14 September 2004
I'm outside, lying on a grassy lawn behind my high school with my hands supporting my head, staring up at an overcast sky, when this girl with reddish-brown hair and somewhat of a freckly face approaches, looks down at me, and smiles. I ask her who she is and she replies, "I'm dead."
She doesn't look dead, but I decide to humor her. "So, what's a dead girl spending her afterlife at a high school for?"
She lies down beside me and says, "Didn't like Heaven much so I thought I'd go to Hell. High school was the closest thing I could find."
I'm walking down a school hallway. There are students all around me but none are paying me any attention. They're all busy talking, making out, and cramming stuff into their lockers. I'm not sure where I'm going or where I'm supposed to go, but this boy comes up to me out of nowhere and starts whispering in my ear. I can't hear a word he's saying, but the next thing I know, he's touching my crotch and I'm backing away from him.
He grins at me and then takes off.
I'm again in a school hallway. Only this time the hallway is vacant and I'm sitting on the floor in front of one of the art rooms. There's a canvas in front of me on which I'm painting the sun setting over a pond. The dead girl is there, sitting with her back against the wall, inspecting her nails. I ask her why the heck she's doing that since, apparently, no one but me can see her and she says, "Hey, even in death I wanna look good."
"For me?" I ask teasingly.
She smiles. "You know it, babe."
We're silent for a moment, me painting and she picking at her nails, and then I break the silence by asking her how she died.
"Car wreck," she replies. "My dad was driving drunk. I was riding shotgun."
"So... I take it he went to Hell?"
"He didn't die."
I'm outside now. This time it's night and I'm standing next to a pond not too far from where I live. Why I'm standing there, I don't know, but the boy who touched my crotch shows up and starts harassing me. At first I just tell him to get lost, but then two other boys—likely his friends—show up and I get scared. They encircle me, call me nasty names, and then start tossing me back and forth between them. I don't remember which one suggests taking off my clothes, but the other two think it's a great idea and they manage to do it, even with me fighting and screaming against them. One hits me in the face something like four times. Another kicks me in the ribs and brings me to the ground. Then two of them hold me down as the third rapes me. I think it's the one who touched my crotch, but I can't be sure. My eyes are closed during the whole thing.
Once they're through with me, they decide to throw me in the pond. And they do.
The next thing I remember is cold, mucky water closing over my head.
I'm out of the pond, soaking wet and completely naked. My whole body—especially my vagina—feels like it's on fire, but somehow I manage to get myself dressed. (The boys had left my clothes behind.) I start walking around, hoping to find someone who'll help me.
I wander out onto a street and walk along the side of it, trying to ignore the pain. I keep walking and walking and walking, until finally I see a pair of bright headlights up ahead. Thank God, I think, and then just like that, I topple over.
I'm still conscious, but barely. The vehicle, which happens to be a truck, stops and the driver gets out and rushes towards to me.
I feel a hand turn me over, and then hear a baffled voice say my name. I look up at the person crouching above me, and my breath gets caught in my throat—it's my grandmother, who's been dead for a couple of years. "Grandma?" I murmur.
"No, it's Dad," comes the answer.
I blink, and then see that it is my dad. My grandmother had been a hallucination.
"What the fuck happened?" he asks.
I swallow. Take a breath. "Got beat up." That's all I say. I don't tell him about the rape; I have no idea why.
He helps me up and walks me over to his truck.
I'm in the front passenger's seat of my dad's truck and he's driving. For a long time it's really quiet between us, but then I decide to speak up. "Dad?" I say.
"Back on the road, when you were looking down at me... when I first saw you... well, I didn't see you."
"What do you mean?"
"I saw Grandma." I touch my fingers to my bottom lip and feel a gash. It stings. I probably look horrible. "Does that mean I'm gonna die?"
"Don't be silly," my dad says, but I can tell by his expression that he's worried.
I'm with the dead girl. She and I are sitting under the bleachers that overlook the school's baseball field. I'm picking blades of grass and breaking them apart, not saying a word. She asks me if I'm okay, and just like that, I tell her everything that happened, including the rape.
"I'm so sorry," she says. Then she starts to cry.
I tell her to stop, that she's worse off than I am, but that only makes her cry harder and I think to myself, Maybe she's not.
I'm inside the school building, again walking down a hallway—a different hallway than the one I was walking down before—and the boy who touched my crotch and assaulted me at the pond comes up to me. He starts talking. I don't remember what he says, but I remember his voice: it's threatening. He's pissed about something, and as he talks I get pissed. I get so mad I feel I either need to kill him or myself, and so, with rage boiling in me, I grab him by the collar of his shirt and ram him face-first into a locker.
He falls to the floor, his nose gushing blood.
My dad wakes me up for school after that.