The Attack


Author: Katie McEachern – First Place 2018

I felt him on top of me. I felt his hands move places they should have never been. I reached back, searching for his hand. I felt him ripping off my clothes, his nails scratching my lower back. I squeezed his hand and used whatever horror I had as adrenaline and attempted to throw his hand off me. For a moment his hand was gone, but not for long. He grasped my wrist so tight I couldn’t help but let out a small whimper. He was much larger than me and twice as strong. I was helpless below his hands. I was weak and intoxicated. I couldn’t fight back. I tried to cry out, I tried to shuffle out from underneath the powerful body on top of me. I grunted and squealed softly, hoping he’d hear the sounds of distress and take pity on me. He didn’t. Instead, he leaned his head closer to mine. I felt his breath on the back of my neck and my heart stopped. I heard him speak softly in my ear, telling me not to move or make a sound, that I would be fine, to try to sleep. I felt a tear roll down my face as he placed his hands on me again; they were hot and heavy. I felt them burn holes in my skin as he pressed his body into mine. I screamed pathetically; I made whatever sound I was capable of making, hoping for something loud enough to be heard by anyone but myself and the man I was pinned under. Instead, it came out a pathetic grunt, quickly silenced by his heavy hand when it slammed down over my mouth. I shook my head, hoping to release my face from beneath his hand, hoping to let out another cry for help. I felt his hand leave my mouth for a moment. I prayed it was over, but when I felt his hand smash into the side of my head, I knew. I saw the anger in his eyes and he must have seen the horror in mine during that split second before he placed his hands on me again, one covering my mouth and hiding my sobs as my entire world slipped out of control.

It was the last night of summer. Nineteen days after he attacked me. I sat in bed, wearing only my shorts and a T-shirt, scrolling through social media and seeing everyone’s posts about how summer would be missed. Not by me, not in the slightest. In fact, I would give anything if I could make this summer just go away. I slid my finger down the screen and stopped. I looked at the aggravating photo on the phone in front of me. There he was, smiling in the middle of a group of friends at an end-of-summer party. The grip I had on my phone tightened; my hand shook. I brought my fists to my head and tried to bash away the memory of what he had done to me. I slammed my phone onto the bed next to me and stood up angrily, whipping the blanket off my body. I hated seeing him happy. I hated the fact that he was so okay and unaffected by the pain he had caused me. I wanted him to feel the pain I felt, the pain he made me feel. I wanted him to know pain as I knew it because of what he did to me. I hated him. I hated him more than I hated myself for letting him into my room, into my life. I wished hell upon that boy. I wanted him to burn, spiral out of control as I was doing in this moment of anger and had been since he forced himself on me. I wanted revenge; I wanted to make him as horrified, hurt, and helpless he made me. I wanted to break him from the inside of his own mind, exactly as he did to me. At this point, I didn’t know what I wanted more, peace or revenge. Revenge would give me peace, knowing that he suffered for what he did to me. I wanted him to suffer, and I wanted to be the one to make him suffer. I wanted him to wake up crying and sweating like I did, and continue to do, every time I dream of that night. I wanted his dreams to be haunted with the image of me, just as mine are haunted by the memory of him. More than I wanted anything, more than I wanted to feel safe again, more than I wanted that sweet taste of liquor or the short pain of a cigarette when it burns your lungs on that first hit that I used to crave so much, more than I had ever wanted anything, I wanted him to feel all the physical, mental, and emotional pain he made me feel, tenfold.

I sat down on the cold leather seats of the Impala and turned the key, listening to the calming purr of the engine starting. I turned up the radio as I watched my younger sister, Summer, walk toward the car. I adjusted the mirror, taking a few moments to look at the tattoo of a rose behind my ear which represented my name as well as my deceased mother, Rosaline. The tattoo was mostly hidden by the long, wavy brown hair my sister and I shared. My hazel eyes looked back at me, eyes that once sought out adventure, but now only sought safety and peace of mind, which have been gone from my life for so long. I put on another quick layer of the stolen red lipstick and looked away from the girl in the mirror.

I heard the car door open and watched as Summer sank into the seat. She had been complaining about high school in the weeks before; this was her first day. We arrived at school and she quickly got out of the car, probably hurrying to talk to all of her freshman friends. I, on the other hand, sat in the car a minute longer. This was going to be hell and I knew it. I had been avoiding nearly everyone since the night of the attack, and nobody knew why. I couldn’t tell a soul. They wouldn’t understand. They would say it was my own fault because I let him in and took the drinks he gave me, or that I should have expected it. But how can you expect such a horrible thing from a person you thought you could trust? You can’t. Instead, everyone assumed I was off on another adventure to Neverland, smoking boxes of stolen cigarettes and ignoring the world like I often did during the hot summer months. This was only half true. I began stealing more cigarettes after the attack. The smell of the smoke reminded me of my mother, reminded me of safety when she held me in her arms. God, I wish I had a cigarette now.

