Silence Is Not Acceptance

I was very nearly drunk for the first time that night.

I was at a wedding. Improbably, my girlfriend Lori, whom I’d met at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp four years prior, was getting married. She was just a year older than me, having graduated last spring. I had driven to her house on the MI/IN border, a good four hours from my home near Detroit, to attend. I was going to graduate this year in a class of 650 students. She graduated with 40 or so other kids. She lived in a different world than me.

We were all invited: Kristin, our friend who was also a writer, and Ray. Ray, who had met them all at camp, and whom everyone thought was fun and funny. The same guy who I’d slept with last spring. I’d seen and talked to him a few times, and I was swallowing how hard it was to be in his presence. He was still trying to be the “nice” friend who cared, but he talked about the other girls he was dating and interested in. This still continued to break my heart every time I heard it, no matter who else I was currently entangled with. None of them were him; I knew he was like a drug for me, but I couldn’t stop taking the hits. As painful as it was.

After the wedding, at the reception in which the bride and groom were technically not old enough to toast their own marriage with champagne, I started drinking beer. The beer would help make the sharp edges of the evening, the irony I was feeling inside at being with a wedding with Ray, blur. I wanted to be blurry.

I’d never really drunk much before that night. My friends and I would sometimes get some Boone’s Farm or some similar quality of alcohol and have a few swigs out near the lake, but my crowd were not partiers. I did not know anyone who threw massive parties where the booze flowed. I didn’t know what it was like to drink, or get drunk.

I didn’t know what to say or do; I was mired in my thoughts which bounced crazily around from trying to make him jealous to being smart and funny so that he would find me irresistible. So I drank. And drank. And drank some more. I wanted to sail blissfully into ignorance where nothing mattered but having fun and the here and now. I wasn’t driving and no one seemed to care.

I succeeded. There are photos of me with a cheshire cat grin, smiling with cheeks bright with the alcohol I was consuming. I was glad to have made it through the evening, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t made too much of a fool of myself.

We all went back to Kristin’s for the overnight before heading back home the next day. I stumbled out of my clothes and into Kristin’s dark bedroom, fumbling my way around until I found the bed.

I passed out into a thick, black sleep. So thick that when I woke later and it was still dark, I wasn’t sure where I was. I also wasn’t sure what it was that I was feeling, but it felt strange. What was going on? What was that touching my leg, pushing up my nightgown?

Everything became crystal clear, all at once. I was sober, fast. Ray was in my bed, and he was trying to have sex with me.

“No,” I hissed through tight lips. I couldn’t scream; we were in someone else’s house and their parents would find out that we’d all been drinking. “No, I don’t want this,” I told him.

It didn’t stop. I could feel his hands groping the buttons on the top of my gown, roughly reaching in for my breasts.

“Stop,” I whimpered. “I don’t want this. Please stop,” I whispered, trying to convey the urgency.

He was silent. The hands were everywhere, all at once, as I moved this way and that, trying to get out from underneath him. He wasn’t stopping. “No, no, no,” I whispered over and over.

With his legs, in one deft move, he pushed my legs apart while both hands held mine in place. Oh my God, I thought. He was actually going to do this, even though I didn’t want to. I thought that maybe he was trying to figure out if I’d change my mind, but I was being pretty clear. I was struggling. I was fighting. The only thing I wasn’t doing was screaming, because I was mortified. We were in my friend’s house; everyone was asleep. And he was strong. So strong, I was no match. I was scared.

I remember distinctly the moment I realized that this was going to happen. I bit his arm, and he released my hands. I raked my nails down his skin, hoping to hurt him as he was hurting me. But he didn’t stop. He pushed, deep. I laid still, hoping it would hurt less if I stopped struggling. I just wanted it over. I looked to my right, not looking at him, trying to remove myself from the time and place.

He finished quickly, soundlessly. And then he slipped out of the room, without a word.

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