There Are Not Always Answers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
I was raped by a teacher in the 8th grade. My life changed after that. This is my story.
*TRIGGER WARNINGS* - but not graphic.

Submitted: September 03, 2014

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Submitted: September 03, 2014

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~~There are not always answers.
By one of the many, for the rest who still can’t speak.

 

~~~~~~

 

It was so pretty outside.  There was this one tree right by the sidewalk that always had pink and white flowers in the spring, and it made the whole park smell nice.  I closed my eyes and let the sunlight warm my face and the breeze blow in my hair.  I actually felt good today.  It didn’t happen often enough. 
 I squeezed his hand.  He looked down at me and smiled, and we swung our interlocked fingers as we walked along.  There were lots of other people in the park, some with their dogs, some with their kids, and most with their friends.  Couples sat on benches with their arms around each other.  Couples leaned against trees with their faces turned away.  Couples lay on blankets in the grass and stared at the wide, blue sky.  I shuddered and pulled my hand away from his and crossed my arms.
 He looked down again, but this time his eyes were concerned.  He asked me what was wrong and I just smiled and blinked and shook my head as though it were nothing.  He shrugged.  We kept walking.  Dogs kept chasing Frisbees.  Children kept playing tag.  Bees kept dancing from one flower to the next.  All the world kept going, flawlessly, never stuttering, never stopping to think.  Only my mind tripped.  And my heart skipped a beat.
 

~~~~~~


The classroom was dark and my chair was hard.  I wrung my clammy hands together viciously and bit my lip.  My eyes were burning, the back of my neck cold, my racing heartbeat choking me as I tried to swallow.  I glanced around nervously.  The blinds were drawn.  Through the closed doors I could hear the student council helping to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.  I tried to tap my foot, but it wouldn’t move.
 I knew I had done it this time.  I knew better than to argue, I knew I should have kept my mouth shut, I knew nobody wanted my opinion.  I knew the cards were stacked against me.  I knew I didn’t belong with liberal preppies and I wasn’t wanted in New England and I knew I should have just laid low. 
 But I also knew I had a brain, and feelings, and I thought I had a right to believe what I wanted to. It turned out I was wrong, and I knew it as soon as he walked in.  But I knew I couldn’t do much, and there wasn’t anybody around here who would vouch for me.

 

~~~~~~

 

Our new house wasn’t fabulous, but it was comfortable.  There was a patio with Adirondack chairs and a sun room with a cushioned bench swing.  I headed for the screen door, but he grabbed my hand and pulled me gently over to sit next to him on the swing, smiling brightly.  He rocked the swing slowly back and forth, back and forth.  He kept his hand on mine and tapped his fingers along with the rhythm of the bench.  I kept my eyes down.  On the ground. 
 He chuckled a question, lightly asking what the matter was with me today.  I tried to smile and replied that I was tired, which always seemed to be a viable excuse.  He seemed to doubt me but hesitated only a fraction of a second.  He reached over and took my other hand.  I snatched it away.  He eyed me and leaned back.

 

~~~~~~


He sat down across from me, groaning in a shallow sort of way, staring vaguely at the paper-strewn desks.  He raised his hand slowly to his beard and began to stroke it, agonizingly and deliberately.  I could hear each individual whisker brush against the next.  He seemed to be muttering things under his breath, but he never opened his mouth.  I sat in complete silence, hoping I could channel the hatred through my eyes and pierce his heart with a powerful laser. The only power I had. 
 Suddenly he looked at me.  I jumped.  His eyes, so cool amongst the darkness of the air, cut through me, sparking my scalp with icy needles.  I shivered.  I struggled to keep still.  I focused on glaring at him.
 He laughed.  He pounded the table with his fists, stomped his feet on the ground, threw his head back and howled like the hideous, mangy coyote that he was, like a villain that succeeds in only evil and revenge.  He laughed and laughed, he screeched and shrieked, he yelped and yowled, and I glared. 
 Finally he stopped, without warning, and gasping, leaned across the table until he was only fractions of an inch from my face.  He peered at me, smiling crookedly, and growled, “You thought you’d get away with it, didn’t you?”  He chuckled, straightening his tie, and sat back down again as an actual civilized professor would do.  He cracked his knuckles, one by one.  He used each pop to emphasize a word, make it more intimidating than the last.  “You thought you’d win, didn’t you?  You thought you knew more than I did.”

