A girl sat in a dimly lit room in a flowered dress. Her sky blue hair fell to her shoulders and covered her face. Icy tears trickled from her bloodshot eyes, eyes which normally matched the hue of her hair. She was gasping for air as if she was drowning. The emotions which she generally kept bound up in tight coils had unraveled. The other woman in the room peered at her through tortoise shell spectacles, unable to believe this normally composed girl was filled with such pain.

I was broken, like a china doll that'd been hurled to the floor. I had glued myself back together but the cracks still remained. I no longer lived in reality, but above it somehow. From that moment my life was an out of body experience, save a few single moments in which my shattered soul reentered my body.

It was a cool Saturday in autumn when the seventeen year old boy knocked on her door. There were no cars in the driveway and the house appeared empty. The girl ran up the stairs from her room to the front door. Her blonde hair flew behind her. She threw the door open and gasped when the young man appeared in the doorframe.

"What are you doing here?" she asked apprehensively.

"I was in the area and I thought I'd stop by," he said, as if it were the most obvious explanation in the world, "Can I come in?"

The girl paused, "My parents aren't home, I don't think…"

He looked at her with dark eyes. She had fallen silent. He spoke a few more well chosen words and she finally admitted him into her house.

"But only for a few minutes," I insisted, "They could be back any minute."

We descended the stairs into my basement in silence. I lead him to the TV room which bordered my own bedroom. We sat together and I chattered about child labor and consumer marketing while he waited patiently for another silence. He liked to manipulate me when the room fell silent. As I paused in my speech he spoke.

"Rhaps, I really like you," he said softly, moving closer to me, "Would you ever consider being my girlfriend?"

I my mind stopped. He was dating one of my best friends, Bella. There was no way he was serious. I opened my mouth to protest, but it was quickly covered by his. I tried to pull away but he had pinned me to the couch. Finally he stopped. I tried to tell him no, but my voice escaped me as I felt him reach within my shirt. He swiftly disposed of my shirt and bra; my pants were soon to follow. I was pushed to the floor and he was on top of me.

            All I remembered after that was a pain that consumed my body. It started at my center and stretched out to my fingertips. It ate away at my soul, ripping and tearing it until it was left only a mangled shred of what it once was.

            The young man sighed and rolled over, leaving the girl lying on the floor trembling. She was like a baby rabbit who had been attacked by a dog. He put his pants back on and slid a "Property of Westridge Seniors" shirt over his head. He began to climb the stairs but stopped and turned around.

            "Bella had better not hear about this," he called to the girl, "You wouldn't want her to get hurt, now would you?"

            The girl began to cry. She curled into the fetal position and rocked in place. She crawled slowly onto the couch and found her clothes. She pulled her shirt back over her head. As she reached for her pants she noticed the blood oozing from between her legs. She stood and slowly crept to the laundry room. She turned the faucet of the sink on. Warm water poured out of the spigot. She held a towel under the running water and touched it to her sensitive areas in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding. She stood by the sink for hours, her tears and blood flowing down the drain.

            I didn't eat for a week. Every time food came in contact with my mouth I'd wretch. It was as if my body was trying to purge itself of the pain. I slept for almost three days straight. When I returned to school I walked the halls in a perpetual daze. It was like I had gone into autopilot. After that day my thought became cloudy and muddled. My mind had been swept of all rational thought. I couldn't even cry.

            Sometimes I would run into him in the halls and we would exchange words, as if nothing had happened. No one seemed to notice how distant I was. My parents thought I was ill and attributed my silence to my acute vomiting. Not even I could fathom what had happened to me. It seemed far too surreal.

            Two blond haired girls sat next to one another at the library. One had a copy of Discovering French open in her lap. The other had turned to face her and was reciting verb conjugations. She rose from her seat after the fifth verb and excused herself to the bathroom.

            "Je vais aller au toilette," she remarked, laughing hollowly.

            The other taller girl nodded at her and returned to studying. The petit girl walked to the bathroom feeling rather ill. She had eaten lunch for the first time in a week and looked very pale. She stepped into the vacant bathroom and turned on the light.

            Suddenly the door shut behind her and the lock clicked. She wheeled around to face the young man. She smiled at her and placed his finger to his mouth. He took hold of her shoulders and pushed her back against the wall. It didn't take much force to hold down the ninety-five pound girl. He pushed her to the floor and removed himself from his pants. Pushing her skirt up around her waist he violated her and left her lying there.

            I pulled my panties back up around my waist and flattened my skirt. I washed my face with a paper towel. I glimpsed at myself in the mirror and a terrified face looked back at me. My skin was white. I pinched my cheeks and some color returned to them. I looked strikingly like a doll. I looked to be made of porcelain.

