"It'll be fun," they said

They spotted us before we saw them. Walked right up to the table we were slowly wasting a summer day at in the mall food court and sat down. The hot boy was from school, a grade or two above us, wearing a golden summer tan, a bright white smile, and a confidence particular to the popular boys from rich families who know their good looks and last name are enough to get them whatever they want, or out of, away from, whatever they don’t. The other boy, unfamiliar. Older than the older boy from school. If you ignored how big how tall how wide he was, there was nothing memorable about him. Quiet, ugly, boring. Forgettable.

If I were to do that thing where I measure me and my friend against them, I’d say my friend was the hot boy from school, me the other quiet ugly boring forgettable one. I mean, honestly. I don’t know how I managed to find myself sitting at a table in the mall food court slowly wasting a summer day with this girl. This pretty and perfect Popular Girl from school.

Growing up I was not ever a Popular Girl. Not in elementary school, not in middle school, not now in high school. I wasn’t even popular in my own family, and I’m an only child. So to have been invited to hang out by a Popular Girl in the first place was a miracle. That she would hang out with me in public? Willingly? At her suggestion? Too good to be true. Things like this didn’t happen to me.

Except today something exactly like that is happening to me. And now, this popular, rich, older, hot boy from school is at our table. We nearly lose our shit the moment the hot boy sits down with us. The golden summer tan and bright white smile, his perfectly gelled hair, sparkly diamond earrings, his muscles money manboy charm, right next to us in the taut, beautiful, unbelievable flesh. 

H O W. I S. T H I S. H A P P E N I N G.

Either the universe we live in is ending or we‘ve somehow been transported to a completely different one, because if shit like being invited to hang out in public by a real life Popular Girl doesn’t happen to me, SHIT LIKE A HOT OLDER POPULAR BOY FROM SCHOOL SITTING AT A TABLE WITH ME DEFINITELY FOR SURE NO WAY DOES NOT EVER HAPPEN TO ME.

Except for the second time this one magical fairytale of a day, it is exactly what is happening to me. Do not ever wake me up.

A true early-2000s suburban Adonis, that hot boy from school is. And so naturally, as is custom in such situations, we start hyperventilating melting dying, forget how to breathe how to speak how to life, the second he chooses, for whatever reason (does it really matter?!), to bless us with his sweet, divine presence. 

A party. Tonight. 

“Come,” they said.

Older kids. Alcohol. No parents.

“It’ll be fun,” they said. 

And we believed them so we went.

*   *   *

Party game: Truth or Dare?

Truth: The part about that night I remember most clearly is the part I wish I could forget.

Dare: D O. N O T. F O R G E T.

*   *   *

What I remember:

The air in the room: sweltering stifling stale.

Other people: there. And then: gone. Now: it’s just us, just me just my friend just the hot boy from school and the quiet, ugly, boring, forgettable other, older boy.

A light is on. It’s yellowish haze gives the night a sickly, jaundiced filter.

The door to the hallway is halfway open, halfway not.

Music coming from somewhere: loud angry disorienting.

The TV glowing with sharp flashes of dizzying light.

Plastic red Solo cups on the floor on the table in the other, older boy’s hand.

A futon.

The blinds on the window and the door to the backyard, open.

As soon as everyone else leaves: an edge to the night. A nervous, uneasy tension too dense to dodge or digest. Or maybe just drunken boredom apathy resignation.

 

What I don’t remember:

If we wanted to stay.

If we tried to leave.

If we felt or saw or realized in the moment the things we remembered about it once it’d passed.

Why I left the room with the hot boy from school.

Why she didn’t come with us.

If she tried to come with us.

Where the hot boy from school and I walked to.

What we talked about.

How long we were gone.

*   *   *

The air outside is hot, unusual for Oregon, even in the summer, and especially at night. But there’s a breeze and it’s only light but it’s perfect and it’s good. 

Soon: it’s no longer tonight. Tonight has somehow at some point somewhere along the way turned to tomorrow, still dark still early still new and fresh and pure. 

Eventually: the hot boy from school and me, we wander back to the house with the party the alcohol the no parents. He’s leading and we’re both laughing joking enjoying each other the night the moment. 

The stars: still shining brightly clearly beautifully. A magic dreamland I can’t believe I’m living in.

*   *   *

Back at the house.

The doors, the windows, open when we left: locked now. All of them.

The blinds, open when we left: closed now. All of them.

