Mourning

I wake in a strange bed and have no idea where I am or how I got there. I feel sick to my stomach. My memory is foggy. Instinctively, I know that something unspeakable has happened to me the night before, but I cannot allow myself to admit that I have been raped. I climb out of bed and as I look for a washroom, I recognize that I am in Callie’s basement. I assume that we all crashed there the night before, and that the others are still asleep in upstairs bedrooms.

I find a downstairs toilet with a stand up shower, and turn on the water. I strip off the nightgown someone must have put me in the night before, and step beneath the hot spray. The pulse of the shower-head, though a welcome sensation, makes me aware of the tenderness of my flesh. My body aches as though I had run a marathon the day before or had gone nine rounds in a ring with a prize fighter. Gently, I run a bar of soap over my body and notice that I am covered in bruises, scratches, and huge mosquito bites. I feel my face with my soapy palms and notice the same large bumps cover my face and hands too. I sink to my knees beneath the steaming stream of water and weep. I cannot stand again for some time, and only find the strength to climb out of the shower when the hot water starts to run cold.

I ease my fragile body out of the shower and wrap myself in one of the large brown towels hanging in Callie’s washroom. I return to the place where I slept the night before and search for my clothes. My white cotton trousers and white cotton box-style blazer are covered in dirt. My little white ballet shoes with pink bows on the toes are badly scuffed. The small, white button earrings I had on the night before sit with my bra on top of my light, blue t-shirt, which is torn at the neck and left sleeve. There are no panties. I am unable to put that outfit back on my body so I look in the room for something else to wear and find a navy-blue CCH sweatshirt and pants. I pull them on.

I go upstairs to Callie’s room and find Callie and BeBe Killern sitting on Callie’s bed and talking. BeBe smiles at me as I enter the room.

“Griffin! How’s it going?” she calls to me. “How ya feeling?”

“Sick,” I say.

“I guess so! You really had a night last night.” She laughs. Callie looks serious. She does not smile, but looks at me with grave concern.

“What happened last night?” I ask reluctantly

“You don’t remember?” BeBe laughs.

I shake my head no.

“Nothing?” she howls. “You don’t remember anything?”

“Nothing,” I say.

“You had sex last night, in the woods with Uva,” BeBe grins.

I am shocked. “Who’s Uva?” I ask.

“He’s hot! And he’s rich!” BeBe says chortling.

“Are you on the pill, Griffin?” a stone-faced Callie asks me.

“No.”

“You gotta go get the morning after pill,” BeBe Killern tells me. She explains to me what it is. I have never heard of it. “It just brings on your period,” she says.

The phone rings and Callie answer it.

“Griffin. It’s for you,” Callie says. “It’s Fannie.”

“I’ll take it in the hallway,” I say as I leave Callie’s bedroom. Once I am on the extension, Callie hang up the phone in her room.

“Griffin? Are you okay?” Fannie asks.

“I’m not sure,” I reply.

“What the hell happened last night?” she says.

“I don’t know,” I murmur. I feel ill. I sit down in a chair in front of the hallway table where the phone sits.

“Griffin. I am telling you this right now! I never want to see you like that ever again!” she says, her voice shaking with emotion. “When Thad saw the state you were in, he attacked that asshole.”

“He did?”

“Yes! He got in a fight over you! And I screamed at him. Didn’t you hear the fight?”

“I was passing out. I heard scuffling on gravel and voices rising before I blacked out all together,” I mumble. I am mortified. This cannot be happening.

“Yeah! That was us! I said to him, ‘You may as well have screwed a chain link fence. Look at her! She’s unconscious! You could have screwed a hole in the ground. She’s only fifteen. That’s rape, asshole!’” Fannie’s voice shakes with rage. “I told him you were fifteen to scare the shit out of him! Griffin, he may as well have screwed a hole in the ground,” she says again.

Fannie is angry with me but I have often protected one of my friends when they found themselves in similar states of insobriety. At a frat party earlier that month I got between Fannie and an overzealous frat boy. She was out of it and he tried to take her to his bedroom in the Phi-Pheta-some-other-bullshit-Greek-symbol house. I got her away from him and I drove her home, periodically pulling over to let her be sick, holding back her long hair as she threw up. I protected her that night and got her home safely.

“You were unconscious, Griffin,” she continues. “You were raped!”

I can’t let myself believe that I have been raped. I have vague flashes of memory of Uva, but in truth he is nothing but a silhouette in my mind. I have no idea what he actually looks like. If he approached me on the street I wouldn’t recognize him. I also have a vague recollection of hearing Fannie say the things she tells me she said to Uva and of her boyfriend fighting Uva in the parking lot. I had heard some of it while I lay in the backseat of Callie’s car. I just didn’t know what was happening that night. I didn’t know where I was or who I was. After the rape, Callie said that she took me to her house to sleep, but the girls told me that they let Uva and his friends come too. I was unconscious in the basement bedroom and they let him come into that room periodically that night to check on me. They let a boy who had left me naked in the woods for dead, come in and check on me throughout the night. They see nothing wrong in this.

