What I Do Not Owe You

I was sixteen and you were twenty.

I wasn’t ready, wasn’t ready, wasn’t ready and you should have felt it. In the blood cemented above my bones, in the way my legs shook standing in front of you the night I declared proof of our togetherness.

It took seven years to say it.

There is no one who can go back with me, to that time, to that place where my sixteen year old name was slandered like a scarlet letter stolen from the lost and found.

You are sorry, now, when I have demanded you be, but where were your woes the morning after you pressed your body into mine without consideration, without consent, without the four years more of life you had on me smacking you in your misogynistic head and screaming “SHE’S TOO DRUNK. SHE’S NOT HERE, SHE’S YOUR LITTLE SISTER’S FRIEND.”? You watched me play pretend, make snow angels, giggle with aching jaws and sides splitting, you knew how I adored you, pined for you, watched my crush unfurl like an eager rose suddenly timid when greeted by the sun. You should have hugged me. Kissed me. And then you should have said, “another time.”

You should not have waited until the middle of the night, after your disgusting excuse for a friend bottle-fed me vodka with a snarl, after I vomited all over the floor, after your sister had screamed to stay away from me.

I don’t know what I said when I was drunk. I am sure I cooed. I am sure I coaxed. I am sure I was brassy, and bold, and a little biting because I am still like that when I am drunk. But that didn’t mean I wanted to have sex with you. Because I was sixteen and I did not know what I wanted.

I do not remember taking my clothes off. I do not remember being laid down across the bed, in the same room I’d peeled off my childhood in. I do not remember you finishing, your body wrapping round mine in impermanent bliss. I do not remember you raring to go again, hungry for my newly adolescent skin, so new the tags were still clutched in my fist. I do remember waking up, having been awake before but only in my body and not my brain, and seeing you there. And seeing me there, as if from avove, as if God were warning me I would not be able to look through my eyes for a very long time.

I never said “I want to wait.” I never said “I don’t think we can fall in love if you fuck me like an afterthought.” I never said “my bones are packaged in a box i’m sure was wrongly labeled, I have not come into my power, I am sensitive and romantic and capable of demolishing any premise of stereotype you staple to my forehead. Let me be, let me bloom, don’t stomp on my seeds before they have been watered, I am only sixteen I am still so fresh. So new, so naive and I still want to make snow angels with your sister. My body is not a replica of what you watched on your computer screen last night.”

You stole from me that night. Part my innocence, part power, part petals, part poetry, part pennies in the fountain, part please, part permission, part playfulness, part penance, part perseverance, part pieces of my goddamn heart I am still picking up off the floor.

You raped me.

There it is, deal with it, I am not a shattered person but the forgotten shards are an annoying reminder that there will always be healing to do.

I do not owe you my face across a diner booth, listening as you fumble for words to bandage a cut that is meant to bleed.

You did your own undoing, I might have said you undid mine too. But I don’t owe you that either.

I am still making snow angels. I am stringing together pieces of my childhood on a clothesline pinned across my chest. 24 is a good time to be the adult you could not be, watching over the sixteen year old who has begun to come out to play.

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