CONTENT WARNING: DEPICTIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
We were sitting in English, working on a book report. A few students found a box full of rubber bands and started to fling them at me. I asked them to stop.
They did not.
Suddenly there was a hand on my head and the words “I’ll protect you” were ringing in my head. The bottom of his palm hit my forehead as it moved its way across my scalp to wrap around the bun on the back of my head. Pushing me underneath the table, my head in between his thighs, forcing me down. My arms were folded in between my chest and legs in the small plastic chair. My body shivered, acknowledging the uncomfortable situation that I was now in, but my mind was blank, every aspect of my being felt frozen. The boys in the seats around me were laughing.
“Why were they laughing?”
Not understanding what was happening, I stayed silent, I didn’t move, I just stared at his red Nike’s.
Slowly he started to pull my head up and down, moving it in between his thighs, my skin rubbed against his leg hair. I looked down at his bright red Nike’s and existed, incapable of anything else. I don’t know how much time passed, it could have been a few seconds or a few minutes but to me it felt like an entire lifetime.
When he let go, I jumped from my seat, peeling my thighs from the chair, feeling like all of my skin came off as I got up, leaving me feeling cold and confused. My eyes were like a deer in the headlights, my arms wrapping around my body, desperate to make the jacket I was wearing into a cocoon, I needed somewhere to disappear. Something about what just happened felt wrong, but I didn’t know why. It was an experience entirely new to my existence, yet it felt so wrong. I asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom, crumpling up the paper pass in my palm desperate for an outlet, I started walking through the halls. I kept staring at the linoleum floors counting the tiles as they began to blur with my legs picking up speed. It was like I was a character in a dystopian novel running away from the shadow trying to kill me, moving my legs with speed never produced before to reach the annex that held a place of shelter to get away from the source of the confusion and pain.
My entire being was an oxymoron. I was cold, dirty, and yet my face and hair felt like they were on fire. Weaving my fingers between each strand to rip the bun apart, legs shaking as they collapsed onto the tile. Continuing to twist and twist the section of my hair as an outlet for the overwhelming amount of emotions desperate to burst. But, with each pull I lost control, my brain switched off, let go, and the dam broke. Burying into my knees, I started to cry, letting my base instincts take control of my actions. But the thoughts came tumbling back…
“Why was I crying?”
“This was crazy,”
“Something weird happened, but it wasn’t ‘wrong,’ was it?”
A dull pain sparked as I threw my head against the wall, a pain I could control. I hit my head again and again, feeling the ache grow as the intensity of the hits increased. I couldn’t think about the confusion or the cold still running through each limp when there was an active hurt. A controllable hurt. I ran my hands back through my hair, and when they came to the back of my head, they no longer felt like my own. They weren’t tiny and thin, they were sweaty, rough, large, they burned. A shiver rolled through my body as an intense need to disappear came back.
“Why do I feel so bad?”
“Why does it feel like my fault?”
I slumped forward into my knees again and rocked back and forth for the rest of the period. Feeling the rhythm of knees forward … spin back … knees forward … spin back, letting it soothe me into a sense of nothing.
When another girl entered the bathroom, I eventually remembered that I couldn’t hide in my oasis of the bathroom stall forever. Exiting the bathroom felt like a dream, there were two different beings: me and the body I was occupying. The girl in the bathroom mirror wasn’t the same person as the one who existed 2 hours before. The girl before was happy, and bright, and wore a constant smile. The girl now was scared yet emotionless, a shell of something before that couldn’t be found.
When I got back to the room, I sat down in my seat like nothing happened. He was laughing with the person next to him well I shook, silent, staring at the edge of the table. I never wore that jacket again, it ended up in the trash the minute I got home from school. I didn’t wear my hair in a bun for a year. I didn’t tell anyone for a month. It took me one more before I told an authority figure, another two before I told my mother. I sat next to him in class for the rest of the year. I finished the project with him and worked on three more by the time the semester ended. I see him walking through the halls, remembering the way his hand interlaced with the twists of my bun, I feel his leg hair against my cheeks. I can close my eyes and perfectly picture his shoes. In the class size of 600, he is the only person whose touch I can’t forget.