My car is parked at Callie’s house. I have to go home and I am terrified that I will be hit the moment I walk through the front door. I am a sight for sore eyes and I fear that my mother or father will take one look at me and belt me hard across the face before I have a chance to explain, though what I would say, I don’t know. I drive home with shaking hands clutching the steering wheel and with tears blurring my vision.

When I get home, I am relieved to see that there is no car in the driveway and figure that the family is likely at Sunday morning Mass. I quickly go to my room, strip off the sweatsuit I borrowed from Callie and change into a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. I have carried home my outfit from the previous night in a plastic bag and I hide it in the ottoman in my room. I leave my parents a note on the kitchen countertop explaining that we had all crashed at Callie’s the night before, and I apologize for not calling. I say that I am going to BeBe Killern’s to study for our Chemistry exam, which is to be held the following Tuesday, then I pack my Chemistry text and binder in my book bag.

I am to meet BeBe again, but not to study. She is going to take me to Victoria Hospital so I could get this morning-after pill of which she spoke. I’ve never heard of such a pill. I wonder why people take the birth control pill every day if a woman can just get a post-sex pill. I never think then that it is considered a form of abortion. If there is a baby, I am getting rid of it. I never once consider things from this angle at that time. It is years later that I view it from that prospective. Unable to conceive later in life, I wonder if I’d ended a pregnancy at age seventeen. But would I have wanted it anyway?

I quickly leave the house and walk for the bus. I decide not to take the car again as that might anger my parents further. I hope in seeing that I voluntarily leave the vehicle, and upon reading my explanation that they will soften toward me and that there will not be a scene when they do see me later that evening. I also know that they will be more accepting of me staying out all night with the girls than they would be if I were still been seeing Sé at that time, or some other guy. Had I been out with Sé and come home in the morning, I would have been murdered by my father. There was safety in numbers, my mother always said, but she was dead wrong.

The bus arrives and I climb on it. I sit near the back of the bus, in one of the single side seats, and I think about the previous night as tears again fill my eyes. I didn’t have much to drink the night before, but I was definitely intoxicated. I have not heard of date rape drugs at that time in my life and figure that I was just really drunk.

I meet BeBe at the Westmount Mall bus terminus and together she and I ride the bus that will take us to London’s Victoria Hospital. Once there, I tell the nurse that I need the morning after pill. She ushers me along the medicinal-smelling corridor and tells me to sit on a cot with a curtain around it. She tugs at the drape to partially shield me from view, and I patiently wait for the doctor to come and speak with me. When the doctor arrives, he vigorously pulls the curtain completely closed around the gurney to ensure privacy.

“What is it you need?’ he asks in a terse tone.

“The morning after pill,” I mutter. I cannot meet his gaze. I put my head down and stare at the floor.

“And why do you need that?” he fires at me.

“I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend last night,” I lie.

Now the doctor cannot look at me. He looks at the wall to my left and proceeds to scream at me for being irresponsible. “If you and your boyfriend are going to engage in sex, then go on the pill! This is not a form of birth control!” he shouts as he scribbles a script on his pad.

I do not say another word to the doctor. I sit there and let him tear a strip off of me as he rips the page from his script pad and hands it to me. He turns on his heel and exits angrily through the closed curtain. I want to die.

I take the pill as soon as it is dispensed to me in the hospital. BeBe Killhern and I make our way back to her place, where I stay for a time still afraid to make my way home. When I do get home, my mother is making the Sunday dinner. She is singing at the stove as she often does when cooking the Sunday roast beef.

“How was your night last night?” she asks when she sees me coming into the kitchen. She always wants to hear about my nights out.

“Okay,” I shrug.

“Were you studying?”

“Yeah.” I lift my books to back up my lie.

“The exam is tomorrow?”

“Tuesday.”

“What time?”

“8 o’clock.”

“Are ye ready fer it?”

“I need to study more. We’re meeting at BeBe’s again tomorrow.”

“Well, take the car the morra. You know, Angela, all we ask is that you phone and let us know yer no comin’ hame. That’s all we ask. I don’t think that’s a lot tae ask?”

“It isn’t. I’m sorry.”

“Aye. Ye were likely drunk and couldnee call,” she laughs a bit and I look away from her. “What’s wrang way yer face?”

“Mosquito bites.”

“God, they ate ye alive, lassie,” she says and I nod. “Okay. Away ye go. Dinner’s almost ready.”

I go down to my room, lie on my bed and weep. I ignore the call for dinner and eventually fall asleep. I have a nightmare of my father finding out about the rape. I dream that he goes into the doctor’s office, finds my file and reads that I had sex. He sees that I had to take the morning after pill. I never want my dad to know.

 

 

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