows that. Some loser who probably has a man-crush on Jeremy and is mad that he’s in jail made that Instagram post. You don’t need to lower yourself to their standards of who they think you are. You’re better than that.” Lexi tries to get through to me.
I want to believe her. I want to believe Liam.
So why am I giving in and allowing myself to be exactly who they all think of me as?
I suppose when Jeremy raped me, he didn’t just rape me physically.
He raped me mentally. He completely stripped me of the person I used to be, of the person everyone saw me as.
He’s the cause of everything. He’s the one in jail for the crime he’s committed.
So why am I still the one suffering? Why can’t I just forget that this happened and go back to my normal life.
I want to forget about it. I want to move on, but I can’t. It’s always there. Everytime I turn around, the memories and the pain is clouding my brain and my better judgement.
I’ll never escape it. I’ll always be in this hell.