By: Threa Almontaser
Amy’s heart hiccups when the car jerks to a halt in front of her house. It’s two in the morning and way past her curfew.
“You were a lot of fun tonight, Amy.” The driver turns around in her seat and smirks.
“Yeah, I can’t wait until next weekend,” another girl adds from beside her.
Amy tightly plasters on her smile, trying not to look as sick as she feels. Butterflies sword-fight in her stomach. She clambers out of the car, stumbling on her Steve Madden heels. The college girls drive off. Alone now, Amy heads indoors.
“I’m home,” she forces out cheerily, running straight to her room before her parents can see her.
Shutting the door as her mother calls out to her, Amy leans against it with a shaky breath. Her forehead rests on the wood as her mask of happiness and “I’m fine” cracks and shatters hazardously beneath her.
The alarm clock on her nightstand beeps 2:04, nearly jolting her heart right through her shirt. Amy staggers to her bathroom and takes off her Top Shop dress, the one she’d spent a whole month’s pay-check on. It’s drenched with alcohol and nervous sweat, stiff with cigarette smoke. In the mirror, she stares back at a girl with water-rimmed eyes. Mascara runs down her cheeks and red lipstick stains her frowning mouth. Suddenly, it’s all too much. The pounding crowd of flesh and flashing strobe lights of the concert from earlier return, like a song stuck in her head. An unforgettable soundtrack of humiliation and fear.
“Damn, only seventeen?”
“She’s here with us, dude. Just do her….”
“Have another drink, sweetheart.”
Shutting her eyes only sears the voices more clearly into her head. A defiant tear slides down her face before quiet, invisible sobs wrack her body. Amy drops to her knees, clutching the sides of the toilet. She didn’t know the girls were going to bring older guys with them. She didn’t know it’d be this hard to fit in. She didn’t know.
Greedy hands and selfish lips smolder her skin. Trapped in a dark corner. Too loud. It hurt. Everything hurt, but she couldn’t complain…wouldn’t. She’s tough. She’s cool. She’s….
Amy ignores her mother’s consoling voice by the door. Her body shudders from the chill buried deep inside her, like tissue paper in the wind. It never thaws no matter how many times she laughs with her “friends” or dances with boys. She retches and heaves out her night, her spine curving like a frightened cat, gasping until she thinks she’s gulped all the air in the room. It makes her face fall into itself, like all the sadness is getting twisted and sucked right in.
“We should do this again sometime.” The older girls laugh as the guys continue their pinching and groping.
The room smells like acid, and Amy’s throat burns like wildfire. Her mother’s banging becomes more insistent, but Amy just swipes a palm across her chin harshly before dressing and crawling into bed feeling vile, lost, and fake.
Amy takes out her smile, dusts it off, and puts it on.