It had been a Saturday afternoon. Alyssa lay quietly in her bed and listened to Casey and Gracie argued and laughs about random topics. She listened as the slender pale teenager loquaciously bantered on about some girl in her math class.
"I think she is really cute," Casey-the pale teenage said as she finally paused to take a breath. Her words spilled out in complete chaos. Vowels crashed into constants and the words seemed indecipherable. People would frequently ask her to repeat herself more than once. "I mean I hope she likes me and stuff. I am so nervous! Imma afraid to ask her out. I know she is gay but I really hope she finds my sense of humor as cute and charming and not weird or anything."
"I have no idea what you are talking about half the time, whatever it is, good luck?" Another girl, Gracie replied. "I think we should get going though. We are going to be late for therapy."
It had been a Saturday afternoon. Alyssa lay quietly in her bed and listened to Casey and Gracie argued and laughs about random topics.
Casey sat on floor with her legs crossed; she tilted her head back to laugh at a joke Gracie told. Other times she would angrily rise from her sitting position and yell obscenities at Gracie as her long flowing red hair would freely move like waves. Her long pointy nose would crinkle up as she jubilantly snorted at a funny story. She used her whole body to express herself.
Her movements were dramatic and clumsy; Casey would often knock down items from Alyssa's dresser as she animated a story. Her extremely long pencil thin legs would gauchely dance to impromptu music Gracie played on her guitar.
Gracie on the other hand is short, plump, and in Alyssa's opinion much more attractive and graceful then Casey. "Nice girls don't make history," Casey would wrongly quote to reply to such thoughts. Gracie's skin is light brown and spotted with copper freckles. Gracie was not aware of her genetic makeup. Random people would badger Gracie about "what she is". This caused much discomfort as Gracie was adopted by Anglo Saxon parents. They were awed by her almond shaped green eyes, blonde hair, and full red lips. Gracie's body is like a hourglass, she had curves in all the right places. Gracie knew she was pretty, but did not care for her own beauty. She spoke firmly but knew when to joke around. She always kept her calm, and never let anyone under her skin. Gracie was absolutely graceful in her movements unlike Casey. Gracie annunciated all the vowels in her words and spoke clearly. However, like any rose there were thorns that left many blood. Gracie had a deep dark side she tried to hide.
Casey yawned "Yup, we should get going for therapy." The three girls decided that it would be best to carpool to therapy instead of going alone. It would calm their nerves. Alyssa was afraid to go outside, even though her step father was in jail she feared it would happen again. The thought alone caused Alyssa's throat to close up. She felt her body not her own, she felt like she was losing control. Her head felt like it would explode, her heart began to speed up, and sometimes she would relive the moment.
Her panic attacks would happen once in a while but soon they became frequent. She asked her mother to take her to therapy instead; she could not go alone, not with the outside world being so dangerous. Initially, Marina was extremely supportive and would even wait outside the group therapy session to end so she could drive Alyssa back home. Alas, Marina was getting tired of all it.
"Alyssa! Dammit stop being paranoid! Go outside. There's nothing wrong with the outside," Marina would yell whenever Alyssa begged her mother to go with her.
When Alyssa later told recollected the story at group therapy Casey called Marina a bitch.
"Casey, let's not speak out of line," the therapy director Dr. Melissa Hunn said sternly.
"No. Fuck her. I am so tired of this. When we are abused we are automatically blamed. They ask what you were wearing. Were you drunk? Did you sleep with him before? What did you expect when you acted like that? Since we were little girls we were told to be careful, to be aware of our surroundings, that if we acted a certain way then we would be in danger that guys could not even control themselves because of what we wore or how we acted no one ever blames the guy that is always the first question why did not you fight back why did you let him in your house why were you drunk we hear this stupid shit every single day and it doesn't work when we take caution against creepy guys on street corners trying to harass us they call it flirting and we are expected to be appreciative of it when we are afraid to go outside suddenly all those years of being conditioned to victim go out the window we are just being crazy paranoid bitches!" Casey ended her passionate speech in tears, but unfortunately she spoke too quickly and no one knew what she said. When they asked her to repeat what she said again she did not have the energy to say it for a second time.
"Does anyone want to speak?" Dr. Hunn questioned as she sat on the blue fold up chair with her legs crossed. A girl with dark black raised her hand. "Jenna, you may speak."