 

~~~~~~

 

There was nothing I could do on days when he wanted to be friendly.  I knew I wasn’t being fair.  He really was a nice boy, the nicest I had ever known, polite and sensitive, and I really did like him, but what could I do?  I was using him like a lab rat, for my own pathetic experiments, and I had never even told him.  But how could I? 
 I could barely even handle his hand on mine.  But when he put his arm over my shoulders, my heart sped up, I could feel it throbbing in my throat, making it hard to breathe.  I turned ice cold and my vision got foggy, each breath laboring and painful, my tongue glued to the bottom of my mouth.  I shifted and tried to slide out from under the weight on my shoulders.  It only got heavier, he pulled me closer. 
 I could hear myself breathing, faster and faster, the air chilling the droplets of sweat on my upper lip and wrenching my stomach into a shuddering fist.  I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t.  I couldn’t. 
 Up I jumped, the world grey and misty before me, the floor like a waterbed, the air suffocating and syrupy.  Every cell in my body shivered, my chest tightened, my head spun.  I didn’t know if I was going to get sick or faint. 
 “What is the matter with you?”  Now I had obviously made him angry, and he was coming at me with his hands out, ready to choke me.  I ran.
 

~~~~~~


Nothing could be more painful than the feeling that your insides are melting, turning liquid and flowing down, tearing bits of you off and turning it to acid, leaving nothing but a weak shell, translucent and flaky, shaking uncontrollably.  And nothing could be harder than having only this shell, barely able to sit up straight, and making it appear absolutely calm, perfectly capable, and stronger than the whole person.
 But he knew I was a shell.  He had made me the shell with his cruel and wanton mind games, he had planted in me the poison that would slowly kill me, make me so feeble that I must either submit or crumble. 
 I would not submit.  He knew I never would. He had known all along, and that was why he was prepared.
 I told him.  I told him he could not break me, he could not control me in his deranged ways, that fear and intimidation would not work, and that I would win. 
 He growled, his teeth the brightest thing in the room.  He rose slowly and leaned over the table, his huge hands so close to my collar I could feel the angry heat radiating from them.  He smiled savagely and said, very low and very cold, “I never lose, girl.” 

 

~~~~~~

 

I hid behind a bush, under the porch steps, huddled in a ball with my forehead on my knees and my hands over my mouth.  I rocked back and forth, hugging myself, praying that nobody would find me.  I held my breath to conceal every sob, feeling like an incapable child for still not knowing how to stop crying. 
 His words in my mind were torture.  They played over and over again, an excruciating scene stuck eternally on repeat.  I could feel him again touching me, I could see his eyes crushing me and his lips forming words, but nothing else.  My stomach churned, my hands trembled and itched to tear mercilessly into my chest and rip out the burning metal thorns shredding my heart with every agonizing beat.  I hit my head against the brick wall, and then hit it again, hoping it would either knock out the memory or just knock me out.
 I could not scrape the heat off of my lungs, I could not peel the memory off of my brain.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t keep hiding from everyone, and I couldn’t keep lying to myself.  But I was still so afraid of the world, so angry at him for making me hate my own life, for ruining my happiness and my future and for affecting people who hadn’t even been there.
 I heard him calling my name far away.  My name, over and over, mocking me.  I grabbed a twig and clenched it desperately, feeling its innocent roughness against my scarred fingers.  It snapped in my hands.
 

~~~~~~

 


He laughed and tapped his burly fingers on the polished desk.  He enjoyed watching me struggle, watching me helplessly perish and wither away under his expensive shoes.  I stared back at him, digging my thumb nails into my fingers to stop the trembling, one at a time, feeling the thick, warm wetness coat my hands and breathing deeply the sour smell, defenseless and made to wait eternally, the anxiety slowly eating through me.
 I stood up.  In seconds he had me by my hair and neck, pulling me up to his contented grimace of power, muttering that I was an uncultured wrench, I belonged in the gutters, I was nothing but lowly trash.  He cackled as he spun me around, taking a textbook to my jaw and knee to my back.  The floor fell out but somehow I was on it, my glasses fractured shrapnel in the side of my face, my hair a tangled pillow of dulled femininity next to me.
 Then there was tape.  There was a bag.  There were kicks, punches.  I was rubber.  My brain had stopped thinking, my heart had stopped beating.  It was cold outside; it was November.  The stairs were hard.  The couch was still harder.