The hot boy and me, we take turns yelling knocking kicking tapping on the house the doors the window glass. The other, older boy and my Popular Girl friend inside don’t hear us. Or, the other, older boy and my Popular Girl friend inside ignore us. Either way: annoyance. The hot boy and me, we try to shake the house to get the blinds to budge, to move enough for us to see in.

A tiny gap in the bottom corner. We can only see in if we squat down if we angle our head if we close one eye and then narrow the other. 

Him, the other, older boy: across the length of the futon.

Her, my Popular Girl friend: nowhere to be seen.

But then: movement. Steady, focused, rhythmic.

And: a noise. Low, labored, guttural.

His big wide tall body is moving and then we see it; we see her. The girth of him disgusting ample expansive, swallowing her tiny limp naked lifeless body; hiding her almost completely from sight.

A lifetime earlier: The other one, older than the hot boy from school: quiet, ugly, boring. Forgettable.

Now: Uglier than ugly. Repulsive. Savage, aggressive, menacing. Unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

Annoyance turns to alarm turns to panic. 

The hot boy and me: furiously ferociously frantically yelling knocking kicking tapping on the house the doors the window glass. 

*   *   *

What I remember: we make our way back inside.

What I don’t remember: how we did it.

*   *   *

The hot boy from school: yelling screaming hitting kicking the other, older boy whose offensive sprawling body is still crushing trespassing violating my friend’s.

I'm looking at what's happening but at first I don't see.

And then, in a single transformative, irreversible instant, it hits me. I’m shocked into stillness, unable to think move process act help breathe. It’s bright spinning blurry. I’m crying crumbling choking. A horrific nightmare I can’t believe I’m living in.

The hot boy from school, a thousand times smaller weaker less than in build somehow some way moves the other, older boy off of my Popular Girl friend. The hot boy from school, a million times bigger stronger more than in character, carrying my Popular Girl friend to the shower, turning the water on. The hot boy from school, who all day all night wore a confidence particular to the popular boys from rich families who know their good looks and last name are enough to get them whatever they want, or out of, away from, whatever they don’t, not once invoking his built-in defense; not once hesitating; not once ignoring.

A doorway. My body propped against it, inside it. Looking watching staring straight ahead. Cold water pelleting her naked limp devastated body. 

Wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup. I think I’m talking to her, but maybe I’m talking to me.

Every light: on. Bright. Blurry. A haze. 

Everywhere: Piss puke blood. The walls the futon the floor. On her on them on me. 

I feel: woozy helpless disoriented hyperaware numb nothing everything.

The hot boy from school berating the other, older boy; the, I later learn, man.

A burst of comprehension of fury of energy of motion of survival of repulsion regret responsibility.

The doorway: behind me. My body now moving lunging screaming crying helping. Cold water pelleting her naked limp devastated body that I’m holding closely gently protectively.

Her hair: soaking and stringy across her face. 

My clothes: soaking and heavy on top of my body.

Her poisoned, pillaged body heavy and still. Mine in overdrive, moving shaking convulsing with terror with sorrow with sick.

*   *   *

Day is breaking. Birds chirp a melody that feels taunting assaulting wrong. Slivers of sunlight stretch across the morning sky, shining a light that is too severe. 

The other, older boy: relaxed at the kitchen table, scooping sloppy spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth. Oblivious ignorant shameless.

The hot boy from school: next to me, silent and still and safeguarding. 

Me: still on the shower floor, cold water still pelleting her, still pelleting me as I hold her, the Popular Girl, my precious new friend. Words from yesterday from a different reality from a lifetime ago reverberating incessantly in my head.

A party. Tonight. 

“Come,” they said. 

Older kids. Alcohol. No parents.

“It’ll be fun,” they said. 

And we believed them so we went.


The hot boy and me, we never speak again after that night.

The Popular Girl and me, we are never friends again after that night.

Rumor has it that the other boy — the, I later learn, man — one day not too long after that night ends up in prison for manslaughter; for beating someone to death with a baseball bat at a different party with older kids with alcohol with no parents at a different house on a different night. Who knows.

Me? I dropout of high school soon after that night. I don’t touch a single drop of alcohol until seven years later, and a few years after that I end up one winter night like the Popular Girl ended up that one summer night, with a man who later earns his way into prison for raping a child who, by the time I learn he is in prison, is not much older than the one he put inside me that one winter night I ended up like the Popular Girl at his hands his body his force. (And yes, I was grounded for the entire summer starting the second I made it home the next afternoon, which was by way of personal escort from a couple city cops.)