Trigger Warning: Implication of rape.


           She didn’t like the party scene – never had. She hated the way the loud music always seemed to vibrate in her bones. Hated the way every house was filled to the brim with so many bodies that it was a labor to breath, and was even hard to move a centimeter without bumping into boney dancing-shoulders. She hadn’t felt the tip of an ice cold beer bottle pressed to her lips for some time, nor could she recall the taste or feel as it bubbled down her throat; She was the designated driver now, always.

           The houses all looked the same: a two story number with all the furniture pushed to the outskirts of the main room to create a makeshift dancefloor. They all smelled the same too; cheap booze, odorous bodies, and thick cloying smoke. She skulked along the fringes of the house nursing a bottle of water trying to avoid as many of the sweaty, undulating bodies as she could.  It was well into the cockcrow hours of the morning, but the party showed no signs of coming to a close. Seeing this, she wandered outside in search of much needed fresh air.

           The spring weather was balmy and felt wonderful on her overheated skin. She relished the clean, crisp air filling her lungs and found comfort in the silence of the backyard as she roamed the manicured grounds. The back of the house was relatively secluded but she still managed to wander upon a drunk couple half hidden by the shrubbery; she had to squint in the low light but she could just make out pale, bare legs splayed in the grass and a large form on top.

           “Hey!” she tried to scream, but her throat was closing. She tried again.

           “Hey! What the hell are you doing?” her voice cracked in fear. The figure lurched to an upright position and the man stared  at her – deep set eyes . They both froze for a moment before he scampered off, pulling his pants back up as he went. She attempted to dash after him, but her moment of hesitance cost her. He raced around the corner and disappeared somewhere back into the throng.

           Heart racing, she rushed to where the man had fled from. She knelt next to the helpless body and searched for a pulse. It was a girl, unconscious, her skirt pushed up to her waist. Her top was torn and her underwear was missing.

           “Shit.”

           Anxiety began to overwhelm the conscious girl; her eyes burned with unshed tears and her throat closed in terror. She shook the girl’s’ shoulders and let out a cry of relief when the girls eyelids fluttered – she quickly called the police.

           Everything happened in a blur after that. The party came to an instantaneous halt at the sound of the rapidly approaching sirens: the police questioned, the paramedics went to work, and the girl who helped was in shock, cloaked in a blanket with a shadowing cape.

           Watching as the EMTs lifted the victim into the back of their truck with practiced efficiency, she heaved herself to her feet and shuffled over to closing doors. They halted when they saw her.

           “Can I ride with her?”

           They looked back and forth amongst themselves, wondering if she would be allowed in the back. “Please,” she pleaded, her voice just barely above a pained whisper. With a collective sigh, they took pity on her and helped her into the back of the ambulance. She shifted across the bench, inching farther and farther back until she was near the head of the stretcher. The girl was finally awake, although she stared forward, eyes foggy and unfocused. She turned to her.

           “Are you the one who found me?” Her voice was little more than a gravely murmur and she had to clear her throat several times as she stuttered through the question.

           “Yes,” she nodded, not knowing what else to say. Her companion broke down and she reached for her hand.

           “Thank you,” she hiccupped through her broken sobs. It was a haunting sound, but a familiar one as well. The girl’s cries echoed her own; she was sure she must have sounded the same when she had been this girl some time ago.

           She squeezed her hand in reassurance, clinging to it like a lifeline before she drowned in the waves of flashbacks washing over her. She sniffled, not bothering to wipe away the tears slowly trailing down her face.

           “Survivors stick together.”

 

Edited by Natalia-Marie Fiorio

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