 

~~~~~~

 

Then he found me, as I had known he would eventually do.  I was embarrassed, pushing my face into my hands and feeling the invisible ridges on my cheekbone.He called me, and I flinched at the word.  He got down on his knees and crawled into my gloomy sanctuary.  He sat next to me.  I listened to his breathing, sharp but still slower than mine, and tried to match mine to that of a sane person.
 After a while he sighed and leaned against the wall.  I heard his hair gently crunch against the bricks and his fingers tap a rhythm on a rock.  I cringed. 
 “Did I say something?”  Yes, I wanted to shout, everything you say is something that reminds me of him.  “Or did I do something?”  I started crying again, turning around to hit my head against the wall, once, twice, again and again, turning to dust the memories.  All the things that were normal for everyone else, but that set me apart; the things that nobody else understood, but I couldn’t explain. 
 I couldn’t move fast enough to escape his approach, his hands grabbing my ponytail to stop my hammering.  He had me cornered.  I dropped my hands and sat silently, deflated and apathetic, staring at a boring ant walk determinedly to someplace.  His hands on my shoulders, pulling me back towards him.  His hands on my hands on my lap, his thumbs tapping each of my fingers, one at a time.  His light chuckling as he thought I was probably just crazy.
 

~~~~~~

 

You are no teacher, I had told him.  You’ve taught me nothing but to trust no one, to know when to silence myself, that my beliefs are not important and that the way to succeed is by instilling fear in those you should be teaching.  You are the one who belongs in a gutter somewhere.
 Again, that laugh.  The epitome of a villain’s laugh, the low and throaty cackle, nourished with the blood and withered souls of victims, contained behind those misleading eyes, so deep and smiling, the honey in the flytrap.  The laugh that echoes endlessly in the back of my mind, all the time, reminding me.  The laugh that made me hate myself whenever I laughed, made me feel like a traitor to my own memory.
 “I’m no teacher, eh, girl?”  He crept closer, his hands working at his tie, and then his shirt buttons.  “I’m no teacher?”  His voice rose as my heartbeat did, dizzying me, my eyes feeling like pools of cold fog, my hands and mouth quaking.  “I’ll teach you a lesson, you little bitch,” he whispered, giving me a little shove on the shoulder.  He paused, looked around, and then carefully positioned his palms on my arms, slowly and forcefully laying me flat on his dirty green couch.  He chuckled, the sound coming from the darkest crevices of his being and permeating my shell, filling me with an absolute and violent abhorrence for his existence as I lay there limply on my back, my vision twisted and my heart pounding, waiting. 

 

~~~~~~

 

He talked.  He didn’t say anything, he just kept talking, sitting behind me, running his fingers through my hair, braiding it and unbraiding it, not knowing that it hurt every time he did it, not knowing that it used to be longer but I couldn’t bring myself to let it grow out again.  He rubbed his hands up and down my arms, turning my hands over in his, not knowing where there had been scars, that I dyed my skin to hide them.  He talked on about books and the news and teachers, not knowing that every topic was another dart in the fragilely repaired screen over my heart that made me want to grab the most naïve bunny I could find and snap its neck in revenge.
 He brushed the dirt off of my cheeks and told me I was pretty.  I flinched, and he apologized, though he didn’t know what he had said.  He didn’t know that I used to wear makeup, that I used to like being pretty, that I now actually tried to keep boys away, that I didn’t like attention and I didn’t like talking about the good things about myself, or thinking about the good things about myself.  He dropped his hands to the ground and neither one of us moved. 
 “Can I ask you something?”  No!  I wanted to shout, a spear wedging its sparkling teeth up my throat.  I wanted to scream and curdle the blood of a man who sauntered coolly all the time and whose only pack had a conveniently innocent hole in the bottom.  But I sighed, icicles hanging from the outgoing breath, and looked up, wishing there were somebody there who would save me from things that wouldn’t go away because nobody knew.