I turned off the car and got out, making sure all the doors were locked and everything I needed for the first day of my last year of high school was in my bag. I walked confidently through the doors of my high school as I always did. I greeted old friends and answered the continuous questions of “Where were you this summer?” with the believable answer of “Adventuring,” but in all honesty, I spent my summer with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. The only rush I got was the rush of vomit after drinking and sobbing the night away.

I kept my eyes up, looking ahead toward my first class. I scanned the hallway, checking for any new faces, when I saw his. I looked into his eyes for the first time since that night. Under my breath I whispered, “No,” quiet enough that I wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention. This isn’t real. It’s another flashback, I thought to myself. I blinked; the black calmed me until I opened my eyes again and saw his face. I saw him walk toward me and I felt my body tense. I saw his eyes look blankly into mine. It was the first time I had looked into his eyes since the night he attacked me, the night he came into my empty house, into my bedroom, my safe place, and made it no longer safe. The night he got me so drunk I couldn’t fight him off when he got on top of me and I closed my eyes tightly, begging that when I opened them again he would be gone. He was still there, looking back at me. I almost broke down right there, right in front of him, in front of everyone. Instead, I clenched my jaw, balled my hand into a fist, and turned in the opposite direction. The people around me were like mannequins. The only real things in that hallway were me, him, and the horror and hatred I felt.

I rushed to the bathroom and set my books down on the floor and squeezed the edges of the sink as I looked at the tears falling out of my eyes. I held my fist next to my head for a moment, fighting the urge to shatter the mirror in front of me that showed the frail weak girl I hated seeing. I swung at the solid concrete wall next to the mirror. I felt a jolt run from my knuckles to the center of my upper arm. I wiped the tears away with my sleeve, and looked at the now bruising, slightly busted knuckles on my right hand. I shook my arm quickly and picked up my books. I walked down the hall and arrived at class, sure I had only been a minute.

“Seven minutes late, Miss Rosaline,” I heard from the front of the class as I walked to the back and slumped into an empty desk, not saying a word or drawing any attention or concern to myself.

I went along with my day, pretending this morning never happened, pretending this summer never happened. But when I saw him in the halls again, I was again filled with that sharp pain in my heart and horror in my eyes. I walked along, ignoring him and all the things I felt toward him. I couldn’t hide, however, when he followed behind me into my fourth hour math class, sitting three seats behind me, or when he sat down at the table behind me at lunch. It was at lunch that the flashbacks began again. My eyes burned red and I could feel the tears beginning to form. I blinked, and I went back to the night he attacked me. I opened my eyes. I was back at school, and so was he. I blinked again. I was pinned down, his eyes full of fire on top of mine. I opened my eyes. I saw his eyes looking into mine again. I blinked again; I felt the pain in my skull. I opened my eyes; he was gone. I blinked again. Darkness. I opened my eyes. Light. I walked through the crowded hall with a blank stare. The rest of the day, this same thing occurred. Every time I saw him, I’d blink, and it would bring me back to that night.

I waited in the car for Summer to come trotting down the hill to the car. I was never so ready to leave this hell hole. Finally I saw her, walking with a friend I didn’t recognize, and behind them, I saw him. I was enraged. He looked at her the same way he looked at me. I felt a fire in my chest. The world slowed almost completely as I watched her approach the car. His eyes stayed on her, and then met mine. The fire in my chest burned brighter. I was filled with the horror from the night this summer as well as overwhelming anger. It took all the power I had to not jump out of the car and dig my fingernails into the eyes that saw my sister and I as prey, but of course I couldn’t. I would have to explain to everybody why I gouged out the eyes of a seemingly innocent man, and I couldn’t explain to anyone why he wasn’t. Especially Summer.

She got into the car and I smiled, though my face was hot with fury. I asked her about her first day; she gave the usual generic answer. “Good.” I nodded and hurried away, desperate to keep my sister and me far away from that devil of a boy.

I lay in bed and listened to the silence, only broken by Summer on the phone, talking about all the cute upperclassmen they hadn’t seen before. It made me laugh a little, the purity of my little sister. Her laughter, the excitement in her voice. It reminded me so much of my old innocent self. I listened in on her quick goodbye and heard her shuffle into bed. Silence was upon our small house; our grandmother slept quietly. She rarely talked to us; she barely cared about us in all honesty, just as she barely cared about our mother.

When mom was in the hospital, grandma rarely visited. Mom thought it was her own fault, the cancer. I couldn’t help but agree. I had asked my mom to stop smoking, warned her that eventually it would kill her. She didn’t care, so I stopped caring, too. The only reason Grandma took us in was because of pity. We had no one else. Mom was never married and didn’t have any siblings, so no aunts or uncles could take us in. I bet Grandma regretted not having more kids now.

I stared at the ceiling thinking about my day as well as my cursed summer. I closed my eyes, hoping to fall asleep. Instead, another flashback began. This time when I opened my eyes, the horror was far from over. I held it together earlier, but there was no one around to see my break, so I broke. The world around me was silent. The only thing I could hear were the voices in my head. I heard the screams I wish I could have let out that night. I pounded my fists against my head trying to quiet the cries from behind the walls in my mind. My head was on fire and my sanity ran like a child scared of the flames. I was left with nothing but the voices in my head that screamed so loud I could feel my ears vibrate.

