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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 19 page 21

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“Is this okay? Can I lie here?” he asked.

I murmured back, “Yeah, sure.”

I drifted into sleep and woke up only once to a pair of arms slipping around me. Almost forgetting where I was, I didn't care enough to fight against them, I just fell back asleep.

I woke up. The arms that had slithered round my body had shifted. My jeans were now unbuttoned and unzipped and a hand was roughly fondling around inside them while my bralette had been slipped under my breasts. Panic and fear set in. I tensed my body constricting any access he had to my body. After a few seconds, he gave up and left the room abruptly pulling the door behind him. I heard a bang as he kicked the wall in the kitchen, then another door closing. Sitting up straight in the bed, I knew I wanted to leave. I flung myself to the bottom of the bed, hoping I could wake Averee up to explain what happened and make a quick exit. I looked down to see just the floor, no Averee. I grabbed my phone and texted her quick.

“Where are you?”

I received two quick texts back.

“In Tris’s dorm.” Followed by, “I’ll come back soon”

I realised she was trying to talk things out with her ex-boyfriend.

The bathroom door creaked open and Bailey stepped out, avoiding my eyes and proclaiming, “Oh did you just wake up? I’ve been up for 20 minutes.”

The words had a rehearsed tone. I pictured him walking into the washroom, talking in the mirror like a child thinking of a lie to tell his parents when he’s caught stealing cookies from the cupboard. I mumbled an agreement and sat at the kitchen table. We made light conversation for an hour, avoiding what we both knew happened until Averee returned. I knew what he did, and he knew what he did, but he didn't know that I knew.

The rest of the day felt like a year, my level of discomfort was constantly on the rise. I watched as Averee laughed at his bad jokes and talked with him, oblivious. By dinner time, he was acting as if nothing happened but Averee was cluing in.

“What time do you think you guys will head out?” he asked.

Averee chimed in, “Hmm maybe like 9 or 10?”

“We need gas,” I stated flatly.

“Oh yeah! We can still go to the reserve!” said Averee.

He interjected, “I don't think that’s a good idea at night. I don't want you guys getting killed or something.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I snapped back. “Why would we get killed on the reserve?”

Averee looked at me, sensing the venom in my tone. Bailey tried to explain himself. Averee excused us to the washroom.

“Is something wrong? Did something happen?” she plagued me with questions. I just brushed them off saying everything’s okay. As she accompanied me back to the table, I pulled out my phone to text Tiana, a close friend of both me and Averee. I explained what happened and begged her to text Averee and explain. Texting was easier, I couldn't have told Tiana to her face if she were here, just like I couldn't tell Averee now. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was now a statistic and a cliché to the college sexual assault world.

Tiana texted Averee while we were driving home. The comforting and consolation that followed let me know I was safe, but it didn’t mend anything. Through my life I was always told to not go out at night because we don't know who is out there, to check the backseat before you get in your car because someone could be waiting for you, and to use the buddy system to lower the chances of getting kidnapped, raped or assaulted. We learn little tricks like wearing our hair down so no one can use it to get a grip on us, or to start a conversation with someone you are stuck with in an elevator so they know you can now identify them. Everyone knows the world is a scary place. You hear about it every day. But everyone has the same mindset, “It's not going to happen to me.” The world prepares you for the strangers in the dark and the bad people on television, but not for the people you know, the mutual friends and people you trusted. This mindset of invincibility is engraved in the mind until finally something does happen. And when it happens, it leaves a gaping hole, a loss of control and dignity. The cognisance of my fragility was brought into the open. I was no longer the “strong girl.”