~~~~~~


When it was over, my body quivering on the couch, my deformed hand gripping the remains of my clothing, my leg skinless and drenched in blood, my hair matted and sweaty, the rest of me worn raw and pounded to a bruised mush, he stood in the corner, watching me pray, laughing. 
 He came over and stood behind me, and I began to cry in my prayer.  He grabbed my hands and I was pulled to my feet, the old carpet working between my toes.  “Can I ask you something, you disgusting little cunt?  Eh?”  He poked my stomach and I doubled over, giving him more reason to laugh.  “Did you like that, girlie?  Did you learn something?”  He slapped me once on my cheek and left me to get dressed, feeling grimy and defeated.  I washed my face and brushed my torn hair, and I wanted to smash the mirror.  How could I look the same, after all that?  How could I be the only one who knew what had changed?
 His brutal words bit me like starving snakes, words that would become tattoos that could not be removed: cunt, slut, bitch, girlie, pinkie, slave.  “Fine lady” had once been a term for a debutante; now, it was apparently how a man could subjugate a female, and ruin her view of herself forever.
 “Can I ask you something, you fucking little bitch?”  He grabbed my hair and pulled me to my knees before him.  I bit my lip and closed my eyes.  He opened them again by ripping out chunks of my eyelashes.  “Look at me, you filthy slut.  Who are you going to tell, you damned maggot?  Eh, girlie?”  I shook my head.  I had learned to keep quiet. 

 

~~~~~~

 

I didn’t know how to get close to people.  The mere fact that he considered himself my “boyfriend” was a miracle that was completely his decision and had nothing to do with anything I had done.  I didn’t know how to trust people, or how to talk to people, but I didn’t know how to deal with people who didn’t understand me. 
 I reached up and shoved his hands off of my shoulders.  I turned around to face him and saw in his eyes how much I had hurt him, how I had hurt him by trying to protect myself.  How was this fair?  How could I do this to him?How could I do this to me?  Neither one of us had done anything that deserved such mental torment.  He smiled tentatively at me, begging me to explain, and I just looked at the ground. 
 I took a deep breath and began the story.  How I was new at the school, how I used to really love people but they didn’t like me, how my grandmother was dying and how I wanted somebody to talk to, how he had been my mentor and then betrayed me, how he had tricked me into sharing opinions he knew were wrong there, making everybody else hate me, and then making sure I would never be free again.  He took pleasure in pain, and that just made it hurt so much more. 
 By the end I was bawling.  Sitting in the dirt, my face in my hands, bawling, banging my head against the bricks and already regretting having told him.  He stared at me, his mouth open, reaching out to hug me and then recoiling like a spring that had snapped, afraid to touch me and finally knowing why I was afraid to be touched.  The hardest part is sitting in the dirt, bawling, looking at a guy a few feet away who very much wants to make you feel better…but being too scared to let him give you a hug.  A shell does not refill with meat once it has been eaten.
 

 

~~~~~~


 He was a lying cheat, he was good at it, and he knew it.  He sat in the headmaster’s office with my mother and me and lied straight to her face, while she looked at mine and saw nothing.  She listened to him, she fell for it, she thought I was just a stupid kid who wanted to cause trouble.  The police at the house were called by him, after he made up obscure stories about my abusive ogre of a father.  She believed him when he said I had made them up.  He actually had the cruel audacity to look over at me and wink, because he knew that he had won.
 I had no father for two months.  The only time he spoke to me was to scream at me for being an unappreciative brat, for being the one responsible for destroying our family and our home.  He told me I was unwanted, that I should learn to do something with myself.  He gave me the silent treatment for eight weeks, purposefully ignoring my existence, spoiling my brother in front of me, making me feel like the trash I had been told I was. 
 To this day I cannot make it through an entire Thanksgiving meal.  I cannot hear someone swear without flinching.  There are faces that make my heart stop, voices that tear pieces out of me, words that are impossible for me to force my mouth to form.  I avoid taking classes with male teachers because I literally can’t stay in the room when they are angry and raise their voices.  I want to break the radio every time I hear some pop star singing about how depressing her life is now that she broke up with some fictional guy, I want to strangle somebody every time a girl starts talking about how she can’t get a boyfriend, I want to scream at the news agencies and the police every time I hear that some woman was the victim of a “non-consensual affair.” 