            When I returned to my friend I told her I had been ill. She smiled pityingly at me and stroked my hair. When my mother arrived to bring me home I went straight to my room and didn't come out. As I lay in bed hugging myself it finally occurred to me, I had been raped, twice.

            The girl picked up the phone and dialed a number which she had memorized long ago. She listened to the phone ring once, twice, three times. A message played, "Hey, this is Paul. I'm not around so leave a message." It beeped in her ear. The girl was on the verge of tears. She spoke softly, pleading with the machine that someone would pick up the phone. Finally she hung up and let the phone fall to the floor. She collapsed in a fit of tears.

            I awoke on that morning apprehensively. My bedroom floor was cold and I was reluctant to leave the sanctuary of my warm blankets. I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for school hastily. As I left, my father stopped to me to give me a note that had been left in our mailbox. I opened it and read silently as I walked to my bus stop. It was from my friend, A.J., who informed me that there had been a car accident two nights previous and that his cousin, Paul, had died. It was like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and thrown to the floor. I broke down crying, right there in the street. All of my memories of him flooded me. I was drowning and could hardly subsist.

            I ran back home and threw myself back into my bed. I lay under the blankets staring at the ceiling, streams of salty tears flowing steadily from my eyes. My whole world had come crashing down. The only person who I thought could save me was gone. I spent the day in the bathroom on the floor being sick. I couldn't stop; I didn't know what was wrong with my body. No one did.

           

            The girl ran her hand through her bright pink hair and sat in a hospital gown on an operating table. She was shaking. She held on tightly to a stuffed rabbit. She was staring about her wildly, terror in her eyes. Her father entered the room and the doctors placed a mask over her face. She felt her body go numb and she reached for her father's hand and held onto it until she lost all consciousness.

            The doctors examined her body for a little more than an hour, taking pictures with a small camera. After they had finished the examination they wheeled the limp girl back to a recovery room where she slowly regained consciousness.

            The doctors were very kind, but none of them could tell me what was wrong with my body. No one knew what the mysterious cause of my illness was. I was thin and weak. I couldn't consume anything except clear liquids. Everyone I knew was concerned about me. I felt awful, like I was burdening them all. I was so close to telling someone what had happened to me, but I didn't want to hurt them any more than they had been hurt by my mysterious illness. So I kept my mouth shut.

            The girl sat in her bedroom with an abused copy of Animal Dreams open in front of her. She attacked it with a highlighter, marking important quotes with pink lines. The girl suddenly bent over as if in pain. She winced and felt her stomach, which had puffed up to twice its normal size. She felt tears welling in her big blue eyes. She got off her bed abruptly and ran up the stairs to her mother who was seated in the living room.

            "Mum," she said timidly, "I need to get STD tested."

            Her mother gaped at her, "W-why?" she stammered.

            The girl began to tell her a story of a young man who knocked on their door on an autumn afternoon. The girl came and sat upon her crying mother's lap and her mother held her and rocked her in the large rocking chair. Together they shed tears.

            I went to the doctor with apprehensions. They poked and prodded me with scalpels and needles. They drew blood and took urine samples. I felt like some kind of lab rat, but the testing wasn't as bad as what I had been through before. The next three days were hell. I spent them at school, acting as normal as possible as I waited for the results. They finally came back, negative. I was relieved, everything was finally over. At least that's what I thought.

            A girl sat with her head in her hands. She was alone. The empty hallway echoed her sobs. A figure appeared at the end of the corridor. He approached her but she didn't look up.

            "Cerise?" she asked, hoping to see her best friend.

            There was no answer, and when she looked up she locked eyes with a young man. She suddenly went rigid. He bent down and touched her. She shuddered violently.

            "I own you," he said to her.

            She didn't respond, she only wept. He walked away, his footsteps echoing in her ears. Her blonde friend came running to her. She quickly bent down and embraced the crying figure.

            "Rhaps, you have to tell someone," she pleaded.

            "I can't," the pink haired girl wept, "You know that."

            "He's going to hurt someone else if you don't."

            The weeping girl stopped and stared at her friend.

            I knew she was right about him. I knew that he was probably manipulating a whole new flock of girls. I got up and Cerise and I walked down to the counseling office of the school. I knocked upon the door of my counselor with as much courage as I could muster. He admitted us and I told him the whole story.

            "I have to inform the principal," he said, it seemed he didn't know exactly how to react, "and I I'll have to call your parents."

