Excerpt: One Year Later

August 2000

I loll somewhere between bored and buzzed. I’m lounging in the bed of a truck, waiting for Jill. I’m still living in the world of southern August nights, so I hadn’t anticipated the rapid temperature drop. I only have my grey pleather jacket, and it’s not enough.

Later, Jill and her mother will ferry me to a warehouse store to stock up on genuine Up North clothes. They’ll steer me through rows and rows of depressing Carhartts toward the discount hoodies and gloves and hats and no, I can’t imagine I’d ever need snow pants.

But for now, I’m freezing my bony ass off while Jill’s off in the woods with some guy. Meanwhile, I’m in the bed of a truck passing a bottle of Schnapps with her guy’s brother (who keeps bragging about his Britney Spears sunglasses) and a couple of other boys I can’t place.

They tease me for lighting a new cigarette with the end of my old one. I’m a chain smoker, they say. I don’t care. These repetitive actions harness all my nervous energy. Inhale, withdraw, exhale, flick.

I doze off and wake up to someone moving near me. I keep my eyes shut and repeat the mental mantra, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” I’m in the middle of the woods with a girl I met two days ago and a group of drunk boys whose names I didn’t even catch.

There are no safe places. There are no safe people. I already know this.

A coat falls over me and one of the boys moves back to his end of the truck bed. “What?” he asks whoever’s snickering, “She was shaking.”

I pretend to sleep until Jill returns. I’ll cry over this later as I try to process why anyone would give when they could so easily take. And it’s so, so easy to take when everything valuable has already been taken. What do I care if someone scavenges the few crumbs of myself that are scattered in the dirt?

Instead of devouring what little is left, he gives me the coat off his back, which is more kindness than anyone has shown me over the past year.

Jill and I see the boys a few days later on campus. I try to figure out who had covered me up. I don’t have any luck, but whoever it was has earned a loyal friend in me. That’s all it takes to earn my loyalty these days. Just don’t rape me and we’ll be BFFs for life.

 

This is a short excerpt from a work-in-progress. I would appreciate any feedback (positive or negative).

Leave a Reply