Trigger warning: Sexual assault
A ray of light sneaks its way underneath the door, briefly illuminating the pitch-dark room and its occupants.
They blink at each other for a second before the light goes away, and I can only see the scars and bruises that they have to keep with them forever. All of them have the same eyes, the eyes that have seen more than they should have. I suspect that I have those eyes too.
The moist cloth that has been stuffed in my mouth and tied around my head reminds me of its presence again. I scream until my throat is raw, even though the others roll their eyes.
The doorknob rattles for a bit, and then creaks open, the light blinding us for a few seconds.
The bearded man enters, the main man’s main accomplice. I look to the others, but they don’t meet my gaze. They have gone through it too; they know what’s coming. I may be new here, but I should have seen it coming too. I should have predicted that when the time would come, there would be no one to protect me. They needed to protect themselves, they were the girls after all.
He comes closer and tightens the zip ties that have been piercing the skin of my wrist endlessly. He smells of alcohol and sweat, and I stifle a gag, the cloth choking me further.
He doesn’t take the wet cloth out of my mouth, leaving it there to muffle my screams, to give him some extra cloth.
He instead takes off his pants and then takes off mine, while I look away from the other girls, my cheeks flushing.
As he pushes himself inside of me, a shock of pain runs up my body.
He ignores my whimpers, the fact that the cloth is now slowly getting stained red, and the fact that I’m passing out. He just keeps grunting and pushing, moaning and sweating.
My body is now limp, and the pain keeps increasing.
He keeps pushing, even when the room starts to blur and fade out.
Pushing and pushing.
My ears are ringing.
I spit out the cloth from my mouth and take in a big gulp of air, the cloth hanging from my throat.
I’m still on the ground, my pants at my ankles.
It is morning now, or maybe the afternoon. There isn’t any clock in this room. I slowly look around, taking in my surroundings for the first time.
The room is painted entirely in sky blue, the walls stripped bare of any decoration. The paint is peeling off at some parts, and crusted blood is on the floor and corners of the walls.
The four girls are lying on the ground too, their skirts and pants at their ankles. I quickly avert my eyes, not wanting to be even a bit like those men.
One of the girls, the one with red hair, slowly stirs, her eyes meeting mine and immediately breaking eye contact, clearly embarrassed at her half-naked state.
I try to say something, anything to make her feel better, but I find that I’m short of words.
She looks back at me, spitting out the cloth tied around her mouth.
We just look at each other, each daring the other to start the conversation.
What could we possibly say to each other to make it better?
Hey, are you okay?
Of course, she is not okay.
Hey, does it still hurt?
Of course, it still hurts. Everywhere.
That doesn’t stop it from happening.
That doesn’t stop him from pushing.
Her face reflects the same confusion in my mind.
Even though it is as daunting for her as it is for me, she decides to speak first.
“Hey, I’m Jillian.”
I mentally hit my head.
Introduction, of course.
How come I didn’t think of that?
“Cole,” I push out, my throat raw with pain.
“Do you think that if we scream this time, someone will hear us?” I ask, biting my lip to stop the tears that threaten to slip out.
She looks at me with wet eyes and shakes her head.
“I just want it to stop, please, make it stop,” I cry out, unable to hold it in any longer.
As I sit there, my pants at my ankles, and sob my heart out, Jillian’s hand reaches towards me, trying to give me some comfort. The zip ties remind her again of their existence and she cries out in pain as it cuts through her skin.
I stop my blubbing immediately.
When silence descends on our surroundings, I realize that it wasn’t this quiet before.
Then the footsteps return.
We listen carefully, the footsteps sounding a soft rhythm, but a rhythm, nonetheless.
I look at Jillian, and she has a wide smile on her face, having reached the same conclusion.
She mouths ‘three, two, one’ and we start screaming for help.
Some of the girls start regaining consciousness and get the idea in a few seconds.
All of us scream, even though our throats are sore and bleeding, even though some of us can’t even breathe. We scream because we know that it is the only way left to live, to survive.
The police officers enter the room, all of them men. They look away from us immediately, not wanting to make us feel worse. One of them takes a phone and calls his fellow women officers, and we all breathe a sigh of relief.
We can hear shouting and threatening from outside the room, the main man and the bearded guy’s voices clearly audible.
All of us sit there half-naked, waiting for the women officers to arrive. I look at Jillian, and her face is streaming with the tears of pain, of relief, of disbelief.
I don’t even notice that I’m crying too.
I open the door, and Jillian stands there, a smile on her face.
We shake hands, both of us still not into the idea of hugging or too much physical contact.
As we sit and chat about our lives, I wonder how different my life would have been if what had happened hadn’t happened at all.
I wouldn’t wake up every morning drenched in sweat, I wouldn’t reject every girl who asked me out, I wouldn’t carry pepper spray with me, I wouldn’t have scars on my body, I wouldn’t be so revolted by seeing myself.
As Jillian tilts her head back and laughs at something she said, I know that maybe something good had come out of it.
I got a sister.