I lay down in the bed gently, careful as to not wake Joey. I slipped underneath the blanket, curling my body towards him. I wished he would wrap his arms around me, make me feel safe. I could smother my face against his neck and let his body keep me warm. It was as if I needed this affection, I craved it and couldn’t stop myself from pulling his heavy body near me. He shifted, still partially asleep and reached out for me, pulling me closer and yawning, his breath cool and stale.
“Hey,” he yawned. “Whaddup.” He blinked, opened his eyes fully adjusting to the low light of the lamp, the shock of his intense blue eyes made my stomach flip. I leaned my head down against his chest, held him close, so close and tight that he could tell that something was wrong. I could feel that he knew this by the way he started to push me away, tilting my face up towards his. “What the hell happened to your face?” He yelled sitting up. A slight blush crept around my neck and I looked away. My jaw was still numb and achy from when Nate had punched me and I hadn’t even thought of how to explain the bruise.
“Can we go to sleep?” I sighed. I had about a million emotions running through me, coursing through my veins at a rapid pace. I didn’t want to talk; I didn’t want to tell Joey about what happened, at least not right in that moment. I couldn’t deal with having to relive something that happened not even two hours earlier. I did want to tell him, I knew I would eventually, but right now all I wanted to do was to cuddle with my boyfriend, inhale his sweet scent of sweat and cologne.
“What’s wrong babe?” he asked again, his eyes glittering over, penetrating with confusion, compassion and curiosity. A pang of guilt stuck me dumb. This was supposed to be our quiet little weekend, just him and me. We were supposed to spend it kissing, watching television, being stupid and acting as free as was we wanted to, my house our own little private world, but I had to be stupid. I had to ruin it all and when I knew this was the truth I couldn’t stop the tight ball of remorse rolling around my gut. I turned away, attempted to stand. I just wanted to get out of that room, get away from him, leave and just wallow in my thoughts, but he had me. He pulled my shoulder and I bit my tongue to keep from howling out of pain from stretching my legs to balance myself. “What’s wrong? Did I do something?” His tone of voice was thick with trepidation.
“No. I just…I just…can we go to sleep? I just really need to sleep right now.” I looked at him, locking our gaze. He opened his mouth to speak, but just as quickly shut it, nodding his head and laying back down. He settled down into the bed, pulling the covers across him and smirking. God he could make me smile just by looking at me. He opened his arms, pouted out his soft pink lips and in the cutest little voice whined, “Can we cuddle?” I knew in the morning I’d have to tell him what happened, open up the hurt while it was still fresh, but now, for a little while, I’m just going to try and get some sleep, cuddling up to my boyfriend.
It was late the next morning when I woke up in an empty bed. For a blissful moment, I thought that the night before had just been a bad dream, but when I sat up, the sharp pain shooting down my spine retold the story of the night before. Begrudgingly I got up, stretched and looked around for Joey, the slight panic of fearing that I was alone making my stomach twist and gripe with anxiety. I called out his name as I made my way out into the hall, the smell of pancakes flooding my senses.
“Don’t come down yet!” he yelled back up. “Wait like ten minutes!” I went into the bathroom, thought about brushing my teeth, but decided to hold off on that until after breakfast. As I walked back into my room, everything felt dreamlike. I was just going through the motions, making up the bed, not feeling or thinking anything. I couldn’t believe what had happened with Nate. He had raped me. Even just thinking those words seemed so surreal, like it was a time in another life, a cosmic mishap occurring when two worlds shifted, a blurred alternate reality. The ringing of the telephone startled me out of my thoughts bringing me back to the world of the living and breathing.
“Thank you Chris.” It was Amanda’s soft voice whispering on the other end. She sounded tired, so tired and given what she had been through I understood, but at the same time very happy just to be talking to her, curious as to why she was thanking me.
“Talking to Peanut for me…I really appreciate that,” she continued, I could hear every bit of sincerity behind her words. “Thanks honey.”
“You’re not mad at me about it?”
“No. I mean, I should, but I’m not. I know your heart was in the right place and he…he needed to know….” she trailed off, yawning. “God it’s like fucking noon and I’m tired as hell.”
“What time did they release you?”
“Like around seven and I’ve been knocked out from the antibiotics all day. Peanut came to visit me yesterday, just barged right up into the lobby making a scene until my mom gave the okay that he could visit me.” I could tell that she was smiling. I’m so happy that she had love, true blue real love and Peanut was a great guy; they were a perfect match.
“That’s good girl…” I suddenly didn’t want to be talking with her anymore. The memories of Nate with his hands all over me, the taste of his body, the feel of him ripping inside of me were coming back, playing inside my head on instant replay.
“How did it go last night?” she asked and my chest squeezed tight with anxiety. Of course, there was no way she could have known about what really happened, but her words still put me on edge.
“Can I call you back later?”
“Um, okay. Hey, you alright?” she asked, coughing to clear phlegm from her throat. She sounded so drained and weak.
“Yeah. Um…no.” I admitted. She was my best friend in the world, I’d die for her and I know she’d die for me. I wanted to tell her everything, spill my guts out to her before I would go downstairs and tell Joey, but she had just gone through something horrible, suffering through her own troubles and I felt like it would be wrong to intrude on that. Like somehow adding my problems on top of hers didn’t seem fair.
“What’s wrong? You sound sad. Did you two fight? He being stupid again?”
“No Amanda, Joey and me are great. I’m just not feeling too good, that’s all.”
“Bullshit.” she stated, her tone seemingly becoming stronger. “What’s really wrong?”
“I told you, I’m cool. Don’t worry about me.”
