The morning after, I woke up, kissed him on the lips, got dressed, and cooked him breakfast. Fried bacon, poached eggs, sausages, and toast. He ate in the living room and I watched him through last night’s smudged eyeliner and an even murkier memory, I settled for confusion. I didn’t want to know. I did not need things to be clear. I kissed him again at the door on his way out.
Four months later a friend offered me an escape to another city, and as we huddled in his driveway to share our last cigarette, I asked him “Is it rape if I said no?” He stared at me with a look of horrified comprehension and I realised what I’d done. I wasn’t his manic pixie dream girl, I was just a whole new level of ‘fucked up‘.
I don’t know how far back we would have to trace my mistakes to find out when it all went wrong. Maybe it was the first time a boyfriend insisted even though I wasn’t in the mood. Maybe it was the second time, when he mistook struggle for desire. Maybe I stopped caring after that, and accepted the sickening feeling in my stomach every time he touched me, like I’d swallowed something rotten.
Maybe it was the boy who thought a movie isn’t complete without a quickie and the obligatory request for my phone number, even though we both know he’ll never call. Maybe it was the boy who was kind enough to explain that he was attracted to me, but in a purely physical way. I was expected to take that as a compliment, so I did.
Some point along the line, I made a point to stop caring, I told myself the past didn’t matter. If I cook him breakfast, then it was just a regular date. If I don’t cry about it, then I’m not a victim. If I don’t have nightmares, then it never happened. If I never see him again, then I will learn to forget his name.
Four years later in a hotel room halfway across the world, I locked myself in the bathroom because I finally remembered and I forgot how to breathe. I felt his hands wrapped around my throat, I had rationalised to myself over the years that maybe he couldn’t hear me. Maybe if I had yelled instead of whispered, I wouldn’t feel guilty about delegating blame. I have studied the scar on my leg often and rationalised to myself that I was never innocent, but maybe I could still heal one day. Maybe it was just a bad dream and I will wake up soon.
But four years have passed and I have not been able to sleep without his shadow in my bed, and the scar refuses to fade. I am still waiting to be left alone.