Rain patters against my window as I reach into the top drawer of my dresser for some soft clothes; my thigh-length extra large Fender t-shirt and a pair of black soffes. The soft cotton rubs against my bruises and kisses them. They feel warm on my freezing cold body—as if they just came out of the dryer. Once I’m fully dressed, I curl up in the big armchair in the corner of my room, facing the window. Everything is gray—the clouds, the streets, the grass, the rain.
“Where the hell are you, Ashlenn? Call me back right now! I’m so worried about you.” That was the last message in a long line of voicemails. Nine unread text messages and seven missed calls later, I conclude that even Hannah had no clue where I was.
I dial her number and press the phone to my ear—waiting.
“Ashlenn?” She asks.
“Hannah,” I reply, a wave of relief washing over me. It’s so good to hear her voice. “Hannah can you come over. Please I—I need to talk to you.”
“No s**t, we need to talk. Everyone’s talking about you, Ash. Do you even remember what you did last night?” She sounds frustrated and annoyed. My heart races as she speaks. No, I don’t remember what I did last night.
“What…what happened?” I say after a long pause.
“Just meet me by Starbucks in like, ten minutes. We seriously need to talk about this.” She tells me before she hangs up the phone. I bite my lip to keep the tears from forming in my eyes. Why can’t I remember what happened last night? This is driving me crazy.
With my jacket pulled tightly around me, I stagger down the street, feeling awkward and cold. My legs don’t seem to work right and my body feels a hundred feet tall. I’m like a tower, top-heavy and ready to topple to the ground. The strong winds nearly blow me down as I reach Starbucks. Inside, it’s warm and smells like cinnamon pretzels and hazelnut coffee.
Hannah is waiting for me at a table in the far corner with a coffee cup in hand. Another one rests opposite of her, waiting for me. She notices me and sits up, fluffing her blonde hair that hides beneath a pink beanie with lime green sequins. I sit down in front of her and softly swirl my coffee around, unable to make eye contact.
“Okay, where the hell did you go last night after I left you?” She begins.
“It’s nice to see you, too,” I mumble. Hannah rolls her eyes and sets her drink down.
“I’m serious. You don’t even know how much trouble you’re in.”
“What do you mean?” I ask. My voice is low and quivering with fear. What could I have possibly done last night for her to be so mad at me? “I…I don’t remember anything from last night, Hannah. You’ve got to help me remember…”
“Oh I’ll help you remember. First of all, you got drunk off your a** even though you promised me you wouldn’t. You were all over every single guy there. God, it’s no wonder Dylan went home without you. I would have left you there too.”
The words spill from her mouth along with a few drops of French vanilla coffee, but I don’t want to believe it. I can’t comprehend what she’s saying. There’s no way I did that. She must be mistaken. But the look on her face isn’t mistaken. I know she’s completely serious.
“I…no, that’s not right. I wouldn’t do that to him. I’m not like that. You know it, Hannah,” I plead while silently trying to convince myself that she’s lying to me. “Hannah…this can’t be happening. I know I didn’t so that.”
“You were so whacked out of your mind I doubt you knew anything. Look, I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I think Dylan’s going to break up with you for this. He’s seriously been ranting to Logan all weekend. This is not good, Ash,” she says, stirring her straw around in her drink.
I gaze at the shiny linoleum floor and sigh. Dylan breaking up with me is the least of my problems right now. What about me? What about what happened last night? I can’t just ignore that. I can’t just ignore the fact that I think I was…taken advantage of last night. But then, after what she tells me sets in, I begin to wonder if I was actually taken advantage of at all. Could I really have been acting like that last night?
“So where did you and that creep go off to last night?” Hannah asks pointedly, taking a strong sip of her coffee. “I saw you sneak off with him, well, God, it was more like he was dragging you off. Your damn legs looked like they didn’t even work. You were laughing the whole time, though.”
“I…do you know who it was?”
“Oh my God, you didn’t even bother to get his name? Christ, Ashlenn, you really were acting like a slut last night, no offense. s**t, you don’t even know his name?” Hannah shakes her head and sighs. I bury my face in my hands as panic rolls over me, crushing me.
“I can’t remember anything!” I snap, shaking my fists at her. My untouched coffee topples to the floor, spilling everywhere. There’s a total of three people in here, six eyeballs, not counting Hannah and I. Six eyeballs attach themselves to me as I lean over to wipe up my drink.
“Keep your voice down. Do you want the whole world knowing you can’t even remember the name of the guy you ran off with last night?” She tells me.
“Look, I don’t even care about that. You have to believe me, Hannah. That wasn’t me last night. I don’t remember anything and it’s ******** scaring me! You have to help me. I…I think he….” My voice trails off. Her eyes grow wide with fear and shock. Her tiny, pink mouth, dripping with lipgloss drops open as she grips my hands.
“No…you don’t mean…”
I nod and look away. “I woke up this morning in the forest just outside Luke’s house, where the party was. And…my clothes were all torn and there was blood. I…” My voice breaks as tears well up in my eyes. “I’m so scared, Hannah. I don’t know what to do.”
“Have you been to a doctor yet? Did you tell your mom? Are you sure he did that to you? What are you going to do? Do you think he had a disease? Oh my god, what if you’re pregnant?” The questions bullet out of her mouth so fast I have trouble keeping up. But she’s right; I should be concerned about all of these things. I shouldn’t be worried about whether or not Dylan is going to break up with me. I have to help myself before I can deal with him first.
“I don’t know…” I reply after a moment. “I can’t tell my mom. She can’t know about this. I don’t want her to think that I…that I’m a slut. I don’t want to tell her.”
“But you have to go to the doctor.”
“I can’t. I’m still on her insurance plan. If I go, she’ll know about it. And she’ll ask me about it and you know I’m not a good liar.” I whine. There has to be some other way.
“A free clinic. Try that. I’m sure you can get into one of those.” She answers. I nod, knowing that it might be my only choice. I just can’t tell Mom. I can’t disappoint her again. I grab my bag and stand up, dragging Hannah along with me.
“Can you drive me? I don’t want to be alone.”
“Of course. Let’s go. I think it opens at eleven.”
I nod and follow her out to her car. My hands are shaking and my heart won’t stop thrashing itself against my ribs. This feels like a dream—a bad dream that I’m not going to wake up from. But this is real life. And no matter what, I have to deal with this now.
No matter what.
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