Here it is. All of it.


You're a fucking tease, he screams at me. You stupid bitch. What did you think you were coming over here for?

I don't say anything. I lie on the couch, paralysed. The television's still on. I'll never forget this room.

I will myself to disappear. I am desperate to become small enough to slip between the cracks in the floorboards.

When I leave, he attempts to hug me. I freeze. He pulls back. He thinks he knows what I am going to do.

A week goes by, but I don't do anything. I don't go to the cops. I don't go to the university.

I can't go to university to study because he'll be there.

I can't go to work, because I work at the university, and he'll be there.


I lie in bed.

I debate about razing my skin off with a vegetable peeler. My housemate picks me up off the kitchen floor and puts me back to bed.

One of my oldest friends, from before university, crawls into bed with me. Demands to know. Brings her boyfriend right into my bedroom.

"Will knows some people who can help you."

I met her boyfriend's eyes. He is the first man that has looked at me since it happened. He is silently apologising for the actions of a man he's never met.

I'm crying again.


It's the next day. I'm out of bed, and dressed. My housemate is relieved. I think about the vegetable peeler in the kitchen drawer.

They're coming around that afternoon, with my old friend and her new boyfriend.

I wonder what I'm supposed to say. I was assaulted, please help me? No. That's stupid. That's something out of a daytime television show. I won't say that.

It's the very first thing I say. Then: I'm so scared.

My whole body is shaking.

They are looking at me.

There is a shameless amount of body odour and smoke. Their cuts are worn - they're not new to this. They're both patched in, yellow and red.

The oldest one has white hair and a jowly, lined face. His eyes are doeful as he looks at me and I know he has been a father. He has been a father to girls like me.

The other is younger. Grimaces when I say the words scared and afraid and alone. He stares at me with narrowed eyes. I know that he is trying to figure out whether I'm lying. Whether I'm worth the trouble.

My old friend starts talking when I can't anymore.

She won't go to the cops. She won't go to the university. She studies there, she works there. She hasn't been back since it happened. She's afraid she'll see him. That he'll see her.

"He won't see her," the oldest one says, after the longest silence of my life.

The younger one, narrowed eyes still, doesn't say anything. If he thinks I am a liar, he doesn't say it out loud.

I'm still shaking when the older one addresses me directly.

"We'll do it, but we're going to need your help."


I am part of two drive-bys of his house, both on the back of the younger one's bike. One at night, one during the day. He asks me a thousand questions about the house (front door? back door? layout? security system? pets? how many windows? backyard? any exits from the backyard?) and a thousand questions about him (what time does he go to work at the university in the morning? what time is he back again? does he stay in on the weekends or go out? what about his wife?).

I tell him everything, everything, everything. I do it all numbly. I was trusted with this knowledge once, and now I am divulging it all to someone with a red and yellow patch.

"When will I know? Th - that it's done?" I stutter the only question I have been thinking about for the last fortnight.

"We'll tell Will and he can pass it on to you." The patch says to me. I realise he has stopped viewing me with narrowed eyes. Things have changed, I think.

"We won't be in touch with you again. It's safer that way. Yeah?" He prompts an answer from me.

"Yeah."

His bike pulls away from the curb with a deafening roar. My neighbours won't miss his visits, but I think I will.


It's done, my old friend texts me. They told Will today.

I'm numb again.

It's done.


I see the younger one again.

It's almost a full year later and it's crowded inside the pub. I've been to this place a million times before, yet this time, it's dangerous.

I choke on my own spit as I try to tell my friends we need to go, we need to pick another place.

They refuse.

I grit my teeth.

"I'm in therapy." I'm telling him before I know it. It doesn't matter that his brothers can hear me. They all wear the same colours. They all know the story.

"How's that?" His features crinkle in distaste. His hand flexes around the beer he's holding. There's a tremor in his grip.

Was that new, or did I just not notice it a year ago?

Some of his tattoos are obscene, but that doesn't matter. How could it, when he has done what he has done, just for me to go on living?

I laugh out loud, and his eyes widen in surprise. "You laugh?" His second question of the night.

"Amazingly, yes. I do laugh."

"Good." His free arm curls around my waist.


And that's it.