            The girl nodded. Through the whole thing she didn't cry, she just sat there relaying the story as frankly as she could. She told that story many times. Once to the vice principal, once to a police officer, once to her newly hired lawyer. She told the story so many times she got sick to the stomach.

            All they wanted were the facts, they didn't care how I felt. I specifically remember talking to the police officer.

            "Did he penetrate you in the vagina?"

            "Yes," I replied automatically.

            "Do you remember any blood?" he asked.

            "Yes."

            "How long do you think it lasted?"

            "I dunno, maybe twenty minutes. My mind kinda went blank. All I could think was that I wanted to get away."

            "Did you struggle?"

            I flashed him a look of annoyance, "Of course!"

            "Did you scratch him or harm him in your struggles?"

            "Officer, I weigh under 100 pounds! You think I could hurt someone twice my size?"

            That's how it was with all of them, asking me questions. "Didn't you try to get away?" "Why didn't you tell anyone?" It was like no one believed me. I couldn't stand it.

That was how I ended up in the dimly lit room with my psychologist. I had been at school and I was unable to stop crying. In the middle of English class I got up and ran out of the room. I ran to the office and told them I had to leave. I walked to my psychologist, whose office was only three blocks away. I knocked on her door and she let me in; she was between clients. She sat me down and asked me what was wrong.

            The girl looked up and met the gaze of the woman. She pulled on her blue hair, as if she were trying to pull it out by the roots. Her face was red like her bloodshot eyes.

            "I can't do it anymore," she said to the woman, "He keeps harassing me in the hallways. I have to do something."

            The woman eyed her with a look of concern, "If you could do anything right now to fix the problem what would you do?"

            The girl replied immediately, "I'd change schools; I'd get away."

            The woman smiled, "How's Southridge sound?"

            The girl nodded and smiled for the first time in a very long time as the woman picked up the phone and dialed the enrollment office.

            I walked into the large school with my father apprehensively. It was huge. Westridge was a small, rather old school. This one was at least twice the size and new. I immediately noticed how much more colorful the school seemed. Compared to it, my old school looked dead. We approached a large office with a big glass window. I followed my father within, my heart beating in my ears. We were going to try and enroll me. I was leaving behind me old school forever.

            The phone rang and a middle aged woman answered it.

            "Rhaps!" she called down the stairs.

            A purple haired girl ran up the stairs and took the phone from her mother. She heard the familiar voice of her father on the other line.

            "We're in," he said simply.

            The girl squealed and yelled the good news to her mother.

            "When do you want to withdraw from St. Louis Park?" her father asked over the telephone.

            The girl smiled, "How about right now?"

            I got into the car with my father and we drove towards the school which I had attended for the past year. I entered the building and walked straight towards the counseling office. I obtained the paperwork to withdraw and left my father standing in the office as I went to see all of my teachers. It was 5th hour, which meant lunch. I walked through the lunch room and was stopped by about 10 different people.

            "Rhaps, we missed you!"

            "Rhaps, where have you been?"

            "Oh my god I missed you so much!"

            All of my comrades sounded the same. I just smiled and told them I was leaving for a better place. Then I found my friend's lunch table; they had pushed two of them together to accommodate their large number. I sat down and was met with a chorus of greetings. They didn't ask me where I had been; they knew already. I apprehensively told them where I was going and was walked to my classes to turn in my books and get my grades.

            "So, are you happy you're leaving?" Cerise asked me as we strode to my French room arm in arm.

            "I dunno," I said, "I'm a tingie worried. But I figure I can just force you guys to all transfer too!"

            I got my grades from the last of my seven teachers. They all seemed sad to see me go, but I told them it was the best option. As I walked towards the door of the school I noticed a "GOT ISSUES? ASK RHAPS" sign. It was for my column in the school newspaper. I took hold of the corner and tore it down. I was gone from that place, and I was starting over.

           

            The girl pulled a pair of ballet slippers on her feet. She walked alone to her French class, her pink skirt trailing behind her. Another girl stopped her.

            "I love your skirt!" she said smiling.

            "Thanks," the girl replied timidly.

            The other girl examined her for a second, "You're in my French class aren't you? My name's Anna!"

            The purple haired girl smiled, "I'm Rhaps."

            They walked together to class talking the entire way.

            "Boo!" I called making Anna turn around abruptly.

            She gasped, "You cut your hair!"

            I had chopped off my purple shoulder length hair and colored it black. I flipped it and smiled.

            "Do you like it?" I asked.

            She looked at me for a minute and then said, "You know, you look like one of those china dolls."

            I stopped to think about it for a moment before replying, "Yeah, I do."