September 6th, 2013
The day after.
I’m not sure how long I lay in bed that morning, staring blankly up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. I’ve always loved them. My dad put them up in my room when I was about eight and obsessed with space. But, now, I look at them and realize how immature they are. I’m fourteen and shouldn’t have glow-in-the-dark stickers on my ceiling.
I’m not sure if I slept at all last night. My mind feels like mush. My eyes burn with the endless hours of staring. Repeating last night over and over and over again. The actions replaying like a movie stuck on a constant loop. Never-ending.
I try to convince myself that last night was just a bad dream—a horrific dream, that as soon as I go out of my room and greet my parents for breakfast, I will laugh and realize that everything is just how it has always been. That nothing has changed.
But, as I shift in the bed, my thighs throb with a soreness I’ve never experienced before. And, as I swallow, my throat is raw. A horrible sore throat. And it isn’t just my throat; my entire jaw feels like I got punched in the face. It’s achy, just like my entire body.
Squeezing my eyes shut, tears leak out of them as I repeat in my head, Just a dream. Just a dream. Not real. Not real. Nothing bad has ever happened to me and last night couldn’t have been real.
Yet, with my eyes closed, the memories of last night are even more vivid. His haunting eyes. His devilish grin that I once thought was so cute. His hands. Bones rubbing. Choking. Gagging. His voice. On. Constant. Repeat.
Jerking my eyes back open, I force my arms to move, arms that feel bruised. Arms that don’t feel like mine anymore. I pull my covers back, exposing my legs. Bruises mark my inner thighs, proving to me that last night did in fact happen. It was not a dream. It was real and it happened to me. A sob escapes my mouth as I toss my legs over the side of the bed and stare down at the bruises on my wrists.
I take a deep breath. Maybe I’m overreacting. So many girls have already been having sex in my grade. Plus, it’s my fault. I drank. I led him on. I initiated everything. It’s my own damn fault what happened.
I stare at my purple, bruised skin in disbelief, the marks leaving a reminder of everything that happened. Reminding me of where his hands were and how it felt. His body crushing mine, restricting me from catching a breath. My lungs feeling like they were collapsing.
What happens now? What do I do now? Pretend everything is okay—that I’m okay?
My wobbly legs press down onto the newly carpeted floor, leaving an indent, as I carefully stand up. Every part of my body hurts—parts I didn’t even know could hurt. I’m suddenly aware of every inch of me. All my senses are heightened as my bones crack and my body throbs. I feel lost, confused, hurt, and used. I feel disgusting.
Feeling exposed, and not wanting to see my discolored skin any longer, I shuffle towards my drawers and pull out my winter pajamas, making sure to cover every inch of me so I don’t have to stare at myself any longer. So the bruises will disappear from sight, shielding me from the evidence of what happened.
It was supposed to be just a normal day. Like any other day. Now, I feel like I don’t know anything.
A knock at my door. Then another. It makes me jump and I stare at my door, unable to speak.
“India, breakfast is ready. Come out.”
I just stare blankly at my door. I don’t want to face my parents. I don’t want them to see the changes in me that seem to have happened overnight. Moving back over to my bed, I climb under the covers, not wanting to face the day, or life for that matter. I want to lay here until all of this goes away.
Closing my eyes, I doze back off, until I hear more knocks on my door.
“Indy, breakfast is cold now. I told you to come down.”
I hear her open the door, and I peek an eye open to see her move towards me.
“Are you okay?” she asks softly and sits down on the bed next to me.
Does she notice? Does she see the difference? Does she know what Caleb Anderson did to me?
“I just—I—” I can’t form a sentence. The words stick in my mouth. I feel like I’m going to throw up.
My mom gives me a sympathetic smile. “Honey, I know last night was bad. Your dad and I were just so shocked when we saw the message Caleb sent you. You’re still very young and we didn’t expect you to be involved with boys yet, but I’ve talked to your father and have calmed him down.” She kisses my forehead gently, and I now see what she meant. She has it all wrong. She thinks I wanted to have sex with Caleb. She doesn’t know. “We know you’re in high school now and you’re figuring out who you are. Obviously, teenagers are going to drink and do normal teenage stuff. I’m glad that you called me to pick you up after you had been drinking, but if you think you are ready to have sex, then we need to have a serious talk because—”
I shake my head fiercely. “I’m not ready to have sex. That’s not what happened.”
Why can’t she see? How does she not know something is seriously wrong? I feel tears flooding towards my eyes again and I force them back.
“Okay, well, I guess that’s good. Still, regardless, whenever you do feel like you’re ready, I want you to know you can talk to me.” She looks over my pajamas and frowns. “Why do you have your Christmas pajamas on? It’s hot.”
“I’m cold,” I mumble and pull at the ends of my sleeves, making sure the bruises don’t show.
She gives me a weird look before standing back up. “You’re crazy,” she laughs with a wave of her hand. “Hurry and get up, lazybones. Dad made pancakes.”
She stands there, obviously not going to leave until I succumb to the unappetizing calling of pancakes. Slumping out of bed, I trudge behind her out of my room and down the stairs to the kitchen, where my dad is sipping on his coffee with his feet perched on the hassock as he watches the news.
A simple, regular morning. The smell of the pancakes hits my nose and it makes me feel sick. I feel the color drain from my face and my mouth pools with saliva. The thought of even attempting to eat right now makes bile slither up my throat. My dad doesn’t even glance up at me, signaling that he is still furious about last night, despite my mother telling me otherwise.
The sun streams down into our house through all the large, opened windows. Birds chirp outside like it’s a beautiful, casual Saturday morning. The dishwasher rotates with the swish, swish of water. The news reporter discusses the latest going on in Pismo Beach, California today. Nothing has changed. Yet, somehow, I’m completely different and nobody notices. The world doesn’t stop for me. Everyone is going about their lives as if my virginity wasn’t stolen from me violently just hours before.
My body floats over to the pancakes. I stack two on before bringing it over to the table, where I put a small amount of syrup on. Mindlessly, I stab at them, hoping my mom doesn’t notice me not eating. Staring down at my plate, I feel nauseous. Words from last night fill my mind.
She’s been practically begging me to do her all night. Caleb, please stop. Keep them there. Open your mouth.
I force a bite in my mouth, and gag on the taste, nearly throwing it back up. I force myself to swallow it down, as I try to go about my morning just like every other morning. I force my body to work even though it feels like it’s been turned inside out. Like it isn’t shutting down gradually with each minute that goes by.