We are all made of stories. We are nothing but a collection of thoughts, experiences, and encounters. And, because we are human, it is in our blood to share our stories with one another.
There are many types of stories that make us who we are. Some restlessly churn within us, fighting to break free and be heard. We all have those moments where we can barely hold in our excitement to spill out a story to our friend. Some stories never fail to captivate an audience, like grandpa’s old fishing tales. Some stories bring laughter, some bring tears. Some bring promises, some bring warnings.
Some stories are never told.
There are moments in our life that we experience and wish we never did. Out of shame, embarrassment, abhorrence, or shock, we bottle up that horrid story and push it deep within us – not to be heard by anyone. Not to be remembered.
There’s a story within myself that I have bottled up. Slowly, I have been able to remember it and reflect upon it, but I have never been able to get myself to share it. I am still haunted by what happened – ashamed beyond measure. I am constantly trying to push those memories back into their bottle, but they never stay in. It is a poison that runs through my body, eating away at me from the inside.
inCon was created as a safe place for teens to share their stories. Since October, I have been contemplating whether I should share my story or not. And if so, whether I should publish it anonymously or under my name. Every time I go to write it out, however, I can’t get myself to. It is too painful to recollect and relive.
This January marks two years since the whole thing happened, and I’ve been looking back on it a lot this month. A few days ago on the torturous bus ride home from school, this thought struck me hard: why am I tormenting myself by trying to deny what happened? Wouldn’t I feel relieved by just letting it all out and sharing it with people?
And so I will tell my story.
The thought of high school used to fill me with utter trepidation. I spent my whole summer before freshman year in complete dismay. Not only did the transition to enormous piles of homework, exams, time management, etc. scare me, but the fact that I would have to go through it alone filled me with dread; I did not want to be a new student going into high school. I wanted to move back. My happiness drowned in a massive river of depression that summer from being wrenched away from a town that was my only true home, filled with the greatest friends I have ever had. The only place that ever accepted me.
I walked into freshman year with a tight smile on my face. I tried to push myself forward and accept my situation, but my past was constantly pulling me back. Making friends was not working out for me. I felt so awkward in my new school because people were totally different from what I was used to; they were not like my friends from my old school at all.
After a few weeks, people started forming friend groups. I sort of fell in with the band kids. It basically happened like this: I was in band, they were in band, so I guess we should be friends. The people were pretty nice, but the group lacked chemistry – probably because we were composed of a random assortment of people. As a result, there were an abundance of petty fights and unwarranted drama. I wasn’t very happy, but it was better than nothing.
In the group, there was this one boy that made me a little uncomfortable. Let’s call him Bob. Bob was the type of kid who sulked at the back of the group, rarely muttering a single word. He was always there listening, nodding, and following, but that was all. Like a sheep, he just followed the group wherever we went. Little did I know that he was a wolf in disguise.
One day I was walking to my history class, which was after band, and I heard someone call my name in the hallway. I turned around to see Bob flagging me down in the hallway. I was surprised for a moment that he was talking to me, which he never did before, but I relaxed when he started asking me questions about the history test that we were about to take. (Bob was in my history class.) The next day, he came up to me in the hallway again to ask me what I thought about the history test.
I didn’t really think much about it at the time – high school tests always bring random people together – but then he started walking with me every day to history. At first, he would only talk about history and band, but then he started talking about random conversational things. I stayed friendly, but I was internally cringing every time I had to talk with him. I just didn’t feel comfortable around him; he gave me this feeling of discomfort every time he went near me.
The more and more he talked with me, the more and more I prayed that he would not like me. That was the biggest thing I did not want to deal with in my new school. At the end of eighth grade, my best friend and clarinet arch nemesis and I finally started dating. My heart was nearly ripped out of my chest when I had to move forty-five minutes away. We continued to date after I moved (we are still dating today) but I missed him tremendously every day. I didn’t want to have anyone at my new school like me because I knew it would just make me miss my boyfriend more and make me angry to think I could have gone to high school with him. Unfortunately, my praying didn’t do me much good.
