Lightning Strikes Twice

You deserve everything you get.

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, but it’s not a universal law for everything else.

 Rape.

It takes something away from you. A piece of yourself is broken off, and what is left is a damaged doll, contorted to other people’s standards and wishes. Its plastic limbs twisted under the pressure of a hundred helping hands. The pressure from family to go to college and get a suitable degree. The pressure from friends to take one more shot. The pressure from yourself to try to forget.

The pressure from life to move on like it never happened.

But for rape to happen twice? The odds aren’t as slim as they should be.

If I blamed myself for the first time, I certainly blamed myself for the second time. After all, the first time involved Rohypnol. I can blame some of it on that, although I still bear the burden of most of the blame. The second time was just alcohol. The second time was just me being unable to control my addictive behaviors, and someone taking advantage of that weakness.

You deserve everything you get.

I’d thrown up all over the bar and was asked to leave. I couldn’t handle my alcohol. Too much of it had been consumed, and it needed to get out. I’d passed the point of invincibility and hit isolation.

I was standing outside the bar, smoking a cigarette and squinting to see clearly, when he approached me.

He was a part of the group of friends I went out with, but I don’t remember him introducing himself. His tongue was in my mouth. It tasted like regret and a cheap night, and I wasn’t interested. I just wanted to smoke my cigarette. It was the last in my pack of Camel Menthols.

But I could barely stand, and I used him as support.

“Let me take you back home,” he said, and I thought he meant back to where our friends and I pregamed.

Where were my friends? Was it a coincidence that this was the same group of friends I’d been out with the first time this happened?

I’d pregamed too much. It was no longer a game. Not when you’re fifteen beers deep and still searching for another drink.

He led me to his Vespa. It wasn’t even a motorcycle or something badass.

As we rode back to where I thought we were going, I fantasized falling off the back. Going forty-five over some bridge I can’t remember the name of. What would happen if I had just let go?

But in my mind, I thought I deserved whatever was going to happen. It had happened before, it should happen again. Those are the odds, right? Except with lightning.

You deserve everything you get.

Trees blurred by us as we rode. There weren’t many cars on the road because it was so late, but the few that drove by us seemed like they were mocking me. I wanted to be brave enough to let go: to let them crash into me. Or to crash into them.

I didn’t know the area enough to know if we were going back to the apartment or not, but that’s where I thought we were off to. We were somewhere else entirely.

By the time I realized we were at a different place, it was too late. His calm demeanor had melted away into something savage, almost inhuman. His lips curled into a sneer and his eyes blackened. His hands clenched around my arms.

I didn’t feel human, and I didn’t feel invincible.

Worthless. I felt worthless.

I threw up again in his front lawn. Partially on the grass, partially on myself. I still couldn’t handle my alcohol.

“Get inside,” he said, and he grabbed my arm again.

I licked my lips. They tasted like stale beer and stomach bile. I shook my head at him. “Where’s the apartment?” I asked, but my sentence melted into one single word.

I was looking for my friend’s apartment. A sanctuary that held my car and dirty secrets. Where we’d played Never Have I Ever, and I admitted my cocaine addiction in front of twelve different people. Where I didn’t care how many Bud Lights I had, it was never enough.

I couldn’t forget the other guy. The last one to make me feel this powerless and pathetic. And the alcohol didn’t numb me the way it should have. It made me want to dig pins into my skin and recite the Act of Contrition.

Don’t bless me father for I have sinned.

It was a quaint house and I might have enjoyed living there if it were under different circumstances. The way the front doorway arched. Or the way that the front door immediately opened to the living room. The way the living room was decorated like a family belonged there.     I was dragged toward a room to the left side of the house. Half carried, half heaved. A corpse being lugged into its coffin.

His room was decorated nicely. Unlike the last time, there was a bed with a headboard and footboard, not just a mattress. There was a desk and a dresser, and plenty of clothes strewn about the floor.

He pushed me onto the bed.

“Stop,” I said, but it was weak. I was weak. Everything was spinning. You deserve this. You deserve everything you get. “Please stop.”

He pulled my hair back and ordered me to take off my clothes.

This is it. This is what’s happening.

I shouldn’t have let this happen. This was all my fault.

But I listened. Because of what happened last time that I didn’t. I didn’t want to get hit again. I wanted to be home.

How could this have happened to me again?

There was nothing attractive about me. Not last time, as Rohypnol flowed through my veins. Not this time, when over fifteen beers were in my system.

I drooled on myself, but he didn’t seem to mind.

I tried rolling over to get it to stop, but he held me in place. His fingers dug into my biceps, and his fingernails cut into my skin. Bruises formed, but I deserved it.

You deserve everything you get.

I was raised Catholic. I was raised to believe in God and to believe that everything happens for a reason. I was raised to wait until marriage, but I’d had this taken from me twice. Was I going to Hell?

Where was God now? Why was he letting this happen to me for the second time?

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

I wanted my mom. I cried out for her to help me, but she couldn’t hear me. I tried my dad, but he wasn’t listening, either.

What could they do for their sinful daughter?

 I must have done something terrible to deserve this.

You deserve everything you get.

Because I had taken my clothes off on my own, they were still in one piece the next morning for me to put on. But I was so hungover that I had to run to the bathroom to vomit before I could do any of that. When I got back, he wasn’t in his room.

He came back a few minutes later, and I found that I couldn’t look him in the eyes. Not only had it been a bad night for me, I couldn’t imagine that it had been a good night for him. He must have had an awful time.

“Sorry about last night,” I said, still not looking at him.

“My roommate’s letting me borrow his truck so I can take you back to your car.”

I wanted to ask why he didn’t just take me back to my car the night before so I could’ve driven myself home. I would’ve taken a drunken accident over what happened.

But maybe I wouldn’t have. Maybe that was selfish of me. I shouldn’t wish to put other people’s lives in danger.

“Okay,” tumbled from my mouth instead.

The ride over to my friend’s apartment where my car was lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of complete silence. He didn’t try to start conversation, and I appreciated that. Any wrong word from his mouth would’ve made me vomit again.

I pointed my car out to him in the parking lot. My head pounded and I could barely lift my hand, but I pointed it out. Something I could finally do right.

He pulled into the parking spot next to it.

I was near safety, and I felt safe enough to venture a conversation. “Do you have a headache, too? I can barely see straight.”

“No, I’m not hungover.”

“Jealous,” I said, getting out of his truck. Did I ask for his name? He hadn’t asked for mine.

“Yeah, I don’t drink.”

He hadn’t been drinking.

You deserve everything you get.

Katharine Bost holds an MFA in creative writing from Miami University, and has been published at Memoir Magazine and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. In addition to non-fiction, Katharine writes young adult fiction, focusing on the themes of self-acceptance, mental health, and sexuality.

Twitter: @katharinebost

katharinebost.com

 

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