Sunday, October 11, 2015
1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Caldwell Revision 1
Name: Alicia Caldwell
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: Failed Innocence
Pain, and a shadowy face that hovers above me, obscuring my view of the full moon, is all I remember about last night. That small recollection is enough to send shivers up my spine. I fidget with the zipper on my purse, glancing every now and then at the stranger in the driver’s seat, trying to conjure up anything containing her name or her face. As soon as I’m about to give up trying to remember, I clasp on to an image of her behind the wheel. I was in the passenger seat . . . crying.
The silence is growing more unsettling as she drives us to breakfast. I have to say something.
“Um, thanks, for, ah, letting me crash at your house.” My voice is hoarse and raspy. I take another sip of coffee from the travel mug she gave me before leaving her house to try and wash it away.
“No problem,” she says. “I couldn’t let you go home alone in the state you were in.”
She told me earlier, after I woke up, she had been really worried that I had alcohol poisoning considering how many times I threw up at the party. It's not like me at all to get rip roaring drunk at parties. The few parties I do go to, I usually hide in the corner, sipping the same beer all night, waiting until my best friend, Kendra, is ready to leave. I'm horrified and humiliated things got so out of hand, and I'm still not sure how they did.
I turn toward her. “I’m sorry, but what was your name again?”
“Gwen.” She smiles, surprisingly not upset that I had forgotten.
I want to ask her if she knows what happened and if there’s a reason for this sense of dread I’ve had in the pit of my stomach all morning. Maybe she doesn’t know either. I kind of hope she was just as drunk as I was and just as clueless today. Then she can’t tell me anything, and my memories can remain in the dark confines of my mind. But since she was able to drive us back to her house after the party, I know she was lucid enough to see whatever horrible things my drunkenness brought on.
“Um, sorry for the cry fest.” Since that’s one of the few things I recall, I decide to plunge right in. No point in putting it off. I have to find out how pathetic I really acted. Face it and move on. “I don’t remember a whole lot. What was I going off about?”
Gwen side glances at me. “Really? You don’t remember?”
I shake my head, slowly, scared what’s coming next.
The Honda Civic speeds over the inclined parking lot entrance to Burger King, jostling my already sensitive stomach. Gwen shifts the car into park and turns the key. When she shifts to face me with her lips pressed together and her eyebrows drawn I know I shouldn’t have asked. I should leave last night in the murky shadows, never let it see the light.
Slowly and carefully, Gwen says, “You, ah, kept telling me how you, um, wanted to graduate a . . . ” Her pause is long, too long. Eventually she continues. “A virgin.” She stops again, studying my face. “And you almost made it.” She says this in a congratulatory way, the same way someone would tell you that it’s okay they came in last, it’s the effort that counts.
Almost made it? My stomach thinks I just stepped off a three-story building. The feeling is so real, I clasp the sides of the seat to have something solid to hang on to. Suddenly I hear my mom’s voice in my head, chanting her religious warnings. Sex before marriage is the second worst sin, just after murder.
“Bree?” She reaches over and touches my arm gently after seeing my reaction. “Are you okay? Ya know, it’s huge to make it to seventeen. You should feel good about that. And besides, last night didn’t really count anyway.”
With each word, I feel like she’s shining a flashlight on those dark confines I thought were safe to hide my memories in. But she’s forcing them out of hiding.
My first thought is it had to have been my on-again-off-again boyfriend. We met at church last summer. Two months after dating he started pressuring me. Until I met him, I really thought I might actually be able to stay chaste until marriage. Even though my mom constantly reminds me how sinful sex is, I know that’s not realistic. Graduating a virgin is a more reasonable goal I came up with after meeting Tristan. Last night I must’ve given in to him. Somehow he convinced me to give it up in my drunken stupor. The second I think it, I know the mysterious body hadn’t been Tristan. It was someone else entirely. Involuntary shakes start in my shoulders and quickly spread down my arms. I grip my biceps to get them to stop.
When the memory of crying to Gwen popped in my head, I assumed I was venting about Tristan and my inability to leave him because every time I try to he turns around and becomes Mr. Wonderful again. Right now, more than anything, I wished that had been the case instead of this. Anything except this.
“Ethan is such an asshole,” Gwen blurts. The name makes goose bumps pop up all over my arms and legs followed by an uncontrollable shudder. “I can’t believe he took advantage of you like that. He’s not gonna get away with it. You know that, right?”
I want her to stop. Stop talking. Stop telling. I take it back. I don’t want to know. But it’s too late. I can’t stop the memory from revealing more and more of itself. A big chunk of the puzzle snaps into place and the picture that’s forming makes me want to jump out of the car and throw myself in front of a truck.
The bright, blinding moon.
The repetitive, thrusting pain.
His hot breath on my face.
His cigarette flavored tongue shooting in and out of my mouth.
No no no no no no no. It didn’t happen. It couldn’t have. This is just a horrible nightmare. I reach over and pinch my arm hard. That’s not working. I’m not waking up. Instead of pinching, I dig my nails into my skin. Nothing. My reality doesn’t change.
Something’s squeezing my throat. My stomach wants to give up the coffee. My body’s shaking. I squeeze the seat tighter as I unwillingly remember.
Ethan had been the one holding my hair while I threw up in the back yard. He began kissing me . . . after I threw up. It was his tongue forcing it’s way into my mouth. I shudder so hard I feel the seat move with me.
My mind is frantically trying to retrieve the details against my will. Suddenly I’m overcome with a new fear. How does Gwen know? Why would I tell her? We just met last night. Did I tell anyone else?
Somehow I force myself to ask, “Who else knows?”
Gwen takes a deep breath, searches my face like she’s trying to tell if I can handle her answer. “You didn’t have to tell anyone.” She pauses, looks down at her feet and back up at me. She continues in barely a whisper. “They watched.”