How could I be so dumb? How could I even think that I was good enough for Brad? Of course, it was Vanessa. I was nothing compared to her, with her stupid perfect boobs and perfect hair and perfect perfectness.
I made a direct line for the hall. I didn’t want to be seen, or did I? Maybe I wanted Brad to know. My stomach turned as I made my way to the bathroom.
“Emma.” Brad’s voice made my body vibrate. I pinched my arm, hoping the pain would help me ignore the tears. Instead, it made the urge to burst even more overwhelming. “Babe, I didn’t mean for you to see that. Vanessa came on to me…I had nothing to do with it.”
“Shove it, Brad.” My lip quivered, “I hope you’re happy because you deserve each other.” I reached for the bathroom door, but he slipped his arm in front of me before I could enter.
“Come on, don’t be a bitch about this. We’re not even together. Can we talk?”
He smelled like vodka and sweat. “About what? About how I thought you might have feelings for me or about how you shattered that by making out with- “
His lips cut me off. They pressed hard against mine. It was nothing like I imagined our first kiss would be. Instead, my skin crawled everywhere his hands touched. My stomach turned as he directed my body away from the bathrooms and down the short hallway. He tucked me back behind a wall, hidden from anyone passing by.
My body was rumbling against the cold brick wall as I tried to push him back, but his body was easily twice the size of mine and just too big. His hands crawled across my back and pushed down my thighs clamping around a thick chunk of dress. He pulled the dress up until his hand encountered the skin of my thigh. Then he began to explore under the fabric. I struggled to get loose and make any noise I could, but if his lips weren’t pressed on mine his hand was. Every time I moved he squeezed me tighter into the corner until all I could do was take whatever was coming to me.
“Get off her!” A hand appeared on Brad’s shoulder and yanked him backward, sending him stumbling into the lockers on the opposite side of the hall. The person stood just on the other side of the wall, out of my sight but I didn’t dare move.
“That was the wrong thing to do man.” Brad stood from his collision and charged at the mystery man on the opposite side of the wall. All I heard was the crunch of bodies into metal. I feared for whoever that hit. Heavy breathing, grunting and sounds of struggle kept me frozen until an electrical wind shot Brad into the lockers once again with a loud crash.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I stood frozen with nothing but tears melting down my face. It all happened so fast. This couldn’t be happening again. I didn’t even feel it this time. It was just like my last day at Concordia. I was scared then the explosion.
“What are you? Freak!” The voices of my old classmates echoed in my head. “We’ll see if she tells another lie.” But I didn’t lie. Ricky Jenson did. There are just some secrets we don’t dare let slip. Some that are so personal that we wouldn’t tell our dearest friends. Ricky had one of those secrets.
I watched the color drain from his freckled cheeks when I gave him his mother’s message, and she revealed the abuse. I should have seen it then.
We all get scared when we don’t understand something and Ricky was scared. Scared of his dad and now scared of me. I only fueled the hurt that lay beneath the surface, and he made sure I took it, in the form of strikes to my face and kicks to my abdomen.
I tried to defend myself, but five on one is an unfair fight, especially for a thin, wiry thing like me. The pain and anger from the beating boiled up until I felt it release in an explosion of electrical air that sent them flying in different directions and left me curled up, shaking on the floor.
Brad grunted from the base of the lockers freeing me from the memory, “What the hell did you do?” Only he wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at whoever was on the opposite side of this wall. Brad heaved himself from the ground and sped down the hall.
“Emma?” I couldn’t respond it was like the words were stuck in a part of me that had forgotten how to release them, “Are you okay?” Nate stepped around the wall. The front corner of his button up shirt had come untucked, and a couple buttons popped off in the scuffle.
“Oh my God, Nate. Your nose!” My hands reflexively shot to his face. Blood dripped from his nose, leaving a trail of red polka dots on the front of his shirt.
He pushed my hands away and rubbed his nose with his sleeve, leaving a thick red streak across the cuff. “Let’s get you out of here.” I nodded, wanting to be anywhere else.
We had driven for about twenty minutes before Nate broke the silence. “Do you want me to take you home?”
“No, I’d rather not have to explain why I left early to my mom.”
“Okay,” he said, and played with the dial on the radio turning it to a local “Today’s hits” station. “Do you mind if I take you somewhere I go to relax?” I shook my head. I appreciated his silence on the drive. I wanted to talk. I just didn’t know what to say. My mind was fuzzy, my body ached, and I felt numb inside from the events that had unraveled that evening. Where would I even start?
Nate rolled up his sleeve so you couldn’t see the blood stains and unbuttoned his shirt, leaving it open to his white undershirt. He flung his black tie into the backseat. As he drove with one hand, he rested his elbow on the window ledge and used his fingers to comb through his hair. He seemed so calm and collected as he drove, like it was any other Friday night. He didn’t even hint that he’d just been in a fight.
I realized I’d been staring when he glanced over at me. “What?”
“Nothing,” I looked down at my hands, playing with a sequin on my dress. “Just, I don’t know how to thank you. For everything, really.”
“Shh… I don’t want to talk about it tonight.”
I sighed in relief. Relaxing back into the seat, I leaned my head against the headrest to watch the trees drift by the window. I had just begun to see the moon glinting off the lake from between the trees when Nate began to slow, turning down a dirt road.
Nate pulled his car between two trees with a clear view of the lake. Their branches formed an umbrella over a small patch of grass that separated the road and a steep drop to the beach. As I opened the door, a chorus of crickets and the sounds of the waves running over the rocks instantly put me at ease.
“This place is beautiful,” I said as Nate rolled down the windows and turned up the music so we could hear it outside of the car.
“I’m glad you like it,” he leaned back against the hood and crossed his arms. I pushed myself back on the hood a little further and sat next to him. The song changed to one of my favorites, and I subconsciously started to hum along.
“Come here,” Nate said, offering his hand. I crinkled my eyebrows and stared at his long fingers. “Someone has to give the Queen her dance.” In just a few hours my night had gone from bliss to hell. But, I couldn’t help but smile. I accepted his hand and followed him onto the green patch. His hands were gentle and comforting as we swayed under the moon. I sank into his arms without regret just thinking about how the night ended in unexpected perfection.
Thanks for stopping in, chapter eight will be released 7/7/17. I hope you are enjoying Emilia’s Awakening. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts and predictions!