I was 16 when I met Richie at the restaurant on the water where I was a junior hostess and he was a busboy.
He was quiet, and handsome, and two years younger than me so it was safe to flirt and fan his adoration.
Richie was a summer kid so when September came, 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.
Richie was big and strong now, still quiet, and even more 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. Too drunk.
I glanced out into the livingroom and into the kitchen and my stomach turned. (When did the last people leave?)
Like a football player, Richie began driving me toward the bed.
I tried a joke to shift the mood, but he wasn’t there, not really. 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 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; that was a thing back then; you wanted to look pretty after labor. You always wanted to be pretty.)
I stepped out onto my small porch and sat down in the rain until it soaked me through.
Richie came out a bit later. “Is everything okay?” he said.
I smiled weakly. “I’m fine,” I said.
25 years have passed since that night, and I can still feel the rain on my skin, and the humiliation in my bones.
Author’s note: Do you ever wonder what makes you write something, all of the sudden, that happened long ago? And then you see this CLICK HERE. And you know. We’re all connected.