The R Word

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All I wanted was a half-priced drink after my 9-to-5. Yet I called an Uber because I know myself too well. I ended up spending fifty dollars on pumpkin beer and disco fries.

Wearing a shirt that was far too tight for my liking, I bar hopped holding hands with a blonde woman I would have hated in high school. I smoke when I drink. So she stopped to ask for a cigarette. We played Jeopardy with some Serbians while keeping oncology on the map.

Збогом, they say.

I want to sleep. But we’ll never make it home, so we stop to use a bathroom.

I never thought I would be able to recognize a person from the back of their head. And the panic rushed through me, the way it does when I think I’ve forgotten something important. And I dart to the bathroom quick and quiet, hoping you won’t notice me.

But you do.

And on the way out, I feel it. You grab my arm. You smile the way I’ve always wanted someone to look at me. And you don’t ask for a hug, you tell me to oblige. And again, I am not consenting.

I stiffly lean in, face in your shoulder, and I’m back to the first time. Blacked out in your bed. You’ve just held my hair back while I puked up my stomach contents. I finished a magnum bottle of wine all by myself, while you watched. I was so nervous to be around you, I didn’t notice how fast I was drinking until it was empty. I don’t remember everything about that night, but I remember how I felt.

Alone.

My friends left me to be taken care of by someone they trusted. And, instead of tucking me in, you stripped me of everything to which I was holding on so tight. I remember saying that we shouldn’t. And I remember you telling me not to worry about it. I remember lying there, limp, while you fucked me. I specifically remember that you didn’t kiss me. You were smart enough to know it wouldn’t taste good.

No one told me there was a word for it.

I pull away. You ask what I’ve been up to. I try to smile, I try to remain calm, I try to be confident. You have the look in your eyes that drew me in at the start. And it makes me uneasy because I don’t know how to feel. I say it’s been a long time. You ask many questions, and I tell the truth. And then I think I gave too much information. Yes, I live alone.

Alone.

And then I’m reminded of the second time. I’m back in your friend’s bedroom. On New Year’s Eve. I’ve always looked back on that night with fondness. And now I must face the reality that it was not fun for me at all. I took off my heels and fur vest. I didn’t need to take my makeup off because it bled down to my toes from all the tears I cried. Those from the pain I felt when you forced yourself inside holes that things should only come out of. Again, I was wasted. But I do remember saying no this time. Not a we shouldn’t, not a cold shoulder. A hard no. A persistent, pleading stop. The firm phrases women are chastised for not saying when they get to the courtroom.

I said it.

I was quiet because I didn’t want to wake up your friends.

But I did say it.

And you didn’t listen.

You ask me to sit down. There’s an empty chair next to you. Maybe you regret letting me go. Maybe you’re just looking for someone to take home. But you don’t look like someone who has learned the error of his ways. And your arrogance makes me look like a liar.

I’ve been drinking since 5 PM.

So, once again, I say no.

But there are witnesses this time.

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