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  • One night in college that I struggle to remember, I sought the company of a distant acquaintance. When you are a part of the microcosm that is a college town there’s usually only 2 degrees of separation from any stranger. Any two people can trace back through their sticky web of connections, recall the party of a friend of a friend where maybe you both took bong rips off the same funnel and tubing, accidentally exchanging bacteria. You’re practically related to anyone and everyone. After twenty minutes and a ten text exchange, no one is a stranger.

    But I did what I should’ve known not to do and drove an excruciating eight minutes off of campus to meet up with a friend of a friend of a friend. I was particularly uncomfortable driving there because eight minutes was three minutes further than I’d ever been off campus, completely outside my bubble. I passed three townie bars, a few abandoned car dealerships, and every streetlight on the city circuit.

    When I pulled up outside the apartment complex, one that I have never ever found again, I had a guttural reaction that was nearly vomit inducing, but being the dedicated party-goer I am, I chalked it up to excitement; I hiked up my boobs, pulled my shirt down just enough to make a difference, slathered on some “sultry red” lipstick, and waddled up to his door in a skirt that was too tight on my thighs.
    Looking back, I had definitely decided I was hot shit. I was a good looking freshman, and this man was a barely average senior. Acknowledging his advances was really me doing him a favor. He was not interesting or popular or fun or attractive. But he was hitting on me, and I didn’t hate it, even though I had already determined that I was out of his league. What I didn’t realize is that we weren’t competing in the same league at all; in fact, we weren’t even playing at the same sport.

    P.J. welcomed me into his antiquated flat that he said he shared with a sister, although I am not certain that was true. The upperclassman party I had expected to attend turned out to be a party of two. I don’t remember being particularly surprised or disappointed that I wouldn’t be raging with some coeds that night. I might have even been flattered because I knew this was just a clever ploy on his part to have a more intimate rendezvous.
    I sat across from him on some dingy couches, staring at the stained carpet, feigning modesty, while drinking some shitty chemical combination that resembled jager and mountain dew. The whole scene in my memory is tinged by awful yellow 70s lighting fixtures. I was really living the college dream. P.J., although wholly unimpressive, was on the rugby team and looked like it. He was a big order of testosterone with a side of egotism. Not exactly my type, but like I said, I didn’t hate it.

    Minutes went by before I started to wonder whether or not I should say something or if I should stop drinking or if I was comfortable here. We may have made some small talk, but I can’t really remember. I felt like I was in a dream. I’ve never felt so whimsical and disconnected to reality. This guy was having a really mystifying effect on me. I hadn’t expected to feel swept off my feet.
    Then the lights shut off. I’m still not sure about the lamps and the overhead- but my lights, my capacity to understand, to react, to feel were turned off. I spent an indeterminate amount of time not knowing what was happening to me. For hours I don’t know who or where I was. I lost time. I lost myself.

    But when I re-entered my body in stages I became increasingly more aware of what may have been happening. I remember flashes of flesh and a monologue about condoms. I don’t remember being naked, but I remember being face down with his hands on my throat. I couldn’t tell you what his room looked like, but his thighs were massive and hairy and pale white. I wasn’t kissed or seduced, I was groped and demobilized. I can remember the feeling of being pinned and trapped, but not the feeling of being raped. I didn’t have the time or capacity to be scared, but I was sad. In the moments of consciousness that I had, I asked to go home. I wanted to him to stop and I wanted to go home. He finished and left the room. He could have left the apartment for all I know but later, and I don’t know how much “later” is, but later I picked up my purse and tip-toed out, grasping the walls for stability and support.

    Driving impaired, post-event, through a part of town I’d never seen before wasn’t just terrifying. It was devastating. I had no time to consider my circumstances. I was consumed with escaping this place and finding something familiar. It was still pitch black and my red Volkswagen beetle was the only car on the road. I focused hard on every traffic sign, not allowing my thoughts to slip anywhere else. I just had to survive for eight minutes.
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