Sacha liked to make jokes about raping me. It was something I got used to very quickly, just a part of our dynamic. He would slip them into conversation very casually, and I quickly learned not to look up when a joke peered out of his lips, trying to decide if it was safe to leave its cave. Sometimes I would play along. It’s hard to remember any of the things he said in much detail, because they happened so often. They have been worn away in my brain by routine. Sacha telling me he was going to rape me was a part of life, the same as taking the bus in the morning. Because it was so common, it was normal, and because it was normal, it became more and more common. The words knew it was safe to leave his mouth, and so they became bolder and bolder, patrolling an ever-expanding territory until there was almost nothing else he talked to me about.
Sacha was clumsy and awkward, skeleton thin with cold, clammy hands with long thin fingers. He wore a tweed suit jacket and a stupid looking hat almost every day. His breath smelled like stale air freshener. He talked at me extensively in person and online. I spent a lot of time ignoring him.
We should make out for Reina totally just for Reina no other reason
Do you like me
Are we actually friends?
I wanna call you a friend
I don’t know who hates me or not anymore
I hate you
I love you
Love is stupid
too bad it fucking rapes me
I hate it
You’re not looking
means I can say anything
or you’re offline
and I’m alone
While we waited for the busses to come after school, he would try to grope me. I learned to stand with my back to a tree so that less of my body was available to him. Sometimes Caz would play my knight, saving the damsel in distress. Sometimes they were too tired, or they weren’t there, or they just let it happen. I didn’t like fighting back for myself. He was too persistent, and eventually he would always make it past hands and no’s, and then it felt worse because I had tried. It was easier to let it become normal, let it become routine and forgettable, leave my body behind at the tree while my brain wandered for a while. I don’t think there’s a place on my body that Sacha never touched.
I think he genuinely wanted to be my friend. It’s hard to understand why he did what he did, except when I remember my friends laughing behind him. Entitlement to my body was always a collective ritual, incomplete without friends to tell me what a slut I was afterwards.
The routine falls away when I remember Sacha, dull and flat in its repetition. Moments blend together into summary, flat disks full of empty teeth, too smooth and slippery to catch. The exceptions always stick out the best.
“Do you want to go exploring?” he asked me one day. “I promise I won’t try anything. Best behavior and shit.”
We walked for a long time together in the woods, following a squirrel with a thin tail through fallen logs and poison ivy. The trees were tall and straight, and light fell between them in crisp, even pools, smooth as skipping stones. He told me about a girl he had a crush on as we climbed a particularly steep part of a hill, our hands clutching low saplings to keep our balance. I told him he should talk to her. When I looked back, he blushed a little and looked down at his feet. It was a nice day, warm sun on crisp orange pine needles.