Homecoming time came around, and sure enough he asked me to homecoming. I turned him down immediately. He asked why, and I told him about my boyfriend and walked away. That night, I got a long text from an unknown number asking me if I wanted to go to homecoming with them. Somehow, he got my phone number. Again, I told him no, that I already have a boyfriend, but he wouldn’t accept that. He kept begging me and flattering me to get me to go to homecoming with him, but I got really angry with him and he stopped. For the next week in school, he would chase me down in the hallway every day and ask me over and over again if I wanted to go to homecoming with him. Bob would not take no for an answer.
That weekend, I got a disgustingly inappropriate text from him commenting about my body. He was trying to bribe me to go to homecoming with him by offering to have sex. Red flags went off in my head. I was absolutely terrified at that point. I was a freshman! I haven’t heard of anything like that before, and I wanted nothing to do with it. When I responded to him that no is no; I don’t want to go to homecoming with him, he texted me that he knows where I live. I told him that he was disgusting and that I wanted him to leave me alone. I called my boyfriend right away and he told me to block the kid’s number and stay away from him.
I stayed away from him in school and told the people in the band group about what happened. They all agreed that he was being a creep and an asshole. They started to ignore Bob and exclude him from the group. Bob stopped walking with me to history every day, but he began to give me threatening looks. Within a few weeks, however, everything was back to normal – as if the whole thing never happened.
My first semester of high school finished, leaving me utterly exhausted, but I got to spend a lot of time with my boyfriend and old friends over break. Overall, I felt happier and told myself that my second semester was going to be better.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The first day back, Bob started texting me again with a different phone number. He asked about how my finals went and if I enjoyed my break. I didn’t respond to him. The next day, he tried walking with me in the hallway. I wanted him away from me, but I didn’t want to make a scene, so I just listened to him. I looked straight ahead, occasionally answering with short, snippy answers. Arriving to class that day was like arriving at an oasis in the desert. But like an oasis, you can’t stay there forever. Eventually you have to leave.
That night, he started texting me inappropriate things again. I still remember one of his texts:
Abhorrence boiled within me. I called my boyfriend crying and asking what to do. He told me that I needed to tell my parents or the dean, but I didn’t want to. My parents were extremely overprotective and I knew that they would take that totally out of proportion. And so, I went to bed that night filled with fear and disgust.
Now that I look back on it, I really should have listened to my boyfriend.
A few days later, I went in the morning to go put my clarinet in its locker like I always did. There was nothing peculiar that day. The room was dark as usual and there was no one in there. However, I was not alone. When I was opening my combination lock, someone grabbed me from behind. They turned me around and forced their tongue into my mouth and started kissing me and moving their hands all over my body. My body was in shock. It took me awhile to realize what was happening. I tried to pull back, but I couldn’t. I tried to scream, but I had no voice. Before things could get worse, adrenaline took over. I pushed as hard as I could and grabbed my geometry textbook. I brought it down again and again on my attacker. On Bob. Bob threw up his hands and begged me to stop. When I finally did, I stood there trembling with rage and shock. The arrogant look on his face made my stomach churn. He dusted himself off and told me that I have really small tits as he walked out of the room.
I walked through the day in a daze. I felt like a ghost who didn’t know if she was dead or not, left to roam the Earth in search of unanswerable questions and non grantable wishes. I couldn’t comprehend what happened. It seemed too unreal, too vile to have happened. I bottled it up. I was too ashamed to admit what happened and too scared of what would happen if I told people. I just didn’t want to remember it.
For some time, I did forget what happened. I was a robot with no memories or emotions. I went to school, learned, went home, and did my homework. I distracted myself with lots of work because it left me no time to remember. I avoided talking to people and kept to myself. One day, my boyfriend texted me if I was all right because I wasn’t acting like myself lately. That switched me from robot mode back to teenage girl mode, causing me to crumble and spill out everything that happened. My boyfriend comforted me and told me that I really needed to go tell the police or the dean or someone. I protested, but he got very afraid of what would happen if I didn’t, so I promised him that I would tell my dean.
I thought that going to the dean would be the ending of my story, but actually, it was a new chapter in it – one with a vitriolic plot twist. As of right now, I am not ready to dive into it again, so I will leave you for now to sort out the words I just regurgitated to you. English class has always taught me to craft my writing, to create images and emotions, but I simply could not. To write this story took a vast amount of courage and many months of contemplation, but I could only muster a subjective mess of words. To capture the images and emotions in my story would put me through something that is too gruesome to live through again.