"Hi! I am Jenna as you guys know." She licked her lips and paused. She giggled nervously and shuffled on the balls of her feet. "It's been a year since I was raped. It took me a long time to get where I am. They were I didn't want to live. I had doubts if I was ever going to live another day. I was fine with that. I was just scared of the thoughts…I was scared of the feelings I had. Everywhere I turned, I could his face. I just wanted it to go to away. I thought it was my fault. I was drunk, I was high my defenses were low. I blamed myself every single day. I blamed myself for letting him do that to me. I blamed myself for not being smart enough to be sober. Most of all, I blamed myself for feeling weak. But you know what? It's not my fault. It's not my fault he wanted to take advantage of me when I was at my weakest. It didn't what I wore, he still raped me. He did it me. I know it's not my fault. I've heard you all talk. Some of you were sober, in your houses, in your cars, jogging, drunk, high, wearing short skirts, wearing ankle lengths dresses…It did not matter what you wore how you acted. He still did it. He had no excuse, no reason to do that. Because there are a million guys who would not dream of doing what he did to me…You do not make someone rape choose to do it." Jenna sat down and the group began to cry and clap.
Casey leaned in and whispered in Gracie's ear "I said that last week, no one clapped for me."
Casey, Gracie and Alyssa shared a booth Yogurt Spot. Casey as usual began chatting away. She discussed the girl in her chemistry class with a mouthful of pina colada frozen yogurt. "I definitely think likes me. Tomorrow I am going to ask her out. For sure."
Alyssa spoke "I think she will like you, you are smart, funny and pretty. If she did not like you, well she would be a fool and not worth your time anyway."
"Awww," Casey placed her hands on her chest. "You're so sweet. Sometimes I wish you were gay."
Alyssa chuckled and spooned moochi covered green tea frozen yogurt in her mouth.
"That is disgusting, green tea? You are so much older than you act Alyssa." Gracie instead had the regular plain frozen yogurt no toppings.
The Yogurt Spot had just opened a few weeks ago, the place was generally empty and hardly anyone the three teenagers knew went there. That was the way they liked it. The cashiers knew all their names and were extremely friendly to them. Alyssa would leave a tip, and she felt especially sorry for Marcia. Marcia was a college freshman who lived with her mother. She used financial aid, worked three other jobs and would often tell about how awful her boss Fredric treated her. Marcia would disclose this with the young ladies as she dispended cold dairy treats in their cups.
Another cashier Aubrey had his eye on Alyssa for a long time. Alyssa was still weary of male contact and did not pay much attention to him. He would often wink at her, and give her extra yogurt. He told her corny jokes and did everything he could to make her laugh. Alyssa was not interested. She was still scared. Tonight Aubrey was working the cash register and was working extra hard on getting Alyssa to like him. Alyssa did think he was sweet but it was too soon, and with her break up she could not possible open to anyone.
"I am still hungry." Alyssa looked disappointed as she gazed into her empty yogurt cup.
Casey replied "Go get some more yogurt" as chunks of pina colada spilled on the table.
"Jesus Christ!" Gracie exclaimed irritated. "Can you please just for once act like you have manners?"
Aubrey looked over at all the commotion; he waved at Alyssa. Alyssa sunk in her seat.
"I get it, it's too soon." Gracie said calmly. "You can talk to him when you want to. He seems like a nice guy, someone you can really hit off with."
Alyssa shrugged. "I guess… I really do he is a sweet guy. But just with the whole Connor thing. I don't feel comfortable being with another guy."
Casey twisted her face. "Sorry Ally. I think you are an awesome gal. You're going to find a guy that is right for you. But right now it is all about you. It's about self care. Do what you can to make yourself feel better. It's time someone take care of Ally." She reached across and gave Alyssa's hand a squeeze. Gracie hugged Alyssa and gently kissed her on the forehead.
"I'm going to go talk to him." Alyssa slowly slid out the booth. She was extremely nervous. It had been only two weeks since Connor and Alyssa split and six months since her step dad had attacked her.
When she reached the counter she bit her lip nervously and giggled. "Hey Aubrey."
Aubrey smiled goofily and pushed his brown long hair behind his hair. "Hey Alyssa, you want more yogurt? Green tea and moochi or rice pudding and caramel?"
Alyssa giggled again. "Um, I have the same thing every time I come here. What should I get?"
Aubrey thought hard for a minute "I know you like weird combinations. So why not try strawberry Greek ice-cream with honey drizzle?"
"That sounds perfect. I'll take a medium." She reached for her wallet.
"Come one Ally! You know better than that. It's one me ok?"
Alyssa smiled "I feel guilty. I cannot really repay you."
"Well you know…there's one way…" Aubrey mumbled nervously. He scratched his head and pretended to be interested in the cash register.
"How?" Alyssa questioned, but she knew what was coming. She wanted to be sure.
"You can go out on a date with me?"
"Yes. That would be great," Alyssa said sweetly. Aubrey's face lit up. "Only on one condition."
Aubrey beamed, "What's that?"
"Can I pay for my own yogurt from now on?"