All loves stops for me then. I wait for Sé to come back. On Saturday nights, after Mass, I sit by the phone, waiting for Sé to ring me. By eleven o’clock, I collect myself and go to bed. Often, I pass my dad on the stairs as I go down to my basement bedroom and he comes up from the rec room where he watches Hockey Night in Canada. He walks to the kitchen to retrieve another beer from the refrigerator, and to use the upstairs washroom. I look down at my feet, hiding my tears from my father as I climb down to my room where I cry myself to sleep. Prayer sees me through those nights of heartbreak. God is the Father to whom I turn. He is always there to hold me in the palm of His loving hand, and I find solace in His embrace.
Sé’s friends still think we are a couple. When I go to a school party they always asked where Sé is. He never tells anyone that we are broken up. He doesn’t want his friends to know that I am single because he isn’t going to allow them to ask me out. He even spreads the word amongst his buddies that he is going to ask me to his prom, which is to occur on May 29th (our anniversary) but he doesn’t ask me. He asks a girl, a friend of his older sister. The girl is repeating her Grade thirteen year. Her last name is Tucker and her nickname is ‘Tucker. Fuck-her’ because she is an eager lay. Sé is determined to lose his virginity. At least that is how it appears to me.
My friends do know that we are broken up and they knew too I am staying home most weekends waiting for Sé to come back to me. Fannie Lurh sets me up with a boy who goes to Saunders Secondary with her boyfriend. Rutger Fassbender saw me at a high school basketball game with Fannie and asked her boyfriend, Thad, about me. When Fannie tells me that this boy who knows Thad wants to go out with me, I initially refuse, but then I let myself be persuaded. I know that I need to try to move on. Rutger is a tall, handsome boy, far better-looking than Sé. He is very respectful towards me too, but there is no chemistry between us. In the end, I don’t have any feelings for Rutger or any other boy who asks me out at that time, so I stay to myself. Or I try to.
Boys continue to find me attractive. I am tall and slender, have light brown hair which is parted in the center and feathered off my face in long, soft layers that frame my round face. My big, blue eyes are my most special feature. I have my father’s eyes, the Griffin eyes. My lips are full and my teeth straight and white despite never having worn braces. I never think there is anything wrong with my nose until my mother begins to constantly comment on it.
“Ye have yer faither’s nose, hen,” she cackles. “It’s all o’er yer face.” Her chubby hand rises to her own nose and she widens her fat fist around her own nose, which is small but has a hook shape to it. “Well, it isnee bad the noo, but yer nose and yer ears ne’er stoap growin’. When yer ma age it will be all o’er yer face liker yer faither’s.” I never think there was anything wrong with my father’s nose either, but once my mother continually points out our defects, I become concerned about my forever thickening nose. “And you’ve ma legs,” she squawks. “I hate tae tell you, hen. You’ve got ma legs.”
I may have my father’s nose, but I know with great certainty that I don’t have my mother’s legs. My mother’s legs are short and stubby and she is flat-footed. My legs are long, lean and defined. My mother’s legs are also covered in varicose veins. A lifetime of being overweight and overeating through every pregnancy, leaves her with purple varicose veins that protrud beneath her flesh. She also has no knees because she is so fat.
“You’ve a fine leg fer a table, but you’ve ma legs. I hate tae tell ye,” she laughs.
She doesn’t hate to tell me. She loves to tell me these things because she is jealous that I am tall, lean and beautiful, all the things she never has been and never will be. I have my father’s athletic build. My mother’s need to constantly pick me apart and offer up her opinion on every aspect of my face, body and personality drive me to pick myself apart in an even more merciless way.
My friends persuade me to go to a Saunders Secondary pub night in May of my Grade eleven year. Saunders sponsors it but it is held out in the country at a church hall. Callie Blunt drives us that night. Callie is the cousin of the New York boy I dated in Grade nine and ten, Drew Blunt. It is a road that I had never travelled down before. A small, squat, siding-clad building stands off the highway. The hall is white in colour and stands in a gravel lot bordered by a thick forest. As soon as we walk into the public room a basketball player named Uva is on my tail. By all accounts he is tall, good looking and wealthy though I have little or no memory of him. He remains but a shadow in my mind.
Uva tries to get me to dance and drink with him. He buys trays filled with drinks and he lifts me off my feet on the dance floor. I have one drink that night. It is a rye and ginger and I have it at Callie Blunt’s when I went to her Lambeth home before we left for the pub night. Another girl who is present, BeBe Killern, mixes me a very tall rye and ginger, which I can’t finish and dump down the sink when no one is looking. I feel a bit ill from that strong drink so at the pub I decline to drink anything but soda. I drink a few glasses of Coca-Cola bought for me by Uva and begin to feel ill very quickly. I go outside for fresh air feeling dazed. Uva follows me outside, picks me up and drag me into the woods.
I cannot move my arms and legs to fight him off or get away. He pushes me to the ground and climbs on top of me. It is so dark in the woods that I can’t see anything but the shadows of trees towering above, the blackness of thick tree trunks surrounding the path I lie upon, and the silhouette of Uva moving on top of me. I cry and ask him to stop.
“Please don’t,” I sob. “I’ve….never….I’m a virg…..want to wait.” I am so out of it that I cannot speak.
“Shush. Shush. I love you, baby,” he tells me.
In my confused state I think he is Fannie Lurh’s boyfriend. “No. You love Kur…stie…not me,” I sob. I am incoherent, passing out.
“No, baby. I love you,” he says.
He proceed to have sex with me despite my protests, and then I pass out. Callie Blunt later finds me naked in the woods, my bra twisted around my neck. As she rouses me, I begin to scream.
“Griffin. It’s me. Callie. You’re safe. I’ve got you,” she tries to calm me but I weep hysterically.
Callie finds all of my clothes except my panties and dresses me in the forest before walking me back to her car. My bra is still wrapped around my neck, and I fumble with it in a feeble attempt to untie it. As we reach the hall, I tell Callie that I feel as if I need to vomit and she takes me to the bathroom in the hall. I fall into a stall and throw up in a toilet. I hear girls laughing at me as I continue to vomit, my beige bra swinging from the front of my neck. Callie leaves me there to be sick while she returns to the hall to tell everyone the state in which she has found me.
“I’m taking Griffin to my place for the night,” she tells them. She returns to collect me from the washroom and, once stowed safely in her backseat, I slip in and out of consciousness. I hear voices rising in fury and scuffling feet on gravel beyond the car before I black out completely.