I fought myself to go that weekend. You could call it an intuition, but I’d attribute it to everyday anxiety—something that has only risen as my years have passed. It would be hard to find an outfit. It was cold. I’d be tired. So many bullshit reasons so I pushed myself to go anyway. I pulled off the outfit, and I was pleased to feel that the confidence dressed me with the clothes. It was the old game that I knew well: Distraction masks fear. So, with every touch of makeup, the straightening of hair, a spray of perfume, and the way-to-high heels–I nailed that distraction. Too well this time, in a world that I still have so much to learn about…
It was the usual routine. A hand off of money and ID to my safety net, and we left the guys for the bigger party. Most of the conflict I had envisioned proved to be drawing my attention to the wrong threat, and I relaxed as the tequila added up and the moods were calm. I had years to know the majority of the people around me. Unfortunately, I would find that my distraction would not prove infallible to the tarnish that laid beneath that pretty coat.
We began dancing, something I can never force myself into without the right amount of alcohol. He joined us, and the mood changed quickly. He was like a father figure for so many years. It had to be the environment. She held my hand, letting me know she had my back as always. We kept dancing. The song let up, and I complimented the band. It was only a second of her walking away, and eyes hit me like steel. No amount of makeup would cover the tears that leapt with his words: “Why are you…the way that you are?” I couldn’t stop them. A slap in the face wouldn’t have held a candle to the impact that those words were driven by.
He saw, and it was too late to look away. “Do you want to go outside and talk?” I nodded. Talk, yes. See, that was the man I knew for so long. He’s just worried about me; I can make him understand. We passed her, as well as my other safety. They were both concerned, but I assured them that I wanted to go.
We were barely out the door when the apologies started swimming from my mouth: why it was my fault, how I fucked up, all that time alone and scared. I couldn’t make it understandable; there was so much built up. Bits and pieces poured out, and the tears were uncontrollable. He hugged me, and my friends were certain I was okay. I wasn’t okay. I was back there, and I couldn’t break out of it now. All the screaming and begging. The hopelessness. The desperation. It was consuming me, as I stood on that porch.
We were alone again, and he ushered me to the parking lot. I was cold, and there was so much more I had to explain so I agreed. I didn’t realize how drunk he was until we got there, and by then I had already walked all that way in those heels.
Sitting in that car brought it all to an end. He didn’t care what I had to say; no one seemed to. I couldn’t be a distraction. I couldn’t cover up the pain and the damage that was done so long ago. Who am I kidding? My ruin grew that night, from a past that I am unable to escape. It is a part of me, something that I can never wash away with the makeup remover; I can never take it off and hide it in the closet. Because I was used long ago, I will forever wear the silent invitation to do so again and again…