The dress was tight and short. It had three-quarter length sleeves and a wide boatneck. It was an inexpensive ‘80s-meets-‘60s party pattern, all wild swirls and blocks of color. When I wore it I imagined Lady Miss Kier might nod in approval.

I filled out the dress with unnerving voluptuousness for a 15-year-old. Long legs and very large breasts set off by a small enough waist, all complemented with straight hair that swept down as far as my hair could grow. Back home, I preferred parties with the local community college boys, wanted to go on vacations to exotic locations, convinced high school boys that maybe we could do like Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks and drizzle honey on each other.

Adult-like but not adult: still very much a little girl who didn’t know yet what, specifically, to be afraid of.

My mother hated the beach but I’d begged her to take us, me and my brother, to Club Med in Mexico. Not one of the kid friendly ones. I’d found the one with the most restrictive age limit possible that still allowed teenagers, somewhere along the Pacific coast with white sand beaches and a discotheque.

When we arrived, the whole resort setup was cool, almost chic, to my small town teenage eyes. There were other Americans there, but they were balanced out by the more glamorous Europeans and wealthy Mexicans.

Among the Mexicans was a group of three or four boys, all cocksure and handsome. One in particular became the immediate source of my romantic fantasy, the dream boyfriend I’d come to the beach to find. He had curly black hair that grew down to his chin, a fine delicate nose, a mole on his upper lip, and eyes that seemed soft. I wanted to think they — and he—noticed my arrival. But body or no it was a wonder anyone could see me at all beyond the adolescent insecurities and insistent, almost blind desire to be loved.

The week progressed as any week at a resort might: lying on the beach, avoiding as many of the planned-but-optional activities as possible. I made some inroads into getting to know the young men I had noticed but they seemed to have little interest me, preferring more the company of the older, more sophisticated girls there that week.

On our last night I convinced my mother to let me go to the disco alone. She sat in our room where she would stay up all night worrying. As I flew down the stone steps overlooking the ocean, her all-encompassing concern was the farthest thing from my mind.

I no longer remember whether the disco was what I hoped or expected it to be, only that the music was loud and poppy, the lights were flashing lasers, and the other dancers included the group of boys who I had pined after for the entire trip.

One of them saw me and fetched me a drink. It was not the boy with the black curls but his friend with sandy brownish-blond hair that parted in the center of two curving cowlicks and flopped down each side of his handsome face. He was the better looking of the two boys, the best looking of the group. Something about him was, if not more brutish, then at least more aggressive than the reserved, softer boy I longed for. The blond had not caught my fancy, but I reveled in his attentions just the same.

I quickly drank the drink he handed me, and we danced. Another drink, more dancing, and then he was calling me “mi cielo” and leading me away from the bright disco to the beautiful dark beach below. My heart leapt. A night walk on a beach with a handsome young man. The romance of my teenage dreams, at last.

We walked in the soft sand, lit by the resort in the distance and the moon above. Halfway down the beach were a few lounge chairs, left from sunbathers earlier in the day. As we approached the chairs he kissed me and I responded, kissing him in return. He sat me on the lounge chair and we continued kissing. He began to touch me.

Perhaps it is only time that has erased the next moments and has made his next move seem so swift, but suddenly there he was, sitting on top of me, straddling me and looking down. He held my arms with his hands and on his face was a look of fury. Below my breasts, on the fabric of my dress across my stomach lay his erect penis, the largest I had ever seen.

“What do you mean, no?!” he yelled. “No?!”

He was so loud, louder even than the sound of the ocean coming to shore only feet from where I lay.

Somehow my mouth made sound. “No,” I breathed. “No. I can’t. I’ve never had sex.”

“You led me on,” he seethed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know.” I looked up at him, his hair hanging around his eyes like curtains, shielding them even more in the darkness. I could feel his weight, the pressure of his hands. “Please don’t. Please no.”

“You stupid slut.” I felt his hands press harder as he shifted and I shut my eyes.

He got up. I opened my eyes again and he was gone, his back retreating angrily toward the disco. With that I was alone on the beach. I turned my head to the water and lay there. All I could feel was the cool air, the spray of the sea, the plastic of the chair where it met my flesh, and the spinning, sinking sensation beneath relief and fear that somehow it had been my fault.

A Year of Wednesdays

One essay a week, every Wednesday, for a year.

    Leah Reich

    Written by

    Every Wednesday, I write: and

    A Year of Wednesdays

    One essay a week, every Wednesday, for a year.

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