I was 16 when I met Richie at the restaurant on the water where I was a junior hostess and he a busboy.
Richie was quiet, and soon to be handsome, and two years younger than me so it was safe to flirt and fan his adoration.
He was a summer kid so when September rolled around, he returned to wherever he lived while I remained at the shore and grew up.
A handful of years later, when I was the manager of the restaurant, our paths crossed again.
He was big and strong now, still quiet, and definitely handsome, but no longer “too young.”
We were at a gathering one night, circling each other as we drank and laughed with friends. It was a small apartment and so the party spilled into the bedroom which is where I had migrated with him.
One by one people left the room, and soon I found myself alone with Richie, standing in front of each other, as he leaned in for a kiss.
It was our first kiss. And it was weird. Like some kind of time warp. (How had we become adults, let alone peers?)
But there was something else.
A prickling shot up my neck.
Richie was leaning in too hard.
He was too quiet.
I glanced out into the livingroom and into the kitchen and my stomach turned. (When had everyone left?)
Like a football player, Richie began driving me toward the bed.
I tried a joke to shift the mood, but the Richie I knew wasn’t there.
I felt my stomach turn. If I didn’t think of something fast, I was about to be… raped?
“Not here, let’s go to my place,” I said, hoping to wake him from the spell.
Richie stumbled into my car and rode with me to my apartment; climbed the stairs, and got into my bed.
Whoever he had been at the party was gone; and now he was only generous and gentle.
But I felt dirty.
I’d never felt like that before.
Afterward, I slipped on what was once my mother’s silk nightgown (the one my grandmother gave her to wear in the hospital after my birth.)
I stepped out onto my small porch and sat down in the rain until it soaked me through.
Richie came out looking for me. “Is everything okay?” he said.
“I’m fine,” I said, attempting a smile.
25 years have passed since that night, and I can still feel the rain on my skin, and the humiliation in my bones.
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