See the thing of it was that despite Essie’s best efforts — “God you’re such a baby” — Claudette was still a virgin and it had gone on long enough now —she was 19 after all — that she was kind of embarrassed to own it. So she pretended like she knew more than she did and became one of those don’t kiss don’t tell girls. But if she thought about it she’d’ve realized that she and Freed had been dancing to this point for a while now. She sought him out for more than class notes and hung on his every word, and he flirted back. But since he flirted with every girl and, rumour had it, bedded a lot of those, she’d never had cause to think he felt anything for her. That question was answered with his hands between her legs, heavy finger massaging her clitoris just over her panties, her squirming every which way not sure if she wanted to get away or give in to it. She does wish she could stop thinking so damned hard about it.
Oh God, what were they doing? Oh God, what would her mama say? Oh God, wouldn’t Essie just laugh at this? Oh God, what if he realized she was a virgin? Oh God, would it hurt?
Maybe it was that last question that had her pushing back after a few frantic moments of him sliding up on her, his hand between her parted legs, his heavy penis rubbing against her leg through his basketball shorts. Oh yes, he played basketball, maybe that’s why he stayed so fit. Because she could feel his muscles now, the way his stomach muscles clenched as he bucked. She was skinny and soft and suddenly embarrassed by her body. And that had her pushing even harder. But he was heavy. And he didn’t stop. And she didn’t scream. And when he pushed inside her it hurt bad and it never got better, the feeling like her insides were scraping and like she had to take a massive dump. She prayed she didn’t not during the middle of all this; not while she was crying and whispering for him to stop and telling him how it hurt, not when he was shuddering on top of her and finally stilling, breathing hard.
And Oh God, he hadn’t used a condom. And later, when he left as he’d come through the back door, there was blood. But then maybe all girls bled the first time; she was sure she’d read that somewhere.
“You lose weight?” was the first thing her mama said.
And of course she noticed that in addition to not eating, she wasn’t sleeping.
Thank God for Essie. That’s what she’d thought when her friend re-inserted herself into her life because Essie, at least, was a distraction.
So here she was, still not fully in control of herself, and unsure of what had her so scared. He hadn’t broken into her room. There was no darkness, no masked man, no broken glass as she leaped to safety as people liked to imagine they would do in situations like that. She hadn’t screamed. She’d just whispered no, over and over and over again, and he hadn’t stopped.
Stupid song. And stupid her for letting it get to her like that.
They parked in the T N Kirnon schoolyard and walked between the other cars lined up in the school yard. And there they were, their dates. Both with their pants down and their chests up, like penguins. Freed didn’t wear his pants down around his knees showing his underwear and he slouched a little bit as if compensating for how tall he was, used to meeting people half way. She’d liked that about him, that she had to look up to talk to him, that he seemed to be leaning toward her.
These nights, when she dreamed about him, it always began like this, her smiling up into his face and some kind of glow behind him like sunset making it difficult for her to see his eyes. And at the back of her throat, a scream biding its time to scratch its way out.
Joanne C. Hillhouse is the Antiguan and Barbudan author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad! She’s been published in several anthologies and journals. Joanne runs the Wadadli Pen writing programme to nurture and showcase creative works by young people in Antigua and Barbuda.