Cheryl had invited me to her house for a sleepover. I was looking forward to going. I had purchased new pajamas for the occasion. The only problem was that I had lied to my mother. Cheryl's parents were not going to be home. She somehow just assumed that they would be, and I didn't correct her. The little voice in my head said that I was making a mistake, but I told that little voice to shut up. What could possibly go wrong? Two twelve year old girls and a teen aged brother in charge?
From the time I arrived at Cheryl's house it was clear that everything was wrong. Cheryl's brother had invited a few friends over who had invited a few other friends over. The living room was packed with teenaged boys and girls. The music was loud and I could smell liquor and what I guessed to be pot. Now if I had been smart I would have turned around and gone home. But I was twelve and not very smart. Besides, Cheryl said that she needed me. "Laura my brother is an idiot! I can't believe all these people are here! If my parents find out they will kill him!" I looked at her and asked, "how will they find out? Aren't they away?" Cheryl looked back at me and answered, "let's hope that our neighbors don't call the cops. And let's hope that nothing breaks!" Again if I had been smart I would have gone home but I was busy watching couples slow dancing. Actually they were more like slow grinding. Then there were couples on the sofa making out. Boys hands were in places on girl's bodies that I didn't think they should be. But at twelve I had very little experience with such matters.
Cheryl and I walked into the kitchen. I took a cup of a clear liquid that was on the table. Assuming it was water, I gulped it down. Only it wasn't water! I thought I had been poisoned. My throat burned. I felt dizzy. "Cheryl I think I'm going to pass out!" She sniffed the cup and said, "You drank booze! What did you think you were drinking? You are such an idiot!"
Then I really should have gone home, but how could I explain being dizzy and the smell of alcohol on my breath to my mother? So of course I stayed. Cheryl went to get me a damp cloth.
While I sitting on the floor holding my head, I was getting an eyeful of girl's butts being rubbed, boys butts being rubbed followed by moaning. I couldn't tell if it was happy moans of painful moans, but no one was stopping. No one seemed to want privacy and no one seemed the least bit modest.
I was feeling a little better, so I went back to the kitchen to get a real glass of water. This time I turned on the sink, so I knew it was water. I then went to find Cheryl. She was no where to be found. She wasn't in the living room. She wasn't in the kitchen. I knocked on the bathroom door, but no one answered. Could she have gone outside and left me here in this sea of teenagers?
I went outside, but didn't see her there either.
I was getting late. I was getting sleepy. The party was winding down. Finally I heard Cheryl's brother make an announcement, "Help me clean up and then go home! Except for you." He was pointing to a girl with a tight red sweater and long blonde hair.
So I asked him, "Do you know where your sister is?" He looked at me with disgust and said, "How should I know, am I my sister's keeper?" People started to laugh and I felt like crying, in fact if it wasn't so late I would have gone home. I helped everyone clean up. One by one people left and then Cheryl's brother and the girl with the tight red sweater and blonde hair went into his bedroom and closed the door. "But what about Cheryl? I shouted. "Aren't you worried? You're suppose to be in charge" He opened the door and said, "Why don't you wait in her room. I'm sure she's fine!"
How did he know that? What was wrong with him? I wanted to call my mother and tell her that Cheryl had disappeared. She would know what to do. But that would open the can of lies. A can I was not willing to open.
Just then Cheryl came in. She looked at me and started to cry. "Cheryl, where have you been and what's wrong?" I'm usually not great with empathy but she was getting hysterical. "Calm down and tell me" "I can't it was terrible" she sputtered. "What was terrible?"
"Well I went outside for some air and my brother's friend asked me to take a walk with him." "Okay that doesn't sound terrible." I said.
"It wasn't at first and then we got to the park, and we sat on the benches. He put his arm around me to keep be warm. It was nice. Then it wasn't" "What do you mean it wasn't nice?" I asked her.
"I have known this guy forever. He's cute and funny and always goofing around. So I trusted him. I shouldn't have." I just looked at her. "Laura, He climbed on me, he pushed me and he touched me in places he shouldn't have touched me! I tried to push him off, but he said I asked for it." "Cheryl, that's not okay, You have to tell someone. He attacked you. You didn't ask for it" Cheryl looked at me with her big hazel eyes and said, "No, you have to promise me that you won't tell anyone. Maybe it was my fault. He said no one would believe me." "I believe you!" I said. "He said he chose me because he's always thought I was beautiful and that what he did he did because I am beautiful. I'm very confused" Cheryl started to cry all over again. At that moment I realized that her burden just became my burden. I was not equipped to fix her problem. I was mature enough to give her advice. That little voice in my head had been right, I should have stayed home.