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Do You Remember...

Content warning - sexual assault.

Memory is a funny thing. Some days it works as you intend it to, recalling the details of your life that you need to hang on to. And other times… other times it’s a thief in the night coming to remind you of stolen youth and your fleeting existence. Our memories are etched into our bodies, invisible lines of a life lived. Sometimes I wonder though, do others remember the moments from our shared experience that I remember as vividly as if I lived them yesterday?

This is to all the men who left memories on my body in the shape of scars…

Do you remember the time…

When you pulled my arms behind my back and I told you to stop so you pulled harder and with each demand for you to let go, you pulled even harder before finally climbing on top of me.

Do you remember me asking you if this was all you wanted from me? I remember you never responded to that question. Instead, you went about doing what you intended to do. Do you remember the look on my face?

Probably not.

I remember yours. Your eyes were closed. I assume you did this so you didn't have to confront the reality of what your body was doing to someone else’s. To someone who had told you to let them go. To someone who had listened to you cry while you asked if I felt like you cared and if I enjoyed the intimacy between us only hours before.

Do you remember why I was at your house that evening? Do you remember the phone call where I begged you to get off the road as you drove around town intoxicated and questioning my feelings for you?

I still remember your face that evening. Some days it haunts my waking hours. Your face isn't the only one though. There are others. Too many others. If I’m honest, one face is a face too damn many.

While I put one foot in front of the other each day I can’t escape the desire to ask you all the same question, do you remember?

Do you remember my mother asking you to tuck me in? I was so young. You kissed me. My brain won’t let me remember anything else from that moment. Instead, it paints me a picture of a dimly light room, a small twin bed… possibly made of wood, that detail is fuzzy. The bedding was plain. And then there’s your face. You all never have remarkable faces. They are rather ordinary and carry an air of unimportance. Maybe that’s why you all behave the way you do, because deep down inside you know there’s nothing remarkable about you.

Even though I don’t remember much I still want to know, do you remember? Hell, are you even still alive or is it the face of a ghost that haunts my dreams?

Do you remember, the summer of 98? My dad left me with adults who let me drink as long as I kept it a secret.

Oops… I guess the secret’s out. You all would mix rum and coke and I remember it tasted like vanilla. You all laughed when I said that. You thought it was cute that I thought that and told me not to have too many before you floated back to your party.

I remember you at the party. I remember you over the next weeks. I remember my preteen mind thought you were cute, proving that preteen minds are heavily influenced by the world around them because there was nothing remarkable about your appearance. I remember it though. I remember your girlfriend was living with the woman who was supposed to be taking care of me.

I remember you two arguing because she went to a Dave Matthews concert with someone else. I remember you getting upset because she wore a jersey dress that you thought was too short and in defiance she hiked it up higher. I don’t remember her name, but I remember thinking how happy I would be if someone fused over me like that.

Young trauma-filled minds don’t know what red flags are because they’ve been taught those flags are green.

I remember the day we got too close. No one was home that day but me and then you showed up. You were always showing up when she wasn’t home. I let you in. You were always there, it made sense to let you in. I didn’t know then that most men are daywalkers.

I don’t remember the excuse you made to explain your presence, do you? I don’t remember how we ended up in her bedroom, do you? I remember sitting on the bed. I remember the tickling. I remember her beginning angry with you upon finding you there because you had not been invited over. I remember later on she went to visit family and when she came back she dumped you for someone back home. You had come over with flowers, do you remember? My non-guardian guardian at the time joked that you had bought them for me. I remember the awkward pause in the air, swimming with all the possibilities of how that one day a week before could have turned out.

I don’t remember what happened to the flowers and I don’t remember the moment I realized that what happened between us wasn’t ok, but I still remember your name. The wind carries it with our laughter.

Little girls don’t know the red flags are red if everyone has taught them the flags are green.

Do you remember what it was about my sleeping body that gave you consent to enter it? Do you remember my questions after? I remember your answers. You said we were both asleep and our bodies naturally engaged in sex, compelled by the sheer desire between us. When that answer floods my mind I wonder, did you really think I was that goddamn stupid?

I remember you all. This is only scratching the surface of unwanted looks, touches, and violations of consent.

But where did I learn that the red flags were green?

By the very people who were tasked with keeping my innocence safe.

The words slut, whore, and easy have been thrown at my body long before I knew what they meant. I remember the look of disgust as those charged with protecting me reminded me time and time again that I only had one use and purpose. There was only one thing a man would want from me and it was all I was going to be good at doing, so I needed to be a good girl and take it. These messages were weaved in next to expectations that I would be a scholar. While I wouldn’t be good at anything other than being a tool for male pleasure and domination I also had to have straight As too, talk about a fucked set of parameters. All of these things were neatly wrapped in a box labeled Shame and left at my feet for me to pick up and carry.

The fact that I saw green flags when I should have seen red ones was nobody’s fault but my own. Or so I was told. It was a lie told by those whose power depended on my inability to see my own worth.

As I’ve grown from my shame box, I’ve learned to see the lacerations left by men as a testament to the fires my shell and heart can withstand, although they never should have had such strife. My mind, body, and soul have been forged in the pain unleashed in dark rooms, school hallways, and unsuspecting bedrooms and sharpened with self-love.

While I still remember their faces, the shame is not my cross to bear.

It belongs to them and them alone.

To the predators walking amongst us, may my name tastes bitter upon your tongues and my presence haunt your dreams. May your dicks go limp and your nuts stay forever blue because there is absolutely nothing remarkable or worthwhile about any of you.

Smooches, losers.

Copyright(c) 2023 Rayven Holmes

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