“I can’t just not worry about you, you’re my best friend.” Hearing her words made my stomach flip, turn with something wonderful. I knew how much she meant to me and it was nice to be reminded of how much I meant to her.
“You know I love you. I’m fine. Just worry about yourself, okay? I’m fine.”
“I don’t buy that bullshit, but we can talk about it later. I should be going back to sleep,” she paused to yawn, a small belch rolled off her tongue and she giggled softly into the receiver, “Oh, sorry. You still coming over today?”
“Yeah girl, we are. I just gotta take care of a few things, but yeah. See you in a few hours.”
“Okay, and hey if Joey did something stupid, tell me so I can knock him out.”
I laughed and rolled my eyes assuring her that I would before we both hung up.
No sooner than the call had ended Joey was yelling up for me to come downstairs. I could feel my stomach once again twist, anxiety and nervousness twining throughout my gut. I would have to tell him what happened. I would have to tell him everything. There is no way that I could get out of it. He could see the bruise on my cheek as plain as the nose on my face and he would want to know how I got it. I could attempt to lie and say I fell or something, but I have never had much of a poker face. And truthfully, I did want to tell him, I did want him to know, but I didn’t want him to know all of the explicit details, certain aspects I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing. But god, I really didn’t want to. What if he got mad at me, or blamed me? What if he said that I had brought it on myself? What if he broke up with me because of it? Yes, I know my thoughts probably don’t make much sense, but I was in such a state of confusion and fear that I kept playing the worse of scenarios over and over in my head.
“Hey, what’s taking you so long?” Joey asked, knocking softly poking his head into the room. I hadn’t even heard him come up the stairs. I turned away from him, suddenly finding an odd fascination with the curtains in my bedroom. They were green…dark green…evergreen like Nate’s boxers. I shuddered and looked away, carefully sitting on the bed. I could see through my peripheral vision Joey’s long and lean frame standing in the doorway, almost like he was afraid to come into the room so he stood there.
“I um…I gotta, I mean…I need to tell you something.” I was surprised that my voice didn’t crack. My nerves were on the fritz, my foot tapping, my leg shaking and palms clammy.
“Okay…” Joey trailed off still making no move to step further into the room.
“Last night. I did something stupid,” I paused, closed my eyes and continued. “You had a call on your cell. Some dude called saying he wanted a bag and gave me an address.” I opened my eyes, glanced in his direction.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” He asked curiously, still leaning against the doorway, arms folded against his chest as if he wanted me to think that he was at ease.
“You were sleep and I…I know how much you’ve been….how busy you’ve been and I…I just wanted you to…I didn’t want to wake you.” God the words were on the tip of my tongue yet I couldn’t seem to find a fine balance between my thoughts and speech. Everything was mixing, jumbling together in broken thoughts and fragmented sentences.
“Okay, I get you.” He stated urging me to continue. Once again, I closed my eyes and took a breath. I’m not sure of how long after this I was silent, but I’m sure it had to have been at least five minutes because Joey began to fidget, still making no moves into my bedroom.
“So I thought….you know, I thought I could do it for you, make the run.” I heard him grunt. I kept my eyes closed, too afraid to look at him knowing that he would be angry that I had even attempted to sell drugs. I’m no drug dealer. Anyone who can look at me can see this, they can tell I’m not hard enough. God, I was so fucking stupid. What the fuck was I thinking? Everything really is my own fault.
“Shit.” He muttered. I kept my eyes closed, allowed by body to feel numb, to become numb so as I continued, I couldn’t feel anything. The air stopped moving; it was like I stopped breathing, becoming a robot, one with words falling out of my mouth, tumbling into the air.
“Only it was a set up. There were some Westies who wanted to get you back for the fight at school. Nate was there.”
“Did that mutha fucker hit you?” he yelled. I didn’t answer; I just kept on going, knowing that if I stopped, I would probably never finish.
“And when Nate saw that I wasn’t you, he told everybody to leave. And it was just me and him and I…I um…fuck…” I trailed off; choking on the words I was so sure I could say.
“What he do? Chris? What he do?” Joey whispered. I could hear the anger in his voice, the slight hint of fear. I opened my eyes and looked up at him, his pale face as red as his t-shirt. His fists were balled, his jaw clenched and his cobalt eyes burning like blue fire. I didn’t even have to say it, I didn’t have to he could look at me and it was like he knew, he just knew. “HE FUCKED WITH YOU? TELL ME WHAT HE DID?” Joey yelled so loudly that I jumped at hearing him. I looked down at the floor, blinking away more tears. You know the feeling you get when you’re falling? Like one minute, you’re walking and everything is perfect and fine, but then the world slips from under your feet, the earth continues to spin and you’re left feeling weightless until you fall to the ground. That’s how I felt, like the world was gone, like I was caught in-between a stumble, not knowing if I would land hard or fall softly. “WHAT DID THAT NIGGA DO? WHAT DID HE DO?” Joey yelled again, his fist punching into the wall. His temper made me uneasy; he looked as if he were ready to kill.
“I…he…yeah…he…”I couldn’t say it, I couldn’t say it. Joey punched the wall again, a guttural scream piercing into the room. I flinched, too afraid to look at him, too afraid to move towards the door.
“That nigga smoked! Straight up dead!” He yelled, punching the wall and screaming. “THAT NIGGA IS DEAD!” he punched his fist into the wall once more, yelling and grunting as he stormed away.
I was too numb to do anything. I could hear Joey’s sneakers pounding down the stairs followed by the front door slamming. Things were so mixed up in my head that my only thought was how the house smelled like pancakes…