I thought of all the ways I could inflict pain on him, but I knew that wasn’t an option; he would go to the police, accuse me of being psychotic, and they’d believe it. After all, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety—my mother is dead—I smoke—I drink, and honestly, with the thoughts I’ve been having lately, I can’t help but think, Maybe I am psychotic.

Still, I imagined all of the physical pain I felt the night of the attack and the days after, as well as the mental and emotional pain I haven’t stopped feeling. The frequent nights when I’m shot back in time to when he shoved himself inside of my weak body while I cried and bled. I imagined every single ounce of my pain inflicted on him, and it brought me the first peace I’ve had in a long time.

I imagined digging my nails into his body and ripping away at him, splitting the skin beneath my fingertips. The thought made me smile. I imagined how sweet it would be to make him bleed as much as I had when he left me, barely conscious, just lying there. I imagined his blood in my hands. I imagined the feeling, the warmth, the smell, and horrifyingly enough, the taste.

The space between reality and imagination blurred. I looked at my wrist and saw his in its place. I cautiously walked to my dresser and slowly picked up and inspected the silver metal object in my hand. I smiled as I dragged my knife lightly down my arm. I bit my lip and poked my arm until I felt the skin break underneath the blade. I dragged the blade right, watching as my arm opened revealing a dark red substance, almost like wine. I brought my arm to my lips and sucked the blood out of my arm like wine. I imagined his arm as bloody as mine and laughed; how sweet it would be. I imagined him feeling all this pain I felt. I laughed, I smiled, I sobbed. I watched my blood drip down, I watched my sanity fade away from behind the walls I put up in my mind. I felt myself drifting away.

I was brought back to reality with the sound of a scream. This time, it wasn’t my own. It was Summer. I ran out of my room with my pocketknife still in hand. I pushed the door opened with my good arm and looked around my sister’s room, searching for the reason for her screams. The room reeked of beer and smoke. Then I saw; it was him. He was in her bed, on top of her. I felt my heart explode with anger as I lunged toward him. I ripped him off of her, swinging my fists at his head. He had destroyed me; I refused to let him destroy her. I swung the knife in his direction, opening a gash in his forearm. He screeched and fell on one knee. He looked up at me slowly. There it was, the anger in his eyes. The same fiery anger I saw the night he pinned me to my own bed just as he did to Summer. This time, I wasn’t terrified. I was ready. He kicked my legs out from under me and grabbed my throat with his uninjured arm, pinning me against the floor. I felt the knife fall out of my hand as I began feeling weaker and weaker, losing consciousness from loss of blood and lack of oxygen. I felt the body on top of me fall away as the world around me went black.

I woke up in a somewhat familiar place. I looked around, trying to figure out why exactly I felt at home; this was not my house. I looked around and realized where I was, lying in a hospital bed. Summer slept quietly next to me. I looked down, inspecting stitches on my left wrist and a bandage on my right, covering my wrist and knuckles. I tried to sit up, but fell back, cursing at the pain in my head. I lay back down and grabbed Summer’s hand. Her eyes shot open; she quickly pushed away my hand, sending a small but sharp pain into my left arm.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” she asked worriedly, finally aware of the situation. She held my arm in front of her, making sure she hadn’t hurt me.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” I assured her. I was much more worried about if she was okay and what had happened. Suddenly I felt a wave of anger and horror hit. “Where is he? What did he do to you?” I asked urgently, almost yelling.

“He’s in another room. Once he’s better they’re sending him away,” she said reassuringly. I looked at her horrified and anxiously wondered what she went through last night. She saw the look in my eyes. “He came in looking for you; he was drunk and came into my room instead. He got on top of me and covered my mouth, I tried to yell but….” She paused, her eyes starting to water. “I couldn’t yell; I couldn’t move. I was so scared, Rose. He hurt me, badly. I fought and fought and was finally able to scream. That’s when you came in. I saw your arm, the blood, the knife. You screamed, you ran at him and stabbed him in the arm; he got on top of you and—”

“Stop!” I saw the pain in her eyes and shook my head, I knew what I needed to know. “You’re safe now.” But she wasn’t safe anymore; she would never feel safe again, and it was my fault.

I could have saved her. It took two girls’ lives ruined to get this boy in prison, to give him what he deserved, I thought. One of them was my sister, and the first was me. I could have prevented this; I could have let the police handle it instead of trying to handle it myself. I felt so angry at myself. I was too caught up in revenge to protect those around me. I am as bad a person as my attacker, for not saving his next victim. That’s when I realized I could have told someone what had happened to me and it would have kept it from happening to someone else, but I was so obsessed with the idea of making him pay myself, I put the people I love in danger. I put Summer in danger. The revenge I was so obsessed with ruined me, and the thing I care about most. It ruined Summer.

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