I’m in the backseat he’s on top of me. In my mind, I’m screaming no.
But I am sixteen years old and silent.
Groomed by the many hands who have touched me in places non-consenting, I am frozen right here, right now.
It is 1985.
“Just go on a double date with us.” She urges me. “Come on. I don’t wanna go alone!”
My body is already screaming “don’t go”, but I can’t abandon a friend, a habit I’ll carry through life. Something I’ll always pay for in the end when it turns pretend, but here, right now I am willing. I will be there for my friend.
I don’t know him, this date she has pre-arranged. I am stuck sitting in the back seat beside him with my stomach gurgling. He is sandy blonde hair and everything I don’t want touching me, pale skin and pompous sense of southern entitlement.
But she, my friend, has her own agenda. She wants someone along for the ride so she is not alone, and I am quietly wishing I’d stayed home.
I am bitter. I feel used. I don’t know how to refuse until it’s too late.
There’s not much fun to be had in a Tennessee town when the sun goes down, and we head to a back road field, crack open a few beers, smoke dirt weed, and I am praying she doesn’t leave me.
I sense the situation is about to shift to places I will leave my body to avoid the emotional pain of. I am trapped here, fearful and conditioned to comply.
I sit in the back seat of her mother’s station wagon. We have a curfew, and I’m hoping we’ll go back soon. But she starts walking off into the darkness with her love, and I am left with the strange boy hovering over me.
Here is his predictable slide into the back seat.
Feeble attempts to find my voice and say “no”, but I am envisioning death and boys who snap when girls resist and embarrassment that I made a scene, a prude, a drama queen.
I lay listless, head back as he does his business. My eyes become focused on the moon. She is shining clear and bright through the back window. She is almost full, and I call to her in my mind.
“How could this be my life?”
She watches as if I don’t matter. I am abandoned by her silence so I go mindless.
He is saying things he finds sensual, stupid questions boys ask when they’re in their primal, questions that make them feel worth, like my confirmation would relieve any guilt of his theft.
I will carry secrets of violations, fearing for my reputation, a girl so naive I can’t formulate ways to avoid threatening situations.
It will become a pasty mix of shame and self blame, raped beneath the moon, counting grey patches on her surface letting the minutes hazily float by.
He tries to hold my hand on the way back. As if taking from me warrants temporary ownership. No. That piece of chipped heart is buried in the place where the wheels were parked, sunk into the ruts in the country mud.
And I am just an invisible woman in a young girl’s body hoping my star family will find me and help me return to my home, hidden behind the moon.