She walked, in a daze, into the emergency room. Looking around, late this Saturday night, the waiting room was as deserted as she would see it. A man sitting holding ice on his face, a Latino mother, pacing restlessly, is holding a small sleeping child. No more then small blimps on her radar and she swiped her pass to gain entry, bypassing the waiting room.
Her heels clicked on the floor in uneven tunes and melodies, one of the shape stilettos was broken, causing her to limp sideways. The graveyard crew peering over computers at the triage station, curious faces wanting to know why she was there, for she is not on call tonight.
She scans the board to see who is working. It has to be the right person. Not someone unfamiliar, not some one male. It has to be someone she trusts. She needs that trust. Ignoring the nurses staring at her and asking her questions, she noted that Liz was the on call doctor. She pages her.
She sits and waits. The nurses begin to buzz around her, whispering softly to one another. It’s apparent that some thing has gone wrong with their colleague. When Liz arrives she smiles inquisitively at her, wondering aloud why she is there at such a late hour.
She stands and leans into the doctor, whispering softly. Liz’s face changes, soft smile wiped from her face, eyes becoming hard, serious grimace masking her mouth. She takes her into an exam area, closes the curtains. A few minutes later, the doctor comes out and tells the lead nurse to call the police.
The exam is simple, clinical and cold. Her legs in the stirrups, staring at the ceiling, wondering about the crack that leads down to the wall. Someone should get it fixed, she muses to herself and she is swabbed, prodded and combed. She knows the drill, she knows what the details are, but still, she takes a sharp breath in, the speculum is cold and foreign. While never pleasant, it is increasingly painful and she gasps. There is something assaulting about it. The night was surreal until that very moment, when the rape exam became very real.
Her nails are scrapped and her clothes are collected. There is swelling beginning to give way to bruising on her wrists and it is photographed as is other parts of her body where the medical staff are suspicious. There are teeth marks on her neck and breasts. She is given the paper to chew and gauze to spit on, all to collect samples of her saliva. She moves through the motions of the exam in a zombie state. All along, questions are being asked of her, those that she cannot answer. She cannot, because the night is blank in her mind.
The police arrive and ask the same questions. The officer is familiar to her; she has probably spoken to her before in a professional capacity. Her eyes are like honey, she notes, and she is a tiny officer. The officer smiles and touches her hand. She flinches. She can’t answer the questions. Her blood is drawn and taken to the labs with a rush order. The officer sits quietly with her, calming her. She cannot answer her questions. Finally, she leaves and she is alone.
She’s brought upstairs by the doctor, admitted into room 119. The doctor tells her to sleep and gives her a sedative as she leaves. But she does not take the pills. She lays in her bed and stares at the ceiling, trying to figure out the night.
Yes, I went to an art house party. I didn’t have anything to drink. I looked at the art. There was that man I was talking to. What was his name? So smooth. So confidant. Alex? Andrew? He was a charmer. What was I drinking? Coke? We had such a good time. He was tall. He had brown hair. He had hazel eyes. What was that smell? Cologne? He was funny. He seemed to be interested in me. Did he get me another drink? Did I lead him on?
She stared at the ceiling, as night made way for the day, unmoving, silent. Questions echo in her head. They remain unanswered. The night was a blur. The party was loud. The artwork was phallic. He seemed to be the only non-pretentious one there.
Eventually, she turns and slips into an uneasy slumber. Her dreams are dark, images of worm like tongues coming out of no where, the heavy pressure placed on her chest, his mouth hard on hers, his teeth chewing on her skin, the feeling of being dragged to the bottom of and ocean. Always, her mind goes blank before it can recall the worst, blacking out as a giant penis comes towards her. It comes in flashes, the night, and when she is awoken by the daylight, she finds Liz asleep on the chair next to her.
Liz comes to and offers to get her a coffee from the cafeteria. She agrees and as soon as her friend leaves, she begins to pour through her chart at the foot of her bed. Ignoring the bruising that is darkening on her fair wrists, she finds what she was looking for: gamma-hydroxybutyrate in blood work and urine.
She settles back into her bed. Drugged and raped. This in not genre for a woman of her age. Women her age are aware of their surroundings, of their choices, of their lives. Echoes from the memory of that night in high school, so long ago, begin to stir. But back then she was stupid and naive. She would like to think that in her twenty years since being raped she had grown wiser. And yet here she was, twenty years later, back in a hospital bed, trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
It’s the shock that registers first. How did this happen? It’s followed by the fear. Fear of losing yourself and your memory. A whole night, blank in her head, no memory of it. It’s a dark place, where faint flashes come in pieces. The tongues of her nightmares, coming out of nowhere. The hands on her shoulders. The crushing weight. The giant stiffness of the man coming towards her face…
There is a feeling that she cannot shake. Helplessness. Like an animal backed into a corner, nowhere to run to. There is no escape. There is no way out. She slowly thinks of the night so many years ago where she lost her virginity. Violent and painful, she was in the hospital for several days. What would this be like?
The door opened and she turned to look for Liz and the coffee. Instead, there was a mousy young lady at her door. She introduced herself as Sarah from Rape Crisis. As Sarah explained her role as a crisis counselor the woman spaced out, nodding her head, agreeing at the right times, but not focusing on a word that Sarah said. She knew she meant well, and she knew, from being raped as a teen that she would need to talk to someone soon. But it’s hard when your place of work is where you have to be examined.
“Do you have ways of coping? Of dealing with this trauma?”
She pondered this for a moment. A chronic writer and artist, she simply told Sarah, “Thank you. I have my own counselor for work and I have a blog. I will be discussing this with both” Sarah smiled and said, “many technological advancements today have opened up a whole new work of therapy.” She continued on talking but the woman was lost in her own thoughts.
I could blog about this, she thinks, but how does one describe something horrible? Something she doesn’t really want to talk about but knows that she must?
And then the answer comes to me. You write it in the third person. And when you get to the end of the first day, you see if you can write in the first person.