 

~~~~~~

 

What happened, he wanted to know.  Of course, only if I wanted to talk about it, he said.  And he kept saying.  Over and over, trying not to press me but succeeding in pressing me by innocently pressing the subject of not pressing me.  I put my hand up, and he dropped the conversation, looking around awkwardly.  Finally he got up off the ground and waddled slowly to the edge of the porch, the wall of mocking sunlight streaming insensitively into my apathetic eyes.
 I saw two feet and a hand reaching down into my murky asylum, outstretched and smiling with beckoning fingers.  “C’mon, baby,” came the milky voice from above the porch.  I climbed out reluctantly but only with a terse comment about my pet name.I didn’t like pet names.  I didn’t find them very cute.  I pulled my hand out of his.  I walked and he followed.
 The questions.  Not verbal.  They didn’t have to be.  The sideways glances, the uneasy and semi-suggestive coughs that made me jump and snatch my fingers away from those of his on a goodwill tour.  He stopped walking.  I didn’t.  From behind be I heard the call, speckled with flakes of an inaugural tear.  “What did I ever do to you?”
 I slapped at a gnat and deposed of his question at the same time.  He persisted. 
 “We’re not all douchebags, you know!”
 

~~~~~~

 


The police were no help, though I did what they said anyway.  They gave me forms to fill out.  I filled.  They told me to sit.  I sat.  I sat in their office for hours, constantly scanning the room for faces I recognized.  When I was finally let in I was made to stand instead of sit, so he could get a good look at me, as he put it.  The first comment the officer made after asking for my name was, “You don’t look like you were intimately abused.” 
 My attacker was good at what he did.  “I’ll say,” the red-faced, blue-suited bag of potatoes chuckled, tapping his pen on his desk and eyeing the buttons on my blouse. 
 “What were you wearing?”  I gasped, appalled by the insensitivity of the question.  I was wearing my school uniform.  “Right,” he drawled, smirking as he scribbled a comment on his clipboard. 
 “This guy was a teacher?  Or a teaching assistant, like a student friend of yours?”  He winked.  I ran my hand behind my neck and stared at this so-called professional in law enforcement.  He chuckled again, lightly, and wrote something else down as he whispered highly, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” 
 I stuttered, trying to correct the answer that he had assumed, but he cut me off.  He had heard it all before, he said.  He understood, he said.  “I was a teenager once too, you know.”
 “Did you like it?”  I started coughing.  Then I felt sick.  I asked to speak to a female officer and had to wait for the policeman to finish yawning before he replied.  “Don’t have any.  And I don’t see what your problem is.  We get these kinds of reports all the time – don’t you think we’d figure out by now that it’s just a fad?  Now are you done with your charade?”
 I left with nothing but ink on my finger and a half-sheet of yellow paper.  On the bottom were two lines, one with my signature and one with a policeman’s.  The paragraph above began with the words, “I hereby recount my statement…”

 

~~~~~~

 

What am I supposed to say?  I could tell him my story, and then tell him that he can’t talk about it with anyone, including me (because I can’t handle it) or my parents (because they don’t know).  I could never tell him and then feel bad about myself for never telling him, because it’s something that’s kind of important to my identity, and because every time he says something that triggers it, he feels like it’s his fault instead of mine.  I could avoid relationships forever and just be lonely and probably go crazy, because it isn’t that I don’t want friends, but just that I’m too afraid to get close to them. 
 What I really want to tell him is this: Every time I look at you, I remember him.  But it isn’t fair to compare you to him, because he did things to me that I know you never would. 
 But I can’t say that, because I was taught too well that if I stay silent, I’ll stay safe.

 

~~~~~~



I sat in class, the silky air conditioning steaming down my back and giving me chills.  I rapped my fingers on the shiny plastic of the desk and relished the rhythmic tones, straining to imprint the sound on my memory.  I glanced across the crisp room and caught his eye.  He winked at me over his shoulder and pointed excitedly to his watch.  I groaned and redirected my attention to the window.  It was pretty outside.  I smiled.
 “Is there something you would like to tell us?”  I gulped and quivered under the annoyed stare of the teacher.  He raised his eyebrows expectantly, artfully weaving a stick of chalk through his fingers.  I lowered my gaze quickly and tried not to choke up.
 “No, sir.  I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.” 
 He let out a low groan.  “I’ve called you out about this before, and I’m tired of it.  What do I have to do to get through to you?”
 I didn’t look up.


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