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The first time I drank was with Jake Henderson*. He was seventeen and I was thirteen, he lived in my neighbourhood and he used to message me on facebook and we'd talk. He wasn't my boyfriend or anything, but I'd go to his house after school sometimes and we'd make out. We did that a few times and then I'd leave before his parents got home from work. But this one time, his parents were out of town and he gave me a big glass of vodka and orange juice.
The drink tasted awful, but I wanted to impress him, so I drank the whole thing really fast. Then we were making out and I realized I was drunk at the same time that I realized he was taking off my pants. And, I don't know, I guess I just sort of knew in that moment that those two things go together; sex and alcohol, alcohol and sex.
The alcohol was a rush, and made my body feel numb. It felt good, in fact, and it made me not care I was losing my virginity to this guy I knew didn't care about me. It made me okay with that. It made me okay with everything.
After he was done, he told me to leave. I remember how much pain I felt on that long walk home, and the way I tried to hide the dark purple bruises that had began to form on my inner thighs. My parents were out somewhere with my sister, so I went into the front room with the liquor cabinet and made my own vodka and orange juice. I wanted to keep the feeling going, because if I didn't, I'd have to think about what I'd just done with Jake Henderson*.
I never told anyone my Truth. Because to say so would make it real. So I covered it up years later and hoped I'd repress it enough to forget.
I know now that it happened because of what I am: easy. I came to the realization quite young that I will always be painfully, ordinarily average. It dawned on me slowly throughout the years that I was nothing special. Pudgy, awkward, short; no stand out qualities. Everywhere I turned for years, there was someone taller, prettier, sportier, flirtier, funnier. It was like it was in everyone else's blood to be flawless and exceptional. So, when boys gave me no attention, I looked for ways to get them to notice me in a way that was absolute; sex. Getting to know me wasn't an option. Sex was all I wanted. It became a habit. My stories of different nights shared with different people held the attention I wanted and kept the momentum going just long enough until the next boy who I'd use to distract me.
I didn't always want to be like this, though. Sex is simply a thing I know how to do. Years of practice, I guess. Dealing with the aftermath of hating myself for not being pretty enough for him or for having to much fat around my stomach is just a side effect.
Some girls know how to say no. They protect their bodies like they are worth waiting for. As if their bodies are something that isn't to be given, traded, or thrown away. I hate girls like that. Why do they get to walk around like they are worth something when I am something to be used and discarded?
I am the girl who's answer is silence. They touch me and I let them without a word, because that is all I know what to do. My "Yes" is a silence so deafening it sounds like consent, because it sounds enough like wanting it. Letting guys do what they want is easier than saying no. It's like I can just flip a switch and I'm on autopilot. My body knows all the right moves, the right sounds, but I feel nothing. That way, they get what they want, I'm numb, and everyone's happy.
The alcohol and the sex gives the warmth I need for the moment, to distract myself from the undeniable fact of how truly unwanted I am; there is no boy out there who will love me anymore, for who I am: irreparable damaged goods. But I convinced myself a very long time ago that I wasn't worthy of love anyways, because if I cannot feel what they do to me, or hear what they say about me, then I can use the distractions to keep up my facade of yes, I'm okay, I'm perfectly fine, I can get over this.
Perhaps, in another life, instead of the girl I am now, I could be the girl who goes out on Friday nights with her boyfriend. He holds my hand, and pays for my movie ticket, drops me off, and kisses me at the front door before curfew. Maybe I love him, and maybe he tells me he loves me, too. He will plan to make the moment special; soft music, flowers, candles. He will be gentle. I will say "Yes," and mean it. He will tell me he loves me, and mean it. These are real words, and this is yes the way yes was intended.
Some nights, there are memories every time of the darkness, shades of grey and shapes above me of countless nights where I've lay in silence. This time, the taste in my mouth is vodka and orange juice, and a young girl who had no idea what she was getting into. It is a memory of a boy four and a half years older than me, and suddenly the memory refocuses and becomes sharp and hot and fierce. And as much as I try, it was not fine, okay, or no problem.
Some things are stronger than vodka and orange juice. Some things like fear and pain and hips being pushed down and pulled apart. Handprints like stains.
It was not them, but all of them.
It was all the boys who never even had to ask, all you boys who took me. Because I gave myself away like I was worth nothing. Because if I let you have me, you couldn't take it like he did. You couldn't hurt me like he did.
Jake Henderson. I remember. You hurt me. I did not say yes.
I can taste the pain in my mouth, raw vodka and orange juice, swarming around my Truth, programmed to be this way forever, and there is no sending it back.